Friday, December 4, 2015

Hello there, old friends.

I've noticed that many of my blogger friends aren't posting so much these days. Well, neither am I. It must just be this phase of life, or maybe laziness? I should speak for myself.

Since this is as close to journaling as I come, I think it's time to start writing again.

First, some updates.

We had another baby! Ezra Was born in July. We prompted him to come a bit early (10 days). He was 8 lbs 1 oz and 21 inches long. Almost exactly the same as Evie, who was only one day early. When I say prompted, I mean I had a membrane sweep and used a breast pump to get some natural pitocin going. It worked! Delivery went smoothly. I used a doula again, and she was wonderful. I had to have vancomycin for group b strep, which made me feel really sick and overall made the delivery more difficult than I remembered it being the first time. My best friend Trisha was there and took photos. They are so amazing! I feel so lucky to have been surrounded by such a great support team (Andrew, Trisha, Brittney the doula, and a fantastic l&d nurse).

Evie adores her baby brother. She wants to kiss and touch and love on him all the time, and often asks to hold him. It can be difficult, when I'm nursing or trying to buckle him in his car seat, but she is always sweet and gentle.

Now Ezra is nearly three months old. At his two month check he was nearly 14 pounds, which is the 86th percentile for weight. He's in the 80th for height, and his head is in the 50th. He has fair along and lighter almost auburn brown hair. So far his eyes are still quite blue, and he has my feet (just like my dad and grandma).

He's shown some sensitivity to dairy, so I've gone off the stuff yet again. We will have him allergy tested in a week to figure out for sure what's bothering him.

He is a snuggly kid. For most of month one and two he's just wanted to be held all the time and to sleep right next to me. He's now more comfortable hanging out in his bouncer awake and falling asleep on his own more and more. He has yet to warm up to his carsear, so I keep car trips to a minimum.

He smiles quite a bit, especially on the changing table, when he first wakes up, or if you've left him to his own devices for a minute and then come back and say hello. Smiles are often accompanied by coos. It is so sweet!

Now on to Miss Evie. She's nearly three! And so clever and funny. She loves to sing and learn songs. She listens to music going to sleep every night, and I've found that she's picked up the words to many of the songs all on her own. She can recognize most of the alphabet, and knows the sounds of all the letters. She's started recognizing letters around town. "Mom! I see a C! Mom! There's my name letter!" 

Her hair is getting so long. I love it. And she insists she does not want a haircut. It curls into soft ringlets on the underside, but the front and top layer are straight. No idea where that curl came from.

Oh, and she's totally potty trained. Aren't you glad I wasn't blogging during potty training? Let me just say that I'm so glad to have behind me. Let's not talk about how I get to do it again in two years.

Evie is extremely afraid of flies and all bugs. Still afraid of dogs. Won't touch any animals. And we found out she's allergic to dust mites.

She loves to play with her play kitchen and dishes/food. She's always cooking up oatmeal, yogurt, soup, or an ice cream cone. She likes to feed us her concoctions and have picnics with it all over the house.

Evie surprises us daily with what she says, knows, and remembers. We frequently turn to each other and express our amazement at how wonderful she is. 

Andrew is working full time as an engineer after graduating last December (woot!), and still managing a lot of side projects here at home. He redid the half bathroom on our main level, and has almost finished installing all new baseboard on the main level too. He's also building me a custom built in budfet in the dining room and rebuilding the engine of an Izuzu Trooper. 

Me? Well, as I mentioned, I had a baby this summer. It was a tough pregnancy for my (potty training the toddler, morning sickness, and horrible SPD pain). And Ezra's been a bit of a tough baby (needing to be held most of the time). Through it all I've been working with the young women at church, and baking a few cakes on the side. In fact, I did two wedding cakes in August! I've also joined a book club and so far read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Call the Midwife, and Cunnamon and Gunpowder. I signed up to run a 5k in October, and have been back to the gym for a week so far. In my spare time I think a lot about my future, what I can take on when I'm done nursing, when the kids are in school, etc. I have this strong feeling that I am supposed to pursue a career and possibly more school. I just haven't quite figure out what yet.

The house. It's probably 1/2 done. The basement and exterior are virtually untouched, as are the bathrooms upstairs. I would so love to have it all done at once, but realistically we have to take it slow. Sorry, neighbors. You have to look at our sagging gutters and weedy yard for at least another year. 

