Saturday, February 28, 2009

Yip Yip Family

Starting sometime during the early part of my pregnancy with Cadence, I started getting flashbacks to this sesame street segment...and then I would inevitably get it stuck in my head, and, sadly, no one that I ever mentioned it to (or who randomly overheard me singing it) seemed to remember it at all.  Well, for the purposes of personal vindication, I present you all with the Yip Yips Family:

It makes me happy that we have our own little yip yip now...I like our little family an awful lot, gosh darn it. ;-)

Friday, February 27, 2009

2 down...

Just a quick update to let you all know that James got his official packet from Duke the day after he got the box from Vandy.  Both are excellent there will be some tough decisions ahead.
We're looking at another month or two at least before we get any further info, though...and in the meantime, we've suddenly realized:  oh crap, how the heck are we going to get a car??  damn...
oi, so much to consider!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Law School Updates

So, if you know me, you probably know that I've been applying to law schools. Well, the results have started coming in! I am now officially accepted into Vanderbilt Law School, and I'm almost definitely accepted into Duke Law. It's still sinking in, I knew I'd get into some schools, but I'd also geared myself up for the possibility of getting rejected... now I'm not sure what to do with myself.

Cadence and Kate are very proud, though. And I'm proud of myself, too; I'm just having some trouble letting myself feel it. Either way, in a few months, Cadence and I are going to have an awful lot of reading to do!

The results will slowly be revealed: the beginning

So Just now, the mailman came to the door, causing the dog to bark like mad, which woke up everyone in the house (it was naptime, I was the only one not sleeping)...He dropped off a giant box that no one was expecting.  

It was for James.

He's busy doing his usual avoidance of his own accomplishments thing, so I'm taking matters into my own hands by telling you all that he received his first acceptance package from this round of Law school applications.

He's officially admitted to (and has a veritable library for) Vanderbuilt Law.  This admission knocks a few schools off the list...which means that even though it's only the first response, there's only 5 (.5) schools left to hear from before he has to make the big decisions..(the .5 being one school who has yet to send official notification, but has been sending him weekly newsletters for accepted students and invitations to admitted student receptions...)

Everyone please bother him about how this is a good thing.  He needs to learn to enjoy his accomplishments.  And take compliments.  It's for the good of his being.  Go.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Most. Awesome. Picture. Ever.

Well, Maybe not literally...but it's still pretty derned awesome.    Can you see what Cadie & Baba are looking at?

Why, a magic sticky cat, of course!

Jewels never ceases to amaze.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jiaozi, jiaozi

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was thinking about making jiaozi... and the next day I did! I even managed to take photos to go along with it, but I've been putting it off since then. It's now time to put it on.

Making Jiaozi

Jiaozi, or Chinese dumplings, have always been an important part of my childhood. I remember "helping" my mom roll out the dough - usually by playing with the dough until it dried out - and having eating contests with family and friends. It was often a big event, getting together - the adults sitting and talking as they assembled the jiaozi so that we could eat all the yumminess.

Since I've started cooking, I've made them three or four times, and I'm starting to hone in on a balance that I like. I even took notes - although, I was making a double batch this night, and may have been a little inconsistent with whether my notes were for 1 or 2 batches. Oh well. Feel free to play around with the proportions of the filling. I use Napa cabbage and pork, but you can use a different meat (beef is also popular) and other veggies.

Plan on a few hours of preparation time, at first, just to be safe. Making the dumplings can be a time-consuming process, but with practice, it will take a lot less time and work than you (or at least I) might think.



  • 1 lb. Napa cabbage

  • 1 t. salt

  • 1 lb. ground pork

  • 1/3 lb. chopped scallions

  • 1.5 oz. minced ginger

  • 3 cloves minced garlic

  • 4T soy sauce

  • 5T sesame oil

  • 4T rice vinegar
The green cabbage pictured is sequestered off to the side a bit because it's not technically part of the filling. More on it way at the bottom.


  • 1 lb flour (around 3 c. or you can use the cool kitchen scale your significant other gave you for Christmas), plus more for kneading between 3/4 c. and 1 c. of cold water




  1. Chop cabbage until fine. (This time around I tried using a food processor, and it was a bit of disaster - the cabbage got a little too fine, and the texture and water level got all messed up.) I suggest using a giant knife instead. Mix the cabbage with the salt in a bowl, let it sit for 10 minutes, then squeeze out the excess water
  2. Mix the filling ingredients, except for the pork, and season to taste. Definitely err on the side of too much flavor, at this point, because adding the pork and then cooking (at least if you boil) will result in loss of flavor. Alternatively, I suppose you could test the seasoning after you've added the raw meat, but I wouldn't recommend it.

  3. Add the pork and mix well.

  4. Skin:

  5. In a big bowl, stir the water into the flour and knead into a smooth dough. It's a bit drier a dough than I'm used to, but don't be put off if it doesn't seem especially squishy or anything. Just make sure it's smooth and definitely shouldn't be sticky. Let the dough stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Smiley face, optional.

  6. Roll the dough out into a long snake...

    ... and then cut into 50 pieces. Or you can split it, and do it in 2 batches of 25.

  7. Now, start squishing the pieces of dough.

  8. Then, roll them out into 2-3 inch circles on a lightly floured surface. Make sure not to roll them too thin, otherwise they'll break when you fill them and the tasty insides will try to escape. Repeat this until you've got a nice tall stack of skins, ready to go.

  9. Be warned, the longer the skins sit, the drier they're going to get. Especially if it takes you a while to assemble your dumplings, it may be a good idea to split the batch in two like I mentioned earlier. You can keep the other half covered in a bowl where it won't dry out by the time you're ready to do the next 25. Also, watch out that your stack of skins don't start getting too friendly, and end up sticking together. Hopefully the flour will be an adequate chaperone.

  10. OK, now we're ready to put these little fellas together. Pick up a skin and stick some of your filling in the center.
  11. How you actually pinch it closed is up to you, but here's how my mom taught me to do it: Pinch two sides together in the center, gather up the open ends, and then pinch it all together.

And hopefully you'll end up with something like this. Make sure it's pinched securely closed!

After you've assembled enough to cook - say, 20-25 depending on the size of your cooking hardware (and again, don't wait too long to avoid the dough drying out too much) - it's time for the next step!


Now it's finally time to actually start cooking these things. You've got 3 main options: boil, steam, or fry. I've never fried them, except when heating up leftovers, so I don't really have much input.


Boiling is simple and what my family usually does. Just fill up a big pot of water, bring to a boil, and gently drop a bunch into the water. Stir them gently so that they don't stick to the pot or each other. Once the water returns to a boil and they start floating, they should be about done.


What I've done the last two times is to steam them. We have a bamboo steamer, which I usually stick on top of a wok filled with water. You can see the setup below. You'll need to line the steamer with something, wax paper works really well, but this last time I tried using cabbage leaves. (That's why the green cabbage in the picture way at the top is there.) It worked surprisingly well, although it's tough to get the leaves to lay flat.

When the water starts boiling, it's time to start putting our dumplings in. Try not to overfill the steamer, as I did this time around, otherwise you end up with jiaozi that are stuck together and fall apart when you take them out. Close the steamer, and let them cook for about 10 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink. Take them out, and consume! Preferably with a little dipping sauce - I like soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil, but experiment - spicy stuff can be good.

Especially if you're doing multiple batches, keep an eye on the water level so you don't ruin your pan.

Here's the finished product.

Let me know how yours turn out. And don't forget dessert!

This dish is Cadie approved.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

winter storm/first sledding

Last month, Kentucky experienced a sudden winter storm. While it devastated most of the state, it was also decidedly beautiful. The first day coated every last detail in a thick layer of crystal clear ice.

