stereotypes, sea creatures, sillyness, a screwup, and Sarah

First off, what in tarnation is this bugger? It’s dead, don’t worry. When I first saw their shells all over the beach i thought they were like our sand crabs back home. They don’t have the front claws though. Now that I have found one, I can say for certain I have no idea what it is. I wonder what they taste like? steamed…butter and herb sauce…fettuccine…white wine…

Top and bottom views, respectively.

Next up, I’m not sure if i’ve ever mentioned this but Violet is a daddy’s girl. All the way. I felt a little left out until Henry came along. Looks like we have a serious mamma’s boy on our hands. Future-daughter-in-law, watch out.

One of Violet’s favorite ways to start a snack is to just say no to everything we offer her. She shrugs, says “Noooo….” and points to somewhere past my shoulder into the mysterious depths of the cupboard or fridge. Then, she starts repeating an unintelligible food name over and over. Finally, we pick her up and let her point out what she wants, which means she gets to see everything in the entire kitchen. Crafty. The funny part is that once she decides on a food, she can pronounce it just fine.

tonight after dinner i made red velvet cupcakes for the first time. Note to self: do not bake or follow directions involving specific amounts when distracted. Instead of that 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar the recipe called for, I put in half a cup. HALF.A.CUP.  Really? half a cup of vinegar didn’t raise any red flags? Half a cup? REALLY?

Last but not least, I just finished editing the engagement shots I took of my sister-in-law and her fiance. Here’s a taste of the fun.

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blissfully rocking

Today I’m just reposting a poem I read today, but I promise it isn’t a cop-out to avoid having to come up with something blogworthy. I’ve heard this poem before but it means a little bit more to me each time I read it. Learning to prioritize my life has taken on a whole new feel since I’ve had children. Unfortunately, parenthood is the biggest competition on the face of the planet, with special prizes given out to those who can keep their house clean, healthy meals on the table, and look good doing it all while maintaining that self-identity and personal interests. Realistically, raising children calls for all rules to be thrown out the window except the one where you just spend all day loving your children. If you get that one done, you’re good. Forget the dishes.

Babies Don’t Keep
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!

I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

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Revenge is a Dish Best Served in the Bathtub

Before I tell you the following story, I want you to take a good long look at the picture above. See the sibling love? Can’t you just feel the warmth and fondness of their relationship emanating from her sweet harmonica song and his soft coos? Got it? Okay.

Today Violet bit Henry. Not super hard, but enough to leave toothmarks on his little pink arm. He cried, she did too–albeit for a different reason–and then we had a good long talk about how brothers and sisters do not hurt each other. I thought the issue was resolved until I put them in the bath together right after. Next thing I know, my sweet son has wrapped his iron fist into her soft curls and Violet is officially freaking out. Let me tell you, having her hair seriously yanked by Henry really rattled Violet’s cage. So let’s review; older sibling hurts younger sibling in a classic case of might-makes-right. Younger sibling gets his revenge by deviously waiting until least expected. Typical.

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finally

Obviously I’m not a filmographer. This is really just for our parents, so don’t judge my mad focusing skills.

Here’s some of the beach…

Last but certainly not least, when Violet was a baby my dad told me that the way you make babies laugh is by tickling their face with their feet. That’s how he got me to laugh for the first time. It sounds ridiculous but it worked on the first try with Violet and now Henry.

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what not to eat

Since we have a fenced in patio on either side of the condo, I just leave the doors open during the day so that Violet can run back and forth. That’s the good part. The bad part is that she is taste testing everything of interest. Yesterday she was plucking the heads off the bulb flowers and eating them. Today she was meticulously stuffing dirt into the mouth of her sippy cup and adjusting by taste.

Next up, I know there still aren’t any pictures to show you guys. If it makes you feel better, I did take pictures for you of that beach and our “village” and Violet chasing birds and throwing sand at the surf again. Someday soon I promise to get my act together…

By the way, Henry slept through the night last night for the first time ever. Yay! OK, so maybe it was only six hours, but it still counts.

