Friday, March 28, 2008


Princess Fishstick and Lady Applesauce receiving a message from the mothership.

Haircuts And Vomit And Fevers Oh My

Yes I just seriously just put the word "vomit" in a post title and I don't even care. Motherhood, as they say, is not for whimps and it sometimes involves vomit.

It's been an eventful week. I was really looking forward to Tuesday, when I took the girls to get their very first haircuts ever. Anna was starting to just look messy all the time with her thin wispy red waves falling into an uneven mullet. Rachel's auburn curls were getting bushy and needed some evening out. And Mommy, well Mommy was just a hot mess. A hot graying mess. So we all needed some attention.

Here is a nice "before" shot, taken a few minutes before we left the house that day.

The girls did really well at the salon. I thought Anna would be the one to freak when the scissors came out but she did not. Here she is after the cut.

Rachel on the other hand was not at all pleased.

And here she is after her unbearable three and a half minutes of torture.

Yes I know it's not that different. The picture doesn't really do it justice either because the curls look much better after the trim. And I know I should have had it cut into some sort of cute little bob but I guess I'm not ready to give up that gorgeous mop of spiral curls just yet. Sue me.

Anyway I haven't even gotten to the good part yet. On the way home Anna, who had eaten nothing more than a bag of fruit snacks and a few pieces of haircut-bribery candy since early morning, suddenly just puked. All over herself and her car seat and her grandma, who was lucky enough to be sitting next to her. And then she woke up Wednesday morning with a fever. And then Thursday morning she woke up burning so hot that her cheeks were just bright red circles beneath glazed blue eyes and the bottoms of her feet radiated heat. She spent the morning clinging to me with all four limbs and sweating all over me while watching Rachel play by herself. Which, now that I think of it, did not bother Rachel in the least.

Luckily the fever reducers are helping and Anna's been in pretty good spirits considering how yucky she has felt. Now I guess we can start taking bets on whether Rachel is going to get the bug next.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Family Entertainment

It is unusual for my husband to get three whole days in a row off from work but it has happened this weekend. The girls are of course ecstatic and so I am but increased time at home always highlights our different parenting styles. Dan is generally more laid back than I am which I think is a good thing most of the time. I like to think that he is better at picking which battles to fight while I am better at picking up the mess after the fight. Meanwhile I tend to be more attentive - sometimes overly so - to the details. Like meal preparation, the children's personal hygiene, and television programming.

This morning Dan found the movie Donnie Darko on cable. I actually really like this movie, just maybe not on Saturday morning with toddlers in the room. It was a pretty innocuous scene which provided Dan the opportunity to point out that the girls weren't even paying attention. Still, I couldn't keep myself from suggesting that perhaps something on Nick Jr. might be more appropriate.

Of course once we are tuned into the Nick Jr. channel the girls are delighted to see that Yo Gabba Gabba is on. This is a show that I avoided when it first came on because the commercials themselves sort of weirded out me in a way that I can't explain. The black and green creature in particular turned me off. But the girls of course liked it and once I watched a few minutes it seemed kind of cheery and fun and the girls danced while they watched it. So I let them watch it now and then. Dan watched about two minutes of it and then declared that Donnie Darko would have been less disturbing.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rachel Versus Blueberry Bagel

Rachel's eating has long been stuff of family legend. As a baby she ate far more than her older sister ever did and once she was introduced to solids she never looked back. One of my favorite mental images is 18-month-old Rachel using her index finger to push more food into her already stuffed mouth. I actually used to cut her off because she'd be sitting in her highchair with her adorable little belly all full and tight, still eating and I was afraid she'd make herself sick. She finally slowed down around the two year mark and now she usually just eats like a normal human being.

Yesterday we had bagels for breakfast and the girls got to have their favorite - blueberry. This was kind of a treat because I used to get the girls a blueberry bagel every morning to eat in the car on the way to the babysitter's house but we don't get them very often anymore. Rachel was clearly excited. She perched on Dan's lap with a smile and feasted on a piece that had, as she noted aloud "lots of blueberries!"

At one point she got a bite that was too big. Instead of taking it out of her mouth she simply went to work on it. This is classic Rachel and so Dan and I looked on in wonder as she started breathing heavily through her nose and closed her eyes in concentration as her mouth worked that chunk of bagel until she could finally swallow it. Which she did, with a big sigh - through her mouth - and an even bigger smile. "That's good!" she announced happily.

Friday, March 21, 2008


I am in the kitchen on a phone call while the girls are playing in the family room. I end the call and hear Anna ask me, "Mommy, you not angry?" A little confused, I answer, "No, I'm not angry."

