Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Paul update

Paul is again measuring long and skinny. He's 17 lb, 3 oz (7.769 kg), which is about 30th percentile, and 27 3/4 inches (70.5 cm), which is about 80th percentile for length. He's growing well, developing well, and is happy, friendly (as long as he's in my lap), and a joy to have around.

And he's ready for Easter!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blessed

I lost my wallet. A few months ago I lost my wallet while getting out of my car. I'm pretty sure it just fell out of my lap while I was getting out and, in the bustle of pulling out Sylvia and the In 'n Out I'd purchased for dinner I lost it. The wallet only had a few things of any value to anyone else--about $13 and a couple of gift cards--but it was enough someone took the wallet.

For a while I was angry that someone took it. I kept looking at my neighbors wondering who among them would keep the belongings of their neighbor, especially when my address and picture were right there inside. I eventually concocted a story for myself in which my wallet was lost because someone else, perhaps a young, impoverished mother, needed the few dollars to buy diapers for her child or gas to get to the job that keeps her in her meager, but sufficient livelihood. Such a trade would only be fair, after all--I've been blessed by someone else's loss similarly, and in times of significant financial stress. When I was in 5th or 6th grade I lost a bus pass and my parents didn't really have the money to replace it. Shortly after I found a $20 bill--exactly the amount I needed for a new bus pass. I didn't really stop to consider the person who lost the money, just that a problem of mine was now solved. Maybe the real finder of my wallet bears little or no resemblance to the person I imagine; maybe the cash was spent on candy or fast food; but imagining something positive coming from my misfortune gave me some solace.

Today I lost my wallet again. This time apparently nobody needed anything from it; this time someone returned it to me. I am thankful to be so blessed, grateful for people who are honest.

In the same vein, I am grateful for friends who just happened to be at Jack in the balfa and offered me a ride home so I and my two kids didn't have to walk home in the rain.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sweet home San Diego

Remember way back when I said I was going to blog more so that I would feel like every day wasn't exactly the same? Yeah, then I went to Salt Lake and visited family and did some work there, so I kind of stopped having time to do said blogging. Oops.

We're back now, and it's nice, especially for the kids. Utah in a lot of ways still feels like home to me, but it's obvious my kids are really at home in San Diego. Paul chuckles whenever we do something he likes (he's got skilz when it comes to parent training) and he pretty much chuckled from the moment we stepped into the door. Sylvia, who had complained daily about going to school before our trip, made nary a peep about getting ready to go this morning, even though we got up at about 4 to finish the drive home. She took a (3 hour!) nap this afternoon, again, without complaint, and then ran around like a crazy woman when we went to visit friends for a few minutes. It's amazing. It's like my kids missed home.

There are some things I want to remember about this trip, so here they are, in no particular order:

1. Paul's belly-flop, leap-frogging crawl. Effective, and amusing to watch. I'm sure he'll figure out how to coordinate his legs, but in the mean time he's entertaining to watch.

2. Sylvia's super-smeller. She claimed to smell the dark.

3. A cousin (who shall remain nameless) telling me she didn't want any fish chowder because her morning sickness made it unappetizing.

4. Watching Downton Abbey with family
4b. Nacho eating about a third of a bowl of caramel popcorn during some movie I watched with Sylvia because we left for a few minutes and I stupidly thought the couch would be a safe place for it.

5. Listening to my Grandpa's funeral. My grandma read the essay I wrote (which was also used as his obituary) and I bawled through it. That was the only thing that made me cry, though--everyone else gave great remembrances of my Grandpa's life and example. I remember a couple of people complaining about the stake president who spoke at the end, and I see why they complained. My grandpa was a complex person with strengths and flaws, a very human man. The SP tried to reduce the man we all loved to something simple, perfect, and very faith-affirming, which just isn't grandpa. He was a colorful character and that's a lot of what we love about him. Not to turn this into a critique of someone I've never met, but some people I guess can't handle shades of gray in their heroes. Perhaps that's why so much of my family has a hard time finding teachings within the church that resonate anymore--all the complexity's been excised by well-meaning simplifiers.

6. Sylvia pulling out all of my Grandma's tissues and giving them to Paul.


7. Sylvia playing in the snow. Derrick hitting me in the face with a snowball while I was holding my camera. Grr.



8. Valentine's day Sylvia went with my mom and made us all valentines cookies. She then took the extra princess valentines and cut them up using Mimi's scrap booking scissors. Lots and lots of confetti ensued.



9. Blueberry scones of the Utah variety. Sooo good! For those of you not from Utah, fry bread filled with blueberry pie filling, covered with icing. Serious sugar rush.

10. Paul's leap frogging crawl all over the downstairs kitchen. He could only move a few feet, but man, the things he could get into in a few feet! Mimi has a collection of painted rocks. He was especially fond of pulling those out and eating them.

11. Derrick turning a beautiful paduk platter and turning into a carrot in the process. The beautiful platter is now almost fully obscured by his wooden rocks.

12. Princess party for Sylvia's cousin, L. Sylvia had fun, but was happy to hand over the dress and get back to being a tomboy once the party was over.


13. A day at Elisa's house. Beautiful light in her bedroom in the afternoon, so I took a bunch of pictures of Paul (the day after his half-birthday). A friend of hers was making a quilt and Elisa was going through old episodes of Glee to find her favorite songs. That night we went to the Blue Lemon (or something like that) for dinner. Elisa and Anna practiced signing as we ate. Across the restaurant was a table of hipster couples, all dressed like they'd just stepped out of a TV show.

I think people in (some parts of) Utah dress better than people in California.


14. Paul started out very worried about all the new people...


but by the end he'd grown accustomed to at least a few of his relatives.


15. Camping on a moonless night in the Afton Road campground, our tent filled with clean laundry to serve as insulation against the ground, the four of us covered by a single sleeping bag (fortunately warm!) and a couple of "blankets" I bought for the kids. The blankets were really 1 yard pieces of fabric from Joanne's. Paul needed a soft blanket to sleep, so he got a new orange blanket. Sylvia, not wanting to be left out, got a piece of polar fleece with skulls and purple roses on it--to scare away the monsters.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Death

To continue my thoughts from the last post, I think some of the reason I feel like I live in groundhog day is simply that all my days are running into one another. We get up, get Sylvia off to school, I spend the morning with Paul and working, then I pick Sylvia up, do something with her for the afternoon, have dinner, put kids to bed, watch TV, and go to bed. The only thing that changes from day to day is what's on after dinner.

In an effort to combat this mind-numbing sequence, I'm trying to be better about blogging. We'll see how long it lasts. I hope longer than the "I'm going to keep my house cleaner" goal did.

Today's easy: today was a shower for a friend from church (who I'll refer to as S since I don't know how she feels about being talked about on-line). I made a bunch of wash cloths/flannel wipes for her and used them as decoration on a diaper cake. The diaper cake was made of disposables (some that Paul's grown too big for already--he's getting big fast), though I'd hoped to make it from cloth diapers I ordered for her. Sadly, the cloth diapers won't arrive until Monday, though I'm sure the disposables will still come in handy. Much as I love my cloth diapers, disposables have a definite place--especially overnight.

The shower was lovely. Another friend (who I'll call A for similar reasons as above) made most of the food, especially the sweets. A is quite the accomplished cook, specializing in cheesecakes. I don't get to many chances to cook cheesecakes and most of my attempts have been interesting more than yummy, so yesterday Sylvia, Paul, and I went to her house to hang out while S and A made the treats. I spent most of the time quietly watching them work and watching kids play. I don't think I really picked up much, but it was nice to be in their company. The two of them speak French and spent most of the afternoon speaking in French, which certainly didn't bother me, but did leave me unable to contribute to the conversation. I just listened, trying to pick up on what was going on, which honestly was pretty entertaining. I'm weird, though.

By the end of the afternoon, I think A had decided I just needed to learn French, though, because she's been speaking French to me ever since.

Anyway, this morning I made three spanakopita rolls for the shower and showed up early to take pictures of the set up and do anything I could to help. In the process of getting ready for the shower, I pretty much had to ignore my children. Derrick did okay, but my kids were decidedly unhappy. I know my kids love me and all, but honestly it's getting old being THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE to them. Paul was fine with Derrick--as long as he couldn't see me. Sylvia wanted to be involved in whatever I was doing, especially if it involved scissors or knives. By the time I left for the shower I had so ignored my daughter she couldn't stand that I was leaving and wept hot, disconsolate tears as I left. She was ecstatic to see me get home (conveniently right about nap time) and spent the rest of the afternoon finding new and creative ways to involve herself in whatever I was doing. Or keep me from sleep. Mostly keep me from sleep.

Eventually Derrick and I tired of attempting to rest, so we went on a bike/scuut ride. Paul seemed to enjoy his first outing in the bike. He spent most of it slobbering all over the seat belt. Sylvia's still learning to rules of the road, so there was much yelling in her direction. I guess kids' processing time is very different from adults, which complicates teaching. For instance, at one point on our bike ride we came across a snake in the middle of the road. It was pretty obviously young from its small width and pretty obviously at least injured from the way it was sitting. I went around and told Sylvia to stop and go around the snake. When that didn't change her trajectory appreciably, I started yelling. She, I guess processing my screams of "stop! stop!" rather more slowly than I would expect, rolled right over the thing with her front wheel, and then stopped, straddling it with both her feet and her bike. I watched in horror as the snake started writhing on the ground, hoping it wouldn't bite her, hoping it wasn't poisonous. Fortunately for us, it was dead, just fresh enough that Sylvia running over it caused some final spasms. But oh, the sobbing of earlier in the day paled in comparison to the despondent wailing over the dead snake. Sylvia kept insisting the snake was okay, that it would stop being dead and be alive again, that the blood on the snake was really jelly. In the face of such intense sorrow I understood why people talk about resurrection and life after death. I didn't (at least as much because I'm just not sure where snakes fit in the grand scheme of things) but did try to explain that the snake would go on to feed and sustain the life of something else. If you can imagine, that didn't actually go over all that well either.

Paul's day was far less traumatic. After playing around on the lovely hardwood floors in the home where S's shower was held he figured out how to army crawl. He practiced his new-found skill happily much of the afternoon.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog day

In the movie "Groundhog Day" the Bill Murray character gets to re-live one day over and over and over. Eventually he games the system and improves himself during his unnumbered extra days. It's a familiar trope in science fiction--Stargate:SG1 uses it masterfully, Star Trek:TNG has a looping episode; I'm sure there are others but let's just say it's a familiar idea.

It's an appealing situation, as well. Imagine, a bunch of free days. Sure, you might start out the day annoyingly (getting smacked in the head with a door, for instance) but it's alluring, imagining a free day, or month, or year, where you get to learn or expand in some way and can completely ignore all other responsibilities 'cause hey, it's all going to be set back up exactly like it was yesterday. Impossible to break permanently.

I finished making the apple-caramel-cinnamon rolls this evening. They aren't really cinnamon rolls anymore with all the apples and caramel, but oh, are they good. I chopped three (or maybe four?) apples and combined them with pecans and caramel sauce in the bottom of my spring-form pan. Then I topped the apple mixture with unbaked cinnamon rolls and baked it at about 350 for around an hour until the rolls were lightly browned. The pan turned out to be completely unnecessary and, indeed, superfluous since the caramel leaked. Next time I'll just use a normal pan.

If tomorrow morning I wake up and there's still a bowl of sweet roll dough in the fridge and nine apples on the table, I'll know I have to do today all over again, and I'll have to remember not to use the spring-form.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Predictable

We have a bunch of apples sitting around the house. I bought them a while ago, intending to make apple crisp, or an apple tart, or something with apples, but with life the way it is (and with lately holding up the world on my shoulders--at least according to my children) I haven't had time.

Today is a friend's birthday, so I decided that was a good excuse to make something, and thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and make something with apples for her. So, I made a batch of sweet roll dough and made apple caramel monkey bread with it. She called just as I was putting it all together and invited me over, so I dragged the unbaked bread over to her house (aren't I a great friend?) and asked her to bake it.

Man, I have to say, I was sad to leave that bread there when I went home. Fortunately, I made more than enough sweet roll dough to make a batch for myself. Mmm, yum.

My friend's mom called her this morning to wish her a happy birthday and asked if she'd made a cake for herself. She said no because she was expecting a friend (me) to make something for her. Sometimes it good to know I'm predictable.

Sweet roll dough

2 c milk
1 stick butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp honey
3/4 c white sugar (though I'd probably increase this for cinnamon rolls)
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder (heaping)
1/2 tsp baking soda (scant)
5-6 c flour

To make sponge, combine milk, butter, eggs, yeast, honey, and 2 c of flour and mix until no longer lumpy. Combine 2 c flour with salt, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder and pour over sponge, covering surface completely. Leave sponge to rise a couple of hours. The sponge should bubble through the flour mixture. Mix together and add enough extra flour to make the dough no longer shiny (the dough will still be very sticky and wet). Chill dough in refrigerator to make it easier to handle.

Caramel


1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 c cream

Melt butter in a pan. Add brown sugar. Bring just to a low boil and add cream.