Thursday, January 29, 2009

Need Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

So the winter has never bothered me. The cold doesn't bother me. The wind chill of -10* doesn't bother me. The winter has little impact on my life. In fact, when I lived in Arkansas for five years my body needed to adjust to the minimal change of seasons. My body was looking for winter! It would ask me:
"What are you doing outside without a coat on in February?"
Me: "It's 50*, why do I need a coat?"
My body: "Why is it 50* in February?! It must not be February. Surely you mean it's May?"
Me: "I don't. We moved to Arkansas, remember? Arkansas is south of New York and as a result spends more time close to the sun. It's warmer."
My body: "It just isn't right."

But this year something has bothered me. I'M DYING. And it has all to do with the lack of fresh produce.

Last summer I radically changed the way I eat and drastically reduced sugar from my diet. Granted, I still eat carbs here and there but overall I run in the opposite direction from them. And if I'm going to eat sugar I make sure it's the best thing. A bowl of brownie mix or chocolate peanut butter ice cream. I don't go halvsys when I decide to give in.

Upon starting this new regimen, I realized very quickly that if I didn't start eating salads I would soon starve to death. I had no idea how addicted to carbs I was. I was hungry for the better part of two months trying to work my way in this new world of nothing ending in -ose. And I get mean when I'm hungry. So I had a lot of supporters during this process of trying to eat salad. I ate the first salad of my life last September. Before that time I couldn't bear the feel of lettuce. After trying many different kinds of salads since then I still do not like iceburg lettuce and can barely choke that stuff down. So my dad makes fun of me, but I do like the fancy lettuce salads.

Unfortunately, at this time of year all fruits and vegetables taste the same right now. They taste like NOTHING. They have no fresh scent. The two Granny Smith apples that I used to eat everyday taste like crunchy cardboard. Tomatoes taste like wet cardboard. Squash tastes like wet cardboard that everyone has walked on with their dirty boots.

On top of that problem, winter has always meant comfort for me - comfortable clothes that hide all the right areas, comfortable fires, and of course, comfort food. All I want is macaroni and cheese, lasagna, cups of coffee with chocolate-y pastries, cheesy paninis, etc...I think my body feels the basic need to eat up and hunker down for the winter. And you know, broiled tilapia just doesn't cut it on days of 6 inches of snowfall followed by ice.

While winter weather has never been a problem for me before, I now have to deal with the deepest human instinct of storing fat for the season on top of no tasty fruits and vegetable to try to ignore that instinct. What's a girl to do? Or the better question, what's Brian to do since I can't seem to stop complaining about it?

In the end, I'm just going to try my best to eat well but not beat myself up. I can't live like that and I definitely don't want my kids hearing me complain. But I'm not happy about it and Brian better bring me back some strawberries from Florida next week. The bushel of berries should be his only carry on and he will protect them with his life. In fact, I'm not opposed to him bringing back three bushels of strawberries and buying seats for them. I'll have to make sure that I check them in early so they get in the "A" boarding group and can all sit together.

In the meantime, if you live where you have access to tasty fresh produce - do not take it for granted. If you want to email me about it I will live vicariously through you.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

But She Is A Free Babysitter

So let's go back in time to last January 15. It's 3:55pm and we just found out about the USAirways plane landing in the Hudson.

After watching the tv for 15 minutes, I call my mom to tell her I'm on my way out of work and heading to get the kids. I add on that I don't want Lily to watch the news - the pictures are very odd and could upset her.

Mom: Oh she's already seen the tv.
K: WHAT?!?!
Mom: How could I avoid it? I told her it was a bird.
K: WHAT?!? You told her the plane was a bird?!? Why would you let her watch that? What would make you think it's appropriate for her to watch that?!
Mom: She's not even paying attention. She's playing with princesses and doesn't even know the tv is on.
K: Do you have porn on the other tv? Because I don't know which one would be worse for her to watch.
Mom: Oh please.
K: Mom, we fly all the time. What are the chances that she is not going to ask questions about this as we board our next flight? And where are you going to be when I have to drag a struggling toddler on a full flight screaming "i don't want to go swimming in a plane!"
Mom: I think you're taking it to the extreme. She's too preoccupied with finding an apple to eat so she can die.
K: Do you see the how easily influenced she is? Even Snow White is making things difficult.
Mom: Bye, Katie.
K: Fine. Bye.

