Tuesday, June 24, 2014
We went camping at Nehalem Bay State Park last week. Oh my word, it's gorgeous! I don't know that section of coast very well. It was nice to break away from our usual beach spots. Nehalem Bay campground is located between the ocean and bay, so we had beach time as well as a canoe trip to keep us busy.
Ainsleigh did really well on her first camping trip. Sleep arrangements were difficult (I now have a pinched nerve - OUCH -) but we only ended up staying one night because J fell ill. Our second night, in the last available hotel room on the coast apparently, was rough too. But we still had fun!
(When camping with little ones bring a lot of clothes and expect them to be filthy the entire time.)
Ainsleigh watching a remote control car fly across the sand.
Determined Northwesterners. The wind was blowing so hard we were in danger of losing a toddler, but my sister was determined to have her beer and beach situation. Maybe the taste of sand makes the experience more authentic.
Cuddles with Aunt Christina
My superhero. He wears the baby and roasts marshmallows to absolute perfection.
First s'mores! I forgot the dairy free chocolate. I almost cried. B didn't notice.
Boy battle. Gotta love the water bottle in a pink beer koozie B found on the ground.
Five minutes after we arrived B was eight feet up in a tree with one of his cousins.
5:30 am in a campground. Shhhh!
Nap with Grandma
Watching the guys canoe around the bay. My sister let me borrow this awesome stroller that converts into a backpack. Seriously. You just fold it up, kid inside and put it on your back. She found it for $7 at a garage sale. She always finds the best deals (confession: I never look, too lazy).
I was fascinated by the campsites with horse corrals. I took B for a walk around that loop because I wanted him to see the horses. We saw quite a few people riding on the beach.
Our campsite was next to the beach path so I took the kids "to the beach" the easy way.
Suitcase playpen in a suspicious hotel room
Thursday, June 19, 2014
I've been trying to make a serious effort to slow down and move at the pace of my toddler whenever I can. This morning we had a quick appointment for Ainsleigh. I noticed road work down the block when we left, but I didn't say anything because I didn't want to hear, "will there be more machines?" the rest of the drive.
When we got home I thought about carrying on with our day and finishing up the last few tasks before our camping trip, but I knew a quick side trip would make Bennett's day. I walked the kids down to the area where they are fixing the road. Bennett stood on the corner and screamed, "excavator!!" while Ainsleigh napped in her stroller in the shade.
One of the employees approached. I thought we might be standing too close, so I walked back to where the stroller was. "Hey!" he called out. "Your little guy seems to really like machines. You should head down to public works day at Riverfront Park. It starts in 20 minutes."
I thanked him for the suggestion, thought about it for a couple seconds, then decided to go for it. I hustled the kids home, threw a few things in a bag, and drove to the park. (Please ignore the kiddos too small sun hats. I obviously did not pack carefully!)
I spent the first hour - or so - at the park trying to convince Bennett to climb up on various machines and enjoy the full public works day experience. He kept asking for something to eat, but I told him, "you ate on the way here. Look at the machines! You can climb inside!"
We went back and forth, back and forth. We stood in line, he refused. I put him on various machines, he refused to try it out. Other kids were all over the machines. Horns would blare randomly as kids found the appropriate button and leaned in.
I finally took him aside and said, "Bennett, look, I'm frustrated. I changed our entire day so we could do this and I'm sad you're not having fun."
"I want to eat." he said.
I finally listened and took him over to the eating area. We couldn't eat the free lunch that was provided, but I had food for him. After sharing an apple and observing the fun for a while Bennett was ready to brave climbing on a machine.
Here's Ainsleigh just before we sat down to eat. I was about to call it and head home. Both kids were so miserable.
At first there was a lot of this: I'm doing this, but I'm not happy about it!
I am slowly, slowly, slowly learning Bennett. To me he is gregarious, to the world he is shy and reticent. (His pediatrician didn't hear him talk until Ainsleigh was born.) Once he knows someone he chit chats the day away and loves them to pieces. Until then it's all silence and safety in mama's arms.
Today was almost another carousel or bounce house experience, but Bennett found his bravery and I am really proud of him. And I have another experience to pull from my memory when I wonder why he isn't loving an activity I thought he would enjoy.
