Friday, September 14
I want to tell you about my little friend Lucy. She’s three years old and she is funny, feisty and loving. Really loving. Like, if she met you right now, she would tell you how much she loves you.
Lucy is also the person in my life who I think about when things get hard or stressful, or at least when I think they get hard or stressful. All I have to do is call Lucy and her family to mind and I instantly gain perspective. You see, Lucy has a terminal and degenerative genetic disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). She can’t walk. She can’t eat. She can barely breathe. And yet she is LUCY. She has this amazing little brain that works just like yours and mine. She loves using her iPad (which, by the way, has opened up the world to her). She loves to go swimming. She loves the Disney princesses. She loves to swing on the back porch with her brother and sister in the special swing her grandpa built for her. She likes to drive her special chair ALL BY HERSELF. She is just like any three-year-old, except her body just doesn’t cooperate.
Lucy’s parents Chad and Cherisse are amazing. They have the tremendous task of caring for Lucy, and they do so with tenderness and love, just as any parent would. But, actually witnessing their care, on both good days and bad? It is a true inspiration and a reminder of the great love and great good we are all capable of. Even with all the care that Lucy requires, they still have strong relationships with their two older children, who adore Lucy as well. Cherisse’s Instagram feed does a heart good, let me tell you. Getting a peak into their day-to-day, the small moments Lucy has with her siblings, it’s beyond touching.
Lucy is a miracle. She was diagnosed with type 1 SMA (the most severe form) as a small baby. At the time of diagnosis, the doctors said Lucy would be lucky to see her first birthday, which was hard for Cherisse to believe looking at the baby in her lap. It became clear as time went on, however, that the disease would overtake almost all of her abilities.
And yet…Lucy is a miracle. 90% of SMA Type 1 babies don’t make it to their 2nd birthday…and Lucy is a trooper of a 3-year-old!
SMA stinks. Lucy is the second child I’ve personally known who has this disease. I’ve been wanting to tell you about Lucy because, well, I love her story. But I also want to help Cherisse spread the word about SMA. I love this infographic from the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation that gives a fabulous summary of the disease:
Here is SMA in a nutshell: it’s degenerative, it’s the #1 genetic killer of infants and young children, it affects the body’s ability to function in just about every way and yet the brain is never affected. But here’s the sort of magical thing about SMA…research of this disease could truly do wonders. Treatment and cure is plausible and, if discoveries are made for SMA, that research could help with the treatment of hundreds of other genetic diseases and neurological disorders. (To read more about SMA, click here!)
Have you ever seen the This American Life tv show? It is as great as the podcast, and my most favorite story from the series is of Mike Phillips. Mike was diagnosed with SMA at age 9. He was 27 when This American Life told his story. He always said that if he could talk, he would want to sound like Johnny Depp. Awesomely they got Johnny Depp to narrate his story, a story that is amazing, haunting, sad, funny and will definitely make you cry. It gives such a unique insight into the mind of someone dealing with this disease.
Lucy has made a mark on this world. She has impacted many lives. And she is a beautiful reminder to all of us that each and every day we have on this earth is a gift. I am going to quote Cherisse here for a bit because, well, the words of Lucy’s own mother are more precious and powerful than anything I can come up with.
“I would not trade the world for this little girl that brings so much joy, love, hope and light to our lives. She is an angel in every sense of the word and I wish I could share her with the whole world. She has enough love in her little red heart for everyone she meets (and she will tell you that she loves you too, over and over again). I don’t think that our family will ever feel as loved and supported as we have while caring for this very special girl, my heart swells when I think of all of the kindness and love that has been shown to us. Everyday I think that my life will never be as stressful as it is now but then it won’t ever be as wonderful as today, another day (and everyday) that I get to spend with my three little ones and my sweet husband.”
If you’d like to help support SMA research, Cherisse is going to be running the Santa Barbara 1/2 Marathon to raise money for the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the SMA cause. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE it if some of you could support Cherisse and help us fight SMA. Even if it’s just $5. Consider it your annual This Week for Dinner subscription fee or skip the pumpkin latte at Starbucks for a day. No pressure, just if you’re feeling it! Click here to donate!
