Reading List: September

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Booklist (1 of 1)

At the beginning of every month, I check out upwards to 50 picture books from the library. I start with seasonal books, and then add books on topics that JBird is interested in at the moment. They’re usually all science or math related but sometimes we need books about emotions and experiences to help work through “stuff” that may be going on in her little head.

Then, when we go to pick up our huge haul from the library we pick out about 10 “just for fun” books.

We try to read about 10 books every day, but sometimes if we get a chance to read 1 book a day I call that a win.

Here’s What Is On Our September Reading List:


The Berenstain Bears’ Four Seasons: Stan & Jan Berenstain

Christopher’s Harvest: Elsa Beskow

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf: Lois Ehlert

Nuts to You!: Lois Ehlert

Leaf Trouble: Jonathan Emmett

Awesome Autumn: Bruce Goldstone

Possum’s Harvest Moon: Anne Hunter

The Apple Doll: Elisa Klevin

Apple Pie ABC: Alison Murphy

The Princess in the Forest: Sibylle von Olfers

Apple Cider Making Days: Ann Purmell


Science: (Let’s Read and Find Out series)

The Skeleton Inside you: Philip Balestrino

Air is All Around You: Franklyn M. Branley

What Makes a Shadow: Clyde Robert Bulla

Feel the Wind: Arthur Dorros

Let’s Go Rock Collecting: Roma Gans

From Caterpillar to Butterfly: Deborah Heiligman

From Seed to Pumpkin: Wendy Pfeffer

Clouds: Anne Rockwell

The Listening Walk: Paul Showers



Hetty’s Hundred Hats: Emma Dodd

Sorting Through Spring: Lizann Flatt

Counting on Fall: Lizann Flatt

Shaping Up Summer: Lizzann Flatt

Sizing Up Winter: Lizann Flatt


Just For Fun:

The Mixed Up Chameleon: Eric Carle

Chrysanthemum: Kevin Henkes

A Good Day: Kevin Henkes

Angelina’s Birthday: Katharine Holabird

Angelina and the Rag Doll: Katharine Holabird

Angelina and the Butterfly: Katharine Holabird

Angelina On Stage: Katharine Holabird

If You Give A Pig A Pancake: Laura Numeroff

If You Give A Moose A Muffin: Laura Numeroff

If You Give A Cat a Cupcake: Laura Numeroff

If You Give A Pig A Party: Laura Numeroff

The Jellybeans and the Big Dance: Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? : Bill Martin

Chicken Sausage and Summer Squash Stir Fry

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Chicken-Sausage-Stir-Fry (4 of 4)

Gosh, I am totally loving this summer.

Want to know what else I’m loving right now? Squash. Give me all the squash in all the world and I will be a happy camper.

We’re fortunate to have neighbors and friends who keep delivering squash harvests from their gardens. As we speak, I have about 4 zucchini squash on my counter waiting to be turned into fritters, breads, and a multitude of other dishes. Is there anything you can’t do with a zucchini?!

At the moment, I am trying to consume fresh veggies at every single meal. You know, really take advantage of fresh local produce (or just help people not waste their garden’s bounty). This stir fry/salad combo dish is proving to be a great way to get a lot of vegetables into us in one sitting. It’s a great lunch or dinner dish. Make it a breakfast dish by scrambling it all together with a few eggs! It’s even awesome as leftovers!

This dish is easy-peasy to put together and sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

-3 chicken sausages (these sausages were artichoke and mozzarella chicken sausage); sliced.

-2 cups sliced squash (I used an assortment of zucchini, patty pan, and summer squash); thinly sliced.

-3 cloves of garlic; minced.

-1 tsp dried parsley (or 1 tbs fresh parsley)

-salt and pepper

-1/2 of a lemon

-1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

-a large handful of greens (I buy a “power greens” blend of baby spinach, kale and swiss chard).

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage and stir to coat in the oil. After a few minutes, add the squash, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir every few minutes (like you would with a stir fry) until the squash begins to soften and the sausage has browned. Once everything has cooked to your liking, remove from heat.

