Friday, December 30, 2011


Just checking in to say hi.
And also that still the sickness runs rampant through our home.  This time it's me.
Damn you, air-born germs!
Tomorrow is sheet washing, bathroom Lysol-ing, and floor vacuuming at it's most extreme.
Or it's just all day pajama day.  Can't decide.
No plans for the New Year.  Actually, I take that plan is to feel better.

And so, because right now I really don't have the energy to post something long and witty about our trip to Kansas City, I'll share this with you instead:

Who wore them better?  
It's true that Finneaus can rock a sweet pair of Kate Spades, but I feel they give Uriah a nice feminine touch that balances the beard and mustache he's been growing for Manuary.

The drive can get long sometimes and we amuse ourselves in very random ways. 
Until next time...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Dispatch from the road.

We have been in Kansas City for almot a week now. I do not miss the traffic, that's for sure.  The trip was as uneventful as you can get traveling with a sick baby and Abby.  We somehow managed to hit rush hour traffic coming into the city on Thursday, about the time Finn decided that a bathroom break was necessay.  It was a long few miles of very slow driving.

We have been eating and laughing and. playing with cousins and aunts and uncles.  I've been to Target.  Twice.  I'm going to be honest, we weren't even in town for 45 minutes when I realized I'd forgotten to pack our toothbrushes, so I had to go to Target.  Uriah took me to Barnes and Noble today so that I could take advantage of the 50% off Christams books.  I stocked up.  I really just went to get an Elf on the Shelf, but they were all on hold so I have to order mine online tomorrow.  And, for the record, you should not be able to hold Christmas merchandise when it goes on sale the day after.  You should have to be there to get it; it's not fair to the rest of us who actually brave the crowds and the parking lots on the day after Christmas because we want something special for our kids next Christmas and we want to do it cheaply.  But I'm cleary just being a whiny baby because I didn't get my Elf for dirt cheap.

My allergies have been out of control.  This morning I think my eyelids actually touched my glasses because they were so puffy.  I haven't worn contacts for days and don't even get me started on eye make-up.  Not going to happen.  I tried to read Finneaus a story before nap time and I had to make up part of the story because the words were all running together.  He didn't notice.  But this is precisely the reason that we will not be gettiing a Hefter Family Pet.

I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tomorrow night.  I am not looking forward to the laundry.  I am looking forward to getting back on the "healthy eating" wagon.  I fell off this week.  Hard.  Luckily, I have a lot of padding on my backside to cushion the fall.  Actually, that's not really lucky; it's mostly sad.  But tomorrow is a new day and I get a fresh start, right?  Right.

Merry belated Christmas, friends.  I'll have more lovely photos to share throughout the week of our vacation.  Now, however, it is time to put more drops in my eyes - and maybe a cool cloth over them.  They'er starting to touch my glasses again...

Friday, December 23, 2011

It was a magic tooth.

Since Finn's tooth was yanked out of his face last week, we've encountered days of up and down fevers, one very, very snotty nose, two red, mucus-y, and gunky eyes, and two ears brimming with fluid and pinkness.  And now we have eye drops (holy hell, getting those in his eye holes is a lesson in patience) and an antibiotic hanging out in our refrigerator.  Finn's doctor looked at me with equal parts shock and awe when I told him that no, Finn had never been on an antibiotic and yes, he's been in daycare since he was 8 weeks old.

Would it be wrong of me to put that magic tooth in a locket and have Finn wear it on a chain around his neck to ward off future evils for, oh say, the rest of his life?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's more of a hair trim, actually.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Let me tell you a story...

When Finn was born, I thought he was the most beautiful baby in the whole entire wide world. I thought his hair was perfect, his fingers were perfect, his nose and his toes were all sorts of perfect. Everything about him was perfect. Even his yellow-ish skin.  Yellow skin,you say.  A beautiful mustard yellow, I confirm.

Only it wasn't that beautiful and it certainly wasn't healthy.  Our doctors sent us home anyway, with instructions to swaddle him along with a UV light made especially for babies. We called him our Light Bright Baby and we stared at him and kissed him and had a hard time relinquishing him to the arms of friends and family that had come to visit. We took him back to the hospital twice to have his little feet pricked and the blood tested. And when the doctor told us that his little liver wasn't getting rid of the excess bilirubin fast enough and that we needed to take him to the Children's hospital immediately, I climbed painfully back into the car and cried all the way to the hospital. I pulled myself together as we walked in and got registered and tucked Finn safely in his little UV incubator with the purple light and the sweet baby sunglasses.

Not long after he was snuggled into his warm bed, about the time the lump in the back of my throat had dissipated, the doctor confirmed that he was jaundiced and dehydrated, so I had to carry him down the hall to have an IV inserted into his foot. I sat in that brightly lit room full of fun murals, with nurses in happy scrubs, and held Finn's tiny 4-day-old hand as he kicked his poor bruised feet and let his displeasure be known. I tried to talk around the lump that had reappeared in the back of my throat, but all I could do was breath deeply and hold Finn's hand and blink furiously. That is, until one of those sweet nurses looked over at me and told me it was perfectly okay for the mamas to cry, too. And then I sat in that brightly lit room with the fun murals and the nurses in the happy scrubs and cried right along with my baby until I could pick him up and sooth him.

Friday, I did not have the luxury of crying with my baby. I sat at his feet and rubbed his legs as a doctor and two hygienists strapped his squirming body down and stuck a needled in his mouth.  I squeezed his little leg as they pulled out his tiny tooth, letting him know without words that I was right next to him. I held it together during the 5 minutes the procedure took; until I could scoop him up and sooth my little boy. I breathed deeply and blinked furiously as I told Finn that his wiggly tooth was gone he could have animal crackers again. I ignored the blood on my shirt while I rubbed his back and whispered how brave he was and what a good job he did, and by the time we got to the treasure chest by the front door, his tears were gone and all he wanted to do was pick a prize and go play outside.

I waited until I was safely parked in the JC Pennys parking lot before I called my mom and lost it (sometimes you just need your mom, you know?).  Finn sat in his car seat in the back, playing happily with his new bus from the prize chest, oblivious to the break down happening in the front seat.

And then, after my mom soothed me, I pulled myself together and called Uriah to ask him what the Tooth Fairy brings baby boys who loose a tooth years before they should.

In case you're wondering, the Tooth Fairy doesn't bring little boys crap, because it'll be years before another tooth goes missing and, let's face it, he wouldn't get the concept of a tooth fairy right now anyway.

Moms and Dads, however, bring brave little boys kitchens.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We finally put up our tree...

...and it smells like pine in our house.  A little bit of Christmas every time I inhale.  I think I needed that, a tangible reminder of the season every time I walk through the living room.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about Finn's little tooth and his first haircut, but I'm not going to think about it.  Instead, I'm going to sigh over how big my baby has gotten in a year (it never ceases to amaze me and pictures just make it all the more obvious!).

Happy Sunday, friends!

{December 2010}
{December 2011}

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On my mind...

  • It feels like Missouri in Iowa.
  • It has been raining and almost all of the snow is gone.  
  • I'm pretty sure the ice on the lakes is nearly nothing, too.
  • I haven't seen the sun for days and days and days.
  • I need to take some pictures for Christmas cards. 
  • But who wants to take holiday card pictures in the sopping wet outsides?
  • Not it.
  • I'm sure you probably already have your cards signed, stamped and mailed.
  • Good for you.
  • I am not in the holiday spirit.
  • I have birthday pictures from over the weekend to edit.
  • Abby looks pale and sick in all of them.
  • Oh, that's right...because she was pale and sick in all of them.
  • I took Finn for a walk outside this week.  Outside.  In December.  In Iowa.
  • Did I mention that almost all of our snow is gone?
  • I feel like making a list of holiday things that I need to get done would be a joke.
  • The list would take me until Christmas to write.
  • I haven't wrapped one present.
  • I'm tired of being crabby.  And cranky.  And annoyed at the world in general.
  • I have to take Finn back to the dentist on Friday.
  • I'm very nervous.  Very, very nervous.  I love his toothy smile.
  • I'm going  to try to do some Christmas shopping.  Maybe.  If I'm in the mood.
  • I don't think I'm going to be in the mood.
  • We don't even have a Christmas tree up...and I'm not sure I want to go to the trouble.
  • Why does it seem as though we put so much stress on ourselves during the holidays?
  • Oh, that's just me?  
  • Y'all are walking in a winter wonderland out there?  
  • Sprinkling tinsel out of your fingertips?
  • Lucky you.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Show me that smile again.

I took Finn to the most amazing pediatric dentist today, from her staff, to the exam, to getting x-rays of a very wiggly, uncooperative 1 year old's mouth.  Finn's tooth's little root has a fracture.  We have to wait a week to see if it will heal on it's own.  If not, baby boy will have a jack-o-lantern smile until he gets that top tooth back in.  You know, around the time he turns 8.

I tried not to be the mom who cried in the exam room (and I didn't, but it was hard), but really, he's just a baby...I want him to keep his pretty little smile until his teeth fall out on their own.  This is minor, all things considered, and we could be facing much more traumatic things.  Silver lining: If the tooth doesn't heal and they have to take it out, they won't have to dig the root out of his little gum (something that would require putting him completely under, a recovery time and pain.  I'll by-pass that, thank you very much.).

So, some extra prayers, if you please, for Finn's little tooth.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

He sort of smiles like Tom Cruise

Finn knocked one of his top teeth askew (great word, right?) at some point yesterday, we're guessing at school.  We didn't even actually notice it until last night when Uriah was tipping Finn upside down and his mouth was open while he giggled.  My best guess is that he fell (or bumped it or whatever happened-he's a boy and he's accident prone.), he probably cried, was surely comforted by his teacher, and then, because there was no blood or physical sign of trauma, he went on with his day.  Uriah and I decided last night to see how Finn's mouth was in the morning.  I was obviously hoping it was a fluke and we'd wake up this morning to a fully restored, even smile.  Instead, his gum was still pretty swollen, his tooth still wasn't straight and now it was kind of wiggly.

The downside to living in a small town?  Sometimes you actually have to wait to get in to see the doctor/dentist because,  this just in: they don't work every single day!  I called a couple of places this morning and left messages.  The dentist we took Abby to last week was seeing patients in One woman actually told me, after I'd left a message on the office's answering machine and called back again, that she figured I was just calling around, so she didn't see the need to return the message that I'd left.  We finally got a call back from the pediatric dentist this afternoon and the earliest they could get Finn in is tomorrow morning.  He's got the first appointment, but still it's not until tomorrow morning, and I really had wanted it taken care of today..  His tooth doesn't seem to be bothering him, although he's been pretty picky about what he eats today; he's had a lot of yogurt, cottage cheese and bananas.

Of course, that didn't stop him from inhaling a gingerbread cookie this afternoon when I wasn't looking.  I guess his mouth must not hurt that bad...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Snow has come to Iowa

We got our first real snowfall yesterday and Finn was in heaven.  He kept pointing out the window saying "," which, I guess is "snow" in Finn language, because when he says "no" normally (read: all of the time.) he accompanies it with shaking his head.  Since there was no shaking of the head, I am left to assume that he did, indeed, mean "snow."

I waited until afternoon nap was done and then I bundled the crap out of that boy.  He had on a onesie, a long sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt, sweat pants, two pairs of socks and two pairs of mittens in addition to his snow pants, jacket and boots.  He looked like the little boy from A Christmas Story with his arms sticking straight out at his sides.  He feel over once in the house and all I kept hearing was, "Help...I've fallen and I can't get up!" 

Abby struck a deal with Uriah in the heat of the summer, she didn't want to mow the yard, so she told him if he did all of the mowing, she would do all of the shoveling.  They agreed that the driveway would need to be shoveled after every snow, even if it meant getting up early before school, and Abby agreed.  Oh, she regretted that hand shake yesterday.  She was outside shoveling twice yesterday and again this morning at the end of the driveway where the snow plows pushed a nice bank of snow from the streets.  I like to think she's learning a life lesson and thinking through the consequences of hasty, back-alley agreements!

Finn tried to help as best he could.  He watched Abby shovel for awhile and then he went into the garage and came back with his little sand shovel.  Every so often he would bend down and help her by flinging some snow with his little shovel.  That lasted until the mail truck came by, then he stood mesmerized until it turned the corner.

We spent about a half an hour outside, and when Finn's cheeks started to get rosy, I decided it was time to go inside.  Finn was not pleased.  I had to tell him that we were going to go right back outside (which we were not because it was starting to get dark) and then I let him stand on a stool by the window so that he could watch Abby finish her shoveling.

We'll go back outside today for a little while.  In the meantime, he has been transfixed watching all of the snow blowers spit snow every which way.  Abby has been transfixed, too, but mostly with a look of envy on her face because she's got 4 or 5 more months of shoveling ahead of her!  If I had to hedge a bet, I'd say she's going to try to strike a deal with Uriah in the next few weeks: she'll help mow the lawn if he helps her shovel.

I think he'll probably take that deal.

Friday, December 2, 2011

On my mind...naps.

{Finn & Uncle Dan | 04.24.11}
  • I sometimes miss taking an afternoon nap.  But I do get a lot done when Finn take his.
  • This picture makes me laugh.
  • I love that Daniel's idea of taking care of the baby was a co-nap.  
  • And that Finn's practically dangling off the side of the bed.
  • I miss my brother.
  • I can hear the wind blowing outside.  
  • It's about to get cold.
  • Uriah put our Christmas lights up wrong.  And he hasn't fixed them yet.
  • We look like the Griswold's...lots of lights and none of them light up.
  • I can't wait to make Christmas cookies.
  • If it snows tomorrow, like it's supposed to, I'm bundling my kids up and taking them outside.
  • Now that my boy can shake his head and tell me "No," I'm getting nostalgic for the baby that he was.
  • Of all of the things I did to prepare for Finn coming, making his bedtime blanket was my favorite.
  • Abby doesn't have any baby teeth left in her mouth.
  • She'll be 12 next week.
  • That means she's only 12 months away from being a teenager.
  • Please pass the gin.
  • I can't believe how much of an attitude Finn has been getting lately.  Especially if he doesn't get his way.
  • But his hugs and kisses are sugar sweet.
  • I don't have winter boots. 
  • My feet still have not shrunk back to their pre-baby size.  I have little hope that they ever will.
  • Finn has learned to dance.  In a circle.  Until he falls down
  • Abby's choir concert this week included red sparkly bow ties and belts, songs with dance moves, kazoos, and 12 year old boys with changing voices.
  • It was so awesome Finn crapped his pants.  Literally.
  • I'm on the second book in the Hunger Games series.
  • I'm not sure if Abby will be watching the movie when it comes out.
  • What to get her for her birthday...
  • She's having a birthday party next weekend.  I'm already mentally preparing myself.
  • I'm going to impose Family Nap Time after that sleep-over.  I feel as though no one will get much sleep.
  • I just hope they don't freeze someone's bra.
  • The game Girl Talk was awesome.  Remember the little red zit stickers?  I wonder if they still make that game...
  • In lieu of a nap, I'm going to bed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


For the life of me, I can't figure out how this boy can be two completely different people.  

One day I look at him and he is the spitting image of his dad and I wonder if he really has a mom at all or if I just imagined the whole 9 months and giving birth and stuff..  And then, I see a picture like this and I know exactly who his mom is because he looks exactly like me.

Anyway, I'm a little behind on my thankfuls this year, I usually do it in Novmeber, but here is my list anyway, and in no particular order, except, I suppose, the three at the top.

