Wednesday, December 29, 2010

John's Frist Christmas: Spoiling on a Budget

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and felt hope and encouragement from the true meaning of the holiday.

"You mean these are all for me?!?"

Baby John celebrated his first Christmas. I think some of the holy and glorious truths of the season escaped him. But he did get lots of presents. Unfortunately, I think the enjoyment of his gifts also escaped him because it seems that he was most enthralled with scraps of wrapping paper.

Opening presents from Grandparents Ness.
(Thank you Grandma and Grandpa Ness!)

"The bear is cute and all, but really, what can compete with this scrap of paper?"

John has been accused of being a "spoiled kid" who has lots of stuff. Much preferring fresh, crunchy children, we are actively trying to prevent the spoilage of our baby. But it's true that he does have lots of stuff, as you can see from the photos. Regarding that, I would like to say that if we are spoiling, we are doing it on a budget. I bought all of his Christmas presents at a garage sale for under $30! I do so love a bargain! And it brings me joy to buy him gifts even though I know that he would be just as satisfied with the tupperware in the kitchen cabinets.

This is not exactly a teething toy. But soon enough he'll figure it out.

I can't wait until he can begin to comprehend the reason for the season.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Something Greater

Merry Christmas!

Today you may be celebrating Christmas with gifts, family, friends, and a plethora of edible delicacies. All good things which I, myself, enjoy.

But there is something greater. Don't be satisfied with the temporal delights provided by savory ham, sweet desserts, warm friendships and a new iPhone (especially not the iPhone because you know there will be an updated one out in about 5 minutes).

There is a much more glorious story at work. A "true myth," as C.S. Lewis said, because it's so fantastical it seems like the stuff of fiction. But it's true. There is a God. The God of the Universe who confined himself to human flesh. 2,000 years ago fully human and fully God, Christ was delivered to Mary and Joseph in all the gruesomeness and beauty of birth in a stable full of animal excrement. The maker of the universe received no glorious welcome that day.

But that is only the beginning of the story.

He came to live a sinless life so that one day He could take on the sins of mankind, and suffer the punishment that we deserved. Satisfying the justice and demonstrating the mercy of God so that we all may partake in His reward. That is what He did when he was crucified.

But that's not the end of the story.

He rose again. And that is the reason for our hope. He destroyed death and gave life to men! And He will come again to finish His work. May you celebrate His birth today and everyday!

I love this song "Labor of Love" from Andrew Peterson's CD Behold the Lamb of God:

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David's town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Would you look at this?!

Would you look at what my baby did today:

He did this by himself with no assistance from me. He was wobblier than a jello mold but managed to hold this pose long enough for me to get the camera out and take a picture. This was a huge surprise. I don't know what this means for my life as I know it. But I'm sure it will be fun finding out. :o)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

7 Months!

Monday John turned 7 months! I am a little late announcing this news to the world.

To celebrate the momentous occasion we fed him some green beans in addition to his gruel (gruel being the term we now use to describe his rice cereal. Because, really, if that isn't gruel, what is?). It was entirely unsuccessful! He actually gagged the green beans up. Which I really didn't expect. I thought if he didn't like what we were feeding him, he might just spit it out. But he really made his revulsion clear with all of his coughing and horrified faces. We'll keep trying! I've read that it might take many trials before a food is accepted. You're not done with green beans yet, Johnny boy! Don't worry, I will keep you updated on all of John's gastronomic developments!

We also went for a run:

Which tuckered him out:

I love my baby boy. I'm so happy to have him!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Better than I could say it...

It is the advent season and I have been wanting to write something about what this season means to me but I haven't been inspired to be able to put those thoughts into words. All I seem to have churning around in my mind to write is pointless drivel about Clorox and Charles Dickens. Thankfully there are people who have captured my thoughts better than even I could! I follow the blog of Christine Hoover who I met in college. She was the college pastor's wife. She wrote the posts below which I thought were excellent! Give them a read!

The Perfect Gift

Blue Christmas

The holidays are an unusual time in some ways. To borrow a quote from A Christmas Carol: "it is a time, of all others, when want is keenly felt and abundance rejoices." The contrasts are stark. Compared to the charitable feelings and thankfulness that Christmas time kindles in many, others who are bearing grief during these times struggle deeply. Sorrows being rendered darker in contrast to the bright ambiance of the season. If you are struggling, it's not gifts, hot chocolate, cookies or even family gatherings that will give you ultimate solace. But you can have ultimate solace. There is One who gives it and He was born on the first Christmas over 2,000 years ago.

