Monday, February 28, 2011

It might seem like a non sequitur from Helen

The indoor pool we go to is approximately four blocks from our home. Never one to let an opportunity with a captive audience go unnoticed, Helen will often start speaking the moment the last car door is closed and she will not stop until the moment we arrive at the pool. Here's a rough summary of tonight's conversation, or rather, soliloquy from Helen.

Daddy, you won't even believe this. I can zip my own coat. By myself. Do you want to see me? Because I can show you. I can do it all by myself. You don't even have to help me. I really, truly know how to do it. I just start at the bottom and zip! It's done. After we go swimming tonight, do you want me to show you how I can zip my own coat?

Me: "yes"

Because I can zip my coat. All by myself. Really, I can show you.

Me: "yes, Helen, we want to see" (I don't actually know why I speak. I have a dream that it will make her be quiet for a few moments, pondering my answer, but this never works.)

After we're done swimming, I'll zip my coat. I know how.

Because I'm going to be a mom soon.

And mom's need to know how to zip coats.

Me: "Yes, Helen, we sure do".

Friday, February 25, 2011

Homemade Friday: Helen's New Shirt!

I did it. I knit Helen a shirt similar to the ones I've been admiring over here. And I love the result (although I would love it more with the matching pants I selected for Helen today - but they didn't have pockets - and she needed pockets in order to hold all the quarters she was planning on spending at the doctor's office in the vending machine he has).

The pattern comes from Ravelry, and the yarn comes from Fibre Space - a recommendation I got from here.

The only problem is - there are a million similar patterns that I want to knit up immediately for Helen, but I haven't fallen in love with something for Connor, and he's definitely expecting to get the next hand knit item. I'm planning on knitting a pair of socks for him, or maybe I'll try and felt him a pair of slippers to wear around the house.

As I was nearing the end, Helen would dance with delight when she saw the shirt. Then, on the evening that it was obvious I would complete it, she announced "I'm going to have a new shirt tomorrow. I will see it in the morning and be so surprised and happy".


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Heavy Hitting Week at Chez Connor and Helen

This week, we've had discussions on gay marriage, being vegetarian, and the appropriateness of climbing onto the roof of the neighbor's shed.

In summary - Yes, Yes, and Absolutely not until you are at least TEN - maybe older!

What did you discuss with your 3 and 5 years olds this week?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sally! You're Invited!

This morning as I was showering, Helen asked me if I'd like to go to Key West. I replied "probably not - there are other beaches I prefer". Helen then announced "Well, that's where my wedding is going to be". And of course, I assured her I would be there. She then went over the guest list she has planned.

Grandma and Grandpa
Uncle Mike
Aunt Sima and her BABY!
Aunt Linda
Uncle Bill

And Sally! (my sister's dog)

"I'm going to have it inside so that Sally can come and she won't run away. Sally is my best friend."

So if anyone knows a place in Key West that can accommodate a dog inside at a wedding, please let me know.

Helen has not yet decided who the lucky man will be, only stating that she hasn't met him yet.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cupcake Wars: Next stop, Crumbs in Arlington

OK - this cupcake thing is really getting out of hand. There are now TWO stores located in Clarendon  (Bakeshop and Crumbs) with a third on its way - Red Velvet. All of these are within two miles of my home. Add to that a shop we're trying tomorrow, Fluffy Thoughts Cakes, the several Cakelove franchises near me, a few in Old Town, and the mobile cupcake van that I have yet to write about and wow - that's a lot of cake.

But for you, dear children, I am willing to keep on checking them out - in search of the perfect cupcake.

For Valentine's Day, we went to the new Crumbs cupcake store located in Clarendon. My friend Vickie had actually turned me onto this place when I last visited her in New York. I would've written about the delicious sampler pack we devoured back in November (when lord knows I was looking for daily material) but I guess Vickie and I ate them (probably mostly me) before I could snap a photo.

In any case, I recognized them instantly when I saw the website, and confirmed my memory with Vickie.

These cupcakes are beautiful. They have a dollup of filling the middle, which I personally like, and the cocoa powder on the aptly named "jolt cupcake" was yummy. We hit the store on a day when they had clearly been slammed, so selection was getting slim. But still, they had plenty, and even though they had run out of the pink cupcakes (for shame) they happily suggested adding pink hearts to the chocolate cupcake which was good enough for Helen. And despite the fact that Connor was the official cupcake carrier of our group, and held onto the bag as tightly as he could in what was some pretty fierce wind, the cupcakes took a bit of a tumble before reaching our table.

I have no idea how Helen did this in the few moments I turned away from her.

She loved the cupcakes, but what a mess!

Connor gave these an eyes closed two thumbs up. You figure it out.

I rate these in the high middle of the pack. The sampler pack of mini cupcakes is definitely the way to go. The big ones are a little much - even for me - and there are so many good flavors here, it's fun to get to eat several.


Pregnancy and Birth, Remembered

It's no secret. I loved being pregnant with Connor. I loved my appointments with my midwife that allowed for time to talk about how the baby had grown, how my life was going, and anything else that seemed to come up. I especially loved when my belly started getting big enough for people to notice and then later, when I was so enormous I almost felt like a cartoon.

I also loved being pregnant with Helen, though it was a completely different experience. For starters, I wasn't as well rested, I wasn't in as good of shape, and for a reason that has never been fully explained, pregnancy with Helen was accompanied with a lot of bleeding - which was just stressful, even after a sonogram confirmed it was nothing to worry about with respect to Helen.

But most of all, I loved the moments that each of my children were first put on my chest. In Connor's case, my midwife performed this crazy move where she flipped him onto my chest seemingly the moment he emerged from my body. That's the convenience of being in a mostly horizontal position while giving birth. Helen was more handed up to me, since I was nowhere close to a bed when she emerged.

Magical. Just Magical.

A few nights ago, I was heading back from a trip to Tahoe. The whole time I was in the car coming from the airport, I just knew my friend HelenD was in labor. I actually tried to sleep a little in the car, in preparation for what could be a long night ahead. And when I got home, I was not disappointed. On my answering machine was a message that she was in pretty intense labor asking if I would come over. But, because HelenD is the nicest person in the world, she of course said "but I know you're just getting back from vacation, and it might be too much...". But what I was thinking is, OMG, she waited to have the baby for me. (See how nice she is?) So then, I had to do a bit of detective work because I never bothered to set my answering machine to the current day and time, so my machine noted the call came in on Thursday at 2:13 AM. It was Saturday around 11:00 PM. Ed (he's so smart), noted that I could simply push the clock button on the machine to see what time the machine thought it was now, to determine whether it was likely HelenD was still in labor or not. So I did. And Holy Cow! The machine said Thursday at 4:31 so I looked at Ed and said "I want to go? Do you mind?" and he said "Let me empty the car" and so it was that I was running around looking for HelenD's address, Ed was throwing out a week's worth of vacation gear onto our driveway, and then I dashed into the night.

And I made it.

And it was incredible.

HelenD's home birth was memorable in a million ways, but these are my two favorites. When HelenD hit a bit of a wall (apparently labor had been in full swing and stalled sometime between when she placed the call to me and when I arrived and that was really depressing) her husband looked at her with the confidence that can only come from true love. One look from him assured me at least that everyone was going to get through this.

And the second moment I want to remember is when Dahlia was coughing like crazy and placed onto HelenD's chest. Again, Helen's husband looked at the two of them as if life were perfect in that moment. Perfect.

This all made me think - that while I spend a lot of time thinking about how everyone who wants it should have access to a home birth, not that many years ago, hospitals did not even allow dads to be in the room when babies were born. And the lesson? Birth practices can change radically, and in my mind, for the better relatively quickly.

So I remain completely hopeful about the state of home birth. And I am so impressed that the birthing community has come so far that dads are now included. Because that birth on Friday night? It wouldn't have been nearly the same without the dad there.

Thank you for letting me be there HelenD. You rock!


Disclosure: I was given a free copy of the book Exploiting My Baby, by Teresa Strasser as a member if the From Left to Write Book Club, which inspired this post. I read the book in one evening, as I sat in the ER waiting for my kidney stone to be diagnosed. It's not my style of book, because I loved being pregnant, and this author felt otherwise.

Monday, February 14, 2011 Tahoe

Last week, we took our annual ski vacation out West, this time to Tahoe. On the first day, Connor attended ski lessons while Helen took advantage of the fact that one set of grandparents prefers to keep their feet separated from the earth by only their shoes, rather than a pair of skis. They found a hill miniscule mound that Helen could propel down for about 6 feet. She had a ball! One would never guess that in a few days, she'd be heading down the mountain on her own set of skis!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Homemade Friday: Cheerios Flowers! (Maybe better than cupcakes!)

Apparently, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow on Wednesday. And as much as I love the snow, I'm happy about that news. I'm ready for Spring. Spring is the season that bursts forth with promise - from the first crocus that dares push through the ground to the inevitable weeds that take hold as I figure out what new growth is wanted and what should be pruned from my garden post haste!

A few days ago, after Connor and Helen had exhausted themselves sledding, I decided it was treat time. And, feeling bold, I decided to share with them a food combination I love - Cheerios and chocolate. Seriously. Try sprinkling a few chocolate chips on your Cheerios some morning. You won't be disappointed. I promise.

I wasn't quite ready to introduce chocolate chips as a breakfast food, so instead I went to the craft supply store and bought some pink chocolate and some little sticks like what you find on lollipops. I combined these items with Cheerios and made a springtime flower - just ready for the eating!

Here's the skinny on how to make this simple and delicious treat on your own. I am considering serving these as treats at our annual egg hunt this year.

Step 1. Acquire ingredients. You'll need Cheerios, chocolate, and serving sticks.

Use any kind of chocolate you like. I chose pink chocolate from the craft store because it made me think of spring. It comes in all sorts of colors - and you can also just get white chocolate chips from the store and add color or decorate with sprinkles.

Step 2. Place parchment paper or wax paper on a cookie sheet.

Step 3. Melt about 4 ounces of chocolate either in a double boiler on the stove or in the microwave. If you use a microwave, put the chocolate in a bowl for about 30 seconds, stir, repeat until melted.

Step 4. Pour Cheerios into melted chocolate. Stir.

Step 5. Put a little bit of the melted chocolate / Cheerios mixture on a tray, add a stick, and then add more of the Cheerios mixture. My kids helped put the Cheerios mixture on the tray, added sticks, and also tasted the product!

Step 6. Put in freezer for a few minutes so the flowers can harden.

Step 7. Enjoy!

After the flowers came out of the freezer, the critics sampled the Cheerios flowers and pondered their ratings.

It didn't take long for the treats to earn applause and two thumbs up!

If I use these for treats at our annual egg hunt, I'm going to display them in a basket with a few eggs. I'm also going to use both small and tall sticks, so I get a little more height into the display. My thought is that each child can pluck a flower when it's time for treats. I think they'll be less messy than cupcakes, but just as yummy!


Disclosure: As a member of the Cheerios blogger circle, I was given two boxes of Cheerios, some gardening tools, and some games and asked to create a breakfast or springtime experience with Cheerios. I wanted to make a treat the kids (and I) would love and that I could use at a future kids' party.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

If You Can't Impress Your Kids, Who Can You Impress?

A year ago, I vowed to not walk out of the house in sweatpants again, except when I was gardening or going to an exercise class. I kept that vow, to the point that one day when I did have sweat pants on, Helen asked me why I was wearing my "sleeping clothes". I patted myself on the back for no longer being the sweat pants wearing mom that I had let myself become.

Unfortunately, I only elevated myself to the jeans wearing mom, which is really not stylish enough for my children.

Rather than complaining about my attire, it is clear they are trying positive reinforcement with me instead. Two mornings ago, I was wearing a long red skirt. Helen instantly cooed "mommy, your skirt is BEAUTIFUL!" and Connor chimed in "yeah, Mom, it's really pretty".

This morning, I was wearing a piece of jewelry and both of them lovingly complimented me on my good taste.

I'm not sure if they're strategy will work or not, but I'm considering implementing a rule that I wear something besides jeans at least one day per week.

And it won't be sweatpants.