Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hilariously Bizarre

Ya'll, I just witnessed one of the most bizarre self-soothing rituals EVER. I had never seen her do this before, but apparently Lily Ruth has developed a bit of a tic.

Let me set the scene: We were ensconced in the glider in the nursery. I was murmuring soothing things about how it really was time for her nap. Lily Ruth was shrieking and pointing at the door. I reiterated that it was nap time, and we would not be leaving the nursery.

She kept yelling, but added in the tic. As she yelled, her right hand made a constant round trip from twirling her hair to her open mouth. As her fist passed her mouth, she would very briefly stop screaming to LICK THE BACK OF HER FINGERS (!!!!!) then it would cycle back to her hair where she would quickly twirl her sideburns - thus rubbing the spit into her hair.

It was a little like this - 'Ahhhh-haa-haa *lick*, Ahhhh-haa-haa *lick*, Ahhhh-haa-haa *lick*, Ahhhh-haa-haa *lick*.

I was DYING, folks. I had my lips pressed tightly together, and I was shaking with laughter.

I had no idea that she did this, but frankly it explains a lot. For example, last night I put her in the car with pristine pigtails. She was ticked about the carseat, and did a bit of yelling. When we stopped the car, one of her pigtails was stiff and sticky - like it had been wet. I had no idea how that had happened. Now I do.

How did this come about? How long has she been doing this? How soon can I see it again?

Friday, November 12, 2010


Here is the scene: My bed. Eleven o'clock - P.M. (!!!). The following things are currently in/directly next to my bed:

1. A congested, SNORING husband.
2. A daughter with what can best be described as 'Restless, Thrashing Body Syndrome'.
3. A 14-year-old cat whose grass-roots campaign to Sleep ON Rachel's Legs seems to be gaining ground.
4. An 85 pound German Shepherd who is nervous about the wind and is therefore pacing the hardwood floors.
5. A constant, intense pain in my right arm that threatens my mental stability.

- I was going to draw a diagram for you, but I don't have the software... so maybe I'll do it later and scan it it... don't hold your breath.

It's a veritable symphony of Mama insomnia:

zzzzzzZZZZZZ. zzzzzzZZZZZZ. zzzzzzZZZZZZ. zzzzzzZZZZZZ.
writhe, kick, WHACK, *lip smack*. writhe, kick, WHACK, *lip smack*.
puuuuuuRRRRRRR, circle, nudge, knead, *sigh*.
Click click click click click click click. Click click click click click click click.
(ouch......... ouch........ ouch......)

I've moved to the living room. The dog followed me. She is cutting off the circulation to my feet in her efforts to be close to me... yet I cannot hear the snoring... and nobody has whacked me in several minutes... and there are no cats pinning me down... *le sigh*... I think this is an improvement :-/

** EDIT: I returned to my bed (after an hour). I was lured in by the siren call of a shrieking Lily. We settled in. She requested nursing ('urse?'). She finished nursing, flung herself off of me and onto my pillow. Not two minutes later, she whacked me in the eye so hard that I saw stars. Not celebrities, people - because honestly, who would mind a quick glimpse of Tae Diggs any time of day or night? - but hot gold flashes of pain popping behind my (optimistically) closed eyelids. So I moved her. So she scooted perpendicular to me. In short order I had a tiny foot across the bridge of my nose. It inched over to my eye socket. Then down over my face. Then it slid to rest in the cup of my nursing bra.

I can hear you now - 'Ya'll need to get that baby out of your bed'. You're right. We do. It's just that it took an excruciatingly loud and long process to get her into her bed for the first half of the night. Neither one of us is quite ready for the protracted battle that it will take to evict her completely... it's a good thing that she's so dang cute...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Soapbox Issue - Kid Food

Just in case I haven't mentioned it before now, I have a kid. I toddler. An eating machine. She loves to eat. The phrase she utters the most (aside from 'ICE, ICE, ICE' for ice cream/yogurt/popsicle) is 'EAT, EAT, EAT!'. For the most part, I love feeding her.

 It is big fun to give her new things to try. I love to ask her what she wants to eat and let her peruse the selection in the refrigerator. It cracks me up to watch her share snacks and drinks with her friends... well, it's more like warfare than sharing - they tend to have an 'every man for himself' strategy at this age. She'll 'share', but to her, that means that she doesn't stop her friends from eating her snacks. She DOES however cram the snacks into her own mouth as fast as she can in order to ensure that she receives her fair share.

Of course, it's not all sunshine and lollipops. Lily Ruth is forming her own opinions about when and what she eats. A lot of the things that she used to eat without complaint are now on the *pursed lips, adamant head shake no* list.

As we discover the world of eating with a toddler, I have stumbled upon a few truths:

1. I thought we ate in a fairly healthy manner. Not true. Home cooked does NOT equal healthy. Nor does non-processed equal healthy. Home cooked and non-processed are good. Adding healthy into the mix would be even better.

2. Reading the labels to things that you used to buy on a regular basis will gross you out and/or piss you off. Seriously. Stuff that I used to love is now on my shit list. Nitrates, nitrites, HFCS, needless preservatives, coloring agents and 'flavoring' agents in spades. Ugh.

3. Almost 100% of 'food' marketed toward children is full of NASTINESS. Brands like Gerber who claim to only have our children's health in mind are trying to pump kids full of sodium, fillers, dyes and preservatives. It is incredibly frustrating to look for fun, good things to interest a toddler in eating only to find things that I wouldn't feed to my worst enemy packaged as 'for kids'.

I have also developed a theory. I cannot be the first person to have thought of this. In fact, I am sure that other mothers have thought something like this, but nobody has said it to me, so I'm gonna pretend that I am the FIRST EVER. Here it is - the bland, pureed, chock full of nastiness formula, jarred baby foods, infant cereals and 'snacks' steer children straight into the arms of the food manufacturers by preparing their palates for the highly processed crap that they want you to buy. Maybe kids 'don't like' vegetables because they never had anything that resembled the tastes and textures of actual food as babies. Infants have ridiculously sensitive noses. Their mouths are blank canvases. If you give them soft, tasteless and full of chemicals, that's all they'll know. If we give them actual flavors and (modified at first) textures, maybe they'll stand a better chance of making the leap to real food without protest.

I am not saying that convenience foods don't have a place in our lives. Lily Ruth eats packaged snacks. I have a door shelf full of fruit and vegetable puree pouches in my refrigerator. I just read the label of every item that I buy. Her snacks are HFCS free, baked and as 'healthy' as I can make them. The purees I give her are 100% fruit and/or vegetables, and are free of preservatives and additives. When we leave the house, I make the time to throw things like fizzy water, cubed cheese, tangerines and shredded chicken into our bag so that we can eat while we're out without resorting to Cheetos (mmmmmmmm, Cheetos), sodas or (GACK!) Lunchables. This allows me to feel like a good mother AND slightly superior to every one else... until we get to the park and I'm the only one in Old Navy instead of Kathleen Sommers... then I'm back to just being an exhausted mom (in sloppy, comfortable clothes) doing the best that I can... who is being ignored by the pack of well-dressed Velociraptors jerks moms over by the big kid swings... I really should stop hanging out in the park near that expensive pre-school...

In closing, I'm trying. I want my daughter to understand what it is to eat well. I want her to know that it is a blessing and a privilege to eat the way that we do. I want the way that we eat to enhance her health. I want our family meals to delight her senses. I want for her to think that fast food is a once-in-a-great-while indulgence, not a way of life.

Oh, and since I'm wishing, I want world peace, whiter teeth, to lose 30 pounds and a new car. Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I really enjoyed our weekend! It started on Friday with Lily Ruth's 'party' at Parent's Day Out. The kiddos wore costumes and parents brought treats and the caregivers made special lunches in the classrooms. Adorable... well, adorable except for what the program director refers to as 'The Annual Torturing of the Children' - also known as picture time:

I only got a few shots before all 3 mamas gave up and got into the picture. Now I just have to remember to ask for copies...

I made a new favorite recipe - Lollipop Cakes! They actually come together very easily, and the recipe multiplies out very easily and tastily. Since I am NOT a great baker, and I needed to make way more of these than the original recipe allows for, both of those things are important. Alright, I'm going to give you the original recipe, then the modified / multiplied version that I have now made twice :-)

The original recipe comes from the 'Bean Appetit' cookbook by Shannon Payette Seip and Kelly Parthen with Carisa Dixon that I acquired on our (AWESOME) trip to Madison Wisconsin. You can see more about them on their Bean Sprouts Cafe website.

Bear with me, This is actually 3 recipes - the Bean Appetit Flour Blend, the Sweet 'Meat' Filling (a.k.a. chocolate cake), and the directions for assembling the Lollipop Cakes.

Bean Appetit Flour Blend

3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups wheat germ
1/2 cup flax meal

combine and store in an airtight container

Sweet 'Meat' Filling

1/4 cup Bean Appetit Flour Blend
1 tsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp milk
1 Tbsp chocolate chips

- preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- combine the flour blend, cocoa powder, brown sugar and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Then add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, water and milk and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
- spray a mini muffin pan and pour in the cake batter. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.

Lollipop Cakes

Serves 4

1 recipe Sweet 'Meat' Filling
3-4 Tbsp milk
4 lollipop sticks
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

- When your cake is cooled, mash it up into little pieces in a bowl. Add the milk until the cake becomes sticky.
- form 1-inch-diameter balls using the sticky cake. Carefully slide a lollipop stick into each ball. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes or until the cake hardens.
- dip each ball into the melted chocolate and decorate it with the sprinkles. Set the cake balls on parchment paper and let them cool for 10 minutes or until the chocolate hardens.

SOOOOOOOOOOOO, here is the expanded version. Remember, I've made it TWICE, so I'm fairly certain that it's not a fluke that it worked... but it might be... bake at your own risk :-P

Makes 24 - 26 Lollipop Cakes:

1 1/2 cup Bean Appetit Flour Blend
6 tsp cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
6 Tbsp olive oil
6 tsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk
1/3 (+ a little bit extra) cup chocolate chips (I used 60%+ dark chocolate morsels)

Modifications to the process:

- Mix the cake in the same order as before. use a full size muffin/cupcake tray (I filled a 12 portion tray). bake approx 25 minutes - start checking for done-ness at 20 minutes.
- Once the cake has cooled, mash and mix in milk in small amounts. you want sticky, but still manageable, not sloppy or runny. I used 9 Tbsp milk.
- Roll the cake mixture into balls, insert the lollipop sticks and freeze (40+ minutes worked best for me)
- I may be skewered by real bakers, but I melted the remainder of the bag of chocolate morsels in the microwave (in a pyrex dish) for 1 minute.
- While the chocolate begins it's melting, bring a small pan of water to boil on the stove (small enough that the dish will sit in it w/o becoming submerged). As soon as boiling begins, turn the heat off, and place the dish of chocolate into the pan. The residual heat from the water will keep the chocolate at the right consistency. If the chocolate becomes too hard, turn the heat on 'low' for a minute or two.
- Sprinkle each lollipop as soon as it has been dipped. If you wait too long, said sprinkles will not stick :-(
- By the way, I tried using 'white chocolate' on a few from the first batch - not fantastic...

So there you have it! Yummmmmmmmm. I know - I love you, too.

Monday, November 1, 2010

So You Think You Want a Baby...

I went through a cycle of Baby Fever recently. I thought I wanted another baby. As it turns out, I am nowhere near ready for another baby. I don't even like most kids who are not Lily Ruth... Oh well. Whilst in the grasp of Baby Fever, I couldn't think of much else beside babies, so I started this post. Since my opinion is paramount (this IS my blog, after all :-P)... and sometimes publishing your moments of folly is just as important as publishing your milestones and proud moments... I'm going to include this post after all.


I asked a lot of questions of my family and friends before I decided that I was ready for a baby. I find that I am asked the same types of questions now that I am a mama. I think I am comfortable with my answers...

I was 'anti-baby' for a lot of years. I wasn't even happy for my friends who decided to have babies! I'm pretty sure that I 'ruined' more than one announcement from a good friend with something along the lines of 'OH, wow. Is this something you really want?!' Then one day, I wanted a baby... or I thought I might... so, 'How do you know if you want a baby?' This was a really tough issue for me. Was it just hormones or biological clock or did I really want a baby? For me, when I thought of having a baby as a positive thing more often than a negative thing, I realized that I was about to be ready for this. The more time that passed, the more positive I was, and then I was ready. Of course, as soon as I decided that I was ready, and we decided to start trying, then I became obsessed - but I think that's pretty typical :-)

The biggest worry for me before Lily Ruth arrived, was 'How do you know you're ready to handle a baby - I mean REALLY handle the day-to-day?' My answer - you just are. It's like any other aspect of life. You make your decision, and you follow through. You decide that you want a baby, then you move forward. The rest is just living. There are days when the baby is crying and you're exhausted and frustrated and freaked out and you may even be thinking 'there is no way I can do this!', but you do. You take a deep breath and you do it. There will be days when that's the best that you can do. There will also be days when that deep breath will lead to some of the most amazing moments in your life.

The thing that my child-less friends ask the most is 'Where does the patience come from?' Let me tell you, this is my biggest struggle every. single. day. I guess my answer is that it is a conscious choice. I am not magically patient because I gave birth. For example: a snapshot from a recent week: a scream-fest (possibly due to teething). On Monday, I had to load my baby in and out of a Mini Cooper (opening and closing the top each time or wrenching my back by loading her in from the driver's side - ugh!) every time we wanted to go somewhere because Daddy needed my car. Lily Ruth accidentally broke my cheap but sentimental Hawai'ian bracelet during a public display of will, and I was so hot that I was sure I was about to melt. I wanted to rant, scream, shake her, and maybe even march her out while holding her arm in an angry manner. But I did not. I squatted down, told her that I loved her, cleaned up my beads, and walked out cuddling my baby. My original reaction wouldn't have accomplished anything positive, and it would have modeled inappropriate behavior for my little sponge. Plus, I love her, why would I want to hurt her? It was a very focused choice to behave positively - and it was a hard one. Do I make the right choice every time? Uh, no, but I think that I'm able to so so more often than not... and more often than I used to. The patience comes because you decide to use it.


So there you have it. Mama Rachel Explains it ALLLLLLL. That's right, I know everything. Ask me a question... no, not that one... pick another one... an easier one...