Friday, April 30, 2010


Gwennan met her first fire fighters today. No fire, just a simple miscommunication that left Gwennan locked in the car. Not to worry, the engine was running and the AC was blowing.

I know all parents lock their kids in the car at some point, but it feels slightly panicky and traumatic nonetheless. Fortunately, the only thing running through my head was this clip from Modern Family:

Somehow, this clip brought me comfort as I pictured raising a trash can over my head and running toward the car screaming, "I'm coming for you!!!"

But really, it was one of those humbling moments when you're reminded of your fallibility as a parent and inability to keep your child safe. Kind of like the time I arrived home only to realize that I'd never actually strapped Gwennan into her car seat. God is so much bigger than my parenting skills, or lack thereof.

Still, now I want onStar with my next vehicle. It sure would be nice just to place a phone call and have the car unlock! Instead, we learned our lesson for 2 hours with a friend, a police officer, 3 fire fighters and a pop-a-lock guy.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


The baby has reclaimed her room. It was time. She was scooting all around her bassinet and really needed more space to lose her passie and scream in. So, we set up the crib and moved her back to her room.

I no longer have a dedicated sewing room. :( Since I worked on most of my projects while she slept in my bedroom, I now have to figure out a new system. Before I claimed her room, I just dragged the sewing machine into the living room, claiming the entire space for cutting, pinning and sewing. However, Tim really didn't appreciate my spreading creativity.

If you check out my craft to do list, you'll see I really need access to my sewing machine. And to get my bum in gear!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Applesauce Results

I have to say, this batch was my best applesauce yet. Really, really delicious. Two things I improved upon from last time:
1) I removed the crock from the heating element and set it on a cooling rack as soon as the apples finished cooking. This kept them from overcooking.
2) I included two cinnamon sticks in the apples while they cooked - hmmm. Such good flavor. I really love cinnamon. I include it in almost everything I bake. I top my coffee with it most mornings. Someone told me that it improves memory, but I certainly haven't noticed that benefit.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Turtles as pets - hmmm, maybe not

In an earlier post, I mentioned raising turtles and how horribly wrong that went. The whole scoop:

First, you should know that if not married and otherwise occupied (interpret, raising Gwennan), I would probably be one of those animal hoarders that lives out in the desert with 500 stray dogs (no cats), 200 homeless horses and every injured farm animal anyone cared to pass on. My dad joked (probably in fear) that I would bring home a toothless hippo from the vet school that would live in my parents' creek and insist on being hand-fed pureed lettuce.

Fortunately, God brought along Tim to curb my enthusiasm for collecting pets. That, and at one time I accidentally owned 50+ ducks, another story ending in disaster.

So, the turtles... Johnson Bible College drained their pond for construction of a new cafeteria shortly after Tim and I married. One of the students made it his personal mission to rescue all of the turtles from their newly waterless home. We ran into him at Wal-mart (where you run into everyone in South Knoxville - there's not much else to do), and he offered us two Eastern Painted Turtles.

They're pretty turtles, only 6-8" in diameter that are usually social (for a turtle). As turtles go, they make okay pets.

So Tim picked them up. We set up a little aquarium for them with a filter and some dry ground undera heat lamp.  Not  the "big blue" but not a bad set up either.

However, they never used the dry ground, ever. Not one time did they sun themselves. In fact, all they did was squeeze into tiny spaces under rocks.

Furthermore, they reeked! Our sunroom smelled like something died in it. One day, I came home to find the turtles on the back porch. When I asked Tim what happened, he informed me that he told the turtles to stop smelling or he would move them outside. Apparently, they didn't start cleaning up after themselves.

A classmate of mine offered to give our turtles a new home with her boyfriend who collected them. We happily agreed, and Salmo and Nelly found a new home. A few weeks later, the boyfriend took them to his herpetology class as examples of Eastern Painted Turtles. The professor kindly exposed the truth about Salmo and Nelly - they were stink pot turtles. Stink Pot Turtles spend their entire lives burrowing in the mud and stinking, exactly what we'd experienced. They were rare apparently, so my friend kept them. I, however, was very happy to see them go.

I've given up the dream of turtle ownership, although we did nurse an Eastern Painted Turtle back to health after finding it in the dog run. Still, I was happy for it to wander back to a pond where it could foul water all he liked. We'll stick to our fish!

