Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Awake?"

Sometime in the wee hours today, this face appeared beside me in bed:




































Ok, so there was a bit more sleep in the eyes and bedhead in the hair, but there he was, snuggled next to me so warm and sweet smelling. The truth is, I think that kid smells sweet even when he's 3 days out from his last real bath. He's not a big fan of co-sleeping, unlike his big sister who would sleep tucked into the 'mama nest' (as my husband calls it) every night and nap if she had things her way. And usually, she does, but sometimes I need a night of kick-free sleep and a pillow all to myself. Plus, she and her daddy both snore and there are definitely nights when just the tenor is enough to handle, without the harmony created by her snoring next to me as well. He's more of a solo sleeper, preferring a few kisses and cuddles and then a bed all to himself, and he's been that way since he was about 4 months old. After he spent his early months napping and sleeping in my arms or beside me all the time, it was a tough transition for me to put him in his own space. But he is who he is, and sleeping alone is what he prefers.

Except that, recently? He's been waking early like this and wanting to snuggle. So I oblige every time, lifting his heavy sleepy body into my arms and burrowing back under a pile of blankets with him next to me. He has to be touching me when he sleeps this way, so his hand will grasp mine or he will life his face off the pillow and rest it on mine.

He's getting so big. It's unreal. He was laying in the crook of my arm, a little line of tummy exposed by his shirt riding up and his favorite brown and green PEACE blankie wrapped over and under his legs, and I couldn't help but notice that his feet were kicking pressed almost into my knees. When did that sweet boy I birthed just yesterday turn into this big toddler?

So I felt his body settle into my nest of pillows and blankets, and he fell instantly back to sleep all sweet, fat cheeks and baby heat radiating from him. I nuzzled into his hair and slept too.

And then, suddenly, I awoke to the distinct feeling of someone looking at me. Rolling over, I saw that face and smiled. "Hi!" he said with a voice blanketed in sleep. "Hi baby!" I said back, running the back of my hand over one rosy cheek and listening to the sound of my husband stepping into the shower. "Awake?" he asked. "Awake." I answered. He threw himself onto me in a bear hug and then climbed off the bed to join Daddy in the shower, and I lay there soaking in the warmth of my bed and the love for my boy.

I am awake.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My 3 Year Old Is Bad For My Self Esteem.

I was in the kitchen the other day, making breakfast for my family and just generally enjoying being in the midst of 4 days home together, when Luca wandered in with a Christmas ad.

Excited, she called to me, "Look, Mommy! Look!"

Thinking she was goign to show me something she wants for Christmas, I said, "What is it honey?"

"I found something for you! I will tell Santa you need THIS!"

I looked, and realized she was pointing to one of these:




































Photo credit OneShotFitness.com

Sometimes, having a toddler in the house is killer on the ol' ego.

Friday, November 26, 2010

It was good.

Thanksgiving, that is.

But also: the cheesecake was better than it looked and the pie fell apart (would have been better in a baking dish rather than served as pie) but was delicious.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Baker's Apprentice.

Every year, my mom makes Thanksgiving dinner early and then heads to LA for the actual day. Her mom, sister, brother, and neices and nephews are all there, and my sister is a 5 hour drive away. This frees us up to spend the actual day at home with our little family and then at the inlaws' house for dinner.

As I like to do, I offered to make dessert. Let's be honest: dessert is the most fun part of the meal to make! I'm not much of a cook, but I might be one of the best bakers in the family, and I really love putting the time and creativity into making something delicious for people to savor.

My in laws are not huge into pumpkin pie. They do love pecan, but I'm not a big pecan fan and if I do make it I prefer to make it completely from scratch, which takes a lot more time and patience than I wanted to put into it this year. So instead I decided to do two desserts I've made in the past, but not in a long while: cheesecake with port wine cherry sauce and an apple steusel.

