Monday, August 31, 2015

5 Fun Feel-Good Romantic Movies {Netflix #StreamTeam}

Romantic comedies are my favorite genre of movie, because, well, I am a breathing female. Ok, maybe you are too and you hate them, but this lady likes her romance and if it can be coupled with humor than you have just made my date night.

Mike and I have watched nearly every decent romantic movie that there is in the world, and I have started to despair a little that any legitimately good romantic comedy-type movies will ever be made again, but in the mean time I will just keep watching gems like these over and over and over again (which is incidentally super easy with Netflix streaming, just saying.) If you're in the market for a good romantic flick, then click click clickity click over and hit these up, they will not disappoint.

1) Silver Linings Playbook. I feel like maybe people were debating a lot about this movie a while ago, but since I deliberately stay clueless as to things that are trending, I only actually watched this rather recently with Mike and loooooved it. I hope that doesn't spark any old debates, or maybe there weren't any, I have no idea. I thought Robert DeNiro's character was completely hilarious and Bradly Cooper is a particular fav of mine and even though it is a little bit dark in some ways, I mostly just thought it was quirky and fun.

2) Roman Holiday. I am forever indebted to this movie for teaching me how to correctly crack an egg, (OOOPS! I confused this one with Sabrina, thanks, Fuzzy!) but I really loved how classy Greggory Peck is and all the shots of Rome were amazing and made me ache to go back.

3) Charade. I watched this years ago with Mike and loved it. I laughed a lot and loved the dynamic between Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn (more Audrey!). They don't make them like they used to (uh huh, right Ana). *

4) While You Were Sleeping. 90s Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman. Need I say anymore? This is one that I had not seen until this past year and Mike was a little aghast at that. It made for a super fun date night movie watch and allowed Mike to check another movie off of his "movies Ana must watch" list, he doesn't actually have a list.

5) 13 Going on 30. Say what you will about this one, but it holds a special, cheesy place in my heart. I would be embarrassed if I counted the number of times I watched this during college, toooooo many. But still, it's fun and feel-good all around a good romantic comedy.

What about you? What are your feel-good favs? I can only watch these so many times, so I am all ears!

* Update -- My movie obsessed husband says that Charade is more of a thriller/suspense than a romantic comedy, but it does have humor and a romance, so I'll still keep it here on the list.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

4 Things I Didn't Do {when potty training 1 & 2}

My first two attempts at potty training another little human being were fairly abysmal. I think this is partly due to the fact that I was simply unprepared and partly because I was not confident or comfortable enough in my role as the Mama Bear. We had read a book, which was the same book that Mike's mom had based her potty training attempts on and it went swimmingly for her, so we figured we would just use the method and it would take. Mike dove in head first with Naomi using that method and it went... ok. However, it was quickly followed by many, many months of more pee and poop being way too many places other than the toilet than I could handle.

Then came the second attempt when we potty trained Bernadette and Mike went for it using that train-in-less-than-a-day method, which resulted in zero successes at peeing in the potty and her vomiting all over her tiny potty due to the copious snacks and juice that they recommend in the book. Mike called it a day and we both called it a failed attempt and decided to wait another month and have me try my hand at getting her to use the toilet. It went much, much better than the first try, both because we decided not to use that method (I am sure that method is a great way to go for some, but it seems like it's not the right fit for our girls' personalities) AND because we waited until we were closer to her 3rd birthday and this is when I made some mental notes for the day when I would try to train Lucy.

Well that day came last week, and I actually put into practice a few of the things I had stowed away in my brain and guess what?!? It was about 10,000 times better than the first 2 tries. I know I know-- there will be regression, she will get willful and decide to pee in an outfit so that she can put a new one on (or maybe that was just a Bernadette thing, I pray it was). Either way, I know that we are not done potty training, but almost 2 weeks into it and we've had only a few small accidents to speak of and way more successes than accidents and we've left the house multiple times for extended periods without defiling public establishments with her waste so I call it a huge success so far.

