Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Secrets to a stress-free morning

One of the best things that can happen is for Tim to be able to take Kate to school in the morning. It seems simple, but it's so so big. I don't have to scramble to time everything just right. Claire can go down for a nap whenever she feels like it. I don't have to drag a crabby baby across town, into daycare and back again, and drive her home as she falls asleep. And! And then I can use my free time for more fun or more productive things. Like having the cable guy come over to tell me that yes, we probably need a new cable box because "that's weird, it's not working". And then I can re-prioritize, knowing that I will lose my cable box in the morning, and sit down and watch last week's CSI: episode that I had recorded. I can drink my coffee in peace, and wait for the steam cleaner to heat up so I can mop the floors. All of this while the house is silent. Aaaah.

After that I can chase McLaren around the house with my camera, trying to capture cute poses and those adorable patent leather shoes.



Ms. Grumpy pants.

The best shot of the shoes so far. In any event, they are Circo from Target. Go buy some, quick before they're gone!


Monday, November 26, 2007

One of those days

Kate woke up crabby again this morning. She has this screech that is reminiscent of the most annoying sound in the world. It's not the way you want to start your day. Breakfast was messy and slow. Claire was late getting down for her morning nap, which did not set us up for success in getting to JC Penny's on time for Christmas pictures. My sister and Tempie were already there when we arrived 10 minutes late and missing a shoe. I had mistakenly dressed the girls at the house in their full outfits, including Claire's cute cute black patent leather shoes with bows. She kicked one off in the house and I thought I had picked it up when I went back inside for the last time, but once we arrived at the mall, it was nowhere to be found. Don't even ask me how peeved I was; she had never even worn the dern things. And did I mention how cute they were?

The pictures went surprisingly well, given that we had 3 children under 2 1/2 all climbing over one another, and fighting to try to eat the candy canes my sister had brought as props. The only way I could get Kate to smile was to say "whack" several times. It's her new favorite word. (Last week's favorite was "lickety split".)

As I collapsed the stroller to stuff it into the trunk, I noticed that Kate had stolen all of the Christmas picture brochures from Penny's. And the ribbon that had been tied around the plastic container.

On the way out of Penny's, I decided to stop at In 'N Out Burger, because 1) yum, and 2) it's a bit of a drive from my house and therefore I rarely get to eat there. By then it was pushing nap time for both girls, and Claire was letting me know about it. Kate's nose was running like a river and she was begging loudly for a hamburger and 'fetch fies' with ketchup and mustard. I sang songs to the girls as we waited in the drive-through line. We got to the first window and after I paid, the girl gave me a sheet of stickers for Kate. Awesome. No, really. I mean, McDonald's hands out crazy things in their Happy Meals. What is wrong with some nice football stickers?

Anyway, I sucked down my chocolate shake and handed fries to Kate all the way home. When I pulled Kate out of the car, I noticed she had stuck all of her stickers to her tights. Later in the afternoon, Claire would eat several of these stickers. I fed the girls quickly and put Kate down to bed. She talked and/or screamed for approximately an hour before it quieted down. With the house finally silent, I turned on the TV to watch last year's final episode of Battlestar Galactica again, and noticed that the cable is still not working. It's been spotty for 2 weeks now, but usually just in the morning. Today it is just plain not working. Which is why I was going to watch BSG: I thought the box might fry itself sometime soon, and when we get a new DVR, we will lose all of our shows.

On a positive note, I just searched the car one more time and found Claire's shoe. Yay! There's nothing cuter that a baby girl in black patent leather shoes.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Stuffed

Turkey leg!



Us, that is. We have had 3 Thanksgiving dinners in as many days, and we are full! It's wonderful. My favorites: turkey, stuffing, carrot souffle, and Mike's habanero mashed potatoes. Wooo-eeee, those are hot. And tasty. Also, damn if Shayne didn't find a Thanksgiving dessert I like: French silk pie. What? That's not a traditional dessert?

We had our family Thanksgiving dinner on Friday afternoon, with family in from San Diego and LA, and friends who just moved to town. Lots of people, lots of food, and lots of fun. Kate had a blast playing with Reagan and Chase, and has been asking for them to come over again for the past two days now.


