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Its Okay That We Skipped Our Walk Today

Monday, May 31, 2010

I try to take the kids outside every day. I know how I feel when I've been cooped up in the house for more than a couple of hours, and I would guess that for them, the suffocating air of our downstairs is probably twice as heavy, and much harder to take in. Especially knowing that the sun is out there shining, and the parks are out there waiting to be played on.

My plan, most mornings at least, is to have a quick breakfast (usually a muffin and fruit), and then hurry up and get outside before the heat sets in. Its been summer in Texas for a month or more already, daily temperatures in the 90's (and hundreds later this week), the humidity at its worst. If we don't get out in the morning, the chances of us getting out for any significant amount of exercises at all, are slim to none.

The kids and I go for a walk around the neighborhood, about a mile in a half in the double stroller, before the sun is so high that it leathers our skin. Now with my being 6 months pregnant, and Charlie and Eleanore being a combined weight of about 80 pounds, plus the weight of the stroller itself- the walk is a challenge. Every day, I remind myself that its healthier, for all of us, to get out and fight about who gets to pick the flower growing next to 284 New York's mailbox. Its better, that instead of sitting inside watching a VHS movie, that we lather up in both sunblock and bug spray, and brave the blackjackets that like to skip around the ceiling of the garage and park gazebos, looking for new places to call home. If it weren't for our early morning adventures, as exhausting as they are, we'd all be bored out of our minds, unable to sit still, begging for life.

Though it may seem like it sometimes, I'm not a machine. I've decided to take the weekends off. That doesn't mean I take a complete vacation from fresh air, but- I don't rush into my jogging shoes and strap the kids into the stroller full speed ahead the way I do on the average week day.

And its a good thing.

Because sometimes, slowing down and spending the morning outside blowing bubbles, allows you to come across hidden treasures, right there on the brick of your own house, by the watering hose...

A beautiful butterfly, waking up from a long nap. Unsure of its new body, having never even used its brand new wings, probably scared to death about letting go of its sleeping bag- right there in front of us.

It was just something that made me smile. Something that was pretty wondrous to come across. Something that I never ever imagined witnessing, and once I caught sight of it, I almost couldn't let go.

The next day the butterfly was gone. I guess those newly formed wings worked just the way they were meant to. The chrysalis is still there on the brick, empty and abandoned, probably until the next wind storm, or until we wash it away ourselves.

I wonder where the butterfly is? And what its doing?

Anyways. Now whenever I'm feeling too tired to get up, I think about the butterfly, and how we would have never seen him emerge from his cocoon, had we not put our sandals on and opened the front door. Sometimes that doesn't stop me from sitting on the couch for an extra ten minutes when I know I should have gotten up and started them when I first thought of doing them (I'm human, I promise), but most of the time- it reminds me that I can't watch life being lived, unless I get up and participate in life myself.

Flashback Friday: Marilyn

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm trying to take a vacation from my computer today, since hubby has the day off, and then will be gone all weekend taking his motorcycle safety class (more on that later, believe me). So, today's Flashback will be short. I didn't rummage through the photo box out in the pantry, instead I glanced through my Flick account and pulled the first one that made me say "oh yeah, that". Plus I've got to hurry up and get this posted before our morning walk (beat the heat!), since I didn't get it posted last night (I was watching Dear John, which I thought was actually better than the book).

Hey, remember when I was blond? For all of 3 weeks? Yeah it didn't last very long, haha. But at least back then I still had the decency to wear my bright red MAC lipstick and use a curling iron. Not these days (I haven't worn makeup in months), friends. I've traded in my fashion for function. I need an excuse to dress up, don't I? You and me both, I bet.

If you'd like to play along, upload a photo or video to your blog, facebook, twitpic, whatever- write a little blurb to go along with it, and then come here and add your link to the list! We've got a button you can attach to your post (wayyy down there at the bottom of the page), or you can make an old fashioned text link (either way works just fine), to blend your readers with mine in flashback reading bliss.

Gluten Free Recipe Index

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Welcome to my gluten free recipe index! I am by no means a professional chef, just a busy Mama with food on the brain. From time to time though, I luck out and come up with something rather tasty and nutritious that my family and I enjoy, and its only fair to share those recipes here with you.

Some of these recipes are from way back when, before I discovered my fructose malabsorption. Some have meat and some don't. Some are vegan some are not. Its quite the assortment, seeing as how it took years for me to really get a grip on my food allergies and intolerances.

I hope you find something you like!

-The Very Best Gluten Free Sandwich Bread, Ever

-Gluten Free Pancake, Muffin, And Baking Mix

-Cornbread (adapted from the Gluten Free Girl)

-Breakfast Berry Not-So-Crisp

-6 Layer Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

-Sunbutter Trailmix Cookies

-Sugar Free Vegan Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

-Jumbo Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

-Jumbo Blueberry Muffins

-Jumbo Banana Nut Muffins

-Pizza Crust

-Green Zucchini Pizza Sauce

-Thin Mint Style Cookies

-Blueberry Muffins

-7 Layer Peppermint Bark

-Brownie Rum Balls

-Vegan Pumpkin Gingerbread Pie (from complete scratch)

-Teether Biscuits For Baby

-Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

-Reese's Peanut Butter Tofu Cheesecake

-Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

-Broccoli Baked Potato Soup

-Pumpkin Cheesecake Pancakes

-Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Cake

-Mocha Frosting

-Cookies & Cream Frosting

-Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Surprise

Older Recipes

-Hamburger Cupcakes and Sugar Cookie French Fries (something we made for Father's Day)

-I'm-allergic-to-everything Lasagna (Back when I could eat tomato)

-Pumpkin Bars w/ Maple Frosting (adapted from the Gluten Free Goddess)

-Peach Cobbler

-Tia's Craving Meatloaf

Gluten Free Pancake, Muffin, and Baking Mix

I've been gluten free for almost 4 years now (I can't believe its been that long), and I've just recently given up my comfort blend baking mix of choice- Pamela's. If you've ever tried Pamela's baking mix, there is really no arguing (ok I'm sure there is one or two of you that beg to differ, hee hee) that it is the best.

Well, as our gluten free family grows (there are soon to be five of us, six if you count the cat, hah), we just can't afford to buy pre made mixes. We can't afford to buy pre made anything, anymore.

Recently, I took the plunge. I bought one of just about every kind of gluten free flour imaginable, and started making my own mixes. I knew this day would come, and I was dreading it.

I'm not going to candy coat it. Gluten free baking is a pain. This flour, that flour, this starch, that starch, xanthan gum and egg replacer, yadda yadda, grumble grumble groan. I don't have the time, to stand around the kitchen measuring out 10 different flours just for one batch of pancakes. I've got a house to keep, and not to mention my sanity.

I use baking mixes. It makes my life easier. Now, at least, I use my own baking mixes, that cost a fraction of the price, and are just as good. The best part, is that if I always have the flours on hand, I can always make more. No more "crap, better get on Amazon and spend $70 on a bulk order of baking mix, I think we're going to run out soon", nope, not this Mama!

I promise you, if you don't already make your own baking, it is absolutely worth the 20 minutes in the kitchen every so often, that you'll spend putting a batch together.

When I first started coming across recipes for baking mixes, I was frustrated because they're all in "parts". 2 parts this, 3 parts that... what are you talking about?! I'm busy, and these people are throwing math at me. Can't somebody just spell it out for me, I'm like a 4 year old when it comes to this stuff. How do I make a big batch of good tasting baking mix, equal to that of my beloved Pamela's mix?

I figured it out.

I used the basic "Self-Rising Flour Blend" recipe by Living Without (click here) as my base, and finally, I've got it! I made a slight alteration to the ingredients (removed rice flours, added almond flour), tripled it, and I'm pretty sure I can say (and believe me, I'm picky when it comes to my baking) that I've found my permanent staple baking mix. Its what I'm going to use in all of the pancake, muffin, and other baking-type recipes that I post here, so it makes perfect sense to give it its own post, right?

Gluten Free Pancake, Muffin, And Baking Mix
(family sized)

-3 3/4 cups sorghum flour
-1 2/3 cups brown rice flour
-1 1/2 cups white rice flour
-1 1/2 cups tapioca starch
-1 cup almond meal
-4 teaspoons baking powder
-1 1/2 teaspoons salt
-3 teaspoons xanthan gum

Get the largest bowl you have, scoop your ingredients in one by one, and then whisk together gently until thoroughly mixed.

And that's that.

I bake a lot, so I have to make this mix once every week or two. It makes about 9 cups of mix, so depending on the size of your family and how much baking you do, you might need to make it more or less.

I store mine in the refrigerator, inside of a large Snapware container, and pull it out when I need it.

Happy baking!

Jumbo Sized Gluten Free Banana Nut Muffin Recipe

My new thing lately, is jumbo muffins, Texas sized sounds fitting.

I went through withdrawals, for awhile. Not being able to pick up a flat of jumbo muffins at Sam's Club, the way my Grams used to at Costco. Not being able to stop at a mini mart, while on an outing with my family. Jumbo muffins go perfectly with coffee, go perfectly with road trips, go perfectly with busy mornings. Not to mention, they're heartwarming. I don't know about you, but for me, a jumbo muffin holds a certain sense of nostalgia that just can't be beat.

Well finally, I put my Texas sized muffin pan and jumbo sized cupcake liners to work. How hard could this be? Really.

I'd like to share with you, if you're at all interested (oh I know you must be, and if you're not, humor me?), a recipe for jumbo sized gluten free banana nut muffins. These muffins are low in sugar, and loaded with health. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family and I do...

Jumbo Sized Gluten Free Banana Nut Muffins

-1 1/2 cups gf baking mix (I LOVE this self rising mix that you can make yourself)
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 tablespoons flax meal
-1/2 cup soy milk
-1/4 cup melted smart balance
-2 eggs, beaten
-2 ripe bananas
-1/4 teaspoon almond extract
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your jumbo muffin pan with jumbo muffin liners. These are not the same as regular lines. I had to hunt all over town for them, but hopefully you'll have easier access than I did. If not, you can order them in bulk on Amazon, which is what I'm about to start doing (now that I'm making muffins twice a week).

Before you start with anything else, it might be a good idea to chop up your walnuts. You don't have to use walnuts (I'm allergic), but they seem to be the best option for these particular muffins. Scoop out a cup, and chop chop chop away. You can also run them through your food processor, vita mix, magic bullet- whatever, but I typically make these while the babies are sleeping, so I chop them by hand, to prevent any early waker uppers, know-what-I'm-sayin'?

You'll need two bowls. One for wet, and one for dry.

Melt your smart balance in a glass measuring cup or small bowl (ok so you might have needed 3 bowls then, I guess).

In the larger of the bowls, you'll add your flour mixture, your flax meal and your sugar.

In the smaller of the bowls, mash up your bananas with a fork. Add your melted smart balance, your soy milk, your beaten eggs, and both your extracts.

Mix mix mix, with a wooden spoon.

Fold in your chopped up nuts.

Spoon equal parts into your papers, mixture will be thick and fill it up about 3/4 of the way, and put into the oven for 35-40 minutes. This will make 6 jumbo muffins.

And we all know how to tell when a muffin is finished, right? The tops should be browned, and the toothpick should come out clean.

We store ours in the fridge or freezer. If frozen, microwave for one minute, or let thaw in the fridge overnight.

*NOTE- make sure you let your muffins cool completely, maybe even chill them, before digging in. Warm muffins will stick to the paper, and have a slightly gummy texture. Cooled muffins will not.

Jumbo GF Blueberry Almond Muffin coming soon...

Wordless Wednesday: Sidewalk Chalk

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

(Sometimes the simple things seem to slip my mind. When the babies go outside to play, we choose the front or the back. In the back, we've got the playhouse and slide. In the front, we've got all of the toys in the garage. Sometimes when given the choice, I'd rather not choose either.)

(Typically, when I take the babies outside to play in the morning, I in vision it to be relaxing. But it almost never is. While I'd like to be sitting there sipping at a mug of coffee or reading my book that I've been trying to finish for half a year- they're always wanting more more more. They can't just follow my rules and play with the toys I allow them. They can't just respect each other and behave nicely. They bicker and fight, kick and scream- they get overstimulated.)

(And I go crazy)

(Well it came upon me, the other morning, that instead of going for a walk and to the park, instead of choosing the back yard with the slide and playhouse, instead of opening up the garage and letting them be free with the toy bins- I could just keep it simple.)

(We'll play with sidewalk chalk today, babies. The same sidewalk chalk that you play with every day, only this time, just the sidewalk chalk, and nothing more.)

(Nothing to fight over, other than the coffee can that carries the chalk. Nothing to cry about, there are enough pieces for the both of you.)

(And theres no need to bother Mommy- shes busy taking pictures of dusty fingers and toes.)

(So theres a little bit of wind.)

(Just brush your hair out of your face, pretty girl, and don't lift that chalk from the concrete for anything.)

(Except maybe to use it as makeup. Your cheeks could use a little color, since we're playing in the shade, rather than the sun.)

(And gosh your eyes are gorgeous, Elie Belly. You and your Daddy both.)

(Well, what did you think it would taste like?)

(Every day, you bring the chalk to your mouth. Every day, you take a bite. And every day, Mommy says "yuck! yuck Charlie!", you spit it out, throw it down onto the ground, hard as you can, and then pick it up and start all over again.)

(While Brother is daydreaming about the big mud covered truck across the street, Sister is drawing snow covered palm trees that will later be trapped inside of an imaginary winter globe.)

(Just as the excitement wears off, Brother comes out of the flower garden, guilty, holding a single flower. He sits down, and does what any other one year old would do.)

(He puts the flower in between his dirty toes.)

(Somehow he knows to be gentle with it, while squishing it into place with his fingers. Hes extra careful, not to lose a single petal.)

(And of course, whatever Brother does. Sister has to do too.)

A Onesie For Brother

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm kind of a grinch, when it comes to giving my daughter's craft time. It used to be all the time- I'd set her up with a box of markers, some construction paper, a sheet of stickers, and she'd be happy. But then she started getting greedy, and nothing was good enough. I'd give her these markers, but she'd want those. I'd give her blue paper, but she'd want orange.

There was room for negotiation, though, always.

"You can have this lined alphabet paper to for your craft time today Miss Eleanore, now would you like crayons, or markers, to go with it?" ...she'd choose crayons.

Not even minutes later, she'd be bored with the crayons, having only used one color, and in her whiny voice, asking for the markers.

"No... why don't you try using some different color crayons, more than just the purple. You can practice writing your A's, your B's, and your C's. Draw them each in different colors, and then when you're all finished, call me and let me know, I'll come see them!" ...oh, okay, that doesn't sound so bad.

She'd draw one letter A, put the crayon down, and say "Ok Mommy, I'm all finished, come look! Can I have my markers now?" ...um, no.

Craft time became a pattern. She was never satisfied. I'd set her up with more options, giving her both crayons and markers, two different kinds of papers, more ideas for her brain to work with, and while she was happy for the first 45 seconds of it all, the fun never lasted past the initial pen to paper moment.

"Craft time is hear by cancelled!", I established.

...oh booooo Mom, really? Cancelled?
Yes. I'm sick of the drama.

Well the other day, while baby Brother was taking a nap, Eleanore had started complaining of boredom, of course, so I figured we could give craft time another go. There had been several non crafting weeks, giving it another try wouldn't hurt.

I remembered some Crayola fabric markers that I had gotten on sale at Michael's nearly half a year ago, and some blank onesies leftover from Charlie's Christmas outfit. That would be perfect! She could make a onesie for Brother.

And she could do everything in her means to avoid having her picture taken, too.

So how'd craft time go, you wonder? ...

Well we finished the onesie! I may or may not have done most of the artwork, following loosely some very bossy instructions, but... Eleanore for sure was the hand behind all of raindrops and the "cat" under the grass (its not dead, its just... living in dirt).

Brother was very pleased with his handmade gift from Sister. So pleased that he got applesauce on it the very first time he wore it.

And while craft time wasn't a total failure, I don't think it will be making its way back into our daily routine anytime soon.


Monday, May 24, 2010

When trying to think of a "fingerprint" themed photograph of one of my kids, several came to mind. I've taken hundreds of pictures of their tiny toes, thousands of pictures of little sticky hands- but in the end, this one will always be the most magical.

It was sometime last summer, when Eleanore still had a little bit of curl left in her pigtails. We had gone on a long walk with our neighbors, and wandered over to what we call "the frog park". There are several parks here on base, all with different nicknames. This particular park, happens to have a frog rocking spring toy (you know, the animals that you sit on, with the handlebars, that go back and forth back and forth?), hence the name.

The more she played, the brighter her cheeks got.

On the side of the toddler sized playground equiptment, was a mirror. While running past it, in all hopes to save the princess who was locked away in the tower, she stopped dead in her tracks, completely infatuated with her own reflection. "Who is this beautiful girl?" she asked herself. She studied the bends and folds in her arms and legs, watched herself laugh- laughing at nothing other than the sound of her previous giggle, and just as she was about to whirl away and take the castle by storm ...a simple touch of her reflection, just to make sure she couldn't walk through to the other side.

What a magical world, inside that mirror.

The Paper Mama

This is my first time participating in The Paper Mama's photo challenge. Maybe you'd like to enter one of your photos too? Click the button for more details...

I Heart Faces: Yellow

Its been awhile since I entered a photo challenge, but while browsing through my Flickr account this morning, this picture caught my heart by floating balloon string and gave it a little tug.

Miss Eleanore, happy as can be, going round and round a flat train track. Her very first ride.

Moments before, we had ridden the merry go round, the kids and I. So I guess that was technically her first ride, but- this was her first ride all by herself. The other kids on the train sat in their carts, with looks of complete misery painted across their faces, while our Eleanore could be heard on the other side of the carnival, squealing with delight as loudly as her lungs would allow. She held onto the bar, as if letting go would shut it all down, and she laughed so hard I wasn't sure if she'd be able to catch her breath. "Look at me!", she shouted, every time she passed by. And I was- I couldn't take my eyes off of her. Her joy was beautiful. Overwhelming. Perfect.

Cornbread. So comforting.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The weekend has flown by, much like the wicked witch you'd see passing by the outside of your window during a sepia toned tornado in Kansas.


Here it is, Sunday night already. Both babies are in bed, my husband is in the bathroom cutting his own hair (because I can't stand to get too close to his awful airplane head gash, I'm pathetic when it comes to wounds) and I'm finally sitting down and giving my swollen tingly legs a rest. This weekend has been much too busy, with multiple batches of Texas sized muffins rising in the oven (both blueberry almond and banana walnut), garage sales galore (it was worth waking up at 6:30 on a Saturday for), testing out the wheels of our new double stroller, and everything in between.

Because I feel so comfortable right now, freshly showered, all yoga'd and stretched out, the house is almost completely silent with the exception of the air conditioner and the sound of the hair clippers off in the distance, I thought it would be fitting to share a recipe? A comfort food recipe?

Now this isn't my recipe, its borrowed from the always amazing Gluten Free Girl. I swear I can smell whatevers cooking over on her blog before I even click on my "favorites" bar to head over there.

I've made this cornbread several times, and it always comes out deliciously perfect, every single pan.

I may have altered an ingredient or two, to fit my own needs, but otherwise, this recipe is pretty much untouchable. You can visit her blog post, by clicking here (we even use similar style cooking pans, *little girl style, I-have-a-total-food-crush-on-you, giggle*). Otherwise, here is my variation...

1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup rice rice flour
1/4 cup millet flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 cup smart balance
2 large eggs
1 cup soy milk

Preheat the oven to 425°. Combine dry ingredients. Cut in smart balance using a fork or cutter. Add beaten eggs, and soy milk. Mix mix. Pour into greased pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Eat and be comforted.

