Birthday Boy

Somehow starting Sunday, The Grizzly Kid and I have a two year old.

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Toddler-hood has begun and from what we have experienced so far it is a hoot and a bag of mixed emotions for us all. Wallaby can go from laughing to crying in seconds flat, he says the best and most random things, he is constantly learning, he is slowly becoming more adventurous/willing to leave our side, and he has the most tender disposition.

We love each day with him, so here is a preview of what you’re missing:

  • He is in love with all things planes, trains, and automobiles.

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  • Not to mention Legos.
  • wpid-img_20141104_091156.jpg Last week Wallaby helped me take the garbage can out to the street and then he got upset that we were leaving the “big turtle” out on the street.
  • He is kind of OCD. Certain toys go together, he insists his parents make their bed in the mornings, etc.
  • Wallaby is a total social butterfly. He takes a while to warm up to people but he hates being alone. When it’s just us he begs to have one of us playing with him at all times, but when his cousins are here we won’t see him for hours.
  • For the longest time he has been repeating the first syllable on each word he says, “may-may” for Mater, “pitz-pitz” for pizza, etc. but he is starting to shift to saying the whole word.
  • He weighs just over 27lbs
  • After living here for months with a dozen cousins to play with he is finally starting to stand up for himself and fight back for toys taken from him.
  • I thought letting his hair grow out would help his crazy cowlick to lay flat. False. Alfalfa for-eeever.

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  • He loves music, it’s the first thing he requests when we get in the car. Favorite songs include: “Life is a Highway” and “Real Gone” as seen on the movie Cars, “Everything is Awesome” via the Lego movie, “Woody’s Roundup” from Toy Story 2, and “Do you wanna build a Snowman” from Frozen. I’m sensing a connection… From the non-movie music genre he loves “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks–he sings along saying “mmm, baby”. He also enjoys female anthems like R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and Shake it Off.
  • Favorite foods include pizza, popcorn, smoothies, and any type of bread.
  • He sleeps from about 7:30pm to 6:40am and takes a two-ish hour nap each afternoon.
  • Batman is his favorite super hero

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  • But he may get that from his dad…

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  • My favorite thing he has started to say is “oh, nanks” (oh, thanks) after I get him some food or a toy. And if you explain something to him he say, “oh” like he really gets it.
  • He loves to help cook and lately has been insisting that I need a chair at the counter too no matter how many times I explain that I am tall enough to not need one.
  • Wallaby will beg to be read a hundred books a day, he’ll cry if we go past the library without going in, and sometimes he even wakes up early but reads quietly to himself.

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  • Hiking is one of our favorite activities, although that last 4 mile hike was a bit too long for him to be in the hiking backpack, plus it felt more like 8 miles since I was packing an extra 27lbs of Wallaby … we’re slowly building up our endurance.
  • He is usually sweet as can be

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  • unless he doesn’t get his way. Like the time Dad wouldn’t go downstairs to pick up his sippy cup that was about a foot away from him.

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  • When I ask him what he wants for his birthday he usually answers “cake”. Good choice. I think I might attempt a Lego cake… I’ll be lucky if it looks that good.
  • When I hint that he might possibly be getting a bike for his birthday he says “pink bike?”. So I hope he won’t be too disappointed when it’s red ; )

Mostly we have lots of fun navigating Wallaby’s new found sense of well everything–he wants freedom, control, choices, etc. He’s learning who he is and we’re just here to help him on his way, I pray we’re doing this parenting thing right, but so far no regrets. Happy Birthday Wallaby!

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Loaded Cornbread

Remember my cornbread and chili cook-off post? Well I made both for our church Halloween party and while the chili recipe I used was really good (and mostly gone before we left) it didn’t win. My cornbread however, won second place! I combined 3 recipes and then added bacon, haha, how can you beat that? This cornbread is super fluffy but with the jalapenos, green onions, bacon, and cheese it isn’t crumbly at all. It is super delicious. I made it again last night purely for picture/research purposes…
 Loaded Cornbread Recipe  I  Wildfire Kisses

Loaded Cornbread

Makes 1 – 9×13 pan

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup cornmeal (best if freshly ground)
  • 2 cups flour (cake flour if you have it)
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked, drained, and broken into small pieces
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 small can diced jalapenos, drained
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a medium-size bowl, combine egg yolks, milk, vanilla, and melted butter and stir.
  3. Mix in cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt – stirring to incorporate, but do not over mix.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold them into the batter.
  5. Mix in bacon, green onions, jalapenos, and cheese just until combined, try not to over stir.
  6. Pour into a greased 9×13 inch pan and bake for 35-45 minutes. It should be lightly browned on top and check with a toothpick to make sure it is cooked through.

