Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Erin go brach! (what does that mean anyway? I hope that wasn't obscene.)

I utterly and completely dropped the ball on Valentine's Day, so I tried to compensate a little with St. Patrick's Day, even forcing Kyle to join us at the smallish, more-funny-than-cool (if you know what I mean) St. Patty's Day parade in some ghetto neighborhood of downtown Phoenix.

Mariachi bands originated in Ireland, right? Well you know what, it was a welcome reprieve from kilts and bagpipes.

Not the first place in the world you'd expect to find a delorean, but it at least solidified in Kyle's mind that the parade was well worth attending.

Some leprechaun tossed his hat to Ellie during the parade and this became a much fought-over prop throughout the following days. That leprechaun must have transferred some of his mischievous nature with it, as well...

Because we woke up St. Patrick's Day top o' the mornin' to chairs and furniture overturned, a green slinky hanging from the ceiling fan, general messes made (hard to make those look unusual, though), gold glitter glimmering from the toilet bowl (hmmm, we all found that a bit icky and no one used the potty until the sparkles were flushed), and of course our milk was dyed green. Oh yes, and the lousy, lazy trap we'd set for the fiendish little elf was successfully evaded, but some gold-wrapped candies remained in the trap, as well as some hidden around the room.

I have it on good authority that that leprechaun was mighty exhausted the previous evening and highly considered cancelling all scheduled shenanigans at the Larsen abode, but we're all grateful he bucked up in the wee hours of the night and got the job done. The kids were absolutely giddy about all of the damage, so we do hope he'll visit again next year, and hope we'll be a bit more prepared with a proper trap next time!

One of our traditions is to look ridiculous on St. Patrick's Day, donning every last item of green available in the recesses of our wardrobes. Every year, I feel a little more ridiculous than the last (I'm supposed to be getting more mature and all) and this year was no exception. However, I'm determined to make the most of these precious few years in which my kids deem my nerdiness hilarious rather than humiliating.

We met up with the Brammers in the morning and had a lovely time doing what stay-at-home-moms and happy, rambunctious kidoodles do.

We spent the afternoon cooling down at the Jacobsen's pool where we enjoyed a most satisfying potluck lunch (which for me was mostly peanut butter cookies-- dah! my nemesis!) and I must say that this was the most fun I've had in the pool in recent memory. Ellie and Erik, with some floatie-assistance, fended for themselves, and Charlie is actually beginning to enjoy water adventures. Rather than cling insecurely to my swimsuit straps, he repeatedly climbed out of the pool to "jump" into my arms. Yay! Charlie is becoming fun!

You can see that the leprechauns even managed to cast a eerie, greenish glow to the atmosphere of our home. Either that or someone needs to give me some photography lessons.

Either way, we had so much fun having the Thomas' over for dinner. I didn't feel like corned beef and cabbage, so I certainly would have slacked in the festivity department for dinner, but with Becca bringing green beans, spinach salad, and green focacia bread, all I had to do was throw in some green mashed potatoes and a rainbow fruit platter (with whipped cream "cloud" dip), and I think we enjoyed it much more than the authentic Irish dinners of our St. Patty's Days past.

Preparing such a healthy feast was unintentional, I assure you, but still so satisfying and delicious! Hands down the Larsens' best St. Patrick's Day to date! (Wait, I just remembered that last 3/17 was the first time Charlie slept through the night AND he took an almost two-hour nap. That was an isolated incidence, but still... okay it's a tie!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why are these food posts so looooong?

This is solid day four of working on this food post, which is boring even to me, but will hopefully prove useful for the recipe collection that will someday compile itself, right? Yeesh, I need to cook less often or blog more often. Maybe both.

Pesto Gnocchi

Yep, store-bought, dried gnocchi. Even Costco's pesto could not save it. I'm afraid gnocchi must be from scratch, which is bad news because it's rather a time-suck of a meal. Fresh, store-bought gnocchi might be good, though, for those whose pocket books can manage it.


