Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Little Magic

A couple of years ago, I was out garage-saleing, one of my very favorite activities in all the world - MOST fun when I get to attend said garage sales with my mom, who taught me everything I know about the subject! - and I found a little cement pagoda, about a foot high, intended for outside. It was chipped and cracking, but it was only a buck, and it just...appealed to me. So I bought it and put it out in my garden. As Jimmy has grown, I told him it was a fairy house and that if he watched really closely, sometimes he might see a fairy or two in there.


Last night, while he was in the bathroom going potty, I snuck out the back door and put a lit tea light in the pagoda, then snuck back inside. The J-bird looked and looked and looked at that fairy house, enchanted that there was a fairy in there at last, twinkling away in the dark garden. :)

Then, of course, he wanted to go outside and get the fairy. He is a boy, after all.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Turn Me Loose!

Apologies: I'm a little wordy today.

I'll admit it, I get a little anxious. We went with some friends to a big play park last week where there were TONS of kids - big kids as well as little kids - and lots of adults I didn't know. There were lots of places for a little dude to wander that were out of sight, and that...made me nervous. All the things that MIGHT happen ran through my mind, and I couldn't make myself sit and not worry. Sure, he'd probably be alright, but....what if? So I followed J as he played, a little embarrassed, trying not to hover, but unable to let him out of my sight in the crowd. I didn't think I would be that mother, but in some situations, my alarms go crazy, and I just can't seem to turn him loose.

On the other hand, we have a park up the street that we walked to today. There are plenty of kids there, but it's a little smaller with no spots that are out of sight, and for some reason, probably because I can see where he is, I can experience what it's like to sit on the bench and let my little guy just go play. Did he go up the steps to the big slide, get nervous and come back down? Sure. But he navigated that just fine on his own. Were there big kids there? Indeed, but they didn't push him around, so he just admired them and smiled at them and watched them go down the slides backward. And did he figure out that the medium sized slide was just his speed and then proceed to gleefully go down it all by himself about 400 times? He did! Turns out, he can fit just fine into the flow of kid-dome and can have a great time without my help.

It's one of those silly parenting things that you don't really think about until the moment. I DO NOT want to be a "helicopter parent"....but nor do I want to just trust that everything will be alright, regardless. I'm striving to land somewhere in the middle, and sometimes I have to battle my tendency to overthink it, you know? The best answer seems to be to go with my instincts, and I guess they've served me alright so far. Letting go is HARD, and I know it only gets harder. So I guess I'll just keep putting one foot in front of the other and do it in increments. He doesn't look like he's hurtin' much, does he? :)






A Small Thing About A Big Thing

Here's something that (sort of...sometimes) cracks me up - at least when I don't take it too personally:

The conversation usually goes something like this -

Person Who Doesn't Know Me: "Wow! When are you due? Must be any day now, eh?"

Me: (embarrassed) "Well...no....not for about 6 more weeks actually."

PWDKM: "WHOA!! Are you sure there's just one baby in there?"
or
"WHOA!! That must be a huge baby!"
or
"WHOA!! I'll bet she comes early!!" (WHAT?!?!)

Me: (Awkwardly) "Yep, just the one."
or
"Well, her brother was a big baby."
or
"Well, that would be nice! As long as she's healthy."
or
"I know, I know. I'm big, huh?"


Why is this okay? I measure completely on target for all gains, according to my doctor. AND, just for kicks the other day, I tried on my pre-pregnancy pants, only to find that they still fit everywhere BUT my belly. After all the well meaning comments about my apparently gargantuan size, I almost cried with relief. :) Without going into all the deep issues most of us have about weight, I'll just say that I'm definitely not a woman who only gains ten pounds in pregnancy. That would be lovely, but that's not me. I respond to the hormones. I gain weight. I get round all over, and I get a biiiiiiig baby belly. It's hard as a rock and pretty much all baby, but it's undeniably big, and because I started showing at 2 months this time, I'm sure it seems to those who see me on a weekly, monthly or irregular basis that I've been pregnant for 100 years. Let me lay that to rest now. The answer is that it's actually closer to 200 years, thank you for asking. And, to all who are concerned about my precarious center of gravity or my pronounced waddle, rest assured that the baby and I are both healthy as can be, that she WILL be born no later than April 9th, and that I will joyfully reclaim my body and my ability to move without pain - yeehaw!! Bring on the sleepless newborn - I'm so excited to meet her!

Friday, February 19, 2010

But...HOW?

Like most kids his age, Jimmy is full of questions, and no answer is ever...quite...right. He doesn't ask me "why?" though. He doesn't really care why things are the way they are. What he wants to know is "HOW?" He's constantly taking things apart to see how they work, and we have conversations like this one all day long:

Me - "J, we're going to go to the store now."

J - "But how?"

Me - "We'll get in the car and go."

J - "But how, Mommy?"

Me- "We'll put on our shoes, walk out to the car, climb into your carseat, fasten in and close the door. Then, I'll walk around to the front seat, get in, close the door, start the car, back out of the driveway and drive us to the store."

J - "But...how?"

Me - "I'll turn the steering wheel and step on the gas. I'll stop at the stop signs. And when we get there, we'll stop"

J - "But how?"

Me - "Honey, I don't know how to answer that question. Could you please just put your shoes on?"

J - "But how?"

Me - "I DON'T KNOW!!"

J - "Yes, you DO! You DO KNOW!! How, Mommy? HOOOOOW????"


*sigh*

Many of these conversations end with my telling him "I don't know" or "Because that's how God made it" or "That's just the way it is" after repeated volleys of "HOW?" I've also tried, "How do YOU think?" and "I'll have to think about it and tell you later". But the question is relentless, and he REMEMBERS what I say. If asked later, he'll repeat back all the steps I've told him, usually in the right order. At least I know he's paying attention! :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sidewalk Chalk

J got a box of sidewalk chalk for Valentine's Day, but it's been wet outside every day since then. We went to play at a friend's house this morning, and when we got home, it was gorgeous out, so we scarfed down some lunch and headed out to art it up on the front walk.



Our Alphabet garden



Covered in chalk dust!

Can it really only be February? It feels like May out there!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Is Spring Already...Sproinging?

Our back yard is MUDDY, man. Sloshy, sticky, muddy mess. Jimmy loves that.



But he's not the only one.


Hello, babies!


I fear for your tender little lives, should we have another frost!



No, not yours. Last time I checked, you don't sleep outside. Is it silly that every time I look at this kid, I just want to squeeze him and kiss his dimples?

No Better Than I Should Be

I read this blog by a woman who calls herself MckMama. She has four kids with another on the way, and she puts herself OUT there, man. I think I'm fairly open on my little blog, but this lady lays it out bare. Some of that is because she is very widely read, and therefore often criticized and ripped apart, which seems to go with the territory - not only the territory of putting up a "mommy blog", but the general territory of being a mother. EVERYONE has an opinion on parenting, and no matter what choices you make, someone is going to take issue with them. Some of her honesty is, I think a quest for real integrity, something I've been thinking about lately.

I sort of blithely started this blog, with the assumption that no one but my parents and in-laws would ever read it. Luckily for me, though my readership has grown, I'm not nearly interesting enough to garner the kind of numbers someone like MckMama does. This is good, because I'd have to stop using our real names and start really watching how many details I throw out there. However, no matter how many people are looking, if I'm going to do this I should be honest. I'm human, and I want you to like me, so I know I have a tendency to put the best of myself out there. I don't show photos of my house when I haven't cleaned the floors in days, or when Jimmy's toys are literally EVERYWHERE. I don't show you the laundry mountain. I don't often talk about my greatest humiliation - how desperately I tend to struggle with my weight (and usually lose). I don't document every one of Jimmy's awful temper tantrums, the way I document the cute stuff. But I do try. Honesty is terribly important to me, which is why, as silly as this may be, when someone mentioned to me lately that I'm implying or even flat out SAYING something about my parenting that is patently untrue, it stuck under my skin and really made me think. This came from someone who loves me tremendously, so I know it wasn't meant to hurt, but it hit home. So, here's a small thing, in case I have misled you.