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dum

I love the way violet pronounces things. She loves gum, and since i usually have some in my purse, she is always asking for it.

“Momma! Dum! Pease Dum!

“No Violet, you can’t have dum right now.”

“Nooooo! DUM!”

Gum?”

“Yeah.”

In other news, we finally have a car. It feels a little funny to have previously been driving through this exclusive neighborhood in a new car, and show up today in our true colors. For those of you that wonder about the kind of car, I can confidently say that it is a gold car with cloth interior and four tires. It might also possibly be a ’98 Olds 88, but don’t quote me on that. Here’s the crazy thing we’ve discovered in shopping for a car here. The license plates don’t stay with the car, they stay with the driver. What? Who does that kind of stupid? Wait, isn’t John Kerry the something of this state? I should just google it before I go on record as an idiot, but i’m pretty sure he’s the senator or something. Figures. Hmmm, I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about politics here…Anyway, so I have no idea why they do it that way, other than that it gives them a whole lot more red tape and cost.

Okay, well I have to go. My kiddos are freaking cute.

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whew!

I never understood how people could hang out at the beach all day. I think that’s probably because I grew up in Washington. We just got back from finally visiting the beach here on cape cod about a half mile from our house. It. Was. Amazing. We’ve been on the go all day trying to get stuff done, and it’s just been too hot out, so we didn’t make it down to the beach till about 8pm. It was twilight–the most wonderful time of day, and as we walked down several tiny lanes all the houses around us were spilling out onto their porches and decks with people finishing dinner. The sky was hung with satin gray clouds and the air was still like before a storm, muffling the laughter and clink of wine glasses and conversation. After winding down a shell path through some thick shrubs we came around a corner and found miles of sandy beach to our left and our right and the Atlantic ocean directly in front. Undaunted, Violet promptly walked to the surf and threw sand into the waves for the next ten minutes.

The water temperature was better than bathtub.

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well…

So, we’re here. Obviously. We’re still looking for a car, and trying to get settled in to our condo which included a gigantinormous shopping trip to walmart and a grocery store. luckily, we’re renting an impala for a few days and the trunk is really big. I should have posted a video of us stuffing everything into that trunk. I bet chevy would buy it for a commercial and we’d make millions. Oh well.

3 things i do not like:

The news anchor this morning called it a “shark summer” when referring to a new shark siting off the coast. I guess we’ll be ankle wading and not body surfing.

Apparently there’s a bed bug epidemic everywhere in the US this summer. Those of you in Washington probably don’t know about this because we don’t have bugs there. I haven’t found any so far and I’m really praying we don’t because I don’t think there’s an easy way of getting rid of those buggers.

Somewhere outside of Boston a horse died from a mosquito bite, so now i guess we have to watch out for mosquitos. great.

It’s okay Mom.

The heat actually hasn’t been really that bad. Yes, it is in the mid to upper eighties. Yes, we do break out in a full body sweat that only subsides when we sit inside an air-conditioned car. And yes, the beach is too hot for children, but on the bright side…we have AC.

We’re still catching up on crazy sleep deprivation so I’m done now, but tomorrow (maybe) i’ll post a video of our digs and the village we live in. Mashuop Village to be exact. This community is so exclusive that there is a uniformed officer at a desk at the gate sipping her iced coffee and making sure that only residents and guests enter. Um….If there’s a guard to keep everyone else off our beach it better be pretty incredible. we’re having breakfast and reading the bible out there in the morning while it’s still cool. can’t wait!

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Moniker Malady, etc.

