Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Voice in the Night

For those of you who are unfamiliar with our sleep situation, I can sum it up in three words: It's not good. Although she is almost two years old, Evie has never had a stretch where she has slept through the night. Oh, occasionally she will shock us and sleep until dawn, but I can count those wondrous nights on two hands.

Lately, she's been sleeping in her own bed until one or two in the morning, and then calling to me to come and get her. This is a big improvement, so I'm happy to oblige. I go in and she slides out of bed, dragging her blanket behind her. We get her sippy cup of water from the fridge and snuggle till dawn. Pretty good, huh?

Saturday night I was sleeping blissfully in my bed, when I heard a little voice ask "Water?" I looked over and noticed Evie standing on the floor next to the bed. My foggy brain raced to figure out what was going on. Why was she standing NEXT to the bed? Did she fall out? I looked at the clock - 2:30 AM. And then I understood - Evie had woken up and walked into our bedroom ON HER OWN!

Praise the Lord! This is certainly a development I want to encourage. So at every opportunity, I talk to Evie about it. "When you wake up and it's dark outside and the house is quiet, you don't have to call for Mommy to help you out of your bed. Just get down and come into my room, okay? You're such a big girl!"

It's working. Every single night since then, she's come into our room on her own. I hear a little voice ask for water or say "Mommy?" and I praise her and lift her into bed with Chris and me. I've even wised up, and keep her water on my nightstand instead of the refrigerator.

I am almost afraid I will jinx myself by writing this, but this works. I am finally, finally, finally getting good rest at night. And I want to ruin it with another baby!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Several years ago, Chris and I took a dream trip to Italy. We visited the churches and markets and museums of Firenze, roamed the countryside of Toscana, and we loitered in the cafes of Venezia. It was a magnificent vacation, and one we will treasure forever.

I always think a good way to remember a place is by its food. In Tuscany, we stayed in a little bed and breakfast just outside of Castellina in Chianti. The town is surrounded by olive groves and wineries and is just breathtakingly beautiful. One afternoon, we stopped in a little roadside restaurant and had a superb meal. (We ended up having dinner there the next night, too!)

I can't remember all of it, but I know I had a wonderful asparagus gratin and a rich, peppery beef stew called Peposo. The dish was so simple and delicious. When we returned home, I looked up the recipe, but I never took the time to make it. Last week, I finally got around to it, and we were not disappointed. It was just as we remembered, and we sat over our meal sharing memories of our trip.

2 lbs beef, cubed for stew
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp sea salt
1 scant Tbsp black peppercorns
1 bottle (750 ml) decent red wine

Crack the peppercorns in a mortar. Put the beef, garlic, salt, and cracked pepper in a large pot. Pour the wine over the meat, and bake in a 350 degree oven for about three hours.

I don't have a mortar and pestle, so I just put the peppercorns in a sandwich bag and smashed them a bit with a rolling pin. Oh, and I used Chianti for the wine, since that's more authentic for the region. I also took the lazy route, and cooked this in a crockpot for five hours, then finished it in the oven for about an hour.

I remembered the sauce being thicker, so I added a tablespoon of cornstarch to about 1/4 cup of water and whisked until it was smooth. Then I removed a bit of the sauce from the pot, added the cornstarch, and poured it all back into the pot.

This dish has a strong flavor, so something simple like Little Stars and a vegetable would round out the meal nicely.


Lisa hosts Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays over at Blessed with Grace. Visit her for more yummy recipes!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wishing and Hoping and Thinking and Praying

Oh, I love my beautiful miracle Evie. She is everything I hoped for when I prayed to become a mom. I'm greedy, though. I want another baby. But today, my stupid "monthly visitor" showed up.

I just want to cry. And I probably will, later. I'll snuggle under the covers with Chris and tell him how sad I am and the tears will come.

I was hoping I would just "get" pregnant. Chris and I have undergone all the tests, and there's nothing wrong. Nothing except I simply don't conceive. I would complain about how frustrating "undiagnosed infertility" is, but I know there are others out there with diagnosed fertility issues that are more frustrating than my struggle.

With each month that passes, we are getting closer and closer to IVF. I HATE IVF! The tests and needles and pressure. So much money with an unsure outcome. A 50/50 chance of a baby.