A friend of ours wrote this poignant poem about a grief that she is enduring and the hope that sustains her.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Not just something people say

I called my mom this week to tell her that John had cut a tooth. To which she adamantly, repeatedly replied "that's impossible! That is impossible!" It seems impossible, it seems like he just got here! What business does he have doing all of this grown up, teeth growing?!? But it's true. There is a tiny sliver of tooth peeking out of his tender little gum.

I'm hoping that the tooth is the reason for his fussiness for the past few weeks. Overall, I'd still say he's a happy, easy-going boy. But when it's just the two of us at home I think he gets bored and succumbs more easily to minor discomforts such that a tooth breaking through a gum might cause. He has had some fussy moments recently (and I have had a few fussy moments myself)! I thought I felt a lump under his gum which could be a tooth but I wasn't sure. I was racking my brain trying to make sure there wasn't something else making him upset. Is he hungry? Tired? Sick? Upset about the state of the economy? But when I felt that little sliver, I knew that a tooth had been working its way up.

As cute as teeth are, I was hoping he wouldn't get any until around 11 months. I'm nursing him. I'll still continue nursing him as he gets teeth but I'm a little nervous about a bite. Anyways, the point is, the time goes fast. It really does. Even though some days seem never-ending the passage of time seems to be going at a breakneck pace that only quickens as I get older. The time passes quickly, it's not just something that people say. That's one reason that I'm thankful Peter is willing to work to support my lifestyle while I sit at home and eat bon bons with my baby. I don't want to miss anything. One day he's sitting, the next day he's crawling, one day he's toothless, the next day he's not!

Unfortunately I don't have a picture of said tooth. In the first place, it's very difficult to see since it is only a small sliver. Secondly, he much prefers I not look at it and lets me know this by thrashing his head about violently every time I try to pin him down and get a glimpse. It can't hide forever!

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Dirty Little Secret

Okay, I'll just out with it. I love bleach. Clorox. I can't get enough of it. It smells so horrible but it makes my 40 year old counters and sinks sparkle more brightly than Elvis in Vegas.

To clarify why this is a dirty little secret, let me back up. For a few years I've been using only "chemical free" products to clean my house. "Chemical free" is certainly a misnomer because even air and water are technically chemicals. But I've steered clear of harsh chemicals or things with added colors or fragrances. I've mostly used various concoctions of vinegar, baking soda, soap (mostly Dr. Bronner's all purpose soap. Love it!) and water. These products do a decent job in regular cleaning to maintain cleanliness. They don't necessarily do as well if you've got a horrible mess that's been neglected for years. Like the shower in our house was when we moved in. The hard water stains are well beyond the powers of vinegar.

I adopted this more "natural" cleaning philosophy because I think it's better for the environment and also for my family's health. I don't necessarily have any hard evidence to support my thoughts, but I personally don't think that standing in your shower inhaling Comet as you scrub can be good for anyone. Now that I have a baby, I do not want him crawling all over the floor (and partaking of the buffet of who knows what that he finds thereon) ingesting Mop and Glo.

But this commitment to more "natural" products wavered when we moved into our house. It was built in 1968. I think all the fixtures (sinks, counters, showers, toilets etc...) are original. I don't think it had been thoroughly cleaned since 1985. It doesn't bother me in and of itself that the house and fixtures are old. But it is discouraging when you scrub and scrub and the stains remain. Nothing ever looks clean. That is until I broke down, bought a bottle of bleach and began indiscriminately pouring it over every surface that would contain it. Suddenly my toilets and sinks were whiter than a polar bear in a snowstorm and my refrigerator shelves sparkled like the above mentioned Elvis reference.

But it's more than that. I like to believe that I am sanitizing. I don't know for sure that I'm actually killing germs. I don't dig out my microscope and verify that all of the staphylococci are dead. But that's what the bleach-makers claim is happening. And, I have come to associate that awful bleach smell with cleanliness, which even makes me kind of like it. In fact, I think my love for bleach may be more in my mind. Meaning, I don't know if my counter tops are truly glistening or if I'm just seeing them with eyes that believe that they are glisteningly ( I might have made the previous word up) clean. Even if some stains remain (which they do) I've got that noisome smell to tell me that they are rendered powerless because the germs are dead!

