Monday, February 22, 2010


It was sunny!  It was warm!  It was sunny and warm!

We strolled both Saturday and Sunday, but I only have pics of Saturday.

On Saturday Dixie was playing at her local pet day spa (please, don't judge, she has lots of pent up energy and it is hard for me to keep up with her exercise needs), so M and I went around the neighborhood.  Lots of our curbs are not stroller friendly, but we managed, and he loved it.  Every time I peeked at him he was grinning and he babbled a lot, especially when cars would drive by.  We have only used the upright configuration of the stroller a couple of times so far, but I know he likes it better than the semi-reclined position of the carseat.

Sunday afternoon, the whole fam went for a walk and the weather was glorious.  We strolled for over an hour and the breeze and vibration must have been working in harmony, becuase our little passenger fell right alseep on us.  It was awesome - we haven't walked much lately because the weather has been so gloomy, and we all enjoyed it. 

I really hope that the groundhog was wrong this year - I have a serious case of spring fever!

Growing Pains

When did we go from this:

To this?:

Incidentally, this is M's very favorite new thing to do.  Seriously, some days it seems like he cannot bear to go more than 60 seconds between efforts.  He'll be playing with one of the jillion toys you see strewn on the floor behind him in the picture above, when he will look up, see one of us sitting on the floor nearby, and remember that he hasn't stood up in ages and immediately drop what he's doing to crawl over and pull or push up on us.  It's adorable. 

I've been hesitant to encourage this too much (see also: standing up in crib), but he is so proud when he does it that I've caved.  I'm probably going to be cursing myself any day now, since yes, I did find him standing up in his crib this morning when I went in to get him (his crib mattress has been on the lowest setting from the beginning, because I had a crib skirt made and didn't really want to have to deal with the length issues, plus we are both tall so it's never been difficult for us to get him in and out comfortably).  Photographic evidence will be provided when I remember to leave the camera upstairs so I can grab it easily in the morning.

We've had a considerable amount of difficulty with M's sleep habits, which I haven't really gotten into much here on the blog because I don't want to bore anyone with the details, but he's made some good progress in the last couple of weeks and we've all been better rested.  It's been a hard road for all of us, and a test of the wills, but we finally feel like we've got a plan that's working for everyone.  I had lots of recommendations for a certain sleep method and we tried all of them, but we've had the best luck following some advice that we got from our pediatrician at Mitchell's 6 month check up.  If you want details, e-mail me.

 I'm afraid all of our hard work may take a few steps back now that he's pulling up.  He was very restless when he first started sitting up by himself as well (which was only a month or so ago).  Every time he woke up he'd practice for a while, and I figure he'll follow a similar pattern now.  But it was going to happen eventually so I guess we're just going to have to be thankful for the little stretch of rest we got and take a deep breath for round 2! 

Life is so fun with him that it helps ease the pain of sleep deprivation.  Plus, his smile melts my heart.  When he gives me the grin, I'm like putty!

Who Needs Toys?

As all parents learn, sometimes the most amusing activity for a child is the cheapest thing you could imagine.  Take Mitchell's favorite new activity...

"Reading" magazines!  Mitchell is learning to love Us Weekly just like his momma.

What's so fun about this is that you can tear it, crinkle it, flap it around, chew it, and even use it for a surface to slide!

It brought even more enjoyment when we transferred him and all of it to the pack and play:

I told John that it was sort of like the ball pit at Chuck E Cheese, he was slithering all over the place and just generally having the time of his life.  You know, for about 5 minutes.  And then he was done.  But that's normal, right?

He has shredded about 3 magazines in the last 2 days.  It makes a mess.  But when you get this reaction, that mess is all worth it!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Big 6-Mo

Haha, get it, 6-mo?  Crickets, I'm sure.