I was blessed and lucky last time. Evie was born from our first and only IVF cycle. What if it doesn't work this time, though? This is it - our last shot. So very much is riding on this.

I want to feel the flutter of another baby moving in my womb. I want to rock another baby in the wee hours of the night. I want to see my Baby Evie as a big sister, and hear my children giggling together.

I'm reminding myself to name before God ALL the things I am grateful for - not just the good, but also the difficult. His hand is guiding it all. I know He has not made a mistake in giving me this situation.

But, oh, on cold nights like this, it is a terrible burden to bear.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

You're All Winners in My Book

Last week, Jane gave me the BFF Gold Card Award. I was thrilled, because I love her blog. Jane blogs from Mozambique, where she and her husband work with Maranatha Volunteers International. She is a wonderful mommy to cute little Esme, and together they do tons of fun learning activities and crafts.

The rules for this award are simple: pass it along to people who have been following your blog for a long time, and then to a new follower from another country.

Since my blog is only a few months old, this was difficult! I appreciate every single comment that is left! Comments are a way to interact with those of you who are reading, and I really enjoy getting to know you all better. Plus, they let me know someone has actually read my post! So to everyone who lays their eyeballs on this - thank you for reading, and for leaving a comment when you are so inclined.

I am passing the award on to several people who almost always comment on my posts!

Fiona is a new mommy to beautiful Iain. Her blog makes me remember (just a year or so back in time,) when Evie was an infant. Plus, I love to see her Iain in all his cuteness! I'm always excited to receive a notification that Fiona has left a comment!

Scarlett O'Kara was one of the first people to comment regularly on my blog. I love her recipes, stories about her kids, and the enthusiasm she has for her football teams!

Jackie is a sweet mommy to gorgeous Savannah. Savannah is just a little older than Evie, so it's fun to see what's ahead for me! Plus, Jackie always knows what fun things are happening in the blogosphere, and she's not afraid to join in!

And my sweet family, my sister Rachel and my father-in-law Bruce, leave great comments. Rachel writes funny posts about ordinary life (elastic pants, anyone?) and Dad is chronicling his year of life on the road. I love them both so much!

Finally, Renee leaves me sweet comments, and I'm glad I found her blog. She's lives in Canada, and is a mommy to precious Rebeka. She's expecting another baby soon, so things are about to get even more interesting!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Easy Halloween Decoration

Halloween is a big deal on Oakbriar Farm.

My next door neighbors go all out with their decorating. They have a graveyard, cute signs, orange lights, goblins on the porch, and a blow up haunted house. When we drive up, Evie yells out "Goblin! Goblin!"

Halloween night is full of fun! We get hundreds of Trick-or-Treaters, and hang out on the driveway (or in the garage if it rains,) handing out candy and "aww-ing" over all the children in their costumes.

But I'm not really all that excited about decorating. As Evie gets older, I am sure I'll do more. For the time being, though, I only decorate the door. I have a plastic Trick or Treat banner on the door, and a tiny ghost stuck into the planter. That's it.

So when I saw this idea at The Crafty Crow, I thought it would make a simple and cute addition to my Halloween door. Sewing Stars has a free printable template for this friendly little skeleton. You just print it on cardstock, cut out, connect with brads, and hang.

It was easy, and gave a little extra "oomph" to the door!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Almost Wordless Wednesday

One of my favorite pictures of Evie as a baby. She was probably about two months old when Chris took this shot. Beautiful, huh?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

For Fiona

I'm stealing from Tari again.

Fiona is sick with an ear and sinus infection. I hope this makes her laugh, which as we all know, is the best medicine!

The Germ
A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.

--- Ogden Nash

Apple Dumplings

When I was sick a few weeks ago, my mother was my saving grace. She normally watches Evie on Tuesdays so I can attend a Bible Study group at church. When I was sick, though, I skipped the class. My mom took Evie anyway, and I slept all day. Really. My mom brought her back at naptime, and I only woke up long enough to get Evie to sleep.

After that day of rest, I was on the mend. My mom called a few days later and said she and her friend Mary were going to pick Evie up and take her apple picking. I was happy for the chance at more sleep. At first, that is. Then I started thinking about what I would be missing. This was Evie's first trip to pick apples, and I wanted to participate. So, I hauled myself off the couch and into the shower.

