Thursday, March 31, 2011

My kids are cuter than your kids

I think we all believe our kids are the cutest. (It's gotta be good for the survival of the species.) But sometimes I look at a picture of my kids and I actually think my kids are the cutest kids ever.
I can't even take it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Angel could totally kick Edward Cullen's ass

Reasons Angel is cool:

  • He's an older man (When Buffy was 16 he was 141.)

  • He's worldly (granted he was slaughtering innocents during most of his globe trotting... but, hey.)

  • He has perfectly messed-up hair.

  • He has a soul.

  • He kicked major bad-guy ass.

  • Buffy could kick his ass (really, Buffy could kick any one's ass...)

  • Buffy was concerned about his soul (especially that one time when he lost it.)
Angel is a champion. Yes, he loves Buffy and she is his moment of true happiness but his actions don't revolve around her. He's 5x5 when it comes to Buffy but ultimately he's about fighting evil and righting wrongs. He wants to save the world. One demon. One dragon. One supremely evil law firm at a time.

Reasons Edward Cullen is cool:

  • He copied Angels hair.

  • He's an older man (when Bella was 17 he was 70 something.)

  • He's concerned about Bella's soul.

  • He growled at people who tried to hurt Bella.
He loves Bella. He would kick ass for her. He also may have single white femaled Angel.

Where is this all coming from? You've been living under a rock if you don't know about Grey's Anatomy's episode this week. But I can't think about this upcoming episode without thinking about the awesomeness that is Once More With Feeling. Granted Angel isn't even in this season of Buffy, but is it possible to think about Buffy and not think about Angel? Can you breathe in and not breathe out? I didn't think so.

Do you watch Grey's? Are you psyched for this week's episode?

Could Angel kick Edward's ass? Who's with me?

Japa Mala

As a part of my yoga practice and my meditation practice and my attempt to seek shanti (peace) especially in the face of crazy government furlough/bad economy/uncertainty I'm using japa mala.

Buddhist prayer beads allow me to repeat a mantra or phrase to provide stability and encouragement so I can grow as a person. Like a rosary, the mantra is repeated for each bead while the bead is turned between the thumb and forefinger. It's a great way to maintain focus so it's no wonder that Christianity reinterpreted this tradition for its own purposes!

For me, it's not about religion, it's about trying to focus on something I'm trying to work on. My mantra right now focuses on seeking peace inspite of chaos.

I made my Japa Mala out of Jasper beads, wax coated string and a silver clasp.

I needed to be able to take it off for working in the garden, swimming in the ocean, etc. and I wanted to be able to have it with me at all times. It seemed just perfect that 108 beads fit around my wrist 3 times! Love it!
I will be zen in the face of chaos. I will be zen in the face of chaos. Is it working? Am I zen? I think I feel something. Perhaps a tingle...

Monday, March 28, 2011

The "F" word


The Husband works for the government. So when congress can't agree on a budget and doesn't pass a continuing resolution he doesn't go to work and we don't get paid. Now a little unpaid vacation is all well and good if you plan for it, but if you don't... well that just plain sucks.

Henry's First Birthday Party is this weekend and to be frank, I'm worried about spending too much money on food. There aren't many areas we can trim the budget. I already cut every one's hair myself, we don't eat out, I'm not willing to give up fresh organic foods, we use the library, we aren't doing any paid camps or classes right now (luckily), so I have to completely eliminate my online shopping habit which is fine. But we had plans, and now they're all on hold because our polarized government is fighting over money. Not cool. So I'm kinda busy panicking right now.

Just to be clear, it's not like we're about to starve and things are really not that disastrous. In the interest of full disclosure we haven't really directly felt the impact of the crappy economy (except for a pathetic attempt at selling our house.) So now that the economy, and a bickering congress are knocking on my door it's really scary!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Yep, I'm crazy.

