Saturday, March 26, 2011

Little Girl Walking!

Yup, our little lady is walking.  Can you believe it?!  She still doesn't stand up much on her own, but she loves to mosey about from here to there, usually bridging the gap from one large object (or person) to another.  Here she is in action ...

She's finally picking up speed and replacing a lot of her crawling with walking.  And it's wonderful to see!

You Asked for It Oma

I know you probably weren't thinking this kind of video, Mom, but Baylor was talking about the train whistle and I couldn't help it.

For you, Mom, and the rest of you readers ... the payoff is at the end.


* No Baylors were harmed in the making of this video.

** A little backstory for those of you not in the know ... Baylor doesn't like a lot of noise.  Mom bought him a train whistle.  He did not appreciate it.

My Laundry Helper

This is why Mollie is often not invited to help me with laundry. 

Aww, who am I kidding?  She's too cute to hold back!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Buddhist Poem

I am currently reading the book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, by Karen Armstrong, and in it she included a Buddhist poem I have fallen in love with and would like to share with you all.

Let all beings be happy!  Weak or strong, of high, middle or low estate, small or great, visible or invisible, near or far away, alive or still to be born - May they all be perfectly happy!

Let nobody lie to anybody or despise any single being anywhere.

May nobody wish harm to any single creature out of anger or hatred!

Let us cherish all creatures, as a mother her only child!

May our loving thoughts fill the whole world, above, below, across - without limit; our love will know no obstacles - a boundless goodwill toward the whole world, unrestricted, free of hatred or enmity.

Whether we are standing or walking, sitting or lying down, as long as we are awake we should cultivate this love in our heart.  This is the noblest way of living.

So Very Sick

I tried to come up with a better title for this post, but I couldn't think of anything that didn't a) share too much, or b) make me sound sad and pathetic (even though I am).

After we got home from my parents' house last night, I knew something was amiss.  I felt truly awful, mostly in the stomach area, and with all that nasty flu going around I had a sneaking suspicion that I was going to experience something truly awful very soon.  Once the kids were in bed, I discovered I was right.  In this instance, I hate being right.

I'll spare you the intimate (read: disgusting) details, but I'll sum it up by saying that my husband slept in the basement and I slept with a bowl next to my bed.

Last night was awful in a very physical way, but today has been awful both physically and emotionally.  This morning, and much of the midday, I spent sleeping, trying very hard to ward off the crud and get back to normal.  Bryson stayed home to take care of the kiddos, thank goodness, and I feel very lucky to have this option to stay in bed, all quarantined and cozy.  But I miss my kids.  I miss them so much I can't stand it.  I can hear them running around downstairs, and it sucks to know that I'm not there.  This is the most time Mollie and I have spent away from each other, and by all accounts she is handling it very well.

Oh, and because I started a new exercise class yesterday, my body is screaming at me like nobody's business.  The parts that get sore and achy when you get the flu are there, yes, but I also get the added bonus of having everything else be sore because I finally used those muscles.  Oh, and the vertigo is still there ... at least I think it is anyway ... it's tough to tell since I've lost about ten pounds during the whole flu experience and that could very well be causing all the dizziness.  We'll see what happens once I start feeling better.

Until then, I am just hoping that no one else gets sick.  (Knock on wood!)

And also, kudos to you parents out there who do the difficult thing and go to work and miss your kids everyday.  You have superhero hearts in my book.  And kudos to you single parents out there who do it all, taking care of yourself AND your kids when you get sick.  Also, very superhero-y in my book!

Low-Impact Aerobics and My Time with the Biddies

Spurred on by my rekindled love of taking exercise classes (thank you, Zumba!) I decided to sign up for an exercise class through our city's parks and rec department.*    After perusing the list of options for the spring session, I decided to take "low-impact aerobics".  It met at a good time of day on a good day of the week, it was cheap (only about $6 a class!), and it was nearby.  It was perfect.

I had a little buyer's remorse after signing up for the class and wondered if it was going to be worth the hype in my head; I tend to get a little psyched up for things and take them to a level that the actual event could never live up to.  So I tried to put it out of my head onto the back burner for a while.

