Friday, March 26, 2010

Jed and Riley

Jed spent a few hours over at his friend Riley's house this past weekend. Aren't they darling?


I would like to clarify one item on Vanessa's post below. Specifically, the last part of that entry. That Jed thought that he could poop standing up was not a "Monkey see, monkey do" type deal. Thank you.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Notes on a 3-year-old Jed

Our Jed falls down. A lot. He's clumsy enough that when we go to our friend Brooke's house, and he runs face-first into yet another wall, she doesn't even turn around and reassures her husband "Oh, he does that all the time." Unfortunately for him, he seems to have inherited his mother's athletic talent.

Earlier this week, however, was a banner week even for Jed. He fell down the stairs. He fell over on his tricycle, WITH his tricycle, which has an exceedingly wide base, twice in an hour. He fell off his little tiny scooter bike more often than I could count. He fell off the piano bench. He fell of his dinner chair. He fell off his stool. He fell over sitting in the bench. He could barely walk in a straight line without falling over. I thought we'd have til teenage-hood before this stage arrived!

Meanwhile, this past Sunday, I went to Ward Council early and Michael took care of the troops while I was gone. When he arrived, laden down with bags of church-utility, he tossed Jed's church shoes at me while he dumped the kids in the pew. I looked at Jed's feet. He was nicely dressed in, um, a t-shirt and pants (because he doesn't have any church clothes that fit right now... I know, I know... I can feel the grandmother's disapproving glares from here...) and RED CROCS. "Do those shoes fit him?" Michael asked. "Um, yah, he wore them last week," I said pointedly and leaned down, as the meeting began, to put the shoes on. As I laced them up, Jed started to cry. "No, MOM, they don't fit, they are too tight!" What?! I checked his toes. Sure enough, they were straining the edges of his shoes. So back on with the crocs for the least-best-dressed kid in nursery award. Oh well.

The next night, Jed ate for dinner: 1 man-sized hamburger, a pile of sweet potato fries, one large apple, and four burger-sized millet/bean patties dripping with horseradish mustard. ("More, dad! I like the spicy dip!" Weird kid.) Yes, he ate as much as me and Michael combined. This from the child who often counts three required bites and a mouthful of bread as a full-meal-deal.

So the following morning, realizing that the short pants, clumsiness, shoe issues, and food might all be related, I measured him. The last marking on the wall was a mere six weeks ago. And now our Jed is... A FULL INCH TALLER. Wow! Holy macaroni! No wonder he's been so cranky for the last month.

Yesterday, we took Jed in for his first real dentist appointment. His very first dentist appointment involved an infected gum, with four of us bodily holding his flailing limbs down as he screamed at the top of his lungs and blood spurted about the room, really not so great.

This time, we wanted it to be a more pleasant experience. I hyped it, with quite good success if I do say so myself, for several days in advance. As we got ready to go, Jed insisted that he needed a bow in his hair just like Zoe. "Mom, I have to look nice for the dentist." We compromised with a tie (which I have been trying, in vain, to convince him for some time now is the "bow for men.") He picked out a red and blue striped tie to compliment his blue and white striped shirt (we are all about matching of late.)

Naturally, the outfit made waves with the ladies at the office. I mean who can resist a slightly matching 3-year-old in red crocs wearing a tie!? He hopped up into the dentist's chair and politely returned her greeting. "Are you here to get you teeth all clean and shiny?" she asked him brightly. "No. My tooths is chipped," he replied seriously, but with enthusiasm. He pointed to his mouth. "I need you to fix it." Then he leaned back and opened up wide. And at that point I felt a deep rush of parental success. What a kid! Then he saw that there were CARTOONS on the ceiling, and, well, his eyes glazed over. But really, he was perfectly behaved for the rest of the two and a half hour visit. I couldn't be prouder.

One last parenting "win:" Recently, a five-year-old friend soberly gave me the ripped off tag from his new Batman backpack, announcing that it was an invitation to his birthday party in August. It was to be a Transformer Party with cupcakes all around. Naturally, I accepted. (See, now that I'm Primary President I get invited to such swanky occasions around Newburgh. Woo woo!) Jed, also naturally, assumed the invite as his own.
"Mom, are we going to Jackson's birthday party today? It's a... Hm."
He furrowed his brow. "I forgot the guy's name, Mom."
"No, Mom, the super guy."
"Oh, right, Batman."
I paused for a long moment.
"Yes. Fatman."

So now my darling child goes around all day muttering to himself about the fantastic adventures of.... FAT MAN!

