Friday, October 22, 2010

Moving + I feel like I'm falling for fall

Did I mention that we're moving?

Moving. Moving brings out, ummmmm... qualities. Probably not anybody's best qualities. At least, not anyone in my family's best qualities. There are a lot of awesome things about moving, though. The most awesome thing will be when it is done.

My time management skills are not that great, but they are evolving. They kind of have to.

I am trying to embrace my inner decorator. She is hiding under a shabby chair in the corner of my brain, but I am trying to coax her out. I am also leaning on super-smart, creative, and supportive friends who will help me pick paint colors and moldings and also remind me that it will all be over soon enough, except for the part that will probably be a work in progress for years to come, but that will be much more bearable once we're living in the new house. I think.

Anneliese is 8 months old, sort of crawling but only backwards, and sort of sitting up (both of my girls have taken a while to master this). She has the most hilarious giggle fits. She has two teeth and one on the way. She has serious separation anxiety, which is tough on both of us at times, but we'll get through it.



Nora is 4 years old, sort of sassy in a new and frustrating way, but still so kindhearted and loving that it makes my heart explode. She is reading paragraphs. She didn't want to write a single letter until she started her new school a couple of months ago, but now she is writing all kinds of stuff, which is especially neat since they didn't teach her that stuff at school, she just saw some of the other kids writing and decided she wanted to give it a shot. These days, when Nora gets angry, she is very dramatic. It's sort of hilarious, but I try not to let on that I think so. The other day she intercepted the American Girls catalog and she wants one of everything, but don't we all?

As always, the pose was her idea...


Tomorrow we hope to

  • stop by the bank
  • visit Sandy Springs Farmer's Market to pick up our meat CSA share and some veggies
  • go to some builder's supply store that is supposedly cheaper than Lowe's or Ace (we'll see)
  • pick up some moving boxes from a Freecycler (I hope!)
  • work on the house while Nora watches movies and I wear Anneliese on my back (ummm, maybe!)
  • attend the Candler Park Fall Festival (really doubt it but I can dream)

 Jason at the Candler Park Fall Fest his first fall in Atlanta, 2002

Happy fall weekend to you!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rage against your animal friends.

I mentioned in a previous post that Nora enjoys stories about a made-up squirrel named Charles Squirrel. He's seriously like a member of our family. She has to have at least one Charles Squirrel story every night before bed, if not more. Usually Jason tells the story, but sometimes I do and sometimes Nora does. Charles Squirrel exists in the plane of semi-real, which is something I think is unique to kids Nora's age. I think on some level she knows the stories are just stories, but at the same time, she feels really warms towards the idea of a friendly, bumbling squirrel that lives in our back yard. We're moving soon, and she was really anxious about Charles until we told her he would move to the tree at our new house.

The Squirrels are back...:O)))

So this morning.

We have a mama cat and three kittens living under our porch. Real, actual cats, who are eating the real, actual good I bought them. I would like to get them some veterinary care, but so far I haven't been able to get close enough to even pet one of them.

This morning I looked out the window and saw a squirrel eating out of the cat food dish. When we were leaving for school, I said, "Nora, this morning I saw Charles Squirrel eating the cat food. For real!" (I for real saw a squirrel, and his name is Charles if I want him to be.)

Nora: Oh, no! I want to tell him not to do that.

Me: Okay.

Nora: (angrily and at the top of her lungs) CHARLES SQUIRREL, STOP EATING THE CAT FOOD! DON'T EVER DO THAT AGAIN!"
 
Me: Wow, you were really loud. You sounded mad at Charles!
 
Nora: Well, Mom. I kind of was mad at him.

I hope after Charles's verbal smackdown, he still wants to come with us to the new house.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Menu Plan Monday Oct 4

I am way beyond tired, but menu planning is one of those things I have to find time to do, no matter how little time I have. If I don't make time for this, chaos ensues.

I have a few other blog posts cooking in my head right now that I hope I'll get to soon. Too bad cooking in my head doesn't equal typed and ready to post.

Some weeks I like to find most of my recipes on the internet. This week I curled up in bed with a bunch of my favorite cookbooks (and a few I had borrowed from the library) and found all of my recipes from books.

Without further adeiu:



Monday/Tues: Sliced, broiled ham with curried skillet cauliflower and collards (recipes from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (Better Homes & Gardens Plaid))

Weds/Thurs: Slow Cooker Sausage, White Bean, and Kale Soup (from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook)

Fri: BBQ burgers (with our grassfed beef!), recipe from  Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (Better Homes & Gardens Plaid); Basic Skillet Black Beans (Moosewood Restaurant New Classics)

Saturday: Huevos Rancheros (The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, Heavy-Duty Revised Edition)

Sunday: Italian Stuffed Portabellos (Moosewood Restaurant New Classics)

All of the above sounds very yummy. I like cooking, but I like picking out recipes even more. I would like it better if someone else would cook the recipes for me, like the world was a giant restaurant.

Once again, got the format from Orgjunkie.com. :) I am not an organizing junkie myself, but I'm trying to learn from those who are.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Menu Plan Monday Sept 20

I've temporarily sworn off Facebook and Twitter with the idea of increasing my productivity. I think it's working, but I can cut my internet apron strings completely. I find myself wasting time in other places, like blogs!

Since I had to take some time tonight to write our meal plan anyway, I thought I would share it here. I was inspired by the blogger at OrgJunkie. She lists her meals every week and encourages others to do the same. She provides pretty banners and everything. Whee!


I only have a few days planned. My parents are visiting next weekend and I'm not sure if I'll have time to cook. Plus, I'm that hostess--the one who usually ends up going out to eat several times over the course of the visit and never has enough bread to make toast for breakfast. For shame. We're not really toast eaters.

I was looking for recipes that were quick, easy, and nutritious. I wanted at least one crockpot recipe that would, I hope, last two nights in a row, since I have La Leche League on Tuesday night and a consignment sale pre-sale another night. We're always on a budget, and this week the only meat we have to work with is ground beef because that's what we have left from our CSA.

Monday: Taco Salad
Tuesday/Weds: Crockpot Quinoa Casserole
Thurs: Black Bean Salad with Jicama
Fri: Chili (from my America's Test Kitchen Cookbook, which I love because all the recipes have been tested a bunch of times and are basically fool-proof, and I find the depth of flavor in the seasoning to be very yummy)

Jason made the taco salad on Sunday night, so it should be all set to eat for dinner Monday. I should probably pick up the ingredients for corn bread to serve with the chili. I'm also planning to make applesauce and banana bread this week, the banana bread for my church's upcoming centennial celebration.

I enjoy cooking, but I'm not an experimental cook. It's just not my thing. But I do get a kick out of cookbooks and food blogs, and while there's never enough time to make everything yummy in this world, I get to make a lot of it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The beginning of something beautiful

I mentioned the Dekalb Library in a recent post. Because I've been using it so much, I thought I would give it a little more love. There is a branch just a few blocks away from Nora's new preschool, and I have been going there often to use their wifi and check out books. Right now I am reading The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live. Tonight's dinner came from Joy of Cooking: All About Vegetarian. (I am trying out a new program where I link to Amazon in the blog and if you click over and buy, I get credit. But really, if you want to look at those books you could go to the library, like I've been doing!)

I have always been a library girl. I have fond memories of the Pensacola branch libraries that stretch back to when I was about Nora's age. My mom and grandmother took me to storytime at the tiny little Northeast Pensacola branch, which was then located in Belvedere Plaza, approximately where Firehouse Subs is located now. When I got a little older, my mom would sometimes drop me off at the Cordova branch (pre-Tryon) to browse while she did her shopping. One time she forgot to pick me up. Oops! When I was older, rebellious teenaged me went to the community college library to escape whatever was bothering me. I liked to look up literary criticism of my favorite contemporary novels and I liked to read decades-old magazines via microfiche. When I think about this now, I think, "See, even before widespread access to the internet, a dork will find a way."

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month. My library system held a contest for locals to design new library cards. Here are the winners. Aren't they cute?


In honor of NLCSUM (I don't know if they're really using that acronym) and because she's four and it's about time, I took Nora to get her own library card. We were in downtown Decatur for the Decatur Book Festival and Nora was sporting pajamas, which she wore in the Llama Llama Red Pajama parade earlier that morning.


