Sunday, March 28, 2010

I have an idea . . .

For every REAL blog I write, I'll also write two or three "promise blogs" to keep everyone hanging. That way I'm only really doing a third of the work! Yes! I love doing third-assed jobs!

No, seriously. Hannah's birthday party was so . . . pink. I really don't have a better word to describe it. Wall to wall, bubbly, girly, pepto bismol pink. She loved every minute of it. Tea and biscotti, costume parade, dance party, painting tea cups, Totoro cake . . . I mean, what's not to love about any of that? I woke up the next morning with a frosting hangover, and when I went upstairs to the living room to inventory the damage, I thought to myself wow, now that's a lot of plastic toys she totally didn't need. Except the potty. She really needed the pink plastic potty. And the Lego wagon. What little girl doesn't need a pink plastic Lego wagon? And how did she ever get around before without her pink plastic tricycle? Helloooooo pink plastic baby doll stroller! No, she doesn't need any of those things. But life sure is easier funner pinker now that she does.

SO . . . I have lots of pictures. And videos. And ideas for her 2-year-old video montage and sappy love blog. Yes. I. do.

In other news, she sat on her potty before our shower this morning. There she was, proud, animated, buck naked little Hannah, sitting on a potty, not peeing but making the sound "pssssssssss" like she really was, the little turkey. She's also learning some amazingly profound new songs, including but not limited to: "Tinkle Tinkle Little Tot," "The Tushy Pushy" and "Itsy Bitsy Poo Poo." Video coming soon. Just kidding.

Friday, March 26, 2010







Thursday, March 25, 2010


I've spent the last 2.5 hours . . .

not enjoying the beautiful sunny weather

not taking my daughter to swim "lessons"

not reading my depressing-but-intriguing book

not making progress on pretty much anything

not much caring that "taking a break" has lasted so long.

So there.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy birthday to my 2-year old!

Even though she's been two (to me) for the past 6 months or so.

I'm working on the birthday video. It'll probably be late. Still haven't found just the right song (it's harder than you'd think). Until then, I'll be celebrating by going out with my sister to finally celebrate HER birthday (which was about 2 weeks ago), while Hannah spends the next week opening presents.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When Hannah Plays: A Royal Subject's Log

7:34AM A soft, sweet voice, hoarse from deep sleep, begins to sing. Nothing in particular at first - just moos, baas and la la las. The tiny vocal chords stretch and sigh, testing the room's acoustical integrity in their warm up. Slowly, like a heron unfurling its wings, her song takes shape. Takes flight. It crescendos to a steady hum as she chooses her song of the day. Sometimes it is twinkling stars and wondrous light. Sometimes it is pooh bears and piglets. Sometimes it is her favorite forest troll who enjoys "genki" walks through the forest. A farm of singing animals. A very determined spider. An exceptionally large drum. Sometimes it is something I've never heard before - a song of the heart whose meaning and tune she alone knows. In the wee hours of the morning, our windowless room dark as the blackest night, she shares her song with whoever will listen. And if no one listens, she sings louder.

Her song complete (for now), she stands in her bed and reaches for the light between us, diaper crinkling, fingers fumbling. *click* A glowing face appears across the nightstand, smiling in a brilliant nebula of nut brown hair.

"Hi!" she sings.
"Hi baby. How are you?"
"Good! Did you have nice sleeps?"
"Good. Are you hungry?"

8:10AM Eating with her majesty is like eating with a smallish vaccuum. I honestly don't know where she puts it all. I can serve her an adult-sized bowl of oatmeal, bananas and honey, and she is finished before I can sit down to my own humble breakfast of coffee and toast. She needs but look at a person in her calm matter-of-fact way for them to offer all they have on their plate, just to keep her satisfied. A connoisseur of fine dining, she helps herself to my toast, graciously leaving me the soggy bits with dregs of oatmeal and bananas. She says, with that gleam in her eye, that she is saving me from myself.

9:00AM Her whims and wishes rule our lives with spunky tenacity. It matters not what she asks for - a book on the highest shelf, a bite of her uncle's cereal, a chance to strum a guitar with wreckless abandon or gracefully walk her fingers down the piano's keyboard, to wear every beaded necklace in the costume chest (the jingles and rattles echoing throughout her kingdom), an entire apple to herself, to be ceremoniously cloaked in every blanket she owns, to be carried up the stairs (though her legs work just fine, I assure you), or to sleep with every doll and stuffed animal in the toy box . . . we listen, and obey . . . because we only desire what she desires. At least this is what we tell her.

10:00AM Because of her young age, our queen is a little less than popular with the other, more seasoned queens of the land. At Toddler (Tea) Time she ignores their upturned noses and petty snatching of balls and tricycles, preferring a peaceful play time where all can be safe under her watch. She then craftily builds her own fortress of tunnels and parachutes and collects every ball on the court in her domicile to prove that, however small, she is still the most powerful queen in the land.

After a hearty lunch, the queen sleeps, and so must I.

3:30PM I am taken aback at her mastery of the dual-weapon wield. With a wooden sword in one hand and a jedi light saber in the other, evil ghosts, monsters, and bothersome cousins don't stand a chance against her prowess on the battlefield. She is quite decorated with wounds from previous battles. Fierce and brave, she tumbled from the highest peak of mount Unmade Bed down to the darkest depths of the Lego Abyss, her chin and a wooden dresser the only things to stop her. She is a merciful queen, applauding loyalty and bravery where it is due, but she rules her subjects with an iron fist. "ZACH!!!" she bellows with fervor and power when her beloved 8-year-old cousin strays too far from her side. He dashes back, breathlessly genuflecting before her,

"Yes, my queen?"

Nothing, just a drill, she says. Don't worry, you've passed. As you were.

4:00PM Having no children of her own, our queen holds a special place in her heart for those plastic people tender in age. At any given time during the day she is faithfully caring for not one, not two, not three, but 5 baby dolls who demand her love. "Awwwwww. Bee-beeeee" she says, squeezing its head has hard as she can (for head-squeezing is of utmost importance in childcare; just ask her). She wraps blankets around their faces (protection from the harsh winter cold) and carries them on her small, cocked-out hip, bouncing them and stopping every few steps to readjust and move her little one to the other hip. I can't imagine the toll this must take on her majesty. Night and day they cry for her, demanding to be fed plastic bottles, have their heads squeezed and faces wrapped in blankets. I don't know how she does it and manages her kingdom all at once.

5:00PM The queen has begun riding lessons, at $1.00 each. At this rate she will soon compete (and win, of course) in the events of equestrian, horse racing, jousting, and of course, not losing her cookies under the influence of centrifugal force. Wishing not to reveal her secret weapon in these events, her only comment to the presses, thus far, has been "Weeeeeeeee!"

6:00PM Preferring a late afternoon snack to an ordinary sit-down supper, her majesty has taken to climbing between dining room chairs and screaming like a banshee until our barbaric custom is finished.

7:00PM Her majesty's most shining hour. Between renditions of the game "Marco, Polo" (usually "Dada, Hannah" or "Mama, Hannah" or "Hannah, Hannah") and running around the house with her shirt held over her head (should anyone want to partake of a sticky-but-satisfying belly), the queen can be found climbing the highest, most technically challenging peaks of the kingdom. The Couch. The Table. The Toilet. The Computer Desk. The Computer. The Rocking Chair. The Book Shelf. It is usually on The Book Shelf where she chooses this night's bedtime stories. After 30 minutes of milk, stories, aerobics, and brushing of teeth, we say adieu and good night to our fair little queen, until morning when her nightengale song wakes us again.

8:00PM The kingdom is silent. It sighs, stretches, and cracks its vertebrae back into place. We all know our place, and it's a perfect place to be.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

When Hannah Eats: Limmericks and Poems

Thought a bottle-fed toddler, while drinking,
"My taste for this stuff is quite shrinking."
And in one minute flat, she threw up a whole vat,
And at snack time said, "That was smart thinking!"

A cruel vegetarian mama
Had a child with a small taste for drama
After lunch time she dealt
With Zach's BMT melt
Thus beginning her own meat-o-rama.

Licking the Butter off the Bread
(To the tune of Painting the Roses Red from Disney's Alice in Wonderland)

Licking the butter off the bread
Licking the butter off the bread!
She slurps and smiles at piles and miles
Of blissful, buttery spread
She should eat her carrots insteeeeeeeeead . . .
Of licking the butter off the bread!

A Meal Fit for Me
I don't want pasta with cheesy cream sauce
Keep lasagnas and stews from my sight.
No pizzas and curries while Mama, she hurries
To fill me up, no! Not a bite!

Miso and rice balls are temptingly tasty
Blueberries, apples, alright.
My taste is exotic, my palate quixotic
And so, you must realize my plight.

For starters I'd say the Legos flambe
Indeed, whet my appetite fine.
And if you agree, what a gem I can be
If you don't, I'll have cheese with my whine.

A salad of pennies, loose threads and dust bunnies
My taste buds will never lie fallow
And then, the main course, rusty shoe of a horse
Washed down with three leaves of aloe.

Dessert, you could say, in an eloquent way
Is deserving of sweetest grandeur.
A hairball, some floss and some liverwort moss
Topped off with a fly-fishing lure.

But we're not quite through, for I really must chew
Bubble gum - 15 packs, quite alone.
A cup full of ice, some small plastic dice
Shards of glass, and a yellow snow cone.


"Wees?" she says, "Wees?"
And you just can't ignore
Those sad hungry eyes,
Then she smiles
And croons, "Moooooooore?"

by Suzie (Mama) Stephensen

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When Hannah speaks: a dictionary

In case of emergency . . .

= up, help
doon! = down
eech! = reach
touch! = high five
way = wave
nooz = nose
eyes = eyes, ears, shoulders, belly, knees
bee-bo = belly button (thank you, Sandra Boynton)
nook = mouth
togi = toes
doog. wan wan! = dog. woof woof!
titty. meeeeow! = kitty. meow!
titah. raaaa! = tiger. roar!
eh-pan. raaaa! = elephant. roar!
dada. raaaa! = Daddy. roar!
bee-bee. Awwww. = Baby. Awwww.
mama. Awwww. = Mama. Awwww.
orse. moooo! = horse! moooo!
pee. *snorting sound* = pig. *snorting sound*
dak. mooooo = cow. moooo!
go-dee-dah = gorilla
kong kong kong kong! = train
wees = please
tee-too = thank you
loonch? = lunch/breakfast/dinner/snack
niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilk? = milk
dooce = juice
wa-wak = water
push! = turn on the TV/flush the toilet/open the door
mooooooah? = more/(pointing) I want that
ahpoo = apple
nana = banana
tease = cheese
pan = bread
ah-dah! = all done
oishii! = yummy
teekee = stinky
Wee Wee Poo = Winnie the Pooh
bee bee tah-bah bah-bah = big bass thumper-bumper
Eeeeeee-me = Amy
Dack, Yak = Zach
Ee-ten = Ethan
hewo. coooo. = Hello. Cool.
nani? = what's this?
na-night = night night
mmmmmmmmm = (puckering lips) kiss please
ba-bye. syoo dee-der = bye bye. see you later.
ah-tide? = outside
wook wook! = look look!
inai inai . . . bah! = peek-a-boo!
no no = yes, no, maybe, I don't know, I'm too tired to answer, (pointing) I shouldn't touch that

Friday, March 12, 2010

Excused Absense

I have,

1. Little privacy
2. Little space
3. Little peace
4. A plethora of non-blog-appropriate things weighing on my mind
5. Lost a muse (Japan)
6. Competed with/been sucked in by a screaming vortex of american idols, grey's anatomies, private practices, losts, offices, big loves, biggest losers and depressing local newsies.
7. A lack of words to describe this strange place I'm in.
8. Swim lessons
9. Cooking duties
10. No more excuses

Things might be a little messy for now, but we've been here before. I feel like there's a giant cork in my brain, and I can't get it out. Bbbbllllleeeeehhhhh. Just say what's on your mind, Suzie. I've turned off the computer screen so I'll stop editing myself. Gotta stop editing. Stop worrying. Stop worrying. I have things to say. Important ones. Things about gratitude, and children, and mud puddles. Things about weight watchers, bottles, a list of letters I owe. Making the choice to thrive, not survive. Preparing for the coming of a feisty 2-year-old, complete with pink cushy potty and attitude to spare. But all I can think about are relationships. How poor all of mine feel, and how I'm the common denominator in them. How many people I need to apologize to, and how daunting that task is. I get this way sometimes. Weepy. End of the worldy. Maybe it's hormones. Yeah. Blame it on those. We had a carbon monoxide scare the other day. Maybe that's still in my system. Maybe that's the cause of this imbalance I can't seem to shake. The hardest part of being aware of myself is knowing how much I've screwed up. How much work I have to do. How impossible it all feels. I found a quiet, sunny corner of the house in which to write a few days ago. It used to be my bedroom. I painted its walls a loud shade of cerulean blue . . . beacause that's how I was . . . LOUD. Always talking, singing, performing, presenting, explaining, planning, talking talking talking talking AAAGGGHHHHRRRRR!

On the outside, anyway.

My notebooks were mostly empty, then.

Now my brain won't shut up and my mouth trips on its words. I'm afraid of the chemical reaction that might take place when the cork comes out. AM I quieter on the outside? My introverted family probably doesn't think so. I try to get a break . . . from television, children, yelling, plastic toys, kitchen appliances, and questions involving "plans" and "what's next." I'm searching for a quiet outside of myself that I know I won't find within.

