Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Chicken Kiev

I tried something new and different last night for dinner. The result was pretty good, so I thought I'd share it.

2 half chicken breasts
1/4 cup butter, softened
garlic powder, salt, pepper, thyme, and parsley (to taste)
1 egg, beaten with 1 T. water
cracker crumbs

Pound chicken flat, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix butter with spices. Flatten in a long, narrow strip between pieces of waxed paper and freeze for 30 minutes.

Cut chicken in half (so you have four pieces). Place frozen butter/spices on center of each chicken piece. Roll chicken around butter and secure with a toothpick. Roll in flour, dip in egg mixture, and roll in cracker crumbs.

Fry in hot skillet until brown on all sides - about 8 to 10 minutes.


The original recipe says to roll up the entire half breast, but I found that if you do that, the outside is overcooked before the inside is done. So I think using less chicken in each roll would work better.

Also, the original recipe gives amounts for the spices, and calls for rosemary. I sort of ignored that part and put in what I thought would taste good. :)

WFMW - blitz pick-ups

When I was a kid, and the house got too messy, Mom would announce that we were having a "BLITZ PICK-UP!!!!!!" in that very excited tone of voice that said that this was the MOST FUN WE COULD POSSIBLY HAVE RIGHT NOW!!! Then we would all run around and clean up as fast as possible.

As I got older, I didn't think it was quite so exciting. But it was a quick way to get cleaned up!

So a few weeks ago I decided to try the same idea with Jonathan. I wanted him to begin learning to pick up his own toys, and I thought maybe the excitement factor would help.

Boy, did it ever! Jonathan thinks it is one big happy game. We race each other to see who can put blocks into the bucket fastest, and we practice our aim as we throw the little toys into baskets. He requests (often!) to "do a blizz pigup, mommy!" We've already had three this morning - we're running out of toys to put away. :)

Pick-up time = play for me!

Visit Shannon for more ideas!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day

We spent the day with Gabe's family. Gabe and Phillip and Dad painted the hallway. Mom enjoyed the little boys. We all enjoyed hot dogs. And pizza. And ice cream. Because hey, what is memorial day without family and food?

And remembering those soldiers who protect our ability to enjoy family and food.

Birth story

Quite a few people have mentioned that they’d like me to post Thomas’ birth story. I haven’t until now for a few reasons. One is that initially, it was too hard to even write. The second is that it was so horrible that I haven’t been sure I wanted it posted for all to read.

Thomas is three months and two weeks old. He is a beautiful baby, and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t go back. If I could somehow choose to go back and not go through the experience and not have him, I don’t think I would. I have a lovely child and on top of that, I think I learned quite a bit from his birth.

I also think that I’m well on my way to becoming a childbirth activist. ;)

So here is the story. I hope that it makes you think. I hope that someone who reads it will ask more questions of her doctor. I hope that someone who reads it will understand her rights, and her responsibility to educate herself. I hope that someone who reads it will realize that she is stronger than she thinks she is.

My labor with Thomas did not start with a bang. It started on Thursday, February 8th, with something called “prodromal labor”. Basically that means that you have contractions, real ones that hurt, about every 10 to 30 minutes. For hours, and hours, and hours. It is hard to sleep because you’re awakened every few minutes by another pain. It is hard to focus on other things because you’re sort of kind of in labor, but not really, but maybe soon, but not yet…it isn’t an easy way to begin. My midwife (Sue) explained what was happening and recommended rest, rest, and more rest if possible, as well as trying to keep my mind off it as much as I could. Because we didn’t know when I’d really kick into labor, we sent Jonathan to stay with Jessica that night.

Friday was more of the same, only more so. The contractions stayed about 10 minutes apart. Gabe and I followed Sue’s instructions and got out of the house, although by that time I was very tired and the last thing I wanted to do was go anywhere! We went to get coffee at It’s A Grind, and lunch at Subway. It is quite an experience, trying to time walking in and out of a store so that you don’t end up doubled over and providing quite a spectacle for all the other patrons. I didn’t always time it correctly. :)

It was rather wasted food, unfortunately. I couldn’t eat any of it – I was pretty nauseous by that point. We went to Jessica’s house for a bit to see Jonathan, and then headed home, intending to pick up a movie on our way for more distraction. We did get the movie, but by the time we got out of the video store I was convinced that this was now REAL labor. The contractions came one after another with very little break, and all I wanted was to get home as quickly as possible.

Once home (at about 4pm), Gabe called Sue and I draped myself over the birth ball and made lots of noise. It was good noise, though – low and sort of gutteral, and as strange as it sounds, it helped. Sue listened to me going through a contraction over the phone and said she’d leave immediately (she was in Pasadena at the time!) and called Katie (her assistant) to come as well in the hopes that she’d get to me first.

They both arrived at the same time. I can only imagine how many speeding laws Sue broke on her way. :)

So it was real labor. For awhile I felt like it was going well. The contractions were steady but manageable. I could move around as I liked and use the birth ball or the couch or the bed as a support. It was pain, and really tough pain, certainly. But the techniques that I had been taught actually seemed to work, and I felt like I was “in charge” of how labor was going. This lasted for about 2 or 2.5 hours.

Then I hit transition. And stayed there. And stayed there. And stayed there. I had moved to the birth tub and the water definitely helped. I could relax (almost sleeping, sometimes!) lying back in Gabe’s arms between contractions. But when the contraction hit, it really hit hard. For awhile I still felt like it was manageable – that it was horrible and the worst thing I’d ever felt, definitely – but I could remember that it would eventually end and that there was going to be a baby at the end.

But it didn’t end. After about two hours of that, I lost control of the labor. Now it was just something awful that was happening to me, not a job that I was participating in. And I had forgotten that it could ever end. I was lost in a world that hurt, and hurt, and never stopped hurting, and all I could think of was that I wanted it to stop. Please.

Weariness played into this a lot. I’d been in some sort of labor for two days, and had very little sleep the previous night. I also hadn’t been able to eat anything other than a very light breakfast Friday morning, and although Sue and Katie kept giving me juice, it wasn’t enough. Eventually my legs started shaking too badly to hold me up, even just on my knees leaning against the birth ball, and Gabe and I decided that it was time to go to the hospital. Although I had wanted to deliver at home without medication, at that point all I wanted was something to manage the pain so that I could rest. We thought that if I could go to the hospital and get an epidural (or even just some kind of drug) that I could sleep, regain some strength, and then finish pushing our baby out.

So we (somehow!) got me into some clothes and headed for the car. I threw up all the juice all over the kitchen floor on my way out. (Blessings on Katie, who cleaned up the house while I was in the hospital!) Somehow I walked to the car. And we drove to the hospital. May I recommend that you never, ever, ever drive to the hospital in transition? At least not unless it is a seriously life threatening emergency. That was the longest fifteen minutes of my entire life.

We got to the hospital at about 9:30pm. Gabe parked the car outside the ER and helped me walk in. Gabe told the nurse at the desk that I was in labor (which in retrospect is really funny, since I was yelling/groaning and obviously in labor!) and someone brought a wheelchair and wheeled me up to labor and delivery. That part happened so fast that I thought maybe things would be ok – until I heard a nurse say that Dr. Purdom was the doctor on call. That made me scared, because I have friends who have had him for a doctor before, and everyone has said that he prefers to do c-sections.

Once in the labor/delivery area, I was taken into a tiny room and (I think) examined. They wanted to get me into a hospital gown, but I didn’t want to and they didn’t push the issue. I think they realized that I was pretty far along, and they moved me back into the wheelchair and took me into a much bigger delivery room. Throughout all this, they’d been asking me lots of questions (paperwork stuff) and I kept crying and asking “please, could I just have something for pain?” In retrospect, I know that they were doing the best they could – just following regulations – but it felt like forever and it was so hard to answer questions while hurting so badly.

It was also difficult because during this time Gabe and I were on our own – Sue was following us but it took her a little longer to get through the ER and up to our room. I don’t remember exactly when she arrived, but I was so relieved to see her!

Once I was in the delivery room, a nurse checked me. I don’t remember exactly how dilated she said that I was, (although I remember thinking that Sue had said I was farther than that – 8 cm) but I remember her saying that the baby was at a –1 station. This made no sense to me at all, since I could reach down and feel the baby’s head (and Sue had said that I was at +2). Things were happening so fast, though, that I didn’t say anything about it. I was still just crying and asking “please, could I have something for pain?” And the nurses were still asking questions, which made Gabe mad. He lost his temper a bit and yelled something about “is this really necessary?” and the nurses told him to calm down, that it wouldn’t help anything to get mad. I was glad he was sticking up for me, though.

Dr. Purdom walked in about this time. He was casually dressed and smiled and looked like a friendly, grandfatherly type. I felt slightly hopeful – maybe working with him wouldn’t be a problem after all. That lasted for all of about a minute. He checked me and informed us that I needed a c-section right away. I refused my consent for a c-section, and things went downhill from there. He told us that I was stuck: that I had a swollen anterior lip of cervix, that the baby was at a –2 position, that my hips were such that the baby wouldn’t be able to fit out even if he dropped into a lower position, and that the baby was in distress and needed to come out now. He told us in no uncertain terms that VBACs were unequivocally dangerous and should not be attempted, and should never never never be attempted at home. He told Gabe that his wife and child could die without a c-section, and that he needed to “be a man” and give permission for a c-section. He told us that he had a duty to follow ACOG guidelines, and that was what he was doing. (Note: ACOG guidelines state that women should be offered a VBAC trial of labor, and I had no indications for that “trial” to be over.) He tried to evict Sue from the room a few times, too. This all happened across my bed as I was crying, asking for pain meds, and yelling through contractions (the pain was definitely not under control at this point and I was not handling the contractions well at all). Voices were raised and tempers were lost. Throughout all of this, I continued to refuse to accept a c-section, and I also at one point said that if Sue had to leave the room, I was leaving the hospital as well. Thankfully, they didn’t press that point and Sue stayed with us. It was so hard to think because of the pain, but I had done my research and I knew what the right decision was, and I knew that all I had to do was say “I do not give my consent” and they couldn’t do it to me. So I just kept saying it, over and over.

It really was sort of surreal, listening to Dr. Purdom “explain” why he wanted to do a c-section. He just sort of listed off every major reason that I’ve ever heard about for why a c-section might be needed. Only most of them simply didn’t apply to me. I knew that the baby’s head wasn’t stuck above my pelvis, because I’d felt it already in the birth canal. I knew that a lip of cervix wasn’t reason for a c-section, it simply meant a needed a bit more time to dilate. And above all, I knew that my baby was not in distress. When I was in labor with Jonathan, we spent an hour watching the monitor while the nurse tried to alleviate Jonathan’s distress. When they did recommend a c-section, we watched for another 10 minutes just to make sure. Jonathan’s heart rate was showing clear decelerations – it would drop as low as 65 or 70 beats per minute and took a long time recovering. And even then, it wasn’t an “emergency” surgery. So I knew what distress looked like, and I knew that this baby was not in distress. His heart rate stayed between 120 and 140 for the entire time, save once or twice when it dipped down to 100 during a particularly strong contraction. I had asked the nurse to turn up the sound on the monitor so that I could hear the heart rate, and I focused on listening to its speed so that I would know if the baby was still ok. He always was, which gave me the strength to maintain my refusal of the c-section: I knew beyond a doubt that Thomas was not in imminent danger.

