Wednesday, June 23, 2010
The basement was taking on water, quickly than I think we have ever had, and it was seeping through the floor and the foundation, so quickly that it was actually AUDIBLE and the water was running down the floor drains within minutes.
The front yard was completely standing water, and it was just unbelievable. This weather, I tell you what... is something else. It scares me because I just keep thinking that "the end is near" and by the end I mean like we screwed up and ruined the earth with all our disposable products and smog and now global warming is increasing so quickly that the effects are irreversible and the weather is measurably worse and more unpredictable and violent each season. Soon I see no fall and spring. Soon I see Drought or Flooding or Ice Age. It makes me panic, so as soon as I explain how much I hate talking or thinking about doomsday, I will change the subject. And don't tell me that God will save me. I believe that, but the actual "dying" part will still suck, and it would still break my heart into a thousand pieces if I had to see the world end. Especially now that I have children to protect. (drama!)
So. Not doing laundry. Another reason to not do laundry? Mine is all clean :) Diapers are all clean. Towels are clean. And then there's that little fact that I have THREE LOADS of laundry to fold and put away right now, and they slept with me on my bed last night, and stared at me all day today, and I am going to HAVE to take care of them tonight. Plus there is another one in the dryer that I need to get to, so as soon as I find my waders and my headlamp, I will head down there with my laundry basket in a life raft and swim it up the stairs. (drama!) Since my bed is full of laundry, I am blogging on the floor of my bedroom. The weather channel is on and cycling through it's "local on the 8's" and I am really going to have to get motivated soon.
Tomorrow is a VERY Busy day. I have cleaning people coming (yes, I have them. yes I know I don't have a full time job outside of the home. yes, I know you hate me for that. Get over it, that's a whole different blog post.) and so I have to have everything picked up, which everyone knows is the greatest challenge with two lil kids running around. The weather may be unpredictable, but you can be sure that there are two tornadoes in this house every day! (double drama!) I did get Marek's bedroom cleaned and reorganized, which was a MAJOR ordeal because it involved re-arranging. That was so major because that room has a bit of an odd layout (it's completely square) but there is no closet so there is a big armoire in there, and then there's the whole "Two windows and one door" issue, so it has limited places where the crib can go. I re-arranged it like FIVE TIMES (no exxageration) before I decided, fuck it, I am going to put Marek in a toddler bed. Yep. Just like that. I was home during the weekday with the kids, and I took the whole crib apart BY MYSELF and then carried it to the 120 degree attic BY MYSELF and then carried the toddler bed down from the 120 degree attic BY MYSELF and got everything arranged. I went through the entire cube unit and all of Marek's dressers, changing table, and armoire drawers. I sorted through diapers and covers and wool. I packed away crib bedding, bumpers, receiving and baby blankets, burp rags and bibs, bottles... you name it. I organized all the clothes into categories in the armoire. I organized shoes, packing away too small ones and sorting bigger sizes into clear drawers with labels. the entire cube unit was converted from diapers to TOYS so that there was a place for his books and his bigger trucks. He really really really loves trucks. He really loves Usborne's books about Trucks. He is also really into the Shake n Go Racers. My sister got him two for Christmas, and my mom got Marek and Ardyn one Diego Shake n Go for Christmas too. Then last night Liz dropped off a #88 car that isn't a shake and go but is very similar. he loves them. He is really getting into "shaking" them himself now, and I have been stalking eBay auctions for a used Shake n Go track for him in the future. After all this sorting and reorganizing, I had to get three more totes to pack stuff in before we take it to the attic- too bad two of those totes were used in an emergency to catch water in the back porch. Ugh.
So anyway, it took me all day on Tuesday and a good portion of today to get his room all straightened around. It has been gone through with a fine tooth comb, so that makes me happy. Ardyn's closet needs some attention next. Lots of outgrown shoes and jeans to pack up for her. If anyone has some 3T girls jeans they want to part with, let me know. I have one pair for her, and would like another two pair before fall. I like those with the waists that adjust inside with the elastic and buttons (Old Navy, Osh Kosk, Etc.)
I also have this dilema of dust jackets. LOTS of my kids' books are hardbacks with dust jackets. Um. Why do kids' books need dust jackets. I dunno. I take them all of before I give them the books. SO I have this stack of them that I keep moving and shuffling around.... should I just throw them out? I guess I was just going to keep them, but today that suddenly seemed stupid. Thoughts? WWYD?
Today we brought the pink pony down for Marek to try out before bed. It had been in the attic since Ardyn outgrew it, and he LOVES it. Especially all the noises it makes. It plays Camptown Races too, which I just love.
I just heard on the news that an airline had issues with a plane that had no Air Conditioning and passengers sat on the plane for FOUR HOURS while temperatures inside the plane climbed to over 100 degrees. The six hour flight became a 12 hour flight. Oh HELL no. I am all about security and safety, but this crap with keeping people on planes for hours is getting RIDICULOUS. There has GOT to be something to do! If you want to prevent violence, then don't leave people on planes while you try to pull your head out of your ass and figure out what is wrong?! Jeez! Am I completely crazy? Can you imagine if you had your children on that plane for 4 extra hours? What if you were pregnant? Or elderly? Or just plain NORMAL?! That's ridiculous. Uncalled for, and in lots of cases, I would classify that as being held against my will.
Well, I seriously should get going. Although I did want to say that Marek's jump to a toddler bed went well, and he has been sleeping great. Longest naptimes he has had in about two weeks, and slept for 13 hours last night no problem.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Ardyn washing Marek's face for him in rhe barhtub. Marek pushing Ardyn in doll stroller. Marek climbing up to kiss Ardyn goodnight. My storm photos being featured on WQAD News channel 8.
Happy moments over the weekend:
Ardyn and Marek going down slide at park together (at once). Family Teeter-totter time on Father's Day. Watching Grandpa Dave give the kids a "shave" with his cell phone. watching Grandma Deb give Marek a walk on Roxy's leash. Eating Lunch with grandpa Bob and Grandma Susan.
Monday, June 21, 2010
I have made both the Little Comet Tails Stellar Transitions Trainers, and the Little Comet Tails Crescent Moon Yoga Pants (although I don't do the crescent bum, but the standard pants variation) The ONLY downside I have found to any of the patterns, is that I personally MUST have an internal soaker in the wetzone for any covers I have out of fleece, and the pattern does not include a cutout or suggestion for a soaker. However, with a little creativity and common sense, it's quite simple to fashion something. (for me that is) and I think that if you have sewing ability or experience, you could get along easy enough.
For the pants, I have also converted them to board shorties and also added leg bands for contrast (my own design) and I add an internal pant soaker that is sewn in just at the waistband and allows for extra protection to prevent compression wicking (sitting on grandma's lap, buckled in the carseat or stroller) and also makes them suitable for naptime and nighttime over a good fitted.
For the Sprightly soaker, I cut out a soaker that is in the traditional curved hourglass shape, and used a stretch zig-zag stitch to attach it permanently to the wet-zone of the soaker body BEFORE sewing anything else. These steps are so easy that I have to say it would be a simple and amazing addition to her regular Little Comet Tails Patterns.
When I bought the sprightly soaker, I have to admit I was wary. I have made soakers in the past, and to be quite honest, I really suck at them. For some reason, the leg bands give me LOTS of problems. In fact, I won't even sew a newborn or small soaker for that exact reason. The legband opening is sooooo tiny that it frustrates me and is difficult to stretch and serge while catching all three layers. I long ago gave up on serging them, and started to just sew them. I was still having issues here and there, and so I pretty much purchased all my soakers after that. I had preferred the fit of a Inspiration Cover, especially those made by Michelle at the Pea Chic Nest. But after Ardyn, I had some Gender Neutral covers left, but usually the kids fit different sizes in opposite seasons, so all those cute boyish longies won't do me a bit of good in the summer. And then, because I loved those covers so much, I kinda left her in a medium for too long and stretched them out, so they don't have their original shape anymore.
