Monday, December 31, 2012

Favorite Pictures of 2012

This is our second full year with a DSLR and we are still getting the hang of it.  Still we have learned enough to get some treasured images.  Here are my favorites from the year that was mostly a blur.















2012: A Blur

When the biggest event of a year - in this case the birth of a child - happens in the first three days of the new year, it pretty much guarantees the rest of the year will be a blur.  A large, wonderful, fantastic, exhausting blur.

Even if I didn't know in my bones, I can tell the first several months of the year were both a blur and a challenge.  Blogging here became almost non-existent.  I am thankful to read the little snippets of life I did manage to record, because oh man some amazing things happened.  We played in creeks, we visited fairs, we sang songs, we ate yummy and healthy food.

Milo confronted a lot of fears and I am proud of the silly and strong boy he is becoming.  He took his first steps of independence and started preschool.  While I still don't have many details of what he does there throughout the day, he loves it and is always eager to go.  He can write his name and draw recognizable pictures.  This year he has been challenged as a big brother and shown himself to be kind and loving (most of the time).  When I start to lose it and have moments of doubt, it is often Milo who brings me back around.  He'll use the words I give him so often:  Mommy, we are problem-solvers, we just need to try again, in this family we use love and respect for self and others.  I love him for those sweet-voiced pep talks.

Leo has been the kiddo with the most changes this year.  At this time last year he wasn't even his own person and now he certainly is.  He's my giggly, loving little cuddle bug.  He has learned to crawl and pull himself to stand.  He has endeared us all with his smiles and wild hair.

These two little people kept us busy this year.  Other projects simply took a backseat to raising our family.  Our garden started off promising, but languished mid-season.  House projects have been put on indefinite hiatus.  Chris was doing great with a workout routine in the mornings for a few months, but then the holidays hit.  I've snuck in yoga where I can and tried to train for a 5k.

Overall 2012 was just as I said: a blur.  Almost like a long awaited day where you look back and can't pinpoint actual moments, but you have an overall feeling for the day.  I can't recall the details, but recalling 2012 to me feels like a warm hug from my husband, a little boy's hand in mine, and a tiny body in my arms.  I'm not sure I need the particulars when I have those sensations.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Cold Walk

I had forgotten that, for me, having scraggly eyebrows is a cue to enter a deep depression.  Well, as deep of a depression as bushy eyebrows can be.  This morning I called my salon asking to be squeezed in for a haircut and eyebrow arch.  No go.  I begged for just the eyebrows.  30 minutes later I was walking up our snow covered street.  I was the first person to walk on the sidewalks.  Pure snow stretched in front of me and only my footprints were behind me.  It was quiet with just the sound of crunching snow keeping me company.  A cat had passed through before me and left the most perfect print.  

It was a magical morning.   Both the quiet and eyebrow shaping were much needed.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Calmer

Let's face it:  Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be stressful.

The stress, of course, isn't only for the grownups.  Kiddos feel it too.  Their routines are a little changed and they also pick up on the adult edginess.  With all the excitement of Christmas - seeing Santa, buying presents, decorating the tree, seeing twinkly lights - also comes a few moments of over stimulation    And that's not even considering the sometimes late nights.  Or the yummy treats.   Overstimulated kids are about as fun to be around as a lost Wise Man wandering through the desert.

To combat a little of this stress, today we made what I am calling the Christmas Calmer.  Basically it is a meditation jar with a Christmas theme.

Christmas Calmer Directions

  1. Gather materials.  You'll need a plastic bottle with the label removed, glitter and/or confetti and a hot glue gun.  If you want to make the jar move more slowly you'll also need clear glue (see step 5 for more ideas). 
  2. Head to the backyard and find a pine bough.  This is a good time to talk about evergreen trees and notice the difference in needles.  In just our backyard we found four different varieties of evergreens!
  3. Stuff the pine branch into the bottle.  
  4. Add a few teaspoons of glitter.  We also added star confetti for more sparkle and visual interest. 
  5. If adding glue add it now.  You'll need almost the whole bottle of glue to make it slow down.  You could alternately use glycerin or liquid soap.  I didn't have any of these things on hand, so we skipped this step.  
  6. Fill the bottle with water. 
  7. Use hot glue gun to secure the lid. 
  8. Hand to your child and let him know if he is ever feeling a little overwhelmed he can get his bottle, shake it and watch the glitter settle until he calms down.  
This has been a huge hit at our house.  Milo has been asking for his Christmas Calmer.  Leo loves watching the glitter, too.  Even I enjoy shaking it and just relaxing as I breathe and enjoy the season. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Leo - 11 Months

Sweet sweet boy at 11 months.
Leo or Beco, as Milo is now calling him, is charging straight ahead toward being 1 next month.  He is also frequently trying to charge headfirst down the basement stairs where we are constantly dragging him away from the tumble of doom.  He thinks this is quite funny.  He also thinks peek a boo is super duper funny.  If you happen to start a game of peek with him you had better set aside some time because it can go on for a bit.  His laughs and giggles and huge grins are the best part of the game - he really thinks we don't where he is for a bit.

In addition to his antics, Leo has also been a bit of a handful.  He does not appreciate being put down and will wail whenever that happens. His favorite place to be is holding onto Mommy's hair with his head wedged between my jaw and shoulder.  Daddy's arms are his next favorite place.  And after that it is back to either crying or pointing in awe at the Christmas lights.  I suspect this is either a normal developmental phase or a few other teeth are joining the six he already has.  So we are trying our best to grin and bare this time and as an added bonus we are getting an ongoing arm workout as we hold our almost 23 pound boy.

