Saturday, January 30, 2010

Random Bits

Today, Cecilia said the most unintelligible thing she has said since she was about 16 months old... "Me sie-ged." That means, "I'm excited."

For some reason I have been stockpiling snack crackers... I just counted, and we have NINE boxes of some sort of cracker snacks in the pantry. Okay, so two or three of those boxes were given to me, but still... that's a lot of snacks!! At least they are mostly whole grain, and hey, they won't go stale any time soon.

Caroline was watching a Richard Scarry video, and an elephant was plucking grass with its trunk and then putting it into its mouth. Caroline said, "Hey, he's eating snot!"

There are so many "trendy" kids' names out there nowadays... and before I say more, I don't want to offend anybody, so if I list your child's name, I am not talking about him specifically! I just prefer more traditional names rather than names that are newer... and maybe some of these are old names that have become popular again, I don't know for sure. There are so many kids named Tucker, Bronson, Jackson, Harley... okay, so maybe not Harley. I'm sure there a few Harleys out there though, right? Anyway, I just realized today that one day my daughters might be married to men who have these currently popular names, and so I better get used to them! I wonder how they'll feel as adults with these names... Tucker is cute for a little kid, but it sounds kind of odd on a 30 year old. Riley is a cute little girl name (probably a boy name too), but think about how it sounds on a 60 year old lady... it sounds like a last name, not a woman's name. Jackson may well be a family name, and it can be shortened to Jack, too... I shouldn't really talk though, because I like Dallas as a boy name... although I don't think I'd ever actually use it. And I knew a delightful little boy named Grayson in a preschool where I worked while I was in college.

Today Cecilia walked into the kitchen, where I was listening to an 80s music CD while getting breakfast ready. Her eyes widened and she exclaimed, "Never give you up!!" The song that was playing at the time was actually "Together Forever." So, I guess she can pick out the voice, or the style of the music?? Or maybe it was a coincidence and I am giving her too much credit regarding her musical giftedness! ;)

A funny phrase Cecilia has been saying lately: "for quick." It means that she just wants to do something else for a minute before, say, getting her diaper changed. As in, "I want nuh-nuhs for quick!" And just a while ago, she rubbed her eyes and said, "I'm tired for a minute."

Caroline built a "chicken house" yesterday. I can't figure out how to get the photos of it off my phone. For some reason, it says that they are too big when I try to send them, although I can send other pictures just fine. Whose idea was it to make the camera in the phone be able to exceed the size limits for sending the pictures?? Anyway, Caroline's chicken house: she propped up a bunch of boards and other random junk around the little table that is connected to their playhouse outside. Then she'd stick a chicken inside and block it in with a board. The house got quite elaborate, with another two tables pulled up to it to make additional rooms, and the sandbox lid forming a wall. Sally was the lucky chicken who got to live in it. Each time, she'd find a spot where there was a gap large enough for her to squeeze through or to hop over... it was funny that she didn't object to being stuffed through a little opening repeatedly when Caroline kept putting her back into the house! And then, the horror... she pooped inside her house! This was quite upsetting to Caroline, who had taken such care to build this lovely little vacation home for a chicken ungrateful enough to get the floor all dirty! ;) But it was really good to see her so busy with her task, dragging boards across the yard, being active and imaginative.

Yesterday, Cecilia told me while I was changing her diaper, "I have blue eyes. I have not brown eyes."

Tonight, we had breakfast for dinner - omelets and pancakes, mmm! As I was clearing away our dinner dishes, Cecilia said, "Bye, bye, pancake. Sleep well!"

Does anybody else's kid do this??? Caroline offers Cecilia a choice: "Cecilia, do you want Ensa (Caroline's baby doll) or Una (a stuffed bear)?" Then, when Cecilia chooses the one Caroline wanted, she gets upset! I keep trying to explain to her that if she offers two things to Cecilia, they need to both be things that Caroline is okay with giving up to her at that moment! Apparently, Caroline is hoping that Cecilia will pick the unwanted item each time... and it never happens, of course! This scenario occurs at least once a day!

Cecilia keeps talking about going to the "moosum," so I guess we need to schedule a trip to the Creative Discovery Museum sometime soon! She probably doesn't remember going before, but Caroline keeps telling her about it.

