Burning Down the House

Last weekend we had a bakesale to raise money for our upcoming annual block party.

I baked my little heart out: chocolate chip cookie bars, individual berry pies, monster cookie bars.

I was in such a hurry that I didn't realize I'd overfilled the monster bars pan.

Long story short: don't overfill the cookie sheet. Your house will smell like a charcoal briquette for weeks.


Prayer Spoon

For every meal, the one holding the prayer spoon is allowed to ask a blessing on the food (we adopted this practice after lots of fighting over who got to say it). And, if you talk during the prayer and you're not holding the prayer spoon, you get a time out while everyone else starts eating their meal.

Today not only did Lucy ask to say the prayer, she asked for a "really big prayer spoon." You know, for those really important prayers.


Rockin' Out
(Isn't this a great picture of T. Schuller strumming away on his second love, his gee-tar? I just thought I would include this photo 'cause I like it.)
It's hot, sticky and humid here today, so we're laying low, keeping cool inside and letting our A/C unit do all the work. This house is getting messy, I'm still stewing about bedroom furniture for Miles room, and I want to get out by myself and do some shopping tonight when T. gets home. I'll be scouring Craigslist for yard sales this weekend and hopefully getting to the Larchmere Flea Market. I don't know about you, but I could use a good weekend!


Cleveland Art

Two days ago I took the kids on a fieldtrip "over the tracks" to the other side of town, through streets whose buildings were boarded up and graffitied and teenagers roamed in herds like misguided cattle. I kept wondering if I would feel safe getting out of the car at my final destination. The GPS lady's directions took me to a huge old brick warehouse in an industrial district with those huge leaded paned windows, alot of them broken and all of them dirty. There was a bright orange splintered and peeling sliding door that would have made a great backdrop for a family photo (I've got my eye out for such special spots as we're getting our photos taken this weekend). Anyways, to make a long story short, we walked through a hallway, up two flights of stairs and went through an unmarked door to get to the offices of Pucel Enterprises, the maker of the coolest new-metal furniture I've come across (yes, even Martha Stewart and Land of Nod have them tapped). I went with Bob, the head hauncho, through an entire floor of scratch-and-dents, stacked on top of each other, some of them covered in dust. (Some pigeons had made a mess after getting in through one of the broken windows. Bob didn't seem to mind). As we walked through this huge warehouse floor, Bob would point to a specific piece say, "And that's a Martha too," or, "She ordered these for nightstands." It was really cool. Now I'm just torn as to what to buy. Do I buy this chest of drawers for Miles room (above picture)? Or, do I buy a vertical set of lockers for a more unconventional clothing storage piece? Oh, endless options! If I could, I would buy a truckload of this furniture and save it for our future home, one which might actually have a bathroom larger than a small closet.

{photo via Cleveland Art}


Just a Swang-in
He is a serious little monkey, but he can't help himself when he's in the backyard swing. He gets so excited he squeals!


Pretty In Pink

Of the many hats I wear as a Mother, beautician is one of the most fun.


Two More Things
Lucy's hair is long enough for pigtails and she is in potty-training right now. (The other day after Lucy's bath, her hair was uncombed and wet and it looked just like Bob Wiley's in "What About Bob." I couldn't stop laughing).
Aside from the fact that I have something in my teeth and my bangs are doing a slippery side-swoop, are you noticing the white shirt I'm wearing under the teal one? It is the undershirt that has revolutionized the way I dress. It is called a T-Let and it has seriously gotten me out of the shirt-neckline dilemma (you know: the shirt that is a little too wide at the neckline or is cute but doesn't have sleeves). Go here to get yours. Trust me, you'll thank me when you try yours on. They are a cropped undershirt, going just under your bra-line. It's genius because you don't have the doubled-up waistline from your shirt and your undershirt. Plus, if you're prego, they stop before the bulge. Seriously, I love getting dressed now because there is no shirt I can't wear!


Food, Glorious Food

A couple months ago I was at the grocery check-out stand and the clerk was asking me about my groceries. She noticed I had things like soy milk and lots of produce (not too weird in my book). I said I don't eat as much meat as I used to and that I had cut way back on my dairy consumption as well. Then she asked me what I do if I feel like having pizza. The picture above is what I do when I want pizza: saute some tofu (that's been dredged in panko breadcrumbs) in olive oil and minced garlic (add some salt and pepper). Then I put some good marinara sauce on top. (Sometimes I'll put it on top of whole wheat toast which is good too). I have found that it hits the spot usually.

And though I've cut back on meat and dairy, I am still enjoying desserts, as you can see in these pictures.

And these from this weekend tasted GOOD!
A note: I sometimes think it comes off as kind of elitist to be so exclusionary about food selection. That is not my intention. I just feel like these things are right for me. Every body is different and certainly we are entitled to our own opinions about what we choose to eat. And while I've excluded most meat from my diet, I have also added lots of other foods to it. I've actually discovered the variety in a plant-based diet, not the opposite. I probably eat more fiber and protein focusing on eating plants than without doing so.
My nutrition beliefs (not that I always follow them!):
  • Natural as possible (the less processed, the better)
  • Lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts, beans, tofu and coupling foods like beans and rice for complete proteins
  • Olive oil and other minimally-processed fats are best
  • Eating sugar right before bedtime makes it hard to go to sleep
  • Lots of water
And, while I'm on the subject, I thought I would share some quick, easy vegan meals that I make:
  • Tempeh sauteed with olive oil, diced onions, garlic and diced zucchini or yellow squash
  • Brown rice, pinto beans, salsa, lettuce and diced avocado (sometimes I'll crush some corn tortilla chips on top to give it some crunch)
  • Fruit smoothies: silken tofu, frozen berries, orange juice, a little vanilla yogurt (I've used honey or agave nectar before), and a banana
  • Boca burger with Perfect Broccoli
  • Bean burrito (with whole wheat tortilla) and roasted vegetables
  • Peanut butter sandwich and carrot chips
  • Roasted veggie sandwich: hummus, sprouts, roasted veggies on whole wheat bun
  • Fried rice with tofu
  • Tofu stir fry
  • Light Chicken Chili (minus the chicken)
  • Tuna sandwiches with lots of lettuce on it (I do eat tuna periodically)

I would love to hear your thoughts and what has helped you stay on track with your eating plans!


