Monday, April 30, 2012

It Was So Quiet

Today was my first full day of work, and it was so quiet! On Friday when I left the office after a couple hours they told me to rest up. I laughed and said that being there was resting up. And in many ways it was!

I know it will get much, much busier. But for most of today it was so quiet that my ears were ringing with the silence.

I missed my little people, to be sure, but on the other hand I got to eat a hot meal at lunchtime and not once did I have to leap up from the toilet to investigate a suspicious crash from the other room.


In other news, I really want to get the boys' ballet videos up, but I'm having a heck of a time editing them into one clip. I may just have to give up and put all three up instead. So just hold on a little longer. It's coming soon, I promise!

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

One of Life's Greatest Pleasures

Today the boys skipped their nap. Which meant that tonight I had some tired boys on my hands. Tired boys who were happy to curl up in Mama's lap and rock.

Isaac headed to bed first and happily agreed to a cuddle and a lullaby in the rocking chair. Then he asked to be put in his bed.

Alex only lasted a couple minutes before he was ready to head for bed, too.

He was sound asleep a few minutes later when Sam crawled into my lap and snuggled up. Sam is the cuddler of the group, so he was more than content to stay right there in the rocking chair until he fell asleep in my arms.

I enjoyed every second of my rockabye time tonight. It's not as common as it used to be, and it truly is one of life's greatest pleasures.

The warm weight of a child in your arms, head nestled on your shoulder, soft breath on your cheek...does it get any better than that?

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

31 Weeks? Piece of Cake

Today I started my re-entry into the career world. Next week will be my official start date, though we're still working out the details of child care.

There's a lot swirling in my head right now about working, staying at home, hiring a nanny and more. Eventually I'll sift through it and share more of it with you. I'd have done it by now if my darling boys would figure out how to sleep past 5:45 in the morning.

I am not a morning person. NOT.

For now, I'll share the conversation I had today with the Chief of Staff. I'm working on a political campaign, so the timeline is short -- which is part of why the offer was so appealing to me.

The CoS said, "We've got 31 weeks until the election. How much can you get done in 31 weeks?"

I smiled and replied, "The last time someone gave me a timeline of 31 weeks I grew three humans. I think we'll get plenty accomplished."

And to that he had no answer. Though he may already be regretting hiring a smart ass. 

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordful Wednesday: Wedding Bells

Yesterday Amelia asked me if she could wear her flower girl dress for dress up. Next thing I know she was talking Sam into dressing up to be her groom.

So the two of them got "married" out on the front porch.

It was pretty cute, and Sam was pretty cooperative. (Though Amelia was NOT happy he wanted to wear her Ariel necklace.)

Ten minutes later they had a baby...

They sure do grow up fast!

Play along with Wordful Wednesday over at Seven Clown Circus.

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012

Change Is Coming

Less than two weeks ago my friend and mentor called me and asked if I was ready to go back to work. I was sure the answer was no.

But then he presented me with the opportunity, and it was something I had to at least look at.

So I looked. And I interviewed last Monday.

I had a second interview on Saturday morning.

And today I accepted an offer.

As soon as I can arrange child care and get things organized here at home I'm returning to work full-time in communications.

I'm excited and I want to throw up all at the same time.

When I told my sister that she said, "So it's pretty much like finding out you're pregnant with triplets?"

Ha! That's true.

This is a short-term gig, just through the end of the year and I know it will be a big adjustment for all of us, but I think the opportunities it will bring down the road will be worth it.

Change certainly is the one constant in our lives, isn't it?

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Guess It's Genetic

Amelia and I went to the open house and book fair at her school last week. She was thrilled to show me the classroom tadpoles and the butterflies that were getting close to emerging from their chrysalises, and the chicks that the other kindergarten class is hatching.

I was thrilled she's getting her animal fix at school so we don't have to have a zoo (which would be her choice, definitely!) here at home.

Amelia's teacher said she's done well and will be a solid first-grader, though she does have a tendency to be a perfectionist.

No kidding! She got a double dose of those genes.

Jeff and I say, only half-jokingly, that God gave us triplets to help us get over our perfectionist tendencies. Because ever since the boys arrived we're lucky to get done what needs to be done at all, let alone done perfectly.

