Friday, July 17, 2009

The Little Things

About a month ago, Randy gave a lesson in church about doing the little things each day to keep one's faith strong and vibrant. The few days before he gave the lesson, we talked a lot about this subject, in both a secular and a religious context, and that lesson has really stuck with me.

As a new mom, I struggle with the additional things in my life to balance. With a new baby comes an infinite amount of joy, but also increased laundry (especially if you cloth diaper), increased specialized food to prepare (or squish rather), less sleep, and definitely more messes. There is story time and bath time and tummy time (thank goodness there is also nap time!!!) and amidst it all I am still learning how to run a household that is still calm and clean and a happy place to be.

What I have been focusing on these last few weeks that has helped me let go of the guilt that I am not in complete control of the mountain of things that I want to do every day, is simply remembering that I don't need to do it all--just a little bit. As long as I am working towards my goals, I don't have to beat myself up that EVERYTHING in the long list is not currently checked off. I try and prioritize my lists into the things that are most important to me to work on, down to the small time-wasters that are pure relaxing fluff. My big ones: daily prayer, daily scripture study, meals for my family, exercise (even if it is only twenty minutes of yoga--it makes a big difference in how I feel about myself and the world), time with my husband. Then next in my list comes housework--I try and work on one room a day, and make sure I have the dinner dishes in the wash before I go to bed. That is the ideal. The reality? Very often I do leave dishes in the sink for the next day . . . but I'm working on it. So on those days I take a breath, and let it go. Can you tell I have a problem being hard on myself? Then the list goes on to include all the things I enjoy doing-like sewing, reading, creative writing, knitting. After that comes watching a good film (recently on a day I was rather under the weather I watched the BBC version of Elizabeth Gaskill's North and South--so good!!!!!) or playing a game on the DS (yeah, Randy got me hooked. Plus I have a sassy little red one).

Some days are harder than others, and my motivation is harder to come by. Things lower on the list look more tempting, or a nap pushes its way in and trumps them all. But as I focus on doing little bits at a time, and working towards a big picture, rather than a hard-fast list that measures my worth as a housewife and mother, I am a happier person. And on those days when Wesley has been teething and fussing and only wanting to be held, and no room got cleaned and no dishes got done, and I am still in workout clothes but no workout happened and dinner consists of Randy foraging for cereal while I nurse for the 5 millionth time--on those days, if I still read my scriptures and say my prayers before I go to bed, I still count it a good day.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Developments . . .

My first baby tomato on its way! Can you spot it? My little garden/pots are doing well with the tomatoes, and I am very excited. But I have learned an important lesson: the varieties of lettuce and spinach I have been trying to grow are not suited to hot Utah summers. Back home in Oregon we would feast on fresh greens all summer long. Here . . . I am going to have to buy mine I'm afraid. No matter how carefully I have tended them, they withered and scorched underneath the hot sun. Very sad. Anyone have advice for me? I miss my lettuce!!!
So instead of a beautiful pot of salad greens, I allowed my spring volunteer spinach plant to go to seed. Who knew that spinach plants had such lovely purple-blue flowers? I didn't. Sometimes failure can be darn right pretty!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Where There's Smoke

Last night for Family Night we decided to take a little trip and instead of staying in, go out to dinner.

And so Wesley experienced his first campfire. A proud graduate of girls' camp, the fire took one match. No lighter fluid involved. Although the group next to us was having the darndest time with their fire . . . you should have seen the pyrotechnics involved in trying to get theirs going. But I digress . . .
My devious plot is really to get Wesley to love the outdoors, so that Randy will want to go camping more often . . . Randy has a thing about the bugs and dirt of camping. I'm really trying to win him over.
So far, I think I'm succeeding. Doesn't that look like the face of a baby that is having a good time?
He is a very serious baby when it comes to having fun. I love how hard he concentrates when something catches his interest.
He looks more and more like Daddy every day. And he gets in to things more and more every day. Daddy's influence? That's what I'll blame it on anyway! My funny, funny boys. I think I'm going to have my hands full with the two of them!

Now our dinner . . .
You can see the dutch oven in the first picture. I was too intent on eating by the time it was done that I didn't take a picture, but it was good, let me tell you. I made it up on the fly, with what I had in my kitchen, but here's the scoop:

Dutch Oven Veggie-ladas

Three medium potatoes, cubed (I left the skins on)
Three medium carrots, washed and chopped
One can cream of celery soup (next time I'd like to make my own if I have time, so that it is dairy free)
One small can green chilies, drained and diced
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

I lined the dutch oven with foil, and sprayed it with cooking spray. Then in a bowl I combined the potatoes and carrots with the soup, and put the mixture in the foil lined oven. I sprinkled the green chilies on top, sprinkled some salt and fresh ground black pepper, and then the cheese.

It turned out very zesty and delightful. Definitely a keeper. Onions and broccoli would probably work well also--I just didn't have any on hand at the moment.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hot Summer Afternoons

We have one o'clock church, so by the time we get home it is HOT these days. I am not a big fan of summer--I would just as soon have late snows than early summers here. Back home in Oregon, summers just meant a brief break from the rainy season, and a few hot days here and there.

This is how Wesley took in our Sunday afternoon--in his cute little green diaper!
And this is how Che took in her Sunday afternoon . . . hiding in her little club house.

Can you see the Popsicle sticks in her cage? That is probably the only reason Che likes summer--the sugar coated sticks we let her chew to bits. A girl after my own heart--she isn't a big fan of the heat either. Although for a chinchilla she is way woosey about the cold. I guess I've turned her into a bit of a cuddle-bug.

Sundays are our one day where Randy doesn't have to work and doesn't have to go to school. It is so nice to have a quiet day to spend as a family--to play games and just chill. Plus little munchkin actually lets me sit through the majority of my Sunday classes now--so church is much more . . . relaxing than it had been.

Even with the heat . . . this is my kind of day.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Frozen Chocolate Delight

I found this recipe the other day when I was organizing my recipe book. It was from a page photocopied out of a magazine years ago . . . I'm pretty sure I was living at Monticello with Melanie at the time . . . along with a slew of other delightful chocolaty wonders. Sadly at the time I didn't own an ice-cream maker, so I never tried it, and I forgot that I had such a recipe.

Well, guess who has an ice-cream maker now! It is a good thing that this recipe is fat free . . . I am really trying to lose that baby weight before Ashley gets married next month. But chocolate is an important food group that shouldn't be ignored, and this is rich enough that just a small bit will cure the craving.

It is a bit too heavy on the chocolate for Randy's tastes . . . Darlene you would be in heaven! I think that the only thing that could improve this treat would be some chopped hazelnuts thrown in, a little chocolate syrup on top, and some whipped cream. Yes--death by chocolate all the way. I have some hazelnuts in the freezer . . . hmm . . . .

Chocolate Sorbet

(makes about 1 qt)

1 1/4 cups sugar
3 cups water
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook sugar in a dry 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar is melted into a deep golden caramel. Add water (caramel with harden and steam vigorously) and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until caramel is dissolved.

Add cocoa and salt, whisking until dissolved, then transfer to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally. Stir in vanilla, then chill, covered, until cold (about 2 hours).

Freeze in ice cream maker, then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

And a Happy Eight Months to You!

Yesterday our Wes turned eight months. Wow. Sometimes when he looks up at me with little tear-filled, tired eyes after a bad dream, I still see that little guy we brought home from the hospital. But most of the time I see a little mischievous munchkin that has found a way to make it across the livingroom to play with something not-a-toy (aka the computer cord, Daddy's piano music, the computer mouse, etc.). I love his impish smile. I love his cuddles. I love his funny laugh when he is playing with Dad. I love the way he thinks his poop is hilarious--seriously. The funny way he wiggles his nose when it itches. His sighs when he finally gets what he wants--usually food. And how everything has suddenly turned into a hammer (William--watch out for your tools when this one comes to visit). His funny jibber-jabber he is starting to make in place of coos. The funny way he sucks on his sore gums, making a smacking with his lips.

What a guy.