Wednesday, March 31, 2010

So much fun.

When Skylar was born, Micah gave me a new camera--a Sony Cybershot. It's served me well in the past two years. As she's gotten older (read: busier) it's gotten harder to get a good shot and I felt like I was always missing the moment because the shutter speed was too slow. Then it got a little wonky (no doubt due to all the abuse it's incurred) and wasn't focusing half the time.

For a few month now we've been talking about getting a new camera. We've researched and gotten recommendations but had no real plans to buy one until last week when my sweet husband said "We need to invest in our families memories, you should order a new camera". (Awwww). So I did. A grown-up camera. The kind you don't let your toddler even think about touching. And two days later it arrived (gotta love Amazon's free two day shipping!).

Now I can't stop taking pictures......
It's very user friendly, but I have a whole lot to learn.
Nobody is safe from the camera (except Nana, but only because she was busy cooking).....
Especially not the Right Reverend Brown (my Uncle Robert). Doesn't he just look like a pensive preacher?
A few weeks ago Skylar had her first salon experience when she got her first haircut. (If you can call Famous Hair in the Wal-Mart strip mall a salon. I'm thinking you can't.) They took 3 inches off the back and evened it all up. I think it looks much better.
It didn't solve her morning rat's nest problem like I'd hoped. She still wakes up like this everyday. I can't imagine life without detangler.
Then there's my fur baby, Jack.....
He's always camera ready. He gravitates to it. Competes with Skylar actually. Who could resist this face? (Except for mean Aunt Margaret. This one's for her.)
Micah's had some fun playing with it too....
When Skylar woke up this morning there I was waiting with my new camera. At least she's a good sport about it.
Someday I'd like to take classes so I actually know what I'm doing. I'll be able to fit this camera with new lenses as my skill level increases. But until then......
I won't be missing the moment anymore!

Thanks again to my sweet husband:)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Homemade granola bars.

My Nana gave me a recipe for these amazing granola bars, and I have to pass it on.

But first, a story from today.

Awhile back I blogged about my habit of losing my car in a parking lot. Well today I really did lose my car. It actually left. Without me.

Skylar and I were at the zoo for a couple of hours enjoying the warm weather. (All fun until we saw the gorillas get fed and Skylar had a full blown panic attack--clutching, screaming hysterics). When we left and went to our parking spot, the Passat was gone. I actually remembered where I'd parked, it was right near the front. Then I saw it, about 200 yards away, sideways in the middle of the road. People were driving around it. Someone had kindly stopped it from rolling and put a log under the tires to keep it there.

Thank you to that kind stranger, whoever you are. It would have stopped eventually, but probably not until it hit another car, tree, animal exhibit or dippin dots dispenser. It was awesome getting Skylar in her car seat, putting the stroller away, etc while standing in the middle of moving traffic while everybody stared at the person who obviously can't drive a stick. But that's what I get for letting the car idle in neutral while talking on the phone, and then turning it off without putting on the emergency break. Sigh.

Okay, now for the good part. These are so tasty--perfectly chewy and with lots of crunchy bits--and best of all, no preservatives. The kind of "healthy junk food" we love.

1/4 c. brown sugar (splenda brown sugar works great)
1/3 c. peanut butter
1/4 c honey (or agave nectar)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c. melted butter
1 1/2 c oats
3 T wheat germ
1/4 c raisins, cherries, or dried fruit of choice
1/2 c chocolate chips (optional for you, mandatory for me)
1/2 c almonds
1 T sesame seeds
Whatever else your heart desires--flax seed, sunflower seeds, etc.

(If you're thinking it's not worth buying wheat germ and sesame seeds for just a Tablespoon or two, just know it adds great texture and I guarantee you'll be making a lot more of them, so you may as well invest.)

