Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I noticed over the last couple of years that our girls look SO TIRED in their birthday pictures. In a quest to remedy that, I decided we would celebrate with Esther after lunch on her birthday.

Fast forward a few months and Heidi knew she didn't want to wait till after dinner either!

Fortunately for her, we celebrated RIGHT AFTER BREAKFAST!

Eric left the house early the morning of Heidi's birthday and got back after she was in bed. SO....she was MORE than willing to accommodate his schedule. What a lucky girl.


She requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Same request for the last three years. A girl after my own heart.






Look at the size of that ice cream scoop!


Becca thinks we should share.


She really, really, thinks we should share.
Good thing she's easily distracted.








Nevermind that her birthday is not for another six days, Autumn is ALWAYS excited and ALWAYS happy. How I love her!


I think of Wall-E every time I look at this picture.
Heidi is so excited to bird watch and "nature watch" with her new binoculars.
Bugs, nature, music, and a spunkiness you will be hard pressed to find aywhere else.
That's what makes Heidi tick these days.


Woohoo!! Her very own mp3 player!!
(And it even LOOKS like a iPod. But it's not...and she doesn't care about that kind of thing!)



Both Heidi & Autumn requested lunch outside for their birthdays.
(Note Autumn's legs.)

I'm not sure why she's making that face at me. Maybe she was telling them to "look, mom's taking a picture."

Happy Birthday Heidi!!!
We love you!

Virtuoso

This is amazing.

I love to play and sometimes when I'm sight-reading and unsure of the tempo marking, I'll look it up. I think it'll be QUITE some time before I can play this at that tempo. Inspiring all the same though.

Evgeny? I want to be like you when I grow up...



Have any of you used these before? Here's the link.

I love making baby food and keeping it in ice cube trays in the freezer, but I don't like leaving it uncovered and feel like a lid would be more efficient than plastic.

Thoughts?

Some days I wonder how we're doing. Other days, I know without a doubt that we're doing just fine. More than just fine.

Yesterday we were making bread and Autumn asked why we were making three loaves. I said it was because we go through bread quickly and need grains to be healthy. She said, "We need 6 ounces of grain per day, depending on our activity level."

!!!!

And then says, "That's from The Edible Pyramid." (A book we got at the library. I haven't even opened it yet, but obviously she has!)

And today I looked out the kitchen window and found Autumn sitting in a swing reading a book. She would call to me periodically too, "I'm on chapter 7. I'm on chapter 8. This book is really good. I really like this." And then she came inside a few minutes ago to report, "I finished the book!"

I love moments like these. I love being home with my girls all day and the myriad of things I see in their school and play together.

I don't typically get political on my blog, but I want to throw this out there and just say -- did you guys know that there is talk of EXTENDING kids school days?! From 7:30am-5pm? I don't really think this will get very far, for many, many reasons. Of course, some schools do it already and others will likely pick it up, but I think there will be a lot of resistance to it becoming the norm. What happened to our kids being kids? They're going to walk in the door and fall asleep on the couch! Anyway...kind of crazy I think.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I don't think I ever posted to say that we figured out the whole colic/reflux/oversupply thing! Oversupply was an issue, but easily remedied. It wasn't colic or reflux. Becca has a sensitivity to milk protein (casein). Not the lactose, but the casein. The more people I tell, the more I discover that it is not an uncommon thing. And I am encouraged because everyone I've talked to says their kids outgrew it.

When Becca was somewhere between 6-8 weeks I cut dairy from my diet. Completely. I even read the labels...

I have done a few trial runs and she still has issues with it. But I am SO glad to have found the cause of the crying and discomfort! Once the dairy was out of my milk (and we sleep-trained again), it was like having a completely different baby!

Going without dairy hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be. The times it is MOST trying are when we go out to eat or when I want desserts.

Here's what I've learned about going without dairy - a reference for me and for anyone else who may benefit from it.