I feel so pleased with myself I can hardly stand it.

On a separate note, Jed is now fully potty trained (Hurrah!) Even at night. (Hurrah!) He recently discovered the joys of peeing standing up, which is darling because he's so little and can barely get over the edge of the toilet.

So then the other day I walked in the bathroom to find him awkwardly leaning against the opened pot. It took me about 1/4 second to figure out what was going on. And all I will say is:

Standing Poop = FAIL

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Date Night

Surf on over to The Monroe's blog to see how much fun WE had this past weekend!

(Michael, if I do say so myself, cuts quite the dashing figure... YOWZA! Not many men can pull off a hat like my man.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sweet Potato, Corn and Kale Chowder

I found this lovely recipe in a new cookbook called "Clean Food." Michael gave it a solid 9, but I give it a raving 10. The color, when you puree the vegetables together is a warm, gorgeous rosy orange, and then the bright green kale stirred in at the end contrasts with the orange beautifully. I love how thick it got after pureeing the vegetables, the spoon stands up straight, just the way I like it! But you could thin it a bit if you prefer something less hearty.

Sweet Potato, Corn, and Kale Chowder

1 T oil
1 small onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 med. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 c. frozen corn
2 t dried thyme
2 c vegetable stock
2 c water
3 T dry milk powder
1 bunch kale, chopped into small pieces
salt and pepper, to taste
In a large pot over mdium heat, saute onion in oil until soft. Add celery, carrots, sweet potatoes, corn, thyme, and stock. Simmer 5 minutes. Add enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are soft (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat and add dry milk powder. Partially puree using some sort of pureeing device. (Leave plenty of chunks for texture.) Add kale. Return to heat. Thin to desired consistency using water or stock and cook until kale is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Serves 6 (Really!)

(I made a few changes. The original recipe called for grapeseed oil, rice milk, and cashew butter, ingredients that would take at least two special shopping trips around town for me -- and I don't do special shopping trips. So I substituted regular milk. Next time, instead, I will definitely just use water until the end, when I would stir in some dry milk powder. Also, I used dry onion and carrots from the cannery, they always taste nice in a soup and cost less than fresh. I know, I know ERIC, fresh, local, organic, blah blah blah is best! But this tasted plenty good for now.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Best Muffins Ever

Due to popular demand, I share with you the recipe for The Best Muffins Ever, courtesy of Simple Bites. If you're a mom and haven't checked out the new Simple Mom blogs, I highly recommend them. The recipe recommends a tasty compendium of potential flavor combinations for this recipe:

  • 1 cup Raspberries, fresh or frozen & ½ cup Dark Chocolate, chunked or chips
  • ¾ cup Diced Apple (Granny Smith or Russet) and ½ cup toasted Walnuts, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup Dried Cranberries & ½ cup toasted Pecans, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup White Chocolate, chopped or chips & 1 cup Blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup toasted unsweetened Coconut & ¾ cup Peanut-Butter Chips
  • 1 cup diced Rhubarb, fresh or frozen & ½ teaspoon Green Cardamom, freshly ground
  • ¾ cup Dates, pitted and chopped & ½ cup Pistachios
  • ¾ cup Golden Raisins & ¾ cup grated Carrot
I have personally made white chocolate & toasted coconut, mixed chocolate chips, toasted coconut & walnuts, carrot & golden raisin, carrot & chocolate chip, toasted coconut and cranberry, and a few others I'm sure. Every single one was FABULOUS! I made the carrot/golden raisin with whole wheat flour, coconut oil, and stevia with a dash of molasses for sweetener... which made the tastiest "healthy" snack ever, though how healthy something can be when you and a 3-y-o eat a whole dozen by noon is up for question!

I have also made these and given them as mixes, I just add oats and skip the soaking step. This works best with quick oats, though those I made with regular old fashioned oats were still met with acclaim. Let me know what combinations you create and share a review in the comments! V

One Bowl Muffins From Simple Bites

Makes 12 medium muffins
  • 1 cup milk*
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground
  • add-ins of your choosing (see above suggestions)

Combine milk, vinegar and oats in a large bowl and let stand one hour.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a twelve-cup muffin tin and line with cupcake papers.

Crack the egg into the oat and milk mixture; add brown sugar and mix to combine. Stir in melted butter.

Sift remaining ingredients into the bowl: flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, & spices. Gently fold into batter, taking care not to over mix.

Sprinkle add-in and flavorings of your choice and combine muffin batter gently.

