Monday, March 29, 2010

Built-In Binkie

Very convenient for both of us.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Goals Of A Stay At Home Mom

Soon after I had Eli, a friend visited because she heard moms are bored and lonely. Lonely? ehh... sometimes. Bored?... never.

In the past I remember being completely unproductive one day and intensely busy another, like making a 5 course dinner or sewing for 10 hours. Things have evened out, maybe since we got rid of cable, apparently watching cooking and design shows isn't the same as actually cooking and crafting. Lately I have a mental check list to keep days balanced and fruitful. Wow, I just counted them- 7! I could make a connection to a certain Mormon author, but won't. Okay, here I go. And posting more often isn't one of them, don't worry.

Wear something presentable. For sure by the time Bri comes home. It's messy business taking care of a family, so I usually stay in sweats all day unless we head out, which I only have energy to do once or twice a week with two kids. Since I'm not into make-up and time-consuming hair, I could at least not look like a lazy bum when my husband gets home.

Clean something. Beyond the dishes and general tidying. Like laundry, the floors, or a bathroom if I'm feeling extra-motivated.

Cook something. I know, I know. I love to cook, so this shouldn't be hard. But I do have TWO kids now and we are often tempted to eat out, but a new budget should keep us in check. I must plan ahead, prep early, and work quietly during nap time.

Make something. If I work on projects a little each day, I'm less tempted to ignoreeverything/one and go craft crazy to get a project done. I've learned to work 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there and still get things done without leaving Esme to cry and Eli to be stuck to the TV.
Teach something. My main job, right? Sometimes I just sing the ABC's with Eli or go over his lesson from church, other times are more hands on with learning how plants grow or how to peel a carrot. Although, I realize he's always learning, like how to act when he's frustrated. It's usually an aggravated sigh, much like my own. Or chewing out Bri under his breath when he finds something out of place... now he's teaching me something, about myself.

Do something fun. Sometimes I feel like a nag, "finish your food, pick up your toys, be quiet..." Nothing makes Eli happier than someone pushing trains with him or playing hide and go seek. Today it was Esme chasing (via me) the squealing boy around the house.

Learn something. This one is new today. I'm pretty much the opposite of a book worm, but I like browsing craft, cooking, and now photography blogs. I've been meaning to read a book by this guy, so I'd better start.

They seem like simple things, but I think they each stand for something bigger.

I Changed My Mind

She can't get any bigger. She's the perfect side kick now that she can hold her head up. So on my hip she sits most of the day. Undeniably and distractingly cute, squishy, fluffy, smiley, and happy. Totally worth the aching left arm. I wouldn't even mind continuing the getting up at night if she promised to stay the same forever.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Craving Korean

You'd think I was a crazy pregnant lady. Yesterday I went to lunch with my sister and gazed longingly at the THREE Korean restaurants on the other block. I didn't say anything since I know most people don't need ceramic bowls of tofu and kimchi boiling away in a firey broth. Luckily there was nothing in the fridge today so we just had to meet Bri in town for lunch. He was excited to try the squid, which was great, and Eli looks forward to munching on the seaweed that is served as one of the many side dishes. Those Koreans sure know what they're doing. The food is so healthy and full of variety. Salty, sweet, sour, spicy, crunchy, chewy, smooth.

Bri has happily adapted too. I introduced him to imported stinky cheeses and he loves them. Appenzeller, Gruyere, Brie, Gorgonzola, and more I can't recall at the moment, all pretty standard, but he even liked the stuff my dad subjected him to in Switzerland. All different kinds, the funkier the better. When we were apart this weekend and called to catch up, the main conversations started "Guess what I ate today..." Lebanese... Duck and black mushroom ragu over buckwheat polenta... sea urchin sushi. We must be soul mates.

Back Home

No longer 72 and sunny. I can see why home prices are 2 and 3 times as high in California. Definitely worth it. Even the air smelled nice since flowers can bloom year round. It was joyful just to stand outside.

Right now I'm just glad my camera is working. Yesterday I was going to do a post about my sister's great new house,but my camera wouldn't turn on as I was trying to take my first shot of the fireplace. I guess it prefers generic batteries now. And I sit here trying to compose a written description, but I wouldn't do the 1925 tudor any justice.

