Rainy Days

Yesterday and today have been cold, rainy days around here. What a nice change for us! We’re all glad the weather is finally cooling off! The kids and I have been soaking in the quiet togetherness that rainy days create.

Yesterday the kidlets played with Play-Doh after breakfast while I put dinner in the crock pot. Then we went for a walk in the drizzle. Our neighbor’s dog came with us and Hula Girl spent the entire walk throwing the dog’s ball. Gelato spent the entire walk alternating between crying because his hood was on and crying because his hood was off. 🙂 Afterward, we came home and the kiddos had some hot chocolate. In the afternoon we cleaned the house and baked biscuits, and then the kids played with shaving cream paint in the tub. They had an early dinner of chili and biscuits and then we welcomed our small group. The kids played quietly during the first few minutes of small group, and then it was time for Jonathan to put them to bed. Hula Girl, of course, did not fall asleep right away; she stood looking out her window to watch our guests leave, as she always does when we have company.

This morning, Hula Girl didn’t wake up until 8:00, so Gelato and I made breakfast together before we got her up. They had banana bread and milk for breakfast. While they ate, I read them the story of Noah’s Ark from Genesis. Hula Girl was surprised and said, “Mommy, I’m amazed that the story in the Bible is just like the story in our Jesus Storybook Bible! God is sure awesome! And he made rainbows to make a promise!”

Then we cleaned up and the kids stayed in their jammies while they played with the Lite Brite and Cootie. After we got that craziness cleaned up, we decided it was time to start making Christmas gifts and decorations. (Nay-Nay and Auntie Joanna, something’s coming your way soon!) Gelato surprised me with his dexterity! We were stringing Christmas beads (not pony beads- the star-shaped things that have small holes in the middle) on pipe cleaners to make “icicles” to hang in the tree. He could do it! I was amazed. Hula Girl has discovered a passion for stringing beads, and she will be making many many many more of these for friends and family alike. 🙂

Around 10:00, I got the kids bundled up in sweat pants, rain coats, and boots, and I sent them out in the backyard so I could read my Bible while watching them play. They got SOAKED. And they loved it. At 10:45, I called them back in and welcomed them with a hair dryer, big towels, and fleece footie jammies. Hula Girl thought it was great fun to have me blow dry her entire body; both of them loved it when I pulled their jammies out from their bodies and blew warm air down their backs. Ah, to be a preschooler again! Then we snuggled up on the couch and read several books under a cozy blanket.

After lunch, Gelato started his nap and Hula Girl and I finished Peter Pan. This is the fourth movie she’s ever seen. I am not a super big fan of it for her- there are lots of names called, Indians are portrayed in a terrible light, and there is just a lot of violence in general. I had to keep reminding her that it’s all a big game the Lost Boys play with the other inhabitants of Neverland, and that since it’s all pretend, none of these things actually happen. She is much more partial to Frozen. I have to agree with her! She has also seen Cinderella and The Aristocats. I like Frozen and Cinderella best.

When the kids wake up from naps, I plan to take them to Walmart, just to get out of the house for a while. We need to get a few pull-ups for Gelato (he sleeps in a pull-up but is potty-trained otherwise), and I believe they carry a non-GMO cornmeal there, which would be great for cornbread. (You’ll notice I said we baked biscuits to eat with our chili yesterday… yup, we are out of cornmeal.) I’m hoping Jonathan will light our fireplace after dinner so we can bring the kids down and read them a bedtime story in front of the fire tonight.

 

Self-Sufficient

Our little Hula Girl is growing up some more. Her 3-year birthday is looming, and suddenly she can do so much. All the things she does are part of her daily routine- things we’ve been doing since she was weaned and walking (and even some things we’ve been doing since she was born). It’s just amazing to see how the locus of control in her life is slowly shifting to her rather than being all on Jonathan’s and my shoulders. Note the slowly part of that sentence. Obviously, our eventual goal is to raise children who are 100% self-sufficient (aside from the grace of God!), but it’s just a bit bittersweet to see it actually happening in tangible ways.

Now that Hula Girl can dress herself, she does it. For the most part, I choose what she wears. I pick out an outfit, hand it to her, and she does the rest. She can put on her own shoes and her own hat and her own jacket. So she does. It’s very helpful when we’re heading out for a walk and I’m getting Gelato and myself ready to go. I can just tell her, “Put on a jacket! Now put on shoes! Don’t forget a hat!” Still supervising, but not for long.