Use a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop batter into muffin tins. Bake until light brown and tops spring back when gently touched, about 10-12 minutes. Note: Muffins will take slightly longer to bake if you are adding fresh fruit such as blueberries or rhubarb.

Remove from oven and cool in tins. To remove, run a sharp knife around the edges and pop muffins out. Enjoy!

*You may also substitute 1 cup buttermilk, and then omit the vinegar from the recipe.

Little Beetle

A bonk and a wail from the front room. I peek around the corner to see that once again Zoe Ann has fallen backwards after a particularly enthusiastic hand gesture. She looks like a little beetle, soft underbelly exposed, hands and legs waiving helplessly in the air, wailing for assistance.

Because Zoe can't roll over. STILL. She crawls, she stands, she orders about, but she does not roll.

Well, to be specific, she can roll over, but chooses not to. Rolling from front to back, no problem. But so far only once, and with seriously bribery, have we convinced her to roll from back to front. Instead, our little beetle wails for help, and her wails are rarely in vain.

The few times we have forced ourselves to resist her feminine charm, a challenging work of will indeed, our efforts have been for naught. Come back ten, twenty, forty minutes later and she's still there, but now happily waving her feet in the air and marveling at her tiny, long fingered hands. As soon as she sees us notice, there's a squawk of discontent and then a crafty waiting. After all, she's the princess. We can't make her do anything. She knows Jed will roll her over when he gets back -- and sure enough, he always does.

PS- Michael adds: "She's a beetle with her soft little underbelly exposed and carnivores like me want to BITE IT!"



We paid off our car yesterday. Hooray!

To celebrate, Jed and I cleaned the inside top to bottom. Then for FHE we all went for a deluxe car wash and wax. It's all ours! Forever!

Well probably for at least 13 more years. :) hee hee.

Time to start saving for the ol' mini-van. But boy is it nice to have that loan off our backs.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dinnertime Chatter

Friday night dinner:

Zoe: (having just discovered she has a voice) Eh blah blah blah blah blah blah ba ba BLAH!

Jed: (shouting) Poo poo! Pee pee! Poo poo poo pa pee pee POOP!

Michael: Do we have to listen to this?

Me: Yes. Poo poo POOP!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Apparently, it's genetic. Remember this? Yep, all the Dowdles are pointing and laughing now.

Friday, March 12, 2010


8 months ago.


Still gets mad when she's cold, wet, tired and ready to nurse.

Parking Lot Prayer

Yesterday, as I loaded my groceries into the trunk of my car, two young black girls approached my car. They held armfuls of books and wide smiles. As they questioned me a bit about my faith, I glanced over at Jed, still in the basket, and felt Zoe's sleepy head lean against my back. I thought for a moment of cutting them off mid-schpiel, but as they talked to me about their college they attended in Alabama, and about the faith-based books they were offering "for a donation" I could see what nice girls they were, how sincerely they believed their message could help others, and I just couldn't cut them off.

See, I remember being a nice girl wearing a dress and a tag, approaching people in a Walmart parking lot just a few years ago. I believed my message could help people with all my heart. I smiled because I loved the people I approached and wanted to help them. I rejoiced when they listened.

So I listened. I don't share many of their beliefs and I told them that, but I did tell them how much I appreciated what they were doing, and their sincerity. I told them since our family is working on getting out of debt, I couldn't donate to their school. They understood. But I did say that I'd been there, long ago in a hot, distant place, and I hope they'd do some good that day. They offered to pray with me. I figured what the heck, more prayers can't hurt. So we held hands right there in the parking lot and that beautiful girl offered up a beautiful prayer on behalf of my family.

I hope my little boy remembers that someday. Three people of different faiths, different races, different stages of life and backgrounds holding hands, praying in a parking lot.

One thing I've come to love about Indiana is that people are unafraid of religion here. It seems like out West religion has become so taboo that you can't even bring it up in polite society. Here there are church barbecues in the hardware store parking lot and scriptures on the bank sign. My doctor has crosses above all doors in his office. We have a Jewish synagogue down the road, a new Muslim mosque just completed a little further north, and Ganesh recently installed at the little Hindu temple.
Our community consists predominantly of mainstream Christian sects, and our own little Latter-day Saint congregation is far in the minority. I know most people around here would disagree with my beliefs, but I appreciate being in a place where I feel I can openly declare them. And I appreciate that others wish to share their faith with me.

Even in the parking lot.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Standing Up

Don't you just love that little glance back she gives her Daddy. "Now, watch THIS!"