Mitchell is 6 months old today, that's what I'm getting at.  We actually had his 6 month appointment today, and he weighed 18 lbs, 4 oz and was 27 1/4 inches.  He's tapering way off, considering those stats put him in the 60th and 75th percentile, respectively.  We started out above 90 for both, so I guess it's true what they say about those breastfed babies - they get big quickly and then slow way down!  I need to take a picture of his little belly hanging over his diaper though - you wouldn't know it from looking at him that he seems to be evening out in that department!

The only thing that has slowed down is his growth...he's a little speedster in every other way.  He's sitting totally up by himself, has finally mastered the art of the actual crawl (but has been maneuvering around for quite a while), as well as the army crawl and he loves to pull up on us now as well.  It's the cutest thing in the world - if you sit down on the floor and hold out your index fingers, he will light up, then crawl over, grab on and pull up with the absolute proudest look on his face.  Of course I have no picture evidence of this yet, but we'll get there.

He's also making so many new noises that its hard to even catalog them.  He has sweet little morning noises that he makes when he first wakes up, his loud play noises, his happy noises, his mad noises, it's so fun seeing his personality emerge. 

He loves drinking from a cup, so we've broken out the sippies lately to give him some independence.  John usually brings me a big mug or cup of water upstairs to Mitchell's room when I'm feeding him so I can get something to drink if I need it, but we're about to have to cut that out becuase M zeros in on the cup and he literally cannot focus on anything else (like eating).  I always let him have a few "sips" out of my cup but then I end up pouring the rest out becuase he gets so much drool in it.  I'm sure one of these days I won't care, but he's been sick a good bit lately and I am trying not to pass things around any more than we already do!

I know everyone just wants to see pictures, so here are some recents:

I posted this one on FB, but I couldn't resist.  The more I look at it the more I think it's maybe my favorite one I've ever taken of him...

Sippy, and another haircut (bang trim is all we could manage)

If you peek closely you can see his two teeth.  He's currently being tortured by at least two more working their way out!

He's started discovering how fun throwing things on the floor can be. I can assure you that all of the items seen here were just picked up and were all about to be flung down again. But when he looks so cute doing it, how can you get mad?

And I took this one this morning, for his birthday.  Sorry, can you tell I'm obsessed with this onesie?  I just think he looks so cute in red.  He wears it every time it is clean.  Happy Valentines, everyone!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

First Snow!

So we got some actual snow a couple of weeks ago (yes, I am behind).  It was so fun to have Mitchell's first snow, but he didn't really care about it one way or another.  We were just excited about getting him out in it!  Thanks to our neighbor with two kids, we had a big fleece suit that I put him in for our quick trip outdoors.  He certainly didn't seem to see what all the fuss was about, but he sure did look cute!

Around the neighborhood:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Best Brisket and Other Culinary Creations

Hey y'all, it's the weekly post on my latest and greatest in the kitchen!

Recently, we had some friends over for dinner, and knowing I wouldn't have time to cook after work AND get Mitchell fed/bathed/down for bed before they came over, I turned to my crock pot.  I got one for a wedding gift but hardly ever use it.  Like, once a year, maybe?  But I'm definitely going to depend on it more in the future.  Because, this?  Was glorious.  And easy. 

Southwestern Pulled Brisket
I prepped everything the night before, including browning the meat and combining everything in the insert.  I then refrigerated it overnight, took it out the next morning to warm up a bit, and then popped it in the cooker and turned it on before I left for work.  When I got home it was done, and the house smelled amazing (poor Dixie probably drooled all day long), and I had to do virtually no work before dinner was served!

Deb's arguably got better pics on her site, but here are mine:

See the meat poking out there on the left?  I have a small, circular shaped crock pot (don't know the capacity).  If you had a larger oval one this probably wouldn't happen.  I used an even smaller piece of brisket than her recipe calls for, because my choices at the store were either slightly less than 2.5 pounds or 4+ pounds.  Clearly I opted for smaller and there was more than enough for 4 hungry adults to make several soft tacos each.  If I had used a bigger cut I probably would have cut the beef in half  so it would all be submerged. 

