Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bald Baby Heads

Sweetpea is starting to grow hair. She's got two funny little tails right behind her ears and JUST enough to pull into a barrette on the top of her head - you should have seen her preening in the mirror over that barrette!

I'll admit, though, I'm going to miss her little bald head. So soft and smooth and perfectly round.

When The Princess was born that was the very first piece of information my sister passed on to me, before I even saw her.

"Don't worry Sarah, she doesn't have any hair!"
"Oh, thank goodness!" I said.

Yes, the nurse gave us a weird look.

But I really, really, really wanted a bald baby.
My list was: healthy, girl, bald.

I got them all, twice.

I am so, so blessed.

Friday, December 30, 2011


Chocolate cake, white frosting and lots of roses...the only way to have a birthday cake!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Elephant Song

Reasons why I love this song.

  • Elephants are my favorite animal.
  • The Acacia Trees shot in the middle of the video.
  • The Princess was over the moon to discover the elephant song and loves it to death.
  • My brother sent it to me originally.
  • Dancing elephants.
  • I love whimsy.
  • Kenya was my paradise.
  • Both girls come running as soon as this song starts playing. 
  • I'm still a girl who dreams.
  • Elephants on stage.
  • The Princess has already requested her Halloween costume for next year.
  • Sweetpea grins and relaxes in my arms while we listen and that IS paradise

Coldplay - Paradise

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


We had great success with our Advent activities although The Princess was a little unclear as to the connection with Christmas... Next year I may try for more crafts - they were definitely a hit.

(original craft directions from

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Skeleton

Last year The Princess had just one request for Christmas. One simple request that I didn't know how to fulfill...  Thanks to my mom, she got her wish. And now, every time we decorate our tree, we'll have a reminder of our funny girl.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Birds Series: The Exception

I didn't want to admit this but I have a small conflict within my bird hatred.


I don't know why but for some reason they don't make me shudder in terror. Is it because they're wise? They can turn their ears in different directions? They really only swoop at night and I'm not usually out at night as a tempting target? They're regal?

I'm not sure but for some reason I keep being tempted by things like this.

Which is why I think they might be the exception.

Go here for more on the birds series or see the link on the side bar

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Making It Work

The Fashionista (that should be her new name) knows how to put an outfit together... And, when a white fur coat is all that's needed to "complete" the look it doesn't matter that said white coat is actually her 15 month sister's current coat OR that the label says 6-9 months.

Size and age should never get in the way of fashion.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Red Glitter

We've got a toddler proof tree this year, no breakables within reach of the child who thinks everything should be edible.

With those instructions I gave The Princess a pile of ornaments and let her loose on the tree. She especially loved the red, glittery ones. I debated on "redecorating" once she went to bed but, I should just enjoy it as is this year... She worked so hard on creating perfection.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Tears

It's not Christmas unless someone cries while getting the tree! No, not because we hike up into the mountains, cut one down with a dangerous chainsaw and drag it out ourselves. We drive 5 miles to the Boy Scouts lot by the grocery store.

Two years ago, The Princess begged us not to bring the tree into the house. Live trees don't belong in houses...

Last year, The Princess refused to walk through the tree lot. There was no way her feet were going to touch the ground that trees weren't actually growing out of!

This year, it was Sweetpea who had issues with the whole tree thing. She was fine with everything and watched them tie the tree onto our car with interest. But, when I opened the door and she realized that she was going to have to get into the car WHILE the tree was tied to the top, that was where she drew the line.

Cue the tears...  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Monthly (November) Menu Review

So, as I was mentally reviewing November, I was convinced I hadn't made even one thing on the menu...I was too busy thinking about other things like black holes, New England history, stories from coffee shops...

But, we survived the month so I must have cooked something, right? initial thought was right - I only made ONE new thing on the menu last month! Thai Chicken Pumpkin Soup. (Didn't come out exactly right but close enough that I'm going to try it again and, if it's right next time, I'll share the recipe)

Apparently we survived on burritos, tacos, spaghetti (homemade red sauce or broccoli, bacon and parmesean) and salad. I did not hear one complaint about the lack of interest in food selection so don't feel sorry for Steve. Those are his favorite foods. But, no wonder we ran out of tortillas and refried beans!