Here is what the egg whites should look like before you mix them in

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And here is what it looks prior to cooking.

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Then look how much it rises, those egg whites really give this cornbread some lift.

Loaded Cornbread Recipe   I   Wildfire Kisses

We may or may not have been eating the leftovers for breakfast this morning, but it’s definitely best when warm and gooey. If you try it out, let me know what you think! This cornbread is going to be a staple around here.

Chili and Cornbread Cookoff

I am dreaming of scenes like this photo from my seat in this season-less desert. We’re still in the 90′s lately, can you imagine! But the nights/mornings are cool and we open the windows to get the slightest of fall chill.

Halloween is fast approaching and with that comes the annual church trunk-or-treat, and Chili and Cornbread competition! My dad usually entered the competition with the spiciest chili recipe he could think up—I get my love of spicy foods from him—but this is the first time I’ll be entering on my own.  As for cornbread, well, on the off chance I make any it is from a box and far too crumbly, so this is the perfect chance to find a fabulous recipe.

Here are my top three cornbread recipes to try:

Bacon Cheddar Corn Bread –uses cake flour instead of corn meal, but has whole kernels of corn in it, so technically it’s still cornbread right?

Sweet Cornbread – a classic cornbread recipe, but you whip the egg whites separately, almost creating a meringue, and fold them into the batter last.

Pumpkin Cornbread — I love anything pumpkin related, but does it go as well with chili? It uses cornmeal and creamed corn, so plenty of corn flavor still, but it also uses molasses which I don’t keep on hand, and I kind of hate buying an ingredient for just one recipe.

Navajo Cornbread –Has diced jalapenos, green onions and cheese in it and I love all things spicy and cheesy

And here are my top contestants for chili recipes to try:

Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili – Um, it has jalapenos, bacon, and cream cheese in it–enough said.

Crockpot Chili — It has just about every spice out there in it, plus cocoa powder (apparently it’s the secret for getting a smoky taste?). It also mixes sausage with the ground beef, and says it’s best when cooked for essentially 2 days!

Quinoa Chili – A very different direction, since it’s meatless, and I love meat, but quinoa is a good protein too, so it’d still be hearty. Plus it also has a good list of spices.

 

Odds are, that whichever chili recipe I choose I will up the spice factor. And for cornbread I don’t have any fantasies that I’ll win the contest, but I am excited to simply find something more edible than the box mix.

Which recipes would you choose?

A Phase Broken (I hope).

Sunday, the fifth of October, 2014.

The fateful day when young Wallaby’s most prized possession met its demise.

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The phrase “loved to death” is no exaggeration here. This binky had been used until it split in two. We knew the time was fast approaching when we wanted to do away with the binky anyway, so at the first sign of a crack we started preparing Wallaby with the idea that the “binky fairy” (The Grizzly Kid’s idea) will come once the binky was broken and replace it with a toy and the broken binky will be fixed by the fairy and given to a baby that needed it more and that Wallaby would then be a big boy.

A thorough tale, and it worked, in part. On the day it broke Wallaby got his toys (Lucy and Emmet lego figures–which he LOVES) and he really hasn’t mentioned the binky since, but that didn’t make it any easier to soothe himself to sleep without the object he has had since day one.

The first night was ten minutes of crying before he fell asleep, and subsequent nights have been mostly tear free. Naps, however, have been a different story. Interesting how the lack of naps for almost two week has correlated with the fact that I have accomplished very little, including blog posts. Wallaby used to love naps, he would sign and say, “nap please!” and fall right asleep, but without the binky he would simply cry and we would try to soothe, read, sing, but no nap came, except for a couple short car naps. Until this past Thursday when we put on our firm parent caps and decided that it had become a battle of wills, and we could help learn to sleep if he would only stay in bed to do it! So The Grizzly Kid put Wallaby down for a nap and then sat outside his door and every time he came out he put him back in. After about 15 minutes of playing door guard and another 10 minutes of Wallaby crying in bed he was out and slept for 2 hours! The poor exhausted boy. On Friday it was my turn and he didn’t come out of the door once, but he did cry for 10 minutes before falling asleep.

