Monday, March 29, 2010

Whatcha Reading? Book Review Monday

This week's book The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson is a new favorite of mine, and what's the best news you can hear when you find a new favorite book? It's part of a series!

This book was highly recommended to me by my best friend (she even gave it to me as a gift). We have similar taste in reading materials so I figured that I would like it. The first few chapters didn't draw me in immediately but quickly after that I was hooked. And I mean really hooked.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a murder mystery unlike any other I've read. The characters are complex but still likable. The plot is fast-paced and full of interesting, sometimes disturbing, details. The story is set in Sweden, which adds a unique background.

This debut novel by Stieg Larsson, who sadly died before his books became bestsellers, is a must-read. Mikael Blomkvist, one of the main characters, is a disgraced journalist chasing the biggest story of his career when he meets a fascinating and secretive young woman, Lisbeth Salander. Salander and Blomkvist embark on a journey to solve a decades old murder mystery.

The novel is a satisfying read but it sets us up for the next book in the triology, The Girl Who Played with Fire. I've just started the second book and so far it has not disappointed me.

If you enjoy mysteries and want to try an intelligent and unique book with a dark edge that combines well-developed characters and classic who-done-it mystery mixed with modern technology and complicated relationships then I highly recommend The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Quote of the day

Mason was not happy the other night when he was expected to sit at the dinner table while we ate dinner. Here's what he had to say to me as he stalked away with his arms crossed and a big pouty lip:

"I'm losing my temperature with you Mama!" 

Well, we wouldn't want him to lose his temperature now would we? Ha!! 

It made me realize that when I tell him that I'm going to lose my temper if he doesn't stop doing whatever frustrating little 3-year-old behavior he's doing that he doesn't know what I'm talking about. I guess I need to explain that one. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Six Degrees of Blogging

I came across a fun way to discover new blogs. Work, wife, mom... life has a meme where you start on your own blog and click on another blog's link. Then you keep clicking through to other blogs until you get to the 6th blog. 

I found a blog called "Deal"ightfully Frugal which has lots of great information about good deals, such as a link to a coupon for 30% off at Old Navy. I printed out a $10 off coupon for the movie Princess and the Frog. That is definitely a great deal! There are also giveaways on this blog. If you're looking for some ways to stay frugal you should check out "Deal"ightfully Frugal. 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Infantino sling recall

Have you heard about the recall of one million baby slings made by Infantino?

There were three reported infant deaths due to suffocation in these slings in 2009. How sad and scary! As a mother of a newborn, I can imagine how devastating an accident like that would be, so I wrote an article to get the word out about the recall and about being very careful using baby slings.

I used a sling quite a bit with baby #2 since his big sister was only 2 when he was born and I needed my hands free to help her often. I haven't used a sling yet with baby Ryan and now I feel nervous about using one. In my article there is a link I found with tips and a diagram about proper use of a baby sling.

Here's the link to my article :

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Follow & New Baby Picture

Today is Friday so I'm linking up with Midday Escapades Friday Follow blog. It's fun to find new blogs and share my blog with other Friday Followers.

Today I'm going to just share a new picture of baby Ryan. He's almost three weeks old now. He's such a happy, healthy baby and we're all enjoying our first few weeks with him. The big kids are amazed by how tiny and cute he is - and by how much he poops!

Come back to The Family Fanatic blog for my new Whatcha Reading? Book Review Monday and for more family friendly recipes, silly kid quotes, and other stories from our family adventures. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Recipe of the day: Grandma's Pasta Sauce

The Nourishing Gourmet hosts a Pennywise Platter Thursday recipe exchange and I thought that this simple, delicious recipe would be a great one to share.

For Christmas gifts two years ago I complied a whole bunch of our favorite family recipes and made a cookbook for my extended family. My aunt was able to get my grandma's recipe box for me (without telling Grandma so she could be surprised) and I found this tomato sauce recipe. My grandma, being a little old Italian lady, has a classic approach to making a great sauce for any pasta. Thanks Grandma!

Pasta Sauce
1/4 c. olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 - 28 oz. can peeled tomatoes
Fresh basil & oregano
Salt & pepper

In a large pot, saute garlic and onions in olive oil. Add tomatoes, cook for at least 20 minutes (can simmer longer). Season to taste with salt, pepper, basil, and oregano. Serve over 1 lb. pasta cooked al dente and top with grated parmesan cheese.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Whatcha Reading? Book Review Monday

One of my favorite hobbies is reading. I've always been an avid reader but I often end up too busy to read as much as I would like.

Ironically, since Little Mr. Ryan was born two weeks ago I've had lots of quiet time to read. That's because when I'm nursing him I have to just sit still and relax. It's quite wonderful. I also don't have that pesky work stuff to worry about, which frees up lots of time to enjoy a good book also.

My newfound extra time to read inspired me to start a weekly book review on The Family Fanatic blog. This week I'll start with a book that I just finished, but I have some other books I've recently read that I'll add soon.

I bought A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick as a gift for my mom and she was kind enough to pass it back to me after she read it. She told me that it was a good read and I have to agree.

A Reliable Wife is set in a small Wisconsin town in the dead of winter in 1907. Ralph Truitt is the wealthiest man in town and when he advertises for a wife he gets more than he bargained for. Catherine Land answers his ad and arrives in his life full of mysterious, seductive secrets. As her true purpose for agreeing to marry a lonely stranger unfolds we learn about the dynamics of powerful relationships between parents and children, husbands and wives, siblings, and lovers. 

I love books like this that are set in an interesting historical time period with a realistic setting that tells the reader a little bit about what life was like in the past. This book does that and a whole lot more. I was surprised by how steamy much of the plot was in this book, but if you don't mind some racy scenes you will find this to be a very interesting book with several plot twists. 

The main character, Catherine, shows us the dilemma women faced around the turn of the century: without a husband to support you, you were going to be hard off to have a comfortable role in society. In her effort to find her place in the world, she becomes caught between two loves - a new love that is seemingly good and honest versus a bitter, lustful love from the past. 

Overall, this was a very engaging story with characters that, while not exactly relatable, the reader can feel sympathy for. Be prepared for some very sexy scenes, struggles with life and death, and a few unexpected turn of events. 

I'd love comments from anyone else who has read A Reliable Wife or anyone who has any book suggestions. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Giveaway: $50 Safeway Giftcard

Since I started blogging a few months ago I've learned that there are some terrific giveaway blogs out there.

One of them is In a Kid's World, which is hosting a $50 Safeway giftcard giveaway. You can go to the website to enter the Safeway giveaway and to find a whole bunch of other great giveaway contests to enter.

Good luck!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Recipe of the day: Scones

Scones are a delicious treat that I thought would be way too difficult for me to make myself, but I was happily surprised at how well this recipe turned out. 
Here's a recipe that is simple and quite delicious. I used dried apricots the first time I made them but any dried fruit would be tasty. My kids enjoyed helping with this recipe too, especially rolling out the dough and shaping the scones.


2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup cream
1 egg
Handful dried currants, dried cranberries and/or diced dried apricots

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix well. Cut in butter and shortening. In a separate bowl, combine cream with beaten egg then add to dry ingredients. Stir in fruit. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Roll dough out and cut into small triangles or biscuit size rounds. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

This post is participating in:

Friday Follow

Sponsored by:

Bea's Gift Baskets

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I wish I was a grown up

My darling six-year-old daughter is so enthralled with her new baby brother that she wants to hold him every chance she gets. She can hardly wait for me to finish feeding him before she gets a chance to hold him again.

Being a big sister for the second time has really brought out the best in her sweet little personality. She is suddenly more helpful, more polite, and more considerate. The effects of this are spilling over into her behavior with her 3-year-old brother too. It's wonderful! (I feel like I need to knock on wood just typing out the words so I don't jinx it.)

I had to hold back a chuckle the other day when she said one of the cutest things. She was holding baby Ryan on her lap when she looked at me with her big brown eyes, a serious expression on her face.

"Mama, I wish I was a grown up so that he could be my baby," she said wistfully.

Ha! I know she really thinks that's true but if only she knew how much work and stress she'll have when she's a grown up and how much she'll wish for the carefree days of childhood again... Laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, work, bills, etc. (Do I need to go on?) Then again, that's my grown up perspective and I don't really remember how it feels to be six-years-old.

I gently reminded her that if Ryan was her baby she would have to change his poopy diapers and wake up with him at night. She really thought about that for a while. Maybe being the big sister is enough for now after all.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fruit Smoothies for Kids

"I like watching t.v. because I learn new things, like how to spell and how to make smoothies."

That was the insightful comment my daughter made the other day. We do enjoy watching a bit of t.v. at our house. The kids like all cartoons, especially Nick Jr., I like cooking shows, and Daddy watches sports and the news. We are usually pretty busy with activities so the t.v. isn't on too much, but some days the kids enjoy relaxing with some down time watching semi-educational shows (we can't be good every minute, now can we?).

A new favorite of theirs in The Fresh Beat Band. It's one of those cute singing and dancing acts that seems very staged and corny to adults but kids think is way cool. Mason saw a recipe for Fresh Beat Band Smoothies that he couldn't wait to try. We went to  and printed out the straw toppers. The kids had fun cutting those out and putting them on their straws and cups.