  • The vast majority of recipes that call for milk or butter can be substituted with non-dairy milk (soy, rice, etc. I use rice milk. Soy gives me gas...yes, I realize you didn't want to know that. But if you run into this problem with YOUR babies, be glad you know. Monitor your soy intake or you make find your family wants to put you in isolation.)
  • not all margarines are dairy free. Read the ingredients. Fleischman's ($3) has one that it and one that isn't. Can't remember which is which. Blue Bonnet is usually cheaper. But it has to be Blue Bonnet LIGHT, which only comes in the tubs (usually $1.99 but I found it on sale this week for $1.35). The other has dairy. Nucoa margarine is also dairy free a little bit cheaper ($2.49) than Fleischman's.
  • If a recipe's dairy ingredients really can't be left out, look for non-dairy substitutes. I have used Toffuti's "Better than Sour Cream" and "Better than Cream Cheese". They're not better, but if it's for a recipe, they're worth it! If it's something like baked potatoes, just go without the sour cream and you'll be surprised at all the other flavors that come alive! I eat mine with bacon (not bits), pineapple, tomatoes, green onions, and margarine. It's really yummy.
  • Try pizza without the cheese. Go crazy with the other toppings. It's not the same, but it'll do in a pinch. It tastes best if you use chewy hoagie rolls and put a little olive on them first. When I do it that way, I don't even mind the lack of cheese. (And if I really want pizza, the other way still takes care of the craving and satisfies me!)
  • It is REALLY worth it to make your own bread when you have a dairy free diet. SO much bread has dairy in it.
  • I love Purely Decadent's Peanut Butter Zig Zag. I will eat this for the rest of my life. And it wins in the calories game if you put it up against Ben & Jerry's and yet it tastes SO good. Ben & Jerry's is, what, 500 calories for a 1/2 cup serving? Peanut butter zig zag is 180 calories for a 1/2 cup serving (don't quote me though...it might be 200. But still a far cry from Ben & Jerry's).
  • Become friends with dark chocolate. But make sure it's really dairy free. Lindt dark chocolate is dairy free. Nestle & Hershey's dark chocolates are NOT. Ghirardelli's are NOT. Wal-mart's generic semi-sweet chocolate chip brand is dairy free (I think I'm remembering that right...but I'm not going back there to check. Someone else will have to let me know if I'm wrong!). Ghirardelli's semi-sweet chocolate chips are dairy free.
  • If something calls for a cream of "something" recipe, it's really easy to make cream of "whatever" on your own (just use a non-dairy milk and margarine in this recipe). Don't let it stop you from your favorite recipes. The taste will be slightly different, but it's still better than going without!
Recipes:
If it's marked with an "*" I have made it.

*Corn Casserole & Corn Muffin Mix that goes in the casserole because for SOME REASON, the storebought version has WHEY or MILK POWDER...as do so many other things....

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

*Dairy Free Rich Chocolate Cake - I made this for my birthday and used a vegan ganache. It was delicious. I liked it more with every slice.

*Chocolate Chip Cake (substituted milk & butter for rice milk & margarine. Most cakes that call for milk & margarine can be done this way.)

*Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies - These are TRULY dairy free. No egg. Just use a non-dairy milk to bind the dough. No more guilt over eating the dough too!! And a great recipe if you want dough to make and use with vanilla ice cream. (This link has an annoying video that tells you how to make the recipe. Just pause it and scroll down for the text of the recipe...)

Dairy Free Frostings


Dairy Free Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy cooking guys! And if you're dairy-free or have been, let me know what resources YOU have found helpful.

It's a doozy!

Can you see the foot? She was still holding the blanket when she rolled over.

And then Esther's shoe became interesting.
Esther rescued one shoe.
Becca turned and picked up the OTHER one!

Aaaannnddd.....BREATHE.

Today is done.

I found I was blessed to have my sense of humor today. I just laughed about everything thinking that this is just the "season" of my life right now.

A moment of tenderness

Woke up.
Made and ate pancakes. (Yay!)
Cut Esther's hair to fix it from Heidi's adventures last night. (Yikes! If you've read The Hunger Games, I think she would have fit in at the Capitol. One side was very short with a few stragglers, the other was untouched, and the bangs....oh the bangs....)