I don't know what to say now. Maybe I'm on the brink of something great. An epiphany. A change of plans. A new career. A place to focus my energy. What am I talking about, I don't have energy. No. No brinks. Just floating. Trying to make things right but not knowing where to start. You've been there, right? What happens next?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


This recipe is from Weight Watchers' New Complete Cookbook. If you are a weight watcher, each serving is 2 points. I don't like keeping points for a lot of things, least of all food, so this recipe will probably undergo tweaking in the near future. It turned out kind of like a thick biscuit, which was good, but not what I like from a flatbread. For the next batch we're going to try low fat yogurt instead of milk for a softer, chewier texture. I'll let you know how that works out. :) Until then . . .

(makes 8 servings)

1/2 cup fat-free milk
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1. In a small bowl, beat the milk and egg. In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. With the machine running, pour the milk mixture through the feed tube until the dough forms a ball. Kneed the dough by pulsing until it is smooth, about 30 times.
2. Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray; place the dough in the bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let the dough "rise" or rest in a warm, draft-free place for 3 hours.
3. Place a large baking sheet on the center oven rack; preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour; turn out the dough. Divide the dough into 8 pieces; flatten each into a 3/8-inch-thick* teardrop shape. Transfer the teardrops to the baking sheet. Bake until firm, 10-12 minutes. If you like, run briefly under a broiler to lightly brown the tops. Serve hot or at room temperature.

*We found this to be too thick, thus the biscuit-like "flat" bread. I would roll them out a little thinner.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dry Potato and Pea Curry

This was by far my favorite discovery in the curry and chili cookbook. I grew up with two Nepalese girls across the street, and this dish tastes like something their mom used to make. It's so flavorful, and the mustard seeds are such fun!

Dry Potato and Pea Curry

(serves 4)

2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
2 tablespoons oil
2 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric (I use curry powder)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala*
1 1/2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup peas
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1. Heat the mustard seeds in a dry pan until they start to pop. Add the oil, onion, garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, until the onion is soft.
2. Add the turmeric, chili powder, cumin, garam masala and potato, and season with salt and pepper. Stir until the potato is coated with the spice mixture. Add the water and simmer, covered, for about 15-20 minutes, or until the potato is just tender. Stir occasionally to stop the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.
3. Add the peas and stir until well combined. Simmer, covered, for 3-5 minutes, or until to the potato is cooked and all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the mint and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

*garam masala mix:

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chickpea Curry

This recipe is similar to the chickpea curry I posted a while back, but I like it better because of the spices. :) If you can plan in advance, give the flavors a chance to blend by refrigerating your curry overnight before serving. Then you can have it for breakfast (which is not unheard of in this household)!

Chickpea Curry
(serves 4)

1 tablespoon oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric (I used curry powder - it's tastier)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon garam masala*

1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until the onion is soft. Add the chili powder, salt, turmeric, paprika, cumin and coriander. Cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes.
2. Stir in the chickpeas and tomato. Simmer, covered, over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Stir in the garam masala. Simmer, covered, for a further 10 minutes. Serve with rice or naan.

*garam masala mix:
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Hi there.

He he . . . hi. Sorry I suck at blogging lately. Seems like every time I sit down to write, Hannah cuts a new tooth, or falls off the table she was climbing, or pukes an entire bottle of milk, or eats a lego, or is just simply too cute to resist chasing around the house until I've had my fill of tummy and toes. I love being a mom.

So, to make it up to you faithful readers (cough), I'll be posting three curry recipes I tried the other night, plus a recipe for Weight Watchers naan that my sister made to accompany them. All three of the curries are from the "Step-by-Step Curry and Chilli Cookbook" that I picked up at Borders' bargain section for $3.

Curried Zucchini
(serves 4)

1 lb. zucchini
1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon garam masala*
1/2 cup vegetable stock or water (use less if your like your zucchini a little crunchy)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

1. Halve the zucchini lengthwise and cut into large pieces about 2 inches long.
2. Heat the oil in a deep heavy-based pan and cook the onion over low heat. Add the cumin, coriander and half of the garam masala. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
3. Toss the zucchini through the spice paste. Add the vegetable stock or water and lemon rind and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the tomato and remaining garam masala and stir through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve as a side dish with curries, rice, yogurts and chutneys. For a variation, substitute trimmed okra for zucchini.

*garam masala is a mixed spice used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. It can be tricky to find at your local grocery store, but here's a mix that works just as well (makes about 1 3/4 teaspoons):
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves