Wednesday, December 28, 2016

........We took the time to move the last of our personal items from our NYC apartment this past week. There wasn't a ton inside, as we had rented the big stuff; but there was enough to make a full morning of it.........

.......When we moved out 4 years ago and rented the place to a tenant, we were leaving life as we knew it. We said goodbye to friends and our urban life that we had known for a decade and headed for suburbia. The decision to move has been great and we love our life in CT. However, there was a part of us that still considered ourselves "city people" since we still owned our place and knew we always had the option to go back. However, our family isn't at a phase we can go back, so when we left the apartment this week; we left it for good.......

.......This time, we also said goodbye to all of the memories those walls held. That was our home as newly weds. It was the place that housed reunions when Stefan moved to Europe for 6 months and we each took turns commuting for bi-weekly visits. That was the apartment that held tons and tons of flowers after we lost our first baby and we were the saddest we have ever been. That was the apartment that housed hundreds and when I say hundreds, YES- hundreds of visitors that came to stay with us over the course of 10 many feasts and dinners and tons of laughter with old and new friends......the apartment walls are where I brought home my first three babies and learned how to be a parent on the fly.....sleepless nights, playdates, birthday parties, potty training, also reminds me of bedbugs, lost mice and dead rats inside the walls, too......all NYC commonalities I can never move far enough away from........

......I pray that the new owners have as much love and as much fun in the apartment as we had. It truly is the end of the an era and we are so blessed that for the last several months, we have had a place to take our kids as a staycation and experience some fun weekends in the city! The timing is perfection, as God's timing can only be.......old doors closed with the hope and possibility of new roads to be year ahead, new chapters to be opened, new pages to be long, NYC. You gave us an experience we will forever be grateful for...........


Monday, November 7, 2016

.......Mae, oh Mae......she's three!.......

As mamas I think we can all agree that with every child comes growth, change and our hearts are burst wider, taller and deeper than they were just seconds before we placed our new baby on our bare skin......, my Mae is three......and I really must attribute the growth I have had in my walk with Christ the last few years to her......she is the baby that I prayed for before we were really even sure if we would be expanding our family.......and she is the one who reminds me every day that God is good and His love endures all things.......she is the one who taught me more about faith and hope than anyone else probably will in my lifetime......

.....the last three years have been fuller, more joyous, happier (and busier) than I ever thought has been a gift to watch your siblings interact with you and you with them...... are the one who watches and takes everything all in so that you understand your surroundings.....and you never want to be left out...... want inclusion in everything and you demand's one of the things I love most about know what you want and you fight for cherish the times that our entire family is together and it makes sense because you completed us the day you were born.....

....each of my children are uniquely special to me for their own reasons, but today we celebrate Mae......joyful, bright, boundless, thoughtful, Mae.....and because of you, this family is complete.....

We love you to the moon and back, sweet Mae! Xx

Friday, May 6, 2016

.....A tribute to mamas........

I found this picture that was archived on my blog and had to re-post considering Mother's Day weekend is ahead of us. This picture was taken on our honeymoon, somewhere off the coast of St. John's in September of 2004. I love this picture because I love the day that we had that lead up to this sunset cruise. I loved the way our life was back then. Easy. We had great careers, we traveled a ton, and we had endless nights of quality tim. We had lazy mid day brunches on the weekends after rolling out of bed whenever we wanted. It was what we refer to now as "our old life" and back then; we couldn't imagine anything better than what we had.
Fast forward 11.5 years. We have 4 children that all love to wake up early. We don't go to brunch or have endless quality time. On the contrary, there are some days that we don't really talk much due to scheduling. We still roll out of bed, but not in a way that you do when you know you're going to brunch. It's more of a roll and stumble to the coffee maker, all while listening to 4 orders of what the littles want for breakfast 
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I am sure tons of you can relate to the life before and the life after children. Here's the truth.
In this picture, I had no idea that my heart could grow so big. I had no idea that I would gladly stay up all night with a sick child or that my heart would break on their first day of Kindergarten. I had no idea how much work being a parent is; no clue about the amount of things you have to remember when they are babies and toddlers. I was clueless to the amount of laundry that comes with each child, had no idea that being a parent also means that you are a doctor, activities coordinator, mediator, maid, chef, driver, comedian, negotiator, judge, crafter, actor, singer, hair stylist, and a human pillow for many nights of child hosting in our bed. 
It never even occurred to me that getting out of the house as a married couple would sometimes mean moving boulders in order to escape; and in the earlier years, screaming children would be pounding at the door after our departure because we were in a phase of severe separation anxiety. In fact, I didn't even know what the term "separation anxiety" meant when this circa 2004 picture was taken. 
I didn't know that little girls start to have boy crushes at the age of 7 or that they would start slamming doors at me this young either. I also didn't know how much it would hurt my feelings, but now I fully understand why my Mom took my bedroom door off the hinges as a teen. 
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 I didn't understand the special bond a mother and son have, nor did I understand the special one a mother and daughter can have too. I could not have imagined inconspicuously recording my son talking about his day during bedtime, only because I want to have a permanent record of the way his 5 year old voice sounds. It's the only way I know how to capture it before I forget what it sounds like. 
I had no idea what it would feel like to will time to stand still, but also experience so much joy to see my children growing. I didn't understand so much back then, but it all becomes clearer to me every single day.

