Thursday, July 29, 2010

Where have you been?

The honest truth - I've been hiding from the blog recently.

Whenever Tim leaves town, several things happen - I exercise every day, usually paint a room, eat like a vegetarian and listen to a lot of sermons. Hearing the Word of God preached offers stimulation for adult thought and flings the door wide open for the Holy Spirit to work. I listen to sermons a lot anyway, but when Tim's away, the house is much quieter, so I can ruminate longer.

All that to say, I listened to a sermon by Mark Driscoll in which he discussed producing fruit. He talked about the difference between being busy and producing fruit. I was really convicted his message which led me to evaluate how I spend my time.

A few things caught my attention - how I was "serving" at church, how I spent my time during G's naps and the blog. I spend hours every week on this blog, writing, researching, etc... Not to mention all the times that I put off completing other important tasks in order to complete a project to blog about. So far, Renaissance Momma is keeping me very scattered, rather behind in regular life stuff and encouraging my love of hearing myself type.

I'm not announcing the immediate closure of the blog, just a change in direction for me. I don't know exactly what that will look like online, but I can't keep abandoning more Godly pursuits for the sake of blogging. So, please pray for me as I decide what to do and how best to serve my family. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back to needles

I'm knitting again. Swollen fingers and pregnancy carpal tunnel have made knitting an undesirable hobby for the last couple months, plus I have a hard time knitting stuff for cold weather during hot sticky summer days. However, I've recently hit a knitting streak.

By knitting, I mean yarn craft in general. I crochet as much as I knit. But "knitting" is a much less cumbersome word than "crocheting" (which is even a trick to type).

Anyway, it started one evening when we took Baby G to a restaurant where she sat directly under an AC vent and was turning blue by the time dinner was over. I decided that she needed a short sleeve jacket of sorts to wear on summer and fall evenings when the AC is on high or the weather drops a few degrees. That sent me digging through my yarn stash (a super size ziploc storage bag that is so full, I can't shut it anymore) where I found some very soft Caron Eco yarn. My mom is shuttering even as she reads this because she doesn't believe in any yarn that isn't at least 123% natural fiber and hand painted, but I don't have her yarn budget.

Her little sweater was a crocheting delight - almost instant gratification. I remembered how nice a quiet craft is. While I love the even more instant gratification of sewing, I don't love the sewing machine waking G from her nap or working in the sweat shop I refer to as my sewing room. Knitting, on the other hand, can be done in any convenient location in silence except for the soothing background noise of a movie.

I'm looking forward to knitting a few items for our new baby as well as for my friends who have recently become mommas. Happy needles, yet again.

P.S. The basic pattern came from ravelry although I modified it some to fit my needs.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rolling Stone

My veterinary training did not serve me well tonight. Usually it's helpful as babies aren't all that different from dogs - they can't tell you what hurts or that they don't feel good; they put everything in sight in their mouths; occasionally, they pee on your carpet. Usually, I can watch for similar symptoms in Baby G that I would expect in a dog and know whether to worry or not. Tonight, however, I had horrifying visions of exploratory surgery after G popped a cherry pit in her mouth and gulped it down.

She knew what she was doing. I told her not to touch the cherry stones. However, when I looked down to retrieve a piece of cherry she dropped, her grubby little mitt stretched out quick as a flash for the pile of forbidden pits. Then with alarming coordination for 8 1/2 months, she shoved it in her mouth and swallowed just as my finger was reaching for her lips. Down it went and up went my blood pressure as I saw the look of triumph on her face. And really, what could I do? It was gone.

Instead of assuming I would find it later in her diaper, I began visualizing the slide show from vet school where our professor showed all the things stupid labrador puppies had eaten over the years - tennis balls, silverware, an 8" long rubber crow like the ones from Dumbo, and more. Pyloric obstruction, esophageal hemorrhage - this line of thought was not helpful.

Fortunately, I have a friend with 5 kids 5 years old and younger (don't gloss over that - contemplate what 2 preschoolers, 2 toddlers and a newborn actually look like!). She's seen just about everything, and it's still fresh on her mind since one of her children probably did it again yesterday. I'm sure later tonight she'll chuckle with her husband about the overly confident highschooler she knew who has become the insecure mom with the protective, stupid questions.

As you might imagine, G is fine. She took a bottle and crashed for the night. I'm sure I haven't seen the last of the cherry pit - a humbling reminder that I, too, worry when I shouldn't about my girl.

Friday, July 16, 2010

7/7

Every year in July, I thank the Lord that I'm still alive. That might sound cliche, but it's very poignant for me and my family. Five years ago on July 7, my sister and I were sitting on a train in London, drinking lattes on our way to see Big Ben, when a Muslim extremist ignited a suicide bomb ten feet away.

When the initial shock of the blast subsided, my sister and I sat up to take inventory and check on each other. As we huddled together in the mass of rubble that used to be a train car, we both praised the Lord that we were alive. Our nearest neighbors were not so fortunate.

While waiting for the paramedics, we drew strength from the felt presence of Christ, each other and the amazing citizens who jumped aboard our train in the face of a collapse or possible explosion to give us aid.

Scared and barely conscious, the medics carried us to the hospital where we were separated for surgery. Once in the recovery room, my sister and I told everyone within ear shot to locate our sister and call our family.  It took several hours, but we were reunited in the middle of the night when we moved to a less crowded hospital.

Our family heard about the bombing almost as soon as they woke up, but there was no news from us. Mom, Dad and little Sis waited by the phone for a reassuring phone call only to hear a British doctor inform them that my sister was badly injured and I was not in the system yet. Friends mobilized, calling politicians, to update passports and book flights. Within 24 hours, my mom was on the ground in London, her best friend flying in later that day on a providentially timed missions trip.

We underwent another surgery to stabilize us for a flight to the U.S.  Workers at Duke Hospital pulled 24-hour shifts to arrange transport. After 4 days in London's hospitals and a long uncomfortable flight, we touched down in Raleigh-Durham to be greeted by Dad, little sister and DH (dear boyfriend at the time).

Once in the United States, we began to realize that this event touched many more people than our little family. The national news media was lining up to interview and photograph us as we made our recovery. Apparently, we were the only two Americans seriously injured, and the story of two sisters surviving the blast together was front page news. Our rooms were filled with bribes from new stations - flowers, gift baskets, the first available copies of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.


On the big screen in Times Square during the Today Show Interview

Soon after we began to receive other gifts and cards as well, but this time from well wishers all around the country, people we had never met sending their thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery. We were overwhelmed by the support and encouragement we received from hundreds of individuals concerned for our family.

As we regained strength, we found our voice in the media. God worked mightily in our hearts. A spirit of peace and forgiveness came over us almost immediately. When the interviews began, we were ready to tell the world that God forgave us and gave us the grace to forgive our attackers. Some people hated our message and others embraced it. We were determined to use this national platform to turn what man meant for evil into God's glory.