Today was my first class, and after getting the kids situated with my mother-in-law (thanks again, Paula!) I hurried down the icy streets to the class.  Luckily, I had actually properly estimated the amount of time it would take to get there, so I made it there just in time; usually I over or underestimate it so badly that I end up either with tons of extra time or horribly rushed.  It was nice to be neither on the first day of class.

So, how'd it go?  All in all, I'd say it went well.  As I thought might happen, I was younger than everyone else in the class by at least fifteen years (up to forty years, as I think one of the ladies might have been in her seventies).  And because there was a nasty little storm during the night, we only had five people in the class, including myself.  Being the youngest one in the class was an interesting experience.  I was almost liberated from feeling like I had to be the best; I made a few mistakes here and there, but I found myself thinking, "These ladies know that no one is perfect.  They don't care what I'm doing."  I don't know why I thought this of the biddies (as I came to call the other ladies in my head - though they are not "biddies" in the sense that they were gossipy or mean, just older than me) and not of the ladies my own age in my Zumba class, but sometimes thoughts just pop into your head, you know?

Anyhow, I digress.  The aerobics part of the class was fun, repetitive, and a good workout.  You could easily modify it to make it more difficult if you wanted to, or easier if you were having trouble or needed a break.  I ended up being able to do all the aerobics without much trouble, no doubt because of Zumba and working out on our recumbent bike in the morning.

After the aerobics section of the class, the instructor asked us to get a drink of water and take a little walk around the classroom to bring our heart rates down.  All of these ladies, including the instructor, knew each other from previous classes, so I ended up walking around by myself watching the pack of ladies in front of me chatting and smiling away.

Then came the strengthening exercises.  Holy crap, I was not prepared for that.  First, we did squats across the room four times, during which I noticed that I was getting a little dizzy.  Then we got our weights and did an arm workout.  I have to admit, I brought three-pound weights and those were almost too much for me, while all of biddies in the class brought five-pound weights and did just fine.  You'd think toting around a nearly-40 pound kiddo would bulk up your strength, but you'd be wrong.  After that, we did lady-style push ups or butterfly moves with our weights.  Our instructor told us that the push ups were definitely the more difficult of the two, so I had it in my head that - being the young one of the group - I would be doing the push ups and only the push ups.  Yeah, about halfway through I had to switch to the butterfly move.

Then we did two one-minute plank moves.  Again, she told us ways we could modify it to make it easier (either the hard way on your feet or the easier way on your knees).  Full of youthful hubris, I chose the feet for my first session of plank.  Oh ... dear ... God.  I felt like I was dying about thirty seconds into it.  But I pressed on and finished the first session on my feet.  The stretch afterward felt amazing but too short.  Then we got into plank again, and this time I was forced to choose the "easier" way; I still struggled through the whole minute.  And after two minutes of plank, we did crunches ... a lot of them.  At one point I had to stop because I thought I was going to die.  Not literally, but holy moley that was rough.

After a few more floor exercises and some stretching, the class was done.  And so was I.  Yikes!

I hobbled to my car, astonished at the biddies around me who do this twice a week and have been doing this for who knows how long, and I decided that this would be a good learning experience for me if nothing else.  I need to learn to pace myself, to listen to my body and do only what I can; pushing yourself is great, but not to the point that you can't move later on.

The kids did great with my mother-in-law but were still excited to see me when I got home, which always feels good.  After a quick shower, we said goodbye to Grandma and hopped in the car to visit Oma and Aunt Christine.  Since the class, though, I had been noticing a good amount of dizziness if I moved much at all.  As it turns out, I got a bit of vertigo from some of the exercises, so it was good to have some other adults around to help with the kids.  We had dinner there, as my husband had a meeting for a group project, and after dinner I noticed I started feeling worse.  At first I thought the Bonine I had taken wasn't agreeing with me, but soon I discovered something much worse.  *sigh*  Much, much worse.

Anyhow, hopefully I'll be recovered from everything by next week and can apply what I learned in this class to the next one.  We'll see.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Amalia's First Birthday!

