Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Supper With the Crislers

Note:  All of Derek's contributions to the conversation are displayed in Blue; he was frequently interjecting and trying to keep the peace at the table.

Last night at supper, Adelaide turned to me and asked, "If you had to pick someone to make omelets and cookies, who would you choose?  I mean, who do you think is the best at making those things?"

"Ummm... well, your daddy makes the best omelets, but I make the best cookies, so-"

"No, you have to choose one person to make all of it- like, I think my school makes the best cookies-"

"I BEG YOUR PARDON?  Did you just say you think your school makes the best cookies?"

"Oh, no.  Take it back, Adelaide, TAKE IT BACK."

Adelaide laughs, not appreciating the gravity of the situation.  "Well, I do think their cookies are really really good-"

"Are you saying you think the school's cookies are better than mine?  IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE SAYING HERE?"

"Adelaide, tell your mommy that her cookies are the best.  Tell her now!"

"Mom!  Have you ever even had my school's cookies?"

"Adelaide, you can't use reason in an argument with a female.  Now is the time to backpedal.  BACKPEDAL!"

"So what kind of cookies are they making that are just so great, hmmm?  And I swear, if you say Peanut Butter, Grasshopper, or possibly Oatmeal Raisin (I'm still not quite convinced I have the best Oatmeal Raisin cookie recipe), I WILL DISOWN YOU."

Adelaide is completely unfazed by this, possibly because she doesn't know what 'disown' means.  "I just mean they make really good sugar cookies, and those monster cookies that have M&M's in them, and their chocolate chip cookies are the best, too."

"Do you see what they're doing here, Adelaide?  I could easily make "the best" cookies if I stooped to putting candy in all of them!"

Again our daughter laughs, totally unconcerned.  I glare across the table at Derek, who vigorously nods and says,

"You make the best cookies in the world.  I love you."

I'm starting to think Derek's right to be concerned over what his life will be like in ten years.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When Strange Is a Good Thing

Oh, Atticus.

Atticus, Atticus, Atticus.

You, sir, are such a puzzle to me.

More often than not, I really feel like I just don't understand our three-year-old son.  To be fair, I'm pretty sure he feels the same way about me.  Confused.  Bewildered.  Puzzled.

It's hard for me to tell how much of it is his boy-ness and how much is him as an individual.  I have no brothers, and was more or less surrounded by girls throughout my childhood.  So small boys don't really fall within my normal milieu.

It's different with Adelaide.  She's remarkably similar to me in many ways, so I find her to be easier to predict and understand (except for the whole dissolving-into-tears-all-the-time thing- I really don't get that).  And Caedmon is still young enough that we're still discovering his little personality (although he does request to be put to bed with one or two books at naptime and bedtime).

Atticus does lots of normal little boy things that I was pretty much expecting.  He loves sports, particularly golf.  He likes trains and trucks and getting dirty.

But then there's other stuff.  Take his clothing, for example.  He generally won't come down to breakfast until he's completely dressed in the outfit of his choosing.  When I do pick out his clothes, he'll often inform me that that shirt doesn't go with those shorts, or that he only wears this shirt with these pants.  His favorite shoes are his brown leather loafers, which he typically pairs with Derek's 20-year-old Vikings hat.  He disappears upstairs multiple times a day to change his outfit.  He recently asked me, "Can you look for a green belt at a garage sale?  And a green watch, please?"  Because he's obsessed with the color green.

How about music?  I check out a couple CD's every week from the library, trying to expose our kiddos to an array of music.  Atticus likes a lot of what we listen to, but his favorite is easily The Beatles.  Second favorite?  The Beach Boys.  You should hear him belt out "Barbara Ann."

And girls.  Oh, my.  I knew that with two sons, we would be addressing the issue of our son's eventual interest in the opposite sex.  But what I didn't know was that "eventual" would be three years old.

We watched quite a bit of the Olympics.  What was Atticus's favorite sport to watch?

If you guessed Rhythmic Gymnastics, then congratulations!  You guessed what I never would have.

The first time it came on, he was immediately entranced.  The commercials would interrupt his viewing pleasure, and he would ask (over and over and OVER), "When are those girls gonna be back on?"  Adelaide or Caedmon would try to say something, and he would say, "SSHHH!   I can't hear the girls!"  When he wasn't shushing the rest of us, he was saying things like, "I like the pink girl.  The pink girl's pretty," and "When I can see the pink-and-green girl again?"  He referred to them by the colors of their costumes, because he seemed most besotted by the Russian girls, and it was easier to call them according to color than actually try and pronounce their names.

While none of the other ladies in his life seem to measure up to Russian Rhythmic Gymnast standards, he will occasionally tell me, "I like So-And-So.  She's REALLY pretty."  (Pronounced, "I yike (insert name).  She's REEWEE pretty.")

I'm really hoping the whole girl thing is just a phase.  Because who wants their son to be known as the lecher on the playground?

I realize that lots of kids don't fit into a predictable mold.  Atticus often calls to mind a report card of my sister's that came home one day:  In the comments section, it simply said, "Kelli is a unique child."  'Unique' is Lutheran for "Your kid is so weird."  I take comfort in the fact that Kelli's turned out better than most of the people I know.

Conclusion:  I just love our Beatles-singing, loafer-wearing, Russian rhythmic gymnastic girls-loving boy.

He's just so unique.

Friday, August 24, 2012


Last Thursday, Adelaide came home from her first day of school with a backpack full of papers.

One of those papers was a form detailing a cheerleading clinic being offered by our high school's varsity cheerleaders for elementary girls.

I asked Adelaide if she would like to participate, and she replied in the affirmative.

So a few days ago, our daughter attended the first day of the clinic, learning cheers and pseudo-dance routines in her elementary school's gym.  She had fun.  It was fine.

Yesterday, she and I walked down to the high school football field for the second day of the clinic, a dress rehearsal for tonight's performance at the big football game.

I sat in the bleachers with the other moms and watched 100+ young girls yell and cheer, their faces wreathed in smiles and enthusiasm.

Except for Adelaide, that is.

It was interesting to watch her.  She did all the moves, thrusting her arms up and down and to the sides in rhythm.  But while her voice was yelling, "GO-BIG-RED!" her hooded eyes and dead expression communicated the message, "I hate my life."

She made it through the hour, collected her t-shirt and poms, and we began walking home.  As soon as we were out of earshot of all the other families, she stopped walking, pressed her face into my stomach, and started crying.

"Adelaide, what's wrong?"

"I'm not cheering tomorrow night!"

"Why not?  You did such a good job out there!"

"I can't do all that cheerleading stuff in front of all those people."

"Adelaide, you did that dance clinic just last year, and you performed in front of a lot of people then, remember?"

"Yeah, but this is different.  In cheerleading they say you have to smile like every single second and I can't smile that much.  IT'S JUST NOT NATURAL."

I must admit, I had to stifle my first, instinctual reaction to agree with her and go on a little rant of my own.
No offense to any current or former cheerleaders reading this.  I actually really enjoy watching the national cheerleading championships on ESPN every so often.  When confronted with real live cheerleaders, however, I find myself unable to handle that much smiling and pep.  Because I'm with Adelaide on this one- it really is unnatural.

Instead I said something about everyone being different and it's okay if she doesn't want to smile that much.  We walked the rest of the way home, talked the whole thing over with Derek, and agreed that she didn't have to perform tonight, but that this couldn't become a trend; following through on your commitments is important.

She went to bed a little less upset, but still a little bitter about cheerleading.

I went to bed satisfied that our daughter wasn't going to be a cheerleader- until this morning when she woke up and told me that she'd changed her mind, she was going to cheer at tonight's game after all.  When I asked her why, she said that she'd thought about it all night and decided that she couldn't let herself be afraid to perform in front of all those people.  She'd just have to cheer anyway.

That's admirable and everything, but I just keep thinking about how Adelaide the Angry Cheerleader is going to bring everyone down a bit tonight.

It should be fun.

UPDATE:  Adelaide survived the cheer performance.  She even managed to smile a couple times when she saw her Daddy, brothers, and me in the bleachers.  The rest of the time, it was pretty much what I was expecting:

For those of you that haven't had the joy of meeting our Adelaide, she's the one sitting in the back row glaring at you.

And here she is in action.  Again, the one standing in the back row, staring at the camera, not smiling.  Really, though, the face she's wearing here is a vast improvement over her practice expression.

So in the end, I was right.  It was pretty fun.  And Atticus just loved getting to see "lots and lots and lots of girls!"  For an explanation, see tomorrow's post.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Also Don't Let Her Wear Scalps On Her Belt

A couple months ago, Adelaide opened her mouth to say something, and I noticed something strange.

She had two rows of teeth on the bottom.

Because I possess such a logic-driven brain, my first, panicked thought was, Why is our daughter turning into a shark?

Then reason took over and I realized her adult teeth had simply grown in behind the baby teeth, and no wonder- Adelaide had classmates losing teeth her first week of preschool, but here she was, weeks before first grade, all those milk teeth still in her mouth.

I checked her front baby teeth, and one was pretty loose.

After months of wiggling that loose tooth, it was all but ready to fall out.  When she pushed it with her tongue, it fell forward and just kind of hung there by a small scrap of gum.  A few nights ago she asked me to pull it, but it wasn't until last night that I finally gave in.  We tight a piece of thread around it, and after a couple false starts, it was finally free:  She had lost her first tooth.

We cleaned it up, and started talking about placing it under her pillow.  I followed her into her bedroom, and as she climbed up to her top bunk, she asked, "What will the tooth fairy do with my tooth?"  Then she gave me a sideways, sardonic glance and added, "I know you're the tooth fairy, by the way."


"Well, she'll probably put it in a little bag, then stick it in your baby book."

At that point she did something that I should probably have learned to expect by now, but still often catches me by surprise:  She burst into tears.

"Adelaide!  Why are you crying?"

*Sob, hiccup, sob*  "I don't want you to put my tooth in my baby book!"  *Sob, sob*

"Why not?"

"B-b-b-because, I wanted to make a fun craft with it!" she wailed.

"Adelaide, no.  NO.  I will not allow you to be the kid who walks around the playground with jewelry MADE OF TEETH."

Due to the sudden increase in volume of her weeping, I'm pretty sure I'd guessed right about which particular "fun craft" she'd had in mind for her tooth.

I gotta say, so far this is shaping up to be a pretty special year.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

You're So Sly, God

You know what God's really, really good at?

Aside from pretty much everything, I mean?

Keeping me humble.

All I have to do is even consider getting on some kind of high horse, and He knocks me right down.

A few weeks ago I was at church.  As I was walking our children to their classes, another mother crossed my path, her own children in tow.  Her shirt was of a style that gave me an eyeful of a certain part of her anatomy that should really never see the light of day.  Really, lady? I thought.  Did you wake up this morning and think, "Hmmm, what should I wear to church today?  I know!  The kind of clothing worn by insecure adolescent girls who's misplaced sense of worth is completely tied up in their appearance and new-found pieces of anatomy!"  Hmph.

A few hours later, when our family had all returned home from church, Derek informed me that when I stood in front of the huge bank of windows in the children's area at church, you could see right through my skirt.

Ma'am, I see you one cleavage shirt, and raise you one transparent skirt.

Then a few days ago, as the kiddos and I were driving south to attend another niece's baptism, we were listening to the radio.  A local station was playing an hour's worth of 90's throwback music, and I soon found myself listening to a 15-year-old interview with a man who's album was on the charts at the time.  The subject of the interview was the title of this album, Schizophrenic.  The artist was talking about how he often feels like he has so many different personalities and so Schizophrenic was just the perfect title, and I find myself saying, "Really?  I'm pretty sure what you're referring to is DID, but I guess Dissociative Identity Disorder just isn't as whimsical as schizophrenia, even though schizophrenia has nothing to do with multiple personalities. Idiot."

A few minutes after that, a popular 90's song played, and she was singing about love and specifically a kiss and all kind of other mushy things.  Then she made reference to "centrifugal motion."  And I couldn't help but tell her that given the context of her song, I was pretty sure she was under the misapprehension that centrifugal force brings people together, when really the opposite is true- it would drive her and her lover apart.  Was that really what she meant to say?  I think not.

But before I could really start despairing about our culture and its relative intelligence, I talked to my brother-in-law.  He started talking about nearby highways and roads and directions and how to get different places, and I was reminded that I am severely directionally handicapped.  If the sun isn't rising or setting, I have no way which way is east or south or wherever, and more often than not, if I'm the one driving the car, we are lost.

Then my sister asked me what a gerund was, and I, a grammar freak, could not for the life of me remember.

And just to top off all that imperfection, I accidentally immersed my cell phone in water twice over the weekend, bringing the number of times my phone has been baptized up to three.  I have no idea how it still works.

So you see, God does not quibble to let me know that I have no place judging other people or looking down on anyone at all.  And God isn't really sly at all; the Bible is blatantly clear that we are not to judge each other, and no one is above or below the other.

And if I sometimes feel that God is having a pretty good laugh over smacking me around, I console myself with the fact that at least he's generally pretty gentle with me.  He gives me little love taps to keep me in line when what I deserve is a full-out punch in the mouth.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's that time of year again, when we sally forth to...

That's right:  The Iowa State Fair!

Right about here is where I should put photos of the butter cow, Snow White and the seven dwarves-

Really, spell check?  "Dwarves" is incorrect? Let's just google that... aha, "dwarfs" is apparently the standard plural form of the word "dwarf," but Tolkien popularized the variant plural, "dwarves."  You're welcome.

Anyway, we saw the butter cow, Snow White and the seven dwarfs/dwarves made of butter, a 10 1/2-foot moose made of chocolate, and other confectionary delights that we were actually allowed to eat, but I didn't have the camera a lot of the time. 

I did have the camera, however, when Grandma and Papa bought all three kiddos some of those ice cream cookie sandwich things.

Caedmon was most pleased.

Except then Evil Mommy and Daddy decided that his little stomach probably couldn't handle all of the giant sandwich thing- at least not without some unpleasant repercussions that we would no doubt have to deal with later.

So we confiscated the remaining 40% of the treat.

Poor Caedmon.

Adelaide has this thing about hanging on people.  Not too often, but I wasn't at all surprised to see this photo.  Fortunately, it wasn't hot the day we were there.  What is it with kids and their sudden need to drape themselves all over you any time the temperature rises?  

Anyway, here she is, hanging on her Papa.

And right about here is where I start to feel guilty because I just realized that we didn't really get any great photos of Atticus at The Fair.  I can't just post photos of two of them and exclude the third, so here's a random photo of our Atticus.

Man, that kid is weird.

All in all, we had a great day at The Fair.  Although I am still reeling from our inability to find any corn on the cob.  What is The Iowa State Fair without corn on the cob?  

It's been bothering me.  

Ah, well.  I can always try again... in a year.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fishtail Braid Tutorial

Nobody panic.

You're at the right place.  This is the blog where I write about the mundane and ridiculous details of the life of our family.

This is not a how-to-fix-hair blog.  This is not a how-to-improve-your-appearance-in-any-way-shape-or-form blog.  Trust me when I say you do not want me writing about that kind of thing.

But over the past month or so, I've counted seven different people who have commented on Adelaide's hair when I've fixed it this way, saying, "I just don't know how to do that," or, "I wish I could do that to my daughter's/sister's/pony's/own hair."

Here's the thing: the fishtail braid (sometimes known as the herringbone or fishbone braid) is very, very easy.

Adelaide has declared that she is tired of me undoing her hair to demonstrate when these different people mention her hairstyle, so I'm just going to do a quick tutorial and refer people here.

Now let's see how confusing I can make something relatively easy.

Before we begin, I've found that this style is easiest to do when hair is wet.  You can do it with dry hair for a slightly messier look that seems to be all the rage with college girls these days, but if you want the style to stay in her hair for the day- and when you're first trying this out- I'd go with wet hair.

First, divide hair into two sections.

Next, take a small section on the outside of the right half...

...And cross it over, grabbing it with your left hand, combining it with the left half of her hair.

Here in the first few cross-overs, it's important to pull the hair taut each time- makes for a tighter braid.

Now we're going to do the same thing on the other side.

Take a small section on the outside of the left half...

...And pass it over to combine it with the right half of hair.

You should now have something like this:

Now you're just going to repeat those steps:  Grab a small bunch of hair on the outside right, pass it to the inside left.  Grab a small bunch of hair on the outside left, pass it to the inside right.  Over and over again.

Here it is about a dozen passes down:

And just keep going.  Add a hair band at the end...

And you're done.  A pretty braid with a not-so-pretty name.

Now if there aren't any questions, go forth and braid.

Oh, I almost forgot!  Derek only agreed to take tons of pics of me braiding our daughter's hair in exchange for the promise that this one would make it on here:

What?  I always braid our daughter's hair under a Vikings hat.  You probably should, too.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Reader Discretion Advised

Adelaide starts 1st grade in a few days.

The thing about your kids approaching milestones is that it dredges up all kind of memories of your own past.  Fortunately, I had an excellent first grade experience, so the memories that keep floating to the surface are kind of random but mostly nice.

I remember my teacher, Miss Y, and how she used to carefully enunciate each word during our spelling tests, then sing a few lines of a song containing that word.  That's how I learned the theme to the show, "Love Boat."  I also remember that her initials combined to spell her three-letter first name, which, to a six-year-old, is pretty much the coolest thing ever.

I remember we had an old cast-iron claw-footed bathtub painted a bright blue sitting in the classroom.  It had all kinds of plump pillows in it, and if you finished your work early, you got to sit in it and read.  Also the coolest thing ever.

I remember the time my dad was supposed to pick me up from school.  Most days I guess I rode the bus or my mom came to get me, but for whatever reason, that day it was my dad's job.  I stood outside with Miss Y, watching the parking lot empty and my classmates disappear around me.  When it was clear that he wasn't coming, we went inside to the office so she could call him.  I don't really remember her side of the conversation, but I later heard him recount that the conversation went something like this:

*Ring, ring*

"This is David."  (This is how my dad has always, always answered the phone.  Even at home.  Even in the middle of the night.  I have a feeling he was probably doing this as a preschooler, his little kid voice brisk and business-like as he announced into the phone, "This is David."  Anyway.)

"Hi, David, this is Miss Y at Trinity.  I have Kristy here..."

"Ah, *inappropriate expletive*."

Then, as he realized he was speaking to the nice, young teacher of his daughter, who happened to teach at a conservative Christian school, and had just cussed in her ear, "Oh, *wildly inappropriate expletive*!"

All I know about what happened next is that he apologized, she managed to laugh about it, and he came speeding into the parking lot just a few minutes later.

I'm now really curious to see what second grade will dredge up.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

As Promised

Remember how, a couple weeks ago, I talked about how Atticus and Adelaide were down visiting their grandparents, and how Caedmon was the only child for a few days, and how I would soon be posting tons of photos of him?

I never did that.

So here I was, uploading photos from our camera, hunting for pictures of that week with Caedmon.  

I took exactly one.
I am a terrible mother.

