April 26, 2012

Thoughts and musings

I have really enjoyed a thought passed on yesterday--we have to fight to keep what we have. This was spoken in reference to the Children of Israel and the promised land--they had to fight to get there, but once there, they couldn't just sit back and rest on past victories. There were always other kings, nations wanting to take what they had away from them. Such a great reminder, both spiritually and naturally. 

I tend to be a goal oriented person. This does not mean I accomplish all my goals. However, if I get a bee in my bonnet, I can get something accomplished. My thought process does not generally go beyond the goal. I tend to think of accomplishing the goal as the end of it. But it never is. Even something as basic as a neat house--You can clean it from top to bottom and yet, if you sit around for a day or two, it is in a state again. Like pregnancy--the culmination of pregnancy is a grueling process that results in your very own baby. That is generally the "goal" in my mind. With my first pregnancy, my mind didn't focus much on the after. It was all blinded by rosy visions of fresh clean babies to cuddle that magically change into dear, brilliant little toddlers. And yet, everyone knows that the reality is completely different. They can easily be fresh, clean babies but that is definitely an uphill battle that this here overtired mother did not always accomplish. And they can be dear, brilliant toddlers, but there is discipline necessary to keep them dear and encourage brilliance. 

My mind did the same with marriage. I hated laundry, dishes, etc. But I had this idea that once I was married I would magically love to do those things because I would just love to be able to do it for my sweet, darling husband. Yeah, let me tell you, As darling and sweet as your husband is, marriage doesn't magically convert you into suzy homemaker who never wishes that her husband would at LEAST rinse the dish off before putting it in the semi-full sink or put his clothes in the hamper. And as people always tell you, marriage is work. It should definitely be work where the happiness, love, and fun out weigh any efforts, but it isn't the constant, rosy hued ever after my childhood and teenage self thought it should be. I blame fairy tales for this. Happily ever after should be changed to "pretty much happily ever after". Hmmm... It doesn't have that same ring does it? 

Obviously I have unrealistic expectations. I prefer to think of this as being an optimist. I like to think that once  I accomplish _______ then that aspect of my life will be lovely and can be put from my mind. This applies to finances (if we got credit cards paid off, then we wouldn't have to worry about finances anymore), health things (if I could only get down to X lbs, life would be so. much. easier.), house remodeling (if we only had the room above the garage done...).  But it is never that simple. There will always be awesome sales, fabulous looking desserts, and one more idea for maximizing the useability of our house to tempt me to get into the same situation I was in before. 

I think I am a bundle of optimistically unrealistic expectations and lazy, self-indulgence tendencies. I don't WANT to have to clean my house every day. I don't WANT to have to not eat desserts just because I want to loose weight. I don't WANT to have to correct my children and have a fight on my hands. I don't WANT to not buy a great deal just because I don't need to have it. I don't WANT to have to be nice to Justin when I think he is in the wrong about whether or not we should have another window in the room above the garage. 

And if I don't do all those things, then the things I love best, calmness/peace in our home, health, sweet kids, financial independence, and even my marriage are all threatened. 

That phrase--Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, sort of applies here. While I love the response of "Well then you certainly don't have the right recipes," there is a certain aspect of truth to that statement. When I make sure to do all the things I don't WANT to do, life is so much lovelier. There isn't a nagging, never-getting-done to do list running through my head or vague feelings of guilt of how I could have better handled Orianna's over-tired outburst when she walked through the door after school.  

We can never just stop in life and rest on our laurels for the rest of time. So there is no point in thinking life should be easier or more fun. The things I have in life are precious. The things I have spiritually are even more precious. They are worth fighting for. Everyday. 

And now that I have beat that thought to death and motivated myself to sweep the floor and put toys away, I will wish you all good day. Hope it is a good one for you all. 

April 25, 2012


 I did threaten a nauseating amount of pictures of my precious wee children. And I am all about follow through. So here are the pictures. Mixed in with some non-kid pictures just to throw you off.

This is one of Lily's favorite pastimes. We have a circle through the kitchen, the dining room, and the entry way. Lily and Orianna like to run and run around it. Lily says she is doing her exercise, getting power. I am not sure where she got this, but her love of running in circles explains her skinny-mini-ness. 

And running in circles is that much better when you can wear a too big baseball cap, elephant pants, and sparkly sneakers. 

Gilbert in Orianna's circle skirt. I had just made these for the girls and they had been wearing these the night before and twirling incessaantly. So Gilbert had to try it out. Mostly he just thought it was funny.

