Thursday, November 28, 2013

Holiday Overboard

This is our 3rd Thanksgiving in California. I wanted to make it special so I cooked and cooked and cooked for 2 days. JD told me not to make so much, it would only be us and the girls, we didn't need all of that food. But Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving without a feast. So I made 4 casseroles, 2 desserts, 4 side dishes, and a turkey. I went a little overboard.

It was actually a lot of fun planning the menu, prepping the dishes, and cooking everything. JD helped some, the girls popped in and out of the kitchen when something needed a good stir, and it all came together without any stress. The past 2 days were a steady rhythm of teaching myself how to brine a turkey, sharing my culinary prowess with my girls, and the rich smells of sweet potatoes baking, vegetable stock simmering, and yeast rolls rising. It felt like a holiday.

This Thanksgiving could also be known as the year of the terrible mealtime meltdown from both of my girls. Beatrice is my picky eater so I knew she would have a hard time with all of the new things on her plate today. I did not expect the total freak out she had when she saw the bright orange sweet potato casserole, the green beans topped with fried onions, and about 8 other weird items on her plate. "Please don't make me eat any of that," she cried. It was not a good start to the meal.

Penelope, who will eat anything, mimicked her sister and freaked out too. JD and I remained calm for the sake of the holiday and convinced everyone to try a bite. They did and it was determined that the turkey, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casserole were fit for consumption. Everything else was "yucky and gross like poop."

We feasted, we rested, we played with friends. I have spent the evening trying to find room in my fridge for 4 casseroles, 2 desserts, 4 side dishes, and a turkey. I went totally overboard this holiday and it was perfect. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Country Girl

Beatrice helped me bake cookies the other day. She wore my apron and hasn't taken it off since. She says she is a peasant girl living in the country. She is constantly in character, skipping everywhere she goes, talking in a provencal accent, and calling us mama and papa. It's adorable and hilarious.

"Oh Papa, can I help you with the sheep? Let me fetch the lute and we can have a merry dance!"

JD and I are having a hard time keeping in character with all of the silly things she says, but we will miss this country peasant girl stage once it's over.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

185 Days

If you have noticed the absence of someone on the blog lately, you are probably wondering what in the world is going on. Where is JD?! Since mid-May, he has been working in Saudi Arabia. For 185 days, the girls and I have missed our daddy, our boy. Last night he returned home to us.

A lot of people asked me how I managed being a single mama to 2 little ones for 6 months while JD was away. I never quite knew how to respond. There were a lot of hard moments, lots of times I struggled and outright sucked at everything I was doing, but I found a way to do what needed to be done. There's no choice to do anything else but handle everything by yourself when little kids are involved. You can't really lay down and give up when 2 little girls are like, "hey mom, we're hungry and we want to go to the park. Stop being weird and take care of us."

In hindsight, I suppose I managed everything with the help of friends that knew when I needed them, family support (even if it was from 2500 miles away), and lots of prayer. Thankfully, there weren't too many bad days in a row. There were always a few really great days that followed the terrible ones. And when all else failed, we operated in survivor mode. Dinner picnics at the park trumped dining table meltdowns, princess dresses to the grocery store seemed like a reasonable compromise in the midst of clothing battles with a 2 and 4 year old, and iPads in bed totally counted as a nap on those days when the girls refused to nap but I needed a break.

Some things didn't change at all with JD's absence. We never missed church, we utilized the same bedtime routine, and did chores as usual. It was important to everyone that things were basically the same around our home while JD was gone. The things that were different were both blessings and curses though. Knowing that I didn't have to cook every night or keep our living spaces as clean as JD likes them was liberating and depressing to me. On the days that I ignored laundry and left stickers on the walls, I cleaned everything like a crazy person the next day. I never realized how much my domestic duties made me feel like a wife until I wasn't required to do them for a time. I felt married and unmarried at the same time. Every day around 4 o'clock I would get so sad knowing that it really didn't matter what I served for dinner. The girls were just as happy with scrambled eggs as they would be if I served them chicken piccata. I missed my food-loving man.