Hopefully Amelia won't need a lesson of that magnitude to learn to ease up on herself a bit!

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sam and His "Beard"

The other night Sam had some rare time to himself in the tub. He also had a bar of soap, which he used to great result!

Now that YouTube is working again, I'll have video of the boys in their ballet class up soon!

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Divide and Conquer

Today Jeff and I separated the children to run a few errands. I took Sam and Alex to the specialty grocery store to pick up some super fine ground rice flour and a few other things. Jeff took Amelia and Isaac to the library, Goodwill and to drop off some recycling.

It never ceases to amaze me what a difference having two instead of three or four makes. It really, really, REALLY is much easier. Really.

It's the difference between herding sheep and herding flying monkeys...who are deaf...and maniacal.

Of course, the only store I ever take the kids to is Costco, and their carts hold two. So Sam and Alex were a little confused about why the cart only had a seat for one!

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

The East Wind Is Blowing

Sometimes I can't wait to sit down and write something in this space. There's a story from the day I want to capture, an opinion, a recipe, an idea to be shared.

Other times it's a bit of a challenge, but it's good to be challenged as a writer. That is often when I write something that's more about me than my kids. It might be a story from my past, an opinion, a rant. And I like the idea that my kids can learn something about me, as well as something about their lives, from this blog.

Once in a great while it feel like an obligation to post something. Those are the days when I know it's been to long since I've touched base, when the day has wiped me out, when I just can't get the words to come together in my brain.

Tonight there's so much swirling around in my brain, but I can't get it out. The East wind is blowing, and I am not sure what it will bring. Maybe something. Maybe nothing at all. I can't wait to see what it brings.

It remains to be seen if I'll open the door and let the wind in or not.

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Random Things I Learned Today

Today I learned:

That it takes a LONG time to clean up a half gallon of liquid soap;

That it takes approximately one hour and 59 minutes longer to re-roll $60 in change than it takes three three-year-olds to unroll it;

And that five egg whites makes a LOT of meringues. (But if they are these chocolate chip meringues, which I made Sam-friendly by using Enjoy Life chocolate chips, you'll be glad!)

I'd like to thank my boys for the first two lessons. The third was entirely my own doing.

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Oh, Honey. We Need to Talk!

Today in the van Amelia said, "It's so weird that Aunt Allie had kitties in her belly, Mom."

Um, what?

It took me a minute to process what she was talking about, and then I started to chuckle.

The other day we had talked with Aunt Allie (who got married in July) and Amelia asked if she had any kids yet. Aunt Allie said no, but she did have kitties.

If you're five apparently that conversation translates to Aunt Allie actually having kitties.

So we had a baby birds and bees conversation about how people have people babies and cats have kittens and so on.

"Oh, I get it," said Amelia. "People are people and animals are animals. So people can't have animals in their bellies or they will die."

Yep, let's just go with that.

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Of Easter Eggs and Easter Grass

Ah, Easter! Coloring eggs, filling baskets, surviving Mass with four small children, picking up miles and miles of Easter grass (seriously, that stuff should be outlawed) was all good.

We did our own Easter egg hunt on Saturday, since Sam can't eat lots of the typical chocolate goodies and even some jelly beans that often wind up inside those eggs. The kids had a lot of fun finding their eggs in the trees, hiding by the garden, at the top of the slides, and even on top of the swing set.

We skipped all the little Easter trinkets in favor of a new scooter for everyone. They will last a lot longer, and it saves me from throwing out a bunch of little broken plastic doodads in a couple weeks. Now as long as we can keep those helmets on and learn to brake so we can stay out of the emergency room, we'll be in business! 

We took everyone to Mass at 8 a.m., and they did pretty well. Thankfully the family behind us had six mostly-grown kids, so they were very, very tolerant. The mother was a twin herself and she had a set of twins, so she couldn't have been more empathetic or more amused by the boys' antics.

Isaac, Alex, Amelia and Sam in (most of ) their Easter clothes. Check out the miracle of four kids all looking at the camera!
The Easter Bunny brought coloring books and bubbles and a minimum of sugar, so that probably helped the behavior at church, too. It was a smart idea to get all the sugar out of the way on Saturday!

