Monday, April 28, 2008

Saved!

It's back! All the data has been recovered, and I'm happily working on the assignment that's due tomorrow (it was actually due today, but they took pity on me). Thanks so much for all the good thoughts—they clearly made a difference.

As promised, I am now devoting myself to good deeds. Here's my first one: I'm sharing the best muffin recipe ever. No joke—the best ever. It's a variation on one that was shared by Ayo, my friend and neighbor (and mom to Sidamo's mentors in crime, the cutest Ethiopian twins this side of the Blue Nile). The original muffin recipe comes from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook; the streusel recipe is from The Village Baker's Wife. Here goes:

Streusel Topping
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup very cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Banana Crunch Muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 lb. unsalted butter, melted and cool
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
1 cup medium-diced bananas (1 banana)
1 cup small-diced walnuts
1 cup granola
1 cup shredded coconut

Streusel: Combine all dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and pulse several times until the mixture is a crumbly consistency. Or use a pastry blender or two knives to cut in the butter. Be careful not to overmix or the topping will become doughlike. Refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.

Muffins:
Preheat muffins to 350 degrees. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Stir in melted butter and blend. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas; add to the flour/butter mix. Scrape the bowl and blend well. Don't overmix.

Fold the diced bananas, walnuts, granola, and coconut into the batter. Spoon into buttered or lined muffin tins, filling each one to the top. Top each muffin with streusel. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (more or less, depending on the size of the muffins) or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly, remove from pan, and serve.

My random muffin thoughts:
  • This recipe yielded 18 regular-sized muffins and 12 mini muffins for me. I ended up with extra streusel topping, which I've put in the fridge for my next muffin adventure.
  • You can freeze the muffins either before baking or after. I did some both ways. If you freeze before baking, you should use a liner. Just freeze the muffins in the pan; pop them out when they're frozen and put them in a freezer-safe container. When you're ready to bake them, put them back in the muffin pan (buttered) and bake (starting from frozen) for about 5 minutes longer than you would have normally.
  • If you don't feel like baking, just stop by and raid my freezer. Seriously, it's a little out of control.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Insert your favorite expletive here

I'm having big, big computer problems. A computer catastrophe, more like. Somehow, in my attempt to clean up my hard drive, I deleted my entire Entourage user database, so all my saved emails, contacts, calendar, etc., have disappeared. Of course, all the info I need for a few upcoming articles (and the newsletter that's due tomorrow) exists only in those emails. And no, I haven't backed up lately, but thanks for asking.

*%$*&#@#!!!!!!

I'm taking my computer up to Boulder in the morning to see if the only Mac guy I know can fix it. Fingers crossed, please.

And Allison, if you're reading this, I might have to reschedule lunch. Would you email or call me if you see this? I don't have your contact info now that, you know, all my contacts have evaporated.

Again, *%$*&#@#!!!!!! And again, please cross your fingers and hope for the speedy and successful recovery of my data. If the powers that be should take pity upon me, I swear I'll do all sorts of good deeds—and back up my computer frequently.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

This week in review

Long time no blog. I have no excuse, really, except that I've been nesting like crazy—you should see the ridiculous number of muffins now residing in our freezer—and haven't been able to bring myself to spend more time on the computer than necessary. It's been a fun-filled week, so rather than recapping it, I'll just give it to you in photos.

Last Saturday: University of Colorado's Spring Game
Greg and Sidamo had a boys' day last weekend (so I had the day to myself—yay!). They went up to Boulder for CU's spring game (I have no idea what that means, but Greg was excited about it). From the pictures, I gather it's an event at which the football team shows off its brawn by passing around toddlers.






In this one and the next one, he's eating a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich while meeting some of CU's more revered former players. The boy has his priorities.


Tuesday (or was it Monday?): The Zoo with Jessica and Max
The weather was unreal this week—some days were in the 80s (of course, today was 40s and snowy). So we took advantage of our short-lived spring by spending as much time outside as possible.

This is my real smile!

Jessica and sleepy Max.

Elephant photo op.

Am I placing too much trust in plexiglass?

Thursday: The Magic of Dry Ice
I received a package for work that had dry ice in it, so Greg put it in the sink and gave Sidamo a wooden spoon and some warm water. Voila: his first cauldron. He must have played with it for an hour—until every last crumb of ice had melted—all the while saying, "Sidamo cooking!"


Friday, April 18, 2008

A year?


Hard to believe it's been 366 days—one full leap-year—since we saw this beautiful mug for the first time. I still vividly remember the sheer joy and excitement I felt when our agency rep called with the good news, and the gut-wrenchingly anxious wait between the phone call and the email that contained all his information (and of course his photo!). When I saw his picture for the first time, I remember thinking, "Of course. That's our son!" I can't explain the immediate and strong connection I felt to his photo. And after reading about his history, his first family, and his life up until that point, I was overcome with a sobering sense of responsibility for this little person.

While I was processing all this, Greg was stuck in a meeting and hadn't even had a chance to learn anything about his new son. All he knew was that we had a referral—he gathered that much from my screeching phone call (cut short by the start of his meeting) in which, he later told me, he at first thought I was shouting, "We have a squirrel! We have a squirrel!"

