Thursday, February 11, 2016

LOGAN AT 7 MONTHS





Around six and seven months is when it starts getting extra fun with a baby. There is a little less anxiety that something terrible might be happening if you glance away and there is a sense that they want to start learning what it means to fend for themselves. They are sturdy and strong enough that they can hook their chubby little arms around your shoulder and hang on, and gurgle back at you as if to make conversation, and flap and kick with joy when they see you, as if they're job is to make you feel like the luckiest person on earth. It is so gratifying to feel their love for you on their face. 

  It's also when food is a thing. Food has been a success all around, with green beans being the biggest hit so far. Sometimes I've had to mix green beans into her fruit in order to get her to finish it.   When we eat our food, she watches us with razor sharp attention - from the food on the plate to our mouths - and sometimes even licks her lips. She is definitely interested in food.

And sleeping. That's a major thing. I mentioned in the last update that we were sleep training, and that went well, well enough that this past week we moved Logan into Sloane's room. Some nights have gone well, some nights, not as well, so we are still figuring things out. Each night is a compelling drama of, will both of them sleep the whole night, uninterrupted? I'm going to keep at it, trying different things and celebrating the good nights. Safe to say, it takes up a lot of my brain in the evenings. 


I absolutely love it that she laughs when I laugh and her laugh is the sound of pure joy with whipped cream and cherries on top. She appears to love people and I joke that she's not a great napper during the day because she has FOMO - fear of missing out. 

I am so proud of how strong she is getting - she is still quite chunky with meaty butt and thighs - and she is now using all of that to get around the best she can. She rolls back and forth like a pro and scoots backwards all across a room. She hasn't mastered the frontwards scooting yet but I've caught her practicing by getting into crawl stance. She also tries incessantly to try to stand up while she's in her bath, and when she manages to do so, she turns to look at me with the biggest smile as if to say, "did you see what I just did there?"


I said this about Sloane too, and I think as a parent you are required to think your baby is smart, but you guys, Logan is so smart! I feel so lucky to be able to see all of these developments happen before my eyes again and I'm enjoying it all tremendously. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

WHAT I'M READING V. 13





To Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

I didn't plan on reading this book, mostly because all the hype around this book seemed shady, but then I couldn't help myself and the audiobook version is read by Reese Witherspoon, which seemed extra intriguing, so I gave it a whirl. I really liked being back in the world of Scout, and I instantly felt comfortable in and delighted at the storytelling of Harper Lee.  I looked up the back story of the publishing of this book, and this apparently was Lee's first draft before she wrote 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' She took this draft to her publisher, who told her that it needed a lot of work, and that the best parts were when Scout and her brother were children, so Lee rewrote the whole thing and ended up with 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.  This 'new' book got a lot of criticism, but I found myself enjoying it... until I didn't anymore. It took a strange turn and fell flat and I could see the ways that it was a first draft and wondered again how Harper Lee felt about all this. I'm glad I read it though.

Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman

This book is all about embracing the small and learning to live well in the ordinary. This has been a theme for me in the past few years and I always appreciate well-thought out reminders. I've gotten to a place where I truly understand the value of appreciating small things, but in our current season of change, this line struck a chord: "I'm exploring what it looks like to release my obsession with building a life, and embrace the life Christ is building in me..." 

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I read another one of her novels, 'Secret History', and thought it was brilliantly written with amazing characters, but felt disappointed at the ending. I'm glad that didn't dissuade me from wanting to read this one; I'm only a few chapters in and I'm completely immersed.

Alice in the Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

This is definitely above Sloane's reading level, but since she is gets so captivated by stories and read-alouds, I thought I'd try it and so far so good! I know she probably doesn't understand a lot of the vocabulary, but she sits still in rapt attention anyways, and she has surprised me with how much of the plot she does understand. We are going slowly through it, and I'm giddy with excitement that I can share this with her. I haven't read this book in its entirety yet before so I'm reading it for the first time with her.





Friday, February 5, 2016

CHICKEN SOUP



...for my belly is what is helping me get through these winter months this year. 

My two current favorites: 



Sean Brock's Rabbit Stew with Black Pepper Dumplings, but with chicken, and Spoon Fork Bacon's Creamy Chicken Soup with Farro... Both were recommended by friends and I've happily made both several times over the past couple of months.

And two I want to try: 


A Spicy's Perspective's Greek Lemon Chicken Soup , and Cooking Classy's Creamy Chicken and Corn Chowder


And not chicken, but just as belly warming from past blog posts: a butternut squash soup and hot noodles with pork !

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

MOTHERHOOD RIGHT NOW....





...is having my toddler turn into various animals (in this case, a kitty cat) for hours at a time.


...is having my baby be overjoyed when she sees me. 

  
...is being delighted at their every interaction together. 



...is always trying to be patient.

...is playing a lot of make-believe.

...is holding my breath waiting for the baby to settle down for the night, breathing a sigh of relief and then immediately missing her.

...is excitement to go get the baby in the morning.

