Saturday, June 26, 2010

Whole Grain Week

This week (starting Monday, and with the exception of the homemade crackers that I tasted) I have eaten only whole grains this week -- no refined anything. I have also avoided eating any sort of concentrated sugar, like cookies or cakes or candy. The sweetest thing I have had is raisins and dates and a bit of honey or jam here and there.

Why do I bother mentioning this? Because I have lost 4 pounds in the past 6 days (!!!) and have not had a mid-afternoon energy slump, either. Just thought I would share that, because it has been the first weight-loss and improved energy success that I have had since N was born. I have a goal to lose another 4 by the 4th of July, so I am finding places in my day to add a bit of exercise. It's hard, though, in this hot weather! What do you do to exercise in the heat of summer, other than walking around the mall?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Homemade Cheese Crackers

I just made these from a recipe that I adapted for myself; the original needed a food processor and was seasoned differently. I don't have a food processor so I switched it up a bit and it turned out really, really yummy.

1 cup flour
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (I used the cheapo pregrated stuff in the can and it still turned out really good)
Morton's Brand Nature's Seasoning (celery salt + pepper + onion + garlic)
turmeric (if you want them yellow)
3-4 tbsp of buttermilk

Let the butter soften but not melt (I popped it from the fridge to the microwave for 30 seconds). Mix in the paremesan to form an evenly-textured paste.

In a bowl, put the flour and seasoning. You could use different seasoning if you wanted -- italian seasoning, or cumin + chili pepper, etc. etc. The turmeric is purely cosmetic and I put it in so that C might eat the crackers. Cut in the butter/cheese mixture until it is an even, crumby texture. If you have made your own biscuits or pie crust this step will look very familiar.

Add the buttermilk, one tbsp at a time, stirring. Stop adding buttermilk when the mixture comes together as a dough.

Knead about 12 times.

Roll the dough out to 1/8 inch and cut into squares with a pizza cutter. Sprinkle with salt if you want. Lift the squares from the rolling board to a baking sheet with a spatula.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until the edges just barely start to brown.

Store in an airtight container. Ta da! :) Yum.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Homemade Yogurt Recipe

Here is the homemade yogurt recipe -- no special equipment needed other than a candy thermometer.

-4 cups of milk (I like organic whole milk for this)
-3 tbsp plain yogurt

-1 saucepan
-1 candy thermometer
-1 large glass jar big enough to hold 4 cups
-1 cooler filled with hot water

1. Heat the milk to 180F, stirring every so often.
2. Turn the heat off and let the milk cool to 118F.
3. Take some of the cooled milk and mix it with the yogurt
4. Mix the yogurt-milk mixture back into the large pot of milk, stir. (You can add some buttermilk at this point as well for a slightly tangy yogurt)
5. Pour the milk into the jar and seal
6. Put the jar into the cooler. Make sure the water comes up to the top of the jar.
7. Close the cooler and wait 5 hours.

Yogurt! :) The next time you make it you can use some of your batch of yogurt to culture the next.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Quotidian / Miracle

You do not like them, so you say;
Try them and you may, I say!

I have Dr. Seuss running through my head tonight; I have had a moment something like the epiphany at the end of Green Eggs and Ham where suddenly what I was running from makes sense.

I had a heartwarming moment, or rather a chain of moments today, and I feel like that feeling -- that heart-hug feeling -- is a gift from God and I am grateful for that gift. It's something like this:

On the way to the store today in the car I was suddenly struck by how amazing, miraculous, beautiful, fantastic it is that when I drive to the store I have these two amazing little people with me... it's hard to explain in words, I just suddenly felt how fully miraculous C and N are, and I felt so lucky to be their mom that I teared up a little and had to get ahold of myself so I could drive. So it was sort of a random gratitude attack. Nothing wrong with that.

Then, tonight, which I am ashamed to say is only the second night that I have ever prayed with C, I am realizing that there is something going on in those lessons, some kind of strange spiritual alchemy -- I show him how to pray, but the things that he says, hearing from his own mouth what he chooses to say thank you for, they just floor me. He remembers things from hours and days before, little things that he liked, that he enjoyed. He seemed relieved to have a forum to say thank you for these things; he seems to genuinely enjoy listing his blessings, and there is real gratitude there as well, so sweet and innocent but very instructive to me; I spend a lot of time listing out the things that we need or want but we don't have yet -- a back porch, a fence, a college fund -- and I forget about all the really amazing things that are all around me. For example, this house! I complain about its little quirks, but it is larger, cleaner, and sturdier than any other place I have ever lived in my life. How can I complain about that? I feel like I am learning so much more about how lucky I am by teaching C to verbalize his thanks for the little daily things he loves so much.

Then, the final touch, N was having her nightly bottle and I looked down at her and she was grinning at me, this huge, toothless, milky grin. It had real understanding and real mischief in it -- so much character in that little smile. My girl is only almost three months old, but I feel like I know her so well already, I feel like we have talked and had conversation even though in reality she has only wailed (and in the past week, begun to coo! Which I love so much).

Somehow in the combination of those three little happenings I felt what I have been missing and praying for, and which I feel lucky to have received -- something tangible from God, some little point of connection. And I felt in that moment for the first time since N was born that I really am a good mom; seeing both of my kids showing such sweet, empathetic impulses makes me think that somehow I must be getting some of what I wanted to teach them out there and into their minds. It was like a shoulder squeeze, a little word from God that was so much kinder and gentler than what I expected to hear. I have a long list of the things I have not been doing right lately, but instead of any of that it was such a positive message, a "you did good" message. It makes me think that God is not the legalistic punitive figure that is sometimes presented to us; that maybe it is true what I have suspected in little bits from time to time -- that God is so much bigger than what we can imagine, and that somehow (paradoxically) he never seems larger or more all-encompassing than he does when he appears in those tiny daily details, those moments behind the wheel, during nighttime prayer with a toddler, or in a gleeful milky grin from a little girl so fresh from him.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

CD Released! Also, Cheapskate Me triumphs again.

Home from the Letchwurth CD release party -- a great success! So many people showed up, and it was a lot of fun. On a side note, I love to watch B work a crowd, shaking hands, networking, etc. It makes me so proud. I joke with him that he should be a politician because I would love to be a politician's wife (and not just because I would get to shop at Ann Taylor...) We have this picture from our wedding where we are walking down the aisle leaving the church, and he is shaking hands with people along the way -- it totally looks like he is running for governor, but he paused to get married ;D Come to think of it, I wish he *would* run for governor. Who the heck am I going to vote for, in good conscience?? Bleh. Florida politics. What can I say.

Other exciting (ok, exciting to me) news around the Nash house: we got a new roof! Monday and a small part of Tuesday were all it took for the fantastic company to come and tear up our old roof and install a new one of reflective shingles. They have made such a drastic difference that I put the thermostat up to 80 degrees yesterday because it felt cold inside the house on 78. Normally, 80 makes me feel a deep despair in the pit of my stomach, but now it is totally workable. Cheapskate Me is very excited to see the utility bill over the next few months.

Cheapskate Me is also happy to report that the latest yogurt experiment -- culturing milk with both yogurt and buttermilk cultures at the same time has worked. It is chilling in the fridge to firm up the structure, and tomorrow morning for breakfast I get to try it out! Does it make me a nerd, that I am REALLY excited about it? The reason it makes Cheapskate Me happy is that it costs about $1.50 to make 4 cups of organic yogurt, versus almost $4 to buy it. Plus, I like knowing that I can make stuff instead of buying it. It makes me feel like I have control over a little corner of my life, and The Man can't make me buy certain things anymore. I think that in my mind I would like to live in a commune. Except I would want air conditioning.

Do communes come with air conditioning?

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Fellow parents, how do you deal kindly and lovingly with a toddler who is doing something that has to stop? (So I can't just ignore him until he stops doing the behavior.) For example, today C started screaming this constant, shrill yell about two feet outside of N's door while she was napping. It sort of rings out throughout the entire house and nothing I do can get him to quit, from hugs to consequences to yelling myself -- he just screams and screams, and the baby wakes up and then *she* screams... I find myself getting really negative, because it doesn't matter to him if he wakes N up, but it matters to me because I lose the time I had to shower, eat, work, etc.

How would you deal with this?

New Developments

I am eating a piece of fresh-baked cornbread drenched in butter. It's the best, worthiest diet-buster I can think of. So good.

