Sunday, June 28, 2009

Time Time Tickin' Tickin' Tickin' Away

7 months ago.
Time is moving at the speed of life. That means fast and slow, all at once. Each day passes slowly, for which I'm grateful. Then I have time to enjoy each moment. And I really am enjoying each moment. Our little family has hit it's groove. Our messy, hectic, splendid groove. For the first time in my life, I'm content. I'm right where I'm supposed to be. I don't yearn for anything different. I like the nest I'm nestled in. God has hemmed me in, all snug in a family that is just perfect for me. But despite savoring each day, I find these old photos and realize that time has dismissed all my efforts and sped by anyway. I haven't noticed the twins growing a quiet inch here, a gentle ounce there. These pictures force me to acknowledge that my children have busted out! They're grabbing on to life and barreling forward with it. No apologies! And that's what you want, right? That (while it makes me pensive and wistful) is what I want. Because each new stage brings new joys. And I've got all their past joys stored up in my heart
(and in the scrapbook--you better believe it baby!).
I found these sweet pictures of my lovely mother-in-law, also taken 7 months ago. These pictures may make her even more wistful than I, for grandparents know, maybe even more acutely than parents, how time can sneak by. They've been down this road a time or two before us.

(In case you were wondering, my mother-in-law did not have Jay when she was 12. She's just naturally youthful and beautiful!)

Nighty-night sweet one month old babies. Just to let you know, your 8 month old selves are rockin' and rollin'!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Photoshop software should come with a warning label written on the box. "You will need a 12 step program if you wish to stop editing photos into the wee hours of the morning". If no one hears from me outside this blasted blog in the next 24 hours, send an intervention team over. I'll sob and lash out, but just hug me and tell me all the ways in which Photoshop has threatened our relationship.
Here's some of my favorite photos.
Uncle David's the best.

Grandpa's pretty great too.

Blossoms in Kansas. So much to explore. Vibrant. Joy. Look at that juicy drumstick of a leg. Beautiful.

Dive into those eyes and swim around for a while.

She's thinking. (And I'm trying not to eat her little pink-socked foot).


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bexie's Turn

My sweet, sweet boy. Oh how I love my boy! Mamma. Stop taking pictures and just feed me. Please.
I love his big bald head so much that I have to fight the urge to crop this much.
This is the original photo: I knew the looming refrigerator and skin tone would be my biggest obstacles. Well, that and my ignorance. I went overboard again. I think it's a prerequisite for me. Go overboard, then have a friend (thanks AR!) reign you back in. Put the hard light layer down and back away, Elle. Case in point: Whoa, people. My son is fuzzy around the edges and quickly losing all pigment on his big beautiful bald head! I read all P Widdy's tutorials, but the problem is, I don't have her restraint.
I don't know. There's something wrong with the photo. Bex is perfect and beautiful. But the photo is weird. Too warm. DARN IT!! STOP WARMING IT 20 TIMES!! Once is good enough! If one chocolate chip tastes good, a handful must be delicious. If one warming action is good, 20 must be delicious. Uhhhh.....yeah, following that philosophy made my once white refrigerator a weird shade of peach....back to the drawing board.
PS Could someone write Oprah and ask her to send Nate Berkus my way so my bedroom can stop looking like this?
I know you were all running for pen and paper, but I just imagined this scenario: Nate shows up at my doorstep, unannounced, camera crew in tow. Agonizing, awkward silence ensues as poor speechless Nate surveys me standing uncomfortably in the doorway in (what can't possibly pass for) my pajamas, pot belly hanging over, dirty socks and unshaven legs. Kids are wailing (some not even mine, possibly) in the background in various stages of undress, as the dog eats the only breakfast she'll see that day: what got unceremoniously shoved off the high chair trays. Nope, let's not go there. Nobody write Oprah. Thank you for your kindness. To me, and to the world, which doesn't need to see that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Love This Photo

My heart's in pieces over this photo. I think it's her hair, all fluffy. And her eyes, all almond-shaped. And her lips, all smooshed out. I just love this girl.

So anywho. Certain thoughts plague me day and night, like a maniacal hamster on the exercise wheel of my brain. For instance:

  • What color should I paint my bedroom?
  • Do I need a triple stroller?
  • Will Jillian ever find out that Wes is not "there for the right reasons"?
  • Will it hurt if I get sucked up into a black hole? And more importantly, if I unwittingly cross over a black hole's event horizon, but my friend a few inches away does not, will she be able to pull me back out? Or since her hand crosses the horizon to grab on to me, will we both be doomed to move inexorably closer and closer to the singularity?
It's quite exhausting being me. The question that's my hamster today is this: Was I too heavy-handed while editing this photo?I just got Photoshop Elements. I'm excited. I'm neurotic. That's a dangerous combination that could lead to over-edited photos. And I would hate to over-edit my babies. Because, obviously, they're perfect as is. Here's the original photo. Then I cropped it. Then I did this. I know. You're thinking "she blurred her son? And she calls herself a mother?!" I feel awful for it-I do! But this photo was just screaming Dee. I'll be blogging Bexie's photo in the next day or two, and his has no blurred siblings in the background, promise. (But if anyone knows how to cut a huge white refrigerator out of the picture, do tell). I like it. I like it a lot. But there's something so sweet about the original photo that's missing in the finished one (a well-defined Bex, perhaps?). I did a layer of hard light. And I think that's what washes out all the definition of the bridge of her nose as it becomes her cheek. Also, should I have put Dee's head in the center of the photo if I'm just going to blur Bex and make Dee the focus of the photo? Did I make her skin tone too yellow or is it just pleasantly warm? Anyone know how I could make her little orange nose more like the rest of her skin tone? Not that a little orange nose isn't just the sweetest thing ever. Because it is. But just in case, does anyone know?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Besties

Today I want to talk about BFF's. What I say about them here is just a miniscule snippet of the amazing and absolutely beautiful women they are. It doesn't even begin to delve into the depths of their personalities, their kindness or the ways in which they enrich my life. I hope they read this so they'll know just how much I love them!
This is Erin, the pie maker. I love calling her that. How could you not like a pie maker? Don't you just instantly like her because she makes pies for a living? But if you knew Erin, you'd like her no matter what her profession. You'd like her if all she did was mow lawns from 9 to 5. Or if she was a tax collector. Or a telemarketer. Or even a door to door vacuum salesperson. I guess you might not like her if she worked on death row or something. But she'd never do that. Too depressing. Besides, who could handle all that drama? I find myself a bit off-topic here. Where was I? Oh yeah. Pie maker. She makes all manner of other culinary goodness too. Mostly of the pastry variety. (Excuse me while I salivate). Erin and I met the first day I moved up to Humboldt State. We lived on the same dorm room floor. (Why we weren't roommates, I can't even imagine. It was most certainly due to a clerical error in the fate department up in heaven). We were instant friends and shared many a fun and mischievous adventure at HSU, as evidenced by this photo. (I wish my scanner wasn't so awesome. I'm getting tired of the crystal clear photos it's always churning out...ugh). (Oh, and it's probably best if you don't ask what in the world we are doing dressed like that...and with hair like that...and with makeup like that. Uh, no, we were not women of the night, trying to make extra money to buy textbooks, so you can just strike that from your minds. Hey, by the way, a great college friend, Kimmy, helped us get this look for that night. She's a gem too!)
After college, Erin had to go and move off to Colorado (which is way lame, 'cept I'm way jealous cuz it's totally awesome there) (and right now Erin's saying "uh, how would you know, you never visit me, you crusty, travel-phobic homebody"). Erin is FUN. She's spontaneous. She's at her happiest when doing something for others. She's very thoughtful. Case in point: The first night she was here visiting in April, she took a walk with Hannah, our dog. It was dark and she got lost. Some nice people in an adjacent neighborhood printed out a map for her and helped her get back to the house. The next day Erin baked some chocolate chip cookies and delivered a plate of them to the door of the nice people who had given her directions. (Which I was kind of mad about because I wanted all the cookies for my own devouring pleasure. I mean, come on. Why does she have to be so stinkin' thoughtful all the time anyway?). SIGH. That's just how she rolls.
This is a photo of me, dfK and dfS. We always dress like this. We're kind of like the Stepford wives. Not really. (Big shocker). It's just a Halloween photo. And I had to use this photo because, to my utter disgust and disbelief, we barely have any pictures of us. It's horrible! Okay. Commitment 2009: Take more besty pictures. DfK is on the left. She also goes by the names Sainty McSainterston and Mother Theresa. Actually, she'll answer to neither of those names because, like most saints, she'd never claim to actually be one. But anyone who knows dfK knows that until the 2nd coming of Christ, she's the closest thing to Jesus on this earth. If you're cold, she'll give you her jacket. Not the stinky ratty one she'd take camping, but the cute new one she got at the mall last weekend. (Not that she owns a stinky, ratty jacket, she's a very clean person...It's just an example...I find myself getting bogged down in the details here...) Anyway, whatever jacket she gives you, she won't expect it back. If you're sick, she'll bring you Starbucks. If you're hungry, she'll bring you chicken enchiladas. One half will have green chiles and the other half won't, just to cover all the bases. DfK made my family dinner once a week during the last few weeks of my pregnancy with the twins. She also had dinner waiting on our doorstep the moment we brought the babies home from the hospital. Dinner from dfK isn't just your usual lasagna and that's it. Nope, it's meatball and vegetable stew, in the crock pot, which she brings over so you can keep it warm 'til you eat it, fresh french bread, a complete Caesar salad and some homemade chocolate on chocolate cupcakes. DfK is a busy, involved mom to three children, and yet she still finds the time to do nice things for others. She is probably the kindest, most forgiving person I know. In fact, I've told her my deepest, darkest secret, and she still loves me. Didn't even bat an eye, really. That's dfK. That's just how she rolls.
DfS is the one above with the purple hair. I'm tired of calling her dfS. (Hold on a sec while I go to an online name generator and find out what her pirate name is...Hmmm. Turns out her pirate name is Whinin' Frances Dagger. So let's just keep it at dfS for now. But I'm still working on changing it. If anyone has any good new names for dfS, let me know. DfK too.) DfS is equal parts just like me and equal parts way better than me. Which is perfect because the parts that are just like me make her my sister for life. The parts that are better than me inspire me to do better and be better. She makes me laugh every day. I never don't feel good about myself when we are together. She won't let me feel bad about myself. I've also told her my deepest darkest secret and she still thinks I'm good, and has made it her mission in life to make sure I think I'm good. In fact, she really has seen the ugliest parts of me. She's seen that I can be petty, selfish, negative, cranky. One time she saw me spank my dog Hannah with a tad more zeal than I should have. (In my defense, my dog had just knocked over dfS's toddler son and drawn blood with her claws across his back in a Tasmanian-devil-like display of unbridled excitement and spasmodia (haha, my spell checker went nuts over that word). I spanked Hannah out of horror and intense, in-the-moment dismay, but still...not my brightest moment). And to this, she still thinks I'm good. That's dfS, and yep, you guessed it...That's just how she rolls.
There's so much more to say! There's so many funny memories coming to mind that I'd love to share! So many more nuances and gifts they have that make them unique. I admire these little things about them so much. (For instance, Erin's gonna save our planet one CFL at a time. And did you know dfK sings like a nightingale? DfS was a teacher--what lucky kids those were! See? I haven't even scratched the surface!) I've had a permanent grin on my face the whole time I've been typing this. That's what these girls do to me. They make me smile. They make my heart smile. I'm not sure what I ever did to deserve 3 such amazing women in my life that I can call my friends. I honestly don't think I do deserve them, I just got lucky!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pear Walnut Blue Cheese Sage Pizza

This is gooooood. I'm learning that most things with blue cheese are goooood. We're gonna go through this step by step. It'll be fun. That's right. I've gone Pioneer Woman on you. You'll just have to humor me. I'm having a lot of fun with my camera right now. And a lot of fun trying new recipes. Put those two together and I'm a recipe blogging fool. Pizza (or pizza derivatives like calzones, oh yeah, calzones, sista) is a weekly event in our house. We're not picky. We like take out, take & bake, frozen or homemade. This one is a sweet, crunchy, chewy homemade little number. First you need to make pizza dough. I use a whole wheat breadmaker recipe from The Bread Bible.
Then you'll need to thinly slice up some pears, Bosc or D'Anjou.
Chop up some onion.
Crack the whip on your helpers (or ask them politely) to go pick some sage leaves.
5 or 6 leaves is good. Sliver them up and drop them into some extra virgin olive oil.
After the sagey goodness has infused itself into the olive oil, take out the sage and use the oil to cook the onions. I love my Pampered Chef bamboo.
Let the onions get nice and caramelized. Look how nice and golden they're getting. Oops, things are steaming up.
There, that's better. Toast some chopped up walnuts in the oven. 350 for a few minutes. Back to the dough. Sprinkle some all purpose flour on a flat surface. (What? What's that you say? My labeling's a little enthusiastic? Check out my pantry.) Ahhhh. Organization is like a drug. I swear it: if you ever get your hands on a label maker, it will change your life forever. Anyway, back to business. Roll out the pizza dough.
Place it and/or pat it into a cornmeal lined jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Bake the crust for 10 min at 500 degrees. At this point, you may need to stop and scold your help for trying to eat all the pears. After the pizza crust has cooled a bit, get some balsamic vinegar from your pantry.
My secret's out. I love balsamic vinegar. Again, as you can see, we're not picky. I like cheap (Kirkland) and I like snooty (Sparrow Lane). They're all so divine! Sometimes I think I could drink it. But it's much better soaked up into some crusty bread. Hooo.
Now stop what you're doing and say goodnight to your equally divine 8 month old son. 'Night Bex! Drizzle some of that divinity onto the dough (and ponder how you ever got so lucky to be a mom of 3 such darling children--or you can ponder whatever you see fit).
Brush it around.
Have your help layer the onions on next.
Then the pears.
Then the blue cheese. Yes, it's okay if your help is still wearing pajamas. Yes, I know we're making dinner and the girl should have been in regular clothes by now. Give me a break, I've got things to do. Like blog, for pete's sake.
Now the toasty little walnuts.
Sprinkle on a bit of nutmeg. Perfect. Bake it for 10-15 min at 350 degrees. As a finishing touch, add the sage pieces that were soaking in oil earlier. THEN EAT! YAY!
If you try it, let me know how you liked it!