We had a great time in the apple orchard. The sun was shining and it was cool. Evie reached up to pick apples from low branches and shined them up on her pants. We all ate A LOT of apples! And we brought a lot of apples home. What to do with them?

The ambitious part of me wanted to make an apple strudel. However, my sister told me about an easy and yummy recipe that I tried instead. I don't know what it's really named, but I called them Apple Dumplings.

Apple Dumplings
16 oz can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
2 apples
1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 T cinnamon (to taste)
1 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut each biscuit into quarters and set aside.

Mix sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

Peel apples. Then using the apple peeler, peel the apples into thin strips. (Each strip should be several inches long.)

Dip a piece of biscuit into the butter, then into the cinnamon sugar. Wrap a couple strips of apple around it, and place into the bottom of a 13X9 inch pan. Continue with remaining biscuit pieces. You will only have enough for a single layer in the pan.

Pour any remaining butter and sugar over the dumplings.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until dumplings are golden brown and sauce is bubbling.


Lisa hosts Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays over at Blessed with Grace. Visit her for more yummy recipes!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Twenty-One Months

Sweet Evie,

I was in the shower this morning, when I suddenly realized yesterday was your twenty-one month birthday! I can't believe I forgot!

Twenty-one months! When people ask your age, it seems strange to say "She's twenty-one months." This may be the time I start replying with "She's almost two." My breath catches just a bit as I write that. Almost two...

Your imagination is blossoming. Your favorite "pretend" activity is cooking. You often stir pots and bowls of who-knows-what. After the food is "done," you offer Daddy and me bite after bite. You also love to have tea parties. Of course, being Miss Independent, you prepare the tea all by yourself and then give it to us.

You also love dressing up. Just a few days ago, you learned the word "princess." Now you are a princess when I put your hair in pigtails or when you wear a tutu. You like to wear hats of all kinds when dressing up. You might pair a fireman's hat or a baseball cap with a dress. Whatever the outfit, you are always the most beautiful girl I know.

You must take after GaGa, because you are quite the artist. We color or paint or draw every single day. GaGa and I thought your first paintings would end up completely brown, but you surprised us. You keep your colors separate and create beautiful works of art. Just tonight, you colored on the carpet for the first time. This was not my favorite of your creations.

I can't believe how quickly you are learning language. You say so many words! My favorite is when I ask you what a pirate says and you reply "Arr Matey!" It cracks me up! You get excited when you see colors, especially orange pumpkins. You don't know the word "pumpkin" yet, but you scream out "Orange!" Pumpkins are everywhere this time of year, so I'm hearing about them a lot!

Of course, you know all the names and colors of The Backyardigans. You watch an episode almost every day, but your entire day revolves around these characters. You carry around your little stuffed Pablo, and ask to listen to their "See Bee," which is Evie-speak for CD.

You've learned how to open the childproof drawers and cabinets. This is no end of frustration for Daddy and me. You get out our good Post-It notes and rip them apart one by one. You help youself to the lip gloss in the drawers. You even figured out where we keep the gum and candy. When we tell you no, you say "Tic Tac, please? Gum, please?" Of course, the contents of this drawer have been relocated elsewhere!

Obviously, candy is still your favorite food. Fortunately, it's followed closely behind by apples, noodles of any kind, and edamame. When I took you to the doctor last week, that scale I hate so much still read only 20 pounds.

And the saga of putting things in your nose continues. Today you were upset, and you kept telling me "Seeds!" You tried to stick my finger in your nose. It was only then that I understood you had stuck a sunflower seed up your nose, and you needed my help getting it out. Ah, a mother's job...

You are the best little girl. You are developing a lot of empathy for others. When you see someone cry, whether in a book or in public or on TV, you mimic their face and say "Cry." Likewise, you love the attention you get when you hug or kiss someone. You and Daddy play a game where you listen to his heart, which is really Daddy's way of getting you to sit still with him and cuddle. It's very cute.

You are my miracle baby. I love you so very much. Each day, you grow bigger and smarter and sweeter. And each day, my miracle gets better and better.

