Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Heavy Burden

Can I see a raise of hands for how many of you out there struggle with getting yourself, your clan, and all of the proper accouterments for caring for them, out the door every day? Jeez! Do you ever long for the days or reminisce about the times when you could walk out of the door without a care in world, simply grabbing the keys and some chapstick? With kids you have to plan to start to get ready to walk out of the door about 15 minutes before you actually do so that you have time to check and stock the diaper bag with extra diapers, wipes, change of clothes, snacks, water, not to mention getting everybody clothed, empty-bladdered, shod, fed, tear-free, and strapped into their carseats!

So, inspired by an old post of David's about "What's in Your Bag?", I thought I would share with you a little about what I tote around when I "run out" (Is that even possible anymore? Every outing is like preparing for a mission to Mars! Complete with physchological screening and all.).

Now, it is hard to always have everything on hand that you might need as you're running around with your munchkins, but these are the things I usually try to keep with give or take a thing or two...

First, I like to be equipped with a nice bag. With my first kid, Elliott, I thought, "Who wants an ugly old diaper bag? I'm only 20 years old!  Plus, what's the difference between that and a regular old bag besides the fact that diaper bags are ugly?"

Well, there is a difference, believe me. After using both diaper bags and non-diaper bags to tote all that baby stuff around, I have become a firm believer in the diaper bag. Its nice to have those little pockets that are water proof for storing sippy cups and what not. It's also nice to have that little changing pad thing that comes with them. Little pockets and slots for diapers and changing pads make life more organized. And, most importantly, they now make diaper bags that are disguised as normal purses. (Thank you, oversize bag fad.)

I love my diaper bag which is a storksak (and just happens to be on sale right now!). Its nice to at least feel like you don't look like a complete idiot while toting a 50 pound bag on one arm and a baby on the other. People actually tell me how much they love my purse, only to get super embarrassed--I'm not sure why--when I tell them that it is actually a diaper bag, but thank you very much, I like it, too! It has the bottle pockets zipped into the sides, the changing pad and a nifty little leather cord to clip my keys onto so that I don't have to dig around in the bag searching for my keys while my kids are screaming about how hot and hungry they are... and pockets--lots of pockets... And did I mention that its pretty?

Okay, so what do I bring with me?

1. diapers (About 3 in my bag and a few extras I like to keep in the car.)
2. wipes (Lansinoh Clean and Condition Cloths, my absolute favorite and only kind of wipes that I buy. Super for sensitive skin and breast fed babies.)
3. Bebe au Lait nursing cover (One of the best inventions for moms who breast feed! A must have.)
4. extra change of clothes for baby
5. sun screen
6. sun hat
7. extra pacifier or at least one
8. some sort of snack/finger food (like Gerber Puffs, but I'm looking for a better, healthier alternative)
9. substantial food (cereal, veggie, fruit, whatever meal might be coming up during the outing)
10. wallet (Marc Jacobs wallet which is nice because its cute and small or the good old Hobo clutch wallet for full coverage.) 
11. iPhone (Invaluable! With maps; videos for entertaining, say, a rowdy toddler during a doctor's visit; email, for checking if any of you commented on my blog; camera, for taking pictures to post to my blog...)
12. chapstick, lipgloss, or both (I like my Lorac Amethyst lipgloss and Burt's Bees is always a good chapstick choice)
13. checkbook (Credit Unions are the way to go!)
14. pen (I love the Varsity pen.  The calligraphy style tip makes me feel cool when I whip it out.)
15. notebook for lists (I love lists! and I love a good Moleskine notebook, my favorite!)

So, how did I do? Did I leave anything out? What do you find invaluable in your missions abroad? Now I know you're probably not going to tell me, but a girl can hope, right?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Garlic, Garlic, and a Bit of Basil

Photos by David Escalante

I'm so proud to announce that I, ardent basil and pesto lover, finally made my own pesto--by hand--no food processor, nothing jarred, canned, or preserved. Just me, my basil, pine nuts, garlic, and freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese on a cutting board with a sharp knife. It was actually really fun, not to mention a great work out!

