Monday, March 31, 2008

He Gets It

Michael spent about ten months as a stay-at-home dad/dissertating graduate student and I've come to really appreciate that circumstances worked out to make that our best option at the time. It's made us both very understanding of where the other is coming from; both from the stay-at-home side of things and the working parent side. He understands how you can spend a whole day with a child and seemingly get nothing accomplished besides brushing your teeth (if you’re lucky), and I get that he is pulled strongly in two very different directions – work and home. He goes out of his way to give me time away from the boys and I do my best to not add any unnecessary pressure to stay home when he needs to be at work.

It’s also nice to be able to express the frustrations that come from spending one’s day with two small children and have your spouse tell you they know exactly where you’re coming from, and how they often felt equal if not greater frustration caring for only one child.

It helps to know you’re in this together, and the one closest to you shares all the frustrations, joys, trials and moments of pure hilarity that come with parenthood.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Photo Friday

Christianshavn, originally uploaded by TilleyShots.

I thought about using this one instead.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hello Pipe Dream

From Clinton-Obama, Obama-Clinton: How they could run together and take turns being president.

I think it's telling that this article is entirely a discussion of legality while nothing is devoted to how two great egos would have to bend to make this happen, let alone make it happen and somehow not be a complete train wreck.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Easter Egg Hunt

The toddler Easter egg hunt is such a funny ritual. Teams of small children wandering around a yard picking up brightly colored plastic eggs trailed closely by their parents who are documenting the experience moment-by-moment with cameras. When they're not taking pictures or videos, the parental units are pointing to and encouraging the collection of these eggs. And if you're in Copenhagen, add to that scenario falling snow and all the children dressed in unisuits.

At some point this afternoon I pulled the camera away from my face, after spending a couple of minutes trying to convince John that plastic eggs were so much more interesting than soccer balls, and had to laugh.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Photo Friday

Unwilling Kisses, originally uploaded by TilleyShots.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hot Crossed Buns

In honor of Holy Week, I emailed my Ragamuffin Cooking Club friend Phil for his family Hot Crossed Bun recipe. Hot Crossed Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday with the glazed cross on the buns representing the crucifixion.

Hot Crossed Buns
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 1/4 cup orange juice, divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
3-4 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup currants or raisins
6 cup flour, divided

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dissolve yeast in 3/4 cups of warm orange juice (110-115 degrees F). [Phil notes: usually this has to stand until foamy or 5-10 min, but most yeast here is rapid/highly active and this step isn't always necessary]. Add yeast mixture, butter, sugar, eggs, additional 1/2 cup of warm orange juice, orange peel, salt, cinnamon, and 3 cups flour. Beat till smooth.

Add raisins. Stir in remaining flour as needed to form soft dough, which should be a bit stickier than standard bread dough. Knead for six to eight minutes until smooth.

Place in greased bowl, cover, let rise until doubled. Punch dough down and roll into about 22 pieces. Place two inches apart on cookie sheet, cover and let rise until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 min.

After buns cool, mix confectioners' sugar, milk and vanilla into a thick paste and frost buns with a simple cross.

And don't forget to sing!

Hot cross buns,
One a penny buns,
One a penny,
Two a penny,
Hot cross buns.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hard Day's Night

When I was a new mother working full-time, my goal was always to spend as much time as possible with my son. Each moment I had with him was really special because so much of my time was spent separated from him. I've found over the past many months that has switched to where I now looking forward with almost equal anticipation to time I spend away from my children. And that is unsettling for me.

This is a challenging time in motherhood - these first few weeks after my sister left and while James is still getting up every 3-4 hours at night. And while Michael is wonderful about coming home early, helping with household chores and being incredibly understanding and supportive, I'm often tired and frustrated as I attempt to negotiate life with two small children. As much as I know it's good to take breaks and spend time apart from my children, as I truly believe it makes me a better mother when I am with them, I still have the nagging feeling it's a personal failing that I'm not more patient and loving.

Monday, March 17, 2008


It's funny how one day can encompass so many firsts.

Like the first time I sat up all night with a fussy baby. Poor James was not feeling well for some reason and seemingly could only find comfort in the arms of his parents. So he and I cuddled the night away with me catching a few catnaps whenever he was able to find a few stretches of relief from whatever it was that was troubling him.

Or the first time I lost one of my children in a public place. John, James and I were in the toy store at the mall. Fueled by hunger and the weariness preceding naptime, John didn’t want to return to his stroller and ran to the back of the store. With James strapped to me in the Snuggli, I turned to grab the stroller and started toward the back of the store after him. And then quickly back to the front. No sign of John. Five minutes or an eternity later I found him three stores down right before he ran into the pet store to visit with the birds.

Or the first real snow of the winter. Here it is St. Patrick’s Day and instead of green beer we have a couple of inches of snow. It snowed all afternoon and I got to enjoy it in the best possible way: inside my warm apartment, with hot drinks, snuggly babies and a big pot of hot soup.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Photo Friday

Down the Stairs in Shadow, originally uploaded by TilleyShots.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Vegetable Orzo Soup

This is a great soup for spring because it is full of the promise of summer's farmers markets yet has the warmth needed for chilly spring days. It was also my introduction to the fennel bulb.

Vegetable Orzo Soup

1/2 c. dry white beans
4 c. water
3 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 c. fennel bulb, white part chopped
3 sprigs parsley
2 bay leaves
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t. salt
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (or one 14oz can diced tomatoes)
8 oz frozen green beans
1/3 c. dried orzo

Bring to beans and water to boil, cook for two minutes, then remove from heat and let stand, covered, for one hour. Drain beans and return to pot with chicken broth and next eight ingredients. Cook for 15-20 minutes. Add zucchini, tomatoes and green beans. Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Add orzo 10 minutes before serving. Top with basil pesto and parmesan when served.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Arriving Late to the Party

Terry Gross loves The Wire. You know, Terry Gross. The host of NPR's Fresh Air. I started downloading the podcast of the radio program shortly after we arrived in Denmark and generally really enjoy the subject matter. Discussions of books, movies, current events that have nothing whatsoever to do with childrearing, infant sleep patterns or random toddler behavior.

