Friday, April 29, 2011

Tomato Sauce


And now for my other favorite Brit, Jamie Oliver.

We made his tomato sauce last weekend and had some for dinner this week and then froze a bunch. It was really good, although I would say it is not especially tomato-y. We both enjoyed it, which was good considering the amount it makes! If I were playing it safe, I should have made a half or even quarter batch. Nope - I went balls-to-the-wall and made a full batch.

Here's the recipe:

Jamie Oliver's "Best Tomato Sauce Ever"
Source: Parenting Magazine
2 small onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small leek, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 red bell peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
2 zucchinis, grated
2 carrots, grated
1 small butternut squash, peeled and grated
4 14.5 oz cans plum tomatoes with juice
2 cups water
salt
pepper
oregano
2 bay leaves

Heat a large saucepan (big enough to hold all the ingredients) over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, followed by all the onion, leek, celery, peppers, zucchinis and carrots. Add a large pinch of dried oregano and 2 bay leaves, then cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes with the lid on, or until the vegetables are soft but not starting to brown.

Add butternut squash to the pan of vegetables. Add 4 (14.5 oz) cans plum tomatoes with juice, 2 cups water, a pinch of sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is soft. Take the pan off the heat, spoon out the bay leaves, and let the sauce cool slightly before blitzing with a stick blender until smooth (or use a blender or food processor in batches, but make sure the lid is secure). Makes 13 cups.

Sarah Burton for McQueen



GORGEOUS! And for the record, I also love Pippa's dress.

Photo source: NBC.

Royal Wedding



Who got up early to watch the Royal Wedding?!

ME!

I know many people have been complaining about how sick they are of hearing about it. I think I might have been living in a bubble because I really don't feel like I heard that much about it, unless I was watching Extreme Couponing on TLC and having to deal with that annoying "I Think I Want to Marry You" song. This is my first royal wedding that I will be able to remember - I was only a few months old when Diana and Charles married. I will have to tell Mags when she is older that she woke up the SECOND I got downstairs and turned the TV on, but fell back asleep for a bit and then woke up to snuggle in bed with us and watch the carriage ride :)


I am sad about two things today: 1) That we don't have DVR and 2) That I am now at work. I could have been watching that all morning. However, I did get to watch her walk down the aisle in that STUNNING dress, watch the stiff, awkward poses turn to relief and smiles at the end and watch the carriage ride to the Palace.

It may be cheesy, but "it is not often you get to see the wedding of a real prince and his princess". (Thanks for the quote, Keri).

Photo Sources: 1) I HAVE loved seeing all of the shop windows in London decorated for the big event. The Jo Malone flagship store is my favorite. Simple, Understated and pretty. 2) Reuters

Thursday, April 28, 2011

TOOTH!


After approximately four months of hearing the following:

"Look at those red cheeks, I bet she has a tooth coming!"
"Wow watch her chomp on Sophie! I bet she has a tooth coming!"
"Hey drool monster! Do you have a tooth coming?!"

And after approximately four months of us blaming any type of crying, fussing, whining on "we think she has a tooth coming"....

The tooth is REALLY coming!

Over the weekend we noticed that you could see a little white spot in her lower gum where the tooth would come. Yesterday I noticed a "clinking" sound when i tapped on her lower gum with a spoon.

I don't know how long it takes for the tooth to fully erupt but we were excited just the same!

Photo Source: An oldie but a goodie courtesy of my sister.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Incredible, Edible EGG!


I just received a call from Nate - we have now have a fresh egg hookup!!

I don't know if I have blogged about this before, but I LOVE eggs. My friend BCK once told me that if a recipe has an egg on it, I will love it no matter what. If we go out for dinner and one of the entrees has an egg on it, Nate knows that that is what I am going to order. No question. I love them over easy, poached, scambled, hard boiled. I haven't had a soft boiled egg but after watching Ralph Fiennes character prepare one for his mistress in The Reader (complete with egg cup), I have been itching to try them.

Thus, I have been wanting to get fresh eggs for a while. Enter G, who works with Nate. G is our age and has two young children. For one reason or another, the kids got chicks, that grew into chickens that each lay one egg a day. She was telling Nate about this and her overabundance of eggs. Nate then told me about it and I was practically hyperventilating: "DOES SHE WANT TO SELL THEM TO US?!"

Answer: Yes.

So now we get our eggs and each of G's kiddos get $1. Nate's office now supplies us with both eggs and various produce (there is another woman that grows various kinds of produce and sells it. Her spring mix is amazing). Love it!