Weekend Update

After the four month mark Ezra did some noteworthy things. He smiles and laughs, and not just as a tickle reflex. Sometimes he just smiles in response to being smiled at. He opens his mouth like a little baby bird (sometimes) when you slowly move a binky toward his mouth. He got a tooth (12/1/15)! And he's started making one of my favorite ever faces (one that Evie used to make) where he sucks in just his lower lip. 

I've started feeding him baby oatmeal, mostly as a distraction during meals. He doesn't love it but puts up with just under a tablespoon one or two times a day. I'm having a hard time getting him to nurse in the day. Evie was on an eat every two hours schedule for quite a long time, and this kid can go long stretches without wanting to nurse (he gets angry if I try to nurse him when he doesn't want to). He should want to nurse around ten, but usually I can only get him to go a couple of minutes around ten or eleven and then he's done. I'm beginning to think it is because he's holding out for afternoon naptime, when we lay down together, he nurses, and we both nap. I don't blame him; it is delicious. I'm kind of loving snuggle sleeping with him. It just gets frustrating when he's fussy (probably hungry) and I'm soaked with milk but he still won't nurse. Le sigh. 

As for big sister Evie, she is just wonderful. Not that she's perfect all the time, but she's just good. She mostly listens and obeys (except when it comes to loving on Ezra, she won't leave the poor kid alone). She loves to sit and listen to stories, and often makes up her own. She's a pretty good eater, if you give her what she likes (most meat and fruit, broccoli, carrots, peas, any kind of dip). She sings all the time, and cracks us up when she sings silly and sometimes nonsense words to familiar songs. She goes to dance class and loves it. She really doesn't get into trouble. The main problem we have is the listening and obeying thing, and it would be unreasonable to expect anything else.

How about me? I'm doing pretty well.  Babies are wonderful and really hard. I'm thinking of writing a cookbook with all meals that can be made with one hand. I feel like a lot of my day has a crying soundtrack, simply because I can't hold the baby all of the time, which is what he would like. Car trips are especially bad, with only about 50% of them resulting in a sleeping baby. 

I've been doing a fair amount of baking as of late, and even ended up demonstrating a cake technique on local tv. I'm not eating dairy for Ezra, as he seems to have the same sensitivity that Evie did. This means I can't eat most of what I bake, but I've also been slowly shedding the weight I gained during pregnancy, which is a nice little bonus. I've also been shedding a lot of hair. Kind of an alarming amount, and let's not even talk about the skin on my stomach.

I'm in a book club. So far we've read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (my pick), Cinnamon and Gunpowder (loved it), and Lord Fenton's Folly (didn't love it). I was supposed to read Still Alice and The Martian, but the former was the month Ezra as born and the latter I couldn't get in time from the library. 

I'm still working with the Young Women at church- the 12 and 13 year olds, to be exact. They are so fun, silly, sweet, thoughtful... I love it. It's hard sometimes with my little family, but rewarding. 

My latest obsession is the original cast recording of Hamilon- a rock (more like hip hop- r&b) musical about Alexander Hamilton. It is incredible, and I nerd out about it daily (Jonathan Groff, voice of Cristoff is in it! The lead- Lin Manuel Miranda- wrote all the music! Leslie Odom Jr. from Smash is Aaron Burr! Lin Manuel Miranda is writing the music for the new Disney princess movie, and wrote the music for the cantina scene in the new Star Wars!). I could go on and on. Probably don't bring it up unless you want to hear all about it.

I'm also gearing up for my baby girl to turn three. I cannot believe she is that big. She is so beautiful and smart and funny, I'm just lucky to be her mother. And we're going to have a super fun Frozen birthday party that I'm really excited about. Stay tuned for pictures of that. 





Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I'm having a hard time. Why is it so hard to type that, to admit it?

I started a different post this way, and began writing all the details of why things seem hard right now. Then I thought better of it.

Because it doesn't really matter.

I think it is good to acknowledge that things aren't always sunny and easy and fun. But I've been a bit too wallowy lately, and dwelling on it doesn't make it any better. 

Recognizing the good is good, but it doesn't necessarily make the hard stuff go away either. For me it's all about getting through. Enduring. Recognizing that this is just one phase of life, and that phases don't last forever.

But if I don't show up at a function, or cancel plans, or go to Costco with no makeup and three day old hair... Well now you know why. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

evie at the movies

Funny things from taking Evie to the movies for the first time (live action Cinderella):

All during the previews she kept asking me what was happening.

After the Frozen Fever short, she said "Again!"

She giggled at the mice, and kept asking things like, "where's Anastasia and Drizella?"

She was enthralled with the fairy godmother scene, and it was kind of downhill from there.

She danced along with Cinderella, between the rows of seats.

When I covered her cough she said "I have germs."
 



Saturday, February 28, 2015

26

Friday.

Amazing breakfast with Trisha at Penny Ann Cafe and long catch up chat.

A true friend is someone who finds one last eyebrow pencil, now discontinued, the kind you both love,  and gives it to you for your birthday.

Thrift store luck at Savers (jeans that fit, Disney Toms for Evie, Aurora barbie in mint condition, necklace in the exact color I've been looking for,  and more).

Saturday.

Pajama clad Evelyn coming into my room this morning and exclaiming "Happy Birthday Mama!"

Birthday presents in bed (beautiful watch, Beep wireless speaker adapter, and iPhone!!!).

Andrew telling me to get whatever I wanted at Trader Joe's.

Breakfast burrito at Cafe Niche, Evie drinking the milk for her oatmeal straight from the little silver pitcher.

Banbury Cross. Enough said.

(Side trip to the pediatrician,  Evie's got RSV, thankfully she's no longer contagious).

Luxurious nap.

Free loot from Sephora.

Catching snowflakes on our tongues after dinner at Oh Mai (bahn mi & pho).

Radio shack going out of business sale abd $2 iPhone case.

Hearing sweet birthday wishes all day from Evie and Andrew.

Homemade Jamba Juice and HGTV in bed, just like a hotel.

Best. Birthday. Ever!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

genious mom moment

Evie has a cough. Again. I thought she was finally rid of it, but it came back with a vengeance. We're not really sure what is going on with her. She had a cough related to a cold late last fall, and the cough just lingered. It was sporadic, sometimes just once a day. But sometimes she'd cough when eating, or crying, or sleeping, and it was just sad.

The doc says there's no such thing as a chronic cough. I think. If she didn't say that exactly, what she meant was there's got to be a reason for the cough, that coughing is not normal behavior. We talked about the asthma possibility. I have asthma, and it gets worse with poor air quality, allergies, exercise, etc.

So anyway, we don't know why she's coughing. We're about to try an asthma controller medicine to see if that helps. She's also been telling me her head hurts, and she's been slightly congested (but so have I, and apparently Elm pollen counts are high right now?). So who knows.

I've been trying to do whatever I can think of to help my sweet girl, who coughed constantly from 5-6am this morning, and throughout the day and night. We run a humidifier in her room at night, and have air filters going in our house (one in her room, one on the main level). I have this magic cough drops my neighbor turned me onto: Onguard from doTerra. They are ridiculously expensive, but I swear if you have a cough, they are magic, and you won't cough as long as you suck on one of these bad boys.

So I thought I'd give Evie one of these cough drops, but there's a problem: she will just crunch it up. I broke one up and gave her some pieces, and she immediately chewed and swallowed them. So I had a genius idea.

I'd seen people make suckers out of Jolly Ranchers on Pinterest, so I thought I'd try the same thing with these cough drops. I tried using sucker molds, but I think I let them sit in the oven too long and the liquid cough drop just oozed out of the molds. I made it work by quickly picking them up and hand-molding the drop around the sucker stick while it was still moldable but not too hot to touch.

The result? They are not pretty, but they work! She likes them as much as Dumdums, and sucks on them for a good long while before crunching them to bits. And I'm hoping they'll help her get through whatever cough thing she's got going on.


Cough Drop Pops


Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray lightly with cooking spray. Lay your cough drops of choice down, spaced a few inches apart (be sure to choose something that is safe for children). I baked mine with sticks, since I tried the sucker molds, but I'd recommend inserting sticks after baking.

