Thursday, April 30, 2009

going green

I always forget how fast the world goes from grey and brown to green. It seems like this week our world has turned green. The tops of the mountains are still brown, and midway up is still that light early spring green, but it is really green here in the valley. Here is a sampling of the greenery in our garden last weekend. Peas, spinach, kale, and broccoli. All much bigger now!

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healthy pumpkin bread

There is something very satisfying about eating an entire loaf of pumpkin bread! My son and I made pumpkin bread last weekend and every day I have had one loaf for snack. Please don't think I'm a complete glutton - they were mini loaves, and I didn't even fill the mini loaf pans very full. What should have been 2 regular sized loaves was 8 mini loaves. I froze the extras, and each day I thaw one loaf for snack. That reduces the need for self control...I can eat whatever is thawed. I have no self control. And I'm eating for 3 so I consume large amounts of food. I'll probably gain a ton of weight when I'm no longer nursing. I have been pregnant, nursing, or both for the last four years and my sense of normal proportions is long gone. I'm always shocked at the small amount of food that can sustain other people.

So, here is my relatively healthy pumpkin bread recipe. I don't remember where I got it, but I've adapted is to fit my tastes (less sugar, etc).

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Nut Bread

3 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
~1/3 cup cane sugar
1 tsp baking powder (I can't remember, but I think I may have put 2 tsp baking powder in last time...I finished off the can, whatever amount that was)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp salt

mix dry ingredients together (a good task for the three year old while you get other things together. Oh, and be sure to let the three year old empty the measuring cups and spoons full of dry ingredients into the bowl...if you forget be prepared to scoop them back up again and try again!)

1 15oz can pumpkin
1/3 cup apple sauce
4 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2+ cup agave nectar
a bit of water - maybe scant quarter cup?

mix wet ingredients well

if you don't have agave nectar honey would probably work. I like the mild flavor of agave nectar and the fact that is has a low glycemic index. If you don't want to use agave or honey, just use 1 cup of sugar and up the water to 1/2 cup.

mix the wet into the dry (tough task for 3 year old, but he probably wants to try)

1 cup chopped pecans
(note, babies are not thrilled by sound of frozen pecans being chopped in cuisinart, but if you make happy funny faces at baby she might get through it without bawling)

and if you're pregnant and wanting extra iron and calcium you can add some fig nuggets or chopped figs - i suggest skipping the figs if you're not craving those things

ok. mix nuts/figs into the big bowl (note - by all means give the 3 year old a go at stirring it all together because if you don't give him a chance and the nuts get stirred in without his permission you're gonna hear about it)

divide into mini-loaf pans (8, or 6 if you make them fuller) or 2 large loaf pans. i guess you could make muffins

Bake at 350 till done. Um, I guess that's pretty vague. my notes say 60-65 minutes, but I think that was for big loaves. after putting these in the oven i went back to the bedroom to sort clothes and took them out when i finally remembered that they were in the it doesn't have to be precise. my loaves were pretty brown but taste fine. bake at least until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Enjoy. I am.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

big and comforting

I remember my parents being big and warm and comforting when I was little. Sometimes it strikes me as really strange that I am now that to my own children. Big. Warm. Comforting. Smooshy. Mommy. How did I get from being that little kid being held in my parents arms to being the parent doing the holding?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

good food

today i have time to write a post but don't know what to say. most days i have posts in my head but no time to write. today i'm all written out after a very busy week of work related technical writing. all week i've had to pay attention to formatting and caps and punctuation, so i'm going to ignore all that now. ah....

so, last evening my husband fixed stir fry from scratch. with fresh veggies. with no recipe.! wow. oh, and he made jasmine brown rice (yes, brown) to go with it. this is coming from the frozen pizza and white rice guy. :) no offense to pizza and white rice lovers (and i think they are yummy, too), but i'm just using that as an example to show how far he's come. when i met this man he lived primarily on pizza and chef boyardee (and i had to look up how to spell that since i'm not a chef boyardee fan) mini ravioli. oh, and sunkist orange drink. so, you can see that he's come a long way! early in our marriage when i had time to cook and bake and can and freeze i made all sorts of creating things - some better than others. and my husband ate a great variety of new things. kids came along and i had no time to cook. dairy allergies came along and i haven't eaten dairy in over 3 years for the kids. and we discovered that my husband can't have msg (under any of it's many names) or artificial sweeteners. between all those we're pretty hard to feed and cook for. and my husband had to learn to cook in the middle of all that. but, he has done a splendid job and provides us with homecooked nutritious meals most days of the week i'm really proud of him. oh, and he cleans up afterward. extra points.

