Friday, April 30, 2010

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Amanda Blake Soule

 Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Try Something New Tuesday

I am well aware that the date today is April 27 and spring is in the air. But my preoccupied mind has been craving something warm and comforting. The weather has also turned cooler, as it does in the spring, and we are back in long sleeves and light jackets. So baking was surely in order, and fall flavored baking at that.

I've had a can of pumpkin calling to me for weeks and I've been looking for some healthier cookie recipes. Today I put it all together.

Spring Time Pumpkin Cookies!

You can find the recipe here. They are super yummy, almost more like a muffin than a cookie, nice and light, not too sweet. Just what I was hoping for. I opted against the chocolate chips. Such an easy recipe that I will definitely make again. Maybe next time I'll wait until they are seasonably appropriate. But, maybe not. They are that good!

Here is Cooper trying something new on Tuesday:

I love how proud he was to open the can all by himself (almost).

I love helping Cooper learn to do something new. But, I must confess that this is not what usually happens when we bake "together". Let's just say I could improve my patience. There's a lot of "let me do it. Let Me Do It. JUST LET ME DO IT!"And that comes from me, not Cooper. I'm trying to let go more and just be with what happens, even if it isn't as planned or gets messed up. I'm trying to remember that the time is what is precious, being together and creating memories. The cookies? Well, they just add a little extra sweetness to our day.

Have you tried anything new lately?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Just put one foot in front of the other

Back in January I wrote about my goals for the year, my resolution list of sorts. I'm happy to say that I've been reaching many of my goals. One of these is getting back into running.

I knew that running would be great for me...the health benefits, especially the mental health benefits. But I'm finding myself surprised at just how great it is making me feel.

I love the weekly rhythm of my runs (I run Tuesday and Thursday mornings and Sundays, at various times). I love the peace of having time for just me. I love the goal of training for an event, the Columbus 10K, which I will run on my 36th birthday. I love smiling and greeting all the people I pass on the road.

Yesterday, while running 4 miles, my current longest run, I had these words repeating with the rhythm of my feet: "Running makes me a better mom." And in my mind I had this picture of my heart growing with each step. Picture the Grinch, when his heart grows at the end of the movie, bursting out of the frame. That is how I feel about running. It makes my heart grow. It feeds my soul. It fills up my love bank so that I can be with my children and approach them from my heart first.

Like everything in life, running isn't easy. My body sometimes rebels with aches and pains, even at my very modest distances. It can be challenging to get myself going when I'm still waking at night with Elle. I get excited to not have to run (like this morning...just too tired and soar).

But I will return to the road, again and again. Because really, the rewards of simply putting one foot in front of the other are just too beautiful to miss.

Friday, April 23, 2010

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Amanda Blake Soule

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

To Be Good Enough

One of the best things about Cooper's preschool is a group offered to all parents called Parent Growth. It is a weekly meeting lead by the director of the preschool. We cover various topics related to raising young children. It is a cherished time to share ideas, commiserate, and gain wisdom from other parents.

A couple weeks ago we were given a copy of an article called The Good Enough Mother by Elaine Heffner, CSW, EdD. I finally read the article and loved it's conclusion.

"A good enough mother:

  • loves her child but not all of his behavior.
  • isn't always available to her child whenever he wants her.
  • can't possibly prevent all her child's frustrations and moods.
  • has needs of her own which may conflict with those of her child.
  • loses it sometimes.
  • is human and makes mistakes.
  • learns from her mistakes.
  • uses her own best judgment.
There are no perfect mothers and no perfect children. If we accept our own limitations, we are better able to accept those of our children and of life itself. In that way we become good enough mothers. And good enough mothers are real mothers."

I've been an over achiever my entire life. I'm beginning to realize that this is part of what makes motherhood so difficult. As I devour parenting books, attend parenting classes, and read parenting blogs I'm always thinking, "I could do this a little bit better". I see what others are capable of and I think that I can do that too, that I should be doing more, doing better.

Since moving to Columbus, which has also been the locus of becoming a parent to two children instead of one, I've had some of my worst, most detestable parenting moments. I have uttered repugnant words to my children and husband. I've behaved in ways that I'm ashamed of.

But maybe what is the worst thing of all is I never stop beating myself up for doing so.

Maybe instead I can just accept myself as I am, accept that I am achieving everything I can as a mother, as a wife, and as a woman. Maybe I am the good enough mother. And maybe, just maybe, that is the best place to be after all.

It is okay to be imperfect. It is okay to tell Cooper I just need a break from him and he needs to go play in his room for a while, even if he cries and screams his way up the stairs. It is okay for Ellery to fuss in her exersaucer while I put the finishing touches on dinner, throwing a few cheerios her way hoping they will make her a little happier. It is okay that sometimes I scream in frustration, slam doors, mutter exasperated words under my breath.

It is all okay because Cooper and Ellery and I are lucky enough to enjoy everyday moments together, every day. And there is so very much good in our days. So very much.

Please, take a moment and watch Gretchen Rubin's beautiful video The Years Are Short, which really captures how the everyday moments of being a parent lie at the heart of what is really important.

Tomorrow morning, when I spend five minutes helping Cooper decide what he wants for breakfast, when I wrestle Ellery's clothes onto her squirming body, I will remember that those are the moments, the moments I will never get back. The beautiful moments of being a parent. And I will cherish them and hope that they can last a little bit longer.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Try Something New Tuesday

Our new thing today was a picnic in a new (to us) park! Checking out the parks around Columbus is a great way to get to know all the different neighborhoods. It was a lovely day and we enjoyed snacking on our lunch, playing with new friends, and soaking up the sun.

Ellery slept while Cooper and I ate. 
The nap provided just the rest needed to work hard on learning to walk. 
She took a record 15 or so steps!

We have so very much to be grateful for.

Friday, April 16, 2010

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Amanda Blake Soule

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ellery is 1!!!!!

Happy Birthday my dear, sweet girl!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

One Year Ago

This is what I looked like.

That picture was actually taken around 4:30am on the 15th. I was at the Pittsburgh Midwife Center, hoping that labor was going to get moving after my water broke just before midnight on April 14th. Unfortunately that didn't happen and I ended up looking like this.

That picture is before the Pitocin kicked in and I drifted into the bizarre and focused world of a fast a furious labor.

Last year we were preparing to welcome our little girl. Now, we are busy preparing to celebrate Ellery's big day tomorrow. I'm going to be making this cake along with some matching cupcakes. My parents arrive tomorrow to join in the celebration. We have so much joy to share!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Try Something New Tuesday!

This morning I was preparing to try a new cooking experiement and said to myself "it's Tuesday, I'll try something new!". Cheesey? Probably. But, I think it has a nice little ring to it. Tuesday is generally a pretty open day for us, so I'm going to make a go of "Try Something New Tuesday" and see where it goes. We might try a new food, a new activity, or go someplace new. Check back every Tuesday to see what new thing is we are embarking on.

Today I tried Kale Chips. This isn't really a recipe but more of a different way of cooking some Kale. I had heard of Kale Chips from my friend Emilie and then saw them on the beautiful food blog Smitten Kitchen and knew I had to try them.

Kale Chips are super easy to make. Just trim the kale leaves, removing the think stems, toss in some olive oil, arrange on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with Kosher salt, and bake at 300 for 20 minutes.

Before baking.

They are seriously delicious. Erik liked them too, and Cooper liked a couple and spit out a couple. Such are the eating habits of a 4 year old.

Overall, this new thing is destined to become a regular!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mystery Egg Bread

Easter morning baking included a tweaked rendition of a traditional Italian bread. My friend Kirsten shared the recipe with me. I was pretty skeptical, and it was the first time I've ever baked something that I thought could very well be a complete disaster. Fortunately, I was completely wrong.

Here is Kirsten's recipe:


3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup warm milk (120 to 130 degrees F)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
7 eggs
1/2 cup chopped mixed candied fruit
1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
vegetable oil

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add milk and butter; beat 2 minutes on medium. Add 2 eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes on high. Stir in fruit, nuts and aniseed; mix well. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. If desired, dye remaining eggs (leave them uncooked); lightly rub with oil. Punch dough down. Divide in half; roll each piece into a 24-in. rope. Loosely twist ropes and tuck eggs into openings. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.

Here's how I tweaked it: I added almost twice the sugar and lots of cinnamon, deleted the fruit, nuts, and aniseed. Also, per Kirsten's suggestion, I added a sugar glaze when the bread was finished baking. The result? Absolutely delicious, and what I'm pretty sure will be our Easter breakfast tradition.

Before baking

After baking

For those of you who are curious, the eggs cooked perfectly. I didn't eat one Easter morning. I just couldn't wrap my mind around eating a warm hard cooked egg. But, I did eat one a day later and it was just like eating a hard boiled egg.

Next year I hope to use natural egg dyes, because the dye does seep into the bread. I also just want to continue my move away from exposing my kids to  potentially harmful substances.

Are wondering about the name, Mystery Egg Bread? I just made it up. Much more fun. You can use it too.

Easter Day in Columbus

We had a lovely Easter. The weather was down right amazing. More summer like than spring like. Sunny and warm, the world greening. Truly the awakening of everything around us.

The Easter Bunny paid us a visit. Cooper was quite satisfied with the joy of the egg hunts and knowing that the Easter Bunny knows just what he likes: Hot Wheels, specifically two Mystery Hot Wheels (he had been begging for these weeks), Kit Kats, and stuffed animals. That Easter Bunny is pretty good!!

Ellery was her happy self and remained content to play with the empty Hot Wheel packages, since the actual cars kept getting scooped up before she could get her little hands on them. She is definitely much more interested in Cooper's things than her own. Being the little sister myself, I remember all too well how that will last a long time.

Here are some pictures of our morning.

The first peek down the stairs

Checking out the basket

The Mystery Hot Wheel revealed

Ellery with the package

Hunting eggs (can't you see a glimpse of Cooper as an Elementary School kid in this one?)

A happy boy