My kid is a picky eater, and I indulge him more than I should. I offer healthy choices, most of which he rejects, so I find ways to sneak in some nutrition. He is physically perfect, right down the middle on all the charts, rarely sick, other than a little runny nose here and there. He's active and happy. These are all good things. The thing I guess I've been squirmy about though is owning up to whether or not I let him have sugar. The answer is, heck YES that kid eats sugar. He doesn't get a steady, unrestricted diet of it. He doesn't eat cookies all day. But he does get the sweet stuff about once a day, pretty much every day. I ration the amount, and I try to balance cookies with yogurt and suckers (even the organic ones) with whole wheat crackers, but it would be a big fat lie to say, or even imply that his sugar intake is rare. I know it's a little thing, but if I have been dishonest in this small thing, I may be tempted to misrepresent myself in something larger, and I don't want that. You can do what I did and search my blog. Three or four times in the last few months, I've posted photos of J, face covered in sugary goodness (because I think he's cute ;) ). Here, for instance, or here, here and here. I won't try to justify it....well, any more than I've already tried to in this paragraph (ha) ;). We all make different choices when it comes to our kids. I don't let him have pop, but I do let him lick the beaters when I make cookies. That's just one of mine.

"This is stupid", you're probably saying to yourself. "Who gives a rip what she feeds her kid?" Probably no one but me. That's not what I'm trying to say. I'm trying to say that I think I tried to make myself look "better" than I am, and for that, I apologize.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

White Chocolate Creme Brulee

Yes, yes I know this makes three posts in one day, but I spent a couple of hours in the kitchen today, waiting for things to cook. Anyway...

I've only actually eaten creme brulee once or twice, and I approached making it VERY tentatively. It's a great favorite of James's though, and he actually caved and gave me a small kitchen torch for Christmas, so I figured I'd give it a go. I found a recipe on AllRecipes.com for "Ghirardelli Classic White Chocolate Creme Brulee", and here's how it went.



TEAM 1:

Four room temperature egg yolks and 1/3 C white sugar.



Whisk smooth.




TEAM 2:

2 C heavy cream and 4oz white chocolate.




In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Now, you may be tempted, after a minute or two of watching, to step away from the cream that is still sitting there NOT simmering. You might, say, step three steps from your stove to check your email. DON'T DO IT. Cream is tricky and really, really enjoys waiting until you look away, then boiling over and ruining your life.




Then you have to clean up this.




And this. Complete bummer, man.




Or maybe that's just me. Once the cream has simmered, add the chocolate (I broke mine up - it made me feel useful), turn off the heat and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.




Add a very small amount of the hot cream mixture to the eggs and whisk. DO NOT dump it all in, because the eggs will scramble. Not what you want. I added a little, whisked, added a little more, whisked, and so on until I'd added half the cream to the eggs. Then, I added the rest.




And whisked some more.




Next, add a little splash of vanilla.


Oh, and whisk.



Pour into ramekins or custard cups and put the cups in a 9x13 baking dish and add enough hot water to the dish to come about an inch and a half up the sides of the ramekins.






Bake at 300F until set. It took about an hour and ten minutes in my oven, even though the recipe said 45 minutes. That recipe LIED TO ME!!

Which gave me time to post cutesy blogs about Valentine's Day. You're welcome.


Once the custards are set, take them out of the oven and let them cool a little on the counter. Then, stick them in the 'fridge until chilled. When you're about 20 minutes from ready to eat them, sprinkle on a little sugar (I used super fine sugar, but regular granulated is fine) and then use the handy torch your husband so fearfully gave you for Christmas to carmelize said sugar.


Or, realize that you forgot to check to see if the torch came with fuel, discover that it didn't and then move to Plan B.






The broiler. Which doesn't get the sugar carmelized as evenly, but still does the job. Nice job, broiler.




Put the cups BACK in the 'fridge for a couple of minutes so they don't burn anyone's fingers, then serve to an adoring, grateful husband.


And toddler. Who will eat maybe an eighth of his portion, which is completely fine, because A)That's way too much sugar for him anyway (I should've figured out how to make a smaller portion) and B) He obviously liked it, as he kept saying "Oh! How lelicious! I looooove it!"