If you live in DeKalb County, you can get one of the fancy new cards, too. It only costs $1 for the upgrade.

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One Man's Trash

I've never been much of a thrift store shopper. Over the years I've had several friends who have made thrifting into an enjoyable and sometimes even profitable hobby. I find myself in thrift stores once or twice a year, and one of two things usually happens. Either I'm all over the store, marveling at the bargains and buying up things I think I might use one day (which then take up residence in my small house indefinitely until I donate those items back to Goodwill or another charity) or I get overwhelmed by all the random stuff, convince myself I don't need anything, and buy nothing.

The thing is, thrift stores could be a great resource for my family if I just shop carefully. Buying things I don't need is a problem for me everywhere I shop. It's probably even more harmful at a place like Target where everything is full price. So I have started a list of things that I specifically want to look for at thrift stores. For example, I'd really like a hanging fruit basket. That's the kind of thing I would probably buy on an impulse for Target or Amazon Prime (which is horribly enabling of impulse shopping and designed to be that way, I'm sure). But right now I have some extra time in the mornings because I live too far away from Nora's school to go home. I'm going to look for that fruit basket at Good Will, Last Chance Thrift store, etc. I bet one will turn up soon enough!

In the meantime, I did make one impulse purchase at GoodWill that I think will turn out to be a great one. I found a Kitchenaid stand mixer for $17! I saw it sitting on the shelf and my heart skipped a beat. This model runs $250-$300 in stores. As I plugged it in to make sure it worked, other shoppers crowded around, poised to buy the mixer if I decided to pass it up. It works, but I'm pretty sure the motor needs servicing. I figure even if it needs a rather expensive repair, it will be a great bargain because they cost so much full price. I have been frustrated with my stand mixer for a while and fantasizing about a Kitchenaid, but I wasn't planning on getting one because we didn't gave the money and even if we did, I'm not sure I bake enough to justify the purchase. I'm pretty thrilled with this purchase, and now the hunt is on to find accessories. Mama needs a (inexpensive) dough hook. I'd say this mixer is, as they say, a thrift score.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ten Things I'm Digging Right Now.

I won't call it a top ten, because that might imply some kind of coherence or actual ranking. But here are ten things that are on my "yes!" list right now.

1) Contigo travel mugs. Is it possible to love a travel mug? After hating so many, I'm fonder of this one than I expected I would be. This mug uses "autoseal" technology that makes it truly spillproof. It's so spillproof that I can actually put my coffee in my purse and it doesn't spill. This is a vast improvement over previous spillproof mugs that I've managed to spill in the upright position. I loved mine especially during the early days of breastfeeding when I wanted to have a drink on hand when I was sitting on the couch feeding the baby, (sometimes water or tea, not coffee) but my 3 year old and/or my cat was constantly knocking my cup on the ground.

2) My new baby-sitting co-op. I had heard wonders told about such things as baby-sitting co-ops, but they're not that easy to come by. For the longest time I didn't know anybody nearby who would be interested, plus, some people had their own set-ups with regular baby-sitters, nannies, or in-laws. Finally, though, a group of us with similar needs banded together and decided to start swapping sitting. I've sat for other families a few times now, and every time, their kids were asleep and I just played on the computer or watched a movie. I earned credit I can use for a few hours of sitting at my house one day. It's a win-win situation!

3) Composting. During our gardening adventure this year, we probably learned more about composting than we did about growing stuff. I'm not sure why we never did this before. Actually, I know why--we didn't know much about it and it sounded "complicated." I'm here to report that composting is very easy and quite worthwhile. We converted a trashcan into a compost bin. We have reduced our waste big time and, in theory, have some really nice, rich dirt. We're about to start planning our fall garden, so I hope we'll be able to use some of it! But even if we don't, I've learned that making the dirt isn't the point. We were throwing stuff into landfills (in our trash bags) and there was a simple and easy way to get rid of it here at home.

4) The library. Duh, right? I've been an enthusiastic library user since I was Nora's age, and I have used our DeKalb Library quite a bit over the years. I'm just particularly loving it right now. Sometimes I forget that it's a great source for nonfiction books, like cookbooks or gardening manuals.

5) Twitter. Twitter had been around for a couple of years before I caved and joined, and I used it for many months or maybe a year before it really started making sense for me. I like it because it's easy to read on my chosen wireless device, whereas Facebook is kind of a pain. Facebook is better for catching up with old friends and looking at pictures. Twitter is pithy. It can be mundane, but despite it's reputation I don't think it's actually more mundane than Facebook often is. One of the reasons I enjoy it so much is that I often follow random links and end up reading thought-provoking articles that I wouldn't have otherwise stumbled upon. When I post on Twitter, I don't worry as much about other people reading/responding, probably because they usually don't. My thoughts just float out into the ether, with no burden of being particularly important.

6) Snoballs. This love has been facilitated by the fact that there have been new snoball businesses that have popped up in both Decatur and Pensacola. Snoballs are shaved ice with flavored syrup dumped on top. My favorite flavor is cotton candy. I can't escape the fact that these are pretty horrible for me, health-wise, which is one reason I'm glad that school is starting back and I can finally break my habit. I have heard rhetoric arguing that a snoball is a "healthy treat," but I'm not buying it.

7) Amazon MP3. Amazon has hundreds of free songs available for download every month. It's a great way to hear new music in all genres. It also has a massive rotating selection of $5 album downloads. I stopped buying physical CDs a couple of years because I don't have a good place to store the jewel cases and I found I was listening to my Ipod more than I was listening to actual CDs. I also love the monthly sampler from Paste Magazine, which features all of my favorite types of music, but my subscription is on hold right now.

8) Flip Burger Boutique. Burgers are obviously the trendiest restaurant fare of 2010 with localvore restaurants coming in a close second. A marrying of the two? All the better. Most people I know adore Farm Burger, which I have tried and liked, but is not at the top of my list (yet). Flip Burger Boutique also features a grassfed burger, but it's menu is a little more gimmicky. I happen to like gimmicky burgers and wacky dipping sauces for fries, so Flip is right up my alley. The fries are the closest to my personal ideal I've seen at any of the restaurants I've been to lately, also I also give fry props to Leon's Full Service for their fries and sauces. Our family is going to attempt to swear off restaurants for a while, so I wish the above burger boutiques a fond farewell...for now. I'm sure I will be back in your loving arms soon, but I hope to return weighing less and with more money in the bank.

9) Bray Family Farms. We finally signed up for that meat CSA we've been talking about for a while. Our first pick-up is later this week. Since I haven't tried their meat yet, this is premature adoration. However, I have faith that the food will be delicious, we will learn a lot, and we will be glad that we are greatly reducing our consumption of factory-farmed meat. So, whoo-hoo. Bring it on!

10) These folks.


My sweet, loving husband; my two effervescent girlies, and myself. That's right: I dig myself. Photo credit goes to my amazing friend Dara, who takes pictures of lots of interesting things on the Gulf Coast and everywhere else she goes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In which I gush about Ramona and Beezus

I took Nora to see Ramona and Beezus last night. To the uninitiated, I was a Beverly Cleary fanatic when I was a little girl. Beezus and Ramona (the title of the first book in the series) was one of my first chapter books. I read it in first grade. I was taking an ill-fated gymnastics class and my mom bought the book for me one night while I was in class. In my mind that was the same night she slammed my hand in the locked car door in the Zayre's parking lot, but it was probably a different night.

I identified heavily with Ramona. I still do. I've learned since then that a lot of people do, which is one of the wonderful things about the books. Books were good, good friends to me when I was growing up. I think I read the Ramona books hundreds of times and all of the other Beverly Clearly books, even the dated 50s-era books like Jean and Johnny, dozens of times.

I had forgotten they were making a movie until about 6 weeks ago. I was in Pensacola and Nora was talking about a witch that was so scary, she scared herself! That reminded me of the scene in Ramona the Pest when Ramona was a witch for Halloween, picked out an awesomely frightful mask, but was so scared of it she ended up having to hide it. One afternoon while Jason was home and Anneliese was napping, I took Nora to Barnes & Noble to get a copy of Beezus and Ramona. We have to read them in order, am I right? Because of the limited selection in the store, I had to get the movie tie-in cover. I thought it was lame.