Kate & Reagan enjoy a nice turkey dinner.


Right after everyone left, Claire got the flu. It hit me about 6 hours later. It wasn't any fun, but it ended quickly, and I was even coherent enough to watch my Huskies lose the Apple Cup. That didn't make me feel any better.

Now we're in the process of teaching Kate about Christmas, and in particular the Polar Express. We are taking a trip to the Grand Canyon in 10 days for our ride on the train, and hope that it will be a blast.

Many thanks to all who drove in from California for the weekend. And many, many thanks to Tim who was Mr. Mom for me yesterday while I slept all day long.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Apparently I used this title last year, as the auto-fill completed the phrase for me. But, Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we are spending some quality time together as a family. We'll be cooking, cleaning, and hopefully playing outside in the wonderful weather. It poured down rain (thunderstorms included) early this morning, so the sky is a gorgeous shade of blue and the air seems crisp and fresh, like it should during autumn. Tim and Kate just got back from the store to stock up on milk, ice cream, beer and wine, and now we're going to watch a little of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Tonight is our English Thanksgiving, and tomorrow is the big Thanksgiving feast, hosted by yours truly. We'll be having turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, carrot souffle, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, bread, and various desserts. I love it all, minus the dessert portion. I know, right? Has someone kidnapped me and stolen my blogger password and written blasphemous words? Naw, I just prefer all the stuff of Thanksgiving dinner. Also, I don't really like pumpkin pie. Weird for someone who loves all things pumpkin. But given the fact that Thanksgiving dinner generally consists of like 1500 calories, I'll pass on the pie. Just give me a cup of gravy to drink and I'll be good.

There is so much to be thankful for. My family, first and foremost, and the fact that we get to spend the holiday weekend together. We are all healthy this year, and we have some family in town to spend time with. Tim has a good job, which at times is stressful for both of us, but he loves what he does and is able to provide us with so much. We live in a wonderful place, and have great friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh, crap. Also, cake.

Today is my birthday. I'm 24. Ish. Tim went in early today so he could come home at a reasonable hour and help Kate make a birthday cake for me.



First we add the eggs.


Then we add the butter.

Next we mix it by hand a little bit.
This is so much fun!



Then we lick the spatula.


The cake turned out great; even McLaren got to try a bite. She loved it, of course. She is my daughter.

For my birthday, Tim got me some flight time with my old instructor. Awesome! Also: crap! I haven't flown in almost 2 years. I haven't studied in almost 2 and a half years. My instructor is pretty busy, but she has some time available on Friday. We're doing Thanksgiving on Friday. Long story, but we are. Now you see my dilemma. My medical isn't current, so I can't get my landings in with her and call it good; I've got to fly with her in the plane. But this is also a great opportunity to take family flying...so I'll be keeping you posted. Thank you for the awesome birthday present, Tim! And for keeping me on my toes.



My last flight was in a Great Lakes, February 2006.

Chasing Kate

video

One of our favorite games lately is Chasing Kate. Claire rides the airplane while Tim or I push her down the hall, racing after Kate who is usually pushing her doll stroller or her shopping cart. Both of them love this with a passion. The only thing I missed in this recording is Kate yelling "cuidado!" like she often does. I have no idea how she came up with it (Dora, of course), and it is adorable.

2pm update

We just got back from the mall where Claire and I did a little shopping while Kate was at daycare preschool. Claire and I also enjoyed lunch out at McDonald's where we shared 2 hamburgers, 1 small (medium) fry, 1 fruit and yogurt parfait and 1 small (medium) diet coke. Hey. Claire was hungry.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Iron supplements

Maybe we should rethink what we are feeding Claire. Yesterday evening she was playing on the kitchen floor while I made dinner. She seemed to be chewing on something, but she wouldn't let me in her mouth to find out what it was. We started dinner. She shoveled a few handfuls of food in her mouth and then she started gagging. Out came dinner and something small and black. A magnet. Yay! Another parent of the year award for me.

Kate has a few new sayings. Her current favorites, which are used All The Time:

  • how 'bout (how 'bout cookie? how 'bout Dora? how 'bout ice cream cone?)
  • might be in ... (timeout, the box, the kitchen, my bed, etc)
  • good idea (how 'bout cookie, Mommy? good idea - she usually answers her own questions. Is that a bad sign?)

This morning I babysat Tempie, my sister's 6-month-old. It is now 1pm and I just unloaded the dishwasher, I have not yet showered or gotten dressed, the living room is a Disaster, and all I want to do is take a nap. I didn't mind babysitting, it just gave me firsthand insight into how crazy a household with 3 little ones would be.

Now, for that nap.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Oh, dear.

According to babycenter, Kate is likely to be 5'11" at age 18. Almost 6 feet tall! Are you kidding me? Tim and I are both average height, but she is off the chart, and has been for a long time.

Also, I might need some advice. Claire is not going to sleep easily at night. It is particularly noticeable on night weeks, when I have to listen to her cry and/or whine for an hour, sometimes more, before she calms down and drifts off. At first I thought I was missing my window, but now I think maybe she's hungry? But she won't take a bottle, and there is only so much I can offer her. This fact also poses a problem when we want to go out for dinner, say, before 7:30pm. Which we will be doing tomorrow night. My babysitter is great, but I feel bad making him (and usually his mom who comes over to troubleshoot) deal with her angst for hours on end. I have tried many times to give her formula, out of a bottle and out of a sippy cup, and she makes a face worthy of pictures, which I never am able to snap in time to catch her full displeasure. Ideas?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How cute. Also: for the love of God!

video

Last night Tim called at dinner time to help ease Kate into her nighttime routine. She talked to him for probably 2-3 minutes. She didn't hang up! She didn't press any buttons! She listened, and had a conversation about the stars and the moon. This video caught the tail end of the conversation when he apparently had hung up, thinking she had put the phone down.

video

"No screaming, Claire! No!"

Then:

video

Oh dear. It's 3pm. The girls are still talking. It's a night week, so Tim won't be home to field crabby babies. Crap.

On a positive note: 3 Musketeers Mint Minis with Dark Chocolate. I think I accidentally ate the whole bag.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I made that


I haven't made bread in a really long time, mostly because it takes forever, it rarely turns out well, and I have 2 kids. Did I mention that it takes forever?

Niki sent me an article and recipe months ago about how to make a tasty loaf, the kind with a thick, crunchy crust and chewy middle. You know, the kind you get in France. Or the kind you pay half an arm for here at some pseudo-French bakery and try to eat every last bit of it in one day before it turns into a giant crouton. What, you don't do that? Come live in Tucson for awhile and you'll learn to.

Anyway, this recipe. It has four (4!) ingredients, which you probably already have on hand. You mix it for about 15 seconds and then you let it sit. Then your turn it over a couple of times, let it sit some more and then bake it. Seriously. No kneading. No! kneading!

So, rush to your kitchen and make sure you have these staples on hand:
3 c. flour (any kind will do, but I used all-purpose white)
1/4 t. yeast
1 1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 c. water (the recipe in the video calls for 1 1/2, the written recipe calls for 1 5/8. I have only tried the 1 1/2 c. thus far)

Now for the complicated part:
  • Wash your hands so you can mix everything with your fingers. It's more fun that way, and also anyone who walks into the room will think you're working harder than you are.
  • Put all the dry ingredients (all 3 of them) in a bowl and give them a run-through with your fingers.
  • Pour the water in.
  • Remove your rings unless you want to bake that kind of bread with a surprise ring inside.
  • Mix the dough for about 15 seconds, or until everything looks...mixed.
  • Cover it.
  • Let it rise for 12-18 hours (recommend 18, maybe longer - my bread was flatter than I had hoped for).
  • Sprinkle a cutting board with flour and pour the batter onto it.
  • Fold it over a couple of times.
  • Return the dough to the bowl and let it rise another 2 hours. Or do what the recipe says and let it rise on a towel (maybe that's why mine didn't rise as much as I thought it would?).
  • Heat your oven and a covered baking dish to 500*.
  • Pour the batter into the hot dish and bake, covered, for 30 minutes (I baked it for 25).
  • Take the lid off and bake for another 15-30 minutes, or until it looks so good you want to burn your fingers off in an attempt to eat a chunk straight out of the dish.
  • Patience! Let it cool before you slice into it and shove large pieces slathered in butter and raspberry jam into your mouth. Whuh?.

