Friday, October 31, 2008

Week in Review

So, here's an update on our past week:

I have been working a whole lot of crazy hours and it's going to get worse before it gets better, but it really will get better. I've decided to hang up my consultant hat and take a permanent position as a Vice President at the client I have been assigned to this past year. This is going to give me a lot more stability personally and financially and help achieve some of the long term goals we have for the family and for myself. I expect to be working fewer hours in the end, but I have to get through this year first. I am not able to relinquish the reins of my current role so I need to fulfill my current role in addition to taking on this new role. This dual role will continue until the end of the year. After that, I hope I really will be getting back to achieving some work-life balance and work on some personal goals for myself (like getting healthy and losing weight).

To keep the family from going to utter chaos, we decided to hire a housekeeper to help us keep things organized and in balance. I hate to use the word housekeeper, I'd rather call her Wonder Woman Wendy, because that's what she is to us. She's basically doing everything from cleaning, laundry, cooking, helping get the girls ready in the morning, errands, you name it. She's only been with us a few short weeks and I can't remember how we ever got by without her. She's such a blessing to the family. Reagan gets so excited when she hears the door open in the morning and "Miss Wendy" comes through the door.

Reagan's school has about 15 auxiliary options for two year olds. They offer soccer, tennis, tumbling, karate, ballet, and many other things. While it is convenient that they offer these things during school time and you don't have to shuttle your child all over the place in the evenings, these options can really add to an already pricey monthly bill. So we had decided to let Reagan do tumbling since she's shown a lot of interest in that and let the other things go for now. We learned that every week when it was time for ballet and the girls got dressed in their leotards and tutus to go dance, she pitched a fit because she wanted to go so badly. She's such a girly girl, it makes sense that she would want to dress up and dance.

So being the suckers that we are, we went and bought her a tutu, leotard and little pink leather ballet shoes and signed her up for ballet. She was beyond excited and kept saying, "now I'm going to go to ballet and go dance with...(names of girls in her class)." Reagan didn't disappoint. Her teacher tells us that even at her first lesson she was actually the best student in the class. She was very disciplined and coordinated and did everything very well.

I've also heard that she's really good at soccer when they've let them go to free demos. Sadly, I find myself being a bit sexist and not taking that as seriously as I did the ballet. I don't like soccer. I find it boring, and can't put out of my mind that more injuries occur in soccer than in any other sport. I'm happy to support the perpetuation of her girly side, but for some reason when it comes to soccer I just let it go. Maybe if she was older and said that was something she really wanted to do I could support it more, but as long as we are choosing what she is doing, it won't be soccer.

Bailey had a short lived career as a baby model. She did the one modeling gig a few weeks back and then this week had a casting call. When I picked her up from daycare to take her, she had a terrible rash on her cheeks. I was wishing I had time to stop to get some makeup to try to cover it up, but I had to let it go. There must have been 20 other (mostly) adorable babies and they were running them in 10 minute appointments all day long.

The first time Bailey had her gig, they plunked her in an exersaucer to play and be adorable and she performed on cue. She did awesome. This time, I just had to set her on the floor and let her play with a few toys while they took pictures. She would have none of it. She screamed and reached for me and would not cooperate. I told them "Wow! This is so unlike her. She never does this. She was great last time." They basically went, "Yeah, yeah sure lady....NEXT."

So between the screaming and the rash, I'm pretty sure we won't be getting a call back.

Bailey was also supposed to transition to the next infant class this week. Only her previous teachers are having Bailey withdrawal. They are spreading out her transition longer than the usual one week as they keep snatching her up and taking her back to the old class. One of the old teachers even said she had a dream that she kept moving classes as Bailey did so that she remained her teacher all the way through. I think it's sweet that they are so attached to her and we don't mind them holding on to her a while longer. She's happy and well taken care of in either side so it's all good. Although I'm starting to wonder if Bailey might actually walk before Kindergarten because I'm suspicious as to whether that baby's feet ever touch the floor.

Bill rarely has a work emergency and makes sure he keeps his schedule so that he can take the girls to and from daycare everyday. But over the weekend there was work emergency. I found myself being quite hypocritical when he said he needed to go into the office. I didn't want him to go and said stuff like, "Don't you have people that you manage that can do that for you?" This is coming from the person that had to be forced off the computer and phone and out the door to take the kids trick-or-treating tonight because an issue crept up right at the end of the day. I'm really hoping my next role will be more like Bill's, but I won't hold my breath.

