Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Finally, a why.

After 2 months, the medical powers that be have finally been able to tell me what the cause of my miscarriages have been - I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS. Basically, this is an endocrine disorder that in my case, is presented by a string of pearl-like cysts on my left ovary. These cysts have caused my body chemistry to be completely out of whack, and therefore, not up to the task of carrying a baby. I do have weird case of PCOS, as I have none of the typical symptoms (obesity, severe acne, excess body hair), and I am able to get pregnant a little too easily (for which of course, Joel likes to take sole credit). My doctor told me that my PCOS can be controlled with medication that has very mild side effects, so that's the good news. The bad is that I now have an increased risk of certain types of cancer and other health issues down the road, although many of these risks can be minimized with a healthy diet and exercise, which are already a part of my daily life.

5-10% of women in their child-bearing years have PCOS, and it is not always easily diagnosed. My OB admitted that this was the last thing on her list when she was considering the cause of our losses. It just goes to show that things do happen for a reason, and thankfully, if I ever want another baby, we have some options.

And speaking of babies, Jack Rigsbee Barsotti was born yesterday just before noon and is the spitting image of his daddy. Welcome to parenthood, Nick and Sarah! May it be a lovely ride.

E. P. S. gets political

***contains adult language, so don't watch around young children***

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bad drivers suck

So the girls and I were on a late-afternoon Target run (my sister-in-law is being induced this evening and I wanted to grab her and her husband some reading material for their last few hours of freedom), and we were stopped at the light just before the Target when BAM! We were rear ended so hard that we were knocked into the Jeep in front of us. The guy who hit us said that he couldn't see me due to the glare. We'd been at a full stop long enough for Ava to ask why we were stopped several times and for me to keep explaining that when the light is red, it's not our turn to drive.

We're all fine, aside from some bruises (and the driver of the car in front of me had a nasty cut on his forhead). The driver who hit us was driving with a suspended license was driving someone else's car. He was completely unapologetic, leaving the deputy in charge to whisper to me that if I happened to kick him in the shins, the deputy never saw a thing.

I never knew how much I loved my mini van until I saw it all broken. Moment of silence for my wounded soldier. And speedy labor vibes to my sister-in-law!

Going Batty

Sometimes, I have the tendancy to be read to go too early. We had our monthly MOMS Club meeting this morning, and the girls and I were all ready to go, but had about 30 minutes to spare. To kill a little time, we made some bats:

I got the idea at one of my favorite websites, No Time for Flashcards. Allie has the best ideas (and of course, I like the way she spells her name!). Emily had fun using the crayons, and Ava had fun with all of the glueing (the google eyes in particular).

The week in review

Blogger has been rather flaky this week when I've tried to update, so here I am once again hoping that my post doesn't get eaten!

Last week was a rush of baking, playgroups, and hunting down the last bits and baubles for Halloween costumes (the girls are going to be ballerinas - pictures to come!). Emily had her 15 month check up (the results - she's perfect, just as we have always known), the girls got their flu shots, we went to our friends' annual Halloween bash, and we did some reorganizing of the toys, since they had once again taken over the entire house.

Vampire Joel and our little ballerinas at a Halloween party:

When ballerinas go wild:

Ava, Emily, and some of their second cousins (Joel's family is rediculously HUGE!):

*Stepping onto the soapbox* Tomorrow night I am off to volunteer my time for the Obama campaign so I'd like to take this opportunity to remind you all to VOTE, no matter who you vote for. This is SUCH an important election year and we are so very lucky to live in a country where we have the power to affect change in our government. *Steps off of the soapbox*
Finally, not only are we addicted to coffee in this house, but we're also addicted to pancakes! Here are two recipes that we've fallen in love with, along with a recipe for Apple Cider Syrup, which is so yummy with both kinds of pancakes, and would also be good over vanilla ice cream or even over apple pie.
Light and Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes

1 ¼ c all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt
1 pinch cloves
1 c 1% low-fat milk (can be any kind)
6 T canned pumpkin puree
2 T melted butter
1 egg

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin, melted butter, and egg. Fold mixture into dry ingredients. Spray or grease a skillet and heat over medium heat; pour in ¼ cup batter for each pancake. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side. Serve with butter and syrup. Makes about six 6-inch pancakes.
Notes: I used whole wheat flour in place of the AP and applesauce in place of the butter and sugar and these turned out wonderfully. You could also use 1 T pumpkin pie spice instead of all of the individual spices.