Hubby and I watched Back to the Future one night earlier this week. I'm calling for another date night tonight for Back to the Future II. The 1980s in all their glory!! I love the first two movies, but Back to the Future III was a bit lame, in my opinion (okay, the first two were sort of lame as well, but not quite in the same way...). Popcorn, hot chocolate, and a movie... that sounds good to me, and so I am off!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


More random shots from my phone...

Oooh, pretty! Too bad it means that the Camry is leaking two quarts of oil per week!

Painting the driveway with mud: we took a walk and stopped to play outside with some friends in their driveway, and this was the big hit of the afternoon. Caroline's pants had more mud on them than our driveway had oil on it, ha ha!

Family Fun Day

Chris had the day off for MLK day last week, so we had a family day by going to an indoor play place and to dinner. It was about an hour from our house. This place had a few inflatables, but mostly it was a huge wooden climbing structure with sand beneath it. Another cool feature was the air guns that shot foam balls. These photos came off my phone, so excuse their quality!

Cecilia enjoyed climbing, digging, and gathering foam balls. She didn't want to do the slides at all, but she went in a small inflatable which had a little slide part to it. Here she is climbing onto a bench under the play structure.

"Santa!" said Cecilia when she saw this pirate skull. Uhh.... no. Not Santa.

Here are both girls in the sand, Caroline holding up a bag of foam balls. They played hard for over two hours and were worn out... both slept very soundly that night! The neat thing about the sand here was that it didn't get stuck all over us, yet it was still able to be packed into mounds pretty well. It must have had something in it... cornstarch? The whole place had a pirate theme, as you may be able to tell.

And here is Cecilia at dinner. We went to Stevi B's, which is a pizza buffet that is so much better than Cici's Pizza. It is basically the same other than the pizza tastes better and is less greasy, and the atmosphere is a bit nicer (quieter!) than Cici's. It was a nice way to spend our afternoon and evening!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oreos and Triscuits...

Caroline spelled these words on the fridge with letter magnets randomly... then she said, "Mommy, what are Oreos?"

Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday, Cecilia!

Cecilia turns 2 on January 26, and we celebrated her birthday this past Saturday with family! She had a snowman party, since she has a winter birthday. I came up with the idea to make a snowman cake, and the idea grew from there when I saw snowflake plates and cups at the store. We leave all our snowman decorations out well beyond the Christmas season - because snowmen are for winter, not just for Christmas! - so they added to the "theme."

We invited extended family to celebrate with us. Cecilia's grandparents all came as well as her Aunt Sara and cousin Andrew. Right after Cecilia's nap, we began the party with some snacks and drinks: artichoke dip with crackers, Mexican layered dip with tortilla chips, and some sesame sticks and bunny crackers for the littles.

Here's the hodgepodge assortment of paper products!

Cecilia with Gran

After we had some snacks, Cecilia opened her presents. We didn't have a whole bunch of them since we'd just gotten plenty for Christmas!

Grampa helps her open the first gift - a new water bottle! I am ditching the sippy cups and all their annoying straw pieces that get torn (uh, chewed) up - once and for all! That is, for Caroline and Cecilia. Future children would likely have to start with the straw sippy cups again, because the water bottles aren't easy to manage for very young toddlers.

Cecilia was very impressed with her new water bottle... I didn't think she'd care too much, honestly. She asked for water in it right away (I had already pre-washed it, so I filled it up for her). Then she kept drinking, and drinking, and drinking... and dribbling it all over herself as she practiced sipping with the stronger flow. I asked her a few times, "Would you like to open another present now?" to which she responded, "No. I'm drinking."

Cecilia opened her gift from Gran and Grandad (who had also bought her some new cloth diapers to replace the rags we'd been using, but we didn't wrap those!) - she got a new book and a shirt. In this picture she is holding up the shirt so Gramma can see it and saying, "It's a pants." Hee hee. Gramma and Grampa gave her some new board books.

And here she is tearing into her gift from... well, technically, it is from my grandparents. they sent it when she was born, and we put it away for her until she was old enough to enjoy it. We figured Caroline would just play with it herself if we got it out when Cecilia was a tiny baby, and we ddn't want her to get attached to Cecilia's toy!

It's her very own baby doll! This baby has a beautiful smocked dress and bonnet.

Grampa was given the camera to take photos of Cecilia blowing out her candles... and we found that he'd taken this funny shot! Does anyone have a preschool-aged child who actually likes being photographed??

Cecilia blew out her "2" candle with one big blow! Yay!!