Add the handful (or 2) of greens to a plate, top with desired amount of stir fry. Squeeze a lemon wedge (or 2!) over the top of the stir fry salad. Give a few grinds of fresh pepper.

Enjoy warm!

Chicken-Sausage-Stir-Fry (1 of 4)

Serves 2 adults (and 1 hungry baby)

Doing It All

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My husband travels a lot for work. A few years ago, it would stress me out having him gone a considerable amount of the time. Now it just feels normal.  In fact, our house is usually a bit quieter on weeks when Daddy is away. Go figure.

This week while he was away I had a pretty obvious epiphany that I’d never really thought about before: I’m doing it all right now. All the parenting. All the housework. All the yard work. All the teachings. All the bedtimes. All the clean up. Everything. It’s just me and I’m doing it all. All by myself. And it totally sucks.


The strange thing is that this realization didn’t make me feel bitter, or angry, or even sad. It just made me feel tired, and strong, and maybe in need of a beer.

When my husband is home, we have pretty split roles in the house. I take care of daytime care of the kids and the house, and he takes over at night. I cook, do the laundry, and do general picking up. He does garbage duty, lawn stuff, and deep cleaning when I freak out that our house is never clean. Bless him.

But sometimes he’s gone 50% of the time.

I feel like moms (and dads) who have to do it all aren’t allowed to complain or vent about how much they hate having to do it all. Instead, you’re supposed to feel grateful and blessed; never annoyed, or cranky, or tired. If you do step over the line and say “Ahh I Can’t Do It All!!” there’s usually someone on the other side who is more than willing to tell you how dramatic you are being

That’s a total load of BS.

If you have ever had to do it all, all by yourself, I salute you. Let us join hands and shout from the rooftops: This Totally Blows!

Here’s to the all the parents out there who have to be both mom and dad; whether it’s 1 day, 10 days, or every single day.

Here’s to fixing fuses and flat tires.

Here’s to baking cupcakes, mending clothes, and shuttling kids everywhere.

Here’s to helping with homework, mowing the lawn, and paying the bills.

Here’s to troubleshooting the wifi, fixing the DVD player, and straight up murdering the MFing printer.

Here’s to cleaning up a flooded basement, shoveling driveways, and plunging every drain ever.

Here’s to all night feedings, stomach bug clean ups, and over flowing toilets.

Here’s to drinking cold cups of coffee, eating dinner at 9pm, and not showering for longer than 2 minutes.

Here’s to nap strikes, bedtime stalling, and sleeping on the floor while a child (or children) hog your bed.

Here’s to never going to the bathroom by yourself. Ever.

Here’s to wiping up tears, spilled milk, and a bathtub’s worth of water off the floor…every damn day.

Here’s to the first ones awake and the last ones asleep.

Here’s to no vacations, no sick days,  and no off hours.

Here’s to hiding in the pantry in order to get a precious minute of alone time.

Because solo parenting straight up sucks.

S. U. C. K. S.

If anyone tells you otherwise you have my permission to punch them as hard as you can in the face. Twice.


9 Months Old

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9 months in. 9 Months out.

Moon Baby has officially been a part of our everyday lives for the same amount of time that I was pregnant with her.


It’s absolutely true what they say: your loves grows with your family. I did not honestly think it was possible to love another human being as much as I love JBird. Little did I know that another fierce little girl could have all of my heart.


She is a near-constant ray of sunshine in our lives every single day. She is always laughing, always smiling, and always willing to snuggle.

9-month-collagePlus, the rolls. The rolls just keep getting more glorious. I love them. So perfect.

Life is oh so good.

Only 3 more months to go before this little lady turns 1!

It’s Time For A Wienervention!

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There’s just something so quintessentially summer about grilled hot dogs and BBQ’s with friends. This past weekend, we were able to bring these 2 summer staples together in a cookout supplied by Applegate (you know, that awesome, all natural and organic meat company). As part of their Cleaner Wiener campaign, the folks over at Applegate wanted to ensure we had a quality summer cookout with quality hot dogs free of antibiotics, hormones, nitrates, and fillers: it was a Wienervention.