This whole story reminds me of growing up when my sister had chickens. I believe my uncle bought her the chicks and then my dad built her a coop and they lived on my grandparents farm, 2.5 miles away from our house. I think my nana got stuck with most of the work and they sold the eggs. Believe me when I tell you there is nothing like a farm fresh egg!

Photo Sources: 1) Style Cookie; 2) Chicken and Egg Cookbook via Anthropologie

Easter Weekend Recap Part 3

Sunday was Easter! We woke up and helped Maggie search for her Easter basket. But alas - we didn't have a basket for her because her present was too big. We went to early church service (8:30). Typically we go to the 11:00 service, but the 8:30 actually worked really well so we are going to try to switch to that one.

We had Easter lunch at Nate's aunt & uncle's house. Maggie got a lot of Easter baskets with some of her favorites: sweet potatoes and puffs! She also got two new swimsuits for swim lessons, a floating Sophie for the bath and some books. We brought along her Easter Bunny toy and Uncle David discovered that she loves if you remove all the balls and direct the blowing air to her face.

The annual egg hunt was productive for me - I was the lucky recipient of the $20 bill. I have to say that the Kopps ice cream and Starbucks giftcards weren't bad either ;) My MIL also got everyone a cookie from Cheryl's while in Ohio. YUM YUM YUM. Mags was too excited by everything to take a good nap so she got a little crabby towards the end. Thank goodness for puffs, which Nate has deemed "her pacifier" since she never was a big fan of an actual pacifier.

We got home and squeezed our weekend cleaning and laundry in before watching The Killing and heading to bed.

Easter Weekend Recap Part 2

Saturday morning started with swim "lessons" for Maggie. This week she got a little crabby towards the end. Regardless, she seems to be liking the water. Her kicks in the bath have quadrupled since starting the lessons two weeks ago.

After swim lessons, I returned the favor and took my friend HC to Gloss for a pedicure for her birthday as she did for me a couple months back. After all the walking at the Shedd, the foot rub felt very nice! It also is good to have some conversation with a fellow full-time working mom. Can we say "UNLOAD"?!

We then took a trip up to my hometown for bowling with my dad, siblings and niece. I am terrible at bowling, but I enjoy trying. We finished off with some birthday cake and pizza before saying good bye to the birthday girl.

We were in bed at 8:30 PM.

Photos to follow.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Weekend Recap Part 1

We had a crazy busy Easter weekend.

My niece's 5th birthday landed on Easter this year. According to this article in the Milwaukee Journal-Setinel, this is a rare event!

We started the celebration on Friday with a trip to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. My mom, brother, sister and I took my niece, Maggie, and two of our cousins (age 5 and 6) down on the train. One fun thing was that my mom did not tell the kids where they were going. So when we arrived at the train station, they were so excited to be able to ride a train. Then, while we were on the train, we were quizzing them to see if they had any idea where they were going. They did not guess aquarium, but our favorite response was "McDonald's Playland", to which my brother responded, "Yes. We are taking you all the way to Chicago to go to McDonalds". Here are some pics from the train:



Once we got off the train, we had to take a bus, "the magic bus", to the aquarium. We still did not tell the kids where we were going.
Waiting for the "magic bus" that took us to the aquarium:

My sis with the kiddos:

My bro and I with our "fun passes"

Once we got to the aquarium, we saw the HUGE line. Apparently every parent within a 50 mile radius of the Shedd had the same idea. I was holding a sleeping Maggie, it was raining and I almost started crying thinking about standing in that line. Thankfully, we got to go through a shorter line because my mom had pre-bought tickets AND we had a baby stroller. Once we were in, we watched a diver in a huge tank feed several different animals, including Nickel the Sea Turtle. My niece is still talking about Nickel the sea turtle that swam funny because she got hit by a boat propeller. She might be scarred for life with that one!
We also found "Nemo":

We think that the kids had fun!

I think Maggie did a good job with the trip. I had her umbrella stroller, and a small diaper bag with disposable diapers, and all of her food. My brother was awesome and really was holding her and pushing her in the stroller pretty much the whole day. Nate and I think it is funny that since we have had Maggie, my brother calls us like 10x more frequently. He loves her!

Happy Easter

The Easter bunny brought a little treat for the Magster and hid it behind the curtain in the library:


The Playskool Pop-Up Ball Thing-a-ma-jig was a hit:

Then we got all dressed up and went to church where Mags made it through the WHOLE service and got a little stuffed lamb.

