Crockpot Fajita Soup

I had a request or the recipe. Since I changed so much, I figured I should do a post to show how I made it.

I have to say that I'm not usually very good about finding a recipe and modifying it. Especially the first time. Usually, I would try a meal following the directions and then change it up the second time. I guess I was feeling daring.

HERE is the original recipe I found on Pinterest.

These are the changes I made:

  1. Eliminated the chicken. I decided to make this a vegetarian meal.
  2. Instead of adding two cans of cream of chicken soup, I made my own “cream of anything” soup mix that I also found on Pinterest. I used vegetable bouillon for the mix. Then added the recommended amounts of mix and water for two cans worth.
  3. Used vegetable broth instead of water.
  4. Added a can of pinto beans.
  5. Added a bag of frozen peppers and onions.
The meal was really good and so very simple to make. I'm already counting down the days until I can make it again! This is definitely going to be a staple in my rotation of meals and I think you should try it, too.

 

 

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Alex * 4 Months Old

Alex is FOUR months old today. We just love him more each day. He's the sweetest, happiest, most easy going little baby. His sisters love him to pieces and he's the perfect addition to our family.

This month, I stopped nursing and although it was a hard choice, it has definitely been the right one for us. Alex has been happy and I have been able to get a lot done since I'm not tied to the couch with him. I also went out with some friends for dinner (and drinks) while Chuck watched the kids. I also took Maddie to a birthday party (and this may have been one of the only times I have done something with just her in a LONG time, if ever). He gets really excited when he sees his bottles. This boy just loves his food!

Alex has been sleeping through the night. He loves being swaddled and it usually puts him right to sleep. He has also been staying awake a lot more during the day and will usually take a decent afternoon nap around the same time the girls have their rest times. It's heavenly!

He really likes to roll over whenever I set him on the floor. He gets really upset because he can't roll back, but it takes hi only a few seconds to roll onto his stomach. I need to set something by hi so he won't roll over and get mad. :)

Alex has been playing with his toys a lot. He likes to grab at toys (or my hair) whenever he can. He's got quite a strong little grip to him! He's been getting his hands to his mouth a lot more and sometimes will grab his feet, too.

He's been doing a lot of babbling. He likes to coo at you and will sit there talking to his toys. He continues to like the game of sticking your tongue out at him and he will stick his out back at you.

One of my favorite things is getting him to laugh when you tickle his tummy, sides, armpits or neck. Baby giggles are just the sweetest noise ever!

 

So yet another month has flown by and we have loved every minute. I'm looking forward to him sitting up more and playing with more toys and I think it will be lots of fun when he starts eating solid food in a couple months!

 

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The End of a Nursing Era

As I sit here nursing what is likely my last baby for the final time, I realized a few things. I feel so lucky that I have been able to nurse all three of my babies. I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but I knew it was something I wanted try to do and I made it work. I struggled quite a bit with each of them at the beginning (Alex being the most challenging) and I started using a nursing shield with all of the kids and weaned off it with them all. I’ve become more confident with nursing in public, multi-tasking while nursing and the whole process.

I nursed the girls for around six months. This had worked for me. I stopped nursing around the time they started solid food, started sleep training and got their pacifier taken away. I know that sounds harsh to do them all about the same time, but it has worked for us.

With Alex, I had planned to nurse until six months as well. He’s been a great sleeper from the beginning, but hasn’t really been satisfied nursing. He enjoys it, but never seemed full. I started giving him bottles before bed a couple months ago and he would get swaddled and sleep through the night. This is when we knew that he needed more than I could give him. He would also seem very frustrated while he was eating. Maybe because he had to work to get his food, or there just wasn’t enough there.

In the end, we decided that it was time to switch to bottles and end the nursing. The past few days I have been weaning him off me and moving to bottles during the day. He’s done great and has been a happy boy. He naps longer and is happy much longer. This has given me the ability to get some much needed chores and tasks done around the house that I wasn’t getting to before because I was stuck on the couch with a baby attached to me.

I was a little hesitant to stop before he was six months old (he’s almost four months), but in the end, this is what was right for me, him and our family.

I also thought that I might have a hard time (be emotional) stopping because, well, my baby. My last baby. But I have confirmed that I’m not a very sentimental person (something I already knew about myself). I thought there would be tears or something. But I nursed him and fell asleep while he was eating. Pretty anti-climactic. And so typical of me. :)

I’ve been lucky enough to have this time with each of my kids, but I am anticipating the next stage of life with my kids. I am looking forward to being done with the baby stage and moving on, taking the kids on vacations and adventures and not being tied to bottles, nap times, all those things that can be stressful. Granted, I know this is a long way in the future, but it’s something I am excited about.

