Monday, November 28, 2011

Fun with Facepaints

A month or so ago, we went to a fair and there was a facepainting booth. Haley LOVES to have her face painted, so she begged to go to the booth. However, when we went to check it out, there was a wait of at least 30 minutes, and the booth was charging $5 and up for the painting. Um... no. Not doing that. Especially when I looked at what she was doing and thought: "I could totally do that myself at home. I'm not paying for that!"

So we talked Haley out of the facepainting and went home, where we pretty much forgot about it. Then I saw a set of facepaints on sale and thought: "Ah-ha! A way to keep the children entertained!" I Googled a few techniques and ideas for facepainting and went for it. Not perfect by any means, but pretty decent. And more importantly, the kids (and I) had a lot of fun with it. No waiting, and lots of faces painted (and more to come, I'm sure) for less than the cost of having each kid get a cheek painted at the fair booth. Good deal!

Look Who's One!!

Hard as it is to believe, our sweet baby Rylen turned 1 year old on November 21. I had taken the week off (since the kids were out of school all week) and Aaron took that day off, too. So we spent the whole day having fun as a family. It was wonderful!

We started the day with homemade smoothies for breakfast.
Rylen thoroughly enjoyed his!

Next came presents... which Rylen enjoyed very much as well!

We followed lunch with a trip to Up Up Jump - where they have a big bunch of inflatable jump houses, some video games, and other fun stuff for the kids. Everyone had a really good time. (Though I don't think I would pay full price to go again.)

They really liked the big slides!

Of course, Preston found a little girlfriend while we were there. It seems wherever we go, Preston finds a girlfriend. He's quite the little ladies man!
We topped off the day with a trip to Cinzettis (awesome Italian buffet restaurant). Aaron and I had been before, but it was a first for the kids. They all loved it and want to go again. In fact, Haley has already asked to go there for her birthday next month! Rylen had a chocolate souffle for his first birthday cake and LOVED it!

It was a wonderful family day... everyone together, mostly getting along, having fun. Great memories!

(Since I didn't want to make this post enormous, I only posted a few of the many photos we took. If you want to see the big bunch - I'm probably just talking to the grandparents here - you can go to the dropshots account to see the lot.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Quick Funny from Preston

"I don't want to get married when I'm really young. I think I'll wait until I'm 11."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Confession

I love Christmas music. I have (not exaggerating) more than 20 Christmas CDs in the drawer of my desk right now so that I can listen to Christmas music all the time at work. I started listening to my Christmas music before Halloween. I'll keep listening until well into January. Or maybe February. Sometimes I'll pull it out in the middle of July and listen to it.

But none of that is what I'm confessing. No, my shameful secret is that there is a beloved Christmas carol that I just don't like. It feels a bit sacrilegious and dishonorable to say it, but I don't enjoy "Silent Night."

I know! It just seems so wrong to admit, but it's true. I know it's a wonderful message. I know there's a great story behind it. I know it's a beloved hymn that so many people find uplifting and spiritual. And I just don't like it.

It's not like I cringe and grind my teeth and lunge to change the song whenever it comes on (I reserve that reaction for "Little Drummer Boy"). Instead, each time I hear it, I listen for a bit. I feel like I should give it a chance. "Well this is the Josh Groban/Mormon Tabernacle Choir/Donnie Osmond/Lady Gaga version. (Because EVERYONE seems to have recorded a version of "Silent Night.") It should be pretty good." And I'm sure that it is pretty good, but I don't like it. So after listening for a minute, I skip the song.

I don't know if the meter is too slow or the tune too repetitive or what it is, but I don't like to hear it, I don't like to play it, I don't like to sing it. I just don't like it.

Anyone else have a Christmas Confession?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Quick Funny from Rylen

Rylen has a new trick that makes me laugh every time. When he wants to nurse he will find the Boppy pillow and drag it over to me. It's like he's telling me, pay attention Mom! It's time!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Free at last...

I commented in my last post that I feel like I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for the last 8 years. And for all that time, I've been a working mom. Which means that along with breastfeeding comes pumping.

I hate pumping. I hate hooking myself up to the pump like a cow in a milking station. I hate how much time it takes. I hate having to schedule my day around it. I hate that I have to paper over my office window to have privacy while I pump because it makes my office feel closed off and claustrophobic. I hate that even with all the time, effort, and money (I have tried a LOT of different pumps over the years - and they are pricey!), I still can't pump enough to avoid supplementing with formula. (Mind you, I'm not one who thinks that formula is inherently bad. I'm fine with formula on a philosophical level. But it's really expensive!)

But because I'm trying to do my best as a working mom, I keep pumping. I set a date for myself: "If I can just keep pumping until he's one, I'll be successful." And then I would give myself permission to quit. And guess who will turn one on Monday? That's right, hard as it is to believe, it's already been a year since our little sweetheart was born. And it's a bittersweet thought. My baby... my last baby... and he's turning one already.

So while I'll keep nursing him morning and night as long as he's interested (well, within reason... I'm not going to be one of those moms nursing a 5-year-old), I have officially just finished my last pumping session. I am free from the tyranny of the pumping schedule! I no longer have to attach myself to the milking machine! (Though it is a really nice pump - anyone looking to buy a double-electric Medela Pump In Style?) I don't have to cart home little baggies of milk each night - always hoping that I remember to put them away in the fridge when I get home. (Because there's nothing worse than going to the effort to pump, and then wasting the milk.) I am free!!

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go tear the paper off my office window.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Miracle of the Nasonex

I remember when my allergies got so bad. I mean, I've always had allergies, but it was mostly just a bit of a drippy nose during hayfever season. But the summer I was pregnant with Haley, my allergies suddenly went berserk. I couldn't go more than a few minutes without sneezing, having to wipe a drippy nose, dealing with red, itchy eyes... it was miserable. It was worst at work and I had an awesome boss who tried to help. She got the cleaning people to switch to a non-citrus cleaner for our area (since I'm known to be allergic to citrus) and bought an air purifier for my cubicle. Nothing seemed to help. And of course, since I was pregnant, there wasn't much the doctors could do for me, either. This was before Claritin and Zyrtec were approved during pregnancy. Only Benedryl was allowed - which puts me straight to sleep.

So I coped with it and hoped that it was something pregnancy-related and it would disappear after the baby was born. But it didn't my new and improved allergies stayed with me. I handled them with various over-the-counter medications which were usually less than successful, but at least better than nothing. I kept telling myself I would go to the doctor and ask for something really strong. But as you know, we have 4 young kids fairly close together. It seems like I have been pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding for pretty much the last 8 1/2 years. Since all of those conditions preclude strong medication, I just never got anything better. I was thrilled when at least Zyrtec and Claritin were approved for pregnancy and breastfeeding, because I could at least have that much help. But mostly I have sniffled and sneezed my way through life since 2003.

This last summer was the WORST allergy season I can remember. I know it was bad for a lot of people, because we commiserated together on Facebook. I was a perpetual mess. I couldn't see through my itchy, swollen eyes. I could stand-in for Rudolph because my nose was so red from the constant wiping. I interrupted every meeting and conference call with multiple sneezing fits. I kept thinking, "As soon as we have the first good freeze or snowstorm, that should take care of the pollen and my allergies will settle down."

Only they didn't. I was so miserable. This time I was really motivated to see the doctor and get that better medicine. "As soon as Rylen is done nursing," I told myself, "I'm getting the good stuff!" And while I would not want to rush weaning him, I was really looking forward to finally doing something about the allergies.

About a month ago, I had a doctor's appointment to have a mole removed and I was having a major allergy attack that day. At the end of our appointment, the doctor commented that I seemed to have a pretty bad cold. When I told her that it was actually allergies, she empathized because she has bad allergies, too. She asked if I had tried Nasonex, because it had worked wonders for her. I asked if it was okay to use during breastfeeding and she assured me it was and gave me a sample.

It took a few days to really kick in, but since then - it is miraculous! I can go an entire day without sneezing sometimes! I no longer go through a box of tissues in less than a week! My nose is not stuffy. I can actually wear makeup without immediately wiping it off again from blowing my nose! THIS STUFF IS AMAZING.

I only kick myself for always assuming that anything that worked would not be allowed during pregnancy or breastfeeding. I probably could have had this years ago. But no point in dwelling on that... instead, I am just overjoyed at the miracle of the Nasonex.

Monday, November 14, 2011


We went to Cinzetti's (a local Italian buffet) a few weeks ago for my birthday dinner and it was great. I've been wanting to back ever since. One thing I particularly loved were the arancini. These are risotto balls that are breaded and fried and they are SO good.

While I still had these on my mind, I was flipping past the food channel and saw Michael Chiarello making arancini. I stopped to watch and realized that while his method was kind of complicated (beginning as it did with making risotto from scratch), I thought I could probably simplify things for myself.

I started by making Rice-a-Roni for the kids' dinner on Saturday night. I realize that Rice-a-Roni is not risotto. However, it's a whole lot quicker and easier to make! When I'm doing the cooking, I'm all about quick and easy. So I made the Rice-a-Roni. (I used 4-Cheese because that's what I had in the pantry. But any kind should work.) I deliberately made more than I needed for the kids so I could put the rest in the fridge overnight. Letting the rice cool overnight makes it more glutinous and easier to form into rice balls.

The next day, I got my ingredients together.
  • leftover "risotto"
  • mozzarella cheese, diced into small cubes
  • a couple of beaten eggs in a small dish
  • a dish of panko breadcrumbs
I just took a scoop of rice (maybe 3 tablespoons? A good size handful, anyway.) and formed it into a ball. Then poked a hole in the center and inserted some mozzarella cheese and smoothed the rice back over the hole. I dipped the rice ball into the egg to coat it, then rolled it in the panko bread crumbs.

At this point, you can either deep fry, pan fry or oven fry. Traditionally these should be deep fried or at least fried in 2-3 inches of oil in a deep frying pan. But I hate to fry in large quantities of oil. I'm always afraid I'll set the house on fire. Plus what do you do with all that leftover oil when you're done? So instead, I decided I could just do it in the oven.

I sprayed a cookie sheet with a bit of cooking spray and added my arancini. I drizzled the tops with just a bit of olive oil to help them brown up. I cooked them for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then turned them over and cooked for another 15 minutes.

I let them cool and firm up for about 5 minutes, then served them with marinara sauce for dipping. They were incredible! Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and with a melty mozzarella center. I still have some rice left, and I'm seriously contemplating making them for dinner again tonight!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dreaming of Sleep

I fantasize about sleep like some people fantasize about sex. As I sleepily sit up with Rylen (who doesn't seem to believe in sleeping at night) or doze fitfully on the bus, I create elaborate and detailed pictures in my head... Sometimes it's a big comfortable bed with lots of pillows and a puffy comforter in a quiet hotel room all to myself. Sometimes it's the comfy couch in the dark, silent Quiet Room at my office. Sometimes it's even my own bed... covers cozily rumpled and inviting me back into the bed after all my family has left the house for the day.

I make up scenarios that could result in any of these fantasies coming true. Maybe work sends me on a business trip. Maybe I manage to actually find time to take a lunch break and use it to nap in the Quiet Room. Maybe I call in sick to work and then send all the kids to daycare.

*sigh* I need a nap.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Quick Funny from Brekken

"Look, Mommy, a big whore!"

"Yes, it's a big horse, honey."

"A whore! A whore! You say it wrong."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Quick Funny from Preston

Preston informed me that he didn't need to go to church on Sunday because: "I already know quite a bit about Jesus."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick or Treat

In spite of stomach flu that hit various family members over the last week and weekend, the kids thoroughly enjoyed Halloween. They had a Trunk or Treat at the church on Friday night and then parties at school and daycare on Monday followed by trick or treating last night.

Haley was a princess - of course! She is very much the girly-girl. Her whole thinking for a costume was based on what she could be that would allow her to wear "grown-up makeup."

Preston actually had three different costumes this year. He was a pirate for trunk or treat, but that costume was a little too lightweight and he froze while going from car to car. Plus the school wouldn't allow him to take the sword, which he considered the best part of his costume. So for school he opted to dress as Scooby Doo. Finally, for Halloween trick or treating, he opted for the fuzzy plush fireman's costume so he could be nice and warm without a jacket.

Brekken was a bunny - but not just any bunny. No, he wanted to be a vampire bunny! Notice him showing off his sharp vampire bunny teeth.     

Finally, we have Rylen dressed as a devil. No particular reason there, just because it's so darn cute!