Friday, September 30, 2011

That's What Solana Said - September

Solana is allowed to watch two 30-minute shows a day. Every day she asks if she can watch a show and I always ask, "Did you do your homework? Did you clean your room?" She should anticipate these questions because she's required to complete these two tasks before watching a show but she almost always asks before doing them. After finishing her homework today (15 minutes of reading) she asked for a show and I asked, "Did you clean your room?" To my surprise, she said, "Yes!" She giggled when I acted shocked and said, "Aren't you surprised?!?! I already cleaned my room and you didn't even have to tell me! I just...magically did it!"

9/1/11 mind. I was just about to ask you something that I already knew the answer to! You would have said 'no.' Isn't that funny, Mommy? Hahahaha!

On our way to Nashville, "Are we driving in circles? Why is it taking so long?"
"We're not driving in circles, Solana. They just live really far away so it takes a long time to get there.
An hour and a half later we were almost there. "I'm glad we're almost there! It was getting boring driving in circles over and over again!"
"We were not driving in circles."
"Well, it sure felt like it."

"Mommy...where's! There it is! Aren't you glad I didn't ask you again? Because it's getting annoying. Even for me."

Solana was telling me about all the kids in her class. It was fascinating. When she got to one in particular she said, "but he's not my friend anymore because he sticks his tongue in his nose." I cracked up laughing and she said, "I KNOW!!!"

Reading 'Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs' for the 10th time or so but the first time since school has started. We get to the part where the giant pancake covers up the school and they have to cancel school. Solana groans a miserable sounding groan. Then they mention it again, "That would be terrible if they had to close the school. Terrible I say. Just terrible!" She sounds like she's practically in tears. Gotta love first graders :-)

There's a boy at school who's in love with me. (How do you know that?) Because he told me so. And I'm pretty sure there are a few other boys who are in love with me, too.

That's What Chloe Said - September

Bobo = Bluebell "Hi Buh-bo! Hi Bobo! Hi Buh-bo! Hi Bobo!" She LOVES Bluebell!!!

Hug - She started this in Nashville. She comes up to us all the time and says, "hug" and then hugs us. It's lovely and I wish it would go on forever. Update: The hugs aren't slowing down. They're more frequent and I'm starting to think Chloe might currently be the most snuggly huggly 2 year-old ever! She's hugging me constantly and the way she says "Huuug" while she's doing it is so sweet!

Lola = Chloe

Mirrr = Mirror. Apparently there are lots of mirrors and shiny things around our house that can act as mirrors. Who knew! Chloe's been pointing them all out to me. Mirror in my bedroom, Mirror in the guest bathroom, Mirror in the living room, Mirror on my shower door, Mirror on the fireplace, Mirror on the oven, Mirror on Chloe's little play purse set, etc

9/20/11 Current Favorite Book = Pat the Bunny

Mahnee = Monty (pronounced like "money" but with the "ah" sound.) "Hi Mah-nee, Hi Mah-nee. He can't be around here lately because of his dangerous toddler-whacking cone so she only sees him through the gate or while I'm carrying her. But she always says "hi" to him when she sees him.

Cole-ey = Chloe (she's getting better at saying her name!)

While washing Chloe's hands I always sing to the tune of 3 blind mice. "Clean clean clean. Clean clean clean." Chloe has changed that to, "Hey hey hey. Hey hey hey." I'm not sure why. And if I say, "Let's go wash your hands." She'll reply, "Hey hey hey. Hey hey hey" while rubbing her hands together.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Solana's learning about caterpillars in school and they have two butterfly pavilions in their classroom right now. She often comes home with updates and interesting facts about their caterpillars/chrysalises/butterflies. They've released a couple of Monarchs and that's exciting.

A few weeks ago I started finding our own caterpillars in the vegetable garden. A couple were hanging out on the carrots and a few more on the parsley. We incorrectly identified them as monarchs to start but then realized they're black swallowtails. I initially plucked them off the parsley to save the parsley but then ended up feeding a ton of it to them anyway!

We have 7 total and they're all snug in their chrysalises now. I recently read online that, if they make their chrysalis in later summer, black swallowtails often overwinter in their chrysalis and emerge in the Spring. Looks like we may have some house guest staying all winter long!