Eating her cake

And here's the snowman after being partially eaten by everyone... kinda sad, huh? I made his eyes, mouth, and buttons with raisins (as you can probably tell from the first picture). For the carrot nose, I came up with the idea to use an apricot fruit leather and cut it into a triangle. Then I had the idea to also use fruit leather to cut out a scarf, so I used a red one for that - strawberry, I think. The arms of the snowman are extra cake... I baked the cake batter in two 9" round pans, and then for the one that became the head of the snowman, I trimmed it smaller. The scraps from that became the arms easily with a little more slicing.

Here are Cecilia and Caroline playing with their cousin. They were so excited that he was coming, and talked a lot about how he was going to hold a chicken, and go in their playhouse... they even set up a tea party for him before he arrived!

Caroline and Cecilia also made these marshmallow snowmen, with help from Gramma the preschool director and Grampa the engineer. Cecilia wanted hers to have a nose... I just used Elmer's glue to put them together, construction paper, and toothpicks. Oh, and their hats have those gross-looking "blackberry" candies on them, because I couldn't find black gumdrops... Caroline later took a bite out of the bottom of the middle one, which I had made as an example!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Random Bits

Here's something I set up for the girls today... really today, the day this post was posted. The rest of the stuff below happened previously. I set up some "caves" and the girls crawled through to pretend to take pictures of hibernating bears (I hid stuffed bears throughout), and they caught some of the bears, brought them food, etc. A fun winter activity, and thanks to Carrie for the idea!

While Cecilia and I were eating lunch together recently, she suddenly looked at me and said randomly, "I don't like coffee." Uh, okay. Good... I guess. I mean, you're only a toddler, after all. [What was really cute was how she used to pronounce coffee as "kwoffee." She sounded like she was from Boston or something!]

"Mommy, smell that," said Caroline, holding up an old feather from one of our chickens. "Doesn't it still smell like a chicken?" We presume this feather came from the original More, who was eaten by "Creepy" the dog. Cecilia was laughing while holding the feather, and Caroline said, "No, Cecilia, we shouldn't laugh - we should be crying since this is from the chicken that Creepy got!"

As we were heading inside today from the back yard, Cecilia propped a small board against the side of the chicken coop. "Keep chickens warm," she said. Then she called out to them as we walked toward the house, "Bye, bye, chickens! See you later!"

Tonight in the bath, Caroline commented on something to Chris with, "If that happened, we would have great sadness in our family." Later it was remembered what she was referring to: if we got baby chicks and they died.

Cecilia lately... hmm, she still asks us to "blow loud" on her food if it is too hot. She asked me to do something else loudly once, too... it seems that she thinks "loud" must be a descriptor for how intense something is. She has also been looking closely at our eyes and saying, "Have gooey eyes!" I guess since they look shiny and wet when one inspects them up close?? She also has some cute pronunciations currently (she doesn't have man
y of these, so I am trying to hold onto them while they last!): "cloffoff" for washcloth, and "Mrs. Swinserd" for Mrs. Swinford, our neighbor.

Speaking of, Mrs. Swinford took us out to lunch yesterday, which was so sweet of her. The girls love talking to her when they see her outside, and they were thrilled to go to lunch with her. Mrs. Swinford is in her 80s, and her husband died last year... Caroline was holding her hand as we entered the restaurant, and she proudly announced to the greeter, "That's our neighbor!!" Cecilia always wants to hug her and be held by her... it's like she has adopted her as an extra great-grandparent!

Anyway, something else Cecilia said recently... Chris put a new faucet in our bathroom because the old one was leaking, and when Cecilia first noticed it, she said, "New faucet. Has wheels." This is because it has round knobs for the cold and hot water instead of the elongated type like the old faucet had.

Caroline noticed the size label on this pair of pajamas a week or so ago... and she referred to them as "La Leche League pajamas." [La Leche League is abbreviated as "LLL" much of the time.] Hee hee... it just shows what she is exposed to and how she reasons based on her "prior knowledge." Aaaah, I just used a college education class term! At least I didn't say anything about "scaffolding!"