Also note Jed's background happy dance.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A New Commitment

So as to encourage the further commenting of our visitors,
I, Vanessa Ann Stanfill, do solemnly declare that:

I will reply to EVERY SINGLE COMMENT left on our blog.*

That's right, folks. You say it, I'll respond. Take that as a challenge.

*Foreign spammers not included. If you spam me, I will delete your lousy good-for-nothing comment with great relish.


Monday, March 8, 2010


I felt like I should write an update for our family's history. Then I couldn't think of much to say. Mostly, there's lots and lots and lots of snot around here of late. Bless my nose sucker, the greatest toy a mother could have.

Also (oh, this IS exciting!) Zoe pulled herself up and stood, all by herself today. First time! Turned out she was pooping and rather spectacularly, too, but it still counted.

Um, also we like cookies. A lot. By the dozen.

And now, since it is the legitimate hour of 9:00 PM, I think I'll head for bed.

Friday, March 5, 2010


I'm lucky to have two happy helpers who hang around me (and on me) all day.

Yesterday, as I mopped the kitchen tile on my hands and knees, Zoe crawled in to check things out. I turned away from her for a moment to finish one corner, and when I looked back, I saw Zoe proudly beaming up at me, hoping I would notice her handy-work. She'd crawled over, spit-up on the tile, and then cheerfully scrubbed away with both hands, on hands and knees, just like her momma.

Now my friend tells me this is a story only the mother could love. I disagree. This story is hysterical and must be preserved for posterity.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

For Context

So you can get a feel for the scale of this particular protest. Had something to do with the local Fire Department.


Continuing the tradition of Evansville community activism... Michael sent me this photo of downtown Evansville's seething hotbed of populist outrage:

A protest of sorts…

When I said you were “missing it”, I might have exaggerated a little bit. You’re not really missing anything. And when I said "protest"… well, that might have been an exaggeration too. It’s as much as a protest can be with a boat floating still with a hand painted sign on it, while a one legged man sits and smokes his cigarette.

Cashew Chicken

I've been in the mood for Chinese food lately, but we're still on our "pay off debt" kick so going out wasn't really an option. I ran across a Cashew Chicken recipe and that sounded tasty to me. But the recipe looked weird. Seriously, what kind of Chinese food has red wine vinegar and ketchup in it? And cooked in a slow cooker? In the words of Jed -- "That's not right!"

So I kept looking and ran across this recipe at the good ol' standby site, Simply Recipes. As always, simple and classic, a three-ingredient sauce that tastes phenomenal. I did make a few small changes because, um, yeah I can't not. We've made it twice this week, once as written and once with my own changes which I thought gave it a lovely twist.

Michael gave this the rare and glorious rating of TEN out of ten!

Cashew Chicken

Marinate for at 1-4 hours:
8 chicken thighs, cubed
1/2 c. oil (olive or coconut)
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 T. sesame oil
1 T. fresh ginger, grated

Meanwhile, brown:
2 c. cashews

And chop:
1 container mushrooms
1 lg onion
1 green pepper

About 20 minutes before dinner, heat a heavy skillet on high. With tongs, place the chicken in pan and stir fry (may take two batches.) Place in serving bowl with cashews.

Then pour the marinade in the hot pan and boil a bit to kill off any chicken cooties. Pour in bowl.

Then stir fry the onions and peppers. Stir in the mushrooms later so they don't get overcooked. Place all in bowl. Serve over rice.

Serves 4-6

Moan at the extended abdomen resulting from snorking down so much deliciousness.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Michael and I like to text one another during the day. If only there was some way to preserve them, since they are the most true-to-life record of our daily living. Here's a sample from today, remarkable only in its every-dayness:

M - Hi! Love you! Boss out sick. It's really quiet today...
V - Nice! Zoe is super fussy today. I have her on my back. Teeth, maybe?
M - Who knows... Teeth? Belly? Development/Growth Spurt?
V - Doesn't seem like belly.
M - I'm sorry she's fussy. That is no good. Maybe she misses her Daddy and is forlorn because of his absence. ;-)
V - No, that's me. :)
M - I miss you too. I love you to pieces...
V - Hm. I had forgotten how hard it is to sweep your kitchen when there's a crawling kid what a garbage fetish underfoot.
M - Yeah.... it doesn't seem like she has figured out that there is a lot of edible stuff on the carpet, but she'll figure it out... eek!
V - Oh she figured. Already vacuumed today.
M - Wait, you vacuumed or she did? ;-p
V - Both.
M - Ewwwwwwwe.
V - Zoe thinks her brother is SO funny!