Thursday, March 31, 2011

Highlights from San Antonio trip- a month after the fact

Unfortunately we forgot to bring our camera to San Antonio so I don't have many pictures. Nevertheless, here are the highlights of our February San Antonio trip efficiently enumerated (in no particular order).

1. Eating a cinnamon roll approximately the size of John. Granted, this three pound cinnamon roll weighed less than John does. But I'm pretty sure that when he sleeps with his knees tucked underneath him, the pastry rivals his size. This cinnamon roll is the claim to fame of Lulu's cafe. It has gotten some press recently as it was featured on the show Man vs. Food. So we decided to give it a try. Unfortunately the only thing special about it was its size. It was not extraordinarily delicious. But, if you're like me and you like cinnamon rolls, you definitely get to eat your fill with this one.

2. Cute, cute, cute John after a trip in the car with the windows down. Don't his little wind-blown hairs look adorable!

3. I got to eat at nearly every restaurant in San Antonio. Caparelli's Pizza and Magnolia House are among our favorites. We always have a long list of places we want to eat when we visit.

4. Despite what they may tell you, I roundly beat Peter, Jacob, my brother in law, and Daniele, his wife, at Dance Central, an X box game.

Technically, Danielle got a higher score. But after the contest Peter informed me that, unbeknownst to me, they had selected a harder dance for me. I practically had to break dance and I was amazed that Danielle bested my score when all she had to do was step side to side.

Anyways, the real highlight of the evening was Jacob. Some may say that the Ness family has no rhythm. Well, they haven't seen Jacob dance. Jacob has a hip move that would make young girls swoon and grown men cry. It would even put Elvis to shame. Which shouldn't be a surprise because, as you can see from the picture below, Jacob is almost exactly like Elvis:

If Elvis were an engineer, that is.

5. John got his first taste of chocolate cake and ice cream, courtesy of his grand parents. I was told that I should not even attempt to stop my mom from feeding him sweets because when I'm not present to oversee his diet she plans to indulge all of his cravings. Fair enough, I suppose that's the right of a grand parent.

He also had is first taste of oak tree. My mom has many oaks and consequently leaves are tracked into her house by the bajillions. We were vigilant in trying to keep them from John but one got past us. The day after we returned home Peter found a fully intact leaf in his diaper. At least is was organic. I mean, it doesn't get much more organic than raw leaves, right?

6. And, last but not least, our favorite thing is always spending time with our friends and family in San Antonio. We always enjoy our time there and look forward to going back!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011: A Cake Odyssey

First of all, is not odyssey one of the strangest words? Maybe it's just me, but I'm trying to determine if I spelled it correctly and I just keep staring at the letters until they become meaningless.

Oh well.

So, I decided that the only thing hindering my pancake dreams was me! I'm going to try to make it happen this year. 2011: A Cake Odyssey- pancakes, that is!

I actually meant to post this last Sunday. Better late than never?

Carrot cake pancakes were on the menu last Sunday. They were fine but not special. Peter is always flabbergasted when I insist on asking him if my dishes are special. "I know it's good but is it special?" This is partially how I evaluate whether or not I should make it again. Peter is usually not much help with this, however. His reply is usually something along the lines of "it was good but I don't want to eat it everyday." Which is a fine sentiment but not very helpful because I rarely get so excited about a meal that I plan to make it every day. But he has to throw that caveat in there because I have been known to be passionate about certain foods.

The orange-chocolate chip pancakes were better.

Tune in for next week!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

On Raising Boys Who Read

I like this article. It's about how to raise boys that read. If I can get my son(s) to "become desperate enough to read Jane Austen," I will be a happy mother indeed. (And I know my daughters-in-law will luuuuuuuv me!)

On a semi-related note, if his first word is "mama", of which I'm not quite sure yet, I'm really hoping his second one will be "book". If it's something like "playstation" then I know I'm in trouble.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Baby Is Growing Up Too Fast blah, blah, blah...

I know everyone says it. Parents complaining about the years flying by and now their little baby is all grown up. It's true! It's all true! I have three updates that I was going to save for his eleven month post but I just couldn't wait.

1) Teeth. For a brief time I though he had been overcome by the Twilight phenomenon and was going to go vampire for a while. And by this I mean that the only upper tooth he had cut was his left incisor. But then, abruptly, his two front teeth emerged! And I'm kind of sad! He won't look like a baby anymore with all those teeth! And he'll probably start to test them out on things that may not always be food!

2) Words. He may know ma ma. I'm not certain. I've noticed that he seems to consistently say it around me. Unfortunately he usually says it when he's whining for me to pick him up while I'm trying to get something done on the kitchen. It's quite pitiful, him sitting on the floor whimpering mamamamama. But I'm starting to think that he associates that sound with me.

3) Steps. He took three steps last night in pursuit of a stranger's cell phone. They were bona fide, unassisted steps. They were not stumbles but slow, steady steps! That said, I don't quite think his walking career has begun in earnest. We were at the children's museum where he was cruising around when he spotted a lady's cell phone which led him to let go of what he was holding onto and toddle over to her. This came out of nowhere. I have never even seen him hint at an independent step until last night. So, I'm not convinced that he's going to take off. But he might! He's capable of it, I guess. Time will tell.

My baby is becoming a walking, talking, masticating person! What?!? I don't even know how this happened. But it's very very exciting. I often get so attached to whatever he's doing in the here and now that I forget that there's so much to look forward to.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


We have two big green recycling bins in our kitchen under one of the counters. That was the most convenient place for them, but as you can imagine, they contain a holy grail of baby temptations. He doesn't want his toys but he really wants paper (which I would let him have if he didn't chew and swallow it). Since most of the stuff in the bins is not very clean or very safe (e.g. aluminum cans) we are constantly training him not to pull things out. But I made him his own little recycling bin of safe, clean, plastic containers that he can scatter all over the floor to his heart's content.

I recently had an idea for an upgrade to his would-be landfill toys. This idea is so simple and obvious that you've probably already thought of it. Some of us require a little more time. I got the idea from some of the toys that he plays with at baby time at the library. They are clear plastic tubes filled with things like bells, feathers, and beads that the babies can shake and turn back and forth. I believe they are from lakeshore learning, which probably means that they are expensive. At least compared to what I made which was nearly free!

I bought some beads, bells and pom poms and put them in some of John's recyclable containers. Most are soda bottles but I also had two spice containers. Now instead of just plastic containers, they're colorful, noisy plastic containers!

John is enthralled with them! They kept him rapt yesterday for 20 minutes or so. Which, in baby time, is like a light year.

One man's trash, another baby's treasure!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Delicious Pancakes

I have a fantasy that involves a family tradition of having pancakes every Sunday before church. As fantasies go, this one seems pretty doable. It's not like I'm dreaming of becoming a rocket scientist or being able to navigate using cardinal directions- those things in are in the realm of delusion for me.

The problem is that even when I was single, punctuality was not my strong suit. When you add a baby into the mix, there are some Sundays when I come waltzing into Sunday school 45 minutes late just happy that I made it at all.

But this past Sunday I pulled off a pancake breakfast. Actually, I only chose the recipe and made the batter. Peter actually cooked the pancakes while I ironed my pants. I'm pretty much opposed to ironing. I would have thrown the pants in the dryer with a damp towel except there was already a load in the dryer that I hadn't yet removed. So, my systems had failed me this particular morning. But I digress.

Anyways, the pancakes were delicious. Peter's mother and two of his younger siblings were in town to share them with us. We so enjoyed their company. And we made it to church on time!

Orange-chocolate chip buttermilk pancakes is what we made. Let me know if you try them!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

10 Months!

Today John is 10 months old. If I had to use one word to describe this month for him it would be poop. Or perhaps, more accurately, diaper rash. But that may be the subject of another post. Instead I want to talk about some of his more pleasant accomplishments of this month.

He continues to pull up and cruise around. And now he has started standing unassisted but only for a few seconds at a time. And though he has not started walking, he has started climbing. When we were in San Antonio at my mom's house, which has stairs, he showed himself quite adept at ascending them. And once or twice he's actually stood up on a step stool that we have at our house. So when he does develop the independence to walk on his own I think he will be a tour de force of gross motor skills.

He has started giving kisses, but not readily. He is very stingy with them but will usually give in to my relentless nagging and finally plant one on my cheek around the 10th rendition of "can mama have a kiss?" These kisses are quite... enthusiastic, shall we say? I love to get them but it's not so much a kiss as an onslaught of saliva and sometimes snot. But they are so precious to me!

He has the wave down, sort of. He doesn't always do it in the proper context but he's catching on. He at least knows that when he waves he's likely to get lots of attention. Which he does. He frequently waves to people in public and then basks in the attending responses of "oohs" and "ahhhs" and "aren't you a happy boys?".

He's grown enough hair to have bedhead in the morning. An inconsequential but cute accomplishment, I think.

He is the happiest baby ever. I suppose I've not met all the babies in the world but I'm pretty sure that he would be in the top 10. He's so easy going, he smiles nearly non stop, he does great on our schedule but he's not tied to it, he eats anything, he goes to sleep without a complaint, he's not shy of strangers but loves to be around other people. He makes me simultaneously want another baby but also wonder if we should quit while we're ahead. Which we will definitely not do. We want more children but I wonder what are the chances that I will have another baby that is so easy? Could I love a grumpy baby? It's a joy to love a happy one. But I know it is possible to love a grumpy baby because my parents loved me! And Peter's parents loved him! So it can be done! But I'd still prefer another happy baby... though it's definitely not worth worrying over, I really have no say in the matter. In the profoundly wise words of my mother in law: "You get what you get and don't throw a fit."

