Sunday, March 29, 2009

Big Kids. Er, sortof

Our kids are both bigger this weekend. Not compared to everyone else's. They both still barely hit the 5th percentile mark on the growth charts. But still...

Trystan's crib converts to a toddler bed with a half rail (to keep them from falling out, but that doesn't keep them from climbing out). Yesterday after his nap, my husband pulled out the conversion kit and off came the crib side. Trystan had no trouble last night staying in bed--I think he was asleep almost before he hit the pillow. Same for this afternoon's nap.

Tonight is a different story. I think he's trying to break his big sister's record for the most times hopping out of bed. We're at 5 so far. The last time was cute. He poked his head into the office (where I'm trying to catch up on a week's worth of email and blogs), saying "air mah-yee? aire-yar. 'o ock ock", taking my finger, and leading me back to rocking chair in his bedroom. (Translation: "Where's mommy? There you are. Lets go rock rock.") Very cute. I'm sure I will miss this when he's 16 and slamming the door in my face :)

He's also gotten to wear pull-ups for the first time, and is loving them. And using the potty, some of the time. Mostly when we're not home (he really likes public restrooms). It is funny how he requests the pull-up over the diaper. By shouting "PAAAANNNNTSSS!" (as in, big boy pants) as you're trying to lay him down for a diaper change. Its less funny when he's yanking the regular diaper out of your hands and throwing it across the room.

I'm happy he's excited. And that he's going. As far as we know, he shouldn't have any more trouble tinkle-training than any other boy (and with his current level of interest and control, might actually be pretty fast about that). For a kid with less than a (according to the exact type of bowel defect he had) 25% chance of gaining "fecal continence" (poop control), he's already telling us when he needs to go (especially at restaurants..I mentioned the public restroom fetish already), and actually pushes poop out on the potty. Did I mention that he was 2 a week ago? Many kids with the factory-default anatomy "down there" can't be bothered to do that till closer to 3. Somehow, I think there's better than a 25% chance that he'll get full control of that with very little medical/medicinal intervetion.

Come on, you don't discuss tinkling and bowel movements that much at your house? Your dinner table conversations must be boooring...

Charlotte is finally big enough for a booster seat. For those of you who aren't familiar with the assortment of child protective devices, I shall explain. Up until a baby is both 12 months and 20 pounds, they must ride facing backwards. Children must ride facing forwards in a car seat that has its own buckles until they are 3 years and 30 pounds. Then they may transition to a high-backed booster seat that positions the car's lap and shoulder belts. By 4 years and 40 pounds, they can use just the bottom booster seat.

At about 18 months, we figured that as long as Charlotte had a jacket and shoes on to weigh her down, she was close enough to turn forwards. On her third birthday, she was pushing 25 pounds. By shortly after Trystan's first birthday (Charlotte was 3.5), he was ready for a forward-facing carseat: ideally, Charlotte's. Trouble was, Charlotte was still in them. And nowhere near the 30 pounds required for the next step up. Those things are expensive, especially when you need two (no, I won't spend 15 minutes uninstalling and 20 minutes re-installing those every day to save $90. And my fingers would be permanently bruised). I'd hoped that Char would move up to a booster and pass her carseats down to her brother, but no. So we bought her a pair of seats that convert from forward-only to high-backed booster.

Now, at 4.5, she's finally registering over 30 pounds and 38 inches every time we check her (32 pounds and 38.5 inches, most often). And she is a pain to un/buckle in my car in the garage because I can't open the car door on her side (without smashing the lawn mower), so I have to either climb over Trystan's chair or climb back from the front seat. And with kindergarten looming (one with no school busses) and the potential for carpools, I wanted a seat that didn't require a contortionist to use. So, she got a high-backed booster, and Trystan has inherited her forward-to-booster chairs (his existing ones are getting a little worn from years of abuse. And they're really really heavy if I ever have to move them or fly with them).

Maybe by the time Charlotte's in driver's ed, she'll be big enough to convert to that bottom-only booster seat.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday Cookbook Series -- The Joys of Jell-o

This week I have a treasure for you. Joys of Jell-o was published by General Foods a long time ago. Seriously, there's no date. I'm guessing mid-60's to 70's. My copy is in excellent shape, having come (potentially unused) from my husband's grandmother's kitchen.

The booklet has ninety-five pages of Jello recipes. The first section includes desserts, as in the photo at left. Note that the "cake" in that picture is really stacked layers of jello. At the end of the book are addresses to send away for some of the fancy jello moulds used throughout the book. Somehow I don' think those offers are still valid though.

