November 30, 2009

Gluttony Bowl

Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving!  We sure did with all our yummy foods including a cranberry relish with berries bought in bulk in Massachusetts and a turkey that was brined and grilled to perfection.  Mmmmmm!  We began throwing the bird on the grill about 3 years ago and I have NEVER looked back!  Mmmmm, Mmmmm.

Besides the food, we have another little tradition in our family...

Gluttony Bowl.  The tradition that puts all our other traditions to shame and the one time out of the year that I throw all those notions of eat healthy, don't binge, share with others less fortunate and don't hoard things right out the window.

Oh, it is as bad as it sounds.  Those participating weigh-in at 9am, eat 'til their gills burst and then weigh-out at 9pm.  Whoever has increased the percentage of their body weight the most WINS!
Some years it is very competitive and we vie for the bathroom once weigh-out has been completed, but this year we all paced ourselves.  We fought the good fight, but actually enjoyed the morsels while doing it.

Bear even got in on the action

After all, he does love to eat
We thought it would be fine for him to compete.  He didn't understand what it was all about anyway.

When all was said and done, we bellied up to the scale and got down to business.  Wouldn't you know, Bear beat us all!  He had gained 1.5 pounds and increased his body weight by 8.1%.  Told you that boy can eat.

Some believe that he won because it is easiest to increase your body percentage when you already have a low weight to begin with.  Others think it was a lucky fluke.

The way I see it, Bear did  "understand what it was all about" and wasn't about to let an eating competition pass him by.  Need I remind you he is a child of mine?  The kicker is that I would have won had he not foiled my efforts.  

Perhaps before next year's weigh-in, I will agree with Bear's naysayers.  With him out of the picture, the trophy would be that much closer.  Or maybe I should just concede since if he's winning now, there's no way I'll one-up him once he reaches his teenage years!

November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

  I will be using this week to work a little behind the scenes magic on my blog.

I know, I know you will so miss my daily posts.  Don't fret, I'll be back next week with a new and improved blog format, lots of things to blog about and a belly full of Thanksgiving gobbly goodness!

Tah Tah 'til then...

November 20, 2009

I blueberry

Ok, so blueberries are not currently in season, but so what?  I needed a pick-me-up and blueberries were just the ticket.  I'm realizing as I keep popping them into my mouth that I should share how I am enjoying such yummy, deliciously local berries in late Fall.  In New England.  I mean, isn't it cranberry season or something??!!!

We have a local blueberry orchard just minutes from our home and Bear and I spend many a summer day there picking to our heart's content.  We fill our buckets to brimming and haul our blue gems home.  

Eventually we, well... we get a tummy ache from eating all those delicious berries and I remind myself to freeze some for the many desserts, jellies and smoothies yet to come.

I spread our blueberry bounty over a few towels on the dinning room table and let them hang out over night.  The next morning, I pick out any bad ones I might have over looked, packed the rest into Ziplock bags and toss 'em in the freezer.  That's it.  Easy as blueberry pie and the most rewarding treat to pull out in the middle of winter (or almost winter like it is today.)

I blueberry.  Do you?

November 19, 2009

Rice Balls (or creative way to hide leftovers)

My in-laws were here for the weekend and while they have headed back to their home state, the bushels and barrels of food they generously brought have stayed behind.

What does one do with a head of cauliflower bigger than Bear's head (which is huge, 100th percentile huge) an 18lb turkey that is not the one we have on order for Thanksgiving, assorted meats, a head of cabbage... 

I think you get the picture.  I didn't mention this other thing they brought because, well it's not edible


but you know what are?  Rice Balls!  A fun dinner that served 3 adults and one Bear made with all the leftovers I had in my fridge.

To make it, assess what's living in your fridge right now.  The beauty of this recipe is that it needs no rigid measurements.  I used, give or take:

a pinch of salt, 2 eggs, a palm full of onion powder, a cup of cooked brown rice,  one cooked and mashed sweet potato, 1/2C diced gouda cheese, a palm full of garlic powder and enough flour to hold the concotion together.

stir all the ingredients up in a bowl and add anything else you might have (veggies, a little ground pork etc).  Roll the mixture into golf ball size portions then roll them into panko crumbs or breadcrumbs.  Heat up some olive oil and fry them until golden brown.  I served warmed tomato sauce with them for dipping and a side of beef barley soup. YUMMY. 

A recipe for a turkey, cauliflower, cabbage dish will be forthcoming...

November 18, 2009

Michigan On My Mind

The most amazing Mckmama just posted some storyboard photography tips over on her blog and OF COURSE I just had to try them.

Keeping in mind that my camera is a point & shoot.

Remembering that I use Picnik not Photo Shop.

but hey, I say tomato you say tomahto right??!!  Right.  So just do me a favor and gasp at the photo layout for this post.

Remember this furry friend who traveled home from Michigan with us a few weeks ago

After a brief stay here in our wooded hamlet and a few bowls of milk, Alex the cat was happily on his way to the New Hampshire seaside and his new forever home with very loving friends of ours.  A happy ending all around I must say.

While the cat may have been the highlight of our Michigan trip (for Bear at least) there is oh so much more Michigan on my mind.

For starters it was the first huge family trip we've take since Bear was born and he certainly helped to liven things up.

Bear saw his first building implosion.  Champ drove.  I knit.  With coffee stirrers. While I had packed every possible thing that Bear could need, I forgot my finishing needles.  Eagle Scout Champ came up with the stirrer innovation.  Brilliant I say!  Peace and quiet he would say.

This sweet little thing was waiting for us to arrive.  She shared her food with Bear

and she shared her shoes

Her Daddy took us on a tour of his alma mater

We stopped to pose for a family portrait

 and to play in the Children's Museum


but eventually we had to say goodbye to that most adorable little girl and her family

and head back North


Keeping Michigan on my mind and Lake Michigan in the rearview.

November 17, 2009

On becoming a Bus Boy

Bear and I have been hard at work adding some more Montessori ideas to our day to day life.  Considering I have no training in Montessori and am going mostly on written word and a bit of instinct, Bear has been a very good guinea pig sport about the whole thing.

We have been following the method for toilet training and I am LOVING it!!  Seriously!  Haven't had to change a poopy diaper in over a month.  Oh, don't you worry, I certainly will be blogging about that (the toilet training, not the poop you Josie Grosie!) soon enough. 

Today though, today we will talk about how I am making Bear into a wonderful bus boy.

He can clean his table after eating with the best of 'em.  Sometimes before he actually considers himself done eating.  Sometimes an hour after he's finished eating.  Sometimes he courteously clears my space before I'm done eating.  Ok, so we have a ways to go, but I'm going to barrel ahead anyway and tell you what we've done so far. 

Right around Bear's 1st birthday, I started introducing him to sitting at a table.  He had the proper attention span at this age and he was finally tall enough to sit comfortably at the table.  We would practice sitting each day by playing games, reading etc.  When we were finished, he'd practice pushing in his chair.

That didn't take too long to master, so then we began having breakfast at his table.  Bear would sit on one side and I'd sit on the other modeling how to eat.  He already had practice eating with utensils and drinking out of a pitcher and cup, so it wasn't that big of a deal to put it all together.  It was actually almost anticlimactic.

We continued on until at about 14 months we were eating two meals at the table whenever we were home.  I always modeled proper eating and clean up and most days he'd push in his chair and walk away.  Then magically at about 15 months, Bear became very interested in being a bus boy.  He began to thrive on helping.  He wanted to stop using his plastic plates and instead use what I was using.  I cringed, but it made sense to me, so I packed up most of his baby stuff and pulled out the less loved grownup plates.

 He now likes to clean up not only his own plates, but the plates of everyone at the table.  He handles them carefully with two hands and I must say rarely spills anything.  When he does, he has learned to ask for a wash rag and then he goes to clean up the spill.  That or he calls for the dogs to come and make his mess disappear.    

Look at his face.  He means it during clean-up time.

We have now moved on to a true table with four little chairs and sometimes on the weekend, the whole family sits there to enjoy lunch together.

When I started this whole thing, I would occasionally wonder why I was doing it because before I could, ahem, pen him into his highchair.  While I did have a week or two where it was impossible to let my attention off of Bear while he ate, I am happy to report that now I have broken even.  He sits happily at his table to eat and because of the independence and confidence it affords him, it allows me time to go to the bathroom, or stoke the fire or read a novel.  Well, ok, not that last one, but I do find the system works for both of us and most days I enjoy sitting right there at the table with him.


We share suppers in his highchair and will continue to do that until he can sit at the dining room table on his own because I feel there are important elements to be learned there, too, but I've gotta say I love the fact that he can sit at his own little table!

I have less crumbs trailed around the house because he eats his snacks there.  His skills with drinking and utensils have improved greatly and he really is developing into quite the bus boy.  I like to think that in  today's economy, not only am I teaching him good manners, but potentially prepping him for the job market ahead.   

November 16, 2009

Birthdays and Birth Stories

Happy Birthday to me!

Yippee! It is my special day; therefore, I thought it would be fitting to take today and tell you two little details about my life.

