Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sweet Two

I can't believe it because it has blown by so fast but Eliana is two today.  She was our surprise baby.  (I found out I was expecting her a week before Diego turned 1.) I cried for months... literally.  I wasn't ready for another baby, I wanted my body to be mine again, Diego would be scarred for life having to adjust to sharing his mama at such a young age, and I was tired.  My list of frustrations went on and on.

And then at about 22 weeks along.  We got some scary news. Apparently, through some bad filing procedures, my doctor hadn't received the notice that there was something wrong with the 18 week sono we had done.  So, four weeks later we were being told that the left ventricle of Eliana's heart seemed underdeveloped. We were scheduled for another sono a few days later.  During that time, we prayed hard for our little girl.  And my attitude did a 180. No longer was I complaining about having a baby when I hadn't planned for one, but instead I was praying for her heart to be healed. Longing for time to play with and love on my baby girl.  The second sono went well and we were told that the heart looked completely healthy.  I firmly believe that God healed her and that He also gave me that experience to change my heart, too.

She was such a sweet little thing.  My sister-in-law, Jessica, took this one of her when she was ten days old. (Looking at this makes me want to have another one. I may have to be satisfied with Elisabeth's Little One on the way, though.)

Now as I look into her big brown eyes, I wonder how it has been that two years have already passed.  I wonder if the next 10 will pass just as quickly and before I know it I will have to teach her how to put mascara on those gorgeous lashes (as if she'll need it).

I watch her discover and hope that as I parent I won't squelch her curiosity so that in 50 years she'll still have a sense of wonder at the incredible things God has made.

I look in her face of trust and pray that God will give me the wisdom and ability to guide her- so that in 5 years she will know who made her and put her faith in the One loves her more even more than I do.

I watch her play and hope in 30 years she'll be just as active.

I watch her develop friendships and hope in 20 years she'll still have time to be my friend.

I love you, Eliana, and hope you have a wonderful birthday (and many, many more)!

(A Disclaimer and Big Thank You: Before any of you start trying to contact me to see if I'd be willing to take your kids' photos. I didn't take these ones above.  I've got a very slow point and shoot and I feel lucky if I can keep my kids in the frame long enough for my flash to go off. My wonderful and very talented cousin, Emily Bergquist, took all of Eliana's birthday pictures.  That's her little cutie with Eliana in the last photo. Anyway, Emily is a professional photographer who mainly stays at home with her little one, but can still be coaxed into shooting with very little coercion.  If anyone is interested in learning more about her photography or just wants to tell her she needs to start her own website so you can see more of her beautiful work, feel free to send her an e-mail. Thank you, Emily, for the gorgeous pictures!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Baby Sister...

is 27 today. Not much of a baby, huh? Especially since she's expecting her first baby this year.  (I can't wait!) She was just about the pudgiest baby ever.  (Had rolls up and down her legs.) And people would ask my mom if she was a doll... although that may have been more about the peculiar hair line she had back then. So glad I have her though. Growing up we had more of a love-hate relationship. But now that we aren't forced to wear matching dresses to church every Sunday and she doesn't borrow my clothes all the time, it's more of just a love relationship.

I have to work tonight.  (Wednesday.) So, we celebrated last night.  She and Paul recently discovered Rodriguez Tortilliaria (had to be good because of the name, right?). They ordered to go and brought it over to Mom and Dad's.  It was awesome!  They asked if they had guac and they didn't but they made some special just for us and it was spectacular. The chips were awesome too!  (Diego was literally giggling over them.) They're located at Harry and Hydraulic, but apparently there's one by us, too.  (Here all this time I thought they just sold tortillas and so I've never been.) The one close to us is at  Waco and 18th.  Going there soon to see if it's just as good. Silly me, I didn't get photos. (I will get better about taking photos, I will get better about taking photos...)

Anyway, I offered to make cupcakes. It really isn't much of a sacrifice because I seem to always be looking for a way to use this book that I got from my cousins, Jason and Wendy, for my birthday.

It's pretty incredible and the recipes are very unique... I'll be using it again this weekend for Eliana's birthday. Anyway, I decided to make salted caramel chocolate cupcakes.  And it went pretty well except for the fact that I failed to realize that I don't own a candy thermometer until it was too late and ended up using a digital meat thermometer.  I thought I'd be OK, but the caramel was a little too chewy and not creamy... until we nuked them and then we were good to go.  But the frosting was awesome! And I guess it should have been since it required a pound and a half of bitter-sweet chocolate and four and a half sticks of butter. Seriously ridiculous, but ridiculously yummy! 