So here are my concerns:
1. My daughter accepted the fact that a picture of an obvious PLANE was a BIRD. Really, Lily?
2. My mother had no problem with having a four year old watching (clarification: in the same room as the tv since my mother has determined that Lily didn't pay attention) people struggle to get out of a plane, stand on wings, and get thrown life preservers.
3. Why are we letting her pretend to die a poisoned apple death? I have gone through 5 apples in less than a week.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Everyday Moments

Monday morning I was driving the kids to my moms house. The following conversation took place between 9am and 9:30am (sorry, addicted to 24).

Lily: Mama, why am I not going to school today?
K: Because it's a holiday.
L: Right. I knew that. Why is it a holiday?
K: Today is the day a great man was born. He had a long name - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was so great that we all celebrate his birthday every year.
L: Where is he having his party?
K: Well, actually, we don't really have a party for him, more of a celebration.


L: What does he want for his birthday?
K:Well...............actually he's getting something he always wanted tomorrow. It's something he always dreamed about.
(oddly, she didn't ask what the present was and since she let on that she knows the difference between white or black - I'm not bringing it up. Let her live in her color blind world for as long as possible.)


L: How old will he be?
K:Well (how do I explain this delicately?) he passed away a very long time ago. He died before I was born and when Grrrmam was just a little girl. But, if he was alive he would have been 80 years old.
L: 8 8?
K: No, 80. You won't be 80 for 76 years - it's a long time away.


L: So how tall is he?
K: I have no idea how tall he was but I think he was tall.


L: And he's not having a party?
K: I think some people are having parties for him but it's more of a celebration of all the things that he believed in. He is not having a party at Chuck E Cheese or Jeepers so it's not like that.
L: (disappointed-ly) Oh.


L: But is he still getting his present?
K: Most definitely. We all are.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lily's Birthday Walk

Lily's school honors each child's birthday with a very unique celebration. Her birthday was in December but because of the high number of December birthdays in her class and the holiday break her day was in January.

They call it "The Birthday Walk" and I think it's a great way to show each child how special they are. First, a candle is lit to represent the sun. Then papers with each month written on them are spread around the candle. The child is asked to hold a small globe of the earth. Her teacher, Cathy, then explains how the earth rotates around the sun and one revolution equals one year of her life.

As she walked one year around the candle-sun, Brian and I get to talk about that year. For example, for her newborn year we talked about how she slept so much. When she walked her second year we talked about how she never smiled but observed everything. Her third year was how she became a big sister. And this year we talked about her strong personality and slight interest in princesses.

It was beautiful to watch because we got to reminisce and her classmates got to learn about her. She was basking in the attention.

After Lily was honored Cathy then asked for all the other four year olds to stand and then the three year olds, the five year olds, and finally the one six year old in the class.

Lily handed out her cupcakes to the class. She specifically wanted pink frosting but I didn't want the added sugar so I used food coloring on the reduced sugar vanilla frosting.

The birthday child then gets to pick two friends to eat lunch with. Before she said the names we knew she would pick Ella and Grace. Ella and Lily are especially close and they go over to each other's house a few times a month. I'm sorry the picture is so dark but it was the only one I got.

Girl talk at the lunch table.

I know I'm a little behind with the posting - I seem to post things about a week behind. But maybe you'd never had known if I didn't say anything so let's just pretend I never mentioned it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

In Favor of Real Trees

I love real Christmas trees. If it were up to me we would buy ours the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Every other year I have been told NO by the man who does all the heavy work with the tree: the lifting of the tree onto the car, tying it down, taking it off the car, and bringing it into the house. So I could never go and purchase the tree on my own since Brian didn't agree with my time frame. There was no way I would even attempt that on my own. This was the first year that I actually got my way due to us being busy every other weekend in December.

The tree smelled beautiful. It looked beautiful. It was the perfect height and width. And I got it when I wanted to get it!! I was very diligent keeping my tree well watered. But -STILL- the falling pine needles were out of control! I swept or vacuumed them up almost every day. This never happens but it only proved Brian's point that we bought the tree to early.

I also like to keep the tree up until New Year's Day. Due to the needle shedding though I took it down as soon as I could after Christmas. Here you can see the outline of where the Christmas tree skirt was amongst all the needles.

Ignore the lazy dog who put in the effort to raise her head when I entered the room. I interrupted some deep, serious, basset thinking. For all I know she had just come up with a solution to the economic crisis and then I enter the room and poof - the answer escaped her. Such a shame.

After Brian dragged the tree out the front door (leaving a trail of needles in case he got lost) he informed me of another possible problem with buying a tree to early - it was starting to mildew. So gross!

