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Monday, February 28, 2011

happy birthday, dear baby girl

My baby is two today.

She is awesome.

Right now she is sitting up at the table poking at her neon pink leftover cupcakes from her little party yesterday, drinking her brothers juice on the sly and grinning at me, all sweet and sugar.
Slyly, sweet and sugar.
That is my girl.
She is fearless. She is happy. She is funny.
She also cares about people. Yesterday at her party her cousin started crying and she stopped opening her presents and wouldn’t stop until she knew he was okay. That is pretty cool for a two year old.
Right now two years ago I was thinking she would be born any minute. She came hours and hours later. Her birth was hard. But it was redeeming. Her brother was born by c-section. After a “stalled” labor because of how he was positioned. The doctor said they would let me “try” to have a VBAC. I said, to heck with that and found some beautiful midwives with experience and love and warmth and learned to believe in my body and myself again. Or for the first time.
She was lifted onto my chest that snowy afternoon, with the fire crackling and faces of dada and grandma and auntie and midwife angels smiling down.
She is blonde! I was surprised by this. Her brother had jet black hair at birth, big grey eyes that darkened into brown. She opened her eyes and peeked at me. Bright blue. Oh, hi Mama.
She laid there. No yelping or crying. Peaceful. Nursing. Looking at each other.
And I was in love, again.
My girl. Now you are grown up. Such a big girl. You love shoes. Babies. And anything your big brother does. When he isn’t around you secretly play with his knight and castles. You twirl in your skirts and stomp in your boots. You smile and we melt.
Thank you for coming to us. We adore you.
Saturday, February 26, 2011

playmates (and a dreads update)

It is great to watch your kids start to become friends. The first year with two is hard. Toddler is bored. Baby gets the attention. (Occasionally she gets kicked.)

Somewhere around a year to 18 months big sibling realizes. Oh, the baby is kind of fun. They roll balls. They play peek a boo. And then it happens. Baby starts walking, running, talking. Suddenly, she is a playmate!

They fight, sure. But they also greet each other with kisses and hugs and hand each other toys to share and he builds her rocket ships (she calls them "shippits") and she plays his games ("and NOW we are knights chasing a dragon, here hold your sword!" "Oh. SURE." she says.)

This is what makes me want to have a bazillion children. Or, at least three.

Also, there might be some dread shots of mommy's hair below. They are very dread-y lately. My mom said to me the other day as I took my standard ponytail down, so, how long are you going to keep doing this? Ummmm. For awhile yet. HA. Apparently it takes a year for them to get good. I am on month 5 maybe. So. The wait continues. But, they are more dread-y now.

very dread-y
please, ignore the sinkful of dishes.
yikes. messy.
and then there is this shot. the belly.
apparently 3 babies in five years
means you start showing at 10 weeks.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

on being tired

So I just can’t stop yawning today. Little miss pulled the blankets off of me at 5am this morning and said MAMA DET UP! DET UP! After an hour I managed to get her back down. She slept till 8:30am.


Still that kind of sleep interruption just slays me these days. IMUSTGETMORESLEEP. You know what that means right, going to bed when the kids do. So we have two choices 1) give up free time at night and get more sleep or 2) stay up to eat some ice cream and read and surf the internet in peace but be tired the next day.


I guess it comes down to that. I can’t give up my sane “me time” right now.

My other option is to put on a late afternoon movie, Wall-E works nicely, and have them snuggle around me as I lay on the couch. I managed a 30 minute nap the other day with this tactic.

That may have to happen today.

I was lying down with little miss for her nap and little man came in breathing down my neck. I WANT YOU TO GET UP. Come ON mom! In his most dramatic loud whisper.


So here I am. Sitting on the couch writing on the laptop while he marches around the room in his knight get up (for some reason this involves carrying around their little broom too, I don’t know why.) Totally bleary-eyed. Drinking tea. Trying to wake up.

I made it out to story time and then a playdate this morning. WAY more activity than I have done in a while (please don’t think ill of me! Well, whatever, think whatever you like I guess. I am too tired to care. HA)

I was talking with someone the other day who literally could find only a few free hours in her week - EVEN SATURDAY - to try and get together. Violin, gymnastics, school stuff, classes. Just listening to her made me want to sit down.