And, have you seen the completely awesome Flight of the Conchords charity song? Really, you have to watch it. The whole thing (or at least start around the 5:00 mark). It will make you happy and the supremely catchy song will get stuck in your head. Let’s helpa helpa helpa the kids!
Sunday, August 19
On Friday, my friend Natalee had us over so we could do a lemonade stand. Cate looked forward to it all week and was over-the-moon excited when the day actually came. It was one of those magical moments as a parent, watching her live the dream, so to speak. I never did a lemonade stand as a kid, so my 7-year-old self got to live vicariously through Cate. And it was as much fun as I always imagined it would be.
I seriously can’t believe summer is almost over. Just two more weeks of sleeping in and hitting the pool when we can! And, because it’s summer, I didn’t really get to a lot of items from last week’s menu. We’ll see how this week goes!
- Spinach and Pancetta Stuffed Shells
- Chicken Pot Pie (still have a recipe I want to try)
- Grill night…hot dogs, hamburgers
- Watermelon, baked beans
- Eat out
- Breakfast for dinner, probably waffles
You know the drill! Please pretty please share your menu for the week!
Tuesday, July 3
One thing I’ve never made is homemade popsicles. I don’t have the molds. I’m not that into popsicles. And the girls have never asked to make them before. Hence, no homemade popsicles at the Maynard home! But I remember loving them as a kid and when I mentioned possibly making popsicles at home, Cate and Anna started cheering. Literally.
Tropicana recently contacted me about writing a post incorporating orange juice with making something fun with my kids. Since we had already been contemplating making popsicles, Tropicana finally kicked me into gear! We went out and bought a really cool Zoku popsicle maker and were ready to go!
My most favorite popsicles as a child were creamsicles. Whenever I take a bite of one, I’m instantly transported to my childhood home on Ensign Court, eating creamsicles on the front porch. I decided making homemade creamsicles would be a great way to use orange juice and make some new memories with my kids.
We hit the store and picked up Tropicana’s Pure Premium orange juice, pulp free of course for the popsicles! Tropicana makes their juice with fresh oranges and it is 100% pure and natural, which makes me happy to use their product. We grabbed whole milk, orange extract, and, of course, cream and headed home to mix and freeze!
I found a recipe on a blog called Nourished Kitchen that looked promising. It’s simple to throw together, providing ample opportunity for the kids to pour, mix and stir. There is also a lot of down time while the orange juice simmers, so you can grab some books and read together while you occasionally stir the juice. All in all, it is a great recipe to make with the kids!
And the final product was good! We had leftover filling (the original recipe made a TON), so I threw it in the ice cream maker with a pinch of xanthan gum. The ice cream was yummy, although it had sort of a dry taste to it. I think I might need to perfect a creamsicle-flavored ice cream based on the vanilla ice cream recipe we’ve had such great success with. Does that not sound completely heavenly?
There was one major snafu with the popsicles, though. This filling did NOT work with the Zoku maker. Such a sad discovery! The pops were totally stuck, so don’t use the maker for this recipe! My friend Necia swears that they’ve had great success with the Zoku, so we’re just going to have to try some other recipes! Thankfully I have friends with regular popsicle molds who were able to save the day. My favorite molds were the ones from Ikea, they worked great!
See those there creamsicles freezing nicely in the Zoku? Yeah, they’re never comin’ out. At least not without lots of hot water.
I’ll be sure to report on more of our homemade popsicle ventures!
From Nourished Kitchen, with my notes and quantities adjusted
- 1 cup orange juice
- 2 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 tsp orange extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Simmer honey and orange juice over medium heat in a small saucepan until reduced by half – this will take 20-40 minutes. Just grab some books and read in the kitchen with your kids while you wait! Stir occasionally. Once it has reduced, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Whisk together egg yolks, cream, milk, orange extract and vanilla extract. Add orange juice mixture and whisk well.
Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze until solid. Do not use a Zoku popsicle maker for this recipe – it will stick inside!
Will make at around 8-10 popsicles.
This post was sponsored by Tropicana. Tropicana Pure Premium is 100% pure Florida orange juice. If you would like to connect with the folks at Tropicana, visit them at Facebook.com/Tropicana.
Tuesday, June 5
Today I wanted to share a teacher thank you gift idea that I used this week and ended up really loving. My friend Amy from Living Locurto shared this super cute blog post with me a month or so ago. It’s a plant with a cute gift tag that says “Thank you for helping me grow this year!” Amy provides a free printable and I love that it’s super cute, quick and thoughtful. I pinned the post straightaway, knowing I would be using it come June!
I did in fact end up using Amy’s idea and to great success! I was just going to use her cute printable, but I decided I wanted to incorporate the girls’ photos and card-making skills, so I changed it up a bit. Here’s what I did!
1. I took the girls to our local garden center and let them choose small plants for their teachers.
2. I picked up some old school, wooden rulers at Target.
3. I turned the card into a growing flower on a ruler…get it? grow? growth? measurement? teachers? rulers? flowers growing? Super cute, right? Anyway, for each card I cut out two identical flowers out of cardstock, glued a photo of my daughters cut into circles on the center of the flower, then glued the flower to the ruler, with the ruler glued between the two flower pieces. Did you catch those annoyingly-written directions? This is why I am not a crafty DIY blogger.
4. I gave the girls the cards and let them decorate the flowers however they want. We wrote “Thank you for helping me grow!” on the back and then stuck the rulers into the plants. Voila! Instant super cute teacher thank you gift!
The girls’ teachers loved their gifts. Wanna hear something funny? Cate’s teacher gave all of the mom volunteers a card – the card was a giant sunflower, with each petal being a note from each child in the class. Can you guess what the center of the flower said? “Thank you for helping us grow this year!” We both laughed when we saw each other’s cards. We decided that great minds really do think alike!
Thanks for the inspiration, Amy! Happy teacher gifting, everyone!
Sunday, May 27
It’s a bagel morning at our house today. Want to know why it’s a bagel morning? It all starts Friday afternoon when Cate lost a tooth at school. Saturday morning she wakes up, checks under her pillow, and lo and behold her tooth is still there. Which maybe wouldn’t seem too terrible except LAST time she lost a tooth the same thing happened. That time, however, the tooth fairy snuck in during breakfast and Cate got two dollars instead of one and everything worked out. Unfortunately, yesterday the tooth fairy didn’t ever show. So, Cate wrote her a letter, wrapped that around her tooth, stuck it under her pillow then woke up this morning to find…the letter and her tooth. AGAIN. Thank goodness for the book Pinkalicious, we just keep saying, “It’s just like Pinkalicious! The tooth fairy just must be soooo busy this weekend.” Believe it or not, two other kids in Cate’s class lost teeth on Friday. Proof positive that the tooth fairy has more on her plate than she can handle.
Which brings us to the bagels…the tooth fairy only had a twenty this morning when she realized she screwed up AGAIN. So she went and spent $13 on bagels just to get the change…and by the time she got back with the bagels, Cate was already awake. Stupid tooth fairy. I kind of hate her right now. So, bagels for breakfast, everyone! Aren’t I a nice mommy to go out and get them so early? You’re welcome! I love you all, too!
- Happy Memorial Day! We’ll definitely be grilling up some classic Memorial Day fare, said fare TBD!
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Cheddar cauliflower (from the CSA…it’s yummy!)
- Cream of Mushroom soup
- Tuscan Tomato Soup
- the girls both want soup this week, but they can’t agree on the flavor, so we’re having two soup nights
- Dinner at Cheesecake Factory to celebrate Cate’s last day of school!
- Breakfast for dinner…waffles!
- Fresh fruit
Please share your menu for the week! And, if you see the tooth fairy, tell her to get her patootie over here pronto.