After nearly two weeks in the hospital and six surgeries a piece, we flew home. A crowd of our friends greeted us at the airport, including 1 month old Cindy Kate. The celebration was awesome, although draining. Did I mention it included another news interview? It was months (including a trip to New York for the Today Show) before the media attention died down.

A decade after the blast and its far-reaching consequences, I still field questions about the sizable scars on my ankle and arm. When I explain where they came from, people frequently apologize to me for dredging up the memory and that it happened at all.  But I don't feel the need for the apology. My life rolled along very smoothly until that point - no major bumps. God prepared me perfectly as only He can for that moment. I knew who He was, that His character is true, that He is not caught by surprise and that He plans good for His children. The bombing only strengthened my understanding. As I hit the  gauntlet of life's bumps following that summer, the bombing served as a reference for me, reminding me that God is good and at work even in horrible circumstances.

So, if you notice a huge scar on my arm, or I "ignore"you on my now deaf right side, you know the background. A horrible, amazing tragedy occurred that God twisted and molded and turned into His glory. All praise be to our God and Father who sits upon the throne in Heaven!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Peach Frozen Yogurt

For the Menchi's and Berry Body fans in the audience.. Peach Frozen Yogurt. Absolutely delicious, I decided to try my hand at frozen yogurt after G polished off half of mine this weekend. To cope with the simmering summer weather, we're enjoying plenty of homemade ice cream maker treats.

Peach Frozen Yogurt
3/4 c milk (whatever percent you want to use)
1/3 c sugar
Mix these two together until sugar dissolves

3 c yogurt (again, whatever fat content you prefer)
1 t vanilla
1/4 t nutmeg
1 c chopped peaches
Combine last four ingredients with the milk/sugar mixture.

Follow ice cream maker instructions to freeze. You could also try placing it in the freezer in a tupperware and stirring frequently.

If you don't eat the entire batch in one sitting, make sure you store it in a microwave safe container. Otherwise, you will need to defrost it slightly before subsequent servings by placing in the refrigerator several hours ahead.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sisters!!!

Verdict is in... We're having a girl! YAY!! Let the dress making and nursery decorating begin.

I so badly wanted this baby to be a girl. You might think me selfish, but I was really considering G. My sisters are delights in my life. I have two - both younger, and life would not be complete without them. We grew up giggling late at night playing mancala, riding double on our shared pony, stealing each other's clothes, and overwhelming anyone who dared hang out with all three of us at the same time. I want that experience for G and now for new baby, too.


My sisters and I in New York

Five years ago, my sister and I were in a bombing halfway across the world. I don't know how either of us would have survived if not for each other's support. We were in a hospital in a foreign country an ocean away from the rest of our family, but we had each other. That's what siblings are for. They're your whole life support - the only people around for your entire existence.

I'm so grateful for my sisters, and now, my girls will have each other.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

White Bean Chili

I am clearing out my pantry. Hence the winterish dish in the middle of July. Although, I think a white bean chili is less seasonal than a traditional style.

This recipe is very easy and provides excellent nutrition, qualifying for Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet (the most restrictive phase) while filling up the whole family. Even Baby G enjoyed some of the beans for dinner last night. She ranked it "one big toothless grin."

3 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
2 cans white beans
1 can green chili
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1/2 t red pepper
1 t salt
Cilantro - add 2 T fresh cilantro at the end or 1 t dried cilantro at beginning

Best directions ever: Throw all ingredients into your crock pot and cook on low for at least 6 hours or high for at least 3 hours. No need to cook the chicken ahead of time. The crock pot will take care of that for you, and the cooking chicken will provide the needed juice for you chili. Top with shredded cheese and sour cream. Serves 4.

A fabulous no-fuss meal for tired, busy moms!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Picture Day

Somedays I realize halfway through the morning as I rant about what I'm going to post that I just need to post cute baby pictures and leave things be. Today is one of those days. I was determined to vacuum the house which requires holding a terrified G on my hip as she claws her way up my shoulder away from the terrify noise maker. I'm pretty exhausted from the whole ordeal.

So, I give you my goofy girl, hamming it up for the camera this afternoon while we crawled around on the freshly vacuumed carpet.

She started eating goldfish crackers recently. I love to feed them to her because she looks so confused about the whole process. Why is the goldfish in my lap not my mouth? What am I supposed to do with this thing now that I've put it in my mouth? Are all fish this delicious? (The answer, of course, is only the fresh ones!)
We're borrowing an excersaucer. She's currently trying to crawl out of it toward the obscenely large box of Goldfish, hoping I pick up on her not-so-subtle hint. Time for more baked cheddar goodness.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

What do you do all day?!

A friend sent this article to me. It spoke to my life, so I thought I'd share.




Like most SAHM, I am asked more often than I like how I fill my time. After all, other moms are able to work and raise their families. I mean no disrespect to working moms. I frequently ask myself, how would I ever get all of this done and work 40 hours a week. At the same time, this question is kind of insulting, as if I am being accused of watching soaps and reading romance novels while my child entertains herself. 

What do I do? I don't know why I feel the need to justify my use of time, but I just want to say this. Why is running a day care or nannying considered a full time job, but staying home with your kids is not?! No one would be happy with a day care that consisted of individual pens in which children were dropped and expected to fend for themselves all day while the workers watched TV. Similarly, SAHM's can't put their children in a pack n' play or swing and skip about their business. Just like children at a day care (where the facility is built just for them I might add) need constant supervision and direction and engagement, so do children at home. They're demanding, wonderful little buggers who take up your whole day. I get all of my work done in the 3 1/2 hours a day while Baby G sleeps. Otherwise, I'm on baby duty.

It might not sound exciting to everyone, but child care is a full time responsibility that you never really get away from. The minutia of my day is just that, minutia. But the overwhelming portion of my day is taken up by the nurturing of my darling girl, a job I wouldn't trade for anything.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My Gift to the Youth Group

DH leaves in a week or so for his summer missions trip. Baby G is not exactly ready to help roof a house, so she and I are remaining at home. This will be the first missions trip I've missed, and to be honest, I'm feeling overprotective and controlling about the whole thing, but mainly the food.

For four years of trips (happy anniversary, honey), I've been chief cook and bottle washer as well as the unofficial nurse (have to put that medical training to use somehow). Now, I'm coaching from the sidelines, developing menus and shopping lists, trying to decide what I can prepare ahead of time and send with.

As usual, I will be sending an obscene number of rice krispie treats. They're a signature dish for me. Not that I can't make something more complicated, but in the quantity I'm making them, I prefer simple.