I am such a messy baker, and this frosting is all over my counters still... we were running late to the party and I just left it. Good thing my mom is coming over today to wash my dishes watch my kids. But the frosting is so buttery soft that it didn't take a whole lot of effort to frost them... although I think I could have made them prettier with some practice. I can't find the recipe on Martha's site, but 52cupcakes made her own tutorial of the recipe... she made them mini (the way the recipe was originally designed and her pictures and cupcakes are prettier than mine.)

If I were really with it, I would have also bought brown cupcake wrappers online a couple of weeks in advanced so they would have matched the cakes better.

Look at the kids faces... they were very ready for the cupcakes!


Really ready.

Overall, it was a great night.  We love you, Elisabeth, and hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Now let's open your presents.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Window Shopping... Via the Net

I've been back and forth over what to do with my playroom/home school room windows for a while now.  And then I came across Kaffe Fassett.  Maybe you're already familiar with him and I'm just slow to catch on to what the rest of the world already knows.  But I am completely undone.  I can not believe the colors and patterns and saved about 35 different prints and variations on my Esty favorites, but have finally decided on this:

I'm thinking it should go with about any other color I decide to throw in the room with it.  Now to just measure the windows.

On top of that, I've been spending way to much time on Etsy, overall.  But I just can't help it.  First, Made sent me there because of these way-too-cute things.  (She has turned February into boy's month and has had so many wonderful guest crafters blog.) But Alice in La La Land watches are just the sweetest thing I've seen in a long while.

Then while I was over in Etsy, I remembered my saved up favorites which included all the Kaffe Fassett fabric.  Let me show you which one first introduced him to me:

I've been kind of gleaning fabrics for a while now so I can start purchasing to make a quilt for Eliana... this is the flowery one with which I'd like to tie everything else together.  (I have a bunch saved under favorites... because I'm not going to buy fabric for this quilt until I make Diego's.)

All the others are Alexander Henry:


And then to end my window shopping trip, I stumbled upon a new site.  Oh My! Handmade Goodness describes themselves as "a community for independent children's retailers & the hip parents who support them."  I wanted to be a hip parent tonight... but remembered I was only going to be a window shopper for the night.  Fortunately for me, they're brand-spanking-new and they are celebrating with a give-away!  Which you should go and sign-up for yourself... 'cause they're giving away this cute stuff from Sarah + Abraham and Olliegraphic:

Okay, it's time for me to stop the window-shopping 'cause it's one in the morning! 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How to Tell

Last week, my dad was surprised when Jesse told Diego that he hadn't been sleeping and to head back upstairs.  He was amazed because Diego's room had been completely silent for an hour and so he was pretty sure he must have been sleeping.  Yet, here Jesse was sending him back to his room.  How could Jesse tell?  It's pretty simple, really.  If you know what to look for.  The next time Diego came down the stairs, my dad understood exactly what had been missing before.

This hair.

(And a better attitude.)
Easy, if you know what to look for.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What holiday is this?

Most people in the US celebrated this past Valentine's Day in the usual way: chocolate, flowers, dining and (hopefully) some time with the ones they loved.  However, since Valentine's Day was on a Sunday this year, I knew I needed to do something special for "my kids."  "My kids" aren't really mine, but for some reason I haven't quite figured out yet, their parents entrust them to me once a week for spiritual development.  Quite the responsibility... there are days when I question if I'm succeeding with my own, let alone my others.  But I feel blessed by the challenge.

Fortunately, I don't have a cookie cutter church (you know the kind in the suburbs where people have exactly 2.3 kids and a dog, the kind where everyone looks alike and all shop at  the same stores.) There's nothing (in essence) wrong with a cookie cutter church, in fact Jesse and I used to attend one that we really enjoyed, but there's a lot more stretching to be had if you're not in one.  And for that I'm appreciative.  Anyway, since my church isn't cookie cutter, neither are the kids.  One of my favorite parts of my church is the fact that we have so many cultural backgrounds.  I find that it challenges me not to ask just "What's culturally correct?" but "What's biblically correct?" But that's not what I'm really writing about today.  What I'm writing about is the fact that this Valentine's Day was also Chinese New Year. 

Some of "my kids," came dressed in beautiful brocade outfits with mandarin collars.  (And I was jealous.) And then they told me about the money they were receiving for Chinese New Year. (Then, all my non-Chinese kids were also jealous.)  But my surprise for everyone seemed to even the playing field and honor both holidays at the same time.

Let me stop right there and introduce you to the Pioneer Woman.  She's pretty incredible, lives somewhere on a vast stretch of land in Oklahoma with her cattle rancher husband and 4 very cute kids. She's an incredible blogger and photographer.  And between all of the work she does running a ranch and homeschooling her kids, she finds time to bake and cook... and write her own cookbook.  Did I mention that she has the most beautiful shade of red hair that I've ever seen.  I really hate love her.  Anyway, right after I joined Weight Watchers, she listed a Life by Chocolate Cupcake recipe that looked to-die-for.  So, I calculated the points (15) and I get like 22 a day so that just really wasn't going to work for me. 

