Saturday, May 24, 2014

Timothy (almost 11 months old)

The rest of the family is off on a camping adventure today, and I stayed home with Timothy, just the two of us. (I had a client due today, so couldn't plan to be out of town.) We hiked with a friend in the morning, and Timothy fell asleep in the mei tai towards the end of our walk.  I leaned the seat back in the car and snuggled with him until he woke up.  He is so sweet.

I loved the opportunity to pay much more attention to him today. He is such a happy little guy! He LOVES to play. "Peek a boo", and "follow mama around corners", and "give me five".  Sometimes it is hard to get good pictures because he moves so fast (and so much!) when he is excited!

He is content without focused attention as well, enjoying playing in the Tupperware while I cook, or exploring outside while I water the garden.  Today I tried letting him play on the trampoline, and he thought it was the best thing ever.  Especially "bumping" noses through the safety mesh. 

Timothy just cut his first tooth today, which is about time because over the past two weeks he discovered that he loves to eat table food. Since he nursed exclusively past 10 months and showed no interest whatsoever in anything that didn't taste like mama milk, I'm happy to see this development.  Today he had eggs, blueberries, bananas, broccoli, avocado, and peaches.  The peaches gave him a rash around his mouth, though, so no more of that for him for awhile. 

He isn't saying any words yet, but definitely understanding more. It will be fun to watch his language acquisition develop, although I wonder if he will be a late talker because there are SO MANY PEOPLE TALKING in this house.  I'm not sure he'll be able to get a word in edgewise. 

I think Timothy is going to skip formal crawling.  He scoots like nobody's business, with a funny little "one leg forward one behind" style that I've never seen before.  Recently he discovered that he can walk around the house by hanging onto a bar stool and pushing it ahead of him.  He smiles the whole time!

As a general rule, there is so much going on in our home that I often feel like I don't have much space to really see Timothy.  He is cared for, of course, but always "in the midst" of everything.  Today I got the space to really focus on him, and realize afresh what a delight this little boy of mine is.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The lead-up to Easter

The week(s) prior to Easter are never easy for a church musician.  You expect that, plan for it, try to work ahead and get all your ducks in a row early.


Some things you simply can't plan for(1).  Sometimes you do stupid things by accident(2).  Sometimes you do crazy and yet marvelous things on purpose(4).  And sometimes the timing is crazy and hard but still fits so perfectly you wonder if maybe God had a hand in smoothing your way for you(9).

1) On Wednesday, 10 days before Easter, Timothy learned how to scoot himself off the bed.  Head first.  He knocked himself right out and we spent the rest of the day in the emergency room.  Verdict: concussion, but his cat scan was clear and he's just fine.

2) Thursday I had inexplicably scheduled dentist appointments for all three boys.  And then they had room to take me, too, so we spent the entire afternoon at the dentist.  I love our dental office staff, but still.  You can imagine how much fun that was.

3) Friday I attempted to cut off part of my thumb while cutting onions.  I succeeded much too well.  Ouch.

4) Saturday Timothy and I flew to Sacramento, attended a bridal shower for one of my best friends from high school, and then flew home.  All in one day.  Totally crazy, but I'm so glad I was able to do it. :)

5) Sunday was Palm Sunday.  Last choir rehearsal before all the Holy Week services.  Two anthems during mass.

6) Monday I came up for air and realized that not a single dish was clean.  I wish I were exaggerating.  It took me six (interrupted) hours to get through it all.

7) Tuesday brought the reality of no more clean clothing.  Laundry ensued.  Also, last minute church music work for the coming services on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

8)'ll forgive me if I can't even remember, right?

9) One of my clients, not due until April 23rd, went into labor in the wee hours of Thursday morning, and I didn't get home until mid-afternoon.  At which point I napped for an hour, and then raced around getting everyone ready for the Maundy Thursday service that evening.  Realized that I had to leave for church before Gabe got back from work.  Went running over to beg our neighbor for 20 minutes of babysitting. (He said yes.) :)

10) Friday: spent the morning making Last Supper crafts with the boys.