One employee helped me immensely today. He saw how scared Bennett was to have him around so he said, "I'm just going to check something ..." hopped down and walked away. He gave us a few minutes alone, which made Bennett comfortable enough to climb up in the truck. And once he tried one he wanted to try them all. Except for the biggest one. He just couldn't handle that today. Maybe next year.
Bennett LOVED the giant fish. He disappeared inside for a good long while. I eventually had to go in and fetch him.
Pardon my face in this one. I was talking to one of the employees about the machine. I don't want to crop it because I think it's fun to see Bennett on such a big machine.
There it is! That's what I was hoping to see!!
I think the kids had a good day overall. I'm glad I didn't stay home and clean the house. Who cares if it's messy, we'll be gone! The kids won't remember today, but at least I can show them pictures and talk about it. I don't think they would enjoy a slideshow of me mopping and doing dishes. Sometimes it's important to let plans slide so memories can be made.
You must check if your town has a public works day. Everything was free today - including lunch - although canned food and cash donations were accepted for the food bank. The nice thing about the donations was the lack of pressure. I've been to suggested donation events where you have to enter via a gate. I think that makes people feel like they have to donate. The economy is rough right now and I know a lot of families are struggling. It is wonderful to be able to do something for your kids, but it can be difficult. Days like this allow everyone to enjoy a day out without stressing about costs, or kids asking for expensive food or souvenirs. Well done, Salem.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
September is a warm time, if not the warmest time of year in the Willamette Valley. This morning I stared at the 10 day forecast with dismay, but I know the rain will fall soon. When I did a quick read through of blog posts this evening I saw no fewer than three 'fall is coming' posts so I know it is almost upon us.
I love fall to pieces. It's my favorite season, which I've told you 1,000 times, I know. I hate cooking during the summer because it's hot and we don't have air conditioning and when it's hot I don't feel like eating. But then fall comes along and eating soup by a fire becomes not only appropriate but necessary (ten months of the year I am chilled to the bone) and hot chocolate in the morning starts to sound good every morning.
This year, as in somewhere around February, I tackled making a whole chicken for the first time. I'm 29. Is that shameful? I think it is. I found a fabulous easy recipe for rotisserie chicken in the slow cooker and I make it once a month, if not twice. I think I've shared the recipe here before. I'm so tired (mastitis, seriously) I'm beginning to think I've already written this post, but I don't think that's the case ...
So that's recipe number one. It is so easy. Go try it. And when you have that one tackled take on this next one. I found this recipe in the Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild. Somewhere in the last year I became someone who flips through recipe books for fun. To think, it all started with a bit of innocent meal planning.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme chicken
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Rub chicken inside and out with salt. Combine rosemary, sage, thyme and generous amount of freshly ground black pepper in small bowl. Rub herb mixture inside chicken. Place 1 bay leaf inside. Tie legs together with string to hold shape. Brush chicken with some olive oil. Sprinkle with half of remaining herb mixture.
Place chicken in heavy large roasting pan. Surround chicken with potatoes, shallots and any other vegetables you are roasting. Sprinkle vegetables with remaining herb mixture and salt. Add remaining bay leaf and mix well.
Roast chicken until juices run clear when thigh is pierced with fork (about 60 - 75 minutes depending on size of chicken). Every 20 minutes or so baste chicken and vegetables with pan juices throughout cooking. Remove chicken and vegetables from roasting pan and tent with foil to keep warm (aerating so skin stays crispy).
Pour pan juices into large glass measuring cup and spoon off fat from top. Add enough chicken broth to measure 2 cups. Add vinegar to roasting pan; set over 2 burners and bring to boil over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits. Boil until reduced to glaze (4-6 minutes). Add broth mixture and boil until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 10 minutes). Reduce heat to low and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley. Pour sauce over chicken and vegetables and serve.
I admit, this one taxed my brain a bit, but it was so good I will make it again. And to be completely honest, the first time through a recipe always taxes my brain a bit. To make this post even more exciting I'm going to add a third recipe: homemade chicken noodle soup. This won't be very precise because I make it up as I go along, but it's a great way to use every bit of a whole chicken.
When you've finished supper remove as much meat as you can from the bone. Place the chicken carcass in a large pot. Fill the pot with water until the carcass is just covered.
Carrots and celery, roughly chopped.
Salt (however much you like).
A dash of apple cider vinegar (pulls minerals from the bone).
Fresh rosemary and thyme (if you have it, if not dried will do).