To my own mama on Mother's Day weekend, please know how deeply I love you and how grateful I am for every single memory we've shared in 41 years. You sacrificed so much for us and now I understand how much joy we gave you. Your encouraging words ring true in my heart every single day. 
To my other mom on Mother's Day, you raised a son who is a treasure in our home. He is everything I want Brody to be and I thank you for all of the love and devotion you put into raising him. I can only hope that if and when Brody marries that I can love his wife as beautifully as you have loved me.

Happy Mother's Day to every mama out there who cannot even imagine what life was like before becoming a mama. And here's hoping that you get a small glimpse this weekend of what life was like when you weren't one. 
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Cheers to pampering and not lifting a finger, mamas! 
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Enjoy your Mother's Day weekends!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

......Fall for Math and Raz I love you or hate you?

I am fully aware that the future of our children's homework is moving to the computer. I'm not against that notion, but I think old fashioned ways of learning are being ruled out too quickly. 
With that being said, I have a love-hate relationship with the family laptop that our children use. As much as I think there are beneficial programs and do reinforce class lessons, the laptop causes a lot of arguing in our household. Here's what usually goes down:
Mae butts in and pounds the keyboard for a turn, just as you'd expect a 2 year old to do. The sister trying to do her assignment is frustrated and nudges (pushes) Mae away and she immediately starts screaming and wants to be held. 
Brody is frustrated because he doesn't have a log in or password for "Fall for Math" or "Raz" and whines that ABC Mouse is for babies. I am pretty sure he throws some "it's not fairs" in there and a "I'm never gonna get to Kindergarten." I am not sure what he's saying because Mae is still screaming in my ear. 
Both of the big girls will count the exact minute on how long the other sister got to use the computer and if one gets more time than the other, there is an argument. Usually the sister who is spending time talking to me about how we treat others in our home (not pushing Mae) gets the least time on her homework since we are re-visiting the family rule of keeping our hands on our own body. So now she's upset because I wouldn't "let her do her homework."
Today, we shut down the laptop for the rest of the week and our math homework was finding and counting all the loose change in drawers and odd places. 
Mae has no interest in what the big girls are doing, Brody played with legos and the big girls found $17 in change while doing their homework. They may have even smiled at each other too 👭
Win for the Balderach house tonight.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


I came across this old picture today in a memory pop up alert. This was 2010 and I was 4 months pregnant with Brody. Elsie still wasn't even three yet and this might be the only picture I have of Callie at this age sitting still. She was (and still is) quite the mover and shaker. My glasses are on so you can't see Mae. She is the twinkle in my eye still yet to make her grand entrance into this world, so technically she's present in this picture too.

This day reminds me of the phase of child rearing that was physically challenging. Three under three and a half was tough. Four babes all under kindergarten was tougher. But the hardest part on most days were some of the low points of wondering if what I was doing was enough? I remember nights of trying to string together what I actually "accomplished" that day and finding little to show for my time at home when it was all said and done. I am not sure when I created this expectation I had somehow placed on myself that I was supposed to be doing something more than wiping noses, fixing booboos, managing time outs and trying to teach a please and thank you every once and a while.

