Monday, September 12, 2011

b is for baby

Welcoming our newest little miracle...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

kitchen mini-makeover

Our prior house had a chair rail in the kitchen. The kitchen was very small, and it didn't have a dishwasher. Or even a double sink. But I really liked the chair rail. To highlight it, we painted the top and bottom each a different shade of green. I have no idea now what the top color was called, but the bottom color was something like avocado.

When we moved, our new kitchen did not have a chair rail. While I've toyed with the idea of painting a white stripe on the wall to mimic a chair rail, I don't think it would look all that great in our kitchen. For one thing, the cabinets are very dark. They'll be one of the first things to go when we're in a position to update the kitchen. I hate them. I need something brighter... maybe something more in the honey-colored range.

Anyway, the point is that I had to pick one color for the kitchen, so we picked the avocado color from the last kitchen. (It matched our towels better.) But once it was on the wall, it looked so ... muddy. I've lived with it for over 3 years now, and I think it's finally time for a change. I like the idea of green, but I'm terrible at picking out colors. My intention was to shamelessly copy Karen's color choice and see how I like Gentle Pasture by Valspar.

But when I looked at this color in the store, it looked SO much different than the color in my inspiration kitchen. Like... really really different.

my current kitchen

Karen's kitchen

Gentle Pasture


So now I think I've settled on Asparagus by Behr. One quick Google search confirms that it's a very popular color indeed, but I'm not sure how it will look with our dark cabinets. I'm going to paint it anyway, and if it doesn't look fab with the cabinets, I'll paint those too. That'll show 'em.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

a bunny ache

Last Christmas, I bought myself a gift from Natalie. It was a book called My Quotable Kid in which I could record all of the wonderful, amazing, funny things she would say once she started talking in earnest. Yesterday I finally made my first entry.

We were reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Natalie is now able to fill in the words of some books as we go. So, for instance, we read:

Mommy: In the light of the moon a little...
Natalie: egg
Mommy: lay on a...
Natalie: leaf. (She's very big on nouns.)
Mommy: One Sunday morning, the warm sun came up and ...
Natalie: POP! (the rare onomatopoeia)
Mommy: out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry...
Natalie: caterpillar.

It's adorable.

So when we got to Saturday in the book, we alternated reading the list of food the caterpillar had eaten that day. Natalie was able to help with most of the words -- pickle, cheese, ice cream, melon -- you get the idea. At the end of the list, there waits a very sick looking caterpillar.

We continued reading.
Mommy: That night, he had a...
Natalie: bunny ache.

I laughed of course. And I squeezed her and kissed her. A lot.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

real progress

I took a half-day off of work yesterday to work in solitude on New Baby's nursery. When we first found out I was pregnant, I fully intended to use all of the same bedding and decor from Natalie's room. That was part of the reason we went gender neutral in the first place. Natalie's room turned out great. I loved it. I still love it.

But my mommy guilt got the best of me. I want my kids to know they are both special to me. New Baby will have lots of hand-me-down toys and maybe clothes. So why not give New Baby his or her own space to grow?

Since we, like most parents, find ourselves shorter on cash now than we did before kids, the challenge was to put together a cute room for less money. Especially considering none of it was going to be "showered" on us.

We bought new furniture and painted, and that was a good start. But we had nothing on the walls. Everything I found online was either not to my taste or expensive or out of stock or gender-specific. I splurged on a wall decal (below) that was too cute to pass up and a baby's first year collage frame that matches Natalie's. Those two things came to about $55. I bought a couple of other small things new ($8.50 on clearance). Then I pieced the rest of the decor together using stuff I had on hand or purchased from a thrift store ($5.71).Decor: $69.21
Curtains: $15.50
Bedding: $45
Giving New Baby his/her own space: priceless (or $129.71)

It's got a totally different vibe from Natalie's room, but I really like it. I plan to showcase the projects here once I've got them on the walls. Check back!

Monday, August 1, 2011


If you've never interviewed someone before, you might not realize how nerve-wracking it can be. Being the interviewee is definitely a tougher job, but you don't get off scot free if you're the one asking the questions and making the decisions. There's a lot riding on your decision after all, and it's entirely possible that one wrong decision could haunt your every waking hour.

Perhaps that's a bit dramatic when it comes to the workplace, but it's pretty much spot on if you're interviewing day care centers for your children. When Matt and I first started looking at day care options (before Natalie was born) we were in a completely different place than we are now. We were unaware of all of the expenses that we'd be faced with and what kind of child care we wanted for Natalie. We hadn't research Flex Spending Accounts, the Child & Dependent Care tax credit, child care standards mandated by our state, and on and on and on. I guess we were just looking for a warm fuzzy feeling.

Some places we drove right by, not even bothering to go inside. Some places gave us the heebie jeebies during our tour. Some places enchanted us and gave us just the warm fuzzy feeling we were looking for... until it was time to discuss tuition. Some places came recommended. Others we knew only because they were close to our house and we'd driven by them a hundred times before.

For all our searching, we never did manage to find child care we were 100% satisfied with. Even our current situation has its share of negatives. (A 50-minute commute... with two kids to get ready in the morning? No thanks!) So we're looking again, and this time we're a little more prepared. We have some experience, we have a little bit better of an idea what we're looking for, what constitutes a good day care and what we're willing to sacrifice.

So I'm happy to report that after hours spent researching online, many solicited recommendations, and three tours of three different centers, I think we've found the place for us.

Partly, it's a relief to have made a decision at all, let alone one that we're happy with. But partly, it's also really scary. Because if you're not a seasoned interviewer, how do you know if the candidate is just putting on a show?

The answer is... you don't. And that's the part that's still nerve-wracking.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

35 weeks

I cannot believe I'm so close! This coming Monday my doctor will be able to tell me if I should expect an earlier delivery date. That is very exciting! I've already arranged to take vacation the last week of my pregnancy, because ... well, it's hot and I'm huge and I just can't be on my feet all day and be cheerful about it!

And then there's the fact that new baby's room is not at all finished. The crib is up and the bassinet is ready. Baby's clothes are hanging in the closet. But there is nothing, not a single thing, on the walls. I have lots of half-formed jungle-themed ideas, but nothing very cohesive. I'm trying to find the time to try out a project or two, but it's proving difficult, considering we still have to find a daycare we like. Plus, I have only a few short weeks with Natalie all to myself, and I want to make the most of them.

But today I'm not going to worry about anything. Instead, I will rejoice in the fact that I have less than 4 weeks of work left before I become a new mommy for the second time.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

the beatles, the 1970s and veggie tales

At first glance, these three might not have much in common. I Want to Hold Your Hand, Proud Mary and God Is Greater Than the Boogeyman must have a certain je ne sais quoi, though, because Natalie rocks out to all of them.

The six spots on my car's CD changer are occupied by the following:
- Veggie Tales Silly Singalong v. 1
- Veggie Tales Silly Singalong v. 2
- Bob & Larry Sing the 70s
- Kidz Bop Sings The Beatles
- Playhouse Disney Music Playdate
- Sesame Street Platinum All-Time Favorites/Elmopalooza mix CD

Naturally, I welcome the kid-friendly remixes of actual songs ... like, that you'd hear on the radio. Because, well, one can only listen to the Bubble Guppies theme song so often before one starts humming it in one's sleep.

I've occasionally been able to listen to the radio, too, but there's too much crap mixed in between the good stuff to hold her interest. (And too many songs now have iffy lyrics... I find myself listening to the oldies stations more and more!) So until I get an iPod hookup installed in my car, we'll stick to whatever CDs cross my path at the library.

Luckily, Natalie's taste is pretty good ... so far. The song she requests most, though? The "hot dog" song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. *sigh*

Monday, June 27, 2011

31 weeks

I completely forgot to post my 30 week picture! But here I am at 31 weeks!

I can't believe that in 9 weeks (and by "nine" I mean "please-God-make-it-less-than-nine") we'll be a family of four, and Natalie will be a big sister. I'm still trying to picture her in that role. Sometimes she seems so grown up, and sometimes she's still my little baby.

There are times I wish I could have her all to myself for a little while longer. With a face and personality like hers, who wouldn't? But I'm committed to finding ways to make her feel special, even while (especially while) the new baby needs constant attention.

The room is coming along slowly. The furniture is in, the paint is up. All I need is artwork. And, uh, a crib mattress :) Details, details.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

garage salesmanship

I am preparing to host my first ever garage sale this Saturday. Having taken part in a few garage sales (and having been to even more), I thought I was pretty prepared for all the work involved. Man, it is a lot of work. Especially while trying make sure your toddler doesn't run full speed down the driveway into traffic.

Matt is against garage-saleing as a rule, but I think he is curious to see how it's going to go. He doesn't like to haggle with people, but since we're in "everything must go" mentality, there won't be much haggling going on. After all, we're adding a whole other person to our family in August, and babies have lots of stuff.

Our sale is a few days away, but we have almost everything set up. As we go, I am schooling Matt in basic garage salesmanship.

Rule #1 : Everything has to be clean. You can easily spend days on this if your stuff has been in storage for awhile. Fun times.

Rule #2 : Display display display. There was a library study done several years ago in which a librarian chose books of which the library owned two copies. One, she left on the shelf. The other, she displayed. Guess which one checked out more? My own personal library-gleaned rule is that books on the bottom shelves don't check out much, so put your boxes on tables to encourage more browsing. Also, signs make a huge difference for people who come looking for one thing. They want to get in and get out. They do not want to check out all your crap to find that one-in-a-million deal.

Rule #3 : Bargain hunters start early 'round these parts. We'll be setting up at 7 for an 8 a.m. sale time. I already posted our sale on Craigslist and (surprise surprise!) received a few emails asking about specific items. One person even asked if we'd be willing to open our garage to him for a "preview sale".

I told you they start early.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

uh... what??

"We're going to assume it's MRSA."

How would you like to hear that coming from your child's pediatrician? What's that? No, I didn't think so. I didn't react too well to it either. I think much clutching and hugging of Natalie was involved. And a few tears.

That said, after some research, I discovered that MRSA is not quite the death sentence I imagined. After hearing about cases in the news, it's easy to assume the worst. Sure, it's more common now than it was, say, 10 years ago. And it is becoming increasingly resistant to more antibiotics. But for now, for my little girl, it's completely treatable.

We won't know if she actually has MRSA until this afternoon or tomorrow at the latest. For now, she's on treatment as if she does have it, and we're keeping a close eye on her temperature, temperament and infection site. For now, she seems to be responding well.

Thank God.

Natalie on the day of her 18 month pictures. She had just gotten three shots, and she already had what would turn out to be a staph infection. And she's still this darn cute.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

18 months

Dear Natalie,

When you were born, I couldn't wait for your firsts. Your first smile, your first word, your first step. I remember thinking how nice it would be when you could hold your own bottle/cup, eat real food, walk on your own. Now we're there. Now you learn something every single day. Now time is moving too quickly. You're growing up too fast. I love the little girl you're growing into, but I am already nostalgic for the baby you've grown out of. I love you, angelface.

Love, Mommy

I guess that I can hold you one more time before you grow.

And tell you that I love you, so that you'll always know.

Please let me tie your shoe again. One day you'll tie your own.

And when you think back to this time. I hope it's love I've shown.

Tonight could I please wash your hair? And put toys in the bath?

Can I help you count your small ten toes before I teach you math?

Please let me help you up the hill. while you're still too small to climb.

And let me read you stories while you're young and have the time.

I know the day will come when you will do these things alone.

Will you recall the shoulder rides and all the balls we've thrown?

So will you let me carry you? One day you'll walk alone.

I cannot bear to miss one day from now until you've grown.

Original poem by Brad Anderson. Full text here.

Monday, May 30, 2011

cinderella ate my daughter

Growing up, I always heard how important it was to create your own values and to not let society dictate who you become. Peer pressure was a four letter word, and in social situations it was to be treated similarly to drugs and alcohol. Just say no to peer pressure.

I realize now that there's a not-so-subtle line between what I want for my own satisfaction and what society tells me I should want. And I'm coming to appreciate that if I strive for the former, I will be a happier person.

It took me almost 30 years to realize that. Is it impossible to hope that Natalie could grow up with that knowledge? Is it impossible to believe that she could grow into a 12-year-old girl who puts more emphasis on doing her best in school and being a good friend than the clothes she wears or fitting in with the right crowd?

Do you worry about these things for your daughter (or your son's future prom date)? Or were you were perturbed at seeing a 6-year-old dressed as a Pussycat Doll last Halloween? If so, you might want to pick up Cinderella Ate My Daughter the next time you are at the library.

Among the quotes that resonated with me (enough to write them down) were these:

What I want for my daughter seems so simple: for her to grow up healthy, happy and confident, with a clear sense of her own potential and the opportunity to fulfill it. p.9

Where was the point that exploration of femininity turned to exploitation of it, the line between frivolous fun and JonBenet?

I don't want my daughter to be twenty-one when she is twelve.

Rather than raising a generation of Cinderellas, we may actually be cultivating a legion of step-sisters -- spoiled, self-centered, materialists, superficially charming but without the depth or means for authentic transformation.

If you have read or decide to read Cinderella Ate My Daughter, I would love to discuss it with you!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

i will miss this house

No we aren't moving.

But when Matt and I talk about home improvements and budgets and styles, one of us always brings up the point that this is not going to be our forever house. We won't still be living here when our children leave for college or get married. We won't be grandparents in this house. We might not even be girl scout leaders in this house. Our original plan was 10-15 years then we'd move on.

When I look around though, I will miss what we've experienced here. I remember decorating the house: peeling wallpaper, painting, and larger renovations. I remember when we found out we were pregnant (twice!), and when we brought Natalie home. We learned how to be parents here.

When Natalie's older, and we look back at pictures of her childhood, I hope she remembers our first home. Playing in the pool and sprinkler and laughing in her baby swing. The slide she wanted so badly. The deck she "helped" to build. The bathtub she drew all over and played in with her sibling/s. That we couldn't keep her from climbing onto the bay window seat. And so many other everyday memories we haven't made yet.

Maybe the pregnancy hormones are making me overly sentimental. But I can't help it. I will miss this house.

Friday, May 20, 2011

our connecticut wedding weekend

Recently, we embarked a short visit to Connecticut for a wedding. Flying with a toddler, we were prepared for the worst, but Natalie was fantastic. During our first flight (1 hour, 15 minutes), she was slightly fidgety but fell asleep for the last half hour. She was jumpy but good-natured during the second flight (45 minutes).

Not everyone fared so well. Both flights were extremely turbulent. The second flight was my worst experience to date. Several people got sick, including Matt. And he never gets motion sick.

We checked into our hotel, fed Natalie, let her watch an Elmo DVD while we recovered, and prepared for the rehearsal dinner. Dinner lasted a long time past Natalie’s bedtime, but we were back at the hotel and fast asleep by 10:30 pm.

The next day brought a trip to the pool. Natalie totally dominated that pool. We showed her how to go under water then dunked her carefully. She wasn't crazy about it, but she wasn't afraid. Most of all she loved sitting on the side of the pool kicking her legs and splashing everyone in a 3 foot radius. She was in the water for two hours, followed by a two-hour nap.

The wedding ceremony was lovely. The cocktail hour was spent chasing after Natalie who at one point grabbed two handfuls of dirt from the potted plants and threw them all over herself and the floor.

The reception was fantastic. The first hour was dancing instead of dinner, and I’m so glad. Matt and I got to dance with Natalie, and she even busted out her frog dance move. This consists of a lot of up-and-down motion, stomping one foot, and saying "ribbip". We danced the entire hour. Then I rocked her to sleep, and left her slumbering peacefully in the care of a babysitter.

The next day was more family time, and the next night was a different hotel. Though she was coming down with something and had a fever, Natalie slept pretty well.

The flights home were better than the flights there. The first flight (1 hour), she got her own seat. The second flight (1 hour, 30 minutes) she slept the entire time.