Crazy in love with my sewing machine. Ha ha ha! Now, I didn't make these, but I ordered them online. I'm so psyched to use them- less waste and better for my skin! Wohoo!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Setting Some Goals

I've dusted off the sewing machine and started to expand my crafting repertoire. Life is feeling really great right now so I'm feeling the need to set some future goals for myself. Yoga teaches that life is about the journey, not the destination (thank you Steven Tyler). However, I think it's nice to set an intention.

I'm really psyched for my 30th Birthday! Henry is about to turn 1 which makes me feel like my 30th birthday is just around the corner. The reality is I'll be waiting 'till the end of May to turn 30 but whatevs. I was inspired by Shannon's list of 27 things so I'm generating my own list of 30 things to do while I'm 30. Speaking of things that are cute as pie, Shannon and her blog are- fo' sho'!

While I hope to complete all of these 30 things I intend to do I will respect the process and enjoy the journey. I will not be hyper focused on the destination. Which is a constant challenge for me! But challenge is good because it forces me to grow.

Hopefully I'll have my list of 30 up later today. Right, Dear? ::cough:: scanner ::cough::

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quadruple trouble.

Moo-cow diapers.

Matching outfits are so fun!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I'm weaning Henry right now.

I'm excited to have my body back to myself but I'm sad to loose our special time that we get from nursing. I will say the least exciting part about weaning is the hormone changes! Dealing with postpartum anxiety has been less than fun (although in the scope of postpartum concerns I'm very thankful that my challenges have been mild). Weaning brings it all back in full force.

I've always been sensitive to hormone changes. I've never been able to use hormone birth conrol without psychological/emotional changes. It feels almost familiar to me to be a slave to my ever shifting hormone levels. Is it over yet?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Floating Stairs Makeover

We have these floating stairs that lead from the main level to the second floor. It was one of the features that attracted us to the house. When we removed the carpeting upstairs and down and put in bamboo it was painfully clear the carpeted stairs had to go. Carpeting on stairs feels wrong to me, which is silly because it's very common. But I grew up in a house with wood stairs so maybe there's something familiar about that.

Anyhow, we kicked around ideas for how to approach these stairs: paint them white, wrap them in the same bamboo as the floors, wrap them in another type of wood. We were all over the place. I Googled and Googled and Googled some more and there was nothing out there for how to update floating stairs like ours. Lots of beautiful examples of floating stairs, but none we could use.

Finally we just decided to pull off the carpet and see what we found.
Turned out the wood was totally something we could work with! The grain of the wood and the integrity of the facades were undamaged although they were covered in drips of paint and stain and other construction-type products. We had to work pretty hard to clean the paint and drips of glue and stain off the stairs (you can still see the paint smeared all over the riser). Each stair required quite a bit of TLC but eventually we cleaned off the treads and they looked pretty good. We went to the store and picked up a stain that matched the wood on the railings. It's called Early American. One coat of stain and two coats of polyurethane and voila! the treads were looking great the riser needed major priming and painting but that was no biggie. We just used the same glossy white that we have on all the trim.

Finally it was time to tear up the carpet on the landings and put down the bamboo to carry the bamboo visually between the two spaces and complete the look.
This project required quite a bit of sweat equity but didn't cost much money at all.

I would like to dedicate this post to the person who invented baby gates because it kept the kids at bay while we were working and surfaces were drying.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm not one to gush

I'm not the type of girl who gushes about how inspiring or sexy or loving someone is. I'm not the sort who says "Honey, you're such a great husband and you're so supportive and you're so much fun to watch with the kids." Don't misunderstand me, I emote- but not like that. I'm more likely to say "Hon, you're an effing rock star." Or "Thanks for being awesome." or even "Thank you for taking out the trash, that really helped me out."

But I should sometimes sing the praises of my awesome (and in this picture- dead sexy) husband.