The cheesecake I put together last night because I wanted it to set overnight since most cheesecake recipes get a little better with timel.. I used this recipe (and though I've made cheesecake before, this was the first time with this particular recipe), adding a little pumpkin pie seasoning to the crust and some vanilla to the cake itself. I've yet to sample it, but I'm excited to. The frustrating part was that it took almost TWO HOURS more to bake than it said it would (if I'd read the reviews I'd have known this...lesson learned), so I had to wait until this morning to make the sauce to accompany it.


The crust was graham cracker, sugar, melted butter, and a touch of both cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.

That would be FIVE blocks of cream cheese. I chose this recipe over others specifically because of how unhealthy it sounded! Hey, go big or go home, right?


Hickmans eggs are local. I buy them whenever I can not only because they have cage free, they are local, and they are sold at a locally-owned grocery chain. I also buy them because Hickman donates thousands of eggs to food banks every year. It feels good to support a local business doing good things in its own community.

Stirring in the vanilla. I really wish I had whole vanilla beans to use, but I didn't plan ahead enough to get those this year.

 Mmmmmm
Hm. So I have to admit I am hoping this tastes better than it looks. I'm a bit disappointed at the appearance, but seeing as how it's going to be smothered in that cherry sauce I mentioned, all that really matters is flavor.

Speaking of the cherry sauce, here it is. I loosely follow a recipe to make this, but add my own touches:

Port wine (you can use tawny or ruby...I used ruby), sugar, and a splash of vanilla. If you have vanilla beans, you can add them in at this point, and remove them before you add the cornstarch mixture (see below).


Pitted cherries. When cherries are in season, it's totally worth the effort and time to buy fresh and pit them yourself, but these were frozne which works as well.

Bring to a rolling boil, and stir continuously for about 5 minutes, until the cherries soften and break easily and the mixture is like very watery syrup.

Separately, mix cornstarch, fresh lemon juice, and a bit of water. Pour into boiling cherry mix, which will kill the boil for a few minutes. Wait for it to begin to boil again, and then reduce heat to a simmer.
When it's done, it will appear shiny and be thick, almost like cherry preserves. And it will taste so good you'll make excused to lick the bowl.

In addition to the cheesecake, I also made an apple struesel that I predict to be to die for. Luca helped with this, so here it is in photo essay format. I'll say this: I didn't use a specific recipe. With the sliced apples (skins on) I added lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg. The apples are granny smith, and for variety I added two sliced gala apples. I prebaked the pie crust for about 10 minutes with some butter brushed on it, then added the apple filling and placed foil over the top. Baked for about 15 minutes until the pie filling was bubbling, then took it back out and added the topping (whole oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, melted butter, a bit of flour) and put the foil back on. Baked for about 40 more minutes at 375 until it started to bubble over a bit.










Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bright blessed days

video

Special thanks to Adrian at Canyon Photography for this treasure.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pancake Party.

When my good friend (and a talented photographer) Adrian announced that she had a sudden opening in her fall schedule, I snapped it up. I knew it was a good decision when she asked if we could step outside of the box a bit and do something fun and casual.

Her idea was inspired by this amazing photo slideshow, and I felt so honored that she wanted my family to do this kind of shoot with her. I also realized what a genius she is, since my kids are not exactly the types to sit still and smile for posed photos. And while I admire a good posed photoshoot, it's not really 'us' either.

So on Saturday before the sun had fully raised its sleepy face to start the day, Adrian was at our house ready to shoot. After spending some time getting Luca and Rohan warmed up, we went outside and did what we enjoy most on the weekends. We laughed and played, hiding under our huge mesquite tree and swinging and sliding and running and laughing. When our noses were cold and our tummies were hungry, we went inside and made pancakes which were dressed up like dessert. And then we headed back out to enjoy a bit more sunshine and cuddles, sinking into the weekend.

A HUGE thanks goes out to Adrian at Canyon Photography for this sneak peek, for the amazing shots to come, and for spending a weekend morning capturing the loves of my life in all their beauty. I can't wait to see in pictures what I feel every day in my heart.









Friday, November 12, 2010

First Date.

"Mommy, tonight can we go watch the boys play football?"
"I don't know sweetie. Let's talk to your Daddy about it when  we get home."
"Ok. But I really want to go."
"Ok. We'll talk to Dad."

