April 26, 2013

happy weekend

It must be spring...

 ... we discovered on a recent bike ride (with James new awesome glider bike)...

...the goslings are here!..

...and then...

... I got really into taking pictures of them...

...happy weekend.

April 25, 2013

Eleanor Grace is five months old

This girl is five months today.

Eleanor means "light" and it could not be more fitting. She is such a sweet little light in our lives. 

She is happy, talkative, ticklish, and just so beautiful. We are blessed.

PS this post inspired by Sara, who (unlike me) gives us monthly updates on her cute little ones. 

This time a year ago: Yum.

April 23, 2013

ordinary joys: coconut products and old lady edition

1. snail mail- yep, I'm an old person. I love receiving it and sending it. Creating art and mailing it is a great way for James to stay connected with family we don't see often, and I have a feeling receiving mail from James brightens their day as well.

2. cardboard boxes- We spent almost four hours the other day destroying a cardboard box and making it into a garage with a launch ramp and a vertical tunnel. The down side: it still is taking up way too much space in our living room.

3. coconut cream in coffee- You skim the inch of fat off the top of a can of coconut milk and dissolve about a teaspoon into your coffee each morning. Paired with the smoothness of our new aerobie coffee press. Sheer bliss.

4. the library- did I mention I'm an old person? When the kids and I were quarantined last week I had to get out of the house. We ended up making two library trips because it seems to be the only place you can be constantly wiping your child's nose without too many raised eyebrows. There are about fifteen books checked out under my name and scattered around our house, but it was totally worth it.

5. cereal for dessert- current favorite: "Mom's Best Toasted Cinnamon Squares." It is cinnamon toast crunch, but for some reason the off-brand makes me feel like it isn't as bad. (No HFCS, but just as much sugar.)

6. these adorable little page flags- my mother-in-law gave them to me. I use them to mark recipes in cookbooks that are new to me because I got them from the library (see #4... that's a number sign, not a "hash tag" by the way)

7. these free printable sandwich wrappers- what a fun way to brighten Lane's day when he goes to eat lunch.

8. coconut oil as face moisturizer- I got the idea from this gal. It works great on my ridiculously dry skin.

I hope you have a day filled with ordinary and extraordinary joys!

April 19, 2013

joy through the screaming

I cried yesterday for the first time in almost four months.

I remember the last time very well: Eleanor was just over a month old, Lane was back at work, and I was trying to nurse her while James threw play dough toys at me. Not our best moment.
Four months is kind of a long time for me to go without crying, so I was kind of surprised yesterday when the tears sprang to my eyes.

This week has been a little rough. Both kids woke up with bad colds Tuesday morning: runny noses, coughing, eyes watering, and not sleeping well. Any plans we had or would have made were cancelled due to illness. We made one trip to the library and one to the park, but have been pretty cooped up aside from that. He had been difficult all morning. I should have seen the melt down coming.

It was time for James' nap. Eleanor was in her bassinet asleep. James hadn't taken a nap the day before or slept well the night before.  As soon as the words "nap time" were out of my mouth, he lost it. Screaming and yelling and fighting with all his might to not be put in his bed.
This is not a situation in which he can be talked down. He is two and half, and therefore not rational. I carried him into his room, pleading with him to lie down and I would cover him up and sing to him.
One final shrill yell out of him did it: Eleanor was awake. And screaming also.

I put James in his bed, quickly tried to cover him while he kicked, and explained that I would come sing to him as soon as I could get Eleanor back to sleep. I think he felt a bit of remorse for waking her up because he didn't argue and he stayed in bed.

I ran into our room (where her bassinet still is) and grabbed her up.
She was shrieking by this point, which doesn't happen often. I figured she must be hungry and tried to nurse her. No luck, she just kept screaming.
I stood up and rocked her in my arms as I paced the room. She didn't let up.
I tried nursing again, pacing again. She wailed and wailed. My ears and head began to ache, but I held her close, hoping to at least calm her down to a cry or a whimper.

