Thursday, January 29, 2009

Meme

I'll admit it, I have a little bit of a Facebook addiction. And there's this thing going around on Facebook called "25 Random Things About Me". I started reading the lists my friends made, learning all kinds of things I didn't know, and I made one of my own, which was fun and kind of cathartic. So...I decided to make another one - just for you! :)

1. I am deeply, unequivocally, irrevocably in love with my husband. Oh sure, he's a man, and I'm a woman, and we have moments when we look at each other and wonder "WHO ARE YOU?!", but meeting him is one of the best things that has ever happened to me, and marrying him is one of the two best decisions I've ever made.

2. I consider my marriage to be forever. "Getting out" is not an option, which I find liberating, as opposed to oppressive. It means that the only option is to work things out when they go wrong, so that we can both be happy and so that we can lead a healthy family.

3. At this stage of my life, I feel more like the person I was as a child than like the person I was as an adolescent or college student. I'm happy, I adore my life, and things feel easy and angst free. If I could go back and tell the person I was in that middle stage a thing or three, it would be to unclench, to value and take care of the body I had, to focus more on friends than on boyfriends, and to go easy on my Mama.

4. In spite of their faults and the fact that I KNOW they are human, there's a small part of my heart that will always see my parents as perfect, infallible and all-powerful. I've lived far away from them for over seven years now, and I still miss them both terribly.

5. I have three sisters and one brother - all younger. I find each of my siblings inspiring in different ways, and I relish our relationships as they develop and grow.

6. My parents took in foster kids from the time I was about three or four. Growing up seeing babies with broken bones and sad, disconnected, sometimes irreparably damaged toddlers and little kids affected me in a number of ways. For one thing, I have a deep love and appreciation for children of any age. I'm more comfortable with kiddos than adults, in fact. For another thing, I have zero sympathy for anyone who abuses a child. You can say that they're just people and that they've made a mistake, but in my very humble opinion, when you give in to your frustration and beat or molest your child, the appropriate consequence is jail time and an immediate, complete loss of your parental rights so the child never has to be subjected to you again. The idea that biology gives you a divine right to a hundred chances at ruining someone else's life is bunk. In closing, foster parents are horribly under-appreciated and mistreated.

7. I love, and I mean LOVE food. It's a problem. A DELIGHTFUL problem.

8. I feel that the comedy of Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle surpasses that of Mr. Noodle himself. Also, the phrase "Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle" cracks me up. Now I want noodles.

9. Cleaning up baby pee/poop/barf/snot doesn't bother me, but animated mucous and the sound of someone "hawking a loogie" makes me gag. Every time.

10. Tap water almost always has a taste to me, and I don't like it. I refuse to buy water though, so I'm glad we have a filtered water dispenser on our 'fridge. James says I'm a water snob.

11. It is very difficult to offend me. Not that I'm trying to give you a mission or anything.

12. I am by no means an exhibitionist (no matter what my Mama says), and I'll try to prevent it, but if you see me naked, I don't really care, and I never have.

13. I'm a Christian, and it bothers me when people do things in the name of Christ that are far from Christ-like. I also don't like being lumped in with all other Christians, as though we are all the same. We're not.

14. I used to live by extremes. I guess I figured that if I was going to do something, I should do it all the way. For example, I'd have VERY long hair or VERY short hair. I'd be on an extreme diet, or I'd eat whatever I felt like eating. People were either all good, and I'd see them all the time, or they were all bad, and I didn't see them at all. It was a miserable way to live. Moderation is very freeing.

15. I did theater from seventh grade through 2004 (14 years). I loved it, but I'm terrible at the backstage politics, so I don't do it anymore, and I don't miss it.

16. My Daddy married my Mama when I was a year and a half old. He adopted me - another of the most important things that's ever happened to me. He is the only father I've ever known and is the only father I ever WANT to know. I love him so much.

17. I have little to no fashion sense. In general, I stick to my "momiform" of sweats and t-shirts (jeans and t-shirts if I'm going out of the house, black pants and some shirt for church). When I get something new or take the time to mix up some actual outfits, I feel totally excited and different.

18. Jimmy's birth was the most amazing, frustrating, exhausting, exhiliarating and emotional physical feat I've ever accomplished. It was 56 hours from induction to birth, and I still feel cheated that I had to have an epidural (at the last minute) and a c-section.

19. When Jimmy was born, he had hair on the tops of his ears. The doctor told me it would wear off (it did), but I was lying there in the hospital, thinking how I was going to have to go to his Kindergarten class to whoop up on some kid who was calling him "wolf boy" or something. Think I might've been a little hormonal?

20. Shortly after Jimmy was born, I realized that the way I feel about him is the way my Mama feels about me. So many things came clear to me in that moment, and my relationship with my mom shed that last remnant of my childish expectations and blossomed into something even more beautiful than I ever imagined it could be.

21. I'm very old fashioned. I have no desire for a career, and I like it that my husband is the head of our family and that he takes care of me. I'm learning that "submission" doesn't deserve the bad rap it's got - not the way it's supposed to be done, anyway.

22. Being a stay-at-home is the most fulfilling job I've ever had.

23. I hate laundry and exercise with almost equal intensity. I make myself do both every day.

23. I love to cook and bake and to discover and invent new recipes. I've had some bellyflops along the way, of course - most memorably, the five cheese grilled cheese sandwiches I tried to make for my family once (burnt on the outside, cold on the inside), the time I put allspice into spaghetti sauce (kind of tasted like spaghetti with pumpkin pie in it), and the time I made burritos for James using like four habanero peppers. I'd never cooked with them before and had NO IDEA.

24. I paint and like to do so on a large scale. I've done several murals for different people and think it's amazing to make a piece of art that huge.

25. When you marry someone, I believe you also marry their family. In this respect, I totally hit the jackpot. My in-laws are tremendous.

26 - bonus! (I thought of another one) :). I can remember three times in my life when I really loved how I looked. The most recent was my wedding day. Every woman should feel beautiful on her wedding day. Going back a little, the second was my senior prom. My date was a dink who showed up over an hour late, but I looked GOOD. The third is a time when I was six or seven. I had very long, white-blond hair, and I was wearing a dress my mom had made me that "spun out". I can honestly say I've never felt prettier than that. :) On the other hand, there's more to life than feeling pretty. For instance, tonight, my son put his hands on either side of my face and kissed my forehead, then my nose, and then my lips. How beautiful is THAT?

There. Don't we all feel better? Isn't it wonderful to know twenty SIX fabulous, random things about your old pal, G? Wait, what? You could've lived without knowing any of that? Well...sorry. I'll post more baby pictures next time. :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hazel Sills Park

Jimmy and I have been on a "going to the park" kick. After so many weeks of cold, we're both so stir-crazy that we see blue sky and make a break for it. There are three parks within walking distance. Yesterday, we went to the one furthest away (about a mile).





Fluffy Bunaroonies

I have been accused recently (by James, of course) of being a "lotta bit a hippy"...whatever that means. I believe he's referring to the fact that, since we moved to Oregon and ESPECIALLY since we had Jimmy, I've started to turn a little...green. Now, I'm not near the deep forest green shade that some of my pals have achieved, but I'm somewhere in the middle of the palette. I recycle almost everything recyclable, I take cloth shopping bags to the market, I prefer my foods hormone free, I breast fed Jimmy for almost two years (no formula or bottles), and, after a year of disposable diapers, I couldn't take the guilt and switched to cloth.

My mom used cloth diapers on all of us kids, but they were the old fashioned kind with pins and diaper pails full of bleach water (because that's what there was at the time.). The bathroom, no matter how often the pail was changed (and it was changed frequently - my mom was on TOP of that), smelled like bleach and diapers, and, all in all, disposables were WAAAAAAAY more convenient. That's the image James had of cloth diapers, so when I said I wanted to use cloth, he told me, and I quote, "If you put that baby in cloth diapers, I won't hold him." He has this thing about pee, you see. He pretty much doesn't want it on him (not that anyone does), and if it DOES get on him, he's completely grossed out and has to go scrub himself with lye. That may be a slight exaggeration.

Anyway, to make a long story longer, Jimmy and I joined a breastfeeding group when he was four months old, and several of the moms there used cloth diapers. They were a kind I'd never seen though, and I was intrigued. By the time J turned one, I'd decided I was going to make the switch no matter what - to make potty training easier, if nothing else (yeah. How's THAT workin' out for me?), but I didn't know where to start. A couple of my pals from our group loaned me some of theirs, and I learned all about the wonder that is the pocket cloth diaper. I will now share this miracle with you.

This is the diaper cover. There are hundreds of different brands. This happens to be a "Happy Heinys", which I really like because of the very large amount of velcro. I also love Bum Genius. I used mostly Haute Pockets for a long time, but Jimmy got too fat for even their "one size" diapers. Go figure.






Here's the part that touches the baby's bottom - it's very soft and much nicer than rustly paper. The nicer, pricier ones have something called "minky" on the inside, which is so soft that I, myself would love to wear it. If I needed to wear diapers. Which I might someday, you never know. And when that day comes, I demand cloth Depends with MINKY, dang it!!





The outer layer is made of something called PUL. It's coated on the inside with polyurethane, which keeps the moisture in. The outside can be any color or pattern. My friend, Jaimey has a cloth diaper business and sells embroidered covers. Pretty cool.





This is the insert, which takes the place of the old pre-folds (though you can use those too). They don't all have the wider part at the end, but I like these, from Haute Pockets. The inserts are made from micro-terry cloth and are SUPER absorbent.





Part of the reason I like the ones from Haute Pockets is that they come with an extra, smaller insert which snaps to the larger one. You can use the little one in a newborn diaper or snap it to the larger insert as a "doubler", if your kid pees a lot, which mine suddenly does. :)





The insert goes between the inner layer and the outer layer.





In the "pocket". And - voila! The diaper goes on just as easily as a disposable, except it uses velcro or "touch tape" instead of adhesive, and you wash, dry and re-use the diaper instead of throwing it away. Speaking of washing...



The diapers go into a dry pail - no bleach, no water.







The diaper pail liner has a layer of polyurethane, which holds in moisture and helps with any odor. When I wash (about every other day), I dump the diapers into my machine, then throw the liner in with them.





I recently discovered this stuff from Bum Genius that you can lightly spray on the diapers before they go in the pail to help with odor. It has vegetative enzymes that help break down the yuck. You don't have to use it, but I figured I'd try it. You know, for fun.




As for washing the diapers, I use Charlie's Soap, which is AMAZING. I bought it to use only on diapers, but I now use it for all my laundry. It washes completely clean, leaving no detergent residue whatsoever, and you only need one tablespoon per load. Seriously. We have a front loading washer that is prone to mildew (gross - and inconvenient, as we have leave the door open when it's not in use), and the Charlie's even helps with that. I think that when I "accidentally" destroy this washer with a sledge hammer (I kid, James...really), I will go for a top loader next time. They make efficient ones now that use far less water but that still get the clothes clean and don't constantly stink of mildew. Sounds awesome. But I digress.

Here's my diaper washing routine (everyone has their own):

First wash - "Regular Soil" in warm/cold with one Tablespoon of Charlie's Soap
Second wash - "Heavy Soil" in HOT with "Pre Soak" "Stain Cycle" and "Extra Rinse" using one Tablespoon of Charlie's Soap and a little bit of Dawn Dishwashing Detergent (the old fashioned blue kind) squirted into the barrel of the machine.

This gets all the ucky out, there are no stains, and there's no odor. At first, I was irritated at having to wash more than once, but when you're dealing with human waste, it's pretty important to get the suckers REALLY clean, you know? Especially when you're cleaning something that's going back on your baby's sweet little bottom.

And you know what? James actually LOVES the cloth diapers, has, in fact changed a few - even a poopy one!, and he holds Jimmy all the time. So, it all worked out. ;)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Random Sad Thoughts

James took Jimmy and I out to supper tonight, and then we went birthday shopping for Jimmy's second, which is coming up in March. Afterward, I took a bubbly bath with Jimmy, and as I washed his funny hair that always stands up, made bubble beards on his face and, afterward, smoothed lotion onto his little knees and elbows and kissed each of his sweet little toes, part of me wished I could have him this way forever. The thing about children is that you only get them the way they are for a moment at a time. He's growing up so FAST. Before I know it, he'll be a teenager, and he won't even want to hug me, let alone giggle when I poke his little tummy and say "boop!". He's going to grow up and marry some girl, who will probably hate me for being her mother in law, and my darling little boy will be gone. Maybe it won't be that way - I mean, I adore my mother in law, so maybe I'll get lucky, right? I just love him so much. I genuinely treasure every single second with him, and, as proud as I am of the fact that he's growing into such a happy, independent little guy, it tears at my heart a little that part of the mommy deal is having to let go and watch him walk away from me a step at a time.

This is self indulgent and silly, I recognize that. He's not going off to college tomorrow or anything, and hopefully, by the time he does, I'll be ready. For now, I'll keep kissing his sweet little toesies, snuggling him close, and I'll thank my lucky stars that he stills lets me. :)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Old Friends

As Jimmy and I were heading back to Oregon from one of several trips we took to see family in Kansas this summer, I looked behind me in the security line, as I was putting shoes back on Jimmy (they have to be scanned, just in case he's a crazed, toddling terrorist) and instantly recognized Erin, a girl I went to junior high and high school with. We got to talking, and she told me she was heading "home" to Oregon - we were on the same flight! We sat together on the plane (Southwest) and tried to catch up on the last twelve years (TWELVE YEARS??!?!?!). Turns out, she married the guy she's been dating since the ninth grade, who was the Homecoming King when we were seniors. They were the most amazing, calm, perfect-for-each-other couple. Oh yeah, guess who was the Homecoming Queen? Guess. You'll never guess.


I told you you'd never guess. Like how they left the red-eye in for the yearbook photo?


Anyway, after Jimmy and I got home, James started his sabbatical. We were traveling, one thing led to another, and it took several months for us to connect and get together. I finally got my act together though, and we had Erin and Andrew over for lunch today (potato soup in bread bowls, if you're keeping track of the different food references I constantly drop in this blog), and we had a blast. They're incredibly easy to be around, and they're even more perfect as a couple now than they were way back when.





Jimmy gave Andrew his unconditional stamp of approval when he immediately got down on the floor and toddlered out with him.






Did I mention they look exactly the same (minus the facial hair on Andrew)? Of course, they were not a doctor (Erin) and a lawyer (Andrew) back in the day. :)

New Potty Device

Remember the gorgeous little potty chair I got on Ebay and refurbished? The little potty chair I've always dreamed of having for my first child, who would, of course, immediately love it and instantly be inspired to potty train? Yeah. The dude refuses to use it. Oh, he loves to sit on it, but he won't...go. This step up potty with "cushy seat" that goes on the actual toilet got great reviews - even for boys - even for boys who won't go on a little chair that their mothers slaved over.

He LOVES sitting up like a big boy.





Of course...





...it took him about three seconds...





...to figure out how to lift up the step...





...and SMASH it back down on the floor! :) At least I'll always know (from anywhere in the house) that he's sitting on the potty.

Goonybird


Friday, January 23, 2009

iPhone Photos

When we needed new phones several months ago, James went all out and got us some iPhones. It's a cool little device. You can check your email, play games, take and send photos - even call people. I have a fantastic digital SLR camera (a Sony a100) that I absolutely love, but the little camera in my phone is nice for those times when I don't want to haul my baby along with me (not Jimmy - I always have him :) ) or for the times I don't think I'm going to need it but see some moments of cuteness I can't NOT document. Today, for instance, it was sunny out, so I threw Jimmy in the wagon and we went down to the park. He got good and dirty and I got a little exercise (in addition to the dreaded treadmill session).


Here he is, exploring a random piece of wood he found. Fascinating.






