Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ever since we've started trying trying to drastically cut down on our eating out habits, I've really been missing going out to breakfast. We used to go out pretty much every Saturday and Sunday morning, and starting our weekend mornings at home is just not the same.

I did, however, discover a nifty little trick that helps me feel somewhat better about the whole thing. I really love cinnamon rolls - and really, who doesn't? - but they're kind of a hassle to make and then there are always so many that everyone gets sick of them before we eventually have to throw some out. Well, awhile back I read a blog entry about freezing cinnamon rolls and it was such a great idea that I can't believe I had never heard of it before.
The kids and I made a triple batch of cinnamon rolls, which they all thought was a lot of fun. They like to knead and roll the dough, and also add huge amounts of flour to it as soon as my back is turned.
Once we had cut all the rolls, we froze them separately on a cookie sheet, then bagged them. We ended up with four one-gallon freezer bags full!Now, once a week, either on Friday or Saturday night, I get about eight of them out of the freezer. I place them in a round pan and cover it with saran wrap, then go to bed. They thaw and rise during the night and we wake up to perfectly risen cinnamon rolls, just ready to be popped in the oven. Making the icing takes about one minute, so it's pretty much the easiest breakfast ever. I still miss going to Mimi's Cafe for their awesome Egg's Benedict, but these cinnamon rolls help me not miss it quite so much.
Another quick, and similar, note - I also discovered this works with pizza crust. Probably everybody else in the world has been doing this for years, but I am still pretty excited about my ability to make a bunch of pizza crust all at once and freeze the dough in single pizza portions. I take the ball of frozen dough out of the freezer around noon on the day we are going to eat it, and by dinner time, it's thawed and risen and ready to go. We have been having pizza a LOT lately because of this, but no one around here is complaining. Last night's pizza - eggplant and goat cheese - might have been the best ever. Yum!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We've had our dog, Jose, for over eight years now. We got him before we were married and we absolutely adored him. He dropped down on the totem pole once we started having kids, obviously, but we still liked him and he's always been a good family dog. He eats every single speck of food as soon as it touches the floor, and considering the amount of food that falls on the floor around here, this is my favorite quality of his. Nevertheless, there are still times when I occasionally wish we didn't have a dog, like when he refuses to go outside during a thunderstorm and instead pees on the floor. Grrr.

So last week we noticed that he was squinting with his left eye. He didn't seem to be acting any differently so we just sort of ignored it. On Thursday I noticed that he eye was looking kind of cloudy, but my grandmas were coming in to visit that night so I figured we'd just take him to the vet after the weekend. Well, by Saturday it was looking really bad so we decided we had to take him to the vet. On the way there he had his head hanging out the window in the wind, which was apparently a huge mistake because afterward it looked so terrible that I couldn't even really stomach looking at it. I felt pretty embarrassed walking into the vet with a dog who looked like he'd been totally neglected. The vet said it was so bad that she didn't even know how to treat it, so she referred us to a dog ophthalmologist, and called him in after hours so he would be there when we got there.

On the way there, I told Steve we should probably discuss what we would do if it was going to cost like $1000 or something. We have both said in the past that we would not pay more than $500 for our dog, so I figured we should make sure we were still on the same page, although I wasn't sure what page I was really on anymore. Steve shrugged that off, saying it was not going to cost very much because Jose probably just needed some eyedrops.

So, we got there and before the doctor did the exam, he wanted to let us know about pricing up front. He quickly looked at the eye, but didn't do an actual thorough exam. Since it was after hours, the exam alone was going to be $350. He said it was an ulcer on the cornea and we could try to treat it with medicine, which would cost $600. He thought it was too late for medicine anyway though, and said our best option was to have surgery, which costs $2000! We were completely stunned. The doctor left to give us a few minutes to talk it over and decide what we wanted to do.

