Saturday, January 31, 2009

Soap Operas & Bon-Bons?

This morning, Mama Manifesto {my daily early-morning first read} featured a recent question and answer, from the advice column at The Washington Post. The reader asked the column author, Carolyn Hax, why her friend with children seemingly had no time to call her back. The response is one that we stay-at-home-moms can definitely appreciate! Enjoy!

Dear Carolyn:

My best friend has a child. Her: Exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What'd you do today? Her: Park, play group . . .

OK. I've done Internet searches; I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please, no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners. . . . I do all those things, too, and I don't do them every day. I guess what I'm asking is: What is a typical day, and why don't moms have time for a call or e-mail?

I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events), and I manage to get it all done. I'm feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy — not a bad thing at all — but if so, why won't my friend tell me the truth?

Is this a contest ("My life is so much harder than yours")? What's the deal? I've got friends with and without kids, and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions.

— Tacoma, Wash.

{Blood beginning to boil? Read on...}

Dear Tacoma,

Relax and enjoy. You're funny. Or you're lying about having friends with kids. Or you're taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven't personally been in the same room with them. Internet searches?

I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand — while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom friends are either lying or competing with you — is disingenuous indeed.

So, since it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries and questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15. It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family members and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It's resisting the constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense. It's doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything — language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity, empathy. Everything.

It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy — and then when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, you wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend — a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you to mutual friends or marvel at how much more productively she uses her time.

Either make a sincere effort to understand, or keep your snit to yourself.

-Carolyn Hax

{Now please excuse me; I have to get back to doing absolutely nothing but relaxing and enjoying.}

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cookies with Cam-Cam

{1. gather necessary tools}

{2. keep dry ingredients in the bowl...}

{...or not}

{3. wait for 'buzzer'- a long & grumpy process}

{4. rush cooling time by blowing}

{5. give in to temptation, despite temperature}

{6. sample one bite of each & wash down with juice box}
***
Mini Chocolate Chip
Cranberry Cookies

Ingredients:
one stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
one egg
1/4 cup organic yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
one cup w.w. flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons a.p. flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup organic dried cranberries

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter & sugars until light & fluffy. Add yogurt, egg, and vanilla; beat until smooth.
2. Sift together dry ingredients. Add to creamy mixture; beat until just combined.
3. Fold in chocolate chips & cranberries. Spoon onto silicone-lined baking sheets, using 2 teaspoons or so per cookie.
4. Bake 9-11 minutes; cool on wire rack. Makes 3 to 4 dozen.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Surprise Birthday!

Welcome Baby Mason!
Tegan unexpectedly went into labor this morning {a month early},
and late this afternoon the little 6 1/2-pounder arrived. Might I add this kid definitely resembles a Mauldin!

Congratulations Tegan & Tage!!

I can't wait to meet him!

Friday, January 23, 2009

WWND?

Anxiety runs in my family. Chloe, sadly, already exhibits the signs of this, frequently internalizing her feelings. She had a tough time this week, with a 3-day stomach ache, coming home with a full lunch box each day. Unable to pinpoint where this was coming from, last night as I tucked her in bed, I asked if it had anything to do with Ava being on vacation. The stress began exploding out of her. Recalling this, one of my favorite Nie posts, I knew how I was going to handle things. NieNie provides the type of inspiration that makes you strive to be the best mother you can be.

So what would Nie do?

Chloe is staying home from school today.

We'll stay in our jammies, bake, paint our nails, play boardgames, giggle, and maybe even talk about stress management.

Because a seven-year-old is too young for anxiety.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In Chloe's words...

Guest-blogger, Chloe Kate shares her account of the infamous sea monkey "accident":

On Sunday night, my Mom was washing the dishes and my Dad was watching TV. I was just drawing. Then, I heard crying. Chayse and Camden were in my room themselfs. I knew it was Chayse crying. I walked into the hallway, and saw Chayse holding an empty jar that our sea monkeys were in! I started screaming my head off too. My Mom and Dad quickly rushed into my hallway. I was saying, "Our sea monkeys!" We were both very sad. Camden, who was sitting on Chayse's bed, of course didn't know what was happening. Chayse told me he was trying to reach the lid. Yes, we did raise those sea monkeys and watch them grow from an itsy-bitsy egg to an inch long creature, but for some reason, it didn't make my Mom and Dad sad. There was water all over the cointainers under Chayse's bed. But, I saw on one of the cointaineres, a sea monkey struggiling in a tiny puddle of water. Then, my Mom scooped him up and put him in the jar. What do you think we named him? Nemo. But sadly, about the next day, he died. Poor fellow. But that's probably because we didn't know where the food was, so we couldn't feed him. It was not the best day ever.