Bye Leila

Today at breakfast Chloe started saying, "Bye Leila. Bye Leila. Bye Leila. Bye Leila." Over and over and over and over and over. It was cute and she kept changing the pitch every time she said it. I smiled and she knew she was being cute. She smiled back and kept saying it. First, I thought, "How cool. We don't say Leila's name a lot to her. It's almost as though Leila's sending her thoughts from heaven and they're having a connection."

But the truth is I know she's just playing with sounds and trying out new words. When she pronounced "Chloe" as "Lola" I thought, "Hmm. That's odd." She's been calling me "Lala" lately. That's what the babies call my sister so I've been trying to put a stop to that. But this morning was just too much. My mind went to that place...the sister she should be babbling with...the twin she'll never experience. I hate feeling that way and having those thoughts. I wish I didn't have to.

There's a set of identical twins on Solana's soccer team this year. I've taken to referring to them "the sisters" and it somehow makes me feel better.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Skinny Butt

I never put jeans on Chloe. She's always in those soft cotton/poly blend pants with elastic waist bands or stretch pants. Her jeans have partly elastic waist bands but still never seem to fit. She's too skinny for the ones that are long enough and the ones that fit her around the waist are too short (even in the crotch). I guess that's what happens when you're 23% height and 6% weight.

On this particular day I convinced myself she'd be able to keep these up. I was wrong. Poor sweet girl needs to grow herself a bootie. :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Healthy Bread - Update

**Update: I didn't expect so many people to say they would try this book. If you're interested in trying HBI5 before buying the book there's a how-to video on the Master Recipe here. I think the video's pretty good. Feel free to contact me with any specific questions. I'd be happy to help! You can also check it out at the library to see how you like it before purchasing it. That's what I did. :-)**

A few months ago I watched Michael Pollan on Oprah. I've yet to read any of his books but they're on my To Read list. His words on that one episode (along with a few eye-opening food documentaries) have had a profound impact on the way I eat and the way I feed my family.

During the show he listed a few rules that he eats by. He only listed a few but they got me thinking. I found this list online and the first few sound very familiar. Eat food. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. Avoid food products containing ingredients no ordinary human would keep in the pantry. I've been reading labels and try not to buy foods with lots of crazy ingredients that I don't understand. I assume they're preservatives and unnatural things that make the stuff last longer on the shelf and appear edible.

So I try to prepare everything that I can and avoid packaged foods as much as possible. One thing that started standing out to me was bread. I'd been buying whole wheat bread to be healthy but the list of ingredients was astounding. Maybe the stuff from the grocery store bakery would be better. Nope. That's when I heard about this book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

I'm completely obsessed. I haven't bought a loaf of bread in 2 months.

My first loaf. Master Recipe with a mixture of seeds on top. I was so proud. This bread comes out with an amazing crust. It reminds me of a french baguette. Most of the recipes do require some white flour but they use mainly whole wheat flour. There's no sugar in the main recipes. The ones that do require sugar are usually unrefined types like honey or raw sugar and the amounts are less than the same type of bread elsewhere.

Word of caution: If you think of trying these recipes note that they do require a fair amount of inactive prep time. Time spent on the bread includes mixing up the ingredients (takes me 10 minutes and one batch makes anywhere from 3-5 loaves depending on how big I make them). Then it rests on the counter for 2 hours or overnight. Then it rests in the fridge for at least 3 hours. On baking day you tear of a piece of dough and, for an oval loaf like this one, you handle it for about 30 seconds to shape it. Then it rests for 90 minutes. Then it bakes for 30 minutes. The amount of time I actually spend hands-on with the bread is minimal but you couldn't really come home from work and bake a loaf for dinner that night.

Hamburger Buns and Hot Dog Buns. These were ok. This was my first try. I've actually gotten much better at the hamburger buns. I needed to flatten them out a lot before resting. That way they come out more like buns and less like dinner rolls. These actually kind of reminded me of those hard rolls we used to eat brats on in Germany. I'm not completely sold on the hot dog buns, though. I'm used to a much softer bread for hot dogs and these came out a bit hard. I'll probably give it another shot, though, before throwing in the towel.

Dude. I made bagels. Cinnamon and raisin bagels. I did. I formed them, boiled them, and then baked them. They were super delicious. Solana, Chloe, and I ate them for breakfast but Dave didn't get any because the process took a bit longer than I'd anticipated. They're also better the first day. We toasted them the next day and they were still good but not fantastic like the 1st day. I haven't made them again just because of how much work went into them. I will, though.

Quinoa Bread. I LOVE QUINOA! It's so good for you! I keep a three ring binder with recipes and I need to add a divider for quinoa. In fact, this recipe is what attracted me to this book in the first place. This is what the dough looks like right before baking (sesame seeds sprinkled on top). The close-up is with sesame seeds. You can also see the little quinoa seeds baked in. The next is with the seed mixture the book recommends.

Quinoa Sandwich Loaf. I used the quinoa bread dough and just followed the instructions for making a Hearty Sandwich Loaf with the Master Recipe. I think I actually like this loaf better. It's a little softer. And the quinoa on top came out a bit crunchy while the seeds inside cooked up nice and soft.

Braided Challah with Whole Wheat and Wheat Germ. This might be the bread I've been most proud of. I actually braided bread! The instructions in the book made it so easy! And we really enjoyed eating it. I sliced pieces for sandwiches one day. I put some fancy mustard down, cold cuts, cheese, and melted it under the broiler. On the other slice I smeared avocado, added lettuce and slices of tomato. Great weekend lunch.

Turkish Style Pita Bread. Master recipe. This one is so easy and soooo good! Roll out the dough, rub olive oil on top, sprinkle seeds. If you over bake it just a tad they come out crispy like pita chips. Otherwise it's heavenly pita bread. I made a huge batch of roasted red pepper hummus so I ended up making pita bread twice in a week. Mmmmmm..

Apple Strudel Bread. I used the Challah bread dough for this one. I rolled out the dough and topped it with a mixture of chopped apples, raisins, raw sugar, and cinnamon. Then I rolled it up jellyroll style and put it in a loaf pan. Sprinkled more raw sugar and cinnamon on top. Yum!!! We were supposed to wait for it to cool before slicing but the wait was killing us. The house smelled so good! I put the bread on a cooling rack and then set it over the ac vent to cool it faster. Hahaha! This one was also kind of bad because I couldn't stop eating it. I think I took a slice every time I walked through the kitchen that day!

Physical Therapy Popcorn Popper

Chloe's PT, Lois, visited on Thursday. The last time she saw Chloe was June - right before we went on vacation. And Chloe didn't start walking until we returned from vacation. Lois has been hearing stories about Chloe's new walking abilities from the other therapists and was anxious to see her. And Chloe did not disappoint! Lois was thrilled and, other than letting her continue practicing walking, her only bit of advise was to have Chloe kick a ball for balance. She didn't realize that kicking a ball is one of Chloe's favorite games. She dribbles the ball (for all you non-soccer players like me, that means kick it) around the whole house. Dave and I joke that Chloe's going to be our big soccer player.

Something else that we've been working on is getting Chloe's arms down. (Interestingly, she tends to keep her arms down while dribbling a soccer ball.) She walks with her hands up at about shoulder level in, what Vision Therapist Linda calls, a "defensive" position. This is common for visually impaired kids. The problem is that it's not good for balance. Chloe still tends to fall a lot when she's walking with her hands up. I pulled out this little popcorn popper a few weeks ago and it's taken a while for her to get the hang of it but she can finally do it! I tend to not let her walk outside on the sidewalk because she falls so often that her knees get scraped up every single time. With the popcorn popper, though, she kept her hands down and only fell once!

As long as I can keep her moving forward with both hands on it it works great! She gets lazy sometimes and pulls it. Then she can start running and fall. She started pulling it going down the driveway once and she's fast! Fortunately, I grabbed her before she got completely out of control.
She can pick up some speed going down the driveway! Immediately after taking this picture Bluebell bulleted past us and stopped right before getting to the street. I don't know if she didn't want to be left behind or was placing herself between Chloe and the street. I wouldn't put the latter past her. She's a good dog and natural herder.
Taking a little break. "Hi Bobo!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chloe's 2nd Birthday Party!