I loved her Easter outfit. The dress was a baby gift, the cute sweater was a hand-me-down from my boss, the shoes were found at a baby consignment store for $3 and the tights were also a baby gift. LOVE IT.
And then we took advantage of the self-timer on the camera to get a family pic. Yes I did coordinate our outfits. Lame, but true.

Happy Easter!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Extreme Couponing

I have long been in love with coupons. My mom used coupons when I was growing up and I loved going through and organizing them into their respective envelopes. I have long had one of those coupon file things. My college roommate actually showed Nate the coupon file early on when we were dating. And he thought it was awesome (early sign that I knew I was going to marry him). Little did he know that he would be high fiving me in the grocery checkout lane over coupons eight years later.

BUT.

Last night I came to the realization that my couponing is junior varsity at best. Probably more elementary.

We watched Extreme Couponing.

I have been interested in watching this show for a while now to see what tips I could pick up. Then, at my book club meeting last week, people told me that it really is sort of like Hoarders and not what I thought it was.

So, when we were channel surfing last night and realized it was on, we watched it.

Hilarious...I think. One woman was going through DUMPSTERS to gather extra coupons. One man paid a coupon clipping service to maximize his collection so he could amass enough 75 cent coupons for Total Cereal to buy several PALLETS of the cereal. HE HAD TO PLACE A SPECIAL ORDER FOR CEREAL. All people had those baseball card collection binders for their coupons and then dedicated rooms and/or garages for their stash. 1000 deodorants. 5000 bottles of Wish Bone salad dressing. 100 cans of shave gel..."for men AND women".

The thing I did not understand was that sure you saved a ton of money on things but when are you really ever going to use 1000 deodorants?! One woman stated that grocery stores put things on sale in three month cycles so she stocks up in 3 month increments. She went to the grocery store and bought 40 boxes of pasta and 40 cans of sauce. Really? You go through all of that in only 3 months?!

Nate said I should do this. I gave him a look of death. That is exactly what I think I will start doing when I come home after a 10 hour day at the office - dumpster diving for coupons. And then when Mags is old enough, I'll take her with me. No thanks!

I did start immediatley laughing when I went into the grocery store early this morning and saw several pallets of cereal.

Beets!!

The other night I made roasted beets for dinner. MMMMM. I saved one beet for Mags.

She was not impressed.

However, I still had one beet's worth of puree (which is about 5 oz) so I decided to mix it. She did not like beet + whole grain cereal but this is the reaction we got with beet + apple:


Yay!

After she polished off the beet + apple, we gave her some of this beet + blueberry + banana pouch that we got for free (thank you Target coupon).

Beet + blueberry + banana = BABY CRACK. I don't think she has ever reacted with that much excitement over any food yet!

I'm not the biggest Dr. Sears fan, but that man is on to something with his Happy Baby food.

Speaking of a happy baby, let's have one more shot of that cutie pie:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

High Miles Running



Hey Runners! Check out High Miles Running!

From the HMR Facebook page:
"High Miles Running is a comprehensive endurance company looking to help you reach your goals. Whether it is a Boston or Peachtree Qualifier, finishing your 1st 5k, losing weight, improving the run in your triathlon, or trying to break 15 minutes for the 5k, we have the resources for you.

Based in Atlanta, Georgia but serving the world, High Miles Running can provide you with the guidance you desire."


Ok, so yes, Mr. Eric Heintz is a friend of mine. But I do have to say that I credit my qualifying for the Boston Marathon and my marathon PR to him. Eric provided me a training plan for the 2006 Chicago Marathon where I ran 3:30:20 to qualify for the 2007 Boston Marathon, where I ran 3:33:28. Both marathons remain some of my best life experiences and due to my awesome training, I finished both with a smile:


Eric can help you no matter what the distance, so check it out!

If you need more enticement, High Miles Running is having a contest on Facebook to win a Brooks Technical T-shirt. Just "like" them, and post your favorite running-related quote on their wall to be entered!

Photo Sources: High Miles Running logo used with permission from EH. Chicago Marathon Finish photo from my personal collection.

Greek Yogurt + Homemade Granola

One of the advantages of breastfeeding is that you get to eat all of the time and not gain any weight. In fact, most of my breastfeeding friends and I have noticed that you actually lose MORE weight than you gained during pregnancy.