Got everyone into somber colored clothing and made it to church for the noon mass. Was grateful for Aunt Libby and Uncle Jonathan, who helped keep the boys quiet and focused, and even more grateful that the boys are old enough to actually sit quietly and focus.  Spent much of the service in the back with the exploring, noisy baby.

 11) Saturday we had a family gathering at the park (yay for Aunts and Uncles and Grandma and Grandpa!) and then I went to church to spend 30 slightly panicked minutes trying to polish (err, finish learning?) that evening's anthem.  Since it was the 5th anthem in six days, I'm counting minor panic on only the last one as a decided win.  (Besides, they sang it so well in the end; God really does take our small offerings and multiply them!)

12) And so to Easter, wherein I woke up at 6am with the baby and then went back to bed with the baby at 8am for the first nap of the day.  The boys went to their friends' baptism.  We dyed eggs.  Ate a simple but tasty mid-afternoon "dinner".  Hid and searched for eggs in the back yard.  Gave up on finding the last one (Granddad, I told the boys that I've learned from the best; a good egg hunt is one where you can't find all of them!)  It has been a blessed day of rest and play.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Grain free waffles (that actually work, and taste like waffles!)

I've had a lot of unfortunate results while experimenting with grain free cooking.  Almond meal is very dense, and coconut flour requires so many eggs that many things end up separating and tasting like...scrambled eggs.  BUT this recipe from Whole Lifestyle Nutrition was a success!  The kids liked it (came back for seconds and thirds!) and I thought it was delightful.  Serve with butter and maple syrup, or peanut butter and applesauce, or whatever sounds good to you.  Yummy!

(please note that I have ever-so-slightly modified this from the original, as well as doubled the amounts.)

8 large eggs
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup milk, plus 2-4 tbsp if needed to thin the batter
2 tsp vanilla extract (I used my homemade version)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder


Preheat a waffle iron.
Mix together eggs, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon, melted butter, milk, and vanilla. (I mixed everything in my Vitamix.)
Add coconut flour and baking powder and mix until there are no lumps.
Let stand for 5 minutes. If the batter is thick, add 2-4 tablespoons of milk to thin it out. You should have the consistency of a pancake batter.
Pour into a preheated waffle maker and cook for 2:30 minutes. (Note that you need to completely fill the waffle iron with batter each time - the batter does not expand as much as typical waffle batter, and if you don't have enough it will be difficult to remove the waffles when cooked.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

A post that made me smile and appreciate all the little things my husband does for me, all year long.

Image credit

The love that sustains our relationship isn’t showy love.  It’s a late night trip to the grocery store to satisfy the other person’s chocolate craving.  It’s packing the kids’ lunches to make the other person’s morning just a little easier.  It’s a pot of coffee brewed exclusively for the other person before leaving for work.  It’s volunteering to be the one to go into the creepy basement to switch the laundry.  It’s not pretending to be asleep when the children cry in the middle of the night.  It’s allowing your belly to be used as a foot warmer.  It’s crossing the finish line together even though one of you is significantly slower than the other.  It’s cuddling on the couch and pretending you didn’t already watch this episode of Homeland.   It’s bringing home a Jane Austen movie for that day in the 28-day cycle.  It’s intertwined fingers on a walk to the park.  It’s being the one to fill the car with gas when the tank gets low.  It’s putting your socks in the hamper.  It’s being the one who responds to “I need a wipe!” It’s not making the sound the other person hates when you turn the pages of the newspaper.  It’s making breakfast while the other person sleeps.  It’s returning the wanting kiss even though you’re tired.  It’s not telling a single soul that the other person secretly loves The Bachelor.  Little love—small but frequent acts of kindness, consideration, and compassion—sustains us.

From Brain, Child Magazine's blog.  While I certainly don't agree with everything they write (they lean towards the militant feminist sometimes) I love their articles for making me engage and think hard about things that matter in my mom/wife/woman life. 

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Winter planting

It is hard to remember that it is winter, here in Southern California, since it never snows and rarely rains.  But it is, at least, cooler.  And so it is a great time to plant!

