Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve

I've been trying to think of a way to celebrate the end of this year. 2010 was really, really good to me.
With little kids, hitting a party and having a midnight champagne toast sounds impractical.
But how do I teach Jack about the end of a year? We're going to look through our photo albums (I make one for each year) and talk about what we did last year, and what we did this year and what we'll do next year.
This year we became a family of 4. Which is huge, our house feels more full. Filled with laughter and mess and games and memories.
This year my husband was my hero. He's always my hero, but he deserves extra credit for 2010 because at every opportunity he did more than I needed; expectations were exceeded.
So how do I ring in the new year? 30 Sun Salutations. 108 is the magical number, but as I will be turning 30 in 2011, 30 seems like a magical number to me. Perhaps on my 30th birthday I will have worked my way up to 108.

Om Namah Shivaya.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

For Jen

This is for Jen, Mark, big sister Olivia, tiny Ainsley and sweet Evelyn.

I keep going back to her blog waiting for the "April Fools!" post where she in her normal sassy, spunky tone tells us how she really had us going. I re-read the words expecting to realize some other meaning. I heard recently a very profound thing: they call someone who lost a spouse a widow/widower, they call someone who has lost their parents an orphan, but there is no name for someone who has lost a child because it is the most terrible of things, there isn't a name for it. If you could, gentile readers, send thoughts or prayers to the 'Jennepper' family.

Teen Mom

It's like clockwork. When there is a new episode of 16 and Pregnant or Teen Mom (or the upcoming Teen Mom 2) coming- facebook is all a buzz talking about the show. But my friends on facebook are definitely not 16. Frankly, most of them are older than 26. So what's the appeal? Is it like a car accident you can't look away from? Yes, obviously. But I think there's more to it than that.

Teenagers don't have the worries that adults do, like making rent or paying a mortgage. They don't always even have jobs ::cough:: Ryan ::cough:: but if they do they're probably not expected to be entirely self-supported. So getting pregnant as a teenager is a huge change: skip all the growing up that goes on in high school, college and your early 20's. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

If you're like me you hope they succeed. I root for each of them, hoping they finish school, work things out with the guy and get their lives together.

But teenagers are inherently selfish. They are impatient and they live with their heads in the clouds. They are not unlike kid-free yuppy twenty and thirty somethings. These teens are brutally honest about how challenging it is to give up the things they once loved and totally changed themselves and their lives for their babies. The moms show the same starry-eyed love for their babies that we 'grown up' mommas do. But when it comes to how frustrating parenting is we're tight lipped where they're willing to talk about it.

Is this because we have outgrown the ability to be torn between love for our babies that's so deep it feels like it's splitting us open and the inevitable frustration that each stage of parenting brings? I don't think so. I think most of us are just about as frustrated by lack of sleep, husbands who don't understand what we're going through, crawlers who get into everything and toddlers who can throw the mother of all tantrums.

I think we grown women watch because these teens feel what we feel but they're willing to verbalize it.

16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom: one part "it make my life feel easier because this is a train wreck", one part "I want to see them overcome adversity" and one large part "vicarious catharsis- they say how hard parenting is so I don't have to."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top 10 of 2010

Here is my list of the top 10 things that made 2010 what it was. This is a great idea, it's like a year in review but less text-heavy and more picture-friendly. Inspired by Sluiter Nation.

10. Trying to sell the house. We're still not sure what's happening there. We've been on the market since July, but we're selling a town house and there are just short of a billion townhouses in our area on the market in our price range so even though ours is upgraded and pretty nice it's like trying to win the lottery. (July-present)