My secret to a not very secret dessert: Rice Krispie Treats

Ingredients:
Basics:
6 c rice krispies cereal
5 c of miniature marshmallows

3 T of butter
1-2 t vanilla
Non-stick baking spray with flour
Extras:
1 c crystal sprinkles - I used these at Christmas for the best rice krispies I'd ever made. Just sprinkle over the top. They will fall through the hot cereal and melt along the bottom.
1 - 2 c chocolate chips - cover the bottom of the pan with chocolate chips, then lay the hot cereal mix over the top for a chocolate base

Directions:
Using a large saucepan, melt the butter and marshmallows together over medium heat, stirring constantly (the microwave affects the consistency and flavor). Add vanilla and stir.
Remove from heat, add cereal and mix thoroughly.
Place in well greased brownie pan and allow to cool.

When I make these for the youth group, I usually make 6 lasagna trays worth. As you can imagine, I use a lot of marshmallows! However, there was a high demand for them with our first youth group. They've been known to disappear within 24 hours - yes, all six trays. Hopefully, it will be a good nostalgic item for DH while he's away from home.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Home again, Home again

Whew! It's hard to return to regular life after so much time away. As I mentioned, we made an unplanned family visit to K'town. No airport stories this time, just a sweet funeral for a wonderful grandfather.

Today is a busy, lazy day. Does that make sense? Lots of nap time for Baby G - in fact, she's only been awake for an hour so far today. Lots of catching up for me - bags to unpack, groceries to buy, laundry to wash and since we left in the middle of everything, a fridge to clean out and a kitchen to reclaim after painting only half of it.

On a more fun note, my sister finally reclaimed her etsy page. It might be a shameless plug, but I think my sister is a beautiful artist, so please check out her work! Right now, she only has her textiles up, but I took pictures of her pottery, so I know that's coming soon.

We have a busy weekend in the making, but I will try to make up for my miserable presence the last week. Again, thank you for your patience as I focused on my family during our loss.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Update

 DH's wonderful GF died this week, so we are with family. Thank you guys for your patience with the blog.


GF played the harmonica in a bluegrass band. Some of my favorite memories with him involve late night bluegrass sessions at hole in the wall gigs.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Silk Placemats

Good morning! I have a totally quiet house right now. DH is off at camp. Baby G stayed up way late with the babysitter last night and is down for the count now. Perfect time to plan out my week and post my newest sewing tutorial. Yay!

I've been stitching like a mad women recently, but no projects that would post well. For instance, do you want to read about the 15 cloth diapers I've sewn?! Probably not. This weekend was different.

If you got married, say last night, then skip this post until you've opened your gifts. Otherwise... I needed a wedding gift for a neat couple who've traveled, particularly in southeast Asia. I wanted to make something Asian inspired but not shamelessly copied. I settled on silk placemats.

The placemats were fun from beginning to end. I got to buy bright colored fabric; I didn't have to use any funky stitching; as an added bonus, my sewing machine tension behaved itself. And the result was a gift I could be proud to put our name on.

How to Sew a Placemat:

Note - This tutorial is specific to working with a light weight fabric such as silk. If you want to use a heavier fabric, like broadcloth, I would follow this tutorial at SewMamaSew.

1. Start with a trip to the fabric store (yay!). To make 4 placemats at 14"x17", I bought 3/4 yard of backing and single-sided fusible webbing and 1/4 yard of each of the front panel fabrics (3 total fabrics for 3/4 yard total). Also, you will need double fold bias tape and corresponding thread.

2. Cut the pieces for your front panel. Before you cut, decide how big you want the placemat. As I said, these were 14"x17" which will comfortably house a large dinner plate. The front panel can be as complicated or simple as you like. Regardless, consider your seam allowance when you calculate the front pieces. In this case, I had two seams at 1/2" per piece of fabric for a total of 2" seam allowance. The center strip was 7"x17", the thin strip was 3.5"x17", and the wider top strip was 5.5"x17".

3. Piece and sew your front panel. You can skip this step if you chose a solid piece for the front. To piece, simply pin the fabric right side to right side and sew a straight seam along the pinned edge at your designated seam allowance.

4. Iron the pieced seams. The seams must lay flat, otherwise you will have odd ridges in your placemat.




5. Cut and iron fusible webbing. The webbing gives the placemats structure without adding a lot of bulk. The webbing should wrinkle slightly when it's warm enough to bond. If the webbing isn't sticking, turn up the heat on the iron.

6. Trim the placemat. With the webbing in place, straight cuts become much easier. This is the time to square things up and ensure that all of your front pieces reach the edge of the placemat.

7. Attach backing and and bias. Pin the backing on first. At this point, you can trim the backing to ensure a good fit with the front of the placemat. Then pin the double fold bias tap around the outside edge, making sure to fold and pin the corners as you go. When sewing, use a straight stitch positioned as close to the inside edge of the bias tape as possible. This will ensure that you get a big bite of all three layers of fabric and that your bias tape doesn't fold up or roll later.

Ta Da. You're done. 

I really enjoyed making these. Throughout the process, I kept thinking about what I wanted to do when I made some for us. I think I have a pretty cute idea coming up. Can't wait to show you. In the mean time, try sewing some silk placemats. They can really spruce up your table setting or make an excellent shower/wedding present.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pancakes

My mom started a tradition (many moons ago) making pancakes for breakfast every Saturday. It stuck, although each daughter has adjusted it slightly. Emily's a waffle woman, Sarah is a biscuit maker, and I make on Friday, the start of the weekend if you're a pastor's family.

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and pancakes are one of my specialities. This morning, we had buttermilk buckwheat pancakes with blueberries. They were fabulous. As you might imagine, I make them from scratch. I'm not opposed to Bisquick; I just prefer the flexibility of flour, sugar and baking soda.

The Recipe:

4 T butter, melted
1 1/2 c milk
2 eggs
Beat together.

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
Mix together with a fork, beating as little as possible. Cook on a greased skillet over medium heat, turning once. Keep warm and serve hot.

In general, people make two common mistakes with pancakes. 1. They over mix the batter and try to remove all the lumps. This makes the pancakes tough/rubbery. Even pressing pancakes with a spatula increases toughness. 2. They set the stove too high, overcooking the outside and leaving the inside runny. You wouldn't crank the oven up to 425 to bake bread faster. The pancakes are baking just like any other quick bread, and they deserve the correct temperature.

Like most doughs/batters, once you've made this recipe a few times, you should get a feel for the consistency and how to adjust or add to it. My favorite adjustments:

  • Whole wheat and/or buckwheat flour instead of all-purpose - requires an extra 1/4 - 1/2 c milk. This makes very filling pancakes.
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1-2 c fruit - bananas, shredded apples, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc...
  • 1/2-1 t cinnamon - I really like cinnamon, so I use a lot
  • 1 c chocolate chips or chopped nuts
  • 1/4 c wheat bran or 1/4 c rolled oats - again, you must increase the liquid
  • Buttermilk instead of milk - this makes your pancakes fluffier. You can make buttermilk by adding 1 T of lemon juice per 1 c of milk. 
  • 1 c mashed sweet potatoes - remove 1 c of flour, add cinnamon and nutmeg. These are delicious!
Feel free to be creative. I'm considering adding cheese and layering them for a dinner dish, in the spirit of crepes. I made crepes a little while back from The Art of French Cooking. Tim was nuts about them, but they were a little intense to make. Adding extra liquid to pancake batter would achieve roughly the same thing. Hmm...


