Sunday, January 31, 2010

Indoor Bobsledding

**A warning to the safety-conscious parents out there: you might want to skip this post due to it's graphic depiction of a toddler having a lot of fun in a not totally safe way.**

This weekend we were snowed in. Again. Jonah is quickly catching on to the lack of expeditious snow removal down here in Virginia: He looked out the window yesterday morning at three inches of snow and said, "Oh, we're not going anywhere." So we had to make our own fun indoors.

Now, a mom's idea of making fun indoors might be baking cookies, finger painting, homemade puppets, or playing "Hungry Hungry Hippos". A dad's idea of indoor fun is... not at all what the mom had in mind. It usually involves tools, a huge mess, something broken, and probably someone getting hurt. That said, the dad's idea is always way more fun and creative than the mom's idea. This weekend Dad's idea was indoor bobsledding.

Well, it started out as just a cardboard slide down the first six steps of our staircase.

Benjamin monitored the proceedings from the floor to the side of the stairs.

The slide seemed fun enough to me, but of course Jon had bigger and better ideas: a cardboard bobsled.

Okay, but he'll just sled down the first six steps, right? Well, it turns out that stair bobsledding can be a slippery slope. Why not the middle of the staircase?

Now that we've accomplished that, how about a little higher?

What the heck. Why not do the entire flight of stairs?

Why not send Benjamin down the stairs in the bobsled?

Just Kidding! We're not totally crazy!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh, what a morning

My kids are sick. They both got the cold that I had last week. In retrospect I wasn't very proactive in doing anything last week to prevent them from getting it. Even while I was sick I continued my morning ritual of sharing a grapefruit with Jonah. We take turns having bites... from the same spoon of course.

It wasn't that bad of a cold - just a mildly runny nose, sore throat, and a bit of a cough. Not such a big deal when I had it, but now it's breaking my heart to watch my boys sniff and rub their eyes and listen to them cough and sneeze.

So this morning we added sickness to the regular craziness of our life. I don't know if it's because he's sick or just because he's a 2-year-old, but Jonah has been eating practically nothing lately. He won't even eat snacks. The only things he will eat without coercion are pears, oranges, peaches and candy - not really a balanced diet. This morning I made him eat a bite of cereal and then I gave him a second bite before he had quite finished the first. He gagged and threw up. Breakfast over.

I put Benjamin down for a nap thinking surely he would take a good nap since he's sick and he was so tired. Nope. That stupid 45-minute intruder. He hardly ever sleeps more than 45 minutes, but he really needs to. He's always still tired when he wakes up, but I can't get him to go back to sleep. So I nursed him, changed his diaper and put him in an undershirt. We went downstairs to get some clothes out of the dryer because he didn't have any clean outfits upstairs.

I sat Benjamin in the corner of the armchair as I often do and went to get an outfit. I sent Jonah to get his sippy cup from the fridge. As I was rifling through laundry I heard Benjamin start to fuss. I returned to discover that Jonah had gotten out a bottle of breast milk instead of his sippy. I was saving it to use with rice cereal so it didn't have a nipple on it, just a twist-off cap. Jonah had opened it and was trying to pour it into Benjamin's mouth. The end effect was a crying baby and spilled breast milk all over the chair and Benjamin's undershirt.

After a chat about how only Mommy and Daddy can feed Baby Benjamin, I wiped up the chair as best I could, removed the wet shirt, set Benjamin in the other corner of the chair and went back to the dryer to find another clean undershirt. This time I returned just in time to see Benjamin fall head-first out of the chair onto the hard wood floor. Commence screaming. The only good thing about a sick baby is that he's too hoarse to scream very loud.

We usually leave the house after Benjamin gets up from his nap and I decided to go out even though the kids were sick. It's either be stuck in the house and be miserable, or be out and be miserable, so I chose to be out. We couldn't do anything that involved being around other kids so we went to the discount grocery store. You never know what you're going to find there, but I can usually score some pretty good deals on drinks and snacks. Jonah behaved perfectly and Benjamin hung in there up until we were in the check-out line. He typically screams through the check-out line whether he's sick or well. Though it was a much quieter scream today thanks to his cold.