9. Uncle Tom. First He tells us this spring that he's selling everything he owns and moving to San Francisco. Then he starts dating a girl, Alba, who we love and she's applying to MBA programs and he's going to move again and follow her. Which includes a possible move back east. Number 9 goes to Uncle Tom 'the nomad'. (August)
8. Our trip to the National Zoo. We've been saying since Jack was born that we should go, well finally this past spring we got around to it! Jack loved the animals and so did we. (March)
7. The emotionally scarring blizzards. You know, one blizzard might have been fun but there was just way too much snow last winter to be amusing. The two blizards this February were definitely memorable. The way the neighborhood got together to dig out the pregnant ladies 'just in case'. The gallons of cocoa we drinked and hours of Wii we played to pass the time. Aaahh... memories. (February)
6. Acknowledging and getting help for my postpardum anxiety. Finally all those panic attacks, all those things I couldn't let go of, the constant guilt and shame all made sense. And dissolved, quickly! (October)

5. Jack's second birthday. We had to delay because of the blizzards but when we got down to it we had a Robotic blast! (February)
4. The Carlsons move to NC. My Mom's group has been a super important part of my life and we've had some moms over the years who have stopped coming for various reasons but Lindsey and her daughter Cady were 'regulars' and their absence has not gone without notice. Jack, even now, talks about his friend Cady and how she needs to come over and play. Agreed, little buddy. (August)

3. Sea Isle City, NJ. What a blast. The little house we stayed in wasn't a perfect fit for our whole extended family but we really had an amazing time. (July)

2. I'll call this one 'Being Healthy'. This year I did more for myself and my health than I ever have before. I decided to become a vegetarian (who still eats seafood). I've been very committed to my yoga. I've worked with a fabulous acupuncturist. Lets just lump all this in to one big category of being dedicated to my own health.

1. Henry! I was really anxious about having a VBAC, so I picked a midwife practice with a high rate of success for VBACs. When I went into labor the only thought in my mind was "Oh my god, I'm actually going to get to do this." I did it! It was everything I needed it to be and so much more. I'm pretty sure Henry liked his birth experience too, especially the staying with and cuddling mommy uninterrupted. Henry has been such a joy to have in our family we're all so very lucky to have him.

Remember This

I found Buzz on the floor in the middle of our bedroom after the kids were asleep for the night. I had this overwhelming desire to go wake the boys up and give them a snuggle. It was so endearing to see Buzz, laying there, so loved that he was brought upstairs and included in the bedtime rituals. He was like this little plastic representation of love.

I hope I still feel this way some nights when I'm cleaning up the toys strewn all over the house.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas- Foolishness

Mommy, modeling new wellies. This is how everyone models their new shoes, right?

Small Chairs, Large Boys.

The obligatory post-present-in front-of-the-tree picture.

Jack, going to outer space... or bed, you know, whatever.

Henry. Crawled over and pulled himself to standing. Then he started cruising around the crib.... aaahhh trouble....

Christmas was great this year. We had lots of fun with family and enjoyed watching the boys tear up their gifts (and watched Jack read the packages and deliver gifts to the proper recipient... some of the time). First we celebrated on Christmas Eve at my in-laws house, then we had Christmas morning just us and the kiddos, and then my parents and brother showed up and we had Christmas Round 3!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas- Food Edition

We had some good food this year, like really, really, really good food!! I will now share the dishes with you. I don't have the recipes right here, but if you see anything and think to yourself "I absolutely must know how to make that dish!" just shoot me an e-mail and I'll get it for you.

Christmas Lunch: Cranberry Spinach Waldorf Salad

Salmon Fontina Frittata

Christmas Dinner: Spanish Potato Salad, New Orleans Shrimp and Crab Stuffed Bell Pepper, Squid and Shrimp Ceviche

Day-After-Christmas Breakfast: Sticky Buns

Sunday Dinner: Red Curry Mac n' Cheese

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We're very busy here enjoying families and good food and a few gifts. I swear I'll update at some point!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa Delivers

Now, I don't know this for certain, but I think Henry asked for his two front teeth from Santa.

And he got them. Bear in mind Jack was 11 months before his teeth were first sighted.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Suburban Homesteading

Think- Little House on the Prariemeets Ed Begley Jr.
I've put a lot of emotional stock into selling this house. I've made countless deals with myself "When we get a bigger house I'll start making curtains, pillows... quilting." "In a bigger house we can grow our own herbs, veggies... maybe even raise chickens." (Yes, I just said 'raise chickens'.) "We can have a greener, more efficient more energy neutral home."

