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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

you are three.

My dear girl. You are three! Where have these years gone??

You are charming.

You are sweet.

You are wild.

You are stubborn.

You are beautiful, inside and out.

You are our girl. And we love you.

Happy Birthday.
Thursday, February 23, 2012

anti-recipe #47 mama's power bites

I really suck at blogging one handed. I cant do it. It makes me impatient. Obviously I am holding a sleeping babe right now. Someday she will nap in a crib. I suppose (though we will have to get a crib first, HA)

We just got back from looking at another school for little man. ACK. Seriously this is such a stressful decision! But, I am realizing, no decision will be "perfect" so we just need to decide and move forward, right?? More on this later...

In any case, this post.

So I am still doing the whole no sugar low carb thing and man, it feels GREAT. And not as hard as one would imagine, mainly because I am being rather loose about it. If I need to eat crackers, fine, a few bites of ice cream or a slice of pizza, sure.

One thing that helps are these "power bites" as I call them, one of my finest anti-recipe creations to date I think. They are packed with protein (peanut butter, almonds, sunflower seed butter) good fats (coconut oil!) and omega oils (flax!). Oh, and a sprinkling of chocolate too.

Here is how I make it.

Melt half a cup of coconut oil in a medium glass bowl in the microwave. Stir in 1/4 cup peanut butter and a few T of sunflower seed butter (which has a lovely nutty taste) or some combination of nut butters. Add 1 T of cocoa powder and 2T of raw honey. Now a splash of vanilla. Add 1-2 cups of oats, I like more for a less dense bar. Now a quarter cup of peanuts or so, a handful of almonds, a generous handful of ground flax and a sprinkle of salt. And maybe some chocolate chips, just a few. Now mix all this up.

At first I was just pressing this into a 9x13 pan, then storing in the fridge to harden (you have to keep it there) but then I discovered pressing the mixture into muffin tins, letting it harden, then popping it out into a ziplock bag (which is much easier to store in the fridge) also, much easier for on the go snacking, like when you are dashing out of the door and realize at 10am that you havent eaten yet, or when starving and holding a napping baby...(yes, this is all I have eaten today, ha!)

And as always, lots of possibilites for this one, dried fruit - I am not a fan - sunflower seeds, shredded coconut, other tree nuts, etc.

And the kids will like it too, well little miss does. But I dont really want to encourage that actually. These are MINE.

Try it. I swear you will thank me!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

on having a (very) part time nanny again...

on being present in the present

Because you know, your presence in the present really is a present.


I couldnt help myself.

But you know, I have been thinking about this for awhile. Being present. And yes, what a gift it is. But it isnt just a gift for the taking. It really is a skill, you know? Its something we have to work on, to be mindful of, and well, I suck at it most of the time.

We are in this strange in between land right now, as a family. Maybe moving this spring, maybe doing some traveling, maybe starting homeschool in the fall. My head is a whir of all of this, like on a merry-go-round, spinning, spinning, spinning. A see these blurry ideas and thoughts and plans as I spin around, hanging on tight, just blurs of color, fuzzy images, but I am getting to the point where I need solidity. I NEED to get OFF the merry-go-round, focus on something, and move forward.

As mothers it is so easy to set our heads in the future. When the baby sleeps through the night (ever?? HA) when the kids start school, when potty training is finally over (ALMOST THERE!), when dada gets that promotion, when we move to a bigger house, when I go back to work (HA, someday??)

I dont know why we do this. Because the now is SO much work? It is. This 5, 3, baby thing. Geez (or CHEESE, as little miss says) It is ROUGH. I AM TIRED. (WHY AM I WRITING IN CAPS SO MUCH TODAY?? SORRY, I WILL STOP)

 It is a lot. We are afraid to look down I think. To look around us. That maybe, we will be disappointed. Maybe because motherhood, and parenthood, is such a treasured thing. We dream up all these visions of our family as little girls. I know I did. The dark haired thoughtful girl, the wide eyed adorable set of twins, the little brother, the cooing baby. And a man that was always fuzzy faced. I had it all worked out. And how fabulous I would be. And we would travel. And I would work, saving starving children or something noble like that.

