Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let it snow

Is there a less original title for a blog post?  I think not.  Now that we've cleared that up...

In the two German winters we've experienced so far, we have had but one or two light dustings of snow, which have melted so quickly that I'm not even sure we made it outside in time to make footprints.  This past week, much to the delight of my children, we've gotten some Actual Snow.  In these photos it doesn't look like much, but it actually stuck around for a whole day!  Another morning we woke up to a few inches of wet snow. 

Each snowfall hasn't lasted more than about 24 hours, but we've managed to have some fun in it anyway.  Since I have no choice but to run certain errands like, you know, buying food and such, I've had to practice driving in possibly slippery conditions.  I guess that's good for me, but I am not AT ALL excited about it.  (I used to be perfectly fine driving in the snow, but since I've totaled two vehicles on slippery roads -- the second time with baby Andrew in the car -- I've had this terrible fear of it and won't even go out in it.  Not that we've lived anywhere recently that's even had snow to speak of, but still, snow-driving is probably not a very good skill to lose.)

Anyway, here are the little people, jumping (and biking) in the snow (notice the tongues fully extended and the feet hovering over the ground).

In continuing with my Sweater For Me obsession, here's the latest in my line of brand new knits:

Andrew took these pictures this afternoon.  He's been showing a great interest in photography lately, so recently I taught him to hold down the shutter trigger half-way down to focus before completing a shot. 

For this set, I had the camera set up on a tri-pod while he stood on a chair behind it.  This was so much easier than using the timer like I usually do.  He loves to "be a very good helper", as he says, and he actually is!

Here's the little photographer.
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Maybe I will"

A silly video that the children thought was hilarious this morning:

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beauty all around

As the time for this baby's arrival draws ever closer, I have found myself in moments of panic. The thing of it is, the panic doesn't seem to be based on actual fact, just vague Dark Cloud feelings of "I'm going to drown in housework." and "I'll never make it alone with 4 children." Then I stop and look around at the beauty that surrounds me, and the things that I DO manage to get done, even at this late stage of pregnancy.

A funny little face:

Having fun baking together (this is Emms' beer bread recipe -- my only mod is that I put a few tablespoons of melted butter in the pan to "grease" it before adding the batter):



Sweater progress:

This morning's baking -- bread and granola:
(I put the ingredients for bread on the "dough only" setting, and then after that first rise take it out, form it into a loaf and let it rise a second time in a loaf pan before baking it in my conventional oven.)

Handknit socks hanging up to dry (the children love swirling them in the sink and then squeezing the water out):

Because of the constant business, excess hormones, and general pregnant discomfort, sometimes it's easy to forget all of the little moments and things that mean so much. I have learned to photograph the texture, the unexpected beauty, as I live through my day. When I have a moment to rest, in those quiet pauses when I can breathe, I go back through the still images, and I'm reminded of how much I accomplish, and how much I have. I am truly blessed.
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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Granola recipe, belly pic and other random stuff

35 weeks pregnant.

Lavella's hair is long enough now that I can put it in a ponytail.

I can't get over how ridiculously cute she looks with the little sprout of hair.

Today marks exactly one week since I weaned her off the pacifier.  She was mostly only using it for naps, bedtime, and "emergencies" when we were out, but I realized that once the baby was born and possibly using one, there would be no way to keep Lavella from having one all the time too.  It would all just get too complicated.  So after her nap last Saturday, I took the pacifier away, and hid them all.  She's found one a few times since, but I just quickly take it away.  There have been a few tears shed, but for the most part she's been fine.  I'm relieved that the process wasn't any more painful.

Here's a pair of socks I just finished -- so miss-matched and clashing, and I love them.  (Greg's comment when he saw me knitting them in the webcam: "Why would you waste your time knitting something that looks like a mistake?")

A sweater I finished last week:

(Practical, because it works both pre and post baby!)

Granola is a filling and nutritious way to start the day.  I does contain a fair amount of fat, but it's mostly good fat.  Plus, a little goes a long way.  It really does fill you up very well.

My mom has been asking me for the granola recipe for a while.  She has the basic idea of what I do (I've adapted my version from the one in Moosewood New Classics cookbook), but here is the full version that I make here at our house:

Maple Nut Granola

Preheat oven to 350.

4 1/2 cups rolled oats (I use Old Fashioned Quaker Oats -- DO NOT use the quick cooking stuff)
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup nuts (Greg likes Almonds, I especially like Pecans, Walnuts and Hazlenuts -- feel free to mix and match whatever you have)
2 cups plain, puffed cereal (I use Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs, but you can make your own mixture at the health food store, or whatever you want -- you could probably even use Rice Krispies, but I prefer whole grains personally.)
1/3 cup vegetable or light/reg olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 T barley malt, molasses, or brown sugar (they each give their own subtle flavors, so experiment for the one you like best -- or use whatever you have on hand)

Place all dry ingredients in a great big bowl and mix well. 