Monday, March 07, 2011

February Books

Here are my book reviews for February!

These first two are the March and April books for the mom's book club in my neighborhood that I joined. I ended up having to read them really close together because of library hold situations.

1) Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

This is a historical novel set mostly in ancient Rome. The story is told from the point of view of Cleopatra and Marc Antony's daughter, Cleopatra Selene, who was raised for a time in Rome after Octavian defeated Marc Antony and conquered Egypt. I'm not usually one to choose historical fiction. I usually find history interesting enough that I don't feel it needs to be gussied up with an author's imaginings. But I was thoroughly impressed with this book. Supposedly it was meticulously researched and presents an accurate picture of ancient Roman society which was fascinating. All of the characters, save two, were real people. At the end the author discusses what happened to each after the conclusion of the story. She also discusses some of the similarities between ancient Roman society and our own society which I found really interesting. Despite the historical backdrop, it is by no means a tedious tome of historical details. It is very readable and engaging. I would recommend it.

2) Blood and Money by Thomas Thompson

This is a true crime story that took place in Houston in the early 70's. I like true crime and especially courtroom dramas so I found it interesting. But it was really long and wordy and probably could have been cut down a little. The crime surrounded a socialite in a troubled marriage who died of a mysterious sickness. Her husband was tried for murder (it was a very weak charge because cause of death was never actually determined) but his case ended in a mistrial. Then a few years later the husband was murdered. So, it was a very sad story full of real-life examples of human depravity. But it went deeper than that. The crimes committed, the circumstances surrounding them and the legal interventions that resulted highlighted societal ills like corruption in the legal system and racial and socioeconomic relations. I liked it but I would only recommend it if you really like courtroom intrigue. Probably half of the book is about lawyers jumping through loopholes.

3) The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

I read this one after the pastor at my church gave this sermon on gospel generosity. The book had a similar message- that we should give as a result of what has been done for us through the cross. But the book went into more detail on the subject. It had many examples of people who were able to give away many times the amount that they earned while depending on God to supply their needs. One example that I remember was a man who had a family and earned $50,000 per year. He was able to give it all away but still have all of his needs provided for through various means. I believe this man was able to eventually give a million dollars to various Christian ministries all while making around $50,000. It was inspiring and challenging. I would recommend it, it was very short.

I haven't forgotten about my grand prize drawing! Thank you all for commenting! One of you will be the lucky winner! According to the stats that blogger gives me, I think I may have a few more readers out there. But I understand if you want to remain blog lurkers. I also anonymously lurk around a few blogs. I have to go to bed now so I'll do my drawing tomorrow. :o)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

For you, blog friends, one billion white roses

I meant to get this in during luuuuuv month. But we have been on vacation in San Antonio where I unintentionally became remiss with my blogging. Since it was the week leading up to the Academy Awards, there were Oscar-winning movies playing all day and all night on TCM and AMC. So, I was very, very busy with cinematic pursuits. (And that's the reason we will never have cable.)

Anyways, I wanted to share this lovely (at least potentially lovely) rose cake idea with you. The original with a tutorial is here. Mine did not turn out quite so elegant or wedding-worthy. But because I kept my expectations near rock bottom (as I usually do with crafty baking projects), I was still pleased with the outcome:

When asked how it looked Peter diplomatically replied: "Some look like roses, some look more like....spirals." Fair enough! I think the icing tip was bigger on the original in the tutorial because her roses were a lot larger than I could make mine. I would definitely try this again. I especially loved the icing recipe that is included with the tutorial which is on the blog I am baker. This blog will make you want to quit your day job, mortgage your house and open a bakery (at least that is the effect it has on me). You will probably also drool all over your keyboard. She has some gorgeous, delicious ideas. She is also a mother of two which makes me wonder if she is also a robot. How does she do it?!

I'm not looking to be the Cake Boss or anything, but I love the idea of knowing how to make pretty cakes for showers and parties and birthdays, and what have you (Is there ever a reason not to have cake?). I'm going to try and practice here and there to get my baking skillz up to snuff.

So, I give these billions of white roses to you, readers. There might not be billions on the cake itself. But when you take into account the number that I wiped off and then redid, I'm sure it comes close to ten figures (I think that's the number of figures in a billion).

Even though you can't gustatorily share in these delicious white roses, I do want to give you a gift. Well, at least one of you. Also, I'm curious as to who is reading here this these days. So, if you leave me a comment telling me something that you luuuuuv, I will draw one name and send you a copy of Treasuring God in Our Traditions, one of my beloved books from January's reading. (If only a few of you leave a comment, then you might all get one!) Or if you don't want that, perhaps you would like a Chick-fil-a coupon? I'll think of something. I'd just like to know who's out there so tell me hello!

And stay tuned because this month my theme is going to be leprechauns. ;o)