Will that prevent me from trying to buy a tree this year the weekend after Thanksgiving? Most likely not - I'll just find some botanical solution to put into the tree stand. I'm nothing if not determined.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Too Many Possible Titles to Choose Just One

Kristen, Mark, and the girls visited us for the week between Christmas and New Years. I took a variety of pictures during that week and I've collected what I think are the best for this post. Understand that I do not think we got one perfect picture of all the kids beautifully looking at the camera but I definitely got shots that describe our life in that moment.

The day after they arrived dad offered to stay at home while Jamison, Ruthie, and Maddie all took naps so that the girls could go out to lunch. Kristen admitted to him that the girls would wake up before we got home and gave him instructions for feeding them a snack. This is what we came home to:

He was very much on guard watching them. The dogs were too since they were expecting something to fall on the ground.

The next day my mom's sister, Linda, drove up with her daughter Denine and Denine's daughter Myria. Although they all live in Rochester, I consider us all pretty close. Denine and Myria avoided the camera so you won't see them. I should make it clear to anyone who doesn't know, my Aunt Linda is crazy. Completely. Unequivocally. No doubt about it. So when she is around we have automatic entertainment.

Lily loves to play "band" on this obnoxious electronic piano (if you can call it that) and Aunt Linda is usually the one who joins her on the tambourine. So for Christmas Linda thought it would be a great idea to give instruments to all the kids. Lily had a trumpet, Jamison received a drum, and each of the twins had a maraca. It was chaos. I love the look Maddie is giving Aunt Linda because I want to tell her - "Honey, it's just begun for you. We've been giving her that look for years. It goes so much better if you just accept."

Later on in the week Jamison was roaming around the house looking for Grrmam to read to him. He had put her reading glasses on his head in preparation.

Finally. He found her. Maddie was relieved as she was looking for someone to distract Grrmam.

And somehow Ruthie found her way on to the couch as well.

And then Lily (excuse me, Sleeping Beauty) wanted to be a part of it for attention purposes only. At this point Jamison is the only one who still cares about the book.

Snuggly. Is that spelled right?

And then he was done. This is actually his new face that he knows I love and will only do it when he feels like it. I'm glad I was able to get a shot of it since he uses it to bribe me all the time. No more bribery from you Jamie!

Next it was bath time. When my sister visits we tend to spend a lot of time over at my parents so it's just easier to bathe the kids there and put them in their pj's. They go straight to bed when they get home. (Jamison is going to hate me for these pictures in 10 years).

And he's not a stupid kid. As soon as bath is over he runs into Grrmam's bed and gets all cuddly while he combs his hair with her brushes. I'm sure he lost them as well and she's probably been looking for them. Check under your bed, mom.

Then they all pile on to do somersaults, jump, and have parents throw them around. We do this in hopes to get some unused energy out of them. It usually ended in someone falling off the bed. Notice that Jamison is still combing his hair. He's nothing if not thorough.

And that summarizes what we do when all the cousins are together. You are blessed that I didn't post any videos - the screaming, crying, and whining would have made it all less perfect for you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Glad to Have My Camera in the Kitchen

Since Jamison was eating his afternoon snack in his high chair I went downstairs to put in a load of laundry. I wasn't gone five minutes and this is what I saw when I came up the stairs. (Please ignore his hair - he had just woken up from his nap).

I have no clue how the kid did it. Granted, he wasn't buckled in but the tray was as far in as I could get it.

Then the next morning we came into the kitchen and we saw a thief!

We've had this bird feeder up for a little less than a year and this is the first time that we saw a squirrel. So he definitely isn't the smartest rodent in the neighborhood.

This guy was very talented. He had to climb on our roof and then slowly ease himself down onto the bird feeder. I was really afraid his nasty claws would tear the screen but we were lucky.

Brian threw a tennis ball at him to make him go away. That was just as entertaining for the kids as the upside down squirrel.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Guessing Game Revealed!

Sorry it took me so long! I got distracted by life. My mother guessed the correct answer - they were marker tips. (although she shouldn't be allowed to win since she is with him almost everyday. My cousin, Rachel, was the first runner up and she should be considered the actual winner) .

This is why Lily is only allowed to use the markers during Jamison's nap.

It was actually a relief to find those tips on the floor. For weeks I thought he was ingesting the tips. As in, sucking the ink out of them and then just swallowing them. So it was very reassuring to find those tips scattered in corners of the room and under chairs.

You can see that five of the six the above markers were "Color Wonder" markers. So those tips were clear. But it's the other markers (like the above grey one) that have caused the big problems. The black and the red markers give me the biggest scare when he rounds the corner. The other colors just look ridiculous.