I'm thankful for...
  • Uriah.  All day, every day.
  • Finneaus:  For being happy in the morning.  For loving books.  For the way he says "meow."  For just generally making my throat choke up on a daily basis because my cup runneth over.  For being my best boy.
  • Abby: For keeping me on my toes.  For teaching me that yes, girls this age are very annoying, but also very helpful.  For not getting into too much mischief.  For loving her brother, and loving on him, sometimes to to the point of distraction.  For singing.  For trying to do her best every day - and for coming home with really good grades. 
  • Family.  Family.  Family.
  • For moving to a small town that, 7 months later, is starting to feel more and more like home.
  • Sisters.  And sisters-in-law.  A girl can't have too many fun, positive females surrounding her.
  • For a little bit of back pain - it forces me to exercise.
  • For being close enough to my parents house that a weekend trip does not require time off from work.
  • For having jobs in a sucky economy.  We are lucky.
  • For the will power to make changes that are hard, but benefit our family as a whole in the long run.
  • Daniel - and every single soldier and military family.  Their sacrifice keeps me and mine safe.
  • The library.  Oh, the smell of books makes me so happy.
  • That feeling I get when Finn hands me a book and then climbs into my lap giggling because he loves them so much.
  • Wagons.  And parks within walking distance.
  • For being able to provide for my kids; knowing they go to bed each night with full bellies and underneath warm covers. And that even though they may not wear the latest styles (side eye to Abby and her Miss Me jean fetish) they're clean and warm and that's better than a lot of families in this world.
  • Imaginations.
  • For being healthy - no stitches, no ER visits, no broken bones - so truly lucky with this one!
  • For the bike trails that surround our community.
So as December turns into slippery streets and crowded shopping malls, lists and parties and baking and wrapping, as I start to get overwhelmed with everything going on, I can look at this list and see how simple it all is - it's not about the presents or the decorating or the baking.  It's about being thankful for what sits around the table with me every single night.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Simple Sunday {Grocery List}

Good morning, friends!  Can you believe that Thanksgiving is over?  It always seems that the anticipation building up to these kinds of big family gatherings lasts longer than the actual event.  I'm glad I have pictures to remind me of how much fun we had!  Now, though, we're back in Iowa and we've moved on to the Christmas planning, and I must say, I do enjoy the planning!  I don't know about you, but I started my Christmas shopping last summer, so now we just have a few odds and ends to pick up and I can focus most of my attention on Christmas baking!

I've been slowly stocking up on my baking supplies for the last few weeks.  It seems that the grocery stores alternate running super deals on flour, sugar and butter - the Holy Trinity of baking!  I've been picking up 5 lbs of flour here and 2 lbs of butter there.  Today, I want to give you a little pre-Christmas present, something to help you spend less time at the grocery store and more time actually baking!  I know that it can get a little confusing knowing which stores are having which sales and when.  Most of us don't have an hour or two a week to look at the ads, make comparisons, plan a strategy of what to get and where, and then make our grocery list.  So, I took one of those steps out for you.  Behold, The Grocery List:

You're still going to have to compare your local store ads - and while we only have two grocery stores here, I know that it takes time to compare ads and stretch our dollar the farthest.  I like to print my grocery list and then make an additional list on the back side of each store and the sale items that I want to get at that store.  Sometimes the stores have the same item on sale, for the same price, but one will have a limited number that can be purchased, so I make a note of that.  I also make a note if I have a manufacturers coupon to go with the sale item - always a good thing!  On the original side, I highlight the items that I need and as I pick them up at the store, I make a check in the small box to the right of that item.  I've listed the things that we purchase most often and have left spaces to add things that we don't buy on a regular basis.  It's also much easier - and faster - to shop your grocery store by section, rather than running from one end to the next multiple times (been there, done that; no fun with a small child in the cart!).  I find that, with a list, I'm less tempted to pick up things I don't need or am less likely to have to make extra trips during the week because I forgot something.  Of course, the key to being a prepared shopper is having a weekly menu!  I'll share some of my tastier (and easier!) weekly menu ideas with you next week.  In the meantime, if you'd like a copy of the Grocery List  for your own use, send me an email to and I'll send you a copy.

I think we're almost completely ready to get started with our holiday baking, made easier by smart grocery shopping, of course.  Although it will be a couple of weeks before I do any actual baking, today I'm going to pull out my old stand-by Christmas recipes and I'm going to start searching for one or two new ones to try this year.  I can't wait to get started!

Have a good week!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Civic and colds and all that jazz.

Winter is sneaking in, crunching around the edges of our yards and our lakes and causing me to shiver every morning.  We haven't really had a flake of snow yet, but I pulled out my winter coat, mostly because I have been recycling Finn's cold for the past few weeks, but also because even the sun has started to look cold.

The lights are firmly secured to the outside of our house, waiting for Thanksgiving to pass so that we can start preparing for Christmas.  Uriah wants to get a real tree this year, and while I'm not opposed, we are also spending the holiday in Missouri, so to a certain extent, I feel a real tree will be wasted on not even being here for the big day.  But that will be our conundrum every year for the foreseeable future...if we're not with Uriah's parents, we're with mine and I guess it will be awhile before we really do start to have our own home (at the place where we physically reside - not the place that we grew up) traditions.  Santa really is bringing gifts to our home, though, because I don't think we can safely fit everything into the Civic.  I mean, I guess we could, but we'd all be wearing the exact same outfit the whole time we were there because we would not be able to fit our suitcase in the car.  

Speaking of the old Civ...she crapped her fat pants on me last week.  She didn't die all the way, but she was making a funny noise (if we're being honest, she'd been making a funny noise for months.  I just choose to be in denial about some things, car problems being one of them.).  So, anyway, I thought we should probably get the old girl checked out before we head south for the Thanksgiving bonanza.  Good thing...the alternator bearings were going out.  Now, I have absolutely no idea what that means, I just know that it means I have to pay a lot of money to get it fixed.  And not so much for that part, but the labor.  I am in the wrong profession.  I should have been either a mechanic, a doctor or Martha Stewart .  Damn my need to procreate and stay at home with my offspring.

Anyone want to buy a used previously enjoyed Civic?

Just kidding.  I don't think she and I are ready to part ways yet.  We have a lot of living to do.  A lot.  I think. Unless Uriah convinces me that we should consider a larger automobile to haul our 2 kids and 200 lbs of crap around in.  But it will take a lot of convincing.

Friends, it's time for this girl to wash down some Nyquil liquid caps with some cough syrup and say adios until tomorrow.  Literally, I probably will not wake up until tomorrow.  I do not recommend this particular cocktail of cold meds, and I'm certain all medical professionals would frown up my "mixing it up," but I want to enjoy my holiday (and the fact that my husband has 3 whole days off.  In a row!), so a girl's gotta do what it takes to not be a colossal sick, whiner, baby on a 6+ hour road trip. I did that once and it almost ended in divorce. And we weren't even married. But...another story for another time.

For now...bundle up, it's awfully brisk out there.  And, also, get your cars checked.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Simple Sunday {Chunky Monkey Muffins}

Each year I take my birthday to reflect on the previous year and decide what I want to accomplish this year.  I also like to try to learn something new every year.  Last year I learned how to move 3 times.  I hope to never repeat that lesson!  This year, my goal is to simplify.  We have been way too busy and it's time to take some measures to simplify our life here in Iowa and give ourselves some breathing room to be able to actually be a together.  To do that, we need to get rid of some of our clutter.  We need to learn to rely on less (moving a million times will do nothing but show you how much extra crap you really have and don't need.).   We need to learn to re-purpose what we do have.  I've got a pile going in my basement of items that we don't use or seldom use.  Tote by tote, box by box, I have been simplifying our life.  We are going to have a garage sale this summer to allow someone else the opportunity to use those things.  I've also already started with menu planning and streamlining our grocery list/shopping.  I'm going to organize our closets and I'm going to revamp our cleaning zones.  I'm going to make our time quality.

Today, though, is simplicity in another form...breakfast, specifically muffins.  I hate mornings.  Hate.  Them.  I don't like to get up until I'm good and ready (something that is not really possible with kids, but I do have a nice husband who usually gets up in the morning so I can sleep for a few extra minutes and trick myself into thinking that I'm getting up because I want to and not because Uriah has to go to work.).  I don't like to talk.  I certainly don't want to have to mess around with figuring out what to make for breakfast.  I've found that, in addition to cereal - both hot and cold, muffins are the easiest way to get some fruit and fiber in my kids each morning and, as an added bonus, the kiddos feel like they're getting a special treat.  Muffins are easy to freeze and take only a few minutes in the microwave in the morning - something Abby can do for herself if we aren't up yet.  My next goal is to have a breakfast menu - hot cereal, cold cereal, eggs, pancakes, waffles - so that Abby and Finn have some diversity in their morning and it's not just an alternation between oatmeal and Rice Krispies.

This week I made Chunky Monkey muffins and between Abby and Finn, they are almost gone!  My goal is to make a couple of different kinds and have them stocked in the freezer for easy breakfast and snack options.

What do you do that makes your week a little less hectic?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Makes 1 loaf or 18 muffins

Cream together until smooth:
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs

  • 3 bananas, mashed

Sift together, then add to the banana-butter mixture:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

Mix the batter well, it will be slightly sticky.  Then stir in:
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Divide batter into 18 well-greased muffin cups.  Bake at preheated 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out smooth.  Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack and cool completely.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Simplicity is the goal.

I think we like
to complicate things
when it is really 
quite simple; 
find what it is
that makes you happy
and who it is
that makes you happy
and you're set.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jackie Evancho is My Real Daughter (or How I Celebrated My Birthday)

I left Finn at daycare a couple of extra hours yesterday, allegedly because I didn't want to pick him up at the start of nap time, but mostly because I wanted an extra hour all to myself to peruse Pinterest and watch an episode of Glee without being interrupted.

Evidentally, I should have left him at school longer.  Or maybe I should have picked him up before nap time.  Or maybe I should just learn to play games that are appropriate for a one-year-old.  Maybe then we could have avoided this:

Sometimes after I've picked Finn up from school, we're so excited to see each other that we play a game called, "Chase each other around the living room."  During this game we, in fact, chase each other around the living room.  It is loads of fun.  Usually.  There is lots of laughing, some head butting, and a little bit of flopping down on the floor from the shear exhaustion of trying to catch each other.  Yesterday, in addition to the laughing, head butting and flopping, there was also some crying and bleeding added to the mix.  During one of the flopping episodes, Finn got a little exuberant and his tooth broke the skin of his lip.

After we got that taken care of with an Iron Man freezie, which, by the way, a one-year-old has no intention of leaving on an injury to minimize the swelling, Uriah, Abby and Finn presented me with birthday presents.  I won't bore you with the details...they were heartfelt and meaningful, blah, blah, blah.  Mostly what I truly cared about was Jackie Evancho.

Last year...or was it the year before?  I don't remember...all I know is that it was when we had spare time and television channels, we watched America's Got Talent and on that show, Jackie Evancho debuted.  Voice like and angel, that one.  We were mesmerized.  Uriah mostly that we had stooped so low as to watch a show like America's Got Talent, and me because her voice was amazing and I thought she could be my daughter because my voice is amazing, too.  Actually, my voice is amazing in the shower and in my car and in my own head, but for some reason, I told Uriah that I thought Jackie Evancho was my real daughter.  And now I am listening to my real daughter sing Christmas carols.  

I can't wait to see what this year is going to bring me (I'm pretty sure it's not going to be Jackie Evancho calling me Mommy, since I know where I was in 2000 and birthing a child-protege music genious is not it.).  I know for certain that I am going to be taking a photography class, courtesy of the lovelies that live in my house with me.  I might take a yoga class and I'm trying to find a book club.  

This is going to be a good, good year.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Oh, Monday.

How does it happen that Monday is still full of chores, even though we accomplished a lot over the weekend?   Uriah did do quite a bit of cleaning and Abby helped with the laundry over the weekend, but I don't feel as caught up today because I worked this weekend.  I haven't worked a weekend in...a very, very long time.  And, you know what?  I was okay with it.  I kind of looked forward to it, a change from the normal and something different.  It was also a reminder why I choose not to work nights, and it will not become a common occurrence because it really was a pain in the ass to coordinate my schedule and Uriah's.  It took some effort and I'm not sure I can do that on any sort of a regular basis.  Weekends are just too busy for him, and figuring out what we'll do with the kids and who will pick them up and when...gag.  Plus, I have a whole new respect for families where one parent works the day shift and the other works the night shift...on Saturday, Uriah and I saw each other for a grand total of 1 hour, and that's because we talked in bed when I got home from work.  Then yesterday we did the same thing...I worked during the day and Uriah worked the evening.  I miss my husband today.

Finn and I are still sick (luckily Uriah and Abby have managed to avoid our germs.) but we still have lots to do today.  I have already made my lists for Thanksgiving - since we are going to Aaron and Angie's next week, it requires a little bit more preparing, so I will start getting us ready this week.  We will probably spend the rest of the day coloring and watching Sesame Street on YouTube and making soup.  And also trying to finish the laundry and hopefully making some banana bread (the bananas on my counter are looking a little rough).  And if we can stop coughing for more than 5 minutes, we are going to the library for new books.  

Happy Monday, Friends!


Friday, November 11, 2011


Every Veteran's Day when I call Aaron, I usually ask him if he's tried on his Marine's uniform lately. He always laughs at my lame joke because, over a decade later, we both know that thing probably doesn't fit.  But what hasn't changed in in a decade is the way he carries himself, with a deep sense of Marine pride. What hasn't changed is way he quietly exudes loyalty for his country, and what is most admirable is the way he is teaching his son about honor. His uniform might be in the back of a closet somewhere, underneath a plastic dry cleaner's bag and a layer of dust, but my brother doesn't need a uniform for me to know that he is one of the few, one of the proud.

I've talked about Daniel's deployment here and here.  These days, Daniel's emails and letters home are few and far between.  His words, though when they do come, are so funny, and I can hear his voice in the lines. Abby sent him a letter early on in his deployment asking what kind of food he ate and if it was all powdered. He wrote back telling Abby he's not an astronaut. And then he proceeded to explain to her what he was doing and the animals that he had seen.  He told her that the food was good, not powdered, and there was plenty of it.  He requested that she send him some name ideas for the camel spider that his bunk mate managed to capture. She sat down immediately after that letter and wrote him a response. She's been sending him a letter every week or so since.

Since today is Veteran's Day, if I may, I would like to suggest that you read about Tom Brokaw's 
Bravest Families in America.  Mr. Brokaw was on Oprah on January 27th, 2011, along with Bob Woodward and First Lady Michelle Obama, talking about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the episode included interviews with a few of the Bravest Families in America.

The current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are the longest in United States history—longer than World War II and Vietnam. Tom says it's not just the length of time that has made these current wars different than past ones—it's our country's level of engagement. He says World War II united our country in an effort to save the world, and while we were deeply divided during Vietnam, the whole country was still very aware about what was happening. Today's wars are not something the typical American thinks about every day, and according to Tom, "less than 1 percent of the American population is bearing 100 percent of the burden of battle."

We are, all of us, luckier because of the men and women who make a daily commitment to serve our country and protect our freedom.  We should honor them every day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What are we here for...

...if not to make life easier for each other?

  • I have been coughed on, sneezed on, had snot rubbed on me...for the last 4 days.
  • I finally succumbed to the germs.  My whole body hurts and even laying under my down comforter does not get me warm.
  • Uriah is being Mr. Mom.  Because that's what we do...pick up where the other has left off when we can't be a team.
  • I haven't wiped a snotty nose or changed a diaper all day.
  • I laid in bed after I got home from work (and I'll admit, I did read a bit of the latest issue of Bon Appetit between snoozing) while Uriah fed Finn and made dinner.
  • He made me a cup of tea and checked my temperature.
  • Abby cleared the table, emptied and reloaded the dishwasher and hand-washed the dishes that didn't fit.  Two nights in a row.  Without complaining.
  • That is called progress.  She's learning.  And that warms me up a bit.
  • I am going to go back to bed now.  Finn hasn't even gone to bed yet, but I don't think I can stay up any longer.
  • Uriah will take care of things.  He will take care of me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Twinkie Cake

We had company the other night, one of Uriah's work associates who was in town to do some training.  There were some cocktails and a lovely smoked chicken from the grill.  There was lots of laughing and two little kiddos who went to bed long before the adults did.  Mostly, though, there was Twinkie Cake.

I think it's safe to say that I love anything cake related.  I have bestowed upon myself the unofficial title of Cake Connoisseur.  We don't have cake very often...mostly just birthdays or if we have company, which also doesn't happen very often.  But can I tell you what I love most about these Twinkie Cake pictures?  Besides the actual eating of the cake, that is.  The vintage 60's tint that I processed them with.  They look like they belong in my Mom's old Betty Crocker cookbook:

Do you remember this cookbook?  My Mom's fell apart years ago, and she had to get a new version, but we still have some of the pages that fell out of this copy stuffed in between the pages of her newer copy.  When I was a little girl, I remember sitting at the kitchen table or laying on the living room floor, flipping through the pages of Betty Crocker.  I would look at the pictures and imagine what we were going to make for dinner.  I especially loved to look at the cookie recipes, the gingerbread men were always my favorite.  My earliest memories are of baking with my Mom.  Everything I learned about baking - and cooking, for that matter - I learned from her.  I still request the Chocolate Chip Cake with Butterscotch Filling and Chocolate Icing for my birthday, the recipe of which came from this Betty Crocker cookbook.  My Mom used to make it for me every year, then Emily made it for me for a couple of years when we lived in Kansas City and now I think Uriah is probably going to make it for me next week.

But I digress...even though I could probably talk about cake for hours.  Instead, I will just get right to the point:  Make this cake.  It's like a grown up Twinkie.  The original recipe called for a box cake, but I don't roll like that, so I made it with a sponge cake instead.  I know that it seems like making a cake from scratch would would be a lot of work, but if you have a stand mixer or a hand-held mixer, this recipe is not that labor intensive.  I'm lucky to have Beverly by my side for recipes like this.

And the filling?  It truly does taste like Twinkie filling...actually, no.  I take that back.  It tastes better than Twinkie filling.

Classic Sponge Cake
Recipe makes one  9-inch round cake; you will need 2 cakes for this recipe.
This requires a stand mixer or a hand beater.
Recipe from Cooking by James Peterson (Berkley, California: Ten Speed Press, 2007).
  • Room temperature butter and flour for preparing pan
  • 3 eggs in their shells, soaked in enough warm water to cover for 10 minutes
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • ½  cup, plus 2 tablespoons cake flour*
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.  Brush a 9-inch round cake pan with butter.  Put a small handful of flour in the pan, tap the pan to coat with flour, then tap out the excess.

Crack the eggs into the mixer bowl, add the sugar and beat at high speed to the ribbon stage:  when the beater is lifted, the mixture falls in a wide band onto the surface, forming a figure eight that stays for 5 seconds before dissolving.  This will take about 4 minutes with a stand mixer and 20 minutes with a handheld mixer.  If you beat by hand it’s going to take about 30 minutes.

Transfer the egg mixture to a large bowl to make folding easier.  Sift the flour over the egg mixture while folding it in with a rubber spatula.  In a smaller bowl, fold together the melted butter and about one-fifth of the egg mixture, and then fold this egg/butter mixture into the rest of the egg mixture.  Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and gently smooth the top with an offset spatula.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed with a fingertip and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan until cool enough to handle and then turn out onto a cake rack.  Allow to cool completely.

*I didn’t have cake flour, so I substituted 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in the bottom of a ½ cup measuring cup and then filled it up with all-purpose flour.  For the additional two tablespoons of cake flour that this recipe calls for, I substituted 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch.  I did sift my flour and cornstarch together.  My cake was nice and spongy!

Twinkie Filling
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • ½ cup shortening

Combine the flour and water in a saucepan over low heat.  Cook until thick; cool well.  Mix sugar, shortening, butter and vanilla.  Add cooled flour mixture and beat until thick whipped cream texture.  Spread generously on top of lower half of cake; place second cake layer over the filling and frost with remaining filling. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Letting Go {Confessions of a Control Freak}

This morning Abby appointed herself Diane Sawyer of our house.  From the moment she got out of bed, she commented constantly: "I can't believe that it's only 8:00 when it should be 9:00.  Isn't that just so weird?  I mean, it doesn't feel like 8:00, does it?"  And then she would change the time in five minute increments and repeat the same statement.

She also had a running commentary for the bread-making process that was going on in the kitchen.  Yes, made bread because I forgot to buy bread yesterday, but really, making bread at home is so much cheaper, anyway.  And also, a side benefit:  kneading the bread helps me get some frustration out.  And I have a lot of pent-up frustration.  Anyway, the girl has watched me make bread for years, I used to do it every weekend, but today?  Today, she questioned everything...How much flour was I using?  What kind of yeast was I using?  What was the temperature of the water?  How long did it take to rise?  Why did I have to roll it up?  Why was I putting plastic wrap over the bowl?  How many loaves of bread was it going to make?  Could I use wheat flour instead of white?  Can she taste-test the bread when it comes out of the oven?  How long does it bake at?  How do you know when it's done?  How long does it take to get to space?  Will we live on the moon someday?  Can she play chords on her flute like she can on a piano?  What is the answer to the mathematical equation: (x+y)(z-x-x-x+y)/r?

Finn rolled around under my feet, singing nonsense songs and pooping his pants every other minute, and then, when I put him on the counter to keep from crushing his little hands beneath my feet, he tried to eat the bread dough.  And then it was 10:00 and I needed to make another pot of coffee.  And cry.

So I put a movie on for the kids.  I never do that...plant them in front of the television, I mean, but this morning I had had just about enough.  Enough questions.  Enough poop.  Enough stepping on damned tupperware all over the kitchen floor.  Enough.

I feel like a bad mom, but my kids were so damned annoying this morning.  Short of going out for cigarettes and not coming back, I don't think I had another choice.   I mean, is it really too much to ask to be able to take a be able to shampoo and condition...without hearing the drawers opening, stuff being dumped out, the toilet seat crashing, the toilet handle wiggling and a little hand pounding on the shower door? I have really nice body wash and I can't even enjoy it because my shower is rushed.

And it's my own fault because I'm sucking at this whole mom thing these days.