Along with that, she can reliably undress herself, except for her shirt, for baths, or for changing into jammies at naptime (are we the only family that does this? I think most kids nap in their day clothes). This is a nice skill when we’re coming back home from a walk. As you know from yesterday’s post, we remove our shoes before entering the main part of the house. We have shoe bins (one for each of us) and coat  hooks (again, one for each of us) in the tiled front entryway. I no longer have to remind Hula Girl to remove jacket or shoes. She walks in, sits down, takes off her shoes, unzips her jacket, and puts her shoes away. Even though the coat hooks are low enough that she can reach hers, she still has trouble getting the jacket to stick sometimes. That’s cool. If that’s all I have to do to help, works for me!

When it’s time to put on her jammies and pull-up for nap or night (we’re getting rid of the pull-ups when we move her to a big girl bed!), she doesn’t even want us to look like we might offer help. She can do it, she wants to do it, and I think that’s great. Less bending over for me. We just have to allow enough time so we don’t feel rushed when she’s got her foot in the wrong hole for the eighteenth time and she finally asks us to straighten them out so she can try again. Persistent little one.

She’s old enough to do some real chores now, and she takes them very seriously.

  • Each morning, she must tidy up her crib (drape a blanket over the edge, put her sheep in a corner, straighten her pillows, etc.). This is in preparation for when she has a big girl bed and will need to make her bed every morning. Then she has to get dressed, put her jammies away in their drawer, and carry her pull-up downstairs to throw it away.
  • When she gets downstairs, she must check to see that Riley has food and water. If he is out of them, she must ask us to help her get some for him. She can open the food container and scoop out the right amount (not hard, since he’s free-fed), but the food container is in the garage. So we have to open the door for her. We also have to open the door to the bathroom and turn on the sink for his water.
  • After breakfast, she needs to carry her dishes to the sink, and stop to dispose of any food left on her plate on her way. She actually asks to save her leftovers (and she’ll eat them) most days. She doesn’t like to waste food. After she does this, she must open the dishwasher (if it’s clean) and put away her dishes and Mommy and Daddy’s silverware. My silverware drawer is a mess, but I don’t mind.
  • Her last task of the day is to vacuum with my little hand-held dustbuster. She adores this task. She literally vacuums until the battery runs out, then I charge it again overnight each night. She knows how to take it apart to empty it, and she hands me the filter to wash it when she’s done.

Hula Girl has also taken to helping me with baking and cooking. We have always invited her to assist in the kitchen, but her contribution has always been minimal to distracting. But now that she can read numbers and she is learning to read words, she can help me read recipes. Yesterday we baked some bread. She read “whole wheat flour,” “yeast,” and “water” all by herself (we have made this recipe before- she probably remembered at least some of the things she was reading from a previous encounter with the recipe). She told me that we needed “four k-uh-p-s–CUPS!” of flour, and “one-one-two t-s-p” of yeast. Pretty good for almost-three, right?! We also made a lasagna yesterday. She looooooved being in charge of spreading the filling in between the layers of pasta. She did a very good job of keeping things even. She even put the noodles in the pan pretty straight!

I have enjoyed her so very much since she turned six months old (newborn Hula Girl was less enjoyable, what with the reflux and the severely chronic 45-minute naps, and the insane-first-time-Mommy-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-but-determined-to-do-it-right-ness), but I think I enjoy this particular phase almost the best so far. “Little Helper-hood” is awesome!

Going Organic

(or at least as organic as we can go right about now)

I finally got Jonathan to watch Food, Inc. about a month ago. He FINALLY saw why I wanted to do all organic foods for our family. He got all gung-ho about it. I like that about him- when he commits, he commits.

Anyway, it is rather difficult to find organic food at a relatively-not-going-to-kill-your-budget-or-force-you-to-lose-15-pounds-because-you-can’t-afford-much-of-it cost where we live. Colorado isn’t exactly known for its thriving vegetation in the middle of January, you know? So, we’re taking small steps to get there and making (even better) choices until we’re 100% organic. (We already eat hardly anything processed, even less with GMOs, and so on. My one vice- Halloween pumpkins- the Brachs mellowcreme ones. You know that phrase, “to die for”? Well, if I die because I’ve been eating too many of those delicious cavity-enhancers, it will have been worth it. They are simply to die for. Ahem.)

I’m also REALLY excited about the idea of me actually cooking most of what we eat from raw ingredients. Sure, you can go buy a can of soup that’s organic… but them you’re eating a ton of BPA. Plus my cookin’ skillz need work, so why not start practicing now? Maybe by the time my kids are old enough to remember my cooking, it’ll actually be something they remember in a positive way! 🙂

So last week was our first trial with 100% organic ingredients, and 75% home-cooked-from-raw-ingredients meals.