My concern is for the baby seals. When Peter and I are being environmentally insensitive, like when one of us forgets to recycle, or forgets to take our canvas grocery bags to the store, we accuse each other (lightheartedly) of killing all the baby seals. I don't know if bleach is horrible for me and the environment or if it is innocuous. In a housekeeping book, and on the Clorox website, I read that when mixed with water, bleach must be used rather quickly because it readily dissociates into a salt and water. A salt and water mixture doesn't sound dangerous for baby seals to swim in, or to have as a residue on every surface in my house. But I don't know. I have traditionally believed that bleach was the antithesis of life. The Beelzebub of harsh chemicals- a notion supported by all the "green clean" people. It seems to kill everything that it touches and stain your clothes to boot. So, I wanted nothing to do with it. But now I'm addicted. And I feel guilty for cheating on all of my "green clean" products!

What is a reformed slob to do? I'll tell you another reason why I love bleach so much is that I am a reformed slob. I think there is no one who appreciates clean more than a person who at one time had zero cleaning skills so she had to pull herself up the housekeeping ladder by her fingernails. It has been painful at times but I'm on my way to the clean freak rung! Though, I'm going to try not to take that too far, fall off the ladder and drown in my own Clorox. Extremity too far in either direction, slovenliness or cleanliness, will probably make for a miserable household. I've been working on a post about my metamorphoses from a grubby, dirt-dwelling caterpillar into a glorious bleached-out butterfly who picks up after herself but I haven't yet finished it (the post or the transformation).

I hope that the baby seals can be safe and my house can be clean at the same time. I believe that some day soon I'm going to get a handle on this never-ending merry-go-round of housekeeping. (I think I'm on the brink of a break through in mopping!) For now it's a work in progress. And I'm actually enjoying it.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Christmas Tree

This year we did something that we've never done before. The weekend after Thanksgiving Peter had a day off. So we initiated the Christmas season by cutting down our own tree. We drove to a Christmas tree farm near Magnolia, about an hour drive from us. Along the way we read the first chapter of the Christmas Carol. It was festive, indeed. There was even a chill in the air! (Is it just me or does cold weather help to get you in the holiday mood?)

Peter did most, actually all, of the cutting (the farm provided the saw) while John and I stood by for moral support. This place wasn't just a Christmas tree farm. They had a petting zoo, barbecue and train rides. I can't wait until John gets older and can appreciate all of this. (But in a way I can wait because I want him to always be my baby boy!)

A John-sized tree:

All trimmed:

Real Christmas trees smell so delicious!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Getting acquainted with Charles

Peter and I have a tradition of reading the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens out loud every year during the Christmas season. It is a jewel of a story. You should read it if you haven't! It is clever, lively and so, so charming. But the nicest thing is that it is short (ours is less than 80 pages) so you can get through it relatively quickly. I hope to write more about family traditions sometime soon because I've been thinking a lot about ones that I'd like for us to have.

Anyways, obviously we're including John in our tradition as well. He was introduced to Charles during last year's reading- he was present in utero. We've only read one chapter this year when we were on a car trip recently. John was awake and not crying so I assume he was absorbed in the story.

At this point you might think this post is about books or reading. How wrong you are! It's actually about how we drove down to Galveston on Saturday to go to Dickens on The Strand. An annual Christmas festival in the town. Since he is a favorite author and we are enjoying one of his stories now we thought it would be only fitting to go. It was a fun day but, you know, everything at festivals is exorbitantly priced so the only the we could afford was the $7 Kettle corn. Yes, $7. I didn't see anyone playing the character of Charles Dickens himself but we did meet:

The Ghost of Christmas Present (Not St. Nick, mind you, because he does look like St. Nick but he is not.) and a Victorian lady.

Some other Victorian people and...

Queen Victoria herself! And Prince Albert!