Violet has a new favorite animal. Thanks to Uncle Trustin, she was introduced to a ferret this evening. Trustin’s ferret was very friendly and playful and Violet was completely amazed by everything about her. The delightful creature’s unfortunate name? “Damnit”.

of course…by delightful, i mean delightful when they belong to someone else and you get to see them on occassion, but you don’t have to smell them all the time, or clean up after then, or convince them to come out of that hole in the wall they made, or leave the toilet paper alone, or not make a nest with the lining of your couch, or not eat your pet fish, or not scare the pet fish so bad that they die of fright, or not pee on your shoes. I much prefer ferrets as someone else’s pet.

Right now I should be sleeping. AJ and I just sat down and finalized our trip list. We have so much to do before we leave yet, so it’s a good thing our flight is in the evening. I just realized that 13 weeks is a freaking long time to be that far away from friends and family. Please, please skype with us.

Anyway, here’s the next 48 hours for us:

sleep,

pack,

clean (again),

work off list,

leave for airport,

get there early to let Violet run off steam,

get on the plane and do our best to sleep for the 5+ hour flight,

arrive in beantown at 3am our time,

grab the rental car and head from boston to plymouth rock,

take a break,

get some food,

head down to cape cod,

buy a car off craigslist after meeting with several different owners,

get the keys from our leasing agent,

check out the new digs,

eat,

unpack,

sleep.

i am freaking excited.

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again?

my little sister is staying with us a few days to watch Violet while I pack and clean for our trip. She’s discovering Violet’s storytime needs. Each book must be read at least twice. If it’s a good one, double that. If it involves animal noises…all bets are off.

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cats and craziness

We’re leaving in less than a week. This is crazy. No, it’s just adventure and AJ and I have the travel bug real bad. I do alternately freak out at the thought of being that far away from “home” for that long, or mentally high-five myself for being brave enough to have such an adventurous life. Who am I kidding…the craziest adventure I’ve got going on right now, is trying to bribe a two-year old to eat her breakfast with her gummy bear vitamins while changing a diaper on the little boy who is determined to start peeing as soon as the diaper comes off, all while making a grocery list. Life in itself is a pretty wild ride when you have little kids. I think traveling and a change of pace helps me cope with the juxtaposition of doldrums and hair-pulling craziness that is parenthood.

Today we got rid of our cat. I should say Violet’s cat, since AJ and I don’t really care for him nearly as much as she does. AJ’s sister came to take him to her house since we can’t leave him here. I didn’t think Violet would understand that he was leaving–probably forever–but she’s been sad all day. I felt pretty much awful when Beth was carrying Charley away and Violet and I were standing in the doorway while she cried “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty…”

Anyway, (*sniff*) one last thing: I’ve never used skype before, have you? It’s a free internet-based video chat service that we’re going to use to stay in touch with friends and family. If you have skype and you want to chat, please let me know because I’d love to say hi and see some familiar faces while we’re gone. Plus, it would be a great help if you could chat with Violet while I clean or cook dinner or take a nap. Hey, that’s a great idea. I’m going to set up skype tomorrow morning so that I can just crawl back into bed. Who am I kidding…

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Nature or Nurture?

You tell me. Today Violet and I busted out her first tea party set ever from her Auntie Sarah for her birthday last weekend. Here’s what amazed me: She knew exactly what to do with it. With no prior experience in tea partying ways, she:

held a pinkie out while drinking,

drank pretend tea (which is what you do when your spoil-sport mom won’t let you have water all over the house)

made sipping sounds,

set the table with all the cups and saucer before starting,

shared with her mother,

stirred after adding “ingredients” to the “tea”,

and carried a hand-made sign reading “Don’t blame me, I voted for McCain.”

wait…

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Chocolate Cake Yay!

