Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Recap #1

Mitchell's first Christmas was a wonderful one!  I was a bit apprehensive after our Thanksgiving experience (multiple car trips, sleepless nights, etc.), since we were going to have approximately the same travel schedule, except in reverse, but he did great and we all had fun.  We aren't in the same city as either side of our family, but we're fortunate that either family is just a relatively short car ride away and we can negotiate visiting both when it's necessary.  I'll make this post a two-parter so it's not horribly long!

We started off our holiday with two nights in Birmingham.  Getting to see our joyous neice and nephew enjoying themselves helped ease the sting of missing Christmas' biggest fan, John Reid Garrett.  As I tearfully noted to John on Christmas day, this was the first time that his absence from our family gatherings was so conspicuous to me.  Well before his health prevented him from moving around at will, John often preferred to stay back in his room and do his own thing, so we didn't always see a lot of him when we were all together at my parents' house. The exception was Christmas - he never missed being right in the middle of things - and I'll never forget how excited he was all day on December 25.  From the first moments of opening stockings to the last gift he would open, his exclamations, fist pumps and other expressions of excitement for what he'd received never ceased to bring a smile to my face. 

This is a really old picture, from the same year that Erin posted a picture of on her blog, but it is doubly appropriate this year since it also shows his allegiance to the two teams he held dear.  Here he is sporting a new Alabama sweatshirt AND a new Texas belt buckle that he'd just opened.  His first and true football love was "Attabama", and of course, he started pulling for "Tey-sas" after Rainer went to school there.  I have no doubt about what team he'd be pulling for in the National Championship game next week, but I can only imagine the discussions that we'd have had with him about them playing one another in football!  I miss so many little things about John all the time, but Christmas will probably always be the time I'll miss him the most.

As for our little one, Christmas Eve brought the emergence of his first little tooth!  I have been feeling for it becuase it was obvious that it was coming - drool, restlessness, chewing, all the classic signs - and even that morning I hadn't felt it.  We had brunch with some friends and Mitchell was not exactly his normal, pleasant self, and then he slept for two hours that afternoon, so I should have known that something was up!  It wasn't until we were out to dinner later that evening with my parents that I was able to feel it poking through for the first time.  Incidentally, he went out with us way past his normal bedtime and seemed to have a ball.  There were lots of pretty ladies for him to smile at and flirt with, and Erin pointed out that all the activity was probably really fun for him!  On Christmas Day he got up and played and then went down for a nap about 10:30 and stayed asleep until after 1:00.  I'm not sure that I've addressed this on the blog, but he is not a napper, so John and I felt like that nap was our Christmas present!  He's been pretty sleep-deprived lately, poor guy, so I know it made him feel better to get that tooth and be able to get some good rest.

Here are a few pictures to recap the Birmingham trip.  We ate, drank and made merry! 

Christmas Eve play time; Reid wanted a picture "with" Mitchell so I positioned him behind where Mitchell was playing.  I told him to say "Ho Ho Ho" when I took the picture.

Mitchell on Christmas Day - pre nap, but already looking drowsy!

Cousins in their pjs' on Christmas Eve

Ann Edwards with her very realistic pink razr phone on Christmas morning.  We won't go into her little mishap involving this phone and my parents' stairs.  I'll just say we're glad she (and the phone) are OK!

Round Two: Christmas Night at our house (Mitchell gets a haircut), and Knoxville.  Coming soon!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

The Maedels wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!  We'll be on the road a lot this week/weekend, so I'll probably update next week.  Here's a picture to tide you over.  This was from when we took Mitchell to get his picture made with Santa this past weekend.  He did really well with Santa, so I'm glad we did it!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rice Cereal Take 1

Mitchell's pediatrician recommended that we start him on rice cereal since he's not been sleeping well; she said it might help him get full and be able to sleep longer at night. 

We tried it for the first time last night.  I think the part he liked most was getting to sit up in his big boy seat.  We didn't get a high chair to save space; since we have an island we got one of the travel chairs that will hook onto a table or bar that we'll use instead.  His legs dangle and I think he liked being upright and somewhat free.  Don't worry, I was a neurotic mama and had a big blanket stuffed in behind him so he couldn't move around too much!

The cereal part was fine; about what I expected.  I have some video of it; if I can ever figure out how to upload it, I will!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It Hit the Spot

My mom's nickname has been Spot ever since college; my dad gave her that nickname because of all of her freckles.  It's what all of their friends have always called her, so when it came time for her to pick a grandmother name when Erin was pregnant with WRS, she just decided that she'd stick with Spot.  It is relatively easy for a child to say, and it sure does sound cute when Reid calls her 'Pot'. 