It was great fun. Since the Renaissance Festival is big around here, it seems that Shakespeare gets all the glory. I'm glad Dickens has his day in the sun too. (Though, I speculate that many of the people there had not even read A Christmas Carol because I heard them referring to The Ghost of Christmas Present as Santa Claus! Both are large and jolly so I can see how the mistake might be made. But that is a poor excuse for a true Dickens fan!). Now what we really need in the area is a Jane Austen festival. Am I right?

We said that we wanted to go to Dickens on the Strand at least once while we still live in the area. I don't know if we'll go again. But wouldn't it be so cute if we went next year and I dressed John up as Tiny Tim?!? Though, I don't know. He's not so tiny. Something might be lost if Tiny Tim were the size of a linebacker.

(Side note: When I commented that we need a Jane Austen festival in Houston it made me wonder if there is one. I consulted Google and found that there is a Jane Austen society! They hold English country dances near us twice per month. I informed Peter of this and that we should go! He responded as if I'd just told him that I was going to boil him alive in some Christmas pudding. He'll come around. He loves the movie Pride and Prejudice (the 6 hour A&E version, naturally). He even watched it of his own accord before we started dating. And I'm glad he did because that was one of my conditions for marriage. ;o) )

Saturday, December 04, 2010

These Arms were Made for Scooting

I think today is the day that John has started to crawl. I say "I think" because he didn't use a proper hands and knees gait, it was more like an army crawl. His arms pulled him forward on his belly while his legs dangled behind. But today he definitely put forth a coordinated effort to get half way across the room in pursuit of something he wanted. Naturally, he was going after things that I didn't want him to have- a dirty diaper and the camera. He gets up on his hands and knees and rocks back and forth. I don't know how long it will be before he adopts a more traditional, more efficient hands and knees crawl. It may take another month or two or it may be tomorrow, or maybe he never will. He might continue army crawling until he can pull up, some babies do. But two things are certain: He's got places to be and he's going to get there!

(Nearly) Naked babies are the cutest are they not? Behold:

"I'm ready for my close up."

Fat rolls within fat rolls! Succulent little butterball!

Random aside: Peter does bath time, and I'm really thankful he does. Bath time is cute and all but washing under all of those rolls is daunting for me. And then once you've gotten the soap in all those folds of skin it's nearly impossible for me to get it washed out. Thank you for doing bath time, Da Da!

Another random aside: Notice John's long, luxurious locks are returning. They are lighter than they were when he was a newborn but he is indeed becoming less bald! He likes to feel the wind blowing through his hair (which is usually me blowing on his head, which he finds quite amusing).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mother of the Year

Where's John? Oh, no worries. He's just rolled under the futon and can't get out.

On the first cold day of the year in which the chill lasted all day long, I neglected to put any extra warm clothes in his diaper bag. So at church after he wet through is pants he was left in this ridiculous get up of a long-sleeved onesie and socks.

Motherhood, I'm flying by the seat of my pants! I don't know if I'll ever be over the learning curve... but it's fun!

Monday, November 29, 2010

His mother's son

The consensus seems to be that John resembles me. So do I look like a 6.5 month old baby or does he look like a 27 year old woman? Here are some pictures for comparison:

John in September at 3.5 months

Me and my mother (I'm the one in the red dress) February of 1984. I was 7 months.

I think the above two are the best comparison but here are a few more pictures:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Some tips for getting along with Martha

Martha, Martha, Martha! "Doesn't everyone have a pleasant disdain for Martha Stewart?" My husband remarked. I like Martha. But our relationship hasn't always been so rosy. She can provide an endless source of inspiration for everything from gardening to baking. But she can also make you want to slit your throat with some decorative scissors. Everything she does sounds so simple. Like, how could the project possibly turn out anything but perfectly?!? And yet. Sometimes it doesn't look exactly like (or anything like) the picture. And then you feel very upset because you spent all of this time doing something that Martha can do blindfolded with her hands tied behind her back and yet you couldn't even do it with the intensive use of all of your faculties and a truckload of craft supplies from Hobby Lobby! Is there something wrong with you?!?

No, there is nothing wrong with you. It's not you, it's Martha. Martha has a legion of minions doing her creative bidding. Some of them are magic elves. She also has more money in her flower budget than most people will make in a lifetime. Thus, she has resources that you can't compete with! But she and her crafting army still have a lot of good ideas. And with a few principles, you can be friends with Martha and not feel like a complete failure along the way!