My darlings


Orianna LOVES choosing her own outfits on days off. Generally, she does pretty good. But occasionally she gets greedy and wants to wear all her favorite things at once, even if the end result looks something like this. I think this is evidence of my growth as a parent. When Orianna was small, she was generally coordinated, matching Lily, and looking just so. Or at least I liked to think so. Now I say "Huh." And boring things like "You can't wear your summer meeting shoes on a walk with black smartwool socks." I did however let her and Lily wear bonnets as we walked to Grandma and Grandpa's the other day. Just so people could ask Orianna in more serious tones if she is really Amish. Apparently they don't see the irony in asking someone with garrishly bright colors on if they are Amish. Since the Amish have moved into the area more, maybe people don't ask them that as much as they did when I was in school. Being the fourth Vaughan kid, I didn't get asked it too much, since by then, most of the school had accepted the Vaughans as just crazy. Still, I heard it several times a year. 

Installing the dishwasher--fascinating! 

Pussy willows

Hanging out with Uncle Toad

Amy's brilliant bunny cake

Amy trying on Orianna's bonnet in a slightly blurry fashion

Picnic at Owen and Ashley's!

Those hard working Vaughans. They don't even have time to smile. Hahahah! They were apparently caught a little off guard in this picture. Or maybe they were paying more attention to my kids than I was and telling them to be careful about something.

Our fancy-pants picnic

Orianna waiting for the bus. On a warm day. We are back to being fully covered up, since the morning temperatures are in the 30's.

Gilbert likes waiting for the bus too

Cute little fat boy!

Lily swinging Gilbert's shoe. Hilariously funny.

Gilbert without his swinging shoe. He loves the slide, but he hates to actually commit to going down it by pushing off. So he just sits up there until Lily comes and pushes him down. Then he laughs uproariously. 

An upside down Lily

A picnic on the swing set. We like picnics. 

I think this is called creeping Charlie. It is all over the lawn. I like the speckled throat of it. 

Strawberry flowers. 
Yup, I seriously took pictures of flowers on top of an orange peel. But the orange-ness was pretty in the sunshine! 

The other night, I walked into the kitchen to see this. It looked like a Yoga studio. I love Gilbert doing his thing while Orianna and Lily try to touch their heads with their feet. Yesterday, we got the new Athleta catalog, so the girls took it and tried to copy all the yoga moves from it. Seriously, I am not sure where they get this yoga and running thing. Must be from their sedentary parents. 

April 24, 2012

Recent Books

I haven't done a book post in a long time. And I am not going to try to catch up on all the books I have read since forever ago. Just some recent books I got out of the library. And yes, I will shamlessly steal pictures from Amazon. So no, you CAN'T click to look inside. At least not here.

Savannah Blues (Southern)

Savannah Blues
Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews is great. Total fluff. Nothing too deep or meaningful going on, just fairly regular life for southern girls. Well if regular life involves a nice romance with an occasional murder or mystery thrown in. Most of her books deal with some aspect of interior decorating actually. Antique dealers, interior designers, junk pickers, or newbies who are fixing an old house up. Which is interesting to me. If you find that sort of thing deadly dull, I wouldn't recommend her books to you.
Southern people fascinate me. They are a whole different kettle of fish. These books aren't realistic. A lot of her books deal with the more elite classes, generally from a middle class girls perspective. So no poor southerners living in shacks or anything. But I can excuse that. Andrews isn't pretending to be deep. She is writing chick lit, which she is good at, and doesn't try to make it more meaningful by delving into stark and depressing issues. If you need a good rest-your-brain book check her out. When I get done reading her books, I feel happy and finished with that book. There is something appealing about a book that doesn't make you think about it for weeks afterwards.

Winter Garden

Winter Garden
Kristin Hannah

Now this book DOES make you think about it afterwards. But I am okay with that too. Amy P W gave me this one to read and it was GOOD. I have never read any Kristin Hannah's before, which is exciting, since there are several books out there waiting to be read. I wasn't sure I wanted to read this one, since several reviews mentioned crying and I am not that into depressing books. But this book isn't depressing. It is... well heart-wrenching, but it isn't depressing. I did cry. But for some reason, I cried more about the daughter dealing with her marriage than the parts I was probably supposed to cry at. Hey, I am pregnant--I don't have to explain why I cry over things! This particular book deals with a family owned apple orchard in Washington state. The family has Russian roots which have never been delved into--namely the mother is from Russia, but refuses to talk about it. After the death of the father, her daughters get their very distant mother to finally open up about Russia. Mostly the World War II era. Absolutely fascinating stuff. Fascinating in a haunting and horrible way. Stalin was not a cozy kind of fellow. After reading this book, I decided that the only reason Germany was not able to succesfully invade the USSR was because Stalin was willing to sacrifice any and all of his countrymen to the greater cause of seeing the Soviet Union succeed where other countries failed. 700,000 people starved to death in Leningrad. Any other normal leader would have given in before that many civilians died. But not Stalin. He definitely felt that communism and the USSR were too big to fail. From Russian History classes in Anchorage, I knew that the number of his own countrymen Stalin was responsible for killing during WWII was higher than the number of all the people the German army killed throughout Europe. And that includes the Holocaust. Still, it is crazy to read about. Anyway, I am getting off topic. Pretty much, if history interests you, you will like this book. And if family dynamics interest you, you will like this book. And if you just want an interesting and somewhat informative book, you will like this book. I wasn't crazy about the ending. It seemed slightly jarring and frustrating to me. It wasn't a bad ending. Just.... not the ending I would have chosen. But not an ending to put off reading it for. 