To curb some of my constant hunger, I have found that eating Greek yogurt plus homemade granola has been helpful. I have been doing this for about a month now and have really noticed that I will stay full more than 15 minutes. This is an easy snack for work either mid-morning or mid-afternoon for me.

I buy a giant container of Greek yogurt. The super sized Fage yogurt from Costco or the Trader Joe's brand Greek yogurt are favorites. I also am partial to any brand's honey & vanilla variety. Or how about the pomegranite Chobani?! I have not yet gotten adventurous and tried homemade yogurt a la Tara & Dan, but it's on my to-do list. I make one batch of the following granola on Sunday afternoon and it lasts me a week.

Granola
Source: America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
3 c. rolled oats
1 c. walnuts, chopped*
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut
1/2 c. sliced or slivered almonds*
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1/3 c. canola oil
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. honey
1 c. raisins (or any dried fruit)

Combine dry ingredients (sans fruit) in large bowl & mix well. Heat oil, honey & maple syrup in a saucepan over low heat till hot. Pour into dry ingredients and stir till well blended. Spread out on large cookie sheet and bake in 325-degree preheated oven for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until nice and golden. Remove from oven & stir in dried fruit. Store in air tight container

**I am allergic to both walnuts and almonds so I have never made this as written. I usally use a a combo of cashews, peanuts and/or pecans for the nuts. I have made it with regular raisins, golden raisins and craisins (or a combo of those three) and love each version.

Granola is fun because you can totally experiment with the fruit/nut combos!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Check #9 off the list!

Another one bites the dust on my 2011 Goals List.

#9 on my original list was to go through the two giant scrapbooking tubs in our downstairs closet.

Last Tuesday night, Nate asked again to go through them. Apparently they were really driving him nuts. Well he was driving ME nuts asking about them all of the time. As usual, I brushed him off saying I would do it "later". He bet me that they would still be there after the weekend.

Although he was driving me crazy, I'm too competitive to pass up a bet.

So this afternoon, I went through the tubs. It was like an episode from Hoarders. I have no idea WHY I was saving so much crap. I put all of our wedding related stuff in one smaller tub, threw a LOT of stuff away, made a pile of marathon numbers and finisher certificates that I am going to scrapbook (my last hurrah) and have a grocery bag of paper, stickers and supplies to get rid of. I used the empty Rubbermaid tub to transfer my maternity clothes to because the tub those were in was bursting. I also went through my drawers to get rid of any maternity clothes laggards.

We now have a whole shelf in our downstairs closet to fill.

And I will be the recipient of a nice massage tonight for my efforts.

I NEVER lose a bet :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

$50! Holla!

One of my goals was to clean out my closet, which I blogged about here. Usually, I bag all of my cast-offs up and let my sister and/or mom go through them and donate the rest to Goodwill.

This year, I was going to try my hand at consigning through a huge semi-annual area consignment sale. One thing I did not realize is that this is a lot of work. I had to scrounge up enough hangers, clean all the items and tag all of the items. Since I had 31 shirts/sweaters, 1 blazer, 5 pairs of shoes, 3 pairs of jeans, 2 dresses, a pea coat, and I had to individually cut out each tag, handwrite them out and pin them to each item, that was a lot of tagging. Finally I had to race home from work one day, load Maggie up and make 4 trips from my car to the drop off site, literally carrying the stroller up 12 steps because there was no ramp.

Probably about 10 shirts were rejected because they were too wintery? ugly? bad condition? I don't know. My mom was happy to have them.

I went super cheap on my stuff, because I took to heart their advice: Price the items what YOU would pay for them, not what they cost you.

My mom and I went to the sale (as customers) and I was getting a bit huffy when I saw some of the stuff there that clearly was circa 1982. I believe my exact words were, "Ok my Express shirt from last year didn't get in but THIS did?" I still found some fun stuff (hot pink chuck taylors! a maxi dress! a paisley t-dress!) and spent $28.

As a consignor, you had the option to pick your stuff up the day after the end of the sale otherwise they donate it to area charities. Due to a family obligation, I could not pick up my unsold stuff so it was donated. So I really had no idea how much money I made...until yesterday when my check arrived.

I was SO excited.

I ripped it open.

$20.10. Net was $54 but after they take their 35% and the $15 registration, I was down to $20.10. Only 7 items sold.

Let down. Whah-whah.

In the future, I will just return to what I was doing - donating. To me, it was not worth all the prep work to get $20. I am just happy to have all of that stuff out of my closet.