I think the best part is the large and varied selection of non-dessert recipes. Shrimp, vegetables, chicken, tuna, etc., feature in many of these. In the last page that I scanned, the two towering jello salads are filled with veggies. One recipe that I didn't scan involved making barbeque sauce flavored jello cubes that you could add to salads or sandwiches.

Now, we make jello Easter eggs every year, but that's about as fancy as my gelatin creativity goes. I don't know about you, but I'm quite happy that the trend of putting everything and anything into a jello mold is long past. I can't imagine eating, let alone serving, tuna salad that involves a box of artifically green sweet gel....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Are you ever tempted...

I own a small set of stock in a handful of companies, and get the annual reports every year. Inevitably, they come with a voting card and an "invitation" to the annual shareholders meeting. Sometimes, I'm really tempted to go.

Just because.

Just because they invited me. Frequently, the meetings are held somewhere neat--a museum, or just a nice city. And would it be a tax writeoff? Some sort of business expense, or expense against capital gains or anything? Could I really call a day trip to Chicago or LA or New York a business expense? That's not why I want to go to one of these.

Mostly, I just want to walk in with my invitation and vote my 10 shares in person. Just to see what they say. And how many eyes roll.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Little One!

Today was a good day. I made a birthday cake, we went to church, we ate out twice, the children laughed all afternoon. Trystan refused to nap, probably because he had a very short one in the car between church and lunch. He's not good at resuming interrupted naps. But he got some wonderfully giggly Grandma and Grandpa time while his twin cousins (and their mommy) were napping on the big bed in his room.

Today was all about Thomas the Train. My son loves anything with wheels, and got a lovely little wooden Thomas train set from Santa. He's become a bit obsessed. Yes, we encourage him. If you've ever seen the Thomas tv show, and compared it to something high-pitched like Dora, you'd probably understand why. But he is welcome to enjoy other things, and yet he obsesses over his "choo-choo" jammies and his "choo-choo" toothpaste. After this afternoon's unwrapping fest, he now has several miles of wooden tracks (and a bridge!) and at least 500 more train cars to connect together. And new Thomas sheets to fit his toddler bed (which is still a crib for the moment). And a giant stuffed Thomas the Train pillow. And books, books, books. The kid's in heaven.

I even made him a Thomas the Train cake, as best I could. I don't know that the photos do it justice, which is probably a good thing. I'm no professional cake decorator :) The cake pan is not Thomas, just a train car "muffin" pan, but I did my best with icing and colored sugar. About halfway through the decorating, I was ready to chuck the whole thing and run to the grocery store for a real cake. And then Trystan saw what I was doing and started cooing "Ooohh! Wow!" at me every time I'd pick up a train car to add a new color. That made the whole thing worthwhile. Good thing we photographed it, because it was very tasty :) Unfortunately, he was a little sad later that it disappeared from the table (don't think he understood that when he was eating "Thomas" that the choo choo set was sliding down his gullet).

Today has been a bit hard for me. We plugged a memory card full of 4.5 years of photos into our Wii and let it cycle through them all afternoon. Watching Charlotte's baby photos, and toddler photos, and the few with my bulging Trystan belly make me sad for the days of Charlotte as the round, giggly 2-year old. And then a scanned version of one of Trystan's first ultrasound photos flashed on the screen. The ultrasound that told us that all was not well with the new baby. And then came the photos of Trystan in the NICU, GI tube taped to his face and PIC(?) line taped to his head. And the one of Charlotte with her baby brother, both cuddled on their daddy's lap, at home for the first time together on Easter Sunday that year.

I have a beautiful, smart, busy, mischevious, active, dexterous, fun, and currently quite healthy 2 year old boy. Not quite a baby, not quite a kid. He jabbers constantly, though his pronunciation sucks right now :) This week, he's been saying "cupcake" loud and clear. He likes to use the potty--but only when we're away from the house. He hits people when he gets frustrated (a habit we're working hard at breaking), and he loves to snuggle, and to give hugs when he's happy. His very kissable belly has two scars--one so faint you can hardly see it, the other large and ugly, though fading. I know within the next year or two we'll have to add a third, for his heart.

Tonight, I'm happy and proud to be his mamma. And maybe a little teary, too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy Day

This is my favorite time of day: nap time.

I have declared my birthday as my own personal holiday. To celebrate, the kids and I are taking a day off to enjoy the gorgeous spring weather. We arrived at the zoo a little before 9:00 AM, and left about a quarter to two, just as it was beginning to sprinkle. They are both happily ensconced in their beds, snoozing away.

I didn't take the camera along this morning--I had enough to juggle with two kids, a topsy umbrella stroller, diaper bag, and 5 drinks (we brought 2, and ended up with 3 more with our lunches). As a birthday present to myself, I have ordered a new, much smaller camera. One that ought to be easier to fit in a diaper bag or purse, and that won't have quite so many fancy features and lenses. I'm sure they're very helpful, but I just want to be able to snap a quick photo and then get back to enjoying the world with my eyes instead of a tiny screen :)

In the mean time, here are a couple of photos from this weekend, taken with our older and fancier camera (but by me, which means the photos aren't any fancier):

Charlotte and Trystan showing off their Blues outfits before the game. Trystan wasn't quite awake from his nap yet.

The new family Rock Band. Yes, we bought the same game that several of our friends have. The kids love it, when they're not fighting over the drumsticks. Charlotte is already not bad at singing. We do use the "no fail" option with the kids!

Trystan tries out the real thing. Almost. We have a not-quite-tunable guitar for the kids to play with, though they occasionally get to help Daddy strum his 12-string.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New Thing: We've got the Blues

Sunday, we took the kids to their first Blues game. We had a blast! We all dressed in our various paraphernalia: Charlotte in her pink Blues Jersey, Trystan in his Blues top-and-bottom set, me in my sweatshirt, and my husband in his jersey and hat. Hubby and I have Blues coats too, but it was 65 degrees that afternoon, the sunniest, warmest hockey game I've ever attended. I'm sure we were sickeningly well coordinated as it was :)

The Blues hosted the Minnesota Wild, and we won 5-3. It was also "fan appreciation" night, which meant that we got free food. Each of us got a bottle of soda or water, either hot dog or chicken strips, and popcorn. It wasn't the best food in the world, but it was kid-friendly. And free :)

Our seats were up in the upper tier, but close to the center line. Unfortunately we were also fairly close to the bullhorn that they blow after goals. That was loud, and Trystan was NOT a fan. We had bought 4 tickets so that we weren't crunched for space, even though Trystan's still (barely) young enough to share a seat. And, we were on the aisle, which came in handy for the 6 separate bathroom trips that the kids requested (4 for Trystan, 2 for Charlotte--and yes, Trystan actually went in the potty on all 4 of those trips).

I know Charlotte watched the game, but she was most impressed with the jr hockey players that played during one of the period breaks. She kept asking when they were going to play again :) On the way home, she was still chanting "Lets Go Blues".

And, because the Blues scored 5 goals, we got coupons for free Blizzards from Dairy Queen, which we're planning to use on Wednesday night to celebrate my birthday. There will be plenty of cake this weekend for Trystan's birthday.

Monday, March 16, 2009

New Thing: Lobster

Friday, I cooked lobster tails for dinner. My cooking experience with anything aquatic is really limited. I live about as far away from any ocean as you can get, so seafood has always been kind of expensive and hard to get. But, that seems like it’s changing. In the past few years, I’ve actually found some reasonable options at the grocery store and at Sam’s club—all frozen, of course—and have been venturing into salmon and shrimp and various white fish. I bought the lobster tails right before New Years at a really good price, and they’ve been waiting in our deep freeze since then.

My husband and I checked various books and online spots for recipes. There were some good grilling options, but our propane tank actually ran out in the middle of Thursday night’s dinner (which my husband finished inside under the broiler). I ended up playing it safe and steaming them, serving with melted butter. And salad and garlic-cheese biscuits. Mmmmmm. Trystan was not a fan of the lobster, but he loved the butter (what can I say, he’s my kid). Charlotte loved the lobster (she’s a huge seafood fan), and ate her own plus half of Trystan’s.

I did have some trouble figuring out what to do with the shells. In my quickie web searches, I didn’t find any recipes with photos, and I had trouble knowing what to cut, or if I needed to cut the shells before cooking. Several recipes directed us to cut, so I cut something. I used kitchen shears and cut through the top shell lengthwise, but perhaps I should have cut all the way through the meat to the bottom shell. I don’t know if that would help or hinder. Guess I have more research to do.

At some point I would like to try cooking whole lobsters. But I would definitely need instructions (with pictures!) on how to eat them. And I don’t think I could do it with my husband in the house—he’s very squeamish about killing the things. He had a pet crayfish once as a kid.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Thanks to Robin for this meme. Here are the rules:

1. Pick 10 of your favorite movies.
2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie.
3. Post them here for everyone to guess.
4. Strike it out when someone guesses correctly, and put who guessed it and the movie.
5. NO GOOGLING/using IMDb search functions or going to my favorite movies list on my profile!
6. Tag 10 people who you especially want to answer and/or post their own list. (I’m going to skip this part - see #7 and play along if you want!)
7. Anyone can play, even if you’re not tagged.

I actually overlap with Robin on one of my movie choices (possibly more, but one for sure), though not my choice of quotes from the movie. Now that I’ve collected all my quotes, I think that my choices are somewhat telling. There are a few definitive themes in the types of movies I gravitate towards, and those that I mark as my favorites. Its no surprise to me that my choices all have many of the following characteristics: romance, fantasy, action, happy endings, and strong female characters.

  1. There’s a shortage of perfect breasts in this world. Twould be a pity to damage yours.

  2. Could someone get this walking carpet out of my way?

  3. The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.
    You don't meet a girl like that every dynasty.

  4. Went away? "I dwell in darkness without you" and it *went away*?

  5. She is tolerable I suppose, but she's not handsome enough to tempt me.

  6. I was unfortunate enough in my youth to come across a vomit-flavored one, and since then I'm afraid I've rather lost my liking for them.

  7. You will be so beautiful that the first boy who sees you will want to marry you.

  8. I know something of a woman in a man's profession. Yes, by God, I do know about that.

  9. I could say they lived happily ever after, but what's the fun in that?

  10. I don't like warriors. Too narrow-minded, no subtlety. And worse, they fight for hopeless causes. Honor? Huh! Honor's killed millions of people, it hasn't saved a single one.

Monday, March 09, 2009

13 down, 33 to go

Life without chocolate is a whole lot sleepier. I forget just how much caffeine my daily doses of the dark stuff probably provide. A drop in the bucket for caffeine and soda addicts, but I drink the liquid brain booster only two or three times a week. Chocolate is a daily ritual.

And its gone, baby, gone, till Easter. My husband tried to tell me that I failed by eating a cookie with white chocolate chips. Yeah, it says chocolate in the name, but those things are more like vanilla flavored butter than chocolate to me. Cocoa butter actually. Good, but not quite the same.

I'm totally dragging without my daily fix. I thought I might be better about not snacking so much during the day if I don't have a steady source of individually wrapped chocolates to fuel me. In desperation, I'm turning to other sources of fuel--jelly beans, lemon bars, peanut butter chips (yes, I've raided the baking supplies once or twice). And they're totally not working for me.

Maybe I should try chewing gum. It helps smokers, why not cocoa-ers? (ok, really bad pun, one you might have to read out loud to even get. No, I don't expect you to laugh).

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Thursday Cookbook Series -- The Betty Crocker Cookbook

Raise your hand if you DON'T own a Betty Crocker Cookbook. Really? I didn't know that was possible. You're missing something, you know.

This cookbook was the first one I acquired. I have no idea from where. Actually, it might have been my husband's cookbook first. And the photo is not representative of our book. They are constantly updating and improving it, and ours is at least 15 years old now.

My mom had a much older (probably mid-late 70's) version that we loved to pieces growing up. You could find the recipe to our family's favorite coffee cake (which might have actually been named Favorite Coffee Cake, come to think of it) just by opening the book--it was the stickiest, grittiest page in the book. Second to that was probably the chocolate chip cookie page.

My book has permanent creases on the basic white bread recipe (very yummy and no fancy ingredients--flour, yeast, water, salt, sugar), and several of the cake recipes. This is one of the first books I grab for inspiration for dinner, or for any common recipe.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Is it a little chilly in here?

I am getting very very tired of the cold. I don't think I've been warm since last September. Or maybe earlier than that. Maybe 2006. You know, before I became the oven to a couple of buns. Don't rush to any conclusions. I'm not yearning for another pregnancy. Just a little warmth.

I think I'm getting old. Or my metabolism is slowing down. Because in my wild youth I don't remember constantly reaching for a sweater. Or a fuzzy purple bathrobe. And thick socks. And slippers. The Cookie Monster ones. And maybe a blanket.

The problem could be the long winter, that I swear started last August. For thriftiness, our programmable thermostat is set for 65 overnight, 67 during the day. I keep finding myself upping it to 68. There's a world of difference between 67 and 68, you know.

Or the problem could be work. I work in a dungeon. The elevator calls it "level 1". Or the basement. Whatever. It's cold down there, and there are no windows. I keep a sweater at my desk. And a blanket. And a large supply of hot tea (never underestimate the warming power of a hot coffee mug). I wear that sweater all year round. I get cold in my car too. Even with my winter coat and a scarf on, I keep the thermostat set at 67 (68 unzipped). And I love seat warmers!

I am ready, oh so ready, for some real heat. To sit outside while the sun broils me from above and the concrete-turned-pizza stone browns me from below. Not that I brown, and not that I spend much time without my SPF 9-Million on. But at least in the summer, I won't need a sweater.