Maybe its that we are afraid to look around, afraid our now wont live up to those dreams. I dont know. Maybe that is part of it.

I am also a control freak, and I know many mamas that are too. Anything out of our control (say, the pottying habits of our stubborn three year old or the outcome of a rough pregnancy) is really really hard to handle. I want to KNOW. NOW. DAMMIT. (Shoot, caps again)

But we can't. And this is life. But instead of accepting this I too often try to escape, to this imaginary future where everything is worked out.

Do you do that? I think a lot of us do.

So. For Lent this year I am giving up the Crackberry (no more 40 million facebook checks while little man yells to fix his lego machine and the baby cries and little miss begs for "more cwackers mama!") An unprecedented move on my part to really, really try and be PRESENT in this PRESENT. Which really is a beautiful place. And to not compare it to the present I thought it would be, or the present I would like to live in in the future. But to grasp it for what it is, even the hard stuff, to be mindful that it really is, well, a PRESENT.

we had an ice cream sampling party the other night, with ben and
jerry flavors. we just sat and were. and laughed and lit candles.
and it was kinda perfect, for a few minutes.

baby felt very grown up, chewing on a spoon like the rest of us.
she is totally gonna be eating solids soon.

and yes, i did consume some too. sugar or no sugar.
i figured hey, in celebration of mardi gras, right?
Thursday, February 16, 2012

anti-recipe #46 peanut butter cups

So Valentines Day. Stuck at home with the kids all day. Dada working his restaurant job, making the big bucks. We are at home. Missing him. Without a car. So I think, lets make him treat! (And order a pizza!) So we make peanut butter cups.

Its amazing how easy these are to make, and how superior they are to the Reeses cups. Seriously. They are.

Line a muffin tin with papers. (This will make 12 cups) Melt a cup of chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every minute. It took 2 minutes or so. Spoon a teaspoon of chocolate into each paper cup, using a spoon to draw the chocolate up the sides of the paper (I didnt really two this as I had two eager, "helpers" - and I use that term VERY loosely - and a screeching baby in the sling...) Put the tin in the freezer. It will be hard in 15 minutes. Mix one cup, or so, of peanut butter, I used creamy all natural yadda yadda, Jiffy would be fine too! Add 1/4 cup honey, I use raw honey. Or you can use powdered sugar. Add some rock salt. Mix and dab a teaspoon or so of the mixture on your hardened chocolate base.  I put a layer of peanuts in some of the cups for extra crunch. Now cover with more melted chocolate, carefully closing the gap around the edge so its "sealed" (Yea, didnt do that at all)
Let harden for 30 minutes or so.

Take out of freezer.


So. Damn. Good.


I love this baby.

She is a screechy happy cooing laughing snorting oohing and aahing baby. Fat. Delicious. Nearly five months old. Perfect.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

happy valentines day

Dearest Little Man,

I love you so very much. Thank you for being such a great big brother to your sisters and such a wonderful person. Love, Mama

Dearest Little Miss,

I am so proud of you for being such a big girl. Keep smiling. I love you. Love, Mama

Dearest Baby,

Mama loves you.

Dear Dada,

You are my heart. I love you.

Happy Valentines Day to my little family, and friends and family everywhere.

Monday, February 13, 2012

random thoughts and a pretty valentines day bunting

Our wireless router is out. This is very inconvenient for me. It means I can only access the internet (read, blogging and pinterest) from our gloomy messy basement with the kids running around me (because they cant be on a different floor than me, heaven forbid!) getting into things, rummaging through our storage room (MOM, we are OUT OF GRAHAM CRACKERS! God help us all!) Little miss finds the water gushing out from the washing machine fascinating, which is really funny to me. I am just going to watch the water Mom! Um. OKAY?

And so. And so it goes.

It is grey out again today. This really makes my thoughts less coherent, yet more fluid. And so I type, and you the lucky beneficiaries. HA.