In other income news, I sold my bike on Craigslist for $30! If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that I bought a bike from a neighbor a few years ago for $40. It was an ok bike. Old, but it worked. Fast forward to last summer when Nate's coworker was selling a better bike. I bought that one to replace my "starter bike". I tried selling the starter bike on Craigslist last fall. No hits. I re-posted it last Sunday and sold it Monday night.

Nate was happy to have one less thing in our cluttered garage.

So I made $50 this week. I don't think I'll be quitting my day job anytime soon! :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

GP's Cookbook Released Today!


I have mentioned my love/hate (emphasis more on love) relationship (ok, really I don't have a "relationship" with her) with Gwyneth Paltrow before on this blog. It's a GP day today.

First, I received my GOOP newsletter all about how Gwyneth cooked for 60 people to celebrate her new cookbook. {And, as my friend BCK pointed out, from the photos, it does look like she really did cook.} This email also had a recipe for fish tacos. YUM.

Then, I received my One Kings Lane email showing that I could buy her cookbook for $19. (You can sign up to receive One Kings Lane emails here. Once you become a member, you can shop Gwyneth's sale here.)

Then, I saw GP on Go Fug Yourself, which also mentioned the cookbook.

My friend EL also sent me an email pointing to the blogger's favorite lines in GP's cookbook.

So how long do you give me before I go ahead and order the cookbook?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Reflections on the Ipad: E-Reader


I've had my Ipad for about a month now. One of my favorite uses of it is to read online magazines. I wasn't too thrilled with the online magazine fad as I really have a hard time reading on a computer for any extended document. I don't know if it is because I can hold the Ipad more like a traditional item that I would read but I like it better.

So for content that is only offered online, I love the Ipad.

As for those magazines, the picture on the Ipad is INCREDIBLE. I am liking when magazines do ipad upgrades. Martha Stewart Living did a special premiere online only issue that you can download for free that was absolutely beautiful and had some fun features that you can not do in print (this is available for the Ipad and computer, BTW). I hope that more of these special issues pop up in the future. You can also pay to download the full issue. As a subscriber to the print magazine, I don't really feel like paying for the issue twice just so I can read it on the Ipad and have access to some of the Ipad only features so I haven't looked into a "regular" issue on the Ipad yet. I do feel like subscribers should get some sort of deal on the Ipad version or that there should be a tiered system such as "print subscriptions only" "print + ipad subscription" "ipad only subscription". Maybe in days to come?

There are new e-magazines that are popping up everyday! I like reading some of these on the Ipad, although some I have trouble with and have to use a regular computer. My wish for e-magazines is that they create an App and you have to go through the App to download the issue (like Martha Stewart does). I feel like that magazines that have Ipad capabaility are much more enjoyable than when I have to go through Safari to read them.

I don't know if this is making sense to those of you that are not familar with Ipad/Iphone/Itouch technology - A month ago, I would have been lost. But with the Ipad, you have Internet access and read these e-magazines on the Internet like you would on a regular computer. Some magazines also go through the Itunes App store (i.e. "There's an App for that") and this is actually the interface I prefer because most likely the magazine has been formatted specifically for the Ipad and has fun capabilities. Alternatively, some emagazines you access through regular Internet but they have a button to click that says "Read this in you Ipad". I am ok with this as well.

Alright. So here is my mega list of e-magazines. Note - these are all FREE to read! (One of the pros about them, in my opinion). I started to create categories for these, but most of them are a mix of Home Decor, Design, Fashion, and Lifestyle. A few have crafts and recipes as well.

Adore
Covet Garden
Est
High Gloss
Horchow @ Home
Ivy & Piper
Lonny
Laura U Mag
Matchbook Magazine
Nesting Newbies
Pure Green Living
Rue
Styled
Surroundings
Sweet Paul
Trad Home

The one drawback is that I can't rip pages out of the e-magazines. I suppose this is why people have Pinterest accounts to create online "binders" of their e-cutouts.


Final say: I like acessing this e-content but if I had to pick e-magazines on the Ipad or a "real" (aka traditional) magazine, call me a laggard, but I would pick the real magazine everytime.

BTW, if you know of other e-mags that aren't listed here, please let me know about them with a comment!

Photo Source: This blog via Google Image search and this blog via a Pinterest Search

Curried Chickpeas and Potatoes

We made this for dinner last night and it was easy and delish. The recipe states that it serves 4, but in our beastly house, it only served two. I was sad that I didn't have any leftovers for lunch!

