my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

January 27, 2011

my baby has me trained

fishie is mobile now, very mobile. we have long since passed the stage where i could put her on a mat on the floor and she'd kick her feet and bat at her toys and she was totally content. no, we are now in the stage where she walks along furniture and takes a few steps on her own here and there, which enables her to get into everything. so, instead of getting to sit in my comfy chair and watch her crawl around the living room while i play on my computer, i have to get up every five minutes and stop her from pulling all the cables out from behind the tv. or opening the doors on the wall unit. or turning on my boys' wii and trying to shove things in the disk slot.

she is a baby, so i understand her need to explore her surroundings. i remember this stage with my boys. one of the problems is that, with my boys, we lived in a different house, and there was space for them that was their own. it was completely baby-proofed, if it was in their section of the house, it was free game for them to play with or destroy. now, though, there isn't a place just for fishie. we stay in the living room together, and i have to watch her all day and make sure she doesn't get into the things that she shouldn't, simply because her toys share the space with the tv and video games and some of her brothers' toys. not everything here is free game for her, and that's not really a concept an almost one year old understands.

the other problem with this arrangement is more my personal problem. when she was little and we would sit in the living room together, there wasn't much she was able to reach, so there wasn't much she was able to get into. everything dangerous was put up, out of her range. so i was able to sit and watch her and do my computer stuff, or watch tv, or read. i guess you could say i was ignoring her, but i like to think i was simply multitasking. it's what every good mother that wants to keep her sanity has to do.

well, little fish is very smart, and she figured out two things. the first is that, like all little kids, she doesn't like to be ignored. if i am sitting in the room with her, i need to be paying full attention to her 100% of the time. the other thing she figured out is that if she starts to get into things that she's not supposed, i will jump up to stop her. so clever fish realized that if she starts to get into things that she's not supposed to, then i will start paying attention to her, so whenever i'm doing something else and she wants me, she makes her way over to the tv stand or the game systems and wreaks havoc.

this is especially amusing to her when she is locked in the living room by a baby gate and i am in the kitchen trying to make supper. she pulls herself up on the tv stand and just waits. i'll glance over and tell her to get down. then when i go back to making food, she starts playing with the wires or something. eventually i have to go into the living room and physically move her away from what she's not supposed to get at. then of course the cycle starts over again. dinners that i used to be able to throw together in 30 minutes now take an hour or more to make.

i now look forward to nap time, because i know it'll give me a chance to run around the house and get things done. though then by the time she wakes up, i am exhausted, so when she's ready to play and starts getting into things again, i don't have a chance to sit down and rest, i'm back at it, trying to keep her and my electronics safe.

the worst is the knowledge that, if she's anything like her brothers, i have another six months to a year of this fun. it almost makes me want to punch the people who think being a stay at home mom is easy, because i just get to sit around and do whatever i want all day. yeah, right.

January 25, 2011

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas?

it must still be december, because lumpy is still making christmas crafts.

i know this because he wanted me to dig out cotton balls for him earlier, so he could stuff a christmas tree he made for me and turn it into a pillow of sorts. it was made out of red and orange construction paper, and had a vague pine tree shape, but i took him at his word and figured it would be the best construction paper christmas tree pillow ever. if only we actually had cotton balls that he could have stuffed it with, but unfortunately we don't. lucky for me he has decided that it will sit on the kitchen table until i get to the store and buy cotton balls for him and all his crafting needs.

then last week was my mother's birthday, and my boys made cards for her. i drew a heart for bumble to cut out, which he turned into a card by drawing a lovely cake on the inside. the flame on the stripy candle was very realistic, and i was much impressed and slightly disturbed that he remembered a good flame has blue at the center and then goes through reds and oranges and ends with yellow on the outside. though being that he was using markers on red construction paper, some of the detail might be lost on those that weren't there to witness the creation.

lumpy also made a card of sorts. he cut out two sock shapes from bright orange paper that i taped together for him to make a christmas stocking. then he took some scraps and wrote a happy birthday message on it and shoved it in the sock. thus was born the fully functional happy birthday christmas stocking. made for my mother who was born in the middle of january.

i don't really understand why he's doing these types of crafts now. maybe he just wants to prolong that happy christmas feeling. maybe he just really likes making christmas stocking because it gives him an excuse to use the scissors and the tape. maybe he just likes to make me frustrated, because when i wanted him to make christmas crafts to give to everybody along with their presents way back in december, he told me no and that it was a stupid idea. obviously the idea just had to sit with him for a bit to make it seem awesome.

i'm hoping if i pull out the white and red and pink paper, he and his brother will be inspired to make hearts to hang on the door for valentines day. i've given up on them making the snowflakes bumble promised me for january. though i think telling them to make snowflakes was a bad idea on my part. showing them how to fold the paper and make little cuts, and that when unfolded it looks like a pretty flake, that concept was lost on them. they got the folding paper part, and they got the cutting part, and that they ran with. so instead of pretty snowflakes, i get mountains of little scraps of construction paper, and a "snowflake" so cut apart i can't even hang it. though i wonder if the scraps of paper count as confetti for new years? anything to make this mess seasonal. and we can use the confetti to stuff the pink valentine's day stockings. it'll be fabulous.

