Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Eeewwww! Gross!

There has always lurked inside of me a nine-year-old boy's fascination and delight with that which is truly gross. On more than one occasion, my dearly beloved cousin, whom I shall refer to as "Roberto", and I were rebuked for playing a game at mealtime in which we would take turns describing the most disgusting things we could think of. Naturally, the goal of the aforementioned game was to render the opponent unable to finish his/her meal. I don't think either of us ever was grossed out enough to stop eating, but our siblings were.

Another game from my innocent childhood was similar in nature, and involved imagining the most horrific form of death possible. My personal favorite was the idea (perhaps practiced by one of the more depraved Roman emperors?) of binding a healthy person to a corpse and leaving them there to die slowly of maggot infestation. What a happy, well-adjusted child I was...

Anyway, the last few days our family was afflicted with the puking plague. All of us were spewing from both ends, although, thankfully, Elena had only one episode of vomiting. At one point, doing yet another load of noxious, bio-hazard laundry, I thought of the old game. I don't remember if drowning in vomit was one of the things we came up with (it probably was), but if not a winner, it should definitely be an honorable mention.

Heh. Yes, at least I am recovered enough to laugh about it, right? Never fear, gentle reader, my subsequent posts will contain cute photos, heart-felt spiritual musings and light, love and holiday cheer. I will, for the most part, eschew crude references to bodily fluids and things of that nature. So perhaps this is my last chance to go ahead and admit that I still pick my nose, enjoy popping zits, and find removing ear wax to be peculiarly satisfying.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Checking in, and a check up

Vacation time is great, but I'm slacking a bit in the blog department. Got my second migraine a couple of days ago. Blech. Thank God, it was very mild. It helped that I knew what was going on this time once my vision went wonky and I started seeing flying neon triangles. I was much better the next day, although I still had the residual headache. Carlos sweetly suggested that I run to Borders by myself while he watched the kids. I love my husband! I am glad that he sees himself as a parent, not a baby-sitter.

I've got most of the kids' Christmas gifts--basically all cooking stuff. I know that they'll love it. I found a cake pan for adorably elegant tiny tea cakes, some pastry cutters, fun little pop-out cookie dough scoops and some other stuff. Most of it was very inexpensive, but they're going to be thrilled.

Elena had her first check up. She is doing great--almost 27", and just over 15 lbs. Developmentally, she is right on track. Interestingly, I was never asked about her sleeping habits. She still nurses a couple of times each night, but she is usually half asleep and it is fine with me. The nurse was relieved that we are not vaccinating, and mentioned that her granddaughter is being pressured to vaccinate and how much it upsets her. They are glad that Elena is exclusively breastfed and not in a hurry to introduce solids.

This was such a far cry from Ariana's 6 month check up, where our ped told us she was strong-willed (like it was a bad thing) and gave us a copy of the Pearl's how-to manual on child abuse. (No, that isn't an exaggeration. It is one of the most vile things I've ever read, and advocates hitting a newborn with a switch, because "if it is big enough to pitch a fit, it is big enough to get hit". They also tell a mom that she is to remain submitted to her husband even when he is sexually abusing their daughter and other twisted stuff. They are both sick and sickening.) Needless to say, we never went back to that doctor.

My mom's health is still precarious. I thought they had run a lot of tests at the hospital to rule out a heart attack, but I was told the only test they did was a stress test. She is still having pain, pressure and numbness, and she is still trying to blow it off as nothing. She hasn't made any changes, and isn't even taking her meds regularly. Stress-wise, she is near the breaking point, and yet she is considering taking on even more responsibility for my grandmother. That is a very messy situation. Realistically, moving in with my mom isn't an option, for several reasons. One of them is that you can't even walk on the floors at my parents house because of spots where they are falling through. But no one else is able to take her, either, and my mom is convinced that my grandmother would die of a broken heart if placed in a home. It is horribly sad, but I don't see many alternatives. One that did come to mind was to look for a good place here as well as in the area where my grandmother is now. If my mom could visit her every day it might make things a little easier for both of them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Book Reviews

It has been so nice being off work and having Carlos off, too. We haven't done anything particularly interesting, but we are enjoying the time off.

I'm always reading, either new books or rereading old favorites. I was actually very disappointed with a recent purchase, Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer. Normally, her books are hilarious. They are old historical romances (the romance generally consists of a couple of kisses on the last page), with remarkably witty dialog and well-done characters that usually have me giggling at each page. This one, unfortunately, wasn't very funny. The guy was a boorish jerk, the girl was stupid, and I won't bother reading it again. I'd give it a 2 out of 5 stars. If you are interested in one of her better ones, read The Corinthian or The Masqueraders.

The non-fiction book I've been reading recently is Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, by Naomi Aldort. A bit of hyperbole to follow, but there is some accuracy in it: If you read books by Ezzo, Dobson and some of that ilk, you get the idea very quickly that babies and children are BAD. They are selfish, manipulative little monsters that must be defeated by the parents against whom they are at war. This book presents a very different perspective of children who are always trying to do their best in any given situation. Parents need to validate and just deal with their own issues. OK, as I said, that was exaggerated and oversimplified. It was actually a good book that I am glad to have in my toolbox, and one that I will draw on at times. There were times when the way things were phrased made me roll my eyes a bit, but I felt like I was a better mom on the days that I applied some of the principles in the book. I'd give it a 4 out of 5. Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen was better, though.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

It has been a crazy couple of days. My mom was in the hospital with heart problems, but is doing well and was released yesterday. Definitely a wake-up call for all of us, though. Tonight we made some extra-special memories, for which I am grateful.

Carlos' parents got tickets for the Nutcracker, and we had a ladies night out. First, my mom, Carlos' mom, Ariana and Elena and I all met at Starbuzz for white chocolate steamers and coffee. On the way, we noticed all the lovely Christmas lights.

Ariana was entranced by the ballet, and so was Elena. I was actually a bit nervous about taking Elena, particularly since she had been a bit cranky earlier today, but she didn't make a peep through the entire ballet. She watched intently during the first half and tapped her hand in time to the music. During the intermission she got sleepy and dosed throughout the second half while sipping leche.

Ariana was fascinated by the orchestra, but once the dancing began she couldn't tear her eyes away. Almost without realizing it she stood and began to mimic the dancers a couple of times. She enjoyed the performance as much as anyone I have ever seen. It was such a perfect, fairy-tale night. I am sure that as she sleeps, visions of sugar plums will dance in her head.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The final final!

I gave my last final today, so all that is left is grading and the typical end-of-semester check-out, which I'll do this week. Then, I have a month off! Yay! I really do love teaching, but a month off is nice, too. Without it, I might not love teaching quite so much.

I don't mean this to be as flippant as it may sounds, but I was thinking about the last ten years of teaching, and it seems like every semester, I have students weeping during the final. Not over Spanish, at least not usually ;) It seems the whole principle of kicking someone while he is down comes into play, though, and students who are already stressed over exams go through very difficult personal situations this time of year. Relatives pass away. Miscarriage. A new pregnancy. Marital problems. Severe health issues in their children.

It is difficult sometimes to know how to respond, how to encourage them and help bear their burdens and maintain appropriate distance. I'm glad that they feel they can open up to me. For any cynics out there (I usually am one), it is generally the students who have earned a solid 'A' in the class, so it isn't an attempt to obtain mercy. I wish them grace, strength and hope in their challenges, though.

A few anecdotes for the aforementioned cynics: once, a student missed the final exam and called to reschedule. When I inquired as to why she had missed, she told me that she had gone shopping and found some marvelous sales. She sacrificed her grade, but looked fabulous. Another decided, perhaps after calculating her dismal grade, that it might have been good to have bought the book of homework assignments, after all. At the final she suggested going out and getting the book and doing an entire semesters worth of homework in the next day. I politely declined. I could come up with more. Fortunately, most of my students are responsible, rational people, though. The wackos are more entertaining, but also more fatiguing.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A chronicle of a night spent in futility

The following is a harrowing tale of realism. Granted, it isn't nearly as harrowing as what many parents endure on a nightly basis, but it is my blog and I'll whine if I want to, whine if I want to, whine if I want to...you would whine, too, if it happened to you... Well, perhaps you wouldn't, but I will.

It began yesterday with a combination of circumstances that led to me going to bed more than 2 hours past my usual bedtime. Years ago, I could pull all-nighters without even a dark circle. I would gladly forgo sleep in pursuit of any activity that seemed more entertaining, and, let's face it, unless you have spectacular dreams, sleep isn't precisely entertaining. Oh, the folly of my youth. Now, even a mere hour or two of deviation from my normal allotment leaves me groggy.

I woke up...surely just a few moments?...after falling asleep. Elena nursed and went back to sleep. For all of one minute. She squirmed and began to whimper. I try to respond quickly when my babies fuss during the night. As a compassionate mother, of course I want to comfort them in distress. As a selfish mother with a modicum of common sense, I want to quiet them before it escalates into an all-out scream that will wake the other two. If Elena is going to settle, she does so in a few seconds, and she wasn't, so I made sure she was warm and adjusted her position a little. Peace.

The peace lasted less than five minutes. She began kicking and grunting and arching her back. I could hear her tummy gurgling and figured she was having a bit of reflux. I held her in a more upright position, which helped a little bit, but not much. She started rooting around. Dilemma: I think comfort nursing is a wonderful thing, but I don't want her to get too full and then throw up or exacerbate the reflux, and although I don't have the OALD issues I did before, I was dripping a bit and knew she'd get more milk. Maybe I should give up dairy again, but she seems fine most of the time, and I love cheese...

I cycle her legs a little, she passes some gas, nurses for a few seconds and seems to go back to sleep. 10 minutes later, she is whimpering. She seems uncomfortable, but not in pain. I check her diaper. Soaked. This thing weighs a lot. So I change her diaper, button her sleeper back up and get rewarded with a beautiful smile. Awww.

She is now comfy and happy. And very, very wide awake. She starts playing with her hands, the side of the crib, and one of Ariana's socks that somehow made its way into the bed. She soon loses interest, however, and starts asking for more personal interaction. So we cuddle and play some quiet peek-a-boo, much to her delight. She doses for awhile, but everytime that I start to fall back asleep begins to make noise.

Eventually, the noises become more ominous. My little one is not yet discreet, and any bowel movements are unmistakeably loud. Another diaper change, which also involves running warm water onto our cloth wipes to clean her up, because regular wipes give her a rash. Suddenly, she lunges into a sitting position. Wow--I can't do sit-ups, and she is barely five months. If I weren't so tired, I would be excited about this new feat.

At this point, I am beginning to despair of going back to sleep. Worse, I am starting to listen to the peaceful breathing of my wonderful spouse with a bit of resentment. Since he isn't lactating, I do night-time kid duty. It doesn't make sense for both of us to be up, right? I look at the clock (big mistake) and start mentally calculating. If x=the number of minutes until I fall back to sleep, and y=the total number of minutes until everyone else wakes up... Argh. I don't even like math!

Perhaps in telepathic sympathy to my exhaustion, perhaps from the laser beam of my eyes directed at his sleeping countenance, perhaps because I move Elena over next to him, Carlos wakes up and I sweetly ask him to take the Bittykins. She cooperates by breaking into a huge grin of delight and giggling.

Joel begins to sleepily ask for leche. Usually, he will go right back to sleep. He nurses, closes his eyes and smiles angelically. Then both eyes pop open in alarm. "Mami, mami. Baby's gone!" I explain, and he jumps up to go play with Elena and Daddy. He also leaves the door open to the sweet sounds of his exuberant play. I briefly wonder if it is worth it to get up and close the door, but can't muster the energy. Carlos, truly a prince among men, happens to pass the door and softly close it.

I pull the covers over my head and pray for a miracle, aka a few more minutes of sleep. Instead, Ariana wakes up and wants to snuggle. A cuddly warm body next to me. Even better, she is both still and quiet. No, that doesn't last. Within five minutes, she loudly announces that she needs to go to the bathroom and gets up.

Two more minutes pass, and I recognize the futility, and get up. Normally, I avoid caffeine, but perhaps today I will live dangerously. The kids excitedly plead to make gingerbread men. Well, ginger is a natural stimulant, right? Or is that ginseng? Maybe, if I can get some sleep, I'll remember...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas presents

I'm already excited about planning what to get the kids for Christmas. I have some gift cards that I plan to use up to buy some cute (and fairly cheap) apron/chefs hat sets, and I plan to add some cool little cake pans. Maybe a set of measuring cups? And a cookbook for each of them. They enjoy cooking so much that I know they'll be thrilled.

Ariana has started showing an interest in music, so I'm going to pull out our old keyboard for her. Carlos saw a cool block set (or was it Legos? Anyway, something like that.) that he wants to get for Joel. We'll probably finish up with some art supplies.

Their birthdays are less than a month after Christmas, so I'm already thinking ahead. Maybe some dress-up stuff. I consider books a necessity rather than a luxury, so probably a couple of stories for each one. Joel likes dolls, but Ariana doesn't, although she loves super hero action figures, so maybe a doll accessory for him and an action figure for her.

Bittykins has enough hand-me-down stuff that we don't need to do much for her. She'll be happy with shiny gift wrap to tear. :)

It is so much fun just to think about, and thinking about it doesn't cost anything. :)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Feliz cumpleaños

It has been a fantastic birthday weekend. Saturday, my sister in law took me out shopping and helped with a new bathroom set. I love it! I've had a nice, grown-up, subdued bathroom with cream and green and blue for nearly a decade. Pretty, but boring. I found an adorably whimsical jungle set. The towels have furry monkeys and hairy manes on the lion--way too cute. I'll have to take some pics.

Yesterday was such a cozy day. Lots of snuggling on the couch (watching Star Trek, of course). We went out to the Cheesecake Factory for coffee and appetizers. No cheesecake. :D I like the cheesecake (as if that needs to be said!), but I prefer their White Chocolate Raspberry lattes. Sublime. It was perfect.

The kidlets, bless them, wanted to make me a cake. It started out well: juice, mashed banana and cinnamon. Then one of them poured in about half a container of garlic powder. Ay, ay ay. Well, it is the thought that counts, right? Anyway, their birthday hugs are the best present ever.

This morning my mom came and played with the kids while I got a few things done around the house, and then she took care of them while I had lunch with my dad, aunt and grandparents. It was nice to have lunch without having to divide my attention.

One of the best parts has been all the notes on Facebook and emails and the thread on my favorite message board. Each post has made me feel special and loved.

This is the fifteenth birthday that my beloved has made a happy one. Wow. It doesn't seem nearly that long. Being married to him is the best gift of all. He has done a zillion "little things" the last several days to make them more special, and I think that any married person will agree that those little things are actually a very, very big deal.

Many, many thank yous to all of you for reading and commenting and for the birthday wishes. I hope this will be a year of peace and joy for all of us.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy holidays, part II

After the noon meal with my family, we did dinner with Carlos' family at our house. More yumminess! My brother and sister in law brought a scrumptious ham, green bean dish and dressing, Carlos' parents brought blackberry pie, my brother in law's parents (who are officially part of our family get-togethers; the kids think they are their grandparents, too :)) brought a gloriously decadent creamy, cheesy potato dish and green bean casserole, and I had made doubles of all of the mini-croissants from before.

Again, the best part was just being with people that we love and even like. We had a peaceful, pleasant time. My dear sister in law astutefully observed that because the main meal is so good and satisfying, we rarely do justice to the desserts (although personally, I always do my best). So, since none of us are Black Friday shoppers, we agreed to all come back Friday morning for a late dessert-breakfast.

We had more mini-croissants, including the wild blueberry ones; apple pie pancakes; some savory fritters with chicken, onions, celery and sage; peanut butter kiss cookies; quesadillas and plenty of coffee. (Walmart actually has organic decaf coffee for only $6!). My mom made it over, too, and we all had a good visit. We watched National Treasure 2. I like movies about smart people.

Later, Ariana and I had a special, just-the-two-of-us, run to Borders. It was so much fun. I am used to dividing my attention. It was so cool to be able to only focus on her. Carlos, Joel and Elena stayed hime and played super-heroes together (Joel cracks me up as he runs around making the appropriate sound effects for his webs [whit, whit, whit] or robotic movements and rocket noises).

Ariana and I read numerous cook books (her favorite) plus several stories (Fancy Nancy, assorted princess tales and Clarice Bean), sipped our delicious drinks, looked at maps and talked abour far away places, and laughed together. We were gone more than two hours. On our way back, she was delighted to see all the Christmas lights. "Mami, they look like roses about to bloom".

After we got home, we began our own peculiar holiday tradition of several years: Star Trek marathons. (It's OK to laugh). When Carlos and I first married, one of the few TV shows that we regularly watched was Star Trek Voyager. We have the series on DVD, and so we watch a couple of seasons worth during our month off from classes. The best part is all the snuggling on the couch.

Happy holidays, part I

What a wonderful weekend we've had already! I don't do the whole Black Friday thing, but Thanksgiving always kicks off the whole holiday season for me. We spend most of the week enjoying Thanksgiving, then comes my birthday, then finals and vacation time, then Christmas and New Years.

Thanksgiving was so much fun. We spent lunch with my dad's family. My grandparents (and I feel so blessed that they are still living and that my children know their great-grandparents!), parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and cousins' kids were all there. Nearly all of them are fabulous cooks, so we always enjoy the food. (Digressing here, but when I was growing up, we did lots of church dinners. We learned quickly whose food was really good and whose wasn't. High on our avoidance list? The lady who mixed ground beef, ketchup and a can of beans and called it chili, andanother one who liked to use Dr. Pepper [aka cough syrup--blech] in the most unlikely dishes).

Even more impressive than the food was that it was a peaceful day. As far as I am aware, everyone had a good time, nobody's feelings got hurt, and we were actually glad to be family. Pretty remarkable with that many people, let alone people with that much history together. (Note: we didn't enter into any political discussions, although I thought I might have heard a couple of comments at the other end of the table, or perhaps things would have been a bit more acrimonious.) ;)

You know I love food, so you are expecting some details, right? Turkeys, naturally; gravy, mashed potatoes (I made mashed potatoes with caramelized onions and a touch of sharp Vermont cheddar melted inside), Pink Stuff (a family tradition that my aunt makes with cranberries, grapes, whipped cream and other yummy stuff), Green Stuff (I'm not sure, but I think it has fruit, Jello?, marshmallows, Cool Whip--you get the idea), rolls, deviled eggs, an assortment of yam and sweet potato dishes, the traditional green bean casseroles, and a bunch of other things that I can't remember.

Desserts? My grandmother made six pies. :drool: I made the mini-croissants: spiced cranberry with vanilla cream cheese, pumpkin pie, dark chocolate chip with Godiva cappuccino liqueur, and Bananas Foster. There were at least half a dozen other pies--Oreo, chocolate cream, my mom's blueberry dessert, and some others. My biggest regret about the meal was that because of Joel's corn allergy I didn't get to sample nearly the number of dishes I would have liked, since anything with cornstarch, most baking powders, etc. was out. And while you know that I love sweets, the things that I actually missed most were the cornbread dressing and gravy.

All in all, though, that probably worked out well, because later in the afternoon, all of Carlos' family met at our house for the Thanksgiving meal.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A peaceful moment--OOPS, COMPLETED POST

Our Thanksgiving Break doesn't really start until tomorrow, but it almost feels like it has already begun. I love the holidays, but no one can deny that they bring a bit of extra stress. Everyone in the house has some type of bug right now. The morning started off, (after being awakened at half hour intervals throughout the night) with my poor four year old vomiting all over herself and me and our immediate surroundings. The two year old is streaming snot, and the baby is fussy and nursing constantly, and while I am very glad she is getting the antibodies to help her stay healthy, I feel drained, both figuratively and literally. I have class in an hour. Thanksgiving is going to be at our place. And I will stop now, but you get the idea.

**********LOL. I was interrupted (surprise, surprise) and saved a draft but didn't close the window. Apparently Ariana got on the computer afterwards and decided to post it. Some of you may have been scratching your heads at the title (as an aside, do you know of anyone besides fictional characters who does that to indicate puzzlement? I've never seen it in real life that I can recall). Anyway, you probably decided that I was just desperate for a peaceful moment. ************

I think everyone has seemingly insignificant moments that stick in our minds and draw us back over and over. One of my favorite holiday memories happened over 10 years ago when I was feeling just as stressed as I was this morning. Like snowcream, it brings a bit of sweet coolness to an overheated day.

I was gearing up for finals, and for some reason that I've forgotten (if I ever knew it), I spent the evening with some acquaintances instead of studying. If I had been with some friends, it would have been great. The people I was with were nice, but we had nothing in common, and I felt out of place. We ended up in a horribly stuffy smoke-filled room where I watched the people around me drink and play pool (I do neither, and it wasn't a particularly entertaining spectator sport). It was so crowded it could induce clausterphobia. I had a headache from the cigarette smoke and was starting to have an asthma attack, and the overworked heater in there was making me feel feverish, so I slipped out for a few minutes and walked to a nearby cafe.

As soon as the door closed behind me, I could suddenly breathe. The cacophony was cut off, the air was delightfully clean and crisp, the sky was the deep cobalt of a clear winter evening, and the heavenly hosts were dancing. It was glorious. I felt such a peace and stillness inside. I knew I was in God's presence. I had a lovely walk to the cafe and was warmed on the way back with a rich white chocolate mocha.

That's it. No deep revelation, exactly, but ever since that night I've been able to close my eyes and take a deep breath and feel the stillness of that moment, the quiet in my soul. It is a moment I will be reliving many times in the next few weeks.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My favorite new holiday recipes

First, a disclaimer. With our allergy issues, we do mostly from-scratch cooking. This is great, and it has helped me become a better cook, etc, etc. Whatever. At holiday time, I am a mom with three kids under five, and I take any shortcuts I can find. I like these enough not to bother to ever do a completely from scratch version.

In the refrigerated section with the croissant dough, they have cans of Recipe Creations dough, which is just the croissant stuff without being pre-cut. A can of croissant dough would work, but you'd just have to pinch it together where it has been pre-cut. Again, this is about shortcuts. Puff pastry would be far better, but is more expensive, and I am cheap.

You also need cream cheese, sugar, a few more toppings and your imagination. A pizza cutter and a pan for 24 mini-muffins are helpful, but you could make do with a knife and 2 12-count mini-muffin pans. Finally, a couple of ziploc sandwich bags are easier than a spoon. (Reference the previous comment regarding shortcuts).

Preheat the oven to 375. Whip the cream cheese and sugar until well-blended (I use about 1/3 cup of sugar--adjust to your own taste). Unroll the croissant dough and use a pizza cutter to cut it into 24 squares. Place 1 square into each muffin well (the points will spill out a little. That's OK). Now the fun part! The kids loved helping with these.

Mix any desired flavorings into the cream cheese mixture, then put it into a baggie. Cut the corner of the baggie and squirt it into each croissant square. Add your favorite topping and bake for 15 minutes. Remove each little pastry and place on a rack to cool so that they don't get soggy.

There are so many possibilities. We added a splash of Godiva cappuccino liqueur to the cream cheese and topped it with dark chocolate chips. Yummmmmmmm. This morning we just did a vanilla cream cheese with wild blueberries on top (Ariana's favorite) and the same vanilla mixture topped with a homemade pumpkin pie filling (Joel's favorite). I want to try some almond cream cheese mixture with a cherry topping, too. Or peaches or apricots with nutmeg or cinnamon in the cream cheese? Apples, of course. Maybe a chocolate cream cheese mixture with a caramel in each one would be good, too. You could also do a savory version with ham and provolone (maybe a hint of mustard?), or maybe a sausage with red peppers, onions and cheddar...

I think further experiments are definitely in order.

Friday, November 21, 2008

New 'do

I finally got my hair cut and colored today. I really, really like the cut and color. I really dislike the pic, but it is after Elena had been nursing and snuggling and tugging on it, etc, so this is close to what I look like every day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our breakfast tea party

Yesterday evening turned out to be much better than the first part of the day. Time with Carlos can transform even awful days into good ones. The kids started exploring the cabinets and found glasses from a punch bowl set that made perfect tea cups, in their opinion. It was right at bedtime, so we waited until this morning for a breakfast tea party.

We brewed a lovely pot of cherry spice tea. We also made cinnamon rolls with butterscotch chips. They had fun mixing the cinnamon sugar, adding the chips and using dental floss to cut them after rolling them up.

Then we had fun acting silly, crooking our little fingers while drinking the tea, and speaking in haughty voices to Sir Beeps and Lady Ariana. :D

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blech. A day of disappointments...with a happy ending?

Ugh. Yesterday was frustrating and today hasn't been much better, yet.

Our dishwasher broke a week or so ago, and installing the new one turned out to be a bit more difficult than anticipated.

Yesterday, a large deposit that had cleared was charged back to my account. Problem is, since I was told it had cleared, I had already made some electronic payments. Nearly two hours on the phone and one in person visit later, I think I may be able to avoid most of the associated fees. The cynic in me, however, notes that so far every person has had a different answer and timeline version, so it is possible that the next person I talk to will change things again.

Neither the kids nor I slept more than a few hours last night.

A good friend who is about to have three kids in daipers knew I liked cloth, and after a few questions ordered over $200 worth of FuzziBunz. She woke up this morning to a huge blow-out poop and all the mess and frustration that goes with that. She is so disappointed that she is planning to return the ones she didn't use. Rationally, I could maybe help troubleshoot so that she doesn't have that experience again. Irrationally, I feel as guilty as if I had stolen a couple of hundred dollars from her family.

Finally, I had been looking forward all week to using a gift certificate to get my hair cut and colored. Since I am normally a $7 Walmart do-it-yourself haircolorist and 3x/year Supercut person, going to this salon had me very excited. It is one of the fancy ones where the tip alone is nearly double my usual cut. They just called and cancelled. I'll have to reschedule, and that is always a pain.

I want a really, really good coffee drink, a long soak in the tub with lots of lavendar oil, Mexican food with corn tortillas, a good book, and most of all, lots of uninterrupted time with Carlos. I will settle for leftover coffee from this morning, however long a bath I can get before one of the kids urgently needs me ,no lavendar oil :( , a homemade taco with the only flour tortillas that are corn-free (Joel is allergic), maybe re-reading a few pages of an old book before the bath is interuppted, and as much time with Carlos as I can get, which will most likely be full of interruptions.

To put things in perspective, though, all the little disappointments are pretty minor. The kids, Carlos and I are all well, our needs and most of our wants are met. And Top Chef is on tonight. If it is cancelled for some reason, though, I just might throw a tantrum.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kindred Spirits?

If you are one of the bloggers on my list or if you have clicked on their posts, you may have smiled at my use of the term "kindred spirits". There have certainly been days when it made me chuckle a bit. We don't always see eye to eye on most issues, to put it mildly.

I am passionate about gentle discipline, some are very pro-spanking. I prefer child-led weaning, some are appalled at the idea of nursing a four year old. I am very happy that Obama is our next president, some are very disappointed. I love junk food, some are very careful about nutrition. House keeping is very low on my list of priorities, some keep their homes immaculate. My faith is at the core of who I am, some are atheists or pagan. I love steak, some are vegetarian. They use proper punctuation, and I often don't. I could go on and on citing our differences, both trivial and important. It is also likely that many of the issues I consider important are pretty minor to them and that some things I dismiss easily go much deeper for them. And of course, most of the time many will fall somewhere in the middle.

So why do I consider us kindred spirits? At the risk of dissolving into a syrupy, happy-flower-kitty-land post, it is all about love and acceptance. I think that we all share a deep and abiding love for our families, a desire to help our children grow into loving and disciplined people who will make this world a better place. The ladies whose blogs are listed are intelligent and thoughtful. They look penetratingly at issues and at themselves. They inspire me to grow. They have graciously accepted me, despite things that probably prompt some inward eye-rolling and maybe even provoke some challenging comments. They are the kind of people that I want to keep in my life. Besides, even Anne and Diana disagreed at times (particularly on baking powder advertisements).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

An interesting sensation that requires my full attention

Isn't that how Ina May describes a particularly painful contraction, er, rush? Or am I confusing the quote? Anyway, I had a horrible migraine today that fit that description, and all things considered, labor was far more pleasant. I was in class when my vision went all weird. I had blind spots and could only see out of a narrow part of my eye. The rest was some rather psychedelic (maybe that triggered the Ina May thought? ;)) shimmering geometric patterns. I kept thinking it would go away, but after about an hour it was still going on.

Silly me. This is a fairly legitimate reason to dismiss class, no? Did I even think of it? Nope. Not because of any virtuous concern for my students or anything. I was just not thinking logically or rationally. So I call Carlos in Spanish and explain the situation and ask him to pray for me. I've never had vision problems, but I'm wondering what is up with this freak vision thing. Almost immediately, my vision went back to normal. Then the headache and nausea hit. Oh, my. I actually did a reasonable facsimile of teaching for the next 40 minutes before the tiny little cell in my brain that is still functioning came up with the brilliant plan of letting class out. I still can't quite explain why this didn't occur to me earlier, but I feel pretty stupid.

Thank God, getting home, eating (despite the nausea) and a hot bath helped. All I can say is that those of you for whom this is a frequent occurrence have my most heart-felt sympathies. I never want to do that again. Besides, after labor I had a precious, wonderful baby. All I got out of this was a residual feeling of general yuckyness and a wasted afternoon.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Maybe I am growing?

Well, the boobs, waist (or what was once upon a time my waist) and hips seem to be constantly growing, and my arm flab waving in the breeze could knock over small children, but that isn't what I meant. I was thinking recently about ways that I've changed in the last several years. Besides turning into a crunchy leftover hippy ;). For people who knew me before, probably one of the most obvious differences is that I am getting more comfortable with being around a lot of people.

I've always been the anti-social one of the family. Not really a good thing when your parents and parents in law are pastors. I like people, at least most of them, but I love solitude. Give me an endless supply of good books, good coffee and good chocolate, and I could spend days without talking to anyone. Growing up, whether it was a family gathering or a church meeting, as soon as I could slip away I would hole up with a good book. I didn't even like birthday parties. Maybe I get overstimulated way too easily, because one on one situations are much easier for me, but I've always craved time alone.

My beloved husband, however, is much more social than I. He loves being hospitable and enjoys having parties at every opportunity. Somehow without me realizing it, this seems to have rubbed off on me, at least a little bit. Every semester we have several classes over for a movie night and I cook tons of chili. Most days we have friends and family stop by. We do parties for lots of occasions, both important and frivolous. And the surprise to me is how much more relaxed about it I have become, and how much I genuinely enjoy it. So, if you are in the area and don't mind a messy house, please come by. I'd enjoy your company. Of course, if you want to bring books, coffee and chocolate, I still enjoy them, too. ;) They might be even better when shared with a good friend.

Friday, November 7, 2008

My little lactivists and their Elmo doll

Overheard as the kidlets were playing this morning:

Joel: Elmo is hungry. I think he wants a taco.

Ariana: Joel, that's silly. Elmo can't eat tacos. He can only have leche.

Joel: Oh, yes. He's too little. Come here, Elmo, I give you leche.

Ariana: Joel, usually only girls give leche.

Joel: OK, Nana. You give Elmo leche.

Ariana: Alright. (lifts shirt and pretends to nurse Elmo doll for two seconds) OK, he's done. (throws Elmo on his head).

Joel: Now it's my turn. (lifts shirt and pretends to nurse for about 15 seconds). Elmo's crying, Nana. We need to pick him up. (pretends to nurse some more). Look, Elmo's happy! Now Elmo wants a toy. I sorry, Elmo, I don't have toy for you. (hugs Elmo tight) Hey, let's put Elmo in rocket ship!

Ariana: Got it! (commences tossing Elmo into the air) Now I am a butterfly, and I will take you away.

Joel: Oh, look. Elmo did peepee. The baby did poopies, Mami. (I wonder if someone--not Elmo--might have had an accident. Thank goodness, the carpet is clean.)

Ariana: It's cold out and raining. Quick! We have to bring the blanket with us, so we don't get wet.

Joel: (urgently) Elmo needs his jacket!