Curried Chickpeas and Potatoes
Source: Vegetarian Express Lane Cookbook, 1996 via Keri's Kitchen

2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

2 tablespoons of peeled, minced ginger

2 large onions, peeled and sliced to ¼ inch thick

1 4-ounce can chopped mild green chilies

1 16-ounce can chick-peas, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch squares (We used Yukon Golds)

¼ cup tomato paste (1/2 of a 6-ounce can)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/3-1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro

Plain low-fat yogurt (optional)

Cucumber, peeled and sliced

Naan (We use Trader Joe's Frozen Naan)

1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or other wide deep pan over medium heat, add ginger and cook for a few minutes. Add onions to the plan and increase heat to high. Stir often and cook until light brown. Add green chilies, chickpeas and cumin. Adjust the heat so as to not burn the mixture and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add potatoes, cover the pan and cook stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or until potatoes are nearly tender. While the potatoes are cooking, peel and seed a few cucumbers and cut them into chunks. Preheat the oven to warm the naan.
3. Add tomato paste and cook for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with fresh cilantro and yogurt if desired alongside cucumbers and naan.

Top Ten Signs that You Should Get Back into Running

Channeling Dave Letterman, here are my Top Ten Signs that You Should Get Back into Running:

10. Your husband comments that your "new" running shoes (purchased after the birth of your baby) are probably going to last longer than any of your previous running shoes.

9. You can comfortably run in shorts and a tank OUTSIDE! in Wisconsin!

8. You have added Ax Men to your nightly TV lineup.

7. When asked what your latest road race was, you pause, think and realize that it has been one year since your latest road race and that you were 20 weeks pregnant at the time.

6. It stays light outside well after your baby goes to bed.

5. There are 12 weeks, 5 days until the half marathon you have toyed with doing (and thus made a new year's resolution about).

4. There are 10 weeks until the first day of summer - when you might have to actually suck it up and wear a swim suit. Regarding the tankini - say it with me: "HELL NO WE WON'T GO"!

3. It feels so good to have the breeze in your face while cruising around your neighborhood. It feels even better to have the breeze at your back while cruising around your neighborhood.

2. You enter a friend's blog giveaway, which called for a goal, with, "I will try to run by myself without the baby jogger."

1. Your pre-baby sports bras finally fit again!! I may be a cow, but apparently I am an efficient cow.

Monday, April 11, 2011

April Craft of the Month

Ugh. Are you as sick as I am of the Birdie Sling?! Yes - I made another one. Again, this is by request. Nate's bank is having a silent auction to benefit their Relay for Life team so he asked me to make one for it. I was happy to oblige as ACS has a special place in my heart.

The top fabric is basic linen that you have seen on other projects. The main fabric is Anna Maria Horner's Centerpiece in Teal fabric from her Garden Party collection.

We are excited to see how much this one goes for after the MS Silent Auction.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Iowa City!

We started the road trip with our classic self portrait in the driveway before we left. This time, it included Mags!


I participated in a pre-conference workshop that started at 8 AM on Wednesday morning, thus we left after Maggie's dinner on Tuesday night. This worked really well since it was basically her bedtime so she just slept in the car while we made the 3 hour and 45 minute drive.

We checked into our hotel. We debated on whether to get a hotel-issued crib or a bring our pack and play. We decided on the hotel crib so we would have one less thing to pack. BIg mistake - we should have packed the pack and play. The crib was MINI. Mags basically hit a side anytime she moved. She looks happy in this picture, but we're pretty sure she just was hamming it up for the camera.



Mags seemed to like being on vacation. I was sad that i JUST missed her laying in our bed reading her book. When I tried to recreate it, she game me a dirty look:



She also liked jumping on the bed - with some help from me:


Nate did a little photo shoot with her as well:



We found out that it is HARD to share a standard hotel room with a baby. Basically we "parakeeted her" when it was time for naps or bed, meaning we threw a blanket over her crib to make it dark so she wouldn't pay attention to us and go to sleep (we removed the blanket when she was asleep). Luckily for the first two nights, she slept through the night no problem. We pushed her bedtime each night so that we weren't staying in the room from 6:30 onward. Still, there was a lot of time in the hotel room at night! I usually went to bed shortly after her because I was so tired from the conference. (How you get so tired from listening to people talk all day is beyond me!).

