Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Videos - Uh Oh and Walking

Couple of videos for your vieiwng pleasure. First one is Uh Oh and second is a little bit of walking. As usual, please excuse my annoying mommy voice.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Everything That's Old Is New Again

When M was a little tiny baby I bought him a great floor gym at IKEA. 

Here he is playing with it. 
(You can thank me for the gratuitous chunky thigh shot later.)

When he started sitting up and really didn't play with it anymore, I let a friend borrow it for her son who is a couple of months younger than M. 

She recently returned it and M has really been loving playing with it.  One reason I bought it is that I thought that it would be a good transitional toy, since there are things on top and on the sides that could be played with once babe started standing up.  He's done all of those things, but has also used it as a push toy, and likes to fling it over to hear the big crash it makes.  That is usually when I take it away from him.  Hopefully we can keep it in one piece for the next Maedel baby to play with, but if Mitchell has his way it may not make it that long!

The open mouth "I'm Excited" face

I stared this post a few weeks ago and then forgot about it.  I finally bought the bullet and went out and got him a walking toy this past weekend.  I put it together Saturday and while he enjoys it, he still seems to prefer this one!

Pig Pen

Have you met our son, Pig Pen?

Last Thursday when I picked M up from school, I sent John the following text:
"M is quite possibly the filthiest he's ever been this afternoon" and John of course, responded with a request for me to take some pictures (he had a ball game so M was going to be long clean and asleep by the time he got home).

So here are some of those pictures:

He's so dirty, he looks like he has a 5 o'clock shadow!

Not pictured here: filthy hands, arms, legs and dirt from playing outside in his neck!

For good measure, he also smeared hummus in his hair at dinner time.

Needless to say, the bath water that evening left a ring around the tub!


Uh-Oh is Mitchell's new favorite "word".  He just jabbers it over and over and over.  He says it when he is going to do something he knows he's not supposed to, but also just in general, so I don't know that he's quite figured out the context yet.  Sometimes he gets out of order and says "Oh Uh", which is also pretty cute.

Dixie is the other thing he can say pretty well.  It's not that distinct, but you can definitely make it out that it's what he's saying.  A friend was over at the house Sunday and Mitchell clearly said it and even she was able to know that's what he was trying to say.  It's probably becuase I yell/say her name at least 100 times a day.  It's no wonder that the dog's name would be one of his first words.  It's also very cute - if you ask him "Where's Dixie?", he'll start looking around until he finds her.  Adorable.

I need to try to get video of both of these things...but that's not really what this post is about.  Could  have fooled, ya, huh?


My "Uh Oh" moment came yesterday when I had a call from daycare "suggesting" that I come pick Mitchell up and take him to the doctor.  They told me he woke up from his nap with his eyes all crusted over and very puffy.  I was honestly really put out because I'm so slammed at work right now and I asked them if I needed to come get him or they just wanted me to be aware of the situation.  They quickly clarified that I needed to come get him.

When I got there, I saw why they wanted me to get him out of there:

And they told me that this was way better than it was when he first woke up.  They were clearly afraid it was pinkeye, and I cannot say I blame them.  The photo doesn't really do it justice, and this was after we'd left the doctor's office and were back at my office.  I had tried to wipe him up a little bit, but wasn't going to be able to get him really clean without a good wet washcloth.

Anyway, according to the doctor, his ear that was infected last week is still very angry looking, so she's already had the referral nurse call to schedule us an appointment with an ENT.  Looks like we may be getting tubes here pretty soon.  If it gets him some relief, I am all for it.  As I was pouring out what was left of the previous antibiotic and readying his dose of the new one we're supposed to start (hoping the 3rd time is a charm), I gave thanks for generics.  We have poured out a lot of medicine lately. :(

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mama On The Go - Not a Happy Ending

I had to go out of town for work earlier in the week.  It was much harder on me to be away from the boy this time around than the last one, but that's probably got mostly to do with the business vs. pleasure factor!

John expressed the desire to keep Mitchell by himself while I was gone to my conference, and after much preparation on my part, I flew off to Chicago for a few days of adult interaction, cocktail parties, sleep, and no laundry/washing/cooking/cleaning.  It was sort of heavenly, except for the work part.  The one glitch while I was there came when I couldn't check into my room until about 5:00 p.m. (no clean rooms until then) and had to lock myself in a public bathroom to pump.  Standing up.  Oy.