There it is: the one photo I took.  Caedmon, enjoying being the sole focus of his Daddy's attention.

Because I promised more photos of C, here are couple recent ones:

Caedmon sleeping.  Because I can't resist taking photos of sleeping babies.  Sleeping toddlers.  Sleeping almost-two-year-olds.  Whatever.

Caedmon at the park.  Being cute.

{This is where more photos of Caedmon should be.  But apparently I haven't been taking pictures of my children this summer.  Again: terrible mother.}

I hereby vow to take more pictures of our kiddos.  But I'm pretty sure I've made that vow before.

More proof I'm not the world's greatest parent?  Lately Caedmon has taken to saying "Oops," every time he drops something, falls down, runs into things, etc.  

Except he doesn't pronounce it, "Oops."  He says it with a lisp:  "Oopth."

I don't know why, but his pronunciation of that word in his little Caedmon voice has the strangest effect on me.  Basically I get all fluttery and flap my hands and squeal, "That is the CUTEST THING EVER."

So lately, because I want to hear him say it more often, I've taken to not-so-subtly knocking things out of Caedmon's hands, just to hear him say, "Oopth!"

And maybe lightly pushing him into furniture.

And perhaps tripping him a time or twelve.  

Mother of the Year Award, right here!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Saying "Yes"

I went to book club this morning.

One of the things I love about this particular book club are its members: there's a wide range of ages, and I find that makes for some very interesting discussion, no matter what book we're reading.

Last month's book- the one we discussed this morning- was The Soldier's Wife, by Margaret Leroy.  I'll get around to posting a review on the "Books" page one of these days, but that's not what I intend to talk about today.  No, today we're going to be talking about a very specific topic that came up at this morning's meeting.

The book is set on the island of Guernsey, part of the UK, during the Nazi occupation of World War II.  A major factor in the setting of the story is the fact that the inhabitants of the island had to go without so many things, being cut off from the mainland.  Necessities (including things like food and fuel to heat homes), especially toward the end of the war, were scarce, not to mention any extra, more frivolous items.

Several of the women in our club remember WWII.  They were children who's fathers and brothers and friends were gone for years, fighting with the Allies.  As such, they have a different perspective from those of us who are younger, who have perhaps been affected by war, but often on a much more peripheral basis than those who lived through the second World War.

One of the many things we have never experienced is rationing.  Most of my generation don't know what it means to save every scrap of tinfoil and each piece of string or rubber or glass to either reuse or turn in to contribute to the war effort.  We just don't know what that's like.

I don't think there's anything wrong with that in and of itself.  But I certainly had to agree with one older lady who went on a bit of a mini-rant about how Christmas used to be special, but that for today's children, who get toys and extra items on a regular basis, Christmas just isn't the same.

Maybe I should have been offended.  I am, after all, a parent of this spoiled generation of children of which she's speaking.  Instead, I was nodding my head, wishing everyone thought like her.

You see, I say, "No," to our children all the time.  Our kiddos didn't even realize you could buy those little items in the check-out line at Wal-Mart until about a year ago.  We just don't buy things like that for our kids.  No toys, no clothes, no candy, no extras.  Because you only have to say "yes" once for your kids to completely lose their minds and go rogue on you.  For us, it's just easier for "No" to be the status quo.  They rarely even ask (because they know the answer will always be, "Not today," my softened up, nicer version of "No"), and when they do, it's like a joke.  No fits, no tantrums, no nothing.

Now, please don't imagine our kiddos go around wearing burlap sacks and pretending that nice stick they found outside is a dolly.  Thanks to some generous grandparents, they have all kinds of fun playthings, and thanks to lots and lots of time spent at garage sales, they have nice clothes.  They even get new books on a regular basis (provided I can find them for under $0.50 at those same sales).

I also don't want you to think I'm judging you if you occasionally buy toys for your kids.  (Unless you're buying them something every time you leave the house.  Then, YES, I am judging you.)  They're your kids, it's your money.  Buy whatever you want.

