feeling the love

Yesterday afternoon, something I’ve waited actual years for happened:

My child said “I love you, mama.”

Claire faces

This beautiful funny girl with these adorable curls LOVES ME! How lucky am I?!

Etta and I had just picked up Claire from preschool, and we were driving to the gas station when she looked up from her snack (peanut butter cookies), caught my eye in the rearview mirror, and said, “I love you, mama.” Pure. Magic. I tell her I love her all the time. I sing her a little song that goes, basically, “I love my Bear Bear, my Bear Bear loves me.” But I’ve never coached her to put those words together, wanting it to be truly her idea when she finally said it. And then she did. And I melted into a puddle and seeped onto the floor and still somehow managed to type a blog post.

I know it will be a while yet before my Etta girl puts those magical words together, as she’s been on her own little path, speech-wise and has only just recently started putting words together into phrases. Some notable Etta utterances lately: “Uh oh, I broke it” (her perfect first sentence), “Trolley, where are you?”, “My hands are dirty,” and “Otter, come here.”

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I just love the things they say, and I’m high on the love from my Claire Bear, especially.

I’m also feeling the love because my husband and I will be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary on the 29th and are headed out of town this weekend for a little getaway road trip, just the two of us. My bags are packed, and I am so excited to get to have this time together. I’m feeling the love all the way around. I just love this little family of mine.

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A little thing changing my life: cold brew coffee

cold brew tutorial

I love watching the almond milk swirl into my afternoon iced coffee.

I take a really high dose of a heart med that at even 1/4 of what I take, makes people feel really really fatigued and lethargic. And I have two toddlers. Thank GOD no one has ever told me to cut out caffeine, because I need it to live and care for two toddlers. I usually have a cup of hot coffee in the morning and a big ass iced coffee in the late afternoon to help me survive til bedtime. This summer, I have picked up a new coffee habit that has changed my life, no lie.

I started cold brewing coffee.

I realize this sounds like fancy hipster crap, and you’re already thinking I’m about to bombard you with some new, difficult, pretentious coffee thing. But this is like, the lazy passive way to get delicious coffee-shop-esque iced lattes. You literally do it in your sleep.

What you need:

  • a French Press, ideally, but otherwise, a large jar or pitcher would work
  • If you don’t have a French Press, you’re going to need a fine mesh strainer
  • Coarse ground coffee, but if you don’t have a grinder, you can use ground coffee, just make sure you REALLY have a fine mesh strainer
  • cold water
  • time

Method: in your press or jar, put half a cup of ground coffee, and then fill with cold water. (If your press is a different size than mine, your ratio might differ– mine holds about 32 oz. of liquid.) Stir. Leave on your counter overnight. In the morning press it and pour it into a jar, through a strainer if necessary to catch any grounds. Keep the jar of fresh cold-brewed coffee concentrate in your fridge.

The resulting brew is going to be super concentrated. I like to dilute it 50/50 with either almond or coconut milk, over ice. If you use vanilla almond milk, you will want to kiss yourself. A note: because you’re likely going to want to mix this with some sort of milk-substance, it’s not super crucial to have super high quality beans, since you’ll not be noticing many subtle nuances of flavor. HOWEVER, I would like to plug our favorite coffee source, Leiva’s Coffee, which is a Little Rock company selling delicious Guatemalan coffee and committed to reinvesting in the community where the beans are grown. Hot or cold, I promise you’ll like their coffee. And they’re not paying me to say that, I’m just a fan. They will even ship it right to your door– that’s how we get our 2 lbs. a month.

Bam. Coffee shop worthy iced coffee, at home. It just might change your life.

 

life, filtered: thoughts on instagram and identity

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I’ve made no secret about the fact that Instagram is probably my favorite Internet. Instagram is a happy place, for the most part (unless you’re totally following the wrong people), where folks share the beauty and joy and interesting things in their lives. There’s no BuzzFeed Quizzes. No weird out-there political rants. No ugly. No mean. Just all of my favorite things: food, babies, nature, pets, scenery. It’s the first thing I check when I fire up my phone in the mornings, and often the last thing I scroll through before bed.

Which is why it confuses me when people feel the need to “expose” the reality behind the filtered world of Instagram, or confess that Instagram makes them feel insecure.

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Screw You, “British Nanny,” I let my kids choose their sippy cups

Society isn't in crisis just because I let this kid choose this Elmo cup (and her outfit).

