Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our news

Yesterday I woke up and put on a blue shirt - the same blue shirt I wore three years ago when I went to my 20-week ultrasound when I was expecting Jack. I had convinced myself that I'm having a boy this time around, and this appointment was the confirmation. I asked Jack over breakfast one more time - little brother or little sister? And he answered the same as he always had - little sister.

Well, turns out Jack was right. I cannot believe it - God is blessing us a little girl. We're surprised, thrilled and excited for this next step in our family. I can't convey the joy and the weight of this discovery. With Jack, I've been primarily concerned with his health, safety and well-being. And of course his learning and growth as a little person. But with a daughter, my mind is already racing with ideas of making her strong and independent. As I carried my "Wonder Woman" coffee mug to my desk this morning, one of my (male) colleagues pointed out that my daughter can use that cup one day.  I smiled, ready for the challenge.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Get the soup pot out

It was a beautiful, crisp fall day. Inspired by the Green City Market and craving soup as the temperatures get chillier, I made leek and potato soup tonight. This recipe is adapted from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food:

Leek and Potato Soup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds leeks
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
1 pound yellow potatoes, peeled, halved or quartered, and sliced
6 cups of water, chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/3 cup heavy (or light) cream

Trim the root end and the tough upper greens from the leeks.  Cut the trimmed leeks in half lengthwise. Rinse well. Slice leeks.  Melt butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot.  Add leeks, thyme, bay leaf and salt.  Cook until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the potatoes and cook for 4 minutes.  Then add water or broth. Bring to a boil and turn down to summer.  Cook until vegetables are tender, about 30-35 minutes. 

Remove the bay leaf and the thyme sprigs and puree the soup (I use an immersion blender for this step). Stir in cream and enjoy with some crusty bread.

We also bought some baking apples today, so I made a small batch of homemade applesauce for our breakfast tomorrow. 

Homemade applesauce
4 medium cooking apples, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup water
2 or 3 tablespoons sugar
scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat apples and water to boiling in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to low.  Simmer uncovered 10 minutes or so, until tender. You may need to pour off some of the water (depending on the consistency you like). Bust out the immersion blender again or a good old-fashioned potato masher, and mash up the apples and mix in the remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling and boil for 1 minute.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What's your ultimate family vacation?

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So the current word on the street is that my parents' new house might not be done in time for Christmas. Being slightly displaced is made even worse by things only my family would worry about. To quote my dear little sister, "I don't have the freezer room to make of all the Christmas cookies that Mom usually makes!"

We briefly flirted with the idea of going away for Christmas, which would be a complete novelty for my family. In the end, we probably won't  - and it's for very good reasons - we couldn't take my brothers-in-law away from their own families during the holidays.

But with that said, a girl can dream, can't she? So in the spirit of plotting dream vacations, I present to you, my Ultimate Family Vacation:

I would head to the mountains at Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Colorado. (I love that their tagline is "Not exactly roughing it.") Okay, if you know me well or even just know me just in passing, you know I'm absolutely scared to death of downhill skiing. In my late-20s, I broke down crying, sobbing, bawling on the bunny hill in Vail as 3 year olds in helmets whizzed past me. I was scarred for life. That said, I know my husband and some of members of my family would LOVE to have a skiing vacation, so I would be game. Despite my own fears, I would encourage my son to try skiing - start him early!

I love to cross country ski and I absolutely adore spa days at mountain resorts (who wouldn't?). If this is my dream vacation, there would be sumptuous meals (with no dishes to wash), lazy winter days reading books by a fire and a Christmas Eve with snow falling softly outside. We'd write Santa a note before our trip so he'd know where to find us. My parents, my sisters and their families would all be there with me and my little family, and we'd all fly first class. And there would be a lot of Christmas cookies.

Don't forget to enter the “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, for a chance to win your own ultimate family vacation. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

You start to cry when I say hello

End-of-the-workday reunions between child and working parent are often fraught with emotion. When baby is young, he can have the best day ever with his caregiver, but when he sees mom or dad, it's Niagara Falls - they save their most raw emotions for their beloveds. That was certainly the case for Jack. As he's gotten older and more toddler-ish, a lot of the times when he sees me, he's defiant and does not want to leave Nate's house, which is rough when you're tired, pregnant and ready to go home.

Don't get me wrong: We have had many a good greeting. Today was a good reunion that makes up for any of the less-than-desired ones. Maria drove Jack home, and I was waiting outside for them. As her Prius rounded the corner, I saw Jack craning his neck and saw the joy on his little face as he recognized me. Yes, as soon as he got out of the car, he was running away from me down the sidewalk, but I'll remember that sweet, little moment for a long time.

The craning of his little neck reminded me of this picture, taken one day after his birth. My baby bird:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wise words

I'm thinking about renaming this blog "sleepy train confessions."

So here goes...I'm on the L last night, digging my nails in my palms, trying to stay awake. I had a meeting run late at work, so I had to skip my afternoon snack. Blood sugar's running low, and it's a little chilly out. I'm tired, tired, tired.

As I walk into my friend's house to pick up Jack, I announce to anyone who will listen, "Mama's tired, so Jack get your shoes on." The little guy listens, mostly because Maria is still there and helps to usher him out the door.

It's a beautiful fall evening - Jack runs to the car as I trail behind, the leaves crunching under my feet. Suddenly, he turns around and looks at me squarely in the eyes and says, "Focus. I am speed."

I laugh aloud - if you're a Cars fan, you'll know this is a line from the Disney movie (I can imagine my friend Amy wondering what is the deal with guys quoting movies all of the time...) but I take it to heart. Focus, focus - I'm someone's mommy and I can't drag myself along. I hoist Jack into his seat and away we go into the bake a lasagna and banana bread and maybe wash one load of laundry if I can eek it out.