I fed Jonah candy in the car on the way home so he wouldn't fall asleep. Yesterday he fell asleep on the way home from our outing and then he wouldn't take a nap. Benjamin fell asleep immediately in the car, but of course he woke up shortly after we got home. I managed to get the groceries in the house while both kids cried (Jonah pinched his finger in the mail slot of the door). I set Jonah up in the kitchen with cheese, yogurt and a rice cake and went to nurse Benjamin. Benjamin ate a little then cried and barfed up some phlegm all over himself. Jonah didn't touch the yogurt, had two bites of cheese and two bites of a rice cake. We trouped upstairs to get Jonah to bed. Benjamin could barely hold it together while I read books. Once Jonah was down I went to put Benjamin down. On the way to his room he barfed up a lot more phlegm - this time mostly on me - but he then seemed much happier as a result. So we went downstairs again to get clean clothes for both of us out of the laundry. This time I put him in jammies in the hopes that maybe wearing pj's would help him sleep better. Thankfully he went down without much of a fuss.

So, here I am about an hour after everyone went down and they're still sleeping. Ah. I had a pop-tart for lunch because I just didn't feel like mustering the energy to make a sandwich. But now that I've sat here for a while I think I've rested enough to finish up with this laundry.

Hope your Friday was less crazy than mine!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Jon and I recently celebrated our fifth anniversary. Over the past five years we have certainly gotten to know each other much better. We've become acquainted with each other's quirks, we've learned to push each other's buttons, and more importantly, how not to push each other's buttons.

A few months ago we sat down to dinner to enjoy a new recipe I had made in the crock pot. I often try new recipes and I'm still always looking for new dishes to add to my "repertoire" of meals that I make on a regular basis. The recipe for this "Easy Chicken Alfredo" was certainly easy and it looked like it would turn out pretty good.
My flash made a glare on the cook book page, but you get the general idea. The finished product was very tasty - it definitely made the cut into my regular rotation of meals. But the appearance... well, let's just say the appearance leaves a little to be desired. Okay, a LOT to be desired.

See what I mean? So when we first tried this tasty meal Jon and I both commented on how much we liked it.

Then Jon said, "You would be proud of me. I was just going to say something that would have offended you, but then I decided not to say it because I knew you would be offended."

Well, now I just have to know what he was going to say. By now he knows me well enough. If he thinks something would offend me I'm sure he's right, but I'm still curious. "What were you going to say?"

"Are you sure you want to know?"

"Yeah. What?"

"Well, I was going to call this food 'glop', but I knew you wouldn't like it, so I didn't say it."

Yes, he knows me very well. I would certainly have been offended if he had called my meal "glop". It doesn't matter to me that he would be justified in calling it that, but I would have felt that he was criticizing the product of my efforts. Even though it was "easy" to make, I still had to purchase the ingredients, do the preparation, and assemble the meal in the crock pot in the morning while taking care of the kids. And it tasted good, despite it's unappetizing appearance. Calling my food "glop" would have made me feel unappreciated.

But knowing that Jon thought about calling it glop, but stopped himself because he knows me and doesn't want to hurt my feelings, made me feel loved. Silly how such small things make such a difference. It even made me laugh because it really did look disgusting. So now it has become a joke between us and has strengthened our bond together.

Here's the recipe if you're looking for something yummy for the crock pot. This may not be worthy of serving to company for aesthetic reasons, but you might enjoy it with your family.

Easy Chicken Alfredo (aka "Glop")
1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. dried chives (I didn't have these on hand and had to buy them for this recipe. They were expensive, but I think it was worth it and I'm sure I can use them in other things.)
1 Tbs. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. lemon pepper
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 lb. broccoli, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 can (8 oz.) sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 cup baby carrots
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar (16 oz.) Alfredo sauce
1 package (8 oz.) wide egg noodles, cooked and drained

1. Combine chicken, onion, olive oil, chives, basil, lemon pepper and ginger in slow cooker; stir thoroughly. Add broccoli, bell pepper, water chestnuts, carrots and garlic. Mix well.

2. Cover; cook on LOW 8 hours or on HIGH 3 hours.

3. Add Alfredo sauce and cook an additional 30 minutes or until heated through.

4. Serve over hot egg noodles.

Makes 6 servings

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Recap of 2009

I found this at my friend Shelly's blog and thought it would be a fun way to look back over my past year.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? Live in "The South"

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I usually resolve to keep a cleaner house... I don't think I really kept it last year, but I'm making it again this year and so far I'm doing pretty well! My other resolution for this year is to do all my Christmas shopping before Chistmas Eve. Way before.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Me! Plus about half of everyone I know. I guess I'm at that stage of life.

4. Did anyone close to you die? My grandpa died in February. He died of a stroke, but he had had dementia for several years so in a way it felt like we had already lost him a while back. Still it felt so strange to drive past his nursing home and not go visit him.

5. What countries did you visit? Jonah and I visited Jon while he was working in the Dominican Republic in April. It was a great trip and definitely worth it, but vacationing with a toddler, while pregnant, in a foreign country where you don't speak the language is... not really relaxing. But it was fun and warm and good to be able to be with Jon in the evenings.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? Knowledge of where we will be going on the mission field.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? June 22nd, Benjamin's birthday. September 6th, my dad's wedding. May 23rd, my best friend's wedding.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Surviving the months of August and September when Benjamin was a newborn, we had just moved to a new town and Jon was gone for six weeks on work trips.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not keeping my house clean (see number one).

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? No. Thankfully we've all been very healthy and injury-free.

11. What was the best thing you bought? My fabulous maternity jeans! They were actually a Christmas present from my in-laws. I was never able to find jeans that fit when I was pregnant with Jonah, but I really needed some this time around. They are the most expensive item of clothing I have ever owned, including my wedding dress, and they are wonderful! I will be looking forward to wearing them again next time around... hopefully not too soon, though!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Jonah's! It has been wonderful to watch him grow and learn. What a difference a year makes in the life of a little one! He is a joy to be around every day.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Jonah's again. Toddlers are naughty and discipline is hard.

14. Where did most of your money go? Health insurance and medical bills. Having babies is expensive! Seriously. A quarter of our income went to healthcare. It's absurd.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Meeting Benjamin for the first time and having an incredibly easy labor. I was also really excited about my best friend's wedding. I had been waiting for the right man to fall in love with her since we became friends in college and I was so thrilled to see him come along and sweep her off her feet!

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? A Willie Nelson song. Jon found this video on YouTube last Christmas and he got hooked on the song and wanted to learn to play it on the guitar. He must have listened to it hundreds of times trying to play it. Eventually he started using headphones if I was around, but I could still hear him plunking it out on the guitar.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer? a. Happier, of course. b. I gained 55 pounds and only lost 50. So I guess I'm fatter, but I'm certainly happy at the weight I'm at. c. Just as poor as last year.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I had invited people over more often. I love having people over and I always wonder why I don't do it more.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Middle of the night feedings.

20. How did you spend Christmas? We drove 15 hours overnight to Jon's parents' farm in Illinois and spent four days with his whole family. It was so great! Eight adults and 13 kids. We can't wait to see them all again this summer. Then we did the overnight drive back home and my family came to be with us for four days over New Year's. This time only six adults and three kids, but just as much fun!

21. Did you fall in love in 2009? I fell in love with my precious Baby Benjamin.

22. What was your favorite TV program? I don't have a TV, but there are four shows I watch online. My favorite is “The Amazing Race” followed by "The Biggest Loser”, “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation”.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I really don't believe in hating people.

24. What was the best book you read? I enjoyed a Christian novel a friend loaned me to read when Benjamin was first born and I was spending a lot of time sitting nursing him. But now I don't remember what it was called.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? I've enjoyed bringing out music from my childhood and sharing it with Jonah.

26. What did you want and get? A healthy baby.

27. What did you want and not get? To live in the same place for an entire year.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? A movie I found on Netflix called “Outsourced”. I liked it because of the cross-cultural aspect, knowing that we will be living cross-culturally.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 28. Jon was out of town so I threw myself a little party and invited four moms and their associated toddlers over for brunch. It was fabulous! I'm thinking of making it a tradition, or at least doing it again this year.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If I knew the future. =)

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? It's not about fashion when you gain and lose 50 pounds in the course of a year. It's about whatever fits.

32. What kept you sane? Jon. Always. Hands down.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Well, I don't have TV, I don't listen to the radio, I don't get a newspaper and I don't read news online so I'm completely out of the loop. I'm blissfully unaware of any celebrities or public figures.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? See number 33.

35. Who did you miss? I miss my mom every day. All the time. I especially miss her when I have a baby and everyone else has their mom come to help them when they have their babies. I need her. Why isn't she here?

36. Who was the best new person you met? Everyone in my life is someone I've met in the last year since we just moved here a year ago. So it's hard to pick out a best new person since everyone is new!

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. Don't have a baby, move to a new town, start attending a new church and have your husband leave for a business trip all in the span of two weeks. You will have a breakdown. Probably several breakdowns.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Pump it, louder come on
Don't stop and keep it goin'
Do it let's get it on
Move it
Come on baby do it