We both enjoyed reading the book and have been on the library waiting list for Ramona the Pest. In the meantime, I couldn't resist watching the trailer for the movie.



My initial complaint was that Selena Gomez is all wrong for Beezus. Which she totally is, but my curiosity was getting the best of me and I wanted to see the movie. I'd heard that dear old Beverly Cleary was very involved in the script and she liked the final product. Even Roger Ebert found the movie charming.

I was pleasantly surprised with the film. I had expected to merely tolerate it, but instead I found myself cherishing it. I can hardly think of a book-to-movie translation where they've gotten it this right. Even if I go in with really low expectations, I find books-to-movies to be wholly disappointing when I've read the book, especially if it's a book that is particularly beloved.

Joey King was great as Ramona. When I was a kid I had loved Sarah Polley in the PBS Ramona TV series. As an adult I've been a big fan of Sarah Polley's acting and I wondered if I had room for another big/small screen Ramona, but Joey King really fit the bill. I had to get over the fact that both of Ramona's parents are Sex and the City alumnae, but in the end I liked them both quite a bit. From Ginnifer Godwin's first scene, I worried that her portrayal of Aunt Beatrice would be too saccharine, but as the movie progressed I think she was wonderful. The character of Aunt Beatrice became fully realized in a way she never was for me in the books. As far as Disney teen Selena Gomez goes, her acting was just fine. I don't think that Beezus was written true to the books, though, and her plotline in the movie was the weakest one. I guess there's a reason they changed the title from Beezus and Ramona to Ramona and Beezus.

I think the thing I liked the most about the movie is that they really got the details right. I loved how the Quimby house was just a tiny bit shabby, how sometimes Ramonda's mom wore something that didn't fit quite right or was a little bit dated. (Side note: I loved their cozy bungalow and the amazing and stylish storage their house featured. I aspire to use space that wisely.) There were no throwaway scenes; almost every scene I can think of came directly from one of the books. I wasn't sure how they would incorporate all of the books and various ages of the characters in one film, but that translation was pretty seamless. The dialogue was sharp and often lifted effortlessly from the Cleary novels. Since I recently re-read the first book in the series, I had to smile that one of the businesses in the movie was named Bendix, after 4 year old Ramona's favorite doll in the book. Ramona's dad is an artist and his "work" was a loving tribute to illustrator Alan Tiegreen, who illustrated the Ramona books that were written in the 70s and 80s. I appreciated the fact that some of the humor was a little more complex and appealed to me as an adult, but it wasn't cheap or tawdry in the least. I'm no prude, but I usually find adult humor in children's movies to be tiresome and unfunny. The common thread in almost all of the children's books I have loved is rich plots and great characterization that is for kids, but not at kids, i.e. not dumbed-down. Cleary is probably the queen of this. I love her so!

One of the complaints I've read about the movie is that it's a little too squeaky clean for some, but that's really a-okay by me. Cleary began writing in what was arguably a more innocent or restrained time for children's literature (you should check out the Carolyn Haywood books if you want squeaky clean!), but she has never shied away from conflict. Ramona and Beezus had plenty of "modern problems" and modern context, but at the heart of the movie is strong characters and stories that generations can relate to.

Oh, and I totally want to live on Klickitat Street.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

So today was a little better, but I'm looking forward to the day when things are a lot better. My sanity is still a little precarious. Tomorrow we're going to Fernbank with some friends to see the gecko exhibit, so that's fun. Even when I'm feeling frustrated with Nora, there are things that she says and does that are so sweet, so precious. That helps, a lot. Even when she's woken the baby for the third time.

Yesterday something happened and I'm pretty sure I've never related to my own mother so much. She was always complaining about how we would follow her into the bathroom. I never saw what the big deal was--I mean, what's a little togetherness between a girl and her mom?--until I became a mother myself. Nora followed me into the bathroom.

"Can I have a little privacy?" I asked.

"Sure," she said enthusiastically. "I'll just go right over here." Right over here being, you know, 6 inches away from me with her standing in the tub, hiding behind the shower curtain. So private! Then she wanted me to play a game where I guess "for a long time!" (meaning I wasn't supposed to guess it was her right away) who was hiding behind the shower curtain. How many moms get behind-the-shower-curtain trivia while trying to use the restroom? I'm a lucky lady.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Everything on this blog is usually all nicey nice. Why? Because the original point of the blog was to update people on the general goings-on of our lives. Now, even though I have given the link to members of both families, I don't think anyone reads it, but if you do, give me a shout out. :)

The other reason everything is pretty nice here is that I don't have a lot to complain about. Do I have angst sometimes? Sure. But I've had a angsty blog before, and after a while I started to feel like I was spinning my wheels. My angst is about pretty mundane things. I worry about my weight, about money, real estate, the occasional spat with my husband, and sometimes I have an "I've had it up to here!" moment with my three year old. But it's usually not interesting enough to write about.

I don't want people to think I'm giving an overly rosy point of view, though. I have hard days. I've had a lot of them recently.

The first four months of having two kids have been pretty smooth sailing. It's weird--a lot of the things I worried about have not come to pass, and some things are even better than expected. Nora has dealt pretty well with having to occasionally wait her turn for things. Anneliese is a pretty easygoing baby. The house may be something of a wreck for now, but the walls aren't falling down around our ears. Nora really loves Anneliese and wants to play with her a lot. They'll pass a good amount of time giggling and cooing at each other on Anneliese's playmat or on my bed. Sometimes, when Anneliese crying, I can even get Nora to amuse her while I quickly do a needed task like change the laundry over, although I do remember a recent afternoon when I tried desperately to cram a salad down my throat imploring Nora, "Play with her. Talk to her. Come on, please! Just let me have these three more bites!" as the baby's cries escalated (and I finally had to give up my salad).

Recently, though, Nora has stopped napping. I'm not sure what to make of that. She's almost four and I know friends whose kids have stopped napping at much earlier ages. I have even thought a few times Nora was going to give up napping. She seems to demonstrate that she really needs a nap, though. She has been acting out more. If we stay home, we fight--which I hate. I'm having to get more creative with discipline and I'm never sure if I am doing the right thing, although honest to goodness I know I am doing the best I can and I feel really good about that. Most of the time. We have been getting out a fair amount, possibly not enough, but I don't feel very motivated to take out a child who won't behave, and thus the cycle continues. Must find balance. In the past, I've let her play quietly in her room as a good alternative to actual sleeping, but lately that hasn't been working. Lately, there has been a lot of screaming. Hers, not mine. If it's not waking the baby (which it does sometimes), at the very least it has me figuratively digging my nails into my palm and banging my head against the wall. There comes a time when the baby gets up for good and Nora comes out of her room from the psuedo-nap and I fantasize about digging a hole to China. By the time Jason gets home, I am usually trembling with anticipation. Not figuratively.

This has been going on for about a week. Typing it out feels good. It reminds me of other times in my motherhood when I've been frustrated with Nora's behavior, my parenting, or a combination of the two. I just had a memory of when Nora herself was four months old, Anneliese's age. Those were some tough days, too, which is funny to think about because sometimes I think that Anneliese on her own would be so easy to take care of. Nora needed a lot of holding, a lot of attention at that age. I knew that giving her that love and attention was the right thing to do, but it was an adjustment. There were days I felt like she sucked the energy, the spirit right out of me. I am not sure if I will ever be one hundred percent used to having people who need me as much as small children need their mothers. But there have been so many more days that she has lifted me up and I have gotten the biggest high, the most pleasure just from being around her. Most of the time I don't think of Nora as a difficult child (I hate that term, anyway), but she has definitely challenged me a lot over the years. In the big picture sense, I like the challenge. I think it has helped me grow in a lot of ways and do things that I never thought I could do. Still, though. Sometimes there are days, or weeks. Weeks like this last one. Whew.

Feeling better has come incrementally. When Jason got home, I handed Anneliese to him and I retreated to my bedroom for about thirty minutes to catch up with my internets and flip through Atlanta Magazine. Then it was time to get dinner ready, and everything got really crazy and chaotic for... several hours... and that was tough. I stole 10 minutes to wrap up some packages in private and came back feeling more sedate. Finally, I let Jason put Nora to bed (God bless him) and I went to the post office and to Starbucks. I hit the Starbucks in Toco Hills about 3 minutes before they closed. As I handed the cashier my credit card the employee said, "Taking a break from baby duty?" I laughed and said, "How did you know? I must just have that look." It was either my unbrushed hair, my decade-old sweatpants, or the two carseats in the back of the car. Probably a combination of the three.

