Monday, February 25, 2013

Pictures!

Behold, my banagram mastery:
Even Natalie was amazed that I used all of the letters!
 
 
I got Sammy a little bed so that I could lay him on the table, where he can get some R&R without Natalie bothering him. I got it on clearance at Burlington ($7!), but when I brought it home I was pleased to find that it matches the dog.




 
Natalie takes the doggie bed for a little test run


Natalie loves to play with the dog leashes, but it almost invariably ends with her wrapping herself up until she can no longer move and crying until I free her.
 
I present: Food Storage Shepherd's Pie 
I was having a dump-a-few-cans-together-and-call-it-dinner type day, and I came up with this:
 a can of chili mixed with some ketchup, mustard and spices, layered with a can of green beans and some instant mashed potatoes. It was a nice way to use items that I have bought couponing. This meal cost less than $.75.

This is the dress my mom got for Natalie's birthday. It makes her look like such a big kid! All of our dresses before this have had an infant cut- wide, with a short skirt, meant for crawlers.
 
Micah's first ride on the scooter. It took a while to get it gassed up with air in the tires, but it is now fully up and running. Micah took it out yesterday after church to get a hang of how to drive it. He got up to 45mph going downhill and could have gone faster, but wisely decided not to push it. Not bad for a 50cc! We're still waiting on a motorcycle helmet, but Micah began taking it to Marta today (using a bicycle helmet)

Natalie with a yogurt goatee, signing "done".
 
Learning early to appreciate the joy of licking the beaters when mommy bakes
 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Favorite Spice

Natalie is in her afternoon fit. She's been freaking out since she woke up from her nap and seems less distractable than usual. I tried for 30 minutes, then put her in her crib, where she has been for another 30 minutes. Still crying at full force. I have a headache. So, I thought I'd relax and try to ignore the screaming by sharing something vapid.

My brother and sister-in-law just made it to the Seattle, WA area, where he is starting a new job. I think I was subconsciously rooting for the job an hour from here because, even though I know they're doing what is best for them, I'm super bummed. Haha. I know that there's technology to stay informed and travel on holidays to see one another, but it's just not the same as having them nearby.

I've imagined what it must be like for them to show up in a new city and move into a new apartment. That got me reflecting on our arrival in GA in 2011 with only the things that we could fit in the Prizm. There was SO MUCH we had to buy again. (Kudos to them for renting a uhaul!) And after the furniture and appliances and linens were all taken care of, the next thing I missed was having a full spice cabinet. You take for granted all of the spices that you collect over time and expect to be there when you go to cook something! But it is SO tough to cook when your spice cupboard is empty. I believe that salt, pepper and garlic were the first things we aquired, but it didn't take long for our store to include oregano, basil, onion powder, cinnimon, chili powder, paprika.... down to the less commonly used spices like caraway seed and coriander.

After visiting an Indian market last year, I came home with a big bag of cumin. I had never used cumin before because, as an obscure spice, usually it is only available at mainstream supermarkets in a name brand (read: overpriced). But the bag at the Indian market was only like $1, and though I had no deliberate recipe in mind to use it, I had made many recipes that called for cumin and simply omitted it or substituted chili powder. It did not take long for me to appreciate what a distinct and delicious flavor cumin adds! It's sort of smoky and bright at the same time. It adds a whole new dimension to mexican, southwest or Indian dishes.

So, if you have been a neglecter of cumin, I urge you to repent of your wrongdoing. Next time your recipe calls for cumin, use cumin. And even if your chili recipe doesn't call for cumin, add a splash anyway. You'll thank me later. Find an eastern or mexican market nearby and buy a bag for less than the price of a soda. Unless you have a Winco store nearby where you can buy most spices in bulk, in which case, I am so jealous that I hate you.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I Earn My Metal of Motherhood Honor

WARNING: GROSS CONTENT AHEAD. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE EATEN IN THE PAST 4 DAYS

I have traversed the depths of Hell.

Today, I had the most disturbing and traumatic experience of my life. It has psychologically wounded me beyond repair and I am certain that I will never be the same.

