Monday, June 30, 2008

beach it up

remember him? well, the good news is, he's alive. and hairier than ever. my only regret is that i did not get a picture so i could update you on his status (because that hairier than ever comment was not just wasted words. he really is hairier than ever).

last saturday we went to the beach. the weather was awesome and we even got in for free without lying (new for me). the beach is much more fun with an almost 2-year-old instead of an almost 1-year-old. last year ava's beach limit was set at about an hour and she wanted to eat everything; the blanket, the chair, the food, the sand, the seaweed, the seagulls--it didn't matter. if it was there and if it was beachy, she wanted it in her mouth. now she plays without an old cigarette butt rolling around in her slobbery little mouth.

ryan tried to take her to the water, but she freaked out (think barnacle-like clinging) so they went for a walk instead. i think she said "hi" to everyone she encountered. and there were a lot of people there that day (a lot). then they made sand castles. ava was totally into it. until the water came too close:

this is ava totally booking it and shouting, "mommy!"

Friday, June 27, 2008

weekly mouse

the boy is hunter, ava's first and favorite friend


my mom made this "quiet book" when i was a little girl and considered throwing it away before offering it to me. i gladly took it. ava loves it, even though most of the pieces are lost. so i'm taking some pictures of my favorite pages before it's too old and tattered. this is the "snap" page with the turtle and his sweet, puffy heart. he's my favorite.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

i am an emotional woman

but i blame it on the fetus. which means that when he's born, i'm going to have to find something else to point my finger at, because really? i am an emotional woman all of the time.

i was remembering this morning being in the last part of pregnancy with ava and getting off the phone with my aunt emily and immediately sobbing. ryan was doing the dishes and cast me a concerned glance but did not move because since being pregnant i had been known to cry over really unimportant things. like a kodak commercial. which i can't tell you about right now, because i will probably start crying about it.
"it's okay," i told ryan. "i'm not crying for any reason at all." and then i cried harder. because i didn't have a reason to cry and i was crying anyway.


well, i'm at it again. poor ryan. he has to leave for a training session in new jersey for an entire week at the end of july and i've already started crying about it. last night i was going to sleep and he handed me my blanket and i blubbered, "who's going to take care of me when you're gone? who?" and now i have to wash my blanket because i cried all over it. i think maybe he'll be a little relieved to be in new jersey. it will definitely be drier there. and maybe less hysterical.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

potty time

i have to tell ava when i'm going to the bathroom or else she sort of spins into a bit of a meltdown at not knowing where i am. but not only do i have to tell her, she has to come with me. so we sit in the bathroom and she looks pretty bored. we talk about baths and showers and using the potty and. . .and. . .well, nothing else because there is nothing else in the bathroom to talk about.

the odd part is that she acts really excited to go in to the bathroom with me. i say, "i'm going to the bathroom." and she jumps up and starts shouting, "Come! Come!" and she sort of dance/runs to the bathroom and gets there before i do and stands there looking at the toilet with all sorts of anticipation on her face.

this could be a sign to me that i might need to do a bit more to entertain my daughter. perhaps if she knew that there were more interesting things out there she wouldn't be so excited to sit in a tiny room with me and discuss the shower.

Monday, June 23, 2008

a family affair

james is the youngest child (not grandchild) in our family and he just turned a whopping 9-years-old, which is OLD! for the youngest child in our family. where are we all going? why must we grow so quickly?

james was my "buddy". my mom made a system where the three oldest children each had a buddy with the three youngest. that meant we buckled our buddy in to his car seat (or just made sure he got in to the car, if you were that sort of buddy), got him ready for church and kept an eye on him at home. i failed that part miserably. david and james were two years apart but alike in maturity and curiosity. they were Trouble. in fact, too many times in a row had they woken up strangely early and dumped raw eggs all over the carpet. my mom bought all the safety locks the child safety store had (which they broke, sometimes within minutes) and finally settled on a padlock and chain. it was so much work for the adults to get in to the fridge that we just didn't. we ate bread and water instead (and visitors in to our home found it odd as well).

