Saturday, September 27, 2008

Baking with Toddlers and other Near-Death Experiences / September 27, 2008

How could I not write about yesterday? Even though the whole day wasn't harrowing, the part with the cake was so wretched, it did taint the entire day.
Our friends the Rhodes are moving on Monday. Yesterday, we had a goodbye party for them at the Commons, a simple enough party, and yet, enough to make me stress about it. Then again, I stress over anything. Yesterday morning, Benji took a 2 hour morning nap, generally unheard of because we are usually out and about and so he just doesn't sleep that long. After he woke up, Ethan, Benji, and I went over the Rhodes to help clean. Jacob was gone, so Ethan watched Elmo on some Sesame Street game. I threw things away and did minor cleaning and generally felt useless. Jessica said I wasn't useless.
Then we went  home for lunch. Benji was super sleepy again at that point, so I had to go put him down for a nap. What was I to do with Ethan in the meantime? More tv! What else was I to do? I had no trouble getting Benji down, and I left him sleeping soundly.
Then it was time to start the cake for the party. I asked Ethan if he wanted to help me, even though I knew he wouldn't be helpful and that it would make me come close to heart failure. But I want him to learn that helping is good. I let him help dump the cake mix into the bowl. A minor amount of the dust flew out onto the kitchen floor. Then he held the measuring cup while I poured oil into it. With my help, almost all the oil made it into the bowl. Then it was egg time. I cracked the eggs, with Ethan repeating his new favorite phrase,
"No, I do it, Mommy!"
I stepped over to the trash can to throw away the egg shells, and when I turned back, Ethan had hold of the  cup with the raw eggs in it. Sensing impending disaster, I grabbed the bottom of the cup just in time, and the eggs slid into the bowl. I breathed a sigh of relief.
The rest of the cake made it into the pan, and I put it in the oven.
After naps, from which Ethan woke up way to early and cried after for 20 minutes, it was time to ice the cake. It was 4:25; only 35 minutes till Chad came home. I was eagerly watching the clock. Ethan stood on his chair, and I gave him a small spatula. I opened the container of icing (what, did you think I was going to make it from scratch????). We began icing the cake with minimal problems when the phone rang. I ran upstairs to get it while Ethan stabbed the cake repeatedly with the spatula, creating a large hole. After resisting the urge to bang my head against the wall, I was able to repair the hole and cover it up with extra icing.
When we were done icing the cake, I told Ethan he could lick the icing off the spatula. He licked the spatula, but kept watching me open up the sprinkles, and when he did so, the spatula slowly came too close to the cake, and I kept having to say, "Ethan, don't let your spatula touch the cake." That happened about 4 times. Once, he said, "I'm done," and started to put the spatula back on the cake! Luckily, I stopped it.
I looked at the clock: 4:30. How could only 5 minutes have passed??
We started to put the sprinkles on the cake. I let Ethan pick up some of them to sprinkle over the cake. Of course, they all landed in one spot on the cake. Great.
Then it was time to write "We'll miss you, Rhodes" on the cake with icing. I got out my squeezable icing containers and opened the blue one. I began the "W," only to find out that it wasn't icing; it was food coloring! Now, we had a large blue dot on the cake. I blinked back a tear and looked at the clock again. Four more minutes had passed. I scraped the blue dot off the cake, put new white icing over the spot, and blended it in. It looked much better.
But how would I write the words with icing? Ever the resourceful goddess of the kitchen, I put the icing in a bag, cut a hole in the bag, and squeezed out the icing. The writing looked a bit ghetto, but that's okay. Now it was complete. I sent Ethan out of the kitchen, and got some plastic wrap to put over the cake. But, alas, before I could get it tight around the pan, its lightweight film drooped in the middle and stuck to some of the letters. I cursed the day that plastic wrap was invented and made a wish that God would wipe it off the face of the earth in a large fire.
I threw the plastic wrap away and used foil instead.
In the grand scheme of things, it was one afternoon and one cake (that turned out fine and even tasted good). As to why the day's mishaps were harder for me to handle, I don't know. Stress because the school year has officially started and that means I'm on my own more with two squirrelly children? Likely.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, I did survive until Chad made it home at 5:00.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm so jealous!

Per a recommendation of my friend Rena, I finally checked out The Pioneer Woman's website: I spent over an  hour of my valuable time (that's how hooked I was) checking different links, completely in awe of this woman. I have her on an enormously tall pedestal right now, and I am gazing up at her in admiration and jealousy that I can't be as cool as she is.
Seriously, is there anything this woman can't do? First of all, she is an amazing website, obviously updated regularly, and it's quite intricate, which shows that she is internet-savvy. She has four children, and she home schools them.  She must have infinite patience and endurance. She cooks delicious-looking meals from scratch, and somehow finds time to post the recipes with photographs on her website. She does photography and posts her photographs online, and they are good photographs too. She has several photography tutorials online. She's writing a novel of her husband's and her love story. And, finally, she has a home and garden section on her website with accounts of how they renovated some cabin, etc. My goodness! Seriously, how does she have the time and energy to do all those things?? I don't think she's super-human, so I just don't know.
Oh, and, she's beautiful too.
And, she's very witty and funny. She's good at writing.
The only thing I'm not jealous of her about is the fact that she lives on an isolated ranch. No thanks, I prefer the city; I admit it.
You should really look at her website. But if you do, be prepared to spend a long time sitting at the computer, getting carpel tunnel, with your mouth gaping open.
Just don't let any drooling happen while you're gaping.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