The other day at our weekly farmer's market, I simply could not pass through the produce aisle without snagging up a big bunch of basil for $1. The heady aroma of basil was calling me all the way from the other end of the market. So, I told myself that if I was going to buy that much basil, then I better have a good idea of what I was going to do with it, because, let's face it--basil does not last long in the refrigerator and I hate throwing out produce that has gone bad before being used. Pesto seemed to be the obvious answer to my quest and I had been pondering trying my hand at it for a while now.

I searched the internet for a recipe and it really bothers me when I can't follow the recipe and all the recipes I saw called for dumping everything into a food processor. I don't own a food processor and the idea of giving my blender a go at it just wasn't working for me. Luckily, I found this How to Make Pesto Like an Italian Grandmother Recipe which called for chopping everything by hand (I'm a rule follower, so I was very happy to find a recipe that I could follow the rules by). It was amazing! David said that I actually did look like an Italian grandmother when I was making it and he kept making cracks about that when we devoured our pesto covered pasta tonight.

All in all, a super fun experience and its true what the author of 101 Cookbooks claimed, hand chopped was much much better. You definitely get to enjoy the different textures, ingredients, and flavors more than you would with the usual blended-to-kingdom-come version.

Oh! Side note: "Garlic, Garlic, and a Bit of Basil," refers to our dinner which consisted of very garlicky garlic bread along with our garlicky pesto pasta among other things...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Impromptu Rendezvous

photo by David Escalante

That's just so fun to say, isn't it? Impromptu rendezvous...

Anywho, tonight was really exciting because we had a little rendezvous with a really nice couple that we connected with through the blogging world. I never thought that could actually happen, but it did! Its true, there are actual normal people out there who frequent the internet... Who knew?

Turns out we have a lot in common with this couple and they happen to have a beautiful little boy as well as a gorgeous and friendly border collie. We spent the evening trying to get to know each other, while keeping our children corralled. Actually most of our time consisted of the beginning of sentences that got drowned out by Elliott's terrified screams over the poor dog simply looking in his direction. (This kid of ours is so skittish, it is amazing.)

But you know, I have to say, that having kids with you while trying to get to know someone can really be a blessing in disguise. It is like the true test of friendship. The perfect amount of strain to be able to actually see someone's true colors. Kind of like using torture to get the truth out of someone. "Now then," you say, "how patient are you, really?" "What would you do if say a little three year cuts you off every time you are trying to tell a story?" "Oh, that doesn't bother you? Well how about a ten month old screaming her head off while you try to eat a meal?" "Nothing? Well we could always throw in a little bit of drool (or a lot), a can of terrible toddler, and some too talkative parents that are starving for some conversation." "Still like us? Okay. I guess we can believe you..."

No, but really. We had a great time and are excited to do some things with our new found friends.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mistaken Identity

Lately, Elliott has been fixating on heroes and villians, but mostly on the villians. He's been asking me all kinds of questions about bad guys and if they shoot people and why do bad guys do this or that. (Yes, he still trys to be spiderman. Every time his hands are sticky he climbs up onto the back of the couch and trys to plant his grimy hands on my white walls!) He also loves to imitate any bad guy he has seen from movies (not that he has seen many). He also imitates the good guys, but mostly the loud things that they do.

Being a girl and all, I'm pretty lost at how to proceed. I can see that this is something that is not going to go away. I don't know if all children are like this, but my Elliott just tractor beams in on anything negative. We borrowed an illustrated account of The Flood from the library and on the title page there is a picture of a house on fire. That is his favorite page. The page he has the most questions about. A woman at my church pointed out, that these boys are our warriors, our leaders. We have to train them up to be men, to lead and to protect, and it is natural for them to be interested in these things.

If Elliott is going to be fixating on violence this way, then I at least want to try to channel it in the right direction. So... This week, I asked the librarian if they had any books for three year olds that had good example heroes or something. I mentioned I had been trying to tell Elliott about Bible heroes, so she showed me the illustrated bible stories section. We found three pretty cool books about "Daniel and the Lions Den," "David and Goliath," and "Jonah and the Big Fish." These are his favorite books to read and pretty much seem to satisfy his thirst for drama or whatever it is. I have also been telling him about how David "[...] caught [a lion] by its beard, and struck and killed it." (1 Samuel 17:36) and how it helped him learn to trust God to help him with the bigger things.