Today is Amalia's first birthday!  Can you believe it?  I got up at 5:30 this morning to work out, and it dawned on me that that was the time one year ago today that my water broke.  So, instead of working out, I decided to get ready for the day and try to post her birth video on the blog.  I ran into problems ... so, so many problems; I ended up nearly crashing the computer as a result.  So I've taken a break from trying to post that video and will wait until Bryson gets home tonight to try again (and until after I get all of our precious photos backed up on our external hard drive).

It has been a pretty low-key day around here; the real shindig is this Saturday - and then another party on Sunday.  But it has been nice nonetheless.  Mollie and I have gotten to spend a lot of alone time together; she woke up early and then Baylor spent about an hour and a half with Grandma today, so it was just the ladies of the house for a while.  We smiled, kissed, and hugged a lot.  It was good.

Before breakfast, I got a little video of her and her new communicativeness that I thought you might enjoy.  I have a couple more videos I might post (at least one of her walking!!!), but it'll have to wait until our computer is done backing things up as it's running slow as molasses right now.

Anyhow, here she is, our little birthday girl.

And here she is again before lunch.  She was so happy to sit in the booster seat just like her brother usually does.  I just love her little smile!

Have a wonderful day!  (And happy birthday, Sharon!)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pre-Birthday First Birthday Celebration

Yesterday we headed over to Rochester Hills to visit with Bryson's grandparents and Aunt Sharon.  As usual, Aunt Sharon documented the day with her camera, and when we returned home I was lucky enough to find a few of them in my e-mail inbox.

Mollie's first first birthday card!

She was so excited to get clothes!  She held them up to her like she was checking to see how they fit.  What a funny girl!

At first she was a bit shy, but she eventually warmed up to everyone and was all smiles.

I can't believe my baby girl is almost one!

Thank you again and again, Sharon, for such beautiful pictures!  You truly have a gift.  Oh, and happy birthday to you, too!  (She's Mollie's birthday buddy!)

Lucky Mama

This past Thursday was St. Patrick's Day, and I have never felt as lucky as I did this year.  I have two amazing children, and we so enjoyed ourselves this St. Patrick's Day.

Mollie woke up promptly at 8:30, so after I got her some breakfast, she and I were able to spend some alone time together before Baylor woke up.  First, we tried on some new shoes I ordered for her.

Then she decided to use my desk chair as a walker.

Once she spotted the sunshine streaming in the front window, she made her way over to check it out.

But, industrious as she is, the investigation didn't last long and soon it was time to move the desk chair a little more.

It got stuck in the doorway, and she used some pretty fancy moves to dislodge it.

I wanted to check the weather to see what was in store, but since my desk chair was being used I just knelt on the ground.  Needing a break, Mollie decided to lounge on my legs.  (And this picture makes my hair look super frizzy ... *sigh*.)

After Baylor woke up and got breakfast it was time to play!

We tried on two of the three pairs of shoes I ordered for her again and decided on the purple pair.

I went in to take care of the shoes and get a Goldfish cracker snack; Baylor, much like a cat, heard the sound of Goldfish and came running.  I put a few in his snack trap and as soon as he brought them down to chest level, Mollie was all over him trying to get some.

Poor Baylor ... Mollie has been all over him lately.  Whatever he does, she deems golden and wants to partake in as well.

Bless his heart, though, he's so patient with her.  Especially so, considering he's only two and a half.

Baylor moved on, so Mollie took a moment, climbed into his couch's built-in sleeping bag, and enjoyed.

Then she went off to see what he was up to.

As the other person Mollie likes to lavish her attention on, I can tell you that it gets exhausting after a while.  I'm so proud of him for being so patient with it all.

My mom and sister came over later in the day to help out with a few things, and when Mom and I left to run an errand, Christine and Baylor enjoyed a little Lego time.

He just loves putting the letter ones in alphabetical order!

I am such a lucky mama to have two wonderful, sweet children!  Hope you all had a happy, safe St. Patrick's day!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mittens, Living Room Tubbie, and The First Walk of the Year

So yesterday was pretty awesome.  Yeah, there were some crappy parts, like Baylor not napping (which, I hate to say, has become sort of a regular occurrence).  But a lot of it was pure awesomeness.
The day started off with breakfast, then we got down to play.  Mollie wanted to have me put Baylor's mittens on her, so I did.  And, boy, was she excited!

