Thursday, April 19, 2012

Esther at TWO (and a half)

Dearest Esther P,

Your birthday has long come and gone, but I never did write a birthday post for you. You have certainly not been forgotten, just postponed!

So, instead of writing as if I remember exactly what you were like on your 2nd birthday, we'll start right now. You are exactly 2.5 years old. The entire family adores you for your laid back ways, ready giggle, and tender spirit. We all gush over you, telling you what a sweet little girl you are. Eva and Hope both love to play with you. You and Eva play games of tag or tickle together. She is always happy to read to you or help you with something. Currently you and Hope play house or Little People together all morning most days. Usually Hope is the mom and you are the "tweetheart", but sometimes you reverse roles and you get to boss Hope around. Amazingly, you two almost never fight.

By yourself, you spend most of your time playing with baby dolls. You dress them, push them in the doll stroller, rock them, feed them, nurse them, and generally dote on them. You often tell me that your baby is crying because "she/he misses his Grandpa and Grandma." Speaking of playing baby, you are really tuned into the upcoming arrival of your little sister. When we go out, you tell people that "My baby sister is coming out of my mommy's tummy soon. But I'm not a big sister yet." You like to rehearse all the things that you are going to do to take care of your sister. I think you understand what is coming, and I think you'll adjust pretty easily. Of course, time will tell!

You have been VERY much the baby of the family for awhile though. Up until a few months ago, you seemed to be pretty naive to "big girl" stuff and content to let Mom and Dad guide you through life. Two year old independence has arrived, however! Around February, you pretty much demanded to be potty trained, telling me when your diaper was wet and insisting, "I need to use the potty, mom!" These last few months have been so insanely busy for me that I pretty much decided to take your pants off and let you figure it out on your own. Sure enough, within a few days (and many accidents), you considered yourself done with diapers. You still wet at night and have a few accidents each week, but for the most part you have done a good job of potty training yourself! Now you tell me, "I'm a big girl. I'm bigger than Eva and Hope."

One funny anecdote about your being a "big girl" happened last week. In our new neighborhood, the kids play outside almost constantly. They go back and forth from yard to house, riding bikes and scooters in our dead-end street. The bigger girls are allowed to roam pretty freely, though they always have to ask if they are going to another person's house. Around dinnertime there were a bunch of kids in our yard, I was making dinner, and Daddy was working on some project. I looked down at my phone and saw a text message from our neighbor and church friend (about three houses away). It said, "Esther is here. Can she have some lasagna?" WHAT??? Esther is not at our house? The rule for you is that you never leave our yard without Eva or Mom or Dad. Eva was in the back yard. Well, I walked down immediately to retrieve you. You were sitting up to the dinner table eating lasagna with the Gray family. You told me that you had ridden Hope's scooter over to the Gray's. WHAT??? I didn't even know you could ride a scooter! Needless to say, we talked a lot about the boundaries on the way home. I was just floored that sweet and docile Esther had her own big ideas to see the world!

Now for some Esther data: You are average size for your age, but are still pretty squishy and roly-poly. You love to dance and sing in a pretty little voice. You wear size 2T clothes and wear size 7 shoes (you've just recently mastered dressing yourself). Your favorite foods are spaghetti, lasagna, bananas (about 3/day), smoothies, and raisins. You don't prefer beans or most veggies, but will eat them if force fed. You've recently discovered videos and think Dora the Explorer is the bomb! You love to be read to. Your favorite books are "The Very Busy Spider" and a Bible songbook. You are really interested in learning the letter names, so you are constantly asking me what each letter is. I think you know about half of them by now. You are a bright little girl, and often repeat my own explanations or books we've read word for word.

I've said it already, but if I were to sum you up in a word, it would be SWEET. You are well-loved by your family and friends. We adore your gentleness, happiness, empathy, and cooperative nature. Some have said you are an "old soul", which is an interesting observation. I guess we'll know about that as you grow, but for now the observation does reflect something about your open and loving spirit.

Esther, Happy Belated Birthday! You are a treasured part of this family!

love, Mom and Dad

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Festive Saturday and a Recipe

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Our day started when Eva woke Eric and I up before 8 AM this Saturday morning with a pinch and exclamation, "Happy St. Patrick's Day. You're not wearing green!" Of course I wasn't wearing green in bed, unless you count the crusty sleep boogers still in my eye. She respected my warning to NOT pinch Esther and Hope awake, and the next time we saw the three girls, they were all dressed in green and ready to live it up.

I crawled out of bed a while later to make green smoothies and green scrambled eggs. I had been holding on to these kiwi for a few weeks now, willing them to ripen at just the right time for a day of green goodness. This is the delicious recipe for our green kiwi smoothies. And, you can't taste the kale at all, a good thing. Eric declared these "delicious", which is really saying something, for him.

Green Smoothies (serves 4-5)

2 bananas (I used frozen)
1 c. plain yogurt or kefir
1 1/2 c. fresh kale (you could probably use more, it was truly unnoticed)
6 kiwis, scooped from their skin
1-2 t. raw honey
3 T. flax seed, ground

Mix it all up in a blender and enjoy! I'm thinking it would've been yummy to add some honeydew melon or pineapple too.Eva was really wound up about life this morning! And you can see a glimpse of the living room of our new house behind her. We are installing wood floors and new drapes next week, so this may be one of the last pictures taken with the lovely baby blue drapes. Real sad about that.... Not!
Hope slurps green...
Esther has the absolutely cheesiest camera grin, but I love it. She loves her smoothies, and her leaving her long hair untouched by me. When I try to comb it or add a barrette, she tells me, "I'm just fine, Mom." (insert lisp on jusssst).
Not sure why I included this awesome example of food photography... Pioneer Woman, watch out! I could kill things with my flash! Anyway, this is the green breakfast in all it's glory.

This day (and week and whole winter) has been awesome because of the record high temperatures. Today, the Twin Cities boasted a high of 81 degrees, a sure record! The average temp is apparently 41. We've been in shorts and tank tops most of this week, which is totally premature, but totally wonderful. My cheeks are a revived rosy hue, and like "magic" my mid-winter blues have pretty much evaporated. Thanks, vitamin D!

Eric's childhood best friend, Eric Barnum, came today for the weekend, so he and Eric did lots of game playing and goofing around. They also cut down some enormous, overgrown bushes that were flanking our front doors. It was a dramatic improvement, allowing us to walk up the front walk without being slapped in the face by a juniper. We can also see out our front window. A definite improvement, also giving me the satisfaction of marking something off my "pre-baby to-do list". YES!

I also had some fun baking a few Irish inspired recipes. Both were a big treat, though not really nourishing at all. If you're in the mood for some empty (and heavy) carbs try Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes and Irish Beer and Cheese Bread. Your taste buds will thank you, even if your gut doesn't. And, on that upbeat note, I go to clean up the kitchen. Erin Go Bragh!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

3 Burning Questions

Greetings! This post is meant to fill in the blanks on many things that have happened over the last few months. Rest assured, we've been busy.... just not busy blogging!

1. Why don't you blog anymore?
Several reasons which may become evident as you read more, but one prominent one is that our family PC crashed back in July and we haven't replaced it. Turns out, I like being partially unplugged. Texting is high tech enough for me, and the impersonal nature of the cyber world makes me shiver sometimes. I truly fear for the social/relational context that our children will be living in by the time they are adults. So, I am trying to stay (sort of) "unplugged". Of course, the Internet is a pretty good tool for some things, so I do hope to blog a bit more. And I still check facebook almost every day. And currently I am stalking dining room tables on craigslist. And Eric talked me into joining pinterest last week. BUT, since I only have computer access when Eric brings his work laptop home in the evenings, I definitely have limited time to spend in front of a screen.

2. So, are you having another baby?
YES!!! I am 28 weeks along, which puts me right at the beginning of the third trimester. How funny that there hasn't been even a mention of New Baby on this blog yet! We are expecting a girl (yes, we're filled with trepidation for the teen years). This pregnancy has been fine, but clearly each pregnancy gets more difficult. Comparing this round to my first pregnancy with Eva (these girls will both be May babies) is amazing. I sailed through the first one with zero problems, but now days aches and pains are the name of the game. Worth it though, I'm sure!

3. And you moved?
Right again! We started to feel like it was time to move last spring, mostly due to the housing market being so cheap here. We weren't expecting another kid then, but we knew that our 1400 square foot home couldn't support our growing family forever. After some ups and downs (house hunting was so emotionally draining for me!) and looking for about 6 months, we finally knew what we wanted. In the long run, after quite a bit of negotiating and praying, we ended up buying a place that is about 10 minutes from our old house, on the bluffs of the Minnesota River Valley. We were able to keep Eva at her school and gain quite a bit of space inside and out. So far, our neighbors are really nice people. They still don't feel like old friends (of course), but hopefully that will come in time. We are LOVING being able to walk from our backyard down to the Minnesota River and the miles and miles of hiking paths and mountain bike trails!

Surprisingly, I kind of liked moving, despite the fact that we moved one week before Christmas then went to Colorado for Christmas vacation! Some of you moving experts know that moving often would get really old, but it was adrenaline producing for me. I felt so productive all the time, with packing, unpacking, organizing, and fixing. After a few weeks of living here though, the fun wore off, and suddenly I looked around and felt decidedly out of place. I tell ya, moving is SO emotional! There was a definite turning point then, after about a month when I started to feel "at home". I can't wait to bring a baby home here and go through a sunny summer to really start to cement this place in our hearts.

The house has been practically untouched since it was built in the early 1970's, so we have quite a few updates planned for the future. Hopefully I'll document it! And one last tidbit- we became landlords in the moving process. Our dear, tiny, old house is being rented to a nice, little family. So far it's been no big deal, except for the week we spent working like dogs to get the house rental ready.

There are many other little details about life that I would love to record. Maybe another time. In the meantime, I'm off to snuggle Hope back to bed and put my big belly to bed!