Lest this be excused for an advice-giving post (not my favorites) this is simply for posterity's sake, an e-log of things I didn't do with the first 2, and made a point to DO this time and it made a huge difference. 

1) Wait. Wait for what? My mom gave me next to no advice in the realm of potty training, but the one thing that she stressed over and over again that I didn't really listen to until #3 was to wait until they are closer to 3 years-old if you want the most success from your efforts. I know hardly any moms my age who do that, and that's fine, but after this experience I will never do anything else. Lucy will be 3 in early October, and I would have waited even longer, but she starts catechesis at our parish and needed to be mostly trained before that, so I held off as late into the summer as I could and developmentally she was in an insanely better place than Naomi or Bernadette when I trained them (Naomi was younger than 2-and-a-half and so was Bernadette on her first attempt.) The second try with Bernadette she was closer to the age Lucy is now and it went much better than the first time. I made the mental note then to not even try until Lucy was as close to 3 as she could be and still to catechesis, and I'll never not do it again.

2) Stay calm. I was a jittery mess when I even thought about potty training the first 2. All the pee! On the floor!! All the POOO!! ON THE FLOOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I couldn't stay calm, or rather, I wouldn't. I was like a volcano ready to erupt at the first sight of pee anywhere but the toilet. Rather than just expecting it and responding with a simple "it's ok, it's just pee (or poop), and it happens!", I mostly just threw my own adult sized tantrum and cried a lot. This time around I was able to keep it together-- even though my nature started to revolt and wanted to freak out about pee on the carpet and Joseph crawling in it-- but I forced myself to stay calm, and it had the lovely effect of not deflating Lucy and helping her to feel encouraged about the next attempt. It is sad and guilt inducing for me when I think about how much my panicky, negative responses likely negatively impacted my other training experiences, but so far my kids don't seem too scarred, so I'll hope for the best there.

3) Stay focused. The day before I was going to start with Lucy I made sure to sit Naomi and Bernadette down and prep them for a day of being entirely neglected. I welcomed their help in any way they could, but I let them know that my focus needed to be on Lucy and Lucy alone. Joseph cried a lot more that first day than usual, because I simply couldn't get to him every time he fussed, because I was teaching a child to no longer defecate in her pants, a rather huge feat that takes a lot of work and focus. I remember trying to do a lot of other stuff while potty training the first 2, we still went out of the house those first few days, I still tried to blog and clean around the house and bake and this time? I did nothing. The house was a wreck, I planned no blog posts those first few days, I tried not to have too much going on in the kitchen other than the basic food needs of the family, I deliberately planned the start of our homeschooling year for 2 weeks post potty training so that Lucy could get more comfortable with going before we started, and I definitely planned NO outings for that first week, which brings me to number 4....

4) STAY HOME. I didn't do this with Naomi and Bernadette, and it was the dumbest thing I did, or didn't do, hands down. Much pee, many stress, in so many public places. This time around I picked a week to do the training, made zero plans with anyone and mentally planned on going no where. Within a couple of days she was doing so well that I felt confident enough to take her to the park, but that was just a major unexpected bonus and was not something I was counting on at all.

5) BONUS! The last thing that I did not do with the first 2 kids that I could not have done even if I wanted to is utilize and capitalize on the help of the older siblings. Second to waiting until Lucy was as close to 3 as we could, employing the help of the 2 older girls was the thing that helped most. They fought over who would accompany Lucy to the toilet, help her get the potty seat set up, and flush and wash her hands. It was equal parts total sweetness and super duper helpful. Yet another case for big families!