Warm cough drops in oven for 8-10 minutes. You want them to be soft enough to shape around a sucker stick, but not to melt into one giant blob (speaking from experience here). Remove from oven and quickly mold around sucker sticks. Let them cool for about 5 minutes before popping into your poor toddler's mouth.

out of this world pizza

I used to make pizza, in the early days of our marriage when we lived in a little tiny adobe brick house and I actually cooked dinner. Then we moved in with my parents for what was supposed to be one year but turned into 3+ years. I finished college, got a full-time job, then had a baby. And I didn't cook much. I tried to pitch in dinners every once in awhile, and always tried to lend a hand to the master chef (my amazing mother), even if it was just setting the table and loading the dishwasher afterward.

So now we're on our own, and it's all me for dinner. Every night. Ack! How do people do this? I'm actually doing pretty ok, most of the time. I have a few good things I like to keep in frequent rotation, and every once in awhile I try a new recipe from Pinterest, or whatever. And then there's pizza.

I tried the sticky-note recipe I used back in the day, and it just didn't turn out right. Then I tried one from Pinterest: way too much salt. Another from the antique Betty Crocker cookbook was more cracker than pizza crust.

And then I found it. The holy grail of dough recipes. This is it. It takes some time, so this isn't a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of dinner. You have to plan on time for the dough to rise and rest. But oh, is it worth it. And I swear it bakes up faster than Papa Murphey's take-and-bake (that might just be all in my head).

So here I'll re-post the recipe with my own little notes and alterations, because if you're like me, you don't want to click through to another site. You just want to see the darn recipe. And I'll follow with my secrets to making a killer barbecue chicken pizza, like the one pictured (heaven on a pizza crust).



The Very Best Pizza Dough


Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups warm (105-115 degrees) water
  • 1 tablespoon instant or active dry yeast (active will take longer to rise)
  • 1 tablespoon. sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 and 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed (1/4 cup)
  • 2 T Butter, melted
  • Garlic salt
  • cornmeal
Directions:
  1. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer (I use my Kitchenaid), stir in water, sugar and yeast. Let sit 5-10 minutes or until the yeast is foamy and dissolved (I wait the minimum 5). Add olive oil, salt, and 1 ½ cups flour and mix until combined with your hook attachment (or with a wooden spoon if not using a mixer). Gradually mix in 2 more cups of flour until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If your dough is too wet, add 1 more tablespoon of flour at a time (I usually end up adding another 1/4 cup flour) until dough barely sticks to your fingers. Once dough has pulled away from the bowl, knead in mixer on medium-low speed or by hand for 5 minutes.
  2. Shape the dough into a ball and place back into your large mixing bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil or nonstick cooking spray. Turn dough over to coat all sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
  3. Preheat your pizza stone or baking sheet in middle rack of your oven for 30-60 minutes at 475 degrees F.
  4. After dough has doubled, remove from bowl and knead a couple times. Divide dough into two equal balls and cover with a towel for 15 minutes.
  5. While your stone is preheating, sprinkle some flour and cornmeal on your counter and start to shape your crust. I use a combination of rolling pin and hand shaping. Once it is roughly the size you want, pick it up and sort of stretch the dough, turning it with each stretch so it stays circular. Lay it down on your hot pizza stone, again stretching it to the appropriate size. It will stay the size you want on the stone because the stone is so hot it "cooks" it into place. Does that make sense? I don't grease my stone at all, the cornmeal takes care of the non-stick part.
  6. The original recipe recommends brushing the crust with olive oil. I picked up a trick from my friend Autumn that is even better: BUTTER. Brush your crust, focusing on the outer edge, with melted butter, and then sprinkle with garlic salt. This gives you a delicious breadstick-like crust at the end of each slice, and it is truly amazing. Using a fork, prick several holes in the crust.
  7. Bake for 12 minutes at 475F degrees with favorite toppings then broil for 2 minutes or until cheese is golden.

 

Crazy Good Barbecue Chicken Pizza


Ingredients:
  • Mozarella or cheddar jack cheese (to taste)
  • 2 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
  • Chopped red onion (to taste)
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped (again, to taste)
  • Leftover/pre-made barbecue pulled chicken (I like the Costco Jack Daniels variety) OR 1 cooked chicken breast, chopped and barbecue sauce, to taste (any variety you like, I like Sweet Baby Ray's)
  • 1 pizza crust (recipe above makes two crusts)
Directions:

Prepare crust as directed above. Start with either pre-made barbecue chicken, or cooked chicken breast, and spread evenly over crust. Add barbecue sauce as desired.

Layer with cheese, then chopped bacon and red onion. Bake as directed above, and finish with chopped cilantro. Seriously, the cilantro makes it. And the bacon. Because what isn't better with bacon?

Enjoy!

Monday, February 9, 2015

babies don't keep

Bedtime tonight was rough. This is unusual for Evelyn, at least two-year-old Evelyn. We read books as usual, but things went downhill when she requested milk and got a no-because-it-will-rot-your-teeth answer.

I snugged her in the dark, per usual. I sang to her. Covered her chubby-soft toddler cheeks in kisses. Whispered her my usual secret,  "I love you so, so much!"

Then it was time to put her in the crib. She does better when she has a toy, and tonight she'd been playing with a brush all though stories, so I thought she'd be fine. She asked me to stay for a little bit, a common request. I obliged, and settled down in the chair. She was restless, even fussy. I stayed longer than I intended, then finally told her goodnight and left.

And she cried, and cried. Long enough that I gave in (I can just tell when it's a cry she won't come down from, and this was one of those). I sat by her crib, holding her hand, stroking her forehead,  singing to her, reassuring her, but she she still wouldn't sleep. I watched her heavy eyelids close a few times, but she fought it. And she fussed, and cried.

Finally I picked her up, and sat in the chair. She immediately squinched her little eyes shut and lay perfectly still. I laughed a little, and she smiled, eyes still shut. We rocked, and she went to sleep.

Earlier in the night I was frustrated. I'd been a long day, and I was ready for her to be asleep. But by this point I was almost relishing the experience. She needed me and wanted me. She's my big baby, my first baby. She's so grown up, yet still just little. And there probably won't be too many more instances where she needs me to rock her to sleep.

As I was holding her, pondering all this, I felt a jab in my stomach. New baby moved, as if to say "Hey, I'm here too,  and everything is going change."

The thought of having another baby is overwhelming. I'm so excited to meet this new little person, to feel that immense expansion in my heart when we meet (and it's already started). But I'm a little sad that it will mark the end of an era, because it's been so great. Not easy, but wonderful. And everyone says it gets more wonderful, but it is still unknown,  and that makes it a little nerve-racking.

So for now, I'm going to just try to enjoy these possible lasts and almost lasts, because its not every night I get to rock my baby to sleep, and that's both good and sad.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

if you give a mouse a cookie... (white chocolate peanut butter cookie recipe)


More like, if I make a batch of cookies, I will eat half of them warm from the oven. And the other half the next day. With a tall glass of milk. And feel totally sick and happy at the same time.

What, that's not what you do?

But really, making cookies is dangerous business for me. They are so good warm from the oven (is there any cookie that gets better with age? I think not). It is hard not to have just one more. And these babies are no exception.

I whipped these up spur-of-the-moment on our last Friday movie night, where we watch a movie as a family while eating dinner off of TV and high chair trays. I used my good old Betty Crocker recipe, subbing butter for shortening (because why not?). At the last minute I threw in some white chocolate chips (originally purchased for chocolate popcorn, but which didn't melt very well*), and the resulting cookies did not disappoint.

So without further ado...




White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies


ingredients;

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used natural without any problems)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips

directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

Mix butter, peanut butter, sugars, and egg until thoroughly blended. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Mix in white chocolate chips.

(At this point the original recipe says to cover and refrigerate. I'm too impatient for that.)

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. I like to use a scoop for this. Arrange 12 dough balls to a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper or silicon baking mat, and press dough down with a fork. Betty suggest using a criss-cross pattern, but I just did a single-motion press. Put baking sheet in the freezer for as long as you can stand (a few minutes). Then bake. Betty suggests 10 to 12 minutes. Mine baked to perfection in 8. Check yours at 8 and go from there. Perfect cookies should be slightly golden around the edges.

Move baked cookies to a cooling rack and don't wait too long before sampling. I'm telling you, they are heavenly!


*I've found that the "nice" brands of white chocolate chips do not melt well, but seize up and get all weird. Toll House white chips melt perfectly, just FYI. Ghirardelli, not so much. So take note.


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