This narrative begins at a small vet's office in northern Chamblee. Our dog, Sammy, has been acting oddly. He has not been his usual, playful self; instead, trudging about with a melancholy expression. We thought that he was just sad because we had wounded his pride on Saturday, taking him to the groomer to be shaved. The groomer actually reported that she could not finish Sammy because any time she got near his behind, he got very aggressive. Sammy is always aggressive with groomers and I imagine that exposing one's anus to the enemy is a pretty vulnerable position, so I figured he was just being his usual self. But as the days continued, he showed other signs- whining, not jumping up onto the couch or bed like normal, snapping at us- to indicate that something was wrong. Last night, when he came in from his evening walk, he seemed to be in pain as he slithered to the ground and laid there shaking and whining. This morning I was able to schedule him at a low-cost emergency vet clinic- WellPet Humane in Chamblee, GA. Cheapest place in Atlanta; folks come from all across the city to get their pets looked at here. The vet examined him and ruled out a broken bone or any problem with his legs- quite a relief! I would feel such wrenching pity if Sammy had to have a leg amputated or cruise around with a little wheel cart supporting his lower body! The problem was identified as pain in his back. She prescribed medications for pain and inflammation and instructed me to keep him on strict bed-rest. No jumping, walking, prancing, heavy-lifting or operating construction machinery. If it is a muscle problem, it should improve. If not, it's a disc problem and we'll have to go back for x-rays. Poor little guy! Natalie behaved decently at the vet's, thanks to a pouch of yogurt and a few pretzels.

We packed up and headed home. I drove the back roads instead of the interstate to stop at a grocery store. After driving farther, I hear Natalie throw up. The noise continues for a while. I am suddenly in a state of deep alarm. We're almost home, and I figure that we can make it there and then I can clean her up. But then, after the retching ended, it remained oddly quiet. I expected screaming and tears. Terrified that she was choking, I immediately pulled into a neighborhood and run around to see Natalie. She was sitting in her carseat, alert and content, picking out bits of regurgitated food and putting it in her mouth. Completely covering her from head to toes was approximately 7 gallons of vomit. Perhaps it was slightly less than that,  but the amount was staggering. I had to act fast, I could not allow her to put another particle in her mouth. So I ripped off her buckles, pulled her out, (held my breath as vomit sloshed off of her and onto the carseat,) ripped off her clothes, pulled the blanket from underneath Sammy and began to wipe every part of Natalie, ran out of clean areas of the blanket, turned her clothing inside out and continued to wipe, saturated the clothing, pulled out the wipes from the trunk, all while Natalie dangled curiously by the arm. I finally ran out of wipes and had to admit that I could do nothing else until we reached home. I had vomit-covered-raiment scattered about me on the curb. A school bus approached and I notice the parents waiting at the corner across the road. My disgust is now compounded with embarrassment as well as pity for the disgust that I am certainly causing others. Natalie, in nothing but a half-wet onesie, cries as I strap her back into her carseat, probably having found the entire event quite entertaining. I gather the debris and search for a container to carry it home. I might have found a plastic bag in the emergency car kit- come to think of it, I had more wipes in there too!- but I felt strongly compelled to get home as fast as humanly possible, so I gathered it up and set in on a piece of paper in the pack seat. I sped home, settling on a half-down window after balancing my need to breath with my concern for my half-naked daughter on a cold winter day. Words cannot describe the stench. I expect I shall live my life never knowing it's equal.

I arrived home and whisked Natalie into the bath, where I undressed her, set her clothing aside to be burned, and turned on the shower. She didn't like it, but I had to rinse away all of the puke bits that her clothing had shed as I undressed her. Finally, the tub was clear and I ran some bath water. I washed her thoroughly, brushed her teeth and finally took a second to breath. She was clean, contentedly playing in the water. I took the calm moment to text Micah about the incident. Cue: Massive Diarrhea. I look up, and the bathwater is clouded with defecation. I plunge my hand in to immediately unplug the tub- forgetting my phone is in my hand and drenching it. I tear all the bathtoys away from Natalie, throwing them in the sink. I rip up the textured bath mat, now with chunks of poop sticking to it. I stare at my now poo-covered baby in the poo-covered tub and have a moment of panic before remembering the shower. On goes the shower! Natalie begins to cry. I try earnestly to rinse away the poo from Natalie and the tub, afraid that she will take interest in any remnants. I soap her again. As soon as she is rinsed, I whisk her out of the tub and get her into her pajamas and, thank heavens, she agreed to take a nap.

This gave me the time I needed to collect the items from the car, start a load of laundry and cry. I left the tub, mat and bathtoys for Micah.

I had to remove the carseat's liner and scrub the plastic base to get it out of all the crevices. I could never have imagined such pervasive, evil vomit! It was the most horrific thing I have ever experienced. The smell was and is so disgusting that I think we may need a new car.

WHY DO WE CHOSE TO HAVE CHILDREN? WHY? WHY? WHY?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Challenges and Accomplishments

It's been a fun week.

And by that, I mean a very difficult week.

After doing one nap for little while, Natalie is back to 2 naps because she wouldn't sleep for more than an hour. She also just had 2 teeth break through and might be working on a couple more. She's also been sick for the past week- super snot and juicy cough. And the weather has sucked, so we've been cooped up indoors a lot. These factors, and possibly others that remain unknown, have resulted in a monster child who basically throws a tantrum from 2pm until 7pm, with a 30-60 mintute respite while she's asleep. During the morning, she does so well and plays independantly and seems very happy, but then as afternoon rolls around, she is so intensely impossible that it drives me crazy. She screams and cries if I pick her up, if I put her down, if I offer her toys, if I put the toys away, if I talk to her, if I sit down next to her, if I put on TV, if I turn off TV. And if I ignore her, she comes up to me and pulls on me, screaming like she's gonna die, and wedges herself between me and the wall/counter and begins to bang her head, crying even more. More than once, I've just been so frustrated, I stuck her in her crib and left. These recent evenings have found me irritated beyond belief or in tears. More and more, I want to go get a full time job, but Micah, ever the voice of reason, does not believe that wanting to get away from Natalie is reasonable justification.

Though, today he got a taste of how hard it is. He watched Natalie from 12-7, while I went to a Small Dog Rescue adoption event, got some groceries, picked up coupons and then went to a meeting. When I got home, he said something to the effect of, "Now I know why you don't feel like being all kissy when I come home at night." HA!

We did have some fun on Thursday. A few women from church hosted a Valentines Day party for the kids. Most of the kids were 2-3, but there were plenty in the Natalie age range. Though she didn't care much for or understand the activities, she had fun playing with balloons, climbing on the kid-sized chairs and eating pizza and muffins and anything else that kids left on the short tables unattended. The finale was cookie decorating and it did not take Natalie long at all to get her hands on a plate with frosting, where she wasted no time in eating it by the fistfull.

After months of wanting one, Micah finally got a scooter to ride to the MARTA station 2 miles away. He bough a new, unassembled one that is Chinese, but of a brand that is supposed to be slightly more reliable than the usual Chinese scooter. It's all put together now, but still needs gas and oil to start. It was frustrating to put together because the plastic covering parts did not fit well over the mechanical parts and the instructions were in broken English, with major portions missing, such as the part where you basically have to assemble the transmission. So, yeah, that was a tense day for Micah. But at least now he knows every single part of that scooter and when something goes wrong he will know how to fix it himself! Micah's a pretty easy-going guy usually, so when he was so ticked off while assembling the scooter, it was pretty dang scary!


Natalie is definitely learning. She knows her nose!

video
 
And even though most of her babbling doesn't make sense, she definitely has meaning behind what she's saying. It's just a riddle for us to try and figure out what that is. She loves blueberries, but now we are wondering if she says "blue" to just mean "food", or if she really does have a deep, continuous yearning for blueberries, motivating her to ask for them several times a day. Who knows?!
 
video
 
She understand a lot of directions that we give her, though she often does not follow them. You can tell when she knows what we're saying and is choosing to do something else. Her smile is just too, too sly when she turns around and does exactly what I just told her not to!
 
This week, we have a lot to look forward to- hopefully getting the scooter running, dinner with Micah's parents and the missionaries, and our relief society is hosting a seminar on how to read to children most effectively. The seminar could be on 26 ways to tie a scarf, and I would probably be equally excited for the chance to get out on a weeknight and hang out with other women!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Failed Dishware Attempt

I'd like Natalie to learn to eat off of plates, mainly because when we go out to eat it's embarrassing to feed her off the table. The times I tried giving her a plate, she dumped the food on her lap while lifting the plate vertical to her face, trying to eat the food directly off of the plate. She also bangs the plates and drops them, which is no good until we get some plastic dishware! So, I thought I would try a bowl. She decided that she would try to wear it as a hat!

 

 
The grossest part? She went straight to the tub after dinner and, as I was rinsing her off, she kept picking up the noodles that were rinsed off of her and eating them.
 
And yes, those are spaghettios. We got home way late and I needed something to feed her quickly so that she could get to bed. DON'T JUDGE ME!!!
 