But please remember that, the next time you're at the store and the little darlings are just begging for that cheap piece of plastic crap, it's actually most likely in your children's best interest for you to not buy that thing for them.

And for you other few parents who are more like me and maybe a little too far into the "I refuse to buy my children anything unless it's practical or second-hand," please remember that because we're saying "No" to our children so much, we need to find areas where our response can be "Yes."

Yes, I will play seven games of dominoes with you.

Yes, I will haul out your Easy Bake Oven and bake a ridiculously tiny cake with you.

Yes, I will play that mind-numbingly boring game with you.  AGAIN.

Yes, yes, yes, I will read that book to you.  AGAIN.

Because it is my firm belief that what our children really need from us is not more stuff, but us.  They need our time, they need our attention, they need their parents.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pinterest Favorites and Foibles

Men (if there are, in fact, any men that read this blog), don't bother with this one.  I can almost promise you'll be bored to tears.

Ladies, what's the deal with men?  Specifically, men not liking Pinterest?  It's a mystery to me.  But then, I'm not a man.


One of the keys to Pinterest is that you actually have to do some of things that you pin- otherwise it's just a useless time-suck.

And so, here are some of the recipes and crafts from Pinterest that we've tried.  Hopefully you'll either see something we liked and be inspired to try it, or conversely, see some of the things that looked like a good idea but that we found didn't turn out so hot.

Salted Caramel Almond Pretzel Popcorn

popcorn bars

Mmmm, this stuff was good.  I loved it, and Adelaide loved it, but the boys weren't too impressed.  You can see in the photo that the caramel is really too light, and mine turned out the same way.  I think there must be some sort of flaw in her recipe, because she admitted to the same thing when she made it.  Still, I loved the combination of salty and sweet, and if you have a tried-and-true caramel recipe, I would recommend substituting that in there.

Slow Cooker Coke Chicken

Pinned Image

This chicken is billed as being easy, tender, and flavorful.  I'll agree with the easy and tender, but we found it didn't have a whole lot of flavor at all.  Not bad, but not something we'll be making again.

Better Baked Potatoes

Pinned Image

(Couldn't find original website, so can't credit)

For these "better" baked potatoes, you're supposed to slice almost all the way through, then stuff with things like butter, onion slices, garlic, spices, then drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake.  I was expecting great things of these potatoes- and they were a dismal failure.  Tasted like an almost-plain baked potato.  Definitely a fail.

Toddler Muffins

Pinned Image

Derek was convinced these were going to be nasty- I think he was scared of all the bananas, carrots, squash, and oatmeal I was tossing into the mixer.  They actually ended up being really good, lightly sweet with plenty of fruits and veggies, and the kids absolutely love them.  They're mini muffins, so I've taken to throwing a bunch in a bag if we're going somewhere and I think the kids will need a snack.  The only variation I made was using quick-cooking oats rather than the oat bran it calls for. 

Yogurt Drops

These are really easy- you put some yogurt in a sandwich bag, snip off a corner, and squeeze small drops onto a cookie sheet, then stick it in a freezer until the yogurt drops are frozen.  The kids really liked these, but I didn't really see the point.  I thought they tasted like... well, really cold yogurt.  I think I would appreciate these more if I still had to spoon-feed any of our kids; these are probably the kind of food that would be good for toddlers new to the feeding-themselves game.

Fried Apple Pancake Rings

These sounded so promising: apple rings, dipped in pancake batter, cooked on the griddle, then sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar.  I'm not sure if I just did it wrong or what, but these were kind of a pain to make.  It was difficult to get the pancake batter to evenly coat and stay on the rings throughout the process, and while they tasted okay, didn't really seem worth the effort.

Cake Batter Popcorn

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I gotta say, this stuff was way too sweet for me- and I have a sweet tooth the size of Texas.  This was almost sickly sweet.  Nobody really liked it but Adelaide, and even she could only eat tiny amounts at a time.  Never ever making again.