(the final product)

BEFORE scissor drama
(and ready to go swimming with her "travel-neck-pillow-inner-tube")

"Row, row, row your boat"

Another view of "corrected" haircut

Left to run errands as a family.
Autumn realizes she's not wearing shoes.
Heidi realizes she's not wearing shoes.
We are fortunately still in the "buckling up" stage.
Autumn goes inside to find two pairs of shoes.
Go to health store to buy ridiculously overpriced Wellness Formula. Commit to buying it online and always having a stash handy.
Go to IKEA. Send Autumn & Heidi to Smaland. Peruse IKEA. Pick-up A&H. Eat yummy lunch at IKEA.
Watch kids playing near tables.
Discover Esther has gone #2 while playing. (I know, EW!)
DIVIDE & CONQUER. Eric to register with big girls. Abby to car with babies.
One change later...
On our way to Walmart.

Note the footwear.

I have to interrupt my "travelogue" to say --

Dear Walmart,

After two months of only visiting you for 5 item trips, I had begun to think I should make a full grocery trip and would save more money because I could price-match. Did you know your closest Walmart to me is the most ghetto Wal-Mart in California? I went to a different one today. It wasn't ghetto. But it wasn't better. This is a problem you should address.

I will never visit you after an IKEA trip again. What a juxtaposition. As a concerned consumer, I highly recommend you send your employees to IKEA for training.

Also, why would you choose to carry milk, eggs, juice, and cheese and yet NOT take WIC?

And why would you choose to carry ANY grocery items for that matter and still not be a SUPER Wal-mart?

And how is it that being in your store sucks the joy right out of me? The shoppers and the cashiers alike are all so unhappy, so unaware of others around them. As Velma Dinkley would say, "Jinkies!"

I am sad to say that I no longer wish to visit you. At all. And unfortunately for you, the closest Super Wal-mart is still 30 minutes away apparently. Any desire I previously had to save money through you, ended today.

On the flipside, I am happy to realize that all future shopping trips will more pleasant without you.

So sorry. You lose.

Me.

After that depressing trip, and still in need of produce & meat, and milk, cheese, and eggs, we headed home.

And on the way
Esther needed to go potty
She started to do so
All the way through to her seat
I climbed in the back
Unbuckled her
Slipped a 6-month old's size 2 diaper onto her,
Buckled her
Slipped back to my seat

We arrived home
to Heidi's announcement
"I just threw up"

She had indeed.
On her booster seat.
And her pants.

We raced inside
racing the clock that kept taunting me,
You only have x amount of time till the broadcast.
You still have to get dinner started, feed Becca, find clothes to wear, and be out the door on time.
Now you also have to start the wash for two carseat covers, figure out if your child is sick, and HELLO ANTS!

I thought we already took care of you.
Apparently not.

Apparently spraying ant poison inside and out TWO times is not enough. But then again, there are less of you today. Hopefully you just have nowhere else to go now that we've sprayed so much.

Can I just say that ants make me BATTY (sorry about all of the animal expressions...completely uninentional. Well, completely intentional, but not to be funny...). Anyway, BATTY. I cannot focus on doing other things when I know there is an ant problem. They DEMAND my attention and I feel frantic until they are gone. At least these are the itty bitty black ants of California and not the big red ouchy fire ants of Florida.

So...I left Becca by Eric's side, set Autumn up doing laundry, Heidi grating cheese for pizza, and I went to -- tackling the ants. (Where was Esther? No clue.)


Left the ants to
save Becca
from being picked up by the head.

Ants cleaned up.
Laundry started.
Cheese grated.

Uh-oh! The ice cream is still on the table. (Remember the Wal-mart trip?)
Disaster averted. Only a little soft.

And as I try to open the bathroom door I discover it's locked.
After counting, it opens.
Magic.
Discover Heidi mixing SPICES in a play pot. Three JARS of spices.
Lovely.

Does this make you feel like you need to move your hair out of your face? Right now? I know. Don't worry. It's cut now.

Spices cleaned up.
Make pizza dough in the kitchen.

Heidi informs me that sticking her fingers down her throat makes her throw up.
I think to myself, "Why yes dear, sticking your fingers down your throat WOULD make you throw up."
But I tell her, "So that's why you threw up? (head nod) That's very bad for your body sweetie. Please don't do that. Okay? (second head nod)"
I am relieved she is not sick.