We landed safely in Dayton and now look back fondly on our first vacation-with-a-toddler experience.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

third trimester

Before falling asleep last night, I decided to dig out one of my pregnancy books to see what was supposed to be going on with new baby. Much to my surprise, said book informed me that I am now 25 weeks along and in my third trimester! When did that happen? Here is my 25 week belly shot.

My pregnancy with Natalie seemed to take so much longer. I don't think I was bored per se, but I do think I'm much busier now.

When your days are filled with moments like this, time goes too quickly.

Monday, May 9, 2011

another project down!

Our new deck is my favorite part of the whole house. Especially on days like today... a temperature around 75 degrees and the sunniest skies we've seen 'round these parts in quite a while. And now on to pictures.

Remember what it looked like before?

Well this is what it looks like now...

The view from the yard. A pergola adds shade because our house gets full-on midday sun. Built in benches on either side of the deck add functional seating, serve in place of railings, and take up only a fraction of the space of furniture.

A close-up of the pergola and bench seating

The view out the back door... much more open to the yard, and about 3 feet bigger thanks to the large terraced step.

Natalie is really excited about the new deck!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

for what it's worth

There's probably nothing that can prepare a person for parenthood. So so so many things are not as you expected, and there are so many large and small things that weren't even on your radar to begin with.

Despite the fact that I have a large extended family and family of in-laws, and despite the fact that they were not sparing with their advice and wisdom, nothing took root. I didn't heed the warning to, "Sleep. Sleep. For the love of God, sleep whenever you can." I brushed off the people who said, "If you can't or decide not to, breastfeeding is not the be all end all." And only after I was home alone with my newborn baby for two days without help did I recognize the wisdom of, "Accept any and all help you are offered."

For these reasons, I don't expect my advice to go very far. I don't really even offer it, unless asked, because new parents are so over the moon in love with the thought of parenthood. Like me, they don't pause to consider that it might be harder than they expect. Way harder. But here it is anyway. For what it's worth.
  • Take way too many pictures.
  • Try out generic brands. Target's diapers are a lot better than name brand!
  • Take it easy on yourself. There is almost nothing you can do that will scar your baby for life. If you have to bottle feed, take her to daycare, or let her cry for 10 minutes while you shower, that's okay.
  • If something doesn't feel right, trust your judgment. Try different formulas (with or without your doctor's advice), and don't let her cry it out if it makes you uncomfortable.
  • Do what you feel is best. You can't go back later and love your baby differently.
  • Sleep every chance you get. I heard this a lot but didn't take heed. Seriously, sleep.
  • Start a bedtime routine and stick with it.
  • Try lots of calming techniques to see which ones you and baby like best. What worked for us: patting her bottom, while lightly bouncing her and making loud "shhh" sounds.
  • Blackout blinds and a white noise machine can work wonders.
  • Find a soothie that she likes. Natalie had no interest in pacifiers, but she likes falling asleep with a blankie. I wouldn't put her down without one now.
  • Professional pictures are fun! And they don't have to cost a lot. We usually pay arond $20 at JC Penney with a coupon.
  • Wide neck bottles are the way to go. They make middle-of-the-night feedings much easier. We like the ones from Gerber.
  • Accept help when offered. And don't be afraid to ask for what you need.
  • Say out loud, "I love you, I love you, I love you." When I found myself sleep-deprived, stressed and frustrated, holding a tired baby who wouldn't stop crying, this trick saved me.
  • Nothing can prepare you for the first two months of motherhood. It isn't the same for everyone, but it was the hardest thing I've ever done.
  • It gets so much better. Whether your baby is fussy or calm or colicky or sleeps all the time, the same is true. Every month is better than the last. She'll start smiling at you, sleeping regularly (or at least for longer periods), laughing, talking, moving on her own... there are so many things that get so much better.
  • Sleep every chance you get. In case I didn't mention it before.
  • Nothing can prepare you for how much you are going to love your little girl. But you might not feel that bond right away. Give it a month or so until you really get to know her. You'll fall head over heels.
  • Get lots of advice, but go with your gut. I fed Natalie when she was hungry and let her sleep when she's tired. My friend had her infant on a strict schedule. Both of them continue to thrive, and they'll both turn out great.
  • There really is no tried and true. Every baby is different.
  • Get one of those temperature monitor thingies for her room. We don't have one, and we are constantly wondering if she is too hot or too cold.
  • Video monitors are not overrated. I thought they were, so we didn't register for one. We have one now, and trust me. It's $150 well spent.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Sure, 30 is a milestone, but we celebrate our entrance to middle age by enjoying a quiet evening on our new deck. Going out involves too much precious time spent away from our wonderful, adorable baby girl. So we gathered friends and family around a crackling campfire and toasted marshmallows. Perfect.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