So there you have it. One baby closer to growing up. Me, I’ll be wearing some tight sports bras for a couple days and then looking forward to actual undergarments and fitting into my clothes again. And now that I can’t justify eating anything I want since I’m not nursing, it’s time to start watching what I eat again and work off the rest of this baby weight. Just in time for summer, right!? :) Oh, and wine. Don’t forget the wine. I mean, I have three kids four and under. Mama needs some wine! :)

 

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When Kids Use an iPad Camera

There were hundreds like this that I deleted. And both Maddie and Dannie are the budding photographers. From the eyes of a child, right?

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Alex * 3 Months Old

This past month has been a whirlwind. We closed on our house, started renovations (we had planned to do things more gradually, but Chuck's allergies required us to start sooner), my dad flew out to vist/help (thanks, dad!), Maddie started a new preschool (closer to home), and our little man has been a little trooper through it all (the girls, too).

Alex has been sleeping through the night for a couple weeks now. He's a champion sleeper. I love him! I've been giving him a bottle of formula before bed to really fill him up. Then I swaddle the heck out of him and he conks right out after a little nursing.

He's an incredibly happy baby and will smile at you and he's even starting to giggle. The girls love trying to make in smile.

They also love on him constantly and are eager to help with him. They are always asking to hold him. I'm so glad they love him so much. I fear he's in for loads of dressing up and tea parties.

Alex loves being in his carrier and I'm so glad I bought a new one. It's way more convenient to use the carrier in many places here I've found. Plus he just goes right to sleep.

I'm looking forward to him being a bit more interactive. He's finally starting to enjoy his playmat and likes holding toys (albeit fairly briefly). I also located the bumbo chair and he seems to enjoy the change of scenery from his playmat.

 

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Today

Today I had great intentions to make everything go smoothly. Of course, things don’t always go as planned.

For the first time in a few days, I woke up with a good attitude and I was ready to tackle the day. I had Maddie’s conferences today and had everyone ready on time and started heading out the door. When we got down the hall to the elevator, the day starts going down hill.

* The elevator was broken. Therefore requiring us to walk down three flights of stairs to the parking garage. Of course, Dannie needs her hand held while I am manhandling Alex in his car seat down the stairs. Got down the stairs. Things were good.

* Got the kids into the car and strapped 2/3 of them in. Then I realize Dannie has an “issue” in her pants that needs tending to. So we deal with said issue and move on.

* Dannie kicks and screams and flails like a crazy person because she doesn’t want to be in her car seat (or I put her in wrong, or she didn’t have all of her toys, or I gave her the toys in the wrong order….who knows). So I forcefully get her situated in the car and head out of the parking ramp to school, look at the clock and hope that I can get there on time.

* The road we turn onto from the apartment is a busy road (they are all a bit busy here), but I hit the right time and didn’t have to wait too long to get out. Phew! Go to the next road and they have it down to one lane (alternating traffic) which slows us down greatly. Clock is ticking….

* Arrive at school, and after screaming most of the way to school, Dannie will not get out of the car. Anger….riiiiiising!

* Get into the conference, exhausted, and the teacher tells me Maddie is doing great! And then we just chit chat because there’s not much else to say. Smile

* Head to our next destination (checking out a preschool closer to our new house) and Alex spends the drive there screaming because he’s hungry. So I get to the school and park in a spot so I can feed him in the car before we go inside. Get him out and ready to eat and…

*Maddie says, ”mom, I have gum in my hair”. Lovely. So I fix that (by ripping out some hair to get it out. And I also make a mental note that she isn’t getting anymore gum. Ever.

* Feed Alex, meeting at new school goes really well. Head to lunch to meet Chuck’s cousin and Chuck. Lunch actually went well. No complaints. (Thank goodness.)

* Get back home and to my utter dismay, the elevator still doesn’t work. So it’s time to huff it back up the stairs carrying Alex, holding on to Dannie and trying to get everyone down for rest time. Mom is exhausted and winded from walking up the stairs carrying 20 extra pounds.

* Nap time. Dannie loses her mind and doesn’t want to go to bed. I have no idea what went wrong. Maddie gets upset with me because I won’t let her play the iPad (because she already plays it too much) and cries “But I just love the iPad” and goes to her room to sob. Alex eats then will not go to sleep so I can work. This wouldn’t be a problem if he weren’t whining at me the whole time. (Not eating again right now, kid!) (And I do eventually get a little work done.)

* Time to head out to do a final walk-through of our new house. Elevator still doesn’t work. Down the stairs we go.