Typing this helped me feel better. Now, the kitchen awaits. It is 1:47 am.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Best Friends Forever Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I usually find Weiner's books to be well-written, if light reading. I was disappointed with this book. I thought the characterization was weak and it involved some major suspension of disbelief with no pay-off in the end. If this book had been written with more realism and less comedy I may have enjoyed it more depending on the execution.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Harvest

Today we picked our first ripe cherry tomato. And another that wasn't quite ripe, but nevermind that.

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That one on the left, we cut it up with a knife and each of us had a bite. Yes, it's a cherry, so the bites were small. But yum. Is it because of our gardening prowess (ha HA) or our gardening pride that it tasted sooooo good?

I tried Anneliese out in a back carry with my wrap.

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It was kind of wrong; there was a part that was supposed to be tied under my arms and it was over. But whatever; it was secure enough for the few minutes I wore her that way (just out to putter in the garden a little bit). As a seasoned "babywearer" it's probably a faux pas to admit that I SUCK at back carries and will probably never be able to wrap her on my back all by myself. Maybe when she gets to be a toddler. We'll see. I understand how it works and the technique, but the fact is that I'm not very flexible, so it's very difficult for me to secure the baby and do the motions I need to do to wrap her correctly. I hope I'm wrong because I'm really digging the wraps this time around, but if I can't get it down I can always wear her on my back in an Ergo or bEco.

I guess I haven't mentioned this, but Nora is learning to read. This is something that we're working on together and we started about three weeks ago. She's known the sounds of letters for about a year now and has been trying to sound out/spell words with some success. I decided to try a learn-at-home program with her just to see if she was interested. I have a short attention span, myself, and knew I couldn't stick with it if she wasn't really into it. But is she into it? She is very into it. I'd thought for a while that she was on the cusp and with a little help she could make a leap and be reading. We're using a book and each lesson is about ten minutes long. She asks to do the lessons and lately has been wanting to do two a night, she's so eager. We do the little exercises and she stops in between and exclaims, "I'm learning to read, Mommy! I'm learning to read!"

Tonight she read two sentences, "Sam is mad at me" and "That rat is sad." I am so excited for her. Watching my little girl learn how to read is something I've dreamed of my whole life, because reading is so important to me. I don't read as much as I used to (well, I read a lot on the internet, which is more of a "junk food" form of reading it seems), but learning to read was definitely a huge, life-changing event for me. I was the girl who read the back of the cereal box, the local paper, and all my grandmama's women's magazines, cover to cover. I lived for the days the teacher got the Scholastic or Troll books delivery. I enjoyed the light reading of the day--Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High, the Baby-Sitters's Club (The Truth About Stacey ... is that she has diabetes!) and I also loved some classic children's lit, like The Secret Garden, Little Women, Charlotte's Web (oh, my beloved E. B. White!). I just realized that soon Nora will be ready for the Carolyn Haywood books and I practically squeed. Reading has been more than a way for me to pass my time and expand my mind. Reading has been a great friend to me. Books were there for me in school, on the bus or at lunchtime when I didn't have somebody to sit with. They provided an escape from family conflict and a way to quiet my mind when I was scared or bored or just overwhelmed with my own thoughts.

So this is a great time for both of us. Nora is so excited, and I am, too. Mostly though, I just love Nora. I love the person she is. I love her cleverness, her kindness, and her loving spirit. I love her fearlessness. I love that we have shared interests, like literature. It's great to see that she's like me in some ways, but I also appreciate all the ways we're different, like her beautiful confidence and her outgoing nature.

Love. My. Life.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sweet Anneliese Joy

Anneliese is so sweet these days. She's happy, smiling, and really into grabbing her feet. She wakes up after I release her from her swaddle (if she hasn't released herself--the only one she can't bust out of is the Woombie), lies in bed giggling for a while. She kicks so vigorously sometimes I'll come back and find her in a position 45 or 90 degrees different from where I left her.

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In some ways I'm in such a hurry for her to get older so I can talk to her, see what makes her tick, develop that side of the mother-daughter relationship that I love so much. But I have to remind myself--what's the rush? She'll get there eventually, but the joy of having an almost 4 month old is short-lived. She changes every single day! How is it possible? One of my favorite moments with her is when she falls asleep nursing and I get up to put her in bed. Her soft little body curls against my arm, her neck snuggling my elbow. She is still so light in my arms.

Was gonna tell you some Nora stuff, but I'm still in that phase of motherhood where good hygiene is a "luxury," so I need to grab a shower.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jump right in

Nora had her first swim lesson today and I must say, she kicked butt. A lot of the kids were afraid of the water, but she took right to it and was kicking up a storm (with good form!) within minutes. I'm not sure where she learned to do that since she last took lessons at 22 months and we didn't swim very much last summer when she was turning 3, plus she never liked to kick for me. She's ready to take off and I have hopes that she'll really be swimming well by the end of the summer. She'll also be four by the end of the summer. Gulp.

Friday, May 21, 2010

My biggest challenge this summer is to make sure everybody stays busy and engaged. The last thing I want to do is look up and find that we spent the summer on the couch. Nora's starting swim lessons next week and later in the summer is doing both VBS and summer camp at her new preschool. In the meantime, though, I'm trying to arrange a lot of playdates and outings to keep us all from going insane.

This week, though, the first week after school got out, was a quiet week. We played with friends a couple of times, watered the garden, and Nora practiced riding her bike with her Jason in the evening. One evening we picked Jason up from work and we all went to the Botanical Garden and then had dinner at Atlantic Station. Mostly, though, we've been home. We've slipped into a nice little pattern where I get to spend some alone time with each girl. Mid-morning, Anneliese goes down for a nap and I have time to play with Nora. We play a game or read a few books, have lunch, and get ready for Nora's nap. If I'm lucky and Nora falls asleep right away, Anneliese will wake up happy and I have some time with her. We curl up on the couch and I open the blinds and watch the sun stream on her sweet little face. I take pictures. I can hear her little giggles better than usual because the house is silent. I've even taken a few quiet videos--and most of the ones I take the rest of the time she will have to one day watch in mute because there is almost always music or TV or, most likely, Jason talking in the background. Love those times--that I can still carve out some quiet cuddles with Nora, and that I have time to slowly get to know sweet Anneliese.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

We have an ongoing debate about who Anneliese looks like, and whether or not she looks like Nora. Why this matters, I'm not sure, but I think about it a lot. A while back we were visiting with Jason's family. They shared some old photos I hadn't seen. Everyone has always commented that Nora looks strongly like Jason, which I kind of see, but to my surprise she doesn't resemble him at all in his baby and childhood photos. I think she looks more like Jason's brother, Chris, and when I saw baby pictures of Chris I saw that Anneliese resembles him strongly as well. Go figure. Of course, Jason and Chris have a similar look to them, but their features are a little different. I'd like to think my own genetics have an influence on how my kids look, but so far there's not much evidence of that! Anneliese may have my mother's thin lips. Otherwise, I got nothing.

As for whether or not she looks like Nora, well, kind of. She looks more like Nora in pictures than she does in person (IMO) and she especially looks like her from certain angles. Here's a recent shot:

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Just for fun, here's Nora at the same age. (I chose this photo because I cut part of her head off here just like I did in the above picture of Anneliese. Man, I'm good.)

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Dunno. What do you think? I'm asking the two of you who actually read this blog.

