Once again, it's Uncle Tony time, which means ice skating for Lola. She is so incredibly lucky to have her uncle who purposely packs his ice skates with him every trip (he, his wife and baby live on the east coast) and takes her skating. Lola looks forward to this so much and I'm so glad that despite living so far away from each other, they can still have this bond.
All the grandkids were together for the first time and it will be a long time before they are all together again. They are all adorable babies. There are 4 generations in this picture. Great-grandpa is 89 years old and the youngest great-grandchild is only 4 months! It's been pretty neat and insightful the last few days...there's been a spot of family drama here and there, some of which goes back a couple of generations, but what holiday would be complete without that? If I had a few DAYS, with nothing to do, I would write about it, but I don't! It's been fun despite a few bumps in the road.
You really want to vent and blog about something that is very upsetting to you, but you really can't. And it's just in case the one person in the world whom you don't want to read your blog and probably doesn't even know what a blog is, just happens to read your blog that day. That is kinda how I'm feeling right now. I really, really doubt there's any chance of my little vent being read by that person, but why take the chance? Anyway. Suffice to say, there is something that I'm dying to vent about and it somewhat (read: pretty much) blew my holiday for me. Next year, I will definitely do things differently. There!!!! I vented!
Today was Elise's birthday. We got an early start and went out to eat breakfast at a nice restaurant in the "downtown" area of our town. The kids were amazing. I was thankful because it's not the kind of place that a lot of people bring kids too. In fact, our kids were the only ones we saw, except for a young baby in a high chair. Anyway, during breakfast, we planned our day and decided to hit the Children's Museum. The kids LOVE it there. Dan talked me into going straight there after breakfast, even though I was not at all prepared....no diapers, no water, no nothing. It all worked out just fine, though. We even scored a parking spot right across the street. They really enjoyed the bubbles part and that is where we spent most of the time. Elise doesn't know how to blow the bubbles yet. You can see in the photos that she is trying to actually blow bubbles out of the bubble wand....like one would blow through a flute or something! She had everyone around her giggling! Elise fell asleep on the way home, her first nap in several days. While she was asleep, Lola and I made her cake...vanilla with cream cheese frosting! Last year, when Elise turned 1, I was super tearful and couldn't get over how fast the year had slipped through our fingers. I'm not as sad this year. Elise is a lot of fun and I'm guessing I'm in for even more of a good time in the future! She is so awesome!
I had really wanted to try these since seeing them here by Veganmomma. The original recipe is from Veganomicon. I made a couple of small changes...added basil and used red lentils. I also served it spooned over quinoa, instead of on bread. Not quite "sloppy joe" style anymore, I realize that, but I just thought quinoa would go over better in my family then bread. Also, per Lola's request, I sauteed a Smart Dog that I sliced up. Ew. Everyone else had it without that addition and it was delicious!
Ok, there is no monkey in the garden and this post actually has nothing to do with monkeys or gardens at all, but I just thought the title was catchy. Sorry, hope you weren't expecting something more exciting! Anyway, really all I wanted to talk about is that lately I've been feeling kinda down on myself. I've been feeling rather frumpy, actually. I haven't been taking the time to do anything with my hair, just the standard ponytail everyday. No make-up and nothing more exciting to wear than a t-shirt and a pair of sweats. Unless, of course, we're going out, in which case it's a t-shirt and a pair of JEANS. Huge difference. I think this is totally fine if that is what you makes you happy. The only reason it makes me unhappy is because how I look on the outside is not at all how I feel on the inside and I think that is important. Perhaps some may think this to be vain or shallow...maybe they're right, but all I know is that my self-esteem greatly affects every aspect of my life, so when I'm not feeling very good about myself, it's huge. Anyway, so with feeling frumpy comes feeling a bit outdated. Up until maybe 10 years ago, I always had eccentric hair, dyed various shades of purple. I finally grew it (plus many blond streak jobs that followed) all out and have had my own real hair color for 2-3 years now. I'm in the mood for drastic change! I really wanted to cut it very short, dye it, etc...Dan, who much prefers my hair long, convinced me to try out some bangs and color first before chopping it all off. Because I am super impatient, I didn't wait for an appointment with a professional, I just started lopping off my own bangs willy-nilly until I somewhat acheived the look I was going for. There'll be much for my hairdresser to fix, but I thought it was a decent first effort. I've also been watching way too much of TLC's "What Not to Wear"....I feel a lot like many of the women on that show....they are too self-concious of their bodies to buy clothing that actually flatters them. Like a lot of those women, I also stick to a basic uniform of black t-shirts and jeans and I would like to know how to incorporate more color and different kinds of cuts into my wardrobe. Anyway, wish me luck. I just know that I am happiest when I'm exercising regularly and I feel like I fit well in my own skin, be it hair, make-up, clothes or the complete lack of. So long as I'm happy!
Today was a big day for us. Playgroup was only 2 miles from our house so I decided I would put the kids in the bike trailer that doubles as a jog stroller and "run" there. It was way hotter than I thought it would be and, crap, my kids are heavy! But it was fun and I'm glad I did it. The way back home was a little more harried because the stroller handle just completely fell off the stroller and required a mid-trip repair. Luckily, I was going up a steep hill when it happened...not going down, as this stroller has no brakes! yikes. When I finally got the handle back on, I noticed one of the front wheels wobbling very badly and about to fall off. We were only 1/4 mile away and it stayed on until we got home. I'll have Dan fix it before attempting to take it out again. Elise spend at least 70% of playgroup sitting in the jog stroller. Not sure why, exactly...she just really wanted to be in it. It was nice to not have to chase her down the hill onto the street though! She also wore a dress that was made for her birthday by our good friend urbanhousewife, who is most fabulous with a sewing machine! I also included a photo of Elise with her little friend...I love it when they connect because it's always so "catch me/chase me" kinda cuteness. So pure and 2 year old-ish. Oh, in case you're wondering why I didn't take pictures of Lola...she was no where to be found. She was way too busy playing with her friends that she only came by the blanket for the occasional sip of water or bite of snack.
I was *this* close to giving up ever making bread again, until I found this recipe. This is my second time using and *great scots* look at the sheer size of these loaves! And they are the same size, for the first time ever. They not only look amazing, but are light, fluffy and taste delicious. Perfect for sandwiches! I followed the recipe to the T. The only thing I did differently was use coconut oil in place of the olive oil. I melted the coconut oil down to a liquid because I didn't want to mess with the dry ingredient/wet ingredient ratio. Making bad bread is so frustrating so I wasn't taking any chances! The only negative?? I've already eaten 1/2 a loaf....
Today, we went to the lake with some friends and had a great day. I'm freaking out a bit at how fast the kids are growing up. For example: 1. Just yesterday, Elise named a stuffed animal for the very first time. A dog she named "Woofey". 2. Today, she is swinging on the big kids swing. gulp! 3. We had one of the coldest mornings we've had in a while...I go to help Lola get dressed for school (another story in itself!) and find that NOTHING fits her...her warm clothing from last year is way too small and I am mortified at how unprepared I was! jeez, since when did she stop wearing 4T....how did I not get that memo???? 4. To top off her new, upgraded clothing size is her equally astonishing leap into vocabulary. I sometimes feel as though I'm talking to a miniature adult. Awesome!
It's all coming at me so fast!!! Where are the speedbumps when you need them???
I've been making my own whole wheat bread every week for a couple of months now. I often wonder WHY I do this because I'm terrible at it. Most of the time, the loaves don't rise properly and one of the loaves is always way smaller than the other, no matter what I do. Today, I made 2 loaves that were the worst yet. I thought I finally realized the problem so I made 2 more loaves, trying to avoid the mistake. Those 2 were better, but not much. I noticed yet another mistake so I gave it one more go. Jeez, am I obsessive or what? This time I researched online for a new recipe and found one that looked promising. It's done completely in the mixer and it was really detailed, which is totally what I needed. These came out much, much better. Now I know my main mistakes were not using enough flour and not kneading long enough.
Above photos are of the first loaves. You can see how wimpy the rise was. And the crust is rough and dense.
Our friends needed to drive up to Temecula today to pick up wine, since they are members of a couple of winery clubs up there, and asked if we wanted to join them. I needed a distraction since we had just dropped off my dad & girlfriend at the airport so we decided to go. With the kids. Yikes. We learned quickly that the kids fared way better outside the tasting rooms, for obvious reasons. We went to about 3 wineries and all had nice outdoor areas very suitable for picnicking and twirling around. I planned ahead well and had a mini-cooler with cheese, apples, crackers, etc...Lola was really interested in the grape-growing too. We ate at Thorntons, where there is a large fountain that the kids loved. I had crayons and play-doh for the kids, which entertained them for a few minutes, but proved to be no match for the fountain. At the last stop, some nice staff gave them each a lollipop and the kids enjoyed that, plus all the hay everywhere. It's stressful to bring kids to wineries and I wouldn't do it often, but today actually turned out very nicely. Lola said it was the best day ever and Elise fell asleep for the night on the car ride home. They were happy and exhausted.
Our first trick or treaters this year, was a group of teenage-ish boys. They were maybe 13 years old, not quite old enough to shave but a bit too old to be trick or treating for much longer. I was a little worried that they were going to express great disappointment at treat selection, which was basically the leftovers of Lola's pinata stuffing...little halloween toys, mini play-dohs and a few little candies. I was surprised at how excited they were about the play-doh! Actually, our treats went over well for most of the night, especially the play-doh, so I will keep that in mind for next year. We don't get very many trick or treaters so it wouldn't be too hard.
Across the street, the church puts on a big Halloween carnival. They park their cars in the parking lot and decorate them. There were some really cool ones, I wish I would have taken some pictures! Anyway, the trunks of the cars are open with candy or treats inside and the kids can just "trunk or treat" from car to car. We've gone every year, since Lola has been trick or treating. They also have a big jumpy jump and a train ride that Lola looks forward to very much. I got lucky again this year....the girls each had a piece or two of candy and then forgot about their bags. They are stashed somewhere. Usually, this is the part where I go through it and eat all my favorite candies, but they didn't get really good stuff this year, just a bunch of chocolate. I'm really more a gummy bear/licorice kinda gal...
Lola decided to ditch her plans on being a witch and was a princess (again!) instead. Despite most people thinking Elise was an angel, she was actually a butterfly.
Lola is starting 1st grade this fall! She attends a great school that allows us to homeschool 2 days a week. She is loving school and learning, especially reading.
I can't believe she is already 2. She is growing up fast and loves to chase after her big sister.
My Husband, Dan
Or, as he prefers to call himself, "the reason our kids are so cute". If I hear one more person gush about how the girls have his 'beautiful eyes', I will throw up. I'm pretty sure all the work involved with pregnancy and labor was all me.