In other news, I got a toddler formula sample in the mail the other day - Enfamil. I have gotten lots of formula advertising lately - mostly from Nestle, but this is the first sample I have received in probably two years. So I called to ask to be removed from their mailing list. I told them that I don't like getting samples of stuff I don't want, because the way they send so much "free" stuff out to people who don't want it increases their expenses, and therefore they have to jack up the price of their name-brand formula to cover their costs, and even though it is nutritionally the same as generic brands of formula, parents will keep paying the inflated price because they were given this kind of formula in the hospital and don't want to switch... while some babies are more sensitive and need a certain "gentle" variety of formula that is only sold by the name brand companies, most can switch to the cheaper variety just fine. Oh, and how much WASTE with all the pages of coupons and ads they keep sending me! I have asked to be removed from Nestle's mailing list and need to make a follow-up call since it appears I have not been removed (I asked about a year ago now). We'll see if Enfamil will also need to be badgered. The guy I spoke with was very polite about removing me and even provided a phone number for where they got my information. It just irks me to no end how parents who buy the name brands pay so much more for a product that is pretty much the same thing, because their doctor/hospital endorses it, because of all the waste these companies are making. No other industry sends sample after sample and booklet after booklet of baby "information" and coupons... so wasteful. And Enfamil just got sued (for the third time for this same reason!) because they have been making false claims in their advertisements that their product is superior to generic brands. So, perhaps now Enfamil formula will cost even *more* than it already does, to cover their lawsuit expenses? There is something unethical about providing a more expensive brand in the hospital... it is like a medical endorsement, but not for health reasons - for money reasons. Maybe I should have done a separate post on this topic!

Caroline said yesterday, "If King Herod came after Cecilia, I would tell him that she was *three* years old so he wouldn't want to get her! That's what sisters are for!"

The chickens are up close to the house today... like, six feet from the back wall of the den. We can look right out the window at them. They are baffled when we knock on the window, or open it and talk to them through the open window. And I am noticing how chatty they are throughout the day! They only get up this close every few months, and then they are gradually moved down the yard until they run out of room. Chris did the big task of hauling the whole tractor up close to the house last night. This ruffled the chickens' feathers a bit... they woke up and came out of their enclosed area, and they squawked angrily when Chris tried to put them back to bed. Something very weird about seeing nocturnal chickens... Once he turned off the flood lights, they went back to bed, we presume!

And we are getting ready for Cecilia's birthday tomorrow... she is having a snowman party! I have to make the cake and snacks and other things... time to get going, and get some outside time in since it is nice out there! And it's an early bedtime tonight since Little Miss I'm Almost Two took a shoerter than normal nap, although she doesn't seem crabby about it, thankfully!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

It's Not Really about the Milk

While reading the latest New Beginnings magazine, I came across a story submitted by a mother who was writing about nursing her twins through infancy and toddlerhood. She spoke of how she didn't nurse her first child in the same way or for as long, and she quoted a bit from this Diane Wiessinger article: It's Not Really about the Milk.

"You won't 'get it' at first. At first it's all about technique, and position, and time, and swallowing, and soreness, and feeling as if your whole world has narrowed to Feeding The Baby. Those of us who have enjoyed nursing our children are on the other side of a great emotional gulf from you. We can't explain it, we can only try to help you across the bridge, to where you can see for yourself. If you stay caught up in this as a feeding method, you may never get all the way across the bridge. But oh, the view from the other side!"

This article actually comes as close to explaining it as I have come across, even though the author herself claims that we can't explain it.

"I wish I could convey to you the simple, thought-less, vast, delicious pleasure of nursing my children. Once I "got it," I didn't "feed" them, didn't worry about intervals, didn't hold back."

This is certainly hard to see when you are nursing your first-born child and don't have the gift of hindsight in advance! Many women today struggle with breastfeeding in the early days - sore nipples, worry about weight gain, and more. Personally, I had to struggle through sore nipples with my first and also digestive issues that were quite concerning to me (although they didn't have any detrimental effects, it was still worrisome to me at the time). In the beginning, it does just feel like going through some sort of routine, but less so to me once I knew where to look for support and encouragement - namely, La Leche League and many of the publications that they list on their bibliography. Checking out a book from our group's library each month was an incredible source of strength for me. I learned through experience and encouragement from these sources that breastfeeding is not about a scientific process, it is not about measuring input and counting ounces... it is about the relationship.

"Breastfeeding is a newborn's first relationship, designed to continue throughout a child's early years. As a culture, we tell ourselves - without evidence - that the absence of this fundamental human relationship has no longterm implications for mother or child or family or society."

This really spoke to me - a great way to explain it. It is a relationship - a primary, biological relationship. Therefore, when somebody disputes the nursing of a toddler, it can be helpful to explain that it is also about the relationship. Sure, a toddler no longer "needs" breastmilk nutritionally (although they do continue to receive nutritional benefits from it), but it is about more than just the milk. This article does a great job of communicating my thoughts about nursing my own children: even if it were proven that formula actually was equivalent to breastmilk, or even if they found some additive to put in formula to generate "smarter" children or some such (which is not likely to happen, but hypothetically speaking here), I would still breastfeed, because the act of nursing, with it being the biological norm and having all the relationship-building benefits (the skin-to-skin contact, the ability to nurse as comfort, the hormonal state of the lactating mother), is the key for me.

The whole article is extremely short... a three minute read, maybe. Well worth those few minutes, I think!

Ooh, and this one is good, too!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Abortion: A Lie to Women

I have noticed something when frequenting other blogs and discussion forums that are of a attachment-parenting nature. It seems that there are some mothers out there who are very strongly in favor of gentle child-rearing approaches... no spanking, no circumcising, gentle births, no scheduling feedings in little babies. I particularly have noticed something in comments sections on some of the recent posts and articles that I have read regarding routine infant circumcision. I would truly hope that these few comments do not speak for the majority of people, but I am seeing also that very little people are speaking back against it... and this is the idea that while it is not morally/ethically acceptable to cut a baby's genitals, it *is* okay to have an abortion, because that is a woman's "choice."

How seriously misled must one be to hold this viewpoint? What kind of lies and catch-phrases and modern-day feminist rhetoric must've been fed to these women throughout their lives? Isn't the right to bodily integrity just that - the right of each person to maintain his or her whole, healthy body? Is abortion not also an elective surgery that is typically done for non-therapeutic reasons? How can people believe that while it is wrong to intentionally cut off a healthy body part on a tiny newborn, it is okay - and should be legally protected as a basic "right" - to intentionally kill that same baby a few months earlier? Aren't these *both* ethical issues? And while surely it is unethical to amputate parts of babies for non-medical purposes, at least those babies usually get to remain alive!

I appreciate the speaking out that others do about treating babies as feeling, individual human beings who should have the right to bodily integrity and to being cared for gently - I do it myself, obviously - I think abortion is the gravest issue of all in how we think of babies in our culture. If we want people to change their views of babies as inconvenient problems that are exhausting and draining and need to be "put in their place" and trained into not being "manipulative," then we need to start at the root... babies in the womb are a precious gift, a gift that extends into their babyhood after birth and beyond into childhood. Children are not just inconveniences - and until we stop seeing them as disposable before they are born, then how can we expect them to be treated respectfully as born babies? Babies in the womb need to be treated gently and with respect, too. Perhaps abortion does get more attention than genital integrity of baby boys... so yes, I can understand if a person chooses to raise awareness about that issue while not mentioning abortion. But because I see abortion as the worst treatment possible for a baby, I will write about it.

Abortion is also just about the most unnatural thing one can do to her baby or herself. In attachment parenting circles, there is much emphasis on natural living. Making a choice to kill an unborn baby - to disrupt the natural process - is going to have a negative impact on the body! It is not natural in the least, which is why I cannot figure out why people who focus on natural living many times support abortion as a "right" of women.

I think there are so many myths and lies that are fed to women under the guise of "choice" and "women's rights" and such. Most women who are rabidly protective of a woman's "right" to choose have never had an abortion themselves, nor will they ever have one. They want to protect this ideal that they have been fed. They think that if abortion is not legally protected, then women are somehow inferior to men, that we are oppressed. But God gave us this gift of being able to carry new life! This is a precious gift that sets us apart as women - it does not make us inferior, just different biologically. And we need to protect and cherish that special gift from God! What a privilege it is, what an honor!

What women are NOT told about abortion before they get one:

That most women regret it after having it done.
That their risk for breast cancer increases after an abortion, particularly if it was their first pregnancy. (click for source)
That the woman in the major supreme court case which legalized abortion, Roe v. Wade, is now adamantly opposed to abortion. (here's just one source)
Many women suffer from depression, anxiety, and even suicidal tendencies post-abortion.
Babies in-utero can feel pain. They often have a heartbeat and are able to move and are developing most of their body parts at the time they are aborted.
Abortion has medical risks to the mother as well. As "safe" as it can be made in a clinic, it is never completely safe - just like any surgical procedure. And it sure as heck isn't safe for the baby!
Sometimes abortions fail. The baby is born alive instead, at which point the doctors suddenly have to change from trying to kill the baby to trying to save its life, simply because of its change in location. How does that make any logical sense at all????? (Gianna Jesson is an example)

It can never, ever be morally permissible to trample upon the right to life of another. No right less than the right to life itself gets precedence over another's rights to convenience... or any other "rights" they have. When it crosses the line to killing another innocent person, then it is murder, plain and simple - not a "right."