Tote Bag

I just made this bag yesterday, and I really have to recommend that you make one for yourself right this second.  I had to wait awhile to make this; it calls for decorator-weight fabric, and I didn't have any on hand.  I finally found the blue exterior fabric in the clearance bin at Jo-Ann's (it was originally $20/yard- who pays that much for fabric?).  It was so easy to put together, and the tutorial gives you the dimensions for two different size options; I went with the larger one because I wanted to be able to use it as a library bag, and we tend to check out lots of books at each visit.  I can't wait to make the smaller one with some different fabric.

Orange-Infused Vinegar Cleaning Solution

I make our all-purpose cleaner with a mixture of white vinegar, water, and just a tiny bit of dish soap.  It works great, but somebody (Derek) has complained about the smell after I've cleaned a large area with it.  Something about vinegar or pickles or something.  I wouldn't know, I have a terrible sense of smell, and can barely catch a whiff of the stuff.  I thought I had found a solution when I stumbled across this pin, where you essentially stuff orange peels in a jar with vinegar, let it sit for a couple weeks, then make your cleaner as usual.  The cleaner should then have a fresh, citrus-ey scent, rather than the stringent vinegar smell.  I asked Derek what he thought when I was using it (because I sure couldn't tell), and he said it smelled like vinegar with a little orange scent thrown in.  Fail.

Sheet Music Wall Art

The tutorial for this project comes from one of my favorite crafty/design blogs, Jones Design Company.  I love her taste, and have used a lot of the tutorials she's created to make all kinds of things.  This was the most recent, made with an old hymnal I picked up at a garage sale for $0.50, a canvas on sale from Hobby Lobby, and Mod Podge.  I actually made it at a Pinterest night (a friend of mine hosts these montly, where a bunch of women get together and make crafts they've pinned from Pinterest), and there were several women there who had NEVER USED MOD PODGE.  I have no idea what their childhoods were like, because mine was full of the stuff.  I do plan on framing this and hanging it over the piano rather than just leaving it propped on top, just as soon as I find a super cheap/ not ugly frame for it.

What has everyone else been making?  I'd love to know!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mother-Son Bonding

Caedmon is becoming more independent.

He's 22 months old now- which means in two short months, he will be two years old.

Two, two, two, two.

More and more often, he's asking to walk.  When I'm carrying him, when I try to put him in shopping carts, anytime he sees his older siblings walking.

He doesn't want to sit in his high chair anymore.  I try to let him sit at the table with Atticus and Adelaide at lunchtime, because it's just not happening at supper- he's still way too messy.

He hates being told he's too little- especially when it pertains to something the A-team are currently involved in.

One of the few times he still lets me baby him a bit is at naptime and bedtime.  I read him a couple books of his choosing, pick him up, and he permits me a few seconds of cuddling before lunging for his crib, signifying our time together is over.

Today's naptime was the same.  We read one of his favorites by Sandra Boynton followed by Goodnight Moon, put the books away, and I picked him up.  He must have been feeling especially generous today; I got a good thirty seconds of swaying him back and forth as he sucked on his fingers.  I decided to make the most of this moment and softly said, "I love you, Caedmon."

He picked his head up off my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and replied,

"Where Daddy?"

Hmph.  "Daddy's at work."


"Yes, Daddy's at work, but he won't be home at suppertime tonight; it will be a bit later."


I laid him in his crib, and began to rub his back, the way I normally do for a few brief moments before exiting the room.  Today, however, he said, "No, I do it," and did his best to wrench his arm around and rub himself on the back while lying on his belly.

As I stood in the doorway, preparing to leave his room, I tried one last time.

"Goodnight, Caedmon.  I love you."

"Daddy work?"

Sigh.  "Yes, Daddy's at work.  I love you!"

"I want Daddy."


Any guesses how our bedtime routine will go tonight?