Thomas helped me get the lettuce, kale, and peas planted today.  Peas from seed, lettuce and kale from "starts" because I'm kind of behind and I also have an irrational fear/expectation that any seeds that I plant will never sprout.  This was unfortunately supported by the fact that the last peas I planted really didn't grow...but they were very old seeds so hopefully these new ones will be ok!

I spent the last 2-3 months carefully planning a huge overhaul of the front yard.  And by huge, I mean really huge; it includes such things as the demolition of the concrete path, installation of a new stepping stone path, removal of 2000+ square feet of lawn, building a rock feature and rock mini walls, planting a tree, adding some shrubs and a whole lot of perennials.  It is going to be amazing when it is finished but oh my word, it is a lot of work!

I'm just starting to see some tiny results in the first stages.  Those tiny plants under the peach tree are spaced out a lot because they will eventually get a lot bigger. 

And while right now there is only mulch under this tree, in a few more days I'll have vintage stock, and dianthus, and daisies in there.

More flowers, waiting to be planted.  The shrub on the right is a gorgeous soft pink hydrangea - it will eventually be about 4 feet high and wide and is going to be amazingly beautiful!

And this isn't part of the yard, but our front entrance is making me smile right now.

The costs of such a project could easily become prohibitive, so I'm being creative and spending a lot of evenings searching Craigslist.  All of the rock used so far has been free; other people re-landscaping their own yards who don't want to pay dump fees.  The raised beds in the back yard were both free from a local business man who has too many to use and hated to throw them away.  Most of my tools are yard sale or estate sale finds.  I've also made a habit of buying used composters from people who just want them out of their yard and are selling them cheap.  I empty them (why yes, I'll take your perfectly good compost!) clean them up, and then re-sell them for about 4x as much.  That money pays for hoses and fertilizer and plants, and you'd be surprised how cheaply you can get plants if you're willing to be patient and not purchase them at their peak of beauty!  I've found quite a few plants in the clearance section of Lowe's; just this afternoon I brought home two perfect camelias for $3 each.

Also this afternoon, I got an email saying that my application for "turf abatement" has been pre-approved!  Which means that I have 120 days to turn my front yard into the garden I'm dreaming of...and if I can do it, the city will give me about $2000.  Apparently Anaheim doesn't really approve of lawns, and prefers my garden plans. :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wheat Free Peach Cobbler

I haven't written about this recently, mostly because I haven't been writing much here at all.  But for the past 6 months, I have not been eating wheat.  And I feel SO much better!  It took years for me to pinpoint this issue (well, Gabe says it took less time than that; I just took a few extra years to admit it)  but I certainly have clarity now.  Eating wheat gives me systemic acne, headaches, and crushing fatigue.  So while I miss it (sourdough bread, how I loved thee...) I also feel confident that avoiding wheat significantly improves my health, and life.

The past six months I pretty much just quit baking entirely.  It felt too complicated to even think about baking without wheat flour.  I focused on learning to cook meals with a focus on meats and veggies and fruits - difficult when pasta has been a staple for most of your life!  But now I'm starting to want to experiment with alternative methods of baking, because I've always loved baking and I miss it!  This year Gabe's birthday request was "Peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream" and it was a perfect opportunity to try something new.

I read over two recipes as base ideas and jumping off points: Elena's Grain-Free Peach Crisp and Chantal's No-Wheat Blackberry and Peach Cobbler.  But I departed rather significantly from both of them, so I think I can reasonably say that this particular recipe is my own.

Wheat Free Peach Cobbler

8 cans peaches, drained (save the juice for smoothies!)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
6 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1 cup almond flour
1 cup oat flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sucanat
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
milk to bring batter to cobbler consistency (sorry, I really didn't measure this; if you've made cobbler before you will know when it is right - soft but not runny)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Empty peaches into a dutch oven.  Stir in lemon juice, vanilla, and arrowroot powder.

In a medium bowl, mix flours, chopped nuts, sucanat, and salt.  Cut in butter.

Lightly beat the egg, then stir into flour/butter mixture.  Stir in milk.

Spoon batter over peaches. 

Bake, covered, for about 45 minutes.  Remove cover and bake about 10 more minutes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!