Anyway, last night, my husband had been home for a few hours and I had put the baby to bed, withdrawn to a little corner of the couch, and cozied up with my computer, leaving David to handle our little 3 year old warrior. Elliott was walking around and relatively calm for being awake--none of his usual loudly delivered sound effects or acrobatic feats. Tonight he was calmly walking around after David and making conversation asking lots of questions. I don't really recall many details leading up to 'the event' since I had pretty much checked out for the night, but there was a question that caught my attention and snapped me back into family life.

"Dad, did you kill a lion, yesterday?" (Yesterday is Elliott's term for all things past tense. Whether it was an hour ago or a year.)

(David) "What?"

"Did you just kill a lion, yesterday?"

"What? No!"

This is where I jumped in...

"No, no, Elliott. That was David."

(Elliott) "David, did you just kill a lion, yesterday?"

(Me) "No, Elliott. That was King David, not Daddy David."

Okay, I don't mean to run on so, but there was another absolutely hilarious thing that Elliott did that night that I have to tell you about... Moments after the 'Daddy killing a lion' fiasco, Elliott walks into the living room with a glass and a Hersey's candy bar.

"Mom. Can I have chocolate milk?" he says while trying to fit the chocolate into the glass.

Oh. My. Gosh. I was rolling. That was one of the cutest things I have ever seen. Being a parent is the best!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Orange County Recap

Well, we're back home after a great little visit to Grandma's and Grandpa's house.

It was a week filled with adventure: two trips to the beach; a "camp fire" in the backyard to make s'mores; a visit to Haute Cakes and my new favorite cupcake place, Susie Cakes; a day at Sue's pool; a day spent with little friends; treasures from the swap meet; new hair cuts; a visit to great-grandpa Alfred's; and finally, a tearful goodbye...

For more photos from our trip, visit our gallery by clicking here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

On the road again...

Heading down the 5 fwy and memory lane, too. Turned on the radio and
found "Car Talk". My dad used to listen to that every Sunday on the
way home from church...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fresh Start

Today was new 'do' day for Elliott and me. This, too, was spur of the moment, which is pretty much the way I work. Unless the plans are made for me, then there most likely won't be any plans. So be prepared if I show up on your doorstop unannounced.

Back to haircuts. Luckily for my fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants style, my beloved hairdresser had two free openings today. So that's that. I chopped off my locks, so did Elliott. As for Caiden... well, she didn't get messed with, but she's cute, so she made it in to the post anyway.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reunion of Old Friends and New

We were finally able to get in a visit with our old friends, the A's.   Elliott and Nevaeh are only a few months apart and used to play together next to each other quite often when we lived nearby. Elliott was always full of energy and crazy whereas Nevaeh was quite calm and rather reserved. Elliott would make poor Nevaeh cry almost every time they got together. We struggled through it though, because (at least for my part) it was so nice having a grown up friend who could relate (plus, I love Nina!). I was just incredibly lucky that Nevaeh's mom, Nina was so patient with us, allowing her little girl to be roughed up every once in a while by my rowdy boy.

Today, the old friends reunited and formed a new friendship... A talkative one! Last time Elliott and Nevaeh played they were a lot less conversive and a lot more baby. Seeing them together really brought it home how much they have changed and how quickly they are growing. It really was so adorable to see them conversing (well, you know how it is with men--the girl does all the talking and asking of questions while the boy is getting totally distracting with something else and not really paying attention).

There is little Nevaeh, no longer shy, talking away to Elliott about all sorts of things, when suddenly, she realizes--as he gets up from our little indoor picnic and walks away--that he isn't listening! "Why isn't he listening to me?" Nevaeh asks her mom.

"Oh, he's listening, sweetie, he's just 'slkethoigheiwo'" her mom responded. I'm not sure any of us knew what the heck Elliott was doing, but it wasn't listening!

Aside from my little man not being very gentlemanly, though, they got along splendidly! It was amazing to watch. They talked and played and seemed to really enjoy being together. Elliott didn't even make Nevaeh cry this time!

At least that is what I was thinking before this happened:

That, my friends, is poor little Nevaeh's eye--up close and personal! Elliott was doing his little photographer thing, snapping photos of us all. And while we thought everything was fine--Elliott and Nevaeh only a few feet from us--we suddenly heard that all too familiar sound... Nevaeh crying.

"Elliott! Did you hurt her?"