The first: I have rooted for the Red Sox since I was an embryo and today I am finally the same age as Jason Varitek's jersey!  Woohoo!!!    

The second: I tend to think about Bear's birth story on my birthday since I, um, don't really remember what happened when I was born!  I do remember his quite clearly though...

"When all of this around us falls, I tell you what we're going to do.  You will shelter me, my love, and I will shelter you." 
- Ray Lemontagne

I woke Champ up on Sunday, 7/6/08, at 4am to the sound of my water breaking- in his sleepy state he thought I was peeing!  We called the midwife to check in and then settled in at home.  After a little more sleep, a breakfast and some walks around the neighborhood, my contractions had started and we eventually left to meet up with my midwife at the hospital.  After checking my dilation, I was far enough along that we were admitted and got the labor room that we had requested in our birth plan.  I made progress throughout the day at a good rate, but by daybreak it seemed my uterus had hit a wall and would not dilate further. 

We forged on, but by lunch there still had been no progress.  Since my water had been broken for quite some time the possibility of infection began to rise and so, for the benefit of the baby, we decided to induce.  Things started to rock and roll, contractions continued to come even more constant and strong, but alas, after 8 more hours, unbelievably there was no change. By now it was closing in on 48 hours of membranes being ruptured and while Bear's vitals were strong; after almost 2 days, mine were starting to degrade.  It was time to really soul search, pray and come up with a plan.  Hopes and desires aside, any pretense was dropped and we listened to God and my body- they were telling me something.

After laboring a few more hours, we knew a C-section was on the horizon.  Early Tuesday morning (while still having contractions, mind you), preparations for the surgery started: doctors came to explain everything, we had to hand a copy of my living will over to the hospital and nurses helped to prep me for the procedure.  I remember it feeling like "ER" with lots of medical people everywhere, words like "sterile fields", "spinal" and "EKG" being said and bright lights and cold instruments.  We were scared, but we were in the most capable Hands. 

At 10:32am, 7/8/08 Bear was born.

So, did I have the labor I had hoped for? No.  Did I find even more inner strength by having our birth story end up this way? Yes.

My birth plan even with all these crazy changes was still honored and followed and I had an amazing, life changing experience.  We were allowed to labor long beyond the cutoff at most hospitals and with ruptured membranes at that!  We were guided, not forced, into the decisions we made and when the time came, I WALKED (crawled really) into surgery on my own 2 feet- no gurney.  My midwife was allowed to assisted with the surgery and they bent the rules and allowed Champ to join me not just for the C-Section, but during the spinal and body prep, as well.  They helped to get me set up to nurse Bear immediately after surgery and  assigned me a lactation consultant who was my individual guru for 4 days post-op. 

Moral of the story: you've got to believe. Always. 

My body knew what it was doing even when I didn't.  God knew what He was doing even when we didn't.  Sometimes it's best to take advantage of modern medical procedures rather than try to birth a 9lb13oz baby with a 15" head with no fluid to move in and no space to manipulate his body even if fluids had been intact.  PHEW! I am here able to write this entry and Bear is beside me.  In the end, that's all that matters.

November 09, 2009

busy beaver

It is Fall here in New England and our little lake (well actually it's considered a pond, but to us a 2 acre kayak accessible watering hole is a LAKE) is ablaze in color.

I just love this time of year and not even because my birthday is near! The smell of wood fire in the air, cozy stews cooking on the stove and
have you seen the colors on those trees???!!!!!!!!

An interesting occurrence we discovered this particular autumn, involves our resident beavers.

Yes, we have a small family of beaver that live on our lake and we enjoy watching them go about their daily chores. I tend to feel pr
etty lazy as I observe these whiskered mammals zip about the water, moving hunks of trees this way and that. Climbing up onto their lodge they regularly pat the mud down with their tail. They even take the time each day to (what I can only describe as) have a bit of a social swim. Champ and I find them quite entertaining and we happily share our land with them, especially as they were here long before we moved in.

Previously, we've only shared our backyard with them, but lately it seems they like the digs of the side yard, the front yard and the
driveway. Take this picture for example...

we just discovered these stumps yesterday morning after church. It wouldn't have been strange except that these birch were only feet away from our composting area which is barely removed from our house. Strange.

Normally, the beaver might take a tree or two off our lot, but they are usually much closer to the water. We certainly have no shortage of trees here and it is easy to protect the rest of them by wrapping the larger ones with chicken wire, but the question remains...

why the obsessive tree hauling this year?

I guess we won't really know until the days further pass, but Champ and I have a pretty good hunch about the whole thing and it involves snow, snow and more snow!!!