Beets, despite supposedly having a high-sugar content, are kind of gross. And even the chunks of cooked beets in this stew were kinda gross. However, once I wised up and pureed the whole silly batch, herbivores and omnivores alike lapped it up.

1. Place in a crockpot on high for four hours or low for eight:
-2 lbs chopped, peeled beets
-1 lb potatoes
-1 onion
-5 c broth
-3 T tomato paste (I used more like half a can)

2. add 3 c of finely shredded cabbage for another 45 minutes

3. puree it all, or just half if you don't mind beet chunks

4. turn off the heat and mix in the following:
-2 T dill
-1 T red wine vinegar (I used more)
-2 T fresh lemon juice
-salt and pepper, other seasonings to taste

5. garnish with dollop of plain yogurt, fresh parsley, chopped hard-boiled eggs, or if you're us, all three!

T3, El3, Er2, Ch2, Mark/Noe/Kjerstin/Kyle/Mish 3

Broccomole in Lavash Bread

I made this again for a picnic dinner/family hike and rolled it in lavash bread (basically a rectangle tortilla), but this time I steamed the broccoli before mashing it with avocado and seasonings and, not surprisingly, it made a great difference.

T3, El3, Er3, Ch3

Muhammara Dip

Yum! This is our new favorite sandwich spread, and it's also great on toast plain, or mixed into pasta or veggies or eggs, need I go on? I really don't like the taste of plain walnuts, but soaked and pureed in this form, we get our cranial development (thanks, walnuts!) sans gagging.

Blend the following in a food processor:
-12 oz roasted red bell peppers, drained
-1 c walnuts
-1/3 c panko bread crumbs
-2 T olive oil
-2 t fresh lemon juice
-1 t cumin
-1/4 t cayenne

T3, El3, Er3, Ch3

Spinach Falafel with Yogurt Tahini Sauce (from

I didn't feel like forming balls (perhaps because the mixture was frustratingly wet even after waiting the allotted time), so I made patties with this and served them with the yogurt sauce on muhammara-slathered toast. Exotic dishes intimidate me, but this one was certainly worth the risk and will be frequently repeated.

Mix the following:
-2 c falafel mix (from a box, although I hear it's not hard to make from scratch)
-1.5 c water
-1 T oil
-3 c minced spinach
-1/4 c minced cilantro

Let it sit for 5 min until water absorbed, form patties, and bake 12-15 min, flip, and bake another 5-10 minutes.

The yogurt tahini sauce is made by whisking 1/2 c plain yogurt, 2 T tahini, 2 t lemon juice, 1/2 t cumin, and salt & pepper.

T3, El3, Er3, Ch3

10 min. Thai Curry (from

Coconut curry is the only entree about which Kyle and I are in complete agreement. So, we eat it lots. Kyle throws in meat when he makes it (though last time even he admitted it didn't add anything to the flavor or texture), and I douse mine with veggies, but it's the curry paste and rich coconut milk that make it pure magic for the mouth. Our recipe fluctuates a great deal, so here's someone else's. (If you want it to taste more like Kyle's curry, and if you're not taking crazy pills surely you do, saute garlic and onion in the beginning and add a generous squeeze of fish sauce, then lime juice and a cilantro garnish in the end.)

The amount of curry paste you use is totally up to you. I've used 2 tablespoons, which is about medium spice level. You can always add more curry paste after tasting, so it's best to start with a little bit and work your way up. If you're cooking rice, make extra and freeze for next time.

1 teaspoon cooking oil
2 tablespoons red curry paste (or more)
12 ounces coconut milk
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
8 ounces fresh mushrooms (I used King Trumpet mushrooms)
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
16 basil leaves (optional)
Cooked rice

Heat a skillet over medium high heat, once hot add in the cooking oil and red curry paste. Whisk for about 30 seconds. Pour in the coconut milk and whisk to combine. When it comes to a simmer, add in the mushrooms and the red peppers and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Taste and whisk in additional curry paste if you want. Add the shrimp to the curry and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the shrimp is cooked through. Stir in the basil and serve over rice.