The following day, the ice melted away and big, fluffy snowflakes fell, and left just enough cover to allow us to break out the sleds. Just enough. Just exactly enough.

The above pic is Cadence about to embark on her very first sled run...

...and that is the celebratory wave to Baba at the bottom!

Mama heads down

Baba hurtles down, pursued by a valiant Pepper dog.

Cadence insisted on being in the sled at all times.  This is how she got around.  Good thing she has a young aunt and a protective dog to do the heavy lifting when Mama and Baba are tired.

James, right before he zooms past me and into a muddy canal, which stops the sled, but not him.

Baba looks on while Cadence goes on a ride with Kelly

Surveying the scene.  She's angry because we made her put the gloves on.  She refused to let us put them on earlier, but her hands were frozen and the executive decision came down that frostbite would ruin the day more than gloves, so a brief anger interlude ensued.  But then Sledding resumed and all was well.

Kelly demonstrating what happens when you sled down the dangerous side of the hill, into a very helpful sapling, protecting you from the barb wire a foot in front of you...

Cadence rides with Baba!  Can you find her?

Cadence is unamused by the small hill Kelly chose.

Racing!  Cadence and Kelly Vs. Baba.  Baba is taking the long route, I think.

Snowy boots!

Pepper the Valiant rushes off to secure the perimeter as Cadence, Baba, and Kelly reach the bottom

Gratuitous Cuteness.  And for any who are wondering:  yes, those are pajamas.  Living in the south, we didn't have a snowsuit for her, so we dressed her up warm and then stuck her footie pajamas over it all to seal the deal, followed by her boots and outerwear.  The result?  Warm, and cute!

Another example of Cadence's up-hill transport team

Ok, we all know where this one is headed, right?

Here's Kelly as she's juuuuust about losing control....

and here she is doing a synchronized flying routine with the sled:

Before landing, still synchronized, sprawled out flat on her back...notice Pepper is already running to her rescue.

All in all, it was a great afternoon, and I'm so glad we were able to take advantage of it.  [The very next week, it was 72 degrees out and no one even bothered to think about coats.  Go Figure.]

After this, we went home, and enjoying some mexican hot chocolate.  Think Cadie likes it?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dear Cadence, Month 19

Dear Cadence,

Cadence, this month - really just this past week- I feel like you turned the fact of your growing up into a giant club and began beating us over the head with it.  Not only have you added words like "read" and "octopus" into your repertoire, you also stopped taking milk at night in a single day, took an interest in your toys as things to care for [you were manipulating your beanie-baby tiger's paws to sign "more, please" and "Thank you," giving it milk, giving your puppy turns at nursing, and putting diapers on your big plastic ant with jingle-bell feet, and just this morning you were rocking and singing your new baby to sleep], you learned that taking the medicine in a single dose is better, even if it's unpleasant, than resisting it and making a 2 hour marathon of it, you were trying to help your young friend at peak-a-book to stand and walk, apologizing to the Rody when you knocked it over before picking it up and giving it big hugs and kisses...

Your bravery, though becoming more cautious as you become more aware of the dangers that life brings, still astounds me 

***headbursting break, as I am writing this, you are doing pushups!  push-ups! at 19 months!  and as if that weren't enough, you're demanding that Baba does them, too.  You've just begun a career as a personal trainer.  At 19 months!! *** ...***UPDATE: I went in to join the fun, and you made me lay down next to the two of you, and then you proceeded to lead us through a very complete workout including sit-ups, bridges, arm thrusts, leg lifts, and a series of somewhat less recognizable exercises involving a lot of rolling, giggling and flailing.  Best workout I've had in ages.  Go Cadie.***

This past week you've taken on more than your usual allotment of big adventures, and you're  blasting through each one like it was nothing.

