Monday, May 21, 2012

On Pink Sparkly Nail Polish

Back in the days when I was footloose and fancy free (ahem, childless), one of my favorite evening activities was to give myself manicures and pedicures. I think it started the summer Mike was working in Puerto Rico - I rented every season of "Sex and the City" and spent all those cold, lonely nights re-watching my favorite show and soaking my feet in a big tub of warm, soapy water and filing my nails. Yes, yes, I'm aware that there are nail salons available for this very thing, but for some reason I just sort of like doing it myself. (Also, I always seem to get cut by the poor nail technicians. I've determined I must have thin skin, but nonetheless I'm kind of terrified of contracting a horrible, flesh-eating disease.)

As you can imagine, this sort of activity is kind of difficult when there is a toddler running around. But on Friday night, with a baby shower to attend the next day and the weather heating up (also, maybe some gentle nudging from my sister), I decided a pedicure was in order totally and completely necessary if I ever wanted to show my feet in public again. And so it was that our little family (Mike included!) found ourselves huddled on the couch with our feet soaking while we watched "March of the Penguins" and Anna and I poured over the polish colors in my stash. Fun family times, right?

While trying to paint Anna's toes proved to be one of the most infuriating tasks I've taken on as a mother, it really had me thinking a lot about having a daughter. Before I ever had kids, and even up until the moment Anna was born and Mike declared, "It's a girl!", I was pretty convinced I was destined to be the mother to boys. I'm not really sure why, but for some reason it was all I could picture, even though I grew up with only one sister. I can remember getting a package from my mom in the mail for my birthday when I was pregnant with Anna and it was filled with knitting needles and yarn and other fun sewing and crafting goodies and it was the first time I thought to myself that I might be a little sad if I never had a daughter, because then who would I send crafty care packages to? And now I'm pretty convinced that I'm destined to be the mother to all girls - which is basically me confessing that now that I have a daughter, the idea of a baby with little boy parts scares the crap out of me.

I know, without a doubt, that Mike never expected to be spending a Friday night up to his shins in bubbles and shouting, "Pedicure Party!" while his daughter and wife debated the merits of pink sparkles. But I also know that Mike and Anna share one of the most amazing and natural relationships I've ever witnessed, even though sparkly things are high on her list and not-so-high on his. I suppose being a parent is like many things in life - you have no idea what to expect, and then you just learn as you go, even if it's not what you planned or imagined.

But watching the man you love throw his idea of a good time out the window to appease the little girl you adore, you can sure feel a lot better about knowing that no matter what, it's going to be amazing.

Especially if you have a fresh pedicure.

Mike took this picture one evening out in the yard.

What was going on while I was at the aforementioned baby shower.

Playing ball with Dada.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Now that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, I want to make sure that this space doesn't become all pregnancy, baby, blah, blah, blah. Yes, obviously, I will write about my excitement and fear and all the other fun things that go along with bringing a person into the world - how could I not? But for today, I thought I'd share another of my favorite recipes. Especially since I finally feel like actually eating and cooking again.

I think I was first inspired to make this after reading a recipe in the Rachael Ray magazine. I kind of took what she offered and changed it up a bit to fit our tastes. It's an easy, quick meal that is awesome for summer, and it's totally toddler approved. It's also awesome because you can throw in whatever veggies you might have on hand. And the leftovers (if you have any) are delicious the next day - perfect to take to work or eat in the driveway while your kid creates masterpieces with sidewalk chalk!

Cold Asian Noodle Salad

What you need:

(Since this is not an actual recipe, my measurements aren't too exact. Sorry!)

1 package of Soba noodles - you could use rice noodles if you want to go gluten free, or even regular spaghetti would probably work
Ken's Lite Asian Sesame salad dressing - or something comparable. I also have made dressing from scratch using tamari sauce when feeding gluten-free eaters. Probably better for you, but I'm lazy!
Spinach, chopped - a couple of big handfuls
Carrots, grated - I used probably 7 or 8 baby carrots.
Fresh cilantro, chopped - a big handful
Peanuts, chopped - a handful
Green Onions, chopped - two or three
Any other fresh vegetables you want to add - this is a great way to sneak veggies in. I usually add an orange or yellow bell pepper, but I forgot to buy one. I usually add fresh basil, too, but I haven't started my garden yet and the basil at the grocery store didn't look that great. I bet cucumbers and tomatoes would be delicious!
Cooked Chicken - again, I'm lazy, so I used a rotisserie chicken (also, I'm struggling with raw meat these days), but you could save money by cooking your own.

What you do:

1. Prepare the noodles according to the directions. Soba noodles are super fast - they cook in about four minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.

2. Chop or grate all your veggies and herbs and the chicken.

3. Mix it all together in a big bowl and pour the dressing on top. I just eyeball it - I try to go on the light side, that way you can add more if you want more flavor. Give it another stir and you are good to go!

Warning: Lady & The Tramp inspired eating may happen as a result of serving this meal.


And not to be all pregnancy, baby, blah, blah, blah on you, but we're super excited because tomorrow we have our big ultrasound. Spoiler alert: not finding out the gender! Yes, yes, I know that this will drive most people crazy. But what can I say? We love a good surprise. And the color yellow.

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chuck Norris Has Got Nothin' On Me

It occurred to me over the weekend that at this time last year I was handing in my final Master's Degree project and putting the finishing touches on my half marathon training. My half birthday was last week, which means I turned thirty more than six months ago. And I started to feel a little down on myself. I mean, I basically went all Chuck Norris on the last year of my twenties, what with finishing my degree and running two half marathons (and obviously a ton of other cool stuff that I can't seem to remember right now). Since then, though, it's been kind of a random assortment of crafting and baking (thank you, Pinterest) and just sort of living life - all in a really great, non-martial-artsy kind of way.

But just as I began to think that thirty had gotten the best of me, I remembered that I'm doing something that even that silly Chuck Norris couldn't, that my thirtieth year (Or is it my thirty-first? That math is confusing...) is going to blow most others out of the water because of one small (well, about the size of an apple right now) reason.

The Arends clan will become a family of four in early October - and this little girl will  be a big sister!
So while it's true I haven't been logging the miles on the treadmill (thank you very much, morning all-day sickness) or writing any thesis papers, I suppose I can cut myself a little slack. There is a tiny person growing inside me, after all.

Even Chuck Norris has to take a break sometimes, right?