Ok, future Ana, you go rock this training like a boss!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Grandma "GiGi" Hahn, 1928-2015

This past Thursday Mike's Grandma Hahn passed away. Mother of three, grandmother of 14 and great grandmother, or "GiGi," of 19 (and counting), she leaves behind many grieving loved ones who were blessed to have known her. Just a few months ago, at the age of 87, she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and given less than 6 months to live. Prior to the diagnosis, she was the most active grandparent I had ever seen: she bowled and golfed regularly, was an avid quilter, and loved to travel to see new places, old friends, and her much-loved family. Mike always joked that his Grandma  would outlive us all, and while she had slowed down a little in the last couple years, it was a devastating shock when we all found out about the cancer.

I never had a very close relationship with my own grandparents, the last of whom passed away several years ago. I have a great deal of respect for them and I loved them very much, but I was never able to connect with them the way I would have wanted. There was a gap between the world that they grew up in and the one I'd grown up in, and it always felt like neither they nor I could bridge it. Even though Grandma Hahn was a product of the same generation as my own grandparents, I am incredibly blessed for the gift of inheriting a grandmother who had the gift of bridging that generational gap.

Mike's Grandma was my friend. She was the closest grandparent I ever had, and she treated me like one of her own granddaughters. She read my blog, kept up with me on facebook, constantly complimented me on what a "great job" I was doing as a mother, asked me about my life, and showered love on my husband, my children, and me--in a lot of ways, she became the grandmother I always longed for.

Even into her 80s, she visited us multiple times here in South Bend, making the drive with a friend who was going to a quilting convention, and never complaining about it being any inconvenience- she wanted to be here. She read with the girls and had tea parties with them and joked and laughed with me and Mike. She had sass and pep and energy to spare-- certainly more than I've ever seen in any other woman in her 80s.

After her diagnosis, Mike and I had the beautiful privilege of going to visit her and we spent some of the most treasured hours I have had in my life. I was amazed that while staring down death she spoke to us with nothing but gratitude and had such an honest retrospective look at her life that didn't excuse things she wasn't proud of, but didn't wallow in any self-pity or excessive guilt. There was a confidence in God's mercy and peace in her being. She knew she likely didn't even have much longer to live, but she laughed, she shared, and she gushed all over Joseph, whose red hair she couldn't have loved more.

My sorrow is deep at the loss of this mother, grandmother, great grandmother and dear friend, but I am so grateful that I have her example to remember when I am, God willing, a grandmother some day. I hope that I can be the sort of grandmother she was, and I hope that I can open my arms so lovingly to granddaughters-in-law and do the wonderful job that she did in bridging the age gap and forming friendships, because hers is one that I will always hold close to my heart.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and all the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen

Friday, August 21, 2015

Freshly Picked {Moccasin Giveaway!}

Here she goes pledging allegiance to yet another brand, I promise I won't ever do it if I don't really mean it.

Freshly Picked is yet another company that is making a really fabulous product for really fabulous babies (see above pictoral evidence), and the founder has a great story too.

Their mocs are made of high quality leather right here in the US of A, and they are so very durable. I would be reusing the one's that Lucy wore-- literally she wore them all the time-- when she was Joe's age, but there is the pink factor.

She really did, she wore them to the park with mulch and all and even Mike ooooed and awwed after his initial expression of doubt as to whether they could hold up in the mulch filled area. But they did, over and over and over again. So I was thrilled to be able to do another review and giveaway with them, this time with some non-pink moccasins.

I really wanted a color that could work with sporty fun clothes for Joe but also could be worn to Mass with a nice getup, so I chose their sleek Swimmin with Sharks color and they work perfectly. I even did a little blended outfit with some Mass gear over top some Notre Dame onesie action, to showcase their versatility, of course.
I bought these a little bit bigger than Lucy's so that he would get more wear out of them, especially since he is a much slower mover than the girls. He probably won't even be attempting anything resembling walking until next spring, and I am hoping they'll still fit him then, I feel absolutely confident they will hold up like the boss mocs they are, but then if they don't I'll have a great excuse to upgrade to these beauties, which would be just fine with me.