I met Nate and Maggie for lunch everyday and then we had dinner together too. Most of the time other colleagues joined us as well. Mags was on her best behavior. People at my conference LOVED her. We even got a family invite to the dinner event on Thursday night at the Brown Deer Golf Club. I think Nate also enjoyed having a lot of alone time with Maggie. They went for walks, swimming, to the mall, played and watched The Masters on TV. He did say that he didn't think that he could ever be a stay at home dad though. :)

Thursday night was a rough one though. Maggie woke up at 1 AM SCREAMING. She would not calm down for anything. I am pretty sure people in tbe surrounding rooms were not happy with us. This was another thing that was difficult about all being in the same room - normally we let Maggie cry a bit as she falls asleep or if she happens to wake up in the middle of the night because she will just go back to sleep. In a hotel room though, you are pretty much not wanting to wake anyone else up so the cry it out method doesn't really work!

We had lunch downtown (The Airliner) before taking a pic in front of the old capitol building.


While in Iowa City, we also ate at The Motley Cow, The Linn Street Cafe and Chick-Fil-A (of course) at the Coralville Mall. (We have a special place in our hearts for Chick-Fil-A from when we lived in the ATL.) We enjoyed walking around by the campus and on the pedestrian mall. I enjoyed Prairie Light Books, but was disappointed they did not have a section on Iowa Writers, given that Iowa City is one of four UNESCO Cities of Literature. Thanks to TV, JH and BK for your Iowa City suggestions!

On the way home, we let Maggie sleep for a long nap and then made a pit stop in Dixon, IL. We took in sights such as Ronald Reagan's childhood home and the fake berlin wall (courtesy of RoadsideAmerica.com). Here we are in front of the Reagan Statue.


We also went to a tractor supply store that had bunnies, baby ducks and baby chicks!!! I think she liked them. Since we didn't really expect to have a menagerie in the tractor supply store, we didn't get any photos of the animals. We did take a spectacular photo of a pretty awesome fe-mullet though (female mullet). Unfortunately, it did not turn out.

So that's the wrap up of Maggie's first out-of-state getaway!

Friday, April 8, 2011

7 Months!!



Seven month report: This is a little scattered because I try to write things as I think of them and save the draft.

Food
Mags is our little foodie. She LOVES food. We have even made progress on green beans, although she still literally SHIVERS when she eats them :)

Her Favorite Foods:
apples
sweet potatoes
squash (acorn and butternut)
bananas
carrots
peas
mango + banana
Puffs

Foods she likes:
oatmeal
pears*
apple + pear mix*
barley
squash + apples
pear + blueberry*
apricots
peaches
blackberries
whole grain cereal

Foods she is only ok with:
Rice Cereal - Thankfully we finished the one box of rice cereal and I am not buying it again

Foods she does NOT like:
Prunes
Green beans
*We think pears give her a stomach ache so although she will eat them and seems to like them, a few hours later, she is not so happy so we are giving pears a break for now.

This month she really has been into self-feeding. Her doctor gave me the go ahead to start using puffs (basically like a cheerio but it melts upon contact with saliva - less of a choking hazard for those with no teeth) and while she made a face her first few times eating them, it only took her one week to figure out how to get them into her face as fast as possible (with assistance from us). Then in the last week, she has really made a lot of progress feeding herself puffs which is nice because we can put her in her highchair with some puffs while we make her dinner. I also have increasingly tried just cutting up food into small pieces rather than purees, which she seems to enjoy. Less work for us too, although I still try to make most of her food. We have noticed that it is easier to feed her the homemade food because it is thicker. The store-bought food is really watery and it gets everywhere. Plus, making the food at home I can use breastmilk in place of water.

She has figured out how to suck from a sippy cup, but doesn't seem that interested in it. I would say the sippy cup is still hit or miss.

Skillz
Still sitting up, and now reaching for things. Her torso control has gotten pretty good - she can do a half sit up.

Still no rolling, however she doesn't fight you if you start her rolling, she will do it (rather than push against you).

We have taken to giving her more tummy time after peer pressure videos of friends with YOUNGER babies on Facebook demonstrated their babies army crawling and moving from laying on tummy to sitting up. She still does not like her tummy but seems to be a little more tolerant of it. But Mags is still completely stationary. We don't have to worry about any movement from her yet.

We also try to get her to vocalize consonants. Her favorite (and only) word is still AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

We have been out and about in the running stroller more in the past month. It may have disastrous results for anyone who wants to WALK with her in the running stroller, as my mom found out. She was chatting up a storm when my mom ran with her but when she walked - she fussed. ha ha ha.