John had a much rougher time - Mitchell ended up running a fever at school on Monday, which meant he had to be picked up and held out of school for at least Tuesday, or until his fever broke.  The pediatrician diagnosed another ear infection and prescribed another round of antibiotics (we weren't even done with the previous round and I think that puts the count up to 5 now, so clearly we've got an ENT visit in our future, but I'll leave that for another post).  John handled it all like a champ and his mom was so sweet to come down and watch Mitchell on Tuesday so that John could get some work done.  He did a fabulous job and while he has always appreciated what I do as a mother, I think this time alone with the babe has given him a newfound respect for all the days and nights I fly solo when he's working.  I was really proud of him, and I think he and Mitchell had some great bonding time too.

Fast forward to when it was time for us to board our flight to return, and to make a long story short, we missed our flight due to gate change issues and by the time we found out about it, our seats had been given away.  Let me just insert here that we'd been checked in for over 2 hours and at the gate that was printed on our boarding passes for over an hour.  However, sometime during that period the gate changed, and the ONLY annoucement that was made at our "original" gate was to annouce that it was final boarding call at the other gate, and by the time we got there we were not allowed on the flight.  My boss and I both had words with the gate agent, but after much wrangling it was apparent to us that we weren't getting to Chattanoga by plane that evening.

We flew into an airport about 2 hours away and rented a car to come home.  Once we got to the airport, I went in to return the rental car and collect my bags, only to find the airline counter all locked up for the night (the perils of living in a city with only a teeny tiny airport).

**Warning:  This section of the post may not be for everyone's taste.**
  It would have been no big deal, except for the roughly 60 ounces of breastmilk that I had stored safely in my bag.  I had done extensive research on whether to check or to carry on, and after much deliberation on my part, I decided to check.  I had a fridge in my hotel room, so I kept all my milk in the fridge until the very last minute, and then wrapped it very well and then packed a cooler with gel packs and put it in my suitcase, along with my pump.  All told, had everything gone as planned, the milk would have been out of the fridge for no longer than 6 hours and it was going to be chilled that entire time.

I should have known not to expect for everything to go smoothly.  As it was, I had to retrive my bag the next day and throw all of that milk that I'd worked so hard to keep away.  But not before taking a picture.  I know, I know...stupid to torture myself in that way, but I just couldn't help myself:

And to add insult to injury, my boy was already alseep when I got home.  Needless to say, I was really eager for him to wake up the next morning.  Someone remind me not to go anywhere again for a while!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Flex Your Mussels

No, no, you read that right.  This is one of those all-too-rare food-related posts that I acted like I was going to have on the blog all the time, but in actuality never rarely do!

John and I love mussels.  We ate them a ton while we were on our honeymoon in Spain - we were on the northeastern coast so all the seafood was spectacular, but we gravitated toward the mussels on numerous occasions.  They were plentiful, cheap and delicious!  When we got back, I resolved to start cooking them, and guess what, I discovered that they are very low maintenance and usually quite afforable. 

Seriously, ya'll, if you like shellfish you need to put them in your rotation (especially since who knows what our Gulf seafood outlook is).  They are just fancy enough to seem special, but they are hardly any work other than chopping up some garlic, onions and/or herbs.

I always buy mussels from Prince Edward Island, but really that's because that's what Greenlife always stocks!  I think the bags they sell are 2 pounds, which is just enough for 2 people (see serving suggestions below). 

There are a few things to consider.  Mussels are meant to be left live until you cook them, so please don't let anyone wrap your mussels up in some non-breathable (plastic) bag; otherwise they'll die and then you just have to throw them away.  They usually come in a mesh bag and you should keep them chilled until you are ready to work with them.  Then, rinse them under cool water to wash away any grit that is on the shells and also trim any fiberous strands (that link up there to P.E.I. explains all of this way better than me, so go check it out if you are interested). 

At this point, you should discard any mussels that are open, as these are no good. 

Remember this later:
pre-cooking, open = bad;
afterwards, closed = bad 

Don't get it mixed up, or you'll be discarding most, if not all your mussels!

One thing I love about them is how they infuse whatever liquid you cooke them in with their briny flavor.  They work well with most any liquid - I have used champagne, white wine, vegetable stock, a tomato-based sauce...really anything goes!  I rarely use a recipe, although Deb has a good strategy (and please, go full bore on this and make the baked pomme frites too). 

My method is usually saute garlic and/or shallots in some olive oil until soft in a large heavy pot with a lid.  Add clean, rinsed mussels and a cup or two of your preferred liquid.  Cover the pot with the lid and let the mussels steam for about 6-8 minutes, depending on the quantity.  Lest you think I'm too fancy, the last time I made them I also added some finely diced Conecuh sausage during the aromatic saute for an additionally smoky flavor.  I must say, they were divine.