There have been some new and exciting developments around the Nash house this week. First and most exciting, N has begun sleeping better, and more importantly, sleeping earlier. Last night she slept from 8:45pm until 2:00am, and then woke up only once after that until the morning. 8:45 is such a civilized bedtime, much better than midnight. She is also finally organized into times when she eats, times when she sleeps, and times when she is happy and awake. This is a huge relief to me -- I can put her in the bouncy chair at my feet, talk to her, make faces at her, and do things on the computer like boring work or blogging. I can sense the beginning of the cute-squishy-baby phase, and the phasing out of the newborn-you-aren't-allowed-to-shower phase. It only gets better from here. It is still surprising to me how quickly she has progressed to this phase; I think I underestimated the effect that C's extended newborn phase had on me -- having a newborn for four months instead of two was just a really strenuous thing; it is nice to enjoy some early smiles and giggles from Norah already -- the payoff! :)

I also got some good advice from my Wise Husband this week, to stop comparing myself to what I think other people do -- I seem to have this idea in my head that everyone else is just sitting around with their hands folded in their calm, cool, color-coordinated homes, and I am the only one wading through toys and bicycles on the kitchen floor. But the general reality is probably much closer to my own, which is comforting, and allows me to just kind of chill out a little, which is always a good thing.

I was also worrying too much about C, worrying that he is not adapting well to N, etc., because he is more argumentative than he used to be. B just laughed and said, "He is *supposed* to be a pain in the ass right now! It's his age." So right, dear husband, so right. Since accepting this idea, my relationship with C is much less strained. I can just say to myself that he is supposed to be testy and fighty, and it doesn't feel like a personal failure when he is throwing a fit or something.

When you just look at this idea written out, I am sure it looks totally obvious -- of *course* a two and a half year old is supposed to argue and test -- but you might be surprised at the subtle little self-criticisms that pop up when you are a parent. Thank goodness for my level-headed husband, who can set me right pretty quickly.

I have to figure out how to post pictures on here... can anyone give me a quick tutorial?

Now thinking about what else I can put on cornbread. Molasses? Honey? (Wait, why can't I lose weight, again??) ;D

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dream: Marietta

I had a dream last night that Ben and I were still in our pre-kid phase. We had both gotten technology jobs in Atlanta and moved to an apartment complex in Marietta, GA. Somehow in my dream mind I knew that Marietta was a suburb of Atlanta, which I did not know in my conscious mind until I looked it up this morning.

In my dream I was unpacking our boxes in the new apartment, and still thinking of all of the things I would do the next time I came back to Tallahassee. I thought, maybe we can go back on the weekends. Maybe this is a temporary move. But throughout the course of the dream I came to know that this move was the next step in our lives, that we both had good opportunities there, and that I needed to start thinking of Marietta as my home. That I could keep my memories of Tallahassee but it was time to move on to a new way of thinking about my daily life.

As obsessed as I am with the idea of place/landscape and its effect on every aspect of life, I do not think this was a dream about place, in the physical sense. Yesterday I was thinking and praying about how I might get used to the new way of life (2 kids and all the attending challenges) and stop wishing for the way things used to be. When I just had C, I yearned for the freedom of my pre-kid life, until I adjusted and got used to the responsibilities of having a kid, and then it became No Big Deal. I am not to the No Big Deal phase of having 2 kids yet, though. If anything, I am taking steps backwards. I have stopped trying to go out with the kids -- there are just too many variables, and I almost always end up screaming at my poor son and then crying myself when I try to fit an outing into a day that is already full of responsibility.

So maybe this dream is a metaphor for me -- I didn't know I was moving to "Marietta" (a metaphor for "life with two kids," in that it represents progress, but it is still a difficult adjustment), but here I am, and it is time to stop looking backwards. Instead, it is time to look up some fun things to do here in this new place, and finish unpacking all my boxes and get comfortable.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Me want cookie

I have very little to report today, other than the mundane: I have been grading like a crazy person lately, and today is my first sort-of breathing room, so I have to catch up on some editing instead (And some blogging, natch!).

I have been doing some strength training for about a week, which has started to tone my waist a little, which is nice -- moving from "blob" to "shape" is always a good thing ;D

Yesterday and today I have been more mindful of my eating too, which is going well except that it makes me want cookies so, so bad. Oreos. Cake. Cookies cookies cookies. Om nom nom :9

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Formula Won

I have been looking forward to and dreading this post, but in keeping with the spirit of this blog, the no-holds-barred look at motherhood in its real reality, I have to admit that I have let go some of my motherly idealism in favor of reality, and the results have been nothing short of stunning! :)

Breastfeeding is one of the most emotional, contentious issues that a mom can run into, and the conflicting opinions and statements can come equally from inside of herself as well as from others around her. I was not able to breastfeed C exclusively because he stayed in the NICU for two weeks when he was first born, and I was not allowed to really establish a good nursing relationship, as they say. He did nurse some, for ten whole months, which I take as a positive thing and a big accomplishment. I decided, though, that I really wanted to nurse N exclusively, and that I wanted to go as far as possible to make it work.