confessions of a Crystal Light addict

Well, I think the fog of PPD may finally be lifting. I hope I am not speaking too soon, but I definitely feel much better than I was.
Okay, check this baby out. This is my new Nalgene bottle. I am desperately in love with it. Well, not desperately, but it is pretty cool. Doesn't just looking at it make you want to drink more water? See, even the outside of the bottle has beads of water on it, which means the whole bottle is practically bursting with freshness. I bought this awesome thing with birthday money designated for this very purpose. (Thanks, M and D!)
So, before I bought it, my problem was that I don't like the taste of water. I like Crystal Light; I could even be addicted to it. Let its multi-colored beads and fake sweetener wash over me like a tidal wave. And I like iced tea. But I just don't like water. I wish I did. And I wish I drank more water. So, I thought maybe if I hook myself up with one of these cool babies, I would. My new goal is to drink one full bottle of water, eventually working up to two full bottles. One bottle is 32 oz. I've had this bottle for 3 days, and I've done it two of those days.... But I've also gone to the bathroom about 10 times more per day than I used to, which isn't always easy carrying a sleeping infant in the sling and pulling a resisting toddler behind me. However, drinking more water is the new point on my new campaign for health, and I want to persevere. Water just tastes better coming out of a Nalgene bottle. You too should get one.
Finally, for my birthday, Chad got me new bedding. I picked it out. He wasn't gung ho about the purple, but he said it was okay. Aren't they super fun? I'm pretty excited about it. And, yes, this is the normal disarray in which our bed usually is. Before Benji, I used to make it up in the mornings; now it just doesn't fall into my list of important priorities. This is where I take naps, nurse Benji, have nightmares, read books, snuggle with my pillow, and dream sweet dreams.

Tamale Pie

This is one of our favorite meals. I always make it with ground turkey, so it's more healthy. In fact, I've been using ground turkey for so long in place of ground beef, that when I tried ground beef recently (90/10 beef), it tasted nasty to me. That was a side note. Don't be impressed, because I can still eat 4 large cookies in one sitting.
If you have a skillet that can go into the oven, use that. Otherwise, you'll have to transfer it into an 8x8 baking dish.
Okay, here's the recipe.
1 or 2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chipped
2 Tbsp chili powder
optional: cumin powder to taste
salt and ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 small can of mild green chilies
1 lb ground turkey
1 (15-oz) can kidney beans (or black beans)
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes
1 cup shredded cheese

Cornbread topping:
either a cornbread package mix or the following:
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk (or milk)
1 large egg
3 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled (or you can accidentally measure out more butter than that, like I do)

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the onions, chili powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook till onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Add ground turkey and cook until browned. Add can of beans (UNDRAINED), can of tomatoes (UNDRAINED), and can of chilies. If you want to add cumin, add it now (I add about a tsp). Remove from heat, then stir in cheese. Don't skimp on the cheese. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, make the cornbread topping. Whisk all dry ingredients together. Add buttermilk and egg and stir. Add butter and stir until just combined. Pour cornbread batter over the mixture in the skillet. Put in a 375 oven for 45 minutes, till cornbread is cooked (test by sticking a knife into the middle of it and see if it pulls out clean).
Let cool 5 minutes, then serve. YUM-O.

Monday, September 15, 2008

scary pictures / September 15, 2008

First of all, it's my mother's birthday. Happy birthday to her!!!
Okay, folks, here is something to make you feel better about yourself. I am hereby publishing some pictures of me not looking my awesomest. Usually, the only person about whom I don't care seeing me as I really am is Chad. But today, I'm feeling strangely brave, so I will post them for the world to see.  First of all, we have a lovely self-portrait. Yes, folks, that's me. Did you know I have that many freckles? I actually don't mind freckles...luckily.
Secondly, we have an exciting image of me with how my hair looks when I wake up in the morning. It's wild, huh? I kid you not, that's what I look like when I get out of bed. Even if my hair is dry at night and semi-controlled when I go to sleep, I still wake up like this. Fabulous, eh?


Going green / September 14, 2008

Purely by coincidence, for lunch today, we had an all green meal: pasta with green pesto, asparagus, and kiwi fruit. It was so random, I just had to take a picture. And since I've finally taken the time to figure out how to add a picture, I'll put it here JUST FOR YOU! Consider yourself important.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

good news, bad news, and two observations / September 4, 2008

A. I'm happy to announce that with the help of some weight watchers, a lot of exercise, a lot of nursing, and making overall healthier choices; I am back down to my pre-Benji weight!! Yay for me! However, my shape is permanently damaged; this little belly is probably not going anywhere.
B. I'm feeling depressed because no one responded to my last post. I thought it was a very interesting observation and that lots of people would have a thought or comment about it, but no one did. My self-esteem drops one level.
C. For about three days, Benji was really unhappy. He cried a lot, fussed a lot, drooled copious amounts, and chewed on anything he could get his little paws onto. And lo and behold, one point of a tooth made its grand appearance yesterday. I think that Benji doesn't have as high of a pain tolerance as Ethan does. I think Benji is a sensitive little dude; I don't think that's bad or anything; it's just an observation.
D. Ethan has been doing SO WELL with all the traveling we've been doing. I've been so proud of him. He's been sleeping quite well overall, even in different rooms from us in a strange house. He's done great on car rides, and has adjusted to each new venue quite well. He's also enjoying having attention from all the grandparents, aunts, and uncles.