Your mussels are done when their shells have opened (remember, at this point, you need to discard any that did not open) and the meat pulls away from shell easily.  Ladle out your mussels into a shallow dish and make sure to get some of the good cooking liquid too.  Sprinkle liberally with freshly chopped parsley or basil and serve!  Dip your pomme frites or any crusty bread into this broth.  Served alone or with a simply dressed green salad, this makes a quick, elegant supper. 

So go flex your mussels, folks!

Friday, May 14, 2010

9 Month Update

I am going to try to get this posted before I forget to do it.  Mitchell turned 9 months on the 11th.  We had our 9 month check up a little early but everything looked great.  He weighed exactly 20 pounds (45th percentile) and was 29.5 inches long (85th percentile).  He still strikes me as such a big kid, but I guess there are plenty of 'em out there bigger since he's only in the 45th for weight.  Considering that we started out somewhere in the 90's, he definitely seems to have fallen more in line with the average!  I think it must be his chunky little thighs that throw me off, haha!  ---->

He did absolutely fine when they pricked his finger and the hemocrit level came back just fine.  The pediatrician said that she saw a tiny bit of stuff collecting in his ears so he's on antibiotics AGAIN, trying to stave off ear infection #3, as well as address a lingering cough and runny nose.  We're all tired of the antibiotics, but John and I have gotten pretty good at sliding in the dose in between bites of food at meal time. 

Speaking of food, he still eats up a storm - the doctor told me it was time to start him on meats, specifically red meat for the iron.  I hadn't started him on it yet, but she said it was time now because his iron needs will start to outstrip what is in breastmilk or formula.  So far he's tried beef and chicken and has eaten them pretty easily since the first time he tried them.  I was a little bit worried about it but he hasn't flinched.  This child does not turn down many things.  They tell me at school that some days he cannot pack it in fast enough, and he's even been known to willingly accept the leftover fruit from other children's lunches that they don't eat.  They feed them such small portions that I don't worry about it. 

He primarily eats table food now (not pureed baby food), although sometimes when he is tired he still likes to be fed.  Most of the time, though, I just spread a bunch of stuff out on his placemat and let him go to town.  He is pretty good about eating most vegetables that I've given him (can't think of any he's flat out refused) and he LOVES fruit, especially melon.  I have done some small cuts of pasta, cooked really well, black beans, and he loves pieces of muffin or pancakes for breakfast.  I just mix a lot of fruit puree into the batter so he's getting some extra nutrients in there.  Things I haven't tried yet but plan on soon - steamed edamame, corn, fresh bell peppers, and I may do an egg yolk tomorrow for breakfast to see how that goes. 

Here he is gnawing on a wagon wheel early one morning before school - giving him something like this makes it easier for me to get his medicine in him, while he's on it, and also allows me to get all my last minute things ready without him wanting me to hold him.

He hasn't really showed a lot of separation anxiety, but there are some times that no one other than Momma will do (which secretly thrills me).  He is still saying a lot of 'd' sounds but is starting to make lots of other noises.  He has all sorts of shrieks and squeals, which are cute, most of the time, but his newest noise is very much a whine and both John and I agree that we're not that fond of that one.  :)  I have some good videos of him but cannot figure out how to upload them (I had the new Blogger format and that had a video upload icon, but I switched back to the older format because picture uploads are easier).

He's just on the cusp of walking...he will take a few tentative steps to you independently (not holding onto anything) but will then just plop back down on his bottom and crawl to where he wants to go.  I think at this point it is just more of a speed/convenience factor - he'd rather get there quickly and crawling is the fastest way.  We're really trying to encourage him to take steps, and he's getting more and more sure of himself.  I'd say within a couple more weeks he'll really be bi-pedal!   I need to investigate a good walking toy for him this weekend so he can really practice.

Let's see, what else - he's got about 9 teeth now and is drooling again so maybe some of the ones towards the back are starting to come in?  He doens't really like for me to be feeling aroudn in his mouth, but when I'm bathing him I always get in there with a thin washcloth and try to feel around while cleaning his gums.  He still uses a paci to go to sleep, but I'm trying to keep him from having it during the day.  I want to encourage more talking anyway, plus I just think it's going to be easier to wean him off it if we get him used to not having it 'on demand'.  I will probably let him keep it at nap and bedtime for a while longer. 