We went to Mammoth Cave on a whim last week...being off season, and right after the worst winter storm kentucky has had in ages, if not ever, we were the only ones on the tour...a 2 hour private cave exploration, at 19 months.  amazing.  You were cautious, quiet and observant (as ever), but you seemed to soak up the had a lot of fun!  Because of closures, we also got to go on a tour that they don't usually give...what a cool thing for our adventurous little lady to go on!  

When we were about a mile into the cave, our guide offered to give us an unusual experience:  total darkness.  He turned out all the lights/lanterns and we all just sat for a moment, soaking in the extreme silence and total darkness of being more than a mile from the opening.  I was very impressed at your reaction...I was holding you, of course, and could feel you breathing, listening, was beautiful to experience your life in that moment.  

You did get worried after a short while, but it was long enough for us all to have a moment of simplicity.  And even then, you just burrowed into me, grabbed my arm, and gave a couple of quiet sounds indicating your fear...and the ranger turned the lights back on, and you were fine.  

You loved the waterfall over the entrance, though as soon as we passed behind it a big sheet of ice fell from the hill above, and I was worried that the suddenness of the motion and sound was going to make you fearful of the experience...but the smiles, shrieks, and happy affirmations you gave everyone back at the visitors' center when they asked you if you'd liked it confirmed for us all that your silence was not from fear, but from your fierce concentration.  And of course, as usual, everyone was so taken with you that you even got a vibrating stuffed ladybug book as an impromptu gift!

Speaking of the winter storm, and jumping around a bit, another exciting event that is certainly worth a mention is your very first sledding experience!  It has snowed enough to make the ground look white, but not cover the tips of the grass, once before, but being in the south, I was not hopeful that we would be able to expose you to my favorite winter sports, at least not this year.  But, unfortunately for about 90% of this state, there was a freak ice and snow storm a couple weeks back, which left most of kentucky blanketed in ice and snow, and largely without power (some folks are still waiting for their power to be restored).  

We were lucky, Bowling Green was not hit nearly as bad, we got the ice, we got the snow, but we never lost power...and, there was just exactly enough snow cover on the big hill behind the junior high school to let us break out the sleds we've held onto since we lived in more wintry regions.

I think it helped that the morning started out with a snowy episode of Kai-Lan, in which Tolee learns to first being afraid, but then progressing to the biggest hill.  I think that, along with Mama and Baba talking about it, and Kelly telling you how cool it was gonna be was all the instruction you needed...the moment we arrived at the top of the hill, without waiting for me to tell you what was up, you demanded to be put in the sled and wanted to be pushed down.  

I went down with you...I was somewhat terrified as we picked up speed, I could feel your little body tucked into my legs and chest and had a distinct feeling of being mostly helpless in the event of a crash - a new, totally humbling experience - it wasn't that I didn't anticipate that I would worry about you, but this is one of those you-won't-get-it-until-you-experience-it terrors, unique to being a parent and loving your child beyond any possible comprehension.

You, on the other hand, loved it so much you offed your nap for the day, instead demanding to go down with mama, now baba, now kelly, now this sled, now that sled, not the small hill!  the big one! BIG ONE!  Pepper gleefully played along, dashing after the sled and covering you in kisses at the bottom...And thankfully, the only crashes involved Kelly and Baba, and no one was seriously was a grand day.  You played so hard you melted down, but some rest and some hot chocolate later, you were a grown up girl, with the sledding notch firmly in your belt.

Food is one thing I have thankfully never had to worry too much about with are a total foodie, showing up at the WIC office munching on a spinach quiche (there was a day last week where you wouldn't eat anything but mini quiches...spinach, vegetable, and something with a complicated name that I have since forgotten, involving little chunks of what I think may have been prosciutto...) gobbling up such a wide range of foods it's hard to keep up, mexican, chinese, indian...whatever we put on your plate, you'll try.  You only like cherry tomatoes fresh from our garden, no other ones, you're not particularly interested in lettuce, but black olives will disappear before our eyes and kidney beans are always a hit.