T3, El3, Er3, Ch3

Middle Eastern Zucchini Boats from

Recipe adapted from Family Circle, August 2010 Issue

4 medium zucchini (about 6 ounces each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium-size onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons pine nuts

1. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, carefully scoop out flesh and seeds, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell around edges. Discard flesh and seeds.

2. Place half of the zucchini, cut-side down, in an 11 x 7 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Add 1/2 cup water and cover with plastic wrap, venting one corner. Microwave 4 minutes. Place cooked zucchini in a large baking dish. Repeat with remaining zucchini.

3. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Crumble in chicken. Stir in raisins, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and stir in cheese.

4. Fill each zucchini half with about 1/3 cup stuffing, then sprinkle the pine nuts over tops. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes or until the zucchini is cooked through.

Dandelion Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing from

I decided to give dandelion greens another shot. However, I waited too long to use them AGAIN. Anything but perfectly fresh greens makes a mighty bitter aftertaste. Warm bacon dressing, anyone? Alas, still bitter. With fresh greens, though, perhaps plucked directly from your backyard, I have a feeling this might turn out a winner.

serves 4, recipe adapted from Alton Brown

8 ounces baby spinach (or dandelion greens, in my case)
2-4 large eggs (opt.)
8 pieces thick-sliced bacon
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4-6 large white mushrooms, sliced
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced

Wash, drain and pat the spinach until thoroughly dry. Place into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

If choosing to hard boil your eggs, check out How to Make Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs and then slice each hard boiled egg into 4 quarters, lengthwise, and set aside. If choosing to poach your eggs, check out Easy Poached Eggs Recipe on Simply Recipes. What a useful site!

While the eggs are cooking, fry the bacon and remove to a paper towel to drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the rendered fat. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

Transfer the fat to a small saucepan set over low heat and whisk in the red wine vinegar, sugar and Dijon mustard. Season with a small pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper.

Add the mushrooms and the sliced onion to the spinach and toss. Add the dressing and bacon and toss to combine. Divide the spinach between 4 plates or bowls and evenly divide the egg among them. Season with pepper, as desired. Serve immediately.

I won't rate this because I'm sure it would've been 3s across the board had I used fresher greens. Eight slices of bacon? Yeah, it better be 3s.

Indian Dal Nirvana Lentils (from with mashed cauliflower and naan bread

Recipe from Nirvana Restaurant, Beverly Hills

Serve with basmati or naan flatbread.

1 cup dry lentils

6 ounces canned crushed tomato

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less depending on your spice preference)

1 cup water

4 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon salt, more to taste

freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

In a large sauce pan, add the lentils and fill with water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the lentils open and are tender. Drain the water from the lentils and return the lentils to the pot. Stir the lentils around in the pot mashing some of them against the pot to break open. Add the tomato puree, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, water, butter, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 hour until the dal is thick. Make sure to check the pot periodically to make sure the water does not cook out.

Stir in cream, garnish with minced cilantro.

T2 (but only because it looks AMAZING in the picture but still just tastes like lentils, but I will make it again with different expectations and it will very likely deliver), El2, Er2, Ch2

Mashed cauliflower is how I get my kids to EACH eat two bowlfuls of vegetables in one sitting. I treat it just like potatoes, and Charlie still thinks it is. I'll break the news to him someday.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Ultra delish-sounding, no? Sweet potatoes are my very favoritest veggie, after all. Okay, here goes...

1. Bake 1 lb sweet potatoes for 30-50 minutes until soft, or nuke 'em for 15 minutes if you're in a hurry.

2. Remove peels, mash, and add:
-garlic cloves
-salt, nutmeg, or whatever seasonings make you happy
-1 egg

3. Gradually knead in 2 cups of whole wheat flour until it sticks to itself more than to you, kind of like a bread dough.