Would you like your own free pair? Good! Enter the Rafflecopter below and best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

a cure for the epidemic of dry pot roast

What? This isn't an epidemic for you? I am so happy for you. No really, I am and I am sure that your family is happier than mine. I have no idea what I am looking for when I buy a roast, so I generally just pretend to be an expert and choose one really quickly and it is almost always tough and dry, even if I do all the right things in the prep and cooking of the roast.

But it won't stop me from trying, because a pot roast is a great crock pot meal that our whole family loves, and I am bound to get it right one day.

And actually this is not really a cure for a dry roast, because I have no idea how to do that. It is rather a good use of leftover dry pot roast because if a pot roast is dry the first time around, it will be something resembling those packages of freeze dried astronaut food they showed us in grade school at the science museum the second time around, only harder to chew.

It's bad.

And so I give you:

I honestly want to make a dry pot roast again just so I can make this sandwich. Ok, it would be great with moist pot roast leftovers as well.

Let me show you the secret ingredient to this bad boy:
Even if you're not a Horseradish person you will really like these, the kids liked them and they can't stand the smell of Horseradish, let alone the taste.

1) Loaf of your delicious bread of choice {I chose a round Italian loaf}, sliced into thin slices
2) Left over pot roast
3) Lots of melted butter
and the others:

Are you catching on that the only way to salvage a really dry pot roast is to add as much extra fat and calories as you can? Good, let's keep going.

Step One: Heat a large skillet to 300 degrees

Step two: After heated, butter bottom half of sandwich bread and place buttered side down on heated skillet, then cover the bread with a slices of cheese and let it melt completely while you take care of the next steps

Step Three: Heat your leftovers for about 1 minute and throw them into a food processor

Step Four: Heep 1 to 2 big tablespoons of horseradish sauce on top of the meat in the processor and pulse away until you have a very fine shredded meat and horseradish mixture.

Step Five: Spoon the meat mixture onto the melted cheesy bread slices on the skillet,

Step Six: Slather the bottom of the top slices of bread with mayonnaise and close up your sandwiches, then use a brush to butter the tops of the sandwiches

Finally: Flip and cook until both sides of the panini are a golden to dark brown

Serve with a veggie or salad or don't even feign any semblance of health and eat them solo with a tall glass of wine or a giant beer. That sounds better.

Enjoy and good luck with your pot roasts! (advice welcome!!)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Where The Wild Hahns Are

You might think that since I reside in South Bend Indiana, home of THE fighting Irish, that my favorite place to spend a family day would be the beautiful campus, with its acres and acres of gorgeous greenery plus and huge lake with ducks and geese for kids to feed, plus an awesome mini-beach that is free for spouses of students and their kids. But if you thought that, you would be wrong.

I promise with all my heart that this is NOT a sponsored post, simply an ode to the hottest spot -- in the opinions of the South Bend Hahn family, or maybe just the parents -- in the greater South Bend area. This post is dedicated to the place where we have had lots of super-fun family outings, and many laughs and seen some of the most amazing things.... the Potawatomi Zoo. Try to say that name 5 times fast. No really, try it now.

You see, the really great thing about our zoo is that it is small and manageable, it is easily walkable with 4 little ones, even on my own with them. And the best part is... it isn't totally lame! A few years ago we visited a zoo about as small, mile wise, as the South Bend zoo, and the hottest attraction there was their petting zoo and an ocelot the size of an obese tabby cat that you could barely see.

The Potawatomi Zoo, however, boasts all sorts of really awesome animals that you generally find at big city zoos: Lions, Tigers, alligators, Leopards, Chimpanzees and more. And the best part is that, unlike big city zoos where the animals' exhibits are so big that you're not able to get any closer than 50 yards to the wild life, the South Bend zoo's exhibits are so small that you can get so close to a Lion that it literally pees on you.

Which is equal parts gross, awesome and depressing.

This picture of our (recently deceased, so so sad) Tiger is not zoomed at all, you were just able to get this close to his face. Crazy.

I am not even joking, I have been peed on by a Lion, and I didn't even care because IT'S A LION!