We are really hoping Bill's Dad moves out this summer. It's already been two years in the making and we really, really want the girls to grow up with some family around. But he and his fiance keep putting things off. Bill talked to his dad a few months ago and his dad said, "We're putting the house on the market next week." We were pretty excited about that as it seemed like the wheels had finally been set in motion. His Dad called last night. We were hoping with news that the house had sold. Turns out he still hasn't put it on the market. Figures.

So, that was our week in review. How was your week?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Trick or Treat, the warm up

Tonight was the church "Trunk-or-Treat" only since it was raining, it was all held in the church instead. They had little crafts for the kids and then they all went Trick-or-Treating room to room. Reagan had quite a little haul. Good stuff too. I remember being a kid a trick-or-treating and 70% of it was Smarties, rock hard peanut butter taffy in orange and black wrappers, and chocolate coins. Who eats that stuff? It would sit in the orange plastic pumpkin on top of the fridge for six months before someone would be desperate for a sugar attack or someone would finally pitch it.

Reagan wasn't cranky tonight and she enjoyed wearing her costume, but she was uncharacteristically quiet and shy. Although she got into all of the activities and the trick-or-treating, she said very little. That is very unlike her.

Afterwards we went to IHOP and had dinner/breakfast with the girls still in their costumes. They were the belles of the ball as everyone had to come by and talk to the girls and comment on how cute they looked. Both the girls love that kind of attention and they enjoyed every minute of it.

I should mention, after we put Reagan to bed, she made up for being quiet at the party. Apparently she had a few too many Skittles. She went down at 8:15. At 9:30 she was still talking to her baby dolls and ordering them around from her bed. She also pushed the button for her build-a-bear bunny to laugh over a 100 times. I don't know if you've ever heard the build-a-bear laugh, but it's maniacal and strange, especially at night, in the dark. Tomorrow that bunny just may find itself down a rabbit hole too deep to ever escape from.

So here are the pictures. Reagan went as a witch, Bailey as a black cat. I decided to make their costumes this year. Don't ask me where that streak of brilliance and lack of time management came from. Ten minutes before we had to leave I was still threading tulle through Bailey's tutu. The living room is covered up in black Gothic princess tulle and my fingers have blisters from the glue gun. I won't make that mistake again. I think I may go ahead and put in my order for next year on now, just to be safe.

I didn't get the costumes complete, especially Reagan's. But they passed muster. And the night wasn't without wardrobe malfunctions. Reagan's hat was too big and too heavy and kept falling down over her eyes. Maybe I'll actually get their costumes finished before their next costumed shindig on Tuesday.

Reagan's Halloween outfit

Since Reagan wears uniforms to school Mon-Thurs, I can admittedly get a little over the top on the days Reagan has a free day to wear anything.

Here is Reagan this morning in her Halloween outfit, some with her pumpkin she painted herself. Unfortunately, Bailey's outfit has not yet come (that was six weeks ago, there is one Etsy lady that is about to be getting some bad press if I don't see it magically appear in my mailbox soon).

Tonight is "Trunk-or-Treat" at church. Hopefully, I'll get the girls' costumes done by then. I had the brilliant idea to make them this year. Next year I'll be back on

Monday, October 20, 2008

What's for dinner, Pumpkin Puree and Toasted Pumkpkin Seeds

When we went to the pumpkin patch this year, we picked up several pumpkins specifically to cook with.

The smaller pumpkins are actually better to cook with. When they get big they get grainy and not as tasty. The pumpkins we used were specifically called "pie pumpkins"

Before you do anything, you need to get into the pumpkins:
* Take a sharp knife, cut off the top
* Cut the pumpkin in half
* Scoop out the seeds and pumpkin guts and throw those in a bowl to be sorted later. An ice cream scoop seemed to do the best job.
Here's my sister, Tara, and her daughter, Shelby, helping with the pumpkins. This was just before they were allured away by the enticement of painting pumpkins and abandoned me to do the cooking by myself.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

(Yes, this is a very small little dish of pumpkin seeds. It was all that was left by the time I got a chance to take a picture. Those ravenous little beasts (aka "children" on some days) consumed several pounds of pepitas before I could even take a lens cap off)