My husband works (in an office at a paying job). So when I tell you that if the kids need something in the middle of the night he takes care of it you fully appreciate how amazingly generous that is. Now, if I'm being totally honest I'm completely useless in the middle of the night. I'm not saying that to be unkind, I'm just telling the truth. It takes me at least 5 minutes to get out of bed at any given time. Out of the kindness of his heart (and perhaps slightly also because he's too tired to try and drag me out of bed) he handles 97.5% of the night-time drama-rama.

He's great with the kids. He makes them laugh. He plays with them, teaches them things. He's present, and he hates to miss even the smallest things in their lives. He would come to every single doctors visit if I didn't often talk him out of taking the time away from work. He wants to spend time together as a family whether that means bumming around the house or dragging the kids on a long and arduous day trip- he's in.

He cooks. I'm not talking about boil water and cook spaghetti noodles. He invents marinades out of thin air, makes breads from scratch, reads recipes online and always insists on putting his own spin on the dish. Only recently have I started to reconnect with the kitchen. I like to cook too but I'm not nearly as adventurous or if I am going to try a new dish I'll stick with the recipe.

He indulges me. I need to be indulged. This training to become a yoga teacher is not easy for him. He's very practical about money so although he couldn't see the immediate pay-off he was willing to let me follow this dream. He watches the kids, and doesn't just camp out at the house all day- he runs errands with them, takes them to the park and comes up with great father-sons activities to spend the time while I'm away... being all zen.

He cleans the bathrooms. I started to get out of this task when pregnant with Jack and I got lucky because it stuck! Same goes for taking care of the cats... though if I'm being honest he's been taking care of the feline family members for longer than that.

He's not without his faults fo' sho'. But the good far far far exceeds any perceived 'bad'.

So the next time I say: "Hon, you're an effing rock star." From now on you'll know what I really mean is "I love you more today than all the days before this one."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Manwich and I are totally fighting right now.

I decided to make vegetarian sloppy joes for dinner last night and so I went to the store to get some Manwich. Turns out the second ingredient (after tomato paste) is high fructose corn syrup. Grrrrr.

So instead of getting angry I decided to get even.

Here is my recipe for Sloppy Joes:

1 package of Ray's Saytan

1 8oz can tomato paste

1/2 green pepper (diced)

1/2 onion (diced)

2 handfuls fresh spinach (chopped)

1/4 cup A1 style steak sauce or worcester sauce

1 garlic clove (chopped/crushed)



cream of tartar

burger buns

Start by sauteing the pepper, onion and spinach (in a dash of oil if you like) with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste, steak sauce and garlic. Stir and simmer.

In a separate pan drain and dice Ray's Saytan and saute with salt, pepper and a dash of cream of tartar. After 7-10 minutes (stirring frequently) add sloppy joe sauce to the saytan. Stir for 5ish minutes and then load onto a (whole wheat) burger bun and enjoy!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Consider the lesson learned the hard way.

The boys played so nicely in the sandbox the other day. I was able to get a few things done. It always feels good to get a few tasks completed! It certainly helps alleviate that feeling of looming chaos.
Jack showed Henry the ropes. And so I turned my back to weed and till the planter bed (pre-planting).I have No. Idea. how this happened.

Did Jack do this to Henry? Did Henry do this to himself? Well, at least they had fun and I got some work done...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cá mbeidh tú ag fliuchadh na seamróige?

Translation: Where will you be wetting the shamrock? (But don't ask me how to pronounce it!) Tonight's St. Patty's Day feast is brought to you by: Trader Joes
and the slow cooker.

Clearly, I will be having a black bean burger... but, hey!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

News Updates

Have you seen these girls? Oh Em Gee! They are adorable! I hope my guys are just as food savvy as they get older!

Lily and Audrey are 9 year old twin chefs who aspire to make their mark on the culinary world. They love healthy food and creative recipes. If you're in a food-rut you should check out what they're cooking up! They'll definitely be in my next week's menu plan. Love it!