My family is never disappointed when there is cornbread on the table.
I just might have to make some for dinner tomorrow.

Flashback Friday: 8 hours into my first labor

Thursday, May 20, 2010

With last weeks missed flashback, and awesome trip to the hospital (heavy on the sarcasm there), this week I wanted to post something birth/baby related.

This morning as I was standing in the kitchen, taking a minute to catch my breath after returning home from a long walk and trip to the park- a video flashed across the main computer screen (our screen saver is photos and videos), and I had to laugh. This video is horrible. So I guess... its kind of perfect?

Never in a million years did I think I'd ever share this video with anybody other than my own family, but- well what have I got to lose (outside of some of the best readers ever)?

A little background info. Let me set the scene for you.

**It was August 16th, 2006. Four years ago. I was scheduled to be induced two days later, but my water broke in the midst of a "stay up all night tonight, and sleep all day tomorrow, so I'll be well rested for my labor" power-through, and well... things started to get ugly.

About 6 or 8 hours into my labor, I hadn't yet had an epidural (I didn't get that until 12 hrs in), but I was exhausted, and miserable. So, they came and pumped my IV full of Demerol, after at least two hours of begging. Little did I know, this would make me completely insane, loopy, and about 5 seconds after Christopher turned off the camera (too bad he didn't keep filming), I erupted into a psycho fit of laughter, and then passed out for the next hour or longer, waking only to laugh.

I ended up laboring for 20 hours, without any progression, so I had a semi emergency c-section, and that was that.

This is me. 70 pounds heavier, 4 years younger, drugged up, talking about ice tubes. Enjoy...


Join us for a Flashback, won't you? We're here, every Friday, digging into treasured memories of our past, and sharing them with each other. Grab a picture of your own, write a little blurb to go with it, and then come back here and post your link on the list below. Don't forget to grab our button (wayyyy down there at the bottom of our page), or type out a text link, linking your readers here to discover the time travels of others as well :)

Wordless Wednesday- Tonka Loves Brownie

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

(I don't think I've ever participated in Wordless Wednesday, but I like the idea of it. Only... if a picture is worth 1,000 words, and I take 50 pictures- well my Wordless Wednesdays aren't going to be so Wordless, are they? Should I call this Not So Wordless Wednesday, then? Or what if I just hide my words in these sneaky parentheses, does that do the trick? Right? Know what I mean?)

(See? How can I let a face like that go without a caption.)

(A few days weeks ago- actually... it was a month ago now- the babies and I went outside for a nice morning play date in the front yard. I brought out Charlie's trucks, cars, and trains, for us to drive along the concrete. Those are things that Eleanore likes too, so it wasn't as if she was without. Plus, she always has her imaginary friends by her side, Piglet and Donkey- I didn't feel guilty about the lack of ribbons and bows in attendance.)

(Soon the air started warming up, and our tummies started grumbling. I had just made a fresh batch of banana sweetened brownies earlier that morning, so we packed up the trucks and trains, and headed inside for a snack. Or... well at least I thought we packed them all up...)

(Mr. Charlie seemed to have snuck one away somewhere, and when I lifted him into his high chair, I somehow still missed seeing it there in his hand. I went into the kitchen, brought back a plate of brownies- a solid one for Elie, and cut up bites for Charlie. I served the princess hers, and then slid the bits and pieces leftover onto the high Chair tray. Still... I didn't see the red Tonka.)

(And then like a low hum coming from I-wasn't-sure-where, I started to hear a blurry "vroom vroom". Not the actual sound, the way it would sound coming from an actual engine, but more like, one of the babies was making that sound with their mouth?)

(Oh. I see now.)

(Little Charlie by this point, had completely demolished his brownie. He had driven his red Tonka through every speck of moist chocolate available to Tonka's tires. He was having a great time, by the way, driving Tonka back and forth back and forth, vroom vroom'ing up a sugary storm. Who needs to actually eat their snack, when instead you can turn it into a racetrack?)

(And I have to admit, I was kind of proud of him. Brownies are dark in color, the way dirt is. And big trucks drive on dirt, right? And... wow. Having a little boy is so much different than having a little girl. This was the exact moment that it dawned on me.)

(Sticky little fingers, guilty as charged.)

(Oh go on, have your fun. Play in the dirt all you want. How could I say no to a face like that? Make monster sized tracks all over that tray. You couldn't possibly be any cuter.)

(So this is what being the Mother to a little boy is all about.)

(And I'm sure this is just the beginning
*said with an honest to God smile*.)

The First Stomp Of The Season

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The rainy season only comes once a year, you know. For us here in west central Texas, that season is now. The water in the pot slowly starts to simmer in mid May, by June we come to a rolling boil, and by July the overflow has fallen to the stove top and started to sizzle.

On a recent trip to the Airman's Attic, we hit the thrifting jackpot. A pair of pink rain boots, just Eleanore's size. Maybe a little too big, which is perfect for growing, one boot missing its decorative shoelace, waiting to be loved again. Sold.

After our first big rainfall of the season, as soon as the clouds started to rest, I rushed the babies into good morning outfits, and shuffled them outside. Just as Eleanore was heading for her tennys, I called out "no sweetie, grab your rain boots".

You should have seen the look on her face.
Rain boots can only mean one thing.

She frantically pushed her feet between the rubber openings, trying to avoid her frustration for those pesky pant legs getting in the way. After I strapped Brother into his PediPeds, I reached my arm over to grab her crumpled up denim, and neatly tucked it into her boots.

"Well, lets go, those puddles aren't going to wait around for us all day"!

After strapping a curious Charlie into the stroller, and going over the "when a car comes this is what we do" rules with Eleanore, down the street we romped, with frequent shouts of "slow down and wait for us" reaching out to hold her back as she raced towards the big puddle by the stop sign at the end of the street.

Trying to run in rain boots a size too big, isn't easy. I have to give the girl credit for that.

Looking so much more grown up than she did last year, she whirled her body around and around, heaving all of her weight into the deepest parts of every puddle she could focus her eyes on. I don't think I've ever seen her happier.

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and thanked God for everything that my family is blessed with. Days like these are few and far between, where everything is miraculously perfect.

There she stood, with her hair blowing in the wind and her chest working extra hard to catch the breath that the rain waters were making her work so hard for. Charlie sat quietly in his seat, kicking his feet strongly against the plastic on the foot rest, his eyes asking "my turn now?". I watched for cars, listened for thunder, and snapped pictures after picture- hoping to stretch the memories from one mid morning puddle stomping trip, through a lifetime.

Dance baby, dance!

And I caught her laughter in her reflection. Do you see it?

As traffic started to pick up, I told the babies we'd have to head home for lunch. Just as we started walking back towards Indiana, down the street came a maroon colored van. Daddy.

Our house was just around the corner, so after double checking both ways (she'd only be going 20 mph anyways), I shewed Eleanore up into the passanger seat to drive home with Christopher. This gave Charlie and I some one on one time, even though he chose to spend every minute of it calling out for his Daddy.

As soon as we pulled into the driveway, Daddy scooped him out of his seat, showered him with the affection that he was showing to be so desperately needy for, and inside we went for lunch, with promises of more puddle stomping in the afternoon, so long as the puddles didn't all run away while we were eating our hummus.

Well I held true to my word.

As soon as all plates were cleared, all toys were picked up, and all attitudes and grumpyness was bagged up and thrown away- back out again we went.


We stomped for what seemed like ever. By this time, the only puddles left were quite a ways away, and just so happened to be lining the main street. I parked Charlie a few feet away on the sidewalk, facing us, and went to stand in the street, so that Eleanore was sandwiched in between me and her brother. Every car that came along thought we were waiting to cross the street, even though we were clearly very busy, so I spent most of my time repeating "stay out of the street, see the car" to Eleanore, and waving my hands behind me like a crossing guard.

Water was shooting up from the concrete like rockets. Her squeals got louder with every jump. Her face got muddy, her pants soaked, and with as much pressure as she could force out of her body- she caused tsunami after tsunami.

And with puddle stomping, comes bubbles. Perfect little half circles floating on top of the muddy waters. Just as she reached for this one, it popped.

After minutes upon hours of stomping, energy levels started to slow. Eleanore started to get tuckered out.

"One more run through the stream", I told her, "and then we're heading back home".

Charlie followed her last hurrah, his eyes locked on her boots every second of the way. I could see the jealousy steaming out of his ears. I leaned down next to him and told him that next year, he'd be able to puddle stomp too. Not that this made him feel any better, he doesn't even understand the concept of tomorrow, but someday he'll have his turn. His day is coming.

I could hear the sloshing inside of Eleanore's boots, as her steps slowed and came to a stop in front of me. Filled with water, it would surely be a long walk home. It was worth it though, right?

All good things must come to an end. So until next time, spring puddles.
Until next time...

Hip To The VHS Beat

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Now I'm not saying that I don't own a DVD or two, because I most certainly do, but- I'm also proudly boasting, that this Mama, is hip to the VHS beat.

Have you ever gone to somebodies house, a friend or neighbor, whoever, and seen a large (or small) TV/DVD player combo in their child's room, and wondered "how in the heck does that work?". Maybe its just my kids, but, if they had it their way, they'd have every DVD out of their cases, cracked and hanging from strings dangling from every possible surface in the room, and then they'd probably come crying to me, wondering why the broken DVDs aren't playing, after they've shoved 5 of the finger food coated broken disks in the machine at the same time.

That's just my kids though. Ahem.

When I was 10 or 11, my parents got me a TV/VCR combo as a birthday gift. To be fair, my mom worked for Panasonic, so I think she either got it from the company free (you work there for a certain amount of time, you get a free TV type thing), or got a crazy good discount on it. But, can I just tell you how jumping out of my pants excited I was? Who cares how I got it, the fact was- I had my very own TV. My very own VCR. And, they were combined (!!!), into one unit.

Holy moly, I could not possibly be any cooler.

Well when Eleanore turned 2 years old, we decided it was time that she inherit the magical movie playing machine. Or, more like, my parents got Christopher and I a bigger TV as a gift (we never buy ourselves electronics, its just not something we think is important), so it was time to pass on the wonder of videos to the little one.

Too bad the only VHS tape we had to give to her was The Little Mermaid.

She didn't seem too interested in The Karate Kid or The Lost Boys, believe me, we tried- so she started watching the one Disney movie that she did have, on a daily basis, over and over and over again. Every day. Sometimes twice.

I could put the video in, and she'd be totally and completely occupied while I took a shower. Yeah, I could actually wash my hair and shave my legs, both of those things taking place during the same shower, while Miss Eleanore was awake. Imagine that!

After a few months though, she got sick of it. Bored with Ariel, tired of Mommy always being clean- tired of it all.

I started letting her watch cartoons on cable instead (here is where I went wrong). The Little Mermaid was a thing of the past, buried somewhere in the back of her closet. Her TV started collecting dust, because as she got older and gained Independence, she started watching TV downstairs on the big TV. And the thing with cable cartoons, is they don't end. Its just one after another, after another, after another.

I'd get busy. I'd start a project. And while I knew it was time to turn off the TV, she had already been watching for an hour and a half- I just wanted 5 more minutes to myself. Well, 5 minutes turned into another half an hour, turned into another 3 cartoons, turned into "ohmygosh, I forgot to feed you lunch, its 1:00 and you're still wearing pajamas, and what have we done with our day?".

...parenting fail.

AND, not to mention, half of the cartoons on these days, have so much attitude squeezed into the animation that our little ones, almost overnight, turn from angels, into sugar demanding I-want-I-want monsters.

So, we quit TV altogether. I hated how it turned my little girl into a zombie. She was completely unresponsive while watching it, she had added so much back talking into her everyday vocabulary that we couldn't hold a decent conversation, and really- would it be so bad for us to go outside and walk around the neighborhood??

Things had to change.
And so they did.

After our long break from the lot of it- Cable, DVDs, and VHS, we slowly started letting movies make a comeback into our routine. We had gotten a few more VHS tapes from the Airman's Attic (as if I couldn't praise the place enough), and Eleanore was allowed to watch one a day. Also, we got a VCR for the downstairs TV, bought it from a guy moving out of the dorms here on base. Who cares how awful the picture on the Vizio would be, VHS tapes are virtually indestructible- and the kids don't care how blurry Pooh is.

Our collection grew from The Little Mermaid, to about 5 watchable movies. It wasn't much, but it was a start.

Recently, a wonderful lady friend of mine (Hi Tina, *waves*) had mentioned having some Disney tapes that she could possibly send us, seeing as how her son is all grown up now, and wasn't watching them anymore.

Yes, please! I had been keeping an eye out for some, but not getting out very often (you'd be disgusted as to how much time I spend here in my homemaker cave), I wasn't coming across very many.

I remember as a child, watching Disney movies constantly. I still know all the words to all of the songs (Eleanore has yet to get annoyed with my singing, thank goodness), I remember all of the character names, I can put a time and a place to the release of which movie and what best friend or relative I went to the theater with to watch it. I was raised on Disney.

I had no idea that Tina was going to send me an entire collection of mint condition, some not even opened, movies! It was like Christmas, for my kids (ok, and me). Eleanore still can't get over the selection she has. She stands in awe, looking over the titles, almost like she has video tunnel vision. And when she sees a preview for a movie that she thinks she might have seen a cover for earlier, she starts screaming "Mommy we have that movie too, don't we?! Mommy don't we?!", at which time I reply "...yes, Tina sent us that movie too".

This doesn't mean that I let my kids sit in front of the TV for hours upon hours (although sometimes I fantasize about the freedom it would bring me), its quite the opposite in our house actually. They get to watch one movie a day, and sometimes not even that. I usually let them choose between two that I've picked out (and by them, I mostly mean Eleanore), I lay out the biggest fluffiest blanket we have, I dim the lights, and I walk away. Voila- instant me time.

I do the dishes. I work on laundry. I drink a cup of coffee.

Charlie usually wanders away from the TV after a minute or two, unless we're watching a Pooh movie, either following me into the kitchen or floating to his toy trains- most likely ending up clinging to my leg as I attempt to prepare for later's lunch, but the oldest of the two, the trouble maker, shes kept nice and busy for at least an hour and a half.

Tina, you are a lifesaver. My kids and I, from the bottom of our Lion King lovin' hearts, we thank you. We'll be watching these movies together until the end of time. Or... until they all move out and leave me alone and bored out of my mind, that is, haha.

So while I'm not spending hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on DVDs that would probably end up scratched, lost, or broken- we're rockin' the heck out of our collection of clunky VHS tapes.

So Mama friends, raise your hand if you're hip to the VHS beat. I'd love to give you a high five, and maybe recite an entire song from Marry Poppins with you.

Hey, Wheres The Flashback?

Friday, May 14, 2010

I've gotten more than one email today, all friendly of course, asking me "hey Tia, no flashback today?".