Bon App├ętit!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Recovering from my laundry Faux Pas

I was going to report on this yesterday as a follow up to my laundry gripe, but my dress was just too exciting, so I postponed.

We really piled on the stressors in our life this year: baby, move, new job, new church, selling a house. Usually I can shove my problems to a dark recess of my mind and focus on daily life stuff. Nevertheless, they creep forward at times, reminding me that our house still hasn't sold, isn't even showing in fact, that we're still living in a borrowed house that really needs to be sold. Ugh! That's why I try to bury these nagging thoughts under piles of baby giggles and craft ideas.

Whenever I start stewing over the glacial housing market, I try to distract myself. First, I sat down and read the Bible. However, I'm in a section right now that's mostly genealogies. All of those weird interesting names pass in front of me, and my worrying shifts from the house to the baby. This baby had better be a girl if it wants a name. I am totally uninspired by boys' names this go around.

I needed to find something else to distract me, so I pulled out the stained tees and the Rit. One pot led to 3 with 1 burp cloth, 2 tees and 4 onesies - cobalt blue, tangerine orange and grass green. Rit offers formulas for creating different shades. The website is useful, if you have all of the base colors you need.

Speaking of what colors you "need," the Color Kittens are deceiving! You cannot make any color of paint/dye out of a combination of red, yellow and blue. On the color wheel, it works, but in practice, it's a mess. You need brown and black to fine tune colors (For instance, gold = yellow and brown, burgundy = red and black, maroon = red and brown). If you are going to buy a set of basic primary colors and hope to mix the shades you want, make sure you buy a brown and a black also. I forgot this rule when I bought my dye, so picking exact colors was difficult.

All the same, I really enjoyed seeing Baby G in a bright hugh. Her wardrobe is drowning in pink and brown with flowers. Time for a change.

After dress sewing yesterday, I'm not up for a huge project today. Still, I think I could find some cute shapes (not flowers or ducks) to add to these onesies. I now have three green ones so it might be time for a fruit/veggie theme. And the orange one is begging for a tree. Hmm... looks like I found today's project.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Dress

This weekend, I'm attending a wedding. It's the kind of wedding I really look forward to: family I love, sweet bride, I'm not part of the bridal party/family. Best of all, they're a Godly couple, so the imagery of Christ and the church really stands out.

While I'm excited to go, I had one major hiccup. It's been over a year since any of my formal clothes fit. I have one "maternity" dress, and it looks like a sack, an awkward mauve tent. Not exactly the statement I want to make at this beautiful evening wedding.

After a vision of sixteen outfit changes only to give up and where jeans, I started looking for something new. I found this dress. It's beautiful, sexy, slimming - everything a maternity dress should be. Did you check the price? Yeah, a hundred dollars. I think Tim could take me to small claims court if I spent that on a dress right now. After all, we have a new baby to pay for.

So, I did what any crafty momma does when she can't buy the dress she wants. I headed to the store for fabric to make my version of the dress. To hide pregnant awkwardness and cope with summer heat, I picked a rayon/lycra blend. Unable to find a pattern, I drew out a ridiculous sketch, scrutinized a couple dresses in my closet and started cutting.

To be honest, I surprised myself. The dress is a faux wrap (I don't need G untying my dress) accented with cap sleeves and a ruffled neck line. The belt actually ties at the side. The hanger is lame, I know. I promise to take a picture when I wear it Saturday. Also, I will try to make a digital pattern available.

Trying this dress on, I felt prettier than I have in months. Now, I really can't wait for this wedding.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wanted: One Laundry Fairy

A laundry fairy lives in our house. Sporadically, she sweeps up all the dirty laundry, sniffs the armpits of all the shirts left on the floor in the "unsure" pile, washes, folds and carefully places them in the right drawer or shelf. At least, that is how G and DH see things.

In reality, laundry falls under my job description. I'm not going to argue that I shouldn't do family laundry, but that doesn't mean I'm fond of it either. Today was a really annoying laundry day. A play silk found its way into G's laundry hamper. I know, I know. I could have avoided the whole mess by sorting her clothes by color. Be reasonable. They're all the same color - little girl pink. Except for the bright blue play silk.

As I was hanging the laundry, I began to notice the odd blue splotches on her white undershirts. My mind started tracking through the last two weeks, thinking did I buy her something? In blue?!

Then I spotted the culprit, tangled in a sheet looking confused, bleeding on everything it touched. Shoot! I have borrowed baby clothes in here. Please Lord, no blue splotches on Beth's clothes. Please! You haven't sold our house. You owe me this one.

God doesn't really owe me one, but He was gracious enough to protect the borrowed clothes. Beth breathes a sigh of relief.

To add insult to injury, the holly tree has grown again. It repeatedly stabbed me in the back while I was hanging my stained baby shirts. I don't know which came first: the holly tree or the clothes line. But they are planted within two feet of each other. As you can see, the holly branches grow around the clothes line, making laundry a more painful process than it needs to be.

Does anyone have suggestions for removing food coloring from a sheet??? At this point, I think I will just dye the t-shirts another color and cover the blue. Any better ideas???




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Monday, June 21, 2010

Everyone's Growing!

Time for another self-indulgent post where I tell you how cute my daughter is and how much she's grown.

Last night, G fell asleep before she could finish her last bottle, so I enjoyed the now rare pleasure of creeping in her room at 10 o'clock to let her finish. (Funny how excited I was to cut out this feeding a few months ago)

Our girl is not a cuddler - she might be  pint size, but she acts like a 1 year old, pushing away from you, sitting up on your lap but never leaning against you. The only time we get to snuggle with her is when she's asleep.

That's why last night was so special. She slept through the feeding and nestled into my chest when the bottle was empty. Hmmm... So nice.

She's grown recently. Like every baby, she grows wide then tall, gains a little pooch then lengthens out. Between needing extra naps, acting extra grumpy and eating like a horse, I thought she might be adding the inches again. Turns out, she's a little over 26 inches long - a full inch from her 6 month check up (contrary to the picture - I didn't measure to her toes). I think we might be back on the growth chart! You might remember that at her last check up, G had all but shrunk.

Gwennan's not the only one who's growing. This baby is making his/her presence known to the world much faster than G did! People aren't asking when I'm due yet, but that could be because I have a 7 month old on my hip, and they're thinking, "She'd be crazy to have babies that close together." Yep, I'm crazy, not plump.

Being pregnant this time is a very different experience. Feeling like crap is the same, but my attitude is different. With G, nothing could move fast enough. If you asked me how far along I was, I could tell you to the day while tapping my foot that I wasn't farther along. This go around, my iPod is keeping track because I can't keep up. This morning, my mom asked, so the number is fresh: 16 weeks and 3 days (I'm tempted to double check that).