January 24, 2011

fish with legs

last week, on fishie's eleven month birthday, i took her to the doctor for her nine month check up. yeah, i know, i was a bit behind. but i didn't have any questions or concerns, and anybody that's seen her knows she's growing and healthy. and she wasn't due for any shots that would have thrown off her immunization schedule, so her doctor was fine with missing the original appointment and rescheduling. and doing that again. and again.

anyway, there are the normal goings on of checking her height (very long) and head circumference (big and bobbly) and weight (huge!). then comes all the developmental questions, whether she is eating solid foods, and trying to use a pincher grasp to feed herself (of course she is, how do you think she got this big, by not eating?). if she looks toward sounds and says words, which i wasn't so sure about. when babies talk, it's a magical thing, and because half of the noises she makes can be interpreted as many different words, every one thinks that she is saying something different (person a: of course she called my name, didn't you hear her? me: i thought she just said "dog.") but she does try to say things, and she's very good a mimicking her brothers, they like to play a game where they make sounds and then she makes the same sounds. which is very cute to hear, and supposedly that is also means she's right on track with her talking. or "talking" as i like to say, and yes, i'm known to use air quotes.

one of the last things her doctor ask was if she is crawling. check, she's been crawling for weeks now. and pulling herself up? that's old hat for her. and standing? just started standing last week. but i was still worried, because she hasn't started walking yet. the look of "you must be crazy" i got from the doctor made me feel quite silly. and yet i wasn't very reassured about the fact that she wasn't walking.

now, if you haven't had kids, you wouldn't know, but anyone that has would realize that most babies don't walk at 11 months. most babies don't really walk at one year. well, a few steps here and there are normal, but most babies are content to continue crawling. i did not know that's what most babies did, because my previous babies had been walking all by themselves all over the place on their first birthdays. to me, that was the norm, walking and running to your first birthday cake. how was i to know that my baby boys had been advance in the movement department?

after talking with my mom, who i look to for guidance in these matter (i mean, i turned out just swell, so she must know what she's doing), i came to realize that my boys had to learn to walk early if they wanted to get anywhere, because they never really learned to crawl. no, when they were babies, they both did what we affectionately referred to as the commando crawl. they pulled themselves along on their elbows, with their forearms, and they never got their little butts in the air. so when they could take their first steps, it didn't take them long to realize that this was way faster than any crawling that they could do. so they took off, both of them walking between ten and eleven months. so why wasn't my poor fishie walking? what was wrong with my beautiful baby girl? was this one of the differences between boys and girls that people kept telling me about?

no, it was just because my fishie can crawl. if there were crawling baby races going on right now (and i know they exists), i would totally enter her. she'd beat the diapers off the competition! i'd just have to explain that yes, she really is less than one year, just because she's twice the size of a normal baby doesn't mean she's twice the age. but she can't walk yet, because she doesn't have to. she can get to where she needs to go on her hands and knees. which is fine. and normal. so i really didn't have anything to worry about.

not that i'm worried anymore anyway. because this weekend she started taking steps. she's very good at pulling herself up, and if you put her in the middle of a room and let go, half the time she just stands there looking around. now she also tries to get her feet going, using only the power of her mind. so now i feel better. i know all babies are different, they all develop at different ways and at different rates. but it's nice to know that my babies have stayed the same. what's normal for them might not be normal for all, but with fishie following the milestones set forth by bumble and lumpy, i have a better idea of what to expect from her when.

it's really a comfort that babies are babies, no matter the gender. at least in my family.