(So great)


Imagine my excitement when Applegate farms contacted me to ask: a) If I needed a Wienervention (Answer: Do I ever?!) and b) If I wanted to help them spread the word about their Cleaner Wieners by hosting a Wienervention (Answer: You had me at free hot dogs). A few days later, my Wienervention kit arrived in the mail with everything I would need to host this ever so necessary event.

My (Super Awesome) Kit included:

-2 packs of Applegate uncured hot dogs (TWO!)

-2 packages of Rudi’s hot dog buns (plus an extra package of gluten free buns)

-Annie’s Organic Ketchup and Mustard

-Rick’s Picks Relish

-Susty Straws and Napkins (the straws are compostable!!)

-OVER THE TOP ADORABLE hot dog boats

-Grilling tools, Apron, Insulated Lunch Tote, and a Cleaner Wiener Frisbee

In other words, Applegate gave me the hookup.

Our Wienervention was a huge success. Our neighbors and friends joined us in celebrating the beauty of a perfectly grilled (and all natural) hot dog. There was laughter, coleslaw, watermelon popsicles, an abundance of mustard, and a yard full of happy smiling faces.

Daddy Bear even spruced up our water wall in celebration of such an event! So, obviously this day was a pretty big deal.

We rounded out our perfect summer BBQ with a campfire and s’mores with friends. I’m not sure it’s possible to get any more “Great American Summer” than that.

collage 7

Would you like to throw a Wienervention Party of your very own?! Well you can!

The generous folks over at Applegate are giving one lucky Feel Good Foodie fan their very own Wienervention kit!

Just leave a comment below letting everyone know how you fix your hot dogs! (Ketchup and Mustard? Sauerkraut and Onions? The Works? Kimchi? The world wants to know!)

One winner will be selected at random and will be announced Wednesday July 23rd 2014; which just so happens to be NATIONAL HOT DOG DAY! How great is that?!

The giveaway will end at NOON, Central Time on Wednesday July 23rd. A winner will be picked at random by me and announced later that day. This giveaway is only open to fans living in the United States (Sorry International Fans). 

*This amazing giveaway and blog post is brought to you by the even more amazing Applegate company*

Find out how you can win a year supply of Applegate Hot Dogs by checking out their Wienervention page!






Back From Vacation

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Summer Vacation

We’re Back!

After almost 4 weeks away, we are finally back in America’s Dairyland and settling back into our normal everyday rhythms.

Our trip was wonderful, hectic, and long. We were 4 little energizer bunnies for 23 straight days.

We left WI on May 31 with a car packed to the brim with everything we might possibly need for this long extended journey. We did 8 hours (actually totaling 12 hours) on the first day, and another 8 hours on the second day: from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania. The trip was long, but the kids were total troopers about the whole thing. I am FOREVER grateful that my husband had the genius idea to buy a DVD player for the car. JBird watched Toy Story on a 16 hour loop and was pretty content the whole way out. Oh happy day!

Our first destination was Pennsylvania; where we refueled, re-energized, and dropped the dog off before heading up to New Hampshire to celebrate my cousin’s wedding.

Summer Vacation

It had been 4 years since our last trip to NH; back when I was pregnant with JBird and we were still living in NY. There’s something so magical about my family’s home on Newfound Lake. It is hands down one of my top 3 favorite places. I would’ve been happy to spend our entire 3 weeks on the lake, but I’m sure the rest of our family and friends waiting to see us would not have appreciated that…maybe next time. :)

Summer Vacation

After 5 beautiful days with family, We headed back down to PA to pick up Toby Dog (who was having a rather great time with Gramma and Grampa). We rested and refueled there for another day before heading up to NY for a stay with Nana and Poppy (and Uncle X). For the remainder of our visit, we bounced back and forth between various family members homes. It was great being able to spend so much time with so many different loved ones, but total exhausting having to move around so much. Thankfully, the girls never seemed to mind too much since no matter where we were, there was always someone (or several someones) there to give them undivided attention.