* Remove the pumpkin pulp from the seeds
* Rinse the seeds
* Preheat oven to 250
* Spray a cooking sheet with nonstick spray
* Spread out the seeds in a single layer
* Coat the seeds with seasonings of your choice
* Let bake in the oven about 20-30 minutes- until they start to turn light golden brown
* Remove from cooking sheet, taste, and toss with any additional seasonings

You can keep it really simple and just add salt (lots of salt!). I used a popcorn seasoning mix of white cheddar, garlic, and sea salt from Williams Sonoma. It's a bit pricey for the can, but yummy and convenient. You can also check the popcorn aisle for other popcorn seasoning blends. Or, spice it up and use cayenne pepper, cajun seasoning, or jalapeno seasoning. Use your imagination.

The results
These were a HUGE hit with the kids! They loved them!

Er, one just more thing...
Without ruining the moment of the yumminess that is pumpkin seeds, let me just give a word of advice. If you have a kid in diapers that attends daycare, give the child the pumpkin seeds on a day when the daycare will get to deal with the diaper the following day and not you. That's all I'm going to say about that.

Pumpkin puree

* Preheat oven to 350
* Cut the cleaned pumpkin halves into thirds or fourths, lay them on a baking sheet.
* Cook for about 45 minutes (until nice and tender)
* Remove the pumpkin from the skin (this is really easy to do- it just falls right off after cooking)
* Throw the roasted pumpkin in the food processor (you'll have to do this in batches) and pulse until pureed.
* It will last in the fridge for several days or you can freeze it for later. I would recommend that you freeze it in ziploc bags in 2 cup quantities since that is about the equivalent of one can of pumpkin puree that many recipes are based off of.

That's all there is too it. I don't recommend seasoning or oiling it because you want this in its pure form to be used in recipes later.

I let it sit in a bowl and use a paper towel to soak up any water that comes to the surface so that it is a bit of a thicker texture. If you want thinner, you can add a little water to the food processor when pureeing.

I attempted to buy a few more pumpkins labeled "pie pumpkins" from Walmart in addition to the ones we bought from the pumpkin patch. The Walmart ones were so tough, there wasn't a single knife in my collection of Henkles up to the task. I'm not even sure a hack saw would do it. Instead, some simply got painted for Halloween fun and a few got tossed into the back yard to see if we might see some pumpkin vines grow along the fence one day. But I think those suckers are petrified so they'll probably still be whole 20 years from now. They will be used in a game of lawn bowling when our kids have kids.

What can't you use pumpkin puree for? There is (in a Bubba Gump voice): pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup, pumpkin butter, pumpkin dip. Recipes for pumpkin bread and pumpkin dip to follow soon.

For Bailey, I took the pure pumpkin puree, added a little pumpkin pie spice, and she loved it. She had it several times over the week. It's such a healthy and straight from the garden option. I even noshed on several pieces of roasted pumpkin myself. It was kind of a "one for me, one for the food processor" thing as I ate myself silly of just plain old pumpkin. Who knew it could be so tasty?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm going to write a book

I've been reading London's successes and frustrations in writing her novel and have been living vicariously through her. But I could only watch for so long. London has inspired me to write a book. I'll stick to what I know, I'll write a collection of short stories about my life. I've got a few interesting stories to tell (or so I think).

In the spirit of openess and collaboration, I'll share with you what I have so far. Ok, here goes...

Inside every ordinary person is an extraordinary tale waiting to be told. Here is mine…

Yeah, that's seriously as far as I've gotten. Maybe writing a book is a little tougher than I thought. Perhaps I should just stick to the mommy blog and posting cute pictures of the kids for a little while longer.

Fun times at the pumpkin patch

Last weekend my sister Tara and her crew were in town. We took everyone to the pumpkin patch for good times. We bought a bunch of pumpkins, and not just for decorating. I have several recipes to post for you as we made toasted pumpkin seeds, homemade pumpkin puree, and really yummy, very addictive chocolate chip pumpkin bread.

But until I get those recipes to you, enjoy the pictures. And yes, Bailey is still sporting the shiner. Boo hoo! And no, I'm not going to apologize for the picture overload. It's a pumpkin patch people! You're supposed to take loads of pictures (right?).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bailey's Baby Modeling Gig

We sent in a few photos to a modeling agency that was looking for new babies. Within days, they called us and said they had a job for Bailey. While we were pretty excited about Bailey having a modeling opportunity, I called the agent back and told him that although we were interested, Bailey had a black eye. He told us they could photoshop it out, no big deal, and we were booked.

