Mi Familia!!

Mi Familia!!
Roscoe, Sophia, & Emily(across top) and then I think you can figure out the rest!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Leaf Windows

I know that I missed coming on Thanksgiving and being thankful... but I was and it was a great day with the family, so I didn't have time to come on here! I figured there were others holding up the thankfulness torch on that day!! : )

Thanksgiving was just a few days ago and now it is Christmas time everywhere!
I feel the pull and excitement of it more this year than I have in awhile... Sophia is at an awesome age, she is old enough to believe in the magic of it, and seeing that in her makes me feel happy and young and magical again myself.

SOOO... before I start getting into winter time activities and crafts, I have to show you the fun project we did with leaves.

We love going for walks in the park and playing at some of the wonderful parks here in the 'Burgh. I'm not from here, so I think that I appreciate the beauty of Pittsburgh more than some people who have always lived here. The desert is beautiful in a completely different way. But. I love the leaves changing and feel so lucky to live in a place where the kids get to see the change in the seasons.

While we were going on walks together, we would pick up leaves that we thought were pretty. I would bring them home and put them in big books to dry out. I ended up with a good amount of leaves from different kinds of tress in all different colors. I put some up around the house in doorways, and the kids made "Leaf Windows".

Now, the truth of the matter is that this craft takes way more work for you than your kiddo... but it is super cute and the older they get, the more they will do... but I think it is worth it because they are awesome keepsakes! I love it when I get out Emily's old daycare stuff... it's funny actually because I've noticed that it's as much work to do it at home for two kids as for 15 at pre-school.. the extra supplies you need don't take that much more time it's the preparation you need that takes the time! : )
anyway, if you want a fun fall idea:

How to make a Leaf Window

what you need:

a bunch of dried leaves
non- toxic glue
a wet wipe-up rag( to catch any random messes,
we use cloth diapers)
see-through plastic
{ I used the bags from our diapers... I save everything, maybe to a fault...
and am always trying to use things as much as possible.
I was going to use saran wrap until I thought of these,
but think it would have been hard with Roscoe because it is so thin.}

1. Ok the first thing you do is cut two peices of equal plastic, for each window. I cut the half of a bag(from the diapers we use) into two peices(that way it was already pre-matched).

2. Then you get your table together with your supplies, a wipe-up rag, and wrangle your kids into seated positions!

3. Next , it is time to let the kids pick their leaves. I put some glue all over the plastic so they could just push the leaves onto it. This was Roscoe's first experience with glue.. and he did great!! Sophia did a good job too, they made me really proud! They had fun and so did I!

You can see that at the end Roscoe decided he didn't like the glue... but that is what the rag was for so no biggie!

The time the kids took doing this was about 5 minutes -tops! Then it took me a couple of nights to make the frames. I made them from old cereal boxes(see -crazy keeps everything lady!!). Just cut strips from the boxes and glue the obnoxious sides together and you get a nice brown(fallish even!) colored frame. Then hang them in the window. When the light comes through them they look really pretty!

I think I'd like to add some more color to the frames... with their names and also let them color around the frame... but I wanted them up before I wanted to put up snowmen...so up they went!

I am thankful for fun!
I am thankful that my kids will actually sit and do "centers" at the house.
I am thankful for my adorable children!
I am thankful to be home and able to spend an entire day playing with my kids, because they rock!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

raking leaves

Today is usually my friday. My husband has Mondays and Tuesdays off. But because of Thursday being Thanksgiving, he is working tomorrow.
That is a drag.
BUT he is working tomorrow because he has Thanksgiving OFF, so it will be ok.
A lot of people have to work on the holidays and I'm glad that we get to be together as a family! I worked on all the holidays, in a different life, way back when I was pregnant with my oldest, Emily...and ever since I have always remembered to be grateful for the opportunity to celebrate with family.

I love my family. I feel like the luckiest woman in the world when I look at what I have, as far as cool people in my life. The truth is our life is hard, and I wouldn't mind if things were a little easier... because well who wouldn't. But we have love in this house. We all have our moments, being human and all, but we do alright for one another.

Today I participated in the ritual of leaf raking. It is a funny thing what a few hours of raking leaves can do for your state of mind. For me it is a rare opportunity to be with myself and my own thoughts. Its good exercise and it makes me feel good every year at this time.

We have a huge over one hundred year old tree in our yard.
It is incrediby large.
I have a love/hate relationship with this tree.
I love our tree because it gives us amazing shade during the summer and our house is so very much cooler than the last place we lived... by almost 20 degrees during the sticky parts...and that's big!! Especially because I was pregnant in the summer.... yikes!

I hate the tree a little because of the birds and squirrels that take refuge in it, are a pain.