Well, it wasn't intentionally meant to cause pain, but Elliott got that camera so close to her face it was probably practically touching her eye! We couldn't figure out why she suddenly got so upset about the flash going off when she seemed to be fine with it just a few moments before. It wasn't until we went through Elliott's footage that we realized what had happened...

He just kept getting closer and closer until, bam! You get the picture (literally)...

That was pretty much our cue to leave.

We had a great time strengthening old bonds--and forming new ones. Charlotte and Caiden seemed to bond beautifully and I hope they will remain fast friends and bossom buddies forever. (Not much to tell about their interactions, but they were so cute in the stroller together yanking toys back and forth. And Charlotte is a beautiful little doll, for the record.)

Hopefully, despite these minor glitches in Elliott's and Nevaeh's relationship, we will still be able to get those two to fall in love and be hitched eventually as planned...

(This post was primarily about the little munchkins, but again to put something on record, it was so nice to see Nina and also beautiful Rachel, who I love!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Little Munchin'

Even a little hip hop artist like Caiden needs a snack every once in while, right? I mean, how would she be able to perform if she wasn't eating for peak performance?!

We spent a lovely, relaxing day at a friend's house and napped and ate and played and napped and ate and played all day long. Elliott went swimming in the pool three different times throughout the day and although we set him up with arm floaties and equipped him with a variety of inflatable tubes, he refused to put any faith in them. Instead he walked around and around on the seat of the jacuzzi and the steps of the pool. But he had a blast, so who can mess with that...

(Oh! And Caiden got that new Hurley hat.)

My Driving Buddy

Man! A ten hour trip feels waaay less monotonous when you have a
driving buddy as cool and interesting as Auntie Allison... If only I
had her for my drive back. Any takers?

So, this week I'll probably just be updating my blog about what we're
up to in Orange County. My hubby's not with me, so obviously he'll be
wanting to hear and see what we're doing while he's hard at work
bringing home the bacon on the home-front (love you, Baba).

Stay tuned...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I'm a Horrible Person

Halfway to Orange County and I realized that I'm supposed to bake a
dessert and attend a baby shower for a good friend, who just happens
to be one of the sweetest people I've ever known. The shower is on
Wednesday in Santa Rosa... Obviously, since I jumped in the car
without thinking, I won't be able to make it...

Sorry, sweet Amber!

Last minute decision trek to OC

Hazardous Play

Out of all the things a kid could watch, who knew that Curious George could be the worst and most dangerous of them all? Not me, that's for sure. Here I've been trying to weed out movie content that has bad attitudes, robots that fight, destruction, disrespect, talking back, fighting between siblings--all to find out that a little monkey on roller skates could top all that in one fell swoop! (literally, ha!)

Check out the number these harmless Thomas the Tank Engine trains did on Elliott's back...

So, there's this episode of Curious George in which he was supposed to clean up his toys because his friend had stepped on a toy truck that was in the middle of the floor and rolled into the wall. But instead of cleaning, George decided that roller skating looked way more fun. So he made himself a pair of roller skates out of toy cars. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Elliott thought so too, apparently, because tonight I looked up just in time to see him crash or fall or something--I couldn't quite make it out. Turns out, he tried to go skating like George and boy does he have some mean marks to prove it... Ouch! Crazy kid! Poor thing...

Although I can sympathize with the desire to strap things to your feet
and glide around (I've always wanted to strap on some scrub brushes and
skate around the kitchen cleaning the floor like Pippy Longstocking.),
trying to skate on a pair of train cars is just not a good idea. And I
would have told him that at the time, if I had been aware of his
impending actions. Sadly, I was not and the picture above was the
result. Jeez!

(Photos by the ridiculously talented and good looking David Escalante.)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

On My Mind: Friday

Elliott as a baby... Caiden (current)...

I thought I would leave you with an array of things I have been thinking about today...

1. Why is it that my house can't always be as neat as when I have guests?

2. My 9 month old daughter decides that she doesn't want plain old bread again, but she is still hungry. She decides that a tortilla will be fine, thank you very much!

3. Some of the best moments are when that crazy baby is just resting in your arms and hitting the function button on your computer over and over and over again.

4. When you're little you think your parents have everything under control and totally know what they are doing. But when you become a parent you realize that they were probably just 'winging' it and hoping/praying for the best most of the time and trying to hold things together by a thread, just like you are now...