2 minutes later

"My favorite teacher, Miss ______ is going to the football."
"Oh really?"
"Yeah. We should go."
"Ok, we'll talk to Daddy about it baby."

30 seconds later

"Mommy?"
"Yeah babe?"
"M (her preschool 'boyfriend') is going to the football game and he said I should go."
"Oh?"
"Yeah." (smiling sheepishly)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We were leaving to go to the game and I made the last minute decision to take two cars. Rohan wasn't himself, and I was afraid it would be too cold or too late or he would just be done for, and I wanted an escape route. Plus, secretly I wanted to hit the grocery store and run home to clean a bit since we have a friend coming over to do pictures early tomorrow morning.

The two cars ended up being a good idea. Mo was asleep 5 minutes into the drive. We woke him to eat, and I decided to take him home.

On our way home, we stopped at the grocery store for photo supplies and food we just needed: bananas, berries, whipped cream, chocolate chips, pumpkin, coffee creamer, eggs, honey, a new puzzle for the kids. Mo was in the best mood, sitting in the cart without whining, smiling and asking me to tickle his tummy then squealing "Again." in his sweet baby boy voice. We shopped and laughed and I soaked up every second of alone time with my little guy, who gets so little time with just me most days. When I stopped to put something in the cart, he stretched to the side and grabbed my neck, then pulled me in for a hug. I am going to bottle some of those and sell them to the World Powers That Be so they can make peace.

Immediately after we paid, I cracked open a big banana for him, and he sat in the cart excaliming, "YAY! YAY! NANANANANANANA!!!" all the way out to the car. Within seconds of strapping him in, he asked for his blankie clear as day (a first for him, saying that word) and fell instantly asleep. I love baby cheeks all fat and warm when they sleep.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Daddy and Luca got home from the game after 9. Her hands were cold, her eyes rimmed red from the crisp fall air and the effect of being up past bedtime.I changed her into footie jammies and took her up to bed. She asked me to rub her back so I complied and she told me that M was there and they played and it was fun and the big boys were running and running and running. As I rubbed her back she started to drift away, but when I stood she said to me, "I love being with Daddy."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I sent my daughter on her 'first date' to a high school football game tonight and stole some time with my little Mo. But I wasn't worried: She had the best chaperone in the world.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful Tree

Remember this guy?




































The tree, I mean. Well I was really feeling like 2 weeks of having it in our house wasn't enough and wanted to find a way to include it in our ongoing fall holiday celebrations. So I came up with a Thankful Tree. I had grand plans to cut leaves out of something that would not be at risk of catching fire if it hit the lights, and writing a 'thankful' note on it each day. And then I changed my mind because I can be pretty indecisive, and I decided I didn't want that bare looking tree in my house for another month.

But out of that idea was born the real Thankful Tree.








































A leaf for each family member, plus one for Ruby and a special one for Miss Piggy, who floats in our world still.


Top heart designed by Luca, bottom heart with all our initials.


Luca used streamers to make this grass, which she asked me to tape to the bottom. As you can see, a real, live 19 month old boy lives here and got his hands on the tree. Nothing a little scotch tape can't fix!



Every day, Luca and I sit down and talk about what she's thankful for, and we write out at least one leaf. Some days she wants more than one leaf, and other days someone else will add a leaf. We keep adding branches as the month goes on so that we can make more room for Thankful Leaves.

If you're looking for other ways to celebrate the Thankful spirit with your family, check out this post on YHL and this post from my friend at Cupcake Monkey. Both of their ideas for family traditions to celebrate the month of thanks are beautiful!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Big Boy Bed

Rohan's in a big boy bed, with training wheels. On Saturday morning I covered my head with a pillow and graciously growled at my husband to take the kids, "To McDonald's or wherever...I don't care...I want to sleep in!" I like how I not only avoided wife slash parenthood, I also encouraged the overpriced consumption of what amounts to greasy plastic.

