Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Erin, a little girl


What Erin's up to:

She turned 22 months in October. She runs, dances, tries to jump. She climbs fearlessly. She goes easily to church group, gym daycare, friends' houses. She doesn't like to shop in mommy stores. She's in love with Bob the Tomato from VeggieTales. She's also got a thing from Brobee from Yo Gabba Gabba. I think she identifies most with Widget and Bob the Builder (although we only have Bob the Builder books). Yesterday I talked to Lanie's kindergarten teacher about how she's doing ... Erin played in the class playroom. She went immediately to the tool bench and started hammering away, bypassing kitchen sets and girl stuff. When Shane hung up a lovely canopy in Lanie's room, Erin barely gave it a glance and headed straight for Shane's power tools. It's so fun to see interests developing at such a young age. And it looks like I've also lost my chances for having a helper in the kitchen!
Erin has a lot to say. She's got great manners and says: please, thank you, excuse me and bless you. She is quick to apologize and give hugs if she's hurt someone (read: Lanie). She loves to cuddle, nesting herself in my lap to watch a show or read a book. And she often falls asleep snuggled up against me. She plays with Play-doh, loves the play set outside, and puzzles. She is convinced she can walk downstairs without have to sit-and-scootch. I am glad the staircase isn't a straight drop and has a landing in the middle! I often find myself looking away from her as she tests her limits. With Lanie, I hovered. With Erin, I have to let her test herself. She stopped calling her blanket Noonoo and calls it Blanky. She is growing up too fast. She may very well be the last child I have, and there's such a deep sadness for me in that. While I'm glad beyond measure to have this little girl, it's sad for me to think that her firsts are my lasts.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dedication

I gave Lanie an old college composition notebook I had. I had barely used it and tore out the pages I wrote on. She thought this was really great. I told her she could draw pictures in it and write her own story book. She worked in this book in secret all summer long. From time to time she would invite a friend up to her room to show pages to, sometimes letting the friend add a little something to it.

There were days, too, when I'd send Lanie to her room for a time out, and as I'd walk past her doorway, there she sat at her work table, hunched over this book, working away.

Finally, a day came when she was ready to unveil it. She had colored every single page, front and back. Inside it, she wrote a story about pirates, princesses, and all things Mommy and Lanie.

"This is for you, Mommy," she said with halo grin. "I can read a page to you every night after we read Bible stories."

My heart was touched. She let me turn through the pages. Indeed, there were pirates and princesses. But mostly throughout the book were pictures of Mommy and Lanie. And written so carefully on nearly every page were these words "I love Mommy."

She wrote a book. For me. Dedicated to me. About us (except for the pirate part, unless I'm forgetting some stuff ... or I'm the pirate ... ???). And full of love.

I wish that I could offer up my own work so well. "This is for you, Lord" in all that I do in service and in thought. Lanie, you teach me so many valuable things!

Doing dishes

There were three very hungry bellies in my car this morning as we left the gym after Lanie's dance lesson. I picked up some fresh pizzas at a nearby store. Popped those pizzas in the oven when we got home and everyone silently, ravenously feasted ten minutes later.

Shane encouraged Lanie to take her dishes into the kitchen when she was finished. I was helping to clear the table and passed by Lanie and she tried to pass her plates off to me. "Keep it going," I said, pointing to the sink.

I unloaded the clean dishes from the dishwasher and began to load the dirty ones as Shane wrapped up leftover pizza. Then he starts taking the dirty dishes out of the dishwasher!

"Wha--?" I ask.

"You can't put that in there like that!" he says of the pizza cutter. "It's still got cheese on it."

It only had sauce on it. Really. All the plates that had cheese on them were taking a soak.

Then he starts taking out knives.

"There isn't any cheese on those knives," I said in defense.

"We might need them sooner than we run those dishes," he explained.

I started putting the sippy cups in the dishwasher. I hear deep sighing. I look at him and see him shaking his head in disapproval.

"I'm going to have to reorganize this, I see."

This is what I mean when I say he's orderly, neat and tidy. Some might say obsessive, compulsive.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Symphony

There's a music that plays in my house at night. It wakes me frequently and nightly. It's a symphony of sorts. No one else seems to hear it but me:

Shane snoring.

Erin's midnight requests, "Mommy, more milky please!"

Lanie, her sleepy time conversations. This kid is a loud sleep talker. And occasional sleepwalker. I've found her closed in dark rooms I didn't put her in or standing in the middle of the kitchen or asleep on the couch.

These familiar sounds of my nighttime family have worn grooves into my mind that cause my sleep needle to skip. And that's pretty fine with me. How sad when I can finally sleep through the night again ... when my house is silent, my children grown, my heart still.

Bravo, my musicians, for your sweet music.

Encore! Encore!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The cost of vanity

So, Erin snapped my seven-year-old glasses in half a couple of weeks ago, and in a mad rush I took my husband and kids to the mall to get another pair.

I got a flexible kind of daily glasses, and a really hot pair of sunglasses. If I could wear the sunglasses all the time and not look odd, I would. But the daily ones, we weren't so thrilled with. I wanted the flexible kind for obvious reasons--but that really limited my selection. Luckily, the store had a 30-day no-questions-asked return policy. So we got them.

Shane didn't care for them after looking at me for about an hour.

Most other people didn't notice them.

The ones who did were polite.

But Denise, she rocked me with, "They're ok for the business world, but you should have something else for being a mom." Along those lines. And I thought, yeah, I feel like a stuffy suit without the suit. I want something that reflects being a happy mom of two kids who enjoys chocolate, long walks through the neighborhood and all the other fun stuff I get to do.

So today, we loaded everyone up and went back to the mall. We went to a different store and I tried on a wide selection of rimless glasses. Nothing was jumping out at me. I even tried on Sarah Palin's style. It looks great on her. Me, not so much. Then a woman came in the store just raving over her frames and how perfect and lightweight they are and practical for a mother of four boys. I looked at the sales guy, who pointed to another case.

We immediately found something I liked for my face and Shane liked to look at. So down to the first store to return my glasses. Back to the other store to push the sale through. But then, they delivered the punchline ... I mean, I know they were being serious, but I just had to laugh anyway. The glasses won't be ready for about two weeks. And they cost a million dollars.

"I'm not paying a million dollars," I said, thinking of the million things I have scheduled this week, and the pair of glasses I had that are now sitting in a return tray in another store.

"I'm sure there's something we can do," the manager said.

"Well, what can you do?" I ask. My children are fussing. We are done at this point. It would be another weekend before I could even think of trying on more frames. And now I'm left with wearing my very awesome and hot sunglasses all week long. This part is not so bad.

After some negotiating, I got it down to half a million dollars and half of the cost of the lenses. They threw in a rush order and some warranties against two year olds and democrats. I put down my deposit and we were out the door.

So yes, you will see me out and about looking very stylish in sunglasses: rain, shine, or night. And yes, vanity doesn't come cheap. It costs half a million dollars. Give or take.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pumpkin cake with streusel center

My sister-in-law is a fabulous cook. She wows us every year at Christmas with her delicious baking skills. I am lucky to get this dish all to myself since my husband is not a big fan of pumpkin.

For more great pumpkin recipes, visit www.lifeasmom.com.

Pumpkin Cake w/ Streusel Center

Streusel
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp soft butter

Cake

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup soft butter (not salt)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup of canned pumpkin (not pie mix)
1 cup sour cream (low fat)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Grease (w/ butter) & flour either a fluted cake pan or a loaf pan.

In a small bowl mix all streusel ingredients until crumbly.

In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar on med. (scrape sides down) until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and mixing in between. Add pumpkin, sour cream and vanilla. Slowly beat in flour mixture on low until blended.

Spread half of the batter in prepared pan. Spread streusel over batter, making sure the streusel does not touch the sides of the pan. Top with the rest of the batter. Making sure the batter touches the sides of the pan.

Bake in the center of the oven for 55 – 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes in pan, then remove from pan and cool on a wire rack (about 1.5 hours).

You can frost with a cream cheese frosting or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Exclamation

I take Erin for a nap walk every day. Even in light rain. But yesterday was a very warm, sunny day. We went for our walk. I noticed her little body getting settled into a sleep position. Then all of the sudden she calls out with great joy and exclamation, "Mommy! Birds! Flying!"

I looked up into the sky and saw about 10-15 birds in flight. I let my breath be taken away for a moment and I felt her joy. What a sweet discovery ... and that it bubbled out of her so that she couldn't wait to share it with me.



Erin's pictured here with Bob the tomato, her new best bud.

Fluffy buns

For Lanie's breakfast yesterday, I made Fluffy Buns. They're actually popovers, but I wanted to give them a slightly more enticing name, taken from an episode of Pinky Dinky Do. These are good with jelly/jam, but I deviated from the norm and sprinkled mine with cinnamon sugar. And to top it off, I drizzled a 10x icing flavored with vanilla across them. It certainly had eye appeal to a kid! Maple flavoring would work just as well.

Fluffy buns

4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups whole milk (I used 2 percent), at room temperature
3 tbs vegetable oil

1 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt

cinnamon sugar (optional)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Heavily grease muffin tins with butter.

In a bowl, mix first three ingredients together with a whisk. Then add flour and salt. Continue to whisk vigorously. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin, dividing evenly and filling to about 3/4 full.

Bake for 26-28 minutes. Don't open the oven door until they're done or they won't fluff correctly.

Pop them out of the muffin tin onto a cooling rack. Pierce each bun with a wooden skewer to allow steam to escape. Drizzle with homemade 10x icing to your heart's content. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

She's six



It's Lanie's birthday today. She's officially six. When I look at her face, she seems so big. But when I see pictures of her, she seems so young. "I'm so glad I had you first," I often say. She usually snuggles against me then, and smiles a halo smile.

For school, she's taking in Rice Krispie treats with sprinkles on top. And for Show and Tell, she's taking in a miniature pumpkin. We roasted pumpkin seeds with pumpkin pie spice on them for her to share with the class. She said, "I'll try one if Olivia does."

Olivia, eat the pumpkin seed.

I hope she has a special day. Shane's coming back today and will be home in time for dinner and cake. Friday she gets to take a friend to the mall for lunch and Build-a-Bear.

Happy birthday, my sweet pickle. I've had six great years of learning about you and trying to figure out how to be a good mom and role model for you. Thank you for keeping me on my toes, for developing a deeper sense of love, patience and understanding in me, for blessing me with your words and counsel--your insight sometimes takes me off guard. I love everything about you, sweet child. I'm a lucky mom.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Little girl

My day began with two little ones snuggled up against me so that I couldn't roll over. After taking Lanie to school, and after tearing Erin away from the t.v. (she's hooked on Veggietales. She calls them beans. She wants to watch them over and over again.), I got Erin outside for fresh air and some play time. I also managed to get a few shots.

Like this.

And this.

And this.