Chocolate Banana Cream Cake
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CAKE:
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
  • 1/2 bag chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup Butter
  • 1 cup Boiling Water
  • ½ cups Buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk +1 teaspoon white vinegar)
  • 2 whole Beaten Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 cups mashed bananas
Preparation Instructions

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together.
Add boiling water and chocolate chips, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, bananas, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into cake pans and bake at 350-degrees for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Filling: Kids, sometimes you use leftovers of one thing to make an entirely different thing. For this filling, you could use some cream cheese frosting, with whipped cream added. That’s kind of what I did. I had leftover cream cheese frosting, and leftover cream pie filling and i just mixed those bad boys up and smothered it in between. The important thing to remember here is that frosting and fillings are very much a work of art meant only to be judged by your tastebuds.

Frosting: Here’s the deal. Chocolate frosting is so easy I don’t even want to blog about it. take some sugah, add some buttah, an’ some chocolate powdah, an’ some milk, whip that baby up!

Marshmallow fondant: read all about it here.

step 1: make the cake, cool it, slice it topsy-turvy, freeze it.

step 2: make all your frosting/filling/fondant

step 3: assemble each tier with the filling sandwiched in between

step 4: frost each tier with the chocolate frosting

step 5: roll out fondant and cover each tier individually

step 6: stack tiers

step 7: decorate some more.

step 8: makes this

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cake and sheep

Today (last night at midnight) I made Violet a cake.

Tomorrow i will post the recipe for my made-up “CHOCOLATECAKEYAY!!!” I made a six-layer, three tier, topsy-turvy, chocolate banana cream cake with marshmallow fondant.

It was so fun. We celebrated her party today at the Forest Park in Everett, and we discovered that sheep do not eat sawdust.

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For Violet, of course…

First you were tiny,

and fragile

and

small.

Then you grew bigger

and faster

and

tall.

Now you’re a hugger

and with kisses you do smother

your sweet little brother,

your Daddy,

and your Mother.

Happy second birthday Sweet Girl!

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goodness gracious

Remember how I told you thisiswhyyourefat.com finally posted my made-up creation called The Fat Monkey? Here’s my two favorite reader comments from their site:

I love the fact that, at some point, or maybe several, the thought “enough!” has been deliberately overruled. This is so wrong; I love it!

surely no one would eat this… :-/

Oh yes, surely someone would. Or wouldn’t. I’ve got like a bagillion pounds to go before I lose my Henry weight. Bleck. (okay, i’d eat it if someone made me, or if it was just sitting on the counter…)

Speaking of a bagillion pounds, you know how being tan makes you look thinner, right? I’m currently in a crisis because I can’t tan, so I use sunless tanning lotion and accidentally used too much so I have Oompa Loompa legs right now. Not a good look for me.

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You know you live in western Washington when,

a day where temperatures go over ninety degrees means that everything stops and everyone goes somewhere to cool off.

Since we’re both natives, AJ and I decided to hit the beach this evening to cool off. I suppose if you were from down south you’d think our weather was fantastic today and while it was, it was also just too darn hot.

As much as I love Washington, I’m very much looking forward to some Cape Cod beaches.

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Mashpee or Bust!

You know, the thing about adventure is that it’s never convenient or easy. It does keep your on your toes though and living life on your toes is a whole lot better than watching it pass while sitting on your butt. With that in mind, we’re going to take our two cute kids, and travel 3167 miles to a quaint little Cape Cod town called Mashpee, Ma for three months. We leave in two and a half weeks. Some people call it crazy, we call it adventure.

So, here’s what you need to know.

  1. AJ is taking a leave of absence from his job here to take a position with a company that places nurses in temporary positions. Since the Cape is a huge tourism destination, they have an influx of patients on vacation at a dialysis center right now so they need a temporary RN to fill in.
  2. Boston in the fall? Now it’s your chance. If you know me, and we’re friends, and you’re really cool, we might be able to put you up if you want to visit. If you think it would be weird, then trust me–it will be, so don’t ask.
  3. We’ll be living in housing supplied by the travel agency.
  4. The tomato plant I’ve been babying this whole time will not be ripe in time for us to try some.
  5. I’m very excited.
  6. In case you’ve never watched any Veggie Tales, you might be confused by the reoccurring references to “Boston in the fall…” sorry.
  7. Here\’s a link to a video of Mashpee from the chamber of commerce website if you want to see a little of what it looks like.
  8. I have no idea how much stuff to bring.
  9. I will keep blogging and show you how awesome it is.
  10. (fingers crossed).
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For the sake of solidarity