Of course, Marek's bum seems just as, if not more sensitive than Ardyn's, so I have him in wool and fleece as often as possible and now most definitely at night time in the summer. Even with the air on... because the kid sleeps for 10-12 hours consistently overnight, and I hate the red raw bum that comes from tooooo long in PUL covers or PUL Pockets.
So when I saw this pattern, and had been delighted in just how well her other patterns have worked for me, I thought "why not?"
And then I didn't get to it. FOREVER. I have have the fleece sitting there and today I was inspired when I saw Natures Fabrics post some new instock interlocks on their facebook page. Why oh Why had I never considered sewing my own interlock covers? Seriously? They cost a fortune! I love babyology covers (but I buy them from Canada to get them cheaper), and I have two for Marek right now for nighttime, but I had never once considered sewing my own interlock. Perhaps that's because I had so many problems getting a good fit with previous soaker patterns (Katrina's Soaker Pattern must be made for someone else's kids, or someone else's DIAPER?!) and I had been so frustrated with leg bands in soakers that I just gave up. Why would I ever consider screwing up a cover made of EXPENSIVE interlock wool fabric if I couldn't even get a cheap fleece one right?
Well, I thought I had better give this another try.
I had a hard time deciding on size. Marek can still wear the board shorties and pants in a size Medium, but with a bulky fitted, I am thinking it would be wiser to get him in a large.... except that he is SO skinny and long, that he might not be able to keep them up. So I traced and cut out a medium, and fashioned a medium hourglass soaker, and got to sewing.
Now, I am not going to lie. The legbands were making me cranky. For a moment, I thought WHY am I DOING this to myself again. But the pattern was pretty cool. The legbands are more narrow than any I have made before (which means you have less room to screw up by serging and re-serging while trying to catch all three layers) But I have to say that it actually worked out well enough that I made an entire soaker on the serger (a new serger makes a whole lot of difference - especially since I went from a $200 Singer "nicknamed Satan" to a $1200 Janome model) with the exception of zig zag stitching the soaker in.
When I finished, I finally saw a soaker that looked like UNDERWEAR! In fact, I could get it (the same Medium fleece soaker) on the 30 pound 2 year old (not in a diaper) and think I will try making her something that might work for her as panties or even as an overnight cover, although I will try a large for her.
I was in awe that a fleece soaker could be so TRIM. It's beautiful and it looks GREAT on the skinny lil man. Now, I did decide that while it fits well over a prefold, it would be a stretch over a goodmama fitted. SO I have decided to upsize to a large for him.... for room to grow and room for bulkier fitteds. He kept smiling when I put it on him.... and walking around all goofy and proud. Too cute. Now I have two more to make for him and try to perfect the soaker legs and be confident that I can sew some out of interlock.... because you just don't want to mess up $25 a yard fabric!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
At a recent Pampered Chef show I hosted, I got a ton of cool kitchen gear. I can't remember if I shared pics here or just on Facebook, and of course now I can't FIND the pics. But anyway, I digress. I got the Deep Covered Baker, which is a $69 glazed stoneware piece, and I adore it. I also got one of the "29 minutes to dinner" cookbooks (I already had the other one but hadn't made anything out of it yet) and the quick little recipe cards, I think they are Dinner Done with One meaning a one pot recipe. Anyway. The baker was on backorder because it was so popular, and so I received it in mid-May and then while camping over Memorial Day weekend I planned some meals using the recipes that would work in the baker. I got groceries for all the ingredients... and this week I started. We have had three meals in the baker, and so far I have had a great experience. Let's break this down by recipe!
Easy Tortellini Toss- Weekday Dinners, Done! Recipe Card Collection
This recipe calls for simple things like a slice of precooked ham (think the big oval ham slice that has a bone in it, and is wrapped in plastic) frozen cheese tortellini, and fresh spinach. Then you add garlic, flour, butter, milk, parmesan, pepper, and chicken broth to make your "sauce." It's really really quick and awesome tasting. What's great about many of these recipes, is that while the one ingredient (often the meat) is cooking in the baker, you are prepping and combining the other ingredients. Then you often add everything to the baker and cook together for another short amount of time and you have your meal. The tortellini toss was a HUGE hit. I will definitely make it again, although next time, I will probably double it, because it would be nice to have leftovers of, especially for the kids' lunch the next day.
Orange Glazed Sticky Ribs- 29 Minutes to Dinner Volume 2 (cookbook)
This recipe was a completely new experience for me. In the 12 years that we have been together, I have never made Ribs. Ever. I have never made ribs in my life. I had only EATEN ribs for the first time about a year ago. I, as a rule, do not like BBQ sauce, and because all the ribs I have ever seen are BBQ, I have avoided slathered up ribs like the plague. I had an interesting time picking out Baby Back Ribs at the store. I was excited to try. I love how these cookbooks have a neat little blurb on the righthand side of each recipe that tells you a little bit about the ingredients (especially if they might be something you have not used before) and gives you little tips about the recipe in general. I always learn something from them. The tips are titled "Chef's Corner" and this recipe described how to remove the membrane that is under the rack of ribs, which I didn't even know EXISTED. This was the most difficult part of the entire recipe. That and the fact that ribs smell TERRIBLE when raw and when cooking. And remember, you are talking to the girl who spent her college years touring slaughterhouses and packaging facilities, and being surrounded by butchers and fresh hanging meat. I don't understand why the ribs smelled so terrible, but my husband agreed. It was almost bad enough that I couldn't eat them.... almost ;) I rinsed the ribs THREE TIMES with cold water to try to get some of the smell to go away. Ick.
Basically you remove the membrane, separate the ribs, and cook them in the baker. This is the recipe that I ran into trouble with cooking times and meat temperatures. Because my mom is in food service and has a sanitation license, I have learned to be a stickler for how well my meat is cooked, and to check temperatures. Using TWO different quick read thermometers *one by Pampered Chef and one NOT by Pampered Chef* I repeatedly tested the meat's internal temperature while continuing to microwave the ribs. I had to nearly TRIPLE the cooking time that Pampered Chef recommended before I got the internal temperature to 160 degrees. This made me nervous, especially with the smell of the ribs. The last thing I wanted to do was poison us.
The glaze consisted of Orange Zest, honey, apple cider vinegar, spicy brown mustard, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper. The ribs were also coated in cayenne pepper, and I *may* have overdone that part as the ribs were awfully spicy (but certainly DELICIOUS!) My husband ate a ton of them and even the kids ate them. Marek's entire forehead and around his eyes turned red with the heat of the first few bites. When I look back at the recipe, it says to use 1/2 tsp to coat the ribs and I think I missed that part because I just picked up each rib individually and coated it with cayenne. LOL. No wonder they were hot!
The recipe calls for Cole Slaw, but I despise slaw, and the kids don't really eat it either, so I made Fresh Buttered Asparagus (which I also steamed in the baker- YUMMM!) and Angel Hair Pasta. This recipe was a huge hit. The prep was actually lots of fun, because I love recipes with zest and I especially appreciate any excuse to use my Micro Grater. I adore that thing. The coolest was explaining to Ardyn what Zest was. She climbed up on her stool and I described how an orange has a peel and when you rub the orange across the grater, it shaves off the peel and the fine pieces that result are called Zest. She was thrilled.
