Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Friday, January 30, 2009

25 Things...You MUST Know About Me! ;)

OK, maybe they aren't things you MUST know.....but here they are regardless.

This has been making its way around Facebook like crazy. I posted this there but thought I would put it on here to share, as well. I would love to read yours....either posted as a comment, emailed to us, or posted on your own blog (comment and leave the link so I can check it out!). Consider yourself "tagged."

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.
  1. I always give more information than most people probably want when writing. I give LOTS of details and run on and on about things. I feel I have to be sure to include every little thing. It's just how I write. Always has been. (See - I'm doing it already!)
  2. One of my proudest accomplishments is graduating from Berea College SUMMA Cum Laude (that's highEST honors) - as a SINGLE MOM. I received one A- and one B. I graduated #3 in my entire graduating class (of the entire school, not just my program). By the way, Berea is not an "easy" school. Ask any of us that went there. That one B I received was from a class I took in Mexico on one of my short term courses at Berea (a month-long class) - totally worth it.
  3. One of the most frustrating things to me is knowing that I am intelligent (see #2), knowing that I have my Masters degree, and having NO IDEA what I want to do "when I grow up." I feel like I'm wasting my intelligence, esp when what I really enjoy is being around little babies - esp my own (so I LOVE being a stay-at-home mom...and I guess I'm pretty qualified having a degree in Psychology and my Master's in Social Work...)
  4. I love photography. I think I am decent but really want to get better and be a REAL photographer. I would actually go back to school for this. In a heartbeat.
  5. I have the hardest time telling left from right. No kidding. I even do the thing where you hold your fingers up and your thumb out - the one that makes the "L" is the left, and I still have to take time to think about that! Because of this I suck at directions. Really suck at it.
  6. Because of the directions issue, I get very anxious when driving somewhere new or somewhere with lots of traffic where I have to figure out turns, etc (hate places with one-way streets). When I say anxious, I mean anxious in am almost-clinical sense. I can freak out about it very easily. I'm working on this.......
  7. I DO want to have a daughter one day, but not for the reason most people assume. Yeah, it might be fun to have a little baby girl, dress her up, etc. That's not what I care about. I want that adult mother/daughter relationship, like I have with my mom. It's amazingly special and just isn't the same with moms and sons. There are some things that make moms and daughters so close as adults. But I do love my boys more than anything in this world! I would be happy with all boys.
  8. My first son was 11lbs at birth. I did go through back labor and more than two hours of pushing - with NO MEDS b/c I went into labor too quickly. They finally realized his head would not fit through and did an emergency c-section. I love seeing the look on people's faces when they realize someone as small as me had a baby that size - and Camden loves telling it, too! (When the nurse told me Aiden was 8.11, I said "That's ALL?!" - We all expected larger!)
  9. I love to cross-stitch. But I haven't been able to do it in ages. Time issues.
  10. I cannot stand it when people misspell "definitely." There is no "a" in that word, people!
  11. I am horrible when it comes to small talk. Absolutely horrible. I think it's partly b/c I am very shy. Some people think I am stuck-up, but I assure you, it's me being shy.
  12. I research every little thing in more detail than probably necessary. Almost any purchase, decision, etc.. I always go into something knowing exactly why/why not I am/am not doing it.
  13. I suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum - SEVERE nausea/vomiting during pregnancy. Without meds, I would have been hospitalized in no time b/c I couldn't eat any type of food or even keep a sip of ginger ale down. When preggo with Camden, it lasted through the fifth month, with Aiden, I took medication around the clock until I went in for surgery to deliver him. I skipped the meds once on accident during my ninth month of pregnancy - and was sick as a dog until I realized why and the meds kicked in. Even with the problems I have with pregnancy (sickness, the joint problems - which were really bad this time around, the placenta problems, etc), I LOVE being pregnant. It's one of the most amazing things ever to experience, and I miss it.
  14. I feel like I was born to be a mom. It comes so naturally to me. I had my first child at 19, and even then I felt completely comfortable and competent as a new mom.
  15. It really angers me that people make assumptions when they find out I was so young when I got pregnant the first time. And then when they make assumptions about the fact that I married Camden's father only to get divorced less than three years later. Trust me, you most likely do NOT know what I've been through and you shouldn't judge me based on the fact that I was a "teen mom" or that I've been through a divorce. There is way more to the story and I've been through much more (and worse) than what most think.
  16. I have suffered from insomnia my entire life (as in since I was a baby - just ask my mom!). I have been to doctors who actually told me (after trying multiple drugs, different dosages, etc, etc) that they couldn't help me sleep. It's been a life-long struggle. I can't nap, either. I need LOTS of sleep (as in nine or more hours) and I love sleep, but I hate going to sleep b/c it is just so hard. And then I impossible to wake up. I finally found one medicine that helps me, but I won't take it while nursing.
  17. Ryan and I have been accused of being "too polite" to one another. (How is that a problem??)
  18. The one job I have loved more than anything (other than being a mom!) is being the head teacher in a nursery (ages 6mos - 1 year). That is a wonderful age, where they are learning to do so much!! I know I am good with babies, with their parents, and I just loved it. I was there for two years, made absolutely no money, and I would do it again with no hesitation. It's sad that people look down on that kind of job. It's very rewarding.
  19. For about seven years, I suffered from terrible joint pain in my knees and wrists. I have been diagnosed with several different things and have been tested for so many things with various specialists - that were all wrong, of course. For years, I had to sleep with wrist guards - and wore them often during the day, too. The pain spread to my ankles in the last year of it all. I knew I could not have THREE separate things going on. When the pain got so bad that I could not sit, type, stand, or do basically anything for more than five minutes without wanting to scream or cry, I did what we all do - called my mom and begged for some advice. She has severe food allergies and suggested it could be an allergy but warned it might take a while to find out. I went off wheat and within ONE DAY the pain was completely gone. My doctors and rheumatologist agreed that must be it - a wheat intolerance. I have been pain-free for just over a year now. I do eat wheat again, but I had a bread-intolerance while pregnant, so I hardly . They think I have a tolerance level that I will have to build up to before the pain returns. We'll see what it is.
  20. I am very empathetic, maybe too much. I can feel what others are going through very easily. If I see someone crying, I will cry, too. But then again, I cry over just about anything - good, bad, sad. It can be a commercial on tv, knowing someone else is hurt, or just seeing someone else crying (even someone I don't know...).
  21. I like red wine (not white), fruity cocktails, and bud light. In moderation, of course. (There is just no need to get smashed all the time.) I haven't had a drop of anything since we were trying to get preggo - so, in about 13 months. I hate margaritas - actually, it's the tequila I hate. I think it's gross.
  22. I had hoped to meet some really close girlfriends here in NC, but it hasn't really happened the way I wanted so far. I really miss my girlfriends from back home and having those kind of really close relationships.
  23. My eyes adjust really quickly to sudden darkness/brightness.
  24. I grew up helping on the farms of both my sets of grandparents. I have helped with tobacco and gathering/milking cows a lot. Being the oldest girl in my generation, I was always the one in charge of all the other kids, along with doing the farm help. I have great memories of working and playing on the farms.
  25. I am really indecisive. Once when taking some questionnaire that asked if I was indecisive, I asked Ryan b/c I couldn't decide... I think I answered my own question.
  26. I have made many mistakes in my life but have few regrets. Those mistakes have led me to where I am now, who I am with now, what I know now, and who I am. Without them, life would not be what it is, so I am appreciative of what my mistakes have done for me.
  27. I am proud to say that almost everything we eat in my home is homemade. I grew up eating that way and that's how I do it (thank you, Mom!!!). I will NOT allow frozen premade things such as biscuits, rolls, or many other things in my home. There are a few convenience foods I will get, but I always do something to make them more "homemade" (i.e. spaghetti sauce that I add lots of veggies and other things, etc).
  28. I don't like when people assume they know anything about me just b/c they know I am a Christian. People have such strong ideas about what that means, but it's different for so many. You can assume I believe in God, that I love Jesus, that I try to be a decent and loving person, but that's about it. Don't assume you know what I think is "right" or "wrong" b/c that's not what it's about for me. Feel free to ask me what it means - and what it does NOT mean to me. I'm pretty open about it.
  29. I had always planned on publishing a book of my own poetry that included poems I wrote from middle school up until the present (whenever the book was published). I haven't written a poem in years, though. On my wedding programs, the poem on the front was a poem I wrote for Ryan. It's obviously a favorite and one that I thought was good (seeing how I let everyone at the wedding read it on the program...)
  30. The clothes in my closet (and Camden's) are color-coordinated (think ROY-G-BIV).
  31. When I was really young (2 or 3), I locked myself in a bathroom with scissors and a kewpie doll (google it) so I could cut my hair like the doll, which basically meant I cut all my hair off. I think I did this again later on...
  32. I like to be rebelious and break rules - the ones I know I can break and get away with it. I am a stickler about following important ones, but others are different. Tell me I have to do it one way or can't do something - and I might be out to prove you "can't make me" (right, Mom?) ;) I'm careful about which rules I break, though. (Like doing more than 25 random facts here...) Ryan says that I am doing more than 25 b/c I'm an overachiever. He's kind of right. I always do more.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter in West Virginia

