Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Third Birthday Berlin!

Birth Day

First Birthday

Second Birthday

Third Birthday

Dear Berlin,

Happy, happy birthday sweet girl! I can’t believe you are three!!

I just wrote an update about all the wonderful things about you, but I didn’t really say how much I love you. I feel so blessed that you are a part of our lives and a part of our family.

What do I love about you? I love that you are silly and happy a lot of the time, that you are always ready to laugh. I love that you are stubborn and strong willed. I love that you have so much determination, enough that you can accomplish whatever you want in life – and I know you will. I love that you sing all the time, that you have as much of a natural ear as your dad. I love that you get so excited every single time you see a dog. I love how creative you are, how imaginative you are, and how smart you are. I love that you love to snuggle and that you let me rub your back all the time. I love that you still like to sit on my lap. I love that you still like to sleep with your face pressed up to the rail on your bed, just like when you were in your crib. I love that you are so full of life!

Seriously. I had a hard time with your birthday this year because I didn't want to let go of my two year old. I didn’t really want you to turn three, but you didn’t listen to me. ☺ On the other hand, I can’t wait to see what kind of fun we are going to have this next year!

Daddy and I are obsessed with you. We think you are the most perfect newly turned three year old we know. You make us smile – a lot.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Berli Update

I was realizing a few weeks ago that it has been a long time since I have updated my kids’ general growth status on my blog. Kind of a bummer since that concept is one of the reasons I started my blog in the first place. Then I realized Berlin’s birthday was just a few short weeks away and gave myself a good reason to procrastinate by planning her update the week of her birthday, which I would normally do anyway.

So here goes. The long procrastinate and almost forgotten about update. Since it has been awhile, this might get kind of long.

One of the main things that I have been thinking about Berlin lately is, “She is only turning 3 at the end of February! This whole time she has still only been 2 years old!” She acts so much older! I think it has something to do with the fact that Berlin has to do and try everything that Tryn does, but I honestly forgot for awhile that she was still only 2 years old. She plays like a 4 year old, acts like a 4 year old, and talks like a 4 year old. At church when I would drop Berlin off at her Sunday School class the ladies would ask me, “She’s really only 2 years old? She talks so well! She sounds much older than that!” So we actually moved her up to the 3 year old class a few months early, and she has been doing just fine there.

There are some things that reminded me that she really was still only 2 though. Mostly phrases like, “What you said?” which she still says all the time instead of, “What did you say?” And she always calls everything in the future “to-morning”. Referring to the past is always hard too and the most common reference is “last morning”. She also sometimes gets mealtimes confused and will call breakfast dinner and dinner lunch. She also can’t sit still as long as a 4 year old either. Tryn can sit at the table and color for an hour, while Berlin will last all of 10 minutes. Although, to be honest, I don’t know if Berlin will even be able to sit and color for an hour even when she is 4.

We had some friends over the other day who observed the fact that Berlin doesn’t walk anywhere, she runs. Berlin has so much energy that sometimes it seems like it is literally impossible for her to hold still. If she gets wired before bedtime she will bounce around the room – not kidding. She will run at the bed and bounce off of it, she will run at me and Steve and try to bounce off of us, she will be unable to sit in our laps long enough to sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. I think my update from her birthday last year was something like “Berlin is a party waiting for people” and not much has changed! She is a busy girl.

Berlin has started loving a few select veggies! Yay! I used to be able to not get her to eat any except corn, and now she loves fresh green beans, snow peas, bell peppers, and carrot sticks – loves them.

Berlin still loves animals. Every few weeks she will say, “Mom, I wish we could have a dog,” and that’s the only time I ever want to get one. She also loves to play in the water. I can fill up the sink in the bathroom and give her a few spoons and cup and she will play in there for an hour. Maybe because it feels like cooking, which Berlin also loves. Every single time I am in the kitchen for more than 5 minutes Berlin will come in and ask, “Mom, can I watch you?” and will be content to sit on the counter and just watch me cook. She especially loves it if there is some way she can help with the cooking. I can’t believe how much she likes it and it never gets old to her.

Our little three year old also has a new love, Diego. She likes Dora too, but Diego is a favorite for some reason. She runs around the house singing Diego songs and saying words in Spanish. So cute. She also still loves princesses, of course. And dresses that spin. We have “discussions” every morning, first about getting to wear a skirt or a dress – even when it’s -20 degrees and there are no clean tights or leggings – and then she gets really bummed if her skirt/dress doesn’t flare out when she spins. Winter skirts and dresses are not very spinny. I can’t wait for summer.

Okay, at the risk of this going on forever, that’s all for now. I need to get better at writing these updates more than once every six months, then they wouldn’t get so long!