Leo enjoys to and can roll his tongue in crazy ways.

The day before Leo turned 11 months he was baptized at our church.  It was a lovely day - Leo mostly slept through Mass before the baptism and then was quite interested when the priest anointed him with oil.  He was less thrilled with the water being poured over his head and then he totally over the whole thing by the time pictures came around.  He did perk up quite a bit for the party afterwards as he entertained us all by enthusiastically eating his mac and cheese and celebration cake.  Overall it was a memorable day of love, family, friends and reaffirming our faith.




Friday, November 30, 2012

Thankful List

Throughout November I've been working on mindfulness and gratitude.  I recall recent research that suggests the most happy people are also the most thankful.  In no particular order of importance, here is a list of some of the things for which I am thankful.

November Thankful List

  1. Sunny days for walking to get Milo from preschool
  2. Cuddle time in bed with a baby
  3. Family Saturday mornings with pumpkin pancakes
  4. Walks in the woods and throwing rocks into a river
  5. Baby giggles and little boy kisses
  6. Voting for the best ideas to lead our country forward
  7. Running under a pink sky
  8. My loving husband
  9. My parents
  10. The smell of coffee
  11. Sunday night dinners
  12. The imagination and innocence of a three-year-old
  13. My good health along with that of my husband and kiddos
  14. My brothers who love my kids
  15. The nice parks in our neighborhood
  16. The sleepy sounds of snoozing boys
  17. Alone time
  18. The relationship developing between Milo and Leo which I hope lasts a lifetime
  19. Friends who keep me sane
  20. Chris’ job which allows me to stay home and be a full time mom
  21. Dessert
  22. A wide abundance of healthy food to nurture the bodies of those I love
  23. Good books to transport me to other places and introduce new ideas
  24. A strong marriage
  25. The twinkle and shine of Christmas lights
  26. Flannel sheets and soft blankies
  27. Muffins
  28. The Internet for its ability to connect
  29. Flexibility in body and mind - the ability to change course when needed
  30. All of it - the good, even some of the bad, the mundane and spectacular

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Keep Moving

Goals are meant to be met and fears tackled - whether they be frog or blog related.
At the beginning of the month when I said I would post each day, I wasn't sure how it would go.  I undertook this task as a way to breathe life back into this blog, to recommit myself to it and to improve my writing skills.  I am proud to say that I did post each day - even if there were several days where I changed the dates of posts to make this possible.  I am not proud to say I don't think I much improved my writing skills.  Many of the posts were rushed.  Several of the posts were phoned in.  A few of the posts were even somewhat incoherent.

So, yes, I completed my goal of posting each day for a month and that's great, but I also am feeling I didn't meet the spirit of the goal.  I do find I like writing here (although I think my Mom and brother - hi guys! - are the main audience) and will continue to use this space to update on the boys, work out my thoughts and possibly tackle some writing type prompts.

Also?  I'm rather glad November is over.  I'll commit to weekly posts from here on out, but daily is just too much for me right now.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

People

As rewarding as it is to stay home with kiddos, there is also a truth that it can be isolating.  After so many hours of only talking to children, I can sometimes feel myself going a bit batty.  It's as though one more whiny request will totally send me over the edge.  When this happens I find the best thing to do is get out and see other people.

I have my treasured group of Mama friends.  We've been together since Milo was just a wee one and it's been so wonderful to see the kids grow as friends.   The Mamas, too, have grown in friendships and it's these women I depend on to keep me going at times.  We chat online, we meet at parks, we invite one another into our homes for play dates and once a month or so we meet for drinks sans children.  Milo and I both count this group as some of our favorite people.

Today, in a bit of a departure from our usual routine, we went to local coffee shop and saw some of my former co-workers.  I had almost forgotten about the part of employment where you see the same people everyday, work in close quarters and get to know their good and bad sides.  It was such a treat to see a couple of these folks, catch up and remember this.

People need people, after all.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More Money

Milo:  I want to take pictures and make money
Me:  So you want to be a professional photographer
Milo (exasperated):  No I just want to take good pictures...and make money to give to Daddy to take to work and he can buy more money


The life of a budding artist is tricky.

***

3/4 of our house is sick with a nasty virus.  We are hoping the remaining and youngest family member doesn't get it.  Mommy milk protective enzymes do your work!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Leftovers

In trying to reclaim the space in my fridge all the leftovers from Thanksgiving were taking up, I made a concerted effort to use everything today.  It wasn't getting any fresher after all.  Plus we are planning another large meal this weekend when we celebrate an early Christmas with Chris' parents.

So mission leftover:  I made these delicious muffins this afternoon.  And then I promptly ate at least two of them.  The filling of the muffins is leftover cranberry sauce and it is super yummy wrapped up in cake.  If you make the recipe be warned that it only makes about 6 (mine made 8) muffins.  Also the batter is incredibly thick.  I subbed some whole wheat flour, but otherwise left the recipe as is.  So good!

Then for dinner tonight I made a turkey shepherd's pie (loosely following that recipe - basically I didn't use as much stock and then sprinkled butter and cheese over the top).  I didn't know how it would go with the family, but it was a hit.  Even Milo ate it and requested I make it again one day.   Plus it used up almost all the leftover mashed potatoes (still have some to make potato pancakes) and all the turkey.