We had to make a quick trip up to WV this week. Ryan's Granny passed away on Sunday, so we are here for the funeral and to be with family. We appreciate all of you that know about this and have sent your well-wishes, your condolences, and your cautions for us to be careful on the drive up (as we knew the weather was getting bad right at the same time).

Apparently the snow thought it would join us all, as well. It's been pretty bad, but there are areas in worse shape. Lots of power outages, ice, snow, sleet - you name it. Ryan and I put Aiden down for a nap and then heard this loud noise... A tree behind the house had fallen. Ryan went to check it out, I moved Aiden (who was falling asleep) to the couch in another room - the tree fell and landed right in front of that part of the house, and it's on a steep hill....and it's a BIG tree. Here are some pictures of what caused all the excitement.

The middle of the tree and the broken fence

The bottom and roots of the tree

The top of the tree, which is barely touching the house (windows farthest away are from the room Aiden was in)

Just another view of some trees

Aiden did fall asleep on the couch for a short nap

We'll see what the rest of the day, night, and tomorrow brings. Hopefully things will improve a bit, as tomorrow is the funeral.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Baking For Baby

So, maybe you noticed in one of my latest posts that I mentioned we MADE Aiden's rice cereal. Made? Yep. We're making his baby food. Why? Well, why not?

I have discovered it is SUPER easy, and there are many other reasons.
  • I know it is fresh (fresher than jars that have been on the shelf for possibly up to a couple years...seriously. Would you want to buy that jar if you knew it might be a few years old?)
  • I know exactly what is in it (just the food itself, nothing added or removed, except maybe some breastmilk to thin it out, if needed)
  • it's cheaper than baby food that you buy already made
  • it tastes a heck of a lot better than jarred baby food (it tastes like REAL food, even something WE would eat - but that's because it is)
  • it is more nutritional than jarred baby food (when making jarred, they have to heat it so much that nutrients are lost - they add some to make up for it, but it's just not the same. They also add water, sugar, starches, etc to some foods, which can dilute the nutritional value - not too cool)
  • no additives in my own food but there is in jarred, and I am using some organic foods to make mine that much better
  • more variety - I can feed him just about anything we can think of (paying attention to what foods should be given at later times, of course)
  • and plus, it's very rewarding making the food that my baby is eating, just like it is when I cook for my whole family.
These are just a few reasons. :) Now, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with buying jarred food, if that is the route you choose to go. I'm sure there will be a few situations where we will buy a few jars when the situation calls for it. This is what we have decided to do in our family, though, and we see the benefits as outweighing the ease of grabbing a jar that we purchased. Actually, we think this is just as easy. When we shop, we just pick up some fresh foods to make the food. I steam it or cook it in a way that preserves most of the nutrients, puree it (some I keep mashed or even cut into chunks for later on), and freeze it in small amounts. Then when he is ready, we just take out one cube, thaw it, mix in some breastmilk if needed, and he eats. :)

So far, I have pumpkin (yes, pumpkin!! that's what is in the pics above) and butternut squash in the freezer. And in the fridge, I have yellow squash, zucchini, acorn squash, sweet potatoes and avacado ready to fix for him. The list of things in my head to make is just getting longer and longer! It's actually a lot of fun!

Here is Aiden enjoying some pumpkin puree. I'm showing all to show his reaction as he gets that first taste...

Open wide!!

Looking up at Daddy...

Mmmmm...this stuff is good!

Gimme, Gimme!

He really liked the pumpkin!

He's eyeing the spout on the sippy cup. He already knows that's where the good stuff comes out.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tax Time!!!

We just wanted to let you all know out about Ryan's new business venture. He has decided to do some personal tax work on the side to earn a little extra income. He actually already has two people here in Cary that have asked him to prepare their returns. Even if you don't live in NC, he can still prepare your return as long as you don't mind mailing your documents (W-2's, prior tax returns, etc.). So, if you are interested or know anyone who might be looking for someone to prepare their taxes, please let us know. The amount he charges will be based on the complexity of the return (but will be priced lower than if you were to take them someplace else).

In case you're wondering (for those of you that might not know), Ryan officially become a CPA last year and he has worked in the public accounting sector for four years doing PLENTY of taxes. So he does have the experience and know-how. :)

If you are interested, you can email us at daisyryan.adkins (at) gmail (dot) com or simply leave a comment on here with your info (we won't publish it but will just use it to get the info and will then contact you).

Please pass on this info to anyone you think might be interested! We're trying to spread the word and get this rolling! Wouldn't you like to one day say you helped him get his own business up and off the ground??

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's this thing called "parenting"...

Video of the day

One more reason to watch your children closely.

Can you believe how calm this lady was? Or at least appeared to be (granted there is no sound, but she sure looks calm).

And notice the girl gets to keep the stuffed animal.....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

WHAT a Day!!

Today was a big day all around!

First, we get a new president! Whoo-hoo! We're pretty excited about Obama being the president, about him being the very first African American president, about our boys being able to witness this (and help vote for it - shh!), and well, just all of it. We even had the tv on when Aiden was around so we could watch all the inaugural events (we don't let him watch tv - yes, we're on the "it's bad for babies" side of that argument). Even Aiden seemed to think it was something to be excited about. ;)

Then, we had a SNOW day!! Last night, they were predicting 2-4 inches of snow and called off school "due to pending inclement weather." We laughed it off - b/c the only times it has snowed here, it has been so little...just a dusting. And they called off school then. But this time? We got more than the 4 inches! I was up to feed Aiden at 4:30, and the ground was already well-covered with snow. The kids around here had a blast playing and even "sledding" (most of us used boogie boards!!) on the hill outside our door. It was Aiden's first time seeing snow, as well. He didn't seem to care one way or the other, but we got pictures of him all bundled up out in the snow anyway!

Here are a few pics from the day:

SNOW in North Carolina

THEN, we decided that we would continue our celebration of the new president by giving Aiden his first solid food. That doesn't sound right... Well, we've been watching him, and we could tell he was ready, so we've really just been trying to decide which day to give him the first bite. So we figured, why not today?! It is a pretty great day, after all. I had ground up some rice (organic brown rice, of course) earlier last week, so I cooked up a little rice cereal for him, and he ate a few bites. He didn't seem too excited or upset. He's lukewarm about a lot of things, it seems (such as the snow...). He seemed to like it ok, though.

There are pics of that in this album:

2009 January

Tomorrow is another day off of school "due to anticipated hazardous road conditions." I'm not making fun this time, though. It will be pretty icy, and they aren't prepared for those conditions here. Ryan was off today after they told him to stay at home, but he has to use vacation days for things like this (ugh!), so he's planning on going in tomorrow... Hopefully the roads won't be that bad after all. (Crossing fingers!) And Camden's friend, Hannah, will be spending the day with us, so stay tuned for more pics of them out in the snow!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Moving to Haiti

No, not us. Some friends of ours are moving there, though - and very soon! The Mangines are a family of five that are moving to Haiti in May to open the second family home at the Haitian Children's Home. We are partnering with them to help raise funds. And you get to help!!

