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???