4. Boil a big pot of salted water and drop grape-sized pieces into the water, fishing them out once they float. (We tried to press the dough out of a pastry bag like frosting, but the bag broke. I ended up rolling the dough into little snakes and cutting small pieces off. Yes, it took a while (though I about tripled the batch). Enlist small people's help.)

5. Brown lots of butter in a hot pan, add a can of coconut cream, frozen peas, and the gnocchi.

T3 (You might have guessed that butter and coconut cream make anything yummy. You're very smart. I was a little disappointed, though, that the gnocchi still tasted like normal potato gnocchi with only a faint glimmer of sweet potato flavor. Perhaps I'll use less flour next time?), El3, Er3, Ch3+

Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

I made this salad for company, thus the sugar.

-1/2 c sugar
-1/2 c fresh lemon juice
-2 t onion
-1 t dijon mustard
-1/2 t salt
-2/3 c extra virgin olive oil (this is the best time to use the purest olive oil because it loses much of its healthfulness when heated, so kind of a waste of money-- cold-pressed in salad dressings is the way to go)
-1 T poppy seeds

I tossed this with baby spinach, kiwi, avocado, grapes, walnuts, feta, and beans. I know it's still a salad, but YUM!

Cashew Milk from

I love me some almond or coconut milk in a carton, truly, however, it was time to make cashew milk. There is some settling, so shake it real good each time before you pour. I love this flavor so much more than every other (dairy or non-dairy) milk I've tried, plus I feel so much better about it being completely fresh, even raw, and free of factory interventions.

1 cup (raw) cashews, soaked overnight
4 cups water
1 tablespoon agave nectar
pinch celtic sea salt
  1. Discard soaking water and rinse cashews thoroughly until water runs clear
  2. Place cashews, (4 cups fresh) water, agave and salt in a Vitamix
  3. Process on high speed 20-30 seconds
  4. Store in glass mason jar in refrigerator
T3, El3, Er3, Ch3

Veggie Masala Burgers from

My patties took forever to brown, but maybe I put in too many extra veggies (a common offense) and that made it too moist. I ended up just stir frying the rest of the mixture. I love the crispiness of patties fried in coconut oil, but next time I might just bake them to cut down on my stove-side time.

Hands down my favorite frozen veggie burger is the Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burger. But more and more I’m trying to eliminate our house of boxed and processed food. This recipe does just that, while also adding a fabulous new addition to our weekly meals!
  • 2 large carrots, cubed
  • 2 medium potatoes (I used red potatoes), cubed
  • 1/2 cup bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup edamame (shelled)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • Start by cubing the potatoes and carrots into small diced pieces. Try to make the cubes as consistent as possible, so that they will cook evenly in the pan. Over medium high heat, sauté the carrots and potatoes in a little bit of olive oil for about ten minutes, or until starting to brown.
  • For the rest of the ingredients, I stuck with my Trader Joe’s theme. For the peppers, edamame, and corn – frozen is fine!
  • Once the potatoes and carrots are starting to get soft…
  • Go ahead and add the rest of the vegetables and cook until they are warmed. These burgers take a little more time than a bean burger, since you need to cook the vegetables – but I promise the end result is totally worth it!
  • While the vegetables are cooking, go ahead and pull out your food processor. The first item into the food processor is 1/2 cup of rolled oats…
  • Pour them in and pulse them to the consistency of a coarse flour.
  • Add the vegetables once they are ready, along with the olive oil, salt, and the blend of spices. Spices are what make these burgers so delicious!
  • Alternate pulsing the food processor and scraping down the sides, in order to ensure that everything is mixed well. Combine until the veggies are chopped into teeny tiny pieces!
  • Wet your hands and form into patties. Using the same pan that you used to cook your vegetables, add a little more olive oil and cook the burgers over medium high heat.
  • When you make veggie burgers, you’re never quite sure until you FLIP whether or not they are going to hold together or crumble to bits. I am happy to report that these held together really well – probably my best to date! After a few minutes of cooking on one side, use a spatula to flip the patties over.
  • Once they are cooked on both sides, they are ready to eat!
  • While yes – it was a bit more work than simply heating up a frozen burger – this recipe makes six patties! So you can easily make it once and freeze the rest to eat later in the week. Problem solved!
T3, El3, Er3, Ch3

Raw Treat Balls

I really ought to come up with a different title for this little tasty. I tried to market them to Kyle as cookies, but he nixed that after one bite. Then again, I actually chose to nibble on them INSTEAD of the cookies on the adjacent counter, and not just out of guilt! So, don't expect these to taste like cookies. They're not even cooked. They are worth making, though. In fact, I am craving some this very moment.

1. Throw 1 c oats into the food processor until the consistency of flour.

2. Add
-1 t salt
-1/3 c cocoa nibs (I used 60% cacao dark chocolate chips)
-1 T cinnamon
-1/3 c coconut oil
-1 c nut butter (I used half almond, half peanut)
-1/3 c maple syrup
-10 dates

3. Transfer to a bowl and add
-1/2 c oats
-1/2 c coconut flakes
-1/2 c raisins
-1/4 c dried cranberries
-1/4 dried apples

4. Roll into balls and binge without guilt; refrigerate leftovers

T3, El3, Er3, Ch3

Meatless Cabbage Rolls

I can't find the recipe I (extremely loosely) used for this, but just know that there are recipes out there in case you're heavy on leftovers and a head of cabbage calls your name. You can stuff pretty much anything in these pretties, and a solid tomato sauce will do it all good.

Broccoli and Bulgar in Peanut Sauce from my friends' Weight Watchers cookbook

1. cook 1 c bulgar in 3 c water; simmer 10 min or until liquid absorbed
2. Steam 3 c broccoli florets until tender-crisp (I just put my steamer over the pot of bulgar wheat)
3. Blend the following
-1/2 loose-packed cilantro leaves
-3 T chunky peanut butter
-2 T reduced-sodium soy sauce
-1 T white-white vinegar
-1 t sugar
-1/8 t cayenne pepper
4. Add the sauce and broccoli to the bulgar

T3, El2, Er2, Ch2
Here's the thing, though. Something funny happens to my grains when I cook them. Instead of doubling in mass, they quintuple, I think. Perhaps I overcooked? Anyway, the peanut sauce didn't get anywhere near flavoring that humongous pot of carbs. I added a little more of this and that, but it was still borderline bland. The good news is that the next day I made another batch or two (or five) of the sauce and then the dish was considerably tasty, even to Kyle.

Green Papaya Salad

Kyle brought home a bag of shredded green papaya from the Asian store. Honestly, I wasn't much excited about it. However, it made a pretty salad, and had I not used spoiled, bitter lime juice, I likely wouldn't have had to toss the leftovers today.

Combine 1 julienned green papaya with shredded carrot, bean sprouts, julienned green beans, tomatoes, and what have you. Garnish with crushed peanuts.

Make a sauce with the following and pour it over the salad:
-3 cloves garlic
-1 scallion or green onion
-1/4 c fish sauce
-1/4 c sugar
-1/3 c lime juice
-1/4 t lime zest
-2 Thai bird chiles (or to taste)
-fresh herbs like mint, cilanto, etc

Okay, I won't rate this because I messed it up using old limes for the lime juice and it came out seriously bitter. Kyle and his friend didn't seem to mind, but I couldn't down more than a few bites. I will try the sauce again later and report.

Vietnamese Shrimp Salad Rolls

These are basically a mix of fresh veggies and herbs rolled up in a rice wrap, decorated with shrimp. They're pretty, fun to eat and, dipped in sweet chili sauce, delectable (though a good ole fish sauce for dipping might be a healthier choice). I made the mistake of leaving the cucumber peel on before I chopped, so another unfortunate run-in with Bitter. However, they were still good. Note: leftovers do NOT keep well-- eat 'em fresh!