* We get there close to on time. When we get there Chuck takes me to a spot in the driveway and has me look at something. I see trees. I see houses, then I see it….MOUNTAINS! I can freaking see mountains from a certain spot in the driveway! This means a permanent chair will be set up in this location and I’ll spend my days looking at the huge, white-capped mountain. (I also may have done a happy dance!)

* Head home, while Alex cries the whole way. Get home and need to walk up those dang stairs again. I may cry.

* Put kids to bed and work a bit more, then eat a huge bowl of ice cream (mint chocolate chip) and start some tea. And I’m immediately thankful I made it through the day.

I can’t make this stuff up. Thankfully, tomorrow is a new day.

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Alex * 2 Months Old

Another month has gone by and our baby boy is two months old. This month has been busy while we have been house hunting, getting settled here in Washington, Chuck going back to work leaving me to fend for myself with these three monsters, getting into a groove after the move and time change and a whole bunch of other stuff.

But our little man has been acclimating well to all the craziness! He’s such a mellow little dude and is generally a happy guy. He’s most content when he’s being held….by me…all day long. But he’s so cute, it’s hard to say no!

At his recent doc appointment he weighed 10 pounds, 2.5 ounces and was 23.5 inches long. He’s long and skinny, just like Maddie was.

His sisters just love him. Sometimes they love him a little too much. But I’m glad they aren’t too upset by a new person taking all of my time.

I haven’t taken too many pictures of him, but that’s to be expected with a third kid, right? I’ll try to do better about that next month!

 

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Always Rainy in Seattle?

We've been here a week now and I can't complain about the weather at all! There have been a couple drizzly mornings, but overall, it's been great. Coming from Minnesota where it's so cold in the winter, I am loving these 40+ degree days. We wear sweatshirts, take walks outside…it's wonderful. There's also green grass and huge green trees. The leaves have fallen off trees, but with all the evergreens, it's still so lush and gorgeous here! And this coming week will be a little cooler, but sunny and no rain. Not needing to bundle the kids up to leave or go outside is so wonderful! I'm in heaven!

 

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Christmas 2014

This year Christmas was a little different. We celebrated with our families a bit early since we moved before Christmas. And since we were moving, I didn't want to move presents, so I had Amazon ship some gifts to our place in Washington. This worked out great! We needed to make a trip to Target to get basic stuff and Maddie asked for a little tree. So for $8, we made a little girl very happy! Maddie was worried Santa wouldn't find us when we moved, so having a tree made her confident we could be found. Chuck got some lights and Maddie decorated it with toys. :) It's definitely a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, but we love it!

Maddie also asked for a gingerbread house. (She's kind of demanding this year!) So Chuck sweetly went on a hunt for one. Not only did he procure a gingerbread house (and lots of yummy toppings), but he also got Maddie a big bear. My dad had bought Maddie a huge bear one year and she plays with it all the time and loves sleeping on it. The other day she told us how much she missed her bear. (No worries, it's just packed with all our furniture; she will have it before too long.) So we wrapped it with a note from Santa saying he knew she missed her bear, so he sent bear's little sister to keep her company. She loved it and now bear is well loved here.

We even baked some cookies for Santa. Gotta have cookies!

In the morning, the girls opened gifts and spent the morning (mostly) playing nicely together! Chuck made us a big breakfast and we hung out playing with toys and relaxing. It was a perfect, low-key Christmas. The most important part was that the girls had a great day and we got to spend time together. I sure love my little family!
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The Adventure Begins

Last weekend, we packed everything we would want for the next couple months, packed up the kids, and headed to the airport to start our journey. We took Chuck's step-mom, Jean, with us to help with the kids and all our luggage. I'm not sure we could have done it without her!

We arrived at the airport and made our way through security and then had some lunch. The kids were really good and had fun looking at everything at the airport.

The girls did really well on the flight and played on the iPads through most of the trip. Maddie said it was fun and liked the bumps (turbulence). Dannie was really good until the last 10 minutes or so. She didn't want to be in her seat, didn't want to be held, and screamed through most of landing. But she's two, hadn't had a nap, was really tired and overall did great!

Alex was great! I fed him on takeoff and landing. He cried for a minute when I changed him, but slept through most of the flight. He's been to both sides of the country since I was pregnant when I went to New York! What a well-traveled 5-week old!

After a long day, we made it to Seattle. We were all tired and hungry, so we grabbed some food and made our way to our temporary housing. Then we put the girls to bed and fell asleep shortly after them. Alex even let me get a bunch of sleep that night. I was so thankful!

Stay tuned…there's more to come on our adventure!
 

 

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