Go to broadcast with the babe in tow.


She eats rice cereal, bananas, and sweet potatoes now.

The babe weighs 15 pounds.
Early enough to stop at Michael's Arts & Craft.
Get stuck behind lady who wants to return something not in its "original condition".
Babe is feeling 5 pounds heavier every few minutes.
Pay for my items.
Leave store with 40 pound baby.

10 minutes late to broadcast.
Enjoy broadcast.
Finish the grocery shopping.
The grocery shopping that was supposed to be done at Wal-mart.
Finally.

Home again, home again, jiggity jog.

This was all Becca's idea. Not mine. Not Esther's. SO CUTE. Love it.

Put kids to bed. Put toys away.

Bath-time fun.

Wish I was done but instead I:
write my talk
prepare for singing time
realize Heidi has a talk!! wonder what the topic is...
lay out clothes
eat a bowl of cereal
Type world's longest blog-post. Wonder if I'll be in the Guinness Book.

Daddy's morning exercises.

Did you make it? Yep. Didn't think so. But at least I have recorded my day for posterity. Because it sure was a doozy!!

Goodnight.

Craftiness. Improvising a headband when you don't want to buy one.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Remember how George Banks can't buy just one bag of hot dog buns because it doesn't match up with the hot dogs he's buying?


Here's another conundrum.


Why is that felt pads for chairs and tables do not come in SQUARES?
Does everyone but me buy circle shaped legs on all their furniture?
Or does everyone but me realize they should cut them BEFORE they put them on the legs so they don't catch everything from hair to food and inbetween on the exposed sticky parts?

So...today found me cutting away. First with a box knife. Seemed nothing else would be sharp enough.



I wouldn't recommend it.


I am a little bit dangerous with knives and scissors.
In my defense, I don't mean to be!
Or, well, I think I'm being safe until I get cut...

Monday, September 21, 2009

I promise that life is good! Today had many good parts. But I am sick with a nasty cold and my kids are not.

At times like these, and because I have all girls, I find it relieving, amusing, and appropriate to walk around saying, "Kill, kill, kill!"

Or "Little girls, little girls, look at what I'm dripping with..."

And my girls smile and reply, "We love you Miss Hannigan!"

And then I smile and move on with my day. Thank you Carol. What would we do without you?

(I love Carol Burnett. Did anyone else see the newer version of Annie? It just didn't even hold a candle to the old one.
And I love watching the old Carol Burnett shows. Just classic.)


Think there are enough signs? This is a couple of streets over from our house. Makes me chuckle.


Mom (or Oma), this one's for you. Ideas?
All the rest of y'all, we're trying to decide the best way to hang curtains on these...


This is how Esther occupied herself while I paid for my shirts at Downeast in St. George.


Silliness. The best kind.


View from our dining room window.
The Thinker -- kid version?


Playing in the backyard (sorry about the blurriness...I'm trying to remember to grab the nice camera and keep my phone pocketed...it's a work in progress).


Fun bedroom furniture to make clean-up easier (we hope?)


New table. LOVING IT. Seats 6 without leaves. 10 with leaves.


Fun lamps & shelves for Autumn & Heidi.

Remember that kid who fell asleep on the dining room chairs?? Here's the proof:

I was trying to be all "artsy-fartsy" but I don't think it worked...the chair slats are a little too prominent aren't they? Does that mean it was just "fartsy" this time?


A better shot


9/13/09
This headband and bow didn't go quite the way I had hoped it would, but I think it still turned out pretty cute. Hard to go wrong when the subject is already so cute to begin with!


I promise I have four kids. Really. One is just a little too busy for pictures. Looks like they left a spot for her though -- right there in the back right corner.
I have to be really sneaky when I want pictures of her.
(It's very clear in this picture that Autumn spends a lot more time outside than Becca!)


Or take pictures as a family. I'm so glad Jean brought her camera when we got together. Of course, it's something else entirely to expect that we'd all be smiling at the same time. At least no one was screaming right?