Two days later, we were showing up for Bailey's first photo shoot. They showed us to the dressing room and had us dress her in a plain white onesie. They were taking shots for a new Bright Start/Baby Einstein pink exersaucer that isn't out yet. They wanted the clothes to be plain so that it wouldn't detract from the product.

They took Bailey from my arms and plunked her in the exersaucer. Then the team of four went to work. The hardest at work was the "baby wrangler" whose sole job was to make the babies happy and laugh. She had a whole myriad of toys and she got Bailey to smile and play while the photographer clicked away.

Not far away, was another person who sat at the monitor and viewed images as they came up and would tell the photographer technical changes for the best shot, "closer" or "more light from the left." Another person would direct what she wanted shots of, "See if you can get one of her holding the catepillar and the flower."

After the first 20 minutes, Bailey was getting bored and a little fussy (it was well past naptime). They gave her a break, taking her out of the exersaucer and handing her to me for a bottle and some downtime. They then brought in another baby waiting in the wings to get photos. My mommy competitive spirit kicked in when they put the "other" baby in the exersaucer and attempted to snap away. It was much to my satisfaction that the other baby didn't want to cooperate at all and seemed to be suffering from a serious case of bedhead that only a baseball cap cures. After about five minutes of trying the new baby, Bailey was back in the exersaucer for round two.

This pattern continued for about an hour. Three sessions later they were done with Bailey. She had made more per hour than Bill or me and she had her first professional photos taken. She was a champ. She smiled, she played, she touched the appropriate bobbles and toys at the right time and enjoyed the attention.

So when will we see Bailey in print? Maybe never. They photograph 10 other babies for the same toy and although the agent didn't seem to care that Bailey had a black eye, the client didn't seem all too pleased. I don't know if we'll be doing much past the exersaucer stint, but it was a fun experience and we got a few pictures to prove that Bailey was once a "professional baby model."

For those interested in baby modeling: One thing I would mention if you are considering "baby modeling" is avoid paying any money to get started. After I submitted the few snapshots of Bailey, the agent emailed me back and said they had a photo slot open for her that weekend to get some professional shots for her calling card and to be listed on their website. All of that for the low price of $395. I balked at paying for the photos and said although we were interested, we did not want to pay $395 for photos that would have to be updated in a few months anyway.

After a few interchanges of this, the agent told me to send me the pictures I had and he would see if he could make it work. If they are insistent that you must pay a fee to get started, go somewhere else. It's a great money maker for them so they all try it, but it's not necessary, especially for babies.

Bailey had never had a professional photo taken in her life. Admittedly though, I have the same camera many pros use so we do have an advantage there, but I don't know how to use the camera to the pros' level of talent. But it seems to me that clients looking for talent don't care how good the quality of the photos are, they can see through that and focus on the content, the baby.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Shiner

Shortly after I took pictures of Bailey on Saturday she tried to pull herself up on a bookshelf and fell. Hard. Her cheek/eye hit the edge of the bottom shelf.

I scooped her up while she cried and I tried to put a boo boo bear on her eye (they are ice packs that don't get hard that Reagan insists on having when she gets injured). There was a little bruise within seconds and it just got worse from there.

I've already been feeling like crappy mom of the year for it. Everyone keeps asking about Bailey's bruise. I didn't take any pictures or mention it before because I was just feeling so dang terrible about it. Everytime I see her eye I just want to cry. It was her first real injury.

As life and irony would have it, last week I sent in some photos of Bailey to a modeling agency that the girls school had put us in touch with. Today I got an email that they have a client that wants to do a photo shoot of Bailey THIS Thursday.

Now I really feel bad. Anyone know how to make a bruise go away faster? I suppose tomorrow I'll have to call and explain Bailey has a black eye. Maybe there will be other opportunities for her.

Poor Bailey.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sisterly Bonds

Yesterday I looked back in my rear view mirror and this is what I caught sight of in the back seat.

Reagan and Bailey weren't saying a word. They were just quietly reaching for the other sister past their own car seats and holding hands.

This photo symbolizes for me every reason why Bill and I knew we didn't want Reagan to be an only child.

After all I went through during pregnancies to get these girls here, quiet and small moments like this make it all so hugely worth it.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Candid Bailey