December will be better, I promise!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Survival of the fittest (or most desperate)

The things I do to try and survive a car trip...

Pinterest came through again and here we have a matching game - paint chips and clothespins were all I needed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent Planning

December is right around the corner and that means Advent planning as we prepare for Christmas. Last year I bought one of the little cardboard advent calendars with the numbered windows to open each day. The Princess thought it was fabulous.

This year, like other pre-children years, I'm planning a bit more. With all of the inspiration on Pinterest I had lots of ideas and resources to choose from. I've got a month of activities planned for us as we prepare for Christmas.

Here's what we're doing, with a couple of gaps that I haven't filled yet:

Veggie Tales Nativity - I found this on sale with a rebate and now I don't have to worry about my good ones breaking!
Felt Christmas Tree
Zoo Lights - free with our zoo membership!
Make Snowflakes - fun with scissors!
Unwrap Christmas Book and read it (wrapping up the ones we already have) - we'll do this a couple of different days.

Buy a new Christmas CD
Felt Ornaments - to add to the felt tree. We'll do this a couple of different days.
Decorate Windows
Meet Daddy for lunch
Get Christmas Tree
Decorate Tree and house
Make Christmas Cookies
Make Reindeer Ornament

Deliver food to foodbank
Peacock Lane
- a neighborhood street that decorates their houses as a group.
Build a Snowman

Make a gingerbread house
Make a button wreath ornament
Deliver socks for homeless men
Christmas Eve Service

The list looks a little overwhelming like this but I'm optimistic that it'll be fun and worth it in the end. The time spent together is better than any gift we could come up with.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November = Crazy

This is what I've been doing all month, in addition to all of the other regular stuff plus Thanksgiving and Christmas planning... Not crazy at all.

Today I turned in my 50,000 word novel. A day early! The last 300 words were the WORST. IMPOSSIBLE, in fact. It took me five minutes to come up with the word "trace" and that's not even the word I wanted to use. It's just the only word left in my head.

And here is my spanking new badge - soon to appear on my side bar because you'd better believe I'll need the reminder when I do it all again next November!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Field of Mushrooms

We were reading one of The Princess' Highlights magazines and she noticed a craft and begged to do it. How could I resist?

We volunteered to provide the Thanksgiving table decoration and, considering that we have a huge gathering and at least 3 large tables packed with people elbow to elbow, we had quite a project in front of us. We split it over a couple of weeks so it was manageable and still loads of fun.

Things I have learned from making a toilet paper roll craft:
  • All toilet paper rolls are not created equally. Who knew?
  • If all of your friends have preschool aged kids, toilet paper rolls are a big commodity. Luckily my soccer team came through for me!
  • When highly motivated 4 year olds can accomplish a lot - I need to stop underestimating her abilities.
  • Paper hold punches are not made like they used to be - I broke the new one within 5 minutes of purchase.

The result was a beautiful garden of mushrooms almost completely made by The Princess. I punched some of the holes, that's it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


So...Skelly and Olivia have been relocated. By request they are now hovering specters over a 4-year old's big girl bed. I'm REALLY hoping that this doesn't mean I'll be up every 2 hours to screams of terror...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Body Worlds

Body Worlds has come to town and, since The Princess is all about skeletons, muscle, and organs, I thought it would be a perfect mother-daughter activity.

Do you know the Body Worlds exhibit? It's amazing, there are human cadavers that have been preserved and dissected to show all sorts of different aspects of the human body. It might sound a little grotesque and creepy, but both times I've seen it (they have different exhibits that travel with different focuses. This one was focused on the brain) I've come away with an awe for the intricacies of the body and amazement at the creators' ability to find art and beauty in what we typically are a little (or a lot) squeamish about. If an exhibit shows up near you it's really worth the time and money to see it.

So, I was 95% sure that The Princess would love the exhibit. My tentative 5% reared its ugly head as we walked in, what if I caused nightmares and scarred her for later therapy? But, I needn't have worried. We spent a good hour and half in the exhibit traveling the two floors and each display a minimum of two times and I finally had to convince her that it was time to go. She would have started over at the beginning a third time if I'd let her.