The girls did pretty well without their daddy. I don't mean to be insensitive when I say that, but they are little and honestly probably won't remember the past 6 months without him. Not much about their daily routine changed while he was gone. We Skyped and FaceTimed with him everyday so they got to "see" him and we talked about him constantly. They did great, but obviously life is better with a daddy. They were so excited to bring him home with us last night.

I was really nervous about re-acclimating to each other again. He's been a bachelor for the last 6 months and I've been a single mom. So many things about our routine had changed and were about to change again as we worked ourselves back into family life. None of that mattered when I saw him last night though. My scruffy, jet-lagged man looked so good to me walking off that airplane, all I wanted to do was smooch his face off. All of that other stuff will work itself out in time.

JD had a great welcoming at the airport. Along with us, his office people were there with signs and balloons and hugs. The folks waiting to board the plane at the gate where JD deplaned applauded as we reunited with our daddy. It was emotional, my heart was bursting with love for my guy.

He's home now and we're not letting him go anywhere for a long time!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Potty Training Like A Boss

I hate potty training. To date, it is the worst part of parenting. I had such a rough experience training Beatrice, I was not in a hurry to put Penelope on the potty. When she turned 2, I stuck my fingers in my ears and said "la la la la la la la la la" to anyone that asked when I would start potty training her. The timing was never right, she didn't seem ready, and I certainly was not eager to commence pee-mageddon 2013, so I ignored that nagging voice inside that said it was time.

A few weeks ago, JD kindly reminded me of holiday plans, family visits, and other obligations ahead of us. If I ever wanted Penelope out of diapers, I had to do it now.

So we did it. I didn't use a particular method, I just put her in panties and had her sit on the potty every 45 minutes. The first day was terrible, Penelope never peed once on the potty. The next day she had equal accidents and successes. And on the third day, she had it. Three days and she was completely potty trained. I am still shocked!

It's been 3 weeks and she has only had 2 accidents since the first 2 days. We've been to Disneyland for 9 hours, all over Los Angeles and Orange County, and on many other adventures without any accidents. She tells us when she needs to go and she's not afraid of public restrooms. It's been a breeze training this girl.

I am so proud of this tiny girl. She owns the potty! Good job, Penelope!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Lights

The night of Beatrice's party, after it got dark, our friends came back over to release floating lanterns into the sky. I thought it would be a special surprise and something she would love - I was right! All of us loved it!

It was so much fun! The flames were kind of huge and scary for little hands, but we let them carefully release a few fireballs into the sky. It was really beautiful and such a special way to celebrate Beatrice.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Beatrice's 4th Birthday Party

I've said it here before, I hate party planning and event hosting. I love my friends and I love being hospitable, but the stress of preparing everything gives me anxiety. I can't breathe thinking about all of the things I must accomplish for the big day. The weeks and days before an event at my house are not calm ones for me.

Last week planning and prepping Beatrice's 4th birthday party was no different. But, after working late into the night stringing hundreds of tiny glitter circles into garland, rolling numerous sheets of uncooperative tissue paper into tassels, and experimenting with food coloring drop by drop to achieve the perfect pink buttercream frosting, it all came together.

The details:

Nacho bar (chips, hot cheese sauce, onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, black olives, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, diced chicken)
Hot apple cider
Assorted Jones sodas
Bottled water
Juice boxes
Cupcakes with homemade buttercream
Barbie cake 
Jump house
Fire pit for marshmallow roasting

I made all of the decor except for the table cloth. It was a real labor of love. I found some ideas on Pinterest, but most of it came from my brain. I started with the gold and pink straws and everything branched from there. Gold and pink glittery and shiny things have covered my dining room table for weeks, just waiting to make their debut at Beatrice's party. I love how it all came together. 

I also made all of the food. I love nachos and thought it was the perfect party food for a 3 o'clock event. I'm not sure about the kids, but us moms LOVED the nacho bar. There were hardly any leftovers and I made a ton of food. 

It was a costume party so all of Beatrice's friends came dressed up as princesses, super heroes, and Peter Pan. The kids jumped in the bounce house, drank soda, and roasted marshmallows. 

It was a lot of work (it took me 2 days to clean up!), but Beatrice had a great party. I'm so happy she enjoyed her day, but I'm so glad I don't have to plan anything for another year!

I love this 4 year old with my whole heart. 

Photos by my talented friend, Natasha Dawn Photography