Seriously, she wore them around for over half an hour!

At first she was all, "Hmm, how am I gonna crawl in these?"

But she worked it out.

She even used the oven to stand up and took a few steps!  And yes, it was even cuter because of the mittens.

She still just wanted to hang out with Baylor, though.  I wonder if she thought the mittens would make her more stealth as she sidled up to her brother.

In a stroke of genius on his part, Baylor took the cushion off our green leather chair.  For some reason that is like catnip to Mollie; she can't resist the urge to climb up on the uncushioned chair and do a little bouncing.

Of course, with mittens on, her dismount was less than graceful.

She kept wanting to go head first, but the instant she got to this point, she'd grunt and start to make moves back onto the chair.  Maybe she'd actually learned from the night before when she attempted this dismount and got a bloody lip as a result.

Baylor likes to pretend that the party tub we use for rubber blocks is a bath tub.  He'll stand there, pretend to run the water, and make comments like, "Not too hot, not too cold.  It's juuuuuust right!"  It's awesome.  Of course, it was even more awesome when Mollie decided she wanted to take a tubby in the living room, too.

Baylor is such an awesome kid.  He sat there so patiently while I screamed at him, "Baylor!  Don't move!  I have to go get my camera to take a picture of this!  I'll get her off of you in a second!"  He knows my need to document cuteness is unending, and he seems to love me in spite of it.  For her part, Mollie looked super cute with her combination, "Oh, you're in here?/Iloveyousomuchbigbrother!!!" look.

Luckily the night before I had been a bit on the lazy side and hadn't taken care of a laundry basket I had nearly emptied, so we had another "tub" for Mollie to sit in.

Of course, once your little sister is tubbing too it loses a little bit of its cache, so Baylor decided he needed to spell something instead.

And he actually spelled something, too!  Check out the word "brown"!!

Apparently all that spelling makes a kid dirty, so he climbed back in for another bath.

Bless his little heart, Baylor is so patient with his sister.  She's always up in his business, wanting to be wherever he is.

Sure, he's not always thrilled about it, but he generally takes it in stride.  It probably helps that Mollie just adores him and only wants to be near him because she can't get enough of the kid.

After naps and dinner, we decided to take advantage of some wonderful pre-spring weather and go for a walk, our first of the season!  And our first with both kids getting to enjoy the little red wagon!

They were having fun, I swear!

It was a gorgeous evening ... the moon even made an appearance in the clear blue sky.

Bryson pulled the wagon the whole way.  I offered to pull, but I was also pretty happy to have both hands free so I could take pictures.  As you can see in the picture below, there was still a decent amount of snow on the ground, so our walk got cut short a couple times because the sidewalks were impassible at certain points.

I commented that Mollie was struggling a bit while riding backwards, and after a cursory check of the situation, Bryson said, "She's just getting a good ab workout!"  Awesome.  Love you, honey!

Baylor was on the look out for dogs and other kids on our walk, but sadly there were few of either.  I thought there would be more people out, but apparently it wasn't THAT warm out.

We had a lovely little walk.  Hopefully, in a couple weeks, it'll be even lovelier with the snow all gone.

Of course, the catch-22 about walks is that, once you get your two year-old outside he isn't likely to want to go back in.  So, though their garage door was closed when we walked by - signaling they didn't want visitors, we called my in-laws anyway and they were eager for us to come down so they could see the kiddos.  Upon hearing this, Baylor took off as fast as he could down the sidewalk.  It was adorable; I just love the way he runs these days, cheeks jiggling, a little bounce in his step.

Once there, we played with toys, Baylor got to do some typing with Grandpa Chris, and Mollie actually stood up without holding onto anything and took a few steps!  It was the first time she had ever done that so we were all pretty geeked about it.

Finally, it was time to head home and get a real bath.  Baylor was sad to go, but he got to run outside so that took quite a bit of the sting out of leaving.  And a bonus ... Baylor was so worn out from not napping and getting to run outside a bit that he didn't protest at all when it was finally time for bed!  Awesome!!!

You've gotta love days like that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

I know, it sounds crazy, right?  I mean, why make taco seasoning when you can buy it in an ready-to-use packet at your nearest grocery store?

Well, have you ever really looked at the ingredients in one of those handy little packets?  We usually use the 40% Less Sodium Old El Paso Taco Seasoning Mix; when I looked at the ingredient list tonight, the first two ingredients listed were "maltodextrin" and "salt".  The fifth ingredient was "monosodium glutamate" otherwise known as MSG.  Awesome.  The only actual seasonings listed were "chili pepper", "onion powder", "garlic powder", "spice", and "natural flavor".  I'm calling shenanigans on those last two so-called ingredients.

So, maybe it's not so crazy to make your own taco seasoning mix.  We tried one we got out of our insurance company's magazine, and according to my husband it was "one-hundred percent better than the one we usually use".  Plus, it's way better for you and you know EXACTLY what is in it because you mix it yourself.  And, if there is something you don't like about it, you can always tweak it to your taste.

So here it is ...

Taco Seasoning Mix

3 Tbsp. chili powder
5 tsp. paprika
4 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. corn starch

Mix ingredients together.  Divide into 4 equal amounts in separate plastic bags and store in an airtight container.  Each package serves 4.*

To make tacos:

Brown 1 pound of lean hamburger or diced chicken breast in a nonstick skillet.  Drain excess fat.  Add 1 package taco seasoning mix and 3/4 cup water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced.  Stir and use to make tacos.

Nutrition analysis per serving (taco seasoning only):
Calories 10, Fat 0 g, Saturated fat 0 g, Trans fat 0 g, Carbohydrate 2 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 75 mg, Fiber 0 g

* Instead of separating it into baggies, I put all the ingredients into a glass jar, screwed on the lid, shook it up, and am just scooping it out when I need it.  I used my calculator from high school to determine that it makes a total of 9.5 Tbsp. of seasoning, so you should use 2.375 Tbsp. of seasoning per 1 pound of meat.  Plus, it looked really cool when I poured it all into the jar.


Mollie's Swimsuit Issue 2011

Last week my mom and sister came over to my house with the latest Hanna Andersson catalog and showed me a swimsuit they thought would be perfect for Mollie.  I agreed that we should give it a shot, and they ordered it for the little lady.

It finally came this Monday and they couldn't wait to try it on her.  Unfortunately, she's been quite difficult to get dressed lately, so they tried it on over her onesie.  The result was beyond adorable.

Isn't it the cutest suit?!  I love it that it has shorts instead of ... well, nothing; because now her little legs will be protected from the sun.  Plus, it's one whole piece so nothing will be riding up on her.  And, of course, it's adorable!

If you're planning on ordering anything from Hanna Andersson, be aware of the sizing; they use centimeter sizing so you'll have to do a little extra leg work there, but I think it ends up being a little more precise.  Mollie is a size 80, with a little extra room to spare.

Isn't she such a fashion plate in her swimsuit?  I'm probably biased because I'm her mom, but if there were a baby swimsuit issue I know she'd be on the cover!

Aunt Christine and the iPad

Yesterday, Baylor wanted to play with my parents' iPad, so Aunt Christine helped him start a game of Orba.  It's a pretty simple game; all you have to do is touch the screen to make groups of colored balls disappear.  There is, of course, a lot of strategy that can go into it if you want to get really good at it, but for their purposes it was just simple enough to let the little man explore on his own.  

Of course, he eventually decided he wanted to use Aunt Christine's sore thumb as a stylus.  She was less than thrilled at how hard he was holding and pulling on her thumb.

Using her index finger was a much better idea.

He had such fun!  And he especially enjoyed it when he'd get to a new level with new colored balls.  Ah, the simple things!

Such concentration from such a little guy!

He eventually tired of Orba and wanted to fiddle around with other apps on the iPad, so we determined he was done.  I'm not a huge fan of letting him play with tons of electronics, but it is a nice treat every now and then.