so last evening we had this lovely dinner which my son refused to eat (no big surprise). finally after some discussion (read screaming 3-year old) we made my son a burrito - he'll eat nearly anything wrapped in a whole wheat burrito shell, so his staple is beans, corn, and salsa burrito when he won't eat what we're having for dinner. and he wanted broccoli with his burrito. yes, broccoli. he loves broccoli. we didn't any more broccoli, so we settled for a raw carrot - a whole one. he bought it from me for $2. that kid would nearly live on vegetables some days if we would let him. we have to limit the carrots or he'd eat only carrots some meals. and then he comes up to me sweetly after dinner and asks for "two spoonfuls i cream. please. two spoonful?" how can i refuse. so we both eat vanilla coconut milk "ice cream" from the container, sharing one spoon. we do indulge.

but my point is that i'm very proud of my family for eating well even when it's not easy. thank you family for participating in mama's crazy ideas of good food.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

putting the wheel in motion

i have tried and tried to make it work. to be happy with the status quo. to do this because of the benefits it brings to my family. but it i can't be happy then neither can my family. it looks good in theory, but it doesn't work for me. it is time to move on. not a good time to move on. but time to realize that it's time to move on, and put that wheel in motion. so we begin in earnest the search for for the next chapter. here's hoping for a short search.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday. Hard to leave for work.

This morning my son woke my up and said "Mama doesn't have go work today? Mama stay long long time!" in a very exited voice. If anything makes mama want to stay home it's that. But, I had to explain to him that it was Monday and mama has to work on Monday. He wasn't easily convinced. "No. It Satday! Mama no have go work today. Mama stay long long time.". Darn. It's not "Satday". It's Monday. Why did I think this working mama stuff was a good idea. Beats me! That was obviously a pre-kids decision!

Well, we got through the pre-work routine. I held baby and read Curious George visits a fire station (reading upside down mind you) while our son ate breakfast and my husband was able to get bowl of cereal down. I had to read upside down because I have to keep our 8-month old daughter far far away from the book since she has decided that Curious George books are very tasty. She was "fragile" and needed to be held, so her in my lap sitting on floor, twisting around to read book on toddler table, reading book upside down, reminding 3-year old to eat and chew what was in his mouth. Then shower while my husband entertains kids and then get dressed, nurse both children. Get 3-year old out of exersaucer. Remove car key jammed in crevice of exersaucer (actually my husband did that part). Oh, and I had a bowl of cereal somewhere in there. Thank goodness my husband has taken over getting pump parts and my water bottles ready or I'd never have all the right parts to express milk for my baby at work and take empty water bottles! Well, we made it to the near goodbye stage and my son comes over and says "Mama looks Realll pretty taday!" Heart melts. Want to stay home and hug family. Say goodbye and give kisses. Find car keys. Get ready to go out the door. And then my 8-month old starts waving vigorously with a forlorn look on her face. This working mama idea Really was a pre-child idea. It has lost its appeal. Completely. Totally. I have to not think about it all day or I'll be a blubbering idiot. But soon I get to go home and get attacked by my children, both of whom want to nurse immediately. Reconnect with mommy. Hugs. Smiles. Or screams, depending on the day. Unreasonably demands from the toddler. But really and truly, I'd rather be with them all day every day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Trying Pear

We are doing baby led weaning, so we're skipping the purees. Real food is fun. (okay, so I guess I wasn't wordless...)
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Monday, April 13, 2009

contemplating black tea

I avoided caffeine through most of high school and all of college (even graduate school). I even made it though baby #1 without caffeine. Well, actually that's not all completely true. I didn't give up chocolate, so I guess I did have a bit of caffeine.

But, baby #2 has hit me hard. I went from being a red tea drinker to a white tea drinker. Last week I moved up to green tea. And now I'm contemplating black tea!! Oh no, what is happening to me! A dear friend recommended that I just buy a single cup of black tea on the mornings I need it instead of buying a whole box - less temptation to become dependent. This morning I'm thinking the box might be better.

But, I didn't buy the black tea yet, and I've had my Numi Mate Lemon Green for the day
(good stuff by the way!), so I'll try overdosing on chocolate chips to try to stay away this afternoon. There is a fine line between eating enough chocolate chips to get me through the sleepies and eating so many that I get a tummy ache. Every day I try to find that optimal amount.

So, what has brought me to the verge of black tea? Well, that would be my little singer and her mommy-hold-me marathons in the middle of the night. I'm all for quality mommy/baby time, but I personally prefer daylight hours for bonding. But I think maybe it's more than just wanting mommy time. Both my husband and I feel that maybe it is time for some changes in our daughters sleep set-up. It's a little complicated so I'll not go into details, but I'm going to be working on transitioning her to sleeping in bed with me and sleeping unswaddled. After talking with my friend, advisor, and currently expert on getting cute little girls to sleep (bet you'd never thought you'd be called a sleep expert did you... ), I am inspired to make some changes. The goal is more sleep, but I have to be prepared for less sleep getting there. *sigh* But, our daughter did spend 20-minutes in bed last night and didn't scream wildy upon waking, which is an improvement. Both my husband and I have been talking to her about how change is okay and it's okay to sleep in bed and lying flat. So, please send sleep in bed vibes and change is okay vibes to my lovely little girl. And patience vibes to mama. And maybe I'll hold off on buying the box of black tea.

