Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An Emotional Day

On one hand I feel great joy that my dear grandma passed away from this life peacefully surrounded by her husband and children, joy that she is once again with those loved ones that are already beyond the veil, and joy for the wonderful life she lived here, and all that now awaits her.

On the other hand I feel great sorrow that I was not there to say a final goodbye, sorrow that my grandpa has been left without his beloved companion of so many years, and sorrow that I won't be joining with the rest of the family to pay tribute to, and celebrate, the life that was hers.

But the sorrow will pass. I believe marriage is eternal, that families continue to be families beyond the grave, and just assuredly as we must all pass through death, that one day our bodies and spirits will be reunited in perfect form.

My grandma was an amazing woman, an incredible violinist, a loving wife, mother, and grandmother, and had the most amazing green-thumb of anyone I have ever known. Despite pain or hardship, she always looked beautiful, had a smile on her face, a positive comment, and a sincere compliment to share with whomever she was speaking to. She took life as it came - never with a word of complaint.

I remember Sunday dinners at her house growing up. She always went all out - roast, homemade mash potatoes and gravy, rolls, salad, dessert. There was always dessert. And if that wasn't enough, she always had marshmallows waiting her pantry for the grandkids.

At Christmastime her house was always filled with homemade sweets. She was known for her divinity. I've always thought it tasted just like heaven - so perfectly sweet, and slowly melts away on your tongue.

She taught me the importance of learning. Every month (for as long as I can remember, and even to this day), my grandpa and her would meet together with several other friends for "study group". It was always a very important event, and if our visit happened to fall on the same evening as "study group" it would always be cut short so as not to interfere with her group. I never knew what "study group" actually meant (and to be honest - I still don't know what it is they study), but I knew that my grandma never considered herself too old to study and learn.

My grandma loved the color green. I remember as a child looking in her closet once and being amazed that almost everything in there was green.

I have so many happy memories of her. Annual trips to Bear Lake, Easter and Christmas at her home, birthday cakes filled with hidden money wrapped in tin foil, shopping the malls every December with her and my mom for the perfect birthday dress, and homemade ice cream on her porch in the summertime.

Is it any wonder why I choose her as a namesake for my firstborn?
Grandma, I love you and will miss you!

Wordless Wednesday - Traveling Snowsuit

Well, maybe not quite "wordless"

November 2007
12 months
Grey Glacier, Patagonia, Chile

February 2010
7 months
Outside our flat, London, England

I wonder where it will head next?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Breathe It In

I have been feeling a certain calmness entering my life lately. I'm not quite sure when it began. I think it's been sneaking up on me for several weeks now, yet it still has caught me by surprise. It's not that I'm not normally a calm person - before the upheaval of 7 months ago - I would've listed "calm" as one of my character traits. In fact it used to be that it took quite a bit to get me riled up. But somehow amidst all the changes that entered my life several months ago, I was changed. Call it what you may - I'd like to blame it on stress, lack of sleep, and postpartum depression, but whatever it was - it wasn't me. There were weeks on end where every minute felt like an hour, and every hour felt like a day. And I wondered when things would get easier.

Well, like all things in life - the only thing constant is change - and change has come. It hit me one day last week after the girls and I ate lunch. Antalya was happily watching Sesame Street, Victoria was happily playing with some toys on the floor, and I was thinking of all the things I needed to get done during nap time. The girls were so content, I thought I would run into the kitchen and get lunch cleaned up. One thing led to another, and before I knew it I had done the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, mopped the floor, and thrown a load of laundry in. And when I returned I was surprised to find that Antalya hadn't poked any eyes out, or smothered her sister with blankets. There were no crayon marks on the couch, nothing broken, nothing out of place. There was no knot in my stomach wondering how we were going to make it through the day. In fact, all three of us had smiles on our faces - true smiles. Not the grin and bear it smile, but smiles of genuine happiness.

And there was a calmness in the air. And I breathed it in.

And I can honestly say, Life has never been better! Maybe this is just the calm before another whirlwind of changes. But for however long it last - I will soak it up, smother my girls with happiness, and find a way to bottle the excess so I have a reserve for whatever life throws at us next.

Which might be sooner rather than later.

On the docket for this afternoon is a train ride to a much dreaded annual eye exam for this goof
I'm soloing it with both girls. Wish me luck :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spring is in the Air

We've had lots of snowy/rainy days. The kind where just the thought of leaving the flat and entering the cold, rainy, darkness that awaits outside is even to keep us bottled up at home watching Sesame Street, creating artistic masterpieces, and moving-and-groving to some my favorite latin tunes.

To my delight, I looked out the window at about 10:00 this morning and saw something new. The sunshine and blue sky were chasing the grey clouds

We ran (not walked) to the playgroundpark1
(apparently just because the sun comes out, doesn't mean the mud dries up too)

We played

We swung

We relaxed
park3(didn't I tell ya Victoria's eyes are always on her sister)

We explored new things

And when we had had enough we returned to our little flat feeling worn-out, yet renewed! The thought of spring just around the corner has a put a big grin on this momma's face.