Now her voice has a little hint of anticipation in it. "You not angry about the milk?" Huh? I close my eyes and take a deep breath to prepare myself for what I may find in the family room. She continues: "It's like the puddles!"

I turn the corner, open my eyes and see Anna sitting on the floor shaking her sippy cup upside down so that milk drips out and soaks into the carpet. There are five "puddles" in a semi circle around her.

Rachel is standing by the television with a huge smile on her face, probably because she's realized that she is not the one getting in trouble for the moment. And given her behavior the last week or so, that actually is a small victory for her.

Monday, March 17, 2008

My Latest Creation

One of my favorite ways to pass time and play with pictures of my girls is digital scrapbooking. I knew I had gotten way too into it when I started mentally photoshopping poor innocent strangers walking down the street. Those of you who do the photoshop thing know what I am talking about. There is no point in trying to explain it to the rest of you. There is a link on the right side of this page to my scrapbook gallery if you are interested in seeing some of my layouts. But I wanted to share this one with you because, well, I kind of love it.

Proclamation From Princess Anna

I've been trying really hard to keep these girls stimulated since I've been home with them but it is such a challenge. I have (very) informal music and singing times with them, we take walks when weather permits, we do art time which has recently been enhanced by an old very conveniently two-sided easel we had in the basement from Dan's childhood. While it may seem like there is always Noggin or some movie playing I try really hard not to make that our main activity every day. Which is hard in Ohio where the weather regularly sabotages good intentions and oh wait also I am sort of in between cars right now. I am searching for a preschool program for the fall but right now I'm it and wow am I overwhelmed sometimes. But I do the best I can.

Which is why it stung just a little tiny bit this morning when right in the middle of some artistic creation or another Anna threw down a wad of play doh and announced: "Mommy I am NOT having fun anymore!"

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Not Child Related

I've been doing a lot of cooking and baking lately. To mixed results of course because I have the world's pickiest eater for a husband and a three-year-old who so often tries to be just like him. At any rate my creative well has run dry this past week for a variety of reasons and so I thought I'd share what I've been doing.

I made Cincinnati-style chili and it was a huge hit with Dan. We ate it over spaghetti one night and had chili dogs the next. I used this recipe but I did not have all-spice and I did not use the unsweetened chocolate. It came out really well and was a nice change of pace from the more traditional chili with beans.

My kitchen is always hiding some little goody about to go bad and a few weeks ago it was a small bag of gala apples that had been hidden behind a stack of dish towels. I found a recipe for an apple banana cake that I altered a little bit and it was the most moist delicious cake I've ever made. Here's what I did:

Mix dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 2 tablespoons baking soda, 2 tablespoons cinnamon, 1 tablespoon salt; set aside.

Peel, core and chop about 5 ripe apples into very small pieces. Mix with other wet ingredients: 2 mashed bananas (the riper the better), 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil.

Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well. Bake in 9 x 13 inch pan at 350 degrees for about 45-55 minutes. I like to sprinkle a cinnamon-sugar mix on top when it comes out of the oven.

Note: I have had to stop making this cake because I tend to eat it all day and all night until it's gone and my sweatpants start to feel tight.

I don't know if other mothers can relate but I have a sort of internal struggle regarding sweets. On the one hand I want my children to be healthy and develop good eating habits for life. On the other hand, I want to be that cool mom that always has cookies in the cookie jar. I occasionally indulge the cookie jar fantasy by making chocolate chip cookies from a dry mix by Great Harvest Bread Company. These cookies are insanely insanely good. I have tried to recreate them to no avail. I don't know what the magic is exactly but the mix includes oatmeal and a lot of brown sugar and they don't last very long in our house.

My favorite leftover recipe is chicken salad inspired by someone I cannot name who got it from a source (s)he cannot name. Real top secret stuff we are dealing with here and when you see the incredibly complex and exotic process below you will understand why. This is also one of those dishes I make without ever measuring anything so it's not very easy to share with others but I love to use leftover chicken for this. I don't know why, it just tastes better. I add the typical celery but I also use a chopped up apple (granny smiths seem to be best), toasted sliced almonds, currants that I have soaked in hot water so they aren't overly dried or chewy, red onion and mayo that has already had kosher salt and pepper mixed into it. Really nice texture and flavor to this version of chicken salad. And as you have now seen, incredibly complex and exotic.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Guilt Trip

Anna loves to remember things lately. "Mommy, 'member when I rode the pony? 'Member that?" Or maybe: "Mommy, 'member when I didn't listen and I went to time out?" Yeah, fun times. She actually shows a lot more insight into some of these incidents than I expect sometimes. "Mommy, I'm going to be a good girl and listen today so I don't go to time out."