In all this deal-making I did with myself I didn't have a name for these things I wanted and by putting it all in the basket of "when we have a bigger house" I didn't have to even deal with any of these things now while we're still in this house. I'm tricky, you see. Well, after a conversation with my savvy Sister-in-Law (who might be forever known in my blogverse as SavvySIL) she said "What you're talking about is like homesteading. I know people who are doing a suburban homesteading thing. They've gotten really creative with how they used the space in their home."

Light bulb.

So I turn to Google. She kinda let me down. There is what one might call a 'crap load' of information about homesteading, and suburbia but not a lot of ideas and examples of people trying to create a simpler, more natural, more handmade life for themselves down the street from a Trader Joe's, a tot lot and within 3 miles of a mall.

I have not gone crazy. I will still be shopping at Trader Joe's (sometimes). My kids will still have 'normal' toys(we aren't going to start making dolls out of corn husks). And I'm not going to start looking like a tragic hobo who doesn't know how to operate her sewing machine.

Since we might not be selling the house right now I'm tired of rationalizing putting everything off till we do. And frankly with the economy the way it is doing some things myself whether it be canning or making curtains is also good for the old bank account.
So after taking a year of from our CSA I'm thinking about starting up again, or at the very least scheduling weekly trips to the farmers' market and planning our meals around what we find. Maybe sometimes I can preserve or pickle our local goodies. I have this huge deck, maybe I could put some railing planters on the deck and grow fresh herbs, baby steps.

I realized I could also find a way to get my sewing machine out of Jack's closet and use it (like ever). In discussing this with my mother she tells me she has a micro mini sewing table that just might fit in our house but folds out big enough that when I'm working I have room to work. I'm not in the make-my-own-clothes phase, because I need to start slow here too, but I've been wanting new, light-blocking curtains for our bedroom and I'm pretty sure I can sew in a strait line.

Depending on how long we're here we might look at making the home more energy efficient, new siding and a foam board wrap would make our house snug as a bug in a rug.

I don't really know how far I want to take all of this, but I do know these things: 1. I long for a simpler life, a less consumer driven life. 2. The Husband and I both like to make things with our own hands (hence the DIY renovations). 3. We both want to live in a greener more carbon neutral way.

Mostly I still want to blog about my kids, my yoga and my food but you might find an occasional suburban homesteading post mixed in...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Brought to you by the letter H and the number 3

This morning Henry woke up at 3:03 am. For the first time ever I was SO glad to be awake at such an inappropriate hour. So I nursed the baby and then dragged the Husband out of his nice warm bed to check out the Lunar Eclipse! starting.
getting darker.

darkest (I'm sure it got darker than this but we had to go back to bed sometime!)

Monday, December 20, 2010


Every year we have some family friends over to decorate cookies and enjoy some delicious food. This year we didn't get snowed out (like last year). I was very excited to see some friends and enjoy some tasty treats.
Brie & Date Crostini

Havarti & Roasted Red Pepper Crostini

The Main Event: Sugar Cookies!

Jack was VERY excited to decorate some cookies this year. About 80% of the decorations went right into his mouth, what can ya do?

Henry enjoyed some pita and some undecorated cookie.

We had a pretty big group of kids who all enjoyed some snacking and some decorating before they went to run around in the basement like crazy people. Hopefully they burned off enough energy so their parents aren't cursing my name tonight!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cause and Effect

Mornings that look like this...
call for one (sometimes two) of these.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My mother was right

There. It's now in print. My mother was right. Admittedly she was right about quite a few things (so far) but today I was reminded of a conversation I had with her a few months ago where I told her there was no way I was going to use the pack n play after the newborn stage because we have limited room and I didn't see the point.

So, she was right. I need it. I'll get to that, but I also want to tell you about some new flour I'm Mc Lovin right now.