Last year, I remember thinking I would never find out if she was a boy or girl. We tried stupid home tests, like adding drano crystals to your pee (turns out no one interprets the results the same way), suspending a needle above your arm to see how it swings, the baby's heart rate, how I was carrying, all of it. We saw "boy" in everything (except the heart rate, but I just ignored that). This time, I'm not even tempted. My ultrasound is in three weeks. That's no time at all, at least this pregnancy.

Come November, you guys can remind me of this post and how "fast" things are moving. I'll be having dreams in which I'm pregnant forever and whining that the baby will never come. Feel free to point out that the second pregnancy goes by so much faster, and it's swelling with a purpose. On the other hand, maybe you should just send some ice cream and pray for Tim and G.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

First of all, Happy Father's Day! Tim enjoyed his first Father's Day as a dad, not just a son today. We aren't big Hallmark Holiday fans, so we didn't plan anything specific. Still, a restful day with a  sweet baby is plenty!

Tim becomes a dad, October 31, 2009

I was watching Tim play with G this afternoon. He was bench pressing her while she beamed down at him. Maybe I was reacting to the day, but I began thinking of my dad. He was the strongest, smartest, best dad in the whole world to me.

When you're little, dad seems like a superhero (sorry moms, myself included, but dad's are special that way). My sister would only ride a roller coaster buckled in with my dad. Every Sunday afternoon, we would each take a side and snuggle into my dad to watch "Sleeping Beauty" (yes, same movie every Sunday for what seemed like years. We were in a typical elementary rut). It was great when Mom watched us ride or skate or swim, but when Daddy came, that was something else. Daddy's time and attention were so special, probably because we didn't have it all the time and probably because we were only our "whole" family when he was home.

My dad and I "fixing" the car - this sort of help runs in the family

Sometimes I'm jealous of Tim's role. It seems like he's always playing while I'm preparing food or changing diapers. When I'm honest, I know that he has a tremendous job, a job I wouldn't want to take on. We try not to operate based off culture, but by following the Bible's plan (As G and I learned from VeggieTales this afternoon, "God's way is always better.") That makes Dad the Priest, Prophet, Protector and Provider for our family. That's not to say that I never engage in those roles, but Tim is chiefly responsible. What a job description!

Being raised after the feminist movement, I really don't know the life of separated genders, the Cleaver lifestyle. I've always heard that men and women aren't just equal; we're the same. And that Mom should be able to do all of mom's jobs and all of dad's. Obviously, this is a necessity for single moms, but what about married moms? Should we really do both jobs? What does that leave Dad with? If Mom does everything, is Dad extraneous? How would Moms feel if Dads took over all rolls? Maybe you're thinking, gosh, I wish my husband would take over. I'm sure it would be nice for a little while. But eventually, we might start to feel lost in our own house.

I don't want to turn this into a rant against feminism or how modern families are set up. Nor am I capable of laying out the theology of gender roles (I'll leave that to John Piper). Rather, I want to puzzle what feminism means in my relationship with my husband and as a mom, not just accept it thoughtlessly. I want to study what God says about men and women, moms and dads rather than assuming that I'm already living it. A holiday derived by a greeting card company is as good a time as any for some introspection.

All that being said, I'm very grateful for my dad, and I'm excited to come beside Tim as he enjoys fatherhood. Hope your families enjoyed your dads today!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wild China

I just watched one of the most fascinating documentaries (yes, I'm nerdy - I adore nature/travel documentaries): Wild China



I'm wowed. The scenery is spectacular, especially the rice patties.  The Chinese have carved entire mountains into elaborate terraces of rice paddies. The paddies have been in place so long that the wildlife has adjusted around them. Egrets have colonized the area because the wetlands are home to so many frogs, fish and insects.

Ever since we visited DC two years ago and viewed an art exhibit of Chinese landscape photography, China became a top member of my travel list. Of course, almost every where I want to go is dangerous and crazy expensive, but I don't care. Where do I want to visit? India (yes, the whole country - there's a lot to see!), Turkey, Morocco, China (especially Southern China), Mongolia (I was in the process of applying for a veterinary externship in Mongolia before I left vet school), Afghanistan and New Zealand (might as well throw in one safe one). I'm really attracted to harsh mountainous climates with a lot of poverty and political turmoil. To my parents: Aren't you glad I married someone who wants to stay stateside?

I think my favorite part (so far - there are 6 episodes) is the 70 year old fisherman who have trained cormorants to fish for them. The fishermen tie a string around the birds' necks to keep them from swallowing the fish. Then they let the birds do their thing. The cormorants swim underwater and catch fish and bring them back to the fisherman on the boats. So neat. Every trained bird I've ever seen speaks a couple of useless phrases and poops all over everything!

If you have netflix, you can watch it online. If not, it's well worth the rental, especially if you're fans of Planet Earth or Blue Planet.

North Carolina BBQ

Barbeque is one of my favorite summer dinners. Since there might be confusion around the word, "barbeque," I should clarify. Being raised in Tennessee, when I say "barbeque," I don't mean the act of grilling. I'm referring to the delicious dish of pulled (sometimes chopped) pork that has been simmering in vinegar all day then topped with barbeque sauce - whole different ball of wax.

Barbeque comes in many different forms depending on where it's cooked. For instance, Memphis BBQ joints tend to smoke the meat first then smother it in bbq sauce. This method is most popular for ribs and pulled pork. Memphis dry rub ribs are my absolute favorite.

North Carolina BBQ is a different beast, simmered in vinegar then pulled or chopped. Personally, I'm a fan of NC style, especially when accompanied by a load of cole slaw on the bun. You can't beat it on the forth of July with some watermelon and potato salad on the side.

My mom's BBQ is my favorite. It's the whole reason I registered for a crock pot. Enjoy!

3-4# Boston Butt Roast
2 T Sugar
2 c Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt
Pepper
Crushed red pepper
1 - 2 t Liquid Smoke
Barbeque Sauce

Place roast in crock pot. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar. Cover with vinegar. Cook at low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours (can also be cooked in the oven at 200 degrees for 8 hours). Turn meat over 3/4 of the way through if it's not covered by the vinegar.

Pull pork, removing any bones and large pieces of fat. Season with crushed red pepper, liquid smoke and barbeque sauce.

Feeds 8-12.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Homemade Pizza

Confession: For all of my uppityness where food is concerned, I love pizza. Normally, I refuse to combine veggies with cheese, until they're situated on top of a delicious crust and surrounded by tomato sauce.

In Knoxville, mine and Tim's favorite date spot is a restaurant on happening Market Square called The Tomato Head. It serves gourmet pizzas, calzones and sandwiches - some of our favorites. As a sausage connoisseur, Tim always orders a #3: lamb sausage, herbed tomato, black olives, capers and sun dried tomatoes. That's what I mean by gourmet.