So the leftovers are almost all gone.  I may need to just eat a big salad for my next couple of meals.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Random Thoughts

Leo loves to put items in boxes.  Must harness this natural inclination now.  The Legos (not being all over the floor) will thank me later.  

***

It's been almost a year since Sam the Cat died and Milo still wants him to come back. Explaining death again and again to a three-year-old is hard.

***

Santa Claus is a weird concept. There is no getting around that.

***

I'm not always perfect in the grammar and punctuation departments. Still people who make the same mistakes habitually and seem not to care about it bother me.

***

Viruses are weird. One night you can be felled with a fever and the next night feeling relatively okay.

***

I spend way more time as a parent talking about private parts than I ever thought was possible.

***
Drawing pictures doesn't always make things all better, but it at least gives something for the hands to do while the head is trying to work things out. Also, just breathe.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Amy & Chris - 5 years

I can't really believe we have married for 5 years.  It's like we just on our honeymoon enjoying the relaxation after the wedding and talking about our plans for the next 5 years.  One thing was for sure we would still be in love and probably also returning to the beach to celebrate our anniversary.

In real life, we are still love and feeling very thankful we got to go get a beer together on a Saturday afternoon.  Such is life when two small kiddos are part of it.  It's no beach, but it is a lot of fun.  Like I said on Facebook I am glad Chris is my partner in this crazy life.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Ten years though...is totally going to be on celebrated on a beach.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Video Monitor

In our rather small house a baby monitor is probably not necessary.  I can hear any noise coming from the crib - whether it be baby coos and full on screaming - wherever in the house I happen to be.  It's simply hard to get too far from the nursery in our house.  So a monitor for sound only would be totally beside the point.  We have a video monitor though and I love it.  I can watch to see what is going on in the crib rather than just hearing it.  Sometimes Leo is happily cruising around the crib or looking at a book and I would never know that if I didn't have the video monitor.  Other times I have known to rush in because he had an arm stuck between the rails.  A video monitor is a nicety, not a necessity, but when Leo smashed his the other day I started looking to how most cost effectively replace it.  Chris fixed ours, but I think I would have a bought one if needed.  For me it is worth it to watch my baby sleep and peek in on him whenever I want without disturbing him.

So Black Friday shoppers:  the video monitor is one purchase I would suggest making.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving in Actualality

Like tables across America right now, we are realizing we had way too much food at ours.  Due to moves, injuries and just other plans our Thanksgiving group shrank this year and yet we still planned like we were cooking for double the number of people.  Leftovers for a few days!

Leo loved Thanksgiving - he shoveled down cranberries, mashed potatoes and turkey.  Milo was not such a fun of the food - he found the butternut squash I tried to hide in the mac and cheese and refused to eat anymore of it.  He loved putting together a turkey Lego though.

The day was a sweet time together and focused on what I am most thankful for:  coffee with Chris, walks on sunny days through our neighborhood, playing at the park with my boys, delicious food and fun times with my parents and brother.  And above all love permeating it all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgivin Prep

For the Thanksgiving celebration I am making the following yumminess:

  • Cranberry sauce made of fresh cranberries, apricot jam and pineapple.  Spiced with cinnamon and ginger.  
  • Macaroni and cheese with a ton of milk and butternut squash
  • Pumpkin soup made of fresh pumpkin
  • Apple pie

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Boddler

The other day on Instagram, I coined the phrase boddler to describe Leo.  No longer a baby, but not quite a toddler either.  Since then I can't stop thinking of this in between phase he is in and we're all trying to figure out.  I don't remember Milo being stuck in between quite as much as Leo is.  Maybe it's because Leo is reaching for the next big thing he sees his brother modeling while Milo was content to just be a baby for quite some time.  Leo is constantly crawling toward danger and loudly voices his opinion on being stopped from climbing into the oven or dishwasher.  And yet, he also still needs and wants his mommy to be there for him with a hug.  He's a study in contrasts this little boddler of mine.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tapas

In Sanskrit, the language of yoga, tapas means a fiery discipline.  When I hear this term, though, all I can think of is happy hour with lovely little plates of delicious food.  And that right there may be why my yoga teacher trainer didn't seem to like me much.

In spite of my natural inclinations running to drinking, napping and consuming copious calories, I've been trying to the instill a little more tapas into my life.  I've completed two weeks of 5k training and I am feeling great about it!  I am doing a couch to 5k program.  The gradual buildups of distance and speed have kept me motivated and feeling positive.  At least three times per week I have been hitting the pavement.  Today I wasn't feeling great due to too little sleep, but I still loaded the kids into the car and took the chance of a dropping them off at the gym daycare.  This is hit or miss, but today it was totally a hit.  They had fun playing and I got my run in.  Win win.

I'm not only working hard to cultivate this tapas spirit for me, but for my kiddos too.  When Milo sees me heading out the door to "practice for my race" as he calls my workouts, he is learning that everything we want to be good at takes practice.  Accomplishments don't come easily.  To achieve a goal we need to have a fiery discipline to take us across the finish line.  Only then can we enjoy happy hour.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Meal Planning

Planning our meals for the week is something that when I do it the week goes so much more smoothly.  When I don't things are stressful and we eat out way too much.  For some reason though I have to force myself to plan.  Coming up with a week's worth of meals at one time is tough work.  I actually did it for this coming week and while most of the meals are from the pantry, I did all the grocery shopping too.  That's a big accomplishment, folks.  

Monday:  bean and cheese enchiladas, raw carrots, guacamole
Tuesday:  chicken noodle soup
Wednesday:  frozen pizza, giant beans, polenta and roasted veggies
Thursday:  Thanksgiving at my parent's house
Friday:  leftovers

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Christmas Season Has Begun



Although I am typically a wait until after Thanksgiving is over before even thinking about Christmas type of girl, we have started a little early this year.  First it was just a few gifts I would buy for the boys when I saw them on sale.  Then it was the Winter Fun List.  And finally last night we attended the tree lighting of a local mall.  While we missed the actual tree lighting due to traffic and parking difficulties, we did catch the end of the parade.  I loved the parade with big balloons of reindeer and giant ginger bread men.  There were people on stilts dressed as Christmas trees and lots of festive music.  The fun atmosphere put me right in the holiday spirit (of consumerism at least).  Milo, however, did not like the loud speaker, the fire works or the general commotion.  He walked around with his hands over his ears until we made our way to a quieter portion of the outdoor mall.  Once there he enjoyed the lights plus it was close to the Lego store.

In spite of the crowds and the evening not going exactly as planned, we had a wonderful family night.  Everyone held it together and we enjoyed not only the holiday atmosphere  but also being with one another.  There must have been some type of Christmas miracle too because Leo actually slept though the night once we were home!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

So To Speak

Growing up I had a speech impediment mainly with the r and l sounds.  I went to speech therapy weekly (or I was supposed to I actually remember trying to avoid it quite a bit) from about third grade through 6th grade.  Eventually all those years of practicing L sounds paid off and I graduated from therapy.  Still all these years later if I am really tired or a little tipsy, I can hear the impairment start to return.  I know to go to bed with my r and l sounds start getting sloppy.

Milo earlier this year smiling for the camera
(not how he would say that sentence).
Milo, who I can almost always understand but others usually can't, is now struggling with some sounds.  Today at preschool he had a speech and hearing screening and he did not pass the speech part of it.  Although I knew it was most likely coming I am back swimming in the now unfamiliar pool of speech therapy.

The therapist today was lovely and positive and thinks he will respond quickly to treatment.  If possible I would like to have the problem taken care of now rather than later, but there are so many avenues to look down.  Evidently therapy can sometimes be covered by insurance and sometimes not.  Sometimes children go through a school district and sometimes they need to go through a private clinic.

So I'm reading and researching and talking with friends about how to proceed.  I want to help Milo have the skills he needs to be confident in speaking his strong mind and wonderful ideas...even if he is sleepy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Oh




This reminds me of the time I went to the doctor two years ago complaining of being tired.  The doctor did some blood work, but basically told me to get used to it.  That was a co-pay that seemed totally worth it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What I've Been Reading




Since I've switched over to Goodreads, I have not updated here much about what I've been reading.  Basically it's been all over the place in terms of genres. I still read a lot of parenting books (not that they are helping).  My book club is in its third year and we've picked some interesting and really good books.  Most of my for enjoyment reads come from book club.  Then I read books that are just of interest to me or have sounded good.  Some books I read are books that I can quickly grab off of a shelf at the library as I am reminding my little people to use quiet voices and walking feet (got that from a parenting book).  

Right now though I have an eclectic collection of books I am working on. 
Mortality

I just finished Mortality by Christopher Hitchens.  It's about dying.  It's a good book, but it is not uplifting.  This is not Tuesdays with Morrie. 

After that I needed something a little lighter, but the only other thing I have checked out is 

Making Time: Lillian Moller Gilbreth -- A Life Beyond "Cheaper by the Dozen".  This seems to be a really interesting biography, but I actually just wanted more Cheaper by the Dozen because goodness did I love that book when I was growing up.  


Since I am training for the 5k, I also picked up To Be a Runner: How Racing Up Mountains, Running with the Bulls, or Just Taking On a 5-K Makes You a Better Person (and the World a Better Place).

Monday, November 12, 2012

An Ordinary Monday

We had a rather ordinary Monday.  After a night at my parent's house for Sunday dinner, Milo usually sleeps in a bit.  Leo hasn't quite gotten that concept yet, but we're working on it.  We had breakfast and then I tried (unsuccessfully) to put Leo down for a nap.  Instead we headed to a mall to return some curtains and run around in the play space.  We picked up lunch and went home and ate it.  I tried again to put Leo down for a nap.  It was again rather unsuccessful and resulted in an afternoon of crying.  Milo occupied himself with Play Doh during the hysterics.  Then we put some clothes away and started dinner.  Things started to get dicey when Milo repeatedly tried to "help" Leo move from place to place.  By the time I found Milo tucking a ribbon into Leo's pants and trying to pull him up by the ribbon, I lost my patience    It was around 5 p.m. so I called Chris at work and told him it was time to come home.  We made it through dinner and I even threw some delicious cookies into the oven.  Baths and bed times and then a few moments alone at the end of the day.

So all in all a pretty ordinary day - times of fun and laughter with moments of stress and irritation; all wrapped up in the routines of a day.  These are the days we just get through, but don't remember them to be good or bad.  A day like today just is.

But for others the day took a different turn.  We were going to meet a friend for a play date, but she texted that her son had fallen again and couldn't move his left side.  She called the ambulance.  For her the day was not ordinary.  It was filled with doctors, hospitals and tests for her sweet little boy.  It hasn't been filled with answers, but it continues to be filled with thoughts of love and healing.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pinning It

By now it seems like almost everyone is on Pinterest.  If you aren't familiar with the site, it is a place to collect "pins" of good ideas or things from the web you would like to return to.  You can either pin items as you come across them or re-pin items you see your friends have pinned.

