Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tis the Season for….

Well, colds, for starters. Our first trip to Santa. (Thank you, OE for having an indoor, line-free, photo-op with Santa. We just "had" to buy cookies, and it was totally worth it.) Wrapping presents. Finishing (ok, starting) making presents. Working on the budget for next year. Starting to think about next year's garden. Planning trips for next year.

Ellie just had her third birthday. We got off without a "peer" party. We just had family. That will probably not pass muster next year. Ellie, Cali and I also had the opportunity to experience another kid's party the day after her birthday. I very nearly sent our regrets based on the time (12-2, i.e. nap time). However, Ellie caught wind of it and then it was a foregone conclusion :( I found out afterward that the mom hired her friend (an event planner) to do pretty much all the detail work and party prep. I hope that is not standard. I do not plan to do that. It was a beautiful setup, but it seemed a bit much for 3 year-olds.

Cali has her first cold. She's handling it pretty well. This evening, she had acute gas though and I nearly lost my sanity. I could do nothing but carry her and even that didn't help sometimes. She is about to outgrow her 9 month clothes. If I were doing cloth diapers, she would already be out of them. The problem is that she is still a bit babyish. She's not crawling, although she worms around pretty well. I still like her in onesies, but they are hard to find for sizes larger than 9 months. So far, I've found Hanna Andersson carries really nice quality long sleeve onesies (size 70 for those of you still looking for something for Cali) that even have a crotch extension so she has room to grow. But, I'll probably just suck it up and start putting her in shirts and pants. She's got lots of hand-me-downs from big sis.

The little one is a good eater. She has pretty good manual dexterity and loves to feed herself. However, we are supplementing heavily with pouches because she has such a voracious appetite. I'll mix up a version of what we're eating if it is Cali-friendly, but if it has a lot of cheese, eggs, chilies, or tough textures, I tend to go for the safety of pre-blended food. And, if we're eating out. So far, I haven't run across much she doesn't like. She did have a funky reaction to kiwi last week, but it gave me a weird reaction too, so I think they might have been unripe or something. She's taking the weaning part of baby-led weaning pretty seriously. She eats three solid meals and eschews most attempts to nurse her unless we are in a pre-bed routine.

Ellie is a real trip these days. She is becoming more cognitive and interactive. It's mostly a good development, although sometimes it can be frustrating. We've been listening to Kipling's "Just So Stories" in the car and we're about to move on to "The Wind in the Willows". I've been able to read passages from Pooh and we made it halfway through James Herriot's stories for children in one reading. I'm hoping Cali will also love stories and that both girls will develop into great readers. It's one of my favorite pastimes and I'd love to share that with them.

E also had her 3-year check-up. She is 37 inches tall and 31 pounds. I had a bit of a parental jarring when the doctor explained to her that he was only looking down her pants because he was a doctor and because Mommy was right here. Guess it's time to start talking about good and bad touches, private parts, and strangers. Joy. She's still in a diaper mindset where pretty much any adult has license to take her potty and put her diaper on at bedtime. Luckily, she is interested in anatomy and we just got a book that starts to talk about those very topics.

In other news, P is pretty caught up in the new local Crossfit box. He goes 3-4 times a week. He's working on the Brazilian Cherry butcher-block bar top for Main+Lincoln. Once that's done, he'll start on Ellie's dollhouse. Aunt C has a new job as a receptionist. She's settling in with the daunting task of learning nearly 300 names and the complexities of how to manage their phone accessibility. She's still working 3 Saturdays a month and Monday evenings for her old job, so she is putting in about 50 hours a week. That gives her exactly one Saturday a month to look for a new car.

I am overbooked. Too much on my plate and not enough time to read. As usual. I have gotten pretty comfortable with cooking dinners from scratch. It doesn't take as long as it used to. I've been using meal plans from and to select 3-4 meals to cook each week. Sometimes, I'll go to Pinterest, cookbooks, or favorite tried-and-true recipes, but the Fresh20 meals are the most efficiently planned from a grocery and budget standpoint. She has a great concept. Not all her recipes are winners, but the idea of building a weekly dinner menu off of a well-stocked pantry and 20 fresh ingredients each week is fantastic. I've cut the grocery bill in half.

"Professionally", I'm stumbling about as a committee chair for Tri Kappa publicity. We've had 2 meetings and are scheduled to have our third Tuesday to discuss the new website. I'm learning why chairing committees is not easy, although I've met a few ladies who make it look effortless (yes you, Maureen). As someone reminded me, they are basically a group project without the incentive of a grade at the end. So, some people just don't chip in as much as others or as much as you would like. They are after all, volunteers. I'm learning to be thankful for whatever people have to give. The Main+Lincoln decor committee is basically dropped. Chef started making his own calls, and I just didn't have the time or inclination to fight it. Ultimately it is his enterprise. That said, I'm still working on FB, the website, menus and other collateral. (Gift certificates are now on sale!!!) And, then I've got to start planning RV trips, family trips, landscaping, schedule the piano tuner, etc. So, my short-lived attempt at running has been put on indefinite hold pending the time when my youngest has a more solid sleep schedule and I make it to bed regularly before 11. I would like to go back to it though. Slogging through the run was not fun, but the feeling after was fabulous and it was a nice way to start the day with a giant check in the exercise column.