There's one main rule when working with Martha. It's simple really: lower your expectations. Much lower than they've ever been before. Think back to a time when your standards for yourself were bare minimum and then let them free fall until they hit rock bottom and then dig down for a while.

When you find a Martha project that suits your fancy, whether it be a stunning Fall (winter, summer spring, etc...) centerpiece or a gorgeous table made out of popsicle sticks, carefully observe the way Martha's turned out. Notice how everything looks so perfect and color coordinated! It's almost as if the entire universe was designed to complement that particular craft! Now, picture your version of the project looking at least 90% worse (At least 90%!). If you are okay with that outcome given the resources that the project might take, then go for it! And have fun! If, on the other hand, you would be disappointed if your popsicle stick table looks like it was made by a drunk chimpanzee even after you spent all of those hours carving popsicle sticks from the tree you cut down and boiling a horse carcass to make the glue, then you should probably find a different Martha project.

Case in point: I had it in my mind to make this Martha cake for Thanksgiving. Carrot cake might not be traditional Thanksgiving fare but it is a ginger carrot cake which sounded sufficiently fall-ish to me. And the presentation was intriguing so I wanted to bake this to crown my Fall Favorites baking season. So, I followed my 90% rule and reasoned that even if the cake looked like a dead animal by the time that I was done with it, it would still probably taste good. So I went for it! And I was pleased with the results. Don't get me wrong! It did not turn out looking nearly as good as Martha's with her legion of magicians ( let me tell you there is no way to get cream cheese icing to look that smooth or cake layers to be that even unless you are practicing some sort of dark arts)! But I don't think it looked 90% worse- perhaps only 70% or so. I was pleasantly surprised! And it did taste great. Here it is:

This cake was actually a big hit at our Thanksgiving feast. It really is a delicious carrot cake recipe. People even chose the cake over the pumpkin pie which was still in tact at the end of the evening! Thanksgiving heresy! Anyways, the difficult part of this cake was the candied carrot strips. But they weren't as difficult as you might think. The problem was mostly that I had purchased an inferior mandolin* and could not slice the carrot strips thin enough. (Also, I nearly sliced my fingers open.) And, my carrots were not long or broad enough to cover the the cake like they should have. There were also some structural issues because I couldn't find the right pan size and I couldn't get the cake layers sliced evenly.

While I was arranging those candied carrot strips onto the cake I was commenting to my mother that it looked vastly inferior to the prototype. She, trying to encourage me, said essentially that it could be a conversation piece and that people might remark: "I've never seen such a thing before!" We had a good laugh over that knowing that that comment is not necessarily a complement. But people actually were impressed, I didn't show them the picture of the original so they didn't know how mine paled in comparison. (That's another trick when doing a Martha project, don't show anyone what the finished product is actually supposed to look like.) Though, I consider it a success because I think it could have looked a great deal worse than it did and it did win many accolades for taste! I might consider trying it again having learned what I have learned regarding carrot sizes and mandolins.

Thanks Martha! I look forward to working with you on future endeavors!

Baby John can sit up all by himself for a long period of time! He can also go from his back or tummy to sitting but for some reason he is loath to do so. So very proud of my delicious little sitting boy!

* My husband read this and suggested that I clarify that the mandolin I refer to is a slicing tool and not a stringed instrument.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mmmmm, rice cereal

So we had ourselves a milestone today. We fed John some rice cereal. It was a resounding success!

I was not in a hurry to feed him actual food (a concept which is applied loosely when talking about baby food, right? Because I doubt anyone old enough to read this blog would consider rice cereal "actual food.") for two reasons: I want my milk supply to stay plentiful, and it's more inconvenient for me to incorporate baby foods, utensils, and extravagant messes into our meal times. Of course, I would have fed him earlier if I thought he had been hungry earlier. But I don't know if he's ever been hungry in his life (because he has eaten at least every 3 waking hours since he was born...). But he can't nurse exclusively forever and I thought he might be getting hungry at night so we've started down the "real food" path. First stop, rice cereal!

He did so well! By the end of the meal he was opening his mouth ready for another spoonful! Don't get me wrong, probably a quarter (maybe one-third) of it ended up on his face, hands and in the pocket of his bib. Which will probably be the case for all meals until he's about 5 (or is that being optimistic?). But based on this experience I think he will enjoy eating!

N0t sure what we are doing, but ready to go, nonetheless!

A little unsure of first bite.

Catching on quickly.

Having fun!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

You know you are married to a medicine intern when...

... you have conversations like these in the wee hours of the morning:

It was about 4 am and I had just crawled back into bed after feeding John when Peter asked me

"How many units did he get?" (as in units of blood)

Leslie: "You're talking in your sleep."

Peter: Thinking very hard "No, the patient, how many units did we give him?"

Leslie: "I don't know, I don't work in the ICU. Go back to sleep."

Peter: "Never mind." With and exasperated sigh.

Monday, November 15, 2010

6 month stats

I took John to his 6 month check up today. He has slowed down considerably on his impressive growth curve. He only gained 1 lb 5 oz in the last two months (whereas in his first 4 months he gained 11 lbs). Here are his stats:

Height: 28. 25 in (94%)
Weight: 20 lbs 8 oz (91%)
Head Circumference: 17.75 in (84%)

So, as you can see he's lost his largest baby in the world status. We might not be able to capitalize on these new percentiles as they don't sound nearly as impressive as 100% for both height and weight. He might have to change the title of his memoir from Baby John: Biggest Baby in the World to Baby John: Not the Biggest Baby in the World, but Still Pretty Big.

He's doing well and continues to be a healthy and happy baby. I am very thankful for him and his health. It is hard to believe that within the next 6 months (or thereabouts) he'll be walking and talking and eating grown up food and perhaps ready to take on a part-time job! The time goes quickly!

Here he is in what I call his swimsuit model pose.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Butternut Squash Bonanza

I really love vegetables. Probably too much. Sometimes, especially in the fall, I spend a lot of time day dreaming about things like sweet potatoes. In the summer I mull over how beautiful the color of eggplants are. My relationship with veggies is probably much like that of a teenage girl and Justin Bieber. Like, I would probably put posters of squash and tomatoes on my ceiling if I thought Peter would not retaliate by insisting that we fill the house with his mountain posters.

One of my favorites is Butternut squash. It is a winter squash. But! You may be surprised to learn what that actually means, as I was. A few years ago in the fall I went to buy some Butternut squash at the farmer's market. I assumed there would be weekly offerings of that vegetable throughout the winter since it is a winter squash. Wrong! I inquired how much longer this particular vendor would be bringing the squash to market. He told me that it would be the final week (remember, this is early fall). I was like "...what?" Turns out they are called winter squash not because they grow in the winter but because they will last all winter! Good to know!

This vegetable is so versatile and nutritious. It can be used in everything from cakes and pies to stir fry. And indeed they will last all winter. Last year I bought several in October and they kept through January or February. So I bought a case of them this year- which I was told was 12 squash. Though I just counted the ones I have left after using several and there are 13. So apparently it was more like 18 squash. But I do not know if they will last all winter because I have all sorts of plans for them! And much like a tween anticipating a Jonas Brother's concert I can hardly contain my excitement and am having to stifle much squealing. Recently on my favorite recipe website they had a feature on Butternut squash. I've made several of the recipes. Here are the keepers so far:

Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallots
I did alter this one. I used 16 oz of fettuccine rather than 4 oz of pappardelle pasta. I don't know what pappardelle pasta is. And I also added a boatload more parmesan than called for. But this had a really nice flavor.

Pork and Squash Stir-Fry

Beef and Butternut Squash Chile

Butternut Squash Spice Cake
This is delicious. It's moist and sweet. And it's not bad for you as far as cakes go. It's made with whole wheat flour. Yumtacular.

Curried Coconut Squash Soup (Recipe posted below)
This one was emailed to me by my friend Vanessa. It was fantastic.

I have a few other recipes that I intend to try soon. And I also plan to puree some batches for John. As always, I'll let you know how they turn out!

Curried Coconut Squash Soup Recipe:
2 tablespoons (25 mL) olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced gingerroot
1 tablespoon (15 mL) curry powder or paste
4 cups (1 L) water (my note: can substitute chicken broth or vegetable broth)
7 to 8 cups (1.8 to 2 L) diced butternut squash (1 large 3-pound/1.4-kg squash)
2 teaspoons (10 mL) sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons (6 mL) salt *(my note: use less)
One 14-ounce (398-mL) can unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons (25 mL) lemon juice

1. Warm oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Stir in onions, garlic, gingerroot and cook 5 minutes. Sprinkle on curry powder and cook 1 minute, tossing continuously.