We're having an online "Silpada For Haiti" Party!! All you have to do is check out the online catalog, place your order, receive your fabulous jewelry, and know that a portion of the proceeds are going to this cause. Here are the details...

View the catalog here: http://mysilpada.com/sites/daisy.adkins
Email me with any orders/questions/etc: daisy (dot) adkins (at) gmail (dot) com (replace "dot" with the dot, and "at" with @ - typing this way helps keep spammers away...)

I am giving 15% of each sale to the cause - and 20% of each order that is over $100.

There is a lifetime guarantee on all the jewelry. It is of the highest quality - .925 sterling silver. Items are hand-crafted. And beautiful!!!

Party is going to be open until: February 5
All orders will be submitted that day.

You can also fill out a wish list and email it to me, and I can email it to your sweetie... Valentine's Day is soon!

This offer also applies to orders for gift certificates! Again, think Valentine's...

I accept cash, check, and credit cards. (Cash/check needs to be received in advance.)


Now, here are some details on the Haiti move and what the Mangine family is doing. This is info from the family themselves:

In May of 2009, we are planning a move to the southern coast of Haiti where we will open the second family home at the Haitian Children's Home. Once there, we will open our home and our family to 20 orphaned and abandoned children. We will accept them and care for them and give them the opportunity to grow up in a secure, stable environment with access to opportunities EVERY child should be afforded—food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education, and, of course, love.

The Haitian Children's Home is a non-profit, 5019(c)3 organization that basically exists to build Haitian families. The primary way we do this is by raising orphaned and abandoned Haitian children. We currently have 21 children that we are raising and that number will double once Nick and I move here. Children are raised in a Haitian lifestyle-- we hire Haitian nannies, they go to Haitian school, Haitian church, etc. Creole (the colloquial language in Haiti) is spoken exclusively in the home. It is not an adoption orphanage. Our goal is to raise these children until they are ready to be productive members of society-- whatever that means for them.

-We are the only "orphanage" (I use this word lightly because we prefer to call it a family-- since that's what it is) in this region of Haiti (the Sudest) that accepts children over the age of 5.

- We accept children between the ages of 6-12 and they will stay with us until they are ready/old enough to enter society. Most of our kids will not have had any access to education before coming into the home. Therefore, most of them will not finish school (high school) until their mid-20's.

- We also have a scholarship program that helps local street children attend school.

- We have a medical fund that covers medical costs for locals who cannot afford medical care. We also do at least two medical missions each year as an outreach to the community.

- We've done extensive storm relief in 07&08 during and after active hurricane seasons.

Here are a few sobering facts about Haiti:

-Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
- 80% of people in Haiti live below the poverty line.
- 2/3 of people in Haiti are unemployed.
- The average life expectancy in Haiti is 52-- in the US (less that 700 miles away) it is 77.
- 15% of children in Haiti are orphaned or abandoned.
-10% of children will die before the age of 4.
- 7% of children are slaves.


Now, how can you not want to help with a cause like this?? These are awesome people on an awesome mission. For more info on their story, visit their website: http://www.haitianchildrenshome.org/mangine/

And if you decide not to support them by purchasing Silpada products, there are other ways! Check the website above to discover other ways to support them.

Happy Silpada-ing!!

Private Practice

Do any of you watch this show? I blame Ryan. Really. He had it on a couple times, and we've been watching it since (for the past month maybe?).

So, the last week's show was a little controversial, to say the least. I was kind of surprised they went there. It was about vaccinations. They had a parent that vaccinated one child, that child ended up being autistic, and she refused the vaccinate the younger two. Then the middle one got the measles and actually died. She still refused to vaccinate the youngest, and in the end, the dr just did it (after the other child passed away). It was well played out with the actors. I mean this in the sense that they didn't treat the issue as being one where the mother was irrationally overprotective. She was clearly doing what she thought was best for her children. But I was still surprised with how they did it and with the end result of the dr simply taking over and vaccinating the child without consent. I wonder how many watchers they lost after airing this episode.

But that's not why I'm posting about the show. No, the reason was this week's show. This time around, there was a single father and two young children, all with cystic fibrosis. The older child had some infection and was going to die. The father could not be with her, or else he would die, as well. So he basically had to choose - die with the daughter or live with the son, who was maybe 2 years old. They had no other family around, just the three of them. The daughter would cry for her father to be with her, and for most of the show, he held his son as they watched her through a glass wall. In the end, he handed the boy over to the dr and went in to be with the daughter, knowing he was leaving his son alone. In essence, he was abandoning him. The son reached out to the father, crying for him as dad went in to hug and hold his daughter, never to return to the son.

This had me upset all night long. It was all I could think about. Yes, this is just a show. I'm aware of that. But I'm sure similar situations have been a reality for a number of parents. It's never fun to have to choose between your chidren, but when it is really a matter of life or death and you have to choose to die with one and abandon the other or live with one and let the other die alone...that's devestating.