On a way less cool note:

There's this lady. Suing the pre-school over her daughter's lack of achievement?! Sounds a lot like this yahoo who sued her alma mater when she couldn't find a job after graduation. Since when did personal achievement (or lack there of) become someone else's problem?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Old Homestead

As a part of my resolution (not for the year... just for life) I've decided to create a 'suburban homestead'. When we were trying futilely to sell our townhouse a major motivation for relocating was to get more space for gardening (veggies) and crafts (sewing, painting, furniture). To better embrace the life we have, I resolved to do this now- create a homestead using our townhouse in the 'burbs. Step One: We went to the home improvement store! They were both so damn happy to be in the car cart together (which was very cute to see, BTW!). That thing made shopping a breeze because they were contained and entertained the whole time! We got some seeds, some soil and some chicken wire.
Jack loved planting the seeds. And it was a great little activity. He often watches me work on the flower (front) garden and understands about the "baby plants". I'm really excited to see how he experiences the veggie garden as the seeds grow. We planted 2 types of lettuce, radishes and spring onions.
And garlic- which looks exactly like... garlic. Apparently deer don't like garlic so it seemed like a good anti-deer pro-pasta investment. (Technically not everything we've planted is supposed to go in the ground outside while there is still a chance of frost but it was a risk I was willing to take.)
Henry supervised our work from the safety and comfort of the stroller. Since my hernia surgery I've been back to baby-wearing again but there are some activities that are totally ergo unfriendly- working in the garden is one of them.
He didn't seem to mind.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I wish

I wish I didn't have kids. Or at least I wish I didn't have little kids who needed me daily. I wish I could hop on a plane and fly to Japan and help. I wish I could roll up my sleeves and hand out hugs and supplies and help as much as I can. I must stay here, but as much as my kids need me- I think Japan needs me (all of us) too.

Most of all I wish things like this didn't happen.

My case of the Mondays

In case you haven't heard I'm training to become a certified Hatha Yoga instructor. As part of my certification I need to apprentice one of my teachers. Every Monday since January I've been apprenticing in the mornings at my local studio.

Since I'm home with the kids, my Mother-in-Law has awesomely been watching the boys so I can go and learn. It's a challenge for me, because we're basically supposed to sit and observe. Don't talk, don't correct students who are doing poses incorrectly. Don't walk around. Don't ask questions.

It's been brutal. Learning by observation is not my best learning style. I was always really pissed that I had to take time to do it if I'm being totally honest.
Until I taught my first yoga class. (It is also part of the certification. I need to teach at least 3 yoga classes on my own time.)

Teaching changed how I observe. Before, I was constantly looking for how people could do the poses more correctly, in better alignment, safer. Now I don't look at their bodies as much. I look at their faces. Because yoga makes everyone smile. I noticed it when I taught for the first time, coming out of poses, or getting into a really hard one - people are always smiling.

It's never boring to see, and there is always something to be learned.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I am a Domestic Goddess

There are many things I'm not afraid do do around the house. Basic plumbing repairs, basic electrical wiring, and re-finishing a deck- No Problem! Use my sewing machine- NO WAY!

I have finally conquered my sewing machine fear! Fear is probably not the right word, it just seems like I would have to re-teach myself a bunch of stuff and I was hesitant to try to set it all up only to not be able to get it to work. Then my mother went out of town. Sad but true, I'd ask her to make pillows & curtains for me because I 'couldn't' do it myself. The mom-shaped training wheels got removed and I was forced into readiness!

I wanted to make paper-towel alternatives and I had picked up some great fabric remnants at the store for a steal. So I sliced and diced into different sized pieces- variety is the spice of life!
I did an iron on seam first.
Don't you love crisp edges? They're just so.... neat!
I got the sewing machine out of Jack's closet. The last time I used it was, well... not the intended purpose.