Summer Vacation

Over the 2 weeks spent in NY and PA, we had countless reunions with family and friends (some of whom we hadn’t seen in nearly 9 years).  I think when I tallied it up, we had a chance to visit with well over 100 people! Crazy, right?!

Summer Vacation

Our final event of the trip (and our last weekend out) was the wedding of my longtime best friend (like from way back in 6th grade long time friend). This wedding was the whole reason we took think long journey out East. It was an amazing day, with an amazing couple, and I am so glad we were able to be there to share in their special day.

Our trip was delightful. We had amazing weather wherever we went (which is saying A LOT for my hometown). We saw more family and friends over those 3 weeks than we have in the past 3.5 years. It was pretty extraordinary.

All last week I felt like I was in a vacation-hangover. Totally exhausted, irritable, and perpetually groggy. Thankfully, the holiday weekend helped pull me out of my post-vaca slump and I now feel energized!

Being away for 3 weeks was definitely a bit too long, and I doubt we’ll do anything like that again for a long time, but I’m so happy we decided to have an extended visit. As a pretty introverted person, having to be “On” for 3 weeks straight was more draining that I imagined and I’m still feeling like I desperately need solitude everyday to “recharge” a bit.

It feels so nice to be back home, but we also miss all the familiar faces of our East Coast loved ones.

To read more about our trip (including packing tips, keeping kids entertained in the car, and more super cute photos), check out the article I wrote for Wisconsin Parent!

Road Trip Packing Tips: Clothes

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We leave this Saturday for our 1300 mile road trip back East. Whenever I am getting ready for a big trip, my Type-A personality REALLY shines through. You try packing for 2 adults, 1 toddler, 1 infant, and 1 dog ,who are going to be stuck in the car for 3 days, without going a bit nutty.

I started packing for our trip in the beginning of April. I recognize the crazy, but I refuse to do things differently.

Packing for 3 weeks is a process. Yes, it is June and it’s basically summer BUT there’s a good chance the evenings will still be chilly (it is the North East after all).

If you are planning a big trip this summer, here are some tips to help keep you a bit more organized:

Go Crazy With Ziploc Bags!

For the girls, I pack outfits in gallon-sized Ziploc bags; shirt, pants, socks, etc (OMG I know! It’s crazy!)

I then suck out all the air (by rolling the air out…kind of like a sleeping bag).

Now, I have flat packs of outfits. No messy suitcase to dig through. Once clothes are washed I can put them back into the Ziploc bags again!


I also pack some Ziploc bags with spare clothes in them to keep in the car (instead of the overhead cargo box). That way if JBird or Moon Baby spill food or water (or have an accident) we have a change of clothes at the ready. Again, instead of having to dig through bags to find full outfits.

Swim suits, spare socks and undies, and random other spare pieces get their own bags too.

For Mommy and Daddy, we share a medium-sized suit case and garment bag. I don’t pack our outfits in Ziploc bags, but I do use those XL ziploc bags to pack shirts, pants, etc. We don’t have a lot of room in our car, so space saver bags really help. We stop at a motel on our way out East, so a small bag will be packed with a change of clothes for each of us; plus overnight toiletries. That way we don’t have to unload our vacuum sealed suitcases for a quick trip.


Again, I know I’m crazy, but when you’re packing for a 3 week trip with 4 people; all needing clothes ranging from formal to pjs…and not knowing what the weather may be, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Travel Treasure Box for Baby

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The last time we were at Ikea, I bought this fabulous set of 3 baskets from their bathroom department. It came with the larger one (seen), a perfect purse size one (that the dog promptly ate on the way home from Ikea), and a tiny one that fits an egg shaker and is super cute (not shown). I’m pretty sure my grand total was $5.99 for them (plus $300 for all the other stuff I bought….because, Ikea).


