Sunday, October 20, 2013

SB at 19 Months

My dearest SB:

Sheesh.  I haven't done one of these posts in forever.  I can't believe how fast time goes by, as you get bigger and bigger and bigger.  You and your sister are so much fun.  We are having a blast with the two of you.  But I have less and less time to "document," at least if I want to get plenty of quality time with your girls!

Your first words (at around a year) were mommy and daddy, followed quickly by "up."  You simply love to be held.  When you wake up in the morning, you instantly want to be in someone's arms, and you immediately start screaming until someone comes to get you.  It's a bit jarring, my dear, and completely unexpected, since your sister has always simply said "mommy" or "daddy."  Still, as soon as we appear, we get big grins, followed by "up."  Or, the word you quickly learned had more power than "up":  HUG.  You beam beautifically, stretch your arms out wide, and yell "hug!" whenever you want to be picked up. . .or get out of your high chair or stroller or crib.  And who can say no to that, really?

You eat absolutely everything, except for avocados.  You don't necessarily eat very much at any one sitting, or even eat what is in front of you, but you eat a wide variety of foods, and for that I am so thankful.  Feeding your sister was always a struggle, and I never have to worry about whether you are sufficiently nourished.  You're thin and active, but I know you are getting nutrition.

You still nap for an hour in the morning and the afternoon.  We'd like to drop the morning nap, but you are a mess without it.

Your vocabulary is huge.  You have loads of works, and some phrases.  "Where's mommy?" was an early favorite, which both cracked me up and made me sad. . .the downside to being a working mother.  We were playing this morning and a toy went flying, and you said "I'll get it."  I was blown away.  You know shoes and socks and shirt and milk and cookie and cracker and fish and dog and so very many other words.  You are obsessed with Pooh and Mickey Mouse.  When Aunt C. sent you a Pooh doll recently, you went absolutely nuts.  I have never seen anything like it.  You were absolutely screeching, you were so excited.  In the morning when you get up, you frequently say "eat," followed by "Pooh," because you like to watch old-school Pooh cartoons while you eat a banana and I make the coffee.  Sometimes you'll head for the kitchen, holding up your hand and saying "come."  It is soooo cute.

You call Miss M. "sister", rather than by her name.  We're not sure why, exactly, but it's awesome.  The two of you adore each other, and play well together.  At first we were a bit afraid that your sister might get the better of you, due to that two year age difference, but you aren't exactly a shrinking violet.  You know just how to get things you want away from her, despite your smaller size.  And you don't put up with her being mean to you--you'll drag her around by her hair if you have to.  We don't support any violence between the two of you, but we've been happy to see your spunk.  You're a kind baby, but you also know how to defend yourself.

And you are soooo kind.  You are just such a sweet little baby.  You have big grins for everyone, and you still like to snuggle.  You love to be held.  You love to play.  You love everyone and everything around you, and play so well with other children.  Daddy and I are always having playdates for you and your sister.

You are also soooo mischievous.  We call you the "gazinda," because you get into everything.  Daddy went into the kitchen for a few minutes the other day, and you found a blue stamper, the pre-inked kind, somewhere amidst the toys.  You managed to get the cover off, and had covered yourself and three pieces of (new) furniture before he discovered you.  You had eaten so much of the dye that you pooped blue for two days.  It took him forever to clean you, and your fingers were still blue when I  got home from work that night.  You looked like a little Smurf.  We do our best to baby-proof the house and to keep you safe, but I worry about you constantly.  You are so fast, and so creative, and so full of it.  But I love your little spirit, and I love that you are so willing to try new things.  You are not afraid of anything.

And have I mentioned how gorgeous you are?  With those big eyes and sweeping lashes and that charming smile. . .you are so lovely.

You have approximately 11 teeth.  I say "approximately" because you try to bit when I try to count, and I value my fingers.  You have had only three bottom teeth for months, but I can see the fourth one is starting to finally pop through.  You've been teething for months, although you are generally in good humor.  You chew on everything, though.

You are still wearing 18 month size clothing, although we are moving into the 24 month size right now.    You have really thinned out over recent months, I think because your favorite foods are fruits (those tiny South American bananas are your absolute favorite), and yogurt.  And you are SO active and unstoppable.  It's been that way since you started walking right around your first birthday.

And have I mentioned that you get up at the crack of dawn?  You are up at 5 or 5:30 every day.  Your room is as black as we can make it, and still. . .you like the morning.  Last Saturday you were up at 4:30 for the day!  I don't know why your hard wiring has you programmed for early mornings, but you are always the first one up in this house.

So in sum, let me say that we are deeply, deeply in love with you.  You are just such a special and happy child, and we look forward to watching you grow.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

In The Kitchen: Tropical Fruit Muffins

1 banana, mashed
1 yellow passionfruit
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, chopped small
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. Baking powder
1/2 t. Ginger
1/4 t. Cloves
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup mora (local blackberries--very sour)

Heat oven to 350F.  Chop mora roily, then mix with half the brown sugar.  Mix all other ingredients together; add berries.  Pour into muffin tins.  Makes about 18 muffins.  Cook 30-35 minutes.

Postscript:  The passionfruit turned out to be a bad idea.  I don't like the way the seeds crunch.  The muffins could also do without the berries.  Next time I'll double the banana and pineapple and drop the cloves, and maybe decrease the cinnamon and increase the ginger.  The ginger-banana-pineapple turned out to be a good combination (if only the berries and passionfruit hadn't interrupted!).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

In the Kitchen: Blackberry Lime Jam

For whatever reason, jam and jelly are crazy expensive here. I've refused to buy it, in fact. But I've been getting these berries called mora every week in my veg delivery, and I've been at a loss as to what to do with them. They are kind of like a blackberry, but the local variety is pretty sour.  They are much too sour to eat raw. They work well in very sweet baked goods, like banana bread, but I can only do so much of that. I read online that they are high in pectin and good for jam, so I figured it was worth a shot. I had TWO deliveries of mora in the fridge, and one was about to go bad. Surprisingly enough, the jam was easy and came out perfect. Regular blackberries could work, perhaps with less sugar.

1 3/4 cups ripe mora
1 3/4 cups white sugar
Zest of one lime, finely chopped
Juice of one lime

Put mora and sugar in large heavy-bottomed pot. Mash berries and sugar together with potato masher. Bring to boil over medium heat; continue cooking until mixture reaches 220*F, stirring regularly to keep bottom from burning. Just before it reaches temperature, add lime zest and juice; mix well. Transfer to containers and refrigerate.  (I'm using one cup Pyrex containers with plastic lids; it filled about 1 1/2 of them).

The girls love it, and have been eating slice after slice of toast since I made it.  Moras are quite seedy, so next time I may try to put them through the food mill to cull out some of the seeds.  I might also try a dash of nutmeg in the jam.

Friday, October 11, 2013

More Kitchen Therapy

It's frequently cool here, so comfort food means fall food.

Corn chowder:

About 6 slices bacon, roughly chopped
3 medium white or yellow onions, chopped
3 large potatoes, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ears fresh corn, cut from cob
1 T. Butter
1 cup whole milk

Melt butter in heavy-bottomed soup pot.  Fry bacon.  Add onions and cook until translucent.  Add potatoes and carrots.  Cover with water; add salt and pepper to taste (I like about a teaspoon of each); simmer until potatoes cooked through.  Add corn.  Simmer for 20 more minutes.  Lower heat.  Add milk, and warm through.  Do not boil.  Even better the next day!

The Best Laid Plans

The girls are napping (well, one of them is), and I'm banging about the house, at loose ends.  I don't know what to do with myself, exactly.  We were supposed to have friends here this weekend for 4 days, and we had a full schedule planned.  But our friends had to cancel at the last minute due to a very sick child, and so our plans dissolved.  We will do some of the things we were going to, like visit the weekend flea market near our house, but other things were group activities, and so we won't do them because it doesn't make much sense.

I'd been anticipating this weekend for a long time, and looking forward to hanging out with them and catching up and sightseeing.  They are living in a nearby country, in a city that lacks amenities, and we were eager to show them all of the things we love about it here.  Our lovely housekeeper was going to cook them a local specialty.  We were going to do a daytrip into the countryside.  The flea market.  Dinner out at a wild restaurant that reportedly must be seen to be believed.  And so on.  I have been envisioning a weekend full of noise and experiences and fun. . .and it is instead silent.

We took off this morning, my little family and I, and did a bit of shopping in the commercial area near our house that I was so eager to show our friends, with its restaurants and shops and pedestrian areas.  We looked for a shop that sells uniforms, to buy a new one for our housekeeper (all of the housekeepers and nannies wear uniforms here, most of which remind me of hospital scrubs).  The shop was out of business, but we found another.  We were able to pick the fabric and color, and they will make it to her size, for about $40.  We lingered over fabrics, discussing whether she'd like the colors and patterns that we like.  Her current uniforms are all black and a bit drab. We chose some vibrant patterns and colors, then paid.  At the end of her workday, she returned to the shop herself to be measured, and I told her she could change the fabric if she didn't like it.  I doubt she'll tell me if she doesn't.

Anyway, after that, we went to an indoor play place that my kids like.  It has a soft play area for babies that is pretty fun, and a more adventurous one for bigger kids.  We ran into some friends there, who had heard what had happened to us, and were kind enough to be supportive.  They had something awful happen to them recently, too, so I especially appreciated the kind words.   We grabbed pizza and fruit smoothies on the way home, and then it was naptime.

It will no doubt be a great weekend with the kids, but I'm finding it a bit disconcerting to shift from the planned to the actual.

Monday, October 7, 2013


I can't figure out how to pay my cable bill.  When I try to register to pay it online, it says my account number is not "active."  I have no idea what this means.  I have heard that if you do not pay the bill by the due date, it becomes impossible to pay it online.  I don't understand that, either.  My bill was due a while ago, and I neglected to pay it because it was for $3 and I forgot about it.  It shouldn't be this hard to pay money. . .not even as little as $3.  And, they will probably shut my account off if I don't pay it soon.  Argh.

I am tired.  SO.  VERY.  TIRED.  The girls slept poorly last night, and my stretches of sleep were punctuated by tears and requests ("mommy, can you come and put the covers back on me?"; "Mommy?  Mommy!!!  Mommy?!!!  Binkeeeee!!!";  "Mommy, can you shut my door a little bit?").  I am hoping tonight is better, because I'm exhausted.  And I have a sleep injury.  My shoulder aches from spending whatever time I spent asleep all in one position.

We had two copies of our internet password.  My husband has misplaced both of them, in the name of "organizing."  Along with the password is the account number.  I can't call and pay it the cable bill over the phone OR in person without the account number.  Arghhhhh.

I feel like I'm making two steps forward on everything that we've had going on, then taking a step back.  There is progress, but it's unsteady.  Thursday and Friday were "two steps forward" days.  I felt optimistic for the first time since all of this happened.  Today was a "step back" day.  The things people do and say. . .why, Why, WHY???  I have to chalk some of it up to people just being assholes.  Today's events are too complicated to even get into here, but suffice it to say that I was reprimanded at work for taking actions that were recommended to me by my office last week.  So, to recap, I did what was asked of me (to a T, while accompanied by other folks from my office), and then. . .kind of got in trouble for it.  It wasn't even my idea.  Sigh.  It's so frustrating.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Kitchen Therapy

The girls are napping, the sun is shining, Van Morrison is playing, and two loaves of my high altitude attempt at tropical fruit bread are finishing up in my oven.  It is so incredibly peaceful here.

Tropical Fruit Bread

2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
2 c. natural sugar, minus 2 T. (can substitute white sugar)
2 ½ cups mashed bananas
1 cup mango, diced small
¾ cup unsweetened coconut
1 t. salt
1 cup vegetable oil
5 eggs

Grease and flour two loaf pans.  Mix together ingredients.  Bake in 350F oven for about an hour.  (For non-high altitude, omit all purpose flour and one egg; add two T. sugar; cook in 325F oven).

Postscript:  I just took it out of the oven.  I used local variety of bananas that is tiny (a few inches long) and supersweet.  It's really, really delicious.  Recipe is my own.  I might add a bit more mango next time, and chop the pieces a bit bigger.  I love the way it melds with the banana.