Overall, a great dish, we WILL make this again, but I was only upset by the tripled cooking time of the ribs. It still only amounted to about 28 minutes of cooking time, but the recipe is supposed to be start to finish in 28 minutes, and I don't know if the problem is that my microwave isn't brand new or what. I also wasn't a huge fan of having to grill the ribs in the grill pan after already cooking and glazing them in the baker... but the result was awesome. To me it was just another dish to dirty, and I was trying to also get side dishes made (since I didn't like the slaw) and so I had Evan come in and do the grill part for me while I proceeded to the sides.
And aren't they pretty?
Glazed Teryaki Meatballs and Noodles- Weekday Dinners- Done! Recipe Card Collection
This was a great recipe. Ardyn's favorite part was rolling meatballs. It was great for her hand eye coordination, and she was so pleased with herself. She counted them as she made them, and was so excited to actually eat them. There were a few things about this recipe that I did not like, and that I will change next time I make it.
For starters, you make your meatballs- egg, bread crumbs, raw ground beef, onion, and Pampered Chef's Asian Seasoning Mix (which I happen to have.) This is all fine, but it takes TWO TABLESPOONS of Asian Seasoning Mix. This is a large amount in my mind, especially considering the price of the seasoning. Evan thought the meatballs were too spicy, and while the kids and I seemed fine with them, I think that next time I could cut that amount almost in half and still be satisfied. The second thing that I wasn't thrilled about was the "prepared teriyaki glaze" in the recipe. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to MAKE that, or BUY that... but I decided that I would just get the bag of stir fry veggies that comes with the frozen pouch of teriyaki. that worked fine. Except I think there wasn't quite enough. I think there was enough in the pouch, but I don't know that it was really enough to coat the noodles and veggies to our taste. The other thing was that I couldn't find veggies with teriyaki glaze unless there were lo mein noodles frozen in with them. I didn't really realize that at first, but when I was making my spaghetti noodles (which were to be substituted for the lo mein noodles that you would traditionally find in a chinese recipe as such) I was disappointed in how sticky they were. They weren't coated with enough teriyaki, and I had to dirty TWO More pans in addition to the Deep Covered Baker in order to boil the noodles and then "fry" the noodles with the garlic and the sauce. So you are looking at FOUR large dishes/stoneware/cookware items that are dirtied, plus your measuring cups, and the food chopper.... I was not thrilled with the "ease" of this part of the recipe. If I were to do it again, I WOULD buy the Lo Mein noodles with the frozen stir fry veggies and the Teriyaki packet. I would then cook the whole thing in the baker (meatballs first, then add the veggies/noodle mix and the glaze) and avoid the spaghetti altogether (both for the mess, the ease of prep, and for the fact that the Lo Mein noodles taste better anyway!) I would ALSO be sure to cook the meatballs thoroughly before adding the veggies to the baker. The recipe calls for cooking the meatballs alone for 5-7 minutes until the outsides are browned, and then to add the veggies and cook the whole thing 4-6 minutes until the meatballs are done to 160. Well, I did 7 minutes, and then another 6 minutes, and although they browned on the outside, after that time the veggies were done, but when I checked the meatballs (especially those on the inside of the baker) they were not even to 100 degrees yet and the insides were still pink. I cooked them for another 12 minutes on high before they were DONE inside and by then the veggies were a little overdone. I don't think that was the best way to do the recipe. Why not make sure the meat is completely finished before adding the veggies? 4 more minutes on cooked meat isn't going to ruin the dish, but having to put the veggies through 12 more minutes of microwaving certainly could ruin them.
So, overall the recipe was delicious but could use some tweaking and again- some longer cooking time for the meat. My microwave is a Kemore, it is about 9 years old, and it does have a turntable. I have never in any other recipes had an issue with cooking times, but have been consistently having issues with the meats in the Pampered Chef recipes that I have been testing out.
The baker was overall a very awesome purchase. I have stressed to my husband that I want to take exceptional care of the baker, being sure that it is hand washed immediately and that it is not dropped or chipped, because not only does it cost $69, but it is now a hostess ONLY item and so therefore I could only replace it if I hosted a new show (or checked eBay!)
I have also had the Rush Hour Chicken Fajitas in the baker, but because I didn't personally make them either time, I can't exactly review the recipe except to say it was easy looking and delicious. :) More to come perhaps, as I have several more to try!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wow. How long's it been? Let's go check.... well, not as long as I thought. I think. he.
What have I been doing? You know, for the life of me I don't even remember. I think it's that lethal combo of child-rearing and laundry and dishes and well, summer in general.
Evan did get the Square Foot Garden (which I will from this point forward refer to as the SFG as it should be) finished and I then got the garden planted THE very next day. If you are not familiar with the SFG method, you should check out "The All New Square Foot Garden" by Mel Batholomew - just get it from your library or the inter-library loan system. That's what I did, and I loved it so instantly and so thoroughly that I used my swagbucks to get a copy sent to myself immediately from Amazon. Wow. It's so SIMPLE yet so complete and revolutionary. It's easy to start, easy to follow, and I am already so excited!
The signs of spring and soon to be summer are all around! I am really enjoying the new D3000 and the lenses, and am getting some cool pictures of the kids and also some nature here and there. We enjoy time at each set of grandparents, and some of these photos were taken on the farms.
Some days we get pretty ambitions and do things like making double batches of delicious crunchy coleslaw (Ardyn loves to crunch up the ramen noodles in the ziploc) and Ardyn also recently painted a birdhouse and helped me to make Recycled Bugs (from Milk Jugs) similar to (better than?!) those featured on the recent cover of Family Fun Magazine. We put them in the SFG, and they are adorable, except after the first rain the googley eyes slid right off, because I guess Tacky glue is not water resistant :( Oh well. Next we will have to repair them with super glue or hot glue. They are too stinkin cute!
We've really had a great time getting together with friends at the park and for playdates at different houses. There have been lots of great moments and funny "caught on camera" moments... lots of swimming and cozy coupes and sidewalk chalk (more eaten than written with!) and it's only mid-June!
Poor Marek. Right before we went camping (another post altogether!) he had this screaming fit that we unexpectedly tracked to a poopy diaper. And this poopy diaper was like no other poopy diaper.... well, except that it was EXACTLY identical to Ardyn's "allergic reaction to dairy" diapers. I was floored. Complete with burning red bottom that was instantly cracked and bleeding, and a rash that still hasn't completely cleared up- and that happened 15 days ago. He had several diapers that would incite immediate murderous screams... and then he officially went from a "once a day" very solid pooper, to a SEVERAL times a day, very loose diaper, red sore bottom pooper. And it hasn't let up yet. It's gone through several phases, but it still isn't right.
This spring and summer he has had a real issue with drinking standing water. Seriously, I knew that it wasn't GOOD but that kid can find water in the most unexpected places, like the plug in the base of the little tykes basketball hoop... the lid to the sandbox, that compartment in the back of the cozy coupe.... It got so bad that as I was running around the yard emptying all the water, he was running around drinking what he could get to behind my back. It was futile, so I started taking pictures. Over a couple of months, I got quite a few. Between shoving every stick, rock, leaf, and clump of dirt in his mouth, and drinking every bit of water he could find... I just figured it was a boy thing and that I was wasting my time trying to prevent it. My mom, however, made it clear that it was dangerous, that he could get salmonella or eColi, and that I should be parenting instead of taking pictures. Ah. Moms. So... when the whole diarrhea started, I worried that he had something... and the nurses at the pediatrician's office confirmed my worries by giving me an order for stool samples (x3) and specimen jars, and I quote "I am positive that he has some type of parasite. You can not drink standing water without getting something." So. Mom starts to feel like a terrible parent (but still a good photographer, thank GOODNESS!) and starts
Get that Kid a DRINK!!!! So next we will take him back to the allergist to see if we can have him tested for more things (food) that he could possibly be allergic to. I don't want him to have an allergy, but 15 days of unexplained diaper rash and diarrhea that is EXACTLY like Ardyn's has me worried!