Now we have a toddler who naps without a binky, and while it is hard to have him cry before naps when he used to fall asleep peacefully, he is so much happier after naps whereas on the no nap days our house was a toddler terror zone by 3pm.

So that’s the tale of the binky’s demise. Hopefully, things keep going well around nap time and I wish all you other parents happy nap times too.

Hello Weekend

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Tonight we’re off to our church trunk or treat and chili and cornbread cook-off–I’ll let you know how my recipes do. The rest of the weekend will be rather relaxed and warm–still in the 90′s!

Here are some links to things I found interesting this week if you have some time to kill. Have a lovely weekend!

 

After reading this list from Time Magazine of the 25 most influential teenagers I feel both inspired and unaccomplished, haha.

“Parent to Parent: When Play Dates Go Wrong” — I was just talking with my mom about this and it goes right along with the discussion of how much to “parent” someone else’s child when they are in your care, which is something I often think about.

I believe in letting babies come when they are ready instead of inducing early (though each case is individual and a private choice) and this study adds one more reason to my list. “Heavier Babies Do Better in School”

Hello Future! Hoverboards are real!

Oscar de la Renta was famous for a lot of things, but designing the Boy Scouts of America uniform? Now that is really cool. It has to be his most prolific work.

 

A Camping First

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I grew up camping. After all, who puts 10 kids in a hotel when they can let them run around the woods, my parents were smart, so, for the most part, when we traveled we camped. For the most part I loved camping, even the few times we got flooded out it made for good stories later. Then for two summers during college I worked at Philmont Scout Ranch where I literally lived in a tent the entire summer and those are some of my fondest memories.

Wallaby on the other hand was almost 2 and had never been camping! An overnight camp out with the grandparents and a couple of cousins was just what he needed, the perfect trial run. Not that I worried about him enjoying himself—he prefers being outside to anything else. Sadly, The Grizzly Kid had to work, but that meant that Wallaby and I could travel light and bunk together in my 2 man tent.

Friday we headed for the pine trees of Arizona (they do exist) and ended up camping right here around 7,ooo feet in elevation, so the temperature was gorgeously cool—something I had been desperately missing here in the valley. Wallaby was in heaven the second we got out of the car.

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While the rest of us got the tents set up and gear unpacked, the boys got right to exploring the woods and getting dirty.  Exhibit A: A boy and his pile of dirt, happy as can be.

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My oldest nephew even brought a hammock to set up. Which was thoroughly enjoyed by all, don’t let that stoic face fool you, Wallaby was in love and wanted to do nothing but climb in and out and swing in it—maybe we need one for the backyard.

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Look at this dirty face, and I mean that literally since he face planted in the dirt. A couple of times. Also note the pink mark on his forehead where he hit a dirt clod.

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It took him a while to get used to the rougher terrain, but he didn’t fall at all on day two. For dinner we used a tiny camp stove for a single pot of chili to pour on fritos, which is probably my favorite camp meal. I know that tin foil dinners are more traditional, but too much work and they always end up taking longer than expected—I’d rather spend my time exploring.

We ended the day with the classic campfire and s’mores. Worn out, Wallaby and I fell asleep shortly after dark—who wears a watch in the woods?—cuddled up in flannel pajamas and sleeping bags. I awoke a while later to the sound of heavy rain splattering the tent and wind pulling leaves from the tree branches, slid Walt back onto his pillow, felt around for leaks or puddles, and fell back asleep. And repeated that every time the rain started up again. I did wake once to elk calling nearby—our only encounter with any wildlife.  Otherwise an uneventful night. We woke in the morning to deep gray clouds and more rain, but with a couple of cars and some snacks we made a morning of it in the tent in a perfect pile of blankets and pillows.

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Thankfully the rain ended and we ventured out for the best childhood breakfast, personal sized cereal boxes, donuts, and hot chocolate.

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It was a chilly morning, but little Arizona man is not used to wearing layers and kept tugging at his long selves, and did  not want to wear a coat. To get him to put the hat on took bribery, flattery and then immediate distraction in the form of sugary cereal. In fact the hat stayed on his head for about as long as it took him to finish off that box. I did manage to snap about a hundred photos of him in it during that time. This one being my favorite.