I have to disagree with the choice he made, though. While it would be incredibly difficult to watch one child die while you can't be near her, the other child has his whole life to live with your choice. If you spend those last days/hours/minutes with the dying child and die with her, the other child will spend his entire life dealing with the effects of that decision. How impossible would that be? I can see this being played out years later and the child becoming an adult and still having to deal with this. (The social worker/psychologist in me, perhaps?) I'm not going to go on and on and on about all of my feelings about this topic. I know it would be an impossible decision. But I spent a LOT of time thinking on this after watching this show (and being somewhat angry about it, too). I'm sure that while going through something like this, it would be nearly impossible to think past the moment. Like someone on the show said, the father was dealing with the possibility of his son living but the reality of his daughter dying. What was happening at that very moment was right in front of his eyes, while the other part of the equation was abstract.

So, I'm curious. What do some of my readers (however many of you there are) think about this. Or do you even want to go there? Well, really - who does!?! That's a ridiculous question.

I found out you can actually vote for which decision you believe would be the better one here. Apparently, it's about half and half right now. Just 52% think the character should have stayed with his son to care for him. But like I said, it's an impossible situation. Pretty much lose-lose.

I'm ready for a more light-hearted episode, I do believe.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Aiden's Newest Quirks

Aiden has a couple new things going on lately. One is just as sweet as could be. The other - well, not so much. We'll start with the other so that we can end on the sweet note!

Aiden LOVES to put things in his mouth. Um, hello - he's a baby. Of course he does. What he does NOT love is things that will not go in his mouth. What he especially does not love is things that he can't even get free to attempt to put in his mouth. For example, for Christmas he got this cute little toy that suctions to the high chair. He really likes it. It has things that spin and makes noises. Really likes it. But what he really wants is to get it free, off of the high chair, and into his mouth. If it is suctioned to the tray, he will pull, pull, and then get MAD when it doesn't come off. If we get up to take it off and hand to him, well, he's usually past mad and just wants nothing to do with it by then. And then the toy isn't really conducive to putting in his mouth b/c of its size and how it's made. So, there's just one more thing to make him mad. Another example, on his activity jumper, you can hang toys for him to reach and pull, which we do, and he reaches and pulls. But those toys do not come OFF when he pulls. And this he does NOT like. Again, he gets downright mad. And it doesn't take long.

Hmmmm...wonder if this is my impatience shining through in him. But then again, Ryan is impatient, too. We're just impatient about completely different things and at different times (which actually can be quite helpful - as well as quite annoying). So, who knows. Another then again - most people aren't that patient. So, this isn't really a "where did he get that from" kind of quality. He's starting to realize what he WANTS to do with things and is getting very frustrated when he can't do them. I get that. That kind of thing frustrates me, too.

Ok, now for the "sweet as can be" thing. When I am nursing Aiden, his new thing is to reach his free hand up to my face and touch my lips. He does this just about all the time now. I'll kiss his fingertips, and he just keeps them there for me to keep kissing (which, of course, I do). Sometimes he'll touch my nose or my cheek, but it's mostly just my lips. A couple times he has grabbed the lips (it's a good way to know when he needs his finger nails trimmed - REALLY). But when he is touching me gently, I quietly say "gentle, gentle" - and he's been doing that more. The grabbing happened when he first started this. So, I think he's getting that he needs to be gentle. What is so sweet - apart from the fact that it is happening period - is that he does this for the longest times! His poor arm has got to be tired after a while, but he doesn't act like it. He's holding it straight up, barely able to reach my face. AND he does it when he's already tired. At night, during his bedtime feeding, he will be falling asleep and will STILL hold his hand up to my lips. I love it! (Obviously he does, too.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Baking Up Goodness!!

Yes, this is the third post today. It seems that I only get to post every week or so these days, yet my mind doesn't stop and there are many blog posts that get stored in my mind.

I've been baking a lot lately - or cooking, making things in some way. And posting about it on here. Before, I was tempted to keep my secrets to myself, but I've been sharing more these days, too. I hope you like my posts about the recipes I've been trying out (b/c there will be more and more!), and feel free to share any of your favorites. Also, let me know if you try any of the ones I post about and tell me how you liked it!

(PS - I still am not giving out my peanut butter fudge recipe. That's a signature dish of mine. Sorry - can't have it! Well, no, I'm really not sorry. You just can't have it. Few people have gotten it out of me, and it's only been for special occasions!)

So - my latest was bread. Ryan asked why I needed to make bread. He thought it was a little silly and superfluous, I think. Well, after last night, he's not thinking that anymore! This bread was delicious and easy. I did have to make the starter the night before and take various steps the day of making it, letting it rise for a couple hours between each step. But since I stay at home and was home for the day, it wasn't that bad. Aiden enjoyed watching me go through some of the steps, too (each only took a little while when I actually had to DO something with the bread). If you work away from home, this is probably better as a weekend recipe.

Here are a couple pictures. Pictures of the dough before/after it's risen aren't that exciting, but the pictures of the finished product sure are! (I think so, at least...)

First...a little help from my friends.

My KitchenAid mixer is a long-time friend of mine. I couldn't live without this thing!! Plus, it was a treat I saved up for when I was a single-mom in college, so it means that much more to me personally. A friend recently asked what I actually use it for b/c she couldn't think of what she would need it for to make it worth the cost. I wanted to laugh b/c it is indispensable to me!!

My newest kitchen friend is our new Cuisinart 11-cup food processor. We're going to use it to help make baby food for Aiden soon, but so far it has been a great help with shredding cheese, esp for this bread. (And yes, that is a tv in my kitchen... The tiny apartment kitchen does not lend itself to having a room full of people, so cooking can get either very crowded or lonely in there. It's nice to have something on while baking at times when I am in the kitchen for an hour or more.)