freakin' fabulous

Last year I started an ambitious campaign to be more ladylike. If you know me, you know what I mean by "ambitious." I went through Emily Post's book of etiquette searching for things that are applicable to my life. (Calling cards? Notsomuch.) As it happens, there wasn't a whole lot that was applicable to my life.

I did learn that when offering felicitations to a bride, you should never say "congratulations." That implies that she "won" something when really it was the groom who "won" over the bride. You should say "best wishes" instead. How I remember that and not a million other more important things is beyond me. I also managed to learn how to eat using the continental method, which is enormously impressive to me (and only me, I'm pretty sure).

But the truth of the matter is that there just isn't much Emily Post can tell me about life in the 21st century. So I was delighted to find Freakin' Fabulous by style guru Clinton Kelly. It's full of fascinating and useful tidbits such as when to salt and pepper your food, what not to bring to a dinner party, and how to write a good thank you note. And it's funny!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

bumper stickers

I can't decide if bumper stickers are a cool, fun little adornment or are completely trashy. Normally, I don't like things on the back of my car. My Syracuse Alumni license plate frame is about as personal as it gets right now.

But recently I have been wanting something a little more me. And those stick-family stickers are not my style, so that's out. I really want to give into what I call (for lack of a better term) ovals. I've been resisting because of their trendiness. I'm not really a trendy person, for better or for worse. But maybe if I just stick with country ovals (as opposed to city ovals, sports team ovals, marathon ovals, etc etc etc) I won't seem as... sheepish.

Does that back of my Jeep need this much bling?
I don't know. I'm still trying to decide.

Friday, April 15, 2011

a cup a day...

Being the mother of a toddler requires a lot of early mornings, as well as a certain amount of cheerful flexibility. Natalie decided she didn't need more than a 30 minute nap today? Hey, that's okay. Natalie decided she doesn't want to eat anything but peanut butter and jelly? Well, you have to pick your battles.

Sometimes I am this cheerfully flexible. Sometimes I get very very frustrated. When frustrated Fran comes out, we go for coffee. I usually start my work days with coffee, and sometimes I even start my "Natalie days" with coffee too. Because, while Natalie days are much more fun than actual work, they are still tiring.

But when I found myself pregnant again (yay!) I tried to cut the coffee entirely. The risks of caffeine intake on pregnant women and their babies haven't been proven, but I thought I should play it safe. Turns out tired mommy is not a fun mommy. I'm back to my one caffeinated drink a day routine. I won't say I need it, but it helps. A lot.

So does this recent news item about the possible benefits of coffee. Score!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

half way!

Here I am at 20 weeks and 2 days pregnant with baby 2. As of yesterday, I am officially in the second half of this pregnancy! With absolutely nothing done to prepare for the newest addition, I'm sure this last 20 weeks will go quickly.

I know it's only natural with a second baby, but I feel (and I look) a lot bigger now than I did when I was pregnant with Natalie. Seriously, I already look like I did in my third trimester pic last time! Although technically that's only 5 weeks away. So maybe that's not so bad after all :)

Oh, and I almost forgot! I've been feeling the baby kick for awhile now. I'm finding out that a lot of the excitement of pregnancy gets lost when you've done it before. Decorating the nursery, the hospital tour, and even the days ticking by (wait... I'm 20 weeks already?) But feeling the baby move is special and amazing. Even if it isn't exactly new.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Apple Gruyere Pie Recipe

If you were a fan of the series Pushing Daisies, this might be right up your alley! This has been modified slightly from the blogger at Rice and Spice. For instance, I used Crisco instead of leaf lard. And a pastry cutter instead of a food processor. The result is still pretty great, and I get asked for this recipe a lot. Enjoy!