...is being busy kissing little cheeks.

...is enjoying them during the weekends and missing them all day at work on Monday.

...is marveling with Ken about how amazing our girls are.

...is feeling empowered and motivated like never before.

...is feeling content and grateful like never before.

...is appreciating the small things, even more than the big things.

...is trying to be the best I can be at my job, be a good friend and a loving wife, and also make time for myself so that I can love myself well, and show by example what that looks like. 









Monday, February 1, 2016

WHAT'S IN MY MAKEUP BAG




This is always fun, right? Peeking into someone's makeup bag?  Here is what's currently happening in my makeup and my toiletry bag. It changes often, but there are a few goodies that have stuck around.

Avalon Organics Vitamin C serum & Rosehip Seed oil:  My face washing routine is to take my makeup off with coconut oil and a cotton pad at night, and then wash my face with a basic cleanser (right now it's Neutrogena, but I also like Cetaphil and Aveeno). Then I apply Rosehip seed oil on my face, let it soak in and then apply moisturizer. I don't go fancy with the moisturizer, but I have been loving rosehip seed oil! It's very moisturizing and I've noticed it brightening and evening out my skin tone, plus it's super affordable. In the morning, I just splash my face with water, and then apply Vitamin C serum and moisturizer.

Cover Girl Natureluxe Silk foundation (in Dune): I have tried many a foundation over the years and nothing beats this drugstore version, especially at the price of $5-8. I love it! You can't find them in stores anymore, but I order mine off Amazon. My friend also told me about the Beauty Blender sponge, which makes it easy to apply the foundation, and I've been using that for the past couple of months.

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Concealer: (what is up with these long names?!) Most of the reason I like this is because of how easy it is to apply. The rolling ball at the end of it allows you to roll it in the spot under your eyes or any other area of your face.

Shu Umera eyelash curler: my favorite curler.

Hwajin Korean foundation: My mom got me this last year and I've used it when I want some extra matte. I also sometimes use a powder over the foundation if I want to control shine.

Nars blush (Orgasm): Hands down best blush I've used. I think the brush is e.l.f. from Target.

Kat Von D liquid eyeliner: I try several different ones and keep trying variations, but so far, this one and Stila's liquid eyeliner are at the front of the pack.

Maybelline Colossal mascara & L'oreal Voluminous mascara: I do a coat of each; both are great and affordable. My sister in law also got me fiber lash mascara that I am playing around with; so far so good! 

Lanolin cream: I have gone to the source for my lip protection and healing during the winter. Lanolin is usually used as a nipple cream because of its healing properties and also because it is pure, so it works awesome for the lips. At first I was dubious about using something for my lips that are for boobs, but then I realized lanolin is in almost all lips balms and moisturizers! I apply it all day long and at night before I sleep.

Lipstick: This is probably my favorite make up item to shop for. I think lipstick can make such a big difference and I love trying new colors and brands. I'll have to do a whole separate post just on lipstick, but for now I'll mention the ones that I actually had in my bag at the time I took this photo. I like Maybelline's Color Sensational matte lip color (in Fushia fever) for how bright and smooth it is, and I also usually have a couple of these Wet 'n Wild Balm Stain Moisturizing lip color around - they are hard to beat at $3!

That's the round up for now -I realized as I was writing this that I could have included some other things that I use, like almond oil for my body, rose water mist for my face that I like as a pick me up, or the type of hand lotion that I use, but we'll save that for another post. Let me know if you have any tried and true favorites!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

BLUEBERRY CAKE



As soon as I heard that we might get snowed in, I asked Ken to pick up some blueberries. I love any chance to bake with Sloane and I had a feeling being snowed in would provide ample time...and would also increase the need to stuff ourselves with cake. 

This cake is soft, moist and not too sweet, which I really liked. It's good with coffee, it's good for breakfast, it's good eaten cold off the plate using your hand standing in front of the fridge. I might try to make this cake with apples and then do an apple syrup on top. Huzzah! 



Sloane was a huge help with stirring the blueberry syrup. Making syrup is one of those things where you have to stir frequently as you summer and an extra (albeit small) set of eager hands come in really HANDY (he he he he he) !   






She's getting something from the imaginary shelf, I forget what!






Ken took these photos of us in action. He's getting good at taking photos, don't you think? 



She was soooo into it.





Success. 



We used this recipe, with some alterations, and a blueberry syrup instead of a huckleberry glaze.

This is what we did for the cake:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup brown sugar (add more if you like your cake on the sweet side!)
2 eggs
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh blueberries, lightly coated in flour 

1. Combine flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and mix together.
2. Combine eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla in a separate bowl and whisk until light, fluffy, and creamy.
3. Combine dry ingredients with wet in three parts, alternating a third of a cup of milk between each dry addition. Mix well, then add your blueberries lightly coated in flour. 
4. Pour batter into a greased 9" cake pan and bake at 325 degrees F for 60-70 minutes.

For the syrup:

2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of cornstarch

1. Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water and set aside.
2, In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water and blueberries to a boil, stirring occasionally.
3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring.
4. Add cornstarch and water mixture until blended and take off the heat.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

SNOWY WEEKEND




I was in a bit of a funk this last week and what helped wash that funk off was sitting down at Sloane's table and coloring with her. No rules, no reasons, no worrying about what other people would think, just free coloring and murmuring to each other things like, 'May I use that color after you' and 'oh that color is beautiful'. A half hour of this and I found myself much more relaxed.

That was on a Thursday evening and we went to bed that night wondering if it was really going to snow as much as they were telling us to expect. Sloane has been excited for snow all winter, so she asked about building a snowman several times before she settled in for the night.



And here we are, on a Friday morning, waiting for snow. It started coming down around 10 am, and it was beautiful. It looked like a snow globe!


Once it started, we knew it would pile up quick and we decided we needed to get our bellies full of hot soup and noodles before we holed up for the weekend. It felt perilous to be on the road when it was snowing so hard, and I wanted to turn back several times (I absolutely detest driving in the snow), but Ken was our trusty captain and he navigated us to a bowl of pho and back.


While it was still snowing we let Sloane play outside and Ken came up with the brilliant idea of using a laundry basket as a sled. It was the perfect size for her!


This here is Sloane coming back into the garage - where I had hunkered down to watch the snow with Logan - to regroup: we had to replace her frozen hat.




Logan seemed fascinated with the snow; I was fascinated by how cute and chunky she is.


Saturday morning looked like this. I made them wear their hats because it felt so cold when we came downstairs.



I got to spend a lot of time staring at these little baby toes.


As the snow piled up higher and higher, it felt incredibly cozy to be indoors. I don't much like the snow but I really enjoyed being snowed in.




And we made a blueberry cake! more on this later.


 Sunday morning it had finally stopped snowing and I plunked Sloane down into the snow on our deck to see how high the snow had piled up, like a good mother should.


Since building a snow man was high on her agenda, we went to work. Unfortunately for all of us, I don't have proper snow gear and the snow was so powdery that it was hard to get a ball going.  We ended up with the smallest snow person I have ever seen.



This man shoveled our whole driveway out to the road! Standing ovation, hugs and gratitude for this man. 


And this is how Sloane showed her gratitude. Don't worry, Ken got her back. 





Friday, January 22, 2016

SLOANE THESE DAYS, AND HARK THE HERALD




A few days ago Sloane told me a story about what happened at school and ended her story with, "...and that was inappropriate." It took a whole bunch of restraint not to dissolve into giggles at this, and I nodded along seriously. My life feels a little more complete, now that I have heard a three year old pronounce the word, "inappropriate".

Sloane these days is constantly playing pretend.

When I go to pick her up after school, she is a kitty cat, and she meow meow's her hello.  When we get home, she tells me that not only is she a giraffe, but I am a giraffe too, and so is Logan and dad, too. Then she suggests different scenarios that we should act out.

Last Saturday, as soon as she woke up, she did some dancing and singing and then told me the following things: "Hi, what's your name? I am Sloane Lu. I have no parents (sad face), I have no mom and dad! I'm an orphan. And I have no house, I have no bed and no toys. All I have is a sofa....I'm going to get married to a boy. And look! Now I have a baby growing in my stomach. It's a baby boy, and he's kicking."

Then she declared that we will play Snow White - she was Snow White, and i was the evil queen, and after I offered her the poison apple, she fell down with such dramatics that Ken and I were impressed. After her teddy bear (who was her friend and also a doctor) woke her up, she announced that we would now play little mermaid. A pretend play of the little mermaid turned into Ariel (Sloane) and prince Eric (me) going on a picnic and then realizing that they needed to go grocery shopping. And on and on...

It's really fun, but also it can get tiring because her playing pretend all the time means that she wants us to be playing pretend all the time which is hard to do when you're also trying to get things done or when you want your daughter to stop being a zebra and turn back into a human so she can put her toys away. I'm learning so many things- I'm learning how to be be patient, how to communicate instructions and be firm when I need to. And I'm learning how to get down on the ground and play my heart out.




Sloane is three and a half and Logan is six months old, so they are almost exactly three years apart. I would have thought Logan too young to play with Sloane but Sloane has facilitated play with her over the past few months in a way that totally surprises me.

Sloane pretends Logan's foot is a flute or a trumpet and sings into it.
Sloane reads Logan her books - not the actual words of the book, but her own interpretation of it. 
Sloane introduces all of her animals and tells Logan about each of their tendencies.
Sloane feeds Logan pretend food 
Sloane helps give her a bath
Sloane hands Logan a rattle and when Logan bangs it against the table, Sloane bangs along in unison.

It's awesome!

What else is awesome is how Sloane gets really into a song and wants to listen to it a hundred times to learn it and then wants to sing it all the time thereafter. Recently, it has been "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" coming out of the Christmas season. I got some video of her singing it - she actually does know all the words to the song but apparently I caught her in a moment of extra vulnerability.