Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Favorite- Kale Chips, Two Ways

I've posted before about Tye's love for kale chips.  She literally cheers when I tell her I'm making them (such a proud mama moment!).  With that kind of enthusiasm, we make them frequently here.  I've posted a great recipe before, but I thought I'd share two more that have become favorites in our family.  They've made Etta a kale lover, too!
Shoving it in!
I didn't use amounts here because one bunch of kale can be either super tiny or ginormous- and measuring torn kale leaves is no science either.  Even if you're usually a strict recipe follower, these are easy to throw together and will be delicious even if you use a little more or less of any of the ingredients. 

Sesame Kale Chips

kale, torn into pieces
olive oil
roasted sesame oil
sesame seeds
sea salt

Combine oils in a ratio of about 4 parts olive oil, 1 part roasted sesame oil. Mix oils with kale so the kale is lightly coated and massage the kale for a couple minutes (massaging the kale makes it much easier to chew after it's cooked, which is important for younger kids- and it's Tye's favorite job!).  Spread on a baking sheet (parchment paper optional); sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds to taste. Bake at 350 until crispy.
Parmesan Kale Chips

kale, torn into pieces
olive oil
freshly ground black pepper, optional (because Tye finds it too spicy)
Parmesan Reggiano or Pecorino Romano, finely grated

Massage kale for a couple minutes with enough olive oil to coat the leaves lightly.  Spread on a baking sheet (parchment paper optional); sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cheese to taste. Bake at 350 until crispy.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Etta follows Tye everywhere.  When Etta is in the carrier and Tye runs ahead, Etta yells at her and reaches her hand out towards her.  When Tye puts on her snorkel mask in the bathtub and blows bubbles under water, Etta blows raspberries on top of the water.  When Tye offers Etta a bite of food, Etta eats it.  Period.  

Before bed each night, the girls say goodnight to each other.  I might ask one or the other if they want to say goodnight, but then, on their own, they hug and kiss each other before they walk to their beds.  Even if naps fail and Etta is up late, she still won't fall asleep without waving towards Tye's bed, saying, "Niiiiigh!" and blowing her a kiss.  

No matter how roughly my day is going, when I think about the girls' relationship with each other, I can be confident that I actually am doing something right.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming....


I'm still here.  Remember me?

Things here are finally- well, I was going to say "slowing down," but I'm certain that isn't actually true.  I guess a better way to describe it is that I'm finally catching up.  It's hard to describe, but I feel like I spent all fall barely holding my head above water as I flailed.  And the winter catching my breath.  And then, I found myself treading water- not very confidently (do we ever reach that point as mothers?), but no longer half a breath from drowning.
Logistically, the fall was hard.  Etta was learning to walk, still nursing frequently, and wanting to be held constantly.  Tye was expanding her play repertoire and needing frequent support, learning to deal with really, really big emotions, and testing boundaries, both physical and parental.  Perhaps most stressful was Tye learning to safely interact with a newly mobile sibling.  Some days, I considered myself successful as a parent if both girls just made it through the day alive.

 On those days, I had to prioritize, and any activities that weren't necessary for survival took the back burner.  And most days, my back burners were off, diverting all possible energy to whatever emergency was at hand.  And then, slowly but surely, this magical thing happened.

The girls started to play. Together.  
 Tye reached an easier phase of 3 (the calm before the storm of 3 1/2, but that's another story).  Etta learned to explore safely and truly play.  Sometimes, long chunks of time would pass with the girls both peacefully playing in their bedroom.  Between the doll house, the dress up clothes, the baby dolls, and the books. they can entertain themselves long enough for me to actually finish not just one task, but three or four.  It's life-altering.

 As wonderful as those chunks of time are, the biggest difference in day-to-day life is the more relaxed pace.  Perhaps we've just finally found our rhythm, or maybe we're in a temporary lull, but whatever it is, my mind is calmer.  I can actually complete thoughts, and not just survival-type thoughts, but higher-level thoughts.  I find myself reflecting- on mothering, on childhood, on growing and developing, on sibling relationships.
 When I start connecting all these dots, all I want to do is write it all out, get it in type, and hope that maybe the process will cultivate an even deeper level of understanding.  Writing is an opportunity to study my own life.  It is therapeutic and cathartic and most of all, revealing.