She is kind of like the pied piper...she's always able to come up with a fun distraction or activity for the kiddos just when they need it most. 

And she takes great delight in her grandkiddies.

Well, Spot came up and stayed with me last week while John was out of town, and what a God-send she was to me.  She arrived on perhaps my worst day ever with Mitchell; he'd be awake half of the night, and literally nothing I could do would make him happy.  He finally sacked out that afternoon before she got there, so he was a bit more pleasant by the time she got here, but I was glad to have a back up anyway.  While she was here, she took poor, neglected Dixie for several great walks, cleaned areas of the house I haven't touched in months, cooked, ironed, grocery shopped, and amused Mitchell while I did things I needed to do.  I swear she gets more done in an hour then most people (me) accomplish all week day.  It was so wonderful to come home and hear her tick off all the things she'd done around the house since I'd last seen her.  I wanted to cry and hug her neck in gratitude every day.

We call her the baby whisperer in jest, but it's really true.  She really does have the touch.  Here is a picture of her with Mitchell, who is about 2 days old, sucking his thumb.  She was always able to help him get it long before I ever figured out how to do it (without making him mad).

 I have always been in awe of her, but as I get older, I appreciate what she does and how she does it so much more than ever before.  Her own mother died when she was about the age I am now, when Erin and I were almost 3 years old.  I truly cherish every moment of time that I get to spend with her, and that she gets to spend with Mitchell, as I know how much of our lives Dot Dot missed out on.  She has the heart of a true servant and I have been blessed beyond compare to have her as a mother.

Here's a picture from her most recent visit, with the boy.  Mitchell says 'heeeyyyyyy'.

Four Months and Other Stuff

Well, Mitchell is now 4 months old and at his checkup today he weighed 16 lbs, 9 oz and was 26.5 inches long.  He's a big boy, in the 85th and 92nd percentiles, respectively.  He is such a joyful baby (when he's not fussy from lack of sleep, which is unfortunately, rather often) and I love all of his new noises.  He's making more and more of them each day.  He's also doing this new thing where he bites/sucks on his bottom lip. 

Clearly I need some pictures and videos to go along with this post, but I'm sadly without.  I'll do my best to remedy that situation very soon.  I think we are definitely going to have our hands full once he really starts moving.  He is always squirming around and you can just tell he cannot wait to go somewhere.  Sometimes I think he gets frustraed that he cannot move more independently, but he has gotten pretty good at inchworming himself across a blanket, or in his crib at night (he likes to scoot way up to one corner, guess he feels more secure there).  He also spends lots of time on his tummy, does "push ups" and loves to kick his legs off the ground.  I like to think he is practicing his butterfly kick.

His hair continues to get lighter and lighter; I think we'll have a blondie on our hands eventually.  We did give him a tiny bang trim a couple of weeks ago, but we didn't get much off (see: squirmy, above).  We will probably try again one of these days because I want to have some of his dark baby hair, especially since he has so much of it!

Here's a relatively recent pic of him, from when we went to get our Christmas tree.  Don't you just love his rosy cheeks and his kewpie doll hair?  I could just eat him up.


Well, I've already fallen down on the job on my recipe listing.  Last week's meals were chinese stir fry (bok choy, snow peas, water chesnuts, celery, mushrooms, chicken, etc) and roasted eggplant tossed in a spicy peanut sauce Monday, a delicious beef tenderloin roast with roasted winter squash and sweet potatoes, on Tuesday, leftovers for my on Wendesday (home alone, John out of town), Tony's Pasta Thursday, and I don't even remember what we ate on Friday night.  Saturday we had my office Christmas party at my boss' house and his wife put out an incredible spread of food, most of which she prepared herself.  The menu included proscuitto-wrapped scallops that were skewered on rosemary and grilled, lobster shooters (pieces of lobster and drawn butter in shot glasses), caviar stuffed potatoes, these brie tartlets, blue cheese balls with pistachios, crab dip, thai chicken bites with peanut sauce, and most importantly, this bacon.  I have a package of super thick cut bacon in my fridge right now, just waiting to turn it into this.  It is so good.  Make it for your next party; I guarantee a hit.


In closing, how on earth is it already 10 days from Christmas?  Where on earth has this year gone?  Hope you are all getting into the spirit of the season.  I'm trying to remember each day to count my many blessings and not get too caught up in the mad rush that this time of year seems to foster in so many people.  It can be hard some days, but what do any of us really need that we don't already have?  I haven't sent out my Christmas cards yet, but I figure they'll get out eventually.  I think having so many things to juggle these days helps me put in perspective how silly some of the things I stress over are.  I wish you all a season of love, laughter and all the intangibles that make our lives so worth living. 

Friday, December 4, 2009

My New Project

I am going to try to post my weeknight meals here each week, as much to keep myself accountable on cooking regularly as anything else.  But hey, this way I can also share things that are good (and things that aren't) with all of you!  Here are my self-imposed rules. 
  • I will allow myself one weeknight a week for takeout or pre-prepared.  That is not to say I won't be using pre-prepped ingredients to make my life easier (think chopped garlic in the jar); just one time each week I will allow myself to do no cooking of any kind and not feel bad about it. 
  • And, since I'm making these rules, I also reserve the right to use leftovers for a meal now and then. 
  • Weekends will be "free", but if I cook anything particularly good I'll certainly share it.
This week's meals (by no means impressive, but we've both been sick so soup has sounded really good to both of us a lot this week):
Sunday: tortellini soup for me; chili and a turkey sandwich for John (we came back with lots of food from my parents' house, and I had a cold so didn't feel like eating or cooking)
Monday: turkey melts and soup (canned)
Tuesday: Papa John's Pizza (John's request, when he has a cold he is the opposite of me and has a huge appetite; he ordered a large pizza and breadsticks and polished off a good portion of it)
Wednesday: arugula & romaine salad with marinated white beans, roasted red bells, sauteed portabellas, caesar croutons, and homemade roasted tomato vinagrette; small antipasto platter with sliced chorizo and salame picante, two cheeses and olives
  •  portabellas: we both love sauteed mushrooms and I use portabellas to make heartier salads many a night when we both want somehting 'light' but you need to still feel full.  My mushroom technique is simple - lots of butter in the pan, medium heat, put 'em in, and leave 'em alone.  I wait to salt and pepper them until much later in the cooking process - as Rachel Ray says, if you salt them too early, they don't get brown.  Sometimes I will add chopped garlic, sometimes just garlic powder.  Sometimes I will add red wine at the end to deglaze as well; they are divine this way and seem especially decadent.  We like ours to get a little crust on them but if you don't like things really done you can take them off the heat when they have softened through.
  • roasted tomato vinagrette: I halved two handfuls of grape tomatoes and tossed them with olive oil, kosher salt & black pepper.  Put in a hot oven (400) until the tomatoes start sizzling and have started to "wilt" a bit.  Take out of the oven and pour all (including oil) into a small bowl.  I whisked this with some balsamic vinagrette for the dressing.  It might have been easier to remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and then whisk, adding the tomatoes back in at the end, but I just kind of stirred fast with the tomatoes still in there.  I tossed my lettuces with the dressing and then added all the other ingredients.
Thursday: roasted pork tenderloin (marinated in Dales) with cheese grits.  Shamefully no vegetable with this dinner.  I always like to make my cheese grits with stock rather than water and then usually use a little milk with them when I add the cheese.  Last night I used a cheddar/monterrey jack blend, paprika, salt and black pepper, but I've doctored them up every way under the sun.  Far and away John's favorite side.
Friday:  I plan to make this 44 clove garlic soup.  Yum.  It is much milder than it sounds like it might be.  I figure if I start after work it we'll probably be able to eat after Mitchell goes to bed!  Served with a baguette and perhaps a little green salad tossed with some lemon juice and olive oil, shaved parm on top.  Can't wait to eat!
Saturday: no specific meals planned but we have the fixings for sausage dip in the fridge so I'm thinking that will be the perfect snack for SEC Championship game-watching and Christmas tree trimming!

As a side note on Thursday, let me give you a new suggestion for using leftover pork tenderloin that I'm copying from this menu.  We ate there when we went to see The Boss a few weeks ago and both of us had the Pork Loin Melt on Texas Toast.  Yum.  I made one for lunch today with our leftovers from last night. 

I didn't have the texas toast (or the delicious onion rings that accompanied ours at the restaurant, but I digress) so I used my favorite marble rye from Publix.  Butter one side of your bread and put face down in the skillet on medium.  While the skillet is heating up, thinly slice your pork and toss in your favorite barbecue sauce.  Barbecue sauce is probably my favorite condiment, and for this one I think you need something with a kick (and by all means, please be generous with it, because this is the type of sammich that calls for something to drip out from between your bread).  I used Rudy's "Sause" but if you don't have access to this heavenly stuff, then I suggest a sauce with a good bit of black pepper and vinegar in it.  Of course, use what you like.  Today I used a slice of provolone cheese on each side of the bread to glue everything together; the restaurant used cheddar but we didn't have any sliced.  It is so good.  I think you'll thank me.

Next week I might not have to cook much myself.  My mom is coming to stay with me and Mitchell Sun-Wed since John will be out of town (we'll miss him, but I'm so excited that she'll be here).  I'm sure one or the other of us (ok, let's be honest, it will probably be her) will cook each night, so I'll still report.  Since John doesn't like it, I'm going to request Chinese/stir fry one night.  My mom's is as good, if not better, than what you can get in a restaurant, and it's much healthier. 

I've got some homemade Christmas treats in mind for gifts, so I'll share what I'm planning one of these days.  For now, I think this post is plenty long!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Just couldn't resist...

He looks like he's driving a car.  You know, because he's so big and mature.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Calling An Expert...

Anyone out there (who reads this) read HTML well?  I used to be a bit more up on it but I'm out of practice.  I'd like to modify my current layout to take advantage of a wider right margin...but cannot quite find where that is in the code.  I will be happy to e-mail it to you if you think you might be able to help.  And I'll send you some cookies or something equally yummy as payment, promise!  Any takers???

Monday, November 30, 2009

Poor Lil' Thing

M has had a rough go of it lately.  He's had a cold for the better part of November, and to make matters worse his daddy had it for a while and now I'm suffering through one as well, so I think we keep passing it around.  We're trying to do what we can to clear everyone's sniffles up, but I expect M will keep his cold for a while thanks to daycare.  Just nothing much to do about it.

Thanksgiving was hard on our little man.  He got to meet some new family in Knoxville, which was fun, but between that trip and our visit to my family in Birmingham, all in all we were in the car 4 out of 5 days and I think he just got out of sorts.  I think he may also be going through a growth spurt (hard to believe, since we estimate he's about 18 pounds now), and hasn't been sleeping much at night.  When you factor in his general lack of daytime napping, we're dealing with somewhat of a fussy fellow these days.  Hopefully his little system will get regulated again soon.

For now, this is the sight we see most often; runny nose, face covered in slobber, hands in his mouth.  It's very appropriate that he's wearing his cousin Reid's onesie that says "Drool is Cool".

I certainly don't want to make this a totally negative, downer post, so here's a quick recap of some of the fun things that the boy has been up to lately:
  • he always has his toes curled under and since he's found his feet, they make for the best little handles for him to grab onto and roll around on the floor...
  • and when he's rolling around he is very likely to topple over onto his left side, which makes him very happy.  He'll lay like that sometimes for 20 minutes and just suck his thumb/fingers/hands (he's not very picky these days, any digit will do)...
  • and from his side, lately he likes to keep on going all the way over to his tummy.  He used to hate tummy time, but now that he can get there by himself he seems thrilled to be there!
  • his newest noise sounds a bit like a long sustained "wheeee" or "woooooo" and it's so cute.  He makes tons of noises and I just love getting him up in the morning because he alwasy seems to have so much to say. 
  • he really likes grabbing whatever I put in front of him and the other day I swear he was trying to scoot over and get something he couldn't quite reach.  I told John last night that I think we're going to have a mover on our hands well before we're really ready for it!
  • he loves the jumper seat and has a ball in the exersaucers they have at his daycare.  He played in the one at Mike & Spot's house over the weekend, and loved it.  He has always loved standing up in your lap, so the new feeling of independence I'm sure he feels from those activities are fun to watch.

Here are a couple other recent pics.  He's had his picture taken a lot lately, but not many are on my camera so I'll post some more here and on our photo site when I get copies of them from family and friends. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Recipe Roundup

While we think he is cute enough to eat, these chunky cheeks and turkey thighs won't actually sustain us, so I've been made it a goal to churn out a few home-cooked meals a week rather than constantly resorting to take out as we've been prone to doing lately!

So, in the spirit of trying to balance the content of this blog...here's what I've been cooking lately.

Tortellini Soup: 3 cans chicken stock (I used two cardboard cartons, one regular and one reduced sodium), 2 8 oz packs fresh cheese tortellini, 4 green onions sliced, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 can diced tomatoes, fresh basil and parmesan cheese. 

You basically bring the stock to a boil and then dump everything but the cheese in and cook until the pasta is done and then serve with grated parmesan on top.  Last night I added sliced zucchini and mushrooms, and served it alongside some toasted baguette slathered with basil pesto.  I think this would be the perfect recipe for cleaning out the fridge: make it heartier with sliced or crumbled cooked Italian sausage; if you've got it, some fresh spinach stirred in to wilt up.  Bascially it is a reliable, quick and tasty soup that you can doctor up to suit your taste or your needs!  Totally my kind of recipe these days.  Thanks Andrea!

I recently made these spiced sweet potato wedges for John's office Thanksgiving lunch.  I had intended to make them the night before, since he has access to various warming ovens at the stadium and I thought a few passes through their pizza oven would warm and crisp them back up before they ate.  Well, the first batch got very thoroughly roasted charred  (resist the urge to increase the level of spice and sugar you put on them, lest they turn out like mine did), and though John and I like things that are one the "done" side of the spectrum, I felt they were not suitable for serving to his colleagues. 

They made a great lunch for me the next day, though, and the second batch that I made for him (stuck more to the recipe this time around, and went shy of the prescribed cooking time to avoid burning them) the next morning seemed to be a hit.  These are a nice easy side dish for sandwiches or pork tenderloin and would be a good alternative to the traditional sweet potato preparations at your Thanksgiving meal.  If you'd like something more adventurous, try these.  I have done them before and they're great too!

Speaking of preparations of sweet potatoes, John's mother asked me to bring a potato dish to their family Thanksgiving and I asked John what he might want me to make.  When he words "sweet potato hash" came out of his mouth as a suggestion, I was somewhat floored, but I'm game. 

I tried version 1 yesterday, including thick cut bacon, diced onions, mushrooms, sage, parsley and an oj/apple cider vinegar/brown sugar mixture for a sauce and it came out OK, but we both thought it could be tweaked. I won't use the vinegar again, and I didn't roast the potatoes but John asked that I try that method next time because he wanted them crispier.  Sweet potatoes will only get so crisp, but that's what I'm going to do for the final dish.  I think my strategy will be to roast the potatoes and cook everything else in a skillet and then toss and top with the crisped reserved bacon before serving.   I'll report back and give a more specific recipe (ha, me, cook with a recipe?) afterwards!

I like to make quick fish tacos by using tilapia or other mild fish filets, sprinkled with cumin, chile powder, cayenne and a squeeze of lime juice.  Serve with your favorite jarred salsas, lettuce, tomato, avocado slices, cheese and preferred condiments (sour cream, etc.).  I usually serve these with black beans that I've cooked with a can of chopped green chiles and sauteed peppers, if I have them!

My chicken enchiladas are probably John's favorites.  It's just something I made up, but I've typed out my "method" before so e-mail me if you want me to send it to you.

I have this recipe for Spicy-Sweet Pork Tenderloin bookmarked and will probably try it out this week.  I'll report back! 

What are some of your favorite go-to recipes?  Share in the comments, if you wish.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On the Side

This is Mitchell's new favorite place to be - on his side!  He was playing the other night and I just couldn't resist snapping pictures.  He was facing away from me, but I called his name and he looked back over his shoulder at me.  The look on his face seems to be saying "Whatchu want, mommy?"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

First Week Back...My Impressions

Well, Mitchell started "school" this week (I agree with ML, just easier to say school) and I came back to work full time. I'd been working a few days a week for the last few weeks (thanks to Spot and Gramma Kris for watching M on those days that I worked), because I knew I couldn't just come back cold turkey. As it is, I have had a hard time focusing when I get into the office and I'm not nearly as efficient as I used to be. I know I will get back into the swing of things, but it is taking time!

Mitchell is doing great. His teachers hold their arms out for him as soon as you get there in the morning, and the director has already stopped John and told him how much everyone is enjoying him. We know he is such a happy soul, and I'm not surprised to hear he has won them over there with his sweet little personality (not to mention his cute little dimple). The only wrinkle with him is that he's not a good napper, and he comes home exhausted (but not exactly ready for sleep yet). But hopefully with time that will improve and we'll get into a rhythm that works for us all.

Which brings me to...me. I anticipated having a really hard day that first day. I had been dreading it for weeks, and sure wasn't making it any easier on myself with the mental buildup of how awful I anticipated that first day would be. We went and visited his daycare last week so I could see how much of various supplies and clothes we should send at a time, so we were well prepared on Monday.

John and I went together to drop him off and pick him up that day, so we could both see the whole routine (check in clipboard, supply cubbies, etc). I was OK dropping him off because he was very happy and I have peace about where he is, and luckily all day that first day I was extremely busy at work and didn't have too much time to dwell on it. It didn't hurt that the director took that cute picture I posted earlier of him and sent me a text message so I could see that he was still enjoying himself. My sweet husband also sent me flowers (well, the card said they were from Mitchell, but John had to help him by ordering them).

I did not get emotional at all that day (somewhat suprisingly) until we got home that night with him and I was nursing him. It was sort of the first time all day that I'd had time to catch my breath and really think about how many moments I will miss out on in his life from this point forward. I think particularly because I was nursing him, and I have so enjoyed that time I spend with him each day, I did shed a few tears. But I'm glad that I was in the comfort of my own home at that point and didn't have to worry about censoring my emotions like I might have had it happened at my office. Overall, though, I'm handling it much better than I expected I would and thankfully my little angel has made it very easy on me.

He's all grins when I wake him up in the morning to get him changed and dressed, and when we arrive he is still all grins for everyone there. This helps to remind me to try to go through my day with the same smile on my face, and reminds me how lucky we are to be able to afford and find quality childcare for Mitchell!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baby Humor

This was on an e-mail that someone sent me yesterday. I hope it's not TMI, but I thought it was just too funny not to post since several of my readers are fellow BF'ers.

Clearly he is fine....

This is what the director of Mitchell's day care sent me yesterday. Obviously this is a lot harder on me than it is on him! He was tired yesterday when we picked him up but they said he did great all day. I guess we'll call the first day a success. More to come on how I'm doing...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Boo Humbug

Call me the Halloween version of the Grinch. I just don't get that into it. I suppose I have had a few inspired costumes over the years, but for the most part it just isn't one of my favorite holidays. I certainly wasn't really into it this year.
Having MKM be so small and things being rather hectic for me in general these last few weeks/months, I just never got around to coming up with a costume for any of us.
This is what I managed in the way of dressing him up to celebrate...a "My First Halloween" onesie that someone gave us, with matching socks. He doesn't (won't) wear hats, so we skipped the accompanying pumkin topper. Boo!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jumping Back In

I know. I get it. My throngs of faithful readers (Ok, the four or five people who actually read it) have let me know that the absence on the blog is not to be tolerated any longer.

The alternate title for this post should be "OK, so maybe I won't post pictures soon" or "Sorry I took three months off".

But, in light of the fact that I've had my hands full with this little guy....

I just haven't really managed to find the time to sit down and blog. Heck, I've barely managed to post pictures of him here, but I have done it at the urging of all of our out of town family!

But really, when you have something this cute to play with all day...

...well, then why would you do anything else???


Since he arrived 11 weeks ago today, Mitchell has been a true joy to his daddy and me.

Not like he woudn't be anyway, but this has also been a season of sadness for my family (see more about that here and here, maybe I will manage a post about our sweet John one of these days), and having this new little precious life to treasure has been a true comfort to me as well.

Seeing as how I think Mitchell and I spent more than half of the month of September in Birmingham, I didn't exactly have a lot of time to be blogging either. But speaking of the car, I just have to say what a good little traveler my son is. He doesn't mind his car seat at all, (clearly, since he also slept nights in it for weeks) and he definitely won the trooper award for the number of times I clicked that seat in, loaded up our bags and headed south during my maternity leave. I am so thankful that everything happened during that time so that I was able to just drop everything and go, but at times I did worry about how it was affecting Mitchell, and of course it took us away from Daddy a lot of the time since he did have to stick around and work. However, Mitchell seemed to know that something was going on and he was so sweet through it all. For that, he has earned enough gold stars to last him well into toddlerhood!

Since then, he has been busy eating and growing, cooing and playing, all while being incredibly cute. For the most part he is an easy, happy baby.

We have spent a much more relaxed October, while I tried to savor the precious moments I have left with Mitchell before having to go back to work. He starts daycare on November 2, which will be my first day back to work full time as well. My mom and John's parents have been such a godsend to keep him on the days that I do work, and I am so thankful that they both live close enough to see him on a regular basis.

I promise, I will post more often and will try to do some catch up posts about the last 10 weeks! One last pic...

Happy Fall!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Well, in a few hours we're heading to the hospital for me to be induced. Hopefully Mitchell will make his appearance some time tomorrow (if he doesn't then we're really going to have evidence that he is a super laid back personality). I am a bit nervous about being induced, but on the other hand I really am excited that it's here after all of these months of waiting to meet my sweet son. I just hope that my body reacts well to the induction and that things move along smoothly. We appreciate all of the prayers, wishes for good luck and support that we've been given by so many people.

I will post details and pics as soon as possible!

Brooke & John

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fun Things for Mitchell

The mail today came with not one, but two packages of sweet surprises for Mitchell.

The first one I opened came from my friend Tracy and her new business, Little Bittle Designs. She sent a cute monogrammed swaddling blanket and a fun bib with his name on it.

So cute, thanks Tracy!

The second one came from Mitchell's "great" aunts Lynn & Barbara in Denver. The cute little onesie has a black bear on it and says "Bear Hug", with the bear's arms stretching alllll the way around to the back of the onesie. I can't wait to see the our little bear in it! They also sent a sweet little stuffed reindeer.

We are so lucky that Mitchell is already so loved. Thanks to everyone for all that you have done for him, and for us!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Practicing Patience

Well, I'm 10 days away from Mitchell's due date and this little boy is certainly giving me a lesson in patience. I know the due date is there for a reason, and it's reasonable to assume that he might not come until then, but it's been a rough couple of weeks for me and I'd certainly hoped he might decide to make an early appearance (and of course, he still might)!

I've been having lots of false labor symptoms - contractions, cramping, etc - that have left me a bit confused and I'll admit, a lot frustrated! Several days I've gotten almost ready to say "OK, let's go to the hospital, I think this might be happening" when the symptoms just stop altogether. On Sunday that happened twice! It does get your hopes up.

I had a mini-breakdown on Tuesday after I saw the doctor and was told that nothing had really changed - I am still dilated about the same as I have been the last two weeks, despite all that activity. For some reason that day I took all of this as "bad" news and was so upset. I haven't really been that emotional during this pregnancy, which surprises me somewhat, but I certainly was that day. It felt like I'd been told that I was never going to have my baby and that I was going to have to stay this miserably, hugely pregnant forever.

However, once I got out of my emotional funk, I started thinking and was reminded at how lucky we've been that I've had a totally normal, even boring, pregnancy. How amazing that is! I should be giving thanks for the blessing it is that I've been able to provide my son with a stable, comfortable home for the last 38 weeks and he's still thriving and growing inside me even now. So many people that I know have had scary or difficult pregnancies, not to mention my friends that have struggled to even get pregnant. So, I've decided to adopt a positive attitude for the rest of this pregnancy, no matter how long that is, and to appreciate the gift that we have been given in this tiny little boy that we are so eager to meet.

I know this this test of my patience is only a warm-up for the challenges of motherhood, but I'm thankful for the reminder that becoming parents is about putting this baby's needs above your own and practicing selflessness, and yes, patience everyday.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What the ....?

To the woman in the bathroom who just burst out laughing at me when she saw me walk in.

What? Did you think that my stomach would start shrinking in the last few weeks before I had my baby? Did you think that I would enjoy you laughing at me? Do you think I don't know that I'm huge?

Not cool. Not cool at all.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Scenic City Scandal

The Scenic City is all astir. Recently an e-mail chain between an unhappy restaurant patron and the restaurant owner has been circulated extensively, which has prompted all sorts of backlash in the community towards both the restaurant and the patron.

Long story short, the patron and his extended family went out for dinner on Father's Day. They picked up McDonald's on the way to the restaurant (which does not really have a great menu for kids) for their 3 year old, hoping to keep the kid happy while the rest of the party dined. After a wait to be seated, the patron was approached by a restaurant employee and told that the McDonald's meal that they brought in could not be consumed because it was a health code violation, and that they would have to leave the restaurant if they insisted on their child eating it. The family packed up and left. Upon further investigation by the patron, he was informed by the state health department that it was not actually a violation of the health code, but that it was up to individual restaurants to enforce the policy of not allowing outside food in their own establishments.

The patron then forwarded this information, along with an e-mail summary of his complaints, to the restaurant's e-mail address. The patron received a response from the owner of the restaurant which in fairness did not address any of his compliants and instead made some insinuations about his parenting style and choices. The patron and owner went back and forth one more time exchanging e-mails, with the owner again asserting the same sentiments that he had made in the first e-mail. In the interest of full disclosure, the owner has since sent an e-mail apology to the original patron, and he is apparently forwarding it to anyone who has since taken the time to contact his restaurant concerning the incident.

You can read more about the incident here. The incident has prompted a "boycott" page on Facebook and was the primary topic for a 3 hour local talk radio show yesterday, not to mention the fact that the e-mail has been forwarded over and over and many responses I've read have sworn off the restaurant forever. Additionally, another restaurant in town is cleverly cashing in on the publicity by sending out an e-mail to thier distribution list offering families a free child's meal with the purchase of an adult meal, as well as indicating that they welcome all patrons, even if they decide to bring in outside food that would cater to a child's palate.

Clearly, opinions are heated on this issue. I have heard attacks on the patron and his wife for allowing the child to have McDonald's, or for their gall in bringing food from another establishment into a restaurant. On this particular point, I tend to agree with the criticism I've heard - if the parents knew their child would not eat the food on the menu at the restaurant of their choosing, I would probably think about trying another restaurant, or I might pack some snacks from home that I knew my picky eater would accept.

However, I think the main issue for me is the restaurant owner's response to the patron's complaint. If you read the e-mails, the owner chooses not to take the high road not once, but twice, and instead of explaining his restaurant's policy or even acknowledging the patron's complaints, the owner fired off some insulting one-liners, which made it seem as though he had zero interest or respect for the opinion of his potential customers. I do think the owner regrets what he did now, and is trying to reach out in the best way he can to apologize, but it almost smacks of too little, too late.

Either way, this little incident has certainly made waves in Chattanooga and has prompted a lot of interesting discussions. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

25 Things About Me

I never got around to doing this thing when it went around Facebook. I started working on it when I had some free time and then never finished it. Figured it might be a good way to put some random factoids out there about myself! I will try to find John's and post his too.

1. I am a twin and I love having that special relationship with my sister, but when people ask me if I like being a twin, I'm always puzzled. It's not something that you can experience the "opposite" of...so yes, I like being a twin!

2. I've been to England, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Mozambique, South Africa, Mexico, Canada & Spain and several places in the Caribbean. But I've never been to New York City or the Grand Canyon (or at a lot of other places in the US, for that matter).

3. I love to cook and wish I had more time to experiment with really elaborate recipes. Having said that, I would never want to do it for a living.

4. I love to read and wish I had more time to read some of the books on my very long "to read" list.

5. I am a terrible backseat driver. I have to bite my tongue all the time when I'm riding with someone else to keep from giving my opinion on the route they should take, what lane they should be in, where they should park, etc.

6. I am not a very neat person around the house. The clutter has to get to a critical mass before it will really start to bother me.

7. I love giving gifts. I am totally fine not receiving any, and probably spend way more than I should on them most of the time.

8. I am a very shy person if I don't know you. Painfully so...as in, I'd rather not have to introduce myself to you because I feel like I might be imposing. Once I get to know people I am much more outgoing.

9. I love my family very much and sometimes I miss them so much that it makes me ache.

10. I love Chattanooga and do consider it my home now. It took a while, but I'm finally there.

11. I absolutely hate talking on the phone, especially for more than 10 minutes. I don't even talk to some of my closest friends very often because I just cannot bring myself to make the phone call. It's one of my biggest faults, I think. I don't even call my family enough.

12. My refrigerator is filled to the gills with weird condiments and ingredients (clam juice, anchovy paste, myriad sauces, etc.), but 9 times out of 10 when I open the fridge, I think, "I have nothing to cook for dinner."

13. I have a weakness for any gummy or chewy candies. My favorites are gummy bears or sour jelly bellies. You can keep your fancy, expensive chocolates, thank you very much.

14. I haven't eaten a hot dog since 2nd grade. I'm not sure what I'm going to do once my child gets older and starts wanting them...it makes me cringe to think about even having them in the refrigerator.

15. I am a terrible eavesdropper. I find myself getting absorbed in other people's conversations in public, sometime to the detriment of the one I'm actually trying to carry on. John calls me out on it all the time but I just cannot help myself sometimes!

16. I love beets.

17. I do not see the point of scary movies and I really hate them.

18. I still love to play solitaire on the computer and can waste hours doing it.

19. I love paper products and stationery, but please don't give me any because I have more than I know what to do with it! Thank goodness for needing to write those thank-you notes for Mitchell's baby showers....it is helping to thin out my supply a little bit!

20. I do not really care for too much trashy/reality TV. Give me a trashy magazine any day.

21. If I could have graduated from high school a year early I would have. I really didn't come into my own until college.

22. I love our dog Dixie but probably would never have another one like her. Some days she is just entirely too high strung for me. Most of the time though, she's so cute that I don't really mind her quirky little personality.

23. I have been a part-time swim coach for 5 years, but I'm not going back next year. I am really going to miss getting to know the kids and watching them improve over the course of the year. It has been incredibly fulfilling and I would probably do it again once my kids get a little older.

24. I have tremendous respect for how hard my father has always worked to provide for my family. When I met John, I recognized many of the same traits in him and it is definitely one of the big reasons that I fell in love with him.

25. One of the best things I ever did for myself was to move to a new city on my own for grad school. I knew one person in Chattanooga when I moved here, and some times it was scary and hard, but I met some of my very best friends in the world, as well as my wonderful husband, as a result of that choice. I also gained a sense of independence that I might not otherwise have ever had and for that I am so thankful!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Virgin Voyage

I'm going to try out the blogging thing. I've been contemplating it for a while, but have never felt like what little I might want to say would be of any interest to anyone out there on the internet! However, since we'll have a new baby in a matter of weeks (eek), I figure this might be a nice way to share news and little details of our everyday life with our family, all of whom live out of town, and the smattering of friends who might care to peek into our lives as well. So I'm going to go ahead and start now so maybe I can get some practice!

I contemplated names for this blog and tried to come up with some witty phrase for the title. I settled on the not-particularly witty "On the Balance" title because I think that's what I might end up blogging about most often. I hope that perhaps this can be a vehicle for me to vent about my frustrations, find humor in those little moments that might otherwise reduce me to tears, theorize about how I might do it better the next time, and certainly share in celebrating the small victories that are sometimes the only way we make it through the day. I will also try to keep a balance of the content, so this blog won't be ALL about my child! I'm sure a lot of it will be, but I plan on trying to keep our family photo site up to date as well.

Hope you'll come along for the ride!