And it did work -- she was very good at nursing from the very beginning, had a great latch, etc., all those things. She was growing and gaining weight, perhaps a little more slowly than I would have liked, but still within the "normal" range (oh growth charts, with your sneering, pointing fingers!). The problem was not with her, but with me! I found I had this pesky need to bathe, to clean the house, to change my clothes, to set her down on occasion...

I reached a moment of decision last Tuesday, or more accurately, early Wednesday morning. N settled in that evening for a feed that lasted from 6pm until midnight, and then continued on from there. She was eating even as I wrote the last post. I was sitting on the couch, nursing her, trying for over an hour to finish posting participation for the classes I am teaching and to set her down for long enough to grab a snack and a glass of water, but to no avail. As the clock switched over to midnight and I stopped working, I found myself holding her and crying, crying, crying, like a messy wreck. I thought to myself, something has to change.

The next day I started reading articles on introducing one formula feed to a daily routine of nursing. As usual there was the range of responses, from "why would you want to breastfeed at all, you crazy masochist!" to "it's just fine to supplement once a day, quit worrying" to "you will probably ruin your life and your baby's chances of future health and happiness if you give in and fail her by selfishly feeding her formula." So I prayed, thought, talked it over with whoever would listen (thanks for listening, everyone!) and decided that I would feed her formula once a day, at about 9pm, which is smack in the middle of the super-feeding phase of the day. I would nurse her right before, feed her formula, and then nurse her right after -- and maybe the formula would fortify her to face the rest of the evening without screaming and feeding incessantly.

And it worked! Despite dire online warnings that my supply would diminish if I fed her formula, it has actually increased, along with my sanity, emotional reserve, and general enjoyment of motherhood. It's like night and day. She doesn't sleep for a magically long stretch at night, but she does sleep for a solid 4 hours at the beginning of the night, which is definitely a blessing, and her temperament in the evenings has gone from agitated screamy starvation to calmly interactive, happy, satiated babyness.

If compromising my ideals results in such a vast improvement, then maybe judicious compromise should be the new ideal.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Mother's Prayer

Dear Lord, sometimes I feel like I know what you must have gone through in Gethsemane, that terrible in-between, the night air caught, trapped like light in a prism, caught like a laugh in a jar; waiting for something that you hoped wouldn’t come

Dear Lord I am tired, every day I wake up tired and work all day and go to bed tired; but in my sleep I do not rest but only practice over and over how to be awake

Dear Lord I wonder why you chose me to be a guardian of souls and tiny tender hearts; I forgot about my parsley plants until their feathery stalks reach to the height of my forehead; and I am not a short woman, Lord; sometimes I wonder why you chose me to be at all

Dear Lord I want a hot shower more than I can say, a long hot shower with no one screaming or coming in the bathroom to ask for a juice box or a story; I like to think you would have yearned for a hot shower too with no Pharisees commenting on your facebook status, no temple scribes or jeering crowds starting groups called “Sometimes when that dude from Nazareth talks I wonder if he knows how ridiculous he sounds” and “Can this camel get more fans than Jesus?” (Click here to like/dislike)

Dear Lord I miss the days when I thought it was a problem to have nothing to do; I miss preparing a meal, sitting down to eat it, and then cleaning up afterwards

Dear Lord I actually miss cleaning; can you imagine that? I miss straightening and vacuuming; I miss following a load of laundry from the hamper to the bureau drawer; I miss cups of clear liquid detergent and stacks of neatly squared t-shirts; I would leave them out for a few hours to admire their uniformity and then put them away at my leisure; I miss that

Dear Lord I miss wearing necklaces, miss those 18 or so months when, walking down a sidewalk I might draw a glance or smile from a stranger; a handsome stranger who did not know me or want anything but just smiled to see me, a pretty girl, walking down the sidewalk to class, or to the store

Dear Lord I miss cake, and the Indigo Girls, and impromptu trips to the beach and eating dinner with both hands at once; I miss waiting for my final course grades, calling 8506448888 to see what Senor G gave me in Spanish; I miss living on cans of soup; I miss my girlfriends

Dear Lord I miss you, we don’t talk much these days; I try but then someone cries; I try and then I realize I am scared to hear what you will say; that you will ask even more of me than this here and now which I can barely do; which I do not fully do; which blares on at me as I attempt to finish typing this; which blares on at me as I attempt to hear from you