Put all the wet ingredients together (oil, maple syrup, and barley malt or other) in a separate small bowl, and stir very well until thick and completely combined.

Pour wet ingredients over dry and stir until completely coated.  Lightly grease a sided cookie sheet/jelly-roll pan, and spread granola mixture evenly.  Bake for 20 minutes until lightly golden and fragrant.  (If you want, you can stir half-way through so that the browning will be even, but I like to just let it brown on top so that you get the extra toasty flavor, and still have somewhat raw grains throughout the rest for maximum health benefits.)

Remove from oven and put pan on top of cooling rack.  Stir.  Continue to stir every so often until cooled.

Add raisins or other dried fruit if you wish to the completely cooled granola, and eat! 

Variations are endless.  Substitute or add more/different kinds of raw seeds, vary up the fruit, add unsweetened or sweet flaked coconut, chopped dark chocolate or tiny chocolate chips.  Whatever sounds good probably is.  If you have a great variation idea, I'd love to hear it, so tell me all about it in the comments.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

All of the food

Jonathan left today, and while we were sad to see him go, we are excited that he will be back here in two weeks for Thanksgiving.  Interestingly, I slept like a rock every night he was here.  Although I haven't been fearful since Greg left, always in the back of my mind is the fact that I am utterly responsible for myself and the little people, come what may.  I guess that just knowing he was in the next room must have been even more reassuring than I'd imagined, allowing me to sleep deeper and longer than I have since Greg deployed.

In my family, a big part of being together is cooking and eating together.  Here is some of the food we made while he was here (not included in the pictures are some delicious tacos Jonathan made, Beer Bread, and the ubiquitous Honey Whole Wheat bread):

Date Nut Muffins

Cinnamon Rolls (using this recipe from Bon Appetit)

Granola (my own recipe -- I'll have to post it sometime soon)

Greens and Beans Tortellini Soup

Handmade pasta (Basic Pasta Dough recipe by Mario Batali) with tender baby peas, sun-dried tomatoes and carmelized onions (also my recipe, I'll post in the future)

Aparently he was trying to cut back on carbs a little.  I'm not entirely sure that I helped all that much.
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Monday, November 10, 2008

Look who's here!

Friday morning, Jonathan flew into Germany, in-processed at his new post about 3 hours from here, then got on a train to our town.  He made it to our house at around 2am Saturday morning, and the children were beside themselves with excitement as they waited until it was "late enough" in the morning to wake him.

Today we did some shopping on post, but most importantly, we brought him to a Kebap place for his very first Döner kebap. 

They're kind of like a gyro (same meat on a spit, shaved off for each order), but on a flatbread, and the meat and bread are grilled like a panini before being stuffed with vegetables and sauced.

I knew that he might be coming this weekend, and he's been asking me for a hat for about two years now, so I quickly knit him one, and managed to finish it before he got here.

I especially like the squares at the top:

This is not related at all, but here's Lavella being ridiculous:

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Week 33

I feel like I've never been bigger in my life, but in reality, I've still got 7 weeks to go.  Apparently, my skin knows how to stretch even further. 

Last week, I went to a cupcake decorating class, and my children were thrilled with the results:

I've always been a horrible cake decorator, so I was relieved to find that with a little coaching and some lessons in technique, I was actually able to turn out some presentable little cakes.

I know, they're almost too cute.  I let each of my children eat two, and then had Andrew and Elijah deliver the rest to the two neighbor families in our building with children.

The first two cupcakes made it without incident (the boys each only held one), but then the trouble arose when I sent Elijah down on a second trip with a paper plate full of 4.  Admittedly, a terrible idea, but I thought I'd give the guy a chance.  He and Andrew knocked on the second door, and in the space of time it took the family not to answer the door, Elijah said "whoops".  I looked out to see, and sure enough, there he was, picking them up off of the welcome mat.  I was a little miffed, but relieved that at least the family hadn't answered, so now they wouldn't see the ruined cakes.  I told the boys to just come back up, intending to throw the cupcakes away. 

Half-way back to our door, the dad of the family opened his door.  I explained, also saying that they'd been dropped, and at that moment Elijah turned around to face the guy and dropped them at his feet.  The guy generously took them anyway, and I found out the next day that they'd all eaten them, in spite of the extra seasoning.  I mean, they're the ones who clean the stairs, so they know how clean/dirty they are, but...oh goodness. 

The nesting urge this time around has spun me into a series of sweaters for myself, and I'm powerless to resist.

Must get back to the knitting.
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