Bottom line, I love this kid. And I have especially enjoyed her being a two year old, so much so that I feel like I am really going to miss it - which makes this a fairly bittersweet week for me. She's pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cheese Farm

I don't know if many people have seen my "About Me" section on Facebook. I wrote it way back in the day when I first signed up, when everyone still read their friends likes/dislikes, favorite quotes, favorite books and movies, and the About Me sections on Facebook. Maybe everyone else still does read them? I don't.

Anyway, if you haven't read it, mine goes like this:

I grew up on a farm in Brainerd, MN. When I was little I used to take a slice of cheese and break it into exactly 16 little squares (using a folding technique), I got into the habbit of doing this almost everyday for lunch. Then I would put my elbow on the table and put my hand to my mouth and pretend that each square of cheese was a bale of hay that had to be moved up the conveyor (my arm) into the barn (my mouth). I also put these little squares on my strawberry jam or honey toast. I still like the taste of cheap processed cheese on my toast...

I bring this up because today I decided to make a piece of toast with some of my mom's homemade strawberry jam and put some cheese on top. Don't make that face until you try it. Really. It's not bad, reminds me of childhood at least. I literally have not made this snack in years. I have definitely never told my kids this story, they would be too young to understand.

Anyway, as I was making my snack my kids asked for a piece of cheese. I gave them each one and went back to toast making. As I sat down at the table with my snack I realized that both of my kids had ripped their cheese into several little pieces and were pretending to be sheep, eating it off the table without using their hands. I guess eating cheese and pretending your are on a farm go hand in hand. Or maybe it runs in the family. :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Baby Still

One part that I did not expect of having another child was in letting go of the "baby" part of my other baby. I always knew that Tryn would not be my only child, so she has never been the "baby of the family" except when she really was the only baby we had. But it wasn't a process of letting go of The Baby when Berlin came along. For awhile we started thinking that Berlin might be our last kid, so she really became The Baby - despite her darn hardest attempts to grow up. Now that I am having another child I feel a little sad that Berlin will no longer be The Baby. It helps a little that she will still be our youngest girl, that feels different than if we were having another girl. A boy just makes things different.

Regardless, my Baby is turning 3 this Saturday!! How did that happen? She is not really a baby at all anymore anyway. So part of me is so glad to be having another kid, I am not ready to move past having a baby in my life.

But this helps...

And this.

Sigh. See? She really IS still a baby. I guess it's irreversible. She will always be my baby, even when she's 30.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Our Son

I think mostly everyone knows already because I put the info on Facebook, and everyone knows that if you are on FB you are in the "know", but we are having a boy! You were all right - well, almost everyone who guess in my last post about this pregnancy guessed that it was going to be a boy. Your prize? You can hold him when he is born!! Haha!

I was going to blog that information last week, but then we got a call from the doctor the day after the ultrasound. The message went something like this, " your unltrasound yesterday we saw a small bright spot on the baby's heart. In the past this bright spot has sometimes been a marker for down syndrome, but it's probably not a big deal because everything else in your ultrasound looked just fine. We just need to have you come in for a level 2 ultrasound to do some more measurements..."

I can't even tell you what was going through my mind when I got that message.

I did a bunch of online research and found out that besides being a marker for down syndrome it could also be something as simple as a calcium deposit that would go away in the 3rd trimester and would be nothing to worry about. It was generally only if the bright spot was accompanied by one or more other signs such as a brain cyst, a large space between the first two toes, a missing nasal bone, bones that weren't measuring in correct proportionate size to other bones, etc.

So we didn't say anything about it. No sense it worrying everyone about something that was potentially nothing, especially since they hadn't found anything else to worry about.

But that doesn't mean that we weren't a little worried.

Turns out, after an almost two hour ultrasound with the most informative ultrasound technician in the world this last Wednesday, the doctor pronounced our son "another variation of normal". Normal except a small calcium deposit on his heart that will go away in the 3rd trimester. Apparently these are becoming so common in ultrasounds that it is not really a marker for down syndrome anymore, but it's hard to convince the entire medical world not to believe something that has been true for 15 years.

Our consolation for our week long of worry was our fabulous technician who decided to practice her 3D and 4D ultrasound skills on our baby. So, for the first time, and probably only time, we got to see one of our babies in 3D. It was awesome.

The pictures aren't super clear, but our technician was literally practicing on us because she doesn't normally do 3D ultrasounds. I told her to go ahead and practice away :) She explained the whole 3D/4D thing to us, it was amazing.

And then of course she printed us about 10 new regular ultrasound photos. She was so nice.

Things we know about our baby:

* He is, as far as ultrasounds are able to determine, perfectly healthy :) Praise God.

* He has some of the longest fingers our technician had ever seen on a 20 week old baby. Like his dad? Yup.

* His second toe is longer than his first big toe, just like his dad.

