The Big Faker

After having the flu over Christmas I have been incredibly paranoid that Aaron and/or Gabbie would come down with it too. My mom called on Sunday with the news that she was sick, and I figured that any minute now either the husband or the baby would start up with symptoms.

Yesterday just before I went into a meeting, I got the call. Aaron was on his way to get Gabbie, who had just thrown up her lunch at day care. (As an aside, my favorite ever euphemism for throwing up is "rainbow burp".) All throughout my meeting and on my drive home I envisioned a long night full of messes to clean up, and a baby who would be miserable. I told my boss I wouldn't be in today since Gabbie had to stay home for at least 24 hours after the "incident". I was steeled for one of the very longest nights of my life thus far.

I got home to a smiley baby playing on the floor with her dad, who remained smiley all evening long, ate a big dinner, and fell asleep quickly, right at bed time. Today she's still doing great, although she does seem to be sleeping more than normal. We've been joking all morning that she just wanted an extra day home with us, and that's exactly what she got.

Here are some pictures of The Big Faker over Christmas:

Thrilled with all her loot. And she absolutely loves that dinosaur!
With Grandma, and trying out her new bow. We did eventually get it to look less dorky.
Blocks are tasty.

Playing with my newest toy

Guess where I'm blogging from tonight!

From my new iMac is where. Aaron totally surprised me with this on Saturday; a belated Christmas present that totally made up for the stomach flu (that wasn't his fault in the first place, but still). It was sitting in the middle of our living room when we came home from my parents house. When we were leaving last Wednesday, he had to run back upstairs because he "forgot" his glasses, wallet, and phone. Sneaky, sneaky.

At least now the new printer totally makes more sense.

It's Monday night and we just hooked this up. I got Aaron an X Box, and he has yet to hook that up. He says we need to get the new TV first. Apparently new HD electronics need a new flat panel TV. I'm not going to say no, because we've been watching the same 19 inch CRT that I bought 3 months into our relationship, and that started nearly 8 years ago. Plus, when we turn it off it makes a *pop* that wakes up Gabbie, and that totally justifies the need for a new TV in my book. Apparently Christmas '08 was the "electronics" Christmas. Add in the million toys that Gabbie received and we made out like bandits, something that is unusual for us. We usually just buy each other stocking stuffers.

Next stop: iTunes to use the gift card he got me. I totally missed all of the clues he gave me to let me know this computer was coming. I'm so obtuse!

Merry Christmas!


This belated holiday message brought to you courtesy of the stomach flu and possibly the croup.

Edited to add: I'm obviously not completely recovered yet, or otherwise I wouldn't have posted the same picture two posts in a row. Time for another recovery nap!

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Between Blogger being blocked on the internet at work, and our internet at home being down all week, I haven't had to post, and all this during a time when there are actually things to post about. Things like:

The Pacifier Incident
Gabbie gets a pacifier at home, mostly during naps and at night, but we don't send it with her to daycare. This hasn't been a problem at all, and then we don't have to worry about keeping track of pacifiers in two locations. however, this week on Monday there was a pacifier incident at daycare. Gabbie, who has been irritable (I think she's teething) apparently rolled over to another child, stole their pacifier, and then through an absolute fit for about five minutes when the teacher took it away from her. Luckily they thought it was hilarious (and we agree), so now they're trying to keep her separated from kids who are using their pacifier as much as possible. 
Hey, I'm just thankful she hasn't gotten kicked out yet. I was kicked out of daycare when I was a toddler. Twice.
Four Whole Years
Yesterday was our four year wedding anniversary. We've made it four years, and even though our relationship is much different now that Gabbie's around, it's as strong as ever and I couldn't be happier. We didn't really do presents this year (although, Aaron did get me flowers - for the first time in years) but I did thank Aaron, multiple times, for marrying me, and for giving me the best gift anyone has ever given me - our baby. (Sorry for the absolute sappiness of that statement. It even made me a little sick.) He agreed that we haven't ever done anything better than her.
Four years ago:
 
And now:
 

The Search is On. Most nights.

We give Gabbie a pacifier at night to help her self soothe back to sleep when she wakes up. It works most of the time, but every once in the while she drops it out of the crib. This wouldn't be a big deal, but she typically drops it down the side next to the wall, and the crib is so wide that I can't reach it when that happens. We have a back up always ready next to the bed, but we always check for original pacifier before giving that to her, because if she drops both of them we're screwed. We would be able to tell when she drops it out of the crib versus if it just fell out of her mouth, but the humidifier makes a sound that is almost the exact same sound the pacifier makes as it hits the wall. This may not seem like a big deal, but in the middle of the night when we're half awake and can't see it gets incredibly frustrating. Not to mention that we typically wake her up more while searching for the lost pacifier. We'll be phasing this out in the next couple of months, so we only have to do the mid-night search for a little while longer.

In other news, she loves carrots but it took her a little while to get used to them, and she made a big mess in the process:


They were even on the back of her head. She got a bath immediately after this picture was taken.

She also looks adorable in tie-dye:

It's a family sickness

Last Thursday Gabbie came down with a heinous cold, and was out of day care until Tuesday of this week. As much as it's hard to see my baby sick, it's also hard to deal with my baby when she's sick because she is DIFFICULT. Thursday and Friday nights she refused to sleep in her crib for even a minute. She still is having a hard time nursing and taking a bottle because of her stuffy nose.

It got somewhat easier to deal with the crabby, sick baby when she started sleeping through the night in her own bed. Then she did what is possibly the cutest thing she's ever done. I know she's not referring to me specifically, but she has been saying "ma-ma-ma-ma-ma" continuously since Tuesday night.

I think she's starting to feel better. She seems to have boundless energy since yesterday morning, and has been a smiling, laughing fool. Just in time for both Aaron and I to come down with her crud.

Baby's First Christmas Program

Last night Gabbie's daycare had its annual Christmas Program, and it was, in a word, adorable! The kids sang three very cute songs, made gingerbread houses, listened to stories, and visited with Santa. Of course, this was the perfect opportunity to get Gabbie into her Christmas dress: 


We had lots of fun getting to know the other parents. We don't typically get a chance to talk much a drop off or pick up, so it was nice to get a chance to just sit and chat. Gabbie had a lot of fun just watching the pandemonium of over a hundred people in a small cafeteria. During the song portion of the program, they had the babies up front with the other kids, and Gabbie was in a bouncy chair with her feet in her mouth the entire time. While wearing a dress. She's such a little lady!

Holiday Preparations

In my mind, today is the official kick-off to the holiday season. It's starting with a bang due to door decorating at work (we all decorate our office doors - I use the same decorations every year because I'm "green" (read: lazy)) and the Christmas Program at Gabbie's daycare. Apparently even the babies are participating in the show. Don't worry. There will be pictures.

Saturday I'm throwing a holiday party of my very own, and so I want to have the apartment all decorated before then. It's a good thing Aaron and I have Friday off of work (to shuffle Gabbie around to different doctors' appointments), so we can use any extra time we have that day to put the tree and lights up.

Side note: does anyone know how to baby proof a Christmas tree? We're already planning on leaving the bottom few branches empty, but how about keeping it from being able to tip over? Advice? Anyone?

After that there are a couple of work parties, baking, shopping, more baking, and then the actual holiday. I've decided this year will be a retro Christmas for me. That means I'm baking the cookies my mom used to make when I was growing up, instead of trying out new recipes like usual. It means I'm using the old decorations my mom sent down to me. It also means that I'm making as many of my gifts as possible, just like I used to when I was a kid. Hopefully the construction will be a little better though. I think having a little one around is making me nostalgic for how Christmas was when I was a kid. I hope we can make it as much fun as our parents did for us.

The only new thing I'm trying this year is making caramels from scratch. I have to be me, I guess, and to not try to master one new recipe would not be me at all.

Catch Up

Man alive, have I been busy! Between work, home, holidays and a birthday I just realized that I haven't posted in a week. Glad I wasn't too wound up in NaBloPoMo! So, to catch up here are some handy bullets:
  • Gabbie is: sitting up unsupported, creeping/army crawling (kind of, only with one arm and the opposite leg and with many breaks to look at where she has gotten to so far, but I'm sure she'll catch up soon because she always does a new trick on one side for about a week before she masters it on the other side), eating sweet potatoes and pears (so far), laughing a whole lot, and just seemingly growing in front of my very eyes. I know it's cliche but sometimes I want to put a brick on her head so she'll stop growing so darn fast.
  • I am: another year older (here's to the last year of my twenties!), wearing a new sweater and a new pair of shoes, able to add another "cooked Thanksgiving dinner" notch to my belt (both figuratively and somewhat literally - it was a good BIG dinner), and currently plotting out my Christmas shopping/crafting/baking. Watch for it to be detailed here on this site, because there's going to be a lot of it.
  • Aaron is: not impressed by sports games on the Wii, adding unrealistic gifts to his Christmas list daily (last night: I think I'd like a Lexus with a big bow. Just like in those commercials. Me: Yeah. Right. Go to bed and keep dreaming.), and is able to add "baked an amazing Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie" notch to his belt (also fairly figuratively and literally. He baked this for me in place of a birthday cake. Best idea ever!) (please to note: I LOVE BAKERELLA!). He's also the best husband ever, who, for my birthday bought me: 1) the new crockpot I've been wanting, 2) a black cardigan I've been wanting, 3) dinner at my favorite restaurant, and 4) a few other sweaters that he insisted I try on and then heaped on the praise about how good they looked. How great is he?!?
  • This coming weekend I am throwing a cookie exchange party and I can't wait! I'm baking rugelach. There's also a cookie exchange at the daycare holiday party this Wednesday, and I'm making Oreo Truffles. I'm so excited the holiday baking season is here! 

Why I Am Stupid

An Essay
by Jessie
Last night I awoke suddenly and looked at the clock. It was 3 a.m. and Gabbie was still sound asleep in her crib; a record in light of the past few weeks of frequent awakenings. Being a paranoid mom, like most are, I decided to check on her to make sure she was still breathing. As I looked into her crib I noticed that she had flipped over and was sleeping on her stomach, a no-no according to current experts.
What to do? Well, that paranoid mom side took over, and I decided to flip her onto her back. As soon as I did that she started tossing and turning, which lasted for about two minutes, and then she started to cry. "She's probably hungry," I thought to myself, since it had been eight hours since she last ate. So I got her up to take her to the couch to nurse.
On the way there, I noticed she was a little stinky. "Time for a diaper change!" I whispered to my snuggly baby. "So what if it wakes her up?" I thought to myself, "Nursing always puts her back to sleep." Oh, I was so mistaken, my friends. Changing her (wet, not dirty) diaper woke her up but good, and she stayed awake while nursing, occasionally patting my shoulder, as if to say, "It's alright mom, you'll survive me being awake." Then she filled her diaper.
Diaper change number two (no pun intended) also woke her up even more, so there I was, three in the morning, with a wide awake baby, laying there in my arms, smiling at me with her most charming smile. "Time to go back to sleep!" I chirped at her. She smiled back and continued to look at me and smile until, thirty minutes later, her eyelids started to droop, and she finally fell back asleep.
This is but one example of my stupidity during the past twenty-four hours. The other occurred yesterday afternoon, while Gabbie was playing on the floor, and I was watching, while working, from the couch. "Oh how cute," I thought to myself, "she's got her thumb inside her pacifier and is sucking it." She seemed to be having fun, so I continued on working, keeping one eye on her and one on my spreadsheet.
A short while later, she was still doing the same thing, but pulling the pacifier out of her mouth every so often to complain a little bit. "Well, put it down and play" I chirped to her, thinking how cute she was all the while.
Ten minutes and much whining later, it occurred to me: maybe the pacifier was stuck on her thumb, and maybe it's uncomfortable, and maybe she can't just put it down. So I got down and peeled the pacifier from her poor thumb. And I apologized for being a kind of dumb mom.
Lessons learned? Leave a sleeping baby lie, and maybe pay some attention to a playing baby, every once in a while.

Feeding my Obsession

For those of you out there that watch America's Next Top Model, who do you think is going to take it all in the finale tonight?

Here are my thoughts:

McKey annoys the crap out of me for some vague reason that I can't seem to put my finger on, but the judges seem to love her the most, so she'll probably win.

On the other hand, I love the other two contestants, and am torn between Sam and Annaleigh. I think I want Annaleigh to win.

Also, isn't she a total ringer for Meg Ryan?

Gabbie at Five Months

Since she's very nearly six months old, I figured I should do the month five update.

Our little princess, sound asleep.

Gabbie is getting quite mobile these days, rolling all over the place and getting to nearly everywhere she wants to go. Thankfully the places she wants to go are usually quite near where we set her down, but I'm not going to assume it's going to stay this way forever.

One of her very favorite places to go is to wherever her toys and/or pacifier are. She has two favorite toys, one a fish, one a frog, both brightly colored teething toys. This morning these two toys were at the bottom of a pile of a bunch of toys, and she dug through the toys until she found these and pulled them out. She's getting quite good at this too - picking up the things that she wants. She also plays with two toys at once, banging them together and squealing in delight.

She's getting bigger way too fast.

She absolutely loves her cereal. When it's time to eat she gets very excited, bouncing up and down in her chair. I can't wait to see how she reacts to vegetables starting next week. We're starting with sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving day.

She's still a mommy's girl, reaching out for me when she's excited to see me or upset. Aaron keeps trying to get her to reach for him, but she hasn't really done it yet. I feel bad that this seems to hurt his feelings, but there's not like I can really do anything about it. She also won't go to sleep for him, just for me. I'm probably going out with a friend this weekend (to see the Twilight movie) so they'll be on their own for a few hours. I'm hoping they have a great time, and I'm pretty sure they will.

Speaking of sleeping, it's going semi-okay. She sleeps some nights (like last night) and not so much on others (like the previous night). Most nights one of us still ends up on the couch, Gabbie sleeping on our chest, and us lightly sleeping for a few hours before switching off to the other parent because we're exhausted and our back aches. It seems to be shifting to a few more nights with good sleep as time passes, so hopefully we'll make it to the other side eventually. All of this from my baby who slept through the night for the first three months of her life!

There are still some worries about her hips, and we go in at the beginning of December for an x-ray and consultation, so we should know more then. Having her out of the brace has been wonderful, for her and for us. I'm really hoping that things will be great and we'll be in the clear, but am also realistic and will do whatever I need to for her so that she can make her way to 100%.

I can't believe it's been almost half a year. It seems so much longer than that; like she has always been a part our lives, and yet I can't believe how fast it has gone. My baby is turning into a big girl much more quickly than I expected, and while it's fun, I also find myself missing my tiny little baby. That must be why people voluntarily have more than one child after suffering through babyhood, with it's lack of sleep, copious bodily fluids, and recovering from giving birth.

The Cherry on Top of the Crap Heap That Was Yesterday

Just before noon yesterday, my cell phone rang. I had to dig into my purse to find it, while driving down the street, figuring it was my mom and she usually keeps calling until I pick up. Without looking at the caller ID I flipped open my phone and said hello.

It was the director at Gabbie's daycare, with the opening line, "Gabbie is fine, but..."

She fell off of a table.

It was picture day yesterday, so they had an infant chair set up on a low table over a matted floor. They put Gabbie in the chair, stood up to take the picture, and she rolled out of the chair, off the table, and onto the floor. She was completely unharmed (just a little scared), but that's besides the point. She's a very active baby. A very fast, active baby. You can't leave her anywhere where there's a possibility she might fall or bump into something or pull something on top of herself, because the odds are she'll do it. These people watch her every day. They know these things.

I sat through a brief conference call after the call from daycare, but couldn't hold out any longer than that. I needed my baby. So I cut out of work early to go pick her up, and we cuddled and napped all afternoon.

Aaron was a little more freaked out than I, mostly I think because I was a fast, active, accident prone kid as well, and I turned out just fine. There were some close calls though, and I would desperately like to avoid those with my daughter.

I called my mom last night and apologized for all those times that I did things like this, even those times I didn't mean to, just like Gabbie didn't mean to roll off the table. Mostly because my heart stopped for a second when I heard she fell, and that was a horrible feeling. I know this is just the first of many times that I will have that feeling, and I dread them all.

More Lists

On my "Bad" List this morning:
  • My husband - who woke up late, took forever in the shower, didn't pack up any of Gabbie's stuff or get her dressed, and therefore made me 20 minutes late to work. Yes, he does plenty of good stuff (like grocery shopping, which I totally appreciate), even getting up with Gabbie last night so that I could sleep. However, doing the crap he did this morning to me on a day when I'm not feeling so great? Puts him on this list.
  • Speaking of not feeling so great, my 3rd cold in 5 weeks also makes this list. I am tired of being sick.
  • Having to work to make a living. I would much rather be in bed than here at work, where I am extremely busy and therefore can't skip out. Grrr...
  • The moratorium we've put on eating out. I didn't want what we have for lunches today, but I have to eat it. It's either fast food or a new bedroom set, and the bedroom set wins out. I shouldn't be eating all of that bad food anyway.
  • The dead animals all over the roads on my way to work are squicking me out to the nth degree. There have been some really gnarly kills along one road that almost make me gag. And they stay there for weeks, since our road commission apparently is trying to save money or something.
  • Mother's milk tea. It's not the best tasting thing by a long shot, but I'm drinking it and doing whatever else I can to up my supply since Gabbie is eating so much that I'm having trouble keeping up with the demand. I hate necessary evils.
I feel like I can't spew out all of this hatred without some goodness to compensate, so here's my "Good" list:
  • Hot Caramel Apple Cider
  • Good books (I'm about to start the 3rd in the Twilight series, and although they're not my favorite, I can't seem to stop.)
  • Warm sweaters
  • A husband who does the grocery shopping, the laundry, and the dishes. And who hugged me this morning and vowed to do something later that would make me smile. I guess I may have to let the other petty stuff slide. He really is a good guy.
  • A snuggly baby who wants nothing more than to cuddle up with her mom and dad. Even though the sleep issues can be annoying, we're only going to have such a small portion of her life in which we get to hold and cuddle her like this. I'm taking full advantage and reminding myself of this fact regularly, so that I can turn any annoyance into gratitude.
  • And like ususal, the things I'm thankful for in my prayers every night: a beautiful, healthy daughter, a handsome, loving husband, more than adequate shelter, an abundance of food, a comfortable life, and a wonderful family who loves us.
And look at that. I'm feeling better already. Gratitude really does work!

The Things I Do For Love

There are many things I do for Gabbie that I never really envisioned myself doing. This list includes:
  • Regularly attaching my breasts to what is basically a vacuum,
  • Picking someone else's nose,
  • Carefully inspecting someone's private parts to determine if there's a rash,
  • Sniffing someone's rear end to see if they've messed their pants,
  • Laughing when someone else pees on my arm and floor,
  • Giving up all sorts of foods and other ingestible substances, including and especially my beloved peanut butter.
The list goes on and on, but I happily do it all. It doesn't hurt that she's unbelievably cute and I love her more than anything else on earth. It's amazing what all I'll do for this little person.

  

FAIL!

Five days in and I forget to post. At least it's better than last time when I forgot at around day 26 or something. Much less effort wasted this time. Since I sucked so much at posting, I'm going to try my hand at commenting  more, so my goal is five comments a day for the rest of the month. We'll see how I do with that.

In other news, I must say that I miss dirty diapers caused solely by breast milk. And that's all I have to say about that.

Just a quick observation tonight...

because I can't bear pulling myself away from the election coverage for too long.

The observation is this: people should not call other people who have small children after 8:00 p.m. While it is nice that people are finally RSVP'ing for the baby shower that is this coming Saturday, it would be nicer if they didn't wake up the baby I just spent an hour trying to get to sleep in her crib. Grrr....

The best thing about Mondays

Is our two favorite comedies - The Big Bang Theory (Aaron's fave) and How I Met Your Mother (mine). We can definitely use the humor on days like today when work was beyond busy and we're so far past tired it's ridiculous.

Speaking of things that are ridiculous, you know what else is? My level of nervousness about the election tomorrow. So nervous, and so opposed to what my husband thinks, that we have outlawed talking about it at our house. This makes watching the news impossible, as neither of us is capable of watching it without comment. So we're pretty much on a media blackout outside of the above mentioned shows.

(As I type this Aaron is breaking this rule, while at the same time admitting that it's likely my side will win. I sure as heck hope so.)

This rule was doubly applied after heavy discussion of some anti-Obama conspiracy theories this weekend. Very interesting and aggravating stuff. I can't believe what some other people will readily believe. I'm going to be glued to whatever television I come near tomorrow. Unfortunately, instead of spending the day reading CNN and the like while pretending to work, I'll be stuck at an all day strategic planning meeting. Should be an interminably long day. Perfect.

Baby's First Tailgate

Yesterday morning Gabbie and I headed to my alma mater for her very first tailgating experience. It was cold, so we didn't stay out too long, but we definitely had a good time. Plus I got to have hot spiced cider and an iced sugar cookie for breakfast, and it doesn't get much better than that. I wish we could have stayed longer - there was something delicious smelling on the grill, and lots of other food coming out when we left - but we had to get out of the cold and home to help Aaron put together her new crib (which, no, she didn't sleep in much last night).


That's alright. The incredible amount of cuteness of her in her new gear almost made up for it.

Gabbie says, "Go Green!"

In Celebration of the First Day of NaBloPoMo...

I am going to share Aaron's new favorite cookie. I tried one, but only one due to Gabbie's apparent sensitivity to peanuts. But, I had the world's best peanut butter to use up, so I wouldn't be tempted, and I needed to bake some cookies as a thank you to a friend who let us borrow his truck to pick up the crib we recently bought for Gabbie.

So, yes. Go bake these cookies using this peanut butter. You won't regret it. I promise. Well, you might be sad that the recipe uses up the majority of the jar and so you won't have any left for any other use, but otherwise you'll be happy. Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!


I hope everyone gets the chance to do a little monkeying around!

Picky

My mom, on occasion, will tell the following story about me:

When I was about a year old, my mom and my aunt took me to the shoe store to get me a pair of shoes. Now, do you remember those white baby shoes that everybody used to have? The kind of lace-up high-tops? Yeah. I wasn't having those. Every time they tried to put sensible baby shoes on my foot, I would point my toes so that it was impossible to put the shoe on my foot. They tried over and over again, and decided that maybe I was just adverse to wearing shoes, which isn't the worst thing, I guess.

Then they set me down and let me walk around by myself. I beelined straight for the black patent leather mary janes, grabbed one off the shelf, and put it on my foot. It wasn't that I didn't like shoes, it was that I didn't like the white shoes. I wanted fancy shoes.

Needless to say, I ended up with both pairs, and would sometimes submit to the white shoes, but mostly wore the black patent leather mary janes. I had good taste and didn't want to compromise.

Or I was picky.

Gabbie has this same sense of knowing exactly what she wants and not having it any other way. It's adorable that she is so much like me, but aggravating at the same time. Especially for Aaron, who regularly blames me when Gabbie won't do what he wants her to do. Like sleep in her bed. She slept exactly 1 minute in her bed last night. 1 MINUTE! I'm beginning to forget what it's like to share my bed with Aaron, since we never sleep in it at the same time these days. Maybe she just wants a fancier bed? I'm hoping that's the case because we are bringing a very fancy bed home for her this Saturday. Please, oh please! Let this work!

Several Things I Would Like To Know

Why is it that every year I get a fall cold and then my nose is runny for the rest of the fall and winter? I got my cold early this year and I am excited by the prospect of continuously blowing my nose until April, at which point I get a break of about a week before allergy season starts. Yes, I really am quite alluring!

Why is it that Gabbie didn't have any issues with most foods until I found the best peanut butter in the history of peanut butters, and now it seems she's having a reaction to peanuts? I read about this somewhere a couple of weeks ago, and then again last week on We're Not Martha, so I had to run out and buy some. Then I apparently overdid, and Gabbie had a rash all over her torso which cleared up when I laid off the cinamon-raisin-swirly peanut butter heavenly stuff. We're going to the doctor tomorrow just to double check that it's the cause, and if not? Well, buy stock in english muffins is all I'm saying.

How on earth did I forget to watch Dexter on Sunday night? Aaron forgot too, and we both realized this earlier this morning for some odd, telepathic reason, and now neither of us can wait to get home and watch the episode. Thank goodness for On Demand!

Finally, why is it that Aaron and I not only cannot stick to whatever budget we set for something, but that we instead tend to double whatever we were planning to spend? Case in point, we are currently working on buying a crib for Gabbie (that involves all sorts of annoying difficulties that are too boring to list here), and the one we have chosen costs slightly more than double the price of the crib we had originally planned to buy. Ditto the organic mattress I insisted on. And Aaron thinks I'm joking about the video monitor (which is about 5 times the cost of a regular one). Good thing I just got a bonus, I guess!

I think she likes it

On Saturday, Gabbie turned five months old. I can hardly believe it's been so long, and yet it also feels like she's been here forever. However long she's been here, it is definitely true that she is growing up way too fast. In celebration of her being five months old, she got to eat cereal for the first time on this past Saturday. Well, I don't know if "eat" is the right term for it. It's still to be determined if she actually swallows any of the cereal we put in her mouth.

She watches us eat quite intently, so when she saw the bowl and spoon, she had a pretty good idea of what was coming. And boy, was she excited. We have video, and it's hilarious.

Anyway, so we stripped her down to her diaper and bib, sat her in the Bumbo, and started the feeding:

She took to it quite easily, and opened her mouth willingly every time the spoon came near:
She feeds herself her bottle at daycare, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised when she grasped the spoon to try to do it herself:
Then she decided that the food wasn't coming nearly fast enough for her liking:
And soon enough, we were done. There was cereal on her face, her bib, her arms and hands, and all over her tray, but she seemed sad that there wasn't any more coming on the spoon:
All in all it was a great success. Even if she didn't end up swallowing any of the cereal, it was too much fun to regret doing it. I just can't wait to see what she does with sweet potatoes in a month.

