Thursday, April 17, 2014

The next scheduled bathroom cleaning is September 2015

I needed to clean the bathrooms.  This was not some OCD expression on my part (ha!), but instead an actual health concern.  There is "immune strengthening" and then there is a "public safety issue."  My bathrooms were teetering or maybe even straight up wallowing in the second category.  I mentally told my kids to suck it up and to entertain themselves.  I needed to rally the troops (i.e. gather the cleaning supplies) and advance on the enemy.

My children surpassed my low expectations and played independently quite nicely while I worked, causing only mild havoc on the rest of the house.  I, prematurely patted myself on the back as I attacked the shower.  I had saved the worst (and the most involved) for last.  It was while I was engaged in attacking mold and mildew, scantily clad in a plastic and tile box that Enna grabbed the liquid ant bait trap.  I looked up only after hearing Finn's hysterics.  "She has the ant medicine* and is spraying it all over!"

Indeed.  Enna had managed to drip sugary borax solution all over our master bedroom, yoga mat, books, and her hair.  I left the unfinished shower, to grab the ant-killer bedribbled girl.  I rinsed her hands, ineffectually wetted her hair (we had to give her a bath later to get it all out), and shut her in her room while I wiped down the sticky trail left by her play.  After the ten minute detour, I went back to cleaning the shower.  By that time, however, I felt rather defeated.  I was in no frame of mind to wage war against things so insidious as mold and mildew.  I took out some soap scum and called it good.

And this is why the bathrooms get cleaned every lunar eclipse versus something more socially acceptable like every week.

*Mr. F. must have described the ant trap to Finn in those terms.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gluten-Free Banana Coconut Muffins

My freezer has never been so full of bananas in my whole life.  This isn't mentioned in parenting books, but with the introduction of children eating solid foods into your life, there also comes bananas.  Lots of them.  We don't seem to eat bananas consistently.  Some weeks we eat all the bananas we buy and want for more.  Other weeks, those bananas languish on the counter turning brown and inedible. At that point, those brown, bespeckled things are tossed into the freezer to crystalize until I turn them into a redeeming baked good.  I am always on the lookout for interesting recipes calling for bananas.

Unfortunately, I am not a huge fan of banana-flavored foods.  As a mother of small children who eat bananas and really like bananas in all forms however, I figure this is my cross to bear--to bake and eat banana bread, waffles, scones, cookies, etc. more often than I would otherwise choose.  The easiest way to make banana baked goods more appetizing is to, of course, throw chocolate in there.  Chocolate makes everything more palatable.  But......I had this thing (called a nursing child) where I couldn't eat chocolate if I ever wanted to sleep again at night, so that surefire method wasn't available to me.

Enter Banana Coconut Muffins.  The coconut really steps up the allure of the banana.  The flavor hints of the tropics, or a deserted island, or solitude.  Suddenly these muffins seem really appealing.  I can eat one of these at the end of the long day and imagine that I am anywhere but here.  Or not.

For all of you heathens that can actually consume gluten, the original, wheat-contaminated recipe is here.  In addition to subbing out the flour, etc., I doubled the recipe (who wants 8 muffins?), replaced the sugar with honey and reduced the amount of sweetener, and slightly upped the coconut to make it an even 2 cups.

Gluten-Free Banana Coconut Muffins

8.4 ounces all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use this one)
2.9 ounces almond flour
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 very ripe bananas, mashed (1 1/2 cup)
2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces honey
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups with liners or grease.

Whisk together flour, guar gum, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together bananas, butter, honey, egg, vanilla, and coconut in a large bowl until combined well, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened.

Divide batter among lined muffin cups. Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer muffins to a rack and cool slightly. 

Yields about 16 muffins.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Let's go fly a kite!

Finn received a kite as part of his present from Auntie Yola.  Everyday afterwards, he asked to fly it.  "Today looks like it would be a good day to fly a kite," he would tell me.  I would look out the window to find it overcast and drizzly.  Another time after this pronouncement, I saw that it was sunny but deathly still.  This obviously led to a discussion about appropriate kite-flying weather.

Finally, this past weekend, the weather gods smiled down on us.  The weather was mild, there was a brisk breeze, and sunny skies.  We packed up the kids and the kite and drove to a local park.

And......Finn was terrified.  He has never seen an actual kite in action so the uncontrolled nature of its movement accompanied with its loud flapping was a bit overwhelming.  Now that he knows what to expect, I think he might do better......if I am successful in convincing him to try again.  In either case, the rest of the family had a jolly good time.  Such a fun way to spend the afternoon.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Finn's Fourth Birthday

Finn started counting down the days until his birthday right around Christmas.  (Perhaps even before Christmas had past.)  Frequently, he discussed what presents he wanted to receive on his birthday: Trains that can move on their own!  Front loader for the sandbox!  Well in advance of the actual date, he made sure I knew what kind of cake he wanted.  (Chocolate.)  I started to feel some pressure.