The rational part of me was saying that we couldn't spend that much, while the rest of me watched Emma cry and ask if Jose was going to be okay, then noticed that Steve (who I have only seen tear up twice in ten years) was wiping away tears. Then I looked at that darn dog and he was looking up at me, wagging his tail, as if to say, "Hey, we're friends, right?" Basically the options were either put him to sleep or spend a total of $2500 to make him better. I told Steve that they were both terrible options and I didn't want to pick either one, so he could decide and whatever he chose would be fine with me. He said he just wouldn't feel right picking money over Jose, and also that it seemed cruel to kill an otherwise healthy dog just because he has an injured eye. I said okay, and we called the doctor back in and told him to go ahead and do the surgery.

We picked him up a few hours later and as we were driving him home, we both said we were sure we made the right decision. We have to take him back four more times for check-ups, but he is apparently going to be okay. They gave us a ton of medicine - three kinds of pills and three kinds of drops - that I have to give him multiple times each day. The drops need to be at least five minutes apart so it's not like I can just put them all in at once, which means my new full time job is to administer medicine to our dog. I made myself a chart to keep track of it. Also, the first day when he was really groggy from the surgery, I was surprised at how well he handled the drops. He hardly moved when I would put them in, but now that he is much more perky, he hates the drops so it's like a mini wrestling match every time I have to put them in. I will be so glad when I can stop!What a lucky dog. I hope he appreciates this!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Noah ran around the corner into the kitchen, covered with marker, and exclaimed "I'm a wolf!"

We have some pretty big news around here. It appears as though Noah has weaned. I was ready for him to be finished, and although he really adored nursing, it went surprisingly smoothly and actually even happened mostly by accident. I am feeling really good about it all.

Several months ago I started limiting him to nursing five times a day: during the night, when waking up in the morning, before and after nap, and before bed. I liked that he wasn't nursing all day long anymore, but that didn't stop him from asking all day long, and he'd get pretty upset and whiny when he wanted to nurse but couldn't. I got pretty tired of that after a month or two, so we moved it to just once a day - before his nap. That seemed to help, and it worked perfectly because it gave him time to wind down and then (hopefully) fall asleep quickly. He still asked often, and I always said, "We can nurse before your nap, but I'd love to cuddle with you now," so we spent a lot of time cuddling on the couch and that seemed to satisfy him.

He will be starting preschool this fall, two days a week for four hours a day, and he won't be able to take naps on the days he has school. I figured we would just give up naps all together then instead of trying to get him to nap some days and some days not. A couple weeks ago, though, he started taking forever to fall asleep for naps, and then forever to fall asleep at night. Instead of forcing it for the next few weeks, I decided we'd just go ahead and stop with the naps now. It wasn't until after I made that decision and even told him he didn't have to take naps anymore that I thought about nursing. With no nap, there was no opportunity to nurse, although I didn't mention that to him.Every morning before we get out of bed, he asks to nurse. I always suggest we cuddle instead, and every single day he says, "But can I nurse before my nap?" and I tell him he can. Sometimes in the afternoon if he seems tired I will ask him if he wants to take a nap, and he always says no.

I think it's been about a week now since he last nursed. It's almost like he weaned and never even really noticed. This is so opposite of my experience with Emma that I'm still a little incredulous. I think the best part of this is that there is no door slamming shut; I never had to say there is absolutely no more nursing. So, if on some random day in a few days or weeks or months he decides he wants to take a nap and nurse first, no big deal.

He is really into cuddling now and asks to cuddle several times a day. Yesterday we were laying on the couch together and he said, "We sure do like to cuddle together, don't we, Mommy?" And of course, he is absolutely right.He is pretty sensitive to things that are "scary". Last time we went to the library, he picked out a book that involves a truck going into a spooky junkyard. It's a little too much for him to sit next to me and look at the pictures of the spooky junkyard, so he always hops down on the floor and covers his eyes until that part is over.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Awhile back there was an amazing deal on Groupon for a photographer, and since the family picture we currently have displayed in our living room doesn't even include Noah or Allie, I happily bought it.