The morning of Chloe's birthday party started with some gift opening! I dressed her in her 'Birthday Girl' shirt and she got to open all the presents from her three aunts. She had a blast. Solana had a blast, too, and we sort of had to nudge her back a few times to give Chloe a little room. :-)

In the afternoon, after Chloe's nap, some of our closest friends came over for a little party. It was a beautiful day - warm but not hot. We had dinner and then all the kids changed into swimsuits and played in the two kiddie pools, at the water table, and on the playground. And the grown-ups relaxed with frosty cold beverages provided by Dave. It was a great afternoon and we couldn't have asked for a nicer party for our special 2 year-old.

Dressed up in her birthday girl outfit to open gifts.

Baby David is ready to join Chloe in the princess pool.

Big sister Solana is beautiful in her pretty blue bikini.

I caught Chloe following the big girls around the yard. This probably won't be the last time she follows Solana and her friends around...

Ari kept Chloe company in the little pool. She's a sweetheart and Chloe loves her.

There was a breeze and Dave had a little trouble lighting the candles on the cake. The girls were trying to help with their combined mind power.
Chloe loved the cake and I had to get confirmation from others around when I heard her say, "More cake."
Monty snuck a taste when Chloe let her hands dangle carelessly (or was it purposefully) behind her.
Chloe's 2 year-old cake. I tried to make it checkerboard and did a mediocre job. It didn't look like the box but it was still kind of cool. It tasted great, though! The icing is chocolate butter cream and I used the only salt I had to make it - kosher. The big crystals of salt didn't completely dissolve in the frosting so every once in a while you'd get a nice little salty bite in the icing. It was an unexpected and amazingly yummy effect.

Preacher and Belgian Blue

I've neglected Dave's Beer! Here are his latest two masterpieces:

Dave's Belgian Blue

Trappist-style ale with a russet color, dense off-white head, and a host of flavors and aromas - spices, flowers, dried fruit, plums, raisins, rum, and toffee - arising from the interaction of grains, sugar, and yeast.

Dave's Preacher Strong Pale Ale

Spicy, herbal, and English biscuits. Flashes of clean citrus and chewy minerals blend into a complex finish that is refreshingly bitter and remarkably dry.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Monty and Wallet Drama

What a drama-filled week we have had! First the road trip. Then Monty decided to make our lives more exciting on Thursday. First, I'll give a little background information. We got Bluebell, our female Australian Shepherd, 3 years ago. She's almost the perfect dog. Sweet, great temperament, listens and follows instructions. She's a little timid, though, and not really a good watch dog. I learned this one day when I came into the house pretending to be a burglar and faked a low-pitched voice, "HEY DOGGIE. COME HERE!" She ran to the far end of the house to hide and then tinkled a little bit from fear. Dork. That's when we decided to get Montana, our male Australian Shepherd. And boy is he a handful. He'd definitely guard the house but he's not nearly as easy to control or train as Bluebell.

One of his bad habits: counter surfing. I thought it was over after a month of no incident but I left an open jar of almond butter on the kitchen counter Thursday morning. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! He had a good 10 minutes with it before I found him and this is what I found.

Yep. That's blood. Apparently, cutting up his tongue and mouth with glass wasn't deterrent enough to get him away from the broken glass. I called the vet crying and then called Dave crying. I ran around the house like a maniac looking for my wallet for about 3 minutes and then gave up. We left for the vet's office. X-Rays told us that he consumed two large chunks of glass. They fed him cotton in the hopes that it would help him pass the glass without tearing up his digestive system.

When I returned home I realized my wallet was nowhere to be found and literally spent the next day and a half searching for it. Angela called and insisted on coming over to help. As soon as she arrived I noticed Chloe's contact was missing. Seriously? After a quick search, Angela's little one, Ari, found it and I was practically sobbing as she handed it to me.

The glass didn't pass so they surgically removed the larger chunk from his belly on Friday. Another day and $925 later:


This incision on his belly is pretty long. I'd say a good 8 inches. I finally gave up searching and cancelled my credit cards Friday afternoon.