So I'll just post what I do have, some pictures of Esme with her cousin at the park on Saturday. She's the friendliest, sweetest girl I know. And funny. She was hugging Esme and decided to smell her. "She smells like shells and cheese." A compliment, since its her favorite food.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Having Me For An Aunt

This weekend Brian and Eli are going to visit his sister in Oregon while Esme and I go see my sister in California-. It will be my niece's birthday and I set out today with both kids to go buy a present like any normal person. But our parking space was empty. Bri took the car. I guess it was meant to be since I promised myself I would do my best to make presents for now on. So we went back up stairs and I looked online for ideas.

What did this practical lady decide on? A reusable sandwich wrap and snack bag made from leftover waterproof diaper fabric (PUL). Useful and earth friendly. My poor nephew never got a present for his birthday back in October, during my extreme nesting before Esme which involved spring-like cleaning, redecorating, and sewing, so I made an extra one. I don't remember what it was like to be 8 and almost 6, but I hope they like them.

Play Dates

I told him he had to hold hands in the road, so he ran up and grabbed Curt's instead of mine.

It's warming up around here and it must be bringing us all out of a cold weather induced hibernation. Eli's had 4 play dates scheduled in the last week. He's been missing his buddies, asking for them daily. It's fun, this new stage; they're like little chatterboxes when they get together, not even listening to each other, just yakking away. Must be filling each other in about the long winter.

I made one of my go-to recipes for the occasion and I thought I should share it. I would bring treats to nursery and was looking for another recipe for something healthy, easy, enticing to youngsters, and soft enough for the small ones. The two times I brought them the different nursery leaders asked for the recipe.

Playgroup Granola Bars

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup raisins (or any dried fruit, I like to change things around)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup honey (sometimes I just do all brown sugar and add water to get moist enough)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (substitute applesauce to make super-healthy)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Paper plate adds a nice touch, don't you think.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until moistened. Spread in greased 9x13 pan and bake for 30 or so minutes at 350 until edges start to brown.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Esme's Blue Room

My second child is 4 months old and this was my first time doing a nursrey. We were poor and in an apartment when Eli was born and when we moved here, the people before us conveniently made it a nursrey for their boy with the wall of cubbies, bead board, deep red paint, and even the carpet and door. You see, the builders intended it to be a closet, only accessable through a cupboard door in our closet and the floors were only the particle board sub floor. We appreciated it all their work which even involved moving walls. This room was the selling point for us. It was the only room they had put any work into and we wouldn't have bought the place if Eli had to sleep on a different floor from us at 9 months old.

Now it is Esme's room and eventhough we aren't poor college students in a basement apartment, I only ended up buying two new things to make the space hers. The little glass lamp on the table and the picture hanger used to make her mobile. The paint was left over from Eli's room (but the color is so great I didn't feel like I was merely being practical), the dots were transplanted from the family room, even the bed is just a craigslist find, although I can't say "just" because it is my wildest crib dreams come true. I had planned on making some modern-looking mobile, I don't know, with felt, but my sister in Switzerland sent us this dangling art made of driftwood, ceramic beads, and a ball that she felted which sadly came apart in transport, so I used the parts, along with shells we collected from Santa Barbara and/or Oregon to make Esme a momento, I mean mobile. So there we go. And hopefully it will stay pretty tidy since she's too small to make a mess of her room, if only I can keep Eli from going in to play with his baby toys.
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Utah CoOp: Affordable Gourmet

Remember how I said I was going to join a co-op for pantry (and dairy) items? I found one online with a pretty vague website and decided to stop in since I was in the area after meeting Bri for a Korean lunch in town today. What a revelation.

Now I looked into two different co-ops. They both involve private citizens joining together to purchase food at whole sale prices and volunteer their time to get it organized and distributed. The first one, The Community Food Co-op Of Utah, works similar to an LDS cannery where you volunteer your time and can purchase the discounted food, which involves produce, staple items and meat. People can eat fresh, healthy food even if they don't have much money. You fill out an order form and later pick it up, it having been filled by volunteers.