And the moment you have all been waiting for (or wondering about - since I'm posting about BREAD of all things here...).


Yes, this came out of MY oven. Four of these, actually. And they were quite yummy.

The original recipe calls for Gruyere cheese. We used good 'ol cheddar - because that's what we like. It was fabulous. Not sure which kind of cheese I'll try next. The recipe is also called Gruyere-Stuffed Crusty Loaves. I told Camden I was making "volcano" bread (the cheese melts out of the bread like lava). Because then he was more excited and thought they were really cool. Call them what you like. They are simply GOOD.

Here is the recipe.
And the bakers blog with details, tips, pictures, etc.
This blog is worth subscribing to via Google Reader or whatever you use.
By the way, Google Reader is an excellent way of keeping up with my blog, too, ya know. ;) wink, wink. (You can also subscribe to my blog by clicking the "subscribe" button on the side of my blog page - or click to "follow" my blog if you are a fellow blogster, also somewhere on the side there.)

I subscribe to this blog AND get their email Newsletters. I have a bunch of printed recipes from them wanting and waiting to be tried!!

Our sick household...

So, this past week has been quite a week. All of our plans had to change when just about everybody got sick... First, Aiden was going to get shots on Wed, but instead, he got a cold (which means no shots until next week) and Camden ended up taking the dr appt in his place. Camden complained Tuesday of pain in his ear from time to time, along with fuzzy hearing. And he said there was a strange feeling that afternoon before it started hurting, along with a feeling of "bubbles." Ear infection immediately came to mind. So, to the dr we went.

Turns out, he HAD an ear infection. What happened on Tuesday was a rupture, so there is blood and pus in the ear. If the one round of antibiotics doesn't clear it up, the dr is sending us to an ENT for other measures. The strange thing is, he never had any pain or any other symptoms up until the rupture. I didn't know that was possible. But apparently it's rather serious, and the dr was really surprised when she looked in his ear (I was, too!!!). The pain is a little better now, but he says his hearing still isn't up to par. So, we'll see when we go back next week. (Where we will also get Aiden's shots at the same time.)

Then Aiden... he had a couple sneezes Tuesday, but that night, it kicked into full gear. He was so congested that a raised mattress wasn't helping, and I ended up sleeping in his glider, reclined, with him leaning back up against me - just so he could breathe. About 3am, we moved to the couch so I could stretch my legs out more. He slept much better - me, not so much. But it helped. He's been better with congestion but coughing more. And last night, the coughing was so bad, that about 1am, I got up and to the couch we went. Again, he slept much better. I hardly slept at all. Doesn't help that now MY throat is sore... Oh, the joys of a sick household. And being a parent that can't just "take off." That's life, huh?

Kind of like I told Ryan... When he complained after hearing Aiden fuss when I tried to suction out his nose. "Welcome to parenting. Where you do what needs to be done even if the child (or in some cases, the parent!) doesn't like it." Normally, Aiden is fine with the suction thingy. Now, after this last cold, he sees it and immediately gets angry with me and starts flailing his hands to block it and shakes his head. We just ordered a different one that promises to clean out the nose better without all the problems. We'll see how it works! (Of course, it won't be here until after he's well, most likely, but maybe next time... I'm HOPING he's still not sick by then, at least. )

Also, Ryan started coughing yesterday. He says he's not sick, though. It's "just a cough." Ha.

FIVE Months!

Aiden turned five months old this week, on Tuesday. This past month was full of excitement and new experiences for Aiden.

He traveled all around for Christmas and met so many new family members for the first time - and some new friends, as well. We had his baby dedication at church. He found out what fun his activity jumper is and now loves bouncing around in it. He now rolls from his back to his belly on purpose. It's almost like he can't help but roll over as soon as you put him down - and sometimes he even gets frustrated b/c he didn't WANT to roll over and stay that way (and he can't go from belly to back yet). He can "cuddle" with us now - when we pick him up, he'll push his cheek or forehead (or some part of his face) into our faces. It's adorable!! He learned to do the little "Indian call" (where you put your hand to his mouth and pat it and he says "ahhhh" - it's too cute!). He also got his first tooth!! (And the second one showed up two days after he turned five months!) It really does seem that there is never a day where he doesn't learn something new! It is so amazing.

Aiden slowed down his growth between three and four months, but he picked it right back up these last four weeks. He weighs in at 16lbs, 7oz and is 25 1/2 inches long. He grew over an extra pound and an inch this month.

Here are a bunch of pictures. I couldn't just pick one or two, so you get to see extra. :) See all that drool? I took the bib off RIGHT before taking the pictures, and he was drenched from drool within seconds. (We realized not long ago that you really can never have too many bibs... Really.)

What a happy baby boy we have!!!

He is ALWAYS going after those toes!
You can't sit him down without him reaching for them.

Just chillin...

Sunday, January 4, 2009


As I mentioned in the Christmas post, Aiden got his first tooth!! It popped through last Monday, 12-29-08. It's pretty early, I suppose - coming in when he is just 4 1/2 months. He started teething just before he turned three months. And the next tooth is soon to follow. It really is just on the verge of popping through.

With the first one, Aiden was the most pleasant teether!! The "worst" part (if you can call it that!) of it was all the drool and trying to keep his "drool rash" from getting out of hand. And the constant chewing on things. He would get frustrated from time to time when something wouldn't go in his mouth the exact way he wanted. BUT - that's really been the worst of it. We wouldn't have known it was even through if I hadn't been constantly checking it with my own finger! He's been having fun chewing on his own finger now that the tooth is through. I'm sure he is wondering what that new feeling is all about!!