2. Pour in water and bring to a boil. Mix in squash, sugar, salt, and lower heat to a lively simmer. Cook 30 minutes, or until squash is very tender. Pour in coconut milk and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice.

3. Puree soup in batches in a blender and return to a smaller pot, if desired. Reheat before serving, if necessary.

From Vegetarian Classics (Quill) by Jeanne Lemlin

Saturday, November 13, 2010


John is 6 months today! It also happens to be my mother's 29th birthday. Happy birthday, mom! Soon you're going to be younger than me! That'll be weird...

John continues to develop his rolling prowess. He can sit up unassisted for wee amounts of time. He often gets into this funny little position that I call his swimsuit model pose, like in the pictures above and below. It is too cute! He can balance on his side like that for quite a while. This is actually very similar to a position that they make you do in many exercise classes to work your abs called the side plank. He wants strong obliques, I suppose.

Anyways, yesterday was Peter's day off for the week and we enjoyed it thoroughly. We went out in the morning for breakfast tacos and then took John to the park. We enjoyed the weather and spending the day together. John loved the baby swing. I started by nudging him ever so slightly to initiate an almost imperceptible swing. I didn't want to go too crazy because he doesn't have great upper body control. But Peter took over and swung him to high heaven and he laughed. It was fun!

Changing the subject, last week I was anticipating with relish the extra hour of sleep that was to be mine as the result of the "fall back" time change. I suppose that I technically did get that extra hour of sleep since we did turn the clocks back. But it was not nearly so magical as it has been in past years. The problem was that I neglected to inform John about this strange little custom of time change. I failed to explain that he too would get to take advantage of this wonderful gift of sleep! On the actual day of turning the clocks back, he mostly woke up at the same time, maybe just a little early. But every day since then he's been getting up on the wrong side of 6 am (Is there a right side of 6 am?) . And he has trouble staying awake until his bedtime. So, I've transferred my sentiments from "time change is a hassle but I'll endure it for that extra hour of sleep" to "time change needs to die a most painful death." The little ones, they don't adjust so well, unfortunately!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Falling Back

Don't forget to turn clocks back tonight! In my opinion day light savings time (and by that I mean getting an extra hour of sleep) is one of the best ideas that mankind has ever produced. Second only to the slanket (or snuggie, if you prefer).

Scratch that. Actually, only the falling back part is a good idea. Springing forward makes me want to cry.

Mostly I feel like daylight savings is just a big hassle. But I'll endure some hassle for an extra hour of shut eye. I truly do look forward to this one magical night every year. (Perhaps this is pitiful but I am not ashamed. I love my sleep.)

So, on our vacation to San Antonio last week we took John to a pumpkin patch at a local church. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. Being fond of all things Fall, I was so eager to get John's picture in the pumpkins. It was such a lovely day. My mom and sister came with us. We all picked out pumpkins. John was in a good mood. And we got a lot of good pictures. I could not have dreamt of anything better!

There was some vexation at the outset. Someone had given us a gift certificate to Baby Gap. I had wanted to go there prior to our pumpkin patch trip so that he could be dressed in a little preppy outfit for his photo shoot. But working around the schedule of a baby who only remains happy for a limited time before requiring another nap precluded our Gap trip. So, he's wearing sweatpants with a stain on the leg. I doubt anyone will notice or care. But I had wanted it to at least appear that I had tried to gussy him up. Oh well. We had to prop him up with pumpkins because he can't yet sit by himself for long periods of time. He tips. Here are some of the pictures:

It was a challenge to prevent him from eating the hay and pumpkins

Many hilarious antics were required to induce him to look towards the camera. Things always seemed to be more exciting behind him.

John, aunt Di di and my mom (she has not yet settled on what John should call her.)

He has begun to stick his tongue out frequently. I'm beginning to wonder if he's mocking me.

I want to write more about our trip but haven't yet had the time to sit down and compose anything. Hopefully this week.

For now, live it up! The night is young! And getting younger!