This picture of him is a signature pose, which I like to refer to as Godzilla.  He will zero into something he wants, rise up on this one knee crouch, raise his arms, and then will sort of throw himself forward onto all fours and crawl over to get whatever it is.  It is probably funnier to me than it sounds to you...there is usually a loud exhaling noise associated with it too.  I will give the child credit for this - he goes after whatever he wants with gusto!  It continues to be a pleasure to watch him learn and explore!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My First Mother's Day

I am sad to say that this is the only picture I have of Mitchell on my first Mother's Day.

No cute picture of him dressed up (which he was at several points), much less one with me holding or loving on him in any way.   Just a messy spaghetti face (although, notice the cute little blob in his eyelashes).

This kind of sums up the weekend - John was out of town from Thursday - Sunday night, and I wasn't feeling well for most of the time, so it wasn't always pretty, but we muddled through somehow! 

I had a tiny pity party over the fact that I'd be spending the whole weekend working so hard, solo (Mitchell really does require a good bit of mothering most of the time), but I really did enjoy my Mother's Day weekend with my babe*.   Here are some of the highlights:

Friday night after I got him down to bed, some of my girlfriends came over and we had lots of fun drinking fermented grapes and catching up.  It was nice to have some girl time, even though I stayed up too late and had to clean up from the "party" the next morning.

On Saturday morning, after I prepared Mitchell a delicious breakfast of banana - blueberry pancakes, we loaded up and went to Crabtree Farms to pick strawberries.  I'd gotten an e-mail that they were ripe, so I thought that would be a fun activity.  Mitchell watched while I picked, natch.  That lasted for all of 15 minutes, but I managed to pick 2 quarts of yummy berries for us to enjoy over the weekend. 

"Hey Momma, that row looks good"

Quality control

This was his first reaction - he'd never had a strawberry before and he always does this half-gag face when he tries something new.  After that he gobbled them up.

Wanting more.

Playing on the deck on Saturday afternoon with a neighbor (and school) friend.
Please note that the person that Mitchell is so lovingly nuzzled up against is not me.  Said friend's momma was feeding them treats, so he was clearly loving on her.  He's a simple child.  If you feed him, he will love you.

On Sunday, we went grocery shopping, went to the Chattanooga Market, and Mitchell ate spaghetti with gusto.  The end.

Just kidding, not quite the end.  *In fairness, I wanted to say that for Mother's Day John let me go and have some professional portraits done with MKM, so I really do have some cute pictures of us together from this time in his life.  And I fully intend to restage a Mother's Day photo shoot this coming weekend when John is home and can take some pics of me and the boy.  Gotta have something to put in his baby book (that I've not even purchased yet)!

Deserves Its Own Post

My sweet niece and sister-in-law came over for a quick visit last time I was in Birmingham.  We weren't there long, and they were busy, but we had fun playing for a short while.

See evidence below.  Notice anything amiss?

Ann Edwards (almost 2) decided to take a trip down memory lane and revisit the times that she spent in her exersaucer....

...while Mitchell looked on from outside.  They actually both played great and seemed to be having a ball!

I didn't get any shots of this part, but Mitchell then dropped down and proceeded to try to crawl underneath, only to be blocked by AE's legs.  It was only then that he kind of looked at us like, uh, what's going on,
guys?  Needless to say all the adults in the room were laughing hysterically during this whole thing.

Catching Up - Mostly Pictures

I just came across a few images I never downloaded from my camera.  None of these are especially exciting, just some cuties of my #1 cutie!

From last trip to Bham

Daddy brought this outfit home for Mitchell last September.  I put it on him last weekend before we went to our first Lookouts game.  He didn't even make it to the game in this outfit though, of course.  I did this for John; y'all know I wouldn't dress him like this on my own!

Such a big boy!

Mum Mum standoff - more often than not Dixie ends up with it, but looks like Mitchell won this round!

Friday, May 7, 2010

My Favorite Things: Homemaker Edition

Here's the first edition of My Favorite Things!  My rule for these lists is that the items are tested and approved (by me) to be included.  These are all tested, used and adored in my household.

1.  Double Oven Mitt

I received my double oven mitt as a gift from a dear friend who spent some time after college in England.  She brought me one of these fabulous contraptions from the famed Cath Kidston and I have used the heck out of it.  In fact, it is basically worn out but I just keep using it becuase I love it so.  It has pockets for each hand it is perfect when you are pulling a heavy or large item from the oven.

I think one of the things I love the most about this is the print.  Mine is a cheery modern floral print (not the one shown), but all of Cath's prints are awesome.  Check out her site!