Gabe tried really hard to explain that all we wanted was some pain medication so that I could rest, and then see how things went. But Dr. Purdom just didn’t listen to anything we had to say. After a few minutes (I don’t know how long – time was so bizarre) he lost his temper and said “If you won’t accept my recommendation, then I refuse to treat you.” And he walked out of the room. Gabe asked the nurses to please find out if there was another doctor in the hospital who would treat me and give me medication for pain. Someone left to find out, and after awhile a nurse came in and said that they had called the Head of the OB department, and that there was no one else in the hospital who would treat me under these conditions (i.e. unless I submitted to a c-section). She asked us where we’d like to be transferred, and left to let us think about it, but we didn’t ever say and it never came up again.

Gabe also followed Dr. Purdom out into the hall to try again to reason with him and explain our position, but to no avail. We feel the Dr. Purdom had made his decision before he ever entered my room: he simply believes that VBACs are never safe, and had no intention of letting me continue to labor.

During all of this, Sue was on her cell phone talking to a nurse and a doctor at a different hospital. The other doctor agreed to meet us at Anaheim Memorial Hospital, give me pain meds, and let me finish laboring as I wished. I was seriously considering leaving and taking this option, because it was abundantly obvious that no one at Whittier Presbyterian Hospital was going to help me. It was such a feeling of helplessness – realizing that I was simply at the mercy of a doctor who refused to treat me, at the mercy of the pain in my body, and that there was nothing I could do but somehow get the baby out.

Maybe it was that realization – that no one was going to help me do this – or maybe it was the adrenaline, or maybe it was being so angry, but right about then my body decided to push. Sue had just told me that she didn’t think leaving was a good idea, because she thought I’d end up having the baby in the parking lot. And I decided that if I was that close, I’d just go ahead and have the baby here in a hurry.

When Dr. Purdom had left, and Gabe had followed him out, all the nurses save one had left, too. One nurse, Michele, had stayed to watch the monitors. Periodically she would ask if she could check me, but I always said no. At this point I felt so betrayed by everyone in the hospital that I just wanted them all to leave me alone and let me get on with it. In retrospect, I think this wasn’t very fair to Michele – she was an outstanding nurse and Sue said that she was really trying to be helpful. But it is hard to be charitable in a situation like that! Anyway, I wouldn’t let her touch me, and technically Sue wasn’t supposed to check me, either, since she was in the hospital and her legal status was only that of my “coach” now. But when I started pushing, Sue checked me anyway, just to make sure that I was fully dilated and wasn’t going to hurt myself. I was, and she quietly said “you’re complete, go for it” in my ear. So I did.

I’m glad that none of the hospital staff was really there at that point, because it gave me the freedom to labor the way I wanted to. The head of the bed was all the way up, and so I could kneel upright and lean against it and let gravity help bring the baby down.

Pushing was actually a huge relief. Physically, the pain finally felt productive – like it was happening for a reason. And between contractions, there were pretty long rest periods where I could lay my head down and almost go to sleep. Compared to transition, it was heavenly to be able to rest like that. And emotionally it was a relief because everyone had left, and no one was yelling over my bed or at me. I felt like if I could just hurry up and push the baby out before anyone came back, everything would be ok.

Gabe came back in right after I started pushing. He was really upset, because Dr. Purdom was putting so much pressure on him and scaring him about what horrible things could happen to me and to our baby. Sue told him that I was pushing, and he said “Sue, if she can push this baby out, I’ll kiss you!” I think he was as relieved as I was to finally be at the pushing stage!

I actually pushed for two hours before Thomas was finally born, but it didn’t feel that long. Time is so bizarre when you’re in labor. When I was close to delivering, Dr. Purdom came back into the room. This time he was in scrubs, and he informed us that he would deliver our baby after all. It was a rather “thanks for nothing!” moment, but I was so tired (I’d just switched into a side-lying position instead of upright, because my legs were so tired) and I just didn’t care at that point. So I said that was ok.

They had me lie flat on my back and put my legs up in stirrups. Part of me thought that wasn’t a good idea – after all, I knew that it wasn’t the most optimal position for pushing – but I was so tired and frankly having my legs supported felt pretty good. They covered me up in blue drapes, which I thought was silly, and I rather wished that they hadn’t, because it meant that I couldn’t see. In retrospect, I wish I’d asked that they move them, but I so was tired and didn’t want to deal with more fighting.

Dr. Purdom recommended an episiotomy, which I refused. Then he recommended a local anesthetic “just in case you tear”. I refused that, too, because Katie (our Bradley instructor) had told us that a local makes you swell and much more likely to tear, and that because of the pressure you can’t feel a tear anyway. But I did say that I’d like anesthetic after the fact if I did tear, and needed stitches! I think Dr. Purdom thought I was a completely crazy woman – he sort of gave me the impression that he was thinking “fine, have it your way, whatever!” But he did do a good job with the delivery. I couldn’t see it, and it hurt too badly for me to think much about it, but Sue said that he was gentle and careful and very good at what he did.

Thomas was born at 12:30am on February 10th, 2007. He weighed 7 lbs, 11oz, and was 20 inches long.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


It works! As I was cooking dinner this evening, Jonathan decided that he, too, wanted to cook. I was standing in front of the cabinet with the pots and pans that he gets to play with, so he came up behind me and politely said "excuse me, Mommy." I was preoccupied and simply moved aside to let him in, and then realized what had just happened when he followed up with "thank you, Mommy."

I've never specifically taught him to say "excuse me". He just heard us say it and copied us.

I'm so proud of him! And I'm just a little terrified to know that he watches us so well.

Lord, let me be a good example to my boys.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

WFMW - day planner

Recently Jessica passed a gorgeous Franklin-Covey day planner on to me - she didn't use it and asked if I would. Oh yes, I would! It is one of those nice, fake-leather, zippered planners that can hold everything you can think of needing (except for toys and changes of clothing and juice and diapers and...ok, nevermind.) But it does hold everything that I used to carry (and actually use) in my purse.