and then there were all the rocks in the pool, the string cheese smeared all over the sliding glass door, the stolen candy that they later "found" outside in the backyard (and had no idea how it got there). . .

oh boys. now they just want to play computer games and shoot guns and it's a little sad to see them get so tall. and yet, it is such a relief to not have to wash an entire jar of peanut butter off of their bodies (and the dog).

happy birthday, jamos amos!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


see that guy on the right? he's ryan's brother and he's totally single. and way awesome. if the bachelor wasn't such an amazingly bad idea, i'd nominate him.

Friday, June 20, 2008

weekly mouse. . .and a pregnancy bump

watching the grateful dead with grandpa (or "papa")

the bump at 29 weeks

Thursday, June 19, 2008

advice to new mothers

the support for my parenting magazine hatred has led me to write this post.

i find the advice they offer to new moms to be one-sided or empty. it makes me think of all the advice that i received that was actually helpful or the things i learned that i wish someone had told me about.

the best thing was talking to my aunt emily the day i went in to labor (not knowing it would be that day). she said, "you can do it. women have been doing it for generations. you can do it. and just when you think you can't, it's almost over." this is quite possibly the best advice i've ever received in regards to labor. the best.

i think that breastfeeding is the best option, but i think formula is so close that if you can't give your baby the best, it's not a big deal if you give him the next best. so if breastfeeding just isn't working out, don't feel like a terrible mother. your child will grow and develop just fine. there's no way to tell the difference between adults who were breastfed and bottle fed.

your newborn is not a reasonable creature. when i was reading books before ava was born, i thought i'd take ava home and teach her the difference between night and day and when to nap and when to eat. . .hah! ava was not even really all that aware of me except in the sense she could see me and i fed her. there was no reasoning, no convincing, no making of any points. that was a little scary at first.

don't let other people tell you things about your baby (just your doctor). i had a visitor after ava was born who was convinced ava was constipated. i didn't think ava was, but this person was convinced and kept telling me so. this made me worry and stress. you know what? i was right. because i'd been around ava for a week already and i knew how she worked. all that worry and stress just made for a few unpleasant days when they could have been fine. you should trust yourself as a mother because even if you don't know that much about kids, you know your kid.

what advice would you give to new mothers? and what was the best advice you received?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


somehow the parenting magazines know when you're pregnant and begin sending free issues your way. perhaps, they think, she'll get hooked on us and have to keep buying issues until she's no longer a parent. which is never. then they laugh maniacally.

i hate these parenting magazines (i sort of hate all magazines, so this doesn't mean as much as it could). i think they are full of non-information that can be misleading and disheartening to mothers. especially new ones. i read them anyway. then i get all fired up and do one of two things: a) i write a big long journal entry or b) i call ryan and vent for an extended amount of time. if i'm really fired up, i c) call my mother and do the same thing. but the best part about my mother is she's a woman too and she gets all fired up also and then we're united in our fury. when we calm down, we feel smug. i like feeling smug with someone else. it rarely happens with ryan. he just isn't woman enough.

anyway, i'm reading in my parenting magazine (called parenting, if you can believe that) and i read a reader's comment. she says (something along the lines of), "when i go to the grocery store, i always buy a nordstroms gift card and write it off as groceries. then it's totally justified!"

irritating in a couple of ways: a) she's lying to her husband. b) she's totally misused the word justified. because that, cherie, is not justifying anything. it's just plain sneaky.

and for the love of pete, people, can't you read? it's nordstrom. there is absolutely no s at the end of that word.

big sigh. i can feel the smugness coming on.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Monday, June 16, 2008

the day of the dad


ava woke up before ryan so we wrapped his father's day gift together and went in to wake him up with it. the gift-giving thing is all very new to ava, but she went right in and plunked the gift right down on his left eye (good morning!). it's a mug that she painted herself. i had her standing topless on a chair with two paintbrushes and she was swinging them wildly about shouting, "painting! painting!" it was a beautiful sight. her creativity makes me feel like i'm doing things right.

ryan unwrapped her present and tried to hug ava (she wiggled her way out of that one). i tried to get her to say "happy father's day!" since lately she's repeating EVERYTHING we say (really, even the bad stuff) but she also refused (just an obliging ball of sunshine, that one). the part that surprised me the most: she was totally okay that daddy had the mug that she had "painting" and wasn't giving it back to her. my kid's totally a giver.

happy father's day, sweetheart

and chris, happy dad's day to you, too. sorry ava wouldn't say it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

weekly mouse

Thursday, June 12, 2008


random memory:

ryan and i took a birthing class when we were pregnant with ava and vowed to giggle ridiculously loud at the mention of any genitalia.

the best enchiladas EVER!

i have a very odd interest in enchiladas. i perk up like someone says, "i really enjoy bob dylan." except that it's a main dish and not one of the best musicians of all time. i like to ask people what they put in their enchiladas and where the recipe came from. my favorite thing about enchiladas is that no recipe is ever the same (that's what's so fascinating!).

one time my friend carol came over and i wanted to make enchiladas but they were awful. and carol, i'm really sorry. you deserve better enchiladas.

i found a recipe that makes the BEST ENCHILADAS EVER. it's rather labor intensive, but totally delicious. make it for someone you love or someone you want to super-impress. the recipe:

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Sauce
Serves: 4

Sauce and Filling:
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
12 ounces chicken, cut into thin strips
2 cans tomato sauce (8 ounces each)
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 can (4 ounces) pickled jalapenos, drained and chopped
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)

Tortillas and Toppings:
10 six-inch corn tortillas
Vegetable or corn oil cooking spray
3 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (3/4 cup)
¾ cup sour cream
1 avocado, diced

  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until hot and simmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, salt and sugar; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until coated with spices, about 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce and ¾ cup water; stir to separate chicken pieces. Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked and flavors have melded, about 8 minutes. Pour mixture through medium-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on chicken and onions to extract as much sauce as possible; set sauce aside. Transfer chicken mixture to large plate; freeze for 10 minutes to cool, then combine with cilantro, jalapenos, and cheese in medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees.
  3. TO ASSEMBLE: Smear entire bottom of 13 by 9-inch baking dish with ¾ cup chili sauce.
  4. Place tortillas on two baking sheets. Spray both sides lightly with cooking spray. Bake until tortillas are soft and pliable, about 4 minutes.
  5. Place warm tortillas on countertop. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Place 1/3 cup filling down center of each tortilla.
  6. Roll each tortilla tightly by hand and place in baking dish, side-by-side, seam-side down.
  7. Pour remaining chili sauce over top of enchiladas. Use back of spoon to spread sauce so it coats top of each tortilla.
  8. Sprinkle ¾ cup of grated cheese down the center of the enchiladas.
  9. Cover baking dish with foil. Bake enchiladas on lower-middle rack until heated through and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and serve immediately, passing sour cream, avocado, lettuce and lime wedges separately.

and carol, one day i will make them for you (i'm thinking it will have to happen after i have the baby since i'm low energy these days).

tell me about your enchiladas (post the recipe if you want). i'm dying to hear about them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"it walked on my pillow!"

yester-evening a bird flew in to our home. ava was terrified. i was deeply amused. because this one time in an arrested development episode, a bird flies in to lucille's apartment and buster tries to get it with a broom.