Ariana: In here! (motions under blanket)

All three are now snuggling together under their blanket. :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Under the shadow of His wings

Some of you know that my dad's youngest sister died this week. She was less than eight years older than I, and has two children, 7 and 5. Please, please pray for them and for her husband. I can't imagine the grief and heartbreak that they are going through.

I have a lot of memories of M. I will probably come back in the future and share some of them. As I have been praying for her husband and children, I keep getting mind-pictures of beautiful, shadowy wings. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure of the full significance, but it is a lovely and comforting image. I believe that M is healthy, secure and full of Life right now, soaring in heaven with her Father. I pray that her family feels the loving shelter of God's embrace as they pass under the shadows right now, and that they hold tight to Him.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Where am I?

That is the standard query after any lapse in consciousness according to fiction, and although I don't suffer from fainting spells or head injuries, I have a bad habit of letting my mental multi-tasking get away from me at times. This morning I was helping the kids make cranberry biscuits, thinking about Ariana's dental appointment today, assessing the temperature and wondering at what point we should close the windows, wondering why after nearly a year of being diaper-free Joel has suddenly started peeing on the floor, reminding myself that we need to wash the sheets, planning lunch and dinner and wondering if our afternoon guests will be staying for dinner and if so what I should fix, calculating whether I should start a load of diapers or if we have enough clean ones to make it till tomorrow, nursing Elena, and...where was I? Yeah. That happens often. While I am at it, I have grading that needs to be done and posted online, student emails to return, Ariana is excited about her new schoolbook and wants some help, Joel is thirsty and asked for something to drink, I need to pay my credit card, clean the kitchen and mop the floor, and...

Most days I roll with it pretty well, but if Carlos is late coming home, I start counting the minutes. By Saturday morning I am already thinking about when class will be over and I can have a weekend. Hey, I am already excited about Thanksgiving break, my birthday, and final exams!

In moderation, I think that the ability to plan ahead and to juggle tasks is a survival skill. The tricky part is not focusing so much on what comes next that I miss out on what is right now.

One of my favorite quotes from Jim Elliot (yeah, the same guy who said, "He is no fool...") says, "Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." I need this. I am no Calvinist, but I believe strongly enough in God's sovreignty to feel peace that most the situations I am in fall into the category of "the will of God", and if they aren't, it is probably my own actions and attitudes that need changing.

So, maybe I can amend that mental to-do list, and include lots of time outs. I need them to breathe, to giggle with my little ones and snuggle close with my beloved hubby, to pray, and most of all, to listen--really listen without letting my mind wander. After all, being here is a pretty good place to be.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Apocalypse

To me, one of the most interesting by-products of all the general election craziness has been the doomsday prophecies. I have been stunned at the number of people I know who sincerely believe that life is over if Obama wins. I understand being upset if someone with whom you disagree wins. All the stuff implying that he is the Antichrist or that we will suddenly become a nation of communist-Muslim-terrorists (Inconceivable! I do not think that word means what you think it means, with a cheer for The Princess Bride. Please excuse the digression. My mind jumps track often.) sounds a bit hysterical, honestly.

I don't know when Jesus will come back. I don't know if it will be in my lifetime or hundreds or even thousands of years from now. I figure that we are all in for some surprises. I certainly don't claim to know it all, or even most of it. But, since this is my blog, I'll share my general beliefs. I don't take this personally, so feel free to be candid about any disagreements you have. My position could probably be characterized as a partial-preterist and optimistic amillenialist.

As a partial-preterist, I think that most of the events described in the Revelation have already taken place. I believe that much of it was fulfilled a couple of millenia ago. So I'm not anxiously awaiting the Great Tribulation or Antichrist, although I believe that there have been many times and places of tribulation and many spirits that are anti-Christ.

As an optimistic amillenialist, I see the Church as a glorious Bride. I remember being puzzled at times as a child when I was around people who bemoaned how terrible the world is. Their eschatology seemed to consist of "Just a few more weary days and then I'll fly away...". I've heard a lot of despair and fear lately. Is the Church truly that defeated? Must she cower under the covers and beg to be rescued because she is helpless and unable to cope in this world? What a pitiful outlook!

A life-verse for our family has been Jer. 31:17, "There is hope for your future, declares the Lord". (And no, I didn't bring it up just because my political candidate has hope as a theme. Although I agree whole-heartedly that as Christians we have been choosing hope over fear for the last two thousand years.) :) I believe that God wants us to change the world, not be defeated by it. I have hope that as we live out the truths we have been taught that God's kingdom will come, His will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Catching up

It seems like longer than it has actually been since I last posted. We had a good weekend. I taught class (and was surprised to find that an intelligent college student does not know how to tell time unless the clock is digital. Does that make me old?). Some dear friends who are visiting from Chicago came over, along with some other dear friends that we don't see nearly enough, even though we attend the same church. We had a great time. The weather here is finally the way late October is supposed to feel, and I am enjoying that.

I've been thinking a lot lately about hope vs. fear, and rejection vs. acceptance. I'm sure it will find it's way into some blog posts once I actually get some cohesive thoughts on it all. You know the saying, "Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit." Mostly, when I get the chance I just sit. Or my thoughts just run in circles, chasing each other's tails like unruly puppies. Elena just spit up, and I need to do laundry anyway, so I'll post something more substantive later.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Little surprises

I had fun last night. After Carlos fixed dinner (he is amazing at grilling!), he suggested that I run to the store to return the DVDs we had rented while he played with the kids. So I got in some shopping. Since the kidlets need some long-sleeved shirts and I heard that Kohl's had some good sales, I stopped by and found exactly what I wanted. That is a pretty rare thing when shopping (miraculous if the shopping is for bras, jeans or swimsuits), so I was happy.

Ariana loves bling. If it is glittery, sparkly, shiny and bright, she loves it. Joel, being so close to her, has been influenced by this. It's funny to me that throughout history in many cultures (not to mention the animal kingdom), guys get the glamourous duds. I don't know why it has recently changed so that in some circles that is seen as less masculine. Anyway, I found a robot shirt for Beeps that is definitely masculine but also covered with shiny gold accents. He was thrilled! He even slept in it. :) (Since Joel would prefer to go naked, except for his Spidey jacket, it is always a good sign if the clothes stay on more than a few minutes). Ariana loved her new shirt, too.

Even better, from their perspective, were the little glow-slates that I picked up. They were a little over a dollar each, but the kids consider them a treasure. You remember the little cardboard tablets with a film over them? You press with the plastic "pencil" on them and it writes, and to erase you just lift the film? The kids have been drawing and writing so much that I thought these would save paper (and be safe for any environment). Ariana drew a remarkable mouse with hers--it made me sad that they erased so easily. It was far better than I would have drawn.

At bedtime we all had a giggle-fest as Carlos told his famous Ipis and Upis stories. Joel would interject "Kiki's house" anytime a destination was mentioned, until everyone was laughing. I have no idea who or what Kiki is, or even why it seemed so funny at the moment. One of those you-had-to-be-there-things, I guess.

The kids slept in this morning, so I built them a pillow pile with all the couch cushions, pillows and extraneous comforters in the house. I'm already smiling as I picture their excitement. They love jumping in the pillow pile! Little surprises make the whole day better, don't they?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Better-than-peanut-butter cookies

Today has been a good day. It started off with lots of snuggles and a delightful thunderstorm. Ariana got very excited about schoolwork, and practiced writing and a little math. She and Joel both drew and colored, on paper this time (they much prefer to color themselves. Last night they were covered with multicolor "chicken pox"). They played on the computer for awhile. Elena was unusually fussy today, but has been happier this afternoon. Lunch was veggie quesadillas. Overall just a normal day. I did a couple of loads of dishes and one of diapers. Then Joel and I decided to do our version of peanut-butter cookies. Here's the recipe we used:

1 stick butter
1/2 C brown sugar (maybe a little more--Joel gets enthusiastic)
scant 1/2 C white sugar (to compensate for the aforementioned enthusiasm)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp? vanilla (more enthusiasm)
Slightly over half a bag of white chocolate chips (ditto)
Approximately half a cup of crunchy Sunbutter. If you are unfamiliar with it, it is made from sunflower seeds in a peanut-free facility and is perfect for those with peanut allergies. We put a little over a half cup in, but Joel stuck a finger in and tasted it, then scooped out a generous spoonful for himself.
1 C rice flour
1/3 C tapioca flour
2 tsp? of baking powder (Joel was excited here because it was almost time to put everything in the oven)
Mix well, and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. They were really crumbly at first because we didn't let them cool, but once cool they were perfect!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Exchanging Ariel for Nim

Image credit koiart71 on Flickr
The day Ariana became acquainted with Ariel was a bit traumatic. She was two, and during a moment when I was occupied with her new little brother managed to get a hold of a jar of Vick's and smear it in her eye. Following the Poison Control advice, I wrapped her in a towel and flushed her eye for several minutes with water. Even now, she remembers how horrible that was. Being pinned and having water in her eyes was pure torture. Just as it ended, Carlos arrived home with Disney's The Little Mermaid DVD. Relief and distraction!

