Yesterday could not have been a more beautiful day. The sky was crystal blue with wisps of clouds painted here and there across its palette. The cooler temperatures were a welcome reprieve from the hot conditions that kept us indoors and out of the blazing sun for a good portion of the summer.
What better way to take in this gorgeous day than with a picnic at the playground! I loaded up our picnic basket with traditional fare including sandwiches, cookies, tomatoes, and grapes. With a basket full of goodies and two boys eager to enjoy the day, we set out to one of our favorite playgrounds in the neighborhood. The climbing structures are perfect for an adventurous five-year-old and the Astroturf and covered playground spaces are ideal for a crawling infant.
With cooler temperatures in the forecast for the next few days, it seemed like the right time to make a hearty pot of vegetable beef soup. It’s a great dinner fix but also pulls double duty by serving as leftovers for the week. I love anything that takes the stress out of midweek meal planning.
This soup offers a wide variety of options and provides an ideal mix of fresh and canned items so it’s easy to pull from your kitchen staples in a pinch. Without the ground beef, it’s also a delicious vegetarian choice. Adding brown rice or barley can stretch the soup even further too.
- 4 cups of broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable all suffice)
- 1 pound of lean ground beef
- 1 can of cut green beans, drained
- 1 can of whole kernel sweet corn, drained (frozen works great too)
- 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes
- 4 cups of fresh spinach
- 1 bunch of carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 4-6 small white potatoes, chopped
- salt & pepper to taste
- parmesan cheese to garnish
In a large soup pot over medium high heat, saute onions and garlic in some olive oil until fragrant. Next add the carrots, and saute for a few mintues. Then add the ground beef and saute until brown. Next it’s go time for the tomatoes, garbanzo beans, potatoes, and broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover, turn up the heat (high), and bring to a boil for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then add the green beans and corn and continue cooking until the potatoes are soft. Turn the heat off and stir in the fresh spinach. Serve with artisan rolls and a sprinkle of fresh parmesan cheese.
A hearty soup, delicious artisan rolls, and a glass of red wine made for a perfect dinner. Liam and Atticus had their fill of vegetables, and both smiled through the entire meal. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better Saturday with my favorite bears.
Today my sweet Atticus celebrates ten months of life. How this little cutie is closing in on a year absolutely blows my mind. This month proved to be the most difficult of photo shoots as the evidence proves. While there were a few diamonds in the rough, overall Atticus was not up for the paparrazi’s demands this morning.
Atticus is definitely at an age where he is into everything. Pulling up on the side of his crib, the coffee table, and just about anything he can get his hands on. The movement is nonstop. I definitely have my work cut out for me chasing after my little crawler, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Even a simple diaper change resembles a criminal trying to resist arrest. I place him on his back, and he’s immediately trying to roll over onto his stomach, bare bottom exposed for all the world to see. It’s made getting a fresh nappy on him a rather harrowing experience. Naturally to the outisde observer it’s the comedic relief they need in their day, but for me the struggle is real, Mama Bears!
I’m amazed how much he’s grown into his own little person and how he continues to surprise me with every developmental milestone he reaches. Some days he’s a camera hound, and he just can’t smile enough for me. The photo montage below illustrates some of his happier moments this week. But even the happiest of people are human and have their off days where it’s more like, “Umm. Yeah, No!” Either way, I find every little thing absolutely precious, even when I’m covered in spit up or waking up in the middle of the night by a teething tot. I won’t get these little moments back, so I hold on to them tightly because I know they’ll be gone in the blink of an eye.
When Liam found his way into my life he was a tenacious toddler; far more independent than an infant. Since Atticus’s birth in November, it’s been full blown immersion into all things baby. Every day I find something to marvel in. I regularly have to resist the urge to break into full blown mommy tears; sometimes for the most insignificant reasons (I’ll admit that writing today’s post came with it’s own waterworks show). It’s a rollercoaster of emotions that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
“A baby fills a place in your heart you never knew was empty.” While the author who put it so eloquently into words is unknown, their sentiments couldn’t ring more true for this Mama Bear. Slow down, my sweet, baby boy. You’re already growing up way too fast!
In a world often clouded by negativity, a smile can be a ray of sunshine in someone’s day. A sincere smile can move, motivate, and change the trajectory of someone’s day. Even when we might feel like we’re at our lowest, there is truly always a reason to smile. Search in your heart and find it. Perhaps it’s reminiscing about your first kiss with your husband, reflecting on the moment your child was first placed in your arms after delivery, or something as simple as a beautiful sunrise to start your day.
A genuine smile can have an infinitely powerful impact on the receiver. Today think about the people in your life who would benefit from the simple kindness of a warm smile. Even consider smiling at a stranger today because we’re all in this together.
Just in case you’re searching for a reason to smile, perhaps seeing the world through the eyes of a child might give you all the motivation you need this morning. For this Mama Bear, there is nothing sweeter than the pure joy a baby’s smile emits to the rest of the world.
Smiles are contagious. Pass them on!