About that-
(bad cell phone pictures comin' atcha!)

After a few hours of nagging stomach twisting contractions, I gave in, listened to my body, walked out on the season finale of one of my favorite shows (Private Practice), hopped in my neighbors truck (her husband had come home from work so that she could take me) and took a trip down to the hospital.

See, when I was pregnant with Charlie, I went into preterm labor at 34 weeks, and it turned out I had been dehydrated. So now, as soon as I feel contractions- I start guzzling. By the time I got there, I was practically my own brita. One of the nurses made a comment about not even bothering to send my urine cup down to the lab (they ended up sending it anyways, though, she was just funny), since she could see right through it.

After a few shots of terbutaline and a lortab- I still had no relief from the contractions... I told my neighbor to go home, they admitted me, and I got moved out of triage and into my own room.

More contractions. Blood work. Test results. Crazy low potassium levels. Giant honking potassium pills that nearly choked me. More contractions. More blood work. Twenty minute naps. Thunder and Lightning. Missing my husband and babies. More potassium pills.

And 10 hours later. My first eating out experience in well over a year-

I guess somewhere along the line I should have mentioned my food allergies to somebody, but seeing as how food was the farthest thing from my mind, it just didn't come up. When they brought me a platter of croissant sandwich and grapes, I spoke up, rambled off a lengthy list of intolerances, and voila- cream of rice cereal, at my service.

An hour or so later I texted Christopher to bring the babies. I knew I'd be going home soon. I had taken my second round of potassium pills, my contractions had dulled down to a minimum, and I was exhausted. Just let me go home, I begged.

And then there my beautiful family was- Eleanore carrying her doctor kit, Charlie walking around and driving his trucks all over the floral print furniture like he owned the place.

The nurse explained to me how rather than dehydration being the cause this time, it was actually the opposite. I had drank so much water, that I had flushed some very vital nutrients out of my body, leaving me aching, literally, for health. I got a lecture about how I need to drink fluids other than water (soy milk is really my only other option), and was warned to expect further lecturing from my doctor. So rather than the terbutaline helping with the contractions, it kind of did the opposite, seeing as how it usually causes hypokalemia (low potassium) in itself.

Fun, right?

Anyways. I'm home now. The Bean and I are safe. I took a nice long nap on the couch while the babies played around me. Christopher has been taking care of me, and tomorrow I expect to be back to my busy-bee-go-go-go-do-everything self.

But, if you happened to participate in Flashback Friday without me, please, link up below! (sorry guys, next week I'll be back on track, I promise) ...

A Wednesday Ramble

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


and feet

and naked babies riding toy lions

Its been hot this week. The humidity has been wayyy up there, making our morning walks a little less pleasant for those of us that are stuck with the task of pushing the heavy load of the double stroller. By the time the afternoon is here, the temperatures explode into the 90s, giving us reason to fill up the splash pad and relieve the babies of their cotton. They stomp and they squeal, and they slide all around. The cool water droplets escaping from the hose help to erase the redness in their cheeks, and once again, like the afternoon before, all is at peace in our world.

And sometimes riding on your favorite toy lion is nice. I'm sure his future girlfriends will agree.


We had another ultrasound on Monday, and unlike our past attempts, this time the Bean was eager to cooperate, letting the secret of his or her gender slip. So now we know, but are going to continue to let the anticipation for everyone else grow.

Christopher walked into a sharp piece of aircraft yesterday, head first, and landed himself in the ER for a good 5 hours. All is well, nothing that a few 7 staples couldn't fix. And of course, common man style, he feels proud of his injury, and is perfectly satisfied knowing that a piece of that plane has left its mark on the top of his head forever.

We've been eating berry oatmeal for breakfast the past couple of mornings. Bob's Red Mill gluten free rolled oats, mixed with a cup each of blueberries and strawberries, a dash or few of stevia, and then a quick whirl in the magic bullet. A small scoop of peanut butter in the center for protein, and its gobbled up before I even have time to sit down and eat my own. I've been really concentrating on less sugar, for both me and the babies. So far so good.

Last weekend at a garage sale, I picked up a Shrek themed stuffed toy for Eleanore. A flying donkey. For those of you haven't met miss imagination yet, her very best friend, of all time of ever, is Donkey. He goes everywhere with us. And if its not Donkey, its Piglet (from pooh, obviously). To the store, to the doctor, down the slide at the playground- everywhere, these invisible friends come. So as you can guess, this 50 cent toy was the find of the century.

We saw a caterpillar this morning. "Is that the very hungry caterpillar?", Eleanore asked me.
..."yes", I replied.

I haven't had a cup of coffee in two days, and I'm still alive.

Oh, and I've been sleeping the opposite way on the bed every night. Feet where my head should go, putting my face directly under the ceiling fan. Christopher thinks its weird, but I think its comfortable.

And now that I've had my little ramble (and shared some pictures of the babies) I'm off to attempt to come up with and cook dinner with less than an hours time to do it in. We've got canned mushrooms, fresh zucchini, pasta, and Spam. Sounds like casserole to me.