Pie Crust
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp. sugar
13 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1 in pieces
7 tbsp. butter flavored Crisco
2 oz. Gruyère, finely grated
ice water

Pie filling
3 lbs (about 7 apples; I like to use a mix of red and green)
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
5 tsp. all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix flour, salt, sugar and Gruyere in large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the Crisco. Cut in the butter until the largest pieces of butter are the size of large peas.

Sprinkle ice water over flour mixture one tablespoon at a time; toss after each addition. (Try not to add too much extra water.) Dough is ready when it clumps together when squeezed in your palm. Gather dough into two parts, one slightly larger than the other.

Roll out the larger piece of dough, and ease dough into pie plate. Peel, core and slice apples into quarters. Slice each quarter thinly. Mix in other filling ingredients. Pile apples into pie plate, pouring any juice on top.

Roll out smaller piece of dough, and place on top of apples. Seal two crusts together, and make slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Place pie in oven, and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake 50 minutes to an hour, until you can see the filling bubbling between the slits in the crust.

Cool on a wire rack at least 20 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The deck

For some reason, I feel it necessary to insist that my wonderful husband embark on large home improvement projects while I’m pregnant. With Natalie, we decided we needed a new master bathroom. It turned out great, but the experience was frustrating. This year, when we found out Uncle Sam was going to be rewarding us with a juicy tax return, we decided we needed another project. This year, it was the deck.

Our deck is roughly 20 years old and is showing its age. Or was showing its age. Before it was demolished. Maybe starting in March wasn’t the best plan, but now three weeks later, it’s almost done. It will be larger, more open to our yard, and feature built in seating and a pergola. When it’s finished. To the credit of my husband and all the great help we’ve had, this project has gone really quickly!

Right now we have loose deck boards on the deck and a makeshift ramp down to the yard. It’s liveable, but I can’t wait for the finished product. Check back closer to Easter for finished pictures. I’m sure it will be great!

Monday, April 4, 2011

I have decided

I’m giving this one last shot. The posts will be infrequent, and I’m not going to beat myself up if I go weeks (or more likely months) without posting. The thing is that as I have been reading over some of my previous posts, it’s a great record of my thoughts and where I have been at any given point in my life. I’ll save all of these wonderful memories to share with my children as they get older. So here goes…

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

words words words

Natalie's first word was Dadda, though I'm not 100% convinced she knew what she was saying. Matt and I marvel every time she says a new word. Sometimes she repeats what we say, but sometimes she says a word out of the blue that we haven't spoken to her in days.

I thought it was great how much she was able to communicate at 15 months old. But when our doctor told us that she should know about 10 words by that age, I was floored. She was already close to 50. After that I stopped keeping track. I couldn't anymore. She was and still is learning words so quickly that I can't keep up. When people ask, I end up saying, "Uh let's see. She said water, and uh... gator. Um... swing... slide. She knows all the kids' names at daycare..." But I know there's more.

I attribute this language explosion to the fact that we read and talk to her every day, and have been since she was born. Since before actually. And during those long commutes to Oxford, I listed to an awful lot of audio books. (So if she grows up with a penchant for Jeremy Irons' voice, audio books are to blame.)

Also, she has extremely good genes ;)

Soon I'll post a picture of Natalie's "word wall". Matt brought home bath crayons that Natalie absolutely loves. But in an effort to keep my mom updated on all the new words Natalie was saying, I used the crayons to keep track. These are her first 50 words.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Journaling versus blogging

I have always been a fan of journaling. More so now that I have a child (and another on the way). I started Natalie’s journal when I was just 5 weeks pregnant. And now, at 14 weeks pregnant the second time, I have started a new journal for the new baby.

With a full time job, a precocious and adorable toddler, a home that demands renovation, and a husband that insists we have food in the house at all times, the question becomes… are two journals enough, or should I continue attempting to blog?