So now I don't carry a purse. And I can't tell you how freeing it was to permanently get rid of one of those infernal bags I was always carrying over my shoulder. Seriously, three bags is way too many! No wonder my back always hurt! Now I'm down to one diaper bag, plus a tote if we're going to be out doing errands. I can carry Thomas in one hand and hold Jonathan's hand with the other, without having bags sliding down my arm in the process. And I just feel more "together" and capable when I'm not loaded down with bags.

Another helpful aspect is that now, if someone asks me if I can babysit or go to the park, I can check my calendar right then and answer them (instead of saying "I have no idea, can you email me and then I'll check my calendar?") Or if I want to write down a phone number or a book title, I don't have to scrounge for an old receipt at the bottom of my purse - I just write it down in my notes for the day in the planner.

I tell you, it is wonderful. Organized. Non-cluttered. Easy. It sure does work for me!
For more good ideas, go visit Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Book review: Rekindled (Tamera Alexander)

I won this book through a drawing at Callapidder Days. Many thanks to Katrina for hosting the contests, and many thanks to Tamera for giving away her book.

I'm not going to try to re-cap the book here - it would take too long and I don't think I'd do a very good job. :) So go to Tamera's website to read the blurb.

Given that I rarely enjoy standard Christian fiction, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I cared about the characters in this story. It is a good story of redemption and second chances, and I'd say it is one of the better books in the genre.

However, while I found it gripping (difficult to put down, actually) I didn't find it very enjoyable. Every good story needs tension, of course, but this book never lets you unwind. It eats, sleeps, and breathes tension. Whereas The Birth House (review: here) made me upset with my husband, Rekindled made me want to keep checking with Gabe to make sure we were still ok. Really ok. We're really ok, right? You love me and you're still here and we're really ok. Ok. You're sure? Right, ok.

I also felt like the ending wrapped up insanely quickly, given all that TENSION that had been carrying through the previous 325 pages!

Still, if you enjoy the genre, this is a good book to pick up. Just keep reminding yourself that it is a story, and try to keep a little distance.

It suddenly strikes me that what I read really has a large effect on my emotions. I'm going to have to remember that and be careful what I choose to read. Now I understand why my mom selected our reading material so carefully when we were growing up. She knew how influential books could be. Thank you, Mom!

Book review: The Birth House (Ami McKay)

I honestly thought I'd love this book. I found a review online that made it sound good, and hey, it is about a midwife! And birth! And babies! It'll be great!

It wasn't great. Truly, it was awful.

The story is set in Scots Bay, Nova Scotia during World War II. Scots Bay is a backwoods little town with little to no technology. All births, of course, are attended by a midwife, until a doctor comes to town, armed with the very latest scientific knowledge (all women get hysteria! all complaints of pregnancy are because of hysteria!) and opens a Mother's Clinic. The basic story is the struggle between the old ways (good) and the new (bad), although this is played out in a variety of characters and ways.

The book is actually quite well-written - it is a well-crafted story with interesting characters and lots of fascinating period detail. Which is why it took me a few hours of thinking after I'd finished it to realize why I was so unhappy with it.

One thing is that there was just too much sex in it - not beautiful loving sex but yucky amoral domination sort of sex. I understand why the author included it, but I don't have to like reading about it. However, this problem paled in comparison to my primary issue with the book: it wasn't written as just a story, it was written as a feminist rant. The sort of "all men are rotten b*stards", and "women are inherently good, beautiful, spiritualist creatures and look at how they bend over backwards for you piggish males" sort of rant. Part way through the book I found myself feeling upset with my own husband - for no reason whatsoever! I had been immersing myself in a poisonous point of view, and it didn't take very long to affect my emotions in a very negative manner.

Lastly, I was horrified and saddened by the midwives' perspective on unborn babies - they both were willing to cause abortions, in the name of caring for the mother. I believe one quote was "a mother knows if she hasn't any more love to give." Making it worse was the fact that this was all done in the name of Jesus and "Mother Mary".

Superstition abounds and is mixed tightly with Catholic faith in their view of the world. I was left wondering if the story was simply a construct of an anti-faith anti-male anti-children author, or if it was an historically accurate picture of life in a backwater village of the time. I wish that I knew of a book that could give a different (more balanced?) view of the same time period.

All that to say: please don't read it. You don't want to, I promise.

PT update

Today we went out for four hours of doctor's visits and grocery shopping and errands, and Jonathan didn't have an accident. Ok, can I just say that again? Not one accident! Four hours! Out and about in unusual places doing scary or exciting things!

Barring some really impressive backsliding, I think we've just about made it.

I have a question, though, for those of you who have done this before: what do you do if he wets himself on purpose? Because I think that is what is happening when he get mad. You see, if I put him in a time out, he almost always pees in his underwear. And I have no idea what to do about that.


Still, I am quite frankly jubilant about only having one boy in diapers!


This morning Jonathan and Thomas both had well-child check-ups. Thomas didn't need vaccines, since he'd had them a few weeks ago, but Jonathan did. One shot for Hepatitis A, and a finger stick for iron levels in his blood.

Jonathan was very concerned throughout the visit. We had explained what would happen earlier that morning, and I think he understood, at least somewhat. But it really is just strange to go to a new place and take off all your clothes and be touched and prodded and have someone look inside your ears! Even if you do get to watch it all happen to your baby brother first, and even if the pediatrician is incredible (ours is). By the time the exam was over, Jonathan was definitely unhappy and concerned. He hadn't fallen apart yet, but he wasn't easy.

After the doctor left, as we were waiting for the nurse to come in with the needles, I sat down on the floor to comfort Thomas (who had been an angel, but was starting to lose patience at that point!) Jonathan climbed in my lap, curled up as close to me as he could get, and said "I'm safe, I'm safe, Mommy."