I baked a loaf of bread on Monday to start the week off right. That day I also cooked a whole chicken in my crock pot (thank you, Kirbi, for the recipe!) and used the dark meat, veggies and stock plus some wild rice to make… chicken and wild rice soup (so creative, I KNOW!). Then I made MORE broth from all the chicken bones plus some more veggies that I cooked in the crock pot overnight.

Tuesday night we ate turkey chili and cornbread. I did not make the cornbread from raw ingredients.

Wednesday night was a leftovers night. We all have ’em.

Thursday night we had shredded chicken tacos. I took the chicken breasts (from the crock pot chicken), shredded the meat, added some spices, and there was the meat. We had tomatoes, avocados, rice, black beans, and spinach to accompany the chicken.

Friday we went to my parents’ house, so that is as far as I got. 🙂

This week I have a LOT of fresh veggies (and other ingredients) to use. I went shopping when we were at my parents’ house, so there was actually a good selection and it was decently priced. We’ll be eating red kale, green kale, acorn squash, pears, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage celery, carrots, chicken, onions, apples, oranges, rainbow chard (Hula Girl loves to eat the hot pink ones!), 10-bean soup, black rice, and lots and lots of spinach.

Anyway, it makes me feel great to feed my family wholesome and delicious foods. I am so glad I can! If you have good recipes involving lots of vegetables and grains, let me know!

Happy New Year! (a day late)

My daughter just stood next to the front door blowing me kisses and insisting that I catch them while she waited for her daddy to get ready to go out. I caught about fifteen. Love it!

Well, we’re still just truckin’ along. I will be posting several smaller posts over the course of the next week to catch up on the past month or so. It’s amazing how very little motivation I have for blogging when Jonathan is home and we can all spend time together as a family. Guess I’ll chalk that one up to my priorities being in the right place (not to say that those of you who live-blogged every detail of Christmas Eve service and Christmas morning don’t have your priorities right; I am just giving myself a little pat on the back for actually soaking in the moments rather than witnessing and documenting them while missing others).

As an overview, here’s what we’ve been up to. Jonathan has been on vacation from work since the 21st, even though it felt like he was on vacation beginning on the 19th. That day he had a snow day! In the days leading up to his vacation, the kids and I just kind of lazed around the house and Hula Girl and I focused on getting a lot of Christmas projects done. Art projects, cookie baking, English toffee making, present wrapping, and merriment ensued. And once vacation began, Jonathan joined in the festivities by helping me plan Christmas, clean the house, and prepare for the fun. Then there was Christmas. In the days after Christmas, we’ve just been basking in the glow of time spent with family and relaxing. Hula Girl has visited Grammy and Grampy, Jonathan and I have continued and started some new TV series addictions (Whale Wars, Downton Abbey and Ugly Betty for those of you who care), we’ve almost completed a puzzle, and we’ve played several cutthroat rounds of Jonathan’s new games, Candyland, Qwirkle and Blokus Duo.  Please keep an eye out for more posts, detailing some of the above events.

Jonathan will return to work on Monday, and we’re not really looking forward to that. It is just so very nice to have him home. Before he returns I plan to get Hula Girl to the Y so she can swim in the pirate pool at least once, plan a menu for the next couple of weeks, do some freezer cooking so when we are adjusting back to normalcy I won’t have to cook on top of caring for both kids (still a tough concept for me, but it’s getting easier), and finish our dang puzzle.

On to resolutions.

Several of my friends and family members have bemoaned the idea of making “resolutions” as if they’re somehow bad. I think this is due to the stigma that resolutions have received lately- people resolve NOT to do something, whereas many in my circle would like to DO something. So lots of folks are calling them “goals”, “habits”, or even the very vague “ideas”. But I have some resolutions. I am making a firm decision to DO something, which is the first definition of the word, by the way.

Here are my resolutions:

  1. Read the Bible in one year. I kind of stole this from my mother-in-law… I wanted to do it anyway, but she is the one who mentioned doing it chronologically. So there you have it. After Gelato’s dreamfeed last night, I was SO tired and I almost took this resolution off the list. But I didn’t. 
  2. Take things at face value. I tend to read into everything anyone says or does, and I take silly things very personally. For example, I am a terrible cook somewhat stressed about my cooking skills, and the other day Jonathan added salt to his soup. I freaked out about it inside, thinking, “Oh man, he doesn’t like what I made for him! I tried so hard this time! Why can’t he just pretend he likes it anyway just to make me feel better?” Now that’s just silly. I mean, come on, even McDonalds, home of the world’s best french fry, provides you with extra salt (just in case you’re actually trying to fill your yearly sodium capacity in one sitting). Surely it’s not a slight at me or my cooking skills if my husband thinks his soup needs a little more salt. Not everyone likes things the same way. I, for one, do not like my food to be very salty. So it tasted fine to me. Sheesh.
  3. Incorporate organic foods into my family’s diet as much as possible. Now that our budget is relaxed a bit, this will be easier to do.
  4. Get some exercise. That one’s intentionally vague. 🙂