These little guys feel victim to the biter as well. I thought he'd like to color with these friendly looking crayons. Within minutes both were de-crayoned.

One day, my son, you will be old enough to use writing utensils without biting them.


We really wanted to go visit Brian's family for the holidays this year. Unfortunately, once we started looking for tickets we realized we needed to come up with a different plan. The flights to Austin for Thanksgiving and Christmas were a say the least for a family of four. Wait, wait, you might say. Isn't Jamison under two? Wouldn't that make him a lap child? Ha Ha. The boy may fit on someones lap. In fact, he might even sit on someones lap for a brief amount of time. But on a flight? Especially the four hour Baltimore to Austin flight? I'd rather spend the money on a seat.

So we decided to fly down to visit the second weekend in December. Those tickets were a lot more budget friendly. Apparently no one travels that weekend.

The week that we flew down contained FOUR birthdays - Uncle Eric (12/10), Uncle Jonathan (12/11), Auntie Demeree (12/15), and Lily (12/19). (yes, that's actually 9 days but whatever). So we also decided to have a small birthday celebration for everyone. As a result, we were celebrating Thankbirthmas.

Jamison was all ready to go the night before. He was very excited about getting to go on a plane again. I have no idea what was up with his hair.

The flights were happily uneventful. In fact, unbeknownst to us, my mother ended up on our first leg to Baltimore on her way to Nashville. So she got Jamie for that whole flight. We needed to conserve our energy.

The morning after we arrived Jamison looked at family pictures with Nana.

Then he got nice and comfy in his little rocker. That was actually Brian's rocker when he was little.
Lily cuddled up with Granny Pat and watched Cinderella. Pa enjoyed the movie as well. We don't get to see Pa and Granny Pat as often as we like, but we love every minute we can spend with them. By Friday night Eric and Rene and Jonathan and Demeree had also drove in. We hadn't seen Eric and Rene since last October at Jonathan and Demeree's wedding and we hadn't seen J & D since they moved from Albany to DFW in September. It was so nice to have the whole family together with no other agenda but to be together.

That night we celebrated birthdays. Nana put a candle on a muffin for each of the birthday boys and girls. Since Lily was last she was going insane for her muffin. The cold hearted part or me kinda wants to tell her - IT'S JUST A MUFFIN. CALM DOWN. But the other part of me loves to see her get so excited about little things that mean so much. And since the part of me that loves her always wins, I just took a picture.

Lily was just as excited over the muffin as she was to see Auntie Demeree again. She didn't leave Dem alone the entire time. And luckily, Demeree loves Lily so she played hop scotch, Pretty Pretty Princess, and all the other things that I like but only to a certain extent.

For her birthday, Karan made Lily a beautiful purple princess outfit. The cape is lined with Disney princess drawings and has the obligatory sparkles on the outside. I almost don't want her to play with it because it's apparent that Karan put so much time into it.

Papa gave Lily a book that he wrote and Nana illustrated. He read it to her as she sat in his lap. The book was about a princess named Lily (of course) and included all of the family members as characters.

The next morning was Christmas. We all crowded into the family room (except for Rene who is allergic to pine trees. She was doped up on Benedryl and other allergy medications). Jamison was especially cuddly and cute that morning.

Jamison decided that using his teeth to open presents was the most efficient way.

Lily received A LOT of princess gifts. How in the world did they all guess that Lily might like princesses? Could it be that she only thinks and talks about them 24/7? Could it be that every word out of her mouth is a question about a princess or an observation about one? I'm secretly hoping that one day she has the same obsession with something that will be worthwhile. Like math or history or gosh, anything but the stupid princesses.

Jamie received a lot of trucks and other things with wheels. I keep trying to psycho-analyze his interests - does he like trucks and airplanes because we keep showing him trucks and airplanes or does he truly like them? I mean, he sees fifty princess things a day but he hasn't started collecting Snow White figurines. Although he will sing along with Lily to Ariel's heart-tugging "Part of Your World." They will also sing the "Ah Ah Ahhhhhh" part where Ariel is giving her voice to Ursula. Despite my best efforts to get that duet on tape, I have only been able to record it on my phone. I just don't know how to get it off my phone.

There is nothing better than seeing my kids enjoy spending time with their Texan grandparents. Even though they only see them 2-3 times a year they are completely comfortable with them and obviously love them.
We had a great trip and we are thankful that everyone could take time off of work and school to visit with us.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Guessing Game

Ok all you smarty pants out there, I've got a tricky game for you. I was going to offer a small prize for it but decided that the reward of winning should be a prize in itself.

I'd like to hear what you think the objects below are. Go on, guess. They are all the same object just in different sizes.

I'll even give you some help. Here they are next to a tea light so you have a size reference.

I'll admit it took me about 5 minutes. But I should have known better. And Brian - you are not allowed to guess!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Dedicated to the Great-Grandparents

We have noticed for the past few months that when Jamison is concentrating on an activity he sticks his tongue out. Here he is trying to figure out the remote controlled car.

This is genetic and he definitely inherited this from Brian's side of the family. Brian's grandpa does the same exact thing when he is working...except grandpa doesn't drool like Jamison. Brian and I find this common trait incredibly endearing.

He knows the remote has something to do with making that car go. He just couldn't quite figure out how to do it.
And even after he figured it out he still kept his tongue out as he maneuvered the car around the room.

My Mammy was up in New York a few weeks ago and she made Lily an outfit. I love the pattern. This picture would have been perfect if her eyes were open.

Instead this is the only shot I got with her eyes open. I hate the stupid princess pose. But I love the outfit - thank you Mammy!!

Thanksgiving in January

Brian and I offered to prepare Thanksgiving dinner this past November and I'm just getting around to post the pictures I took of the process. I rarely get the time to really cook so I enjoyed every minute of this.
Here was the menu. Our instructions were to keep it simple since my parents don't like my fussy recipes.
Sage-Parmesan Turkey
Sausage, Cranberry, and Apple Dressing
Arugula and Spinach Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette
Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
Corn Casserole
Grandma's Rolls
Lattice-Topped Apple Pie
Pecan Tart
Pumpkin Pie with Poached Cranberries
The sweet potato casserole was provided by my aunt and uncle so I didn't include that in my menu.
This was our first casualty. Our pepper grinder broke and we needed to get the peppercorns for the brine so Brian used a screwdriver to rescue the peppercorns from their jail.
So how did we keep the kids occupied? Lily was easy since she wasn't interested in helping. Jamison on the other I just put him on the step stool and "accidentally" left the drawer to the ziplocks open. He may have pulled out 180 ziplock bags, but it took him 30 minutes so it was well worth it.
Honestly, the whole reason we wanted to cook was for the pies. In this shot you can see that our cold butter chunks are too large. They should be about pea size. We also discovered that our food processor is sadly lacking.

Brian was in charge of rolling out the dough. Please note that the only reason he's wearing my apron is because he was teaching Bible class that night and didn't want to change. Jamison was paying close attention with his bla-bla (the ever-present Sooner's blanket).

This is a different piece of dough from the one above. This one didn't turn out as perfect because we didn't cut up our butter small enough. It should look like little white chocolate chips, not huge chunks of whiteness. I post this so that you can learn from my mistakes. Because I care that much for all of you.

This is my pumpkin pie. When I saw the leaf punch outs at Williams-Sonoma it took all my effort to not squeal at their cuteness.

Look at them!!

Look really closely. Or real closely. Or real close. Whichever one. Just look.

And when they're baked they're still cute.

Here is the pecan tart. I think this was the best one.

The pumpkin pie called for a poached cranberry topping. Cranberries are so beautiful. Here they are poaching in sugar and some port.
And then, when they are just at the point of bursting open you take them off the burner and spread them on a jelly roll pan. Aren't they gorgeous? Unfortunately, they didn't end up tasting so good. So while they look oh so pretty that's about all they were good for.

We decided to do a buttermilk brine for the turkey. Our brining spices were the typical ones, including our recently released peppercorns.

Boil and boil toil and trouble...and after it cooled we put the turkey in the brining bag, added 4 quarts of buttermilk, the brine, and sealed the deal for 24 hours.

Roasty toasty.

And Grandma's Rolls. There really was no need for any other item on the menu. These are Reba Reeve's rolls, Brian's maternal grandmother, and they are an art.

They are completely from scratch. They take no less than two days of preparation. Atkins, South Beach, you have no defense against these blessed and precious carbohydrates.

I wanted to make my Mammy's cornbread dressing but there is not a retailer within 150 miles that sells Martha White cornmeal mix. Oh how I wish I could have recorded the conversation between me and my grandmother when she was telling me the recipe. There are no measurements. The ingredients are subjective to a certain extent. (the specifics are the brand names for the ingredients and also to press sliced butter on the top of the dressing, do not mix it). You know you have it right by how it looks.
So here's my unworthy dressing. It was ok. Nothing great but not horrible.

Dinner is done and it's time for pie!

The remains. It all ended too soon.