And I didn't even complain about how hard it can be to take care of a poor, sick baby.

There are some days, like today, when I wish for a magic sort of Google search. One that would give me answers guaranteed to work when I use search strings such as "How to get my baby to sleep in her own damn bed instead of on my chest while I sleep on the couch?", and "Why did baby pick up new habit of trying to stick her hands in my mouth on the day she came down with her first ever cold?". And most importantly, "Where the hell are my housekeeper and chef, and how do I find ones that work for smiles and compliments instead of cash?". So, suffice it to say, I'm tired and sick with a dirty house and have been eating take out or frozen pizza for days on end. Fun times!

In more exciting news, I'm planning a baby shower for my friend in our home town, the same weekend my in-laws decided to come up for a visit, and they've already bought the tickets! True, they're coming to town for my husband's grandfather's 80th birthday party, and my friend is in from California for an interview, so it's not like either of these events can be switched to a different date, but I just have one word to describe this: typical. It's always like this for me for some reason. So I'm going to deal with multiple house guests with a smile, throw the best darn baby shower anyone has ever seen, and become deaf to my in-law's complaints about wanting to see the baby more. I guess they should have thought about that before they up and moved to Florida.

I truly am incredibly happy to get a chance to see everyone, just slightly stressed out that it's happening all at once. I'm also enormously excited about the baby shower. There's not too many activities I enjoy more than putting together a killer party, and this one is sure to be a blast. It's brunch, with virgin Mimosas, a funny multiple choice quiz about my friend's pregnancy, and lots and lots of cute baby items. Not to mention seeing all sorts of people from my past that I haven't seen in forever. It should be a blast. Hopefully I can survive it all.

MUST. Find. Sleep.

I'm at a conference today, blogging from my iPaq. I had to get up at 5 a.m. to get here on time, which, when added to a baby girl who refuses to sleep in her crib, makes for one mighty tired set of parents. I feel like warning the pregnant woman sitting next to me; "Sleep now! It's not just annoying advice. It's really, really real."

Any bets on how long it takes me to fall asleep during a session?

I'm glad I made my childless coworker drive this morning.

Totally Taking the Cheap Way Out

If you've been on my Flickr recently, you've already seen these, but I thought I'd post a few recent pictures of Gabbie today.

Here's Gabbie with her Great Grandfather.


We talked to him this weekend, and he said that she might be the cutest, smartest baby he's ever seen, and also that he might be a little biased. We must be too, because we think the same things.

Gabbie is very into books lately. Very into trying to eat them, that is. We don't let her chew on most of them, but this one and another plush book are the exceptions to that rule.



Other things she'd like to eat include any remote control she sees, my cell phone, anything mom and dad are eating (especially cookies), and mom's fingers (which is the only thing on this list she's allowed to chew on).

We took her to the park by my parents' house this weekend to see how she liked baby swings. It was not a rousing success, but it was pretty darn cute. My mom took pictures, and as soon as I can convince her to send a few of them my way, they'll make it up here too.

On the way later: the recipe for the best tomato soup I've ever made.

Gabbie at 4 Months

It's a grey, wet day here, and it seems to be sucking any motivation I might have right out of me. It probably doesn't help that I haven't gotten much sleep over the past two nights (we're trying to get Gabbie to sleep unswaddled. It's not going well.), and am feeling overwhelmed that we're going out of town again this weekend and I have a million and five things to do before then.

But! Instead of whining, I'm going to brag on my daughter for a few minutes instead.

She's getting so big, I can't believe it. She's still skinny with a teeny head - 25th percentile for both - but also incredibly tall, at 26 inches long and in the 97th percentile for height. Just like her dad, tall and skinny. The wonky weight-to-length ratio means that we can't find a pair of pants that fit her right. If they're long enough then she swims in them at the waist, and if they fit her waist, they might as well be knee-length shorts. We have the same problem with sleepers, but we just put her in the size that fits her legs and then laugh at all the excess material around her middle. At least they're not falling down like her pants do.

Every time we lay her on the ground to play, she immediately rolls on to her stomach. If she's in a good mood, she then turns herself in a circle trying to get at different things. If, on the other hand, she's in a bad mood she starts screaming and doesn't stop until someone rolls her back over onto her back. At which point she immediately rolls back onto her stomach and starts screaming again. It's a fun game that's getting old real fast, but that's also incredibly cute. When I'm not exhausted or talking on the phone.

During diaper changing time she also likes to try to roll over as soon as the diaper is off. That or she immediately tries to get her feet into her mouth since her pants are off and it's apparently easier to bend in half sans pants. This makes diaper changes difficult, but also makes Aaron and I laugh the entire time. She does the same two things when we're changing her clothes.

She's laughing more and more these days, and I'm still the one who can get her to laugh the most. Apparently looking at the ceiling and then quickly looking at her with a big smile on my face while fake sneezing ("A-choo!) is hilarious! She's such a charmer too. This past weekend when she was meeting my aunts and uncles, she smilled and cooed, and literally never cried in their presence. She's a very happy baby and she loves a party. So much so that she basically refused to eat or sleep the entire weekend, but we still had a great time. At day care they always comment on how she had such a great day, and what a happy baby she is. I'm glad that we seem to be doing something right, although I don't know if I can take all the credit. I just hope she keeps this sunny disposition. It will definitely serve her well in life if she does.

I keep meaning to upload pictures, but I also keep running out of time. Aaron and I always comment on how we don't know how other people do the whole parenting thing, because it takes all of both of our time to take care of this one little girl. We don't mind it too much though.

Haloweenie

Oh, October. The month that's the start of one of my favorite things: the Holiday Season. Why do I love the holiday season so much? Because it’s the perfect time for crafting and baking, two of my very favorite things. Also, sweaters. I love the feeling of being all cozied up in a sweater more than just about any other feeling. (Except now, and excuse all the annoyingly cute gushing, the feeling of cuddling up with Gabbie. That truly is the best!)

Another one of my favorite things that is definitely in full swing right now, is the eating of anything pumpkin flavored. I have a few things I’m itching to make right now, including some standards like Linda’s Insanely Good Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins and Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars, as well as a new recipe this year: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies. Ooh, and pumpkin butter from The Pioneer Woman. Yum!

Newly added excitement this year includes dressing up Gabbie in a Halloween costume. There are so many cute options, like all of these at Mighty Junior, it’s hard to choose. Especially since I don’t want to spend a lot on something she’ll likely only wear once, although the costumes at One Step Ahead might fit her next year if she continues on her growth curve.

Finally, I love the photo ideas from this post at Momspark. I’m definitely going to have to add trips out to the local cider mill and pumpkin patch to our weekend activities sometime soon. I’m quickly finding out that holidays with a little one are way more fun than they were before. Or at least they are fun in a totally different way; you know, no more getting all dressed up and then wasted on the spooky spiked punch at a friend’s party.

I was getting too old for that, anyway.

Baby's First Fundraiser

Is it just me, or is four months old a little too young to be out selling cookie dough and popcorn? Our daycare is having it's annual fundraiser (just after it's annual book fair and a fundraiser to help out a local family), and I'm feeling a little mixed about participating. Sure, the premise behind it is sound - the purpose is to replace toys and equipment that have worn out - but I pay a lot of money for them to take care of my baby, and I would think that some of that would cover new toys and equipment.

I asked Aaron for his opinion, and he's all for it. We're not going to do the hard sell with anyone, and just order a couple of things for ourselves, but still. I thought I'd have at least until kindergarten or Brownies before I had to start doing this.

But maybe, putting an adorable picture of her beautiful face next to the order form will help out our cause. Couldn't hurt, right?

(And as a post-script, we talked to the director about the perfume issue, and it has been resolved. Apparently there was an intern who had just started coming in during the afternoons - there's a big university nearby that has an excellent early childhood education program, so we get lots of interns coming through - and as this was her first thing she had to do during the day (ah, the life of a college student) she was freshly showered and perfumed when she showed up to work. She has been asked not to wear perfume to work any more, and none of the other teachers had to be bothered by our complaint since they already know better. Problem (hopefully) solved!)
Life, it seems, is not slowing down any time soon, even though I really want it to. We haven't made it over to the Extreme Makeover house yet, because the crowds are so big they are having to bus people in. I don't deal well with crowds, so we've stayed away from that side of town.