And I really, really miss it.
So I'm returning.  I can't promise regular posts, but I can assure you I'll be around to share.  You'll get to see more of this.
 And this.
And if you feel like it, read more of my rambling.  Because as it turns out, Mama Em can swim.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

To Etta, at 10 months

November 5, 2012
Dear Etta,

Happy 10 months, Little One!  You are growing up so quickly.  Just the other day, I was talking with Tye about Big Girls and Little Girls and babies.  I started to say that you are a baby, and as I did, I realized that you are almost into the realm of Little Girl.  I'm having trouble wrapping my head around that, but it's true.  After all, you're now taking steps.  I wouldn't say you're walking, but you are certainly taking steps.  All this time, we've been wondering if you would be walking by Christmas or by your birthday, and here you are, walking by Tye's birthday.  You'll be running by your first birthday!

You've learned the power of communication.  You use signs, including rough approximations of "more," "milk," and "all done."  You also have this way of holding out upturned hands that seems to mean "I want you," as in "Pick me up."  You've also learned how to play games with us, including chase, keep away from the laptop, and tug of war.  Playing with you is pure joy.

These days, you eat pretty much everything we eat, too.  Some of your favorites are black beans, broccoli, celery, and any type of cracker.  Watching you move the food to the front of your mouth to chew with your four front teeth is entertaining, especially when you have a good mouthful, but somehow you make it work, even with crunchy and chewy foods.  Your appetite is already rivaling that of your sister.  As she told me the other day, "Etta is always hungry."

Sometimes when I see you crawling towards me, I see how tiny you are and take a moment to appreciate you as a little baby.  These moments are flying by all too quickly, and I want to cling to them while I can.  I want to always be able to revisit you with your sideways crawl, your Chiclet teeth, and your bald head.  You bring me so much joy, Etta.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Well, hello!

So, I took some time away while my computer wasn't working.  Yes, my new one.  When I finally took it in to the 5th Avenue Apple Store, I asked the tech fixing it if the store was ever not crowded.  He joked that the store may be at it's emptiest in a few days if the predicted hurricane actually hit the city.  I think we all know how that turned out.
Photo by jaycorcoran,
So much has happened since I updated last.  A quick catch-up...

We went apple and pumpkin picking.  

 We learned where corn grows.
Tye couldn't have been more excited.  She said proudly, over and over again, "I picked my own apple with my own hands!"  
And wouldn't you know- we traveled an hour and a half outside the city, and all Tye wanted was to play in the wood chip pile.  But what a view.
We celebrated Halloween, dressing up as Tye's favorite cartoon characters, Kipper, Tiger, Pig, and Arnold from the Kipper books and cartoon series.  Tye wore her costume for two days straight.  

On a more daily basis, we've been spending lots of time at the local parks and playgrounds.

Oh, and we survived our first hurricane.  But more on that later.  The big news in our home- Etta is walking! She now takes one or two steps frequently throughout the day.
My baby is walking and my oldest is turning 3 this week. 
Time, slow down.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Baby Big Girl

I've learned that I'm a very visual person.  When I travel anywhere, near or far, I rely on landmarks.  When I studied for exams, I often relied on remembering what the textbook page or my flashcard looked like in order to recall a term or definition, utilizing my brain like the screen shot feature on my  iPhone.  My memories are very visual too- glimpses of life, stored like photos stacked in the shoebox of my mind.  

Perhaps it's for this reason that I'm having a really, really hard time dressing Etta each morning.  Last week, I pulled out all the 12-18 month winter clothes we saved from Tye.  Every time I see each handed-down outfit, my mind flips through those photos of Tye wearing it- who gave us the outfit, what we did each time she wore it, where we went in it, how it fit her, even packing the clothes away for Baby Girl 2.  After all, it was just one year ago, after we found out we were having another girl, that I sorted through all these clothes that Etta is now wearing.  