It's how I came to discover there was a television show on HBO called The Wire, which is apparently completely fascinating if one is to judge by the fact Fresh Air devoted seven interviews to the show in barely over three months. By interview #3 I was annoyed, by interview #5 I was voicing complaints to people who clearly didn't care (my husband and my toddler), and by interview #7 I begrudgingly suggested to Michael we add the show to our queue of mass media to not-very-legally download. I suppose it was inevitable as I discovered late last night that The Wire is #85 on the list of Stuff White People Like.

I learned that I'm already on board the choo-choo train by liking coffee, downloading podcasts to my iPod and... huh, what do you know... public radio.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Blogging One-Handed

You may have noticed I have a new blogging category: blogging one-handed. Lately my prime blogging hours are in the middle of the night while I'm nursing James. If there were such a thing as The Breastfeeding Olympics I probably wouldn't qualify for One-Handed Typing as I'm terrifically slow. And I wouldn't be a competitor in Side-Lie Nursing or Ring Sling Nursing either. Though I would at least have a fighting chance at the silver for Discreet Nursing (Age 0-3 Months).

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Riddle Me This

Why won't my toddler eat apple peels when he will eat orange peels?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Photo Friday

One Month 3.7.08, originally uploaded by TilleyShots.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

News Alert: New Moms Forget Stuff and Feel Like Idiots When They Do

Postpartum changes may bring on 'momnesia'

I love the subtitle: "Coping usually takes a few adjustments — plus, a sense of humor helps!"

Ok, Mickey. Whatever you say.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Snow!? Wait! Don't Blink!

This morning presented a beautiful blue sky and bright sun here in Copenhagen. It was mid-40s and John, James and I took a long walk to the grocery and through one of the lovely graveyards close to our house. We came in for lunch around 11:00 and about 30 minutes later I noticed it had gotten cloudy. It was snowing!

The unknowing might think, "Hey, you live way up north. It must snow, like, every day there." But this is only the third time I've seen snow this winter. Copenhagen winter is more about the rain, wind and the never ending gray and darkness. I've come to believe that the whole reason Danes party so hard and for so long at Christmas is to get through the dark, dark winter season. Because the dark seems almost nice when you string it full of twinkle lights.

And in the length of time it took to read the paragraph above, the snow cloud blew past and the sun came out again.

"In like a lion"... pfth! Uh-huh.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Room of One's Own

We bought a baby book for James shortly before he was born and I was flipping through it over the weekend, filling out bits and pieces of it here and there. I came up a little short when I got to the page that asked for a picture of the baby's room.

When we were expecting John, one of my favorite parts of preparing for his birth was creating his nursery. Now we're living in a one bedroom, 538 square foot apartment with four people rather than a two bedroom, 750 square foot apartment with three. So no official nursery for James. It's the downside to being born in Europe to parents living on an educational grant.

But this afternoon as I was rigging up my version of a baby mobile above James' bassinet I realized that he sort of does have a nursery. It's located in the casement of our living room window and comes complete with storage space for clothes, blankets and slings, his carrycot bed, and is "artfully" decorated with colorful foam bath toys.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

One for the Children

James is making up for his runt-like birth weight by putting it on at an incredible rate:

Birth: 6 pounds, 10 ounces
1 Week: 8 pounds, 2 ounces for a gain of 1 pound, 8 ounces
3 Weeks: 10 pounds, 5 ounces for a gain of 2 pounds, 3 ounces

Even though he started life weighing over two pounds less than his big brother, he weighs just as much now as John did at three weeks. His little face is all chubbed out complete with double chin and his skinny little newborn legs have filled out. This combined with his propensity for nursing all the time have scored him some new lovable nicknames like: Little Piggy, Wilbur (think Charlotte’s Web), and Chubby Hubby.

James is sleeping well as far as newborns go; he usually goes to bed around 8:00p and wakes up at 11:00p, 2:30a, 5:30a and 8:30a. Sleep deprivation is just a fact of life for me these days but, if we’re lucky like we were with John, he’ll be sleeping through the night in a few weeks.

I really enjoy seeing how different James and John already are. James likes to be swaddled up tight to sleep where John couldn’t stand it; James is such a cuddle bug where John needed his space; and, perhaps because he was smaller at the beginning and greatly dislikes being on his stomach, James has rolled over from tummy-to-back three times. About a year ago I had a friend back home who told me he rolled off his parent’s bed when he was a month old and, being a freshly educated (and arrogant) student of all things related to child development, I basically suggested that he must be wrong and he should call his mother so she could set him straight. Shows what I know.

Meanwhile, since James’ arrival, John has suddenly aged and gotten at least 50 pounds heavier. In the last 3-4 weeks he’s picked up many new words and jabbers conversationally with other people and on his play cell phone. He’s always generally been a friendly child but now he can say “Hi!” so when we’re out walking he’ll wave and say “Hi-ee! Hi-ee!” to everyone he meets. The elderly Danish people he encounters on our numerous daily walks eat this up.

John is my big helper – he knows how to throw away James’ diapers in the diaper pail and is pretty good at bringing me things while I’m nursing James if I need them. Michael bought a small wooden car and truck puzzle for him and he really enjoys working that. He’s also very into his daily walk and will stand near the door shortly after breakfast (or sometimes shortly after he gets out of bed at 6:00a) saying, "Waaa-ak! Waaa-ak! Waaa-ak!" The kid likes his exercise.