January 23, 2011

chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes

there is a contest i found online that i wanted to enter. you had to come up with an original valentine themed dessert, and there was a chance to win $250. they were looking for something sugary and sweet, and it sounded right up my alley, so i decided to give it a try.

all week i have been thinking about exactly what i wanted to make, and how exactly to make it. for all the cooking and baking that i do, very rarely do i make anything that is only my own. i take and try different recipes, tweak them a little, combine two recipes together, maybe add or drop an ingredient, but it's nothing i'd call coming up with an original recipe of my own. i know i have the ability, but honestly, i am a lazy cook, and never felt the need to come up with my own recipe when there are hundreds of thousands of recipes out there, all i need to do is a quick search and i could find one that would suit my needs.

now though, there is a contest, with the chance at a fabulous cash prize, and i'll admit that, in this case, my greed overcame my laziness. so i asked friends what they thought of when they heard "valentine's day dessert," and the overwhelming response was chocolate and strawberries and a combination of the two. that meant i had to come up with a dessert that would be easy and delicious.

after much thought and careful consideration for all the different parts, this is what i came up with: a chocolate covered strawberry cupcake. it's a yummy chocolate cupcake, glazed with strawberry jelly then covered in chocolate ganache, and the super awesome surprise is that it's filled with strawberry frosting. sounds good, right? well, being that i can't post my wonderful creation and enter that contest, i figured i would share the recipe with all my friends. so here it is:

1 box dark chocolate cake mix
1 1/4 cup cold coffee
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1/4 cup strawberry jelly
1 tablespoon water
1 container strawberry frosting
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (not chips)
fresh strawberries (for garnish)
sweetened whipped cream (for garnish)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour cupcake pans.
2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, substituting coffee for water, and using the oil and eggs. Fill cupcake pans and bake.
3. Cool cakes in pans about 10 minutes, then turn out on cooling rack, upside-down, and cool completely.
4. Mix jelly and water in small bowl and microwave until warm. Stir until smooth. Using pastry brush, brush glaze all over cooled cakes, and let dry 30 minutes, still upside down.
5. Fill piping bag fitted with large star tip with prepared strawberry frosting. Using piping bag, fill cupcakes with 1-3 tablespoons of frosting, pushing the tip into the flat bottoms of the cakes, and slowly pulling out while squeezing the bag.
6. Roughly chop chocolate and put in heat proof bowl. Heat cream in pan on medium heat until simmering, being careful not to let boil. Pour heated cream over chocolate and let stand 3-5 minutes until chocolate is soft. Whisk smooth.
7. Using off-set spatula or knife, spread warm chocolate mixture over the flat bottom of the cakes and down the sides, until covered. Smooth coating, let dry 30 minutes.
8. When serving, put individual cake on plate, surround with whipped cream, top with strawberry.
9. Enjoy!

update: i feel very silly now. my wonderful hubby figured out what i was doing wrong, fixed everything for me, and now my recipe is submitted. you can vote once a day, so why not go and check it out.

January 19, 2011

my profession is housewife... so i am married to my house

i think i need to redefine my job description to my hubby. we need to go over a few things and figure out how to deal with some discrepancies. like the things he thinks i need to do that i really don't think i need to do.

let's get a few little details out of the way first. i love my hubby for so many different reasons, least of which is the fact that he has put up with me and my craziness for longer than anybody else. i couldn't drive him away if i tried, and trust me, i tried. so for that, he's totally awesome. but like any relationship, this marriage takes work. and as we and our family have grown and continue to grow, our relationship to each other also grows. things are not like they used to be pre-kids. i get that, i really do, and i think for the most part he gets that too.

the other thing worth mentioning is that this is mostly me ranting. the added bonus is that he has told me that he never plans on reading this blog, so i feel free to say what i want. not that i'd say something here that i wouldn't say to his face, because that would just be silly. things have a way of making their rounds online, and eventually things would get back to him. so yeah, even though he probably wouldn't read it, i know that he might, so don't go thinking that i'm gabbing behind his back. i'm a good girl and would never do something like that.

now to the heart of the issue, which is that i have to make him dinner tonight. that might not sound like a big deal, because i usually have to make dinner every night. it is part of what i consider my job, my responsibilities. i am in charge of making sure my family is cleaned and well cared for, which means i am in charge of making sure there is a somewhat healthy meal on the table for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. i usually don't mind cooking, though there are nights that i cheat and just pull something from the freezer. then other nights we go out or visit family, and those nights i'm usually off the hook. like tonight, i'm taking the kids over to my dad's for dinner.

now, my dad is usually busy on the weekends, but wednesdays work out to be a good night for him. and the boys like spending time with him. and the baby is happy for a whole new house with all new things to get into. unfortunately, my hubby works nights, so on a normal day, we sit down to eat right after he wakes up, and then he leaves. dinner for us is breakfast for him. this also means that during the week he isn't able to accompany the kids and i to my dad's. but he still needs to eat, which somehow falls into my realm of responsibilities.

so even on the nights that i'm not going to be home, i am expected to cook for him, because it is part of my job to make sure all of my family eats their meals. he can and does cook for himself if he needs to. and technically he doesn't tell me i have to make food for him, but rather he'd just really like it if i did. and because he does put up with so much, i usually cave in and make him something. like tonight, whenever he finally crawls out of bed, there will be meatloaf and mashed potatoes waiting for him.

i guess my problem is that i don't think it's fair sometimes. like, if this is my job, don't i ever get a break, or even a vacation? even if the kids are away, i still have to take care of him. his point is that he doesn't force me to do these things, but he knows i've always had trouble saying "no" to him, so he should be nice and not ask in the first place. i knew growing up i'd always make a lousy strong and independent woman, but i'd make a great housewife because i'm thoroughly domesticated.

the small consolation is that i never have to wash dishes at the end of the day. that's one thing, at least, that is his responsibility.

January 18, 2011

let's have a lemon party!

no, not that kind of lemon party, you sicko. and if you don't know what i'm talking about, thank your lucky stars. if you decided to google it, just remember this very important rule of the internet: that which is seen cannot be unseen.

anyway, no, today i want to talk about lemons. those beautiful tart sunny-yellow fruits that i find so happy and delicious. every time i walk past them in the supermarket, i'm always tempted to load up my cart with them. i have a pretty blue bowl i want to fill with lemons and sit on my counter. i know it would make my kitchen smell awesome. i also know that i don't have enough counter space to waste on pretty decorative touches, so i'll have to be content with the images in my head. but that blue bowl would look so nice on my black granite counter tops, next to my white cupboards, in front of my blue and white and yellow tile back splash. no, i haven't thought much about my dream kitchen (that only exists in my head), why do you ask?

so, back to the point of this post, which is lemons and how wonderful and versatile they are. ever heard of lemon chicken? it's great, and after years of trial and error, i feel i have perfected my recipe. lemon chicken always sounded so fancy and grownup to me, whenever i wanted to impress a man with my cooking, i always pulled out the lemon chicken. just please don't ask how many guys i've made lemon chicken for, the answer is too many. now i only have to worry about impressing three when i make it: hubby, bumble, and lumpy. and if my picky little boys like it, you know it has to be good.

my lemon chicken starts with pounding boneless skinless chicken breast flat, dredging them in flour mixed with salt, pepper, thyme or oregano, and lemon zest. fry in olive until nice and brown, then put them on a plate to get the sauce ready. in the chicken pan, throw some lemon juice and a little white wine if you've got some to deglaze, then add some chicken broth and cook down until thickened. add some more thyme or oregano, because those spices love lemon, and some salt and pepper if the sauce needs it. serve the whole mess over pasta with a side of broccoli and you too can be a hero in the kitchen.

my other favorite trick with lemons is making lemon curd. that stuff is just lemon juice, sugar, egg yolks, and flour cooked until thick like pudding. throw it in a pie crust and top with meringue and you've got lemon meringue pie. spread over pound cake or angel food cake and top with berries and you've got an awesome and light summer dessert. smear some on scones with some clotted cream and you've got yourself the makings of high tea. or, you could just eat it straight out of the bowl late at night and hope you don't get caught, not that i would know. with lemon curd, the world is your oyster. or lemon, whatever.

another little bit of lemon magic is to take the peels off of ten or twelve lemons. throw them in a large glass jar and cover with a whole bottle of vodka (my personal favorite adult beverage, and lemon's distilled best friend). anyway, just let the peels soak in the vodka for a week or so, shaking the jar every once in a while. then strain out the peels and particulates, add some simple syrup, and throw it in the freezer. this is homemade limoncello, and it's definitely best served icy cold.

it it weird that one of my favorite fruits is the lemon? sure it's kind of bitter, and it's often over looked, but with a few basic kitchen tricks, it can turn yummy and sweet. just like me. kind of.

January 16, 2011

he'll be the death of me

when lumpy was four and a half, he was spinning in the living room. i have no idea why. but as anyone who spins in circles would, he got dizzy. and then he fell over. and then his head started gushing blood and he needed three stitches just above his eye. he now has a lovely scar with which to woo the ladies.

when lumpy was five, he decided to play a "star wars" game in his bedroom with his brother. this game involved bumble sitting on the top bunk and holding a blanket while lumpy used it to climb up the outside of the bed. i was sitting in the living room watching a movie at the time. all of a sudden there was a thump and screaming. sadly, bumps and thumps and screaming and yelling are normal parts of playing with my boys, and i didn't think much of it. then the screaming sounded just a little bit different, and i could hear it getting louder as lump came down the hall towards me. he held his arm out and told me it hurt. normally i would have told him to just shake it off, but i could see the bone under the skin sticking out at a very strange angle. at the hospital, after x-ray, it showed that he broke one of the bones in his forearm so completely that it dislocated from his elbow while cracking the other one. he was in a full arm cast for six weeks and a short cast for three more weeks after that. fishie was only four weeks at the time, so you can imagine my stress level at the time.