This weekend we're heading back to Ohio to my grandmother's hometown. The purpose of the trip is that we're interring her ashes, but the secondary purpose is that my grandpa and six of my mom's seven siblings get to meet Gabbie for the first time. (The seventh met her a while ago.) I can't wait to get down there, but the usually five hour drive takes about seven with an infant, and I'm not anxious to spend seven hours in the car. I need to find a new knitting or crochet project to help me pass the time. I'm also stopping at the local toy store today to pick up some new and exciting toys for Gabbie, since she seems to be getting bored with the few she already has.

This weekend could be quite interesting, though, as my uncle that I haven't seen since I was ten is supposed to be coming. For those of you playing along at home, since I'm currently 28, I haven't seen him in 18 years. Different family members have different viewpoints about him showing up, since he pretty much disappeared without a reason, deciding to no longer participate in our family, until my grandma was dying. He also lost a son this past spring, right before Gabbie was born, but didn't show up for the funeral.

In addition to this, my mom and her siblings are all taking my grandma's death pretty hard still, so there has been a lot more bickering over the phone lately, which I'm sure will make seeing each other in person so much more fun (/sarcasm). We plan to insert the baby into any stressful situation as kind of a distraction. It should work since everyone is beyond excited to see her, and I'm setting a no fighting in front of the baby rule. The hardest part about this is going to be enforcing my authority as Gabbie's mom this weekend, since these people have been in charge my whole life. I've had to tell my mom numerous times that, okay, we'll go with the flow this weekend, but when push comes to shove I'm the mom, I get to make the rules.

Man, this post is rambly. And just to make it more so, I need your opinions on something completely unrelated.

We really love our daycare. They're organized, the teachers are nice, and they absolutely love Gabbie and it shows. However, lately she's been coming home smelling strongly of perfume. Like, it makes my eyes water sometimes because it's so strong. I'm sure it's because one of the teachers is cuddling her, as the smell is on her head, which she probably rubs on the teacher when she's being held, but still. I don't think my four-month-old needs to smell like she got into my perfume collection. Would you say something? Do you think that there should be some kind of "no strong perfume" rule for the teachers? Also, do you think they'll hate me for complaining? It seems so petty, but she truly is stinky with perfume every day. Yuck.

From Our Kitchen Recipe 3

This is one of my favorites lately. My friend's mom made something like this for her wedding dinner in June, and I've been making my version ever since. It's one of the easiest salads I've ever made, and one of the most delicious too (I think second only to my favorite Cobb Salad). Aaron insists that a salad without meat is not dinner, so I typically grill up a chicken breast, slice it, and serve it over top, but that step is completely optional. In my opinion, the salad is better without it, so I guess the chicken part is totally your call.

Fruity Poppy Seed Salad

One to two romaine hearts, washed and chopped
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 can mandarin oranges in juice, drained
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sliced green onion
Poppy seed salad dressing

Mix all ingredients except salad dressing in a large bowl. Toss dressing with salad or serve on the side.

Seriously, that's it. And it's delicious. We made it for Gabbie's baptism a couple of weeks ago, along with a really good ham, cheesy potatoes, and green bean casserole, and surprisingly the salad was the only thing that we finished off, even though I made a huge batch of it. It's really that good.

From Our Kitchen Recipe 2

My mom's sloppy joes remind me so much of childhood, that it's hard not to regress a little while eating them. She brought me a big Crockpot full of them when she came to help out after Gabbie arrived, and it was the perfect food to make it through those early days. No, they're not as easy as Manwich, but they're really not that much more difficult and the flavor is so much better.

Mom's Sloppy Joes

In a pan combine ground beef, chopped onion, and chopped green peppers. Add ketchup until the mixture is wet, a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce (about a tsp or more), a glug of cider vinegar (about a tablespoon), a handful of brown sugar (about a tablespoon), ground pepper, and salt to taste. Heat through. Serve on hamburger buns with a slice of American cheese if you so prefer.

Tomorrow you get two recipes, since I'm behind. I'm still in denial about how busy my life is these days, so I can make promises like that.

I'd title this "Give Me Your Wood", but it just seems too inappropriate

I keep trying to post some different posts, but Internet Explorer keeps crashing. Gotta love it! A couple of posts will come later tonight when I'm home and using the far superior Firefox instead.

Hopefully those posts will include pictures from the Extreme Makeover Home they're building in town, but we'll see. Apparently they rely on donated goods, and no one has donated any lumber yet. I'm no homebuilder, but I'm guessing lumber is a pretty important supply when building a house.

Monday Meal Planning - From Our Kitchen Edition

No, I'm not dead. Just dealing with the end of the project year for many of my projects at work, which means 15-hour work days and writing final reports. That is so much writing that I just couldn't bring myself to sit at the computer and write more for this site. But! The end of the project year is on Tuesday, and so almost everything is done and life can get back to normal. It has been a long couple of weeks, that's for sure.

Anyway, this week I'm in the mood for comfort food, which means several of my mom's recipes, one of Aaron's, and a couple of mine. I'm going to add one a day, so that the post isn't too overwhelmingly long. I hope you enjoy these dishes as much as we do!

Chicken Tortellini Soup

This recipe is mine, and is sort of just my fancier version of chicken noodle; fancier only because I use tortellini instead of egg noodles, and float a parmesan toast on the top. As written, this is a very chunky soup, just the way Aaron likes it. If you're watching your grocery budget, using one chicken breast half is plenty. If you want lots of leftovers, add another quart of chicken broth. It's also good if you add a can of diced tomatoes, juice and all, and substitute oregano for the thyme.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. sliced carrots
1 c. sliced celery
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 sprigs of thyme
1-2 bay leaves
1 quart chicken broth
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
1 package fresh tortellini
1 loaf French bread (baguette)
butter
shredded parmesan

1. In a soup pot, add olive oil and heat to shimmering over medium-high heat. Add in vegetables and herbs; salt and pepper to taste. Sautee until the onions are translucent and nothing has browned too much; about 5 minutes.

2. Add in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Gently add in chicken, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked through and vegetables are tender.

3. In the meantime, cook tortellini according to package instructions.

4. Remove chicken to a plate and allow to cool until you can easily handle it. Remove bay leaves and thyme now (it's easier to find them now than when there are a lot of chicken chunks in there). Tear the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Return the chicken to the pot and heat through.

5. For parmesan toasts: Heat broiler. Cut several 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices of bread (about 2 per person) and place on a cookie sheet. Toast the bread under the broiler until it starts to brown; about 1 or two minutes. Butter the opposite side of the bread slices, and put onto the cookie sheet butter side up. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and broil for a minute or two until the bread is turning golden brown and the cheese has melted.

6. To serve, place several tortellini in a soup bowl. Ladle soup over top, and float a toast or two on top of the soup. Enjoy!

Awesome

So far this week has sucked. It has, in fact, sucked a lot, and next week isn't looking much better. I know I've been absent here, but I really haven't had a chance to get online until right now. This is both because of a hectic work life this week and a baby at home that isn't happy if I'm not holding her, and is especially not happy if I leave the room or even turn my back to her. While this is adorable and it melts my heart, it really doesn't lend itself to me having time to do anything.

Anyway, this morning has capped off the sucktitude that has filled my life this week. I present to you my morning, through verbatim emails between Aaron and I.
Hey Baby,

 Can I just tell you how completely awesome my day has been so far?

First, you were sick and then you still went in to work (yes I’m still harping on you about this; I figure you’ll learn someday, right?)

Then, I almost hit about 4 fifth and sixth graders who jumped out in front of my car, but who I couldn’t see because of the giant glare the sun was causing on the windshield. Is there something we can buy for that?

Next, I DID actually hit something. I hit and killed a chipmunk. That has to be a good omen, right?

Finally, what I think will be your favorite awesome thing that happened this morning, the seatbelt alarm/annoying beeping noise in the car started going off because my passenger wasn’t buckled in. What passenger, you ask? I would like to know that as well, as the only thing sitting in that seat was my breast pump, and I know that’s way lighter than the weight that is supposed to indicate a passenger.

Any bets on what else awesome can happen this morning?
And then my wonderful husband wrote back and made me feel much better, because he actually is awesome, minus the sarcasm.
Sweetheart,


I'm so sorry. I will wash the windshield tonight.

It's also a tragic story about the chipmunk, but he had it coming. From what I've heard, he was a murderous villain. So you did a favor to the rest of the chipmunk community.

As far as the car goes, I'll really have to ramp my search for a replacement vehicle as the electrical gremlins in this car are really starting to turn their vicious heads.

I don't want to bet what else may happen because I love you and don't want anything bad to happen to you or my little girl.
I hope your day goes better.
He deserves a cookie, at the very least.

Free!

We just got back from the specialist, and the verdict is that Gabbie is done with her harness. She's free for good! We honestly didn't expect the news to be that good, so it was an incredibly wonderful surprise.

However, now that she's out our money is on her being able to roll around the house by the end of the weekend. Baby proofing starts tonight!