Photo of Eastern Painted Turtle from Mike's Birding and Digiscoping Blog

Monday, April 26, 2010

Homemade Applesauce

I thought Gwennan might actually pop this morning. Her little belly was pooching over her diaper, stuffed with mango. When she gets really full, she arches her back and stretches as tall as she can to make room, her mouth still open like a baby bird insisting on more.

Today is a baby food making day. I need to get back in the swing of things after being gone, and one of the first areas to address is the fridge. This morning I pureed mango, and this afternoon (after I run to the store), I'm making applesauce.

I must have started making applesauce before I started blogging. I can't believe it didn't make it on here sooner. So, here's the scoop:

Applesauce in the Crock Pot (no threat of scorching!)

1. Peel, core and dice up to 2.5 lb. of apples at a time. You need to use sweet apples; this is not the occasion of Granny Smiths.
2. Put in crock pot. Add 1/2 - 1 c of water. You can also add 1/2 c of sugar and 1-2 cinnamon sticks. I make it plain to feed Baby G.
3. Turn on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6 hours.
The apples will become soft. If you leave them in too long, they will also change to a darker color.
4. To turn into sauce, I run the cooked apples through my food grinder. If you don't have a grinder, just use a blender or large food processor. Use the water from the crock pot to thin as desired.

This makes amazing applesauce. The first batch I made lasted maybe 3 days. Enjoy!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

First Landing State Park

Yesterday was Tim's birthday. (Happy Birthday, Honey!!!) I love birthdays, well, mostly other people's. My own is just okay. Obviously, Tim can't always take the day off, but I really enjoy spending the entire day doing whatever the birthday boy (in this case) wants to do.

So, we drove across the bridge tunnel to visit First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach:

First Landing winds through a cypress swamp - eerie, beautiful and probably full of snakes and mosquitoes as the weather warms.

I love and hate swamps. The tree stalagmites and Spanish moss are fascinating, but I'm constantly on edge. Anything can hide anywhere in a swamp. The totally still black water reminds me of death. I'm sure I'm overreacting (I tend to do that), but I feel haunted in swamps.

A few years back, Tim and I took a paddling trip on a canoe trail in Alligator Alley State Park (NC). I haven't been so creeped out since the snake room at the Haunted Cave (for those of you who don't know, I am snake phobic!!). Again, with the low hanging bushes and espresso like water, I was convinced snakes (and alligators) were surrounding me. They probably were, but they obviously didn't care. The trip was cut short by my paranoia.

I tread lightly at places like this. And I tread much more happily if a dog is walking ahead of me, and Tim is there to protect me. :)

Besides the creep factor, we had a lovely day - visited several aquarium stores (see my fish entry to learn how ridiculous we are about fish), ate at a really cute deli, Taste Unlimited, and saw the lighthouse at Fort Story.

Again, Happy Birthday to the best man I know. You are a wonderful husband and daddy, and I'm so grateful to celebrate another year with you. I love that you know that I wouldn't order a tuna fish salad sandwich. :) I love you!!!! me

Thursday, April 22, 2010

We're Back!!!

What a sweet time with our family and friends in K'town. I can't believe how much we crammed into a few short days. We visited with all 4 great grandparents who, of course, believe Gwennan is developing faster than any baby their siblings ever had. I don't know about that, but she is certainly entertaining.

I took my first solo parent flight yesterday, maneuvering the airport with infant, car seat, diaper bag and coffee! If you're thinking that it takes 4 arms, a slight mutation would have made things easier.

In all honesty, I couldn't ask for an easier trip. My mom helped me get to security where a guy in line carried the car seat to the check point. Gwennan slept through both flights, allowing me to play several games of hearts on my iPod.

The only hiccup occurred in Orlando (my connection) - well, it actually occurred at the ticket counter in Knoxville where the clerk didn't complete my itinerary and only checked us to Orlando. While it was sunny and warm, I didn't want either of us or my gigantic bag (1 lb under the limit after I took my study Bible out) to stay there. Fortunately, I realized the mistake before they unloaded my bag from the plane, so my "adventure" was really uneventful.

Like I said, could not have gone better, that is until a "stranger" picked us up at the airport. Tim shaved his beard while I was away. I'm not sure that I've ever seen him clean shaven. Gwennan didn't bat an eye. She knew Daddy! I, however, was in shock. Good thing his beard grows quickly!