She now makes raspberries a lot, regardless of whether or not she is happy or mad. This is now sometimes a signal that she is done eating, which is fun when your face is full of squash spit.

Overall, I find her to be very smiley and easy to get laughing and excited, but maybe that is because she will laugh at any stupid thing that I do.

Still NO TEETH!

Size
As for size, we don't have another well child visit until month 9 so I can't update the length/weight stats. She is in some 12 month stuff and still mostly 9 month clothes, although we have started to have to pack some of those up already!

"Schedule"
We pretty much still follow her lead - she eats when she is hungry, and sleeps when she is tired. Nate and I can't decide if this is better or worse than having a rigid schedule. Generally, I think the baby-led works for her and offers some flexibility to us if we want to be out and about. However, sometimes I could see an advantage to her having a nap at the same time every day. She has fallen into a pretty predictable routine though, which is nice. She is up between 6 and 6:30 in the morning and goes to bed between 6:30 and 7 at night. She nurses right when she gets up in the morning and right before bed. She gets 3 oz of fruit or vegetable, cereal, puffs for lunch and 3 oz fruit or vegetable (we usually give her veg if her lunch was fruit and vice versa), cereal, puffs for dinner. She will consume 3 5 oz bottles on days that I work as well, and I assume she is getting that much on days when I don't work and am nursing her. While her naps are generally at the same time, some days she will take 3 or 4 short naps and other days she will take 2 longer ones. She eats at about the same times every day.

MISC
We are still using cloth diapers 95% of the time. When we do use disposable, she is in size 3. Now that she doesn't have blowout poops (due to eating solids) I feel that the cloth diapering is even easier. Also, I don't find disposable to be as useless as I did when she was exclusively breastfed. She would blow out disposables all the time. Now that her poop is more solid (sorry - TMI!) I don't find disposable to be as problematic. I also don't find there to be as much of a difference between diaper brands now that she has solid poop.

Baths are now joyous occasions in the full size tub. She LOVES to lay on her back and kick (read splash) water all over the place but also likes sitting up. Her swim lessons (she is in the "shrimp" class) start a week from tomorrow!!! Nate and I are REALLY excited.

We are convinced that she knows her name, and all the variations that we call her as she will turn her head and look at you when you say her name, so that is exciting.

Her favorite toys are the stacking cups, stacking rings, any blanket to play peek-a-boo with, her Sassy rattle, her John Deere Keys rattle, this baby einstein caterpillar teether thing, sophie (of course) and her baby kitchen, although i must say that I am really sick of the kitchen songs! Sometimes Nate and I will switch it to Spanish just for some variety :)

Here is a funny picture demonstrating her love of the kitchen. My sister was playing kitchen with her, while Maggie was sitting up, and had to go to the bathroom. She came back to find that Maggie had fallen over but just continued to play. She quickly grabbed the camera.

MUST. KEEP. PLAYING.

What?! What's so funny?


She also has a pile of favorite books. Nate has taught her how to turn the page on them when you say "page". It is really funny.
1. Raffi's Wheels on the Bus
2. Polar Bear Polar Bear What Do you Hear
3. Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You?
4. Good Night Little Lamb
5. The Going to Bed Book
Nate is the storyteller. He is so good at books - she will sit and listen to him read a bunch where as I am lucky to get her to read one or two before bed - probably because she has figured out who has the goods to feed her with. But he does do all of these sound effects that she will giggle and smile at.

I still work 4 ten hour days and we still have been lucky to have family assume the childcare responsibility. My sister takes 3 of the 4 days and comes to our house. The other day, Maggie generally goes with Nate to work and a combination of his parents, aunt and grandparents will watch her on the other day. My mom will also come to our house to take that 4th day. This system seems to work pretty well for us and I think that everyone enjoys getting alone time with the Magster.
This month, was also the first time she went out of state! More on that experience later.

Month By Month: 7!

The Magster is 7 months old today! Picture time!

With Mickey: 7 Months


On her Quilt: 7 months



All month by month pictures here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One of my favorites...

A girl, her dad and her (stuffed) dog.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Aloha!

My dad and his fiance went to Hawaii last month. They brought Maggie and my niece back some flower hair clips and sundresses.

We did the best we could with the hair clip (and laughed). Maggie was too much of a trance with the ginormous tv to care: