November 29, 2010

Always special

I was determined to get to bed before midnight tonight, but before doing so I automatically checked Google Reader. And then it happened. Sara made this post, sharing a video clip made by her friend Tiffani. She warned to have Kleenexes ready, but she didn't mention anything about needing a bath towel to wipe the puddle of tears off the floor. It's not hard for me to get slightly emotional over stories, clips or movies involving children. But this time it was different. It reached deep within me, stirring some emotions that I didn't have time or energy to face for a while. So here I am, doing my best putting those emotions into words...


There are no words that can describe the moment you meet that tiny human being that had been growing inside you for 9 long months. First you count the wrinkles, then watch them smooth out as your tiny newborn turns into a crawling infant, walking toddler, running pre-schooler, dancing 1st grader... You know it was love at first sight, and you want it to last forever, always just as overwhelming and unconditional as you felt it in those first few minutes, hours, days, and weeks of your baby's life...

She was always my spirited child.


Not a day goes by when we don't butt our heads together.

She's fire.
I'm fire.

She's impatient.
So am I.

She is competitive.

I am not. But only because I had to make myself quit being competitive years ago, knowing how personally I took it.

She dreams and lets her imagination run wild.
I still do it too.

She longs to have more friends. Real friends. Not just friends she gets to see once a week.
And I feel her pain.

Her personality has been more explosive than ever lately. I'm trying hard to find or create peace in our home. But it's sparse, inconsistent, unpredictable. I end up getting lost in the chaos that rules our home these days, caught in the middle of daily fights, meltdowns, mood swings. And I often forget what really matters. I forget to look for those priceless and unique sides of her personality that make her shine. She means the world to me. Unforgettable, spontaneous, fierce, inquisitive, brilliant, intense, radiant, goofy, sensitive 6.5 year old daughter of mine. The child that opened the door to motherhood for me...

She's all that. x10.

November 28, 2010

in denial


about an hour old, with cord still uncut (in the right corner of the photo)

and now...

same towel, no less

My Ivy Joy turned 6 months old last week. It's still hard for me to wrap my head around it. I always get asked by strangers how old she is. And all the way up until the day she turned 6 months, my answer was '5 months'. Not '5 and a half'. Not 'almost 6'. Because really, why would I want to admit to anyone that my baby is growing so fast.

Yes, it's denial. She is growing up, crawling, sitting, babbling, laughing, starting to grab our food (or just about anything else that's in front of her, so I'm not interpreting it as her readiness for solids/table foods yet). In other words, she's telling me that we are long past those days when I could still somewhat squeeze her into the newborn category. Oddly enough, this time I didn't ever feel like I 'just wanted her to be older so she could start _______ '(insert: rolling over, giggling, sitting up, grabbing toys, etc). I knew those milestones would happen eventually, but her freshness and newborn smell would never come back. Maybe she did too good of a job at being a 'normal' newborn, unlike her older siblings who screamed around the clock. And just when I got to see how blissful that newborn stage can really be, she went and grew 3 months older overnight. Not fair, Ivy, not fair...

Wait, who am I to complain? She is still living up to her middle name - Joy. Short naps and frequent night wakings aside (ok, also screaming in the car), she manages to put a smile on my face whenever I need it. And hey, she's got bushy eyebrows! Finally! My own flesh and blood, but better, with Mark's eyebrows!

And as much as her siblings fight and pick on each other, they still adore Ivy to pieces. Maya actually gets mad at me sometimes that I had the nerve to be Ivy's mom, not her. To give her a credit, she's pretty darn good at being Ivy's mini-mama when the opportunity presents itself.

November 24, 2010

forgot to mention...

I guess it's time for an official 'we are moving!' post. Except there's no exclamation point in real live. More like, 'ugh, we have to pack up and move before December 18 and hopefully AFTER we find a new place to live'. Our plans (more like wishful thinking) to move sometime in January prompted our landlord to list the house for sale right away, which then turned into 'the house is sold and you have to vacate within 30 days' notice.

the not-so-lovely result of dry Utah air, endless cleaning and not enough time to run to the store for coconut oil

Between getting the house ready for sale, then having people come look at it for days in a row, inspections and packing, all in the last 10 days or so, we haven't even had much time to look for a new place for us. So here we are, with our home half packed away and three-ish weeks left to find a suitable home for our family. The fact that not everyone is crazy enough to move right before Christmas means that we don't have to spend that much time looking at online rental listings. I guess you could call it an 'upside'. Right? Right?..

she insisted on helping me pack

But life goes on, and Thanksgiving is tomorrow, so today, more than ever, I count my blessings and try to be more conscious of things I can be grateful for. Going through our belongings, trying to minimize the amount of boxes we have to pack, load and unload, made me realize how many things we've accumulated in our 8 years of marriage and 6.5 years of parenthood. And it's not boxes of stuff, it's those 8 years of marriage and 6.5 years of parenthood that I'm overwhelmingly grateful for right now.

I know somehow we'll get through this. Somehow we'll find just the right place for us. Maybe we'll be cramped for a while, maybe we will have to live out of the boxes for a few months, or won't have a shiny Christmas tree with home-sewn gifts for children neatly wrapped under it. But in the end, we're still together, as a family, taking our home with us wherever we go.

I know one day our memories will bring us back to this time and all of today's troubles will seem small and distant, the intensity of these days will fade away, and my memory might even trick me into thinking that our children were very cooperative and helpful when we were trying to pack and clean. But right now, it's all real, as it is, and we'll just keep pushing through it, one day at a time. Thinking about this time in our lives reminds me of last weeks of pregnancy, when you are uncomfortable, with all kinds of aches and pains invading your body, barely getting any rest and wishing for it all to be over. Then the big day comes, weeks and months go by after the birth of your new baby, and the intensity, the reality of that discomfort and pain fade away. You remember thinking about how miserable you were, but at the same time it doesn't seem so bad any more. That day will come...

Speaking of babies. This is the home where Anya and Ivy were born. The two ties I will never be able to break with this house...


And to end this post on a more cheerful note, I'm sharing my rainbow today. I was barely able to do any knitting lately, but between doing a couple of rows in the car and a few rows late at night after a long day of cleaning, my rainbow keeps growing. The colors make me smile every time I see them, blending into one another, transforming the project with every new color change. I don't know when it will be done, and I'll most likely have to give priority to other things in this coming month, but doing even a couple of rows a day is such a treat. Not to mention my kind of therapy...

November 20, 2010

simple remedy

It's been a long couple of weeks for us. And just when we thought that things couldn't get more stressful, they did, today. On top of that, today we had to wave goodbye to the lovely autumn days that we had enjoyed so much. A winter storm is moving in, and we got a little taste of almost-snow tonight, when we were getting into the car after shopping for some moving boxes.

As soon as we got home, Mark said that it would be nice to have some kind of soup for dinner tonight. And just the idea of having warm meal made me forget about all the stress for a few moments. So I got out of the fridge a bowl of cut up butternut squash and started mixing spices together. I'll be honest here, I cubed it almost a week ago, intending to make a soup with it, but things got too crazy and I didn't get a chance to revisit the idea until tonight. When I finally poured the soup into our bowls and had the first taste of it, I knew this was the perfect dinner for a night like tonight. It was soup therapy at it's best.

I have to note, I normally don't like squash. The sweetness of it just doesn't sit right with me. So when I was making the soup, I didn't add any sugar (which I know is quite common when cooking squash), and tried to make sure the soup was salty with a hint of sweetness from the squash and coconut milk. If you like it more sweet, add some kind of sweetener to your taste :)

A Piece of Sunshine on a Stormy Night (a.k.a. curried coconut butternut squash soup)

EV olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp. minced ginger

3-4 medium bay leaves
2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin (optional)
1 tsp. ground coriander (optional)
1/2 tsp. garam masala (optional)

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed (about 2-3 lbs)
3/4 c water
1 can coconut milk
salt to taste

red pepper flakes and chopped parsley for garnish

Cook chopped onion in olive oil on until it starts getting some color. Add minced garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add curry, bay leaf and any other spices listed above, if you have them on hand. Cook, stirring frequently for about 30 seconds, add butternut squash, salt, water, and coconut milk, stir well, cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes or until squash is tender.

Once squash is cooked, pour everything into a blender and blend to desired consistency. You can also use immersion blender right in the pot, but I never tried it, so I don't know what consistency you can achieve with it. Pour the soup into a bowl and sprinkle with hot pepper flakes and freshly chopped parsley. Enjoy!

November 10, 2010

yarn along

Because I've been knitting every spare moment I get lately, and because Ginny at Small Things came up with this lovely Yarn Along idea, I'm posting a photo of my current UFOs (unfinished objects). There's one veteran in there that's been on my needles from before Ivy was born. The rest are quite new and moving along nicely.

As for the books, technically I don't have time to read right now, but the Embroidery Companion is coming due at the library soon, so I'm trying to make sure I go through it once more before I return it. And with Christmas coming up, Children's Year is my go-to book for gift ideas and seasonal decorations. Looking at this photo(and other projects I managed to finish recently) makes me feel like inspite of the constant state of chaos during the day, I manage to accomplish something after all, even if the only time I can work on that 'accomplishing something' is between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

November 9, 2010

Not too cool for a late Halloween post.

wish i discovered this shirt before halloween. i'll make sure that next year it will be me posing in it for a post-halloween blog post

Halloween. We survived! Barely! It was almost a disaster! Maya even called it her worst Halloween ever! (granted, her disappointment lasted for only about 10 minutes, but she made it very clear to us with every fibre of her being, just to make sure we got the message).

First of all, Mark and I are NOT huge Halloween fans. Not even tiny ones. Well, I pretty much roll my eyes every time I hear that 'H' word. I know, I know, kids love it, adults get to pretend they are kids and eat an extra pound of candy, I get it. What I don't get is the whole scary aspect of the holiday (is it even a holiday?). But then again, I'm that strange abnormal person who doesn't like horror movies either. And I didn't grow up celebrating Halloween (we are not big on Halloween in Europe), so I don't have all those warm and fuzzy memories from my childhood about my parents and I going trick-or-treating in our 5-storey apartment building, or having our carefully carved pumpkins smashed on the street, or spending a small fortune on scary decorations and costumes.

Why am I saying all this? For posterity, in the first place. I write this blog with my children in mind. Some day I want to be able to put all my posts into a book so they can't blame me for not keeping some kind of journal. And also because there should always be a second opinion about everything, even Halloween. And since everyone else seems to love it, it's my duty to rain on all the excitement surrounding this day. And lastly, they need to understand one day, that aside from all the typical things that parents do or sacrifice for their children, we went an extra mile and made sure they had a normal Halloween.

Speaking of which, it rained here on Halloween (well, almost. we went trick-or-treating on Saturday night). At first we thought that it was going to be just the right kind of cherry to top our already disastrous day. But in the end it didn't stop us, and we actually had quite a nice time walking down the wet streets and collecting all the candy surplus, since not everyone was hardcore enough to be trick-or-treating out in the rain that night. And I just happened to have another one of my infamous headaches, which meant I took some Exce&rine before heading out (I'll translate it for you - 130 mg of caffeine), which conveniently kicked in at just the right moment, when Maya was being very adamant about letting us know that this was going to be her worst Halloween ever.

We got home about 1.5 hours later, kids with bags full of candy, me feeling energized after a refreshing walk (and from all the caffeine still running through my veins), Ivy barely being awake from the long nap she took on our walk. In the end, it all worked out. Yet somehow it felt like we had a 36 hour day, and it was hard to believe that Elijah's half-hour long screaming fit happened only a couple of hours ago...

I realize that no Halloween post is complete without costume photos, but I'll have to save them for another time. After all, it is almost 2 a.m. here, and I have this strange aversion to very lengthy posts. Besides, the battery in my camera only lasted for one shot that night (figures, after all our hard work we put into the costumes), so we only managed to take photos of everyone on Monday night, while visiting grandparents and celebrating a birthday in the family. But like I said, I have to save all that for another post.

As for that one shot that I managed to take before the battery died, it's petty much worth all the shots that we missed that night...