I am never going to survive those years of driving children to and fro. Is it okay if I don’t want to? I mean, seriously is soccer and dance and piano and playgroups and choir and etc. all requirements for being a mother today? I was busy like that at 15, 16 maybe, but not at 8! I don’t know if I can do all that!

And with three children??

The three children thing keeps on sneaking up on me and freaking me out every now and then.


I mean, under age one or even two, fine, I stick baby in the Ergo, the two others holding my hands, and yes, I can do that. But what about when there are three running in different directions?

And you think I don’t leave the house enough now. HA. Just wait. I am going to turn into a total hermit.

Oh my gosh my son is now spinning around in circles talking to himself. WHERE DO THEY GET THIS ENERGY??

So, any other good tips for the first-trimester-with-two-kids-under-five-tired-ass-blues?

I feel so whiney but man oh man. Tonight may just be a going-to-bed-with-the-kids night. But then again, I was hoping to catch up on Greys Anatomy online.

Oh the tough mommying choices (said totally facetiously).

these pictures have nothing to do with this post.
but they are cute.
and, yes, he is reading a chess book.
he told us the other day he was going to be on the chees team AND
the football team in highschool. COOL :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Anti-recipe #29 - soaked grain bread

I am an absentee blogger I know.

I have been absentee housekeeper too.

I realize though that the lazy period for newly pregnant mamas decreases in direct proportion to the number of children one has.

With my first pregnancy I was lazy for a good 4-5 months. Seriously. I barely cooked or cleaned, just the absolute minimum. I was also unemployed and depressed. A dark period for me. I watched a lot of Lifetime Television movies. (Ah, those were the days of unfettered television watching while consuming a whole bag of Doritos. HA.)

With my second little man was still napping daily. I slept with him every single day for the first several months, for at least half an hour, then I would get up and read or laze around. But otherwise I was crazy busy, as mamas chasing toddlers are.

With the third. Well. I think I have taken three naps since the blessed event. I have been lazy for a good three or four weeks now and I feel my window closing. No longer can I be lazy, tired mommy who kicks toys under the couch instead of putting them away. No longer can I answer "I am hungry" with "go get yourself a yogurt." I need to sweep. I should probably mop too. And my bathroom smells. I definitely need to cook more often.

Poor dada. He is truly a saint, cooking and cleaning when he comes home so I can lie on the couch with my eyes closed. The first trimester fatigue is really really the pits.

Anyway. I think I am done with it. Or. Rather. I think I have to be done.

Here was my effort recently to overcome this: baking soaked grain bread.

The recipe is from this blog. I pretty much follow it, but, with some tweaks. I always soak in kefir, overnight. Soaking your flour gives you a fluffier bread and more importantly breaks down the hard-to-digest parts of the grain. (There is more info on why to soak on the above link.)

I also used, this time, an unbleached white flour with “ultragrain” flour mixed in – apparently slightly processed wheat flour with the nutrients of wheat flour but the lighter texture like white. (I was out of wheat)
little miss helping.

Good stuff.

Seriously, it made the best bread.

And okay, so I know the whole gluten free thing. But I am pregnant. I want bread. I want crackers. I want noodles. So far I seem okay with it, like I have said before my body just works better pregnant, but I hope to cut down again once the first trimester ickies are done with. Also, its for the kiddies.

Here goes.

11 cups unbleached/Ultragrain flour (or some combination of wheat and white. Just wheat flour will give you a really dense hard loaf – eh. Not so tasty)

2 cups oats

5 cups warm water (the other recipe only uses 2 ½? It totally needed more moisture IMO.)

¾ cups coconut oil or melted butter (I used butter, we were out of oil, but I usually use coconut oil)

1 cup kefir

¾ cup honey (you can use more honey if you like)

Mix the above thoroughly in a large bowl, cover with Saran wrap, pressing firmly into the dough, otherwise you will have crunchy parts in the morning, ew. Let it stand in a warm place (on the top of your gas range stove) over night.