I may finangle this trip to the sun to lead a workshop after all. We shall see. A whole week in the sun, just me and baby? Crazy. Its weird how settled I can get, I need to heave myself out of the monotony every now and then, rediscover how much I do love adventure. But that transition, that heaving of self, is always such an effort. But, the best opportunities in life are, despite the initial fling off of the proverbial cliff. One, two, three, just do it. Some days this is as simple as putting on honest-to-God jeans and taking the kids to the mall. Other times it is more. This trip is one of those times. I also need to sit down and find somewhere to resubmit my scratchings. Which is one of those working up the nerves situations. So far though, my energy today is to remain pleasant with my children who really miss dada on Monday mornings and to get through the mountain of laundry that has somehow accumulated throughout the house. This is enough for the moment.

So the sugar free thing. Ugh. Thrush, again, I am so tired of it. So my midwives say to go off all yeast, sugar, fruit, dairy and alcohol (havent managed those last two yet!) in order to get it out of my system for good. Fun times. In the meanwhile, I have discovered a great way to make a sugar free vanilla latte! A strong pressing of coffee in the French press, milk heated in the micro, add a splash of vanilla, a tsp of maple syrup, one single drop of stevia to the milk, whisk, add to coffee. YUM. This is how I am overcoming, that and my guilt free chocolate treat which I will post in a bit.

So, my week.

We made this super sweet Valentines Day bunting at the beginning of the month. It was our first successful craft in awhile. I cut the hearts out of felt and little man arranged them in the pattern, with some craft-store purchased pom-poms interspersed in there. He loved doing this and even threaded several himself, using a giant yarn needle and yarn.

Oh my gosh. I wish you could see my baby right now, she has just woken up (in the wrap, yes) and her fat face is smiling up at me, drool pouring from her fat little mouth. Its amazing.

So, our bunting. Yes. What does dada think of hearts and pom-poms adorning his house? Well, he is our dada. He didnt even notice when he came in from work (how can you notice anything with two rowdy children flinging themselves at you!) So I point them out and he comes back in the room, nuzzling our fat baby, and says, "I think I have the most adorable family in the entire world."


I love him.
Saturday, February 11, 2012

anti-recipe #45 betty's baked oatmeal

I have never been a fan of oatmeal, I confess. A friend of mine was recently telling me how her kids eat oatmeal every day for breakfast. Outwardly I was like, wow, impressive. Inwardly I was like, ewwwww.

Its a texture thing for me I guess.

In any case. Baked oatmeal however, is another deal altogether. Perhaps the copious amounts of sugar traditionally used to make it. And yes, the texture is much more pleasant.

When I was a teenager I went on thesee crazy summer long volunteer trips all around the world. One summer one of my leaders introduced me to baked oatmeal - an easy way to cheaply feed 30 hungry teenagers. She has reentered my life (the joys of Facebook!) and happily shared her recipe.

So here it is.

1 cup oil - you can substitute with applesauce or coconut oil
2 cups sugar, white or brown - less works, but changes the texture.
4 whole eggs , beaten - I use whole eggs, but you could use enough egg whites to measure 1 cup
Beat together the above in a large mixing bowl.
Stir together the dry ingredients:
8 cups of uncooked oatmeal - You can substitute a little oat bran , raisin bran or wheat germ for part
4 tsp. baking powder
1 &1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups milk

Mix the dry into the egg oil and sugar mixture alternately with the milk.
(- Add extras at this point if you want them.You can flavor with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg.... I throw in some chopped fresh apples, walnuts or pecans, raisins or currants, chopped dates, dried apricots, coconut , whatever sounds good and is at hand.)
Pour into a pan at least 9x13 " or two 8" pans. Bake at preheated 350 until done..30-55 minutes.This varies according to the size of your pan and how full it is, It is like baking a cake, and looks something like a coffecake when done, don't dry it out too much..
You can cut it into squares and eat it from a bowl with some warmed milk poured over it. If you have a sweet tooth try adding just a touch of brown sugar to the milk before you warm it. You may also eat this without milk as you would eat a coffeecake. This will store well if you cut it into whatever serving portions you prefer and wrap individually, then put the pieces in a ziploc freezer bag and freeze. You can pull out a piece and zap it in the microwave to thaw and warm it; or just take it along to eat on the go. As for the oatmeal, Quick oats make it more cake like, old fashioned or steel cut oats make it denser and chewier, I use whatever I have, or mix the two. It may turn out differently at different times, I don't mind that, but if you find a version that is your favorite write it down right away so you can repeat it the next times, and let me know what you come up with. God Bless you.