Inspiration and enthusiasm abounded:
  • She pointed out phalanges, patellas, femurs and spines at every body.
  • I got to hear her first (to my knowledge) attempt at a joke; something about dinosaurs and giraffes.
  • She attempted a number of the poses, her favorite being the figure skater in a back bend over the ice. (The body had the muscles and organs on full display with ice skates on her feet.)
  • We spent ten minutes in front of the animated display of neurons firing, the second time through she listed all of the different things her brain told her body to do: stand up, jump, sing, sleep, be happy and sad...
  • We watched red blood cells travel down blood vessels and she gleefully pointed out, for everyone passing by, each white blood cell that made an appearance.

We worked up quite an appetite and finished the day with a yummy lunch at Burgerville ("Burgerbill"). And, as I watched her inhale her lunch (!) with big blue eyes taking in everything around her, I simultaneously wanted to plan more of these days and tried not to melt into a puddle of tears. It's going so quickly, now she's 4, soon she'll be 14 and then 20 and out the door....

 My brain can't take it in...

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Birds Series: The Marabou Stork

Those that know me know that I have an irrational fear and hatred of birds. (Actually, I think it's perfectly justified!)  "But Why?" you might ask. There are a number of traumatic experiences to point to and, in an attempt to bring some levity to your day, I'm going to chronicle as many of those moments as I can remember.  So...keep a look out for The Birds Series.

I’ve encountered a variety of exotic birds while in Africa. Some small and, even I’ll admit, intriguing like the little yellow weavers. Others are big and odd, like the ostrich that roamed free through one of the hotels we stayed at. But there was one bird we encountered that was large, loud and scary. And it was roaming free at the hotel (different one. For some reason people go to Africa to bird watch! Can you imagine?)

The Marabou Stork may be where the actual baby-carrying stork legend came from. It’s tall, with skinny legs and a very large beak (bill). The sight of the beak is intimidating since it is so large and strong and pointy. But it’s the SOUND the Marabou makes with that beak that is truly terrifying. It is quiet and seemingly meek until it feels intimidated OR, and this is my own theory but I’ll stand by it, it sees a small human child that it towers over and definitely out weighs. It is then that the bird starts stalking towards its prey, gaining speed if needed, while clacking the beak together. The mouth opens and closes, CLACK, CLACK, CLACK, like boards clapping together or slipper slapped against the floor over and over again, ringing in your ears and spiking your adrenaline.

The problem is that the first inclination is to turn and run as far and as fast as you can. But then, as soon as you turn your back you can just imagine, almost feel with certain terror, that the crazy bird, still clapping its beak at you, has sped up its slow walk on spindly legs. It’s wings are unfurling, beating and urging him on until he’s running, the air pushing him forward and strong enough to ruffle the hair on the back of your head. Finally, his speed is enough to float him into the air, legs trailing after him as he gains altitude and shortens the distance between the two of you until he can swoop down and drill his beak right into the top of your head.

There’s no defense. You just cower in fear and hope that some helpful soul will rescue you before your certain demise.

Kenya pictures aren't this will have to do for now.
If you want more facts check Wikipedia for descriptions of this
"massive" bird and it's "bill-rattling".
(In case you you thought I was exaggerating. I'd never do that!)

Go here for more in the birds series, or see the link on the side bar.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Every fall since I left Maine and moved to the West Coast I've mourned a little over the lack of vibrant color. Some years we get a nice yellow glow but it's nothing, NOTHING, like the eye searing color that explodes in New England.

But this year the rains held off as the nights turned cool and we got a little hint of those glorious fall colors my Mainer friends get to enjoy each year.

Why, oh why didn't I think to take more pictures?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bones, Part 4

Straight from Ireland because, when you have an obsession, it's important for it to be well-rounded.
Geographically at least.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Monthly (October) Menu review

No, don't worry. This isn't going to turn into a cooking blog. I'm not good enough nor do I care enough about food to do that!  However, since I've challenged myself to this 1-year menu planning thing I thought it might help me stay on track if I try to commit to a small report at the end of the month on the excellent dishes or spectacular failures (I'm totally expecting both. Especially since I have knowingly put things on the menu that Steve will hate but I will love.  Ha!  Setting myself up for failure, love it!)