All in all, not such a hard dish to make - a little tricky in spots, but not too intimidating.

Seriously though, don't walk away from that cream when it's on the stove. What a stinkin' mess.

Happy Valentine's Day


First, there was this one...



Then this one...






And pretty soon, this one...


And oh, how I love them all!

Aren't They Lovely?

I'm a lucky girl. The other day, I got these gorgeous tulips, delivered to my door for Valentine's Day with love from my Mama.



And then on Friday, James presented me with 100 roses - so pretty!


A few of them were decapitated in transit, so I floated them in a bowl.



I'm feeling very loved.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Most Of The Time...

James and I have spent these first three years of Jimmy's life utterly, completely in love with our little boy. We love just being with him, watching him grow, and teaching him. We've also spent a lot of time working on behavior. Don't get me wrong - I think it's great to be smart and funny, but nobody likes a brat, and very few people will find his little behaviors as cute as we do. So, we've put firm boundaries in place. This is as much for him as it is for us - I think he feels more secure when he knows where the line is - even if he happens to be toeing it at the time.

Anyway, he's been going through that almost-three-year-old phase where he wants to fling himself against every fence we've constructed just to see if it holds. Our very good little boy will suddenly melt down for no apparent reason, shout "NO!" in the library or deliberately disobey with his eyes locked on ours and a smile on his face. This is frustrating, to say the least, and I found myself spending the majority of each day jumping on him for every naughty thing, sitting him in time out multiple times and, yes, starting to lose my OWN temper in frustration. Not so great. Looking at the situation and my own behavior, I decided a couple of things: #1: My having a tantrum on top of his having a tantrum only makes matters worse. As difficult as it can be at times, I have to buck up and be the adult. When I force myself to lower my voice instead of raise it, to give a smaller reaction, rather than a larger, more explosive one, the bad situations tend to defuse much faster. #2: No matter how wrapped up I am in whatever I'm doing or how physically uncomfortable I happen to be at the moment, he needs more of my undivided attention right now. Since I got pregnant, I started letting him watch too many toddler DVDs and not spending enough time engaged with him. Thus, less Elmo and more Mommy. AND #3: Though it is right to expect good behavior from my child, it hurts nothing at all to recognize it and reward it a little. Now...I'm not talking a shopping spree every time he puts on his shoes rather than throwing them and running away from me, but something small.






Like a Good Boy Chart. He adores this entire concept. He gets a stamp for unprompted good behavior, and when stamps accrue, I'll give him a quarter for his piggy bank or something. He has no concept of money, but he likes putting coins in his Harley Pig. ;)



I do still tell him what I expect, (example - "Here's what I expect in the library: a quiet whisper voice and OBEDIENCE. Etc..) because having clear expectations laid out beforehand seems to help him, but I have noticed that when I matter-of-factly recognize and thank him for good behavior, he just sparkles and shines all over. This makes for much lovelier days in our house. :) I guess I'm learning too.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Walk In The Rain

This pregnancy has been unexpectedly painful - not emotionally or anything, but physically. I'm not sure if it's because my body is 3 years older than last time, or if I've just become a major wimp, but EVERYTHING hurts and has done for months. This has curtailed a lot of my good intentions for exercise, etc... Now don't fret. Though I FEEL like Jabba the Hutt, my OB says my weight gain is fine, and both Vivi and I are very healthy. Poor Jimmy's been cooped up with a lame duck Mama though, and he's been going a little stir crazy. Me too.

Yesterday, I remembered that in the big box of maternity clothes my friend, Wendee gave me was something called a "pre-natal cradle". It's basically a...truss, I guess you'd call it, that supports the back and the humongous belly full of baby from the planet Gigantor. I was skeptical, but I tried it yesterday, and the RELIEF for my back and hips was amazing. So amazing, in fact that Jimmy and I went for a nice, long walk (stopping every now and then to do "exercises" - another opportunity to work on his counting ;) ). It was raining today, but we were so intoxicated by yesterday's fresh air that we went out anyway. We couldn't go far, because it was really coming down, but the J-bird was thrilled at the opportunity to hold his own umbrella. He looked so cute that I had to take my camera. I'm glad I did.