I've done plenty of kid's crafts that I've found on Pinterest.  I've also done a few recipes.  Some have had mixed results. My favorite Pinterest related activity?  On Halloween I made friendly ghosts to peek out of the windows and used a drill to make a polka dot pumpkin.  Both super cute and super easy ideas I never would have thought of on my own.

I'm amygk on Pinterest if you want to connect!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Shutterfly Party

As part of a House Party program we hosted a little Shutterfly party here today.  The party was actually just a play date, but it was nice to have friends over on Saturday and play all together.  In addition to the fun times with friends we were able to give codes for free photo books and holiday cards.

I love the Shutterfly photo books.  The blog posts here of the monthly shots get turned into a book (we have one for Milo's first two years and will make Leo's too).  I also do a book for each season more or less.  I don't scrapbook and I hate having tons of prints laying around, so the photo books work for us.  It's not much energy to do and I really enjoy the results.  I try to make the books have a bit of a story and then they can be read as any other picture book.  We take so many pictures and find the best way for us to organize these special frozen moments in time is through the photo book.

* This post is part of the agreement I have with House Party.  In return for hosting an event, I was given a free photo book.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Brothers

As Leo is growing up our house is becoming a sometimes battle zone.  One where the little brother charges full steam ahead into a train track or block creation built by the older brother.  Screams of "no Weo" are heard, some pushing happens and then there are tears.

I'm not sure what the solution to this is.  Leo can't be held responsible for his actions yet, but he is totally instigating.  Milo can't push or hit people even if he's not liking what they are doing, but I can see how this can be frustrating.  We've tried having them play in separate rooms, but that's just not as much fun.  I've suggested certain toys only come our during nap time, but that isn't always agreeable.

It's all a work in progress. To help my along the way I read Siblings Without Rivalry.  The tips from this book might be helpful down the road, but not quite yet.  One thing the book did mention is letting the children voice their negative emotions toward the other children.  This was hard to hear!  I mentioned to Milo one day that is must be frustrating to have a little brother.  He agreed and said he didn't want him anymore.  As much as I wanted to talk him out of this, I stayed silent for a few moments.  Milo then said well I guess I like him sometimes too so maybe we will keep him.  Yes, maybe we will keep them both.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fantasy

I have this fantasy.  It starts in a dark and quiet hotel room.  It pretty much ends there too.  Oh sure, I would throw in a beach, some champagne and lots of time to do just what I want to do, but pretty much the fantasy is being in a quiet room by myself.  With no one else there who needs anything from me.  I would read, I would sleep, I would exercise, I would yoga, I would sleep some more, I would eat delicious and healthy food prepared by someone else, I would sip cool bubbly champagne, I would drink strong coffee while it was still hot.  After that I would start the routine all over again.  All of this in quiet.  It would be amazing.

It sounds like a vacation this fantasy of mine, but because it is fantasy there are none of the drawbacks to actual travel.  No scheduling the time away, no busy airports, just the sweet expectation of quiet, solitude and relaxation.

I would, of course, come back from this fantasy.  After a day or two of quiet I am sure I would be ready to return to my sweet and loud boys.  And as long as this is all fantasy, I would also return to a totally decluttered and clean house.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Recipe - Gluten free quick enchilada bake

We are by no means gluten free at our house, but I do like to lay off the wheat for at least one meal per day.  Today that meal was dinner and it was delicious   I've been tweaking my enchilada recipe and I think I found a keeper.

Quick Enchilada Bake

1 cup cooked chopped chicken
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup salsa
9 small corn tortillas
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup taco sauce
shredded cheese (I used a pre-shredded Mexican blend)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine chicken, beans and salsa in a bowl.  In another shallow bowl mix together sour cream and taco sauce.  Brush or soak sour cream mixture over the tortillas one at a time.  Begin to layer the soaked tortillas, chicken mixture and cheese in baking dish ending with a layer of tortillas and cheese (I had about three layers).  Bake for 30 minutes or until everything is warmed through and the cheese is bubbly.  Serve with chopped avocado, sliced olives and jalapenos.

*I used grocery store rotisserie chicken in this leftover from the night before.  So two easy meals in one week!  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Big Election Night

Four years ago I sat on the same couch watching the election results come in.  Last time around though I was sitting here pregnant with a little Milo who was happily kicking in my belly.  He loved the sound of Obama's voice or perhaps he enjoyed the happy feelings I shared with him whenever I heard the future President speak.

Today I voted wearing Leo in his Boba carrier.  He really wanted to touch the buttons too and I was excited to share the experience with him.  I again voted for Obama and I was proud to do it.  I just read what I wrote four years ago about voting for President and I still agree with it.  Hate, fear and disrespect have no place in the America I believe in and those are the things I see being courted by the other candidate.

Milo - who wanted to vote for poopy and candy because he likes their ideas - went to vote with Chris.  Exposing the children to the democratic process is important.  Regardless of who wins the election, I will teach my boys to respect other ideas, their country and the people around them.  I wish other people would do the same and maybe within a generation the party divide wouldn't be so wide.  There are so many teachable moments to share and learn from together.

Monday, November 5, 2012

To the Limit

From about the age of 22 to the age of 32, I could probably count on one hand the number of times
I went to a library.  Then after I had Milo heading to the library became a weekly event. At first we went for story times and met other babies and parents.  Milo soon tired of the organized events and for about a year we only go to the library to check out books and DVDs and play with the toys.  We still go at least once a week though.