Either way, it didn't work because 15 minutes later I heard laughter and pounding and general insanity happening what must be a mere 30 feet from my bed in Rohan's room. Annoyed, I moved the pillow just enough so as to be able to hear what was happening. Turns out, my husband cannot be left unsupervised for greater than 12 minuntes without feeling the need to demolish something in our house. This time, it was the crib.

A review of our internet browsing history would show you that while most decent red-blooded married men in America are looking at porn online, mine is Googling how to pound out tile with a sledghammer or ideas for turning a crib into a toddler bed. I'm sure the nudie pictures are more a 10 pm than a 6:40 am habit anyway.

So I gather from my super-slueth skills that he is removing the front of the crib to make it a psuedo-toddler bed. Downstairs in our den turned weight room turned playroom lives a mattress just the right width to slide into the crib's frame, so I doze again and in my dream I am annoyed because I go into Rohan's room and find the bed has taken over and I cannot open the closet or dresser. Of course, this angers me, and so rather than waking appreciative that my husband has done this work, I'm ready to trip to my death over an extra-large mattress my mother in law insisted on leaving in our front room just in case we had immediate plans to convert crib to toddler bed or serve as a homeless overflow shelter. So imagine my surprise and inability to be irrationally bitchy when I realized he had merely removed the front wall of the crib, so it was like "a toddler bed with training wheels".

Which is fine, except these things: (1) Rohan LOVES his crib. Why mess with success???, (2) Rohan moves a lot in his sleep, (3) Said psuedo-bed is rather narrow for a wiggly monster-sized baby when it has no guardrails, thus meaning he falls off it. Multiple times in one sleep.

Exhibit A: 1st Naptime. I try to put Rohan down and he's livid. LIVID. How DARE we fuck with him like this? He's mad as hell and the neighborhood knows. Meanwhile I have to leave 5 minutes ago for a work thing, so I hand the kid over feeling like I just wrestled an alligator and lost. Husband ends up breaking his own rules and letting Rohan sleep in our bed.

Exhibit B: 1st Bedtime. I am in a pleasant mood (ha. Haha.) and attempt to put Rohan to bed. He won't allow me to just lay him down and leave like I've done for months in a row now. OH NO. He demands rocking, 2.5 songs, and a hand on his back, patting (not rubbing, woman!) in order to fall asleep. Sleep is met by an almost instantaneous drop the distance from the mattress to the floor. Not enough to damage his delicate body, but enough to make him simper sleepily. I lift him back into psuedo-bed and he's back asleep. He falls once more and the move back into psuedo-bed is repeated. I go to bed and sleep through the night, but in the morning he's sound asleep 3 feet away from his psudo-bed, tangled into a blanket.

Exhibit C: 2nd Naptime. He fell asleep in the car, so no issues, although he does fall out of the bed at some point, but it wakes neither him nor anyone else since we're all napping.

Exhibit D: 2nd Bedtime. Rock. Sing. Try to set down. Told "NO!". Rock. Sing, Half-lay on bed while setting him down, then slowly unravel myself from him. First I get the arm out from under him. Then I lean my upper body away so it's not resting on him. Last, a quick move of my body off the mattress, followed by the removal of the hand that's on his back. A quiet murmur of "no" from him is all I get before he softly snores. He ends up falling out of bed crying no less than 3 times and possibly as many as 5 before I move him to Luca's twin size bed where he stays snug as a bug.

Exhibit E: 3rd Bedtime. Tell husband about the issues last night, and order him to make something work or I will be forced to use non-tender methods to wake HIM when Rohan inevitably falls out of bed 6 times tonight and let HIM deal with it while I fart and snore in my sleep. He heads upstairs and decides the solution involved moving a large toy in front of the mattress to serve as a white-trash bedrail. I bite my tongue, which takes a lot of self control for a mouthy know-it-all such as myself. 15 minutes later he's crying and I head up to find his upper body on the bed and the lower body between the bed and the toy. Unamused by such a blatant inconvenience to my sleep (oh, and the whole 'choking and suffocation hazard' thing) I adjust him and move the toy.

This proves something. I am right. Rohan may be built like a kindergartener, but he's still a wee baby. He's not ready for the psuedo-bed. And neither am I.

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