Then it happened. I could feel my face getting hot and my eyes getting watery. I didn't try to hold it back.
I continued pacing and rocking and crying. And I started to pray.
I asked God to help me and to stop the screaming. I asked Him for wisdom and for my head to stop throbbing.
Then I began to thank Him.
I thanked Him for the little deafening miracle in my arms, and the one that kicked and fought me all the way to bed. I thanked Him that my babies didn't scream out of pain or hunger or cold or fear, as so many children, no less worthy of comforts than my own, do every day. I thanked Him for their health and for my healthy body that I am privileged to exhaust each day by caring for these sweet little gifts. I thanked Him for being there with me.
And my tears, which had begun as tears of exhaustion, frustration, and self pity, turned into tears of thanksgiving and joy.
Eleanor fell asleep in my arms, James fell asleep in his bed, and I had a few minutes to go and read my Bible and praise the Lord that in the screaming and kicking and fighting and exhaustion and tears there is still joy.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, 
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 

April 12, 2013

happy weekend

This was my view this morning: a basil parmesan omelet and a happy little gal in her brother's old blue striped pj's.

As mentioned before, James has been at grandma and grandpa's house for the last couple days and, although we miss him terribly, I can't believe how much time I have! So far I have spent forty five minutes in New Seasons (I know, it's almost embarrassing; I won't even tell you how much money I spent on cheese alone), went for a run, had a coffee date (and an actual conversation, apparently people still do that), did a weight workout with Lane, read my Bible, ate meals sitting down, and got nothing done around the house. Today, Elle and I are planning another run and then going to meet up with Lane at Edgefield (he is there for "work" today... they call it "team bonding"). All that to say, James comes home tomorrow, and I can't wait. Oh man, I miss that kid.

I hope you have a cozy weekend full of buttery breakfasts and comforting soups.

April 11, 2013

the perfect dutch baby pancake

When I was a kid my parents sent me up to Washington to see my relatives every summer.
I stayed with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins. My girl cousin, Joscelyn, is just a few years younger than me (I?). We would run around outside on imaginary horses, play with our American Girl dolls, and eat "powdered sugar breakfast" for breakfast.

It was not until high school that I learned the true name of this dessert item that you can eat for breakfast (the best kind) is actually a dutch baby pancake.

I was feeling a little nostalgic about this treat a few weeks ago and tried a few recipes. They all fell flat, literally. They would not puff up like they are supposed to. Suddenly a ingenious idea came to me: call my mom and ask her for Aunt Terre's recipe. It never disappoints.

The original recipe called just for "vanilla and sugar" so I came up with the amounts, which can be adjusted of course. Aunt Terre's recipe also called for 1/3 cup of butter, but I reduced it by half to 3 tbsp. (Sorry, Aunt Terre, but I didn't inherit the super-thin gene that everyone else on my Mom's side of the family has, apparently. Blast.)

The Perfect Dutch Baby Pancake
3 tbsp butter
1 c flour
1 c milk
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp sugar
powdered sugar (for topping)- not optional, this is a must
berries (for topping)- optional, but highly recommended

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Put butter in a ten inch (or the closest you have to it) oven-proof skillet and place it in the oven to melt the butter.
Combine the next five ingredients (flour through sugar) in the blender and blend until light colored and frothy (a couple minutes).
Remove your pan from the oven and swirl the butter around to coat the bottom and sides. Pour egg mixture in.
Return pan to oven and bake 15 minutes. Slice like a pizza, add toppings. Enjoy.

*a note on 4/15 (can you tell I've been into these lately?) I substituted 1/4 of the flour for whole wheat and it still puffed and tasted great. I would probably do up to half whole wheat. Also, amount of butter can be reduced or it can be substituted for coconut oil. Really, the adaptations are endless. I would love to hear what you think in the comments! Thanks!
*yet another note (this one on 10/16)... I have been making them with coconut oil and half whole wheat, and they are still amazingly delicious. Also, when made this way, I feel slightly better that a toddler, baby, and I can polish off the whole pan in one sitting.

This time, a year ago: Wooooo hooooo!

April 10, 2013

little yoga

A few weeks ago James and I borrowed Little Yoga from the library. 

It is a really cute book, full of fun, colorful pictures that compare simple yoga poses to animal movements.

Perfecting the poses was not the goal, of course; the whole purpose is movement and fun. However, James caught on surprisingly quickly, and seemed to improve each time we went through the book.

I would love to enroll him in a real kid yoga class, but I assume they are crazy expensive.
Do you or anyone you know do yoga with kids? Do you know any kids who have taken a yoga class? I bet it would be a lot of fun and hilarious to watch.