Now I decided to check out t the second one, Utah CoOp. Whereas the other co-op proudly proclaims their food isn't damaged or donated, this one buys scratch and dent palates and receives donations from large businesses since it's nonprofit. Before going I thought it might be something for the needy, but it was for everyone. It was set up like a grocery store with a variety of shoppers, from little old ladies to trendy young people. The lady who organized it really had a vision to make quality, healthy food accessible to everyone. As for the prices, I paid $21 for this loot, which, with my cheapskate calculations (I always guess half the price of those items on The Price Is Right golf game, food must be expensive in Southern California), would have cost at least 3 times as much in a regular store. One of the boxes of whole wheat pasta had a couple small paint splatters and some of the cheeses expire in a week, but a dollar for feta, romano, goat cheese, pesto, hummus, a pint of organic heavy cream and more, I'll take it. And those salamis! I feel like a thief. So, if you don't mind trekking to a storage unit in West Valley City to save some serious money on good food, I hope you go, and take me with you. I need an excuse.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Beginning Of The End

On Friday, at Esme's 4 month check up (she's now 11 pounds, 24 inches) the doctor asked if she was rolling over yet. I had forgotten about that developmental stuff. I said No and the doctor started to assure me that all kids develop at different rates, blah blah, as if I was worried. (I'm grateful every day that my kids are healthy, but I don't stress if, say, Eli isn't saying as many words as he "should.") I wasn't sure if Esme had even considered rolling over to be a goal, so I showed her a few times when we got home.

After her bath Sunday morning I put her on her tummy so I could get that darn neck crease really dry without her pulling her chin down and fighting me. I thought it was quite a good idea, but she must've thought it was an opportunity to show off what she had learned. I had to move quick to catch her. Poor Bri missed it, but brought the camera so we could record her second roll and catch her that time.

Then I got to thinking. This is it. No more tiny, blobby baby. Life gets crazier from here on out. She'll only be getting into more and more trouble, but also become more and more fun.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

1st Bites

Brian has been waiting for this moment since Esme was born.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

4 months

Can you see why her every waking moment is filled with us holding, kissing, admiring, praising, and doing anything to earn one of those smiles?
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It Was Almost Warm Enough To Go To The Park Today

The weather man said 57 and I started packing. Well, it wouldn't be that warm until nap time, but we went anyway. Eli squealed as soon as he saw the giant playground out the window. He was surprisingly tough considering anything cooler than room temperature has him whining, no matter how warmly dressed.

I thought Esme would be more thrilled with her first time at the playground.
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Just Like Auntie, Only Fluffier On Top

As you can tell, Esme takes after Brian's side of the family. We took her to a favorite little restaurant last week where the husband cooks and the wife takes the orders, you know the type, calls everybody sweetie. She took one look at Esme and said "You know she's not the milk man's."

Today I dressed her up in this cute little dress and bonnet made by Brian's mom from the pattern she used to make his sister dresses, 25 years ago. I consulted his childhood photo album and she looks a lot like her aunt, but that wild hair must have come from me since hers was quite calm.

Monday, March 1, 2010

5 Ingredients

Bri and I found this ice cream, Five, by Haagen Dazs that only has 5 ingred-ients. It is di-vine.

We also had some other ice cream in the fridge, so I looked at the ingredients. There were at least 50! No joke.

The day before Amanda moved out I decided to finally use her ice cream machine that Brian insisted she bring home instead of putting in storage and made some peanut butter chocolate chip ice cream.

I was hooked, and I suddenly knew what to do with a gift card I had lying around waiting for something special to come to mind. Our first batch is now setting up in the freezer. If I didn't add the pecans candied in a little butter and brown sugar, it would just have been milk, cream, and 2 tablespoons of maples syrup.

I have already learned a couple of obvious things. (1) Stir in chunks at the end, (2)it is better right out of the machine than frozen like all the recipes say (since it's not 50% air like the store bought stuff, it gets quite hard) and (3) rather than avoiding recipes that call for only one part of the egg, the yolks can go in the ice cream and whites in the angel food or chiffon cake.

I wonder if we'll stop buying ice cream. Sounds intense, but it's as easy to make as our morning oatmeal. Now you know what we'll be having for dessert after dinner when you come.