{This version comes completely unedited. Yes, Chloe is quite the little writer. She's in the process, in fact, of co-authoring a series of books about a puppy, along with her best friend, Ava.} Thanks, Chlo-Bo!

Worm Rescue

The lastest adventure with my third creature-lovin' kid...
In my Going Green effort, I've taught the kids the importance of earthworms as natural fertilizers; so after our rainstorm today, Camden and I took the opportunity to hunt for worms that needed to be returned to the soil. We walked around the block, finding ten or so, but two were just too special for Camden to let go. She carried her new friends the whole trek home- dangling the poor guys at her side-where she found the perfect spot under our tree to keep 'em safe until the bigger creature-lovers get home from school to see. I'm sure they'll be quite impressed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ninety-nine!

In honor of my 99th post, I borrowed this list of 99 useless facts from Julie, and made it my own. It's fascinating reading, I'm sure!

Everything in aqua I have done.
Everything in orange I HOPE to do one day.
Everything in blue I hope to NEVER do.

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band.
4. Visited Hawaii. {visiting again soon!!!}
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland/world. {grew up in San Diego!}
8. Climbed a mountain.
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo. {four words: sixth grade, Paula Abdul}
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightening storm at sea. {love the water, but not a fan of boating in the ocean}
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning. {14 years ago, haven't thrown up since; just like the Seinfeld episode}
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitch hiked.
23. Taken a sick day when you were not ill.
24. Built a snow fort. {Brr?}
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone night swimming in the ocean.
27. Run a marathon. {does a 5K at age 5, mostly riding on my dad's back count?}
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run. {does cheering for Kevin hitting one count? how about coaching T-ball for 4-year-olds?}
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
34. Visited the birthplace or your ancestors.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo's David.
41. Sung karaoke. {my parents rented a karoke machine for every major event at our house growing up, with video footage as evidence}
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing. {see #13}
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. {for some odd reason, I like to be in complete control of my oxygen intake}
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business. {does posting 2 items on Etsy count?}
58. Visited Russia.
59. Taken a Martial Arts class.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies. {current order due 1/30; any takers?}
62. Gone Whale Watching.
63. Got flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma. {cord blood}
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
67. Bounced a check. {HA! don't ask what happened at the Grocery store on Monday!}
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the changing of the guards in London.
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book. {one day I'll transfer my blog to a book, and also write a family cookbook}
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. {fish?}
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone's life. {does being your infants' sole source of nourishment (aka nursing) for months on end count?}
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous {Tiffany-Amber Thiesen (which was huge at the time), and INA GARTEN!}
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a cell phone. {just not right now! I'm sure I'm pretty much the only one}
99. Been stung by a bee.

SuperHealth: Week 3

Apparently my Sunday SuperHealth updates have turned into Wednesday updates. Nevertheless, this week, with the introduction of exercise, we are concentrating on "watching our waistlines" and burning calories. "Belly fat", or visceral fat, does more than just take up space; it also:

*releases hormones and chemicals into the bloodstream, decreasing the muscles' ability to regulate blood sugar levels, making the body require more insulin.
*is metabolized by the liver, turning it into cholesterol that circulates in the blood, collects in the arteries, and forms artery-clogging plaque. YUCK!

Reducing the dangerous fat that settles in the midsection- through the following foods and exercises- decreases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, macular degeneration, dementia, Alzheimer's, cancers, and liver dysfunction.

The waist-friendly bonus foods this week are: fruit, whole grains, yogurt, pumpkin, tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, honey, and beans. The fiber content in these (recommended amount: 45g/day for men and 32g/day for women) helps you feel full, plus regulates blood sugar by helping slow down the rate at which carbs are absorbed. By not absorbing the carbohydrates quickly, inches will be lost.


Also included this week is a moderate-intensity exercise planner (30 minutes per day of walking, stair climbing, strengtheners, etc.) that will increase cardiovascular fitness and strengthen abs, legs, and arms, and hands (grip).


Now please excuse me as I sprint up and down the staircase for the next five minutes...

Bad News.

Nemo didn't make it through the night.

RIP.

By the way... Chloe is in the midst of writing her own personal account of the "accident." With her permission I will publish it in an upcoming post, to provide an alternative perspective, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Hannah!

The Big 2-0!

{age 2 . 1991}

{Nobody seems to think Camden looks like my side of the family, but I beg to differ, comparing this photo of her with the one of Hannah, above!}
***

{Palm Springs . May 2008}

"The time has come..."