It's a good little camera - I love how it caught the rays of sun shining on my baby as he...ran away from me.






He steadfastly refused to look at me. He's totally wise to my game.







He got part way up this climb-y thing, which was way too big for him, then got stuck and had to holler "Help?! Help?!"








Our across the street neighbor, Wendee joined us with her little girl, Dahlia (Jimmy's pal, whom he refers to as "Dolly".)





This is just after she took a tumble. Jimmy's first reaction was to giggle....but, to his credit, he did then ask, "You OK?" That makes up for laughing at her first, right? Right?





This is from the other day, when three of us neighborhood stay-at-homes bundled our babes and took them out for some fresh air. This was one of the high points of my week last week!






And this is my sweet boy, looking out into the garden to see if he can spot any fairies. I absolutely love this shot. In fact, I love it so much...





That here it is in black and white!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How it Ends

Here's how tantrums generally go in our house. Jimmy gets frustrated by being told "no". He flings himself on the floor and hollers for a couple of minutes, and then....




End of a Tantrum from The Houxes on Vimeo.

Particle Jimmy


Particle Man from The Houxes on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Feel Old

If it didn't hit home that I'm not a wee child anymore on my 30th birthday last year or when I started to get fine lines between my eyebrows (or when I had a wee child of mine own), I'm getting it now. We TiVo some toddler TV shows for Jimmy, like the Doodlebops and Mickey Mouse Playhouse, and, lately, Sesame Street, which we're watching as I write this. He absolutely ADORES the "Street" - he dances and sings and says "WooooOOOOOoooow!!" a lot and recognizes the characters (especially "Melmo") when they show up. I didn't watch a ton of TV when I was growing up (I can still distinctly hear my Mom's voice saying "Go play OUTSIDE!!"), but we did watch Sesame Street. That was over 25 years - 25 YEARS!!! ago though, and WOW has it changed. It's a great show - perfect for little guys. The character voices are different though, the human characters look older, and Maria's baby is a teenager! Even the theme song has been updated. They mix in some old stuff though - and some things I'm sure I missed in the in-between years (they just had a VERY eighties rap about computers - and when did REM go on Sesame Street with the "Furry Happy Monsters" version of "Shiny Happy People"?? That's a very awkward looking Michael Stipe. ) for the old fogies like me. I'm still waiting for the old pinball song that counts to "twe-e-e-e-e-e-e-elve!" though.

Have I ever mentioned how completely adorable a dancing toddler is?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dark Knight Night

James and I are huge Batman fans, and, though I will always have a soft spot for Jack Nicholson as the Joker, our absolute favorites are the two newest movies in the Batman franchise. Seriously, who can argue with Christian Bale as the Bat? And Heath Ledger? Come on - amazing. We had our "Oregon Family" over last night for "Dark Knight Night after Jimmy goes Night-Night". I made pizza and served it with salad, then we hung around until the J-bird went to bed. Once he was down for the night, we watched "The Dark Knight" on Blu-Ray in our home theater room. Because I've been in a cupcake mood lately (reading too many cupcake blogs) I also made some Dark Knight cuppycakes - here they is:

I used this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Super-Easy-Chocolate-Cupcakes/Detail.aspx , substituting some orange zest for the instant coffee. I've made them with the coffee, and they are AWESOME. I just wanted to try something a little different. I always make a mess when I try to "spoon" the batter into the cups, so I put the batter in a pastry bag, snip off the tip and fill them that way.

Here they are, baked and cooled.





Then I drew out some Bat symbols....





...and melted a little bit of this good stuff.





I put the template I'd made underneath my Silpat and piped the melted bark into shape.











Once the bats were cooled, I made up some chocolate ganache. It's obscenely easy to make, and even more obscenely easy to eat. Seriously, this may be one of the world's most wonderful foods. I piped it on (again, easier than spooning), just going for coverage.






Then, I added the Bats and some grated dark chocolate.





If I'd been feeling really industrious, I might have filled them, but they were good the way they were, I thought. Perhaps not quite worthy of Bruce Wayne, but eminently edible, all the same.