Last night I had a hankering for a delicious Sicilian pie and a great suggestion from SmittenKitchen.com: Shaved Asparagus Pizza. (Do you ever see recipes and think, "Now, that's just too beautiful not to make?!") Usually, I bake a traditional supreme pizza, but this time, I wanted to try something different. I made the asparagus pizza and a Ranch Chicken Pizza that I added bacon to. Both were amazing.

Now that I've provoked you to bake a pizza, here's my recipe for pizza dough. I always make it from scratch, and this recipe is very consistent. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Ingredients
1 1/4 c warm water
1 T yeast

2 T Olive Oil
1 T Honey
2 t Salt
2 1/2 c Whole Wheat Flour

Extra flour for counter top and hands while working dough.

Directions
Combine yeast and warm water and allow to sit until foam covers surface (~5 min). In large bowl or stand mixer, combine other ingredients until incorporated. With mixer on medium, add yeast and beat for 5-10 minutes, until dough pulls away from side and forms a ball around the mixer blade. If mixing by hand, roll up your sleeves and knead dough for 5-10 minutes until a slightly springy ball forms.

Place in an oiled bowl and cover. Allow to rise until doubled in size (1-2 hours). Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut ball in equal halves. Stretch crust by pushing your knuckles into the middle of the ball and rolling wrists to encourage dough outward. Or use a floured rolling pin. Bake for 5 min. Remove and add toppings. Bake for 12 min or until cheese is bubbling.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Baby, meet Bunny

After many, "Be gentle. No, don't grab," talks with Gwennan, I thought I'd introduce her, officially, to Paka, our bunny. She's been eyeing him for months, wishing he would come close. She's very interested in fuzzy things that move of their own volition. So this morning, while I scrubbed the high chair and table down after a morning snack of bananas, Gwennan crawled around on the kitchen floor, hoping Paka would decide to make friends.


Being a remarkably good natured bunny, he obliged.




Gwennan was beside herself. She squealed in joy as Paka came close enough for her to touch. Things turned south after a few seconds, however. Apparently, baby fingers look a lot like baby carrots to a very hungry bunny. He ever so carefully nibbled on her finger. There was no malice or frustration, just a simple, "are you my breakfast?"

More surprised than anything, Gwennan was done crying by the time I picked her up. Another, "oops" moment for me in the parenting department. I don't think it's done any permanent damage, however. She still stands up, even though she's bumped her head several times in the process. Something tells me if I sat her down on the kitchen floor this evening, she'd still make a bee line for the bunny.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Amazing Grace

This morning in church, some of the high schoolers played "Amazing Grace" as a solo during communion. After the first verse, a little kid, maybe two or three years old, began belting out the words, "amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me..." He sang the entire song, over and over. I'm not sure if his parents tired to quiet him, but he just kept singing.

At first, I found it really cute and looked forward to a day when Gwennan could simultaneously embarrass me and make me glow with pride. Then my attitude changed. I wanted to be that little kid, so excited about a song praising God that I sang out the words without regard to the silence around me. I want my life to reflect that attitude of worship.

Praise the Lord, O my soul
And all my deepest parts
Give praise to the Lord
Who called you out of darkness

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Wagon

Big announcement  - I have a new car! Well, new to me.

Tim and I have been sharing our Subaru since before G was born - 7+ months. It worked because I'm at home when he's at work then run my errands in the evening or on his days off. Still, Tim is a bit of a boy scout and wants his car to be prepared for any emergency - say a beautiful, unexpected day for fishing or a chance to fly kites or a wood working project at church. He keeps the trunk stocked with tools, gear and bungie chords. I've actually had bag boys ask me if my groceries will fit in the car. I'm really looking forward to some vehicular separation - me with my Volvo and Tim with his Subaru.

Besides the freedom of the open road (provided I'm back in time for G's nap), I love the actual car. I know most people wouldn't get excited about a '94 wagon. You might even be thinking, "that's what I drove in high school," (literally for you, Courtney).  But I love the super utilitarian wagons - the original hideaway back seat, the enormous trunk, the never ending pockets already packed with baby toys. To make matters cooler, this one is actually from Germany, driven on the Autobahn.

Best of all, it's already dinged up. I don't have to worry about making the first scratch or cracking the leather seats or breaking a side view mirror. It's already done for me. Again, that might sound counter intuitive, but new cars stress me out. I'm not meticulous with my car, at least the outside - I don't wash it; I kick doors shut; I park next to cart returns. I don't want the pressure of keeping the body looking pristine. No worries with a 16 year old car that's been through 3 teenage drivers.

The Volvo is a huge blessing to me and Tim. Thank you John and Leslie!!! You guys rock!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Apple Tart

Today, I almost expected Tim to walk into the kitchen and propose to me all over again. Fresh applesauce was cooling in the fridge, a brand new loaf of sunflower and sesame bread was cooling on the rack, and 7 apple tarts were waiting in their flaky shells for his arrival.

When we met, I didn't believe in baking. I thought it was one of Satan's tools to increase your waist line. Kind of ironic coming from a girl who called a pint of Ben and Jerry's "dinner." Nevertheless, I rarely baked, and when I did, I used recipes out of a twenty year old health book - fiber stuck together with a sparse smattering of chocolate chips.

Something changed for me at Christmas. First, I gained a baby and realized that I still liked myself, even 9 months pregnant. Second, I watched "Julie and Julia," which piqued my curiosity about butter - an ingredient I had stubbornly refused to use for many years that also makes or breaks your baking.

So now, I bake; I use the real ingredients, and I bake. To help with the calories, I plan my baking when I can give away part of the batch. Today, I had a friend visiting who hasn't felt well, so I thought she and her husband could use a pick me up. Also, I pre-portion with a muffin tin. It makes cutting a slightly bigger piece or nibbling on tiny pieces all day much more difficult.

I really wanted to make apple brown betty thanks to the suggestion of smitten kitchen's strawberry variety, but I had no bread. So, I decided to make an apple tart instead. The recipe came from the Joy of Cooking. I adapted these slightly to use a muffin tin - I needed a little extra crust and much less filling.


You can see where I just pressed the dough into the muffin cups with my fingers.  Then layered in the cream cheese filling and topped with apples. They did bake a little faster: 10 mins at 425 degrees then 20 at 400 degrees.

Topped with whip cream, these make a lovely dessert when you host. They can be prepared ahead of time, if you can avoid eating them:). Also, they're a great size to accompany coffee in the afternoon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Quirky Pillows

I love pillows that resemble stuffed animals. Hence my desire to make the plush owl pillows that I mention on My Craft Ideas page. I know that sounds very specific, but check out the examples:


Top Right: I can't wait to make these from the pattern available from Blissfully Domestic. I'm thinking the crazier the fabric, the more interesting these owls will look. While Tim doesn't care for my other bird project idea, I think he likes these.

Bottom Left: Stuffed monster pillow from A Little Gray blog - BTW that fabric looks hand dyed. She sells them through her etsy shop.

For those of you looking for a more simple pillow idea, I'd try embellishing as seen here. Ottobre Design has great patterns.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Garden Update

I am so excited about my little back porch garden. Everything's growing beautifully, and flowers have appeared on most of my vegetables. I even found a pepper and a tomato growing. 


I'm not a particularly advanced gardener, although I do love growing things. It takes me hours to meander through a big green house. One time, I took our dog along (R.I.P.). He was so bored with my wanderings that he lay down under one of the benches and refused to move. Keep in mind, he was only 3 years old - hardly low on energy.

This summer is my first even moderately successful attempt with veggies. In Tennessee, my entire yard was full shade, even the driveway. I had no chance of growing vegetables with their 6 hours of full sun.  But here, the back deck get plenty of sun, and my plants are eating it up, literally.

Maybe it's the novelty, but I call Tim to the porch every time I find some new sign of growth - a plant newly flowering or an okra tip poking out of a cluster of leaves. In the spirit of self-sustainence, Tim made plant stakes for me. You can see one in the picture below. About half of my vines are responding to my "training." The others are trying to crawl up other plants and the deck railing. 



The garden brings me great joy. I can't wait to grill some homegrown zucchini and squash and experiment with my own salsa. Here's to summer and plants!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Crafting with Kids

For those of you with kiddos coming home soon for the summer, I stumbled upon the Craft Kids Corner. It's a little too advanced for the Ellis household, but I can't wait to use it later.

Low-Fat Vegetarian Fare

A plug for my all time favorite cookbook, "Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites." I don't use cookbooks often, preferring to experiment with the recipe or use the internet to find what I'm looking for. My theory of cooking tends to follow that of Smitten Kitchen's - I rarely make the same dish twice. It does seem a waste of perfectly good recipes, but I always want to try something new. The staple items like bread, applesauce and yoghurt are the exceptions.

However, some of the fare in the Moosewood cookbook is so good that I simply have to repeat it, especially as side dishes. I've found with most vegetarian cookbooks/websites, they anticipate that their readers are vegetarians who are skipping the fat/calories found in meat. The recipes are then loaded with other forms of fat, from avocados to feta cheese. Amazing dishes, but they really must be used as the main course, otherwise your caloric intake approaches 500 for the meal.

The Low-Fat cookbook offers all sorts of, duh, lower fat options - perfect side dishes or lunches or diet fare. Whenever I'm pulling together a large meal with several sides or a covered dish for a church function, I turn to the Moosewood cookbook. And sometimes it comes in handy when I'm scrambling for something to do with an empty fridge and scarce pantry - enter the Hominy and Black Bean Frittata. So good that Tim  went back for seconds. As you can see, I was out of black beans, so I substituted kidney beans. No harm done. It feels like plagiarism to copy the recipe, so I encourage you to buy the cookbook. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The State of Things

Here I go again.. excusing myself from my blog with a migraine. I hate it for me as much as for you.

Having spent the last two days in bed or hugging the toilet, I'm now super hungry, super hung over and way behind. I was in the middle of dishes, laundry, bills and baby proofing G's room when the torrent hit. The wet clothes and dirty dishes and unpaid bills have all sat, patiently waiting for me to feel better.

Other things unraveled a little faster... for instance, the living room. Here's a phrase I never imagined saying: "Honey, please take your fishing gear out of the living room." Really?!!! What is the tackle box doing there to begin with?! There are no fish in our living room (we moved the aquarium to another room).

Of course, I never expected to ask, "Honey, please take the bike and all its parts out of our bedroom." That was last year right before Gwennan was born. Somehow, garage stuff seems to crawl out of the one room with a cement floor and find its way to the carpeted areas. I think it has something to do with air conditioning and the proximity of the refrigerator. Hey, that gives me an idea.  If I put a fridge stocked with drinks in the garage, maybe it would be a more enticing place to work. It will probably need a tv as well. I should get to work on this if I want to reclaim the house.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Teething Chew Toys

I'm like any mom. I don't want my baby hurting, and if I can't keep her from hurting, I'd at least like her to be distracted. At 7 months, Gwennan is teething on and off just like all of her friends. We have frozen washcloths and rubber chew toys and, when all else fails, fingers to help ease in the new teeth.

Today I tried a Gerber teething biscuit. Well, I didn't try it; she did. A friend had one leftover from her toddler, so she passed them on to us. Gwennan was fussing, and the biscuit was just lying on the counter, so I figured, what the heck?!

Gerber should print a warning on the package - wrap your child in plastic before feeding. G made the second biggest mess of her life with that teething biscuit (I'll give first place to the vomit from last week). It dissolved as she drooled, covering her in what smelled like dried cake batter (however, I was simultaneously baking a cake). Somehow, while I was watering flowers, she got cement-like biscuit spit from her eyebrows to the cracks between her toes and everywhere in between. More so, she was screaming when I returned because the dog gobbled up the biscuit while I was not watching (she obviously overcame her swing phobia).

Not to knock Gerber or anyone who feeds Gerber baby food, but I think Gerber might be trying to take over the world. It's convenient; not particularly expensive and now provides "total" nutrition for you child up to kindergarten. How soon will it take them to control the elementary market as well? At that point, adults might start eating the same stuff. I've been told that several movie stars eat a jar of baby food 2 meals a day to control their figure. We could be buying all of our food in individually portioned jars marked by stages. When you get older, you just start working back to a puree. Who knows, it could work.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Video Camera Debate

The Ellis house is at an impasse. Technically, the dilemma is over a camcorder. This should be fun. We're finally thinking about buying something we've wanted for a while, but it's not fun. Not at all.

Tim wants an "indestructible" camera that he can carry in his pocket to shoot things on the fly, uploading them straight to YouTube. I want a camera with a few more bells and whistles - like low light shooting and image stabilization that I envision taking to Gwennan's dance recitals (I know she can't crawl yet - I'm a forward thinker).

Here's the thing... I feel like the disagreement isn't really over a camcorder at all. It's really over where we see life heading. Tim sees big adventures - snowboarding, kayaking, backpacking - things that break cameras. I see little joyous occasions - walks, playgrounds, dance recitals, soccer games - lots of images of kiddos playing.

And here's my question... how far to you tailor your life and interests to fit your children verse how far you bring your kids on or leave your kids home while you pursue the things you loved before they came along?

My parents, for better or worse, made us their central activity, not in a pushy sort of way. They found their adventures in watching the three of us grow. I love that about my parents. They spent their Saturdays at swim meets and horse shows, enjoying watching their little girls be little girls. I always thought I'd grow up to do the same. If a minivan suits my family best, then I drive a minivan, shamelessly.