Times are different now. Elementary school has brought more activity, more hustle and bustle, more driving, more social events and more discussions with my big girls that feel meaningful. It's easier for me to check off "accomplishments" at the end of the day because there are things like homework, discussions with my girls about friendship, or brainstorming show and tell projects that actually feel more the last year, these interactions have balanced out my time with Brody or Mae doing a puzzle, reading the shape book for the 20th time or spending several minutes during the day on my hands and knees wiping up the food Mae has thrown she refuses to eat. My big girl interaction has given me tangible things to check off my imaginary list of accomplishing something more "worthy."

Are there any mamas out there that can relate to any of this?

I attend a Bible study on Thursdays and this morning, there was a local pastor who did our opening. He talked about his mother and the godly example she left as a legacy to him. I am pretty sure there wasn't a dry eye in the room, although there could have been a few that I couldn't see through my own tears. I was moved today and I know I won't ever be the same. Something in me shifted. For the first time in my 7 years of motherhood, I am free from the "expectation" cloud that has hovered over my head. A cloud that I self admittedly placed there myself and one that has been heavier in some phases than others. But it's always been there. 

Whether we are cleaning food off floors, struggling with personal demons that have nothing to do with motherhood, making pretend food out of play-doh, packing lunches, managing our own extended families or balancing work on top of running a family; it's how we handle ourselves and the example we set that truly matters in the grand picture. 

Do I choose to grumble and complain about a stressful situation or handle it with grace? Do I lean into my faith when my heart hurts or do I try to handle it on my own and allow those emotions to dictate my mood and the way I treat my family? Do I treat others who are rude or unkind to me the same way in return or do I choose to show them love with my response? 

I have always been striving for legacy when it comes to my children. I think it's fair to say that most of us want our children to look back on us and use us as an example of how they want to play the role of mama, right? I wish I would have had more of this wisdom when I was the mama in this picture. I clearly remember thinking that this fun memory was a good day because I could check off the box of "fun activity" for that day. I had trucked the gang out of NYC to a farm in NJ and made a 6 hour home school field trip out of it. Surely a good mama day in my old way of thinking. But tonight with the light rain and no after school activities, I tried my best to show grace when the milk spilled from too much goofing off at the dinner table. I let Elsa stay up past her bedtime because she wanted to talk in detail about the story of Moses. I tried not to complain when I had to refold the clothes that Mae pulled out of drawers when we left the room for two seconds. I counted to 10 before I responded to a child who sneaked Halloween candy for the third time today. 

No check list needed. No expectations set. Each and every encounter is teaching and showing examples to our children. I am not always going to get it right, but at the end of my time with these babes under my roof, I hope they will remember the fun activities we did and laugh at the goofiness in our home. But more importantly, I want them to say that I walked the walk and talked the talk.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 
Proverbs 31:25-26

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

......bloom where you are today.......

.....I have always loved big adventures with my children. Some of my greatest memories of NYC when we just had three little ones, was corralling together a bunch of neighbors and we'd go grand.....We'd throw all of our gear in our double strollers, strap on back packs, load our real cameras to get awesome photos and we were off.....most people looked at us as if we were crazy......usually it was a minimum of 5 children, sometimes more......that number of little people sure seemed like a lot to us back, I had 6 children in my house for several hours and I hardly batted an eye........until I found glue all over my brand new furniture......
....but those NYC adventures......
......we'd bounce our strollers down subway stairs, push ourselves onto trains and travel to far away places on the island.....we explored old bridges and tunnels, we traveled to neighboring boroughs, we toured museums like visitors, and we hit the top rated playgrounds in NYC no matter where they were.......we showed our children Fleet Week, Lady Liberty and every ferry ride around the island that was possible......all of those adventures were hard, but at the end of the night I was so, so full with gratitude and adventure...... was not crazy adventurous like the NYC days, but it was an amazing adventure with my little tribe......stress of our fall schedule and back to school to do lists are starting to nip at Beachbody business is incredibly busy right now......but all I can think about is that I don't have much of this summer left with my a week and half, this summer will be over and as so many mamas know, there are a lot of mixed emotions that go with that...... we packed up and drove to the fruit fields......we picked apples and peaches and fed a ton of dirty animals at the petting zoo.....we had the entire field of fruit trees to ourselves......Mae sat in the grass and studied each of the many apples she devoured.......Elsie and I found trees that had the best hidden fruit......Callie and I held hands in the shade.......Brody begged for more quarters and I gladly obliged just so I could hear him giggle again when the llama or the goat licked his hand full of corn was a perfect day......there were beautiful moments weaved in between the girls cat fighting and Brody crying over the heat; all while I changed a dirty diaper on my lap, balancing on one leg in the parking lot......I would do these types of days that require a lot of effort any day of the week, because as my children get older, they get harder to plan......and that has me longing back to those NYC days when we complained about how hard it was to have small children in the city......
.....savor where you are because some day, you will wish you were right back where you are today.......

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

......the last IT.......

Just having a moment of mama reflection tonight. you ever look at your child and wonder when "it" will be the last time?......."It" can come in many forms or fashions......."it" can be the last time that you are on your hands and knees cleaning food off the kitchen floor because sooner or later, your child does stop throwing can be the last time you nurse your baby, the last time you strap your baby into a bucket seat or the last time you get to push your toddler on the swing..........because one day you wake up and that little baby has grown immensely over night and no longer fits in the bucket.......just as one day, your 3 year old hops on the swing to show you that they can pump themselves into a high soar on the play ground alllll byyyyy themselves......

.....there have been countless moments for me as a mother when I had no idea that "it" was my last.....

......I had forgotten this until this past summer......most recently, my "it" was Mae's wave......she does the cutest hello and goodbye wave......she waves vertically, instead of horizontally......she thrusts her little hand up and down, up and down......and it can stop me in my tracks......I can be stressed, tired, or ridden with anxiety about something I shouldn't be worried about; but when I see that wave, I am engulfed with endearment and laughter......

......days and weeks passed and each day I said to myself that I needed to capture it on video because I wanted to archive this little gesture of hers for the years to I went to capture it on video while we were in Texas, begging her to wave to her cousins and you know what?.....she waves the "correct" way more vertical more up and down more stopping me in my tracks to laugh with her about the cutest wave I had ever seen......

......and the last time she did that sweet little wave, I had no idea it would be "the last time".......

.....all the mamas of the world can be worn down by summer........there is a lack of schedule, bedtimes are off, the days can be long, the children all seem to have boundless energy and we can get tired, fatigued, and weary that we have thoughts of summer needing to end quickly and desires of getting back to a school schedule, opposed to a lack of one......

......try this perspective......look at your babes in a different light.....recognize something they do today that they may not do in a week, a month, 6 months from now or next year......focus on it, inhale it, cherish it, love it and love them.......they are changing by the second and once that second has past, we won't get that moment back because it will have been the last of "it"......

.....and then you'll be wishing for the days of summer to be back again.....


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

.....shining star.........

Since Monday, Callie has been asking me for a swim cap so she could be like Elsa who just started the swim team. After the tenth request for a swim cap over a day and a half, I stooped down and looked her in the eye and asked, "What's with the swim cap question over and over again? Mama already told you she would get you a swim cap the first time you asked."

I knew what she wanted without her telling me, but I asked her if she wanted me to see if she could do a late try out for the swim team. I struggled with the question because I knew I was potentially setting her up to fail. She doesn't have as much stamina as the bigger kids. Her stroke is still a bit uncontrolled. She pops her head up instead of doing side breathing. But she has the desire and the passion; and when our babes have these intrinsic emotions, we've got to rally around them.....

So I watched her jump in and swim with the team today. My heart pounded the whole time and I watched her swim well and I watched her struggle. I watched the coaches who were watching her. And the whole time I relived the conversation in my head we had last night about success and courage and bravery. Those virtues can come in the form of "you still are not ready to swim with the team. Keep practicing." Those virtues do not always come in the form of what we would normally perceive as "success."

For today, though, those virtues arrived in a resounding, "Congratulations!" Today, the coach told her she was fantastic because sometimes it is desire that is way more important than form. It's such a blessing that our children can be such shining reminders to us that life without risk is a life without pure, good, unique, joy filled celebration. I don't know if I have ever seen you this proud, Callie Anne. I am so proud of you for jumping in head first, even though you knew there was risk in trying.

What a blessing that our little people can teach us such great lessons! I was prepared for failure today because you are the littlest one on the team. But regardless of the outcome, there would not have been any failure whatsoever. You were a shining star just for putting yourself out there!

So proud of you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

.....colorful eating- BBQ style......

BBQ is a staple in our lives. I married a Texan who contemplated for days who was going to be the lucky one to inherit his smoker when we were preparing to move from Texas to NYC. To me, the old smoker looked like a hunk of black metal junk with a rusty pipe attached to it and it was a mortal sin to repeat my opinion out loud. Fast forward 11 years since we moved to the northeast and I have gladly accepted the role of determining where and how to find creative recipes to consume all of the meat that Stefan pulls off his (new and improved) smoker. There are plenty of benefits to being in the burbs!