We’re really into Montessori-Reggio inspired playthings for Moon Baby to play with and explore at the moment, so putting together a treasure box of sorts seemed like a perfect fit. Typically, I just put 4 or 5 random objects into the basket (rotating out objects every few days, to help keep her interested). For this grand trip that we are embarking on, I decided to categorize objects by color

I have Ziploc bags with red, yellow/orange, green, blue, purple, rainbow and brown/wooden objects that I found around our house. Other than the basket itself, nothing was bought new for this project. treasure-box

It took me about 5 minutes to scavenge for 4-5 items per color group. Most of the items were within arms reach in our playroom.

Once everything was grouped together and placed into bags, I rolled the air out of the bags to help save space.



I think this basket (with it’s treasures) is going to be a big hit on our trip. I love how there’s so many different textures, sounds, and sizes. A really great sensory activity for babies 6-12 months.

Mommy is a Unicorn

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*selfie take by my (then) 2.5 year old. I feel like she’s going to end up a film student.

It seems to me that “Mommy” is a concept. Not always a tangible thing.

I think back to my childhood, and despite being with my mother everyday, I really cannot recall memories of her until my adolescence. I remember being close to her. I remember eating food she made me. I remember going places she took me. But her, as a person, is absent. What’s most fascinating is that the more I talk about it with people, the more they too have similar experiences and memories. Are you able to remember your mother, as a person, before the age of 10?

I have a theory. Being a mother means you do not actually exist as a person until your children are older; even so much as moved out of the house. Instead of being a real person with real interests, fears, flesh, and blood, you are kind of like an imaginary friend. There are days when I’m pretty sure my toddler thinks she is the only one who can see me.

As a mommy you are always there. Everywhere. Even when you’re not there in body next to them, you always seem to know what they are doing; or at least that’s how they see it. You’re more of a presence and less of a person.

When I play with JBird, it’s not the all day engaged play that Daddy and Grandma are privy to; endless games of make-believe, limitless imaginative games. With Mommy, it’s a side by side “together” type of play. We read together, bake together, and paint together. She likes me to sit in the same room as her while she plays with her dolls. Sometimes I am asked to assist in the putting on or taking off of the doll’s clothes. Other than that, my job is to sit and be still.

This is probably why motherhood is so difficult at times. Knowing that your children really have no concept of you as a real person…and won’t until they are much older. Sometimes I just want to scream; probably just to validate that I am in fact a real live human being and not some sort of robot nanny.

But it’s also kind of great when you think about it. There’s a special power that comes along with being a mama.

Mommy is a magical creature.

Mommy is an entity: the all knowing, great and powerful, healer, wielder of bandaids, maker of the rules, queen bee, final say, comforter, lover, possessing all the virtues, muse, hero, warrior, bringer of the grilled cheese.

Daddy is a tangible person. Daddy takes me to the zoo. Daddy reads me stories. Daddy tucks me in. Daddy is special and important…but still real.

Mommy is like vapor. Existing, always there, but somehow not really a person. Mommy is mythical. Mommy is a unicorn.

P is for Whale Bird

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We have this nifty book where pictures of animals slide back and forth to show the letter it starts with, then the name of the animal.

The other day, JBird decided to take it upon herself to spell out the names of the animals.

Ya know, what you do at 3.5 years old

Here’s what it sounded like:

A is for alligator. A-L-L-I-G-A-T-O-R. Alligator.

B is for bear. B-E-A-R. Bear.

So on and so forth.

Clever girl that she is, when she gets to Penguin she looks at the picture and says:


“P is for Whale Bird. P-E-N-G-U-I-N. Whale Bird”

Long pause

Mental gears turning

“Wa-wa-wa Whale Bird.”

“Pa-pa-pa P”

Another pause

(To no one in particular) “OH!! Haha! Penguin! Penguin starts with P!”

I went over to look at the picture once she had set down the book.

Yea, Whale Bird. I see it. Keen observation JBird.