The Fresh Beat Band's Berry Cherry Groovy Smoothie
1/2 c. fresh or frozen strawberries
1/2 c. fresh or frozen pitted Bing cherries
1/4 c. fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 c. apple cider
1/2 c. low-fat yogurt
Strawberry and raspberry for garnish (optional)
Directions: Place fruit in the base of a blender. Add the cider and yogurt. Blend on low, stopping the blender to stir if necessary, until smooth. Increase to high for several seconds. Divide the mixture between two glasses and top with fresh fruit. Don't forget your Fresh Beat Band straw topper.

We make our own version of fruit smoothies regularly at home. Here's the basic recipe but we add any other fruit we have on hand, such as mango, peaches, and pineapple.

Family Fanatic Smoothie
6 - 8 large frozen strawberries
1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1 banana
1/2 c. milk (vanilla soy milk tastes great too)
1/4 c. apple juice
1/2 c. plain nonfat yogurt
Directions: Place all ingredients in a deep bowl. Use a handheld blender to mix. Serves 2 - 3.

For more kid friendly recipes check out the Big Words Little Foodies recipe swap at Food With Kid Appeal. This post is also participating in Real Food Wednesday from Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Watch out for squirrels!

Sounds funny, right? Not so much at our house last night.

Just after we got all the kids to sleep, my mom and I sat down to watch Grey's Anatomy. My dear husband was tidying up the toys on the other side of the family room when I saw this dark thing fall down from the balcony by the stairs.

"What was that?" I wondered as I saw our cat Fiona flash across the dining room.

Then I heard my husband shout out an expletive and yell, "There's a squirrel in the house!"

"What!!!! How the heck..." There was no time to talk about it as we saw this crazy squirrel run across the family room. My first reaction was to laugh but that didn't last long.

Thankfully all the kids were tucked away in their rooms, so I picked up the cat (the last thing we needed was a cat vs. squirrel showdown) and put her in our bedroom with the door closed.

You'd think that shooing a squirrel out the door wouldn't be too hard but I started to wonder if there are professional squirrel catchers out there because we needed help. That little vermin would not take the hint - GET OUT OF OUR HOUSE!

We'd chase it out from under the couch and it would run upstairs to hide under the recliners in the living room. Then we'd chase it out from there and it would leap down the stairs to go under the couch again. Repeat that about 15 times and you get the picture.

We tried trapping it in a blanket, shooing it toward the door with a broom, yelling at it to get it to run to the open door, and moving furniture to keep it from hiding, but to no avail. It was a master evader.

Finally after about an hour, the darn thing hid inside a stereo speaker (don't ask me how). My husband had to cut the speaker wire, carry the speaker to the front porch and literally shake it upside down for about 3 minutes to get that stubborn squirrel out.

Wow... talk about unwelcome guests. I don't know who was more traumatized, the squirrel or us.

Friday Follow

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Welcoming home new baby

Our family was blessed with the arrival of our third child, Ryan Thomas, on March 7th. Now that he's four days old I feel like he's been here forever. How did we ever live without this sweet little guy?

He was born at 4:40 pm, after only 4 fours of labor (and a few difficulties with false labor, see False Labor, Nausea, Incorrect Due Date). He is 7lbs. 7oz. and 20 3/4 inches of pure perfection!

We're all adjusting well to our new family member. Emily and Mason love their little brother so much already. They both cover him with kisses and gentle hugs. Emily's best quote came yesterday when she was holding him. She said wistfully, "I wish I was a grown-up so he could be my baby." 

Mason has been doing great with his big brother role too. Mason wants to hold him a lot just like Emily but his attention span is much shorter. After about 30 seconds he says, "Okay, that's enough. My arms are tired." 

I think that the age difference between the kids is nearly ideal with Mason being almost 4 and Emily being 6 1/2 years old. I hope that the lovey dovey stuff continues for a long time. It's hard to imagine any sibling rivalry but I won't worry about that yet. 

It's been interesting trying to remember all of the newborn care stuff. You'd think that I'd have it down pat by the third time. I'm keeping track of his feedings (at least every three hours), working on helping him get the hang of nursing, and changing lots of little tiny diapers. Thankfully "Grammy" has been here to take care of the big kids while I'm getting used to being a mom to a newborn. Their other grandparents are coming to help next week too. We're so lucky to have wonderful parents.

That would be my number one tip for new moms: find someone who can help you the first week or two. Sometimes moms have trouble letting go of control and asking for help, but it's so incredibly necessary at this time that it's not even funny.

