Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An update to yesterday's post.

{ west lake okoboji | sunset }

It is clear that I didn't do a very good job of editing yesterday's post, as the title, which should have read "On my (tired and aching) mind..." only read "On my (and aching) mind..." 

So tired that I left the tired out.  Story of my life these days.

**Photo creds go to Uriah, although I took liberties with the editing, so I'd say it's a combined effort.  We make a good team. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On my (and aching) mind...

  • I got an email from Daniel's Ady. He is officially in Kuwait.
  • I bet he's hot. I will endeavor to not complain about the heat anymore.
  • Abby asked me where Kuwait was.
  • I think we need a map. Or a globe. Or both. And one of those pen's that has a red laser so I can point to places on my map and globe.
  • Geography was not my strongest subject.
  • Neither was math. Or Social Studies. Or gym. Or choir. Or art. Or French. Or history.
  • I did okay in Home Ec, though. And English.
  • It's a wonder I made it into college. Must have been my killer essay.
  • I've let my son run amuck today.
  • He got his one year shots, so I felt he deserved to be able to pull every single piece of tupperware out of my cabinets and spread them helter-skelter throughout the kitchen, dining room and living room.
  • They need to be packed anyway.
  • We Hefters - we're nothing if not nomadic.
  • My head hurts.  I think it's stress.
  • I don't really have it in me to play the clean-up game right now, although I should before I break an ankle on that yellow dump truck.
  • We are having re-heated enchiladas for dinner.
  • I made them a couple of weeks ago and froze them. Days like today call for quick and dirty meals.  I should freeze things more often.
  • Do you have any good make-ahead and freeze meals?  Share your recipes, please.
  • As far as sisters-in-law go, I guess I got the lion's share. 
  • I hope that Ady comes for a visit soon...and Sars, too.
  • My mom and my Emily are coming this weekend.
  • I am going to put them to work unpacking.  It's good they know this already or they'd be awfully surprised when they got here.
  • I haven't seen Emily since the beginning of  May when we left the big, bad city. 
  • Holy crap, that's a long time.
  • I need to send Daniel a package.  I wish I could put some Iowa corn in it.
  • It would probably be popcorn by the time he got it.
  • There really is corn everywhere here.  In the fields, in the stores, and being hustled on every single street corner.
  • Finn just tried to eat a bug off the floor.  Must be dinner time for the baby.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tough love.

My little kitten is learning to put himself to sleep.  And by "learning," I mean he's being very vocal about how much he does not want to put himself to sleep.  We're keeping with pretty much the same routine, there was a very fun, very sudsy bath.  We read some stories, we had a snuggle and a bedtime bottle and I put him down in his crib not quite all the way asleep.

You'd think he was being tortured up there.

The thing is, we're going to be adios-ing the bedtime bottle pretty quickly since he's good with the sippy cups and can handle the milk, so it's about time to start learning that bedtime means: hop into bed, time to close the eye-holes, head off to dream-land and snooze until about 7:30 am (on a good morning).  But, Lord, old habits die hard, don't they?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Finn's Birthday - Part One

When Finn was born it was hot as blazes (hello, Kansas City in July, what was I thinking?!  Oh, right...that whole not-planned thing.).  We'd had a storm the weekend before that knocked out power to pretty much the whole southern part of the city and our house was without power for 5 days, 2 of which we were actually at home for.  Luckily they got it turned back on the day before we came home from the hospital, because if they thought that a psycho pregnant lady calling them every half hour to find out what they were doing to get power back on was bad (no lie, I had KCP&L's phone number memorized.), wait until they had a psycho-hormonal-new-mom calling!  It didn't resort to that.  In fact, it was a whole week before another storm went through and knocked out power again.  And again I psycho-dialed KCP&L, and Uriah, who was working, freaking out in a house with no power and a newborn (Abby was staying at my parents house).  After Uriah left the wedding he was cooking for to come home and reassure me that it would be okay, and after I had everything packed in my car to go stay at my in-laws, where there actually was air conditioning and lights, the power came back on.  I was so exhausted from freaking out and packing everything but the crib (because you never know when you'll need a baby snow-suit in July in Missouri, I find it best to be prepared.), that we decided to stay home, wait for Uriah, and keep our fingers, toes and eyes crossed that the power stayed on throughout the night.

Those first days after my boy came home were pure anxiety-inducing hell, which was why I was going to celebrate regardless of the rain we woke up to on Finn's birthday.  And regardless of the fact that Uriah had to work all day long and part of the evening, too. 

Finn woke up his usual chipper self and Uriah and I both went in to get him.  Since we weren't sure just how long Uriah was going to be at work, we decided to let Finn open his presents right away.  I suspect that Uriah, who has less patients when it comes to surprises than I do, couldn't really wait any longer to get the birthday officially started.  Finn opened his presents from Abby and from Uriah and me...he really got into the ripping of the wrapping paper.  Abby had taken her hard-earned working money and went up to the book store to buy Finn a new book.  It was really sweet.  Thank goodness he still has a little bit of his goldfish brain because Uriah and I had taken him with us to buy his birthday presents the week before and he wanted to hold his new truck all around the store.  When he opened it on his birthday, he was pretty excited. 

Uriah left for work and I made the kids rainbow pancakes.  It was a spur of the moment idea that thankfully worked out.  I think Abby was more excited about the novelty of eating multi-colored pancakes; Finn will eat just about anything (except peaches) so he was just glad to be having breakfast, regardless of what it was (pancakes without syrup because I love his little teeth too much!).  Note to self, however: Clean all rainbow pancake crumbs off of the baby before putting him on the white carpet to play with his new toys.  I spent the morning scrubbing with  Resolve to get blue crumbs out of the carpet.  Also, note to self: White carpet and kids = poor choice. 

Anyway...we had mostly a laid-back kind of birthday.  There was lots and lots of playing and lots and lots of reading.  We ran a couple of errands to get some last-minute things for the birthday party.  I fed Finn an early dinner - nothing as exciting as those pancakes! - and Uriah got home in time for us to be able to go for a walk with us before bedtime.  I managed to keep my crying in check (surprising, considering the emotional roller-coaster I'd been on for about a week prior), although I did read him the book, On the Day You Were Born, by Debra Frasier, and I almost didn't make it through.  Almost.

On the day you were born
the Earth turned, the Moon pulled,
the Sun flared, and, then, with a  push,
you slipped out of the dark quiet
where suddenly you could hear...
...a circle of people singing
with voices familiar and clear.

"Welcome to the spinning world," the people sang,
as they washed your new, tiny hands.

"Welcome to the green Earth," the people sang,
as they wrapped your wet, slippery body.

And as they held you close
they whispered into your open, curving ear,
"We are so glad you've come!"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I think the internet has heat stroke.

Life goes on even when you want it to take a quick pause.  Even when it's too hot to think or eat or talk, life keeps on plugging ahead.  Life goes on when you really just want to submerge up to your neck in the lake that feels like warm bath water.  Life goes on when you really just want to submerge your face into a gin and tonic - extra gin, extra limes, extra ice.  But there are still babies to be fed, floors to be swept and dishes to clean.  The mailman still delivers the mail, the garbage man still picks up my trash and Uriah still has to go to work.  Life does not pause for heat. 

My internet, however, has decided to take a heat-related time-out.  It is taking forever to upload anything and don't even get me started on editing pictures.  It's as if the humid air has bogged down the world wide interents and put everything on hiatus.  I will tell you this:  I can't wait to share with you all of Finn's first birthday.  It was a perfect first birthday day and the most fun first birthday party.  There were balloons and presents and Finn ate a whole entire cupcake and Uriah's family came into town for the extravaganza.  We did some touristy things in our own town - that's the benefit of having visitors - we went on a boat ride around West Lake Okoboji and I drooled over some very beautiful, very expensive, lake shore properties.  Finn of course loved being on the water.  He's learning to point, so he pointed at the waves and at the other boats.  Abby got to go up into the captain's cabin and honk the horn.  I can't wait to do it again. 

I also can't wait to share the pictures with you...and Finn's 1 year pictures that I took last week, too.  In the meantime, I'm going to go eat a popsicle.  Oh, and mentally prepare myself for Finn's 1-year check up tomorrow.  There will be shots.  There will be more popsicles.  There will be gin and tonics.

Stay cool...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A year in the making.

When I was pregnant, good intentioned women told me that I would forget the pain and would remember only the sweet-smelling, pink baby in my arms. 

They were wrong. 

A year later, I still remember the heavy feeling of my belly and the skin stretched tight, every mind-numbing contraction, the needle in my spine, and each shuffling step for weeks after.  I remember every ice pack and every blessed oxy.  I remember the drive home from the hopsital and thinking it was the longest f-ing drive ever (all 20 minutes of it).  My most rational thought: Why hadn't we decided to have a home birth because then I would already be at home.  I think I asked Uriah if he was deliberatly hitting every single pothole in the road, because it sure felt like it.  I remember crying for weeks over everything - and not knowing why I was crying.  I remember Finn crying for weeks and not knowing why he was crying. I remember feeling as though I'd just closed my eyes and he was awake and crying because he was hungry again.  I told Uriah countless times that I didn't think I was cut out for this mother thing; I was quite certain that I couldn't do it.  And every time he came home to me crying or I called him in a near panic, he'd assure me that I was the best mom and that Finn loved me and needed me to pull it together.  And then he reminded me that I didn't have a choice - we couldn't put him back in.  I tried to believe him, but instead I read ahead in the What to Expect the First Year book - way ahead - as in, how much longer until he's talking and can tell me what the hell I'm doing wrong here?!

But those women were also the midst of all the pain and sleeplessness and panic and sadness, I do remember that sweet smelling baby - like warm, sugary icing and love.  I remember the moment Uriah told me that we had a boy - we had told the nurses and my doctor that our baby was a surprise and that I wanted Uriah to tell me what we had.  He was so shocked and surprised, even though I'd been telling him for months we were having a boy.  I remember being too tired to say, "I told you so," but not too tired to count fingers and toes; to run my finger over his sticky head and whisper to him that I was so glad to finally meet him.  I remember blocking everything else in those first moments and thinking, "He's puffier than I thought," followed closely by, "He has a lot of hair,"  and, most importantly, "I wonder if he knows me."  I thought he might be a little scared, so I talked to him and rubbed his little back.  I reassured him and reassured myself that this was, in fact, real.

Yes, I still remember the pain...I probably always will; I'm a grudge holder like that.  But nothing can overshadow the memory of meeting Finneaus for the first time and the feeling of knowing that I've loved this person for my whole life.

Happy First Birthday to my best boy.
What a year we've had!  I can't wait to see what this next one is going to bring.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

I have a new love.  Well, obviously still second to gin martinis, but now I can add Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes to the list.

I know that there are possibly one zillion different ways to make strawberry shortcake.  I've seen it done with regulars biscuits and these little round cakes you can buy in a package in the grocery store that kind of resembles a Twinkie without the filling.  I've seen it done using angle food cake and also with pound cake.  And don't get me wrong, I'm not going to turn down any of the above versions.  But I've never seen chocolate biscuits and I'm certain I've been converted to the dark side (chocolate...dark...get it?  Sorry.  It's been a really long morning.).

  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR BISCUITS**: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat cream and vanilla in medium bowl until firm peaks form. Stir cream into flour mixture until moist clumps form. Transfer mixture to lightly floured surface and knead gently until dough forms a ball, about 10 turns. Pat dough out to ¾ inch thickness. Using a 3-inch cutter, cut out biscuits. Gather dough, pat out again and cut a total of 6 biscuits. Place biscuits on prepared baking sheet. Bake biscuits until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack; cool.
**Note:  This biscuit dough is very, very crumbly!  As in, I thought I'd done something wrong it was so crumbly.  But I went back over the recipe and I put everything in that needed to go in.  It doesn't hold together like regular biscuit dough.  You need to pat it together and gently move your biscuits onto your baking sheet; I actually cut them out with my biscuit cutter and they stayed in the little round, so I popped them out directly onto my baking sheet from the biscuit cutter.  But once they bake, they hold together great and they taste amazing!

  • 2 lbs small strawberries, hulled and quartered (about 3 ½ cups)
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated orange peel
  • pinch of salt
FOR STRAWBERRIES**: Stir strawberries, 6 tablespoons of powdered sugar and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours.
**Note: I did not use the orange liqueur.  I couldn't justify buying some for one recipe, so I just used 2 extra tablespoons of orange juice.

  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ cup chilled whipping cream
  • ½ cup chilled sour cream
FOR WHIPPED CREAM: Using electric mixer, beat chilled whipping cream, sour cream and remaining 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar until soft peaks form.

Place 1 biscuit on each of 6 plates. Place large spoonful of berries with juices on biscuits. Top with whipped cream. Pass remaining berries alongside.
This recipe was taken from Bon Appetite, June 2007.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Yesterday as Finneaus and I embarked on our morning walk, I breathed in deeply the smell of rain on the trail and pine hanging heavy on the air.  We struck off in the cool of the morning, hoping to get our route complete before the sun got too high and with it the humidity.  The wheels of the stroller squeeked, a dog barked at us from behind a fence, the little stream gurgled us along.  And yet, I struggled to center myself, I triped over my feet and rolled over branches that could have easily been avoided.   I stopped far earlier than normal for a water break, and though I was breathing heavily and I had sweat dripping down my back, I felt like I wasn't accomplishing what I set out to do: clear my head.

I feel like I have so much to do before Uriah's family gets here and he's been working a lot so that he can be off this weekend (his first weekend off since...April?!).  But instead of cleaning the living room and dusting, I've been sorting through Finn's clothes, putting away bottles and pacifiers, wiping blood off of his chin because his teeth are making his gums bleed.  I've been looking for a good birthday cake recipe and re-planning some menus.  I realize that this is all important stuff, but I also realize that I'm really just putting off the inevitable...the deep clean.  The floors and the windows.  Countertops and bathrooms.  Organizing some little holes that have accumulated piles of stuff that I haven't had the energy to put away yet.  You the almost three months that I've been a full-time stay at home mom.  Don't judge.  It's harder than it looks.  And a heck of a lot lonlier than I anticipated.

It will get done, I'm sure.  The focus will come to me and in a fit of energy, my house will get cleaned - probably not until Thursday night, but I never claimed to be anything but a really good procrastinator and I've done some of my best work under the pressure of an imminent deadline.  In the meantime, I think the rain has let up enough that we can take our walk today and see if I can't jumpstart the head-clearing.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Strawberry Syrup

Here's what you can do with strawberry syrup: everything!

We had it on French Toast, and Abby claimed that it was the best French Toast she'd ever laid lips on.  I added it to some softened butter to make strawberry butter...and had to restrain myself from making fresh biscuits just for the hell of it, because I wanted something light and flaky to melt my strawberry butter on.  You can add it to ice cream and milk in a blender to make strawberry shakes, you can pour it over fruit (think peaches, pears and blueberries) or add it to your coffee - and if you drink iced coffee in the summer like I do, I am telling you now, your day will start off on exactly the right foot!  I have visions of it drizzled over oatmeal in the morning (real oatmeal, not the instant kind) and also over some vanilla pudding.  And I am going to add it to some balsamic vinegar and a little bit of olive oil and then drizzle it over a grilled chicken salad with lettuce and some fresh mushrooms, Parmesan cheese and some toasted pecans this week.

Whatever you can imagine, I'm sure strawberry syrup would make it better!

  •  1 pound (about 1-3/4 to 2 cups) strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • pinch of salt

Bring all of the above to a boil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Boil uncovered for 10  minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat to prevent the mixture from boiling over.  Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.  Strain the mixture with cheesecloth and a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the solids to get out all of the syrup - but be careful because the strawberry mixture is hot.  Cover and chill.

A couple of my own notes:
  1. I measured out about 2 cups of strawberries un-cut, then added a couple more.
  2. You want to be careful not to get any of the strawberry pieces into your syrup, which is where the cheesecloth comes in handy - it helps to hold everything together, but if you don't have cheesecloth, a really fine mesh strainer will do just fine and will keep most of the strawberry pieces out of your syrup.
  3. You can get cheese cloth at a fabric store for pretty cheap and it will last you a long time.
  4. This makes a thinner syrup (don't think you're going to have the consistency of Mrs. Butterfield's Maple Syrup).
This recipe was taken from Bon Appetit, June 2007; it keeps for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Friday, July 8, 2011

You Capture: Patriotism

Patriotism is...
...Answering the call of duty.

...Standing tall. 
Standing firm. 
Standing strong.

...Defending the smallest Americans.
And the oldest, the richest, the poorest.
The weakest and the strongest.

...Overwhelming pride.


...Teaching the next generation to love, honor, and defend our country.

Patriotism is not temporary.
It is not a fair-weather friend.
It is not just the 4th of July.
It is every day.

Next week's challenge: Summertime

Thursday, July 7, 2011

On my mind this Thursday morning...

{Slough near Spirit Lake | 6.28.11}
  • I've been a week at my Mom's.  I'm home now.
  • There is laundry to do.  So much laundry.
  • I have a grocery list a mile long.
  • Finn popped his 5th tooth last night.
  • I guess that would explain his stellar attitude for the last half of our drive home.
  • I realized yesterday that I do not have an aptitude for making up songs and entertaining my best boy when he's uncomfortable.
  • I'm still not sure if it was the tooth or my singing that caused his crying.
  • Uriah's family is coming in to town next weekend for Finn's birthday.  I am not prepared...hence the grocery shopping that needs to be done.  And some cleaning.  And a little bit of yard work.  And the list that needs to be made so I can get everything done.
  • He will be 1 year old one week from today.  One whole year already.
  • I am equal parts amazed and sad.
  • My flowers are blooming nicely - Uriah clearly remembered to water them for me!
  • Sometimes doing the right thing is the hardest thing and the thing that we least want to do.
  • Have you seen the movie America's Sweethearts with Julia Robers and Catherine Zeta Jones and John Cusack?
  • In the beginning of the movie, John Cusack's character is in a frou-frou rehab center for celebrities and he keeps repeating the phrase, "Serenity now...serenity now." That's what I think of when I look at this picture.
  • CZJones is so pretty.  I would love to have her hair.  But not her husband.
  • Finn is trying to pull the leaves off of my house plants. 
  • He wiggles all of the time and can't decide if he wants to be on my lap reading stories or on the floor causing mischief.
  • Usually he opts for mischief.
  • And when we're at my mom's house, that mischief includes chasing Kitty Todd around.
  • If Kitty Todd lives through Daniel's deployment, I will be surprised.  I think Finn gave her 4 heart attacks over the weekend.
  • I'm working on a couple of strawberry posts...hopefully I will have something by this weekend.
  • Talking about strawberries makes me want some more strawberry shortcake.
  • I walked 20 miles last week, so in my mind, I can justify a little sweet snack every now and then.
  • Uriah likes to remind me "not to undo what I have done."
  • I do need to go back to the strawberry patch and pick a bunch more, though!
  • But first I will go for a very long walk.
  • I have Finn cow's milk for the first time last week.  He seemed to do okay with a take it or leave it kind of attitude.
  • I have to take him outside now, to do some playing and general wearing out so he takes a nap.
  • If it's a good morning nap, I might be able to get started on cleaning my car.  It is gross.
  • First I should sweep the floor though, since Finn likes to eat everything off of it!  That is more gross than my car.