Monday, February 15, 2010


IMG_0005My little Victoria is 7 months old! She is the happiest little baby (except when Mom walks out of her line of sight), and it seemed that little girls everywhere are drawn to her (I think this is mostly due to the fact that there just aren't tons of babies in big, crowded cities like London). She has a huge smile for anyone that looks her way - whether family, friend, or stranger.

She is so interested in everything - especially anything that her big sister finds interesting. She watches her so intently and refuses to be involved in any activity that takes her attention away from her sister. I learned early on that trying to feed this girl when Antalya was anywhere within eyesight or earshot was a completely useless cause - no matter how hungry she was.

She is a little mover. As soon as she was strong enough to hold her head up, she transformed from a little cuddly baby to a wiggle worm that is almost impossible to hold on to. And when you set her down on the floor - she takes off with her commando crawl. Watch out world - this little one is going to be a go-getter!

And did I mention her complete dislike of sleeping! I have finally accepted the fact that this little peanut just doesn't need as much sleep as her sister. She takes 3 short power naps a day (ranging from 20-45 minutes), and then about two 5 hr junks at night. She is teaching me that I don't need as much sleep as I once thought I did.

I sure love my little Baby TreeTree! (the nickname Jason came up with when she was born - at the time "tree" was Antalya's favorite word, and we are years away from her pronouncing "Victoria"). Life just wouldn't be as fun without her!IMG_6796

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Life is Therapy

Would you believe it took three years to work up to this hands-covered-in-sticky-gooey-icky-yucky-slimy-paint moment? It was a proud momma moment indeed!
For more Life is Therapy click here.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Making Yogurt in a Crockpot

Well, folks I did it! I successfully made my own yogurt. It tastes delicious and was so easy. This is something that I have thought would be fun to do for years, but was somehow convinced it was a really difficult process and I would need lots of special equipment that would end up costing lots more than what I would actually save by making it myself.

Not true!

Thanks to Tammy who made it seem possible and then this fabulous blog that made it seem so easy that there was no reason to not give it a try.

What you need:
A Crockpot (mine is a 3.5 quart)
A thick bath towel
1/2 gallon of milk (I used whole milk but I hear any kind of milk will work)
1/2 cup natural yogurt (you know, the kind of nasty - no flavor added kind you buy at the store. After you make your first batch, you can use 1/2 cup of your own yogurt next time instead of the store bought kind)
1/2 cup powdered milk (you don't really this - it just makes the yogurt thicker)

Now, here's what you do:

Pour the milk into the Crockpot, put the lid on, and turn to Low for 2 1/2 hours.

After 2 1/2 hours, turn the Crockpot off and let sit for 3 hours (DO NOT remove the lid - just unplug the machine and let it be).

When the 3 hours are up, scoop out 2 cups of the warm milk and put it in a bowl with the 1/2 cup store-bought yogurt and powered milk. Stir until mixed, then throw it all back into the Crockpot and mix it up. Put the lid back on and then wrap the entire Crockpot (remember, it's still unplugged) in a big bath towel. Then let it sit for about 8 hours.

When the 8 hours are up - unwrap your Crockpot, take the lid off, and just like that you have YOGURT!

(I started the process at 4:30pm. Cooked milk until 7pm, let it sit until 10pm, added the yogurt and powdered milk, then went to bed and left it until about 6:30 the next morning.)

As soon as I took the lid off, I could smell the tangy yogurt smell which meant success! You can enjoy a bowl right away, but after that be sure to put the remainder in the fridge. After about 8 hours or so in the fridge it will thicken up a bit more.

I chose to leave my yogurt plain and just add what I want to each individual serving I dish up. That way I can make it sweeter if I'm in the mood for sweet, or not as sweet if I'm not in the mood. You can store in fridge for at least 7-10 days (one site I read said up to three weeks, but as good as this stuff is, I don't think you'll have a problem eating it within the 7 days).

Here's a picture of the yogurt and dressed up with some maple syrup (or you could use honey) and frozen raspberries. It's a bit of heaven on earth (the bowl really doesn't do it justice, please excuse it - we are poor students, remember? My bowl options consist of the bowl you see or an oversized, very awkward squarish, ceramic thing with a few cracks through the center).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In True Antalya Style

Antalya has two speeds. It's been that way since she learned to crawl. They are STOP and GO. While most people have a low, middle, and high gear, Antalya seemed to have only been programmed with a high gear (I snapped these pictures with my phone on our walk home from school. Although the quality isn't the best, they sure prove my point).

When we stop we stop for a long while and for any number of things: it could be to sip her milk, to sit down on the pavement to rest, to put her mouth on the metal fence we are passing to see what it tastes like, to knock on a door we are passing, to greet strangers as they pass, to take off shoes because she suddenly has the impulse to walk barefoot. I never know what she will throw at me, and I've gotten pretty good at going with the flow. If there's one thing I've learned it is that you don't rush Antalya when she is in stop mode - it only slows things down further.

Her other speed is GO - and believe me, when she is in go mode - there ain't nothing gonna get in her way. She is fast. Too fast. I have to run to keep up with her. Luckily for me, she likes to run several yards, then spin a few circles in place while I try to catch up. This always elicits laughter on the part of Victoria (it appears not even her hat can keep up with her when she decides to go).