5. It is particularly amusing when your 3 year old starts to understand the concept of either/and/or, because they use the new word all the time and ask you things like "Mom, can I have a Popsicle ooor...not." (which is kind of deceiving, because when they ask it that way, it sounds like they would be okay if you said no. This is not the case.)

6. Why is it that holding a dustpan for your mom is like the best thing in the world when you're three?

7. Although Caiden started out a lot like her brother (very active and early physical development) and I was thinking, "I thought you're only supposed to get one crazy kid", it turns out that she is not exactly like him in that she really needs me to be next to her all the time and needs a lot of cuddling which I think is a really good thing for me. It makes me be present in mind and body with my children.

8. Hooray for David's mom and sister driving 8 hours to come visit us for the weekend and then driving another 8 hours back.

Happy weekend, everyone... Enjoy!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Verse of the Day

"O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down.
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before.
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold,
You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me.
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall fall on me,'
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You.
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are You works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

Psalm 139:1-18

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pretty Neat! Coat Rack..

Hey there. I thought I would go ahead and share with you all a little project I worked on a few weeks back. I must say I'm pretty proud of it.

Mostly this project was born out of necessity and the fact that I was left alone while the kids were asleep and hubby was off at bible study or some other event that I could not attend since I'm the keeper of the kids...

I would probably categorize my style of working as creative, haphazard, and impatient with bursts of inspiration carried out wrecklessly and with abandon. Yes, I think that just about does it.

Anyways, we had been needing a coat rack of some sort and one night, the inspiration hit me. I took a piece of wood (it was actually a slat from our old ikea bed) and covered it will black shelving paper. If I would have had a drill, I would have gone right to work with the next step and probably destroyed the whole thing. But, as luck would have it, our drill had no battery. So the next day, our maintenance man came around and I employed his help. We had these pieces of wood that we cut off from Elliott's first Christmas tree. They were meant to be sent to family members as ornaments, but he's now three and we never got around to it.

So, our handyman, Pat, drilled holes in the pieces of trunk first, so that they wouldn't split when the screw was driven in. They were then drilled into the paper covered board. We then used some kind of plastic dry wall anchor things to screw into the wall and then screwed our finished project into the anchors and... voila! A new coat rack. Pretty classy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks...

But what I'm wondering is... Can you teach a 3 year old how to play the piano?

I wanted to teach Elliott how to play, but I wasn't sure if he was too young to start. I thought before I went out and bought a beginner's piano book I would see if the library had one that we could try out and see if it is something that Elliott can even comprehend right now. So, I found a beginners book and checked it out from the library and we got started.

I went about all the usuals: numbering the fingers, explaining how to hold your hands as if you were holding a ball, etc. And I have come to the conclusion that I don't think he's quite ready to learn from a book. He was totally cooperative, but I could tell that reading notes and numbers off of a page wasn't going to happen right now. He did enjoy the concept of the high versus low sounds of the piano. So, I'm thinking that I can instill in him a desire to play and an interest in it and then try to accommodate that by gentle instruction. He doesn't know his numbers yet, so that will be something we'll have to work on before following even the simplest of notes on a page can happen. But I have learned to never underestimate what a child
is really absorbing. So often it seems like its not sinking in, but a few weeks later, and they surprise you by demonstrating the knowledge you didn't think they possessed. So, I think I'll just keep trying--slowly, but surely.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Back on Top

Well, sort of back on top...  After I made those buckets for Elliott's toys, my good friend, Nina, commented on how she had all of her kids' toys out in the living room to go through.  When she told me that I inspired her to get it done, I was in turn inspired to finish the job of getting things orderly.  So, armed with determination in one hand and a baby in the other, I marched into the kids room (that they never play in) and I cleaned.  I'm sure none of you are really very interested in the minute by minute replay, but suffice it to say that I killed spiders, cleaned up cobwebs, rearranged, and organized.  Whew!  It was actually encouraging to find out that things were not as unorganized as they seemed.  The organization that I implemented from before Caiden was born was still in place, it just needed a little refreshing...  And best of all, their room is now somewhere that they can read books and play.  Everyone loves some structure after all.

More interesting posts to come, I promise!  But how's that photo of Elliott and Caiden? Adorable!