I'm blaming sleep deprivation

This morning is going just swimmingly, thanks!

First, I forgot to rinse the conditioner out of my hair and didn't realize it until I was nearly dressed, so then I had to undress, get back in the shower, rinse it out, and then start getting ready all over again.

Then I forgot Gabbie's bottles for day care until I was all situated in the car. So, I had to get Gabbie back out of the car, trudge up the stairs, get the bottles, lock back up, and get situated in the car all over again.

While thinking of my plan to hire someone to help Aaron write his resume (long story short: if he doesn't get it done, I'm going to kill him), I was halfway to work before I realized that I had to drop Gabbie off at daycare, just like I have to do everyday. Daycare is the opposite direction from where I work, and all of the quick ways to daycare from where I was when I realized I had to go back were foiled because of a road being closed. And I forgot to sign her in.

So, of course, I was late to work and when I got here there's a gas leak! (I guess that sleep deprivation isn't to blame for this, though.) So much for me catching up on all of the tasks I'm behind on this morning.

Someone needs to tell Gabbie that sleeping is fun and she should totally do it, because she has decided that sleep is for losers and she is definitely not a loser. What happened to my baby that slept through the night from nearly day one?

(Also, as an aside to blogger users - did your spell check option disappear too? I want it back!)

UPDATED: I also forgot to write that I forgot to attach my recipe to the recipe exchange I replied to today. Sorry Sizzle - it will go out tonight when I get home. If I don't forget. Gah!

My Little Charmer


I am in a great mood today, despite the fact that Gabbie was up half the night. She started the day out right, however, by waking up in my arms and greating me with the biggest sleepy, gummy grin that you've ever seen. This kid already knows how to charm me; I am in so much trouble. I think the sleep issue was actually a gas issue, and so no more chili for me as that has been the common thread through the past few sleepless nights.


The second (hilarious to me, not so much to Aaron) thing that Gabbie did today was to pee on her quilt. You see, while I was getting ready in the bathroom Aaron wanted to give her a bath, but she was also in desperate need of her first thing in the morning diaper change. So he took her out of her wet diaper, put a clean diaper underneath her without fastening it, and left the room to go fill up her bath. This may have worked a few weeks ago before she started being able to roll onto her side and move around a bit more, but not so much since then. She rolled off her diaper into a position about 90 degrees from where he left her, and peed all over her quilt. That will teach him, I guess. She looked pretty proud of herself, and that made me laugh even harder.


Speaking of her moving around, on Sunday night Gabbie rolled over for the first time! We had her out of her harness for a little pre-bath play time, and she rolled from her stomach to her back twice. She looked very surprised the first time it happened, and the second time it was about to happen she grabbed on to her blanket for dear life, as if that would stop her from turning over. We were actually videotaping a different trick of hers at the time so we got it all on tape! She's also been very close to getting from her back to her front with her harness on. Once that harness comes off for good we're in trouble, because I get the feeling she'll be rolling all over the place.


Here's hoping she sleeps better tonight. Or that I could at least get a nap in sometime after work today (or maybe during my lunch break). Ah, who am I kidding. I'll be reading Twilight instead of napping any time in the near future.

Monday Meal Planning - The Meaty Edition

I know, I know. I missed last week’s Monday Meal Planning, but I have a good excuse. Gabbie. In fact, babies are the best excuse for anything. Wedding I don’t want to go to? Baby. At a party and I want to leave? Baby. Grocery shopping during the after-work rush? Why don’t you go honey, so I don’t have to drag along the baby in that crowded store. It’s just one of the millions of things I love about my baby. There’s no one else I’d rather have as an excuse for everything.

So, yes, with the holiday weekend and all that extra time, I still didn’t have time to meal plan last week because I was too busy playing and snuggling with the baby. This weekend, however, she was being a pill and so I handed her off to her dad and took an hour-long break in the bedroom, with thirty minutes of meal planning and then thirty minutes starting Twilight. Then, I held Gabbie while she napped, and read some more. That book is addictive!

Anyway, here is a mixture of what we tried last week and some tried and true recipes were eating this week:

Monday: Stuffed Zucchini (see recipe at the bottom of this post) and Garlic Bread

Aaron has only a few recipes from his youth that he loves. Chili is one of them. His mom’s meatballs are another. He loves potato sausage, but I forbid that grossness from entering my house. Finally, he loves stuffed zucchini and every year around this time he requests that I make it. However, he doesn’t give me any direction as to what his mom put into her stuffed zucchini so I’m flying blind as I try to recreate this childhood favorite. Every year I make it, and every year I fail to “make it as good as Mom’s”.

This year, though, I finally succeeded! It wasn’t exactly like his mom’s recipe, but it was so good that he didn’t mind. Plus, the older he gets the less he likes processed foods; the basis of much of his mom’s cooking back then. This one is full of fresh veggies, sausage, and cheese, and I have to agree that it’s delicious! The garlic bread was a perfect accompaniment and even though I stuffed one large zucchini there didn’t seem to be nearly enough for the two of us.

Tuesday: Chicken Cobb Salad, French Bread

I absolutely love (LOVE!) this salad. I just grill an extra chicken breast or two whenever we have chicken and use that (I don’t bother with the marinade unless I’m using one on the rest of the chicken, otherwise I just salt and pepper it or use a poultry grill seasoning). I also sometimes add chopped hard boiled eggs or whatever veggies I have that I need to use up. It’s really hard to mess up this salad, and I could eat it every day. I think it’s the warm, crumbled bacon that really makes it as wonderful as it is, and I’m okay with that.

Wednesday: Skirt Steak with Crispy Garlic Potatoes and Steamed Green Beans

This meal is perfect for when you’re craving a meat and potatoes kind of night. It makes it feel a little lighter than steak with a baked potato, and is super fast and easy to pull together. The steamed green beans really round out the meal.

Thursday: Chicken Fajitas and Mexican Rice

We follow the recipe from this post, and lately I’ve been adding corn to my Mexican rice, just to give it a little something extra. (And because we have a boatload of corn from my parents’ garden.)

Friday: Mozzarella and Ham Panini with Cherry Tomato Salad

I just remembered! I can eat fresh mozzarella again! It’s one of those things I avoided while pregnant (the whole soft cheese thing) that I also love to eat whenever possible. I cut so many things like that out of my diet, that I keep rediscovering things like this that I can eat again. Like medium rare steak. And bleu cheese! Man, do I love bleu cheese! I also love tomatoes, so this salad is one of my absolute favorite. I pry apart the sandwich when it gets the table and pile on some of the salad. It totally makes the meal. I’m drooling already, and I have until Friday to wait before I get to eat this. I can’t wait!

Also, I just noticed that it's a rather meat-filled week! Usually we try for at least one or two vegetarian meals, but this week is meat, meat, and more meat. I guess the weekend will have to be meat-free.

Recipes from this post:

Stuffed Zucchini

Ingredients:

One large zucchini
2 T. olive oil, divided
1 T. butter
½ a green pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz. mushrooms, chopped
½ lb. bulk sausage
1 small tomato, diced
1 c. cheddar cheese

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cut the ends of the zucchini and cut it in half length-wise. Hollow out the middle of each half with a spoon or melon-baller, making sure to leave about a quarter to a half inch of zucchini on the bottoms and sides, reserving about a quarter of what you remove from the inside of the zucchini. Carefully drop the hollowed out zucchini halves into the boiling water and cook for five to seven minutes, or until zucchini is crisp-tender. Drizzle 1 T. olive oil on a cookie sheet or baking pan, and place zucchini on the pan, cut side up. Chop up the reserved zucchini.

2. In a large sauté pan add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the tablespoon of butter. Place the pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted and the pan is hot, add the green pepper, onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Add in the chopped zucchini. Cook until green peppers are tender and onion is nearly translucent. Add sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon. When sausage is completely cooked through, remove the pan from the heat, and add the tomato and ¾ of the cheddar cheese.

3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Fill the prepared zucchini with the sausage mixture. Top off with the remaining cheddar cheese. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Reasons to like Fall

Or, at the very least, reasons I like fall:
  • Cooler weather, less humidity. I can wear jeans and not sweat all day long! I can cover up more and be comfortable. My hair doesn't fuzz up the moment I step outside. Daily highs are around my favorite temperature: 68 degrees.
  • Football Saturdays, tailgating, homemade chili, crispix mix, and apple pie. Tomorrow is the first football Saturday we're spending at home (missed it last weekend because of a wedding reception, but that's okay, because both of our teams lost big time), and so we're doing it up right. Chili, beer (for Aaron, not me because I'm allergic - true story), crudite, and pie (lemon mereingue instead of apple, but still! Pie!). We're also inviting friends over to watch the game on our huge (ha!) 19 inch television. For some reason, even though we have the smallest TV out of all of our friends, we always host the gatherings where things are watched on TV.
  • The leaves changing colors. This is not here yet, but not far off either. However, I do miss my brother living way up north because it was like a fall color tour every time we went to see him.
  • Soup season is back again! Soup has to be my favorite food ever, and I have a list about a million recipes long that I want to try. Like artichoke soup, Philly cheesesteak soup, a new recipe for tomato soup (my absolute favorite), and many, many more.
  • Cuddling on the couch is no longer limited to about five minutes because it's just too hot and humid to cuddle. Now it's perfect cuddling weather. And there's nothing I like more than cuddling. Except maybe cuddling, with a bowl of soup, a sleeping baby, and a good movie on DVD.

I really, really love the fall. Until about February, when I start singing the praises of Spring.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

So, you want to know what I did on my first night of implementing Project Getting It Together? I went to bed at 7:30! No, really. I did. I had a headache and a sore throat (thank you allergies!) and so Aaron sent me to bed for a "nap". I woke up to feed Gabbie twice before my normal bedtime, but kept going back to sleep because I was exhausted. You would think I'd feel well rested today, but of course Gabbie also woke up at 4 and 6 this morning, so I'm still feeling tired.

Tonight, however, while we're still not back on the healthy meal planning bandwagon (the plan is for frozen pizza - not only are we eating food that's bad for us, it's gross too!), Gabbie and I are having a girls' night. We're going shopping and grabbing some ice cream (for me, who is really, really not sticking to the healthy eating thing), and then heading home to watch the two-hour season premier of America's Next Top Model. I can't wait! I may even cut out of here early so that we can get a head start on our evening.

Yesterday I kind of hinted about other big things happening right now. Well, they're not exactly happening yet, but we're working toward making them happen. Aaron and I want to move away from the town where we currently live back to my hometown. That town is also the place where Aaron went to college, where we started our relationship, and where we moved in together 2 years later. In order to do this, though, we first need to find jobs. This is the hard part, as it's a sort-of small town with only two main employers. Fortunately, both employers are looking for people our age (it's hard to keep young people in this small, northern Michigan town), so we may be in luck.

The whole thing is so scary, but exciting at the same time. A lot of our friends still live up there, my parents are there, my sister might end up there, and it just feels like home to both of us. I don't know how long it will take us to get up there, but we're aiming for October. Which means we have to get our butts in gear and start applying for jobs. We both like our routines and have a hard time making changes, so this is a big challenge for us. In the end, though, I think it will be completely and totally worth it. This, applying for jobs and making the move, is the biggest part of Getting It Together. We'll finally feel truly settled, ready to get on with the rest of our lives.

Project Getting it Together

Lately I feel like I am behind on everything. Behind in life. I am about 90% less prodcutive now that Gabbie's here, and I would like to gain some of that back. I don't plan out our meals very often, which means less healthy food because we just make what is fast and easy. I had pictures taken of Gabbie six weeks ago, and I've only distributed them to handful of the people to which I had intended. My house is a mess. I have about 6 outfits that fit. I stopped losing the baby weight about four weeks after she got here.

I just feel so completely out of it.

How do I gain more of myself back and still balance that with all that I want to give to Gabbie? Not to mention, my relationship with Aaron. Making time for us has definitely fallen way back on the list of things that get attention.

So here's the plan: More meal planning. Evening walks with Aaron and Gabbie. Shopping on lunch breaks to find a few more clothing options that fit. Fifteen to thirty minutes a night doing household chores. Establish an earlier nightly routine with Gabbie so that Aaron and I can have just a few minutes together before bedtime. An hour or two of Aaron taking care of Gabbie on weekends so that I can get some things done that I really, desperately need to do (send out pictures, catch up on emails, clean out closet to see if there are clothes packed away that might actually fit, etc.). And, most importantly so that I don't forget these moments that keep passing by so quickly: blog. Blog about Gabbie, about my life right now, about all the wonderful, exciting things that are happening. I don't want to forget this time, and this blog is the only journal I've ever consistently kept.

Plus, I'm sure that you all out there reading this wouldn't mind some more reading material on a regular basis.

Sharing

First of all, I had to share this because it was just too good. Now, I'm an Obama supporter (and I don't need any flack for it, thanks), but I thought the title of this CNN article was a little, well, redundant: Obama expected to address change in speech. Um, duh!

Secondly, the blog A Year of Crockpotting makes me wish that my crockpot was not older than me. If it were a newer version I would feel more comfortable leaving it on when I wasn't in the house, but as it is I only feel comfortable running it when I'm nearby. It's really that old. Maybe I should go out, buy a new one, and give this one to my sister. She has her first apartment right now and yummy crockpotted meals might make her even more popular than she already is (as if that were possible).

Finally, I'm doing something this year I've never done before - I'm thinking about Christmas presents before the month of December. I've decided I want to buy everyone's presents off of Etsy (I'm sure almost everyone has heard of Etsy already, right? If not, please go and check it out. You won't regret it.) and figured it would probably be better not to wait until the last minute to do that. The reason I want to buy from Etsy is twofold:

1) I HATE shopping. With a fiery intensity. This allows me to do my shopping without setting foot in a store. Sounds wonderful to me!

2) I might as well support artists while I'm at it, right? My mom's an artist and I know that she always appreciates when one of her pieces sells.

This seems like the perfect solution. Now I just have to dig through all of those wonderful things to find what I want. This may be harder than it sounds.

Six

That's the number of additional weeks the doctor says Gabbie needs in the harness.

We're getting a second opinion.

Of course

Of course, Gabbie nurses perfectly when we have the $85-per-visit lactation consultant in for an appointment.

Of course, she nursed horribly for the rest of the day, culminating in a one hour of battle to get in ten minutes of nursing. Oh, and there was that 4 a.m. scream-fest too.

Of course, she got me so worked up during that 4 a.m. scream-fest (another hard fought, and this time lost, nursing battle) that I couldn't fall back asleep until nearly 6 a.m.

Of course, then Aaron let me "sleep in" so that I was late for work today.

Of course, it's supposed to rain and thunder and be ridiculously hot today, the day of our work picnic. And Gabbie doesn't handle heat well.

Of course, my quickly grabbed because I was running late MickyD's breakfast is making me ill.

Of course it's going to be a GREAT DAY! Right?

Butterflies

My stomach is full of nervous butterflies right now, even though the main reason for them is nearly a week away. I can't get them to stop, nor can I concentrate on anything other than tomorrow morning and early next week. Being a mom is just as stressful as I imagined, but I still wasn't truly prepared for it.

Tomorrow morning we have a meeting with the early intervention people about Gabbie's hips. I don't think I wrote about it, but at her six week appointment with the orthopedic doctor he said that her left hip still wasn't in place well enough and so we've had an extra six weeks with the harness. It hasn't been nearly as difficult as I'd imagined when we first got the news, but it's still not the easiest thing in the world and has caused a lot of worry. Our pediatrician hooked us up with the early intervention program because her hip dysplasia automatically makes her eligible for services as she may be at risk of a walking delay or other related problems. I'm nervous about what I'll hear from them tomorrow, about all the possibilities of things that could go wrong with my little angel. As I'm sure is true of all moms, I would do anything to make her one hundred percent better, would give anything to make sure she didn't have any problems, even though I know that the problems will exist no matter what I do.

We also have an appointment with a lactation consultant to talk about the nursing issues. At 12 weeks it shouldn't be this hard, and it's breaking my heart.

But next Tuesday. That's the thing that has both Aaron and I experiencing raw, exposed nerves (which we're using to snap at one another, a bad habit we need to work on). That's the day when we find out if she's made enough progress to come out of the brace. It's also the day that we could find out that the brace hasn't done enough. That we need to do something more drastic. Something that could entail casts from the waist down or even surgery. I'm trying to stay positive, but also realistic. Trying not to get my hopes up in case they're dashed to pieces. Trying to figure out how I'll make it through the appointment without sobbing if we receive bad news.

I just want her to be better.

This is going to be a long week.

The (Belated) Return of Monday Meal Planning

Happy Monday! (I obviously wrote this part yesterday before I got insanely busy.) I (finally) have another week of meals for you to try! We're getting better about planning and cooking meals again, now that we've reigned in some of the chaos of living with a new baby. Here's what we've enjoyed in the past week:

Monday: Mediterranean Mostaccioli

We loved, loved, loved this quick and easy dinner. Lots of veggies (which, sidenote: we have a ton. My mom pretty much emptied her garden and gave us half. Yay, but also, what do we do with that many vegetables before they spoil?) and even more flavor. We used more pasta than what the recipe indicates, and shredded mozzarella instead of feta, but otherwise followed the recipe as it is. The leftovers were even more delicious the next day.