Tuesday, January 10
Bethanie, a long-time reader, recently emailed me asking if I would be willing to put the following question out there: What do you pack for your kids’ lunches? Like my daughter, her child doesn’t have the ability to heat food at school but is sick to death of sandwiches. I am in the exact same boat, so I was totally down with this call for “recipes” of sorts!
AND…for that matter…I’m having a bagel for lunch today. Which is what I had yesterday. Not exactly nutritious and definitely boring. SOOOO…
Today’s Call for Recipes is three fold!
- What do you pack for kids’ lunches, especially where they can’t reheat food?
- What kinds of food do you pack for your own lunch?
- If you eat lunch at home, what are you eating?
Bethanie ended her email with “I know the blog is ‘This week for DINNER’, but I’m desperate!” and I actually feel the same way. I’m good about getting my dinner plan together each week, but I’m terrible about lunches! Can’t wait to see all of your great ideas and tips!
Friday, January 6
Warning: there is no food to be found in this post. Sorry. But I do promise to deliver absolute and total cuteness. Hope that makes up for it!
I am not a crafty person. I rarely have any “projects” going on, despite the fact that I am a creative, artsy type. But once in a while something catches my eye that I simply must do.
A tiara for the more courtly princesses.
As you know, Anna recently hosted a “Hello Kitty Glamour Party” for her birthday. As we prepared for the party, she said to me, “Make sure everyone wears glamour stuff to my party, mama.” I decided I could help Anna’s guests out by providing them with some lovely tiaras. But lovely tiaras are surprisingly hard to come by.
One of the benefits of editing DailyBuzz Moms is I get to read oodles of fabulous blog posts about oodles of fabulous topics. One of these such posts came from Joy’s Misadventures. Joy described how she put together her daughter’s Halloween costume, complete with a homemade tiara that was the prettiest little tiara I ever did see.
A tiara for the more whimsical, pixie-like princesses.
I emailed Joy, found out where she got the stuff, and ordered the supplies straight away! With my Hobby Lobby floral wedding beads and headbands from Target at the ready, my friend Amy and I sat down and got creative. (Please note: I made two tiaras. Amy made seven. That is friendship.)
Every tiara was unique, whimsical, adorable. I couldn’t have been happier with the result. And they were EASY to put together. Just wrap the wire around the headband. Done! Thank you, Joy, for the inspiration!
Party tiaras all in a row.
You’re welcome for making all of your tiara dreams come true.
Friday, December 16
While the rest of the world is celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and the like…you know holidays involving winter, snow, lights…well, our house is celebrating birthdays galore! Both of my sweet daughters were born just a week before Christmas. It’s crazy town. But (as long as I can survive the stress) it’s lots of fun!
Since their birthdays are so close to Christmas, each year I make them whatever birthday cake their little hearts desire to make sure their day is special and non-Christmasy.
Anna is having a “Glamour Party” this year, which evolved into a “Hello Kitty Glamour Party” when she discovered the Hello Kitty plates and napkins at Target. So, a Hello Kitty cake it is! Hello Kitty by the way is an AWESOME subject for a cake. SO easy. Thank you, Anna! She was so cute this morning, staring at her cake the whole time she ate breakfast.
Cate picked out some kitty cat cupcakes from my favorite kids’ cake book. For some reason I thought Juicy Fruit was white. It’s yellow. So yeah, yellow ears and whiskers is what we got. I’m pretty sure Cate won’t mind!
Because I would like to make this post semi-useful to you, I used regular buttercream frosting this year (adding a little cream cheese to the frosting for Cate’s red velvet cupcakes). And I most definitely did a crumb coat on the Hello Kitty cake (a thin layer of icing on the cake that picks up all the crumbs, followed by 10 minutes in the freezer before doing the final coat of icing). And for the kitty eyes, just use a food writer on M&Ms. Instant cat eyes!
Even though the birthday cakes invariably cause me to stay up way too late at night, I must admit the torture is fun.