Frankly, I despise The Little Mermaid. The songs are catchy, the animation is good, I love Sebastian the crab, but I think Ariel is an aggravating, self-centered nitwit. I really can't think of many qualities that she displays that I want my daughters to emulate. Her curiosity, perhaps. Her lack of prejudice. But I certainly don't want them to give up their voice just to get a guy. (And I would definitely hope that they would display more sense when entering into any contracts!) When things don't work out, and the evil Ursula actually expects Ariel to keep her word (oh, how horrible!), she whines for her daddy to keep her from being held accountable (even though it means sacrificing the entire kingdom. That is supposed to make things better?! It would seem that Ariel's impulsiveness and lack of forethought were a family failing). Then she waits for her prince to kill the witch.

Last week, we watched Nim's Island, and Ariana's imagination was ignited. This is truly an adventure story about girls. Nim is strong, brave, and capable. She is smart and able to do whatever needs to be done. And while I could probably pick the movie apart and dissect things that I disapprove of with this character as well, I like that at the end of the movie my daughter felt powerful and energized.

Of course, as princesses go, Ariel isn't really worse than many others. My dislike is probably somewhat exaggerated. Yet even now, girls are often portrayed as wringing their hands and waiting while the guys have the adventures. I don't want my girls to become passive princesses who must wait to be rescued, or my son to see women that way. One of my favorite verses in Daniel, that I want all of my children to internalize, is from chapter 11, verse 32. Depending on the translation you use, it says that "the people who know their God will be strong and do exploits". Another version says that they will "display strength and take action". This is what I want for my princesses--to be strong and courageous, to have the wisdom, power and capabilities to take the action that is needed, and to never give up their voice.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Making marvelous memories

Today was one of those incredibly rare perfect days. We took the kids to a Children's Museum a couple of hours away. The ride over was fun. Joel (who is still rear-facing) played giggle games with me all the way there.

The museum was awesome. I would have been wild over it as a child, and I loved it even as an adult (well, physically I qualify as an adult ;)). It is fantastic. They have made what is essentially a child-sized town, where kids can dress up in whatever role they are playing (firefighter, surgeon, etc) and practice and play. They have ambulances, a surgery station, a dentist office, a store with kiddie-sized shopping carts, a courtroom and more.

We started off with the super spider-web climbing area and slide. They played almost an hour there. Then we went outside to one of the multiple playgrounds out there. After some time on the pirate ship, we followed each other through the castle maze and the kids did several rounds with the slide there. Then it was time for the train ride, much to Joel's delight.

Once we were back inside, we explored the cave and aquarium, which led to the archeologists sand pit. Joel loved digging up the dinosaur bones in the sand. Even better, it was next to the airplane, so he got in some flight practice. Ariana loved doing the grocery shopping all by herself, but her favorite was the surgery room. I think she could have spent hours in there. She did every station from administering anesthesia to patiently repairing a knee to examining all the internal organs.

They had a beautifully stocked creativity center with paints, markers, crayons, foam stickers, glue, scissors and a variety of paper, play masks and other items to decorate. Next to that was the bubble area, with all sizes of bubbles and bubble wands.

We will definitely be coming back.

Best of all, it has been such a peaceful, joyful day. Nobody got cranky. The kids were totally cooperative and never fussed, even about leaving or being in the car for the long drive. Even the ride back was pleasant. We played catch with a rolled-up sock until the kids fell asleep. Everyone just enjoyed everyone else.

Our typical days are, well, typical. Moments of chaos, someone gets grouchy (probably me), the kids watch too much TV, someone's always making a mess. One of these days I'll do a post on exactly what happens in a normal day (my dear friend Blessed Mama did this recently, and I was impressed at all that she accomplishes in an average day). But since today was such a delightful one, I want to hold on to all the memories. On the next normal day when everything seems to disintegrate, breathing in the happiness from today might restore the sunshine then.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My favorite perfume

Miniature perfume dispensers
Image credit williamcho on Flickr
I've always been fascinated by the way a particular fragrance can instantly transport us to a certain time and place when we smelled it. As a child, I remember when I would visit someone's house my clothes still smelled like it even after I got home. Even now I think that I could identify many places and people just by scent alone.

So what are my favorite scents right now? Hands down, my husband and kids. With our allergy issues we don't even do too much on strong scents like perfume, etc., but I just love the way their skin smells. One of the most soothing things I can think of is snuggling my baby close and breathing in her scent. When Carlos was gone this summer, in the moments when I most missed him I would bury my face in one of his shirts and it was almost like getting a hug.

Of course, we've all been around people who, bless them, tend to radiate a pungent miasma of their favorite aftershave or perfume. Then there are others who only as we get very close can we smell the lovely fragrance they wear. I kind of think that that God's scent is like that. You have to get close to Him to really smell it. One of my favorite verses is I Cor. 2:14. It talks about how God spreads the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. He does it through us. I hope that after visiting Him, my clothes smell like His house.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Peace--$1.97 a roll

Shortly after I posted, Carlos called to suggest meeting for lunch. So we enjoyed a lunch out together, an hour at the indoor playground, and then did our weekly shopping. I picked up a little kindergarten workbook for Ariana, and she is thrilled to be doing school. In the same aisle they had a roll of bubble wrap--ah, the joy of squeezing and popping the little bubbles!

Someone recently asked if I enjoyed peace and quiet. I laughed at the idea. Any mom with multiple preschoolers would join me in my mirth, I know. So, no, there isn't quiet, exactly. But the kids are delightedly popping bubble wrap and the house is full of peace. :)

It's the weekend!

Yay! Even better, next week is Fall Break! Well, at Carlos' university, anyway. So I still teach all my normal classes, but he'll have Monday, Wednesday and Friday off. I'm not sure what we'll do, but we always have fun when he is off.

Tomorrow is my favorite sister-in-law's birthday. I can tease her about being older (she is almost two months older than I). We're having a party tomorrow with grilled steaks and yummy sides. The kids and I are going to make our favorite blackberry wine cake today (it's Carlos favorite, too, so he is happy about that). My beloved sister may come over today, too. We'll also probably do a little shopping. Ariana and I will work in a chapter from the Bobbsey twin books. I also need to clean (always!), do some grading and a load of diapers.

Right now Joel is cuddled up on my lap--he loves to snuggle--and Elena just filled her diaper. Ariana is asleep, amazingly. She is usually the first one up.

Well, I better change Elena's diaper and get breakfast for the rest of us. I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Almost afraid to hope, but...

I think Ariana may have outgrown her wheat allergy! I'm trying to stay calm and remind myself that a reaction could still occur, but inside I am jumping for joy. She initially tested positive for wheat almost two years ago. Because of concerns about celiac, we kept exposing her for a few weeks after eliminating her other allergens. Her reaction to wheat was strictly behavioral. It would make her loud and ultra-emotional. She'd have tantrums and be bouncing off the walls.

A year ago, she had a food challenge with out allergist and reacted very quickly. The nurse, who knows us fairly well by now, immediately recognized that that behavior wasn't typical for Ariana. The allergist agreed she was still allergic. So we have been good at avoiding it for quite awhile. She accidentally got a tiny bite a few weeks ago, though, and didn't react. Carlos and I both commented on it, but let it go.

Then I fixed tacos a few days ago and didn't realize that we were out of corn tortillas. We had flour tortillas for Joel (who is allergic to corn) and she begged to try one, so I let her, watching her carefully the whole time and telling her to tell me immediately if she started to feel yucky.