Jason's been telling Nora some stories that he made up about two animals, Charles Squirrel and Olivia Robin. Olivia's name was actually Lydia, but Nora started calling her Olivia and it stuck. Charles is a slightly dim-witted squirrel who lives in a tree in our backyard. Olivia is a robin who helps him figure out what's up. I actually don't know a lot of the details of the stories since that's their thing. But it's very cute; very A.A. Milne if you ask me. The sweetest thing is that Nora seems to think Charles and Olivia are real. She calls out to them when we're in the backyard and cranes her neck looking for them. When she sees a squirrel she says, "It's Charles Squirrel!" in her cute little lisp. As she is approaching four she is becoming so worldly--not in a bad way, but in a "I'm more wise to the world" way--that I am just clinging to every little expression of her 3 year old innocence. Tonight I asked her to tell Anneliese a story about Charles Squirrel, and she made one up all by herself. It had a beginning and a middle and, well, kind of an end, she lost interest after the climax and mostly dropped it. In a nutshell (hee!), Charles had made friends with a catapillar and when he began to form his cocoon, he didn't know what was happening so he asked Olivia Robin to explain it. Olivia did, and then he got to see his caterpillar friend become a butterfly (a "baby butterfly," actually), and all was well. Jason walked in in the middle and was surprised to hear her telling a Charles Squirrel story that he hadn't made up himself. He said she may have borrowed slightly from a Wonder Pets episode, but still. I'm impressed with her skillz.

And now, a quick story about me. The other day I heard a segment on This American Life about a rat in a toilet. This was from an episode called "Urban Legends." It was an old urban legend that was actually proven to be true. The person in the segment vividly described a time he was using the bathroom and a rat actually came up into his toilet and scared the bejeezus out of him. Tonight I was using the bathroom here at home and I heard a scary scritching noise. I nearly jumped out of my skin, sure that I was about to come face to face with a snarling, beady-eyed creature. Luckily it turned out to be nothing, but now that I know of the possibility that a real rat could enter a home through a toilet, I think I'll always be a little paranoid.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

We noticed two tiny little green tomatoes on our cherry tomato plant! This is so exciting, although as is typical we were on our way somewhere when I saw the tomatoes for the first time and I didn't take a picture. Less exciting is that Jason reports there is only one little green tomato on our plant when there used to be two. Hmm. We're still enjoying our lettuce, but I am noticing holes in the leaves and a few other places. I suspect flea beetles. We're going to try to water more carefully because supposedly watering the leaves can attract pests. (Don't quote me on this, I'm getting my info from Jason, who read it... somewhere.) Disappearing tomatoes and possible flea beetles are a little intimidating for this novice gardener, but we're going to keep on plugging away and see what we end up with.

Jason tried to let me sleep in this morning, but it didn't really work out. I find myself fantasizing about a hotel room somewhere, all by myself, phones turned off, blackout curtains drawn. Since I have a less than three month old in my life, this is probably pretty far in the future, but a girl can dream. Right before I got pregnant with Anneliese (literally, like, the day before...), I had a weekend away with my best friend and it was beyond fabulous. We were going to try to get away again before I had the baby, but it didn't work out because of time and money constraints. Now she's pregnant too and I don't know when it will happen again. Both of us have many months (years?) of nurturing babies before we can do a whole weekend again, I'm sure.

On this Mother's Day weekend, I am feeling like a very lucky woman. I have a sweet husband and the most fabulous little girls. How can I describe their fabulousness without resorting to cliche? Nora is sweet, kind, adventurous, dramatic, and so, so loving. For the past year or so we've had a little exchange we like to do:


Nora: I love you, Mommy!


Me: And I love you. We love each other!


Both: Yes, we do!

Dorky, but awesome. (Aside--Nora is, at this point in her life, less dorky than either one of her parents. I think she's actually kind of popular. How is this possible? I thought the dorky gene was dominant!)



Anneliese is cuddly and beautiful and has the most eager, crooked grin. I love her giggles and coos. She has the most intent little "conversations" with us. I love how easygoing and adaptable she is. The transition to a family of four has been almost seamless--how could I hope for anything more? I love holding her, feeding her, and wearing her, and I can't wait to learn more about her. In some ways I feel like she's been with me forever, and in other ways I feel like I'm still getting to know her.



I'm a lucky, lucky mama!

Photos by my friend Dara. Check out her blog!

Happy Mother's Day, all.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

2:15 a.m.  I'm sitting up, freshly showered, waiting for both my hair and the cloth diapers to finish drying. My hair because, as I mentioned before, it looks like poo if go to bed with it wet. The diapers because I borrowed them from my friend Christine and I need to pass them on to another pregnant mama who is due in three weeks. I'm still trying to fine tune my diapering system this time around, but long story short, we're going to use prefolds and wool for a while. I used to geek out over cloth diapers, but at this point they're mostly functional and not much for me to get excited about. Still, I like them and I'm glad we use them. The El Cheapo side of me thrills at the fact that I've never purchased a disposable diaper.

Parenthood and thrift have turned us into accidental environmentalists. We don't do nearly as much as a lot of people, but for a family who a few years ago was virtually oblivious to our impact on the world around us, we've come a long way. I think back to our first apartment in Atlanta. We had a recycling box that I'm not sure we ever touched. Jason might have put the newspaper in there. That's embarrassing! I hadn't grown up recycling so it just wasn't on our radar. Note to myself in 2003: it's not that hard. Today I get a kick out of finding things we can put in the recyling, and now the compost.

It's helpful that the better choice for the earth is also sometimes the better choice for our health and/or our wallets. Everyone who knows me knows I'm all about the breastfeeding advocacy, but when I think back to when I was pregnant with Nora, saving money was a huge reason I wanted to breastfeed. Same with the cloth diapers. We made an investment up front but it really paid off in the long run. I made all of Nora's baby food because it was fun and because there were perfectly good organic fruits and vegetables at the farmer's market--why not buy them and steam them myself instead of paying Gerber to do it for me? I was home anyway. Reusable grocery bags are obviously a huge trend over the past few years, but now that everybody in the world seems to be using them, I wonder why we weren't doing it all along! Our hybrid vehicle is purchase that was partially driven by my obsession with good gas mileage and partially just the luck of being in the right place at the right time.

This brings me to our latest venture. I think we're going to join a meat CSA. We've long been curious about purchasing local grassfed beef, but I always thought it wasn't an option for us because we don't have much freezer space. The goal here is both to eat locally grown food and to eat animals that are raised in a humane environment and eating the foods they're meant to be eating, like grass instead of corn for beef. After seeing Food, Inc I decided to investigate a little more and find out the smallest amount that we could buy in bulk and still have room to store. Google seems to think that my freezer could hold 35-40 pounds, but in doing this research I learned about an alternative to making a one-time grassfed beef purchase: the meat CSA. I have been familiar with the idea of fruit and veggie CSA for several years. There are probably dozens in the Atlanta area and we have considered buying in in the past, but there were a few things about them that weren't practical for our family. Our interest in fresh and local produce led us to starting our garden. I'd never heard about the same idea applied to meats, but I'm intrigued and think this could be a great thing for our family. The way it works is that we pay a (hefty) sum and we receive two dozen eggs and sixteen pounds of meat, a mixture of grassfed beef and pastured pork. We would probably try to obtain a free range chicken from time to time. We're going to try this for three months and see how it goes.

I'm a little bit excited, a little bit intimidated. This is going to require a big chunk of our food budget every month, so I hope we can budget wisely and make the most of our CSA share. We already try to eat a couple of vegetarian meals a week and we want to continue doing that. I feel like we eat way more than sixteen pounds of meat a month right now, but I'm really not sure. We do eat out too much right now and we really need to stop that like, yesterday. One of the things I'm the most nervous about is learning to cook cuts of meat I'm not used to working with. I have learned to cook gradually over the course of my adulthood, and there has been a lot of boneless chicken in my past. I'm not afraid to try new things (thanks to the internet--I'd be hopeless in the kitchen without it) but things like roasts are just intimidating. Such a big hunk of meat to potentially screw up, you know? There's also a part of me that is a little bit sad to say goodbye to those grocery store sales on factory farmed chicken. When the prices would drop to $1.69/lb I'd buy ten pounds and stock the freezer. Local chicken seems insanely expensive, and I have to cook the whole thing, something I've only done a handful of times. Between this CSA and cooking from my garden, I'll be challenged to get creative in the kitchen, which is honestly a great thing for me. I think I'm a very capable cook, but I'm very married to my recipes. I think it will be nice to break out of that pattern. Just don't expect any photos of what I cook, because I'm bad at taking pictures of food, and poorly taken food pictures gross me out.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A couple of weeks ago we got the Netflix for Wii disc that allows us to watch streaming movies on our TV. Best. thing. ever. We really need to bite the bullet and get rid of cable. We've been talking about it for a while and just haven't gotten around to it. I do want to make sure we can still get local channels once we drop it. The Netflix Instant Watch selection is so well-rounded I think I could watch things on it for a long time without running out of things to watch.