two years ago, my hubby decided to get the boys quads. like little atv's, boy sized, for them to go running around on, because my father-in-law and a bunch of our friends all have them, and they all used to let the boys ride on the back of their quads. and then my nieces, who are older than our boys, got quads. so my hubby got our boys quads also. i made sure that he also got them helmets and chest pads and shin guards and gloves and arm protectors and neck rolls, basically a full suit so that if and when the boys fell off they would be somewhat protected. still, lumpy would go and drive and forget where the break was and drive into things. or fall off when it was going super fast. or jump over dirt mounds and try to do tricks. eventually i had to stop going out with everybody to watch them ride, because with every little jump and bump, my heart would stop. i knew there were responsible adults who were watching and in charge of everything. still, they are my boys, and lumpy will always be my littlest baby boy.

this past summer, we gave lumpy a 20 inch bike to ride. now, he's a big kid, much taller than average, but still, this bike was a little bit big for him. still, he had been riding his brother's bike the summer before, and that had been a 20 inch bike, so i knew he should be able to do it. he was afraid that he'd fall, and for a while he didn't even want to try, so as a bribe, i told him if he could ride a big boy like like that, i would see about getting him a dirk bike. not just a mountain bike, but the kind with a motor, the kind that can drive around over jumps and do tricks with. i don't know why i said it at the time, maybe part of me thought that he'd never really be able to ride that big bike. or maybe i thought he'd forget. and he had for awhile. then somebody, and i won't name names, reminded him at the end of the summer the promise i had made. now i'm just hoping that this summer everybody forgets about it.

now, this is not to say that there haven't been moments where bumble has stopped my heart. it's just that lumpy is more adventurous. he is a little dare devil. and as he gets older, i know it will just get worse. i want him to have his freedom to explore the world, to do his own thing and make something of life. still, there are times where i just wish he'd be more interested in reading history books instead trying to get his name in them.

January 14, 2011

i have the body of a five year old

a few days ago i mentioned how i must have the mind of a five year old, because i was so captivated and distracted by the falling snow. it is now official that i have the body of a five year old too, because i have an ear infection.

yes, something that i thought only my kids could get, something that i haven't had in years (in decades really). i woke up in the middle of the night last night with such a pain in my ear. it is still sore, and it hurts. the whole side of my face aches, my jaw is throbbing, and i can't hear out of my left ear today.

i've been looking up online what grown ups are supposed to do when faced with a problem like this, and also how can something like this happen to me. i certainly wasn't sticking things in my ear that i shouldn't have, and i don't think i got any water stuck in there, which are the reasons my kids usually get ear infections. no, it's because i probably have a sinus infection, and it has migrated into my ears.

i've been dealing with a very stuffy nose all week, and a bit of coughing because of all the mucus running down the back of my throat (fun mental images ftw). well, the site that i went to, my favorite source for answers to any of my health questions and a truly great resource of information and facts, said that when adults have a runny nose or a lot of mucus with pressure and pain, it's basically a sinus infection. and if it gets bad enough then it can also cause an ear infection. the fun bit of trivia is that even though it is an infection, you don't need to go running off to the doctors for antibiotics, unless it's really severe, like you also have a high fever or you can't handle the pain with over the counter meds or the swell and pressure gets much much worse. it's only kids that really need antibiotics for ear infections, and it actually only lessens the symptoms and not cures the infection for them. now for me, all of this stuffy fun will clear up all on its own in about a week. the site did say not to take decongestants for more than 3 or 4 days because after that it can actually make things worse.

now, at home treatment is where things get tricky. for the sinus pain and stuffiness i'm supposed to use a warm compress or stand over my humidifier. to help with the ear pain i can use a cold compress. so it just means that i have to heat the front of my face and cool down the side. not sure how i'll manage that, but i'm trying to think of something.

January 13, 2011


i have a lot of stuff swirling around my head at the moment. most of it i'm not really sure how to deal with or how to respond to. i am, at my core, a nice person, or at least i like to think so. i avoid confrontation as much as possible, sometimes to the point where i miss my opportunity to speak when i really should have. i try to put others before myself, thinking of their feelings and their needs before worrying about what i might need or if i'm going to be ok through all of this. now i'm not always like this for all situations, and i am known to express my point strongly if it's something that i really believe in or something that is really important to me. but there are other times when i will keep quiet and not say anything if i know disagreeing will lead to a stronger conflict that i know can be avoided if i just don't get involved.

i have been called weak and a mouse and a pushover. i look at the world like this: there are certain issues that i feel very strongly about. and there are certain things that i will stand for and fight to protect with my last dying breath. everything else i just let go. it's not like i don't get upset about the rest of it when people bash my values or beliefs, but i know that i can't fight for everything, so i chose my battles. if i disagree with someone that i know will debate the issue fairly, then i'll speak up. but if it's somebody that i'm afraid will get more upset and drag other people into it and make the conflict way bigger than it has to be, then i'll keep my mouth shut.

maybe i take it to extremes, trying to please everybody, make everybody happy, agree with them by not speaking out to show i really disagree with them. maybe i need to learn to speak up for myself and my beliefs more often. but some things, while they are important to me, aren't worth fighting for. i guess i'm just a pacifist at heart.

January 12, 2011

i have the mind of a five year old

it must be true, because there are so many things that i wanted to say today. i even had a few things that i wanted to write yesterday, that i tried to write, but nothing came out quite the way i wanted it to. the reason should be obvious to any of the ten and under set, it's because it snowed last night.

even now, i'm having trouble concentrating. all the snow outside is so pretty. and last night watching it fall was so distracting, the whole world got so quiet. the only thing out was the soft fluttering of flakes slowly drifting down, covering everything and a perfect and shimmering blanket of white. even now my yard looks so pristine. i know the roads will be a slushy mess, but i'm sure i can get back and forth to the bus stop without too much issue.

also, i am convinced that my scattered brain is because it snow last night and has nothing to do with the fact that i might be getting sick. just because we had a birthday party on sunday and over half the people that were there got very very sick doesn't mean that i'm going to get sick. i'm perfectly fine and healthy. i just happened to stock up on saltines and ginger ale because they're delicious.

seriously, i just need to find my snow boots and a sled and i'll be fine. somebody get the hot chocolate ready, extra marshmallows please.

January 9, 2011

a letter to a fish

my dearest fishie,

you are cute and adorable. you are also huge. you need to stop growing, NOW! seriously, you are too big. you are only 11 months old, and yet you wear 18 month clothes. how am i supposed to find you a "my first birthday" shirt in the 18-24 month range? i'm not even going to entertain hope about finding something for your very first valentine's day.

also, you need to stop being so mobile. there is no reason for you to have learned how to climb stairs. really, if you are hanging out in the basement at the grammys' with your dad watching football, i don't want to have to worry about you breaking free and climbing up the stairs to find me. i get children randomly wandering places they shouldn't be enough with your brothers. oh how i miss the days where i could put you on the floor and you'd still be exactly where i put you in five minutes.

you are beautiful, my little fish, and your hair is getting long and curly. and staying a lovely shade of blond. and you still have your deep blue eyes like mine. i have a feeling i'm going to be in a world of trouble when you get older and discover boys. or when they discover you.

one thing you need to understand though, is that there are other children in this house besides you. and sometimes i need to help them and deal with their issues. so standing beside the gate that keeps you in the living room crying and yelling and shouting "mom" and "hey" and "hey mom," really does not help the situation to resolve faster. it's just incredibly annoying. but i still love you.

yes, for all this and more, i still love you, my wiggly noisy silly not-so-little fishie. because you are mine, and i think you're totally ok with that fact.

much love,
your mommy

January 7, 2011

you want what now?

monday was my dear hubby's birthday, as much as he didn't want to admit it, as much as he hates the fact that he's getting older. even though now he feels he can refer to himself as an "old man" all the time, thinking that'll get him out of doing chores around the house.

anyway, as this past week has been absolutely insane and filled with alexander days (this is what i'm talking about), we haven't been able to have a proper birthday dinner for him. all week i've been asking him what he wants me to make for him. usually he wants some sort of large cut of beef or something with shrimp, something special that we don't have too often. not this year though. this year he decided he wanted me to make him a beef wellington.

it's my own fault, really. i'm the one that watches all the cooking shows, and he sometimes sits down and watches with me. i know these shows always put bad ideas in my head, filling me with desires for random dinners and parties and things to try and make, i just never thought they'd also infect my hubby with bad ideas too. not that beef wellington is a bad idea. honestly it's something that i've always wanted to try and make. and it seems surprisingly easy to attempt.

i believe beef wellington falls into the seemingly hard but actually simple and just time consuming category of dishes. really, what's stopped me from trying to make it before has always been the price. wellington is simply a beef fillet covered in duxelles and wrapped in puff pastry. a whole fillet is the expensive part. duxelles is just finely chopped mushrooms, with shallots or onions sometimes thrown in, cooked in butter or olive oil or just a dry pan, so it's actually something i could probably make for about $4. and really, puff pastry isn't too crazy expensive, and i usually have a coupon for it too.

so yeah, he wants beef wellington, of all the random things for me to try to make. and i still might make it for him. though now he keeps changing his mind, sometimes he says he wants a steak and sometimes shrimp scampi. i'm thinking that whatever i make will have to be a surprise, and he'll just have to like it.

January 6, 2011

kitchen happiness

whenever anything goes wrong in my life, i always end up taking solace in my kitchen. usually it involves baking something and then drowning my worries and angst in a sugary buzz. today though, i didn't feel like baking. shocking, i know, but i think it's because i finally got through all of the christmas cookies and candy i made, and i'm just a little sugared out. instead, i went through my cupboards and spice rack, just looking at all the little boxes and jars and cans. baking is something that calms me because it is something that i can control, something that is a dependable routine, something with a welcome and predictable outcome, baking is something that won't ever let me down. my well stocked pantry induces the same sort of feelings, i know if i ever need to make something warm and comforting or bake something sweet, i am prepared. if all else fails in this world, i know my kitchen has my back.

and so, because i am trying to avoid dwelling on less savory topics, i've decided that today i'm going to focus on the things on my kitchen shelves that i find myself reaching to more often than anything else when i really need something comforting.

i shall start with cinnamon, something that's been a favorite of mine for years. i love the smokey sweet flavor that it adds to both savory and sweet dishes. using it with chocolate is a favorite of mine. i also like to add it to certain chicken dishes and chili, because it provides a unique backdrop to the more predominate flavors. i believe that cinnamon is something that plays well with lots of other spices, it works in the background and enhances their flavor. of course, adding it to sweet dishes is only natural. apples, pears, pumpkins, cinnamon brings out the best in anything that's thought of as fall and winter fair.

another spice i really like is cumin. i fell in love with it a few years ago, and now i add it to almost any chicken dish i make. the smokiness is perfect with chicken, whether it's fried, roasted, or baked. i know it's usually used in southern mediterranean cooking, but i use cumin liberally in many many dishes.

one of my new favorite herbs is thyme. i was turned onto thyme last year. the reason i love thyme so much is because i think it goes so well with onions, and i have to admit that onions are one of my absolute favorite foods. of course, i've also started using thyme when i'm cooking with other vegetables, like potatoes or tomatoes. i'm already thinking about new and wonderful things i want to try to do with this herb.

i guess i should mention the spice i use more than anything else: garlic. i've always been a garlic fan, though my love of it has waned in recent years. still, because my family loves the flavor, i find myself putting it in everything. and yes, i know it's not technically a spice, but i keep dried garlic powder on my spice rack, so i think it counts.

the other thing that brings me comfort in the kitchen isn't really an herb or spice, it's honey. it's sticky and sweet with a flavor all it's own, so it's much deeper than plain white sugar. and even more than sugar, it melts in your mouth and coats your tongue with pure bliss. just warmed on it's own it works as a simple dessert sauce that pairs well with fruits and butter cakes. it can also be combined with other, more complex flavors, like wine, cloves, or cinnamon. small amounts in savory dishes with help glaze and brown meats without adding a cloying sweetness. it can be whipped with butter or even by itself to spread on all manner of baked goods, even plain toast. it's simple and subtle, a taste that is ages old and perfected by nature. one of my favorite gifts this christmas was a jar of honey with a piece of comb inside. eating the comb reminds me of eating those old wax bottle candies i used to get as a kid, only infinitely better.

i suppose i could go on and on about the simple staples i always have on hand in my kitchen that never fail to bring a smile to my face. i mean, i didn't even mention molasses or sea salt or ginger or old bay. but i'm sure there will be other days that i'll need those comforts, so i'll leave talking about those until then.

January 5, 2011

real resolutions

i guess you can think of this as a more serious addendum to yesterday's post. i realized last night there were a few things that i didn't mention, a few things that i that i thought it was important to talk about. and, if i post them here for all to see, i know i'll be more apt to try and stick by these two resolutions of mine.

this year i want to try harder to raise my kids better. there are times where i think they really deserve better than what i can give them, better than me, but we're all kind of stuck together and we need to do the best we can. there are times that i get tired and frustrated, and there are times where i'm afraid that i take things out on them. i need to try less yelling and more talking. i need to figure out a way to explain situations to them so that they'll actually understand and respond, not just get upset and shut down. yes, i do understand that they're just kids. and yes, i do know that they are still figuring out cause and effect, just learning about consequences, and that they only have a basic grasp of empathy. but these are the things that i need to teach them, to show them, and i know that leading by example is the only way to do it.

though this year i also want to try and give myself a break. not like take a vacation, though that would be great too, but more let myself be who i am and understand that it is ok. i try and be understanding to all, i will make excuses for people just because i want to believe that there is good in everybody. there are times that i have cut my own self down and gone without just so that others can get what they want. i need to stop doing that. i need to understand that my wants and needs are just as important as everybody else's, and i need to fight harder for the things that i want. because it is ok to want, and i shouldn't feel guilty when i actually get the things i want.

just like i shouldn't feel guilty when i think and feel the things that i do. this is something that'll probably sound crazy to everybody else, but it's a part of me that i've fought against for a very long time, and i just need to realize and accept that it is who i am. there are times where i don't like what people do, and there are a certain few people that i just don't like. but nobody can get along well with everyone, and that's ok. very rarely do i speak up or act on these feelings, but there are times i am guilt-ridden for even thinking this way. i pretend and play nice and on the inside i think about how much i want to punch them in the face for their stupidity. or i want to yell and scream at them. or i don't want to help them out of whatever jam they got themselves into by acting like idiots. i'm generally a nice person (or at least i like to think that i am), but i don't have to be nice all the time. sometimes it's ok to call people out on their stupidity, or how else will they realize it, right?

i guess my resolution for this year is to be nicer to myself. i try to be a kind person to everyone, but i fail sometimes. i need to realize that is ok. i am far from perfect, but i do try my hardest to make everyone happy. i have to start making myself happy too.

January 4, 2011

goodbye 2010, hello 2011

yes, i know i'm a little late on this kind of post. but we were visiting the in-laws during new years weekend, and they don't have internet. yeah, we got back on sunday, but yesterday was a crazy day of doing laundry and getting the house back to normal after the holidays, among other things. so here i am, a few days late, but still, i figure it's only natural that i do one of these silly year ending wrap up type posts. i mean, everybody else did, why not me?

so, there was a lot that happened in 2010. biggest, most important, most life changing was of course the arrival of my little fishie in february. after years of only having two kids, and not actually really wanting more, she came as a huge surprise. and the fact that she is a girl was also pretty major. i have much experience with boys, in fact i've been outnumbered in my own house for a long time, so when i found out fishie was a she and not a he, i wasn't sure how i was going to manage it. so far, i think i've done ok, though babies are babies, no matter the gender. all they want is a warm bottle and a dry diaper, it's when they get older that the differences really show.

actually there were a lot of changes to my family in 2010. a few other new babies came, and unfortunately there were a few dear loved ones that left us. it's hard to deal with death, but harder still when you have to try and explain to your kids why things like that happen. sadly enough, my kids have been to more funerals in their few years than some adults i know. lumpy definitely has an interesting perspective on the subject, and it always catches people off guard when he talks about it.

and speaking of my dear lumpy, 2010 was a better year for him: no long hospital visits. i think all of his medication finally has things under control. now is just a matter of being vigilant to any changes to try and prevent him from getting so sick again. but at least now i know what to do if things start going bad.

bumble i think also had a better year. the start of first grade in august was a little rocky, but things are starting to smooth out. he's getting the help he needs, mostly because his teachers are finally realizing that there are certain areas where he does need help. everyday is better and better for him, and that makes me very happy.

i truly believe that 2011 will be a good year for all my kids. fishie will just be turning one, but she's almost started walking already. she's a very mobile fish. she's easy to keep happy too, but like all my kids that's not too hard; just give them an empty box and they can amuse themselves.

my wish for lumpy is to remain healthy this year. and maybe conquer some of his social issues. his random talking is very annoying, but it's hard to get him to understand that he doesn't need to try and explain every little thing to people. and also he needs to understand that just because he starts talking doesn't mean people are listening to him. i suppose he just needs to figure out what is really important and focus on sharing that information, then people might be more apt to listen to him.

i know bumble has some struggles a head of him, but i just hope he understands that it's ok to ask for help if he needs it. just likes it's ok to get upset and frustrated and to need to take a moment to collect yourself, as long as you don't give up.

of course i have the general and generic 2011 wishes for health and happiness to all i know. i hope that everything going on with my father-in-law turns out to be small potatoes. i hope that all my nieces and nephews stay safe and grow well. i hope my friends (especially a certain few) can find what it takes to make them truly happy and that they can achieve it. i hope my sisters have good luck and little stress with school. and i hope all my parents on all sides understand how lucky they are to have the wonderful grandchildren that i've given them. and that they all stay healthy throughout the year of course.

so i think that's it. i know i know, it got deliciously cheesy at the end, but i just couldn't help myself. i'm thinking of changing things up in the new year, but i have a feeling laziness might prevail. still, my one resolution is to try and keep this little blog going for as long as i can. so far so good.