Partly what's causing me so much heartache is that when Tye wore these clothes, I thought she was so big.  One outfit, in particular, I remember Tye wearing one day as we shopped at Costco. (It was this one- a gift from my aunt and cousin.)  
She looked so big that day in her jeans and her coat and her little pink Converse AllStars, sitting on her own in the shopping cart.  I remember thinking she was my little buddy, like my shopping sidekick.  Now, when I see Etta wearing it, I want to cry out, No! You aren't old enough to be my little buddy! You're my little baby!!!  And my heart just aches to slow down time.  

I realize that my new perspective of age and time is also playing a role in these feelings.  When Tye was nine months old, I really did believe she was getting to be "so old" already.  After all, she was eating solid food and crawling and babbling and showing off all her play skills.  We were rounding the curve into toddlerhood.  Now, I see Etta and think she is still so young.  And compared to Tye now, at 2 1/2, she is.  But Etta is also doing all those almost-toddler things Tye was at this age. While I once thought almost-toddlerhood was quite grown up, my current perspective sees it as oh-so-young.  I'm finally understanding how parents unknowingly baby their youngest child.  It truly is unintentional.  (Well, mostly.)

And so, on a daily basis, I deal with this disconnect between my visual memories of Tye the Big Girl and Etta my Baby wearing these same clothes.  I've tied memories to these clothes, and I'm looking forward to adding more photos to the mental stock I've acquired, of course.  I'm finding myself grateful to have a family member to hand these clothes down to when we're done.  The promise of seeing my niece wearing them some day will make parting with them significantly easier.  Otherwise, I don't know how I could part with clothes that are tied to so many memories.  They feel like the link between my Baby Big Girl and what will one day, all too soon, be only memories.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

To Etta, at 9 months

Dear Etta,
Happy Nine Month birthday!  I can't help but think of pregnancy when I hear that length of time- my mommy brain automatically relates anything to gestational duration as a frame of reference, I guess.  While I am amazed that you, my baby, are already nine months old, I have such a difficult time remembering life before your birth that I have a hard time believing you've been here only nine months.  My pregnancy with you flew by in just a few blinks of an eye, but these first nine months with you out here have been so full that they feel like an even longer period of time. You're a part of our family, but also a part of us as individuals- you've shaped each of us to the extent that I wouldn't recognize myself, or Tye or Daddy, without you.

You are very aware of your surroundings these days.  As we walk down the street, you in the carrier on my chest facing me, you love to lean as far to the side as you possibly can so you can see more of the world, especially when we see dogs or people.  When we attend our weekly Music Together classes, you watch the teacher and other participants with a very serious expression on your tiny face.  You recognize people we see often, like Tye's friends' and their younger siblings, but you are also deep in the throes of stranger and separation anxiety.

In fact, I think your separation anxiety has encouraged you to pick up your crawling pace.  You can cross a room quickly now, especially if it is to reach one of us.  Your crawl is an adorable hand-hand-knee-foot, with your left leg raised to propel you as quickly as you can.  You're still doing a lot of cruising, though, and you will pull yourself up to standing on any item possible- a parent's pant legs, the decorative fireplace cover, Mico's body.  You're certainly motivated to move.

You've begun talking much more over the past month, babbling with a new range of consonants.  You babble so much that it's hard for us to know when you're intentionally speaking versus just exploring your sounds.  So far, we know we've heard Mama, and you once said "HiTye" (merged as one word) three times in a row, looking right at Tye as you stood up and saw her over the coffee table.  We know you understand what we're saying to you, because when we say certain words- like people's names- you'll look right at the subject.  Knowing you're participating in the conversations makes them that much more fun.

Nine months.  You've forever changed our lives in such a relatively short amount of time.  The emotional portion of your nine month birthday, for me, is knowing you've grown been outside of me as long as you grew inside of me.  No matter where you're growing, Etta, you'll always be my baby.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.




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