(What, a mid-morning post?... I did not have to wait until nap time today due to the fact that my sweet little guy is currently on his way to Corvallis to have a "just James trip" to Grandma and Grandpas' house. Eleanor and I are not quite sure what we are going to do with all this quiet (certainly not catch up on cleaning!), but we are kicking off our girls time by making a grocery list and going on a leisurely shopping trip. So we can have more meals like this one.)

April 08, 2013

thai chicken noodle soup

Remember when I used to post recipes?
Like, all the time?

Lately, it is not for lack of recipes that I don't post them. I am constantly scribbling notes and amounts of ingredients on scraps of paper in my kitchen, only to crumple them up and throw them away later. I just never seem to have time to take pictures (huge pet-peeve: recipes with no pictures).

The few moments before a meal are always the craziest at our house. I am scrambling to plate everyone's meals, find a sippy cup, lovingly call to yell at Lane to come to the table, cut up one of the meals into bite-size pieces, keep from tripping over James, and calm the baby who always seems to be ready to eat right when we are. Needless to say, not the best time for a photo shoot.
Friday night, however, I made this soup.

It was so good that it had to be documented and shared with you. (Also, the kids overlapped their naps for about forty minutes, and instead of scrubbing toilets and folding laundry like I should have been doing, I photographed lemongrass stalks. And made granola, so that's productive, right?) This soup is the perfect alternative to plain old chicken noodle, and it will clear your sinuses if you use enough curry paste. It almost makes me excited to still have soup weather. Almost.

Recipe Note: Do yourself a favor and order some Mae Ploy curry paste from Thailand. It won't disappoint.

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
1 or 2 chicken breasts
2 tsp sesame oil
2 stalks lemongrass
2 large cloves garlic
32 oz chicken broth
4 cups water
1/2 cup coconut milk (go full-fat)
large handful of lime leaves
2 tsp green curry paste (I would use more, but we have an eater who doesn't "yike ficy"- like spicy)
1 very large bundle of bok choy, chopped
4 to 8 oz (depending on how much you like noodles) thin udon noodles
lime wedges (for serving)
torn basil leaves (for topping)

Heat a large stock pot to medium heat. add chicken breast and drizzle sesame oil over it.
Remove husk from lemongrass stalks. Cut the inner, bottom part (about the bottom third of the stalk) into fourths lengthwise and throw into the pot with the chicken. Cut garlic lengthwise and crush with flat side of your knife. Throw into the pot as well.
When chicken, lemongrass pieces, and garlic are all beginning to brown, add broth, water, coconut milk and lime leaves. Whisk in curry paste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer 30 minutes or until chicken is done all the way through (165 degrees). Shred chicken.
Return to a boil. Add bok choy and noodles. Cook about 6 minutes, or until noodles are done and bok choy is tender, but not mushy. Discard lemon grass pieces and as many lime leaves as you can.
Top with basil and serve with lime wedges. Enjoy.

Coming up: kid yoga, "fashion" questions, and more house tour (hopefully)

April 05, 2013

happy weekend

This week we had major cabin fever, and had to get outside despite the weather.

I hope you have a wonderful (soggy) weekend.

April 04, 2013

a boy and his ga-tuag

After a recent Salvation Army store trip, James came home with a bright orange guitar that is just his size.

He pronounces guitar "ga-tuag", which is adorable.

Lane ordered special strings online and re-strung it, which excited James to no end, of course. His sweet blue eyes light up each time Lane "plays" the guitar, even though he is only really strumming different cords. (Lane can actually play really well, although he would never admit this fact.)

James "plays" it also, and sometimes sings, too.
My favorite song is entitled "Oh, I love my Mommy". Those are also the only words to the song. My heart melts each time.

this time, a year ago: Easter! Just looking at these pictures makes me nauseous, I was so queasy with this one.

April 02, 2013

easter weekend

Last night we hosted our community group at our house. Over dinner, our friends were all commenting about how it was getting a little old seeing nothing but Easter egg hunts on facebook...
Guess what this post is about?

James' Easter egg hunt!

Plus a couple photos of the little lady in front of the daffodils (being held upright by Lane):

And some family pictures:

 (this one taken by my mother-in-law)

(this one taken by my father-in-law)

Did everyone else get out in the gorgeous weather and hunt eggs?