Applesauce Pancakes
2 eggs
2 cups flour, sifted
1 cup milk (1/3 cup powdered, 7/8 cup water)
1 cup natural applesauce
1 tsp salt
2 T baking powder
4 T melted butter
Combine all the ingredients, mixing until smooth. Cook on a hot griddle or skillet. Serve with Apple Cider Syrup (see recipe). Makes about 16 pancakes. Serves 4.
Notes: Once again, I used whole wheat flour and they were very yummy!
Apple Cider Syrup
2 cups fresh apple cider
1 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
2 T fresh lemon juice
4 T butter (can omit)
Combine all ingredients, except butter, in a saucepan over medium heat until mixture thickens. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Serve hot over pancakes.
Notes: We got our cider from a farm and it was plenty sweet, so I left the sugar out completely. I also omitted the lemon juice, but I definitely think it would be worth adding if you have a lemon on hand.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A tale of two pumpkins

This morning we went to Fir Point Farms with the girls and our friends Matt and Barbara and their kids. The farm is located in Canby and has a great assortment of activities for kids of all ages, as well as a huge assortment of pumpkins (at great prices, too!). For $10, you get 25 tickets to "pay" for the various activities - a hay maze, a bounce house, a play structure, hay rides, and a petting zoo, to name a few. The kids ran around for a few hours and the adults followed, cameras in hand. We brought home 4 pumpkins, including an 18 pound Cinderella pumpkin that I'm going to bake and puree tomorrow, since I seem to be even more of a pumpkin spice latte addict these days than before (perhaps it's the fact that my kids seem to think that 5 am is a perfectly acceptable time of day to wake up?). I'm guessing that an 18 pound pumpkin will keep me in lattes, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin pie (who's excited for Thanksgiving?!?!) for quite a while.

Here are a few shots from our morning out:

And yes, I made those shirts. You can too - just click here. And if you're cool like me, you have a friend like I do who decided that our playgroup should do this at her house while the kids were distracted by a tea party with her fancy china. Brigitte, you're a much braver momma than I am! Martha would be so proud.
Finally, and now that I am once again jonesing for a pumpkin spice latte, here's a new idea for all of you converts to try: Pumpkin Pie Spice Simple Syrup. No actual pumpkin (and therefore no nutritional value), but the flavor is so close to Starbucks, that if you wiggle your toes while drinking, you are completely fooled. Say it with me people: YUM. Denise and John, I apologize for the addiction that is now afflicting your house. We should all consider a 12 step.

Friday, October 17, 2008

How Ava spent her afternoon

This morning we met my cousin-in-law Lisa and her two little girls at the zoo. After running around for a few hours (where, even with the cool weather, the animals were nowhere to be seen!), we left the zoo and had lunch. On the drive home, Ava told me she wanted to do her quiet time in her room, which struck me as odd, since she hates to do quiet time these days. It got pretty quiet in there so I went in to investigate.

Her room appeared to be empty until I checked under Emily's crib:

That would be the pink balloon she got at the restaurant where we ate lunch. Apparently, she's in love.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Keepin' it real...

Emily decided to try on some sunglasses:

Of course, Ava could not be outdone by her younger sister:

Mommy should have known what would happen next when this look came across Ava's face:

Tackling your sister...

Is never a good idea.

Lest you all think it's homemade-organic-free range-hands on-age appropriate-learning here 24/7...

You've been BOO'd!

Yesterday was one of those trying days...Emily is sick and her incisors are still not through (!!!!!). Ava woke up too early and refused to nap, so she was pretty much out of commission around 3. I watched my friend's son so she could attend to a family emergency and while his father assured me that he was completely potty trained, he pooped. In the pull-up that he was wearing. And his father didn't bring any extra, or any extra clothes. Thankfully, my sweet friend Barbara brought me one of her daughter's pull-ups (we've been diaper free in this house for over a year, thank you very much). And, when I opened the door to thank her, there was a mystery package on my door step, a nicely decorated bag filled with stickers for play dough for my kids and candy corn and caramel filled kisses for me (YUM!). There was also the following note:

The air is cool, the season is fall.
Soon Halloween will come to all.
The ghosts ar after things to do.
In fact, a ghost brough this to you!

"BOO" shields you from the witching hour.
Just hang it up and watch its power.
On your front door is where it works.
It wards off spirits and evil jerks.

A treat came with this crypted note.
They're yours to keep, enjoy them both.
The power comes when friends like you
Will copy this and make it two.

Then others here among our friends
Will give warm fuzzies that will not end.
We'll all have smiles upon our face.
No one will know who "BOO"ed whose place.

Just two short days to work your spell
Or a big ZAP will strike your tail,
And don't forget a nifty treat
Like something cute or something sweet.

Please join the fun, let's really hear it
And spread some "BOO"s and Halloween spirit.



Since I'm the president of our chapter, you'd think I would have been able to figure out who BOO'd me, or how the BOOing got started! Oh well, it was such a welcome treat for the kids and I during a long day.