(Isnt she the best?)

She notes that really this is the perfect "Anti recipe" recipe. You can make it a lot of ways. To me, when I made it I wanted it a little thicker, less cakey and more custardy. My sister told me of a recipe she once saw using cooked oatmeal so, overcoming my strong dislike, I cooked some. Here is how I made it.

I should also note I am doing low gluten NO SUGAR right now, for various reasons which I shall perhaps bore you all with in another post.

6 cups oats. Cover with water, cook for five minutes or less.
Add two tablespoons raw honey. Maybe more.
Add 1/2 cup coconut oil and 1/4 cup plain yogurt
Add 3 tsp of baking powder
A generous splash of vanilla
3 eggs
And some cinnamon

Stir, pour into greased 9x11 pan.

Bake at 350 until firm in the middle, maybe 30 minutes.

This was a really great texture, really an oatmeal custard, if I could I'd add 1/2 cup of brown sugar. I'd recommend you do so. I had to add maple syrup to mine to make it tastier. Eat it hot in a bowl covered in milk with a dash of cinnamon.

Seriously. YUM. My KIDS even ate it. That is saying something. And dada declared it delicious. So, baked oatmeal. The perfect anti-recipe dish. Give it a try and let me know what you come up with!

PS 45 anti-recipes??? Am I really that good? Just call me Julia from now on. HA. (That was a sarcastic joke but...I am totally improving my cooking skills by embracing this anti-recipe philosophy. And if I can do it, this should give anyone hope!)
Wednesday, February 8, 2012

on valentines day card crafting and making it through the week

Every year I make cards with the kids. Or no, scratch that, I let them help me make cards. Kind of. Okay, fine, I make cards and they watch, and are sometimes invited to be involved at carefully orchestrated moments. HA. The truth.

This year though. Boy is five. Girl is nearly three. They can do it themselves. Right? So, I pop open the paint tubes, squirt it into a veggie tray platter, each kid gets a jar of water and a rag, with strict instructions to wash and wipe the brush off between each color (I cant let go THAT much), I cut out sheets of paper to fold in half and bend a toilet paper tube into the shape of a heart (as a stamp! Brilliant, right??) And, there they go. And they had a fabulous time. And made a million creative cute cards. And I held baby, and did some laundry, and did not stress out.


I am on a roll I tell you. Yesterday I took the kids to the doctors for check ups, and survived (little miss spent the entire hour in the office hopping around like a frog, yelling at the top of her lungs, just for the sheer joy of it, no shots involved, and hitting her baby sister in the gut. It was SUPER FUN.) I dread doctors visits because of that long time in that tiny room with three kids. And yet, as I was corralling them down the hall to the exit (THANK YOU GOD) the doctor calls out after me, "You are doing a great job mama! Keep it up!" And I smile.

And then, I summoned the strength to move on, and went to Target to return a few things and spend a gift card. And we HAD FUN. Aside from little miss standing up and yelling in the cart on two ocassions (because she was not allowed to leave the cart, per my instructions.) And we got all sorts of goodies. What? We need to spend ANOTHER 12.99 to equal out this return? No problem!

And as we are leaving a middle aged guy comes up behind me to ask if he can help unload my bags into the car, which he does while I strap in the kids and then he returns my cart for me. And as he did he smiles at the kids in a happy way, not in a "I pity you, you poor woman" way, clearly enjoying our chaos, and then says in a wistful way, "I remember those days!" And I smile.

Then I come home and they watch some cartoons while I make the girls pajamas out of this great vintage flannel I have had sitting around forever. And they turn out good. And little miss calls her "her boo-tiful dress" and twirls in delight. (And you KNOW I will post about this, soon.)

