Friday, September 28, 2012

When Dad's Away...

...we make soup.  Not just any soup, though.  A soup I discovered last fall that now has a sacred place on my fall bucket list every year.  Could I make it in the summertime?  Why, of course, yet, there's something about purchasing my first butternut squash of the season, sitting there basking in all its glory next to the mums and corn husks, and array of cute gourds, that makes it worth the wait.

**recipe for butternut squash soup below..**

Beau left early Sunday for a work conference in Omaha, leaving Cruz and I some quality mama/son time for a few days.  Beau doesn't leave us very often, but it's always those times that I realize just how important he is to this family's equation.  I miss little things the most --- conversation in the kitchen during dinner time, cramming in the bathroom together during bath time, and the simple presence of someone sitting across the way in the living room.  Heck, I even missed that guitar playing Blowin' in the Wind for the 200th time.  

And now, after having another life to care for, my responsibility heightens even more when it's just me.  I remember after Cruz was born, Beau took a week or so off from work.  Every day, we rode the parenting train together, leaning on one another, examining our handiwork with a diaper, and tag-teaming simple routines like baths, poopy diapers, and bag packing.  I think we changed diapers together for the first three months of Cruz's life.  Anyways, I remember the first day Beau went back to work, my first day at home with Cruz by myself.  While one part of me was so excited for the opportunity to get this precious baby all to myself, another part of me was freaking out, knowing it was all up to me to keep this thing alive and happy for eight hours straight.  I was walking the plank alone, and the open waters below looked pretty intimidating.      

And although I still feel that anxiety creep into my system when it's just me for a few days, there's now a part that I relish, a part that makes me feel strong and powerful and independent when I have a chance to swim it on my own.  When there's two of us around,  I sometimes get into this trap of feeling like there's always something else to do, but when it's just me, it's validating to realize that life sometimes goes a whole lot smoother when you're not trying to accomplish everything at once.  The small things, a bath before bed, five bedtime stories instead of three, and getting out the door on time in the morning, all become big accomplishments when it's up to one person.  I always salute every single mama in this world after going it alone for a day or two.       

So what did the boy and I do while daddy was away???

We went for a walk before bed.

We did some puzzles.

We visited the book store and the pet store with Papa Curt and Grandma Kelly.

We did some painting.

And, we made soup.  

Without further adieu, the recipe to my savory and creamy butternut squash masterpiece.

-1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
-4 tbsp. butter
-6 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped into chunks (about the size of a quarter)
-2 cups chicken broth
-1 cup water
-4 cubes chicken bouillon
-1/2 tsp. garlic salt
-1/2 tsp. marjoram
-1/2 tsp. black pepper
-1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
-1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese

1.  In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onions and saute until tender.  Add squash, water, broth, and spices, and bring to boil.  Boil for 20 minutes, or until squash is tender and well, squashable.

2.  Reduce heat to low and add package of cream cheese and stir until melted.  Next, in batches, puree soup in a blender or processor.  Stir back in pot and heat through.  

**I like the soup with a spoonful of brown sugar and a piece of crusty bread for dipping.  

Happy Weekend to You!  Where did you go, September?!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fall is Here

I love unplanned, impromptu weekends maybe as much as the planned ones --- especially when they involve favorite fall things --- mukluks and fleece, biscuits and gravy and coffee with cream and sugar, and movie nights and pizza boxes piled under warm and cozy blankets.  Saturday was the first official day of fall, and it swept in like a late-July thunderstorm and reminded us that Mother Nature can indeed still chill our bones.  And while this cold, unexpected frost may have altered our plans to go pumpkin hunting on Saturday, our detour to downtown Waterloo for some yummy breakfast at Newtons proved to be planned and calculated by powers much higher than our smart phones.  After a lovely breakfast tucked in the back of our favorite downtown diner, we ended up at Touch a Truck, aka, thee best day of Cruz's life thus far.  A fundraiser that blocked off city streets and filled them with just about every truck, car, and tractor possible for no other purpose than to let lots of little eager souls sit in the driver's seats, test out the sirens, and honk the horns.  The trucks, paired with two giant blow-up castles, a balloon artist, several Tonka trucks, and Scratch Curbside, Cruz was on cloud nine all morning. 

But perhaps the best part of our morning was when Cruz spotted little miss Harper from across the parking lot, and started shrieking and shaking in excitement at the sight of her blond pigtails.  Our two littles saw each other just in time to ride the yellow school bus together, followed by the tractor, the military hummer, and the police swat car.  What a fun surprise running into his favorite friend!

Cruz and his friend, Ethan, found themselves together in the back of a police swat vehicle.  I really hope this isn't some bizarre foreshadowing into our future...

After his first ever stint in a blow-up castle (which he loved, by the way), a very patient wait in line at the balloon animal stand, and a few Scratch cupcakes for the road, we enjoyed a rare Saturday afternoon at home, taking naps during football, doing a little paint project to hang on our fridge, and mixing up some yummy movie night snacks for our night ahead.

With the first expected frost of the season falling on Saturday night, we decided it was the perfect night for a movie night with Jordan, Kelli, Charly, and Hayes.  And to think Cruz's day could get any better!  We ordered pizzas from the OP, curled up under a sea of blankets in the basement, made movie night necklaces of Cheerios, Fruit Loops, and Gummy Savors, and the adults sipped Coke with Black Velvet Toasted Caramel.  And although the kiddos weren't too content on cuddling up and watching Cars with us, they seemed pretty happy to reconnect.

How else did we celebrate this first official weekend of fall? 
...a nighttime walk under the orange glow of street lights, and a pit-stop by the football field in our pajamas.

...Friday night dinner in --- one of our favorite classic pasta dishes with our final batch of garden tomatoes, an after dinner drink or two (have I mentioned how good B.V.'s Toasted Caramel is?!), and a simple, no-stress breather after a busy work week.

...playtime in the basement.  We use our basement more after summer's end, and are always reminded of how cozy it is.  So cozy, that we decided to renew our Netflix account and vowed to spend many nights curled up with a bowl of popcorn and a good flick.

...homemade applesauce in the crockpot.  It was easy, it was tasty, and best of all, it simmered in the slow cooker all afternoon and filled my house with a smell that made my Wallflowers curl up in embarrassment.  

...Cruz's photo book came in!  This is one of the single most exciting days of our fall, and is always followed with a perfectly timed walk down memory lane right before our sweet boy turns another year older.


Monday, September 24, 2012

first day of photos
















Fall arrived this weekend.  We celebrated.  

More to come :)


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