Today at the library as we were checking out our stack of books the computer let me know we had reached our limit.  This means somewhere around my house I have 50 picture books.  Once we reached the limit we weren't able to check out any other materials.  Milo, amid a few tears, had to pick some books to return so he could check out the last few Thomas the Train easy readers he really wanted.

I started thinking this afternoon it would be great if other parts of my life offered a card with a limit. I started imagining all the places I would use the limit card - Milo not listening one too many times, me eating too much candy, Leo not sleeping.  The card would just magically fix the situation.  Then as I was writing this I realized there is no magic involved and it is up to me set and enforce all the limits.  Drats.  Guess I better check out more books on preschool behavior, healthy food and baby sleep patterns.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Time Change

Just ahead of the time change we completed our Autumn fun list.  It was a full season of excitement.  Making these lists has kept us busy and interested in the different opportunities each season offers.  Plus, checking the items off the list is enjoyable all by itself.

We are already thinking of items for our Winter list.  If you have any suggestions, let me know!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Leo - 10 Months


Oh Leo.  You of the recent nap strikes and the waking up to nurse sometimes only an hour after being put to bed.  At 10 months old you are have surprised us by seemingly suddenly being your own little person rather than the content baby who could be carted around.  You're crawling all over and nothing much slows you down.  You set your sights on something - the stuffed snake, stack of DVDs or laptop cord - and you are off to get it at a quick pace.  Once at your destination your giggles and happy grunts give away whatever mischief you are getting into.  And mischief does seem to find you.  You've knocked over plants, emptied Kleenex boxes and opened low drawers to the empty the contents.  All of this and you've only been crawling for a month.  It also seems like you are ready for the next thing.  You do a version of down dog while crawling that makes it clear what you really want to be doing is standing.  If you are next to a person or a piece of furniture you just go ahead and pull to stand.  I'm afraid walking isn't going to be far behind.

It's been a busy past month with not as much sleep as you probably need.  Plus you've been fighting off back to back colds and I suspect you have a few more teeth coming in.  All this to say you've been a little fussy lately.  Even the fussy version of you though is somewhat delightful.  You have grins and giggles I can't get enough of.  You love to have simple songs sung for you and you like to be entertained by the people around you.  While you don't have quite as much time for cuddling lately, you still love to be held and give hugs.

In the past few days you have debuted a full arm wave to say bye bye or hello.  Today at the grocery store you were showing this off quite nicely to all the other people shopping.  Your smiles and paitence in line earned you a bright yellow balloon from the cashier.  I'm not sure when I have seen you so excited as you were holding onto that string as we walked to car.  Your chubby little hand was closed tightly around the string and you would excitedly pull the balloon up and down to watch it move.  I hope the excitement for the little things never leaves you, buddy.  At the end of the day it is what counts.  And you are reminding me of that often as we go through your early days together.



Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday.  Kids in costumes, candy and the fun decorations make it my kind of fun.  This year Milo also was looking forward to the season - we had a good time decorating with pumpkin and ghostie lights.  We also made our house look haunted by putting friendly ghosts in the windows.  Milo also helped carve our pumpkins and did a great job at making cuts with a safe knife.

Prior to Halloween there were three days of parties - one at Milo's school, one with our playgroup and one at a neighbors to attend.  Our little zookeeper and monkey were a hit at each one.

Trick or treating was a bit of a bust due to cold and rain.  That worked out fine though because we all had a wonderful time inside our house eating chili, chatting, playing and watching The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.






Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ready, Set. Goal

I've been neglecting this blog. Partly because I am busy with my two little men and partly because it's easier to just talk to the few people who actually read it.  Either way I haven't been writing and I miss it.  I miss the writing, the reflecting and just the putting the thoughts into words.

So I'll be posting each day in November.  We'll see what I come up.

***

In other goal setting news, I announced today on Facebook that I'll be running a 5k to celebrate my birthday.  In exactly two months.  Let the training begin!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Leo - 9 Months

My little bubby has now been out in the world roughly as long as he was inside me.  Which is crazy because I am sure he was just born like two weeks ago and I was pregnant for months and months.  Some theories of evolution I've been reading suggest that a human baby is still more like a fetus than other animal species.  Human babies are totally incapable of doing much until about the 9 month mark and are totally dependent on others until that age.

Now that Leo is at that special 9 month mark, I see how this can be true.   Leo can now scooch around and get the things he wants (like car keys, remote controls, or the battery powered Percy the train).  He can pick up foods to eat them.  Favorite foods are pears, graham crackers and anything Milo hands him (crusts of bread, small pieces of chicken and most cooked vegetables).   Leo is around 21 pounds and 29 inches.  A solid little bundle of opinions and love.

Leo gives the best hugs and has the most amazing baby giggles.  I so love hearing this little man laugh. Luckily for me he is a ticklish little monster and giggles come easily.  He is at the smiley baby stage where everything enchants him - people, flowers, leaves falling from the trees.  Everything around him is cause for a huge grin.  I get taken in by it each time he flashes his smile with his five little teeth.  Even in the middle of the night when he is waking me up to eat again, he smiles and wraps his chubby arms around my neck and all is forgiven (mostly).