My parents gave me this old sewing table, I was psyched to have a place to work. I love that it's tiny and unassuming but it folds out Transformer-style into this gigantic work space. It's awesome!!
Yes, I watched a you tube video on how to use your sewing machine! Thanks to Leigh-Ann's video I am now a domestic goddess! (As per conquering my big homesteading fear... the sewing machine... ::rawr::.)
My complete works.
Gotta make 'em look pretty!

And now my desk is a desk once more. You'd never know that I'm a sci-fi geek moonlighting as a crafty domestic goddess.
I'll say it once more for good measure DO-MES-TIC GODD-ESS. Oh yeah!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Gang's All Here!

Henry, Jack, Camille, Jocelyn (and Hostess with the Mostess, Denise), Jillian, Amedeo, Jessica, Brooks and Brenna's to-be-named Uterus Monster.With pre-school and play groups and second babies getting the remaining members of the Mom's Group together is not easy! (The Mom's Group is for first-time mommas immediately after delivery, run free through the county for any residents and it runs officially for 8 weeks and then we're encouraged to continue meeting on our own. We met starting way back in March 08, and all the kiddos are January or February 08 babies, just look at them, and us, now!) Brenna read about a cool activity where you make frozen yogurt with a couple of ziplock bags some ice and some salt. Genius! Shake it, Kids!
They're only 3, so the moms did the bulk of the shaking, but it totally counts as a workout! Right?!
I just cut a hole in the inner bag filled with yogurt and let Jack squeeze out the frozen treat!
I'm shocked and pleased they all sat still long enough for a group shot!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We're going through a phase

Jack his hilarious and energetic and creative and loving. But right now he's killing my soul. And I mean that in the nicest way.

He's a great listener when I ask him to sit in his seat for a meal, put trash in the trash (or recycling in the recycling), he holds hands in parking lots, washes his own face and hands after meals and helps me cook by pouring and measuring. This is what makes it so frustrating. He's totally capable of following instruction and often does not need to be asked more than once or reminded.

But I feel like I'm constantly trying to pull him and Henry apart. I know Henry's mobile now and his development is really taking off and that must be really threatening for Jack because his toys are no longer 'safe' but I can't take it anymore!

A month ago Jack hardly heard the words "time out". Now I'm sneering them at him 20 times a day because for the millionth time in a row as soon as I say "Jack, please do not push/hit your brother" he does just that.

I'm not sure what to do. Part of me doesn't want to make excuses for him and let him bully his brother because I'm afraid of what it could mean down the line. But part of me wonders if I should be putting him in time out over and over and over because it's clearly not having the desired effect. Maybe he'd respond better to "Henry, are you okay? Did Jack push you? He did. That was not nice." Instead of "I just told you not to push your brother, GO. SIT. IN. TIME OUT."

Most of what I've read online talks about praising them when they're playing together well, and I do quite a lot of that. Please tell me it's going to get better. I don't expect them not to fight, I just would like to be done with the disciplinging Jack at least once an hour every waking hour of the day.

I'm open to any suggestions or pep-talks about how it will get better!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

At The Park

My crocus are starting to bloom. The rose bush is coming alive agaon. The cherry tree... well it's showing early signs of spring. This Sunday was a grey and totally overcast day. But it was 60 degrees! So we went to the park to go for a walk around the lake and have some fun on the playground.Jack insisted that he wear his helmet in the car on the way to the park. Henry enjoyed a snuggly and relaxing walk from the comfort of the stroller.
Jack loved the hills. Even the few times he crashed and burned he was laughing the whole way. (Maybe it helped because the one time he fell we were laughing at him so hard, his feet flew right over his head- you'd laugh too!) At the playground Jack enjoyed playing spaceships with Daddy. While Henry and I discussed the finer qualities of mulch.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Meditation is hard

I'm here to break some news. If you're Type A, slightly OCD and have an anxiety disorder- meditation is really friggin hard!

I'm assuming meditation is really hard no matter what because turning off your thoughts and turning in to your breath is no easy feat. But when you approached meditation for the first time, as I did, thinking to yourself "I'm going to meditate the shit out of this." You're doing it wrong!

A friend of mine who also has difficulty with anxiety had a panic attack every time she meditated for 7 months (and she meditated daily) until she figured out something that worked. Apparently there's an app for your iPad- she loves it!

Anyway, so I'm treating meditation like it's a race to be won and I'm failing miserably. To the point that I'm basically avoiding meditation all together. (This was about a month ago.) Then I got my umbilical hernia diagnosis. So I decided to lay off the urdhva dhanurasana and focus on meditation. Where in the universe proved that it knew exactly what I needed. Physical yoga is something I have, I love and I always want to work on. The only way to force me to focus on meditation is to take away my 'crack'.

I was talking to a very dear friend the other night about meditation (which he's been doing for 10ish years) and he said something truly profound: Meditation is like being in a river, sure you can try to swim up stream, but that's exhausting and fruitless; instead simply stand in the river and allow that which is upstream flow down to you.

Finally, it clicks! Am I suddenly transcendent? No. Is meditation suddenly easy? No. But instead of trying to meditate. I just try to sit and clear my head and relax my breath and see what happens.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

How Eric Carle and Vincent van Gogh teach recycling

I was going to save this till Monday, but I just couldn't wait!

Friday was a busy day! I'm finally feeling pretty much better from my earlier hernia surgery. So to celebrate in typical Emily fashion I took on entirely too much at once.

I saw a "Make art like Eric Carle" blog somewhere in the vastness of the web, but I don't remember where I saw it so my apologies. But since I don't remember where I found it other than the inspiration to do the project and to use an Exacto to cut the shapes out the ideas are entirely my own so that's something I suppose. (If you've done an Eric Carle project feel free to link it up.) First, I took down the reigning space painting from Jack's room and decided to reuse the canvas. I do this ALL THE TIME. 1. because artists have been reusing canvas for centuries and 2. because a good canvas is not cheap! You should sand down excess paint and rough the surface before 'clearing' the canvas. (Photo credit, Jack)
Second, you recruit some slave labor... I mean... a helper to paint over the original work in Gesso.
Then you celebrate your artistic victory.
Streak some paper (Eric Carle uses high quality tissue paper but you should really see how he does it- trust me, you WANT to click that link!) Construction paper with acrylic paint was what I chose because it's sturdy, easy to cut and easy for my pint-sized assistant to work with.
Then take a breather while you watch 'the boys' work together to saw off the legs of your bar stools. (Because I asked, not because they're trying to destroy my barstools or anything).
Then you watch Jack finish painting his dragon and help him glue the fire in its mouth. This was a great project- but if you don't want to do some of the mache yourself don't try it with a 3 year old! Hah! We had a blast with this one! Jack asked me to make Night Fury from How to Train Your Dragon. He loved this project from start to finish.
After putting the kids to bed I busted out my brand new Exacto and new fangled cutting board thingy and got to work. I free-handed my cuts but what makes this brilliant is you could pretty easily print a coloring book page and cut the shapes and then trace them on your painted paper.
After a great debate on facebook about the color the background should be, a Starry Night inspired background won over the white and black options I had thrown out there. So I got to work with some watered down blues, greys and a black.
I 'glued' the shapes on to the canvas using a matte medium, which is basically paint that is clear so it was the perfect glue and top coat for this project. Then I added some crayon to create atmosphere around the planets. The final photo is the best we could do but really does not do the thing justice at all.
I need a better camera... I think I'm one of the last hold-outs to get a D-SLR. Tell me I'm not alone!!
And If you're thinking to yourself "She never added Henry's 11 month picture, you're right! But it was not for lack of trying. Every. Single. Photo. I took was total crap, bad light, out of focus, so frustrating! (See my earlier comment about a new camera.)