I should point out that, even though our picture is so out of date, that is not because we haven't had any others taken in the meantime. Last December we had a family picture taken by Olan Mills for our church directory. They turned out really, truly horrendous, but that didn't stop us from purchasing $156 worth of the photographs. (Steve can't say no to anyone who is trying to sell him something.) Allie's nose was running, Emma's hair looked dirty, Noah was grimacing in every photo, my hair was in my face, and Steve was doing some weird winking thing. Don't ask me how we all managed to look so terrible at one time, but rest assured that when those photographs arrived in the mail, I stuck them under a pile of stuff in my closet, never to see the light of day again.

Then, in April my whole family stood together in my parent's yard and I used a tripod and remote to get some shots of all of us. I also took a couple of my own family at the time, but none of those are anything that I'm willing to display on my wall, either.

So, when I saw the Groupon, I jumped at it. I was pretty excited, but the whole thing seemed a little jinxed from the start because we were doing an outside shoot and it was pouring rain. The photographer suggested we go under a bridge in the west bottoms, and under there we managed to stay at least 90% dry. Another strike against us was that Allie was a little sick, and consequently not feeling very cheery, but we hoped she could muster up a few smiles anyway.

In spite of the rain and the sick baby, things weren't going too terribly, until I noticed that we were standing by what is a local haunted house during Halloween season. I stupidly pointed out a werewolf figure in the window, which freaked Noah out enough that he refused to smile after that as well. I mean really, have you ever seen a more somber trio of children?
Zero smiles from those three, until I realized that Allie seemed to be chewing on something. Since there was nothing around us but a bunch of pigeon poop, I didn't know what could be in her mouth. I asked her to open up and show me. She promptly spit out a little glob of pigeon poop, much to the amusement of her siblings. Gag! At least that was the closest we got to having all the kids not look completely miserable.
And once again, there is not a single picture of the five of us that I think is worthy of actually being displayed in our house. We have tons of just the kids, but for now Steve and I will have to be content having only our wedding pictures on the walls.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Remember how I was recently complaining about how I have no recycling in my area? Well, my friend Jaime informed me that there is a place about twenty minutes away where I can take all our stuff to be recycled. I am so excited about this that it might even be a little ridiculous. Upon hearing this great news, I immediately went out and got some bins to set up our own little recycling center in our garage. Today we made our first drop-off trip to the recycling center, so hurray, we are officially no longer loading up the landfills with our recyclable items!When I was taking this picture of our little recycling center, I opened the garage door to let in more light. Just as I was squatting there in my garage, taking pictures of our trash, the mail carrier walked right by the garage. If it had been our regular mail lady, I would have just told her what I was doing, but this was a guy I didn't know. He looked at me and said, "Um...hello..." and I felt silly enough that all I said before he walked away was, "Uh..." Pretty smooth.

In other news, today is Steve's and my seventh anniversary. Last weekend my family was joking about the seven year itch, but luckily I don't feel that in the least. Seven years seems like almost nothing in a whole lifetime, and I am happy that I have so much time left to spend with Steve. Some lovely flowers were delivered for me today, and although they were a very sweet gesture, they aren't the best part. Steve has many months worth of expenses built up at work for which he needs to be reimbursed, and I've been bugging him forever to run them through. He's in the living room, working on that right now. :)One more noteworthy thing...poor Emma has been sick with a fever, and today she started throwing up. Throughout her life up until this point, she has been terrible at puking into a bowl, or the toilet, or trash can, or anywhere where it is a slightly less disgusting mess than all over the floor or furniture. Even if someone was trying desperately to shove a bowl in front of her, she'd turn her head and throw up, thus completely avoiding the bowl. Anyway, the reason this is noteworthy is that she has finally developed the art not spewing vomit all over the place ever time she throws up! Three times today, she has managed to warn me that she is going to throw up, and then make it all the way back to the bathroom in time. Amazing. While I am certainly sorry that she's sick, this makes a huge difference in the misery level of having a sick kid.