Good thing my bag of chocolate chips is empty now, I feel the tummy ache starting.

Friday, April 10, 2009

neat and tidy

I like things tidy. I don't think I'm a complete neat freak anymore (but ask my husband, he may think differently), but clutter gets to me and I like the house to be relatively clean underneath the clutter. We've been having some trouble keeping up with things since I work full time and we have two small spirited children. So - and I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this because it seems like somehow I've failed in my domestic duties - we have hired someone to help with the house cleaning. She same today for the second week, and I'm excited to go home and see the clean house. Last week made such a difference to me. Not only was there no longer a thick layer of dust on my alarm clock, but I was able to relax more this week. I wasn't constantly seeing things and feeling like they were hanging over me. Oh, the window sill is dirty, mentally put that one the list of things to do eventually. The bathroom sink is cruddy - gosh, when will it get cleaned. Etc. Not that I was more of a slob this week, but I didn't feel like the housework was hanging over us and ruining my enjoyment of my time at home. I never imagined that having someone come in to clean would have this effect. I imagined a cleaner house, but I didn't imagine the relief knowing that not only was my house cleaner now, but she is Coming Back, and I don't have to wonder how and when the next batch of cleaning will get done. Wow, great feeling. Now we can focus of energy (or lack there of) on the things that only we can do. Nice.

And last weekend my husband hung up a diaper cabinet above the changing table. Maybe my diaper arrangement isn't quite up to the standards of some who are particularly good at folding, but I thought the colors were pretty. Too bad they are just for pretty now that we've switched to fitteds and wool. :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

inside of the nose kisses

d: right here, mommy, right here!
me: *kiss*
d: right here, on the tip of my nose
me: *kiss*
d: right here (indicating slightly up the nose)
me: *kiss*
d: right here (still on the nose)
me: *kiss*
d: right here (still on the nose)
me: *kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss*
d: right here (Still on nose)
me: I think I got it pretty well covered
d: in me nose
me: ewwww....
d: right here, IN me nose
me: okay, I'll out it on your finger and you can put it there...*kiss* (silent mental "ewwww...I just encouraged my son to stick his finger up his nose").

Things I didn't quite imagine in motherhood.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


I haven't felt very level headed lately. I'm guessing it's lack of sleep, confusion about life, and overwhelmed by the world. I admire people who seem level headed most of the time, people like my sister-in-law who seems to have been on a very straight path, and phdinparenting who seem to have the life-work balance much more figured out than I do. I am in awe of the people like my college roommate or Pioneer Woman who seem to be able to accomplish more in a day than I can in a week. I am also a little envious of the people who seem to be happy with anything and everything. Maybe the key word here is "seem". Are they really all that cool and collected and organized and great? I'm sure some of them are. But maybe others just know better than I do how to put up a front that says "I'm A-okay".

Reading Raising Your Spirited Child to help understand our son was also eye opening for me. It made me realise that both my husband and I are also spirited. So I guess it's quite expected that our children don't fall into the laid-back easy-going category. We have come a long way in embracing our son's spiritedness, and I think it is a time for me to once again try to embrace my own spiritedness and the things that come along with it. I'm one of those spirited people who notices and is sensitive to little things that don't bother a lot of people. And sometimes those little things drive me nuts. I tend to let things build up and then I burst open and all the little of things that have been gathering inside me spill out. That happened a bit yesterday - a small tear in my outer shell caused a large spill of emotion concerning little things that had built up. But now the pressure is relieved and I'm better for a while.

This spiritedness also makes me a rather difficult person. I'm not an easy employee. I'm not a low-needs wife. I never want to fit in the box that someone else draws. I'll purposefully draw outside the box, just to be different. Not because I'm trying to be difficult, but I just don't feel like the box was meant for me, and I'm not gonna play in the box if I don't want to. I'll draw my own box (or triangle, or circle, or irregular shape) thank you very much. But then I'll over analyze what I just drew, and probably not be happy with it, and complain until I get a new piece of paper to draw another shape. Oh wait, am I talking about my 3-year old or myself? I didn't think the poor boy was even gonna start drawing because he was too stressed out by it.