I heard it said once that being born in the US is like winning the cosmic lottery. Regardless of how you feel about this country, you can’t deny that living here comes with some innate privileges. We can attend a church with no repercussions of persecution, we don’t have a one child policy like China, and I don’t worry that one day my child might die in my arms for want of food.

As I reflected on this earlier, I was struck by the responsibility that comes with these privileges. It only makes sense that with the freedom I am allowed, I bear responsibility to fight for the freedoms of others, whether that is freedom from hunger, or the freedom to raise a child. No matter how I look at it, I can’t seem to get past how much sense it makes. I can’t imagine a scenario where I was born in the US with the unique rights and privileges of an American without also being born into a certain level of responsibility to help the less fortunate.

I’m just not sure what that looks like. Sometimes the trees get in the way of seeing the forest.

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Random Fact of the Day

Lately, Violet has been blaming Isla her friend for anything wrong that happens. I asked her where her shoes were today and she shrugged and then started shouting, “No, no Isla!” and pointing downstairs.

“Did Isla take your shoes”

“Yeah. No, no Isla!”

We were at a BBQ this evening with Isla’s mom, and when I mentioned this new development to her she told me that lately when she gives Isla something, Isla says “But not for Violet.”

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Island day and Pink and Say

First, today we went to Jetty Island. It. Was. Magical. For all you local yokels, it’s in Everett and you take a small ferry across to the island from the public boat launch. You should go. Here is the link for more info. Next time we’re bringing sand castle tools, because this is one of the best sandy beaches around.

Next up, today’s spotlight on an author/illustrator features Patricia Polacco. Born in 1944, Polacco is still actively writing books and has written many. I’m pointing ya’ll’s noses in her directions for several reasons. One: her artwork embraces the frizzy-haired, knock-kneed awkwardness of humanity and allows her characters their imperfections which only serves to add to their charm. Two: she’s a storyteller. You know those people that always have a great story to tell about some event in their life? They regale you with that one time when they had their tonsils taken out and had to eat gallons of pink ice cream, or they weave a story at bedtime that tells you all about your great-grandma. That’s Polacco. Most of her stories are based on her life experiences which adds to their richness and depth as she writes about anything from a childhood make-believe friend to a story now lost in family tradition about the hand that shook the hand that shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln. It’s time you read some children’s books.

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Mike Mulligan, Mary Anne and some others…

There’s two things you should know about my spotlight children’s book author/illustrator for today. One, she died in 1968 at 59 years old with lung cancer. Kids, I’m not sure if she smoked, but either way–don’t, it’s stupid. Two, she wrote and illustrated some fantastic books.

Virginia Lee Burton is probably best known for her unique ability to bring life and personality to inanimate objects like steam shovels, houses, and more as the main characters in her books. If you click on the link for her name, it will show you some of the books she’s written. One of the reasons I picked her for today is because I love how her books speak to the imagination in children, while not boring adults. Maybe that sounded wrong. If you’re a parent then you can probably relate to reading a book to your child that is boring as all get out to you, but continues to fascinate them over and over and over (and over).  I also like how Burton allows readers to see through the eyes of a character that is witnessing some of the profound amounts of change that took place during her lifetime. I think it’s important for children to have first-person perspectives of life in other cultures and times, even if it is through the eyes of a house that started out on a perfect grassy knoll and ended up surrounded by a city. Don’t worry though, there’s nothing pc about Burton’s views on change, and while her resolutions may seem one-dimensional, they’re perfect for giving children another perspective on life without losing any of the charm of storytelling.

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