“Mommy, these rocks are really special to me. Will you hold them?”
“Why are they special to you, bud?”
“Because I found them.”
Today didn’t start off this well. We are all just a little (but not too) sick, and we were all just a little (well, way too) crabby. But then some of us went to the grocery store, and some of us stayed home and tidied up. And all of us somehow got an attitude adjustment. And now the boys with their runny noses are getting their hands and their knees dirty while they fill up their dump trucks with leaves and rocks and potting soil, while they find the first spring plants peeking through the hard soil, while they bring me their treasures, while they tell me to “Watch this, Mommy” and jump off the step again. And I sit here with Simon’s collection in my pocket and breathe in the almost-spring fresh air and feel glad and content and utterly thankful.
A while ago I had a fun discussion with friends about what we might like to do or become in a different life. I said that I would like to be an architect, and while I will stick by that for my hypothetical different life, I will add that curator for some type of museum exhibits (art? history?) would be a close second. As I was thinking about that this morning, it dawned on me that I could realize the curator dream in the here and now to a teeny tiny extent by being more thoughtful, creative, and purposeful with my Pinterest boards.
I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like to be more diligent in actually bringing Pinterest-y ideas to reality (and, yes, finishing projects). I happened across a linky at Simple Organic today about that very thing, so I went back through my boards and was pleased to find that I actually have implemented quite a few things this month (and a few from last month). (Here’s the original linky post, if you want to surf over and see what others have been up to as well.)
Stuff I Made
One of the first things I ever pinned was an infant carseat blanket. I had some fabric that I had intended to make into a baby quilt as a gift a couple of years ago, and, well, it didn’t happen. Then this weekend Jason’s mom showed me the quilt that she is making for Clara, and, well, I just got all inspired to quilt again.
I am really pleased at how it turned out, though if I had it to do over, I probably would have moved the gold paisley fabric more to one side to let the squares be more prominent. I also adore the backing. It took two trips to the quilt store to pick it out because I was overwhelmed (and totally inspired) by all the possibilities.
I meant to blog about the boys’ birthdays. We had two family parties this year because work schedules didn’t allow us all to get together at once. I made the same cake twice (and they really did turn out very similar).
The construction cake (original idea from here) was probably the easiest theme cake I’ll ever make. The “dirt” was pretty much impossible to mess up. I didn’t plan to, but I ended up making Jason a construction cake as well (though I didn’t make that one a layer cake). I had wanted to surprise Jason with a cake and told Simon so. After Jason left for work, Simon admitted, “I told Daddy about the chocolate part, but not about the construction part.”
Recipes I Tried
Rice and Garbanzo Bean Salad with Kale :: I have been eating this for lunch (and sometimes dinner) for the last week or so. It is delicious. But I am the only one in my family who will eat it, so I need to beware of burnout. I really want to keep liking it as much as I do.
Moroccan Quinoa Pilaf :: This was my breakfast for several days in a row last week. It was okay, but I wasn’t wowed by it. I like the Rice and Garbanzo Bean Salad with Kale much better and it’s easier to make.
Coconut-Lime Tofu and Rice :: Um, well, I thought this was wonderful. But for everyone else it was probably the most unpopular dish I have ever made. It’s my own fault, really; I should have known better. This is a Renae-only dish if I ever make it in the future (I might).
Buttermilk Roast Chicken :: This was super easy to put together, though you do have to plan ahead to let it marinate overnight the night before. I thought it was tasty, but Jason was somehow expecting more flavor. I probably will make it again.
Bubble-Up Enchiladas :: This wasn’t as big a hit with the kids as I would have expected it to be. It may have been an off night, though. An easy and tasty recipe that I will give another shot.
Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips :: I am looking for ways to get more vegetables into our diet. I knew I would like this recipe (it had me at “maple-roasted”; it also had me at “sweet potatoes” and at “parsnips”). It was a surprise hit with the boys, though.
Crockpot Chicken :: Easy as it looks. A good go-to way to roast chicken.
Things We Did
The boys spent about an hour one afternoon creating 3-D paper sculptures. I would like to try this again, but I need to be a little more organized about it and also need to be a little more involved, especially for Ian. I had hoped to set them up and be able to do something else, but they needed a little bit more hands-on help than I anticipated.
I have a couple more projects in the hopper, but reorganizing and rethinking my boards may just be the biggest Pinterest task I tackle for March. We’ll see.
So, as I mentioned, Rebecca and I have decided to do a two-week fast from sugar. To be honest, I really didn’t think it would be that hard. I mean, I am doing this because I’ve been eating a lot (a LOT) of sugar, lately, but I can quit any time I like. Right?
The temptation started before I even got out of bed this morning. Simon, bless his little heart, offered to share the jelly beans that he had taken home from Grandma’s birthday party yesterday. (We told him that he could eat them “tomorrow.” He doesn’t kid around. He was out of bed and immediately remembered the jelly beans.) I had one in my hand before I remembered they were off limits.
Next up, breakfast: I was feeling strong and perhaps got a little cocky: I made muffins for the boys and the friends we had over for a playdate. It was kind of amazing to me how many times I just automatically reached for a muffin. I never did give in, but it was almost comical how often I had to stop and think and then not eat!
