Saturday, February 25, 2012

Birthday Spoils

My birthday this year was fantastic.  The girls were so good all day long, which was a gift in itself.  I spent the day playing with them and lounging on the couch with my book.  My phones--home and cell--kept beeping and ringing off their hooks.  When Brandon walked in the door after work, he had another dozen roses, a balloon, and a gift: a new set of wine glasses, and a bottle of wine to go with them.  He then proceeded to whisk us all off to my favorite restaurant for dinner and dessert, where the girls continued to be incredibly well behaved, even by their standards, which is impressive indeed.  And finally, on the way home, he took me by my new favorite store to spend some of my birthday money.

I am in love with my new dinnerware set.  My old set had been a gift from my mom long before I was even married, and they served us well for a long time.  My tastes have since changed (dare I say, matured?) and a few pieces had been broken anyway, so it was time.  I can now serve up to 8 people with my lovely green dishes, I have the smaller bowls on order, and I plan to at some point acquire the serving set as well.

We had a surprisingly warm, sunny day on Thursday, so we took advantage of it.  Elora and I went outside while Kaylie was napping, then went back out after she woke up.  Kaylie just wanted to put everything in her mouth, so she ended up in the exersaucer, but Elora couldn't make her mind up what she wanted to do.  Ride the trike?  Draw with chalk?  Play catch?  Watch her shadow?  Investigate all the neat twigs, sticks, cones, seeds, and green, growing things?   She did a little of everything, but spent most of her time exploring, and putting her finds into that blue bucket. Yay sunshine!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kaylie's Towel Hoodie

  Kaylie will be getting a hoodie towel for her birthday!  Elora has had one since she was an infant, and we have always used it.  I've been meaning to make one for Kaylie since she was an infant.  It only took me a year, but it's done!

I'm so tempted to just start using it, rather than wrapping it up and waiting for her party.  She's not going to know the difference, right?  But I will wait.  We've made do without it for this long, we'll make do for another few weeks.

I used one full sized bath towel and two hand towels.  I almost chose pale baby colors for it, but I picked super bright colors instead, and I'm loving it!  And I just happened to have a perfect coordinating ribbon at home, which I didn't know until after I bought the towels. 

It was meant to be.  The K on the front ended up being larger than I'd intended because the towel stretched as I sewed it on.  And I didn't have matching thread when I started the project, so the orange K is outlined in pale pink.  It looks ok, but it would have looked a lot better if I'd used orange thread.  You will notice that the yellow K is outlined in yellow. 

This is my current project.  Can you guess what it is?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thoughts On Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom

I can't take any credit whatsoever for this Top 10.  I saw it on Facebook, and when I Googled it, I found it on a number of blogs, too.  But I thought it worth sharing, because it touches on a number of my own insecurities. 

1. When the kids are older, do you think you'll get a real job?
How June Cleaver of you!
Oh, so you don't work?
Since you have extra time on your hands, could you whip up a few dozen brownies for the bake sale tomorrow?
All day with your kids? I can't even imagine.
I'm jealous. I wish my husband were rich so I wouldn't have to work either.
What do you do all day, anyway?
I'm sure you're not the only one who's ever wasted money on a college degree.
That explains why your son is so clingy!
Weird. I assumed your house would be super clean.

You can see the Top 10 for working moms here.

I  have a degree that I've never used, I don't work outside the home, and largely, I spend my days however I please, playing with my children, reading, messing around on the computer, and crafting while my husband goes to work.  So sometimes I feel guilty that I have it so easy.  Sometimes I worry that I don't do enough.  I almost always feel guilty when I want to go do something by myself, to get a break.  After all, I'm blessed to be able to stay home and spend so much time with my children.  So am I spoiled?  Probably.

But, I most definitely do work, and I work hard.  If I were doing for another family what I do here--the cooking, cleaning, and childcare--I would be making a LOT of money doing it.   And as with any other job, I have good days and bad days.  My "co-workers" have good days and bad days.  There are days that I want nothing more than to pass the parenting baton off to Brandon as soon as he walks in the door because I've had it up to HERE and I am DONE, but I almost never do.

This post has no target. I'm not responding to any provocation, accusation, or judgement. I am most definitely not complaining.  (I LOVE being a SAHM, and I wouldn't change anything!!)  I simply wished to share my thoughts.  What are yours?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day & Another Page

 I hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day yesterday!  Ours was wonderful.  My husband came home from work with his arms full of flowers (peach roses, my favorite!) and chocolates (Lindt truffles), two bottles of white wine and the sweetest card:

 It almost made me cry.

The girls and I had fun getting things ready for him. We went in the morning and picked up a couple bottles of wine and a new variety of beer for him to try with dinner.  Then we went to the library and found a few books for Brandon, a few for Elora, and one for me.  Elora and I both made cards for him while Kaylie was napping. Then I cleaned off his desk, and set out his books and cards where he would be sure to see them.  And in the evening, I tried out a yummy new recipe for dinner. 

There were no fancy restaurants, neither of us spent a whole lot of money, and we had to trade off holding Kaylie during dinner so we could eat, but it was a nice, relaxed evening spent enjoying one anothers' company, and it was perfect.  It was exactly the kind of Valentine's Day I was hoping for, and I wouldn't change a thing!

I finally got around to finishing another scrapbook page.

I had a hard time with this one, too.  I got the lay out done pretty easily, but I just couldn't choose a background or elements.  I actually had to just put it away and ignore it for a few weeks, but when I came back to it last night, it came together for me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Elora's First Real Drawing

Elora brought this to me the other morning.  Know what it is?

It's a face!  This is the first time that she's ever drawn something like this, and I was seriously impressed.  She showed me all the parts, the eyes, ears, nose (with nostrils!), mouth and hair, but she drew it so well that I didn't need her to identify it for me.  I know I'm biased, but I think she did a phenomenal job.  I'm just sad that it was on the magnadoodle, rather than on something that I could save forever. 

She was justifiably proud of her effort.

And then, because I had the camera out, she had to make faces at it.  Silly girl.

Miss Kaylie is doing better with the solid foods.  At most meals, she gets some sort of finger food that she can feed herself, like rice biscuits or yogurt bites, and then she I give her some pureed baby food.

She loves to feed herself.  I usually have to give her her own spoon when I'm giving her the puree.  This time, I just handed over the spoon and bowl when it was about empty, and she went through the motions of feeding herself with the spoon, sticking it in the bowl and then back in her mouth.  It may just be that she has her big sister as an example, but she seems to be picking up on a lot of those sorts of things faster than Elora did.  

My babies are so smart.  I'm totally in love with them, can you tell?  :)

PS: Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Cupcake Experiment

I did a trial run of Kaylie's birthday cupcakes on Friday, just in case.  I'm glad I did!  Adjusting this recipe to make cupcakes rather than a bundt cake was easy.  All I had to do was to use mini chocolate chips in place of the regular ones, and cut the baking time down to about 24 minutes (for a pan of 12 cupcakes).

I used an ice cream scoop to portion them out, and ended up with about 30 cupcakes.  Elora and each did a taste test, just to ensure quality.  They were delicious, just like that.  After all, when making the bundt cake, all I do is to sprinkle the top with a bit of confectioner's sugar and it's ready to serve.  But I want to make these cupcakes over the top, so I chose this frosting to go on top.

This is where I became very glad that I was doing a practice run.  First of all, the recipe makes a TON of frosting.   The recipes says that it makes enough to frost 36 cupcakes, but I think I could have done nearly twice that many.  (I guess I just don't use as much frosting as Amanda does.)  Unless you have a very large food processor, I'd recommend cutting the recipe in half, or doing it in 2 batches.  I ended up doing the first part (creaming together the butter, sugar and cocoa) in two batches in my food processor, then dumping it all into my big mixing bowl and doing the rest with my mixer.  It made a giant mess, and I got kind of frustrated with it there for a while, but my-oh-my, was it worth it!  "Decadent" is the first word that comes to my mind.  These things really are sinful.  And I had nearly 30 of them?  I was already planning to share some with Rebekah and her husband, but I decided that I needed to take a plateful over to my neighbors as well.  They're just too dangerous, and I don't have that much self control.  

A word to the wise, though.  I'd suggest storing them in the fridge (did you see how much butter went into the frosting??) but they aren't as good when they're cold.  Either let them come to room temperature before serving, or if you want only one, try warming it up a bit in the microwave.  15 seconds at half power does it for me.  

I so love my girls.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Around the House

January was quiet around here.  We didn't do anything exciting.  The first part of the month was spent recovering from our trip to Florida, and being sick.  I did spend my gift cards, though, which actually is exciting.  For me.

You see, I asked for Bed Bath & Beyond gift cards for Christmas, because I've been coveting my friend's Shark steam mop ever since she got it last year, and I always have a ton of 20%-off-any-item BB&B coupons.  Not only did I get enough in gift cards to get myself a mop, but I had enough to get the handheld steamer too!  And, bonus, my mop is green.  I love, love, love my steam mop!!  The hand held one is a little unwieldy, so it isn't quite as awesome as I'd hoped, but the mop is amazing.  Do you see how clean my floors are? Who thought I'd ever get so excited over a mop?  Thank you to my benefactors!

I've also been working more on getting things put together for the girls' birthdays.  The decorations from Elora's first birthday weren't where I thought they'd be, so I had to go exploring in my spare room closet to track them down.  I did eventually find them, but before I did, I found these:

They were in a box full of childhood keepsakes.  I'm pretty sure they're hand made, but since my mom doesn't even remember where they came from, I couldn't begin to tell you.  I do know that they hung in my room for as far back as I can remember, when I was a little girl.  They're a bit faded now, and the big purple one has a tear at the top of one wing, but still pretty. 

 Now they hang in my daughters' room.  When Elora saw them all up on the wall, her face lit up and she gasped and covered her mouth and said, "Butterflies!  Oh, mama, they're so pretty!"  (Just so you can really hear it in your head, you should know that she shrieked a bit on the "pretty" part.)  I love that my girls can enjoy things from my childhood, like the butterflies and the poster that Sara and I colored in high school, and the table that my grandfather made (all of which can be seen in the above photo).  It makes my heart happy.

The girls have spent a lot of time on Skype recently, mostly with their Gigi.  They sing songs and tell stories and talk about all sorts of crazy things.  Elora loves it!  And of course Kaylie wants to be in the middle of whatever her sister is doing, though I had to stop putting her in the chair like that once she figured out that she could crawl onto my desk.

Kaylie is getting close to walking independently.

What is the fascination with toilet paper?

I have no idea how she got into that box with out flipping it, but she's done it more than once.  They certainly do keep me on my toes.  And once Kaylie gets to walking??  Yikes!!