And here we are, the next day, a succcessful pain free craft, and cooking under my belt (a great no-guilt chocolate bar recipe and an amazing baked oatmeal recipe which I will share soon.)

And now. Now. BOTH of my girls are napping. And no, not in the sling, in actual beds.

And wow. If I could conquer every week like this, you know? Its really funny how it ebbs and flows. The good and the bad and the inbetween. And we smile and drink more coffee and floss our teeth like responsible adults and we hope that the tide lets out soon. Right?

Well, in any case, here is to a good week, because we deserve them every now and then, and they are reason to celebrate! Cheers mommies (and you dadas who read too!) Cheers to good times, sunny days, and making it!

Monday, February 6, 2012

a baby wearing cape

Remember this cape thingy I posted about once upon a time? So I was out thrifting with dada the other day and found one very similiar and I picked it up and thought, I am going to cut a hole in this lovely cape poncho thingy and wear it.

And so I did.

Before cutting I measured where baby's head would be in the ergo, so I got it in the right spot. It came to a strange place on my chest and looked rather weird just wearing the cape without baby so I turned the cape around and cut it in the back instead. If I need to wear baby in the front I can wear the cape backwards, with the hand holes in the back, but, whatever. 

In any case, backwearing is MUCH more comfortable with babies, once they get to a certain weight, especially on long hikes. Do you know about back wearing? It can be tricky. So, this is how I do it - without help. Get your ergo strapped on, just at the waist, and let it dangle down. Then pick up baby under her arms, but backwards. This part is hard to explain. You are going to throw baby (not throw! holding! HA) behind you over your shoulder and then place her on your back, bending over to have her laying on you. Can you picture that? It takes a few tries to get the right hold to make the lift easiest. You can do this with babies who are around 4-5 months old, as long as they are comfortable in a sitting postition for baby wearing (with legs spread, not tucked in) and as long as they have good head control (of course!). Once you get this move down its really easy. Then you quickly pull the ergo up and get the arm straps on, leaving one hand on baby to steady her, while putting the other arm strap on, then switching sides, and then making sure that baby's butt is all the way into the seat of the carrier. And there you have it! Simple! Of course if you are nervous you can have someone spot you the first few times, or you can do it sitting down against a couch (this is how I take baby off, just undo shoulder straps, then the waist and let baby fall back onto the cushions.)

And I write all this because it took some experimenting and I wish someone had explained this move to me! I am sure there are videos on Youtube if you need it. Okay, back to the cape.

So I cut the hold on the back of the cape, about 8 inches across, then zigzag stiched around to prevent fraying. I am going to sew buttons onto it, to keep it closed when baby is out of it, or to close it up a little once baby's head is through the hole.

I am super excited to wear this walking around trails in the woods this spring. Or tomorrow, with the amazing weather we have been having.

My sister once told me, long ago before children, when ponchos were suddenly in style and I confessed an admiration for them, "friends don't let friends wear ponchos." But, this is a cape, right? And EVERY Super Mom needs a cape, right?? HA!

little miss demonstrating the back carry and the new cape.
Friday, February 3, 2012

good times, bad times

Its been one of those weeks. I cant get my feet underneath me.

Things feel big. I feel little.

I therefore tend to be un-bloggy. My thoughts are a jumble of woulda coulda shoulda. Nothing succinct and/or witty and/or poignant.

My parenting skills are lacking this week. They say, another video? I say, sure, why the heck not. Fact is, all I want to do is hibernate too. Not think. Not move. Not do laundry or pick up or change another pair of soggy training pants.
I am fine, sure. I guess. Mostly I just am. You know those weeks?

Baby wont lay down for a nap on her own. People I love give me a hard time. ("Just put her down and let her cry" they say. But, I say. I CANT DO THAT) My lovey children are either TV zombies or wild soccer-ball-kicking-couch-cushion-bouncing hooligans. And I want to go teach in a sunny place and have been invited to do so but there is no way our little family can make it work. And it is grey out. And muddy.

And then my little lovey children look at me with little lovey faces and I just want to melt into a ball of goo.

And the baby is on the floor, yelling for me.

And I make a pot of tea. And I pick her up. And I wait for spring.

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