2 ½ TB yeast

1 tsp honey

½ cup warm water

1tsp Salt

In the morning mix up the above yeast, honey and warm water and let it stand for five minutes or so, until it gets bubbly and the yeast has dissolved. Add to the flour mixture, along with the salt.

Knead this all really well for ten minutes. It feels like a really long time. It is a really long time. But you can do it. You have to get the dough to the point where it is elastic-y and stretchy.

I gave baby dear a chunk of her own and she went to town. So cute.

You will need to be throwing handfuls of flour in as you do this, so be ready.

look at the rise on this bread!

After ten minutes set the dough in a buttered bowl (it makes it easier to get out) and let it rise for a good 1 ½, until it has roughly doubled in size. I let mine sit on top of my oven, set to 100, necessary for a good rise in the chilly frozen tundra.

Punch it down and let it rise again, for 45 minutes. (I skipped this step, you totally can, and the bread turned out great.)

Butter your 4 loaf pans and preheat your over to 350.

Divide into four loaf pieces, fold over into thirds, with the seam at the bottom of the pan, and pat down with the back of your hand. It sounds weird but it makes for a more even rise. Let your loaves rise now, for maybe 30 minutes, on top of your preheating oven.

Now, bake for 30 minutes or so. Here is the trick, you want to take it out before it is too brown on the top. The key to knowing when its done? Pull your pans out and tap on the bottom of the pan with your knuckles or fingernail (so as to not burn yourself) the tap should sound hollow.

Now your bread is done. Don’t let it cool in the pan! It’ll get mushy. Take it out and let it sit on a wire rack. Once its fully cool you can store it in old bread bags in the fridge. You can also freeze it for up to a month or two. Just let it thaw on the counter and throw back in the oven if you want to pretend you just baked it.


Strawberry jam.

Friday, February 18, 2011

where i am at...

Little man is really into Prince Caspian, the Narnia movie (I know, I know, violence and etc. I am totally terrible)  And this song on the end is making me cry EVERY SINGLE TIME.

I love it.
Monday, February 14, 2011

to my lovies on valentines day

To my little man,
You made me a mama. It was you. My happy thought. With your dark thatch of hair and wide brown eyes and yelping cry. Now I go in to kiss you goodnight once more, hours after you have fallen asleep, and instead of tucking you in I cuddle up next to you. Warm and peaceful in your fuzzy footie jams. I can see in your round face the baby you were. My first baby. Squawking and cooing. Never sleeping when I wanted you to, oh so desperately! I was so tired! Walking the halls, bouncing and singing. Go to sleepy my little baby. That baby has faded away. In his place is this amazing little boy. So sensitive and kind. So intense and maddening.  All of these things that you love that I never could have imagined. Chess and castles, knights and legos. You want to be big so badly. Yet, as I kiss your soft cheek one last time you turn toward me in your sleep. YOu are  still him, my little baby. I want to scoop you up in my arms and rock you, bring you to mama's bed with sister to cuddle all night. But, I tuck you in. Push your hair back. Pull up your blankets one more time.
I love you little man.

To my baby girl,
You came to us so peacefully. So redeeming after your brother's hard birth. You made me believe in my body again. You laid on my chest looking up at me. Hi, I know you. With your blonde curls and blue eyes you were the opposite of your brother. But I see you together and my heart smiles. You need each other. It's beautiful. And you, dear girl, are beautiful. Your fiery yet gentle spirit is the perfect addition to our little world. Thanks for being in it. For being you.
Love you, Mama 

To dada,
What can I say. This little world is nothing without you. You are the perfect center to it. We love you. I love you.

(Emotional and hormonal... and in love. Forgive the sap dear reader.)

a morning of valentine fun
and more fun...anybody want one?? seriously. anyone?

my hug tup-take. ohhh, tup-take!

excuses, excuses... and an announcement

I haven't been posting much lately. But I have several bonafide excuses.