Today after school, Ava and I made some candy corn cookies and filled some cute Halloween containers with them (and the copies of the BOO note) and delivered them a few members of our MOMS Club. What a fun little tradition! I think that this is a cute idea to do in your neighborhood or with a playgroup or other organization, and really could be adapted for and holiday.

Our candy corn cookies:

Our BOO bags:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Apple Fest!

This afternoon, we took advantage of the beautiful fall weather and took the girls to Oregon Heritage Farms for their anual Apple Fest. We've done this a few times, and it's always fun. There are pumpkins, hay rides, mazes, and of course, lots of apples. If you haven't been out to this great farm, be sure to try to stop by - their Honey Crisps are the best I've ever tasted!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Have yourself a crafty Halloween

It's no secret that one of the reasons I love being a stay at home mom is that I love arts and crafts. As soon as Ava could sit in her high chair, we were finger painting, and I probably let her have crayons at too early an age. Now that she is older, she can do more complex crafts, while Emily does the finger painting (although, Emily is a lot more oral than Ava was, and she eats more paint than she puts on the paper!). This week, we've had some fun making leaf rubbings, decorating paper pumpkins and bats to hang in our windows, and coloring fall and Halloween themed coloring pages (I *heart* the internet!).

I had a momentary freakout when my favorite website was down for some reason on Monday - it's where I get a lot of the patterns I use (they're all organized by seasons, holidays, and other themes). Luckily, they were back up by Tuesday morning, but the pumkins that Ava and I decorated on Monday just weren't as cute as the ones she did today with her friend Scott (using the handy pumpkin pattern!).

Here are a few of the cute projects that the girls (and their friends) have worked on this week:

Some of the art above the girls' play kitchen. The thing in the center is a leaf that I cut out of a huge page that Emily finger painted:

Ava says that this is supposed to be a chicken. I think it kind of looks like one if you squint:

Ava and I made this cute hanging pumpkin out of extra strips of scrapbooking paper. I found the idea here:

What kinds of crafts are you doing with your family for the fall holidays?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday cook-a-thon

In an effort to save gas and money, the girls and I stayed home yesterday and got in touch with our inner Martha. First, we cleaned. Then we did laundry. I wanted to take a picture of the mountain so you could see the amount of laundry I do twice a week (it's taller than Ava!), but alas, the camera's battery was dead, so no pictures today.

Ava helped me make the best black bean soup ever in the crock pot first thing in the morning. If you have young kids who like to help cook, the crock pot really is the best invention ever. I chop everything up, and Ava dumps everything into the crock and gets the feeling that she made dinner all by herself. I've also found that it gets her excited about different foods (especially foods that she wouldn't otherwise touch with a 10 foot pole). She even got to set the timer. When Daddy came home, she got to brag about the soup that she made. All by herself!

We also made a few loaves of pumpkin bread, beer bread to go with our soup, the yummiest muffins I've ever had, some scones, and some granola bars. The pumpkin bread will be taken to a play group later this week, and the muffins, scones, and granola bars will go into the freezer and be healthy snacks for school and breakfasts. Ava mixed the beer bread and muffin batter all by herself and when I dropped her off at school this morning, she told her teacher that she'd baked her own snack.

Beer Bread

3 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c sugar
3 T baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 bottle or can (12 oz) beer (room temp)
2 T butter or margarine, melted (I used Smart Balance and it worked just fine)
Additional butter or margarine, if desired
Heat oven to 375. Grease bottom and sides of 8x4 or 9x5 inch loaf pan with shortening or spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in beer and 2 T butter just until moistened (batter will be lumpy). Spread in pan. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and top is light golden brown. Brush top of loaf with additional butter. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Loosen sides of loaf from pan; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

Playgroup Granola Bars

recipe yield: 24 granola bars
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9x13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, raisins and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
via Libby's

3 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups granulated sugar
1 (15 ounce) can LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.
Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil and orange juice in large mixer bowl; beat until just blended. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans.
Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Ayelet's notes: I used whole wheat flour and homemade applesauce for the oil and sugar. I didn't ahve frozen cranberries, so I used dried. This is SO good toasted and spread with a little cream cheese or ricotta. YUM!

Outside of the baking realm, Emily has a new tooth, and Ava is finally starting to like school. She was having a rough time, between completely dropping her nap and being in the same class with her best friend (and together, they have been quite the little exclusive clique! I thought that stuff didn't start until high school!). Her teacher and I have had several conversations, and it seems that simple solutions like "make a new friend day" to seperate Ava and her BFF are all that have been needed. Joel finally won a fantasy football game, and I'm busy as ever with MOMS Club and being a room mom at preschool.

This afternoon, I am hoping to make some Halloween decorations with Ava for the house, and get a head start on our Halloween cards. Here's hoping Emily (who is working on yet another new tooth) takes a good nap!