we all have a little bluth in us.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


this one is old, these are actually my mother's day flowers

Sunday, June 8, 2008

happy birthday to you, bid-air

in the middle, fourth child from my parent's clan

aaron turned 14 on saturday. i really like him. he's my brother, he's got these GORGEOUS blue eyes and this amazing rock star hair and these freckles. . .he's pretty cute. he used to walk around the house trying to keep his eyes open and shut all at the same time. this caused him to walk in to walls and doors and fall down stairs, but it was hilarious. also, amanda and i put him in more dresses than he'd care to have us admit (we had sort of wanted a sister).

sheesh, i love that kid.

a favorite aaron moment: he is told to set the table and sulks. my mother says, "if you don't set the table, you don't get to eat."

aaron sulks some more, then asks, "what are we having?"

mom says, "spaghetti."

aaron considers this and then says, "i'm not eating and i'm not setting the table." he's then sent to his room, where he goes willingly, and we continue with the evening (note: i probably had to set the table instead). at dinnertime though, aaron slinks back in to the dining room looking dejected, as if he was forgotten. as he lifts a limp hand toward the roll basket my father stops him, "aaron? no. you gave up your opportunity for dinner when you declined to set the table."

aaron acts shocked and betrayed, "what?" he gasps, reaching again toward the rolls (his favorite).

my dad shakes his head and gestures towards the bedrooms with his fork. "excuse yourself," he says.

i'm certain that aaron sputtered and my dad insisted. then aaron slunked into the hallway, shut the door and sat just on the other side, wailing pitifully. this went on for several minutes. until: "you guys," he sobbed. "i hope you know it's illegal to starve your child."

this happened last week (just kidding).

happy, happy birthday, bid-air. you saved my marriage.

ps there were other pictures to be posted. lots. and they were good. but i took them with my mom's camera and my stupid computer is SO STUPID and it won't read her memory card. i don't know why. maybe because it's old (or maybe because it's stupid). for details on my frustration, ask ryan.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

the great awake artist, my daughter

ava suddenly stinks at sleeping. this has always been her weakness. for some reason, she loves us so much that she wants to be with us all the time. and she wants to be with us awake, so she never misses anything fun (i don't blame her, we are a lot of fun). lately, she has been rather adamant about this, resulting in awful sleeping hours that would make normal people strangle her to death. instead, i just try not to giggle and avoid her wiggling little legs that are most likely going to kick me in the fetus and that hurts.

tell me how to get my child to sleep and stay that way before i stop giggling and start strangling.

Friday, June 6, 2008

27 weeks

today i am 27 weeks. that is 3 weeks until i have 10 weeks to go. doesn't it sound much happier that way? i mean, like it just might happen eventually?

the other morning i woke from a baby seth dream and NOT the stressful kind, like where i leave him at church and don't remember until the next morning and when i rush over, every thing's all locked up and he's in there, just sleeping in his carrier. ugh.

and not the weird kind either. like the time i dreamt i was giving birth and he came out feet first, but it was altogether rather pleasant. the doctor just grabbed him by the ankles and tugged and he just slid out, arms over his head like he'd been sliding. and i thought, 'that wasn't so bad. why don't they let them out feet first more often?'

this was the pleasant kind. i had a baby and he was cute. he had dark hair and he didn't really look like ava, and i was taking care of him. i fed him and dressed him and patted him on the back and snuggled with him. . .i woke from that dream feeling peaceful and excited. and then i remembered: three more months! oh the torture!

a difference i have noticed between fetus ava and fetus seth: fetus ava moved around a lot more as if she were uncomfortable (sort of mirroring how i sleep at night, i think). she was constantly rolling and stretching and pushing. seth's movements are more active and then peaceful, as if he plays for a little bit and then sleeps. it's hard to explain.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

weekly mouse

we took ava to the zoo last saturday. near the end, completely exhausted, we let her push the stroller out of the zoo. she was so excited she didn't notice that we'd exited until it was too late. then she sort of did this throw-your-self-on-the-concrete-and-cry thing which resulted in ryan carrying her to the car like this. after that, she continued to cry but not because she'd been tricked in to leaving the zoo.

cream cheese brownies

something that being married has taught me about myself is how much i actually like to cook and bake. this may have taken my mother by surprise also. i was infamous in that house for burning things (and not just burning them, but sitting next to them as they burn with my nose in a book). part of it was the fact that ryan is such an awful cook (read: kraft macaroni and cheese) that someone had to do something. ryan didn't care. he even offered to make hamburger helper (his "fancy" meal) on sunday nights. no, thank you.

so i was plugging away, looking for recipes and actually watching the food so it didn't burn. i think we ate a lot of spaghetti those first few months. then i found my mother's favorite (and now mine), ca website and magazine called cook's illustrated. cook's illustrated is amazing. they look for the perfect recipe and then they write an article with the recipe to talk about how they got there and what their taster's thought. i love these magazines. anyway, since i love food much more than i had first supposed, i thought i'd start writing about it. then you could see the things i love. besides, i love it when people put their stuff up.

so last night, i made cream cheese brownies for ryan to hand out to people he hopes to impress. i try to make one thing a week and then package it up and he goes and hands them out. they are good. they are rich and chocolatey and the cheesecake-cream-cheese part is really good.

makes 16 2-inch brownies

2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 stick (8 ounces) butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray. Fit a long piece of foil in to the baking pan, leaving pieces hanging over the sides to be used as "handles" when pulling the entire brownie out. Coat foil with cooking spray.
2. In a medium heat-proof bowl set over a pan of almost simmering water, melt chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth. Remove melted chocolate mixture from heat; whisk in 1 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract; then whisk in 3 eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Continue whisking until mixture is completely smooth. Add dry ingredients; whisk until just incorporated.
3. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese with remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and egg yolk until of even consistency.
4. Pour half the brownie batter into prepared pan. With a spoon, drop half of the cream cheese mixture over batter. Repeate layering with remaining brownie batter and cream cheese filling. With the blade of a kitchen knife, gently swirl the batter and cream cheese filling, creating a "marbled" effect.
5. Bake until the edges of the brownies have puffed slightly and the center feels not quite firm when touched lightly, 50 to 60 minutes.
6. Cool brownies in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Using the foil handles, left brownies from the pan and place on wire rack. Cool until room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours. Cut into squares and serve.

my only critique? these are best when eaten at a cool room temperature, not straight from the fridge. but that's just me.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


this is my blankee (it's the thing i'm wrapped up in):it was my mother's, given to her when she was fourteen. she calls it the "guilt quilt" because all the girls in her church class were making quilts and my mom thought that was stupid and openly made fun of the project. then she got really sick and went to the hospital and the girls from her class visited her and brought her a quilt.

it goes with me everywhere. i sleep with it every night and when i nap, i nap with my blankee. i love it because it is huge so it covers all of me, with extra to spare so i can bunch it up under my chin. and it is light so i can easily have it covering me on summer nights when it is too hot to use anything else. i took it with me on our mexican cruise. when ryan saw our very large and full suitcase he began to go through it and hold up items he didn't deem worthy. like the extra outfit i had packed (what if i spill or don't feel like wearing one of the other things i brought) or the extra two books (he had a point, there was really only one day for reading) or . . . my blankee. the look i gave him said very well that this was a non-negotiable (you'd think after all this time, he'd know). i took it to the hospital with me when ava was born (this is me calling my mom to describe the perfection that i consider my daughter to be):

when we were first married, it was a HOT summer night and ryan asked if we could just share the blankee. being a newlywed, i agreed. so this worked well (i told you it was big) until i fell asleep and i apparently gathered the entire thing around my body and used all of the extra for myself. ryan reports that he woke several times to try to wrestle the blankee back and failed (i've never been good at sharing). and when i am pregnant and exhausted? there is nothing better than wrapping up with my blankee and feeling comfortable (sometimes for the first time that day).

so tell me, is it strange for a grown woman to have a blankee?

Monday, June 2, 2008