24-Karat Kids: A Novel

24 Karat Kids
Dr. Judy Goldstein and Sebastian Stuart

I admit it--I grabbed this for the cover. But I loved it. It is about a newly graduated/done with her intern pediatrician starting to practice in an exclusive Upper East Side practice. All about crazy rich people and their over-parenting from the perspective of a middle class pediatrician. Mostly this book deals with Shelly Green, the pediatrician, being slightly awe-struck by the wealth and glamour of the Upper East Side and eventually finding the balance between her Jackson Heights childhood (lower middle class) and the current reality of being a pediatrician who needs to wear Manalo Blahniks and Fendi. I really enjoyed it. Again, nothing too deep. 

Lovers & Players

Lovers and Players 
Jackie Collins
No, I did not listen to it on CD, this just happens to be the cover I have. 
Occasionally, I quickly scan the aisles of books at the library and if there is an author with 10-12 books I grab one to see what this author is all about. I figure if the library has a lot of books by one author they are obviously popular. According to the biop on the back, Jackie Collins 23 books have never been out of print and all have appeared on the best sellers lists. But let me tell you. She is over-hyped. She can write well--I did finish this book. But I would recommend it to no one. It is about rich people in New York City. And I know I just told you I loved seeing the Upper East Side from Shelly Green's perspective. But really, a book about rich people from their perspective is just not something I like that much. Totally unrealistic and unbelievable. It is like reading about an alien species. Do rich people really think and behave in this atrocious way? Makes me glad to be in the not rich class. There was so much sex, drugs, and despicable behavior in this book that I felt like I needed to disinfect my brain when I got done. It left me feeling depressed for the human race and disgusted with myself for having just read an overly long book about stupidity. I hope none of you guys reading this are Jackie Collins fans. Because I don't want to offend you, but ALSO because I hope I don't know people who actually like this trash. That is harsh. And judgmental. I guess if people are obsessively into following the doings of the rich and famous, they might like Jackie Collins. I enjoy casual dabbling in celebrity gossip. But I like to pretend they aren't actually having affairs, getting high on drugs, and deep, down, are nice regular people. Jackie Collins, therefore, left me cold. And apparently most or all of Collins books are about the rich and famous. So I am going to go ahead and give her a complete miss in the future. I have better things to do and better books to read than to waste my time infecting my brain with spoiled and stupid rich behavior. 

I think that is the harshest I have ever been about a book. A book that is poorly written is just dismissed from my mind. But authors who can write well and waste their time writing about stupid things are a much greater waste of space than authors who just aren't that great. Well written authors are clearly making a choice to write about that sort of things. Authors who can't write are simply unable to do anything else. More to be pitied then censored. 

Have a good day! We woke up to dazzling sunshine after several days of cloudiness and  a night of pouring rain. Happiness! So I had to take some pictures of rainy flowers in the sunshine.

Vultures circling something

What Gilbert and Lily were doing while I was writing this blog. Bumper cars with a model T and a log truck

Don't notice my messy floor.

April 23, 2012


Yes, I am trying to win most original blog post title.

I got tired of the blocks in the background. So now I am featuring radishes and garden produce. It is hopeful as I look out at 1-2 inches of slush and snow.

Gilbert wearing his newspaperboy cap backwards. 

The Tonka truck was the place to party for the Polly Pockets

Orianna had a 2 hour delay, which means my day was delayed by 2 hours. Not that it had to be, but I am still juvenile and think that 2 hour delays also apply to me. So I finished my book and was generally lazy until Orianna's bus got here at 9:30. And since then, I have been terribly busy checking facebook, replying to emails, buying airline tickets, and buying a kids song album from Amazon. Getting all my secretarial duties out of the way for the week. Ha.

The interesting bits of the above are as follows--I got 108 classic kids songs for $1.99. About 3 hours of songs. That is the minorly interesting part. The truly interesting part is that I got Justin a ticket to Colorado for this weekend. I feel so jet set buying tickets at the last minute. There has been no death in the family or anything desperate. Just the fact that the ranch Justin's Dad runs has decided to do an old-fashioned branding. This involves a LOT of horse riding, roping every single calf and stretching it out on the ground and keeping the irons hot in the fire. Usually, they run the whole herd through the corrals, pen the calves individually, vaccinate, ear tag, ear tattoo and then brand with an electric brander thing. That isn't technical and I probably missed some steps. Still, the calf is off, bawling for momma within minutes. Old-fashioned will be a lot more labor intensive and Justin will LOVE it.

Plus, this poor cowboy has been penned up in NY for almost 2 years without any riding or roping, so he is just itching to get out there and get to it. 

One of the views from the ranch. Rough. 

This was a one off branding that had to be done for a late calf when we were out there in July of 2010. It is a mix of old-fashioned and modern. 

The roping arena

Justin hates this picture because he overthrew. But the light is so awesome. What is a little rope slip here and there compared to reddish brown horses in the evening sunlight against the Rockies? 

Now, I really must pretend to be a good housekeeper and do the dishes, the laundry, and finish up some sewing projects. And try not to be jealous of my husband leaving our slush for beautiful Colorado. 

"Colorado, Rocky Mountain high-eye--I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky, shadows from the starlight, softer than a babies sigh, Colorado, Rocky Mountain high-eye..." 

Okay, I just googled the lyrics, and it is "softer than a lullabye" but I like "babies sigh" and I have always thought that is what it said. So too bad, John Denver. 

April 20, 2012

Egg and Kale Breakfast Quesadilla and other kale-y things

Blogger has a new look. Disconcerting. It also has all my blog stats on my dashboard. This is unfortunate, since I never looked at my stats before and now I see that people visited my blog yesterday and there was nothing new there. I now feel guilty. I must apologize for wasting your time yesterday. I think this is blogger's sneaky way of guilting every blogger into blogging every day. So from here on out, I will blog continuously. Even if I have nothing to say. Look forward to pointless comments, endless pictures of my desperately cute children, and lots of recipes for things like cinnamon toast and PBJ's. We will go for quantity, not quality.

First, let me stop and wipe up Orianna's spilled Honey Bunches of Oats. Gilbert seems to think sitting on the table with a big book right next to Orianna's bowl is the only place he can really read books this morning. Boys. Orianna is home sick today with a 102 degree fever. There are no other symptoms, so now I have to decide if I should drag her half an hour to the doctor or keep her home and let her rest (okay, play Polly Pockets) and get better. We were planning on heading down to a weekend with Clover and Evan's but now that is up in the air. Decisions, decisions. Bring potential sickness to cousins or not? Toughie.

Now on to the recipe. This will be a legit recipe that I have been meaning to post for awhile now. The original recipe is from a cookbook I read awhile ago--Big Girls in Little Kitchens I believe it is called. This isn't a real recipe, since it is just full of suggestions rather than actual quantities. I love recipes like this.

Saute some greens (Kale happens to be a favorite of mine, but I have used swiss chard, spinach, etc) with whatever else you want (onions and anything else that can be sauteed that is in your refrigerator and looks like it is about to go bad--mushrooms for me this morning) An no, these pictures aren't from this morning. I took these sometime in March.

Generally I cook enough Kale and onions for a few quesadillas. That way I don't have to wash and chop every morning when I feel like I need to eat THIS INSTANCE.

Kale seems to get better the more you cook it, being particularly delish if you slightly burn it. But maybe that is my own weirdness. 

Then you make scrambled eggs (I like two) and dump some of the sauteed goodness in. 

THEN you move the whole mess into another pan that has been heated with oil and salt and put it inside a tortilla. Chop some mozzerella into the mix.  

Cook the quesadilla to golden, salty, crusty perfection.

And if some cheese dribbles out, just dump it on top. 

Then eat and lick your fingers.

This is my favorite breakfast at the moment. People who know me well will probably wonder what peanut butter ever did to me to make me turn my allegiance from PB toast with milk to this more complicated breakfast. I do still eat PB toast some mornings. But I just recently read in Martha Stewart Living that PB can cause water retention. I generally retain enough water in the latter months of pregnancy to float the Queen Mary, so I thought I should try to vary my diet. It is a sad thing. But it is made less sad by this quesadilla. 

And if you are a bit intimidated by the idea of buying a huge bunch of kale to try this, here is another kale recipe that is awesome. 

Zuppa Toscana Soup from here. A copy of Olive Garden's soup.

Kale, onion, garlic, sausage, bacon, and potatoes in a creamy, chicken broth base. Hello, lunch! 

I don't like chewy bacon very much, as seen in the above picture from twopeasaandtheirpod, so I keep at least half the crispy bacon to use as a garnish as the end. 

Another kale recipe I really want to try is this Kale, Sausage, and Cauliflower Pot pie from Real Simple.

Fun little factoid of the day, studies have shown that women who eat a lot of cruciferous vegetable (kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, etc) have a much lower incidence of breast cancer. Who knew pot pie could be health food? 

And there you go. Something new to read. Now I can go on my merry way without feeling guilty.