Animals are pretty wise and wary creatures: if the beaver are living up to their busy reputation, then Champ and I will step up our winterizing efforts, too. Otherwise, we'd hate to have to go knock on their lodge door this winter asking for
some food only to hear
"you should have been prepared!"

November 06, 2009

Now you know the Continents

Bear's got rhythm.
He loves to sway his hips to music an
d stomp
his little feet.

Perhaps he got that trait from me because Champ would be the first to tell you it certainly wasn't from
his gene pool!!!! Regardless, I like to gather songs for Bear and I to learn together and I came upon one that had a Montessori theme to it.

The problem is, I discovered it on the Internet before I knew I'd be a blogger, so I have no author to pass along. I am going to hunt for where I found it, but in the meantime, if you come across it's owner, do tell me as credit is due for this perfect little ditty!

"The Continent Song" (to the tune of "The Muffin Man")

Do you know the continents,
the continents, the continents?

Do you know the continents all around the world?

There's Asia and Africa
North and South America
Europe and Antarctica
and Australia.

Now you know the continents,
the continents, the continents.

Now you know the continents all around the world!

Montessori proposes that children begin learning about geography and land masses at an early age; beginning with a broad scope and then narrowing the lens to more specific identifications as the child grows

Bear loves jammin' along to this song and passing his stuffed globe ball around as we sing it. Today as the snowflakes fall (yes it's snowing here!) and my off key voice leads, we are quite the scene...

singing our hearts out about the Continents, all afternoon long

November 04, 2009

camera envy

Just when I am absolutely overcome by the biggest, strongest urge to upgrade my little point and shoot camera for the DSLR Canon Rebel that I soooo covet...

Bear comes along

and reminds me

that a major component of photography is


Monkey Bread Morning

When I need a quick pick me up in the morning, Monkey Bread is always the recipe I pull out. It's super fast, cinnamony, buttery and fills the house with a most delicious smell! The only thing I can't guarantee is it's healthfulness, but sometimes I just like going for the yumminess factor!

To begin, butter a loaf pan or, if you are a lucky gal like me, use your very own Monkey Bread Pot!

Make the dough by combining 3/4C warm water, 1 package (or tablespoon) of yeast, 1/4C sugar, 1 beaten egg, pinch of salt and about 3C flour. Mix these up until a dough forms and add a bit more flour if it is overly sticky.

Next, melt about 4T of butter. While this is melting, mix up a little cinnamon sugar with about 1 part cinnamon to 3 parts sugar.

Roll the dough into golf ball size pieces, dip in the cinnamon sugar, then the butter and finally place in the loaf pan. Place the pan in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The bread is done when it is puffy and golden brown.

Invert loaf pan onto a dish while it is still hot and the bread will slide right out. Can you say delicious?!

November 03, 2009

Stains be gone

The Power of Oxi Clean...

I've heard that slogan a bunch and I know others who swear by the stuff, but up until lately I was pretty much against buying it.

I like the little rhythm I have going on down in my laundry room:

use a few drops of Dr. Bronner's castile soap, toss in some baking soda or Borax for kicks and if I'm feeling jumpy, do a vinegar rinse. Add in some Arm'n'Hammer "Free" if I am washing Bear's diapers. I like my system because it is easy, cheap and kind to the environment


I needed a better system for stains. Make that, I needed a better system for the stains Bear and Champ create on their clothes. Typically, I set aside the worst offenders until my Mom comes to visit because she is a stain fighting queen. THANKS MOM!

But really! I figured it was about time I came up with a new game plan, so following Toni's advice over at The Happy Housewife and the fact that it was on sale this week at Rite Aide, I decided to give Oxi Clean a test run.

I picked out some of our grimiest whites to be models and began! A disclaimer here: I did not edit
any of the following pictures even though it was hard not to and I used my point and shoot digital camera which doesn't make for the clearest shots, but you'll still get the idea.

Next, I filled up a bucket with warm water and followed the directions on the back of Oxi-Clean by adding 2 scoops into the water and allowing it to dissolve. Finally, I added all the clothes I could fit in to the bucket.

Then the wait began. I let the clothes soak for a day and a half and occasionally because I was so darn curious, I'd pull some out to check progress and stir the clothes around a bit.

Um, you probably can skip that part but it did make my rings nice and shiny, see?

When it came time to wash, I tossed the clothes into the washer without rinsing them off, added a little Arm'n'Hammer to the load, washed on Hot Cycle and hung to dry.

The results?

I was very impressed with how clean and white the clothes got. I am now a believer and have added Oxi Clean into my monthly cycle of rounding up and attacking all the stains in our house!

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