Mix together the first 5 ingredients, add the dry ingredients, and press the mixture down into an 8x8 or 11x7 pan (for a double batch I used a 9x13). Nana said she had a hard time getting them out of the pan, so to avoid that I lined the bottom with a piece of foil folded in half lengthwise:
Then bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until a slightly browned. I let it rest in the pan for a 15 minutes, then lifted it out and let it cool another half hour or so until they are firm enough to cut into bars:
If you want them to last more than 24 hours, you should probably hide them in the freezer and take them out as needed. Or hide them in your nightstand and eat them all yourself. I won't tell on you.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A southern spring.

I was looking through old picture files this afternoon and realized that exactly one year ago today, Micah and I were doing this:
And today we were doing this:
My how things have changed.
This is our first real spring in 6 years, and I keep taking pictures of all the trees and bushes in the neighborhood because I can't get over how green and pretty everything is.
We miss the Colorado mountains every day, but it's nice to have some warm weather for a change. We've even hit 80 degrees a couple of times already. Here's Skylar soaking up some rays with her BFF, Cocoa.
Another week or two and it'll be sundress time again!!! WOO-HOO!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

If loving fake cheese is wrong, then I don't want to be right.

So it's no secret that chocolate is a dear friend of mine. Chocolate cures a multitude of wrongs. I truly believe if all the world leaders got together and frolicked in a chocolate fountain, the world would be a much happier place and all of our problems would be solved. Ironically though, chocolate is not my ultimate comfort food. Probably because eating spoonfuls of nutella or ganache is just part of my normal daily life. (I so wish I were kidding about that, but I'm really not).

So when life gets tough, I run straight into the arms of Velveeta. Yes, that's right....the creepiest faux-food known to man. Something about that gelatinous cheese in all of it's unrefrigerated, never-expiring glory just beckons me. (If my last blog post wasn't enough to scare you off, I'm pretty sure that just did it). I cannot explain it, especially since I'm a bit of a food snob, so I'll just blame my mom. She made a velveeta queso dip for social functions when I was growing up and I'm pretty sure that's when the love affair began.

Just to be clear, I'm not a queso lover. I have never bought the jarred kind in a store. I have never touched it in a restaurant even though they probably use legitimate cheese. And I absolutely have never eaten it at anyone else's house. If I see it at a potluck, tailgate, or Superbowl party I will run the other way. I don't care who you are, your melted cheese grosses me out. Especially when you put sausage or ground beef in it. Ew, ew, ew. But when I make it myself, it's somehow the most amazing non-food in the world.

A few times a year when the urge hits and I crave it, I go to the store, grab my 2% milk Velveeta off the shelf (pu-lease, like there's any milk in it) bury it under my legitimate groceries, hang my head in shame and pray I don't see anybody I know. It's as bad as being caught with a can of spam in my cart. Speaking of spam, I once had to make a spam sculpture with my bare hands on a junior high church retreat. Oh the horror. Maybe if we'd sculpted Velveeta, I'd be free from this addiction. But Velveeta costs more, and I'm sure the youth program was on a tight budget.

Last week I bought some Velveeta. And when I got that block of nastiness home, I chopped it up, poured on the hottest salsa I could find and then began the magical process: nuke, stir, nuke, stir...until it's so hot I can't even hold the bowl. That's the key---it must be HOT. If it cools even a little and starts to look like Velveeta again, it's back in the microwave.

Fortunately, Micah doesn't judge me. In fact he gets a little giddy when he sees it. Last week we sat on the couch like porkers and watched HGTV while we ate our chips and queso. Then the next day I did it again by myself. It was heavenly.

And just for the fun of it, here is my little soux chef wearing nothing but an apron and a smile:

Fortunately, she doesn't know what Velveeta is yet, but she will.

So I'm really curious to know if anyone else has an embarrassing food craving they are willing to divulge.....

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Woven and Spun.

I took a little blogging hiatus while I decided if I wanted to write about recent events. I typed this a few nights ago and have just been sitting on it, not sure if I want to put it out there. In the end I decided to post, for a couple of reasons.

First of all I am not the first one to be in this situation and maybe somebody can be encouraged by my story. I've had the opportunity to talk to friends experiencing their first miscarriage several times over the past two years. Not that I want to be the go-to miscarriage person, but something good may as well come of it. And secondly, it's a way to commemorate and acknowledge a life, no matter how brief. After all, if a person's a person no matter how small and life really does begin at conception (and I believe it does) than why not talk about it? I know miscarriage makes people uncomfortable. It's abstract. It's taboo in our society, and let's face it, the unborn is casually discarded of every day.

Actually, I think I need to go off on a tangent for just a second..... I was watching Fox news last week and the star of the Oscar winning documentary The Cove, was talking to Huckabee. They showed clips from the movie where dolphins in Japan are herded into a cove using a clanking sound that messes up their sonar and confuses them. Once in the cove, poachers come through and choose the ones that look like Flipper to use in captivity for various organizations. The rest of the dolphins, hundreds of them, are stabbed multiple times with spears until they bleed to death and then sold in fish markets.

It was very disturbing to hear those dolphins screaming and the ocean was literally bright red with blood. It seems like if they had to kill them, they could have at least done it in a more humane way. While I felt bad for the dolphins, all I could think about was how America's soil is bright red with the blood of the unborn. So why won't anyone do a documentary about that? Who are we to judge other cultures for their barbarism? How are we any better? Okay, end of tangent.

So this past Monday I had an 8 week OB appointment. We hadn't announced the pregnancy even to family because we were waiting on the ultrasound first.

Although we were excited, this pregnancy was not our timing, and I was worried because Micah's upcoming deployment is scheduled for the beginning of October and my due date was the end of October. We decided awhile back that we wouldn't let the Army dictate our family plans, and we knew we would try to have a baby while he was gone. But I had been hoping he would miss more of the pregnancy and less of the first year of it's life. The thought of being left 9 months pregnant, with a toddler and two dogs in Antartica was a little overwhelming. Add to that the high probability that we will be new home owners thanks to the 14 month wait for housing on Ft. Drum and lack of rentals in the area, and I was hyperventilating a little thinking about all the things that could happen. I would have made it work.

So back to my appointment. As we were about to do the ultrasound I told the doctor how stressful ultrasounds are for me because in the past they have almost always been bad and I literally dread them for days. I don't even trust the goods ones when you see the heartbeat, because things still go wrong after that. So he did the ultrasound.

One look at the screen and I knew it was bad.

Of course it was. It almost always is. Even with Skylar I was told I was miscarrying twice. Why would it be any different this time? And so our plans changed in a second. Again. And mentally I switched gears just like that, because I guess I'm programmed to expect bad news in the pregnancy department. I didn't realize it until later, but even though Micah and I were talking as though a baby was coming, I must not have really believed it because I was totally prepared for that news.

Our doctor was very kind and he wanted to make sure of my diagnosis. He did another ultrasound to double check a couple of days later before they put me under, and then performed a D&C. Everything went smoothly. We have been supported so much by family and a few awesome friends that I asked to pray. My mom happened to be down here for her spring break, so she took care of Skylar.

I am surprisingly okay with everything and so is Micah. It's not because we don't care--of course we are sad. We didn't want to lose another baby. And although miscarrying 3 out of 4 pregnancies is a pretty discouraging statistic, I'm really not feeling discouraged. Our genetic testing came back clear after the first two, so there is no known cause. But we still have a peace about it.

Having Skylar has made all the difference this time. Not only because she's living proof that I can stay pregnant, but also because we are perfectly content with her. I don't have "newborn fever". I'm not at all envious when I see newborns or pregnant women, just thankful to have Skylar. I don't want her to be an only child for her sake, but at the end of the day we are blessed to have her and if that's God's plan for our family than we are happy. Even though I don't understand, I'm not the least bit angry, and it's very liberating.

It also helps that I have a much more eternal perspective than I used to. Of course I'm sad that 3 of my babies weren't born here on earth, but I'm not sad for them. I think they got a pretty good deal skipping out on this earth and going straight to Heaven and I can't wait to meet them and see who they look like.

I've always loved the Nichole Nordeman song "I Am". I first heard it when my friend Mary-Anne sang it in chapel the Sunday before her husband died, and there is a line in the song that says "You saw me wear white by pale candlelight, I said 'forever' to what lies ahead". Just one week later Charlie was killed by a sniper in Iraq, and I've always thought about her singing that song with no knowledge of what was right around the corner. This same song has another verse that has brought comfort to me thru my miscarriages:

"When life had begun I was woven and spun

You let the angels dance around the throne

Who can say when, but they'll dance again

When I am free and finally headed home"

I love that visual, mostly because I believe that when life is only 10, 11, or 8 weeks long, the angels don't even have a chance to stop dancing---they just dance the whole time. And that's a happy thought.

So of course we'll try again and hope that the next time is different. We'll continue to walk the fine line of celebrating a new life and not getting too excited "just in case". I wish I could be one of those excited pregnant people who never worries about anything, but I learned quickly that pregnancy is a hope and not a promise and ultimately, God is in control and knows exactly how many days we will each spend on this earth.

"For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful.

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place.

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me

were written in your book

before one of them came to be." -Psalm 139:13-16

Friday, March 12, 2010

Kristy is a Rockstar.

I meant to post about it earlier, but my sister-in-law Kristy won the Apple Award for teaching last weekend. (I'm pretty sure that's like an Oscar in the education world.) We are so proud of her! If you're interested, there's a fun article about it here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Just a couple more reasons to love Target....

Just in case you needed another reason to love Target.

For the record, Target and I got off to a rocky start but I long since forgave them for their crappy return policy on gifts and registry items without a receipt because who can stay mad for long when there are such fabulous bargains to be had?
So here are some of my recent finds.

You know I have a slight obsession with baby footwear and swimwear, so when I saw this Tutu Bathing suit I was smitten. A tutu...a bathing suit...together, it's genius. Since Skylar doesn't need another bathing suit, I got one for Hannah instead.....and then I went back a couple of weeks later and got one for Skylar too because I'm weak and she's spoiled and we're okay with that.
In case you weren't aware the Tutu Bathing suit is the must have item this season for the five and under crowd. (I totally made that up). You really can't put a price on cuteness, but in this case it's $10 and I think every little girl should have one. I'm especially picturing Marie's daughters in matching ones. I really wanted Skylar to match someone, and Jack was the best candidate......
Every spring my house feels blah from the winter, and instead of cleaning it I redecorate a little bit. Okay, I clean it too, but mostly I change the pillows. Don't underestimate the power of a new throw pillow. The last time I changed them someone asked me if I'd gotten new couches. Pillows are easy to make, but I'm not feeling motivated. I also don't want to spend the cash to get some at my beloved World Market where beautiful pillows are bountiful.

Target came to the rescue with pillow covers for $5. (I got them on sale for $4). It's hard to make them that cheap, and it's totally worth the convenience. They come in lots of cute colors and styles. I especially loved the blue and green ones, but they don't match my house. Just shove your old pillow you already have in there, zip it up, and you have an instant makeover.
The pesky pug is completely optional.....

I got a little green one for Skylar's bed too:)

Good thing Target is 12 minutes away now, instead of only 2, or I'd probably have a weekly post featuring Target loot!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A reason to celebrate.

My brother Josh (he's number 5) turned 21 on Saturday. We decided it was a great excuse to have a little getaway to Greenville and hang out with the family and celebrate Josh. So we got a couple of hotel rooms and spent a fun weekend together.

We did a little swimming.....rough housing.....Josh flopped around on the ground like a sea lion and slapped his stomach.....we may have chased away all the other people and had the pool all to ourselves.