I am taking a writing class. Like every other blogger out there I have a W.I.P (Work In Progress) with the intention of being a "real writer" someday. (Or am I now? I wrote "writer/mother" on my occupation status at the dentist recently and they were like, Oh, what do you write? And I was like Oh, ummm. This project I am working on...uhh.. and then quickly added, plus contract writing for local non-profits, oh ok. So not really a "REAL" writer. I tend to try and explai.n myself too much. I should've just been like, oh, I am working on a book. Bite me.)

Well, umm, its been a lot of work. A lot. When is one supposed to work on the said W.I.P. when one has children, dishes, no help, and is quite tired by the end of the day and only wants to watch episodes of "Off the Map" at the end of the night? This is why this W.I.P. has been I.P. for more than five years now. There simply isn't time. I need to make time.

And then the other reasons.

This isn't helping:

Then there are these two. One of which is teething (endlessly).

And last but not least, there is this:

And yes, we are excited. So very. But, my word this stage is exhausting!

So. That is life. My excuses. You know how it is. But we are nearing spring! And the first trimester will be done soon! So, let us hope for sunshine and energy. In the it naptime yet?
Thursday, February 10, 2011

Anti-recipe #28 Cold weather beef stew

brr its cold. this was weeks ago. its too cold
to play outside now!
I haven’t been cooking much lately. Still.

However, I just got done reading this epic adventure book set in a world of castles and dragons and evil fairies and they were always eating things like bread and cheese and stews.

This makes me hungry.

So, a few days ago I pulled out a thick piece of steak and made, seriously, the most awesome beef stew.

It has also been cold here. Like where-did-all-things-warm-and-green-and-good-go-in-this-godforsaken-land kind of cold.

So beef stew was good for that too.

I did mine on the stovetop due to poor planning. It would’ve been even more tender and yummy sitting in the crockpot all day. Next time

First I pulled out a container of beef stock from the freezer (a large yogurt container). This wasn’t going to be enough so I added a frozen container (same size) of chicken stock. Thankfully I have a husband who loves to make stock. This is absolutely essential for a good stew. If you don’t have some frozen buy the kind in the container that you can pour out. Not the powdered stuff.

I then chopped up the meat and browned it thoroughly on each side, salting and peppering as I flipped it around.

I also had some homemade tomato paste in the freezer. Roughly the amount in a small can of paste.

Already this dinner was smelling good.

Next I chopped up two large carrots, a small onion, and five or six small red potatoes. I peeled the potatoes first (simply because they looked kinda old and ick. But, not necessary.)

Now throw all this together in with the stock/tomato paste mixture, bring to a bubble, and then turn down to a medium low simmer. I added a cube of fresh basil frozen in olive oil (that my sisters and mom and I made at the end of the summer. Sniff. I miss gardening)

I seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic salt.

Mine simmered like this for a good two hours. I covered after a while because it was simmering down too much and I wanted stew with broth. If I had done it in the crockpot I would’ve let it simmer on low all day long.

Enjoy with a crusty loaf of bread and some good aged cheddar. YUM.

Here is hoping the warmer weather they promise is truly on its way! In the meanwhile, I am totally eating leftovers for lunch today.
Monday, February 7, 2011

indoor castles and trying trying trying

So yesterday it was 30 degrees out. CRAZY. We of course were busy, what with church and superbowl preparations (BOO! Steelers fans were sad here...), and did not get the kiddies outside.

A mistake.

I went to take them out into the glorious sunshine today and thought, hmm, I better check the weather first. Yea, 5 degrees today. With a windchill of -15. Some mommies, tougher than I, may venture outside but this mommy wasn't feeling it.

fierce knight defending his realm.
Instead, I sat in the sunshine, drinking it in, with a cup of hot tea, while the kiddies played and then, gathering my creative energy, suggested we head down to the family room and make a castle.

A castle mom? Inside? Where? How? YAY! REALLY??