 Chocolate is, of course, a favorite, but you tire of it before gorging yourself and mac & cheese is great but not for every meal.  Ice cream is exciting, but so is a good home cooked dish when you're hungry and Baba's been cooking.  I love that a favorite snack has become the organic popcorn with just enough oil for popping and a dash of drag the nearest grown up to the cupboard where it's kept, and declare "Pop!" with a grin, and I can't tell you how much this triumph of communication tickles me.  Let's hear it for a healthy interest in food, especially since you always stop eating when you're full, even if its a chocolate bar in your hand.  You're amazing.

***from the other room, I just heard Baba declare "Why do you have your foot in my pocket!?"  I can only guess what's going on...these days, you're always doing something new and interesting.  Is this really the same little creature we brought home from the hospital?  The one with the blanket and cap? You're our amazing girl, little bug.***

Speaking of new and exciting...Yesterday, after peak-a-book, your friend Breanna's mom Angie suggested that, after our usual trip to Panera for breakfast, we take all you kids to Hopscotch, and indoor playplace/gym for young children, not too far away.  Was that ever the suggestion of the century!

You, Breanna, Hannah, Ladrian, Kate (and a few others you'd met before but didn't know well) had the time of your lives in that place...monthly memberships and hours and hours of gleeful, out of this world, our children are not old enough for this but oh my goodness there they go excitement all around later, you had accomplished learning to climb jungle gym steps to go down slides, bounce in moonwalks, climb through an inflatable obstacle course...not to mention the big playhouse, padded gym shapes, costumes, magnet wall with letters and numbers, (you now recognize and can name the number 8.  I don't know if you know what it means, exactly, but you know what an 8 is...)train tables, musical instruments, tunnels to crawl through.

But the most important thing, I think, was that this was your first time in true social interaction with other kids your age.  I know that it is something that we have to let you do, and of course we can help you along the way, but setting you free into a zoo full of kids you don't know, kids who are not as nice as you, or who are less aware...

The social scene is never easy, and it is hardly ever completely fair, but I hope you can find a way to navigate these rough waters without closing off your heart more than is necessary.  I watched as other kids would push on the slide, and how you thought they were helping-so after someone pushed you, you went back to the top and tried pushing someone in front of you - though it was clear to everyone that it was in a helpful way, I had to tell you that you shouldn't seemed confused, but took it in stride.  

And that girl you kept trying to play with kept pushing you down and crawling over you as if you weren't, that riled the mamabear in me up...but you took the high road, and found something better to do...friends who didn't push.  That, my dear, is an excellent choice...As you grow...leave those that would hurt you, stomp all over you, use you...leave them all in the dust, let them fight it out themselves.  You're stronger and better than that, and don't need to waste your energy fighting their egos.  And just as a example, hopefully to show that I'm not the mom who spins her child's actions to reflect what I want to see, you also would get to the top of the slide, and then turn and make sure no one else had been waiting, and sometimes even if no one had, you would step aside and guide them to the top, letting them go first, before plopping yourself down and barreling down that slide with the biggest smile...

I am sick as I write this particular letter, and I feel disjointed in my writing...though I wish I could be more thoughtful, that each letter I wrote would be profound enough to do you justice, the truth is that they won't all be great.  And I have to be ok with that...because I need to set the example for you that just because each project I set my mind to isn't going to be the best one in the world,  it doesn't mean that I am a failure.  

You will make mistakes in your life, you will have periods of inaction, you will pursue things that won't pan out...but that, in NO way, means you are less of a person, less worthwhile, less lovable.  Yes, it can kick you in the butt and get you going again, it can be motivation to get off your ass, take a break, try something different-and that's great.  But you have to always give yourself credit for what you have done, even if it doesn't totally meet your own expectations.  We can often be our own harshest judges.  Learn to be a fair judge, my lovely one.

Love Always,