Last night Anna had the type of meltdown only a toddler can summon. We still don't know what precipitated such a foul mood but she was whining and shrieking and throwing toys. After several warnings I had to reprimand her for the toy throwing, which of course escalated her fit into full-fledged tears.

This morning during breakfast Anna asked me, "Mommy? 'Member yesterday when you made me cry?"

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Random Memories

A close friend recently brought home a new baby and this has jogged my memory back to bringing-home-baby times. The way a new baby turns your life, your household and your brain upside down cannot be overstated. I remember how the slightest sound coming over the video monitor we had in Anna's room would wake me immediately, how I would fill with a million different and conflicting emotions every time she woke up. The thought yeay, my baby is awake and I get to hold her again and smell the top of her sweet little head would float around my mind at the same time as dammit I can't believe she won't let me sleep for two straight hours why can't she just be quiet for twenty more minutes? Love, joy, anticipation, dread, guilt - they all mixed together in the soup that had become my brain.

One night maybe a week or less after Anna came home I vividly remember laying in my dark bedroom hearing her cry and looking at the monitor only to see her sleeping soundly. It took me several long minutes to figure out which sense was dreaming and which was awake. I had to ask Dan to confirm that the crying was only in my head.

When Rachel came home we were in a slightly different situation. We had a not-even-one-year-old to take care of as well as a newborn who had decided to arrive so early we didn't yet have a crib for her. Rachel slept alternately in my arms and in her bassinet (one guess as to which she preferred). One night after Dan was done with work he picked us up from my mom's house and when we got home he helped the three of us into the house before going out to put the car in the garage. About four hours later - midnight! - everyone was actually asleep when the doorbell rang. Being closest to the door - asleep on the couch next to the bassinet - I peered outside and saw a man standing on our porch. I cracked the door and realized it was our neighbor from across the street looking very worried. It seems Dan and I forgot that the car was still in the driveway running. Heat blasting, headlights and radio on, the whole shebang.

I know there are some readers out there who can share a story from their experiences. If you are out there, post yours.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Ever The Protective Big Sister

Anna's been coming into her own as a true big sister lately. A few days ago I asked Rachel to tell Daddy something and when she didn't answer Anna stepped in, explaining very matter-of-factly, "She's tired." And this morning I was reprimanding Rachel when Anna told me, "Don't yell at her." It's actually very sweet. Especially when it's not directed at me.

Before I even got a chance to publish this post I got another glimpse of Big Sister Anna. The story actually serves two purposes; in addition to demonstrating the sweetness of my oldest child it is also being added to my ever-growing list of fun mommy survival stories. You know, the kind that so often involve an adventurous child receiving an injury just serious enough to cause a parent's heart to stop beating but not serious enough to necessitate a trip to the hospital.

I gave the girls their bath while Dan was at work (the experience of bathing these two wild toddler beasts on my own being its own separate post of course). I had Rachel dried off, lotioned, diapered, clothed and brushed and was about to go to work on Anna when Rachel fell. More specifically she climbed onto the toilet (top down), got herself into her usual seated position and then proceeded to fall backwards between the wall and the commode. She of course screamed immediately and I picked her up thinking at first that she was just mad but after she took a gulp of air and screamed again I saw blood. Filling her mouth. Running down the front of her yellow pajamas. I ran for the linen closet and grabbed a clean washcloth and started dabbing to see where the blood was coming from. Anna starts wailing as I finally see that Rachel's lower lip has two deep cuts which were quite obviously caused by her two top front teeth. She lets me hold her as I get the blood to stop but she is still crying bitterly and Anna is standing next to me, pressed up against me, still naked and damp and just beside herself that her sister is hurt. "Help her, Mommy!" she tells me over and over again. "I don't want Rachel to have a boo-boo."

Twenty hectic minutes later my heart slows to a normal rhythm and Rachel asks me for a banana. Not much comes between that girl and her food. Anna leads Rachel over to the chair and tells her to go sit by the pillows. Rachel puts down her banana, climbs up and gets settled under Anna's watchful eye. Anna hands her the banana and tucks a blanket around her little sister. Then she kisses her and says, "there you go Rachel." Rachel thanks her: "Tink you Ina." I watch this scene from the hallway and have to catch my breath again.