If you have been around these parts long enough, you have no doubt concluded (rightly) that we are pretty laid back when it comes to celebrations.  (Another description could also be "hastily thrown together at the last minute.")  I started to think that this M.O. wasn't going to fly this year, so I did a little advance planning.  Now, before you think that you are going to see some Pinterest or blog post worthy ideas come forth, let me disabuse you of that notion right now.  This is still *me* we are talking about.  What I was looking for were some really easy birthday traditions that could make the day special and were simple to repeat year after year.  I polled friends on Facebook and searched the internet.  Here is the list I came up with:

  • Decorate door (this is something my roommates always did to me on my birthday, and I loved it.  It included pictures of things I was really into at the time (Mr. Knightly) and funny quotes that I had said.  I love the idea of doing something similar.  However, this idea will have to wait until my children stop waking up multiple times during the night, which may be never.)
  • Birthday balloon on child's chair*
  • Birthday banner*
  • Special meals*
  • Special birthday plate*
  • Skype/Facetime with family*
  • Treasure hunt for presents
  • Find all the hidden 4's (or birthday year)

The stars indicate the ideas I actually implemented.  I conned politely asked my sister in-law if she would be interested/available in making a birthday banner, which she did.  It turned out wonderful, and I am excited to have something that we can use over and over again.  I ordered a special birthday plate off of Etsy--a generic one that we can use for everyone's birthday.  I made special birthday pancakes (with chocolate chips!) and made a the requested dinner: quesadillas.  And of course, we had chocolate cake**.  The best part of the birthday however was the extra time Finn got to spend with his dad.  Mr. F. took the afternoon off so that he and Finn could spend the time playing with his new train set.

In the end, I think we did a decent job of making the day special.


**A note about the cake.  The cake is a chocolate loaf cake from Smitten Kitchen.  I served it with fresh berries and whipped cream.  However, I imagine Finn looking at the picture of this cake in 10-15 years time and saying, "Really mom? You couldn't splurge for some decoration on that cake?  Didn't I even merit frosting?"  And honestly, I wouldn't blame him.  Especially as I used to, in the not-so-distant-past, make cakes like this.  I was the resident birthday cake baker for my lab group.  To be completely honest, I have never been a fan of frosting.  It is too sweet.  Also, you have to put a lot more on than what I actually want to eat so that the cake looks nice.  I actually prefer plain cake with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.  Unfortunately, what I prefer looks lame.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Crypt Babies

Oh daylight savings!  You murderer of sleep schedules and carefully orchestrated sleep routines!  I used to love you.  I, like many others, rejoiced at the lengthening of the days and the return of the sun.  Now, I shake my fist and curse.

Finn's room over time, has evolved to be the perfect sleep environment.  It is a hand-crafted cave, complete with blackout shades followed by blackout curtains so that nary a beam of light can been seen.  To add to the womb like environment, we have added white noise, and try to keep it at a perfect temperature.  We have tried anything and everything to encourage and promote sleep.  Our endeavor has been only partially successful.

I was really hoping to avoid such extreme measures with Enna.  I dreamed of having one of those kids whose pictures I see peppering the feeds of Facebook--the ones who nod off and face-plant in their dinner.  Or perhaps fall asleep trying to take off their shoes.  That would be cute.  And such a change of pace.  Ultimately, I would settle for a child who could fall asleep in a normal, dim, familiar room.  That would be cool, too.

I started noticing a troubling tendency with Enna months back, when she was sleeping in our room.  She wouldn't fall asleep until the room was sufficiently dark (meaning almost completely black).  The shortening of the days in addition to switching rooms and adding some blackout shades made this a moot issue.  Now with the extra hour of light that will only increase as the year progresses, this proclivity has again reared its ugly head.  It turns out the exhausted, tired Enna won't fall asleep unless her room is crypt-dark.  The blackout shades are not 100% effective in banishing all light.  Little slivers of sun sneak their way through the crevices.  It doesn't help that her room gets all the afternoon and evening light.  If the last two nights are any indication, it looks like we will have to double up on the light banishing features in her room as we did in Finn's.

Enna is actually my "good" sleeper.  If given a completely black room, she will put herself to sleep, happily cooing to herself as she rolls around in her pack-n-play.  This is completely awesome and new territory for me.  Like I said however, this only happens if the room is completely black.  Otherwise we just want to see mommy and play.  She also *only* wakes up 2-3 times to nurse/night.  Probably due to some protective defense mechanism or lack of sleep that interfered with memory capture, I have forgotten how often Finn woke up at this age, but it was more.

I feel, as a parent, that I have been very reactive.  I proceed in a normal fashion until I recognize a change is necessary.  My child obviously is tired but can't fall asleep due to insufficient darkness? I try to accommodate that need.  Not because I want to (obviously doing nothing is preferable), but because that is what is necessary for my child's health and my sanity.  That is why I get rather incensed when I perceive criticism.  For example, I was at church and a woman with a newborn a few months younger than Enna gave me an invitation for an activity, an activity that was held at 6:30 or 7.  The time automatically precluded me from attending as it was Enna's bedtime.  I mentioned that fact to the woman, apologizing for my decline of the invite.  "Can't you just bring her with you?" she asked.  I said no, and explained that Enna only fell asleep in her room.  She replied, "I know that every child is different, but [why must there always be a but?] we just haul our children around with us, and they learn to fall asleep anywhere."  Change the specific details, and I think I have heard this parenting gem hundreds of times.  I always want to say to them, "I am really glad that has worked out for you and that your children are so obliging" and perhaps follow that with a punch to the face.  Because seriously people, do you think that I want to be so dictated by my children's schedule?

My children.  I love them, but they will never be considered low-maintenance. *Off to search for acceptable blackout curtains so that I can have my evenings back.*

Friday, March 7, 2014

Worrying: The Family Planning Edition

I like how before I had kids, I would spout off children numbers like I knew what I was talking about.  "Oh, perhaps four, definitely three."  Four years of poor sleep and walking on eggshells around a volatile child, and I am giving childless Lady Susan the stink eye.

I worry.  I like to worry about things over which I have no control.  I also like to worry about things in the future which are subject to change in unpredictable and unimaginable ways.  As one can imagine, I waste a lot of energy in useless worrying.  So of course, I am worrying about whether or not I should have another child.

Part of me would really like to stop at two kids.  Finn is a handful.  He has sensory issues.  He is overly anxious (Ha!  I wonder were he gets that from) and lacks independence.  Enna, compared to her brother is much easier, but in respect to other children is strong-willed and spirited.  She will be a handful.  It appears that Mr. F. and I do not breed mellow, easy children.  It would be so lovely to accept our family as it stands.  I could enjoy raising my children and focusing on their needs.  I could also rejoice in never having to be pregnant again and suffer from extreme nausea and depression.  That is such a happy thought.

There is a small part of me, however, that argues for a third child.  I feel like one doesn't quite get a complete family dynamic with just two children.  I worry about a lack of a strong sibling connection when there is just the two.  (I also know that I have nothing to base this on, only limited observation.)  I am less concerned about when they are young and more concerned about feeling connected to a family and siblings when they are adults.  Both of my sisters have provided a huge blessing to me as an adult in completely distinct and different ways.  I want my children to have more than one option available to them.

You see the problem with this, right?  I have no way of ensuring that my children will be at all close to their siblings.  I could very well raise three kids that will have nothing to do with each other as adults.  This thinking also assumes that Finn and Enna can't experience the close friendship and support I desire if it were just the two of them.

In either case, this isn't the time to decide on future children.  When talking about this with my sister, she said these wise words, "You don't need to make this decision right now."  Very true.  First, I need to be getting enough sleep at night.  One of my children really needs to start sleeping through the night, and I honestly don't know which one of them that will be.  Finn also should be in school.  Things will be very different when there aren't two kids at home all day.  

So yes, I should not be worrying about this.  Yet I am.      

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

One Year

Enna at a year:
  • Is walking!  She is now tries to walk to whatever her destination instead of automatically crawling.
  • Is opinionated.  The wrath is strong with this one.  She likes to face-plant herself on the floor in abject despair if she has been thwarted in her desire.  Even if she has been denied for her own protection.
  • Is chatty.  She communicates in serious and energetic babble whether she is upset or happy.  is very communicative whether she is upset or happy.  I would love to know what she is saying.  Or perhaps not.
  • Can chill.  Finn doesn't ever chill and relax.  Enna on the other hand will recline on the couch, or on me, or on the floor, looking at whatever she has in her hand.
  • Loves the green chair.  She especially loves it if she has a view.  It is her special spot.
  • Thinks she is a preschooler.  She wonders why I try to stop her from what all the other kids in preschool are doing and learning about.
  • Competes with her brother on whom mom will hold.  Or who gets to sit in my lap.
  • Loves being held and then having one of us run her around the house.  Bonus if we are also chasing her brother.
  • Communicates using her own signs.  Chest patting means she wants to nurse.  Raised elbows means she wants to be picked up.  And one arm swinging means she wants you to run around the house while carrying her.   
  • Hates to have a barrette in her hair.  She pulls them out, and then I can't find them.  I joke that she is my free-spirited hippie love child who just needs to feel the wind rushing through her hair.
Length: 28 inches (25%)
Weight: 29 pounds, 4 oz (25%)
Head: 42 cm (75%)


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