Having a new baby is wonderful, overwhelming, and exciting all at once. It really makes you stop and take time to think about your life and your family. We're enjoying these first few days with Ryan and I'll keep you all posted on any new developments. 

Welcome Baby Ryan!

Friday, March 5, 2010

False Labor, Nausea, Incorrect Due Date and One Long Night

False labor, what could be more frustrating? After 9 months of waiting for my little bundle of joy, my body decided to tease me with contractions last night. Then they stopped. Unfortunately the nausea and vomiting were not so quick to stop.

I woke up with contractions at about midnight Thursday night, then became very ill. I had nausea and vomiting during my labor with Emily so I thought, "Oh no, I guess it isn't true what people say about the third child's labor being easier and faster." 

My contractions were irregular so I waited as long as I could to go to the hospital. At 6am, we dropped the kids off at our neighbor's house. (Thank God for good neighbors!) By the time we got to the hospital I was so dehydrated that they put me on an I.V. and anti-nausea medication, but my darn ol' contractions decided to get lighter and lighter until they stopped coming at all. 

I was hoping that the doctor on-call would just go ahead and put me on pitocin to induce labor (I had to have it with Mason and that was a great labor and delivery) but she would do no such thing. This is where the issue of an incorrect due date comes up. 

Apparently, at my 9 week ultrasound it was found that my due date was actually 5 days later than the estimated date of March 9th. But, and this is a big BUT, no one every told me. I guess it's standard for due dates to fluctuate 3 - 5 days so the ultrasound technician and my doctor must have decided not to mention it to me. Because of that the on-call doctor said that I'm too far from my CORRECT due date to induce labor. 

Well, fine then! So a very disappointed mommy and daddy came home still waiting for their baby to be born. Everyone please keep your fingers crossed, say a prayer, etc. that our little guy arrives healthy, and soon. 

This post is linked up with Follow Fridays, so head over to the Midday Escapes blog to see some other great mommy blogs. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oh Boy a Bunk Bed!

My two wonderful kiddos are enjoying a rite of passage for many siblings: sharing a bunk bed. We spent most of the day on Sunday shopping for the bed and Thursday afternoon when the big furniture truck pulled up in front of the house you would think that Santa Claus himself had just parked his sleigh outside. The kids were overjoyed with excitement. Eddy the furniture delivery guy was their hero.

We did some rearranging in Emily's room to make room for the bunk bed so that the big kids can share her room, freeing up Mason's room for their little brother. A few days ago Daddy put the crib up in Mason's (now the baby's) room. With the big kids tucked into their new shared room for the first time, I'm contemplating the fact that this is the first of many big changes to come in the near future.

Keep your fingers crossed that the first night of the new co-sleeping arrangements goes well for the kids!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I Can't Put My Socks On

Well, I can but it sure takes a lot of effort. I've decided to forego socks until the baby is born.

I'm trying to enjoy these last few days of pregnancy and savour the moments of my last time being pregnant (my husband made me promise that three children was enough), but I can't help but look forward to the days when I'll be able to put my socks on again.

I'm also looking forward to bending down to pick things up, having more than three pairs of pants that fit, not going to the bathroom every 20 minutes - not to mention meeting my baby!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Green Eggs & Ham for Dr. Seuss' Birthday

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

To celebrate the author who gave us so many of our favorite books, we're going to have green eggs and ham for dinner. Dr. Seuss was born on March 2, 1904. For lots of ideas about how to celebrate Dr. Seuss with your kids check out this website: with lots of Dr. Seuss related activities.

Here's my recipe for green eggs. You could always add green food coloring to scrambled eggs but this is a good way to sneak in some spinach.

Green Eggs
5 eggs
1 cup baby spinach, washed and drained
3 tbs. milk
1 tbs. butter or margarine
salt & pepper
1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese 
Melt 1/2 tbs. butter in a large nonstick skillet. Add spinach and cook until wilted, stirring occasionally. Add milk and continue cooking about 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor or blender and puree. 
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, a dash of salt & pepper, and spinach puree. In the meantime, reheat the skillet and melt remaining butter. Add egg mixture, reduce heat to low and sprinkle with cheese. When the eggs begin to set, stir occasionally until the eggs are firm, about 3 minutes. Serve with ham! 

Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss is not only a fun book but it teaches the kids about being good eaters. After we finished reading it once Mason, in his infinite 3-year-old-wisdom, said, "He tried it and liked it!" That's a good lesson about trying new foods. For more funny kids quotes see Food With Kid Appeal's Big Words Little Foodies recipe swap. 

This post is also participating in Real Food Wednesdays  from