It was not a smart idea to put Easter grass in their baskets.

I told Jeff to use it because the baskets looked better. I won't make that mistake again. It was dragged through the house to screams of delight and I'll be picking it up until the Fourth of July, I'm sure.

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

From My Kitchen: Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

As we've tried to find our way through Sam's dietary restrictions: no wheat, no soy, and no dairy, baking has become a bit of a nightmare. Most recipes require a combination of flours and starches to substitute for good old-fashioned and off-limits wheat flour. Add in the need for xanthan gum or guar gum and it gets complicated fast.

So, I've been buying Enjoy Life brand cookies instead of baking. All of the kids like the crisp sugar cookies. Amelia is a big fan of the double chocolate brownie cookies, and of course, snickerdoodles have saved the day around here more than once.

Then a couple weeks ago a friend posted a link on Facebook to an NPR article about *gasp!* flourless baking. FLOURLESS! This is pure genius, people.

I read the article and headed straight to Google. I've eaten flourless chocolate cake before, but there's so much more out there! Including a lot of recipes that our Jewish friends prepare during Passover, when flour is off limits.

Most of them are pretty simple, with a short list of ingredients. And as long as you can beat egg whites, you're in business.

Of course, I still have to make substitutions for the butter, but I am thanking my lucky stars that we don't have egg issues, too!

The first thing I tried was a chocolate cupcake recipe. Because sometimes life just calls for cupcakes, especially when you're a kid! I adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with White Chocolate Mint Cream.

Mine are also dairy-free, and the whipped cream topping, which sounds amazing, is pretty tricky when you are dairy-free. There is a product called MimicCreme that claims to be a great dairy-free substitute for cream, but I haven't tried it yet. And I'd have to substitute for the white chocolate, since it has dairy in it, too.

Instead, we just ate ours plain or with ice cream, and they were awesome. Light, melt-in-your mouth, and chocolatey good. As the original recipe said, these cupcakes will fall in the middle after baking. That's where the whipped cream comes in: It makes a great filling for those dented middles. Not that my kids cared at all about the dents!

Here's my dairy-free version of the flourless original:

Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

6 ounces Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons Earth Balance soy-free, dairy-free butter substitute
3 large eggs, separated
6 tablespoons  sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Stir chocolate chips, and butter substitute together in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until mostly melted, then remove from the heat and whisk until it is fully melted and smooth. Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.

Beat egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 2 minutes. (Smitten Kitchen notes that a hand mixer is best because the amounts are so small. Mine worked perfectly, and with no flour you don't really need a workhorse of a mixer.) Briefly beat chocolate mixture, then vanilla extract, into yolk mixture.

Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and all of the salt, beating until medium-firm peaks form.

Fold whites into chocolate mixture in three additions. Divide batter among prepared cups, filling each three-fourths of the way.

Bake cakes until tops are puffed and dry to the touch and a tester inserted into the centers comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 15 to 20 minutes. Some of my tops cracked a bit, as Smitten Kitchen noted on her blog, but it didn't affect the taste!

Cool in pan on a cooling rack, where the cupcakes will almost immediately start to fall. For appearances, feel free to fill the indentation with whipped cream, ice cream or even raspberries or strawberries. If you have kids who haven't seen a home-baked sweet treat in three months, just plop them on the table and stand back!

Seriously delicious. Even if you aren't on a special diet, these are worth a little time in the kitchen. You won't believe how light and lucious they are.


© Trippin' Mama 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rash Begone!

I promised an update on Sam, and after three months of being pretty good about eliminating all wheat, soy and dairy from his diet his skin looks and feels amazing!

There's no sign of any rash left on Sam's face, back, belly or arms. His skin is as smooth as, well, a baby's! We are still fighting a little dryness and rash on the tops of his feet, but now it seems like dry skin instead of the itchy, red, angry, bleeding mess it was just a few months ago.

When he gets out of the bath his skin still is bright red where it was the worst, but it doesn't seem to bother Sam and it quickly fades.

We have had a couple cheats. Like the day I was slapping lunch on the table and Sam said, "Mom, can I have more of that really good cheese?"

I realized that I had accidentally given him regular cheese instead of the almond cheese he usually eats. Whoops. To his credit, he didn't fuss at all about the almond cheese that I served for his second helping.