The 10 weeks we spent waiting to travel gave us an opportunity to wrap our minds around the idea of becoming parents. Our baby was no longer an abstract idea, but an actual living, breathing human being with a name and a story of his own. It suddenly was no longer all about us and our adoption journey, but about him. (Of course, it wasn't until we actually met him in July that we learned what "all about him" really meant.) It was the sweetest blessing of our lives.

Here's that sweet little blessing, then and now.


And here's Big Sidamo admiring Baby Sidamo. Who could blame him?

video

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thinking of having kids?

My sister-in-law sent this to me and it gave me big giggles. Especially the part about the goats (yes, I'm a little obsessed with goats).

Thinking of having kids? Do this 11 step program first!

Lesson 1
1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2
Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...
1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior. Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3
A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...
1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)
2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive)
Repeat steps 1–9 each night. Keep this up for 3–5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4
Can you stand the mess children make? To find out...
1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed, then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5
Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.
1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out. Time allowed for this: all morning.

Lesson 6
Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.
1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7
Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8
1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.
You are now ready to feed a nine-month-old baby.

Lesson 9
Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street , Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies, and Pokemon. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you're thinking, "What's Noggin?") Exactly the point.

Lesson 10
Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy' repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 11
Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt-sleeve, or elbow while playing the 'mommy' tape made from Lesson 10 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunny days


We had a beautiful, beautiful day today, and I finally feel like the chill is out of my bones (might help that I turned the heat past 60 as well). After nap time the whole family worked in the garden—me in a skirt! Greg and Sidamo did a bunch of watering and digging, and I planted some seeds (spinach, kale, arugula, and lettuce in the ground; basil, peppers, and melons in containers to start indoors). Also exciting: We planted two apple trees that we're going to espalier along trellises in the backyard. I'm sort of particular about my apples and wasn't thrilled with the choices available at local nurseries (Golden Delicious and Macintosh), so I did some research and found a web site for a nursery called Trees of Antiquity, which specializes in heirloom varieties. After way too much time reading about all the options, I settled on Strawberry Parfait and Northern Spy. They sound delicious, and I can't wait until the trees start bearing fruit (assuming they survive our black thumbs).

Part two of the Sunny Days theme: Sidamo has really taken to singing actual songs in the past week, and it's hilarious to hear how the lyrics emerge after being processed in a 2-year-old brain. His two songs so far are the Sesame Street theme and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. For several days, the his Sesame Street repertoire was this: "Sun away. Sun away. Sun away." (Repeat ad infinitum.) But he's figuring it out. Today he came out with, "Sunny days. Clouds away. On my way, air is sweet! Tell me Sesame Street!" Pretty darn good! He always ends with, "Max sleeping?" because the only time he gets to watch Sesame Street is when I'm putting Max down for his nap.

Twinkle Twinkle (a.k.a. Tinkle Tinkle) is still very abbreviated, but he's making progress. I'll try to get a video of his performances, but he gets a little camera shy. Nanny cam anyone?

Friday, April 11, 2008

And growing …

I think the little one has hit a growth spurt—here I am today, at 31 weeks and a few days.


I find it hard to believe I still have another two months of growing to do. Apparently so did the waitress who served brunch to me, Sidamo and Greg's grandma this morning. She looked at me and said, "Wow! You're about to go!"

"Actually, no," I said. "It's still two months away." But thanks.

When she walked away, I said to Greg's grandma, "You know, no one should ever ask a pregnant woman if she's about to pop." Grandma agreed and then followed up with a very concerned, "But has your doctor put any limit on your weight gain?" Again, thanks.

What's funny is that I've actually not gained much at all—less than the recommended amount, in fact. I can only imagine the comments I'll be getting when I'm 9 months pregnant, especially now that I've given up reigning in my ice cream cravings. Last night I was trying to fix our broken ice cream scooper, and Greg said, "What's the point? You're going to eat it straight out of the container, anyway." He had a point.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sooooo over it

I know this is typical for a Colorado spring, but man, am I tired of being cold! We get these wonderful little teases of spring—days that are pretty darn close to 70, and Sidamo and I go to the playground in t-shirts—but just when we start to let our guards down, we wake up to this:



I'm so ready to wear tank tops and Tevas and start planting my garden—before I'm too big to bend over and plant anything. Plus, I estimate I'll only fit into my winter coat for another week or two, and there's no way I'm buying a maternity coat in April. Come on spring!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Too big

This morning Sidamo was helping me pick out my clothes (what can I say, he has better fashion sense), and he picked out a non-maternity sweater for me. I said, "No, honey, that one's too small." He turned it around: "Mommy too big belly?"

Thanks, kid, I guess that's another way to put it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Coffee Dance

I'm not sure how or when it started, but the Coffee Dance has become a tradition in our house. Whenever we're grinding coffee beans, we all sing and dance—one of us more enthusiastically than the others, evidenced here.

Believe it or not, he's not partaking in the caffeine.