My first completed menu was for October. I've made it pretty easy on myself because I have a husband who likes a small repetoire of dishes he likes and requests often so I've made sure to rotate those in on a regular basis. That means we have burritos on the menu each week, tacos twice a month (Steve swears they are completely different meals...REALLY??  The only thing different between tacos and burritos is whether you're using beans or meat. Whatever.) and at least one meal of spaghetti with red sauce (from scratch) and spaghetti with broccoli and bacon. Salad and bread is always planned for Sunday night and Saturday and at least one other weekday is wide open for leftovers or scrounging (because sometimes I just want popcorn for dinner!). So, you can see that it's not quite as ambitious as it may have originally sounds. But it's plenty of a challenge for me!

 So, on to the meals of the month!

Chicken, Roasted Butternut Squash and Feta Lasagna from Closet Cooking
My sister and I thought this was phenomenal!  Steve and the girls weren't as impressed...  It's the squash, either you like it or don't. I would make a larger batch of the tomato sauce (there's also a bechamel sauce!) and, be warned, there's a lot of prep work.

Roasted Garlic-Potato Soup from MyRecipes
Super easy and oh so good. This one was approved by all. This made enough that I froze some for a meal later.

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin from C&C marriage factory blog
Falling apart in the pan goodness that is a cinch to make in the crockpot! I'm not a meat fan and this was amazing! I have enough left over to use in some other recipe. I'm thinking enchiladas because it might be an interesting flavor mix. I love crockpot recipes!

That's it!  There are no spectacular failures but that's only because I stacked the deck this month AND I didn't end up making the Gnocchi mac & cheese that would have definitely made Steve sigh with resignation!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


When The Princess was two years old I spent 10 days in Paris with my sister. Even now, 2 years later, whenever she see a picture of the Eiffel Tower she exclaims:

"Mommy, that's where you lived!"

Friday, November 4, 2011


On a recent trip we spent the night at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla Washington. Since the girls go to bed so early I was up in the tower as the sun went down. The view was completely worth the early evening seclusion.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I don't know what to say except, look at those eyes!
It's just too much.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bones, Part 3

Some friends of ours put on a harvest party every October. It's amazing. Every kid gets a prize for their pumpkin. The Princess got to pick out her prize from a myriad of options including fairy wings, princess things and matchbox cars (she eyed them carefully). Her eyes skipped over all of the traditional options until focusing in on a dinosaur set.

What sealed the deal, though, was that they were SKELETON dinosaurs!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Only a Squirrel Will Do

I don't normally put a lot of thought or effort into Halloween. Last year we dressed The Princess up in her pink tutu, tied a couple ribbons on a gift bag and took her to the mall for trick-or-treating. She thought it was great. So, I figured between her love of princesses and her obsession with bones we could easily figure out a costume. I said "sure, sure" to her request a couple of weeks before to be a squirrel but didn't give it any more thought. That is, until she wouldn't stop talking about the squirrel (which, with her funny accent, I sometimes took for "skull")...Oh dear.

So, Wednesday, thinking I had until the following Monday to pull something together, we went shopping for a costume. I dragged 2 small children through the craft store, the consignment store, Party City and, in a last gasp effort, Petco.

I came home with two acorns. That's it. The princess was absolutely set on being a squirrel, in spite of the princess aisle I took her down at Party City in hopes that she'd cave for something easier. I even thought I could modify a dog's costume (note for dog costume designers - how funny would it be to have a dog dressed as a squirrel?!) - nothing!

So, I was forced into a mad scramble of creativity, especially panicked when we decided to take her to the zoo scavenger hunt trick or treating on Saturday thus reducing my time to one day. Honestly, I work better under pressure anyway so it's probably better that way. Off to the fabric store we went Friday morning and found enough remnants to make SOMETHING...

I give you the 2011 Halloween Squirrel. The most adorable squirrel there ever was.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bones, Part 2

In my quest to indulge her love of skeletons I found printable ones online...  Adult and pre-school size.

We now have The Princess and Daddy in skeleton form at home. Oh, and she already knew 50% of the bone names when we labelled them!