A couple days later I made him a batch of wheat-free, dairy-free, soy-free "cheese" crackers (kind of a Goldfish substitute). The recipe calls for buttermilk, and the first time I made them I substituted coconut milk and vinegar. It was OK, but not great. So I grabbed the yogurt instead. Only I grabbed regular yogurt. Whoops again.

The one that sneaks in on us the most is garlic. From guacamole to spaghetti sauce to chips, that stuff is everywhere! However, I don't think that's the big culprit when it comes to his skin. I noticed a little more rash after the two incidents with dairy slipping into his diet, so that's clearly a biggie.

We've got three more months to go, so hopefully Sam will be 100 percent better by then. And hopefully he will have outgrown some of his sensitivities. Or, maybe we'll figure out that there's one big culprit, and we don't have to eliminate quite so many things. Anything we can add back in would make life easier!

In the meantime, I'm getting better at the substitutes, though every once in a while something pops up that Sam wants to eat -- to the point of a fit -- and I can't work around it. Recently it was Annie's chocolate chip bunnies.

Now I'm onto flourless baking, which has yielded some pretty good results. And we're navigating the hazards of Easter and all its treats Sam can't eat by putting gummi bunnies, quarters and gum in the Easter eggs.

Tomorrow I'll post a recipe for flourless, dairy-free chocolate cupcakes that was a real hit around here. It will be making a reappearance for Easter dessert!

Thanks to everyone who chimed in with support and suggestions as we've worked our way through this special diet. It's still not easy, but three months in it's finally getting easier.

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Part Science, Part Fun

Because things aren't interesting enough around here, we're teaching the kids how to make homemade explosions. (I know, I know. I'll probably regret this later, but it's in the name of science!)

Isaac gets a close-up look.

Grandma and Grandpa D. sent a Steve Spangler Soda Foundation kit. Basically, it drops Mentos into a two-liter bottle of soda when you pull the string. The result is a spraying fountain of soda that's pretty impressive!

Isaac, Sam, Alex and Amelia do the countdown. (Note: Helmets are optional.)

Here's the video of what happened:

Pretty cool, huh?

And here's the science lesson: The teeny tiny pits (nucleation sites for you geeks out there) all over the surface of the Mentos collect the carbon dioxide bubbles in the soda. When the Mentos hit the soda the bubbles form all over the candy and rise quickly to the surface -- up and out of the bottle in an awesome blast.

This was such a hit that I'll have to go looking for more on the science of explosions. Surely some homeschooler out there has written that curriculum for the preschool set!

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How Boys Do Ballet

Today was the boys' third ballet class. I'll bet it was the first time Miss Johanna had to tell any of her students to stop body slamming each other.

But that's how boys (at least MY boys) do ballet.

Last week they were having a competition to see who could do the best piroutte. Understand that this had nothing to do with form. It has to do with enthusiastically flinging oneself around as many times as possible before falling down giggling madly.

I heard them counting to see who was turning the most times and walked down the hallway to check it out. Since none of them can really count, the competition quickly turned into an argument which nearly came to blood before I broke it up.

It ended with all of them sitting in time out for hitting and all pouting about how they turned "eleventy times" and did the best.

Somehow when I had three boys I never envisioned refereeing ballet.

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

Self Discipline, The Three-Year-Old Way

I spoke at my board's annual donor appreciate lunch to a crowd of 250 on Friday, and we got rid of close to 400 items at the big multiples sale Saturday. Whew!

At last, I have a little room to breathe and time to blog. I've missed being here.

Even with everything else going on, life has gone on around here as usual.

For example, this morning I was in the kitchen when Isaac walked in and sat down in the time out corner.

"What's up, buddy?" I asked.

"I'm sitting in time out. Could you set the timer?" he said.

"Um, OK. What did you do?" I asked.

"I climbed on top of the dresser and got the monkey," he replied, very honestly.

I turned to set the timer and cover up a grin. After a quick minute I let him out of his self-imposed time out and told him to come ask me for help the next time.

"OK, Mom!" he hollered as he ran off.

At least he knows when he's doing something wrong, and apparently the lessons about not lying are working...

© Trippin' Mama 2012