Trying to get a picture of Skylar, Bekah and Margaret all looking at the camera was almost impossible. They have a combined attention span of 3 seconds:
Finally got it! Only took 12 tries.....
I couldn't get over the teeny tiny pool towels that were roughly the size of a hand towel. Is it to keep people from stealing them? They were the perfect size for Little Bit, but you can only imagine how many Thomas had to drape over his body just to dry off a little.
We had Josh's dinner at PF Chang's, mostly for the Great Wall of Chocolate.
Then we pretty much layed around and did a lot of nothing. Well except for eating of course, there was lots of eating.
We wandered around downtown and stumbled upon some girl scouts peddling their goodies. So of course we bought a couple of boxes of cookies and then Bekah and I walked around eating them like a couple of piggies.
We enjoyed the river walk in downtown Greenville. The daffodils were blooming, spring is here!
These boys like to be close. This is just how they sit, they weren't even posing for a picture.
Skylar loves her Aunt Bekah, but called her "Uh-Cole" the whole weekend. She appears to have transferred all of her love for Nicole onto Bekah. So we called Bekah "Fake Nicole" all weekend.
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Thomas and Marge with the baby carriage...
So worn out....
And now it's back to normal life again. Skylar is missing all of her aunts and uncles. She cried for "Uh-cole" (Bekah) during the night last night and asked about her all day. Poor baby.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A big pile of denial.

This was my pile of clean laundry yesterday. I hate doing laundry. I hate washing it, folding it, and putting it away. I hate ironing it and I even hate deciding what to wear. But since we can't walk around naked all the time (major bummer), I pile it up and pick through it to get out what I want to wear. And I don't even iron it. I just wear it like that.

It feels good to get that off my chest.

This pile did not include a load in the washer, another in the dryer and an almost full hamper. So even though I did manage to fold most of this yesterday, you'd never know it since all that other laundry was still waiting for me and my pile today is just as big.

It worked out great when we had four bedrooms, because I could pile up one guest bed with laundry and ignore it. I have no extra room now. There is nowhere to run. If it's on my bed I have to fold it so I can sleep (or push it onto the floor where the dog will sleep in it and I'll have to wash it all again).

I know if I did one load a day I could keep up with it and this wouldn't happen, but when I hate doing something I don't want to do it everyday. In fact, I don't want to ever do it. Which of course is exactly how this pile happened in the first place.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Roasted Carrots

Don't you hate when something goes wrong on blogger and you have no idea how to fix it? I must have somehow deleted all of my comments from my posts from part of December and January and I have no idea how. Not like it really matters, it just annoys me because I have no idea what I did. Technology hates me. The feeling is mutual.

Anyway, I would likely to announce that we have a television star in the family. My 4 week old niece Hannah is filming an episode of LOST today. She even has a trailer with her name on it. All she has to do is get covered in cream cheese and strawberry jelly, have a fake umbilical chord attached and cry like she's being born again. Poor baby.
In case you're thinking they are stage parents, Jenn and Russell were contacted about it by their midwife, who was contacted by the LOST casting people looking for newborns for a flashback scene. So after an "audition" last week which I'm pretty sure consisted of laying there naked and looking cute, it was determined that Hannah has talent.

You know when you watch those shows where babies are born and they look huge and you think "that is so not a newborn" well you're right. It isn't. It's a chunky one month old. I have no idea when the episode airs, but I'll let you know when I find out!

In other, far more mundane news, I am in love with roasted carrots. I like putting a little melted butter, salt, pepper and brown sugar on them and carmelizing them under the broiler. Then my brilliant sister Nicole introduced Chili powder, olive oil, salt and pepper into the mix and they are yummy!!!

So the other day I happened to notice a recipe for carrots on my nutmeg jar that I've probably been staring at for 2 years and never noticed. It's sad how excited I got. So here it is, in case your nutmeg jar is holding out on you:

Spicy Nutmeg Carrots

Mix 2 Tbsp melted butter, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp garlic salt, and 1/8 tsp ground red pepper. Toss with one 16 ounce package of cooked baby carrots. (I didn't cook them first, I broiled them for about 15 minutes after I coated them with the good stuff).

They are so good. I might go make more right now and eat them all myself while Skylar is sleeping.


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