Love, Mommy

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Random "Evie-ness"

When Chris and I bought this house, I was thrilled to see a Twisted Willow tree in the backyard. My love for the tree was short lived since the little leaves clutter our deck almost year-round, and brittle sticks fall down non-stop. It's a huge tree, and Chris was worried that it's so close to the house. Plus, it has a few dead branches.

We had an arborist take a look at the tree several weeks ago, and he recommended having it cut down. It's a small fortune to have a tree removed, but we were more worried about damage to our foundation from the roots, or damage to our house if branches break off in an ice storm.

So, a team of guys showed up Friday to cut it down. They did most of the work while Evie was sleeping, but we peeked out when she woke up. WOW! There is only one other tree in the backyard, so it looks bare right now. Evie was interested in watching the men cut the tree into pieces with chainsaws.

But she keeps asking "New tree?"

Our dog, Murphy, loves to run around in the backyard. We have beige carpet, so when she comes inside, Chris wipes her paws with damp paper towels. Lately, Evie screams "Help!" and runs over to them. And you might wonder - how exactly does she help? She grabs a few paper towels from the pile and feverishly wipes her own feet.

Lastly, Murphy has this gross habit of licking Chris' leg. He doesn't even notice when she does it, but I do. I hear the licking and it just disgusts me. Well, Evie isn't bothered at all. She walks over and licks his leg, too.

That's all, folks!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Penny for Your Thoughts

There is a Backyardigans episode where Tyrone loses his lucky penny, and the cast journeys to the center of the Earth to find it. So, naturally, Evie is obsessed with pennies.

Luckily, I don't have a child who puts things in her mouth. Since we watched this episode, I've given Evie a few pennies to play with. They're scattered around the house, and she'll randomly find them. When she does, she shouts "Penny! Tyrone!"

The other day, Chris and I were in the living room just vegging while Evie played. There were no pennies in sight, but her Backyardigans guitar was on the floor. She came over to me and asked for a penny. When I said I didn't have one, she reached over to my hand and plucked an imaginary cent from my palm! She pinched her little fingers together and held them up for me, saying "Penny." Then she took it over to Tyrone's picture on the guitar and pretended to give it to him. She played this game, back and forth between Chris and me for at least fifteen minutes.

Chris had the idea to get out the piggy bank my mom gave Evie when she was born. Brilliant! Evie now spends plenty of time dropping pennies, dimes, and quarters into her bank. Not only is she occupied, but she's working on her fine motor skills at the same time!

In our home, pennies are priceless these days.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

I grew up without much. In fact, I remember fourth grade when I became aware my lunch ticket was a different color than the lunch tickets my friends held. I felt such shame when I realized this was because my lunches were free. I was a "poor kid."

There were many things I did without. This is not to say my childhood was lacking joy. My brother and sisters and I played outside and went swimming and had a kitten. My mom made apple strudel with us, and we had the riches of music in our home. I still don't know how my parents did it, but we had Cabbage Patch Dolls and Barbies and bicycles and Care Bears.

That shame thing is a terrible burden to carry around, though.

I grew into an adult with a successful career. My husband also did well, and soon I found myself buying a house in affluent West St. Louis County. We both drove shiny cars and ate at nice sushi restaurants. We took cruises and traveled to warm beaches and flew to Europe. One day about a year ago, I plunked down $400 for a designer purse. Without even blinking.

That was probably the turning point for me. With that purse on my arm and my expensive salon haircut, I was sure no one could see my past. The funny thing is, I began feeling ashamed of that purse. Oh, most of the time I loved it. But here and there, I had huge flashes of guilt. What could $400 have done for my family when I was a girl?

And, as they say, having a baby changes everything.

Chris and I began discussing going to one income. Though I had taken cuts in pay over the years, even moving into the non-profit sector, I still brought in a significant chunk of our earnings. If I quit my job, what would we have to give up?

The more we talked about it, the more I realized the "stuff" I would be giving up didn't really matter. I even started looking around my house, feeling choked by all of our "stuff." Did we really need all of this?

Of course, the answer is no. I fully realize all of these things I have are gifts from God. Truly. I just don't think He meant me to use His gifts to purchase designer handbags. So I quit my job, and Chris and I have started to unclutter our lives. We're purging some of this "stuff" that surrounds us, and it feels good.

And there are others we can help at the same time. Although I can say with sincerity that I grew up poor, I still had food in my belly and a roof over my head. Poor in America and poor in the rest of the world are two very different things. Read The Poisonwood Bible. True, it's a work of fiction. But it made me thankful for what I have, since so many others have much, much less. So many others have absolutely nothing.

This spring, Chris and I will have another garage sale to get rid of some of the "stuff" that's choking us. And we'll be donating the proceeds to Kiva.

Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.

The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals in need of funding - not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.

Are you, too, drowning in your "stuff?" If so, please consider joining me in a gift to Kiva. I can assure you, it's as much a gift to yourself as to anyone else.

This post is part of Blog Action Day 08 - Poverty. Oh, and read my sister's post here and Tari's post here. They will certainly make you think, and they may even make you cry. You've been warned.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We Need a Little Christmas Now?

Okay, the economy is tanking. Partisan politics is out of control. Gas prices are high.

And Evie has a double ear infection. After another terrible night, I took her to the doctor this morning. We left with a prescription that took them 45 minutes to fill at Walgreens. (I heard one of the pharmacy techs ask "What is that child's name? Let's get her filled, since she's crying.)

Then Evie had the tantrum to end all tantrums. I won't go into details, but suffice to say, I put her to bed without lunch. This has not been my best day as a mother.

So I need a little cheering up.

We all probably need a little cheering up. But I think this is a bit much... As I was driving to the pediatrician's office, I turned on a local radio station. 101.1 WMVN is playing 'round the clock Christmas music.

Have they looked at a calendar? It's only October. We haven't even made it through Halloween or Thanksgiving yet. Call me Scrooge, but it's not Christmas cheer I'm looking for.

Bah humbug.

Monday, October 13, 2008

On Staying Home

Today was a rough day. It started early, like midnight. Evie woke up crying and nothing I did could calm her down. She didn't want to sleep in my bed, she wanted to be in her own bed. But being in her bed made her cry. I finally coaxed her into bed with Chris and I, where she tossed and turned all night. It made for very little sleep.

Still, she woke up bright and early just before 7:00 AM. We met friends for a play date and she did pretty well. That is, until we returned home. As soon as we made it through the door, she had a meltdown. A big one. I ended up sitting on the floor with Evie in my lap while she ate a stick of string cheese and cold pepperoni slices.

After her (short) nap, she was so clingy. It was just one of those difficult afternoons and evenings. She was cranky and needed constant attention. She cried a lot. It was all I could do not to lose my cool with her. Now she is finally in bed and I am completely exhausted.

It's hard being a mom. I hear a lot of stay at home moms talk about how hard this "job" is. They are right, of course. However, I have some perspective here.

I used to wake up at 5:00 AM so I could shower and get Evie ready. Chris and I would leave home and he would drive her to daycare. My heart ached every single day when his car turned and mine kept driving... away from her.

I would get to work, late again, where my impossible to-do list waited. I had endless meetings to attend, a line of people outside my door, and a BlackBerry that never stopped. I always left at least half an hour late each day, and screeched into the daycare parking lot to pick Evie up.

Then we would have only a few short hours left in the evening to play, eat, take a bath, and put my precious girl to bed. And then it started all over again. The only breaks we had in this routine were weekends and days when Evie was sick. Sick days were terrible because I felt guilty for calling in to work, and I felt guilty that I was thinking of work when my daughter was sick.

So, yes, being a stay at home mom is a hard job. But for me, being a working mom was even harder. Don't get me wrong, I liked my job. I still wish I could have a fulfilling career and be the mother I want to be. So many other mothers can balance both, but I simply could not.

And so I appreciate my wonderful husband who still gets up before 6:00 AM each morning to head to work. He drives a dreadful commute and works long hours. He has made huge material sacrifices so I can be home each day with Evie. Days like today just underscore the greatness of my husband. Chris is a great husband, partner, friend, provider, father, garbage-taker-outer, Diaper Genie emptier, lawn care crew, dog walker, baby toy, and laundry washer. He is truly a great man, and I am lucky to be his wife. I couldn't do this without him.

Thanks, Honey.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Your Backyard Friends

Saturday was an important day in our household, because we took Evie to see The Backyardigans Live!

She is currently completely obsessed with this cartoon, so it was the perfect time to take her. We listened to songs from the show on the drive into the city, and explained to Evie we were going to meet The Backyardigans. As we drove up to The Fox, their marquee changed to show a picture of The Backyardigans. Evie pointed and screamed "More!" I knew this was going to be fun.

We walked inside, and the ushers handed us a little paper shield with pictures of the characters. And then Evie noticed the huge display of merchandise for sale. Her eyes lit up, and she took off running - all the way across the room, past everyone in line, right up to the counter. She was yelling "Pablo! Tyrone! Tasha! Pablo!" Chris and I let her choose something to purchase, and she picked a stuffed Pablo toy. (Yes, he made it into her bed, and she's been carrying him around for the last two days.)

We made our way to our seats, and Evie noticed the stage with a giant The Backyardigans sign. She was pointing and yelling "Backyardigans! Please!" The characters took turns coming over the loudspeaker and announcing the show would be starting soon. The excitement was building - you could feel buzzing coming from all the kids.

And then it began... Oh, Evie loved the show! She yelled for Pablo and Tyrone, marched in the aisle as they climbed Dragon Mountain, and pumped her little hands in the air as she imitated Uniqua's dance moves. It really thrilled me to watch her face and see her excitement.

It was another one of those days when I know how blessed I am to be her mother. Evie is such an animated, sweet, smart, beautiful little girl. OUR LITTLE GIRL, who we took to her first show. I know there are many more days like this down the road, but I certainly did not take this one for granted. It was perfect.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

It is finally happening!

Since I laid on that ultrasound table and heard we were having a girl, I have dreamed of a girly-girl. You know, with tutus and bows and pretty dresses. A girl who wants to wear her high-heel play shoes to dinner. A girl who asks to wear her dress-up clothes to the grocery store. A girl who MUST have ribbons in her pig tails.

Today, Evie and I went to lunch together. As we were going out the door, Evie insisted on wearing this yellow hat. Kind of silly, but perfectly girly. She wore it all during lunch, like she was at high tea or something.

I love having a daughter.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

In the Still of the Night

We hit a rough patch in my new sleeping strategy. I'd been holding Evie until she fell asleep and then sneaking her into her bed. The problem was, she would wake up before 10:00 and want to go in our bed. Argh!

But, for some unknown reason, she's cooperating again. (Hallelujah!) For the past few nights, she'll sleep in her bed until 2:00 or 3:00 AM. Even though she's in a big girl bed, she doesn't climb out on her own. She still cries for me to come and get her.

Monday night, she cried for me, and I went to her. As I began to lift her from her bed, Evie started screaming "Selws!" I had no idea what she was saying, and my foggy brain wasn't about to try to figure it out. So I just picked her up and carried her into my room. Oh, she threw a fit! She just kept yelling "Selws!" over and over. She was pointing in the direction of her room, so I took her back in. She really confused me by climbing back into her bed. Then she got out again, this time by herself. Bells went off - she had been saying "Self!" Miss Independent wanted to get out of bed on her own.

When she cried for me Tuesday night, I understood when she demanded "Self." I grabbed her stuffed animals and pillow and we groggily made our way into the kitchen for a sippy cup of water. Then we settled into bed and fell asleep. Easy peasy.

Last night, I heard her cry out, and I got up to get her. As I was in the hall, I watched Evie talking to herself in her room. She said "Self," and tugged her little blanket off the bed. She walked into the hall and seemed surprised to see me. Then she asked for water, and I followed her into the kitchen.

Something about this moment made my heart hurt. Here she was, independent enough to get out of bed on her own. But dragging that dingy pink blanket made her seem so little. All at once, I saw my baby and my big girl. My past and my future - together in an instant. It took my breath away.

The moment was quickly broken though, and soon enough we were in bed. Chris and I and Evie, together. I watched her drift off, and with each breath, I thanked God for her. And we all slept soundly until morning.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Zucchini Egg Bake

I figure home gardens are overflowing with zucchini about now, so this is a good recipe to share. I make this every Christmas morning. It's a delicious and elegant way to serve eggs.

Zucchini Egg Bake
3 c zucchini, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c butter
4 eggs
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 T dried parsley (or 1/4 c minced fresh parsley)
1/2 t dried basil (or 1 1/2 t minced fresh basil)
1/2 t salt
1/2 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, saute the zucchini, onion and garlic in butter until tender; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, and salt. Stir in cooked zucchini mixture and Monterey Jack cheese.

Pour into a greased 1 quart baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


You can find more yummy recipes at Blessed with Grace.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sniffle... Cough, Cough

Okay, it's official. I'm sick.

After coughing my lungs out and many sleepless nights on the couch, I decided it was time for medical intervention. I saw my doctor today, and he diagnosed a dreaded sinus infection and a very red, irritated throat. So I wasn't just being a baby after all!

I'm not letting a little sickness deter me from blogging, but I am going to take it easy until I feel better. By taking it easy, I mean I'm going to shamelssly steal ideas from bloggers I admire. My first theft is from Tari at The Grass Widow's Diary. I enjoy her writing - it's a mixture of faith, family, and politics that is very interesting.

100 Things to Eat Before You Die

If you want to play along, the rules are simple:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. (I'll never say never. 15 years ago, I would have sworn I'd never eat raw fish, but now sushi is one of my favorite foods.)

Here's my list, with some editorializing as we go along. If I had to look it up, I included a link, in case you don't know what it is, either.

1. Venison.
2. Nettle tea.
3. Huevos rancheros.
4. Steak tartare - um, I almost had this in Paris. I sent the steak back twice before I gave up. I ended up eating McDonald's that night, no joke.
5. Crocodile.
6. Black pudding - Okay, I will say never on this one.
7. Cheese fondue - Yes, lovely cheese fondue. A favorite.
8. Carp.
9. Borscht - Oddly, no. But I love beets.
10. Baba ghanoush.
11. Calamari - love it. I have a great memory of great calamari with the Hubmeier clan in Atlanta.
12. Pho.
13. PB&J sandwich.
14. Aloo gobi - I hope they have this on the buffet at Jyoti's Naturalization Party this weekend.
15. Hot dog from a street cart - in New York City, no less.
16. Epoisses - a pungent, unpasturized French cheese? Nope.
17. Black truffle.
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes.
19. Steamed pork buns.
20. Pistachio ice cream.
21. Heirloom tomatoes - Maybe?
22. Fresh wild berries.
23. Foie gras.
24. Rice and beans - with Tabasco, mmmmm.
25. Brawn, or head cheese - this might be an exception to my never say never rule.
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper - Who would even do this?
27. Dulce de leche.
28. Oysters.
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda - No, but please, sometime in my life, I'd like to.
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl - Clam chowder, yes. Sourdough bowl, yes. But never together.
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float - one of my favorite things.
36. Cognac with a fat cigar - no, but this is one of Chris' favorites.
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O - two words: float trip.
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat - Jyoti's specialty.
42. Whole insects.
43. Phaal - I swear this has to be another one of Jyoti's specialties!
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more.
46. Fugu (pufferfish.)
47. Chicken tikka masala - love it.
48. Eel - unagi!
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut - Heaven on Earth.
50. Sea urchin.
51. Prickly pear.
52. Umeboshi.
53. Abalone - I just bolded this one. Chris said "You've eaten abalone?" I said yes, it's like tuna. he said "That's albacore."
54. Paneer - What's with all the Indian food?
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal - embarrassingly often.
56. Spaetzle - at a great Bosnia restaurant in the city.
57. Dirty gin martini.
58. Beer above 8% ABV: I grew up 2 hours from Montreal - of course.
59. Poutine - This is real?
60. Carob chips.
61. S'mores - Yep. Even won a contest for best s'mores.
62. Sweetbreads - same as head cheese.
63. Kaolin - Okay, so I used to dry toothpaste on the back of a toy chest as a kid. Then I would scrape it off and eat it. No joke. So I'm sure I've had this.
64. Currywurst - sounds intersting, in a weird sort of way.
65. Durian - Please click on the link here. It cracks me up.
66. Frogs’ legs - Oh, I used to so make fun of a girl in college who had been "Giggin' frogs."
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - Yes, yes, yes, yes!
68. Haggis - Why did I say never say never?
69. Fried plantain.
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette.
71. Gazpacho.
72. Caviar and blini.
73. Louche absinthe.
74. Gjetost, or brunost.
75. Roadkill - Even though I grew up in Oklahoma, I am no redneck.
76. Baijiu.
77. Hostess Fruit Pie - Cherry.
78. Snail - Lovely in Paris.
79. Lapsang souchong.
80. Bellini - Oh, really lovely in Venice. I want one now.
81. Tom yum.
82. Eggs Benedict - When I worked for Anheuser-Busch, I traveled to New York and ordered this from room service every single morning. This was when I was skinny. I've never had such good breakfast since.
83. Pocky.
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant - Someday...
85. Kobe beef.
86. Hare.
87. Goulash.
88. Flowers - candied, on cupcakes.
89. Horse - to borrow from Tari, how could you?
90. Criollo chocolate.
91. Spam - Unfortunately.
92. Soft shell crab.
93. Rose harissa - sounds good, though.
94. Catfish.
95. Mole poblano.
96. Bagel and lox - my husband grew up in New York.
97. Lobster Thermidor.
98. Polenta.
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.
100. Snake - I don't think so.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Someone Please Help Me Understand

So on the way to see GaGa's motorcycle last week, Evie had a snack in the car. It was some kind of fruit-roll-up-type snack, and it gave her sticky fingers. Evie hates sticky fingers, so I handed her a baby wipe and told her to wipe her hands and her chin.

A few minutes later, Evie screamed hysterically from her car seat. She had her finger up her nose and I could see a giant booger. Like any good mother, I reached over to pull it out. But it wasn't a booger - it was a huge piece of the baby wipe. I removed several other pieces of shredded wipe, and scolded Evie. We don't put things up our nose.

She keeps doing it, though. Tissue and napkins and even lentils. Up. her. nose.

Has anyone else had this problem? I am consistent in telling her not to put things up her nose, but she is obsessed. Please tell me this phase will pass!

Friday, October 3, 2008

And the Award Goes To...

In the past few weeks, I've received my first two bloggy awards!

I have to say I am honestly surprised and honored. I still get excited when someone just leaves a comment, so to be recognized with a little award is really wonderful!

Jackie at Our Moments, Our Memories gave me the Brilliante Weblog Premio 2008 award and Scarlet O'Kara gave me the I Love You This Much award.

I love both of these fun women, and I'm glad I've had the opportunity to get to know them. I would never have guessed I could make such good friends just by blogging. But we lay our hearts out right here on the big ol' internet for all the world to see, and it just makes becoming friends a little easier.

And now it's my turn to pass along a bit of bloggy love.

I hereby bequeath the Brilliant Award to Momma at (Mostly) Natural Momma. I love reading about her faith and her beautiful little Sweet Pea. He is the cutest thing, and I am addicted to seeing his pictures!

By royal decree, I give the I Love You This Much Award to Heather at Cool and Hip, I am Not. Heather was my first true bloggy friend, and I hope I have the chance to meet her in person some day. She's always encouraging, and we've had long strings of email about everything from Evie to Kate Gosselin. Heather even checked in on me last week when I hadn't posted in a few days. She's a gem.

What started as a way to keep family and friends updated on this new chapter in my life has really allowed me to meet a whole community of great women. I am so thankful for all of you!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hush, Hush

I'm doing something bad, something warned against by pediatricians and all the parenting books. And I don't care one bit. I love it.

I'm napping with Evie.

This past week, I have been fighting a tough cold. I need to rest. But as anyone with a toddler knows, you don't get much rest when they are awake. So, when Evie naps, I nap.

We curl up together in my bed, and Evie asks "Cuddle?" Oh, she has the sweetest voice. I drape my arm over her little body. Then she whispers "Hush, hush." Those words are from her newest favorite song, Mermaid Lullaby, and they are my cue to sing.

I love this song, and especially the first two lines:
Hush, my little darlin',
You've had a busy day.

As I sing, Evie settles into me and calms down. I watch her in all her drama as she squeezes her eyes shut. Her little eyelids flutter for awhile, and then her breathing evens out. In just minutes, she's in dreamland.

This week, I've been so exhausted that I've drifted off, too. I can't explain how sweet it is to sleep next to a child. Evie is so small and beautiful and warm and cuddly. We curl up together for an hour and a half, until I hear her rustle the covers and her little voice pleads "Out!"

Even though we're sleeping, it's precious time. I adore it.

And, no matter the expert opinions, I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008