Disclaimer: I take allergies seriously, even though most of the reactions we've experienced haven't been too severe. If your child is diagnosed with an allergy, I do NOT recommend do-it-yourself food challenges unless you have Epi-pens and your allergist's approval.

She ate every bite and was happy and calm the rest of the day. She has had another taco everyday since then and no trace of a reaction so far! Her reaction to egg doesn't appear until about 5 days after exposure, so I know that she might still develop a rash or something. I am try to contain my excitement, but...wow! If we could have wheat again, it would open up so many foods for us!

No clever title--just a note about reading

I love to read. Besides eating ;) it is my favorite activity. Before Joel was born, Ariana and I read together all the time. She is starting to get to the point of being interested in longer stories, so I started thinking back to books that I loved when I was small. I happened to be on Amazon at the time and saw a great deal on the first 12 books in Bobbsey twin series.

So the last couple of days, we've all been piling on the couch together, and I'll nurse Elena while Joel and Ariana each try to snuggle (and I used to think juggling was beyond me!). We've been reading about a chapter at a time. So far each chapter has been from a different book, which is causing a lack of coherence in the storyline, but they prefer choosing the cover that is most intriguing at a given moment. I don't know when we will actually read an entire book, but they are having a good time.

Pro-life, pro-Obama

There is some very good information on this site that is worth checking out:


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Those pesky pebbles...

It seems like my two-year-old has had a runny nose for the last month. Today, however, I noticed that it has been much better. I was feeling relieved that it was finally drying up.

"Joel, how is your nose?"

(Deep sigh) "It has a bunch of little rocks stuck to it." (Note: His nose looked clean.)

"Um, you have some boogers?"

"Yes. I need you to dig them out."


Perhaps we need another lesson on the fine art of using a Kleenex.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Ultimate Back-to-School Fashion Accessory

My poor beloved husband and two-year-old were both sick today and my four-year-old had gotten her thumb smashed and was in need of some extra TLC. While I was sorry for all of them, it gave me an excuse to take Bittykins to class with me today. :)

I wore her in my wrap, so I taught vocabulary and she charmed the students. It was fun. She was so content--just smiled and then went to sleep. She loves for me to wear her, whether to class, around the house, or shopping. I love it because then my back doesn't get sore.

We originally tried the Baby-Bjorn-thing with Ariana, but she hated it and so did I. It seemed like she was uncomfortable, and it was a nightmare to get her in and out. Then my dear friend Heather showed me how to wear a wrap. Joel and Elena have both been very happy in them, and I love how much easier it makes things for me.

If you haven't used one before, just get 5 yards of fabric, fold it in half like a hotdog bun, and hem the edges. http://www.wearyourbaby.com/ has videos of different ways to tie it. It is super easy, and there are lots of possible positions. I use the $1/yd fabric from Walmart, so it is very inexpensive--you can make coordinating wraps for your favorite outfits.

I am so grateful for my deans. Two of them have gone out of their way to suggest babywearing for me, and have been delighted when I wore the kids to class. I know a lot of workplaces are not as knowledgeable or supportive. I hope that some of the students who have seen how easy it is will try it out!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Holy Ground

One trait that the kids and Carlos share is the ability to hear the same song over and over if they like it. I burn out pretty quickly, so I try to only buy the kids CDs that I don't mind hearing repeatedly. Thankfully, their current favorite is also one of mine, the old hymn This Is My Father's World, with lyrics by Maltbie D. Babcock (think of how much he must have overcome, with a name like Maltbie! That's even worse than Clive Staples, in my opinion. But I digress.). I love the reminder that God is always speaking to us. I find it so much easier to listen when I am surrounded by the beautiful world He has made--another good reason for us to try to preserve its beauty. Everywhere we walk is holy ground. Here is Maltbie's lovely poem:

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Wild nights are my glory

Image credit Striking Photography by Bo Insogna on Flickr
Ahem. I wasn't referring to *those* wild nights (although, as a very happily married woman, I consider them glorious, too. But that is another post). The quote, of course, is from one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L'Engle.

One of my favorite things about where we live is the beauty and ferocity of our thunderstorms. Even as a child, I delighted in dark and stormy nights. Carlos and our children share my love of thunder and lightening and fierce gusts of wind and rain. It releases a wild joy and exhilaration inside of me that nothing else quite matches.
Image credit Bev Knits on Flickr
Last night we got a very nice little storm. It brought to mind numerous quotes from another of my favorite writers and lyricists, King David.

"You called in trouble, and I rescued you; I answered you in the hiding place of thunder."--Psalm 81:7. What or where, exactly is the hiding place of thunder? As Anne would say, there is so much scope for imagination in that phrase!

"Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne...His lightnings lit up the world..."--Psalm 97:2, 4.
Image credit whosdadog on Flickr
 "Sing to God, sing praise to His name, extol Him who rides upon the clouds...the earth shook , the heavens poured down rain before God...You gave abundant showers, oh God; You refreshed your weary inheritance."--Psalm 68:4, 8-9.

"The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. ... The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning...and in His temple, all cry, 'Glory!'"--Psalm 29:3, 7, 9.
Image credit Striking Photography by Bo Insogna
The storm was over early this morning, and by early afternoon, the sun was out. Inside, though, my spirit is still moving in a rain dance, ready to exult with all creation as we listen to God's voice in the storm.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A moment of adoration

Elena was a bit fussy earlier this evening. I don't know what was bugging her, but something was obviously making her unhappy. On a bit of a tangent, it really upsets me when people dismiss a baby's needs as purely physical--if you are fed and have a clean diaper, then there is no reason to cry. Huh. How many times have *you* felt like crying, even though you have eaten and your clothes are clean? Emotional needs are just as valid as physical ones, and in a baby who cannot speak, how are we to know the difference, anyway?

So I picked her up, but that didn't work. We change positions, and that didn't work either. She didn't want to nurse. Finally, we found a position and rhythm while walking that made her more comfortable. She looked up at me with so much love and delight in her eyes--it was amazing how much she was able to convey without any words. It was a priceless feeling, to know that I had just made the world right for my little one. Of course, I set her down later, and she is starting to fuss again. So that is it for this post. :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Love notes, a honey bear and a chatterbox

Ariana has discovered the joys of writing. She can spell her name and the names of her siblings, so she has been writing love notes to all of us several times a day. It is so sweet! I am also excited to see her get into reading and writing. Philosophically, I lean towards unschooling, anyway, but the control-freak in me gets nervous when things don't happen according to my expectations and timetable.

While we were shopping yesterday, Joel fell in love with the little bear-shaped bottle of honey I bought. He has carried it with him ever since, including taking it to the bathroom, holding it while he slept, and pretending to add it to our food this morning. It isn't cuddly, but he is so delighted with it. He has never done this with a stuffed animal. He has not yet figured out that honey can't come out until we remove the cover under the cap. I have absolutely no intentions of helping him to learn this, either!

Elena is quite the chatterbox. She loves to talk. She'll make noises back and forth to us for as long as we are willing to engage her. It is so cute to hear her little voice and intonations. I'm betting that she is going to be a great communicator. She is remarkably eloquent for 3 months!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Whew! Lost and found

We were doing our major weekly shopping this afternoon when we had one of those terrifying parental goof-ups. Carlos and I had split up to cover different parts of the store, and I though Ariana was with him and he thought she was with me. Of course, she wasn't with either of us.

She was scared, she told me, but she remembered what to do: find another mommy with kids and ask for help. She also remembered my cell phone number and Carlos'. Within a minute we received a call and met up with her. I am still kicking myself for carelessness, but so very, very glad that she remembered all that we had taught her.

If you haven't yet read Protecting the Gift by Gavin De Becker, it is a must read! I'm so glad that we knew to teach Ariana to find a mommy with kids instead of not to talk to strangers, or to look for a policeman or employee, which she might not have been able to do. There is a lot of other great info in there, too.

Email FWD and Reply--thanks, BIL!