I love our tree because it has been here for over a hundred years and that's a long time in the city.

And I hate the tree because I am a gardener and we live in the city on a small ass plot (that we rent) and the top of this thing is crazy big... this house hasn't been taken care as well as it could.. we are doing our best but it's not ours and we could be putting hundreds and thousands into this place.. but it won't be ours when we're done... and that matters...

anyway we cut a lot of the tree down but too late in to the growing season because this year was our first year having a garden here... so we are learning. This house is surrounded by trees and the last had fun sun from every direction all the time(hence the crazy hot summers!) So I didn't have as much produce as I would have liked.. but I think it will be better next year... especially with the fantastic compost we will have come spring!! : )

the leaves from the tree provided shelter for some herbs that I hadn't harvested yet... so I got to play with smelly plants today too, which is a total score! I lost a few herbs that weren't close to the ground, but saved some thyme, oregano, and marjoram which are three of my super favorites... so that's awesome! good job tree! thank you for shedding your leaves right before the snow came...or I would have lost everything!! : )

For some reason our tree reminds me of the book the Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I love that book ...it still makes me cry when I read it to the kids .... it was one of my favorties when I was a kid.

Raking can seem like such a tedious and seemingly never-ending chore... so many leaves... but you know the number of leaves is not really infinite. It is a perfect metaphor for life really.... just keep plugging away... you'll get there eventually.. might not be as quick or even exactly what you were expecting.. but funny thing is .. it just keeps on happening. Life is all about the moment.. a bunch of little moments everyday. I just try to make more moments ones that I want to have again, than the ones I could do without...perspective is the key.

It is satisfying when you get that huge pile o' leaves too! I'm hoping it will dry out a bit and the kids can go play with it for a bit because it is so much bigger than the are.... even together!

One thing that I didn't get done that I had wanted to do today was a super cute leaf project that I have been trying to do. Tomorrow for sure, so I'll post it soon.( seems like every other day or so I get a post in)
Roscoe and I did get to build today, though which was super fun.

He is becoming such a little ham truly..he is so darn cute I can't stand it! He is our last as far as we think right now... so being my third I feel like I am constantly looking at him and thinking "aw... I'll never have another crawling baby now..." I love that he still makes noises and doesn't talk much because it's so sweet.
I love, encourage, and enjoy his accomplishments but I'm not in a hurry to send him into toddlerhood ....and tomorrow girlfriends and for the love of Pete DRIVING!... at least it seemed to go that fast with Emily. Often I wonder what the hell I was thinking starting over again with a 10 year old already... but then I remind myself that everyone is better off for it. Emily is allowed to grow up because I don't have time to be neurotic about her NOT being a baby anymore.... and the little ones get my extra patience(sometimes) because I realize that their times as young kids is fleeting. It throws a good helping of perspective into the mix having a teenager, pre-schooler, and a toddler under one roof!

Today I am thankful for Fall.
I am thankful for the exercise and my time to myself today.
I am thankful to have such a cute and loving family.
I am thankful that we all get to be together Thursday for one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008

An attempt at something new

So it is becoming obviously apparent to me that posting everyday will just NOT be able to happen... and that's ok. The point of this blog for me is to be thoughtful of my moments of joy and happiness throughout the day. And although I just started it a few days ago and have only posted twice yet... it is already working. Throughout the day while I am playing and cooking and cleaning and so forth, I have been much more aware of my joy in the last few days... thinking things like oh...that would be a good post or that could something I share with folks... or other such thoughts.

So I feel content, even if only a smattering of my thoughts actually become content up here.

My husband is working two jobs right now. On wednesday, thursday, and friday he leaves at 7:30 am and comes home anytime from 12:30 am-1:30 am depending on how busy of a night it was. He goes to his regular job from 8:00-3:30/4:00 (he is a line cook) and then heads over to a second restaurant(as a line cook) and puts in a 7/8 hour shift. This is new. within the first month of it. and it is hard. it is hard on him. hard on the kids. and not completely unimportantly, hard on me. But we have discussed it over and over and for right now I need to be home with the kids, so it is something that needs to be done.

Although there are not positive things about this... that is not my focus here, so one of the positives of this situation is I get to cook more healthful foods because he isn't here to NOT eat them, and make me feel bad about it.

So I tried (again!) to make a tofu burger that was tasty AND wouldn't fall apart. I only partially succeeded, but I think I'm close to something good here!

I'll tell you what I did and if you have any suggestions or want to try them for yourself and let me know how it went... I'm all for it!

Here goes, this is what I ended up putting together:

Tofu Burgers

1 package of extra-firm tofu
1/2 cup of steel cut oats
1 can of white beans
1/4 cup of sunflower seeds & 1/4 cup almonds
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Spices: sea salt, oregano, basil,
21 seasoning salute(an awesome salt-free spice from Trader Joe's),
powdered kelp & dulse (I put these in everything!)
celery seed, a little cumin, fresh ground pepper, olive oil
all of these to taste and anything else that might be good or if you don't like it.... leave it out! : )

{this is probably where I should state that I rarely use a recipe...I cook from taste, look, and feel...I try to tell people about what I use.. but often I have no idea...just guesstimation really ...so sorry about that!}
  1. The first thing I did was cook the 1/2 cup of oats in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water with a pinch of sea salt. I cooked them a little less than I would for porridge, maybe 15 minutes.

  2. While that was cooking I mashed the tofu with a fork. I used extra firm so I didn't feel like I needed to smash and drain...{ but that might not be a bad idea actually... b/c I did have some textural difficulties! : ) }

  3. I also put both kinds of seeds into the mini-processor and chopped them to a crumbly consistancy.

  4. I chopped the onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Sauteed the onions for about 5 minutes then added the shrooms and garlic and cooked for 7-10 minutes more until they had a nice color and smell. : )

  5. At this point I mixed everything together. I was thinking that I didn't want to use an egg(just to see if I could do without it), so for added stickiness I guess, I processed the can of beans and threw them in too (drained and rinsed, before throwing in the mini-chopper).

  6. I made 7 patties originally, they were HUGE. I put them on wax paper and put them in the fridge to set up.

This is what they looked like when I took them out to cook. By the time that I got to cooking them that night... things were a little hectic, cranky, and hungry..and they fell apart... and I WAS NOT in the mood for pictures! But I put the rest in the fridge and carried on with bathing, putting kids to sleep, cleaning, washing dishes....etc... and figured I'd try again tomorrow.

Well today(yesterday's tomorrow..hee hee...), I pulled them out of the fridge, and they were MUCH firmer. So I decided to make each patty into two patties ( to help with the size and sticking together thing) and throw them in a non-stick pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil.

...and it worked! I cooked each side for close to 10 minutes(which is a long time)... but they came out pretty good! I think that when I make them again I would use the egg. I think that would hold them together even more... I'm not even vegetarian, much less vegan, but I was just trying to see if I could do it vegan, because it makes me feels better for when I eat with my husband (you know beast of some sort on the table every night)!

Anyway, this is the final product, on some toasted whole grain bread with a little dijon mustard and some massaged Kale(an awesome raw foodie trick that I learned from a friend, and use ALL the time.) There was some breakage..I couldn't have pick it up and swung it around... but it was easy to flip and made it to the bread just fine... so like I said.. maybe an egg next time.. but I will defenitely be trying it again! Also any suggestions, or opinions about them is welcome...especially if you make them differently... I like to fiddle with my food! : )

Oh, and the kale trick is super easy!
Massaged Kale
just take a bunch of kale, remove the stems by folding it in half and pulling the leaves from the big rib going up the middle... wash in a sinkful of cold water... spin dry... then put the juice of a lemon, a pinch of sea salt, and a little olive oil in a bowl wisk it together and pour it over the kale. Reach in and massage (yes I know it sounds silly!) the leaves with the "dressing" ... let it sit for an hour or so. I rinse the leaves after that, but if you like the flavor you can leave it on... you could just spin off the excess maybe...it is a little too strong for me... so I rinse some of it off. It "cooks" the kale making it WAY less bitter without actually cooking it ...so you get all the good stuff with a lot less bitterness... total score right? : )
Today I have lots of things on my thankful list pertaining to this post:
Today I am thankful for a husband who takes care of me and our family.
I am thankful that my children eat my cooking and generally like it!
I am thankful that I succeeded (mostly) in a new food adventure, even if it took an extra day!
I'm thankful for this blog to throw stuff out there for other people to see.
Oh, and I didn't get to it.. but I'm thankful that, so far today, Sophia hasn't had an accident in her big girl undies...although it is naptime so stayed tuned for the results of sleeping in said undies (for the very first time today!!)!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

oatmeal cookies

This morning came far too early, in fact the night just turned into morning with none of that whole sleeping business occuring at all! Well, that is not completely true I did get a nap from 3:00am- when I burst into our bedroom and handed the boy child over to his father and made them both leave the room...until 5:30 when his father returned him to me in about the same fashion!

apparently Roscoe is growing right now.

truth be told he is an amazing sleeper most of the time. he doesn't sleep through the night but only nurses a few times and promptly falls back to sleep. ( and seeing that his sister NEVER slept much I do acknowledge and appreciate this in him) BUT when his brain is exploding he struggles a bit more. He is like me in so many ways...which I happen to think is a good thing! : ) but it seems he got my manic head at 2 in the morning thing... which is a bit of a drag.

He woke up at 11:00 last night before I had even gone to bed and wanted to party like the rock star that he is... ALL. NIGHT. LONG!! when I did give in and call for reinforcements Dad was not as cheerful as I was hoping...I know not too surprising.. it was 3 am.

SO- to keep things together and happy until blessed, blessed naptime(which is in the process right now...HOORAY!) my strategy is FOOD.

yeah, big shock there!

but honestly it is the only thing that will get us all through a rough morning...a constant undipping blood sugar level..until after lunch when it is officially time to rest.

so this morning breakfast was the same as every other morning, for Roscoe.

cereal(O's today), banana, & rice milk to drink the second we get up.

then some grapes and vegetable booty (puffed rice and corn with kale and kelp, a not too unhealthy snack that feels very naughty!) half an hour later while I am making the morning time snack which was the yummy part!

my new obsession, steel cut oats.

I had never had them until recently. I had always gotten rolled oats. I had seen them mentioned several times in the AR(allrecipes, my other obsession of late) exchange...so when I saw them at the local co-op I got some to try.

I make a new treat(awesomely healthful snack in actuality) that I like to call the oatmeal cookie... because well it tastes just like a really good oatmeal cookie, and let's face it, if you tell a toddler they are getting an oatmeal cookie odds are they are going to eat it with a SMILE!!

The Oatmeal Cookie

  1. Bring 3 cups of water and a dash of sea salt to boil in a heavy pan.
  2. Add 1 cup steel cut oats.
  3. Add a half cup of unsweetened applesauce (you could use a chopped apple if you wanted, I bet that would be tasty!), a tablespoon or two of TVP (texturized vegetable protien)(this tastes like the dehydrated apples chunks in instant oatmeal, and adds a good boost of extra protien, always a plus, especially during this whole brain explosion thing!), a good few shakes of nutritional yeast, a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice(or straight cinnamon), and a tablespoon of brown sugar(it's not a lot, just enough to make it slightly sweet).
  4. Cook for 15-30 minutes depending on texture preference. We are good at about 23 minutes, I think... something like that.
  5. Add rice(almond, soy, whatever you have) milk to thin if neccesary.
  6. When the texture is right serve up in a bowl, top with some raisins, a sprinkle of pie spice, pour over a little milk, and put a squeeze of honey over the top.
  7. Commence eating and making of yummy noises!!

You should try it. It is super good stuff and pretty darn good for you too!! And most importantly it helped me make it through the morning without losing my marbles!

Happy toddler # 1!

although this is a picture of her eating her breakfast today which was plain yogurt with half a chopped plum stirred into it with a little cinnamon, raisins, and a squeeze of honey over the top.

Stinker ...oops I mean, Happy Toddler # 2

He was about to be eating some oatmeal cookie numminess in this picture... I should taken pictures of the mess he made.. but did I mention I was a little tired this morning and I wasn't feeling overjoyed at the moment of clean up time!

And what's up with both of my goofy scrunchy nosed kids!

Anyway, I should actually try and accomplish something while they are still out... thank goodness for the Pumpkin, Leek, Sweet Potato Soup in the fridge for dinner... I think the mound of unfolded laundry is more than enough for me to handle today!!

Today I am thankful for Oatmeal Cookie Oats!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sock Puppets

Well, today is going to be my first post. I hope that this works out the way I see it in my mind. My hope is to use this as a tool to be as thankful as I can be. Times are tough, in a lot of aspects in my life, but I want this to be about the good stuff, because there IS a lot of good amongst the frustrations, and sometimes it's easy to foget that! As I sit here being thoughtful of my hectic and not too fun day... I realize that I barely played with my kids today...and that is probably why it was crummy. My hubby's days off are often crammed with chores we need to do together, instead of enjoying our time as much as I'd like to... but on to the positive... starting with some Sophia lovin'!!!

Tonight after bathtime, instead of going straight to bed for stories and songs, after Dad got her little brother to bed. Sophia got to make sock puppets with Dad and Mama! She got a kit for her birthday from an awesome friend of ours. So tonight we pulled it out and had a blast together! Sophia went nuts with all the pre-glued felt pieces... it was truly enjoyable!

Sophia's Superfantasico Puppet!

I have good intentions of doing a lot more crafts than we end up doing...and tonight was a reminder to make it a higher priority! It is difficult with Roscoe being so young, but I'm determined to figure out a way to do more, because it was by far the highlight of my day! I LOVE all the felt wackiness on her puppet!! And I like how my "dragon" turned out too! Right now they are all in bed, in the empty tissue box that she claimed for them... to sleep in for the night.

Al's puppet

My dragon puppet

So tonight:
I am thankful for sock puppets!! : )