I realized a while back that I'm way out of the movie loop. That makes me sad. I also don't read nearly as much as I used to. Growing up, I devoured books. I think that internet time has replaced a lot of my reading and movie-watching time. Now that I have a Ipod with wireless internet, even at times when in the past a book would be a given, like in a doctor's office, I'm more likely to be on Facebook. Jason and I used to love going to the movies and spent way too much money hitting the Lefont Plaza, Landmark (which was called something different back then), and Tara Theaters when we first moved to Atlanta.

Recently on Netflix I saw the movie Doubt, which stars Meryl Streep, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. I found this character-driven film to be food for my atrophyed-by-reality-television brain. The pace of the film was slow but tantalizingly so, building towards a brilliant climax and denouement that's left me pondering for days. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but the primary plot deals with possible abuse of power in a religious situation, specifically a Catholic sex abuse scandal; how our faith guides us on the continuum between doubt and certainty; and what we cling to and to whom we turn in the absence of certainty. As I watched the movie I found myself thinking about my own instincts and the times that I do and don't listen to them. I really related to Amy Adams' character, who found herself unwittingly tangled in a web of scandal when she, an optimist, desperately longed for peace. In one memorable scene Meryl Streep's character accused Adams' character, "You just want things to be resolved so you can have simplicity back." I thought, "That's so me!" There are times in my life that I'll do almost anything to avoid conflict. It doesn't always serve me well.

I have been bursting to talk about the movie, especially since I've been Googling and finding that there are a variety of interpretations of almost every scene. I wanted to talk about it so badly that I actually recounted the entire plot to Jason on a car trip the other day, essentially ruining the entire film for him. But I know he'll never get around to watching it, anyway. That's the way it goes with us. We're trying to watch Mad Men together and we've managed two episodes over the past eleven weeks. For us that's one of the realities of being in a relationship for nine years and having two young children. It's a bummer, but I feel really good about our relationship overall and look forward to one day in the future when we'll have time to sit around and watch movies all the time again. A full time housekeeper would free up a lot of time for those pursuits--just sayin'--not that that'll ever happen. ;) If anyone reading this has seen the movie and wants to chat me up, please do so while it's fresh in my mind! I'm so foggy these days that I'll probably forget the details in a couple of weeks. If you haven't seen the movie yet, you should. I love a juicy dramatic movie.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I find myself blogging late on a Sunday night (Monday morning) yet again. No shower tonight, but I could probably use one. I got one this morning, but that was in Pensacola, and it was muggy there today! Weather is one thing Jason and I definitely don't miss about Pensacola. I hate my "Pensacola [extra frizzy] hair." Jason hates his too (it's kind of curly), but I think it's cute. Neither one of us likes the stickiness that we just can't shake off. I find that even after being outside only briefly I get so hot that I still feel gross a couple of hours later.

Anneliese got to meet a lot of people, but there are still a lot of people who have yet to meet her! We got to see a lot of Jason's family, including Jason's mom and his brother and brother's fiance, all of whom live out of town. His youngest brother has always lived in Pensacola but is in the process of moving to California. We had full, full days, getting up early in the morning and visiting all day and not getting to bed until ten or later.

Nora was in rare form on the car ride home this afternoon. I think she was in the process of crashing from a major, several-days'-long sugar high. I don't know if I'd seen her that way before and it was kind of scary! We're far from sugarfree; we're a "everything in moderation" family. I've always kind of rolled my eyes at supposed correlation between excess sugar and behavior problems. But I'm starting to wonder if there's some credence to the idea. Of course it's hard to isolate one factor when we're also traveling and there's lots of excitement, late bedtimes, etc. But we do eat more junk than usual when we travel and it's something we should probably keep an eye on in the future.

Speaking of traveling--we're planning a week in Pensacola around July 4, so I hope we'll get to see some more people then. We were also thinking of renting a place at the beach in August, but I'm not sure how that's going to work out given the oil spill. Everyone we spoke to over this visit was very worried about the effect of the spill and the ramifications it's going to have on local industry, everything from fishing to tourism and trickling on down. I hope it doesn't turn out to be as bad as some people fear. If the beach is unusable because of the spill, we probably won't rent a place since beachgoing was going to be our focus. We have been kicking around some other road trip ideas, including either Philly or Chicago, but after this recent reminder of what it's like to travel in the car with an infant, I think we might end up having a "staycation." Which is the cheesiest "word" in the world, but I can appreciate it on some level because it's very succinct! It might be nice to have a lot of family time and check out some things in Atlanta we've either never been to or haven't been to in years. We could also do a weekend in Chattanooga or Athens if we wanted to get out of town for a few days. The more I think about it the more excited I am at the prospect of staying at home, having Jason take some time off, and spending all that time together. It's no secret that I love Atlanta, and the fact that I'm still chomping at the bit to get out and do all the things it has to offer really confirms that it's the best place for our family to be.

I'm still thinking about what I want to do with those last few garden squares. Time's a wasting--I need to get some seeds or transplants in the ground. While I was at my mom's house, I had limited internet access. I spent a lot of time thumbing through a old Southern Living Annual Recipe book looking for recipes and inspiration. I saw one for cilantro pesto--intriguing! I wonder the best way to eat it? When I think pesto my mind automatically goes to pasta, pizza, and bread--three things that I should probably be eating less, not more of. I took home a small bagful of my grandfather's compost. He died almost four years ago and was ill for a while before that, so it's really old. I didn't even know he had compost back there. My grandmother was boggled that I only took a grocery bagful, like what was the point I guess, but we really don't need a lot right now. It's a component of the original soil mix for our square foot garden, but once the soil is in the box you only need to add a trowel of compost every time you replant. We're also making our own compost, so that will be ready eventually. I might end up taking a lot more of Grandfather's compost if one day we build another bed, but for now we're all set.

Cute baby:

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Cute big girl:

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My desktop weather app is grumbling something fierce and Jason told me there's a 100% chance of rain for tomorrow. I foresee a stay-at-home day. I hope I at least get a grocery list done, because the cupboards are looking pretty bare. Truth be told I'm probably not up to taking them both out on a rainy day to restock, but if I can at least get a list made then Jason or I can get it done tomorrow evening. I hope.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pictures

This post is mostly pictures since I haven't posted any since Anneliese has been born. Also, if you're friends with me on FB, these are mostly different than the ones I posted there. Let's go in chronological order.

Just for fun, here's Jason the day before Anneliese was born, as we were leaving for Barnsley. This is after it had been snowing for about an hour. Note: this amount of snow is absolutely crazy for Atlanta and pretty much the biggest snowfall I've ever experienced. I haven't posted my birth story, but it begins with a car trip from Barnsley to Emory Midtown, and at times I thought I might give birth in the car. (I totally didn't, though.)

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First pic Jason took of Anneliese. In fact, ONLY PIC JASON TOOK during labor, delivery, or afterwards. The next pictures on my camera were from seven hours later when I got a hold of it. I cried, "This is the only picture you took?!" and he said, "Hmm. I could have sworn I took more." I later got some from my doula (thank God).

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Some time in the first day or so.

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Four days old (with major jaundice, which isn't as apparent here as it is in other pictures, but she was yellow).

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Two weeks.

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Also two weeks, looking a lot like Nora in the profile, but her other features are pretty different, I think.

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Three weeks.

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Recent--9ish weeks.

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Nora on Easter.

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And--this is how I sign off just about every email these days--baby's awake, gotta go.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Nora and Anneliese got their first bath together tonight. A friend loaned us this bath seat thing; it's like a mesh bouncer that she can recline in. We put a few inches of water in the tub and plopped them in. At first, she wasn't so sure. This girl hasn't had a lot of baths in her life because Mama's lazy (and Mama believes it's not necessary for tinies). After I snapped a couple of pictures, I left Jason in there with the girls and went to do something in the kitchen. I heard the sound of giggling and singing. That took me back to my own childhood! A few minutes later Jason had finished bathing Anneliese and Nora had dumped a cup of water on her too forcefully and the whole situation kind of devolved, as expected.

We had lettuce out of our garden this evening. I said that it was maybe the best lettuce I've had in my entire life. Part of it was that it was a darn good variety of lettuce. The other part is that my pride in my garden tastes goooooood. The rest of the salad ingredients came from Whole Foods ($5 for cherry tomatoes say what?), but I'm looking forward to the day we get to harvest our own cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. The tomato plants are looking great; we'll probably need to set up our trellis soon. I got a bell pepper transplant at our church plant sale on Saturday. I abused it for the rest of the weekend (left it in the trunk of the car, it got knocked over) but it looked like it still had some life in it when I planted it, so we'll see. I also sowed the cucumber seeds today. We have four squares left and we're trying to decide what to do. I'm thinking beans--bush or pole? I would love some kind of squash, but don't have the room right now. Basil? Beets? I'm already thinking ahead to summer and fall, too.

Here's what things are looking like these days.

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Now I'm off to work on my La Leche League application, which I've been working on for literally years now. I'm feeling all fired up about some stuff and ready to be done with the application part so I can get in the trenches and help some people.

Where were we, then?

It's one a.m. Anneliese, 10 weeks old, has been mostly sleeping through the night for a week or so now. I am revisiting my old friend, the late night shower. I had forgotten about the late night shower, even though that was part of my life for months, maybe even the first year, after Nora was born. I don't have time during the day so showering late at night when Jason is asleep, but around to (I hope) wake up if the baby cries, becomes my routine. This is, for me, part of life with a baby.

Another part is the baby crying in the car. My heart beats so fast it feels like it will come out of my chest, and my mind races. Do I need to pull over and comfort the baby? Will the comfort continue once I buckle her back in and start driving, or will she go back so screaming? Is it faster to (eek) just keep driving so we can get there and everybody can be happy and settled? There's no one-size fits all answer to this. Anneliese has been a relatively happy car baby, but in the past week or two we've had a few tough rides. I hope this isn't becoming our new reality. Nora hated the car for the first several months of life but chilled out when she was finally old enough to appreciate a toy or two, a stage that is coming soon for Anneliese. We'll see.

My gripes are minor, though. Really, the adjustment to life with two children has been more seamless than I expected. The day after I came home from the hospital Nora had to go to school, and so our new life began. After several days away from Nora, I really wanted to be the one to get her ready. Jason took care of Anneliese while I got Nora dressed and gave her breakfast and then we were off. (Anneliese had jaundice, so every morning that week we set off as a family of four and dropped Nora at school, then stopped by the hospital for blood work.) It felt so good to walk Nora into her classroom looking at least a little bit less pregnant than I had at pick-up the previous Thursday. I was the mother of two!

It helps that Anneliese has a incredibly laid back personality, something that is part of Nora's personality, too, but it took Nora a little longer to grow into it. It helps that she's the second child and we know we didn't break the first one so most everything will probably be okay. We were like, "We got this," from the very beginning. Changing diapers is like riding a bicycle--we'd changed a few thousand before and we're pretty fast at it. Okay, like there's so much skill involved, I know, but when Nora was born it had probably been a good decade or more since I'd changed any back in my baby-sitting days. And breastfeeding is a lot easier when you've fed a baby before and you know what to look for to know everything is going smoothly. I think the circumstances of this birth, which turned out to be a relatively easy one for me, made a big difference, too.

So now we are a family of four. And we have done a lot in ten weeks. We've cuddled, rested, played, and enjoyed lots of yummy food from our friends and members of our church. That meant that we didn't have to cook dinner for almost a month! Then we got back in the swing of things and started cooking again, which is actually fun in a way--I found I'd missed it. Jason has been busy at work. Nora has been busy at school and is full of wonder for the world. In her little world, this whole changing of the seasons thing is a big deal! When Anneliese was first born we were having wintery mix, aka snow and rain nastiness; two weeks ago we had 90 degree days. We've been to Greenville, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Fernbank, Nora went on a special Saturday zoo trip with her teacher, and we've been, you know, everywhere else. Restaurants and malls and Home Depot, oh my.

We also went to Hastings Garden Center, which is a neat plant nursery and has a cool miniature train that Nora can't wait to see again. We planted a little garden of our own, a square foot garden. It's so small that my grandmother kind of dissed it and said it wasn't worth mentioning, but we're intensely proud of it so I'm mentioning it. It's our little sixteen feet of tomato plants, flowers, onions, lettuce, carrots, parsley, cilantro, bell pepper, and cucumber. And maybe a few other things, we'll see. We've done mostly transplants and attempted to start a few things from seed. We've really enjoyed putting it together and I know we're going to love eating out of it. We've already had some of the herbs, and the lettuce is ready for harvest any day now. Surprisingly, the only plant that looks really sad is a flower. I haven't take pictures since we first planted but I need to. As I've told several people, I don't think it's bad at all for someone who had never before in her adult life dug a hole in the ground! My parents weren't into gardening so I had practically no kid experience. Thank God for Google and the library. Both of the above help me succeed as a functional adult.

I don't want to end this on a gripe, but I have to go dry my hair. Major pitfall of the late night shower. If I sleep on wet hair, my hair will be more than impossible the next day. Mega cliche alert, but any minor inconveniences of being a mom? My kids are worth it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Oh, hay there, blog. I kind of forgot about you. Like usual.

Here's the update on us. I had a baby! It seems really redundant to post that here because I'm pretty sure everybody who reads this is also on Facebook or speaks to me in real life. For the sake of posterity, though, I'll announce that Anneliese Joy was born on Feb 13 weighing 8 lbs, 11 oz. I had a natural birth and it was awesome. She's 8 weeks old now, and she's a smiling, happy, delightfully squishy baby. Check her out!

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Not the best pic I have of her, actually, but it happens to be one of the most recent. I'll post some more later. Maybe!

We also started a garden and we're looking forward to an awesome summer.

More later, I hope!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Okay, so clearly I am experimenting with free blog templates and it's not going so well. I didn't realize the one I just uploaded had "kindergarten" as part of its graphics and clearly that doesn't work. Also, these narrow columns cut off my pictures. This is one of those times where I briefly wish I had some design sense or some motivation to figure it out for myself, but I don't. I guess I'll keep looking at free templates and hope I find something that works soon.
I'm 38 weeks pregnant today. If I'm honest with myself, I'm really feeling kind of "done" being pregnant. I'm shocked that I feel that way because I was induced with Nora around 40 weeks, and physically I didn't feel done at all at that point. I felt like I could have kept going for a couple of more weeks, at least--and in a way I wish I had, but that's another story for another day. I'm carrying this baby differently and I think that is affecting how I am experiencing the end of pregnancy, physically. I'm basically ready for her to come any time she wants to, as long as she's ready, too! I really wrestle with these feelings because intellectually I know that a lot of babies need longer to cook, and I really don't believe in forcing the issue. But whatever--it's not really in my hands, anyway. What will be will be.

Emotionally speaking I'm probably ready, too. In both of my pregnancies I've been shocked by how intensely I experience emotions. I've been called "too emotional" in my non-pregnant life, which is kind of a pet peeve because I kind of feel like, well, I'm me and this is how God made me. I can control how I behave but I find that when I try to control how I feel about things it just makes things worse. For me being pregnant is kind of like being drugged by hormones all the time. The first trimester was really intense. I've had a bit of a reprieve lately, but today was particularly rough, and when I heard Jason was going to be about an hour late last night my heart really sank and I thought, "How am I going to get through this last hour?" My patience is just out the window, and I hate to see Nora bear the brunt of it. The truth is my lack of patience is probably interacting horribly with the patience-testing qualities of the average 3 year old. When I think back on how I spoke to her throughout the day yesterday, it was a lot of "No, stop, don't, hurry, hurry, I'm getting wet!, hurry!! Let's have quiet time. In a minute. I don't know!" I really dislike days like that and they're really low parenting moments I'm not proud of. The good news is that it's the weekend and I'll have back-up in the form of Jason. So here's to a peaceful weekend for all three of us, and here's hoping I can show a little bit more kindness towards my family than I have been lately.

A couple of more things. One, we did decide on the baby's name and I think we're happy with it, so if she wants to come on she at least will not be nameless. :) Two, we're a week away from our amazing romantic vacation at Barnsley Gardens. I'm really interested in seeing what gets here first, the baby or Barnsley. :) We didn't plan it this way; Jason's work sends us there every year and this happens to be the weekend it falls on this year. While I would love a nice vacation with my sweet husband, having a sweet baby this week would be even better, I think. So we'll see how it all shakes out.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Since everyone is curious about what we're naming the baby, I thought I'd let you in on the process a little bit.

We don't want to tell the name before the baby is born, so a lot of people assume that we've had the name for a while and we're just keeping it a secret. Nope, not the case! Not this time! That was the case with Nora. I think we decided pretty firmly within about a month of finding out that she was a girl. Her middle name is Grey, after my sister and my grandmother, and I'd known for years that I wanted that to be my first girl's middle name. There were a couple of other names we considered, but none seriously. Nora just "fit."

This time has been so, so hard! We've had at least four names that we've seriously considered but decided against. When I say we've decided against them, I don't mean that we're keeping them on some list somewhere. I mean that there are names I liked two months ago that I have had such a change of heart about that I cringe at the thought of one of my children having one of those horrible names. Weird? Yes. I have a lot of naming hang-ups, I'll admit. I have this weird thing about using names of my friends' children, even if the friend is really an acquaintance or someone I rarely or never see. I'm trying to get over that particular hang-up because it's been pretty counterproductive in this particular name-searching process.

The following I consider to be qualifications, but not hang-ups. I don't like to use the names that are right at the top of the list in popularity, and there are certain current naming trends that I really don't care for at all. (I won't mention them here because that would be rude.) I do like a lot of "classic" names like Abigail, Hannah, Amelia, etc. but a lot of those happen to be extremely popular right now. I don't want another name that ends with an "a," just because I don't. I have ruled out some names because they have strong "s" sounds at the end and I don't think that sounds right with our last name. I want a name that sounds good with Nora, but isn't too matchy-matchy.

There's a name I've really been digging on for a couple of weeks, but tonight Jason announced that he just doesn't like it. I think his main problem with it is that it's a little unusual and he had never heard it before. I have heard it before, not to get all "gender stereotypical" on you, but I think women generally pay more attention to such things. Or maybe that's just me. Anyway, the name isn't crazy out there and I actually have an acquaintence who has a child with that name (meaning I'd have to overcome that particular hang-up to use it!). I don't mind Jason's veto, except now we've got nothing. NOTHING. My biggest fear is that the baby will be born and I we'll make a snap decision and regret it. So now we're really feeling the pressure. Wish us luck!

5 Awesome Things About My Kid

Skip this one if you don't like braggy posts. The title says it all.

5 Awesome Things About Nora

1) She's a great communicator. We can talk for hours, and I love hearing her thoughts and her opinions about everything. I love when she retells the stories she hears at school, and when she gives me her 3 year old interpretations of things that she learns at church, and when she asks a million questions. I just can't get enough of her.

2) She loves music. She may not always love the same music I do, but I've always been so impressed with her interest in all kinds of music. She's very opinionated and she will tell me whether she likes a song or not, and she'll attempt to interpret the lyrics. She can identify many instruments and has a special fondness for the banjo. She's also really curious about the violin. We're looking into lessons for next year, but I'm not sure it's in the budget. Her favorite Christmas song was Sleigh Ride--she really liked a bluegrassy version by Tony Trischka. She caught the tail end of another, soft pop version on the radio and she found it disappointing in comparison. "This is not 'Giddy-Up.' This does not have banjo," she said.

3) She's a foodie. Nora is the opposite of a picky eater. She'll eat almost anything! This is convenient, amusing, and fun for me. I've never cooked a special meal for her, and sometimes we get to try new foods at the same time (a couple of weeks ago it was roasted beets). She's always liked spicy foods, sometimes more than I do, although if she gets a bite that's too spicy sometimes she'll protest, "It's making my mouth too cool!" (Why does she think that spicy food is "cool" instead of "hot?" Who knows. But I cherish her little word mix-ups, especially since as she gets older makes these cute little mistakes less and less often. Now I wish I had written down more of what she was saying about a year ago, because it was hilarious.)

4) She's laid back. Nora is, for the most part, very sweet and agreeable. Not perfect--she has her moments (don't we all)--but most of the time, she's down for whatever. She has fun pretty much wherever she goes. She loves life, loves her friends, and...

5) She loves her mommy. I know, what kid doesn't? But let me tell you, it feels amazing to be on the receiving end of Nora's sweetness. There's not one hug or cuddle I don't appreciate. There's nothing about her I would change. I love that girl.

End overly sappy blog entry.

Friday, January 15, 2010


We're having a quiet morning at home. Nora played with her Calico Critters on and off for a couple of hours, and now she's "reading" a Mercer Mayer book. This tendency to play with the same toys for long periods of time is new. A while back she was more like a whirlwind, bouncing from activity to activity and leaving a huge mess in her wake. She's really enjoying her Christmas gifts and really all of her toys right now. That reminds me, I still need to do a "purge" and pack some things up for the future and donate a few things she doesn't use anymore. I need to do that like... now. Like I should be doing that instead of typing this. :P

Above I've posted a picture from the "Great Atlanta Snow Storm of 2009," ha ha. I actually can't believe how much it has snowed over the past few years. Last year it snowed at least twice if not more, and the year before that, too. It's fun as long as it's temporary. You'll notice that Nora is wearing her rain boots in this picture. Jason took her outside to play (briefly)--besides the rain boots she wore flannel pajama pants (?) and her big, puffy coat and gloves which I'm glad I decided to buy a while back. The snow only looked really neat for a day or so, but traces of it stayed around for almost a week since the city stayed cold. I was still seeing snow and ice in some places until late Wednesday, and it snowed last Thursday.

I realized I haven't posted about the pregnancy recently. I'll be 35 weeks tomorrow, so I have a month or so to go, give or take a couple of weeks. I really don't know what to expect because I was induced with Nora right around 40 weeks. Some women seem to love being pregnant and others seem to hate it. I fall somewhere in the middle--I don't mind it, but I don't really savor it either, although I do appreciate the miracle and wonder of it all. I don't feel "done" being pregnant and last time was kind of the same. I'm anxious to meet my baby, but not in a hurry. The only thing I'm ready to be done with is diabetes. It's not that bad, but sometimes it's a drag to make sure I have my injections ready, make sure that I have enough to eat certain times of day, etc. Like breakfast is the worst--I am always in a bit of rush trying to get Nora fed and both of us out the door with jackets, mittens, etc. but I have to find something fast and good to eat for myself and prepare an injection and take oral medication. Sometimes I really don't feel like dealing with all that.

Physically, though? Late pregnancy is not that bad. I've experienced major fatigue before (when not pregnant) and at this point I don't feel that tired, though I'm slowing down a little bit lately. I am becoming limited in more ways, though, like the obvious bending over and picking things up (like say... toys) and getting up and down from the ground. I have some soreness when I'm sleeping, and sometimes I hop out of bed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and I realize that I can't really move as quickly as I thought I could. Overall, though, it's very manageable. And we're seriously so busy, time is flying.

Oh--and I finally discovered that there is a perk to having gestational diabetes. (Accentuate the positive, right?) I'm having bi-weekly prenatal testing these days, which is not a perk but more like a pain in the rear. Yesterday, though, I went to a new location for testing and I ran into the ultrasound tech I had in my last pregnancy. She was so sweet and I had actually wondered what happened to her. The test on the baby went quickly so the sonographer switched over to 4D, which is something I've never seen before. That's something that some people pay big bucks for, but I never have because I already get so many ultrasounds it's really not necessary. I didn't feel like I was missing much since I already get to "see" the baby so much, but when I saw the baby on the 4D it was really quite clear and a lot more amazing than I thought it would be. Anyway, here's one of the pics.

BABY_12

The first thing everyone notices is the chubby cheeks! Nora had chubby cheeks at birth, but she lost some weight after she was born and after that she was a fairly petite baby. I spent the whole time trying to figure out if she looks like Nora, but I can't decide. Jessie says that she thinks this one looks a lot like Jason again, but we'll see. There's only so much you can tell from an ultrasound, even a fancy one. This makes me even more excited about seeing her in person!