* He is not as forcefully active (in the womb) as both of his sisters were. He moves around a lot, but he is, so far, a much calmer mover. He doesn't use me as his punching bag...yet. :)

We are so excited to meet him!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

High Mountains

Conversation I just had with Tryn...

Tryn: When I have a baby I am going to be in charge. Like a mom. I want to be in charge, like you are in charge.

Me: Hm.

Tryn: Yup. When I have a baby I am going to climb a mountain too.

Me: Why do you want to climb a mountain?

Tryn: Because. I am going to be a mountain climber when I grow up. I think that mountain climbing and flying are good, but I think mountain climbing would be more fun.

Me: Why do you think that?

Tryn: Because. I could climb way up and then put on some pixie dust and then jump off the mountain and fly!...Do you know where there are any tall mountains?

Me: No. Well, I know where there are some, but they are very far away.

Tryn: Like in St. Paul? Do you think there is a tall mountain in St. Paul?

Me: No babe, there are no high mountains in St. Paul.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Quinoa? Yes, Please!

UPDATE: If you are coming back to this recipe, I don't know, to maybe make it or something, check out the update I made. 1 Tablespoon of salt in the water is WAY too much. The first time I made this I actually forgot to add the salt and so we just added some salt and pepper when all was said and mixed. The second time I added it and it's just WAY too much. It was too salty for me. Add less. Amen.

I found a new amazing recipe. I'm bummed because I simply cannot remember where I found somewhere, on a day when I was looking on several sites for new recipes, just can't remember which one.

Anyway, my goal in looking for this recipe was two things:

1) I have been looking for more vegetarian meals to make for dinner. Not because we are becoming vegetarians - not at all. I love steak. A lot. Partially I recently realized that I really don't know how to cook dinner without involving meat somehow, partially some meals without meat can be super healthy (which I love), and meat can be just plain expensive sometimes. But I really love a good steak. Did I already say that? ;)

2) In my last issue of Real Simple magazine there was a section on the Top 30 Healthiest Foods to eat. It included things like blueberries and spinach, two things that we eat a lot, but then also had things like quinoa and kale. I tried cooking with quinoa once before, but it was not impressive. It was plain and bland and Steve told me he would prefer if we didn't have to eat it again. However, on my ever present quest for healthy meals and good food to feed my family, I couldn't ignore the fact that quinoa is one of the healthiest proteins available. That's right, it's a grain that is loaded with fiber, but is also a protein. Awesome.

So I found this recipe. It is so yummy, you just have to try it.

Quinoa Salad

5 Tablespoons Lime Juice
1 teaspoon Salt
1 whole Garlic Clove, Finely Minced
¼ cups Finely Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin, Or To Taste
⅓ cups Olive Oil (I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
½ teaspoons Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste

1-½ cup Red Quinoa NOTE: I did not use red, but the plain brownish one that is more readily available.
1 Tablespoon Table Salt, Um, don't add a tablespoon. Maybe 1 or 2 teaspoons? Add When Boiling Quinoa
1 can (14 Oz. Can) Black Beans, Drained, Rinsed
1-½ cup Corn Kernels, Fresh (I used frozen that I cooked for a few minutes)
1 cup Finely Chopped Colored Sweet Bell Peppers
1 whole JalapeƱo Chilies, Seeded And Minced (wear rubber gloves - to be honest, this part totally scared me. I had never cooked with a jalapeno chili before. I didn't really want to put something in my mouth that I couldn't even touch while cutting up. I survived. It tasted awesome.)
¼ cups Finely Chopped Fresh Cilantro
¼ cups Finely Chopped Green Onions

Preparation Instructions

For the dressing:
In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, salt, minced garlic, chopped cilantro, and cumin and add oil in a stream, whisking. Add pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the salad:
NOTE: I also changed the cooking instructions for the quinoa. The original recipe had like three paragraphs of this special way to cook the grain which involved cheese cloth and first cooking and then steaming. Too much work. Just rinse the quinoa and cook according to the package instructions. Fluff quinoa with a fork and cool.

Combine in a large mixing bowl the beans, corn, remaining vegetables, herbs, and cooled quinoa (cooled to me was just not steaming, but it was still pretty warm). Toss gently with the dressing. Can be prepared a day ahead for flavors to combine. Serve at room temperature (when we had it as leftovers the next day we warmed it up a little bit).

Steve loved it. For real. :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Trick

My girls figured out a new trick this last week. Remember doing this when you were little? I do.

Naturally Berlin was the one to figure this out, and then she showed Tryn. Berlin loves to be upside down and will spend up to 5 minutes at a time like this.

They somehow make it into a game where they will decide to be upside down in the chairs and so they will both do it together and then race back and forth between the chairs, trading off. They love it.

This is what happens when you live in Minnesota and are forced to be inside for a good third of the year.