Tuesday: Barbeque Tofu Salad

Upon hearing the name of this recipe that Aaron picked out (we're trying to eat more vegetarian meals - but failing sometimes - and this was his choice this week), I was a little hesitant to try it. But! It wasn't bad at all. In fact, I really liked it. We served the salad on rolls that we had split, buttered, and broiled till brown. We also added a lettuce leaf for a little added crunch. This was a great, easy meal.

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken, Hot Crash Potatoes, and Green Beans

We just marinated the chicken in Italian dressing and grilled it in our grill pan. Couldn't be easier. The Hot Crash Potatoes are one of my new favorite ways to do potatoes, and we just steam the green beans and toss a little butter and salt in the bowl when they're done. The butter/salt thing is a total concession to Aaron. I like them just fine plain, but he always manages to butter and salt them before I can stop him. Good thing I like them just fine that way too.

We grilled extra chicken this night to use for Friday's meal.

Thursday: Macaroni & Cheese and Broccoli

Also known as the night before I found out that Gabbie just really can't do broccoli. So! No more broccoli for me for a while. But it was good while it lasted. This is my new recipe for macaroni and cheese when I have a little extra time. Aaron likes this better than my normal recipe, so he's been asking for it regularly.

Macaroni and Cheese
1 c. skim milk
5 tsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded medium cheddar cheese
2 tsp. butter or margarine (the recipe calls for margarine, I don't keep that in my kitchen)
1/4 tsp. plus 1/8 tsp. salt (or a big pinch, which is what I did)
1 3/4 c. cooked elbow macaroni (about 3/4 c. uncooked) (I made half the box and then added and stirred until it looked like the sauce was stretched as far as it would go)

Whisk flour into skim milk in a small saucepan. Place the pan over medium-low heat.

Add shredded cheddar cheese, butter or margarine, and salt, and stir often until the cheese begins to melt. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Use a whisk to stir the sauce every couple of minutes so that it becomes smooth and thick.

While sace thickens, prepare macaroni according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

When cheese sauce has simmered for 30 minutes, pour pasta into a medium bowl. Gently stir in cheese sauce, and then pour mixture into a casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes until brown and bubbly.

Friday: Chicken Salad and Watermelon

I never used to be a big fan of chicken salad. Then the same friend who brought over the yummy macaroni and cheese also brought over this salad, and I fell in love. I'm also in love with watermelon lately, so it was the perfect side to the salad. In fact we're having the same again tonight, but with corn on the cob for a second side.

Here's the recipe:

Chicken Salad

1 1/2 c. diced cooked chicken
1 c. sliced grapes (seedless red are my favorite in this salad)
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip)

Whip the cream to soft peaks. Combine all ingredients. Chill.

Could this be easier? Probably not. Love it!

The Return of Weekend Baking!

I haven't been baking much lately, but I'm still trying to make one treat a week so that Aaron has dessert every night. However, the sweet treat I made this week disappeared without him getting to taste a single bite (I took it to book club instead of keeping it for us).

One of the things I craved the most while pregnant (aside from Mexican food) was anything citrus-y, especially anything lemon-flavored. Then all of a sudden, a couple of weeks ago, I got a craving for lemon meringue pie, and I decided I wouldn't be happy until I made one. So I did. I used Paula Deen's recipe, which made a pie that, while delicious, didn't quite taste how I'm used to a lemon meringue pie tasting. In a way it was actually even better. Then I realized why. It's basically my recipe for key lime pie, using lemon juice instead.

I would make this again in a heartbeat, and actually may have to again this weekend because I've raved about it to Aaron all week and he's getting a little sore that we ate it all and didn't save him any. It was so easy to make, that this won't really be a problem. Happy weekend to all!

Some Random Points of Interest (for me at least)

You know what's funny? Babies farting. Seriously. You'd think they'd be small-sounding because they come from such small people, but they sound just like everyone else's gas. It's an especially funny way to wake up in the morning. Lesson learned? No more broccoli for me. Poor Gabbie.

Aaron is being very sweet this week, and is once again proving just how great of a husband and father he really is. One of the ways he's trying to be sweet, though, is sneaking candy into my purse so I have a treat for work. This is very nice, and appreciated while I'm snarfing down the daily candy bar, but I'm also trying to lose weight. This is not helping. However, how can anyone be expected to say no to chocolate?

Tomorrow my mom and sister are coming to visit and they're going to babysit Gabbie while Aaron and I go out on a date. Our first alone time since the end of May! We're planning to go see The Dark Knight and maybe grab a bite to eat. I'm feeling mixed about this because of how much I've missed Gabbie while at work this week, but am also realistic that we might not have alone time again any time soon. So we're taking advantage of it, after which I'm sure we'll rush home to smother our little girl with kisses.

Quick question: anyone have a good fix for cracked heels? I've never had this problem before, so I don't know why it's happening to me now (I blame hormones. For everything.). I've tried a pumice stone in the shower followed by some lotion when I get out, but they're not getting any better. Any suggestions?

Pumping something other than iron

I currently feel as if I spend half of my day in the office naked from the waist up. I realize it's much less than that, but pumping for Gabbie is taking up much more time than I expected. And it's not going nearly as well as I expected. So much for my expectations I guess.



It's definitely weird to be unclothed at work, and a lot of other things about it are weird too. For some reason I feel strange carrying my expressed milk from my office to the refrigerator in the work room. I sneak it in there so no one will see it, as if it's very private and might offend. Same deal with the pump parts I have to clean after using them. Why should I care? It's milk, for heaven's sake, and it's basically a food for someone to eat, not something to be ashamed of. Still, I sneak it in there quickly so no one will see.



Another mom at work is currently weaning her daughter, so there has been an overabundance of boob talk around here lately. There has also been a lot of baby talk, which is, of course, my favorite subject. I try not to bring it up unless asked, though. Don't want to be that annoying person that only talks about their baby and nothing else (even if that is sort of what's happening here on this site). Still, people bring her up constantly, so I get to brag like the proud momma I am.



And now for something completely different - Monday Meal Planning may be coming back next week. May, but it's looking like probably. We made some excellent meals this week (along with one night of macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and green beans because we really didn't have the energy to do anything fancier), and I'd love to share them. Now that I don't have Gabbie to distract me during the day, I can do things like plan meals, eat lunch without being interrupted a thousand times, and even pee in peace and quiet.

(I'd still rather have her distracting me all day, though.)

Strike 2

Just last week I was telling someone how nice it was now that we were past Gabbie's nursing issues from the previous month. Due to a forceful letdown (we - the lactation consultants and I - at least think that was the problem) she would eat for a couple of minutes until I had a second letdown (or first if she was particularly cranky) and then pull off and scream in such a heartbreaking manner that I would start to cry as well. It was nearly torture to get her to eat, but we finally made it through. I discovered that if she had just woken up from a nap she would eat pretty well, and then that translated into her eating well nearly all of the time.


Then we had a stressful week. Two Fridays ago, we started the day at the emergency room after Gabbie threw up bile and then was having a hard time staying awake. The problem seemed to just be that she ate too fast after her longest stretch of sleep yet (9 hours - boy were we freaked out when we woke up and realized that she slept that long), because there was nothing physically wrong with her. We capped that day off with a trip out of town for three days, followed by another 3 days traveling just the two of us (Aaron had to work). She started waking up in the middle of the night (I shouldn't complain, because one middle of the night waking is really good for a baby her age) which is completely out of character for her.


This past Friday was another really stressful day for both of us. She had to get vaccinations (during which she let out the most heartbreaking cries yet) and a new brace fitted. I started stressing out that it was my last day home alone with her before returning to work.

And she started a nursing strike.


Now she'll eat for maybe a minute (five if she's in a peaceful mood, and that has only happened twice) and then start screaming at me. It's hard to be calm when she's doing this. It's so incredibly frustrating, for both of us I'm sure, that I feel like yelling right back at her. I've tried all the tricks in the book and nothing is working. Yesterday was even worse, but I'm sure being away from me all day had something to do with that.


We regularly have conversations with her telling her that mom is just trying to help her, not hurt her, that she's fine, that she doesn't need to cry, she just needs to eat. EAT DAMNIT. Obviously the frustration gets the best of me sometimes. All I want her to do is eat peacfully. It's impossible to reason with an infant, unfortunately. I just feel so bad that it's so stressful for both of us. After each battle with the boob (as we call it - have to add humor to make it bearable) her dad comes and swoops her up, gives her a little stern talking to, and then a big cuddle. Then it's mom's turn to cuddle and we play patty cake.


It's a good thing she's so cute. Otherwise, this would all be impossible to take. Someone knew what they were doing when they made babies the way they did.

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