Monday, October 31, 2011

The Toddler Trenches




There's a reason I haven't been blogging much lately. Her name is Rowan Eleanor Pearson. My daughter is at that age when kids are both crazy-cute and just plain crazy. The same child who runs away from me in a busy parking lot (heart attack) will cling to me and wail when I drop her off at the church nursery (heartbreak). She empties drawers. She hides my makeup in my husband's shoes. She throws food on the floor. She knocks over folded piles of laundry, pushes big plastic toys down the stairs, and gets howling mad when I try to fasten the clasps on her stroller—and then gets even madder when she can't figure out how to do it herself. You'd think that, after surviving the toddlerhood of my three boys, I'd be able to handle this phase with aplomb, delighting in every move my last little one makes. The truth is, I've mumbled, "I'm so over this," more than I care to admit—usually when I'm wiping strawberry yogurt off the walls or taping together pages of an Elin Hilderbrand paperback that Rowan's sweet fingers have torn to shreds. 

Rowan makes us laugh every day. My heart melts when she gives her brothers kisses and hugs. I'm so very thankful for her. But this child has me running ragged. And that's coming from someone who has it easy with a true partner in my husband, friends who will take her for the day when I'm in a work bind, and a network of moms who empathize and give me perspective (including those who tell me, "You think this is hard? Wait till she's a teenager!"). I'm in awe of mothers who make it through the toddler phase without getting a break, much less feeling supported and encouraged. What strength! 

Friends who have climbed out of the toddler trenches have told me, "It's all a blur," which makes me sort of sad. Haven't we earned crystal-clear memories of this stage that will help us forever marvel, "How did I do it?" Yes, I look forward to the day when I'll be able to dry my hair (or check email, or make dinner, or go to the bathroom) without a tiny person trying to scale my leg. But I also know for a fact that in 30 years I'll  say to my grown, mother-of-a-toddler daughter precisely what my mom now says to me: "Enjoy this time. Don't wish it away. I'd give anything to go back for just one day to when you were little and I was your world." 

P.S. This photo of Rowan is another Picnik creation. See that post here


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Love These Pumpkin Bread Mixes!

Is there anything more warm and cozy than the spicy scent of pumpkin bread baking in the oven? My purist baking friends might never consider making pumpkin bread from a box, but these two kits/mixes are so good and easy, I don't think I'll ever make scratch pumpkin bread again. Libby's "All Natural Pumpkin Bread Kit" includes the bread mix, a can of pumpkin, and a packet of icing—which you can immediately toss in the garbage. Instead, follow the directions at the bottom of the recipe for making a buttery crumble topping, which turns this pumpkin bread into pure heaven. (Costco girls: The Big C usually sells a four-loaf kit this time of year.) Option #2 is my friend Kathy B's favorite, and it's equally delicious: Trader Joe's "Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix." This one doesn't come with a can of pumpkin, but somehow it's still really pumpkin-y and has a great texture. On traderjoesfan.com, I read that adding a whole jar of Trader Joe's pumpkin butter is a fantastic enhancement. I'll be trying that next time. As in later this morning. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Boo! You've Been Spooked!

Here's a fun Halloween tradition that's been happening in my neighborhood for a few years: "spooking" other houses with a bag of treats left on their doorstep. We took my oldest son to his first concert last night (Brandon Heath, who was awesome—if you're not familiar, go to his site and listen to "Light in Me"), and when we got home an orange bag filled with candy and other Halloween treats was waiting at our front door, along with a hand-drawn picture of a ghost and a handwritten instructions note. I decided to make a version that I can just print out—and here it is for you, too. (Go to my Scribd site for an easy-to-print pdf version.)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Design File: Pretty in Pink

Cheerful! That's the word that kept coming to mind yesterday when I was scouting this lovely home in Minneapolis. The homeowner is proudly passionate about pink, and she worked with the fun and so-smart team at Martha O'Hara Interiors to infuse her home with blush-colored touches that create a character-rich color theme throughout the home. Even if pink isn't your thing, this home still delivers an inspiring look at how pops of the same color—a tufted ottoman, a fun chandelier, a wall color, or even the file folders you use to contain family paperwork—can tell a unifying and full-of-personality color story in your home.