So, we spent the morning taping boxes together and carving out peepholes and draping sheets and then, of course we needed a flag, so mama cut out a lion shape and stitched it to a square of red fabric. Little man was delighted. The best thing I have made for him to play with I think.

we like this mom.
Little miss got into it too bringing me box after box from the storage room. She is hilarious lately. So grown up. Her favorite new phrase is: My trying. My trying! MY DO IT. She has suddenly decided to 1) dress herself (it takes sooooooooooo long! Little man never did this, he still doesn't. He would run around in his pajamas all day if I didnt suggest clothes. Ok, often he does...) 2) getting into her carseat herself and fastening the buckle (ACK. But you can't do it baby!!) and 3) stop wearing diapers. She is actually potty training herself. My peepee mama. Okay, go for it. Best part is, she wants brother to help her. NO. Mama. Jack do it. NOOO MAMA. Okay, okay. Have fun! He helps her sit down and then I come in to supervise. She even wipes and flushes the toilet herself.

Nice of her, huh?

yes, i cut out that lion and sewed it on.
like i told my sister, what else do i have to do.

on the lookout...
So, that is it from our little corner of the world. I am tired. Tired of cold and snow and cold. And snow. And cold too. But it is a peaceful kind of tired. Not restless or angstful. I am okay hibernating and waiting it out. You know? So, I will plug away at my days. Trying, trying, trying.

Although, some melting-of-snow-type-weather would be welcome. Maybe in a month....or two. HA.
Thursday, February 3, 2011

where i am at...

grateful for my little family...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

on vacationing with young children

So, we just got back from a lovely vacation up north - yes there is still north to go from where I live. HA.

This place was funny. Not ha ha funny. Like ironic strange funny. Huge. Cheesy. Dated (but clean!) Inhabited by snowmobilers who apparently snowmobile simply to go from bar to bar (and who also walk around the lodge carrying 32oz travel mugs full of beer!). It was also sweltering. Our room was 80 degrees the entire time. The AC unit in the room didnt work. Why? Because it doesn't work when its below 20 degrees out, the repairman told us. Oh. Right. Well, that makes sense I guess. Unfortunately there was no window in the unit so we had to make due with box fans. We walked around in T-shirts and boxershorts sweating.

For all the quirks of the place (and the long car ride up) it was strangely perfect.

Vacationing with little kids is a tricky thing. You can't expect too much. You have to factor in naptime. But once you slow down from daily life (and recognize that it would be impossible to snowshoe with a four year old and two year old in 10 degree weather - well, without an Ergo with us anyway) then it really can be great.

The key, we discovered, is to do what THEY want. The whole time.

That means, you should not drive 25 minutes to a Chinese buffet when they just wanted to stay in the nice little condo and eat hot dogs. (Also, I highly recommend being leery of $8 Chinese buffets in the Great North. Not. Good. News. At. All. That is all I will say about that.)

It means you will have things on your agenda like...
-two hours at the 25 cent video arcade where half the games are broken (I am gonna play Galaga mom!!)
-MANY, MANY trips to the pool (heated and indoors of course!) and no, you won't get a chance to sit in the jacuzzi. Kids aren't allowed in. If you go in they will want to follow. (Simming? No, not now. Yater? Yater mama, yes? Ohtay. Not now. Yittle yater.)
-watching one of two kids DVDs for rent at the gas station as your nightly activity (Igor. Ugh.)

But, it also means things like...
-an excuse to lounge around the condo doing nothing (NAPTIME!)
-an excuse to go get ice cream in the middle of the day (only to find out it was closed, but Skittles and licorice worked nicely!)
-being able to read while they watch cartoons all morning. (It's vacation! No TV guilt!)

So, all in all it was the most successful vacation our little family has experienced yet, on our own that is. There is something special about taking your little family somewhere for an adventure (outside of the realm of visiting grandma and grandpa or other relatives) It is rare when you have a young family. But, when pulled off successfully it can be quite wonderful.

Especially when dada takes pity on tired mama and insists she sleep in, spend an afternoon writing (while the kids napped!!) and soak in the hot tub while he braved the pool with them alone. What a guy!

As a side note: Little misses latest thing? Throwing back her head when she is bored and howling like a wolf. And yes, you have to do it too. Little man? His favorite new exclamatory remark, aw, nuts.

More June later this week. As lovely as it was I may need a few days to recover (insert smiley face guy)
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