Tuesday, November 30, 2010

sudden weight gain

You may have thought I was exaggerating when I said that I gained 10 pounds over Thanksgiving. Well, yes....I was. But only a little. And here's why.

Forget the turkey and stuffing and sweet potatoes. Sure, they're yummy. But THIS. This is what I couldn't resist.

A cheese plate to die for. Complete with mini organic, super-sweet crabapples that B gobbled up by the handful.

And THIS. Prosciutto rolls with arugula, goat cheese and fig.

My aunt Angela and uncle Rob worked painstakingly on this appetizer, and I helped style it on the plate. Then, like a bunch of unrestrained, dirt-under-the-fingernail ranchers, we devoured it in about 90 seconds.

Sort of makes you wonder what we're all here for. Work? Pleasure? Survival?

I'm afraid my photo doesn't quite do the dish justice, so you'll just have to make some for yourself. Trust me, you'll see the existential dilemma. 

Basically, you need about a dozen slices of prosciutto (not too thin) cut in half crosswise. Lay the slices out on a platter so that they're overlapping just a little.

Take about 6 oz of goat cheese (room temperature) and spread it out over the prosciutto. Then top that with some arugula leaves (trim the stems) and slices of fig. Drizzle that with some lemon vinaigrette:

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
(whisked together) 

Finally, season it with a little fresh ground black pepper.

Carefully roll the prosciutto around the filling so that it forms a log, and then slice it (use a sharp knife to avoid pulling/tearing) into 1-inch pieces. We garnished the plate with some roasted red peppers, fig-stuffed olives (also to-die-for!) and capers.

If you want to be polite, serve it with crackers. If not...dig in with your bare hands.

Monday, November 29, 2010

san francisco

We spent last week in San Francisco with some of my family soaking up the cool damp weather, the beach and cityscape.
Oh, yes...and eating amazing food. I think I'm 10 pounds heavier.

We drove there....about 13 hours, which I can tell you is not easy to do with two toddlers and all their STUFF. Kris and I argued over who would get to drive....because the other person, the one not driving, had the much harder job of keeping the kids entertained and fed and happy.

I have this little inner voice that asks me sometimes: what the hell are you thinking?! ...But these kids of mine never cease to amaze me with their adaptability and zest for adventure. And whatever part of me doubted whether the trip was worth it....whatever part longed to stay home and sleep in and relax...to that part I say:

Is there anything sweeter than standing on a chilly beach in November, with a warm latte in your hand, listening to lapping waves and watching your kids dig their fingers into the damp sand? And instead of warning them not to get dirty, you push up your sleeves and help them build sand castles? 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Do Do

Dear readers,

Can i describe for you a scene from my house last week, one that I am recalling on this Thanksgiving with absolute joy?

6:15 AM
The first morning light is barely blushing behind our curtains. B pads down the hallway with her white knitted blanket trailing behind her and Mr. Bunny tucked under her armpit. Her pants are missing, which means she's already been to the potty...Either that, or she wet the bed. She announces, "it's morning time, Mommy!" and crawls onto the bed and over my body (kneeing me in the stomach) so that she can snuggle squarely between Kris and I.

It's her new favorite routine.

"Mommy, you awake?" she whispers in my face, her toddler morning breath stinging my nose.

"No," I mumble. "It's still very early."

"OK, Mommy. You still sleeping. I snuggle with you." She burrows into my body, tucking her head beneath my chin.

For about 30 seconds, she lays there quietly. I can still smell her breath in my face.

Then, I feel her little fingertips tracing my lips, touching my nose ever so lightly, and then running across my eyelids and eyebrows. It's like she's drawing a picture so that she can remember what Mommy's "asleep" face looks like.

"Mommy, you have eyelashes?"

"mmmhmmm" I grunt.

"I have eyelashes too! Look Mommy!"

"Honey, Mommy's still sleeping," I say. "It's still very early."

It's quiet again for about a minute. Then I feel B lean in and kiss me on my eyelids. One kiss for each eye.

"Mommy, I love you sooooooooo much. You're my favorite Mommy."

I open my eyes and smile at her. She then grabs my face with both hands and rubs her nose against my nose.

We just laid there nose to nose for several minutes, and I got this bittersweet flash: How much longer will she want to snuggle with me? Will she remember these moments the way I do?! And how old will she be when she starts sleeping in?

The next moment, we hear Miles crying from his room down the hall.

"Miles is awake!" B shouts. "Daddy! Go get Miles!"

This is the plan. Kris goes down to Miles' room and B watches on the video monitor. She thinks it's hilarious, seeing Daddy on the itty bitty screen, scooping Miles out of his crib. 

Kris grumbles and then rolls out of bed and leaves. B bounces on the bed excitedly.

He returns with a smiling, bouncy, footie-pajama-clad Miles, who is saying "Uh-Oh Uh-Oh Uh-Oooooh" repeatedly, his pink lips forming a perfect "O." ...not because there's anything wrong. There's no Uh-Oh to speak of. It's just that he really likes saying Uh-Oh. Aside from "Mama" and "Dada," it's the only real "word" he has spoken.

He's just as excited to see B as she is to see him. Kris plops Miles down in the middle of the bed next to her and crawls back into his spot. Both kids are now sandwiched between us, and we adults try to doze, try to steal a few more precious minutes of stillness. But of course, it's nearly impossible. The kids are laughing hysterically at one another and bouncing up and down.

What's so funny? I'll never know.

Miles grabs Mr. Bunny from Bronwynn, and she squeals. "NO MILES! That's MY toy. Give it back!!" Miles gives it back and B says "thank you."

At this point, my eyes are open because I anticipate having to break up a fight soon. The blissful morning snuggle session has ended. I watch them both carefully. Miles reaches for Mr. Bunny again, and I say, "B, I think Miles just wants to hold Bunny for a minute. He wants a turn."

"Nooo," B says, clutching Bunny a little tighter. "Miles can have my blanket instead," and she hands it to Miles.

Miles mumbles something that sounds like "do do."

Shocked, I ask, "Miles, did you say 'thank you'?" and he says it again:

"do do."

A few minutes later, we pile into the kitchen and I serve the kids their breakfast.

"do do"

He drops his spoon. I pick it up for him.

"do do"

He says "do do" all day long in response to every kind gesture. In context, he thanks me over and over and over again. And best of all, B notices it too, and she thinks it's hilarious, so she thanks me all day long too. "Do do, Mommy! Thank you!"

Mama, Dada, Uh-Oh, Do Do

Four words at 13 months...plus a few more he says in sign language, like "milk" and "more" and "all done"

But then there are so many more undecipherable words between him and B. So many secrets being shared already. And I realized that's what I'm most thankful for at the moment. My kids adore one another.

They can't even wait until 7AM to see one another and start new adventures.

Monday, November 22, 2010

scrappy owl tutorial (and winner!)

Thanks for the comments! I used Random.org to find our winner, and it's Jen (who wishes she was crafty and could sew a straight line). Jen: I'm here to tell you that 1) my lines are never straight 2) if I can do it, so can you....even if you have to use a hot glue gun!  I'll get in touch about mailing your owl. Or, feel free to email me with your shipping address dailyb.blog [at] gmail [dot] com

Now...a quick tutorial. 

Readers, I actually broke my own rule (never measure, never use patterns) and tried to make you a pattern that you could print and follow. But then, my scanner broke, so I wasn't able to upload it. I think that was the universe telling me to stick to my haphazard, imperfect ways. So I hope these photos and instructions suffice:

First, find two scraps of fabric (any size will do....my pieces were about 6-8 inches square) Lay them on top of each other and cut out your owl shape. Your owl can be long and lean, short and chubby, it can have rounded ears or pointy ones....you decide.

Next, using different fabric, cut out two circles for eyes, a triangle nose and two ovals for wings.

Place the nose first on one of the owl pieces (which ever piece you want to be the front) and sew it in place. I just did a straight stitch on my sewing machine. But you could do a fancy applique if you want. Or, you could just glue it in place.

Next place the eyes and sew them in place. They should overlap the nose so that only the beak is peeking out.

Finally, place the wings and sew them in place. Note: Don't sew them too close to the edge of the owl, since you'll need a margin for sewing the back piece on and stuffing.

Next, place your two owl pieces right sides together, like so:

Once they're lined up, sew around the edges, leaving a small opening to turn the fabric right-side-out...I got a little too excited with this one and accidentally sewed all the way around and then had to undo the seam a little bit, which is messy:

After you turn the owl right-side-out, stuff it with some batting (or beans or more fabric scraps...whatever you want to give it shape). Once it's full, stitch the hole closed, and voila!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

scrappy owl giveaway


Earlier this week, my thoughts were consumed with a magazine deadline. When I'm working, whether it be for a client or for myself, I'm pretty much bathing in words. Even when I'm not sitting at my computer writing, I'm writing.

I love it, but it can also be exhausting.

So, yeah. This may sound a little weird, but one way I like to unwind after a big writing binge is by turning to other creative pursuits: photography, sewing, decorating. It gets me out of my head and into my body--using my eyes, my hands. And the kids love it, because typically I end up making something for them.

Call it serendipity that five minutes after I filed my magazine article, a friend of mine sent me a photo of some cute fabric owls she saw on Etsy with the subject line: "next sewing project?" YES!

This is good news for you, too, because I immediately dipped into my fabric bin and made not one, but THREE owls, and I want to share the love by giving one away to a reader.

Whoooooo will win an owl?
To win the owl, just leave a comment on this post between now and Sunday night (November 21st 11:59PM Pacific time). On Monday morning, I'll choose a winner at random from the comments. Only one entry allowed per person (duplicate comments will be disqualified). Include your email or blogger profile in your comment so I can reach you if you win. To keep the shipping cost down, I'm limiting the prize to residents of the US and Canada. (sorry, far-away friends)

I'll post the winner on Monday and will also provide a quick tutorial so you can make your own scrappy owl. :)

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional sewer. The scrappy owl that the winner receives will be IMPERFECT and may or may not survive the test of time. Scrappy owl is cute, though, and should bring you some joy for however long it lasts. Scrappy owls are not intended for children under 3...or dogs...or any pets for that matter. You won't hurt my feelings if you decide to re-gift your scrappy owl to someone like say, your mother-in-law, your neice, or your mail carrier. It is the holidays, after all. Scrappy owl was manufactured in a household that contains tree nuts and other allergens...No one put scrappy owl in their mouth that I know of. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

books without words

We've been reading The Red Book by Barbara Lehman with Bronwynn. Well, I say "reading," but there's not a single word in this book, not even on the cover. Instead, it's beautifully illustrated and completely open for interpretation.

At first, we were a little lost. We started out just naming what we saw in each picture. But eventually, over the past few weeks, the most elaborate, beautiful, entertaining story has unfolded, as told by Kris, me and B. Each telling is different, and equally gripping. As a writer, I love it. We weave a tale every night, tweak the meaning ever so slightly, then turn the last page and close the book and poof! That version of the story is crumpled and tossed. The next night, we're free to write an entirely different story.

I've been tempted to write down some of B's interpretations of the pictures....but I think that might be cheating. It just makes my heart swell to see her developing the craft of storytelling in her 3-year-old way. She certainly has the imagination for it.

There are other wordless books out there. Have you seen them? Any suggestions to add to our wish list?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

happily ever after

I just have to share a few photos from a birthday party we attended this weekend. If you know me, you know how much I've resisted the princess obsession. I fought it. Hard. But to do that is like telling the sun it's not allowed to rise. The best I can do is set some boundaries and counter some of the Disney messages with lots of conversation about inner beauty. And then let go and watch B light up with joy every time she sees anything princess-related.

Because that's what's happening in spite of me. And, when I relax and let go, I can see just how magical and fun princesses can be.

Case in point: Our friend's 4th birthday party was princess-themed. And it was magical. You could see it in the faces of the kids and the parents too.

I sat at the "nail salon" station and painted little girls' fingernails for the first hour or so of the party, and the conversations I had with those girls? Priceless.

One older girl asked me, "Are princesses real?"

And I wasn't sure how to answer, so I asked her "do you think they're real?"

She replied, "well...I think there are some real princesses and there are some pretend ones, and some people just work as princesses and then they go home and are regular ladies."

Of course. She was exactly right. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

partners in crime

Recently, B overheard Kris and I talking with some concern over Miles' language. He only has a few words, whereas B had 20-25 words by this age.

B chimed in and said, "but Miles doesn't need to talk. He talk someday when he's a big girl."

And it made perfect sense. Why make the effort when big sister can do all the talking for you?!

Except maybe when said big sister is coloring on you with a red marker...then a few words might be useful.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


© 2010 gina d. wagner

Monday, November 8, 2010

a bowl of thanksgiving

This was a fun craft project that the kids and I worked on together. On Halloween, we missed the crunch of fall leaves beneath our feet, and I decided we should make our own fall leaves. That evolved into our making a Thanksgiving centerpiece out of paper leaves, upon which we wrote some of the things we're most thankful for.

We started by tracing leaf shapes on construction paper:

Then, I cut out all the leaves. (It's much quicker if you stack several sheets and cut them at once.)

Once we had a nice pile of leaves, I had Bronwynn name some things that she is thankful for, and I wrote them down on the leaves. Her list included:

Fishie (our new fish)
3, 4, 5 (as in, she's thankful for the numbers 3, 4 and 5)

To round out the offerings, I added my own thanks for: Kris, for our good health, for B and Miles, for faith, for cool breezes and sunshine, friends near and far, and for plenty. Miles, in his own way, said he's thankful for Dada and Mama....and for ceiling fans (he loves our ceiling fans!)

After writing everything down, I told the kids to grab all the leaves and crumple them up to make them look more like real fall leaves. Miles especially enjoyed this part.

Finally, I tossed all the leaves into a vase, tied a raffia ribbon around it and placed it on the sideboard in our dining room. This way, we can grab a few leaves and read them at dinnertime, or add a new leaf to the bowl as we think of new things to be thankful for.

It seems silly, but I really love looking at those leaves! It's a great reminder to me that it is indeed fall, even if the thermometer is registering 90 degrees. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

we're dating. it's serious.

Kris and I haven't been on a date in.....we haven't been on a date in.....in.....I have no idea how long. I think it's been about 6 months. Kris seems to think we haven't been out alone since Miles was born. This past year was a fog, so I couldn't tell you who's right.

So, whatever the backstory...we hired a sitter, and we had a date. And it was fun. First, we went out for Indian food. The kids will eat a lot of ethnic food, but Indian is not their favorite. So we took advantage of our alone time to try out a new restaurant. We had some lamb curry that was particularly yummy.

On the way back from the restaurant, we passed a carnival being held in a church parking lot. It was all lit up and oh-so-inviting: bells ringing, the smell of funnel cakes wafting. So we stopped by.

And we made a beeline for the Ferris wheel. The ultimate date ride. We piled in line behind the neighborhood teenagers and tried to blend in.

Then when we got stuck at the top for several minutes, we did what any newly dating couple would do. We made out. The kid sitting behind us was not amused.

It took my mind off the fact that the struts supporting the Ferris wheel were rusty and wobbly.

Before we left, Kris threw a ping pong ball into a little glass vase and won a goldfish for Bronwynn. We got about halfway to the car before we realized we had nothing at home to support a goldfish. We debated for a while....how long do carnival goldfish live anyway? Do we really want to keep it? Kris recalled that his grandparents' carnival goldfish lived 9 YEARS.

To which I replied, "They don't make carnival goldfish like they used to."

But we decided to be optimistic, and we headed to the all-night superstore (yep, that one) and bought a "goldfish starter kit" for $8.

This was turning into quite a date! We brought it home and got the little fella moved in and fed. 

This morning, B padded downstairs to the kitchen and exclaimed "Mommy! It's a fish! There's a fish in here!!"

And by the time I came downstairs to see, she had her hand in the fish bowl. I got her dried off and asked her if she wanted to name the fish. Nemo, perhaps? And she said "no. not Nemo. let's call him nothing."

"You don't want him to have a name?" I asked.

"No, his name is 'nothing'," B clarified.

A Fish Called Nothing.

I can hear him penning his memoir right now.

Friday, November 5, 2010

keep your eyes on the road

The snowbirds have landed. Miles seems to understand the implications, even as he drives the plastic car in the driveway.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

within the realm of normal

What is it about being “normal” that is so comforting?

My kid still poops about 4 times a day.
“Oh, that’s normal” a friend says.
Because it certainly doesn’t feel normal, wiping asses all day long.
Yet, someone tells you it’s alright. It’s typical for this stage of life that we’re in. And suddenly you don’t mind so much.

I adore our new house. I love the split-level floor plan. Love how it’s spacious, yet still cozy. I can hear my kids chattering from any room. Natural light floods nearly every corner. Love that each wall is a blank slate, begging me to put my family’s unique stamp on it. Paint me. Pepper me with art, photos. Things that make you smile. Add more traces of you. Of “us.”

Yet I don’t feel at home in this house. Is that normal?

I catch myself thinking we’re just on vacation here. It’s a vacation rental.  Maybe it’s the pool with the swim-up bar. Or the tile floors. Maybe it’s the king-size bed we bought. (I’ve never slept in one except on vacation.) Or the palm trees. Some of our neighbors actually drive golf carts and have putting greens in their yards. We have a pool guy. (That’s definitely not normal.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween candy exchange

Like many of us, I have a love-hate relationship with Halloween candy. I can't resist it, but my body always protests with a rollercoaster of sugar spikes and then complete lethargy that makes me want to crawl into a hole and hibernate for several weeks. I generally don't buy many sweets for that reason...out of sight, out of mind...out of mouth!

My kids are not used to having a lot of sugar either, and I've noticed the presence of Halloween treats has affected B's behavior too. She's well aware there's candy up in the cupboard and asks for it several times a day. When I give in and let her have some, she becomes antsy and crabby. (The candy isn't on Miles' radar yet, thankfully.)

But then I remembered a little trick for dealing with those treats. A mom friend of mine shared this with me: Have your kids trade in their candy for other kinds of treats. A small toy. 30 minutes extra of TV. Staying up a little later than usual. Playing a video game.

I grabbed a Mason jar and told B that if she wanted to fill the jar with her candy, I'd exchange it for a new toy, or we'd go rent a DVD to watch. She said she wanted to watch a new movie, and so she happily poured her candy into the jar.

Now, I just need to decide what to do with her forfeited treats so that I don't eat them. Maybe I'll send them to the office with Kris...

Monday, November 1, 2010

a summer night's dream

For the past week or so, Kris has been shouting "SUMMER IS HERE! SUMMER IS HERE!"

And by that he means, the weather has finally cooled off enough to match summertime in Colorado. Highs in the low 90s and dipping down into the 60s at night. ...Actually, that's still warmer than summer in Colorado. I haven't had to wear a long-sleeve shirt yet.

BUT, more importantly, that means that we've finally emerged from the AC to face the world, and guess what?! Our neighborhood is full of families with young children. And cyclists. Kris needs a secretary to schedule all the group rides he's been invited on. (oh, wait. that's me...)

Trust me when I tell you this: We have lived here 5 months, and with the exception of one outgoing neighbor and her family (hi, Lisa!) we had NO IDEA that there were other toddlers within 100 yards of our house. We could start a preschool.

Last night, our street was crawling with trick-or-treaters. It was practically a mob scene. And, the cool thing was, you could see everyone's costumes because they weren't covered up by down jackets. And. And! Even better? People sit outside on their front porches to hand out candy. It's really gorgeous and fun.

Side note: I was the crazy lady who handed out playing cards and stickers instead of sugar. The teenagers were not amused. We might just get another rock through our window.

ANYWAY, I wanted to show you this. One family, intent on watching Sunday Night Football, decided to tailgate and hand out candy in their front yard:

I think B wanted to plop herself down on their couch and ask for a beer.
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