I'm really not sure why we buy toys for her car seat. This kept her occupied for at least 15 minutes while I ate lunch.

Gwennan and the Knoxville Airport bears. Knoxville has a thing for bears. Artistically painted bear statues used to reside all over down town Knoxville. They were actually set up for a scavenger hunt. Someone decided that they were not sophisticated enough, and one by one they came down, but the airport still has a bear statue. We have a picture like this of Tim, Em and Sarah that they took when I left for Kenya.
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Enjoying Family Time

Thank you guys so much for being patient. I know I'm breaking cardinal blogging rules by not continuing to post while I'm on vacation, but I've just so enjoyed the time away and seeing all the family. As always, hanging out with my super crafty sister has inspired me to get home and get to work. My sewing machine has been sitting still for a few weeks now, but it's time to fire her up again. See you guys Wednesday when I get home!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Play Time

It's only been 10 minutes, but I feel like God has gifted me hugely this afternoon. Gwennan is playing in her playpen, by herself, and she's not screaming. For over a week now, I have been berated by a belligerent 5 month old every time she's not being held. Still, I insist on playpen time because I know she needs it, and let's be honest - I can't only get work done during naps!

In the book "My First 300 Babies," which I've mentioned before, the author states that 'little ones need time with their thoughts, such as they are." (I always read this book in a British accent which makes the phrase so much more memorable.) She really pushes solo play time every day.

So we press on, through the tears and shrieking and red faces. Most of her play times look like the picture above. Gwennan screaming into her toys, throwing her shrieks in my direction. But this afternoon, I've had 20 whole minutes of quiet, happy Gwennan. Thank you, Lord!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Early Morning on the Beach

The other night, we hopped down to Grandview Beach to enjoy the water on a warm evening. I realized then that the sun rises over the water here (makes sense - we're on the east coast). After that, I have been set on shooting some beach pictures in the morning. So, this morning, Tim woke me up early for a Monday morning date on the beach.  He is so much more romantic than me (I offered to make him corned beef and red cabbage for his birthday dinner - I think that might be the anti-romantic).

The path to Grandview in the morning:


On the beach, we watched the crab fisherman take their boats out. Another fisherman, a Loon, also dove for his breakfast in front of us. Mostly, we just walked and took turns enjoying the beach with Gwennan.


At this point, Tim and I traded baby for camera. I really should insist that he take pictures more often. He's quite good.


And finally, one for the grandparents:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Home Hair Cut

It was totally fair for you to ask for pictures of my haircut. After all, that could really determine whether you want to follow my advice or not. :)

When I talked about layering, I realized that you might need a visual for how to hold your hair. Granted, my hair is now cut and dry, but this gives you the general idea.

And the finished product...

I am a fan of "no fuss" cuts. I just let it air dry for this picture, no blow dryer or iron, probably not even a brush.

Peanut Butter and Banana Muffins

These muffins are protein packed and delicious. Perfect for on-the-go mornings.

1/2 c peanut butter
2 bananas
3 c whole wheat flour
1 c brown sugar
1 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 c milk
1/2 c apple sauce
1 t vanilla
2 eggs, beaten

Mash bananas and peanut butter. Mix all ingredient together, adding wet ingredients last. Pour into greased muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Kale Chips

I tend to forget about snack foods. They never make my shopping list, so they're never in the house. When Tim's rifling through the cabinets, saying that we never have any food (true and not true - we have loads of ingredients; not much in the ready to eat department), I wish we had munchies. So I tried making snack food today: Kale Chips

Kale - Remove stems and tear leaves into bite size pieces
Drizzle with olive oil
Sprinkle with salt

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Homemade, baked healthy chips! I also want to try this with spinach, thinly sliced sweet potato, zucchini, and carrots.

Afterthought/realization: Eat these the first day. They didn't stay crisp!

Keeping Cool

Anyone remember the Chris Farley skit, "El Nino?" Apparently, he (El Nino) reappeared this year causing an unusually snowy, cold winter and no spring. So far, we seem to be skipping the best part of the year - 70 degrees with a light breeze, sunshine and clear skies. Instead, at Busch Gardens yesterday, it was a sweltering 90+ degrees.

So here is my questions - how do you help keep little guys cool in really hot weather? Gwennan was covered in heat rash by the end of the day and was still a bit sticky when we put her to bed last night. I gave her extra fluids, plenty of sun screen and shade and tried wrapping a wet paper towel around her neck. Does anyone else have suggestions for cooling her down?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Home Hair Care

I cut my hair today. For me, a pedestrian event, but most people get really excited (or nervous) when I say that I cut my hair.

It started in 5th grade. Yes, I've experimented with cutting my own hair since 5th grade, and yes, it went horribly wrong in those formative years. I've had bangs ever since thanks to a stupid hair cutting decision when I was 11. The hair around my face is a bit of a challenge - it curls and bleaches blonde when the rest of my hair is heavy and dark brown. I was done with those hairs, so I just cut them off, at my scalp, at the front of my head - really bad! The hair stylist had to create bangs that rivaled Donald Trump's just to cover up my mini buzz. You would think that would have cured me from ever taking scissors to my hair again.

But no, in high school, I sported the lovely feather bangs of the late 90's. Right before a formal, I cut them, too short and uneven. Again, totally mortified. It never occurred to me to just use bobby pins to pull them back for a little while.

Now, I cut my hair all the time. In fact, I haven't been to a hair dresser in over 2 years.  My hair grows very fast and has some highly unruly spots, so the conventional "this works with thick hair" attitude doesn't work for me. Also, the $30 a month, doesn't work for me. So I bought a decent pair of scissors, talked to my sister (who has cut her own hair since middle school) and went to town.

To cut your hair:
1. DON'T!!! If you don't care about how your hair looks (you won't take the time to become proficient with the scissors or study your hair). If you have no idea what works with your hair (the whole point is to cut it exactly how your hair works best). If you can't handle some stray ends that have to be cleaned up later. If you have really straight, unforgiving hair (as long as my hair has a lot of layers, you can't really tell what's going on).
2. Find a quiet time - i.e. when babies are napping and kiddos are out of the house.
3. Wash and comb (not brush!) your hair
4. Cutting the length - this takes some trial and error, so start long. Sarah (my sister) and I have both given ourselves bobs, when we were really going for shoulder length. Sarah starts by putting her hair in a high pony tail, flipping her head upside down and cutting the pony tail straight -  this creates instant layers as well. I tend to cut everything straight (does require two mirrors) first, then layer the fool out of it.
5. Adding layers - Start near the front (I start on the left because it's easiest for me). Comb out a medium  vertical section of hair (the hair covering your scalp from part to 1/2" above nape and about 1/2" front to back). Hold between your index and third (driving) finger. Pull the strands up so that the bottom strands are furthest from your hand and the top is closest. Cut parallel to your fingers.
6. To keep your layers even, always hold a little piece of the section you just cut in with the new section. Work around your head. The more layers you want, the more vertically you hold the section. This will create a lot of variation in length.
7. When cutting bangs, hold the scissors almost parallel to the strands of hair and cut into them. This creates a nice layered effect for your bangs, avoiding the cleopatra look. Also, if your hair has body or curl to it, remember to cut your bangs long. They will bounce up.

What works best for me (and Sarah) is to create a lot of layers in the back and fewer in the front. Also, I don't tend to angle my hair in the front. Like I said, my hair actually curls up front and is straight in the back, so I'm trying to compensate for that.

Good luck! And remember, nothing is more temporary than a bad hair cut or a broken nail.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Baby Genius

For better or worse, I'm a scheduler. I like to have a framework for my day; to plan craft days and ensure that I get around to diaper laundry before we run out of diapers. As you might imagine, G has a little schedule too. Hers is much more basic. Everyday but Sunday looks the same; eat. sleep, play. What a life!

The last several weeks, Gwennan has been exhausting. She cries inconsolably during her wake time and tosses restlessly during her nap. I was resigned to a horrible phase where I prayed for nap time and silence.

Then, digging through a box for something completely different, I found my copy of "My First 300 Babies," written by a British live-in nanny. It was my mom's guide when I was an infant before "Baby Wise" became popular.

The author is brilliant! I think she's documented some infant circadian rhythm. Gwennan's temperament changed as soon as a updated her schedule to that suggested for her age. She's back to her smiling, happily occupied self. I can leave her in the Johnny Jump-up or the playpen again. It's simply amazing.

If you're not a schedule person, okay. Your choice. But I'm sold!


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