I decided right then and there to save my "extra points" for Valentine's Day and make these.  And give all but one of them away.  Which is exactly what I did.  It was hard (not the making part, but the sharing), but the kids enjoyed them, my family enjoyed them (all but Diego who just ate the ganache off the top and the kiss out of the middle).  And then I put them into these containers.  And my Chinese kids thought I had made the cupcakes just for them.  And they can think that.

But now, you all know the truth.  (And yes, saving up points was most definitely worth it.)  Hope you all had a Happy Chinese Valentine's New Day Year! 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Learning to Love Me

Today I learned that Starbucks loves me as much as I love them....

But in all seriousness... did you notice the size of this cup?  Yep, that's right.  It's a tall.  Most people who know me well, know that I'm a venti type girl... I really love my coffee.  But I've recently discovered that a tall is three points if I save with the skim and splurge with the real syrup. 

And did you notice that I just said "points"? That's right, I'm doing Weight Watchers.  And although there are days like today, "Cashew Chicken Night," that only happen once a year... and where I didn't write down everything I ate.  (The first time in two weeks.)  I'm trying really hard to start loving myself.  Now, I know that some people may say if you love yourself then you'd learn to accept the weight you're at and realize that you're beautiful the way God created you.  But I don't think this is how God created me, I think I've created the mess I'm in on my own.  And I also believe that's because I haven't loved myself enough to take the time and care necessary to keep myself healthy.

Let's take a look.  This is Jesse and I a little over 7 years ago... our engagement photo.  A couple of years ago, a friend saw this photo and asked me who these people were.  (That would have only been about 5 years after it was taken.)  Totally frustrating!
But to be honest, it does not look a lot like me anymore.  I'm healthy here... and I'm not anymore.  And you guys (all 2 of you who are reading this...thank you!), as hard as this is to admit.  I need help to get healthy and to learn to love myself enough to take care of me.  I know I have to do this for myself.  But I also need to do it for her because I want her to have a better relationship with food than I do now and I want to model to her what it means to love oneself.

So, although I'm not going to update you all every single time I lose half a pound, I am going to share my journey from time-to-time so that you can keep me in your prayers. (If you don't mind.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Little Valentine

Diego's first Valentine's Party was this Thursday at his preschool. I was excited because I love Valentine's Day and I always enjoyed making valentines as a kid. I was certain that I wanted Diego to have the experience of making them for his classmates. I wasn't sure what sort of project he should make though. I knew that I didn't want him to bring food of any kind (because every time it's his turn to bring snacks kid-who's-allergic-to-everything's mom always glares at me) but, I didn't have any other ideas. Then I ran across this at The Long Thread and knew it was perfect! I actually remembered making something similar when I was a kid and knew everyone would love them.

I found the silicone heart muffin pan at Target that she used for her project, but it was $10 and I didn't know if I wanted to invest that much money into it. So, when I walked over to the cheapy section and found what looked like silicone heart ice-cube trays for $2.50, I thought, "Perfect!" and bought them instead. Lesson #1. If it doesn't say silicone, it probably isn't. Lesson #2. Ice-cube trays aren't really meant to be used in the microwave. Lesson #3. Don't try to complete a project like this in the last 45 minutes before you're supposed to leave for school.

After the first tray melted onto the turn-plate, I decided to fill all the hearts on the second go around. The second tray did much better except for the fact that towards the end of the melting process, my microwave over-heated and stopped working. Fortunately, the crayons were melted enough by that point that they were okay. I pulled the turn-plate out and put the whole thing into the fridge to speed the cooling process. (I still haven't tried to see if the microwave is working again.) We were 15 minutes late to school and I didn't have a shower, but I think they turned out pretty cute. Diego signed his name on the back of all 14... his little hand was tired by the time he was done, but I think it was important to for him to do it himself.

When I picked him up he was excited. He had candy in his bag that he made. (Do you see all of the stickers he used? Most of the other kids used about 5... talk about a sticker-hog!) He was ready to eat it the second I picked him up, but I made him wait until we got home and put Eliana down for a nap.
Then we went through all of his valentines together. Now, I was prepared for some store-bought valentines... I am a teacher after all. (But every single one? Really? And they were all signed by their parents. Good grief!) But this one here, took the cake. It read: "You're a glittering princess, Valentine!" When a three-year-old recognizes that there's something wrong with a valentine... it's seriously wrong! "I'm not a princess! I'm a big-boy!"

And just to prove it: "Rraaahhhrrr!"