Set it to simmer for a good long while (at least two-three hours).
Remove and discard the chicken carcass (you can pull more meat from the bone at this time).
Pour the broth into a large bowl (or two) through a sieve. Or use whatever you have on hand to make sure you don't wind up with vegetables and herbs in your broth.
Put it in the fridge overnight.
In the morning skim most of the fat off the top, but not all of it! Fat is good for you.
Chop up carrots and celery. Add.
Add rosemary and thyme.
Set it to simmer.
I like to let it simmer all day, but a couple hours is plenty of time.
When you are a few minutes from supper time make noodles separately and then add them to the soup. They go all mushy otherwise.
Taste for flavor. Add salt or chicken broth if you like. I only recently have managed to make a soup that I don't feel needs a bit of chicken broth added to make the flavor stronger.
So there you have it.
Roast chicken, two ways, and a soup recipe.
If you're thinking you can't handle raw chicken I promise you will be fine. I gag through the entire process, but I make it through.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
I'm going to blog this really quick so I have a hope of sleeping tonight.
This afternoon I went down the street to hang out with my friend and her two kids. We were sitting around talking while the kids played. Her kids were snacking on peanut butter crackers, which I didn't think anything of even though I know Bennett reacts to peanuts when I eat them.
Bennett was playing off where I couldn't see him. I asked the oldest child where he was and what he was doing.
"Eating a cracker."
Ah, shoot. I jumped off the couch and fetched Bennett. The cracker was licked clean of peanut butter. I swiped a little from his mouth, but assumed he had ingested some.
I washed his mouth out and brought him into the living room with me. We watched him like a hawk, but he didn't stop breathing or show signs of distress. I let him play around for a few minutes then picked him up off the floor. I noticed he was breaking out in hives on his chin and neck.
We decided it was a good idea to call the doctor so I headed home, called his doctor's office, and then J, who was off work, but out running errands in the car with the car seat. The doctor's office said they would call right back and J headed home.
I held Bennett and watched as hives continued to break out on his body. He was still breathing fine, but I was afraid he would stop at any moment. The doctor's office called back to ask if we had any Benadryl in the house. When I said no the nurse put me on hold to confer with the doctor.
"If he stops breathing, hang up and call 911," she said before placing me on hold.
Keep breathing, keep breathing, keep breathing I thought as I paced and waited for the nurse to return to the line.
"I'm still waiting to hear from the doctor, but you need to head for the ER. I may call and ask you to come here instead, but you need to start driving to the hospital now. We expect a reaction within two hours, the fact that he is reacting within a few minutes is concerning."
J and I hustled out the door. Thankfully the ER is only a few minutes away. The nurse called as we were pulling in to tell us our doctor wanted Bennett monitored at the ER for a while.
Once in the ER - you get whisked back to a room right away when you present with an infant breaking out in hives - Bennett continued to break out and his face began to swell, but his breathing was fine.
After waiting a while (we were in a fast track room, which was still darn slow) the doctor came in, looked B over, and agreed it was an allergic reaction. Bennett's lungs sounded fine and his throat was clear, so we headed home with steroids in liquid form to administer for the next two days.
Even after his first steroid dose Bennett is breaking out. He has hives everywhere, we even noticed one in his ear just before putting him down for the night. Poor sweetie is an itchy miserable mess. The doctor warned us that the steroids often make little ones hyper; we'll see if he sleeps tonight.
I feel terrible about the whole event. I don't know why I wasn't watching him closer when I knew there were peanut butter crackers out. Accidents happen, but I still feel three tons of mama guilt.
I'm going to eat a bowl of ice cream and prepare myself for what could be a long night.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
I want to be honest, so before I post a few pictures from our adventure on Monday let me say this: I feel awful. I'm depressed and sad and miserable. Half my heart says it's not right to post these pictures when I feel like this. The other half says I have to keep living, the world isn't going to stop because a little girl should be two in thirteen days.
On Monday we went to a nearby tulip farm with my sister, mom, and three of B's cousins. Our hands were full. I don't know what we'll do when my sister has her third in August.
I didn't think the farm would be very crowded, it was a rainy Monday after all, but when we arrived to cars already parked in the field, and more driving in, I remembered we're Oregonians. If we wait for the rain to stop we won't get a thing done so we put on our boots and go.