Sunday was 9/11 and, as bad as our week was, it gave us a little perspective. This was nothing. Our dinnertime prayer on Sunday was like many others that day. We were thankful for the safety and health of our family and prayed for those who've lost loved ones. And we prayed for peace. Then I found my wallet between the two cushions I sit on a the computer. Doh!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Road Trip Gone Bad

I took the girls on a road trip to Nashville this weekend. It was a big deal for everyone. It was a big deal for me because it's been about 10 years since I've driven five hours by myself. Dave always drives when we're together and that's fine with me. It was a big deal for Dave because he hates for the girls to go anywhere in the car unnecessarily. (It's just safer to not.) It was a big deal for Solana and I because we would get to see her old Colorado friends. We've seen them once since we moved almost 3 years ago. Solana and the little girl have known each other since the mom and I began carpooling together 6 years ago. They were just babies at the time.

The girls did pretty well on the drive down. I left at 5am so they slept the first two hours. Chloe was a little fussy the last hour or so. I had a box full of toys up front with me and kept handing new ones back to Solana who would present them to Chloe. I didn't run out so that was good.

But the trip back was a different story. Chloe had just endured three hours awake in the van the day before and wasn't interested in doing it again just one day later. After an hour she started crying. Then screaming. It lasted a good hour, maybe longer, before we made it to our pit stop. I knew that she was fine and there was nothing I could do to console her so I just kept driving. But then I began to doubt myself. There are other mothers who couldn't bear to let their kids scream that long. I pulled over to check her and she immediately stopped crying. I opened her door and she greeted me with a smile and, "Hi!" She was fine. Not dirty. Not in pain. The only thing I accomplished was waking Solana from her nap and upsetting Chloe even more when we took off again. Dangit! I hate when I doubt myself!

When we finally made it to our pit stop I couldn't bear putting them back in right away so we went to McDonald's for dinner and I let them play in the playground (a first). We doddled there for quite a long time. Then we got gas and went to the grocery store. I bought 7 half gallons of Blue Bell ice cream! Hahaha! This is the BEST ice cream ever! It's made in Brenham, Texas and I can't get it in Ohio so I filled up the cooler with ice cream and ice.** After an hour and a half wasted we hit the road again. Dave was less than pleased that I'd be driving until 11:30pm but later understood why I needed to give the girls a break. We drove through Louisville at 9pm and Solana got to see fireworks from the van. She was very excited! I was happy to hear her oooh-ing and aaaah-ing. Then they both fell asleep. It was pouring rain for our drive and I was a little nervous. Kentucky is truly hilly and we were constantly driving on bridges. Thankfully, I was part of a long caravan going 50 in a 70mph zone and that gave my white knuckles some comfort. Plus, the rain kept me on my toes. No zoning out on that drive! We finally made it home at 11:40pm or so and I was exhausted.

Unfortunately, the visit did not go well. We ended up leaving a day early and didn't really have a good time but I don't care to get into that here. Solana and I will have an interesting memory to talk about in 10 years or so. Our big road trip and how it went wrong. It was nice to get back a day early, though! We enjoyed a lazy family Labor Day snuggled on the couch and doing pretty much nothing (except eat lots of ice cream!)

**When we got home Dave was shocked at the amount of ice cream I bought. "That stuff goes bad, you know. We going to have to give some away." "Nooooo! I can't bear the thought!" Hahaha!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fun With Chloe

I don't know if it's Solana starting first grade or what but I'm in super documentation mode. I want to document every single thing the girls do. Maybe it's just because time seems to be flying by so quickly and they're changing so much that I just want to hang on to their little adorable selves somehow.

Chloe and I had a fun moment this morning. She knows what glasses are and often points to her glasses and then mine saying, "dla-heh." She did it this morning as soon as I took her out of bed but this time she actually took my glasses off my face. Then, with the other hand, she pulled her own glasses off, and finally, put mine on her face. The camera just happened to be close by so I grabbed a few shots.

Then Chloe did something totally out of character. She started hamming it up for the camera. Normally, she gets very serious in front of the camera and just stares. But this morning she was all smiles. After I took a few pictures she wanted to look at the camera to see them. Just the other day we were watching a video of our friend, Daphne, playing with her doll. Chloe watched it intently. I wonder if she's starting to understand the concept of cameras and how she can take a picture or video and then look at it. She called her self "beebee" when we looked at the pictures. Melt.