Trader Joes recently started carrying White Whole Wheat flour. Now, if you've ever used whole wheat instead of white you know that it requires careful planning not to end up with a brick of dough. So I've always had to strike a delicate balance between healthy recipe and tasty food. Finally there's a whole wheat that bakes like white. I made sugar cookies with this new flour and I'm so impressed, because it really delivered exactly like it claims!
I'm glad I had my kitchen helper with me, and his trusty mini-roller!

And now I'm going to tell you how my mom was right. Jack is too old for baby gates and he plays really independently so I don't want to have to stand around and watch the boys all the time but Henry is a quick little trouble-maker. And he's very rat-like in his affinity for gnawing on and playing with power chords. Well, sometimes I need to be in another room and I don't want to have to carry Henry with me or run the risk he's going to get into some actual trouble while I don't have my eyes on him. Voila! Pack n play!
He seems pleased with his little piece of real estate.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Jack wrote a letter to Santa and dropped it in the mail (so cute that mailbox that spits snow at you!).
Henry sat on Santa's lap. Jack was having no part of it and we didn't coerce him. He did talk to "Santa" on the metro last month. A large man with a bushy white beard sat next to him on the subway and he said "Look, Daddy, it's Santa." And my poor husband turned red and looked a little embarrassed and the man, thankfully, said "Yes, I am. I'm making my list and checking it twice. Have you been good this year?" To which Jack said "Yeah..."

He must get that all the time. Large man, white beard... I'm just sayin'.
GiGi snapped a good picture of us in Santa's village. (Note Santa at minimum safe distance.)

Then we rode the carousel.

And after that we went to lunch.

It's our third year doing this particular set of activities with my mom a week or two before Christmas. Clearly it has become a tradition.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Every Day

I wage my own little war against Henry. He loves to eat presents. More than anything. I would
really prefer him to leave them alone ('till Christmas morning). He doesn't discriminate when it comes to whose gift he's going to nom. This particular one is for Uncle Tom. Hopefully Uncle Tom won't mind the slobber.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pool Party

Our neighbor Josephine turned 4 today and she had a pool party! We had a blast! So did Henry, who lounged poolside for a while before walking 1/2 way around the pool holding Daddy's hands.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Feeling twitchy?

Not me. Not so much anymore.

I wrote about what I supposed is diagnosed as Postpartum Anxiety. But really, giving it a name doesn't mean much to me, finding a solution- well that's money in the bank. So I'm about 4 weeks into Zoloft and I'm loving the changes.

Every winter of my adult life I've needed to use my asthma inhaler daily. Since starting Zoloft I've used it once. I cannot tell you how amazing that is to me.

Every time I was running late, or even on time but could be running late I would panic. Totally freak out, sometimes burst into tears and always drive like speed racer. The other day I met a friend at Ikea, I was 12 minutes late and I didn't really care. I mean I kinda was worried she'd be waiting for me (I still want to be considerate) but I just figured she'd assume I was running late and she'd understand. Frankly that logical thought process was something I had been without for YEARS and to be able to be on time or late to something without it being a disaster is pretty freakin awesome.

At the end of every day I used to replay all my failings as a parent that day. The time I yelled too much. The time I didn't interact enough. The time I didn't want to get up and crawl around under the table. Each excruciating moment I chose to be what I considered "a crappy parent" I forced myself to relive and feel the guilt. Whether I'm a "less crappy" parent or I perceive myself to be less crappy or I'm finally willing to give myself a break in the parenting department who knows. But all of that the guilt the feelings of falling short it's basically gone. I don't think I'm perfect or anything, I'm just less concerned about trying to be perfect and more focused on doing what I can as each moment requires.

I'm also less frustrated by other people; bad drivers don't get under my skin anymore. I'm not up in arms about things people say in real life, on the interwebs, on the news. People used to talk about letting things roll off their backs and, to be honest, I wanted to punch them in the face because I had no idea how anyone under any circumstances could just let something roll off their back. Now? I actually understand what they mean.

Each little change isn't earth shattering, but all the little changes together amount to a very happy Mommy. I'm sure the boys are grateful I decided to accept help.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Jack wants to feed Henry.
Henry wants to eat.

It's a match made in heaven!