The Amur Leopard, which is incidentally Mike's very favorite animal, just had 3 babies. Just when we thought the zoo couldn't get any more awesome, in come 3 of the cutest animals in the world, that could scratch your face off if they wanted to.

Baby Leopards, people!

Mike's second favorite animal is the prairie dog, and it's not surprising because they are hilarious and really insanely cute.

They sometimes jump out of their holes and make little squeaky screaming sounds and when one does it, they all do it and it cannot NOT make you smile. The last time we went there was a particularly tiny one that kept attacking all of the really fat lazy ones and I could have sat there and watched for hours just like I could sit here and write about it for multiple lines and I am starting to wonder what is wrong with me.

Not pictured and worth honorable mention:
- the Boa Constrictor, which is huge and yellow and amazing.
- the many, many monkeys that are sprinkled throughout the zoo that make for some really joyous viewing.
- the incredible petting zoo, which includes calves, sheep, a disconcerting number of very loud goats, turkeys, chickens, roosters, pigs, donkeys and more.
- the river otters, who have been particularly boring the last few times I've been, but who can put on a great show when they are so inclined.
- the Bison, camels, and Red Pandas, and you should really just go to the zoo and see for yourself, I doubt you will be disappointed unless you hate animals in which case... why?

Again, not a sponsored post, but if you happen to work for the zoo and would like to give me free train passes for the rest of the season in exchange for this plug, just email me and we'll talk business.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

more than just a diaper bag

A couple years ago I first started following Lily Jade through a review and giveaway hosted by Grace. I'll just go ahead and make this little confession that sometimes I enter giveaways through following a company, and then once the giveaway is over and I didn't win I maybe just maybe un-follow them. I know, I'm so bad! (you know you've done it)

I don't always do it, and I generally stick with them long enough to see what they're all about and whether or not I would really, genuinely use their product and stand behind it. It did not take long for Lily Jade to keep me hooked, and not just for their gorgeous diaper bags, they really are so much more.

Within a few months of following them on Facebook, and then later on Instagram, I realized that his company was different in so many ways. Yes, they are making great products for mothers of little ones but so many other companies out there are doing that too. So what are they doing that's different? I'll tell you.

They are encouraging and uplifting mothers, they are supporting a culture of life by continually promoting the message that life is sacred and that this vocation of motherhood both difficult and beautiful and ultimately heroic.

Plenty of us mothers feel the pressure of a world that is often bothered by the inconvenience of children: we endure the comments from strangers about "what causes this", the occasional eye rolls, and the open-mouthed stares at our children and their borderline psychotic behavior in Old Navy. It is hard to stay strong, to keep believing that what we are doing is not only OK but even good, even very good, and to persevere in our efforts to be virtuous mothers.

Maybe I am going too far here, because Lily Jade is primarily a diaper bag company, but in the months that I have been following them, I have found a great deal of inspiration and support from their constant affirmations of me as a mother. Honestly, their product just seems to be a concrete expression of their appreciation for mothers, and their desire for mothers to feel cared for.

Their bags are the made with high quality full grain leather and have an incredibly convenient, detachable and washable organizational bag inside the leather bag. The inner bag is made of a silky smooth material and has oh so many fabulous pockets, and is incidentally sold separately. I love love love the Elizabeth in camel and the Sarah Grace in gold (Katrina wore it beautifully). Nell also rocks the Madeline in canvas, I would go for that one too- who am I kidding, I would take them ALL!

We are heading into what is sure to be a fun festival of feces in the next few weeks while attempting to potty train Lucy, and I cannot tell you how very grateful I am for all the pockets in this bag-- I will be using each and every one for all the extra undies and multiple clothing changes I'm sure to need.

In short, even if you're not in a financial situation to have your own Lily Jade right now, you should definitely follow them on Facebook and Instagram, and tell your friends and family all about them to get the word out about this fabulous company. They are doing great things and making fabulous products, head over and check them out!