One of my big questions of late is "is there a perfect shape for me somewhere, on the perfect paper, drawn with the perfect media, and of the perfect size and color"? Or am I just always going to be slightly unhappy with what I have? Should I just suck it up and deal, or should I try to find the perfect space? Should I strive for perfection or learn to live with imperfection? Can I become more laid back about things or should I embrace what I am. I think the answer is both. I can't change who I am, and the fact is that I am (negative tone here) spirited, sensitive, intense, and perceptive, but I am also (positive tone here) perceptive, energetic (when not exhausted from lack of sleep), and persistent. I need to find a way to embrace what I am and work with it. I don't think I will ever "not notice" the detail, and I'm not sure I can even not be bothered by it. But I do need to find a way to look beyond the little things that drive me nuts and work for a better big picture. A better life, lifestyle, a happier home life, a more supportive home for parents and children, a better life-work balance. These are all things that we can make a little progress on. And the first step is adjusting my attitude. While it's okay to be bothered by things I need to find a way to constructively deal with it in a way that doesn't drag down my family. Anyone else want to join me on my quest for a happier tomorrow?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

gardening rambles and brambles

Last evening we got a bit more garden planted. We wanted to get as much as possible in before the rain today. After a quick dinner we got all bundled up again and went out. I put our daughter on back last night so that I could be a little more useful. She was Very cute all dressed up a in a pink fleece shirt and wool pants riding on my back. She even let me stay still enough to plant seeds. My husband made rows, and I planted another variety of spinach, another batch of kale, and another 50 foot row of (Little Marvel) peas and four shorter rows of (Early Sunglow) corn. I haven't had much luck with corn since we moved to this place, but I'm hoping for better luck this year. Last year I finally got two batches growing nicely, but the raccoons got more corn than we did. I'm planning three types of corn this year, planted in blocks of 3 or 4 relatively closely spaced rows (we normally space rows ~3 feet apart). We did not put in more potatoes last night because my husband wasn't up for more deep row digging.

Gardening with a 3-year old and a 7-month old isn't quite like it was before kids! I have to stay moving enough to keep baby happy in the carrier, and we're constantly trying to keep an eye on the tot. We really want the garden to be fun for him and to have him help, but he does get a little overzealous sometimes. He would rearrange all the row markers if we'd let him - not a big deal except that I'd really like to remember what variety of what I plant where this year, and we really do need to mark where we've already planted. And he wants to recover rows, ready or not. Last evening he had a great time heaving his hoe from over his shoulder and deep into the soil. Fun except we have to be careful to avoid being within range of flying child-sized hoes. It is hard for him to remember that the entire garden is not a big digging hole now. It is easier for him once we get the garden mulched and it is obvious where things are planted and where not to step/dig/jump/stomp/dance/fling/drop/and generally be a 3-year old. He does love the dirt!

Bedtime was a bit late due to gardening, and I finally took a tired (but happy) baby inside to get ready for bed while my husband and son finished covering the last of the corn. After bedtime for the kids I worked on a map of the garden - what I want to put where, and a list of seeds and plants to buy this weekend. I am hoping to get broccoli, onions, kohlrabi, sugar snap peas, and carrots in this weekend. And finish up the potatoes and maybe another batch of corn. I may loose some things from planting early, but our garden has been late the last few years and I'd really like to get it started early this year so we can start enjoying veggies as soon as possible. I will also go ahead and plant cosmos and bachelors button flowers.

After having always been around a garden that was meant to provide for the family year round, it's a bit of an adjustment to garden just for fresh. I feel rather disorganized about gardening since we have had children, but that's okay. As long as we get good things to eat and have fun doing it, that's what matters. My point of comparison is my parents, who for example, plant over 80 tomatoes plants some years and my mom saves and starts her own seed and labels everything. They can and freeze for us now that I don't have time. It's Wonderful, but a lot of work I know. Every day our son has frozen "Grandpa peas" for lunch. Although I miss gardening for year round food (and haven't quite mastered the knack of planting just enough for fresh), I am trying to just relax and enjoy the garden and have fun with it. So what if I have no idea what varieties of things I planted last year and what worked and what didn't. And it's really okay if I can't find my leftover seeds or the cosmos seeds I collected last fall. Seeds are cheap, I'll get more and lose the leftovers again before next year. I Love growing things, and I Love sharing with others. If we have more than we need of some things I'll just give it away (my parents get first dibs though since sometimes something flourish at our house and not at theirs). Last summer when I nine months pregnant and had way too many tomatoes I took a large box to the chiropractor. I took beans and broccoli to "birth circle" and cucumbers to work. I love it when other people enjoy our veggies, too. So, if you're in the area in a few months, come see what we've got extra of. ;)

Oh, enough rambling about gardening. The other order of business today is to show you how cute my daughter is with a barrette in her hair. Awwwww. Isn't she sweet. Can't wait till she has more hair.

And, here's my son with a barrette in his hair. He's sweet, too. ;)

And the last order of business for today is the announcement that my husband, WanderingDad, has started his own blog!! Yay for him!