Post shred - just pull it out (mine was literally falling apart after close to 10 hours) and shred with 2 forks.  I shredded mine in a stoneware dish because I was going to keep it warm in a very low oven (200) until our friends arrived.

I strongly recommend her suggestion of straining and reducing the cooking liquid.  You get a wonderful, rich, flavorful sauce if you do this.  I cooked mine on medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When it was reduced by about 1/2 (or more, if you have time and want it to be really thick, almost like barbecue sauce), I poured about half of the sauce over the meat and covered it with foil while it stayed warm in the oven, and put the rest in a bowl for topping our tacos.  It was so worth that little bit of extra work!

The only thing I'd say about the recipe is that ours was barely even mildly spicy and I used 1 chipotle pepper.  I would probably use 2 next time, but that's totally a matter of personal taste.  I don't like things super duper spicy, but I think the additional heat would be a nice balance to the sweetness that you get from the molasses in this sauce.

We made soft tacos, but it would be great as the filling for enchiladas or even used on nachos.  Yum!

Ok, so I'm not a total food snob but John made a request for a recipe recently that kind of made me cringe.  He found it online and e-mailed it to me and it was not in any way appealing to me, but I made it for him one night last week when I had a meeting and he loved it.  So I'm sharing it, despite my initial reaction.  I'm sure he'd be happy I cooked like this more often.

Here are the ingredients: chili, shredded hashbrowns, cilantro and cheddar cheese

Basically you pour some chili in a shallow baking dish, chop up some cilantro and mix the potatoes & cheese together, top and bake (425 for 20-25 minutes).

John likes things almost burnt on top, so he reports that he turned on the broiler at the end so his cheese and hashbrowns would get nice and crunchy.  Admittedly, the ingredients for this dish cost me less than $10, and only because I was out of shredded cheese.  And I have most of the bag of hashbrowns left.  If you have some leftover chili on hand (we usually have some in the freezer), it would be even cheaper, so from a budget meals standpoint this one would definitely qualify.  You could easily make 4 portions of this if you had another can or container of chili, so $2.50/serving (or less, depending on what you already have in your fridge) isn't bad.

It just smacks of Semi-Homemade to me, which is I guess is my hang-up.  But I need to get over myself.  It was an easy, fast and satisfying meal for my husband and I'll probably make it for him again sometime.  So, there's your ringing endorsement. 

For some reason I cannot link to the recipe.  It came from and was called Cheesy Hash Brown Bake if you want to search it.

Last but not least, no pictures, but I made The Pioneer Woman's Beef Stew with Mushrooms last week as well, and it will definitely be added to my rotation.  We both loved it.  I served it over whole wheat egg noodles, but I'd say something a bit more substantial is better for it.  She suggests mashed potatoes; I'd probably just use a thicker cut of pasta.  I'd add some other vegetables if I was making it for other people, but since John doesn't like most cooked vegetables I stuck with the straight beef/mushroom combo that the recipe calls for.  Next time I make it I might try to be sneaky and mix in some homemade vegetable puree (AKA Mitchell's baby food) ala Deceptively Delicious

This recipe was warm, hearty, easy and very tasty.  The only thing I'd add is to season the meat before you toss it in flour, but I admittedly am an aggressive "salter" when it comes to seasoning, so you might not feel the same way as me.  The dish was plenty flavorful; I just found the meat a bit lacking in taste without some salt & pepper.  Because I had them, I used two portabellas that I chunked up instead of the whole smaller creminis; otherwise I followed the recipe as it was written. 

Make this very soon - it's impressive enough for company but is also perfect for a quick weeknight dinner (especially since we reportedly have 6 more weeks of winter to go).  Most of the cooking time is passive, so you can put it on and do whatever it is you need to do for 30-45 minutes.  And while you're at it, go visit The Pioneer Woman if you haven't already.  She's hilarious!

That's all for now.  Bon Appetit!