Here are some cute ones from Etsy if you want to order from the U S of A.  I think I am going to go this route on my next one to avoid the trans-Atlantic shipping costs! 

2.  French Press

There is nothing like a steaming cup of coffee made from a french press; maybe you're skeptical but I firmly believe it's true.  Mine is just a regular old stainless baby that my father-in-law got me for Christmas a couple of years ago (from Starbucks, I think) but I really love the stylishness of the models that Bodum makes (especially thier cute little travel press/mug combo models).  There is something so fun about putting in the grounds, pouring in your water and then waiting while it all steeps together to form a glorious caffienated masterpiece.  If you haven't had coffee this way, I highly recommend that you try it!

3.  Ceramic "Take Out" Coffee Cup

How cute is this coffee cup?  It looks like a takeout cup, complete with heat-proof sleeve, but the cup is ceramic and the lid and holder are silicone.  What an easy way to be green, stylish, and to enjoy your french-pressed coffee! :)  The most well known brand is called "I Am Not a Paper Cup", but I've seen a lot of them around lately.

The one I have is super cute with multi-colored stripes and a bright orange lid and sleeve.  The website on the bottom of the cup goes to Decor Craft, Inc.  but they look like they are only wholesalers.  There are a lot of options out there.  Take a look around for one that you like!

4.  Canister Vacuum
This isn't a glamorous item on the list, but it sure is useful.  I have an old Sharp canister vac that was gifted to me by my mother (I tried to find a link and was informed that Sharp stopped manufacturing vacuums in 2004).  I think she originally got it from one of her friends as a Christmas gift (this friend has lots of disposable income and has always given my mother interesting and useful gifts) but when I moved to Chattanooga in 2001 she gave it to me.  And we've been trucking along ever since.  I do have an upright as well (mine is a Bissel, but I agonized over whether to spend the money on a Dyson instead*) which is fine, but I confess that I end up using my canister more than my upright for everything but full room carpet jobs.  I think when the Bissell wears out I will get a new canister that has the big attachment that I could do everything with the one machine.  I have to order the bags for the Sharp online but I just do it in bulk so I'm never out when I need one.  The canister is just so easy to cart around (especially nice when you are in a house with more than one level) and I love how long the hose is on it. 
*-probably should have just gone ahead, but after having the Bissel one I don't think I'll ever go bagless again - yuck

5. Shopping Basket & Tote
(I had a hard time deciding where to put this item, but ultimately I settled on this list.  I would argue that part of the "homemaker" role is to do the shopping.)

I cannot say enough about this awesome Reisenthel Bottleshopper (I have also seen it called a Modern Grocery Tote) bag.  I was first given a couple of the lightweight reusable Reisenthel bags by John's aunt, who lives in Spain for part of the year and reusable bags have been en vogue in Europe for far longer than they have here.  When one of the ones she'd given me was wearing out, I went online to try and find some others (these are a very lightweight fabric and will stuff down into a tiny carrying pouch, similar to this style.  I succeeded in finding what I was looking for, but ended up buying one of the Bottlebags too, and I just love it.  I have used it for a beach bag, to carry stuff to a cookout, and of course, as a grocery shopping bag.  It holds a ton, has nice long comfy straps, a zip-top, and is very sturdy.  I later ended up buying one for a friend and both my sister and sister-in-law as gifts. 
The color that I have is this floral shown on the market tote (confession: I have one of these too, but mine is a cheap Marshall's knockoff).  The market tote is also a fabulous find.  I think both of these are great hostess, birthday or even baby gifts.  Especially if you monogram it!

I got mine from Reusable Bags, but if you live in Birmingham I'm told that Top Stitchin' in Homewood has them (and can monogram it for you too)!  A lot of people carry Reisenthel stuff though, so be on the lookout.  I will venture to say that you won't be disappointed.

Thanks for checking out my first edition of My Favorite Things!  I am working on some other lists that I think are super fun.  I'm going to aim for one a week until I get them all published, but we shall see.  I've proved before that setting a self-imposed deadline is just asking to not meet it, so I won't do that again!

Trying Something New

Ok, so I haven't exactly been living up to this blog's name.  Lately the only posts I've been doing (and they haven't exactly been numerous) have been about the babe, and that's not exactly balanced, is it?

So I had an idea a while back and started jotting down things as they came to me.  I am going to start a new series of posts called "My Favorite Things" and each post will be centered around a main theme.  I've got lists started for a foodie, gadgets, homemaker and of course, baby care editions in the works now.  Hopefully I'll get one of them finished up really soon (like, today).

Stay tuned!