Maybe I'm too quick to let go of the things I loved before G came along, or maybe I always saw them as temporary pursuits. I think I bought my snowboard thinking, "one day I'll trade this in for a couple thermoses of hot soup and a good book in the ski lodge waiting for my kids to slide down the bunny slope." I don't think that's what Tim had in mind when he picked out his snowboard. :)

We'll get this camera thing figured out - one of us always caves (and no, it's not always the same person). I'm not sue how long the larger issue will take.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lessons in Parenting

Being sick is exhausting. Baby being sick might be more exhausting. She was able to sleep between tiny doses of pedialyte.

Last night, Tim walked into the living room carrying a disgusting mess of formula, barley, sweet potatoes and Gwennan. She looked like an infant who had just emerged from the birth canal wearing a diaper. She was all curled up in Tim's hands (he wasn't holding her too close to his chest) with the biggest grin - we had finally rescued her. Silly girl never cried.

I remember Tim's mom warning me that I would be a nervous wreck the first time my kid was really sick. I handled fevers calmly, so as usual, I assumed I was the one of a kind parent who was born knowing what to do in every situation and could remain clear-headed at all times.

God is trying to break my pride. Between the fall from the bed, the afternoon spent in a locked car and the vomit last night, Gwennan is showing my true parental colors - I'm a mess, like every other new parent.

When Tim and I got engaged, I remember believing that we were going to rock the marriage thing. How hard could it be? I was a good roommate - cleaned up after myself and others, paid my bills on time, generally got along with whomever I lived with. So naive!

I always overestimate my abilities. Maybe it's what allows me to move forward - get married, have a baby, have two babies for that matter. Hmm...

As you might suspect, Gwennan is fine. One shot deal. She's back to lying in her crib, babbling away to Pooh Bear. He's a great listener - something else I'm good at. Well, maybe not.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Long Weekends

Have you ever read "Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?" I feel his pain. I'm glad to see this weekend finish. It amounted to a three day migraine. Nothing's done. I'm crazy behind. I had a whole day to myself on Saturday to dive into any project I wanted to, and I spent the whole day in bed. (I'm now caught up on Design Star and wishing I could paint walls and sew window treatments).

I learned an important lesson: Gwennan can indeed crawl off the queen size bed, quickly. In the time it took me to walk to the kitchen, she was off the bed and on the floor screaming, a little purplish pump showing on her forehead. I almost cried with her.

Not sure why I feel obligated to reveal my big parenting mishaps on this blog. Maybe it's because the successes are kind of boring - Hey guys, I kept Gwennan alive, fed and occupied today! Even if I did stumble upon great wisdom in parenting, I'm dealing with an N=1. I think I need to prove my methods with a few more children; they might even need to grow up loving Jesus before I can solicit parenting advice or publicly pat myself on the back.

I feel a little hung over, but certainly better than I have the last couple of days. Hopefully, my head will calm down as the pregnancy gets a little farther along.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tye Dye Onesies



In the midst of baking 3 lasagnas, cooking yoghurt and washing dirty clothes, I decided to tye dye some hand-me-down, formula stained onesies. Hardly the most unique project I've done, yes, I know. The dye transformed these otherwise boring, very dingy onesies into stand alone pieces. I felt like I was recycling.

Sometimes, I get frustrated with baby clothes. The color spectrum is very limited. I want to see my girl in some fine bright colors. Instead, the clothes line is a heavy with pastels. When I pulled these onesies out of the 6 month bin, I decided it was time to spice things up a little.

With wool, I use food color as dye. Working with the food coloring is pretty easy because it's totally safe, so I can use any vessel in the kitchen to mix colors they way I want them. Not so with dye for plant fibers. They require a separate dye pot and dye utensils. When I first read that, I thought I'd use "natural" dyes. Turns out the mordant used with "natural" dyes is as toxic as the fabric dyes. Oh well.

Now that I've gotten my feet wet, I'm ready to try some more difficult colors and techniques, I think. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Miss Independence

















My girl's asserting her independence, and I love it.

After weeks of either screaming or clinging to me every waking minute, this new independence is so freeing. I feel like I have my life back.

Her motor skill development jumped again, enabling her to manipulate toys more easily and retrieve them when they fall. Plus, everything interests her: Tic Tac boxes, clothing, balls of yarn, paper, her own feet. She is fascinated by everything she can get her mouth on. She sits in her playpen or scoots in her crib, kicking her feet around and talking to herself for 30 - 40 minutes at a time. I just eavesdrop on her one way conversation and grin.

Playing with Daddy is still her favorite activity, as it should be. He's a fun guy, but constant attention from an adult at all times is replaced (at least temporarily) with some time on her own. I love this phase!!!

P.S. - She put on a pound in the last 2 weeks (good job, formula). At this rate, she should hit the percentiles again in 2 - 4 weeks.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tim loves a good chocolate chip cookie. In fact, he asked for groom's cookies instead of a groom's cake. I just have to indulge him with some homemade goodness occasionally, especially during rainy weather. I know everyone has a chocolate chip cookie recipe. But here's mine.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1 c butter, softened
3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c sugar

Cream together and add:
1 t vanilla
2 eggs

Mix thoroughly then add:
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1 T instant coffee granules
1/4 c cocoa powder

Mix and add:
2 c chocolate chips

Spoon onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 - 12 minutes. Cool in baking rack.

My Favorite Days

I love rainy days, especially rainy Mondays, especially if it's a solid rain that echoes off the roof. Yesterday was one of those wonderful rainy Mondays.

The thing about rainy days is that I feel justified to do anything or nothing (although, let's be real - I'm a mom; a nothing day is still a busy day). There's no pressure to go out or take advantage of the sunshine, not that I don't enjoy that; sometimes it's just nice to have a break.

So, I crocheted; I baked; I cleaned the kitchen; I stripped diapers - all things I was looking forward to doing on a rainy day. There's something about grey days that call for cookies.  I don't ever remember coming inside from playing in the yard to the smell of cookies. I only running upstairs from an extra long, rainy day TV special (a.k.a. Sesame Street, Mr Rogers and Reading Rainbow) to find my mom baking cookies. I think something about being home inside begs for a little chocolate.

Today was also bread day. Tim demolished the last batch of rolls I made, so it was time for a double batch. Maybe these will last a little longer, but I should probably have butter in the butter keeper just in case.

Oh yeah, my random diaper stripping - after a while, diaper covers start leaking. They're fine; they're just begging for a good stripping. That is rinsing them several times in hot water to remove all of the detergent build-up. Then they're good again for a couple months.

That's another thing about rainy days. I grew up on a farm with a well. When it rained, you could use all the water you wanted. During a drought, we took navy showers and thought twice before washing horse blankets. I still think that way - like water is cheaper when it's raining and more expensive when it's dry. So, washing diapers several times made sense to me on a really wet day.

All in all, I spent a lovely afternoon in the kitchen with Gwennan swinging away, and Paka (our bunny) hopping around under the kitchen table. It bring a smile to my face, lowers my blood pressure and slows my heart rate. When my mom calls and Tim comes home, my day will be complete.

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