Update: I made my second loaf, this time with 2c white flour and 1c wheat, and with a heaping 1/4t of yeast. I think I like the rise I got this time better since I used more yeast. And the wheat aspect is good as well. Also, I baked it at 500* for 25 minutes, which was better than 515* for the same amount of time. My 'lid off' time is significanly lower than theirs: I baked this loaf for 10 minutes with the cover off, as opposed to 15-30 minutes that they recommended. I plan to add fresh rosemary to the next batch, per Niki's advice.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The weekend in pictures

Claire loves her airplane.
Kate's new favorite.


video

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Referrals

I get some weird hits from Google. My favorites:

  • *lots* of warthog stuff (warthog ice (?), warthog suit, cute warthog (again, ?), baby warthog)
  • no slugs fighter pilot
  • how to get your toddler to clean up her toys
  • secret mommy crush
  • something to do with belgian waffles
  • JC Penny's kids photos in Tucson
  • same for the Picture People
  • osan ab pool swim lessons 2007
  • Dora cake (query from someone in Turkey, no less!)
  • phan thiet plane landing
  • and, perhaps my favorite, is Giada deLaurentis pregnant?

I got so many hits for this last one several months ago, that I was certain she was indeed with child. I should have broke the news on my own blog. Just kidding, Giada; your secret was safe with me.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Going downhill, and it's only Wednesday

The title makes it sound worse than it is, really. It's just that Tim's on night week for the next 2 weeks, and you (well, some of you) know how that can go. Kate had mini-meltdown after mini-meltdown beginning this afternoon and sliding right into this evening, even though I took her (them) to the park and then to Target where she got to pick out her very own brand new Dora sunglasses. Hey, even I was bored. Target is good therapy for that.

But Target was unable to ward off the witching hour, and when we got home Kate was determined to go trick-or-treating. No matter that it is what, November 7th? I tried to explain that all the grown-ups had eaten their leftover fun-sized candy bars (and probably some of their childrens' ones, too), and that they would have none left to give to Kate, but she still wanted to go. Thanks to The Backyardigans for saving me once again.

Monday, November 05, 2007

It's that time of year again

Thanksgiving? Christmas? Sure, those are some of the favorites coming up, but I'm talking about something far more exciting, at least for some around town. It's time for Tucson's bi-annual bulky/junk pick-up. Families load up their unwanted miscellany and pile it in the alley behind their house, or next to their driveway, for the city dump to pick up. Apparently this is also a time for dumpster diving.

I was washing the dishes yesterday afternoon when I heard a commotion across the way in the alley. It wasn't Santa; it was an older gentleman, decently dressed, toeing through someone's decrepit treasure. What amused me was that he was obviously looking for something worthy of taking home, but he wasn't actually willing to touch any of it. In the end he wandered off, empty-handed.

Is this how Koreans looked at me and my friends when we pawed through others' forgotten (or possessed) riches piled next to the garbage cans in the Life Apartments parking lot?

P.S. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Trick or treat! Trick or treat! Trick or treat!

Last night the ladybug was shy and unsure about saying "trick or treat". This morning there was a glorious transformation, like caterpillar to butterfly: she ran around the house, madly screaming her new favorite phrase. She scrambled to find her ladybug costume, and donned it for breakfast, all the while begging for her treat bag that was on top of the TV armoire in the living room. I let her put her lunch in the treat bag when she went to school, and suddenly she was all set to go - I've never seen her so ready. It's a good thing there's a short transition between Halloween and Christmas, and that she'll get lots of practice with Santa Clauses so that by the time Christmas actually arrives, she should be accepting of jolly ol' Saint Nick.