Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Indy

We had a very fun 24 hours in Indy with Spork's birthfamily.  We had one relaxing "open house" style family gathering.  Aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents arrived to dote on Spork.  And there was enough doting to go around for the Nugget and Tater, too. 

 The brothers in a heated game of Connect Four.  Luckily Aunt A was there to referee.

The boys with cousins L&Z.  Do you see the maniacal look on L (the blond's) face?  Ooo, she is the Nugget's equal when it comes to giddy silliness.

Mimi and Bobby scouted out a new secret spot in the city for the kids to explore.  The Rhythm Discovery Center was a hands-on wonderland for our little music lovers.  It was the perfect thing to do before tucking the three back in the minivan for the long ride home.  The babies slept like logs.

 The Nugget rocks out like a pro.

Spork and Mumsie try the xylophone.

Sick the day before the trip:  The Nugget and me
Sick the day after the trip:  Hubby
Things I forgot to pack:  Spork's toothbrush and toothpaste, my socks, Tater's comb, the nail file.
Things that broke on re-entry day:  the microwave, a kitchen shelf
Still worth it?  Definitely!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Stockings 2012

Ooo, it's time to stock up on trinkets!

Here's what St. Nick has in mind for the trio, plus sneaky ways to save, feel free to steal ideas or leave your own!  At our house, St. Nick aims to put fewer, nicer and practical things in the stockings...but occasionally breaks down and binges at the Dollar Spot - d'oh!  These will be rounded out with edibles - a few chocolates for the big boy, but also quasi-healthy snacks like yogurt raisins, animal crackers, fruit snacks, etc.

Nugget
-Chocolate milk straws - leftover from party favors
-Stainless steel spork!
-Jacks from the Target dollar spot
-Bumkins snack bag - bought as a 2-pack from babysteals.com

Spork
-Kids' flatware from IKEA
-Guiro from the Hape Rhythm Set - purchased for 30% off on Yoyo.com with coupon code YOYO30 for first-time shoppers.
-The other Bumkins snack bag.

Tater Tot
-Same flatware as Spork
-The clacker from the Hape Rhythm Set
-Bumkins sleeved bibs - also purchased on sale at babysteals

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Season's End

Ah, November.  The colder, quieter month after the golden busy days of September and October.  It still counts as an autumn month, technically, but the icy breath of winter is already here.  The trees are shutting down for the winter, the squirrels are fat and frantic, I'm pulling winter coats and snowpants out of storage, and finding that it takes a good 15 minutes to scrape ice off the Swagger Wagon.  We're remembering what it's like to wrestle mittens on babies a dozen times in 2 minutes, only to have them flung off with a devilish grin one more time.

Tater gets some leaf action, the final dry pile of the season.  She is unimpressed.

 November means finding more indoor diversions.  Spork discovers the joy of stickers.

Spork loves sitting at the craft table but hasn't quite gotten the hang of the chairs yet.  He gets up here, then he screams for help, like a kitten stuck in a tree.  His help/want yell is an aggrieved, "Mah, mah!" and I keep expect him to follow up with, "The meatloaf!  We want it now!"


Give the boy a fork and dish, on the other hand, and he's a pro.  If you have a baby learning to self-feed in the winter months, you need this bib.  But it doesn't quite cover all the bases when you have a Spork who likes to stuff things under his thighs for later.  I suppose what we need is like a wipeable bunting.

We are gearing up for our first ever Thanksgiving at home.  I am taking the easy road and skipping the turkey (heresy, I know), because Hubby and the Nugget do not care for it.  So we'll get some smokey salty meat from the Honeybaked store instead, and I'll be whipping up baked brie, cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole, the cranberry sauce from a can (Hubby loves things that come out in the shape of their containers).  Picked up a frozen pumpkin pie and whipped cream in a can; with 2 babies and a preschooler, I figure this is no time to be a purist.  It is, however, an amazing time for our family - we are really starting to feel like we are complete.  We have our fingers crossed that we will know Tater's future for certain next month.  The children are happy (well, between tantrums and sib drama, obviously) and we are all healthy, Hubby has a secure job that he loves and at which he is appreciated, I am blessed with family, friendship, and community, so there is so much we are thankful for this year.
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Baked Brie - so easy and delicious, it's almost criminal.  This is a "wow" appetizer that will make people beg you for the recipe.

1 pack thawed phyllo dough (a box usually contains 2 packs, save one in the freezer, you only need a few sheets)
pepper jelly (my personal preference) or raspberry preserves
1 wheel brie (SuperTarget carries small wheels of Presidente for under $5)
olive oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to the temperature listed on the phyllo dough box.  Take a sheet of phyllo, spray it with olive oil, stack another sheet perpendicularly, spray it, and repeat until you have about 5 sheets prepared.  Place your brie in the center, and cover it with a generous layer of the jelly of your choice.  Gently wrap the phyllo dough layers over the top and fold/press to seal the cheesy goodness.  Spray with olive oil, and bake about 15-20 minutes, or until the dough is golden and crunchy, and the cheese is melty.  If you find the cheese is still too solid, nuke it for a few seconds at a time.  Serve with whole wheat crackers.

You can also use puff pastry for this recipe if you prefer a flakier, softer, more decadent pastry around your cheese.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Spork vs. the Time Change

Spork here, with an simple instructional baby's guide to The End (of Daylight Savings) Times.

 1.  Panic. 

2.  Zzzz.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Shout-out

As another one of Hubby's business trips draws thankfully to a close, I wanted to give some blog love to the following establishments that pitch in to help an outnumbered mama rather than shirk in horror.  I'm not sure if these chains are typically kind to single parents trying to feed a brood or if the kindness is random luck depending on which employees are working that shift, but my hope is that it's an overarching chain philosophy so that others can benefit.

1.  Penn Station - not only are they delicious, but I can easily fit the double stroller through the door and park it.  They don't yell at me for using both of their highchairs, and the nice line cooks even sliced up Spork's cheese bread for me.

2.  Einstein Bagels - our location is less than stroller friendly, but a thumbs up for the kind cashier who brought the food to the table instead of calling me to pick it up.  She even brought extra napkins!

My own tips:
1.  I come prepared like a military operation, with jobs for the Nugget and baby equipment galore.
2.  I try to foster good karma by wiping down highchairs and returning them to their rightful spots, picking up all the thrown Cheerios at the end of the meal, etc.
3.  I try to feed the kids early before the dinner rush, and with all the bags and a non-walking baby, I try to choose cafeteria style restaurants where I can fit my stroller inside without blocking the traffic flow.
                       
Most of all, I'm thankful for our neighbor girl, E, who is the world's best mother's helper!


Friday, November 2, 2012

Channeling Steve Martin

It's easy to look at photos with rose colored glasses.  Yes, there are beautiful moments, and the majority of our life right now is so full of awkward moments that it resembles a Steve Martin comedy.

Scene 1:
Naptime for Tater.  I get her comfy on the couch with her binky and lovie.  I get the boys interested in quiet toys and books.  All quiet on the western front until Tater's eyes droop and her toes begin to twitch.  As she falls off to dreamland, I ease myself off the couch and make the quick/quiet dash to the bedroom.  But Spork spots me and abandons his quiet toys for the chomping gators, which he pushes frantically after me, and Tater startles awake.  Repeat scene 3x, but switch the gators for a.) the noisy toy vacuum b.) low tech with a tin and a wooden spoon and c.) the old standby, screaming.  The Nugget joins in with a whine, noticing that, "Why is it taking FOREVER for Tater Tot to go to sleep?  I need some attention!"  End scene with everyone crying, nobody napping, and Mama brewing a fresh pot of coffee.

Scene 2:
Cooking dinner.  Round up babies from the backyard and deposit them on kitchen floor with toys.  Begin cooking dinner.  The Nugget starts screaming from the backyard for no apparent reason, just 5yo angst.  Stop cooking to calm Nugget and escort him to room.  Spork starts screaming because big brother is upset.  Spork steps on Tater's fingers.  Phone rings, Hubby is going to be late and wants to chat and I testily-but-politely-as-I-can-muster remind him that I am a little busy.  Doorbell rings, Doggie goes ballistic.  Both babies poop their diapers.  I fantasize about winning the lottery so I could order takeout every single day.

Scene 3:
Daddy arrives home from work.  Instead of running to him for a cuddle, an overtired Spork simply collapses on the floor screaming in a desperate bid for Daddy's immediate attention.  The Nugget leaves his dinner on the table to give Daddy a hug, only to return to find that Doggie has helped herself to his unattended sandwich.  Screamer #2, that's your cue.  I take a deep breath, consider getting earplugs, and smile at Tater, who is wound around Daddy's leg yet maintains her composure despite the chaos...but what's this?  Mischievous girl-child is smiling because she has unfastened one side of her diaper (poopy again of course), which is now dangling down her leg.

In my weaker moments, I join in the whining and snapping and am surely sporting a pair of crazy eyes that would make Mr. Martin proud.  In my better moments, I laugh it off and remind myself how blessed I am to be in this crazy space full of live and love, sibling spats and baby food all over my shirt.