Fish Pond

We enter here to emerge into the world aquatic.

Shoes and clothes flung off, swimsuit shimmied on, and sunscreen applied: submersion is imminent.

Sometimes "painting the sidewalk" is the main attraction.

Sometimes eating dried grass clippings is the thing to do. An entire summer's worth of wading pool fun was the best $5 I ever spent.


Mt. Schuller

Base view

Aerial view


The Three Stooges

Why does someone always end up crying? At any rate, I'm glad I have these three to keep me company. They're pretty funny. For example, today Lucy fell asleep in her crib in a squatting position, with her head down in her folded arms. And Miles can sleep through the messiest of poopy diapers (how on earth?) And Finn's Lightning McQueen swimsuit was giving him the cutest little plumber's crack today at the wading pool (I fixed it after I got a good laugh).


Nip and Tuck
I bought a skimpy halter dress at TJ Maxx last week and turned it into a skirt. I love wearing skirts in the summer because they're alot more comfortable (for me) than shorts or capris. Plus, they're easy to slip on and they make me feel more feminine. I think I need to take in the waistline of this skirt and make it less puffy though. I like that it has pockets on the front to hold random things like wrappers and stray children's "treasures."


Kickin' It

Literally. Notice how Finn is wearing sandals to play soccer in. He insisted on wearing his Transformer shoes.

Lucy was up to her usual antics, like interfering the game by running on the field, trying to get our attention. She is so wily but so cute too.

And Miles has been laying low this weekend while his second tooth comes in. I feel for him, but he is so sweet, laying his head on my shoulder and chest alot.

Pretty soon he'll be out on the field kicking the ball and tackling the other boys like his older brother. I've got to hold him and kiss on him while I still can.


Last Day of Preschool

Finn's class hosted a Medieval Feast for families to celebrate the end of the school year.
Lucy particularly enjoyed the treat table, helping herself to at least two of everything, and getting me plenty of cookies (with only one bite missing).

The kings and queens sang to a smiling audience, wearing their homemade crowns decked with plastic jewels, sequins and foam stickers.

This little king melted my heart when he did the hand motions. (He wore his crown crooked the entire time).

I made these caramels last night to give to his teachers.

Good thing he gets to have the same teachers again next year. He loves them. Even if he can't pronounce their names correctly....yet.


As I lay in my bed last night, tossing and turning because this whole weaning process has made me sore and engorged, I thought to myself that having children brings on a continual cycle of pain, in various degrees from intense to mild. I had brought a baby into the world almost 8 months ago, which brought with it the pain of labor and the uncertainty of the future. And, then, going backwards in time, I thought about the pain in adjusting to nursing him, in intense shots of pain up my leg during the night while pregnant with him, and then the discomfort of nausea and the constancy of puking my guts out. And that's only nino numero tres. With each baby, there have been times when pain was unbearable, or when I have had to put the comfort of my child over my own. (I'm thinking about the middle-of-the-night feedings, the willful child who refuses to nap when I'm completely exhausted, the unrelenting messes and spills and diapers, Lucy's killer scratches at my face when she's unhappy with me). It's usually not orderly, pleasant or how I've lined it out in my head to be. Basically, I am not in control and that is a hard adjustment to make. But I am getting used to it, slowly, through the mornings, afternoons and evenings. Through sleepy nighttime reassurances and water-getting. Through pausing to collect my thoughts instead of instantly tearing into my 3-year-old who has a penchant for digging in mud and tracking it into the house. Through leaky diapers, temper tantrums, dirty bathwater, crayon catastrophes, and glitter from princess shoes stuck in the floorboards and cracks around my house that I'm sure will never completely go away. And I'm sure the opposite of pain (joy) is just as intense in other moments of raising kids. Sometimes I am overwhelmed at the beauty and pure joy of this experience. I hope that I am learning to let the joyful moments sink deep enough to hold me through the painful ones. Slowly, little by little, I am (we are) making incremental progress.


Best $4 I Ever Spent

I had a little time Saturday morning after I loaded the kids in the van and headed towards the field where Finn was to play in a soccer scrimmage.

I stopped at a yard sale and found this little treasure. I saw it and instantly fell in love.

The woman who sold it to me said it's over 100 years old. And this quote has been my personal motto since it held a spot in my Mary Engelbreit calendar as a teenager. I got the tingles just seeing it at the yard sale. It will now hang on my wall as my little treasure. Just thought I'd share.

And, this little cutie takes a bottle very well now (as of yesterday afternoon). He refused to have anything to do with a bottle until yesterday afternoon when he drank, and drank, and drank out of one. I'm feeling alot more freedom, he's getting more to drink (I think) and he is so fun to give a bottle to. I'll even let you try it if you come visit me!