Thursday, August 11
Photo taken by my sister Anne when Cate was about 1 week old
My body does not like being pregnant. It’s a fact. It happens every time. And yet, here we are, working on baby number 3. Sometimes wondering why we are working on baby number 3 (just kidding!), yet always beyond happy that we are.
As you may have noticed, one of the biggest impacts that pregnancy has on my life is in my relationship to food. For the first half of my pregnancy, I can barely keep any food down with the help of medication. It’s a constant struggle to keep myself, and my baby, nourished. Then, once the crazy nausea and vomiting have dissipated, the constant acid reflux controls what I do (or do not) eat or drink right up until the baby is born. My current food predicament? Nothing sounds good to me. Yes, I’m starving, but I have no zest for food. Except chocolate lava cakes. There is always zest for chocolate lava cakes.
The thing is, food is essential and central to the experience of life. Especially my life. I’m a mother, constantly needing to feed two (and a half) little people. I’m a food blogger, constantly wanting to write about food. And, at the most basic level, I’m human, needing food to survive. So when the relationship I have with food is so wrought with problems, it really does affect everything. It’s beyond frustrating.
I want to complain. And often I do. And I invariably feel guilty about the complaining, despite caring friends and family telling me I have every right to complain, that I should get it all out without feeling guilty. And even though sometimes (okay, maybe more than sometimes) you can find me whining about my latest pregnancy-induced ailment, I truly am so grateful to be growing this little life inside of me. And whenever I do feel like I’ve hit rock bottom…too sick or in pain to move, to be a mother, to be a wife, and feeling depressed as a result of all of that…I remind myself of that gratitude. Grateful that I am in this position to begin with and that, despite the crumminess, in reality everything is healthy and wonderful and the end result will be breathtaking.
I also can’t help but think of many of my friends. My single friends who wish so much they were married and having babies of their own. My married friends who never could get pregnant or who struggled for years to conceive, with month after month of heartbreak defining the process. My friends who are parents but for various reasons cannot have more children and constantly feel a small hole in their life where that child they thought they would have should be. I love these friends dearly and I hope that I have been able to keep my shallow complaints about sciatica and heartburn to a minimum in their presence.
I very recently had the most precious moment with our little Anna, who is now three years old. As the pregnancy progresses and she gets a little older, her interest in her baby brother increases. It’s so sweet to see the evolution. Two days ago she was gently feeling my belly, trying to see if she could feel the baby. He wasn’t moving, but there was a bump that she said she could feel. I am never quite sure if she really gets what’s going on, but I love that she tells me she does.
After a few seconds, she laid her little head to my belly and said, “I can hear his dreams.”
She’s three and you can’t always understand everything she says. I wasn’t entirely sure she had really said the word dreams, so I asked, “You can hear the baby dreaming?”
When she answered that, yes, she could, I asked her what he was dreaming about.
“He’s dreaming about us.”
And at that moment all of the struggles didn’t matter. All I could feel was love and gratitude. For my supportive husband. For my friends who, no matter their own circumstances, are truly and wholly happy for me. For my beautiful daughters anticipating the arrival of their little brother. And for this person moving around inside of me who, before I know it, will be grown up and having babies of his own. And so I take my iron pills, throw a pillow between my legs and eat my dinner that doesn’t really taste that great. Because life is good and I’m lucky I get to experience it.
Tuesday, June 28
A while ago I wrote a post for Make and Takes about nasturtiums. We planted nasturtium seeds again this year, this time in deeper planters, and they have practically exploded on our back patio!
That random plant there in the middle? It just popped out of nowhere. I don’t have the heart to pull it, it’s doing so well…so random plant it is.
My original post pretty much already says it all, but nasturtiums are FUN to plant with your kids and very easy to take care of. Definitely a great summer activity. Both times we’ve grown them from seeds with no problem and they are super hearty and flexible when it comes to sun exposure. Plus, you can eat the flowers and the leaves. I personally don’t love the taste, but the novelty can’t be beat!
That’s all for today. Just wanted to share something that’s been fun for my girls that’s also super easy.