It has been close to a year that I have been keen on trying to find ways to change our eating habits in my family. We have made a lifestyle change to fresh, colorful meals. Sometimes it's a big win for me and the kids to eat color.....

Sometimes it's a huge miss.

See the hot pink and bright yellow? 
(Both colorful ideas were fun eating projects at Bambi's house).

 We believe just about anything tastes good with a little BBQ sauce on it or a special BBQ rub that Stefan has yet to share the actual spices he mixes with even me. This past weekend was the first beautiful spring day we have had, so it was no surprise that Stefan was preparing his smoker to kick off the season. When he smokes, he goes big; so three pounds of pork shoulder later and I was searching for recipes that would help us keep our eating this week clean and appealing to our tribe. 
 So behold: a creamy, cheesy casserole full of tangy, ooey-gooey goodness.

Cheesy BBQ Pork Pasta Bake

    Servings: 4

Container count per serving: 1 red, 1/8 green, 1/2 purple, 2 yellow, 1 blue, 1 tsp.
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/3 cup shredded 2% sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 cups cooked whole grain pasta (I used rotini)
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped, plus more for topping (optional)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 3 cups cooked pork, shredded
  • 3/4 cup clean BBQ sauce (no sugar or corn syrup. If you can’t find any at the store you can make your own (other recipes for this casserole bake call for 3 cups. I went very light and figured we would add our own if we wanted more. The amount I used was the perfect amount for our taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 tsp. of the oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. When the oil is hot, whisk in the flour until it becomes a paste. Cook until the flour becomes a caramel color, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn.
  2. Add the almond milk slowly, whisking until it thickens. Mix in the salt, pepper, and ground mustard. Next, add 1 cup of the cheese and whisk until melted and well combined.
  3. Heat a small pan over medium heat and add the remaining 2 tsp. of oil. Add the chopped red onions and green onions and cook until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the onions to the cheese mixture.
  4. In a casserole dish, add the cooked pasta, chicken and all of the BBQ sauce. Mix well until combined. Next, add the cheese sauce and mix well. Top with the remaining drizzle of your BBQ sauce and 1/3 cup of cheese.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted on top. Top with more green onions, if desired.
This was a huge hit with the family and we also had enough left over for Stefan to take some to work. It was definitely a nice break from the standard pulled pork sandwiches that we were eating last spring. For those of you wondering what my serving size looked like, check this out.

I added a side salad, but next time I think I would add a side of cucumber, tomato, onion and a splash of balsamic vinaigrette.

Have it, fellow BBQ lovers!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

......Yummy (CLEAN) Quinoa Chicken Enchilada Casserole.......

After coming off a week of splurging in Florida, I was in search of comfort food (because it's still cold up here) that was healthy and delicious. Our family needs to get back into clean eating ASAP! This meal is so easy to make, it hardly requires a recipe. I purchased an antibiotic free range rotisserie chicken, pulled off the meat, mixed in the ingredients and it was done! In less than 30 minutes you’re enjoying a healthy and filling meal that’s perfect for a busy weeknight or weekend lunch. 

Quinoa Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Container count per serving (for you 21 day fixers): 2 yellow, 1 blue, 1 green, 1 red
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (I used organic, non gmo pre-cooked, but any kind is fine)
  • 3 cups cooked and shredded chicken, seasoned with Southwest Seasoning
  • 1 3oz. can of green chiles (I skip these because my kids won't eat them, but Stefan and I add them to our individual bowl)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 onion, chopped (I like to use a purple onion for this recipe)
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  1. Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add chicken, quinoa, green chiles (mine is missing them, but the green color would be pretty in this dish), corn, onion, and enchilada sauce. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish and top with cheese, and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with fresh cilantro.

.....the kids were excited to try a new casserole and I am thrilled that they are getting a good dose of healthy food groups.....

.....I served tomatoes, whole wheat tortillas, avocado and strawberries on the side for the kids and it was a hit with the girls.......Brody, on the other hand, ate an apple for dinner, but that is our new normal these days......

....Enjoy the clean eats!.....

If you are looking for a cleaner way of eating and getting your nutrition back on track, email me at or click here.