Here are the first pictures of the first tooth. Let me tell you - this was a hard picture to get!! And even though Ryan tried to remind me that we don't have to get EVERY milestone on camera (to which I reminded him that I did so - and I am pretty sure the grandparents would agree and appreciate it!), we did end up getting it, and we managed to without making Aiden upset in the process. :) So, here it is:

Letting Mommy get a picture of that new tooth!

Zoomed in - that little line (his bottom, front, right) is the tooth. Can you see it? You may be able to tell that the one next to it is very, very close!

Now this next one... He hasn't been fussy. But he has been a little out of sorts, though it could have nothing to do with the tooth. Some meals he doesn't eat as much as normal, the other day he took longer to fall asleep for his naps. But he often gets distracted when nursing and stops early. And he wasn't fussy at those nap times - he was realizing he could roll around in his crib, talk to himself, and play instead of falling asleep. So - who knows. He's been a bit quieter the past couple days, so that could be part of it or not. Either way - this is far from being fussy. He really is just an easy baby for the most part. We have nothing to complain about! Even when he has nights where he wakes up every two hours to nurse - or like last night, where he woke up for an hour and a half in the middle of the night and thought it was playtime... That's still nothing to complain about, as good as he is! So, we won't.

Hopefully the rest of the teeth will come in so easily. (I'm doubtful that the molars would...) Either way, we do not take for granted how easy this first one has been! I've been through another child teething and worked with MANY teething babies (MANY!!). I know what it can be like... So, I'm remembering not to take this for granted! ;)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Another Yummy Recipe - Spiced Pecans!!!

I'm on facebook (who isn't these days, right? well...if you're not, you kind of should be! and be sure to add me as a friend once you get on there!), and I'm part a group that a friend created for those of us that love to bake (that friend being the one that gave out the recipe for the Red Velvet Bon Bons). Someone posted the recipe for those yummy spiced pecans/almonds. You know, the ones that they sell around Christmastime at the mall - you can smell them as you walk around and almost can't help but buy some of them, even though they are ridiculously overpriced. Well, now you can smell them cooking in your own kitchen. And they are far from overpriced. And very, very easy!! You probably have all the ingredients already. I just had to restock on pecans, which I usually have.

Spiced Pecans/Almonds

1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 T water
1 t vanilla
3 c pecan halves (or almonds)
1/2 c white sugar
1/4 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil sprayed lightly with cooking oil.
2. In a small bowl, beat the egg white with the water and vanilla. Stir in the pecans, mixing until well moistened.
3. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the moistened nuts, toss to coat evenly. Spread nuts on prepared pan.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook and burn the nuts. If using almonds, cook an extra 10-15 minutes until crisp.

Ok - so here's my experience. First, I used a silicon exopat baking mat instead of foil. If you don't have a couple of these babies, you are missing out. They're inexpensive and indispensable!! And I always use really good quality vanilla - another must, in my opinion. Most of what I use, I got in Mexico when I went a while back (I stocked up!!) b/c I've been told the kind I got is one of the best. But I got some bourbon vanilla at Trader Joe's recently, and that's what I used with these. Good stuff. Also, when mixing the liquid ingredients with the pecans, I used a mixing bowl with a lid, popped the lid on, and just shook it around. Did the same thing when I added the sugar mixture. Made it easier - an a bit more fun, too. ;)

The wet mixture after shaking in the bowl

On the exopat mat, ready to go in the oven!!

These things are just too easy to make!! You will never be tempted to buy them at the mall again. They really are RIDICULOUSLY overpriced, esp with them being so easy to bake up. I want to try them with walnuts to kick up the healthy part next time.

They taste even better than they look!! I need to give some away quickly before I eat them all.

Thanks for the recipe, Carrie!!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009


First off, Happy New Year!! We spent ours in our own living room. Actually, Camden and I baked up some brownies while we enjoyed our new Wii Fit - that's a little contradictory, isn't it? Brownies and the Wii Fit at the same time?? Ha. Then we parked ourselves on the couch to watch a movie that ended just in time to watch the ball drop. And we toasted with sparkling Pomegranate juice from Trader Joe's (which was very yummy and made this breastfeeding-and-unable-to-drink-wine-or-champagne mommy pretty happy). Actually, Ryan was working until after midnight, but that's another story for another time. And I have no qualms about it b/c he's basically my hero. And we're not huge New Year's partiers anyway.

Ok, now... It's a new year, and this is when many people thing "new start," too, right? You get out some paper and write down your New Year's Resolutions. Right? Good for you. I gave up on that quite a few years ago. Like most people, they were usually broken or forgotten before February arrived. And they usually are things centered on health or relationships or whatever. Well, I would rather not try to force myself to suddenly change my habits just b/c it's a "new" year. Not that I think it's wrong to have resolutions. If that's your thing, that's cool. It's just not mine.

There are some things I would like to do differently this year, though. They just aren't "resolutions" - rather, they are things I am thinking about and hoping to work on throughout the coming months/years/etc. Not things I expect to change cold-turkey. So, with that in mind, here is what I would like to do differently....