Oh Jonathan. Yes, you're safe. Even though I'm about to hold you while someone sticks you with needles. Even though I can't promise that the world will be easy or that it won't hurt sometimes. You're safe with me. And I'm so glad that you know that.

Aren't two-year-olds supposed to be independent?

Gone are the days when Jonathan played independently. Now, all day long, I hear "Mommy, Mommy, YOOK!!!" No matter what he is doing, he wants to share it with me.

And you know what? It does get old sometimes, but what a joy it is that I am here with him, that I can turn and watch, and that he is calling for me.

I am blessed.


For some time now, Gabe and I have been singing a lullaby to Jonathan each night before he goes to sleep. It is a song that I first learned from a Psalty record:

All through the day,
All through the night,
Dwell in His promises,
Walk in His light.
Darkness shall flee,
At His command,
All through the day and night,
We're in His hand.

I think it is a perfect bedtime lullaby - a reminder of the One who holds us in his hand and will never let us go, all through the night. I think every mother has had panic moments of "is my child breathing" and this song helps me put those fears to rest. I hope that it will help Jonathan put to rest any of his fears, as well.

Tonight, Jonathan sang the whole song with me. Every line. It is the sweetest thing I think I've ever heard.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Spring time

And because I just can't help myself

one more potty training post today.

Jonathan just dribbled a tiny little bit while reading on the couch, then cried "oh, this is gross!" and ran for the potty.

Oh, he is Mr. Monk.

I should add...

Mommy has overcome her unease with potty training outside the house. We took Jonathan to church in underwear yesterday, with more success than I expected. Yes, we had one full outfit change, and a couple more underwear changes for little "oopses". But for a first time? I'll take it! Today is an "at home" day, so it will be easy to give lots of attention to the project. Tomorrow is errand day, and we're going to load up the potty in the trunk of the car, bring all our extra underwear, and see what happens!


This morning Jonathan was playing in the sink (high engrossed, I might add!) and suddenly cried "Mommy, I need to go potty!"

You have never seen me move so fast. :)

I admonished him to "hold it", wrapped him up in a towel and ran for the bathroom.

And we made it!

I tell you, chocolate chips flow like milk and honey around here.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bring out the big guns...

We're on week four of potty training here. Progress has been slow but steady, and I think we'll see success sooner rather than later. The last few days, however, we seemed to hit a plateau. If I set the timer every half hour or so and enforced "at least try" every time it beeped, then we had no accidents. But he just wasn't making the transition to telling me when he needed to go.

Yesterday I tried not setting the timer at all, but reminding him (and mandating trying) every hour or so if he hadn't gone in awhile. It sort of worked, but we had a few accidents and a lot of frustration - he just didn't want to leave his toys to do something boring like sit in the bathroom!

So today we brought out the big guns.

Chocolate chips.

If we remind Jonathan to go potty, he doesn't get any. But if he chooses to go sit on the potty and produce something? Glory be, those chocolate chips come raining down. Two at a time. :)

I'm hopeful that this will get us over this particular hump. Now if only Mommy could muster enough courage to take potty training outside the house!

Friday, May 18, 2007


What a week. A couple of stressful things providing low-level anxiety behind the scenes. Not enough hours in some days and too many in others. Jonathan waking up too early so that Gabe can't get any alone time. Thomas staying awake too late so that we can't get enough sleep. (Although to be fair, last night was our fault - we stayed up to watch an episode of Firefly just because we wanted to.) But even that is a symptom of the problem rather than the problem itself - we just really needed some time to ourselves, just us, without children and without problems to deal with (we'd spent the first part of the evening working on said stressful thing.)

I don't really know what has gone wrong this week or how to fix it. Today I just feel like I have no energy or desire to do anything. The kids are actually being really easy this morning and I know that I ought to be doing dishes and laundry and taking a shower and cleaning the floors. But, well, I don't want to. And so I'm putzing around the house feeling disgruntled and disordered and disinclined to do anything about it.

The fact that I have either a badly plugged duct or a developing infection is definitely not helping matters.

Ten hours until Gabe comes home.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I stumbled across this news story today. A little girl, four years old, abducted while on vacation with her family. She has been missing for two weeks. I know that it is doubtful that posting this on my little corner of the bloggy world will do any good...but you never know. And I do know that prayer changes things. So please pray for her safety, and pray for her family.

The official site is here, however, this one is better for news updates.

Madeleine McCann

Madeleine McCann missing in Portugal. Have you seen her?
Please contact: +351 289 884 500, + 351 282 405 400, +351 218 641 000

Madeleine McCann desapareceu em Portugal. Tem informações sobre o seu paradeiro?
Por favor contacte: 289 884 500, 282 405 400, 218 641 000, 112


I just looked down to see Thomas giggling, and Jonathan very carefully wiggling Thomas' toes and saying "this little piggy went to market..."

My boys are so sweet.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


This is such a cool idea! I tried listing some books that I hadn't been able to sell on Amazon, and already (within an hour!) someone asked for one of them. Which means that now I get to ask someone else in their system to send ME a book. A book that I want! Seriously, this is very cool. :)

Thanks to Laura for tipping me off to this one!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Jonathan repeats everything repeats everything.

Repeats everything. I've had to really learn to watch my tongue, because if a frustrated "gosh darn" slips out, you can be sure that in a few minutes Jonathan will be merrily shouting "gosh darn! gosh darn!" And you know, hearing it from a toddler instead of in your own mouth really makes you realize what you do and do not want to be saying!

This past week the asphalt has been replaced in our complex. This has been cause for great annoyance and difficulty for all the adults (try to get two sleeping children into the house, WITH the groceries, when you have to park 1/4 mile away!) but unbelievable excitement for the toddlers. We've spent quite a bit of time down watching the WORK MACHINES! THAT ARE NOISY! AND THE ROLLER! AND THE DUMP TRUCK AND THE FRONT LOADER! THEY MOVE THE DIRT! It just doesn't get much better than that if you're a two-year-old boy.