Monday, January 19, 2009

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Squares

Here is one of the desserts I made for Tegan's shower. I am not a huge cheesecake fan, but I love using vanilla bean, and I LOVE this recipe! The citrus gives just a hint of background flavor.

Ingredients:

CRUST:
*12 graham crackers (each 2 1/2 by 5 inches)
*3 tablespoons sugar
*5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
FILLING:
*2 bars (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
*3/4 cup sugar
*2 large eggs
*finely grated zest and juice of 1 medium citrus fruit (1 to 2 teaspoons zest and about 3 tablespoons juice) {this time I used blood orange}
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 vanilla bean, scraped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
1. Make the crust: Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a food processor, blend graham crackers with sugar until finely ground; add butter and pulse until moistened.
2. Transfer crumb mixture to prepared pan, and pat in gently (wipe processor bowl clean, and reserve for making filling). Bake until beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. While crust is baking, make filling.
3. Place cream cheese in food processor; blend until smooth. Scrape down the bowl well, and add sugar, eggs, zest & juice, and vanilla extract & bean; blend until smooth.
4. Pour mixture onto hot crust in pan; smooth top. Return to oven, and bake until set (filling should jiggle only slightly when pan is gently shaken), 30 to 35 minutes.
5. Cool completely in pan. Cover very loosely with plastic wrap; chill until firm, at least 2 hours (and up to 2 days). Use foil overhang to lift cheesecake out of pan. Cut into squares; garnish with citrus slices if desired.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Catastrophe on Ice Cream Sunday!

Number of casualties
yet to be determined,
estimated in the dozens

Earlier tonight as Kevin and I were clearing the table and starting dishes, Chayse- who was playing with Camden in his room- began screaming hysterically. Chloe was first on the scene and immediately reacted with identical blood-curdling screams. Positive there would actually be blood involved, we rushed in only to find Chayse gripping an empty sea monkey container, and Chloe pacing in circles around the puddle on the carpet, sobbing and repeating, "our sea monkeys!!!!" Yes, our family of microscopic creatures that we had so carefully raised from a powder state have been tragically sucked into the carpet fibers, never to be seen again {you know that creepy crawly feeling you get when you see a bunch of ants... yeah, it's kinda like that}. Upon careful examination with a flashlight once things calmed down a little, we found a tiny puddle of water on the lid to a plastic toy container, containing a single struggling sea monkey that looked much like a fish out of water. So we acted fast, scooping him up with a plastic spoon and returning him to his home.
Guess what we named him?

Our sole survivor.
{Swimming slightly crooked, but alive.}

What better to ease the trauma
{and believe me- our kids were traumatized}
than ice cream sundaes?!

Thank goodness we're getting new carpet in a few weeks.

It had to be Blue...

Tegan's Baby Shower Luncheon Our awesome friend, Tegan, has thrown amazing events for most, if not all of us. It was our pleasure to give her the perfect day, and planning was a group effort...

Jelly Belly-filled favor boxes by Roseanne & me}
*favor stickers and invites by Sarah & Abraham

{I also made dessert inspired by her citrus cravings...}
*Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with a hint of Blood Orange
*White & Dark Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
*Glazed Mini Lemon Cakes

{...and felt pea pod pins for our 'Pea in a Pod' game}
*Each pod contained 3 green peas (pompoms), except the 'winning' pod that had one blue pea, representing Tegan's baby boy.

{onesie clothesline by Laura, Heidi, & Kim}

{flowers in glass baby bottle vases by Jaime.}

{venue & yummy hors d'oeuvres chosen by Lindsey}

{showered with gifts}

{new Great Grandma Pete}

{Look who already has a girlfriend!}

{our guest of honor & her party planners}

We love you, Tegan!

Friday, January 16, 2009

She's back.

Revealing.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bug Party in the Park!

Grasshoppers & Beetles, Ladybugs & Worms,
Nets & Jars, Everything that Squirms!
Chayse is my name &
Buggin' Out is the Game!
Come to my party... Soon I'll be 4!

We'll have so much fun,
the park is ours to explore!

{The Birthday Boy!}

{Kids' Activity Table}

{Buggy Bites}


{Chayse helps himself to a 'caterpillar' (skewered grapes)}


{'Captured Bugs' Goody Bags...}
*favor stickers by Sarah & Abraham

{...filled with gummy Creepy Crawlies}

{Painting Rock Bugs}


*shirt by Polka Dot Market

{Chloe & Ava}

{Stinky}

{Ready for the Bug Hunt...}

{...led by Daddy}

{Happy Birthday to you...}

{Mommy dishes the Dirt Cake}

{Sugar Buzzzzzzzz...}