Each night when Chris gets home from work, Leo whines and whimpers until Chris picks him up and gives him a hug.  He loves the people around him so much.  Whether it's crying right along with Milo because Milo's hurt, hugging Daddy or sucking on Mommy's hair, Leo is right there as an important part of our little family.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

(Pre)School Days

Milo started preschool about a month ago and we are settling into this new rhythm of life.  He goes twice per week for 2.5 hours each time. It's just long enough for him to get his feet wet with this whole school thing.  His classroom is a wonderful environment of stations, toys and textures to explore.  It is totally play based and there is no set curriculum.  Actually, I have no clue what he does there.  The most he usually tells me is that he played outside and saw some people.  A couple of times I have seen him be the line leader for when his class comes back from the playground - he is so proud of himself for doing that task.

On the first day of school, he cried and fell to the floor as Chris and I left him with his teacher.  He had been repeating bye bye as we were getting ready to leave and then his face crumpled and he lost it.  Our little guy was being so brave.  He quickly recovered after we left and has had no problems since that time.  I am so proud of him for assimilating to school and enjoying the process of meeting new friends, listening to his teachers and enjoying the time away from me.  I can tell he is learning, doing better socially and taking in the whole experience.

In the next month or so he'll go on his first field trip and we'll meet the teachers for conferences.  It's so official!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Leo - 8 Months

For several months we thought Leo was going to be the serious one.  We mistook his studying us as a sign of contemplation when, now it seems, he was just plotting and biding his time.  He has suddenly exploded into a silly baby.  One who thinks it is super funny to make loud shrieks and drop sippy cups.  One who loves to be sung Isty Bitsy Spider.  And, most of all, one who puts everything into his little mouth and then either tries to hide it or laugh about it.  Sometimes both which leads to a little coughing fit.


Leo is sitting up like a champ and spends most of his floor playtime sitting, playing with toys and reaching for objects that Milo prefers he not have.  When on his tummy he will try to crawl and can pivot well in both directions as well as move backwards, but full on crawling alludes him at this point.  He is super proud of himself when he is assisted into a standing position and then maintains it on his own.

See?  Silly.
This past month we took a long family road trip.  Leo did pretty well although he was definitely over his car seat (we moved him out his infant carrier and into a convertible seat).  We stopped often to nurse and talk with him.  For a baby as cuddly as Leo is, it wasn't pleasant for him to be on his own and not held for several hours a time.  This boy is a lover and enjoys the human connection of being held.

Leo continues to eat more and more food.  He'll eat small finger foods as well as pureed foods.  Lately he's really been reaching for our food and wanting to taste more things. He still nurses countless times per day (and night).

Actually we've had ups and downs with sleep.  Currently, as we recover from our trip and adjust back to the routine, we've been a down phase.  I have high hopes we move past that soon and back to our sleeping boy who is happy because he is well-rested.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Making Our Own Memories


Cat we met at the marina who wanted to sleep in our room
It has gone down in family lore: the time my Mom, Dad and I drove for hours around upstate New York looking for a hotel to sleep in.  We kept driving further into the foggy night and finding only no vacancy signs.  Evidently Saratoga was racing and hotel rooms needed to be made in advance.  The three of us were making our way back to Ohio after visiting my mom's sister in Montreal.  We were stopping in Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame and we needed a place to stay.  After briefly considering sleeping in the van at a rest stop, we kept driving almost all the way into Cooperstown and stumbled upon Gail and Larry's Roadside Motel.  I, in all my adolescent glory, said no way to the scary looking 50s style motel, but my Dad went in and through a stroke of luck was given the key to the last available room.  The room was wood paneled and covered in plastic, the linens were from the Carter era.  I was convinced there was a camera in the tiny shower.  On the plus side, there was a lovely diner attached to the office of the motel.  The diner had the most delicious pancakes.

Milo running on the docks
I was reminded of all this last week as we spent a night at a lodge along Lake Cumberland.  The room had the same funny smell, the same wood paneling and the same discomfort that had me laying awake all night imaganing bugs crawling all over me.  Still as I tried to get comfortable in the small room - Leo in a pack and play in the closet, Milo in a cot and Chris in the other twin bed - I listened to all the sleepy breathing around me and realized we were making our own traveling memories.  Memories of me locking us out of the room and the office staff spending two hours trying to get us back in the room.  Memories of us all walking along the docks trying to make the best of a situation that wasn't turning out at all the way we envisioned when planning the trip.

The four of us now have our very own Gail and Larry's.  Just without the pancakes.

Friday, August 10, 2012

This Summer

At the end of last summer, I was waxing nostalgic about the season being over and it never being the same again.  I was right to know things would never quite be the same.  Turns out I love the age of 2.5 and find 3.5 to be more trying.  Also, each afternoon last summer there was a long afternoon nap that rejuvenated all of us and left the family ready for more adventures in the evening.   Now, the nap is a thing of the past and evenings typically pass in a rush of dinner and baths while keeping fingers crossed that none of us will melt down before lights out.

I was right, too, though to know this summer would have its own sweetness to it.  A trip to the Fair where Milo was so proud of himself for catching his first fish.  At the same trip to the Fair, I was so proud of him for marching right up to the carnival rides, giving his ticket to the person, fearlessly launching himself on to the ride and smiling so big the whole time the ride was in progress.

We've also been taking lots of walks in the woods at various parks.  We've found new paths and brought friends to our old favorite haunts.  My Mom will sometimes join us for a walk around the creek behind the Dublin library.  This week we watched as gold finches flew around the heads of echinacea flowers and explored a dry creek bed together.

Our garden isn't doing great, although the tomatoes continue to be our prized crop.  Instead we have used the backyard for a couple of fun play dates with our friends.


August will move along quickly with a trip out of town soon and then Milo will begin preschool in September.  Tonight it is cooler after a day of rainy weather and my thoughts again turn toward the next season.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Leo - 7 Months

Yesterday, Leo turned seven months old and today it's like he is a whole new grown-up baby.  His cries are starting to sound like words (mmmmaaaa, dddaaaa) and are used with more direction (I saw Mommy walking by and she didn't stop to feed me, I should let her know that's not right).  He's had his "vampire" teeth for a few weeks now, but this week he also sprouted his bottom two front teeth.  There may be others in there, too, it's dangerous to stick fingers in to check.

What's that you say, 7 months already?
Also, just today, he has started rolling over from back to front.  This pisses him off when he does when sleeping or trying to get sleep.  He's otherwise not moving much.  Poor guy just spends in circles when he tries to crawl.  Again, this frustrates him.

Otherwise, he's an easygoing and fun little guy to have around.  Lots of shrieky laughs and big gummy smiles.  He still loves to be bounced and lifted up overhead.  We've had a few pool trips this summer and he is a great kicker in the water and doesn't mind getting wet one little bit.

An example of his easygoingness is this: even though he's been eating solids for over a  month (and can now pick up and eat Cheerios and also grab green beans straight from my plate to gnaw on), there are nights we don't feed him.  I still nurse him, of course, but he doesn't seem to really miss not eating his purees on busy nights.

Speaking of nursing, it's still Leo's favorite thing.  He will fling himself into breastfeeding position whenever he gets the chance to.  We've tried a few times with a bottle and he just won't take it.  Most nights he wakes at some point to nurse, but there are other nights he sleeps through (so wonderful).

Milo continues to be Leo's main entertainment.  He wants to be able to see what his big brother is doing at all times.  They are also starting to play with another more.  Milo is sometimes, what I consider to be, too rough with Leo, but then I notice Leo is laughing and smiling.  Boys!



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lucky

Even though tonight I broke our salad spinner and then 10 minutes later fell down the basement stairs (ouch that really hurts), I still feel pretty fortunate tonight because of this conversation:

Chris:  Can you make it up the stairs for one last hug good night?
Me:  Yep
Milo:  Are you feeling better Mommy?  I always love you.
Me:  Milo, I'm pretty lucky to have you as my Milo.
Milo:  I'm pretty lucky to be your Milo.

Raspberry Zinger Recipe

We have recently started a love affair with sweetened condensed milk.  It all started here and after devouring that tray of yumminess, I realized we could make our favorite treats from the restaurant up the street.  Whole World, a little vegetarian restaurant just up the block from our house, has several delicious baked goods, but Chris and I almost always choose the raspberry zinger bar cookie.  It is a tasty mix of raspberry, chocolate and coconut.   I had searched for the recipe, but couldn't find it by that name.  So I made it up!  And it is pretty close and worth sharing.

Raspberry Bar Cookies

9 crushed graham crackers
3 tbspn butter, melted
seedless raspberry jam
1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk
chocolate chips
shredded coconut

Crush the crackers and mix in the melted butter.  Press into square greased pan (I used a 9x9).  Cover with a layer of raspberry jam.  Sprinkle coconut and a few chocolate chips over jam.  Pour half can of condensed milk over the top.  Sprinkle on more coconut and chocolate chips.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Enjoy.  (Sorry about the lack of a picture - they were eaten too quickly to photograph.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Phases

We seem to have entered - fingers crossed this doesn't jinx it - a more positive phase of parenting.  The late winter and spring months were tough, tough, tough.  It wasn't just having a new baby around, it was also just a difficult time for Milo.  We were all trying to find our new roles and routines.  We've already established change doesn't come naturally to Milo and me, so we butted heads a lot as we were figuring things out.

This new period, though leaves us both some room to breathe.  Milo is happier and more interesting to be around lately.  He's telling imaginative stories, singing silly songs, playing fun games and doing considerate acts for others.  He is more able (willing?) to take direction and to help.  He's less likely to run away from me in public or throw a tantrum for a questionable reason.

Leo, too, is coming into his own.  We see his personality forming and like what we see.  He's napping more regularly and interacting with us in fun new ways.

It's not that we don't have our challenges - both big and small, but they seem like just challenges and not huge insurmountable mountains of trouble.  We're in a good phase now.  It's like the earlier haze is burning off and leaving a cool morning of joy to discover together.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Leo - 6 Months

This little man with his sometimes froggy and sometimes shy smile has totally taken my heart.  I'm a little cuckoo for this kid.  His giggles light up my world.   Leo keeps up a steady stream of baby babbles and loves to have conversations with people around him.

We had a nasty storm here last weekend and it knocked out power from Friday night through Monday night.  Our little Leo was a trooper through the hot craziness that ensued.  As my mom says, as long as I am with him for his milk supply he doesn't really care where he is or what's going on.  Even when his fine baby hair was drenched in sweat, he smiled and cooed and made the best of the situation.

Leo has started eating some baby food lately.  He's had sweet potato, avocado, squash, banana, pear and rice cereal mixed with apple sauce.  He wasn't quite sure about it at the beginning, but now really enjoys being put in his highchair and being fed.

Although I think, he's a strong (and very solid at around 17 pounds) baby, he's not much of a mover.  He can roll from tummy to back, but doesn't do it too often.  He can and does scootch around on his back and is working on lifting his hips off the ground on his tummy.   He can also sit up by himself if placed in that position.    

Leo also has a tooth!  I have no idea the technical name for the tooth, but it is what I refer to as a vampire tooth.  This little vampire prefers to grab hair rather than suck blood though.