1 cucumber, peeled and julienned
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 avocado, cut in thin strips
bean sprout, alfalfa sprouts, whatev
cilantro, Thai basil, green onion, whatev

1. Roll all of the above up in a leaf of lettuce (anything but iceberg) and place on top of a wetted rice wrap sheet (available at Asian stores-- they are tortilla-sized, uber-thin sheets of rice, and when dipped in water become stretchy and pliable). Carefully roll it up burrito-style. I placed a few shrimp on the rice wrap before putting the lettuce and veggies down. This was mostly decorative.

T3, El3, Er2, Ch2

Stuffed Portobellos

Okay, I cheated on this one. I saw them stuffed portos on manager's special in the pre-packaged produce section and snagged them. Yes, I do regret it, not because they weren't homemade, but because they didn't taste at all as good as something I would've made. There are so many ways I've wanted to cook with portobellos but could never justify the cost. I'd especially like to try it as a burger patty-substitute. Even stuffed with cheese, this was just way too much mushroom in the mouth. Then again, I served it as the entree. Giant mushrooms. Sorry about that. I'll do better next time.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Yes, but what ELSE do you do?

Mommy monotony, anyone? Actually, I'm feeling pretty awesome about being a mom these days. However, the dishes, the laundry, the picking up toys, the crazed errand-running with tots-in-tow, the rejected healthy dinners, the--did I mention dishes? Yes, these tasks seem anything but holy.

Guess what, though-- they ARE holy! I am doing the Lord's errand by taking swell care of his small ones. My service is unselfish and significant. Everything involved in the work of a mother-- yes even the dishes-- is holy because it is what HE wants me to do.
A cool person called Kristine Manwaring said it better: (excerpt taken from good post here)

“The work of feeding, clothing, and nurturing one another is every bit as spiritual as it is physical. [Some wise mother] feels strongly that when ordinary, life-sustaining tasks are done together as a family, they bind family members to one another in small but critical ways. I was startled to realize that she saw as “sacred” the tasks that I always thought were obstacles to sacredness.

And for evidence, she turned to the scriptures. The parable of the sheep and the goats found in Matthew 25 clearly shows that Christ will judge us according to our willingness to feed and clothe “the least of these my brethren” (verse 40). Does this include members of our own families?

In fact, Christ used imagery of feeding and washing and cleaning throughout His parables and object lessons. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd” (Isa. 40:11). He will wash “away the filth of the daughters of Zion” (2 Ne. 14:4) and “sweep away the bad out of [His] vineyard” (Jacob 5:66). He even likens Himself to a hen who “gathereth her chickens under her wings” (Matt. 23:37).

Even more striking to me, Christ not only spoke of these things, He personally did them. He fed multitudes with limited tangible resources in a miraculous example of His attention to our physical as well as spiritual hunger. He washed the feet of His disciples to illustrate the humble service required of a Master and to reveal what He was willing to do that we might be entirely clean. In the book of Moses, He states that He, Himself, made the coats of skins to clothe Adam and Eve.

When seen in this new light, my perception of tasks like peeling potatoes and scrubbing floors began to turn upside down and inside out. It was becoming obvious to me that when we care for the physical as well as the spiritual needs of our families, we are patterning our lives after the Savior.”

I mean, I'm gonna do and re-do (to the infiniti-eth power) all those household tasks anyway, but isn't it something else to know that it actually MATTERS!? God values that my children are well-fed and half-dressed, and that my home is occasionally-clean and always-being-cleaned. So I'm going to wager a guess that He values yours, as well. (sigh of relief.)

Being a mom is the coolest, I say!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Two of my faves came down for Prez. Day weekend and there was a great deal of awesomeness on our agenda, including shrimp tempura sushi with mango sauce. Yes, it's that good.

Almost as good as Mom looking terrible determined, eating an orange (a la Christmas 2010).

One thing you should try NOT to do when you have an enormous zit between your eyes that you've popped three nights in a row which turned it into two enormous zits between your eyes is to SLATHER IT IN TOOTHPASTE OVER NIGHT. Ohhhh yes, it burned real good. You better believe that zit was gone the next morning. But then I had this beaut of a chemical burn to humiliate me for several days.

I'd heard rumors that these burns never fully heal, which would've served me right. However, God was merciful and, doused in neosporin and aloe vera at all times, the burn started to peel within a few days. Still a moderately traumatizing experience. Also, it looked much more distinctly burgandy than these pictures depict.

And just so the last image of me in your mind is not the horrific three seen above, how bout some leggings! Ooo pick me, pick me! Ever since my fateful first encounter with Emily's leggings seen here, I cannot seem to take these blessed stretchy pants off.

And just so the last image in your mind is not of me,

Okay, yeah, that's kinda weird. I was only trying to find a cute, recent candid of my kids and this is the best I've got. I'll do better with the camera.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


You know what, that Charlie is not really all that bad. Perhaps I enjoy a little drama, sympathy, and whatever else comes of complaining about that kid. Most of it is justified. Still, if you don't know Charlie all that well for yourself, you might inaccurately conclude from my tirades that his screaming fits and fiendish pranks are not compensated with some pretty irresistible toddlerisms.

He's actually a pretty nice kid.

Now on my third child, I finally get that my kids are, simultaneously, the cutest and best kids in the whole wide world AND incredibly average in everything.

I mean, with Ellie, I think I literally understood that she was the cutest baby ever. I recall being devastated when she and I were ill and had to miss a local baby beauty pageant because I was absolutely positively certain that she would win.

And then when Erik was born, I found myself a bit baffled that HE was the cutest baby ever. Was I so fortunate as to procure from the heavens their two sweetest and loveliest babies of all time?

So I came to discover, as second-time mothers tend to do, that my kids are not really as cute and perfect as I think they are, and that's okay. My mind is all the wiser, but in my heart, they remain unbearably scrumptious.

It is miraculous to feel such a powerful array of euphoric emotions toward another human being (upon the birth of a first child), and then to have that feeling multiplied, never diminished, with each family addition.

Thus, Erik and Charlie may not enjoy all of the attention and novelty of the eldest child, but certainly that ridiculous amount of love I felt for Ellie as a newborn babe is precisely the same ridiculous love I have always and will always feel for my kiddos.

It is with this understanding that I justify my occasional venting about Charlie's special little behaviors. He drives people bonkers everywhere we go, sometimes including me, but many times, not so much. I love him the very most, after all.

If only you felt the way about him that I do when he puts me in a choke hold, scraping the flesh of my neck, yet believing whole-heartedly that he's tickling me.

Or the way he grabs his diaper and notifies me ("bee boo" = pee poo) when he's relieving himself or otherwise filling his diaper.

Or how he obediently chucks his nuk back into the crib after a nap, and then experiences immediate remorse, calling longingly for "nuh nuh" through the netting.

Or how you better watch yourself if you lay down because Charlie's got a diaper sandwich coming for your neck and/or face. Faces make the very best of chairs in his book.

Or the way he lets out violent squeals of protest and jealousy if I dare hold anything but him, including a camera, a book, a piece of fruit.

Or how he confuses "night-night" with "knock-knock" (which are both "nuh nuh," of course) and knocks on his head to bid us good night.

Or how he suddenly decided he doesn't really hate books and actually very much likes them (in 20-second intervals) and can often be found perched on the edge of a chair, legs dangling and kicking, flipping wildly through pages.

Or how he sticks his head between his legs waiting for a little push to finish off his somersault.

Or how he has a 50 world vocabulary, but pretty much all of those words start with b, d, or n.

Or the way he signifies thirst or recognizes a waterfall, a picture of a water buffalo, or the lobster tank at the grocery store with a loud gulp.

Or how he starts waving and emphatically bidding the cashier "bah bye" the moment I swipe my credit card.

Or how his onomatopoeia for pigs sounds like he's gagging and for horses and sheep it's a courtesy laugh.

Or how he slept in until 7 am today.

Yep, if only you felt the way about Charlie that I do, well... I daresay nothing else really matters.