     

Thanksgiving, Our Way

Well, tomorrow Jonathan and I will be hosting our first Thanksgiving dinner. Yep, we’ve been married five years and have yet to celebrate the holiday at home. We HAVE cooked the entire meal once before, and all the separate dishes numerous times. So we’re not sweating the food (for once!- y’all know me… not exactly a Top Chef candidate). Here’s our menu:

  • Turkey
  • Gravy
  • Stuffing
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Turnips
  • Yams
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Carrots (haven’t decided how to prepare them yet- I will likely roast them)
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Rolls
  • Pickles
  • Olives
  • Jell-O Dessert Thing (it has no name)
  • Pies

 

 

 

 

 

Stuff in brown is food we’re preparing here at our house. Stuff in orange is food my mom’s preparing early and bringing. The Jell-O Dessert Thing is my grandma’s creation. 

Anyway, we’re quite excited to have my mom, dad, and grandma join us for dinner. I might even see if our next-door neighbor wants to come. Nothing like a holiday to practice a little hospitality! 

So my tasks this afternoon and evening are numerous. First, I have to go through recipes and solidify my exact plans for all the food we’re going to prepare. Next, I have to prepare some of the food tonight so we aren’t relying on an already-full oven for any dishes tomorrow. Then, I have to clean. Ugh. Cleaning. Finally, I have to make Jonathan’s Thanksgiving To-Do List. Since my parents are coming tomorrow, and it’s going to be SO nice outside (it’s currently 72º), we will rely on them to take Hula Girl to the playground. That means Jonathan will have ample time to get out in the backyard and clean it up in preparation for the winter AND in preparation for Big Fat Fabulous Friday*. (Anyone recognize the reference there? Bonus points to the first person who correctly identifies the show in the comments below!)

Tomorrow (Thanksgiving Day) we will attempt to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade… that is, if we can find it online. I’m sure we’ll be able to. update: I just googled it and, YES, we will be able to watch it on the Macy’s website or NBC’s website. So if y’all are in a bind like us, there ya go. Hula Girl is old enough to watch a little show here and there, and I think the holidays are a great reason to relax our strict NO-TV rule. Also, she wakes up at 7, which is when the parade starts, so why the heck shouldn’t we watch it!?

While we enjoy the parade, we’ll be cookin’ and waitin’ for the company. We might also vacuum a bit. Since we live in such a small house, we can’t really vacuum while the kiddos are sleeping. So we wait until we’re both home and both of them are awake… which happens for about 10 cumulative hours per week. Ha!

When the company arrives, my parents will abscond with Hula Girl, Jonathan will retreat to the backyard, and my grandma and I will chill in the living room, snacking on celery (her) and pickles and olives (me). When Hula Girl goes down for her nap, we’ll likely try to stream a football game so my mom, grandma, and husband can watch. My dad couldn’t really care less. 🙂

We’ll eat our official Thanksgiving Dinner around 5, which is when Hula Girl is used to having dinner. It’s a bit on the late side as far as Thanksgiving Dinners go, but it’s what works for our family. I just see no reason to try to give her a huge old meal in the middle of the day when she’s not used to that, and then expect her to eat well for her real dinner, too. And since I’m hosting, I can make the plans! You don’t like ’em, you don’t have to come! HA. (Fortunately, my family is quite flexible and they work with Hula Girl’s schedule all the time.)

And now, I must ask your opinion. So, here’s a little poll to help my family out.

*Big Fat Fabulous Friday plans to follow in another post.

I can’t cook.

For real. My parents made me cook a few times here and there growing up (I think it was once a week while I was in high school). I “cooked” tacos or spaghetti every.single.time.

For the majority of our married life, Jonathan and I have lived on tacos, spaghetti, casseroles, and whatever Jonathan cooks.

But since Hula Girl’s initiation to table foods at the ripe old age of 6 months (that’s 2 Decembers ago), I have tried to up it in the cooking department. Especially since I’m a stay-at-home-mom and I really have no reason not to have a nice warm delicious dinner on the table when Jonathan comes home from work. Except one- I can’t cook.

Don’t get me wrong. I can follow a recipe okay. But even when I do that, things generally don’t go well. We usually have to “doctor” our food quite a bit before we can get a reasonably edible dish. For example, I once cooked an “Asian BBQ Shredded Beef” dish in the crock pot, and we actually had to wash the meat before we could eat it. That, my friends, is how bad it tasted after I followed the recipe and everything.

I’d like to take a moment, after sharing that horribly embarrassing anecdote to bolster my kitchen rep just slightly. I challenge ANY of you to come over to my house and beat me in a banana bread or zucchini bread or just plain ol’ whole wheat bread competition. It can’t be done. I am a bread-baking champion who can’t be beat. I don’t know what it is, but every time I bake bread, it turns out really, really well. Reputation restored… or bumped up a notch, at least.

Anyhow, cooking is not my thing. I really do try. But something always goes wrong. Today’s example: I quick-soaked some pinto beans. That went well. Then I rinsed them and put them back in the pot, with plenty of water, to cook for tonight’s burritos*. But apparently you can’t cook them for as long as I wanted on medium heat. They boil over. And then they start to burn. I know this now. Fortunately I got to them and added more water and turned down the heat before the smoke detector went off in the middle of Hula Girl’s nap.

*Burritos are the fancier version of tacos in our house. I even warm the tortillas before filling them! And sometimes I melt the cheese to the tortillas before adding the beans, meat, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa! Now that’s expert cooking right there!

Jonathan has mentioned once or twice that once Hula Girl and Gelato get old enough to leave them for the evening (like, when they’re 42 and 40, respectively), he’d like to take cooking classes together. I’m still trying to decide whether he really has an interest or if he just doesn’t want to be eating spaghetti…again… on our 30th wedding anniversary.

It’s been said that practice makes perfect. But in this circumstance, practice only seems to make caked-on messes that taste nasty. Any ideas on how to improve my performance in the kitchen? I do feel like a terrible wife and mother. At least what I lack in cooking skills I make up for in fun! Jonathan has never once said he’s bored after hanging out with me for a while.

Maybe someday we’ll have enough money to hire a cook. Applications accepted starting now.

 

The Snowy Day

Every once in a while, good ol’ Colorado gifts its residents with a larger-than-average snowfall. Interestingly enough, it’s usually on years when the snowfall totals are far below average. But then in one snowstorm, we make up about half of what’s needed to get on track. Denver currently has about 10 inches, or so I’ve read on my Denver friends’ facebook status updates. We actually got about 6 inches, but it’s all very very wet and is packing down quickly.

To celebrate the snow (or to force myself to at least embrace it since I am, in fact, sick again), I took Hula Girl outside this morning and let her wander around the front yard while I shoveled the driveway. She was in “neen why no” heaven. (Clean white snow.) I told her she could eat the snow from the tree and on the ground where I wasn’t shoveling or tossing loads of dirty driveway snow. At one point I noticed she had fallen down on her tummy but was just laying there licking the snow. Then she floundered around for a few more minutes until she got back up, declared, “Did it!” and started the new game of “flop on my tummy into the deep deep snow and eat as much as I can!” She had snow all over her face. At one point she decided she’d remove her mittens, but I did not allow that- her little fingers would have frozen! I also looked over and caught her bouncing/dancing with her little fists up in the air and a jubilant expression on her face numerous times. Not sure if she had made some major snow discovery or was just excited to be out in it. Either way, it was really really cute.

When we came inside, I made her a cup of hot chocolate (she calls it “ah dah daht”). Then we watched a movie. I was trying to keep her somewhat contained since my body is aching and I feel so run-down, but she wanted nothing to do with it after 4 minutes. I guess it’s a good thing that my child doesn’t like to watch shows, but it can also make for some looooong days when Mommy is sick.

After she was finished with her ah dah daht, she decided she wanted more. So she took her step stool over to the microwave and was pushing all the buttons as she said over and over, “Mo ah dah daht beep!” She added the beep in for the microwave. You know, because microwaves deserve to be heard, too. She played at this activity for about 5 minutes.

What strikes me most about her today is the way she automatically says no to anything I offer, but then realizes what she turned down and then asks for it. For example, at lunch today I asked her if she wanted some avocado. She said no, of course. 5 minutes later, she said, “Dah-doh, Mommy?” So I got out the avocado and she ate half of it. (After finishing a veggie burger, cheese, and banana bread. Lil’ piglet these days!) I have been working on trying to offer choices so that the answer can’t be a simple yes or no, but sometimes the answer really is a simple yes or no. “Do you want avocado?” I wasn’t going to offer her anything else instead… so yeah.

For those of you interested, the pizza last night was a big hit. Jonathan was very surprised and pleased to have pizza for dinner. He actually jumped up and down a few times once he got his boots off. Hula Girl actually ate 3 pieces of pizza (about 2.5 inches wide at the top) plus a full plate full of her spinach/basil noodles. Like I mentioned, she’s a piglet lately!

Tonight’s dinner is going to be à la Jonathan. I called him and begged him to bring something home so I don’t have to worry about trying to cook. I just want to take a nap. Which I’m going to do… now! Happy Friday, everyone.

Gray Fuzz

It’s been gray outside all day, it’s supposed to rain this afternoon. Then the rain is supposed to turn to snow overnight and we’re supposed to wake up to 6 inches of fluffy white stuff. COLD fluffy white stuff.

I am feeling quite under the weather- like I’m coming down with another cold. Fortunately Hula Girl is not showing any symptoms of illness (she will usually stop eating and that’s our first clue) and so I’m hoping that my immune system is just so depressed that I’ll be the only one who gets it this time. If I get it at all. I could just be overthinking the headache and the possible almost-sore passage between the nose and throat. (What is that called, by the way? I taught it when I taught 4th grade, but that was… oh, five years ago. Crazy how time flies and how pregnancy brain makes you forget everything you ever knew.)

Tonight I plan to surprise Jonathan with a pizza from Papa Murphy’s since it’s going to be so cold and we were expecting to eat salad for dinner. I went on a “no-meat” rage last weekend, so all our meals have been 100% vegetarian this week. Not so good for a guy who wants to gain muscle and get back into the gym. Anyway, my plan for tonight’s pizza is to just get something warm to accompany the salad and let him have a little bit o’ animal in his diet. Sick, even typing that makes me feel gross. His half will be pepperoni and pineapple; mine will be black olive and mushroom. Hula Girl will sample from both halves, and will probably have a serving of spinach-basil noodles on the side.

On a side note about the vegetarian meals, Hula Girl has eaten so many veggies this week it’s boggled my mind. Usually she eats a great helping of carbs (just like her Mommy and Daddy- carb lover!), some fruit, maybe a helping of veggies if I can pray to the right number of Veggie gods prior to the meal, and she’ll always always always eat her protein (beans, meats, anything with protein- she gobbles it up). But this week she’s eaten mostly veggies and carbs, with a little bit of proteins thrown in there for good measure. I have intentionally not offered as much fruit just to see how she takes to the veggie options when fruits aren’t available. I’m liking the trend. Her favorite mealtime activity has been to find the peas that are hiding inside the rigatoni. It’s been quite fun to see her enjoying her veggies so very much. This week’s favorite veggie: “Ma-um.” (Mushrooms.) Now that’s my girl!!!

Also, I’ve been very intentional lately about allowing her to participate in things I’m doing around the house, but not really forcing her to do activities just because I think they might be fun for her. (Big step in the right direction! Congratulations to me!) This morning, for example, she stood up on the stepladder so she could help me make her breakfast, a veggie omelet. She ripped up a ton of spinach and cut some mushrooms in half with a plastic knife. I had to go back and cut the mushrooms smaller, of course, but hey- it was GREAT to see her so excited about helping. I have never asked her for “real” help in meal prep before. Usually I hand her an empty bowl and a whisk and ask her to “mix the pancakes” or whatever.  But this morning, I thought, “Hey, why not see what she can actually do? She’ll love it, and I’ll train her early to like helping in the kitchen!” She did love it, and by the time we poured the eggs in the pan, she was so excited to eat that she just kept repeating, “Omee? Omee? Omee?” I even let her shake her own pepper. What a big girl. It was yet another lesson for me in empowering her to be independent, and even though it’s hard to learn the lesson, it’s so rewarding to see her happy and capable.

Here are a few other words she is so fond of saying that just crack me up:

  • “Oh, Noooooooooo!” She says this in a high-pitched whiny voice whenever she drops something. We have no idea where she learned it. It’s absolutely hilarious. I am so glad to have captured it on film.
  • “Dee-doh Dee-doh!” (Twinkle, Twinkle)
  • “Neen wah nee nee” (Clean fresh blankies) Ever since witnessing her blankie enter the washer covered in soaking wet vomit and exit the dryer fluffy, clean, and fresh, she has referred to both blankies as “clean fresh blankies.”
  • “New eet” (New sheet) This originated around the same time as the blankies- when she was vomiting after every meal, we changed her sheets a lot, and we made a big deal about putting new sheets on her bed. Now every time she goes down for a nap she tells me she has a new sheet. Not always true… but still adorable.
  • “Doh-dee-mime, did, in on, boy, dee, da da, dee-doh dee-doh.” (Storytime, kids, sing songs, boy, girl, color, twinkle twinkle) This is her mantra, and she repeats it at least 20 million times a day. She loves to remember storytime and who she sees and what she does there. Interesting that she has yet to remember that storytime is where we read books. Ha!

I also have to include a very funny habit of Hula Girl’s that I keep forgetting to write down. This girl is crazy about fuzz. She pulls out little shreds from her blankies, both of which are made of yarn, and rolls them in her fingers until she has a fuzz ball. She calls them “wuh.” Her absolute favorite thing to do with her “wuh” is to stick it up her nose. She will gather about 35 fuzz balls together in one giant fuzz conglomeration and try to put the whole thing up her nose. I usually find her after naps and nighttimes just laying there in her crib, stuffing fuzz up her nose.

Now, she doesn’t just love to put it up her nose. She also loves to carry it around in her left hand. She always always always has at least 5 fuzzballs in her left hand. She’s been a fuzz collector since she was about 10 months old. As you can imagine, 9 months of shredding/carrying fuzz around has left a veritable fuzz factory in our house, and you will always be able to find at least 4 or 5 fuzzballs on our carpet. When Hula Girl is playing, she will literally stop everything (even if she’s in mid-run), and stoop down to collect ANY fuzz she sees.

And when it’s mealtime, she used to accidentally eat the fuzz and choke on it. So now we have a mealtime ritual. The fuzz lives on the corner of the dining room table until the meal is over and her hands are clean again. I don’t want yogurt-covered fuzzballs littering my house or stinking up my daughter’s hand. That would be gross. 😛

 

Queen

I have been really really terrible at keeping up with this whole “blog thing” for a few weeks now. I am really disappointed with myself, too, since I started out so strong! I even had 300 visitors in my first three weeks! Ugh.

Lately, I have been really focused on doing the homemaker thing. I have been dedicated to housework, cooking, and raising the baby. I have cooked a different dish for dinner every single night for the past two weeks, with the exception of last Saturday. That day, I was in a different city for my best friend’s bridal shower. Jonathan has gotten to experience the main reason why we’ve lived on spaghetti, lasagna, and tacos for three and a half years of marriage: I AM A TERRIBLE COOK!

I have pretty much managed to mangle everything I’ve made in the past two weeks. This includes: barbecue shredded chicken (forgot the brown sugar), asian shredded beef (mixed the beef shreds into the sauce- then I had to wash the beef- yes, wash), chicken/broccoli/rice casserole (had too much broccoli and rice to mix the liquids in well enough, so the rice came out too crispy in some parts), and the first BIG disappointment- cream of broccoli soup over baked potatoes with cheese on top (actually came out fine, but I expected that Hula Girl would like it, and she DID NOT).

Aside from the terrible taste and my affinity for overcooking, I have really been quite successful at this whole stay-at-home-mom gig. I made a daily, every other daily, weekly, and monthly schedule of cleaning and chores. My daily list includes cleaning the kitchen, dishes, laundry, cooking lunch and dinner, sweeping the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry rooms (we enter our house through the laundry room, and it’s also where the litter box is located- so it gets quite a bit of traffic), and tidying up the house. Every other day, I clean the bathroom and I also rotate between dusting the house and weeding the garden. My weekly list includes more deep-cleaning measures like mopping and vacuuming the floors, sanitizing all the doorknobs and light switches, cleaning all the glass surfaces in the house, and of course, weekly meal planning and grocery shopping. We spend far less money when I plan the whole week’s menu in advance. Monthly chores include things like baseboards, walls and vertical surfaces of any kind, reorganizing cabinets, etc.

I try to get all my chores done during Hula Girl’s first nap so that I can spend time during her second nap working on other things. Other things include my mom’s business, reading books, napping, crafting, and advising on the online group I help moderate.

The coolest thing about my newfound resolve and perseverance to actually keep up with all this is because of Hula Girl’s schedule remaining on California time, so she’s actually sleeping until 8:00 a.m. and going to bed at 8:00 p.m. This is wonderful for us, as Jonathan gets to spend more time with her in the evenings, and we can have dinner together as a family!!!!! When Jonathan’s going to get home late, I just give Hula Girl a snack at like 4:45 or so, which holds her over until dinnertime. If he gets home at a normal time, we all just eat at 5:30. It’s been a wonderful thing to add to our daily lives!

Hula Girl is becoming such a delightful little person. I cannot and will not believe that she is 47 weeks old today, meaning only 5 weeks and 1 day to B-DAY. No, no, no. She’s not ready. (Or is it me?) Anyway, she makes me so happy all day long. She does the funniest little things. Her favorite new thing is a trick her Daddy taught her when I was away at the bridal shower last Saturday. Now if she hears, “Hula Girl, be a champion!” she clenches her little hands together and waves them back and forth in front of her face! She frequently pairs this arm/hand gesture with a cute little body bounce. She is the champion, my friends. She can also click her tongue (another trick compliments of Daddy), blow (I taught her that one since she loves it when I blow on her tummy during diaper changes), and clap her feet (a feat limited to diaper-changing time).  It’s amazing to watch her receptive language just balloon out so quickly. I am amazed all the time at what she understands and does in response. I simply can’t wait to hear her speak what’s going on in that brain of hers- I bet she’s going to be one smart cookie.

Speaking of smarts, have you ever heard a baby read a book to her Momma while her Momma cooked dinner? I have. She went and got a book tonight and read it to me, out loud, while I cooked. Um, I’m not kidding.  She’s not even 11 months old. Where did she learn this?!

Ok, enough of my rambling. I am just awed by what she does and can do that she couldn’t do yesterday. Seriously, she learns that fast.

My Best Friends’ Weddings

The kitchen is scrubbed, top to bottom. The laundry is *almost* done, including all the diapers. The carpets are vacuumed. The meals are planned, the grocery list is made, and we’re headed to the grocery store during Hula Girl’s next awake time.

It has been a productive day so far.

I have begun the process of looking for a place to rent in the new town, just in case Jonathan gets the job and it offers a decent salary. We are going through some major issues with our current place of residence, and we really want to move out. It is really frustrating to be dealing with everything we are dealing with, since we really are great tenants- we’re clean, quiet, respectful. I don’t think our land lady really understands how much we’re doing and how she should be treating us. Sigh.

I’m going to try out some new recipes this week. I’ve decided that since I’m going to be doing this whole “Mommy” thing for quite some time, I may as well learn to cook something other than our normal rotation. So this week, we’re going to have some new dishes, and we’ll be evaluating the likelihood of repeats. Here’s the menu for the week (dinners):

  • Monday: Fettuccine with Zucchini Sauce and Meatballs; Salad on the Side
  • Tuesday: Drunken Chicken over Rice with Broccoli
  • Wednesday: Herb-Roasted Chicken with Shallots; New Potatoes and Corn on the Side
  • Thursday: Turkey Burgers  and Savory Brussels Sprouts

Jonathan is cooking on Thursday. I don’t grill. I should clarify that turkey burgers are not a new dish for us. They’re just less frequent. Also, we don’t eat much red meat; the meatballs mentioned on Monday will be turkey meatballs.

I am really looking forward to the end of this summer when we can start harvesting yummy vegetables from our garden. We’re really going to enjoy the bounty! Today, I came across a lot of really tasty-sounding recipes utilizing the veggies we’re going to grow. I can’t wait to use the recipes and share them with our neighbors and friends! I sure hope we can actually grow some stuff…

Next weekend, Hula Girl and I will be taking a short trip to my parent’s house, just an hour and a half away. Jonathan has a mandatory work training on Friday and Saturday, so we will be missing him. However, it will be a lot of fun to see Grammy and Grampy, and to play with Hula Girl’s new toys! My mom purchased a little walking/riding toy for Hula Girl recently, and we’re so excited for her to try it out. She’s good at walking while she pushes the laundry basket around the living room. She’ll be walking all on her own very soon. It will be a good opportunity for her to practice her balancing skills!

The next weekend is when we leave for our trip to California, to attend my good friend’s wedding and to see the other grandparents, Ama and Papa. We’ll also get to see Jonathan’s sister (who is going to LOSE in the Easter Egg Competition), his aunt (who made the delightful quilt I mentioned in this post), and some other fun folks. I really hope we get to the beach one day, even though it is somewhat far from where we’re staying.  At least Ama and Papa’s house is a lot closer than ours is to the beach!

We will be spending 10 days in California, so two weekends. Then I will be spending the next weekend with my best friend and all of her closest friends as we celebrate her upcoming marriage by throwing her a bridal shower! I am really looking forward to treating my friend a bit, as she just really really deserves it. We got to have coffee together last night, and I really enjoyed our time together. We’ve never had one of those best friend relationships where every little detail is important. I don’t really care what kind of music she listens to. But we do know each other well, and we can discuss the bigger picture. I also noticed that our friendship has not suffered from lack of time spent together- in fact, our friendship is enhanced even more because it is well-seasoned with prayers and words exchanged in hard times and in glad times. I am grateful that God has placed my best friend in my life, even if I’m not the only friend “of honor.” 🙂

What is your favorite memory with your closest friend?

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