Strawberries season is here! At least, that's what it seems- they've been on sale at ALDI for the last few weeks for $1.20/qt, and they're actually GOOD! Usually early ones don't have much taste, but they're super sweet and delicious. I'm so glad. I hate having to spend the long winter without delicious treats like this!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Couch Climber

Natalie is obsessed with climbing the couch lately. I'm against it.
1.)That is the last refuge where the dogs can go and not be bothered
2.) Its one more thing for her to fall off of
 
 
She lacks the height and strength to get up on her own. But while I was getting lunch together, I came out and caught her stepping on her lego box to get up there. My fears were validated when, after I grabbed the camera and took this picture, she saw the tray of food and walked towards me- falling right off the couch. I was sure she'd break her leg! Fortunately, babies are resilient and all of her bones remain intact... for now.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Graham Crackers

It has recently come to my attention that I need to step up my game when it comes to snacks.
 
I always have plain cheerios for Natalie when we're out and about. They're somewhat nutritious, not that messy and keep well in a plastic bag. Lately, when we are around other kids, she is a total mooch. She goes after all the other kid's snacks, to the degree that I feel like I need to write a check to the other moms for all the stolen raisins, pretzels and crackers. Also, Cheerios are no longer exciting enough to keep Natalie's attention in church, where she is experimenting with Sacrament-meeting-fit-pitchin'. She liked graham crackers the last time that I bought them, but let's be honest- graham crackers are just cookies, loaded with sugar. So I thought that I would try making some, so that I could cut the sugar down. I have tried this Smitten Kitchen recipe twice before with varied results. This time, I followed the directions perfectly and, though the prescribed baking time turned out to be waaaay too long, the second and third batches turned out fine.
Though, I'm not entirely convinced that these are worth making. The dough is unbelievably sticky. Imagine trying to roll and cut cookies out of toothpaste. In fact, once I began rolling these, I ran out of flour for the counter and rolling pin and had to leave the dough in the fridge for a few days until I bought more flour. It's painstaking to try to cut them neatly, let alone uniformally. I was conciously telling myself the whole time, "Natalie is only 13 months old. It's okay if they look like crap." Still, it's such a dagger to my pride to waste an hour and a half cutting cookies that look as if they were created by a kindergartener. They are good. Have the taste and crunch of graham crachers, get fabulously soggy in milk and Natalie's a fan (though her attention wavers slightly once she has licked off the cinnimon sugar topping).
 
 
Natalie has been sleeping much better in the past week. We decided that we are done getting up with her, so she's quickly learning that there is no longer any use carrying on: Mom and Dad are not going to come and feed me and/or rock me back to sleep. She wakes up, cries for a little bit, then goes back to sleep. After 6, she gets a bottle and some snuggles and, on lucky mornings, falls back asleep in our bed for a little longer. Finally! A hope for decent sleep!
 
 

Friday, February 1, 2013

New Day, New Dog

Well, last Saturday, much to our surprise, Maddox got adopted. Usually older dogs take a long time to find homes, but he was taken home on Saturday by a nice older couple with a lazy cocker spaniel to spend the rest of his days with.
 
I went up to the shelter on Wednesday to pick up another shihtzu, but another fosterer had already gotten him. Shoot! As I looked around at the other dogs, the dogs of breeds that I like- shihtzus, terriers, dachsunds- were really hyper, jumping and barking in their crates. The few who were calmer were in medical isolation or were so new to the shelter that they couldn't recommend them in a home with a baby until they were evaluated further. Lauren, the president of the rescue group, came in and recommended Nick. She said that he was very laid back, sweet. When they have promotional opportunities, like recetly the weather channel asked SDR to present a dog, or for booths at public events, she liked to bring Nick, because he would just curl up on our lap and chill. The main problem? He's a chihuahua. I'm no big fan of chihuahuas. We brought him out and vistited him and I decided that it wasn't fair to refuse Nick because of his breed- he can't help what he is! Plus, he had been at the shelter for a long time and dogs like that can benefit a lot from being in a foster home- in terms of their own well-being as well as the added confidence that it gives potential adopters to know that he can behave well in a home setting. So, here's Nick:
 
 
He's 8 years old and a major snuggler. He loves to burrow under blankets and snooze all day. We're wondering if his eyesight is bad because he seems to run into things quite often. The biggest downside is that he bares his teeth at Natalie when she starts flailing near him, so I'm keeping a close watch. Surely there is some lonely person out there who needs a low-maintenance lap warmer. Little Nick would be the perfectc fit!