Monday, April 28, 2008

She hears!

Louise finally passed her hearing screen today! After almost a full year of worry and wonder about her capacity to hear, I breathe a huge sigh of relief.

At the hospital, day three of her life, Louise failed the OAE hearing test. A month later, she repeated the same test at Children's Hospital. It was a nightmare for me. In order to check their hearing, the baby must be asleep and still... neither of which Louise was interested in doing. I thought I had timed the appointment perfectly, during her napping period, right after a full feeding, but she refused to sleep. The scheduled appointment lasts an hour to provide ample time for putting a baby back to sleep or into a milk-induced trance. During the last three minutes, she finally fell asleep which allowed me, the nervous wreck, to finally be at ease. The audiologist reported: she had failed, again. A month later, we repeated the whole ordeal and she again failed.

We were then referred to a pediatric ENT (ears, nose and throat) doctor who would diagnose her as having fluid behind her ear drums. Due to the fluid in her ear, we learned, she would be unable to pass the screen, regardless of her hearing ability. Some babies' eustachian tubes are at an angle such that the fluid cannot drain. This can change as babies grow, so we were told to have a re-check in a few months.

At the re-check the fluid was still there and the doctor told us that Louise was a candidate for tubes. The idea scared me, of the anesthesia and surgery on my baby, but knew it was important to have the surgery soon to avoid any potential speech issues related to hearing loss. She had the surgery 3 1/2 weeks ago and the post-surgery check today. After seeing her dance when the radio came on this morning... I had a sneaky suspicion what the outcome would be.

Survey says? She's fine. The tubes look great. She passed the hearing test with flying colors. My baby girl can hear. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Alley fun

One day we we visited a friend and spent some time playing with the kids on the alley. What fun! Alleys are the sneaky places that have hiding spaces and nooks and crannies that all city kids love to visit. As I kid we played in our alley with the neighbor kids... hide and seek, pirates, store, and more. We loved our alley. There seems to be an unwritten rule that alleys are sort of private, that it is snooping to drive down other people's alleys, so outsiders stay away. We knew everyone who drove there. They slowed down, waved, even offered a glass of Kool-Aid later in the afternoon. Everyone knew us.

Times have changed a bit. Because of the way our house is situated on a triple-wide lot and only 2/3 deep, we aren't on the alley. I miss it. We don't know our neighbors across the alley because we don't have access to it, other than the views from our 2nd story windows. I realized how much I miss it when our neighbors were over recently and said that Carl could cut through their yard on his way to kindergarten next year. Of course! We always cut through the neighbors' yards to get to the next street. We knew the sneaky-est routes, who had dogs, where the lavender and dark purple lilac bushes were, who minded us sneaking and who welcomed us. Ahh, the fun of a city alley.

I was in heaven on our alley play date. We flew kites, both store-bought and homemade (a plastic grocery bag and a piece of yarn go a long way!) and chatted with the over-the-fence neighbors. Just look at how happy all the kids are.
Did Louise lose a hand in the alley? She's an alley-pirate, I suppose. Where's the hook? Arrgggh, matey!
Catching a little sunshine, Miss Weez.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Purse update

We finished! If you remember the sisters-in-law sew-athon, here are the final results!

This is mine, with the addition of a button from my Grandma J's button box. Helps prevent things from falling out. I reversed the bottoms so they are mis-matched on purpose.

Krista's lovely Amy Butler fabrics.
Tonya's botanical selection. So adorable!

And here are all the girls hanging out together.
Up next? We still have to decide. But the project after that is quilts. I've got a Denyse Schmidt one I want to do, for a summer coverlet.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ode to a shrimp

Oh shrimp, how do I love thee for dinner parties?

Friday night we hosted a dinner with our neighbors to the south and the north. A lovely pairing of neighbors, both young and old(er than we).

Every few months there's a semi that drives north from New Orleans bringing fresh shrimp and other seafood to the sea-starved folk in the northland. Ron gets a postcard when they come so we can plan ahead for dinner gatherings. This time, the truck arrived on a Thursday. Perfect for a Friday night dinner event. I say event because I think fresh shrimp are reason enough for an event. I mean, have you ever been a part of a "boil"? Shrimp, fish, crawdads or the like? They are wonderful fun, a chance to lick your fingers and laugh with your neighbors. Tastes great with beer, too. There's no need for a salad or worrying about a balanced meal. I mean, shrimp, corn, new potatoes and sausage... with some onion, a few lemons and Old Bay spices for flavor, isn't that all you need? Oh, a little bit of crusty french bread to soak up the juices is good too. Mmmm. When does that truck come back? I'm hungry already.

Here are the photos.

Here is Ron's hybrid recipe.


Serves 4 to 6

1 – 2 lbs sausage / brats
2 cheap beers
9 cups water
1 cup crab boil seasoning (Old Bay)
(more seasoning + cayenne for hot)
2 or 3 onions / halved
2 lemons / halved
2.5 lbs small red-skinned potatoes
6 ears corn / broken in half
3 lbs shrimp / unpeeled (or crawfish)
Melted butter

Grill outside of sausages if raw. Cut into 2 or 3 pieces.
Boil water & beer.
Add sausage (if raw), seasoning, onions & lemons.
Bring to a boil again.
Add potatoes.
Cover & boil 15 minutes or until pots. are almost done.
Add corn & cut sausages (if cooked).
Cover & boil 3 minutes.
Add shrimp.
Cover & boil 5 minutes.

Drop a few trays of ice in pot to stop the boil/cooking. (Don't worry, it won't get cold, just stop the cooking action.)
Let sit 20 minutes, then drain in the sink.
Serve in a huge bowl on newspaper in place of a tablecloth.
Serve with good bread and melted butter for dipping.