Society isn’t in crisis just because I let this kid choose this Elmo cup (and her outfit).

At this point, everyone who knows anyone with a kid has likely seen the latest viral parenting piece from a “British Nanny” letting us know 5 Reasons Parenting is in a Crisis. Most of them left me with that record-scratch sound playing in my head.

For one thing, I’m an ACTUAL PARENT, and I’m not here to tell you a bulleted list of how to raise your kids. Because if twins have taught me anything, it’s that every kid is different, and every parent is different, and only you know what is best for your child. We’re all just doing the best we can here, and my biggest takeaway in two years has been that we all need a little more grace and a lot more help.

But for another, what really bothered me the most is that Emma, the aforementioned Nanny, characterizes every interaction between parent and child as a power struggle, one in which parental will must be exerted at all costs, lest children get the idea that they “are in charge here.” Continue reading

a toddler tv glossary

20140714-083608-30968029.jpgIn order to write this post, I have to first give up the charade that my kids don’t watch tv. I had lofty goals of no screen time til two, but caved around 18 months, and haven’t looked back. They aren’t glued to the TV all day, but my kids watch something every day. I have two year old twins. If we want to eat, they will likely have to watch a show while I cook dinner. I have amassed a small collection of Disney DVDs I don’t hate, and the girls have come up with their own names for them. Slowly, I have figured out what they mean.

BEES!: A Bug’s Life. All bugs are bees. I have long ago stopped freaking out when my kids shout about a bee in their presence. It’s probably a fly.

BINGERBELL!: Any of the 5 Tinkerbell movies. It could also be Tangled, which my girls seem to think is about Tinkerbell in desperate need of a trip to the salon. “She needs haircut,” Claire says. You figure out which movie they mean. Good luck.

TOYS!: Toy Story 1 or 2. Whichever one you’re least tired of at the time. Eventually I need to add Toy Story 3 to the rotation, but I’m putting it off because it makes me ugly cry.

The Bear Movie: Brave. I’m pretty sure Claire actually roots for the big scary bears in this film– perhaps because, since we always call her Bear Bear, she thinks she’s one of them.

BEARS!: Brother Bear. Do not mistake a request to watch Brave with a request for Brother Bear, or you will regret it.

Anna Movie: Frozen. I have the only kids in the world who think Anna is the cooler character, here.

Monsters: Monsters Inc. The only movie Etta ever wants to watch, and, coincidentally, one that makes Claire actually shake with fear and say “no, Monsters, no!” Etta loves Monsters. She draws them, paints them, enjoys drinking out of a sippy cup emblazoned with them, and talks about them all the time, sometimes while growling like one.

MOUSE!: Ratatouille. Don’t think for a second that enjoyment of this film will make your toddlers want to eat ratatouille, though.

EMO!: Finding Nemo. Sometimes I mute it and just leave the DVD menu on the screen like some kind of pretty screensaver. I like to imagine Emo is a spinoff about Dory and Marlin’s future child, who has a real melancholy streak, a garage band, and a collection of rare Dashboard Confessional bootlegs.

What about you– do any of your kids have funny names for favorite movies or characters?

 

sweet summer

We haven’t gone to the beach, or anywhere really, which to me is usually the mark of a great summer, but I think I’m actually having one of my best summers ever. Summer is sort of an abstract concept to me, these days, but it really only relates to the weather. My life is no longer measured in semesters. Claire’s developmental preschool is year round. My husband doesn’t get summers off from the ER, despite my never ending disappointment that only students get a summer break. And after getting over my weirdness about planning fun for just Etta and me because of “guilt” about Claire being “left out,” Etta and I have kind of gotten into a little routine.

Baking!

Baking!

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the heart of a mother

On Mother’s Day, I had the amazing experience of reading part of my story in the Listen To Your Mother Show here in Little Rock. Now, even if you weren’t there, you can see my story and the rest of the amazing stories from around the country, thanks to the magic of the internet and You Tube. Today, I’m posting my story here, but I encourage you to watch some of the other videos too, from Little Rock and around the country. And, coming soon, for the first time, my husband will share his version of this story, both from the perspective of the man who was holding our baby girl next to my bed when I went into heart failure, and from the perspective of a doctor, who probably would have intubated me himself while we waited for the code team to arrive, if there had been a crash cart nearby. Luckily, he didn’t have to. Blessedly, all was well.

Here’s the story of how I discovered I have the heart of a mother: