Thursday, February 26, 2009

Immunity

Erin has had a stuffy head cold the past few days. Really stuffy nose. Runny eyes. Occasionally full of fuss--or maybe that's just the two in her. Last night at dinner, she ran over to me for comfort. She climbed right up in my lap and I held her close and rubbed her back.

Shane looked at me in shock, "I can't believe you're not sick yet."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"She dropped her fork and I used a napkin to pick it up and put it next to her. And look at you!" he explained.

"Yeah, this morning, I got her out of bed and she sneezed right in my face!" I told him.

Maybe it's only a matter of time. Though I kid Shane for all the vitamins he takes and he still gets sick, and I don't take anything and I'm made of steel (well, except for the possible emphysema part). Mothers must have a special immunity.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Birthday cake

Erin is under the weather today: runny nose and teary eye. She was congested as she slept last night. It's unusual that she's sick at all really. So I tried to be extra attentive to her today. She walks up to me speaking her two-speak and I ask, "What did you say?"

Big blue eyes look deeply into mine and she says, "Birthday cake, please, Mommy?"

I'm glad there's a back-up stash of cupcakes in the freezer. I pulled out the last two, topped them off with whipped cream and a cherry each. You'd have thought it was the real deal. She was excited and happy.

"Happy birthday," I said. I hope I am mindful to celebrate these lives every day.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ten minutes to hot chocolate

We got some flurries this morning, which got the kiddos eager to go outside. Even in pajamas. Lanie pulled on snowpants and geared herself up for some winter wonderland. Erin followed suit. Ten minutes to get ready.


Ten minutes outside. Caught a few snowflakes on tongues. Slid down a slippery slide.


Then inside with cold noses and hearts that needed warming with hot chocolate.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Random Erin

Erin has mastered her M&Ms. I mean, her colors. I've picked up board books at the library to reinforce this new knowledge. We still review with M&Ms. Lanie stands at my side with her hand out too. Chocolate for everyone!

Erin calls waffles awfuls. Every sentence she says begins with Mommy. When she gets out of bed, she brings things downstairs she thinks I might need: like my bottled water, a book I left upstairs, my shoes.

She cuddles into me at bedtime and naptime. Throughout the night, she will seek me out. I love to fall asleep to the rhythmic sound of her breathing.

She is definitely more assertive than her sister: pulls hair, hits and punches. Punching is a newly acquired skill she decided to demonstrate in front of an audience at reading time at the library last Tuesday. When the librarian brought around the owl puppet to give cuddles, Erin yells, "No!" and makes a punch for the owl. Fortunately, no one was harmed.

She's speaking in more complete sentences instead of breathy word combos. She calls my friends on my cell phone. She knows how to turn on my computer and bring up the blue error screen. I have no idea how much information she has deleted from my hard drive. We have put a child lock on the office double doors so she can't get in.

She loves sit in laps and let us read to her. She occasionally takes the books and reads them to her dolls. I love her heart and her desire to make things right when she has hurt someone (Lanie). She sings songs to me that I used to sing to her when she was a baby. She's such a big girl now at two. And, sadly, her feet are too big for those cutie-pie shoes.

Comic relief

Yesterday certainly had its share of frustrations. Like when we drove a half hour down the interstate and pulled up in the parking lot of the teacher supply store so Lanie could get her reward stickers, only to find I left my purse at home. And had absolutely zero cash on me.

Or Lanie's frustrations at differentiating between coins and their values. Or getting the half-hour right in telling time. We've been working on these for several weeks with some luck, but by the next review, she's at square one and frustrated again. (I try to mix in other math things to keep her feeling like she's moving along.)

Then a friend shared some bad news with me about a project we had worked on together several years ago, coupled with some issues of my own that I am too proud to share, just was making the day feel like it was bringing me down.

And the lung doctor called. "How are you?" I asked him. And after his answer, I asked him, "Ok, so how am I?" Inconclusive, but not cancer. I'm going back to the CT scan (w/out dye injection this time) to get a better look at my lungs. But something is definitely going on. March will be a busy month with tests.

So at the end of the day, I looked forward to reading with Lanie and just savoring the moments of being her mom. Nothing like a glimpse at mortality to give you a greater appreciation for the now. We finished reading our chapter in Farmer Boy and said prayers. I decided to use this moment as a reminder to Lanie to say "excuse me" when she burps or toots around others. I sense this is behavior that gets great reaction and applause from her peers, but around the dinner table, not so funny.

I shared a story with her about the time I was working at a job and this man walks into my office and starts talking to me. I was a young twenty-something at the time, but you'd know even then I was destined to give birth to a kid like Lanie.

"So this guy is talking to me, and all of the sudden he toots," I tell her, wide eyed. "Then he says, 'Excuse me' and keeps on talking like nothing happened."

I study her face for reaction. She is captivated.

"I tell you, it was all I could do not to start laughing. I thought it was the funniest thing that he tooted and then kept on talking. I sat in my seat and thought about how he tooted and all I wanted to do was laugh about it. I could hardly pay attention to what he was saying at that point."

I start to laugh a little because Lanie starts laughing.

"Did it smell bad?" she asks. She starts laughing harder and tears are in her eyes. I've never seen her laugh that hard before. Nothing like bodily functions to lighten the mood. Still, I'm not giving her anymore Fiber One bars to snack on.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cut-out cookie


Saturday was a very lovely day. We made cookies: homemade from scratch chocolate heart cookies (the easiest recipe ever).


And sugar cookies with sprinkles (store-bought dough rolled out, sprinkled, stamped. I have yet to find the most-awesome sugar cookie cut-out recipe).
The kids helped shake on sprinkles. I did the cutting out and baking. Then, we delivered. Fun afternoon. I'm so proud of Lanie that she was happy to give without expectation of receiving.
Other highlights: while Lanie was at dance, Erin and I took the car to a carwash. She talked about it all day long, into dreamland and again this morning over breakfast. Last night after church, we came home to snow flurries. The kids stood in the dark, giggling, with tongues out to catch flakes. Then we went in the house for popcorn and cuddles.
Lovely. Just lovely.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Little hearts

Lanie and I spent part of our school day yesterday writing out Valentines for friends. (She celebrates at the academy on Monday.) But this morning, she totally surprised me. She crawled into bed with me sometime in the middle of the night and slept snuggled up by my side. Then I recall around 6:30 she got up. I figured she was going to start getting ready for today's dance lesson. Several minutes later, I feel her tap, tap at my side and she's standing next to me holding out a Valentine for me. And she had one for Erin, who was still snoozing away. She ran and made another one for her dad, and our day was started. With love.

Shane asked me quietly, "Did you guys work on Valentines yesterday?"

"Yes, but only for friends. She did these on her own."

I gave the girls the cards I had for them, and they each got a little plastic heart that had some candies in it. Erin tore into it right away, the card and the candies. I thought we were all done with the fun, when Erin takes her turn to surprise me. She walks up to me holding one of her candies and says, "For you, Mama."

She took two more candies and handed them out to Shane and Lanie.

"For you, Dada. For you, Lanie."

(And then she gave me one more, because mamas are really special.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Soup's on

Black bean soup

1-2 tbs olive oil
1/2 medium/large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 greedy handfuls of baby carrots, chopped

1 large can of black beans, rinsed
16 ounces chicken stock (I use low sodium)
2 shakes cayenne pepper
2 shakes oregano
1 heaping tsp cumin

sour cream
cheddar cheese

In a soup pan, heat oil and cook onion, garlic and carrots for about 5 minutes. Add stock, beans, seasonings, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until carrots are tender. Blend with an immersion blender to desired consistency (I like mine mostly smooth). Garnish with sour cream and cheddar cheese.

This is one of my favorite soups to make and eat.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ladybug

Erin found a ladybug in our house last night. She was fascinated by it. Then Lanie saw it ... Lanie, who is afraid of every living creature that's not her mom, dad or sister. And Lanie, yes, Lanie, wanted me to pick the ladybug up and put it on her hand because she wanted to know what it felt like crawling on her.

"Just put your finger next to her and she'll probably crawl up on you," I said. She wouldn't do it. So I tried to reassure her it would be ok, "Ladybugs don't hurt people. They don't bite or anything like that. And they only eat green stuff. Like leaves."

"But I'm wearing green," she said, worrying over the trace amounts of green color on her princess pajamas.

"Yeah, but you're not green like a leaf. And you smell like a girl, not a plant. That ladybug isn't going to want to eat you."

She wanted no part of it and turns to Erin trying get her to touch it. But Erin was already sensing from Lanie that this was not a good plan. Lanie said, "Go ahead, Erin. Ladybugs only eat leaves and you're not green."

I picked up the ladybug and the girls were fascinated and squealed about it crawling around. Finally, as it got close to bedtime, I let the ladybug out to go be with her family outside.

As I lay next to Erin and she cuddled next to me to sleep, she talked two-speak to me about the events, "Ladybug. Outside. Ladybug family."

"Yes," I said. "She's outside with her family."

"Yeah," she said and laughed. I could only imagine what was going through her mind, the thrill of seeing a ladybug, the novelty of it in her house, the marvel of it crawling on Mommy and books and stuff, and the wonder of the ladybug's home and family.

Sweet.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Color

Erin's learning her colors. She knows many of the words and lumps them all together in one big rainbow: yellowgreenblueblackpurplebrown. The other day, I worked on colors with her with M&Ms, and that seemed to result in the most progress than anything else. She gets to eat one every time she gets its color right. Double bonus is that she is now following in a legacy of love for chocolate. Just warms the heart.
I'm inspired to go through my pictures of the kids and create a color photobook of them.
Like white (and the cutest shoes that had disaster written all over them),
yellow (sprinkled with cherries and dappled in sunshine over barefeet),
green (acres of lawn and the littlest girl),
blue (chalk on the driveway and on our faces),
and red (I think it's her color).
I know a woman who once spoke of someone special to her as making her world suddenly have color. Now I know what she means.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chippety-do-da

Some time ago, I offered to start packing Shane's lunches for him so he wouldn't have to eat out during the week. And sometime much later, he finally let me do it. I think I've been packing his lunch for four years now. He's pretty much a sandwich, chips, fruit and treat guy. No soups or leftovers he has to heat up. Most of the time, our default treats are these:

Chocolate Chip White Chip Cookies

2 sticks of butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (I use lite salt)
1 bag of Nestle chocolate chunks (this recipe is basically the recipe on the back of the bag, but with lots of chips)
1 bag of Nestle white morsels

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, salt and baking soda. Combine. Add chocolate chunks and white morsels. Plop dough haphazardly on an ungreased baking pan, about 12 per pan. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for ten minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.

I keep ours in the freezer for Shane's lunches, the daily after-breakfast snack and for when company pops in. We like our cookies frozen.

Life as Mom has more lunch ideas. But me, I'm all about dessert.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Quarantine

It's official: we're sick. Lanie's episodes lasted through the night and today she's feverish. She has been able to keep down Gatorade and a piece of toast (that I had to disguise with butter and a few orange sprinkles). She has managed to keep it down and is feeling a bit better, despite the 102.7 temps.

Erin is perky and bouncy and enjoyed sprinkled bread too. Her fever is 100.7 and she hasn't thrown up. She is probably fighting a different foe.

Shane woke early this morning and was spared participation in last night's vomit-fest. He saw the Resolve on the counter.

"What happened?" he asked.

"You can read about it on the blog," I said. Not that he reads me.

"Did you get it up?" he asked of the vomit on Lanie's bedroom carpet.

"Pretty well," I said, avoiding his eyes. He is the master of stain removal. This is not my forte, and his questioning eye is aware that I am a weak apprentice. "You have to get that up before the stain sets in."

"I sprayed! I waited! I blotted!" I offered in my defense.

"Sometimes, when that isn't enough, you really have to get in there and scrub," he says. I always thought scrubbing was bad ... that you have to blot ... too many steps too early in the morning!

"I spared you. I considered waking you up so you could clean it. Because this is your thing, not mine. But I let you sleep," I smiled weakly. He smiled back and kissed me goodbye.

We are housebound today. And tomorrow.

A cautionary tale

There's something about the stillness of night ... a child taps my shoulder in the darkness and stands hesitantly at my bedside. I scoot Erin over to make room for one more. She climbs into my bed with anxious whispers.

"Tell me in the morning," I whisper back. Another nightmare? I don't want to wake up any more than I have. I cover her up and we're all snug.

But soon after that the stillness is broken by distressing coughs. The space next to me is empty and Lanie is gone. I follow the sound, knowing too well what it means, all hope drained from my mind.

"Get to the bathroom, quick!" I encourage and point her down the hall.

If you listen closely, in any home with white carpet, you'll hear the mesmerizing siren song. She sings so softly and soothingly that you are compelled to stand on her--she's cloaked in pure cream whose melody entices and beckons to the sick, "Wait. Wait."

But it's a trick, you see, and young hearts are often deceived by her beauty and her gentle calls, "Stay. Stay." Until it's too late. The moment of no second chances, when tummies that lurch and roll like angry seas crash and spill the unnatural pink color of Shaggy's Cool Punch yogurt squirters at their feet, leaving mothers to hear not the siren's seductive call, but her hard victory cry.

Armed with paper towels, a sponge and Resolve, I take to this wicked temptress. I attack her with spray, and then--wait five minutes, gently blot. But she's claimed another victim. Beware, parents, of Scooby Doo marketing ploys for indigestible pink yogurt food products, and listen in your homes. You'll hear that voice one night too, breaking the still of your slumber and luring your children from their beds. Don't be deceived. Prepare young souls with buckets and paper towels. And arm yourselves with steely Resolve.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bless you, Erin

I think two is my favorite age. I love seeing Erin go through two ... and there's nothing terrible about it. She does have tantrums sometimes, but so do I (and it isn't pretty at 39 either). Things I hope I remember forever:

  • when she sneezes and we bless her, she blesses us back
  • she reads books to her VeggieTale toys
  • she scrinches up her nose and covers her eyes and says, "Find me!"
  • she picks the chocolate chips out of her cookies and gives them to me
  • she likes to do everything herself, and if anyone tries to help her, she starts back at the beginning
  • she still can't get her colors down, but has a lot of fun trying
  • when I say, "My Erin!" she says, "My mommy!"
  • she gives hugs and kisses without prompting

The other day on the ride home, some carpool friends were asking each other what their favorite foods are and someone asked Erin. Her response, "Fa-fallows, shoe shacks, chips!" (Which translates to marshmallows, fruit snacks and chips. This doesn't sound like I'm much of a mom: in my defense, she does eat vegetables and other healthy foods.)

Today, though, her fevered body fell asleep cuddled up next to me and I loved feeling her fall as her body relaxed and fell close to me. Feel better, baby. Bless you.