If storing leftovers in Tupperware throw away lemons first. If you forget your shrimp, potatoes & corn will taste like lemon-nasty-ness.

Notice the newspaper on the table. I wish I had instructed my parents who recently vacationed/volunteered in N. Orleans to bring back a few newspapers so I could be more authentic with my table covering, but the Star Tribune works just fine too. Every one is too busy throwing their shrimp tails and corn cobs on the table afterwards to notice that the paper is from Minneapolis anyway. Although I'm a true earth-gal and recycler to the core, I love the simplicity of rolling up the paper, tails, cobs and all, and chucking it into the garbage.

So you better watch out... you might just get invited for a boil the next time the shrimp truck comes a-drivin' into town.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Happy Goats

We went to the Minnesota Zoo recently to see the Farm Babies exhibit. If you haven't been to see the farm at the zoo, you better run, don't walk, to see it. Such a lovely exhibit and nice addition to our local zoo. In the spring for a limited time there is an exhibit of the babies that includes pigs, cows, goats, chickens, rabbits, sheep... what am I missing?

Of course, the goats are my personal favorite and always have been, even before we bought the farm and I began dreaming of making goat cheese. But this time, I studied the goats in a different way than ever before. I watched the baby goat, just days old, teetering around, sniffing his mama, stepping clumsily around in his straw-filled pen. For the first time I began to imagine them at our farm, in our barn, nursing from our mama goat, depending on me to take care of them and keep them safe. Me. Wow. I knew that I was ready to become a mom to these three children, but goats? All of a sudden I got nervous at the prospect of being a goat mama. Is there a "What to Expect When You're Expecting Goats" book? How about "A Girlfriend's Guide to Goats"? Hmmm. Thus far I've focused my energy on the cheese process, the milk aspect of goats and not much on the actual animal husbandry part.

Off to peruse the library's card catalog... goats. The Idiot's Guide to Goats... here I come.

(And here are some photos of the future home of the future goats when someday in our future we decide we are ready to move there and begin our agrarian dream. Did you get that it will be in the future?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Daddy love

In our house, Daddy is the only one who can keep up with the wrestling fools. Every night we hear, "Daddy, when are you going to wrestle with us?"

I love to watch the wrestling match take place on the living room floor, the boys each thinking they stand a chance against Ron. He's 6'5" and they are not. They think they win every time. They love every minute of it. So does Louise. But out of all of them, Ron is the one with the biggest grin. He simply can't get enough of those three.

Great wrestling action here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bathrobe fun

For Christmas I really wanted to make the boys bathrobes. They had never worn robes, but see me every day and night in mine. I just LOVE wearing a robe, which is why I think I have five. Yikes. One for every kind of season or weather, which is a lot in Minnesota.

I found some fleece with dalmation dogs and fire hydrants on it, but it was in the discount bin, most likely returned because someone had put in in the dryer on too high of heat. There were crispy spots on the fleece, but mostly useable. I cut out a large circle for the back of each, as well as pockets for the front with a large and small dog on either pocket. The zig on my machine worked perfectly to attach on the circles.

Carl's favorite color is royal blue, so his robe became a fuzzy, fleecy blue. Gus digs red, so his became a soft, sleek red. They received coordinating sock-slippers for Christmas from Ron's parents. The perfect morning get-up.

Gotta love that morning hair. Actually, since I rarely comb their hair, Gus' generally looks like this. Boys are SUPPOSED to have messy hair, right?

It is surprising that the belts were actually attached the day of this photo. Most days they are removed from the robes and turned into fishing rods, tow truck cables, dog leashes. You get the idea.

Composting in the rain

Our compost bin has been filling up for the past few years without anyone paying any attention to it. I've been quite diligent about adding kitchen scraps to it, but it finally reached the point of no return. It was full, quite full. Since we're serious this year about doing some vegetable gardening and have located a new spot, I thought that a warm, rainy day might be the perfect day to shovel out the black gold. Carl and I shoveled off the chunky top layer, then wheeled the rest to our new garden.
Worm love. My boys love worms. Worms love compost. Boys love compost. It is so simple.

The new garden bed, outlined with bricks here. I'm working on my plans for what will go where, but after reading Square Foot Gardening, I began a new style of garden than I had before. I have boards stretched out where the paths will be. This garden is in the front, right next to the sidewalk and cuddled up to the white picket fence over which our neighbors also have a veggie garden. We're excited about gardening over the fence together... her three and my three. We'll have many dirty toes, fingers and even faces when they play, dig, run, and chomp in our garden.

Toothpaste soup

Last night I walked into the bathroom to find this scene. The boys had emptied out two tubes of toothpaste and half a bottle of handsoap into the sink, then added water. I don't know that for sure, because I don't know their recipe.

I asked what they were doing and received this as my reply, "We're making toothpaste soup. "

I should have known. They see me and Ron making soup every week. Why wouldn't they make their own? Actually, this was the second time they made it. The last time I thought it was sort of cute. This time Gus took the soup to a new level of gourmet. He added some toilet paper.

So, not only were we out two tubes of toothpaste, had a floor full of bubbles and water to clean up, but the drain was clogged. Luckily I've been known to clear out a drain or two using rudimentary bathroom utensils, so I took out the drain and undid the pipe under the sink. Such a lovely little collection of toilet paper wads, surrounded by lumps of toothpaste. At least it wasn't a stinky mess. Just minty.

And I can't blame them... they're following in our footsteps, learning to cook.