I should probably take more of an advantage with having Abby in the house and let her entertain Finn for me, but I have this issue with control.  I don't know if you know this about me, I'm certain I hide it really well, but I like to be in control.  All of the time.  Constantly.  And Abby is opinionated.  Very opinionated.  She likes to share her thoughts and ideas (what I feel are judgments), and she has good intentions, I'm sure, but to me, her telling me that Finn's teeth hurt screams:  "YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING!"  when she's really just trying to be helpful.

Here's a stellar example of my suckyness as a mom:  before Finn was born, I freaked out.  I was not okay with the not knowing how to be a mom, what the kid's personality was going to be like and how dramatically our lives were going to change once he got here.  I like to be prepared for things.  I took my anxiety out on everyone around me, mostly my husband and Abby, so in order to quash some of my fears and anxiety, and to bypass some of Abby's well-meaning "advice," we told her that when we brought the baby home, if we wanted her opinion on something, we would ask her.

That lasted about 2 weeks, until Finn decided that from 7pm-11pm, he was going to cry and be inconsolable and mostly just make a hot mess out of our family. Abby had a solution every time he took up his evening wail-song.  Finn's crying again?  Feed him.  Finn's crying again?  Rock him.  Finn's crying again?  Change his diaper.  Finn's crying again?  It's probably because you suck as parents. 

I sent her outside to play a lot that summer so that I could cry into my newborn's head and lament my decision to be a mom and how little control I had over this new family of mine.

Today, I lamented becoming a mom into my coffee cup because I couldn't send my kids outside to play.  Instead I stuck them in front of a movie - something I said I was never going to do - along with bottle feeding, pacifiers, and letting Finn sleep in bed  with us - and all things that I've done.  Sucking as a mom times four. 

I'm annoyed with this little life that I've created.  I'm annoyed with myself because I'm annoyed with my life.  I shouldn't feel that way, right?  I have healthy kids and a husband who loves me.  I have a house and my car is paid off and I get to work a couple of days a week, not because I have to but because I want to.  But I'm annoyed that everything is going too quickly and too slowly all at the same time.  I'm tired of fighting with Abby as she stretches the boundaries and tires to assert her independence.  I want her to be more responsible, but I know I'm holding her back from that by not allowing her to actually be more responsible.  I want her to act more grown up, but I know that I'm keeping her a kid by not giving her the opportunity to make dinner once in awhile, something she's been begging to do for a couple of months now.  But giving up making dinner means giving up some of the control I have in how our night runs...and my palms get sweaty just thinking about it.  I want Finn to be a big boy, but I'm keeping him a baby by picking him up and carrying him places.  And even though I tell myself it's because it's so much faster that way, I really just want to keep him small for a little longer.

I want all of the control and in the process, I'm loosing out on everything else.

Give up some of the control, I keep telling myself.
Let her make dinner.  Let him walk into the grocery store on his own two little feet.

Let go...let go...let go...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet!

Our Halloween was changed from Monday night to Sunday night, due to the high school football team making it to some sort of play-off game.  The city decided that, in the interest of trick-or-treating safety, they should change the holiday.

I should also point out that since the only place we have to shop in this town is the Wals-mart, I had to resort to creating costumes for my kiddos, unless I wanted Finn to be a monkey and Abby to be a sparkly pink cowgirl.  (There is nothing wrong with monkeys and cowgirls, they just sort of lacked the imagination that we have for Halloween.)  So, while Abby was originally going to be a dead bride in my wedding dress, at the last minute I couldn't bring myself to let her out of the house in my dress (because I love it so) so I found an old black formal dress for her to wear instead.  Finn's dinosaur costume cost me one grey sweatshirt, 2 pairs of grey sweatpants, some orange felt and 3 broken needles on the sewing machine.

He loved taking the tops off of the pumpkins and looking inside of them, which is why I had to wait until his attention span ran out before I could light them.

Abby went off trick or treating with her little girlfriends, two of which decided that they needed to be dead, too, after seeing Abby's make-up.  She ate most of her candy on the way, much to my chagrin.  I was totally looking forward to a couple of "poisoned" Almond Joys and Butterfingers that needed to be confiscated from her stash.  Instead, she left us a couple of Tootsie Pops and a 3 Musketeers bar. 

Finn did not go trick or treating because he is too little, but he did get some candy!  A little princess, she was probably about 3 years old, came up to our door.  Finn decided that, since she was just his size, he would look in her trick or treat bucket.  She pulled out a box of Milk Duds (Yeah - finally some good candy!) and gave them to Finn.  It was so cute!

And this is how our night ended.  One tired dinosaur trying to put his candy in the mailbox and then laying down on the porch because he lost his will to run up and down the sidewalk yelling, "Grrr!"

A successful Halloweener, even if it was one night early.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Damn you, Stieg Larsson.


I've been under the weather...not sick, but under the season change.  I haven't been adjusting very well, and that makes me not a very nice person to be around (just ask my husband).  It was best I didn't blog for a couple of days, since I really didn't have anything nice to say.

Also, I've been kidnapped by Stieg Larsson, never mind that he's Swedish.  And dead.  I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last summer and I finally got around to picking up the second book.  I tore my way through The Girl Who Played with Fire and now I'm making my way through The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  I don't want to talk to people, I don't want to parent...I mostly just want to finish that damn book, even though I'll probably be disappointed at the end since the series was supposed to be 5 or 6 books long.  I think I'll be left hanging at the end of this book, but it doesn't stop me from reading every moment I can.

I promise to be back this weekend with some lovely Halloweener pictures of my kids and a cake recipe that you need to make with all possible haste.  But right now I need to get ready for work...

Here's to a cool fall Friday.  Bundle up!
Who want's to come over and rake leaves with me this weekend?