There is much more I could write on this... perhaps I will begin another series of posts. ;)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Discovered Recently...

This blog, which contains lots of good posts on parenting and baby-related issues. Looks to be a relatively new blog with lots of traffic!

Some highlights, which go along nicely with my "Why Do I" series:

On "extended" breastfeeding:
"Premature weaning," ha ha! I like it. :)

On nursing in public:
I also appreciate the tribute to PoWM.

On routine infant circumcision:
Short, to the point, and unabashedly straightforward.

Ha ha on the title of that one... I told you she's straightforward!

People regretting their choice... because they made the one that cannot be undone.

An interesting twist.

And speaking of the "Why Do I" series, if there is a topic I have not covered that anyone is interested in, please let me know and I will try to get to it soon!

One of those days... (or, Happy 31st Birthday, Hubby!)

You've had "one of those days" before, right? Where things just don't seem to go right? We had that on Chris's birthday, which was this past Thursday. I had nothing planned other than making him a birthday cake and cooking dinner... otherwise, we'd do our Circle Time songs, play outside, do a few very small chores... Well, as it so happens on birthdays, car tags expire. So we went to the tag office, leaving behind all the well-laid-out cake ingredients (along with good intentions to bake the cake while we ate lunch after returning). But at the tag office, it became evident that I was missing a piece of paperwork needed to get one of the tags renewed. A trip back home and again to the tag office seemed inevitable, and Caroline was dismayed that we "might not have time to finish Daddy's cake!" You see, to a four year old, it's just not a birthday without a cake for the birthday person! But, Chris was able to print off a copy of the paperwork from his computer and fax it to the office (you see, they don't have email there!)... and by the time all this was completed, it was past lunch time when we got home. So we ate quickly and I got a tired Cecilia down for a nap... and then mixed up the ingredients and put the cake into the oven, with Caroline's assistance. And, no sooner had I set the timer when... Cecilia started crying. No, it did not take me over an hour to mix up the cake. It had taken 15 minutes, plus the ten previous minutes spent reading Caroline a book and using the bathroom. So... off to nap with Cecilia I went. She got in another 40 minutes until Caroline ran into the room, whispering loudly, "Mommy, the timer is going off! I was worried that Daddy's cake would burn!" We got up and all three of us went into the kitchen, where I smelled burning and opened the oven. The one-layer cake had dripped all over the oven... it had overflowed while baking. Yuck.

So, I took it out and then scraped all the chunks of lava-like cake from the bottom of the oven. They were still warm, so that made the cleanup easy, other than spilling the crunchy cake crumbles everywhere. Caroline was enthusiastic about sweeping them up for me, but she was worried that Daddy's cake was ruined. I was concerned, too. The cake - pictured above - had a crust over the surface, but it jiggled a lot underneath. When poked with a toothpick, it appeared that it was still liquid inside. I was about to start over and just chuck my dinner plans and we'd go out somewhere close by, but then, after tasting the crust all around the edge of the cake pan, we realized that the cake itself wasn't burned at all... and maybe since it had that crust on the top, I could stick it back in the oven to finish it up without it overflowing more.

Anyone ever read the Five Little Monkeys book series? In one, the monkeys bake a birthday cake for their mama. This was almost the same experience here... "Oh no, the cake dripped all over! Turn off the oven! Save the cake!" "We ruined Mama's birthday cake!" "Wait, this cake doesn't taste too bad." "Frosting might help."

And help it did! The previously made frosting (a cup and a half of heavy cream and a box and a half of baker's chocolate, oh yeah!!) did a nice job at covering up the pitiful cake. And, the dental floss method of cutting a cake into two thin layers worked really well.

This was the Chocolate Stout Cake recipe from the King Arthur whole grains cookbook. Yes, that means it has beer in it. And it's delicious!!! If anyone reading this ever happens to make this recipe one day, USE TWO CAKE PANS. This is NOT, contrary to the book's claim, a one-layer cake. It filled the pan to the top before I baked it (which should have been a sign to me, but I believed the recipe). And hey, wouldn't it be easier to bake it in two pans anyway and skip the part where you have to split the one layer into two?