I am pretty sure I am not alone in having an inbox deluged with political forwards. Most of the time I just delete them, but when the religious ones are full of lies or racism, it bothers me a lot. My brother in law shares some of my feelings, I think, and after we both received the following forward, he responded to it and gave me permission to share his reply:

-----Original Message-----

Subject: Fw: Barack, Sarah and the Bible

----- Good morning folks,

I received this email today & thought it was very interesting. I know we all
have been receiving hundreds of emails regarding the Presidential campaign,
however, what I found most interesting were the comments about the Roman
columns and praying to false gods and the meaning of Sarah Palin's name.

Let us seek the LORD while He may be found and pray for mercy for our
Nation. We have become a sinful Nation & we must truly repent and seek
God's face and His favor.

God bless,
[***Dulce's friend, who may not be aware of Dulce's political views]
> >>
>> Barack,
>> Sarah, and the Bible"
>> >
>> Barack Hussein Obama has taken the nation by storm. From obscurity, with
>> zero executive experience, or much of any kind, he has vaulted into the
>> position of Presidential frontrunner. It is stunning. On the
>> surface, it appears attributable only to his eloquent oratory and his
>> race. But an invisible factor may be a strong spiritual force behind
>> him, causing some people to actually swoon in his presence.
>> I have been very concerned that he has publicly said that he does not
>> believe Jesus is the only way to heaven. This makes both the Bible
>> and Jesus a liar, and it means that Christ has died in vain. A person
>> cannot be a true Christian who believes that there are other ways of
>> forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life with God. Only Jesus has paid
>> the price for that.
>> Therefore, there is, indeed, another spirit involved. And this
>> spirit has come into our national life like a flood. Last week at
>> Obama's
>> acceptance speech, that spirit exalted itself in front of a Greek
>> temple-like
>> stage, and to a huge audience like in a Roman arena. Obama was
>> portrayed as god-like. His voice thundered as a god's voice.
>> At the end, Democratic sympathizer Pastor Joel Hunter gave the
>> benediction
>> and
>> shockingly invited everyone to close the prayer to their own (false)
>> gods. This was surely an abomination, but it was compatible
>> with Obama's expressed theology, and Hunter's leftist leanings.
>> God was not pleased.
>> And God says, "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the
>> Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him." (Isaiah
>> 59:19)
>> Enter Governor Sarah Palin. With incredible timing, the very next
>> day, Sarah Palin also appeared out of nowhere. Her shocking selection as
>> John McCain's running mate stunned the world and suddenly took all the
>> wind
>> out of Obama's sails.
>> We quickly learned that Sarah is a born-again, Spirit-filled Christian,
>> attends church, and has been a ministry worker.
>> Sarah is that standard God has raised up to stop the flood. She
>> has the anointing. You can tell by how the dogs are already viciously
>> attacking her. But they will not be successful. She
>> knows the One she serves and will not be intimidated.
>> Back in the 1980s, I sensed that Israel 's little-known Benjamin
>> Netanyahu
>> was
>> chosen by God for an important end-time role. I still believe that.
>> I now have that same sense about Sarah Palin.
>> Today I did some checking and discovered that both her first and last
>> names
>> are biblical words, one in Hebrew the other in Greek:
>> Sarah. Wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac. In
>> Hebrew, Sarah means "noble woman" (Strong's 8283).
>> Palin. In Greek, the word means "renewal."
>> (Strong's 3825).
>> Only God knows the future and how she may be used by Him, but may this
>> noble
>> woman serve to bring renewal in the land, and
>> inspiration.
The response from Dulce's BIL:

There are several things that stand out to me about this e-mail and the
author's spurious assertions. First, only Barack Obama's middle name is
mentioned. That is not an indication that Sarah Palin has no middle name.
But, it is a classic attack, guilt-by-association. Barack has the middle
name Hussein. This is supposed to make us think that he is somehow linked to
some middle eastern terrorist, like Saddam Hussein.

Let's spend a minute looking at the names Barack Hussein to discern their

Barack is a Kenyan form of the Hebrew Baruch, which means "blessed." The
name Hussein means "little beauty" or "little handsome one." The name
signifies the great depth of love the parents have for their child. An
English equivalent, one that comes from my ancestors the Irish, is Kevin,
which also means handsome beloved one. So, I'm supposed to think ill of
someone whose first two names mean "blessed, little handsome one." Oh,
that's so sinister!

Another thing that stands out is the comment that Barack Obama's frontrunner
status comes in part from his race. To be quite clear about this, according
to a study by CNN/Opinion Research Corp, Obama would receive at least 6
percentage points more support if there were no racial prejudice among
voters. (See
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/22/race.politics/?iref=mpstoryview for
more information). The truth is that Barack Obama is leading in the polls in
spite of his race, not because of it.

The next thing that is interesting to me is the notion that Barack Obama's
power of speech causes "some people to actually swoon in his presence." I
haven't found the video on YouTube yet that proves it, but it's a
fascinating idea nonetheless. Ronald Reagan was considered to be one of the
most eloquent orators in American Political history. What does he get
called? "The Great Communicator." In contrast, what does Obama get called?
An elitist that is out of touch with mainstream American values.

The second and third paragraphs of the message are an indictment of Obama's
faith. The article most used to indicate that Obama is not a traditional
evangelical Christian can be found at
http://www.suntimes.com/news/falsani/726619,obamafalsani040504.article. In
this article, Obama's Christian faith seems immature since he is not
convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will go to heaven, and he is
concerned that he does not have a lock on the truth and thinks that perhaps
people of other faiths are worshipping the same God and might also go to

But in the same article, he states unequivocally that he has a "personal
relationship with Jesus Christ
." And, as a sign of that relationship, he
publically accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior when he walked down the
aisle of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ in response to the Rev.
Jeremiah Wright's altar call one Sunday morning about 20 years ago.

I personally do not agree that all faiths lead to salvation. And I believe
that I am going to heaven and do not have doubts. But, it is simply wrong to
claim that Barack Obama is insincere in his confession because he does not
believe exactly like I do. Syndney Omarr, a prominent astrologer, was
consulted by Nancy Reagan on behalf of the Reagans before making major
decisions that affected the entire world. But, today Ronald Reagan is
considered to be a person of faith who even based his policies on it. Do we
as evangelicals repudiate the Reagans for their rather confused take on
astrology? No, but we do pass e-mails back and forth questioning Obama's

I was one of the 38 million people who watched Obama's acceptance speech. I
didn't get the satanic Greek temple vibe that the writer seemed to feel so
strongly. The architectural design for the set was actually Greek Revival,
which was the first truly national architectural style in the United States.
Greek Revival buildings can be found in all regions of the country and were
popular due to an association with classical tradition and democracy. And we
all know that democracy is a bad thing, right?

Since it's old news to try to associate Obama with Jeremiah Wright, the
author goes on to try to claim that somehow Pastor Joel Hunter's leftist
leanings are shared by Obama. Hmmm. Has the author ever read the Hunter's
Northland Church Statement of Faith? You can at
http://www.northlandchurch.net/about_us/What_We_Believe/index.html. This is
a solidly evangelical statement of faith. Again, if the author has an issue
with Hunter it must be because of legalistic reasons, not theological. I
guess since I don't agree with the author in everything he or she writes, I
must not be a Christian either!

Sarah Palin may be a born-again, Spirit-filled Christian who attends church
and has been a ministry worker. However, she apparently suffers from some
interesting character issues that also plague the Bush administration.
First, she values secrecy while proclaiming an open, transparent governing
policy. This is made very clear by the fact that she conducted state
business using a personal e-mail account hoping that no one could request to
see the e-mails using a Freedom of Information Act subpoena. If she is
acting as a Christian in all her governing activities, she would have no
need to conduct any business off the record.

I could go on about appointing unqualified, but loyal friends to high
government positions, how she characterizes anyone who disagrees with her as
"haters," how she has tried to get perceived enemies fired or removed from
political positions, or how she could not answer the question, what is the
Bush doctrine. But, this response is about how the author has painted a
negative, racist, hateful portrait of Barack Obama. Supposedly while trying
to share with us truth from God.

Finally, I'm not sure where the author get's their facts from, but the
according to most scholars, the word "palin" in Greek is a preposition which
means "again" or "backward." See this web page for example:

If there's something in a name, then I'm all for a "blessed, handsome one"
over Bush "again." With our economy the way it is, I want to go forward, not

[***Dulce's BIL***]
Obama Biden 2008