This weekend Gabe and I went out on a date for the first time in, oh, probably close to a year. It was SO nice. We held hands and kissed as we walked to the car. It was such a strange and free feeling to NOT be carrying diaper bags and children. We kissed and held hands in the restaurant. We looked at each other while conversing. We kissed and held hands and cuddled in the movie theater. And I remembered what it felt like when we were just married and totally focused on each other and in the dreamy stage of new love. You know, that stage was nice! And it was nice to get a few hours away to just be spouses.

I wouldn't trade my kids for anything. But parenting is a very hard job, and it takes pretty much all of our hours right now. By the time Thomas finally goes to sleep, Gabe and I are more than ready for sleep, too, not long conversations looking dreamily into each others' eyes. So it is easy for us to focus completely on parenting and forget that, hey, we LOVE each other! But the fact is that we do. And we're more than just good parenting partners, we're also (working on!) being good spouses.

I think that right now, in the midst of diapers and laundry and tantrums and nursing and laundry and potty training and whining and more nursing and more laundry, parenting does usually need to come first. It is not the time for a passionate kiss when Jonathan is hitting the baby. We're in the stage of life where the kids are of necessity a priority. But this stage will end, someday. And when it does, I want to be sure that I remember that my husband is more than a great parenting partner.

Date nights are a good way to remember that.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Yay for coupons!

Today I went shopping at two places:

Henry's Marketplace for produce and hot dogs and ground turkey (on sale) - total spent: $13.65. And this is enough produce for two weeks.

Vons for staples/sale items (including cereal, peanut butter, frozen veggies, toilet paper, shampoo, etc.)

Original price: $71.30
Club card savings: $17.40
Coupon Savings: $20.97
Amount paid: $32.93

A few days ago I went over what I've been spending on groceries for the last few months. Good news! Prior to "down-sizing" to one staple grocery store (Vons) and using the grocery game, Gabe and I had decided that $60 a week was reasonable to spend on everything we bought at the grocery store (including toilet paper and laundry detergent and such things). I was skating in under that amount, but only barely and by going to four stores each weekend. HOWEVER. My average for the last few months? $52 a week. Not to mention all the time and aggravation saved!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Yummy birthday muffins!

Happy birthday to me! :)

These are the best blueberry muffins EVER. I got the recipe from Ashley, and modified it ever so slightly.

Blueberry Peach Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
8 oz peach yogurt (fruit on the bottom)
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup water
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, water, egg, and butter. Stir flour mixture into yogurt mixture until just moistened. Gently fold in blueberries. Spoon into muffin cups (I line mine with aluminum baking cups). Sprinkle tops with granola or sugar crystals. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Cancer and birth control

Did you know that oral contraceptives are classified as a Type 1 carcinogen? No? You're in the majority. This is not widely publicized information - in fact, it has hardly been publicized at all.

Oral contraceptives taken by pre-menopausal women have been found to increase their risk of breast cancer by an average of 44 percent. No, that is not a typo. The medical journal of the Mayo Clinic published this interesting bit of information last October. The article examined the findings of 23 international studies, conducted between 1980 to 2002.

This is not a result that can be discounted. One or two studies can be debatable. Twenty-three, over as many years, held all over the world, works out to a pretty reliable fact.

In an age when breast cancer is the leading cancer in women, you can hardly walk down the street without seeing someone in a "save the hooters" tee-shirt, or noticing a pink ribbon on a car, or reading a billboard advertising a breast cancer awareness/fundraising walk. This is a good thing. Cancer is an evil part of this world and I am heartily supportive of efforts against it. But we're shooting ourself in the foot (breast?) if we "walk for awareness" yet suppress information which we find inconvenient.

Thanks to Touchstone's Pro-Life Update for bringing this information to my attention.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Today was full of things that reminded me just how much I like being a mother.

Potty training success (only one accident all day!)

Watching Jonathan run outside, arms extended straight out for balance.

Sitting on the bed with Thomas and Jonathan, singing silly songs and making up hand motions to go with them.

Jonathan apologizing to Thomas (for hitting him), then gently patting and kissing him.

Helping Jonathan share stuffed animals with Thomas, and "trade" every ten seconds.

Thomas sticking out his tongue and smiling at the same time.

Jonathan running across the room and throwing himself into my arms for a hug.

Amazing recipe!

Last night's planned dinner got changed, because I went grocery shopping in the morning and found some unbelievable steals on meat. The Vons near me has a clearance section in their meat department - meat that is on or near its expiration date (but is still perfectly good if you eat or freeze it right away!) Well, yesterday we got there at the right time! Tri-tip for $3/lb, quality hamburger for 1.50/lb, and eye of round steak for $3/lb. I choose never to pay more than $3/lb for any kind of meat, so it is pretty nice to get good cuts of meat for that price!

So, last night's menu ended up being steak, baked potatos, and artichoke. The three of us ate for less than $5! And oh, it was like eating at a restaurant. The kind of meal where you want to eat REALLY slowly, just so the flavors last longer.

Here is the recipe I used. It is a combination/tweaking of three different recipes. I find I like doing that - look at recipes to get a feel for what I could do, and then make up something in the middle of them all.

Garlic Pepper Steak

3-4 T. olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
1 T. cracked pepper (more if you like)
3/4 lb eye of round steak (less than 1/2 an inch thick)

In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, garlic, and pepper. Place steaks in a little pan (just large enough for them to fit) and score with a knife on both sides. Rub with the olive oil mixture, pressing the garlic and pepper into the scores. Let marinate for 1-4 hours.

Heat an outdoor or indoor grill to high heat. Place steak on the prepared grill and cook, turning once, as desired. (Ours cooked beautifully to medium-well in about 7 minutes.)

Serve with garlic butter sauce, if desired.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Weekly Menu!

Monday: Chicken and Cheesy Potatoes
Tuesday: Turkey and stuffing (pre-seasoned turkey breasts were on sale 2 for 1! That is an incredibly cheap and easy meal!)
Wednesday: Mexican Bowl
Thursday: Spaghetti
Friday: Baked Potatoes

Between myself and the powers of darkness

On Terra in this fateful hour
I place all Heaven with its power
the sun with its brightness
the snow with its whiteness
the fire with all the strength it hath
the lightning with its rapid wrath
the winds with their swiftness along their path
the sea with its deepness
the rocks with their steepness
the earth with it starkness
all these I place
With God's almighty help and grace
between myself and the powers of darkness.
- Attributed to St. Patrick

I first read this prayer in a book by Madeline L'Engle - A Swiftly Tilting Planet. (Which is a good book, by the way.) Perhaps just because the book's use of the prayer was so fascinating, it has remained in memory and the last three lines often arise in my mind in times of trouble. Although this particular prayer places God's creation between self and the powers of darkness, I tend to use the same wording, but place Christ's cross there instead. Both are powerful images.

This may sound weird, and in some ways I hesitate to talk about it. But it is necessary background, I think, for the story that I want to tell, and the story is worth telling. For the past few years (perhaps 5 or 6) I have periodically encountered what I can only assume to be demons. It is always at night, at bedtime or when I wake in the night, and they appear as faces - distorted, twisted, evil faces that I swear I could not create in imagination. It doesn't matter if my eyes are opened or closed - they come either way. They are terrifying, although they have become less so as I have learned to recognize them and learned ways to deal with them and make them go away. Sometimes I'll get up and read the Bible for awhile. Always I'll pray, usually asking Gabe to pray with me. It is interesting that just praying "please make them go away" (which is how I originally responded) does not always seem to work. Instead, I have found that a very strong sort of prayer: "Jesus, I place your cross between myself and these evil ones. You are more powerful than they." And then a command: "In the name of Christ, you may not stay here." are more effective. Why, I'm not sure. But it does seem to be so.

Last night as I lay down to sleep, they came. And Gabe and I prayed, and they vanished, and we went to sleep. But later in the night (early morning, actually) I dreamed the most horrific dream that I've ever had. I am confident that it was not just a dream that came from my subconscious, one of those strange compilations of what we've been reading and thinking about. I believe it was sent, and I believe it was from Satan. I won't say too much about it, because it was too awful to subject you to reading. I'll just say that it was SO REAL, like watching a movie only being in it at the same time. It included multiple murders and culminated in me killing the murderer who was trying to kill me. I don't think I'll ever forget it, although I pray that I may. I woke up crying and huddled in bed for quite some time, sort of stuck in the "reality" that I'd been dreaming.

And then I realized that we'd be late for church if I didn't get up. And I realized that it was possible that this was exactly the result that Satan wanted. So I got up and hurried, again asking God to remove the experience from my mind and heart.

We were late to church, but not by much. Gabe took Jonathan over to his preschool class while I carried Thomas into the church. I walked in, juggling purse, baby, and bag, took a bulletin and walked to the pew we usually sit in. Then I looked up at the crucifix in the front of the room, as is my habit while genuflecting before entering the pew. In that instant, I suddenly felt safe. Not just comfortable, but safe from all harm and evil. It felt like a warm blanket, fresh from the dryer, being wrapped around me. Like my dad used to do sometimes when I was little - just wrap me up in a bear hug. It felt physical. It felt real.

And you know what? It was real. Most of the time I don't experience God in such a physical, felt manner. But I think that He gives us the comfort that we need in the way that we need it, and this morning, well, I needed that.

God is real. Satan is real. I don't know why God allows Satan to try to harm me in this way. What I do know is that I can choose to place Jesus, his cross and his creation, by God's almighty help and grace, between myself and the powers of darkness.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A good day

Thomas and I have had a lovely day. We've both had naps. I've cleaned the house and tackled a few trouble spots that had been escaping me in day to day living. The laundry is caught up. We've spent time outside admiring the leaves. He has nursed and I have eaten healthy meals. I've read morning prayer and a magazine and an interesting novel. I've picked strawberries and made strawberry sauce. We've cuddled and snuggled and sung silly songs. Sometimes, it is nice to go back to being a mother of one, just for a day.

Let me see...

What have the boys been up to lately?

Thomas discovered, today, that he can hold onto a small toy. And wave it in front of his face! And chew on it! Based on his delighted coos and grins, I'd say he's enjoying himself.

I think he's in a major growth spurt right now. Last night he fell asleep at 8:30pm. I fully expected him to wake up around 10:30 or 11pm to be fed and then put back to bed, but no! He woke up at 5:30am! Very hungry, and very glad to see me. :) We all got up about 30 minutes later, and left Thomas lying in the bed sucking his fists while we got dressed and Gabe and Jonathan got out the door. When I came back, ready to play with him, Thomas had fallen asleep.

He was awake and playing with me for a few hours this morning, but fell asleep again at 10:30am and is still sleeping now, past noon. I think the combination of learning so many new things and growing so fast (he's nearly 15 lbs now!) has definitely caught up with him. Little exhausted boy!

Jonathan is spending the day today at Grandma's house. Doesn't that just sound like he's so big? I'm enjoying my "day off", and most of my head knows that he's having a smashing good time there (attention! lots of attention! and new toys! and undivided attention!) but my mommy heart had rather a hard time letting him go this morning. Because, you know, he's such a little boy still. And he's my little boy. And what if he cries for me at nap time?

He's probably having such a great time that he won't want to come home. :)

We're all spending more time out in the garden these days. Jonathan loves to water the flowers and help me pick the strawberries. I have instituted a VERY IMPORTANT RULE: we do not eat the strawberries until Mommy has washed them off. Because Jonathan doesn't seem to notice if there is half a slug on the strawberry after he takes his first bite. Eww.

Thomas likes being outside, too. I think he enjoys the indirect sunshine and all the colors to look at. He also likes being lulled to sleep by the dryer (which we keep outside) when I'm in the midst of laundry.

Jonathan is definitely a two-year-old. How do I know? He has started saying "I do it myself!" about everything. Putting on shoes? "I do it myself!" Carrying things to the car? "I do it myself!" Climbing up into his car seat or chair for dinner? "I do it myself!" Cooking or baking? "I do it myself!" I love seeing his independence, although sometimes I do wish he'd just let me help him put his shoes on, so we could leave on time. :)

Cars, trains, trucks, airplanes, and all things that GO are the order of the day here. One favorite is making "car trains": very carefully placing every car, truck, and train that he has in a straight line. Often this stretches along the entire back of the couch!

In other news, I'm working on tweaking my Mother's Rule (see this post for more on that subject). I found that some of it was working, and some of it wasn't, and I also wanted to add a few things (like going to a midweek mass and taking Jonathan to story hour at the library and going to the gym). We'll see how it goes. The basic outline now is:

Monday - walk with Jessica, grocery shop, laundry, kickboxing
Tuesday - (home day) weekly chores, monthly chores, laundry
Wednesday - mass, story hour for Jonathan, laundry, treadmill
Thursday - errands, Mom's group at the park, laundry, weights
Friday - (home day) weekly chores, laundry, pool time with Jonathan

Notice a trend? ;) Joking aside, I do find that if I do laundry every day I have a much better handle on it. I think part of the reason for this is because I dry the clothes on the line, which means that I have to actually wait for the sun instead of just throwing them into the dryer.

My own schedule is actually written out more completely than what I've shared here - it includes such things as breakfast, dressing self and children, and reminders to sit down and play with or read to Jonathan. I find it helpful to be able to glance at my schedule and get a quick reminder of what it is that I'm supposed to be doing, so I don't get bogged down in the little things and come to the end of my day wondering why nothing got done and Jonathan is cranky. It can refocus me and remind me of things like "oh, I'm supposed to play with Jonathan now. No wonder he's fussy - he needs attention!" Or "dear me, I'm sitting at the computer and it is NOT nap time; get up and do something important!" :)

I think I like the general outline of the week, now. Two days at home is just necessary for me to have any chance of keeping up with chores and just daily household stuff. But Jonathan is a really, really social child, and he needs to get OUT of the house or he gets seriously cranky. The current schedule seems to balance those two needs pretty effectively, I think.

And I actually have times scheduled for working out. This is making all the difference in the world. It is time away, by myself, which is something that I'm finding that I really do need on a regular basis. And I come home tired but energized, which is much better than just tired and grumpy! (That is often how I've been feeling at the end of the day. But exercise really does seem to be helping.) I'm hopeful, too, that sticking to this schedule will allow me to lose the Thomas baby weight faster than I lost the Jonathan baby weight. It would be nice to fit into my clothes again. :)

Thomas is waking up, which signals the end of my allotted blogging time. :)

Mexican Bowl recipe

This is a cheap and easy dinner, and it tastes scrumptious. It makes hearty portions for two people; smaller portions for three.

1 cup dry rice
1 can chili beans in sauce
Shredded cheese
Sliced olives
Chopped tomatoes

Cook rice according to package directions. Use brown rice if you want to be healthy - I don't think you can tell much difference in this meal. When rice is done, add beans and sauce and stir. The hot rice heats the beans, and if you serve it right away you won't need to re-heat it. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, olives, and tomatoes.

Chicken and Cheesy Potatoes

This is an adaptation of a recipe I found on allrecipes. Originally it called for ham instead of chicken. And something else I didn't have (I can't remember at the moment) which I just left out. The amended result was fabulous - definitely worth sharing!

4 T. flour
2 T. cornstarch
2 tsp. lemon pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
2 cups milk
3 tsp. chicken bouillon (not broth!)
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar
4 cups jullienned potatoes
1-2 c. shredded (or chopped) cooked chicken

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a saucepan over medium heat, toast flour until golden.

Stir in cornstarch, lemon pepper, and onion powder. Gradually whisk in milk, then bouillon.

Cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese until smooth.

Layer potatoes and chicken in pan, and pour sauce evenly over them. Bake for one hour.

I do recommend that you read the recipe carefully and do not, DO NOT add 3 CUPS of chicken BROTH instead of 3 TSP of chicken BOUILLON.

Because, you know, it wouldn't work out right if you did that. Not that I know from experience or anything.

Thursday, May 03, 2007



I've been dreaming of a Mei Tai baby carrier for awhile, ever since Jessica made one and started using it with her son. So when I saw this contest at 5 Minutes for Mom, I paid attention! Take a look and join in! But please don't win, ok? Because I'd like to. ;)

Slow Cooker Thursday

I posted this recipe for Crock Pot Meatball Stew just a few days ago when we had it for dinner. It is easy (don't be put off by making your own meatballs - it takes less than 15 minutes) and it tastes amazing.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Praying for Heather


A week or so ago I posted about Heather, and asked your prayers and (if possible) your donations to help her and her family. Well, tomorrow morning she goes in for surgery at Mayo Clinic. So, friends, please pray for Heather. You can read specific prayer requests, and I'd also suggest reading Heather's thoughts. She is truly an amazing witness for Christ in the midst of this.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

WFMW - the Birthday edition

My son just turned two, and we had a lovely, fun, and EASY birthday party for him. The secret? Have it at the park. Do NOT have it in your house. :)

We brought a cake and ice cream and some basic (very basic) decorations with us. We invited our friends to bring their own sack lunch to eat with us. And all of our kids played on the playground,

when not smooshing cupcakes on their faces.

All kids love parks! They all have a wonderful time in a safe place, and I don't have to clean my house twice.

(Goodness, too many toys for one little boy!)

For other good ideas, visit Rocks in my Dryer!