My favorite shot from our family portrait session.

The family.

Ellie and David holding hands.

The sign is up. Restaurant scheduled to open early 2014.

Tea with Lambchop. She finally figured out that her "friends" make better tea party companions because they don't talk back and don't take unauthorized sips of tea.

My favorite art piece this year.

Cali eating neatly.

Ellie at the party gravitated directly to the Doc McStuffins doctor kit and tried to do checkups on EVERYONE. She monopolized the kit the entire time we were there. (Good pick, Aunt Sherry!)

Here's the set-up.

Here are 5 of the approximately 25 partiers (not counting moms). They are making "twirling wands".

Chilling after Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma & Grandpa's.

I meant to fall backwards.

Ellie as a pilgrim. Note the up-cycled coffee sleeve. They didn't put out a call for those at school, so maybe the teachers drink as much as the parents.

I also love this indian corn piece.

Cali will even eat felt food.

Playing with some birthday gifts.

Count 'em. FOUR teeth!

Thursday, October 31, 2013


To be fair, I started a post about a month ago. However, it was one of those that included, "yesterday we did…" and then I didn't finish the post and it became too much of a hassle to correct the grammar and tenses, so you just didn't get to see the September edition. Perhaps I'll review it and realize it's not the hassle that explaining it is and I'll post it after this. Boy, I'm a mess.

Anyway, today was Halloween, so here are a bunch of pics. We finally have our Star Wars Halloween stuff together. Next year, Ellie will probably want to be a doctor though and our careful planning will all be for naught….

To give you an update on the girls, Cali is HUGE! She will be 9 months in just over a week. She is almost 18 pounds (if not over). Her thighs are so big that I cannot wrap my hand around them. Of course, I haven't been able to do that for a while. She finally started solids on a regular schedule last week. I was just doing lunch and dinner, but she's stopped nursing when she wakes up and this morning she got downright cranky, so today we introduced breakfast. I'm starting to find it hard to offer her variety. I have a personal challenge to not buy any jars of baby food. It's pretty easy to blend up what we eat or to mash soft foods. However, we are also trying to do a little more baby-led weaning with her, so often I'm just putting soft foods on her tray. So far she has had: roasted broccoli (a favorite), persimmon, banana, avocado, blended gnocchi with butternut squash, pumpkin, sweet potato,  tender dried apricots (another favorite), rice blend, roasted okra, and some others I'm sure I'm forgetting. The girl likes to eat. About the only thing she has outright refused is baby oatmeal with breast milk. To be fair, it's pretty disgusting cold. And, avocados. She eats them, but doesn't seem to care for them much. And, her hair is starting to come in. She might have actual hair by Christmas...

Ellie is progressing like gang-busters. She talks constantly. She sings too, but mostly to herself, so if you pay attention, she usually stops. Breakfast and lunch continue to be her favorite meals. Lately, she's been refusing to eat much of anything for dinner. She'll be moving up into the Preschool class in January. She starts her first extracurricular tomorrow. They opened Kindermusik up to toddlers (since she's almost not one anymore). I think she'll love it. Her big thing lately is tea parties. A friend recently gave her one as a "big sister" present and she won't stop playing with it. We get lots of invitations to tea, but as yet, I don't think anyone has been given leave to actually drink the tea. She is very bossy. I'm not sure where she gets that from ;)

I'm working on Tri Kappa publicity. It's a big proposition, but I'm having some luck engaging my committee. Unfortunately, everyone is scheduled to the eyeballs, so it's a little more challenging than other groups I've been in. Next up, I need to work on Marketing for the new restaurant, Main+Lincoln. I keep putting it off because the opening seems far off, but somehow I'll need to find balance or engage a sitter for a few more hours a week to get some things done. I've been trying to get to bed by 9 all week without success. On the upside, if I decide to go back to work in a few years, I think I can make a convincing argument that I stayed active in marketing while unemployed…

Rick was recently promoted to CEO. He's been pretty busy since. He'll be resuming his two-week long trips to Asia and Europe in 2014. I'm not looking forward to those. He's about to start work in earnest on Ellie's big Christmas gift, a dollhouse. Grandma Nancy is working on the dolls, and I have the task of finishing and decorating the dollhouse. I've actually had a reason to be on eBay and may have found a hobby for when I'm an empty nester (yes, I realize that's pretty far off). There is a whole other world out there made up of people who are SERIOUS about modeling small scale environments. It's pretty cool.

The power has been out for about an hour now, so before we lose internets too, I'll sign off. You'll have to use your imagination on the captions. Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Labor-free Weekend

It's still August and I'm bucking the trend with a second post this month! (Thanks, Janet for prompting me with your email :)) This week finds us in Texas. Cali has made her first plane trip. Since Rick isn't flying anymore, Cali won't bank as many flight hours as quickly. Both girls handled the flight pretty well. We had to wake them up early (in theory). In reality, Cali woke herself up about 5:30 am and Ellie bounded out of bed when I crept into her room asking, "Is it time to go to Texas?" She's a hoot, that one. Cali slept briefly on the way to the airport and then for 2 20-minute siestas during the 3 hour flight. She really didn't care for the decent. Ellie bounced all around the cabin for at least 2 hours of the flight, but she still didn't want to nap once we got settled at Grandma's. She's starting to fight naps, although the increase in whiny erratic behavior indicates to me that she's really not ready to give them up.

Today, Daddy took Ellie to Schlitterbaun, a nearby waterpark. Cali and I went with Grandfather to Half-Price books so I could soak up the atmosphere of one of my favorite browsing stores and do a little shopping. We discovered that a baby carseat is a tight fit in the back of a Fiat. Tomorrow, we get to celebrate Great Grandma's birthday with my Aunt Candie and meet Aunt Mad's fiancé. Daddy and Grandfather are planning to go to the shooting range in the AM. It should be a fun-packed day!

Since I last wrote, Dad and Ellie went car camping with the Tesla, they caught a Cubs game, the family went down to Indy for a mini-reunion (and a Star Wars exhibit), and Ellie got her second haircut.

Cali isn't doing much drastically different. She rolls sometimes, but it seems to be an accident because it's so rare. She's showing interest in solid foods and I've let her try a bit of melon, oatmeal, and tomato. I'm waiting until she can sit better to let her get too into food. She's had a recent growth spurt that has thrown a monkey wrench into our (formerly) beautiful sleep schedule. She's wearing mostly 9 month clothes and when she goes for her 6 month appointment in a couple weeks, I expect she'll be about 16 pounds. Her little legs are like sausages. I have to actually dig into the fat folds to make sure there's nothing hiding when it's bath-time. I've abandoned cloth diapering for now. The child leaked out almost every time and the laundry was getting a little ridiculous. We're transitioning to size 3 diapers now.

P has discovered the versatility of Raspberry Pi's (tiny computers) for creating interesting side projects. He has been working on time-lapse cameras for the build site and now he's working on a back seat camera for Ellie's "jump-seats" in the back of the Tesla.

I've been working on a little marketing for the new restaurant, but mostly I've been collecting ideas for the decor. It's been fun getting together with the other investors to iron out our ideas of how the restaurant should look. I'm also working out how to get a more disciplined Publicity committee going for Tri Kappa, but it's a tall order to do that from the ground up. Luckily, I had a great mentor, so I know what a good program should look like.

My garden is a mess, as it usually is by this time of year. I don't have the heart to prune my tomatoes much or the foresight to stake them as well as I should, so I usually end up with some wildness. Thus far, tomato worms are staying away, which is kind of amazing. Squash bugs and heat have decimated my zucchini plants, which is just well I suppose. Apparently, I did a decent job selecting beans, because I've had a colorful assortment of yellow, purple, and green for a while. The yellow Capitano have been the overall best producers, but my string beans have finally rallied and are producing some awesome greens and purples now. I've had a less than stellar crop of tomatillos, mostly because I squeezed them in as an afterthought instead of planning for them. I will be able to make a batch or two of Emeril's enchilada sauce though, so that'll make it worthwhile. I think I'll finally be more selective next year with tomatoes. I've been randomly planting whatever varieties sound good in the seed catalogs for 5 years and I'm finally finding some I really like (other than black cherries, which were love at first bite). I've decided I don't really care for the buxom slicing tomatoes. I have a small variety of slicing tomatoes (that I'll have to identify soon) with delicious flavor that aren't mealy. I also planted San Marzanos, which are delicious, but I've found are a little prone to blossom rot. And, my black cherries are yumtastic again this year. For sheer interest, I've got a beautiful small black and red variety called Indigo Rose. However, they are a LONG time maturing, so I haven't eaten enough to decide if they are keepers or merely interesting. Otherwise, I've decided to try to track down the Zima brand tomatoes for next year. I think they are close to Golden Sweet (F1). I normally only grow heirloom tomatoes, but I'll make an exception with these because they are delicious, which is unusual for yellow tomatoes in my opinion. If anyone has any suggestions to try for next year, shoot me a message :)

Tom, Zuzu, P, Ellie, and Cali (behind the toy bar). Can you tell whose child is whose?

Ellie and Aunt Cat

Mom and the girls

Dad channeling Steve Harvey at a charity fundraiser for the parks department.

Just a few of my tomatoes. The really dark ones are the Indigo Rose.

Ellie at Wrigley.

Enjoying nature in comfort.

Inside the cabin-tent.

Cali's face through much of the flight.

Dad and Cali

Ellie and Mommy

Ellie at the 'Bahn.