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Friday, April 29, 2011

the latest dreaded update

So dada commented the other day that my hair was looking particularly "dread-y" lately and then someone on facebook asked how the dreads were looking so of course, I had to oblige with some pictures. (Holy Self-Absorbed Batman!! HA.)

So, here you are.

wow am i pasty. MUST. GET. SUN.

very dready from this angle...
also, my hair used to be just an inch or two
above my waist...
obviously its MUCH shorter now.
crazy huh?
Thursday, April 28, 2011

traveling mercies...

So, we are preparing for one of the most ambitious endeavors a young family can undertake...a 16 hour road trip.


I know I have written about road tripping with our kids before, but that was 4 hours up north. This is across multiple states all the way to grandma and grandpa "back east."

I am preparing as if we were a pioneer family embarking upon the Oregon Trail. With every worst case scenario in mind, including blizzards (which reminds me to pack flashlights and an extra blanket!)

As a child my family made an annual pilgramage to my grandparents in Iowa. It was a 12 hour trek and we, frugal as we were, did it in one day. Packing up at 4am, in our pajamas, driving until one of us had to pee, eating a packed lunch at a rest stop, and arriving hungry and tired at my grandparents in the evening, crickets chirping, grandpa ready for a late night game of ping pong. I have fairly pleasant memories of these trips (perhaps I have blocked out the puking in an ice cream bucket, driving through lightning storms and 100 degree heat in our un-air-conditioned VW van which I am sure happened.) It was an adventure. Dad would set up beds for us in the back of the van and we would sprawl out in sleeping bags, watching the sun come up and the trees whiz by. Mom would calmly, without thought, take the nursling baby out of her seat and feed her as we drove. Us big girls would entertain the toddlers (remember there were scads of us kids!) and play "I Spy" and we would drive into the prairie, like Mary and Laura and Pa and Ma themselves.

Maybe I yearn to recreate this for my kids? But of course, they are younger, with no big sisters to sing Itsy Bitsy Spider one million times (and I sure as heck am not doing it!!)

So, we are doing it the easy way. A few hotel stops, a few tourist spots (dada wants to hike, mama wants to stroll picturesque towns, lets see what happens. HA.)

And of course, I am prepared with the following "traveling mercies":

a tupperware full of new (washable) markers,
trinkety toys, silly putty, and coloring books

monster cookies (made with stale trail mix, SO GOOD)
to accompany the $50 worth of snacks and juice boxes
purchased at Target today, a requirement of all road-tripping
American families

GIANT ASS TRAVEL MUGS (next to a regular size mug
for comparison)

for mama, who will inevitably not get a chance to read it due to the
ongoing referee/fetch work required...unless by some miracle
the little darlings both nap at the same time in their seats...
one can hope.

pillow pets. God forbid we forget them.
and, unlike my childhood, we have given in...and
bought an adaptor for the laptop and have packed
a bunch of DVDs.
 I think we are ready. Bring it on!
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Anti-recipe #31 super yummy chai mix

So, for some reason this pregnancy all I want is chai in the morning. Lately I have had a cup of coffee here or there but seriously I lost all taste for it for awhile, plus the cafeine makes me shaky and weird by mid-afternoon. Chai is the prefect replacement though. A little thicker than regular tea, not as sweet as hot chocolate and not as "shakes-inducing" as coffee.

Problem is, two things really. One, its expensive to buy the box mix. At $5 a box or even 3 boxes for $8 at Costco, eh. Too much. Two, its never the right consistency/sweetness for me. I have been drinking the Tazo blend (bought at Costco) and mixing in just a little with milk into regular tea, just to get a little flavor without the full hit of sugar.

I used it up yesterday.

This morning as I was sipping my regular old black tea, quite grumpily, I thought, you know, I should be able to make this. And, voila, I can! And can I say, it is seriously delicious. I googled a few recipes to get me started. This site here has lots of varieties of recipes from traditional Indian (with spices I have never heard of, although they use full half and half??? Yuck! Can you imagine drinking a full cup of half and half every morning??) to the Americanized super sweet variation (ugh). 

Oh. I just took another sip of my concotion. SO DAMN GOOD.

So really, there are many ways to make it, using a variety of spices. The following is what I did. Luckily because of our gourmet dada we have things like fresh ginger root (which the purists say is a MUST) and cardamom lying around the house. I did not have any peppercorn, which would be better than the dash of pepper I used, or cinnamon sticks, eh. Its good. I am happy.

Per my norm I adapted recipes to make the below concoction. Also, I wanted to make extra to stick in my fridge for the next few days so I made mine without the milk, which I will stir in later, as well as without the honey (some mornings I want more, some less).

little miss climbed up and said "don' worry mama, I here,
I help you!!" phew. thanks girl.
Start with three cups of water. Throw in a few tea bags. I used three Lipton. Put this in a small pan on the stovetop.
Add a few slices of fresh ginger root,  I added five.
Throw in a sprinkling of whole cloves, I used 8 or so.
Add 1 TSB of cinnamon, or a cinnamon stick.
Add 1 TSB of cardamom, or a few cardamom pods (I have never seen these but apparently you can buy them.)
Sprinkle in some black pepper or a few peppercorns
Add a tsp real vanilla or vanilla beans, crushed
Add 1 TSB of sugar

Heat to a boil, then bring to a simmer, stirring every now and then, for around 10 minutes, or until it smells so good you can't stand waiting anymore. (Yes, I totally made this in my robe at 7:45AM, jonesing for real chai) It should be kind of syrupy looking. Filter through a fine wire strainer, you can use a coffee filter if you like, I didn't.

Mix with half milk, sweeten with honey to taste. Store leftovers in fridge for the next morning! (If it lasts that long, guess what I am going to get more of... YUM)

Let me know what variations you come up with! Cheers!
Sunday, April 24, 2011

mama, i'm back.

This is what baby girl said to me when we put her in her high chair to eat for the first time in a week, this past Thursday. LOOK, I AM BACK!! And as I got the table ready for dinner she hugged my arm every time I walked past her chair.

Sniff, sniff.

And yes I totally went into the kitchen and nearly cried.

And this morning in church, I nearly cried, grateful for my two happy kids, waking up to chocolate and presents (the Easter bunny was VERY indulgent this year) and putting on bright spring clothes and singing along to Baby Beluga in the car.

So thankful.

dying easter eggs with auntie

hmmm. chocolate.

she picked out the socks and hat herself.

checking out his loot

quick! find them before the cousins do!

hmmm. jelly beans.

worn out after a long day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

icky sickies, an update

So, little miss did NOT get better, she got worse. And though the "pookies" stopped (after a prayer at 3am that went something like 'listen, God, I don't ask for much. I have a good life. But PLEASE help her keep down this sip of pedialyte!') the next day she stopped sipping at all. And then she got a fever. And it got higher and higher. Finally Monday morning we went in to our doc. She said, yep, to the hospital you go.

We were hoping for just a few hours of rehydration therapy but she didn't "perk up" as the ER doc put it. So we stayed the night. Finally her fever broke at 2am. (104 fevers are SCARY) and Tuesday morning she was better, so we went home.

Now here we are. Five days of no food. And again, barely sipping. I got her to take in some watery warm milk and honey (with a probiotic) but now she won't drink again, she only wants to be held and is barely smiling at brother's antics...

Trying to remain positive, and I know she will be better eventually, but I really REALLY dont want to go back to the hospital (although they were great and nice and all. It is SO awful seeing your kid hooked up to tubes, pricked and poked and etc...)

I know that all in all she is NOT that sick, compared to some kids out there. But gosh darnit it sucks. Also. I am tired. Can I say that? I cried for two hours yesterday. Ridiculous. Strong mama melted away, for a spell. But she is back now. And she is going downstairs to cuddle miss sicko and mister "you-have-to-take-care-of-me-too." 

Being a mom is freaking hard. Okay, rewarding and great and yes, but just heart-wrenching sometimes. You know?

thank goodness for TV in the room! she went to sleep
at home last night asking where "her" tv was!

watching wall-e together. brother says "i just want to hold
her hand mama"
Saturday, April 16, 2011

the icky sickies


notice little miss, who holds her ears most adorably when she
is tired...
As I type I am taking a much-needed break from holding my sick two-year-old. Seriously, I have been holding her ALL DAY. But, she is sick. And you cant NOT hold your sick baby girl when you are all she wants.

She has, as she callls it, the "pookies" (ie pukeys). She hasn't kept down even a teaspoon of liquid all day. At some point my mommy heart starts panicking. THIS CANT BE OKAY. But, my mom and Dr. Sears say its normal. No signs of dehydration, yet. So we hold her and sing to her and catch her "pookie" in our hands when she refuses the bowl. And break out the hand sanitizer.

Brother had it the past two days. (Glad they didnt double up on us!!) His "pookie" stage lasted ALL NIGHT LONG. Dada got that shift. So really, I am lucky for the daytime version. Hopefully it doesn't go into the night...

It is amazing what one can accomplish with a sick child. You disinfect, do laundry, make soup, wipe up the ickies, soothe and comfort even when you really REALLY need to pee. We put everything aside but taking care ok that poor kiddo, lying there, not even wanting to watch cartoons (THAT is sick!)

Why am I writing about this?

I guess because it IS so hard to see your kids so sick. This is the most toxic thing they have ever had in their little lives. Yet, I am lucky. So many families have such heartache with illness, even death, which is so hard to contemplate, as a mother you just can't even go there.

So I am grateful, as I hold my dry-heaving child, that this is the worst they have experienced, and (God please) likely the worst type of illness they will endure.

(And I am also grateful for dada taking a shift with Ms. Pookie so I can blog and read and eat  for the first time all day...)

All in all. Even with the icky sickies we are damn lucky.
Monday, April 11, 2011

the "happy thoughts" game

When I was 12 it was very vogue to be a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables. We would read the books, dream of visiting Prince Edward Island, I will even admit to acting out a scene or two and memorizing the entire “Highwayman” poem that Anne recites at a poetry reading (I still know every word).

With this came my vision of romance, I wanted to marry someone “tall, dark and melancholy” as Anne and Diana say to each other. I remember talking about this ideal with my sisters and mom one day, giggling and sighing, I was maybe 14 years old, and my mother gently said to me “Tall and dark, sure, but you might want to avoid the melancholy.” And suddenly, in a moment of teenage clarity, I said “Why, because I am too melancholy?” Ha ha. Oh. Right. You aren’t teasing. Wow, I AM melancholy a lot, aren’t I?

Thus, the lifelong struggle of a moody person began, in full recognition at least. (Although, I do prefer to think of it as spirited or passionate…)

when you are four there is nothing a lollipop can't cure...
One of the hardest lessons in being a content mother is that it starts with being a content person. And this, as we all know, can be hard. And we forget about how important it is, especially as a person with melancholy tendencies, and especially as a mom with a kid of a similar disposition (who is, as I type, having a complete meltdown about not being able to locate his wooden sword).

This is made all the worse when life seems to be spitting at you…when you have a 1) hard conversation with a friend 2) argument with dada 3) disappointing house search 4) unfulfilling personal goal week (like not writing) or 5) all of the above in the space of three days. In this it becomes very hard to be content. And your kids feel that. And that sucks.

Somedays, on days like these, it comes to a point of playing mind games with yourself to prevent the spiral into the “deep dark”. Back when I was a working girl I used to tell clients, describe to me the ideal scenario for your organization. It was amazing how difficult this was for some people. We are trained to think in the “do-able” the “obtainable,” not in the remarkable, nor the extraordinary. This is doubly true as moms. We are trained to think “survive,” rather than “thrive.” But, as the Captain on Wall-E says, “I don’t WANT to survive. I WANT TO LIVE.”

So, on these days - and I am doing this for myself as I type today - I try to do the “happy thoughts” game. (BY THE WAY, the sword has been located, please feel free to breathe a sigh of relief…)

This is how the game goes: (and yes, you can tease me about this post, gently¸ but I figure if it works for me it can work for other people too.)

(Start small…)

Baby girl napped early today, she is going to go to sleep early and easily tonight!

Then I will get some writing done tonight!

And tomorrow when I read my work aloud for our final class, everyone will LOVE it!

And this weekend we will look at houses, while the children happily nap in the car (okay, that might be stretching it) …

And we will find one we totally love…

(And now our happy thoughts are getting bolder.)

And our landlord will release us from our lease…

And we will move into our new house by June!

And dada will get a promotion the next month!

And our house will be right next to a great park and I will spend my summer days getting totally tan and fit chasing the kids around the playground and lying by the lake…

And I will spend my summer nights working on writing…

(And now our happy thoughts progress into the downright exceptional)

And in August I will get a book offer…

And then we will win the lottery, buy a goat farm, take a European cruise, and go to Disneyland…

And then in mid-September I will have the EASIEST LABOR EVER IN THE HISTORY OF WOMANKIND and give birth to the world’s MOST peaceful baby.

And my body will snap back into place like some celebrity and I will go on book tour with my shiny bright family and baby the third strapped to my chest.

And we will all live happily ever after, in a goat farm castle, the end.

See, wasn’t that fun? I feel better already. Your turn.
Saturday, April 9, 2011

Anti-recipe #30 breakfast cookies

A few days ago I forced myself back into the kitchen, for some quality kid-cooking time.

Let's face it, cooking with kids can be torturous. Or, is it just me? I try hard HARD to include them and let go of control (you wanna dump the flour in the bowl whereby you spill most of it on the floor? Uh, okay, go for it) but I am lousy at letting go of control a lot of the time, particularly when it concerns things like little man grabbing handfuls of brown sugar and stuffing them into his face. But yet, I persevere, because good moms cook with their kids. RIGHT?? (HA.)

My thought was to make tasty breakfast cookies. I was thinking this the other day when I tried to make cookies ...and failed...The kids wanted chocolate chip cookies, the only kind of cookie that exists in kid-world. We had no chocolate chips, no eggs, and not enough milk. I made oatmeal cookies with some chopped up old Christmas chocolate from the freezer (ew). They turned out...okay.

Anyway, it occurred to me that were I to make these a tad healthier (and yet attractive to little man, with a sprinkling of chocolate chips) they could be deemed "breakfast" cookies and thereby make my mornings easier. (MOM, baby girl says first thing every morning, MY FOOOOOOOOD. Meanwhile mom is trying really hard not to puke - yes, still - and has no desire to look at food. Here, my starving child. A COOKIE. Please leave me to my chai until I can get up without wanting to puke. Thankyouverymuch.)

So, I googled an actual recipe, imagine that, and found one on Food Network. With some tweaking, based on what we had and to make it healthier (who puts vegetable oil in cookies anyway, yuck) this is what resulted, and yes, it was pretty good.

2 TBS of butter
2 TBS of coconut oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup applesauce
1 egg
2 TBS yogurt

Cream this together.

Add ...
3/4 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 tsp baking soda
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of salt
(of course the recipe said to mix this separately, but I NEVER do that, I mean, who does?)

Finally add your selection of goodies. I added
1/4 cup peanuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup stale granola (with flax seed and good stuff like that in it)

Form into large balls, press to 1/4 inch flat and bake at 350 for around 15 minutes, or until brown.

Chewy, yummy, easy.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

other kid's parents

When I was little, maybe 12, it was a really snarky comment to say, BIG SIGH “Some people’s children,” usually in reference to a younger kid in the crowd, all the big girls would snicker and the little kid would say “shuddup” and run away. (Cruel, wasn’t I?)

on our way to our first park outing of the
season, a few weeks ago.
(the snow is gone now!!)
Today I think I would reverse that. I am pretty forgiving of kids behavior, maybe because my eldest dear son has taught me, so well, to empathize with the causes behind a child’s “problematic” behavior (sensory overload or a long big day or hurt feelings or bad sleep the night before). The other day my kid told his cousin to shut-up (a big no-no word) after his cousin teased him about his hair, which is very much too long at this point. I made little man apologize (as did his cousin’s mother) but I got why he responded so harshly to an innocent little tease. His cousins are his idols and any suggestion that they don’t approve of him makes his little heart sad.

Other parents however. Big however. Seriously, dealing with the parents you encounter in your child’s life can be one of the hardest and yuckiest elements of your parenting journey. Okay, not most parents, obviously, I mean the random encounters.

Examples are needed.

My first parent run-in was at the lake when little man was barely walking. A dad was there with his little boy, maybe slightly younger than mine and his kid was seriously crazy. I mean, in a great little kid at the lake way, you know? Running and laughing in the waves and throwing sand and just enjoying the moment.

However (you sensed that coming, right?) little boy then decided to use up some of this wild aggression on my kid. He ran at little man, full throttle, dove into his pile of sand where he had been quietly digging, grabbed his shovel and bucket and ran away, laughing. I look at the dad. Like, um, can you get your kid to not do that, um, please? Little man, of course, starts crying, wide-eyed, what the heck was that? I look at the dad again. Umm. Really? He in fact moves further away, enjoying the lake and the scenery. So, I say to Other Kid, do you want to come dig with us? We would be happy to share! Dad sees me talking to his child. Runs up. Grabs his kid around the waist, grabs the shovel out of his kids hands, throws it at my kid (I am totally not exaggerating here) and yells at me, “HAVEN’T YOU EVER TAKEN ANY PARENTING CLASSES? KIDS THEIR AGE DON’T KNOW HOW TO SHARE! HE IS JUST GONNA TAKE STUFF IF HE WANTS TO. GO TAKE A PARENTING CLASS!!”

I was flabbergasted. “Umm, I just thought they could dig together and share the bucket and shovel. They ARE our toys.” I thought I was being pretty generous. The man stormed off. Yikes, remind me not to take THAT parenting class.

I thought about that run-in for weeks. Came up with good come backs. Witty ones.

I avoided that beach for a month.

Another one that stands out. A little one is throwing sand at my kid in the park. He is wearing a diaper, no clothes or shoes on a semi-chilly summer night, his dad had brought him ... and a six pack of beer. I tell my kid to come to the other swing set. His kid follows us, to throw more sand. I ask him to please stop. His dad comes over, beer in hand, to yell at me. He actually threatened us and so I left, quickly.

my baby using the big girl ladder
for the first time...
And then there are fun incidents like today. A beautiful spring day, for Minnesota (FINALLY). We are at the park, drinking in the sunshine and blue skies. I am reclining on a slide, watching the kids play when I see a mom and kid walk up. She is on the phone. Her kid, like half the kids in the city today I would bet, goes to take off his coat. She screams. “GET THAT F-ING COAT BACK ON. WHAT THE F--- IS WRONG WITH YOU??”

Lovely. If my husband were there he TOTALLY would have asked her to not use that language around our kids. But me, I don’t do confrontation like that. So, I just hope my kids didn’t hear and she doesn’t do it again and we stay. She does do it again. And again. And again. And her poor little four-year-old seemed like a good kid, just playing, not being rough, no back talk. Finally I got my kids to take a walk down to the lake and then, with a bribe of fruit snacks, to the car.

It’s these scenarios that make parenting hard. You can’t shield your kids from the world forever. And parents are NOT going to always parent the way you do. Or even decently for that matter.

I was totally a hovering mom at first, wanting to shield and protect little man from every fall, every bump, every mean word. I quit a play group once because a few of the toddlers kept knocking him over, on purpose. Then there was a biter. I couldn’t bear to see my little man out and about with all these rough kids everywhere.

big brothers make the park MUCH EASIER for mommy :)
But, you can’t hover forever. I was totally (and probably ridiculously) overprotective though and I see that. I would follow little man around the park, helping him up the ladder, down the slide, over and over, while all the other moms sat in the shade of the big tree, chatting.

My how mommy has changed. I now confess to spending half the time at the park today composing the perfect email to a potential editor and hardly minding where my kids were running (of course they are older so its easier but, you see my point).

And I am also much more empathetic to other kids’ behavior. (A year later my sweet innocent boy went through a month long phase where he hit at any kid in his path. Gulp. Sorry!)

Other parents though. They are grown ups, with grown up responsibilities. And a lot of times my sympathy is lost. Then, unless you are my husband who has no problem calling out someone for stuff like this, there is nothing you can do except say a little prayer for that kid getting yelled at or the one with no shoes and a beer drinking dad and get out of the way.

Its funny how parenting does so much to you, makes you relax about the little stuff, makes you enjoy spontaneity, but especially how it makes you a more compassionate person. I’m glad for it. But it does make trips to the park hard sometimes.

Almost every time I leave my house I pass by a bench at a bus stop with an ad on it for foster parenting babies. And every time I think, I could do that, in another life. I should do that, in another life.

In any case...sobering thoughts for a beautiful day. The sky is alive and the air is fresh and hopeful. So, happy spring mommies!
Sunday, April 3, 2011

pregnancy and cooking...

So I haven’t been cooking, hardly at all. I am just not into it. Of course, I make things to feed my family. (Or, dada does.) But as far as new and interesting recipes worthy of being on here. Not so much. Food is like, ick to me, and yet I crave it. Not anything in particular. Or anything I can identify. A recent conversation with dada about what to get for dinner went like this:

Well, what do you want to eat for dinner?

I don’t care, I am just starving, I NEED FOOD.

How about Chinese?

No, yuck.


No way.

A salad?

No, I need something hot.

So, you don’t care but you don’t really want anything but you have to eat now.


Ridiculous. I am actually tired of eating. I get nauseated if I don’t eat every two hours. I have nearly passed out a few times this week because I waiting too long to eat lunch. I also have this weird pregnancy thing where I cannot eat leftovers. It totally grosses me out.

So, as you can see, cooking is like the last thing I want to do.

Here is a sampling of my cooking lately:

Pizza bagels. I am a master at the pizza bagel. Luckily my children will eat them too.

Lasagna. Seriously easy to make. Layer, layer, layer. The key to un-goopy filling is to put an egg in with the ricotta. And the only reason I made such an elaborate meal was because I was bringing a meal to a neighbor who just had a baby.

Chicken noodle soup. With frozen real bone broth in the fridge and chicken pieces from deboning a roasting a chicken its simple… chop up some carrots, onions and throw in some noodles. VOILA

Hamburger and rice. My dad's specialty. It was actually really good to me at the time but sounds gross right now.

Tuna melts. This was at 10pm and I was exhausted but I was STARVING. The funny thing is that regularly I hate tuna. Like really hate. But in the moment it was delicious.

Fried rice with pork. I was kind of proud of this one. It turned out really well (secret is to get the oil hot enough and sautee ginger and garlic before adding everything in, rice, cooked pork bits, egg - slowly scramble in - and frozen peas).

(Oh my gosh my kiddo is sitting next to me as I type. What are you typing now mom? And now? And now? AAAAAAAAAHHHHH.)

pretend cheesecake
One creation that I actually took a picture of, pretend cheesecake. Spread cream cheese on a graham cracker, sprinkle with brown sugar, add a dollop of strawberry jam. (yes, I used the word dollop) It ws really good.

Mainly I have been existing on ham and cheese sandwiches (sammiches as little miss says) and oranges. And I know there is the whole “you-shouldn’t-eat-nitrates” thing but, I can’t help myself. I WANT HAM AND CHEESE. It also has to be hot ham and cheese. With toasted bread. And mayo.

Hmmm. I want one now. Oh, I just had one for lunch. HA.

My first pregnancy I was super paranoid about everything I ate. Listeria poisoning! No soft cheese! No deli meat!! No hot dogs or ham! No coffee! And good gracious NO SUSHI. My last pregnancy I was super into getting all the proper nutrients every day. 80 grams of protein (which is REALLY REALLY hard to do) leafy green veggies EVERY DAY, a GALLON OF WATER (lord have mercy I can’t do that now, seriously some mornings cold water makes me want to puke, isn’t that weird?) And yes, I am trying my best but I just can’t be the woman who charts her daily intake of food this time around! I just got some good quality fish oil, that makes me feel better, and I take two prenatals every day, plus my normal probiotics. So, I am TRYING. But yeah, no charts this time around. But also, no paranoia.

So yes, that is my explanation for lack of recipes. Umm. I don’t care to cook right now.

Mac and cheese anyone?

(Any simple meal tips would be greatly appreciated, poor dada.)
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