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We played for a couple of hours and wanted to stay longer but the clouds looked threatening, so we packed up and headed out to have a picnic at Montezuma’s Castle which was only about 30 minutes from our campsite. The drive down from the mountains was beautiful and the giant groups of yellow wildflowers were surreal.

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After a lunch with begging squirrel we took the short walk around the remains of the Sinagua  peoples’ hard work.

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I even managed to not only get in a photo with Walt, but he even smiled for the camera!

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After the short tour we headed home, but the rain clouds caught up to us, making 2pm look like sunset, and the rain was so heavy in parts that cars were pulling off the freeway waiting for it to clear.

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It still blows me away, even with all the rain we have been having, that Arizona can be this green with a vegetation made up of sage and saguaro cacti.

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It was a lovely short trip. I enjoyed exploring a new area and seeing Walt enjoy camping so much. Hopefully the next camping trip will be soon!

Packing List

Last week was lovely. The Grizzly Kid turned 27, and boy was he surprised when his sister and sister-in-law  just walked in the front door around dinner time, having driven all day to be there! And boy was I relieved because keeping such a big secret from him for 2 months of planning was crazy stressful! So many times I turned to him to say, “What should we do when Lindsay and Starling get here?” only to bite my tongue. Plus you should have seen me the morning of his birthday running around washing sheets, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, and excusing my behavior by saying the cleaning bug hit me, or I’m washing the sheets on the guest bed for my sister to come next week (true story) so I may as well wash my parent’s and the bed in Walt’s room too (yeah, I’m not usually that nice, but I needed more beds ready!) The Grizzly Kid spent the next couple days occasionally saying things like, this is why you bought more groceries than normal! and I don’t know what was more surprising—my ability to be sneaky, or his inability to be suspicious of my actions.

So last week we played! We went to the Phoenix Art Museum, which has a surprising collection, including a Monet, a couple pieces from Picaso, and Georgia O’Keeffe, plus this awesome dinosaur. Wallaby was scared to go near it on our way into the museum but on our way out he walked right up, touched it, and then walked off with a look of satisfaction on his face.

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We were also sure to take our esteemed guests to Wallaby and The Grizzly Kid’s favorite place in the valley, the McCormick-Stillman Train Park. Batman cleaned up the wild west.

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And we rode the train, of course.

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Then there was a picnic for Batman who was enthralled at the super hero birthday party going on next with all those kids in costume too .

IMG_8652We cooled off in the model train building, and then these two had to ride the train again. True excitement on the face of one and pure concentration on the face of the other. You’d think based on this photo that Wallaby didn’t enjoy the ride, but the second it ended he would start saying, “again, again.”

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And while the train park was the highlight of the week for the boys, I loved the night I got away with my favorite sister-in-laws for a Ballet Under the Stars program put on by the community that was truly incredible, such talent!

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It was sad to say good-bye to them, and we are ever so grateful for their effort to come visit!

As for this week, it has been busy, but not overwhelming, which is my favorite kind of time passing—I accomplish far more when I know my time is restricted. Plus my sister Kelly had a break from school and came to visit (thanks for sparing her Josh! I don’t think The Grizzly Kid and I spent even a night apart in the first 2 years of our marriage, but that’s because we are home bodies.)

Today we watched my brother’s 4 older kids while the new baby arrived at the hospital! Mom and baby boy to be named did great and labor went quickly, but the best was showing the photo to the kids at home and their responses. The oldest boy was simply dying to have the baby named already. The youngest (almost two, and just 4 days older than Wallaby) saw the photo and said “awwww!”, I told her that this was her baby and he was going to go home with them, and she said “I want him home” and both Wallaby and E asked to hold the baby and then were just looking at the photo and giggling. I asked the 3 year old what he thought of his new baby brother and he said nothing so I pressed, “Isn’t he cute?” and he responded, “Yes, but he is going to cry a lot.” Haha, probably so, but he really is darling! so pink and healthy.

To continue the week of fun we are going on an overnight camp out with my parents, Wallaby’s first! all while The Grizzly Kid has to work, so I’ll be sure to take loads of pictures. Really I am just falling to pieces thinking about the fact that I will get to wear jeans and a sweater! if only for a day before returning back to the heat of the valley.

Then there is the little gathering the ladies of our family will be doing Saturday evening to enjoy this uplifting conference.  I am hoping to have returned from camping in time to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls, we shall see…

What does your weekend look like?