Naptime was the worst. I realize now that that is the time that I raid the pantry, always for something sweet. I made myself a cup of coffee, which took the edge off just enough, but good grief, I was wanting something—anything!—sweet.
I’ll pause here in the chronological rehash to confess what a cliche I am. I think I wanted to eat sweets today for just about every reason—habit, boredom, frustration, convenience, reward for some little task, craving, thought popped into my head, “I see it. I want it.” (family joke), and so on. What strikes me most is how mindlessly I can grab something to eat. I am thinking that if I want to make it through this that I’m going to have to dig at least a little deeper emotionally—cliche but true. And I’m going to have to have some serious guns to replace both the habit and the craving, which brings me how we almost lost the house tonight.
I have found that a cup of coffee, along with tasting pretty darn amazing alongside a good dessert, will also often be enough to curb the desire to eat something sweet. After dinner I decided to make another cup (it would have been my third). To make a long story short, I turned on the wrong burner and cracked my baking dish and melted the handle of the can opener and, well, could have burned the house down.
Come to think of it, in the hubub of cleaning up the mess, I never did make that coffee. I sure could use a little sumpin’ sumpin’. Sigh.
Simon, after holding Clara for 45 minutes this afternoon: “Mommy, can you take her now? The ankle of my arm hurts, and I’m hot because she’s such a snugglebug.”
Encouraged by Kerri’s recent random thoughts post, I offer a mishmash of things I’ve been thinking about lately:
* Last weekend Jason and I and Clara got to attend the L’Abri Conference in Rochester. A highlight for me was getting to visit Toad Hall (wonderful, warm, inviting home of Margie and Denis Haack). While there, I got to meet Joie and Jake’s new bunny, Jack. He and his mother, Honeysuckle, are both ridiculously cute and notably larger than I imagined. People think I’m exaggerating when I hold out my hands to show how big Honeysuckle is. I don’t think I am.
* I am really enjoying Simon’s developing sense of humor. He’s figuring out more sophisticated forms of humor but also being very much four years old. The other day I mentioned to him that Clara needed a bath. He asked why, and I said that she was getting crusty. He replied, “She’s crustier than a pizza!” I don’t think he necessarily got why that was funny, though, because he proceeded to try other things, each time asking, “Is that funny, Mom?”
As another example, he heard someone say, “Me too!” and the next person say, “Me three!” He thought “Me three” was a hoot. It’s such a common thing that people say that I actually forget that it’s meant to be funny.
* Ian can sing the alphabet song almost intact. He skips a few letters throughout, but the tune is actually recognizable, complete with the “Now I know my ABCs” part at the end. So cute.
* The other morning Simon proudly announced that he can get dressed all by himself. I teased him that he was getting so big and he didn’t really need Mommy anymore. He reminded me that, no, he still can’t read by himself. I told him that he was doing so well with his letters and that pretty soon he would be able to read on his own and asked him what else he would need Mommy for. He replied with all sincerity, “I don’t know. What?” Yes, I guess once he can read, my job will be done.
* This morning I made muffins with a mix that I had made ahead of time. I never want to make muffins any other way. Easy, easy, easy.
* That said, there won’t be too many muffins in my immediate future. Starting Monday, I am committing to a two-week sugar detox with a friend (should I reveal your identity?). I keep reading about how bad sugar is for you and I look at my own sugar-eating habits, and, well, something needs to be done.
* Coming up in March, I’ll (we’ll) be participating in Project: Simplify 2012. We did this last year and made great progress but never did quite get done with banishing the paper clutter. I get excited just thinking about it. I do love decluttering. And in April, we are going to try to do the same as we did last April—a month of bringing nothing into the house except that which will be consumed.
* I’ve really been enjoying the MAPP Gathering interviews. They are focused on motherhood and finding a sense of self and are fitting nicely with some thoughts that have been emerging as I am coming out of the fog of pregnancy and the first couple of months of having a newborn. I imagine I’ll be writing one of these days about some of the thoughts that have been swirling around lately, but this is not that day.
A few random Valentine tidbits:
At Molly’s prompting, I figured out that Jason and I have been married 2,384 days (and, if you must know, we’ve been a couple for 2,821 days). I am kind of astounded by that. My goodness, I love that man.
I went a little crazy with heart-shaped food today and blogged about it over at Needs More Butter.
I have never been a big fan of the puns in Valentines, but I’m finding there are a few I can stand. Simon missed his preschool’s Valentine’s Day party (which was Friday), so I didn’t make Valentines for his classmates this year, but I have been pinning ideas, and I’m actually very excited for making Valentines for the kids’ classmates in the years to come. (I realized at some point that I could be making them for our little buddies, not just the schoolmates. But then I also realized I have a newborn, so we skipped it for another year.) Livia’s Valentines were adorable this year—well done, Liv and Rebecca!
We have been blessed with kids who, left to their own devices, would sleep until at least 8:30 or 9 every morning and a church that meets in the evening, so Sunday is a day we usually get to sleep in. This morning was an exception, though. Ian was up by 5:30, Clara by 6:30, and Simon by 7. Clara tried to make it up to her daddy with a little pre-lunch nap for both of them.
My name is Renae, and The Grand is where I keep thoughts, observations, and photos from my life.