Caroline and Cecilia helped count out candles for the cake. Okay, so Cecilia just watched and counted to twelve over and over while not knowing what it meant in reference to the candles. Caroline was just so excited all day about making a nice birthday for Daddy... she even rushed around and cleaned up the house, unprompted, to make it look nice for him when he got home, while I got dinner started... a bit earlier than normal because of Cecilia's shorter nap.

Caroline liked putting the candles on the cake especially. She said, "Wow, I have to make TWO rows of candles to make them all fit!" Ha ha!

These are the best two kids ever. They were such troopers all day... none of their actions contributed to the difficulties of the day. Okay, so Cecilia waking up after less than 30 minutes of a nap added to it, but it's not like that is an intended action on her part. She wan';t just trying to be "manipulative" or something... I think her last molar is bugging her. She has had a few difficult naps lately. I think I would too if there was a flap of gum covering part of my biggest tooth, ouch! But they were patient at the tag office... as patient as you can be as little kids! They didn't mind that they had lunch a bit late. They didn't flip out because they had no outside time all day long. They were just awesome!! And the day ended very nicely!

Here is the cake with its second "row" of candles... the inner circle that Caroline began in order to fit all 31 candles.

Chris got home and bathed the girls while I finished dinner, and then he opened cards and a present before we ate. Our Gap at the mall is closing, so I took full advantage of the clearance sale and got him a pair of corduroys, two t-shirts, and a long-sleeved shirt.

And after dinner, we lit up those candles and ate some high-maintenance, very yummy birthday cake! It really does taste so good that it was worth the trouble! ;)

Happy birthday, Hubby!!!

Snow Photos, Finally

So, here's the bit of snow we got... not much, and the girls played in it briefly before they got too cold.

Here is Cecilia in the few minutes before her mittens were too wet and cold for her to smile like this any more!

Eating snow off the table...

The snow was still falling at this point...

And the chickens didn't seem bothered by it, although three out of four eggs were laid on the ground instead of in the nesting box while the snow was falling... confused birds!

Here's what a "snow day" (cancelled school) looks like in the South! Not even an inch of snow on the ground!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Random Bits

Often times, I think of some wondering or one of the girls says something cute, and I want to remember it - but when I go later to write it down, I have forgotten. So I decided to begin a post and add stuff to it as I thought of it or soon after it happened... thus the title "Random Bits." It probably sounds kind of stream-of-consciousness as you read it... these are all things that I've been collecting bit by bit, which occurred or were pondered in somewhat recent times, to be very non-specific :)

Cecilia continues to sing O Come O Come Emmanuel at random... "O come Eee-maaan-el, shall come thee Iiiiis-ri-el, rejoice, Eee-maaan-el, shall come thee Iiiis-ri-el," and sometimes she adds, "O Jesse stem" for extra pizazz. She has also been singing, "We free kings of or-ee-an-it are, Bearing gifts we travel so far, Field and fountain, moor and mountain, Folling wonder star, O star of wonder star of light, star wiff roya beauty bright, Westward leeving, stall pra-veeding, Guide us to the perfick light," usually followed by something like, "Ave Maria, Ave Maria," or "St. Maaaartin, St. Maaaaaartin." I have never heard a child under age two actually sing songs, and she does not really sing haltingly, either, you know, pausing between each word... it is more rhythmic and smooth. Weird. But, hey, St. Cecilia is the patron of music, after all!

Speaking of songs, I was humming this morning while getting the girls ready, and Caroline said, "Hey, Mommy, stop humming that hippie song!" Um, okay. I thought it was an early 90s soft rock song, you know, along the lines of Michael Bolton and Richard Marx. Not too sure if that would qualify as "hippie" music! I was humming that song that was stuck in my head six months ago... it comes and goes still. Good thing it's not a song I dislike, or the last six months might have had some pretty rough spots! ;)

[Oooh, shouldn't have even thought of Michael Bolton. I like his music only a fraction of a teensy bit more than I like Meatloaf's music, and I like Meatloaf's music like I would like having my tonsils removed with a paper clip. Now that horrid "How am I Supposed to Live without You" song is entering my thoughts.... NOOOOOO, NOOOOOOO!]

So... the highlight of my children's evening lately has been to look for the "Star of Bethlehem" through the window, or the "Bethlehem Parking Lot," as my husband refers to it. Cecilia also says, "Want see TV!!!" The first time, I thought this was odd, because she doesn't watch TV, so I thought she wanted to go push the button on the TV, which she went through a brief phase of doing. It turns out she wants to look through the window to see a neighbor's huge TV, which is literally about four or five houses away, and we just happen to get a good view through their window. Not that we can make out the picture, but it is a pretty big TV!

We have a box of Clifford Crunch cereal, and on the box there is a picture of Clifford along with two other dogs and Emily Elizabeth, the girl who owns Clifford. Caroline, who has watched Clifford a couple times at Gramma's house, told me today that the dogs are named Cleo and Tebow. Go Gata!!

Oh, and the United States Postal Service isn't totally awful, as previously believed. Not only did they deliver a package we sent to my sister and brother-in-law ON Christmas Day, they also found the package of mine they'd lost that I ordered back in November. It made it here, with no original label somehow, right around the beginning of the new year. Yay for a government entity doing a good job!

Today Caroline put on her dress-up angel halo and said, "Mommy, I'm an angel!" and pretended to knock on my door. "Oh, do you bring tidings of great joy?" I asked her. "No," she replied, "not this time."

So, I tried playing with my sidebar here at my blog, and it just won't cooperate. Certain "gadgets" (as Blogger calls them) are stubborn and want to stay in certain places, even though I am supposed to be able to click and drag them to wherever I want them. Perhaps I have too many things in my sidebar, then? Nah... I do need to look into how to make two sidebars - a three-column layout - which Carrie sent me info on how to do, but I haven't done it yet. In my old age of 30, I am becoming less technologically-able... isn't that sad? I can't even take my new cell phone out of my pocket without accidentally answering it or disabling the ringer... but yeah, I'll get on that blog layout thing at some point, hopefully (and probably end up asking my husband to do it for me when I can't figure it out).

I made granola bars today from the best recipe I have ever tried - they don't crumble apart (which, if you have ever made homemade granola bars before, you may have been unhappy with how crumbly they are!). And - you don't have to bake them, either!! They stick together as well as a store-bought bar. H/t to Jessi for this delicious recipe!

And I just have to mention my new favorite toy... the GPS that my brother Stephen gave to us for Christmas. I never imagined how fun they would be... but I just keep mine on all the time and let it draw the map of where I am driving. I have always liked looking at road maps, so this brings it to a new, modern level for me! I don't think it is something I would have bought for myself, but it has been a fun and useful thing to own, and I'm loving it!

Lately, I have been drinking tea all the time... not Southern sweet iced tea, but hot tea, like I suddenly became British or something. There's actually not a drop of English blood in me that I know of, although I think there is in my husband, so maybe the act of bearing children who have some English in them has rubbed off on me. I have liked hot tea for quite awhile, and with milk in it often times, but I have seriously been drinking 3-5 cups a day lately. This one has been my favorite for awhile... mmm! It is made by the Republic of Tea, and on the canister lid there is a sticker that says "Approved by the Minister of Leaves." I'm going to guess that's just a slogan or something, although perhaps there really is a minister of tea leaves??

And, is anybody at all surprised that Mark McGwire was using steroids? I'm not!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


It did actually snow here on Thursday, closing schools (and work for Chris) on Friday, and I have photos of that still in the camera. But how interesting that a couple days earlier, we had made paper snowflakes from coffee filters and taped them up in the windows!

This was one of the craft ideas I'd planned for us to do during the Christmas season... I think I had as much fun with it as Caroline! I hadn't made a paper snowflake in a long, long time.

Caroline helped with a lot of the folding. We just used round coffee filters (I have been working off the same bag of filters since I started college, oh, in 1997!). I found it to be helpful for Caroline when I drew lines on the filter for her to use as a guide while cutting. She tried a few randomly with no pre-drawn lines, but many of those ended up with gaping holes or nearly cut into separate pieces. So, if you are going to do this with preschoolers, draw some basic lines for them to cut along!

Cecilia was interested for about two minutes, and then she went off to the closet and put on Caroline's flip-flops and pretended to go to the beach... you know, for some contrast.

We made quite a mess on the floor... but that just means that I got to use my new vacuum!

Here are the snowflakes in our den windows:

Our friends have snowflakes in their windows, and we see them each time we walk past their house, so I was inspired to do some as well... but we put ours in the den, which faces the backyard, so nobody will walk by and see ours. Our front windows have blinds on them, though, and our den window blinds are almost always up, so we will see the snowflakes more often here.