I would like to stop wasting my energy on people that aren't willing to waste their energy on me. There's a nice one, huh? For those people that I try to make plans with or I email, call, write, etc and they never reciprocate or follow through...why should I keep trying so hard? If it's not important to you, it really shouldn't be so for me. It's a waste of my energy, and I'm sure I can find somewhere more useful to put it. For those people that we try to pretend we are friends but we really have so little in common - or so much in opposition, I guess I should say - what is the point? I wonder sometimes. Some people I have tried to get along with b/c I feel like I should for various reasons. But really, it's just an emotional drain on me. You don't care. Maybe God isn't calling me to befriend you after all, for your sake or for mine. It's just frustrating. And I should be spending my energy on people who do care or who lift me up, not the opposite.

Do I sound bitter here at all? I hope not. If so, I really don't mean to. Just trying to be straightforward. I feel that I easily waste so much time on people that aren't going to do the same. I've tried to be a support for others that really won't do the same for me. I've tried to justify myself to people that don't agree with things I do. And why? I know plenty other people that WILL support me and that ARE like-minded. I need to focus more on those friendships and not worry about the others. I would rather spend my energy being grateful for those people than frustrated by others. By the way, if you're wondering if you are one of those people....if you are bothering to spend time reading my blog, chances are, you're not. And chances are, if you are one of those people, you either don't care or are too (I'm drawing a blank on finding just the right word here...) to realize it.

One thing I would really love to be able to do is start waking up earlier... As an insomniac, that is something I have struggled with my entire life. No kidding. Ask my mother. Ask my husband. Ask my son (sad, huh?). I have always had such a difficult time going to sleep, yet I need a lot of it. Then I sleep in. And a terrible cycle has been created that I have a hard time breaking. I constantly say I'm going to start getting up earlier (so I can go to sleep earlier and continue in a better cycle), but it never happens. I LOVE sleep, and in the mornings, the motivation to get up is bettered by my motivation to get just a little more shut-eye - even if that means I have no time to fix my hair the way I want and spend the day wishing I had or I just feel crappy b/c I, once again, have slept in, etc, etc. I've taken medications to help me sleep - even found one that really helps, but I can't take it while nursing, and don't really want to take it while I have a baby sleeping in my home even if I wasn't nursing. But I would really like to break this cycle and learn to get out of bed earlier. I would love to be one of those moms that is up early enough to have breakfast with her child before he runs off to school. Ryan is the one that gets Camden on the bus these days while I sleep in with the baby. He will excuse things away for me (you just had a baby - you need the rest). While the excuses are often very valid, they're still excuses, and I'm tired of them. And I need to enlist his help for this to work. Really. I will sleep through the loudest alarm clock. Again, ask my mother (who would be woken by my alarm from one end of a very long house while I sleep through it on the complete opposite end...)

I would love to say that this year I will get more exercise. I will be more organized. I will lose my temper less. I will have a cleaner home. I will lose those last five pounds (ok - I DID lose all the baby weight in no time - you can hate me, that's ok, remember the energy thing I'm going to do differently....but I was five pounds heavier than my desired weight before getting pregnant, so that five pounds still needs to go...). But let's face it. Those things do not happen - not longer than the first month or so. Typically. Those are year-round struggles for me, not things I just resolve to do differently because it's a new year. I'm already "resolving" to do them. These other two are ones I would really like to focus on. In general - not just for New Years.

So - what about you guys?? First, any special things you did to celebrate and welcome the new year? And do you do "resolutions"? Where would you like to see changes occur in your lives?

Red Velvet Bon Bons

So, I tried a new recipe that I got from my friend Donna, who got it from the Bakerella blog. Red Velvet Bon Bons. They looked adorable (and yummy!)..and easy, too. So I gave them a try and included them in my Christmas goodies that I gave to our friends in our apartment building.Turns out they are very, very simple. And very, very yummy.

You know what else they are?? Tedious. Especially with a baby around. Lots of little steps that take time to do. It took me part of two days to complete the one batch. When I finished them, Ryan and I both agreed - this might not be worth the time it took...

But then he took some to work, and everyone there seemed to love them. One coworker said to quit whining and he expected more soon (we'll see if he gets them next time!). Then some of the ladies in the building said how wonderful they thought they were. And we liked them, too.

I think if I got the small ice cream scoop to make the balls and use a food processor to crumble the cake (which I am getting very soon!!), that will cut down on the time. I rolled the balls by hand, and I actually made them smaller than Bakerella did, so I had many more to do. Next time, I want to try German Chocolate Bon Bons.... That just sounds too yummy to me. Maybe even worth all the tediousness.

Here are pictures of the process....

After baking the cake, it is crumbled into tiny bits

Add in the cream cheese icing

And roll into balls

It's kind of hard to coat in the bark AND take pictures at the same time, so no pics of that. I gave all but a few out before remembering I needed the "after" pictures! Here is the final result with those few left over...

Mmmmmm...yummy, isn't it? ;)

I tried them for you. They ARE yummy.

If you want the recipe, here it is!

And Donna has a recipe for homemade cream cheese icing if you want. I went the canned route this time for lack of time (the bon bons took long enough as it was!), but I think it would be yummier with some homemade aspects!

I'm not a huge fan of the white bark coating (tastes too fake-candy-ish to me, if that makes sense), so my fave is the regular chocolate bark coating. I think dark chocolate would be even better...b/c I always think dark chocolate would be better. But a few liked the white better, such as Ryan. When I make the German Choc Bon Bons, they will just be made with the chocolate. I'll let you know how those turn out.