Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday....In the Park

Every time I hear that song, I get nostalgic for something... I'm not sure what exactly. A relaxing Saturday? A day spent laughing in the park with friends? We definitely don't have enough of either. Our Saturdays are normally pretty busy and we rarely have time to relax at the park. But, today, we managed to do exactly that. We spent the day with friends at the local botanic gardens, perusing an exhibit of locally-made pottery and strolling through the flower gardens. We had the best time. The pottery was amazing and the flowers were beautiful. We found a HUGE Magnolia tree with the most amazing blooms.

Some of the plants got a little unruly with us, though.

Robert had to fight his way out of this creepy tree/ plant thing.

It was a hot, hot day, so we tried to stay in the shade. To make sure Hadley was protected from the sun, I slathered her in spf 60 and put a hat on her to shade her from the sun.

She didn't so much like the hat. In fact, she ripped it off before we even got outside-- several times. I put the hat on, Hadley pulled the hat off. Sean said he couldn't decide which one of us is more stubborn. I think I am.

Robert and his wife, Ana, have a 3.5-month-old named Samantha. Ana had a cute, yellow hat for Samantha to wear, which Samantha actually wore. Samantha isn't quite to that stage where she can reach up and rip her hat off yet, though. I kinda miss those days.

Hadley didn't really like her sunglasses, either. She took them off as soon as I put them on.

Hadley did like the ducks and geese we found in the Japanese Gardens, though. There were a lot of little ducklings and downy gosslings for her to look at.

She couldn't get enough of the cute, little ducklings.

We bought fish food on our way in to feed the koi in the Japanese Gardens. Look at these things. Are they not kind of creepy?

There were tons of them and they piled on top of each other to get to the food.

Our day was so incredibly relaxing and fun. I can't wait for our next carefree Saturday in the park. Try it if you have time soon-- you won't regret it!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mashed Potatoes

I thought feeding an infant strained and mashed veggies was messy, but finger foods are a whole different ball game. For the past few months, we have been feeding Hadley lots of mashed veggies, some mashed fruits, and lots of whole wheat cereal and oatmeal. About a month ago, Sean decided to throw caution to the wind and feed Hadley her first bite of "big girl food"-- a tiny, itty bitty crumb of a biscuit. You would have thought Hadley was eating acid by the look on her face. There was lots of gagging, choking, grimacing, and general drama by both Daddy and baby. Sean then declared that Hadley wasn't allowed to eat "big girl food" again until she was at least five years old. He just couldn't stand to watch her choke and gag on tiny bites of food.

So, I waited a couple of days and let Hadley try Puffs (little snacks that dissolve in baby's mouth-- they remind me of Cheerios) a few times while Sean was at work. At first, Hadley just played with the Puffs. She picked them up, clutched them in her little paws, and kept them there until I cleaned them out at the end of the meal. She tried to swipe her little hand into her mouth to eat the Puffs, but the Puffs rarely made it past her lips. After a few days, though, she managed to successfully transfer the Puffs to her mouth. And then, the fun began. There was more gagging and drama, but within a day or so, Hadley had learned to gum and swallow the Puffs. Now, she is a Puff-eating machine.

And, we are having so much fun experimenting with new and inventive table foods and finger foods that she can gum. Have I mentioned that my little star has no teeth whatsoever? Nope, not a one. That's made eating so much more interesting. In addition to vegetables, Hadley has tasted and approved cottage cheese, pancakes, dry wheat toast, plain oatmeal, cheddar cheese, mashed bananas, brown rice, refried beans, and her all-time favorite, mashed potatoes.

We went out to dinner last night with some of Sean's co-workers and since it was also Hadley's dinner time, we ordered her some mashed potatoes to accompany her veggies. The restaurant's mashed potatoes were very chunky, almost dry even, with a little bit of garlic thrown in. I wasn't sure Hadley would go for them. Until then, she had never had white potatoes and she certainly had not had anything with garlic. She loved them, though, and ate almost the entire plate. No one could believe she ate that many potatoes.

My first "real" food was mashed potatoes fed to me by my grandmother at about Hadley's age. I ate my grandmother's entire serving of potatoes and wanted more. Since Hadley is essentially Sean's little twin, I'm always happy when I find something Hadley inherited from me. I guess our love for potatoes starts early.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Front Door Makeover

So, we've spent the last week working on replacing our front door-- a project we hadn't planned to undertake right now. At least, that is, until last week when Sean had the idea to rejuvenate our front door by removing two wooden panels and some superfluous moldings so that he could replace the panels with antique wavy glass we have had for years. When Sean explained his idea to me, I jumped on board without a second thought. Why? Well, mainly because our front door is atrocious. And also because it is just plain ugly. I figured that anything we did to it would be an improvement. Oh, was I wrong.

Not about the door-- it really is ugly. We didn't think through Sean's plan, though. About ten minutes after Sean explained his plan to me, there were giant holes in the front door. About ten minutes after that, we realized that our plan also had a few holes in it. For starters, our wavy glass is not really sturdy enough to serve as exterior glass on the house. And, I decided that even if we added glass to the door, the door would still look awful. So, what to do, what to do???? All of a sudden, we had holes in our front door the size of Alaska and no plan for replacing the door.

Our house was built in the late 70's and doesn't have much curb appeal. That may be putting it too nicely. When we bought the house, it had a brownish-orangish roof, orange brick, tan trim, a wooden front door that the prior owners had sloppily painted hunter green, and a glass door with hideous gold trim. Sounds pretty, huh? Oh yeah. Our plan when we bought the house was to replace the roof, which needed replacing anyway, replace the front door, and paint the exterior of the house, brick included, a neutral color.

Since buying the house, we have replaced the roof with three-dimensional grayish shingles. But, we haven't yet gotten to painting the house or replacing the front door. Until now. We spent most of last week searching for a new front door. We started by searching architectural salvage for antique doors with character. But we ultimately couldn't find anything that would work. We then started shopping retail. Can I tell you how overwhelming it is trying to search for a front door that does not have leaded, elaborately designed glass? I just wanted a simple four or six-light (or is it lite) door made of solid wood. With my dad's help and research, we finally found exactly what I was looking for, and it was delivered today. Hallelujah! Here's a picture.

Our door has four lights instead of six, which means that each light is larger than the ones pictured. Also, our door is unfinished, but you get the idea. Now, we just have to pick a stain color, stain the door, pick out hardware, add the hardware, and install the door. I'm thinking we might have the new door installed by Labor Day. Until then, rest assured that our house is not open to the elements. The hideously tacky glass door is doing a good job standing in as our front door for now. At least it's good for something.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy Weekend!!

Happy holiday weekend everyone! We have a full weekend of relaxation planned. We are still working on getting well and plan to utilize every bit of free time this weekend to lay around, watch movies, and veg out. Sounds fabulous.

As promised, I will have pictures and a full post on the front door project on Tuesday. I can't wait to show you what we have planned!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


We're sick. All of us. In the middle of May. And, this is Hadley's first illness. Somehow, we managed to make it out of flu and cold season without her getting sick and now, right before summer, she catches a cold. Ugh. I keep saying, though, "at least we made it this long." But still, it has not been fun. We seem to all have the same thing, a cough, sneezing, and general icky, achiness. I promise to resume posting when I can breathe regularly again.

Until then, I'll leave you with this. Sean got a little energy and a little inspiration to try to spruce up our front door. He sawed two giant holes in it. To reiterate, our front door now has holes in it. It is neither pretty nor functional. I have been shopping all night online for a new front door. And a new husband. I'll explain more when I'm feeling more coherent. Really, Sean isn't completely to blame. In my feverish state, I might have encouraged him to saw holes in our door. Maybe.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Night Dinner: Enchiladas

I love food. I love to shop for food, cook food, and best of all, eat food. I have always loved reading about food, too, and can remember spending hours as a child reading my parents' cookbooks. I still have my recipe box that I created as a child with all of my favorite recipes neatly printed on Strawberry Shortcake recipe cards. It's so fun to look at my young handwriting and the recipes that captured my interest back then. I know, I was a supreme dork. But, what can I say?

Looking back at my Strawberry Shortcake recipe cards, it's plainly obvious that I loved Mexican food even as a child. Most of my recipes are for different types of chilis, enchiladas, mexican-style casseroles, and tacos. And, that love has followed me over the years. There is just something about the spices, heat, and flavors of Mexican food that I crave. In fact, I could eat it every day and sometimes, we do. I don't play favorites, either. I love all types of what I call "Mexican" food, whether it is Tex-Mex, Americanized Mexican, or authentic Mexican. It's just all good. I really lucked out with Sean, too. He likes Mexican food and is willing to indulge my cravings by eating it quite often. What other sign of true love do you need??

Lately, I have had a mean craving for Tex-Mex, especially Tex-Mex style enchiladas. You know, the yellow cheddar cheese variety that is covered in chili gravy, more cheddar cheese, and a sprinkling of onion? We just can't find good Tex-Mex here. We have an abundant supply of "authentic" Mexican-style restaurants, but they serve white Chihuahua cheese, bland meat, and fake guacamole. It's okay for what it is, but it's not great. And, it doesn't satisfy a craving for Tex- Mex.

One Friday night when I was dying for some cheese-and-onion enchiladas, I asked Sean if he would want to try making our own chili gravy and enchiladas. He was game. I don't know why we didn't try this earlier. We love to cook and to experiment with new recipes, but for some reason, I envisioned enchilada sauce being more difficult to make than it was. Don't get me wrong, this is a time-consuming meal, but it's super easy.

I found a recipe on Homesick Texan's blog for chili gravy by Robb Walsh, the guru on all things Tex-Mex, and we jumped right in. The basic method is simple. You make a roux with flour and oil and then you add tons of spices, mainly chili powder and cumin, and let it thicken to a rich, thick, hearty gravy. Then, you lightly fry corn tortillas, stuff, and bake, and voila, you have homemade Tex-Mex. And, oh my, are they good. Those enchiladas are simply heaven on a plate. We have made these enchiladas for several Fridays over the past few months, and they are my favorite meal right now. And, the fact that Sean is willing to spend hours in the kitchen making my favorite meal just melts my heart. You know the saying that food is the way to a man's heart? It's totally the way to my heart, too.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

No, No, No

It appears, for better or worse, that we have taught our daughter the word "no." On Easter night, my parents came over for dinner and while Hadley and her Maggie and Pop were playing, Hadley started shaking her head "no." Since that night, she would occasionally shake her head back and forth and would smile or laugh. But then, starting a few weeks ago, anytime we said "no," or anything that sounded like "no," like "know" or even "oh," Hadley would shake her little head back and forth. It's really cute, even though it doesn't appear that she totally gets what "no" means yet.

I've been teaching Hadley to blow me kisses and to give kisses and today when I asked her to give me a kiss, she shook her little head side to side. I asked her if I could give her kisses and again, I got a head shake. Oh, my heart is breaking. Why do they have to grow up so fast?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Temper, Temper

Oh my-- did you know that an eight-month-old could throw a temper tantrum? Me, either. But, apparently, mine can and did. She has done so three times now since yesterday and each time, she got mad at something I did, turned bright red, clenched her tiny fists, and screeched and cried. She didn't cry in a "I'm in pain" way. No, she cried in a "I'm mad as Hell" way. Hadley's little personality is so BIG now. It's hard sometimes for even her to contain.

The tantrums were precipated by mean, mean Mommy taking something away from sweet, little baby. In one instance, it was some smooshy, disentegrated Puffs (little snacks that dissolve in baby's mouth). They were damp and gross and she was having trouble grabbing her sippy cup and toys with the little lumps in her fists. That infuriated her. The other times, I took a bottle and a spoon from her to help her eat. She was furious again. The first time, I wrote it off as a response to exhaustion, but the second and third times, she was in full play mode and wasn't ready for a nap yet. I'm thinking the little bugger just has a temper. I can't even imagine what these little trantrums will look like when she gets old enough to heave her little body on the ground and thrash about in full tantrum mode. I can't wait.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope all you mamas had a happy Mother's Day yesterday! Mine was wonderful-- full of family, good food, and sweet, sweet baby. Sean let me sleep late, and once we were all awake, we had a light breakfast and got ready for brunch with my family. I made spicy sausage, mushroom, and basil quiches for the event, and they were delicious. We had a great time visiting and eating good food with my parents, my sister and her husband, and my nephew.

Unfortunately, the afternoon was a bit more frenetic. We were long overdue on finishing our babyproofing around the house. And, with Hadley crawling and pulling up on everything, I was anxious to finish it. We worked for hours securing cabinet doors, securing furniture to walls, securing appliances, attaching finger guards on doors, and removing heavy objects from bookshelves. It was exhausting. And one little baby was a bit cranky due to all of the activity of the day. And no, I'm not talking about myself (or Sean). Hadley was not happy that we spent the afternoon working (and really, neither was I), but I'm relieved that the house at least seems a little bit safer for her.

The best part of the day, however, was my Mother's Day gift from Sean and Hadley. It's not finished yet, but Sean is working on compiling all of the video we have taken of Hadley since her birth into one cohesive movie. It will be a wonderful keepsake for all of us, and I can't wait to see it when it is finished.

Hadley and her Maggie. Hadley cooperated with lots of smiles for the occasion!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bathtime Fun

A few months ago, I picked up some bath toys at Babies 'R Us for Hadley. There were plenty of options, but I settled on a four pack of brightly colored, rubber squirt toys made by Especially for Baby that came in the shapes of a turtle, frog, snail, and ladybug. I admit that I picked this set because I thought the colors and designs were adorable. But, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the little toys were made of a very soft, pliable rubber that is easy for Hadley to squeeze and play with. Plus, she loves them, so I guess I chose well.

Hadley has always loved bath time, but recently, she seemed to be getting bored about halfway through each bath. These little guys keep Hadley completely distracted through her bath, and she even clings to one or two of them while we are drying and clothing her after bathtime is over.

But, the most surprising thing about this little set of toys is that Hadley has become completely and utterly attached to the frog. It is one of her all-time favorite toys. She carries the frog around the house with her, clutches it as she is falling asleep, and gnaws on it constantly. I love watching her face light up when we hand the little frog to her. I keep expecting Hadley to become attached to a lovie or a stuffed animal, but so far, it's this frog that has captured her heart. To each her own, right?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dear Hadley: Month 8

Dear Hadley:

You turned eight months old a few days ago and as usual, this last month was a doozy! I know I tell you every month that that month was a big one, but believe me, this last month could not have been any bigger unless you stood up and walked into the kitchen to make a sandwich. And honestly, I kind of think you might do that any day now. You spent this last month perfecting your crawl, learning to pull up, starting to "cruise" on furniture, and mimicking us. It's so amazing to watch you learn all of these new skills. It just seems like it is all happening so fast. In no time, you will be running around, talking, and asking to borrow the car.

Your Maggie, my mom, frequently exclaims about how "busy" you are-- just like I was at your age. And, oh, are you busy. You are constantly moving, moving, moving. You are crawling on your hands and knees like a champ now and you are super fast. If we lay you down on the floor on your back, you immediately flip to your tummy and start crawling away, usually to a piece of furniture so that you can pull up to standing. If we are holding you in our laps, you roll over and try to slither away or if we won't let you turn over, you squirm constantly until we put you down. You're so cuddly wuddly like that.

Maggie babysat you for about an hour last weekend so Daddy and I could run a few errands. That one hour exhausted Maggie. You are just that busy. And just think, I spend every hour of every day with you. That might be why Mommy is so tired. Lately, we can't take our eyes off of you for a second or you will be in the next room. In fact, yesterday, I tried to run to the kitchen for a glass of water and I turned around and you were sitting behind me in the middle of the kitchen floor. You must have crawled about 100 feet from the living room to the kitchen to get to me.

You have also perfected your crawling to sitting and sitting to crawling maneuvers. This has made life somewhat easier since you can now crawl to the toy you want, sit up to play with it, and then crawl to the next object you want. Recently, you have been doing a lot of crawling/ sitting and then crawling some more and sitting. You love to sit up, look around and smile at me and then take off crawling again. I just love those smiles.

This last month you started saying "mama" regularly. You seem to say "mama" most when you are crying, though, in a "ma ma ma ma" chant that is just heartbreaking. You will sometimes say "mama" when you are happy, too, but most of your happy babbling is "dada's" and "baba's." Daddy says this is because you need me for comfort and him for playtime. I have a sneaking suspicion that this pattern will continue long into your childhood years. Daddy is just so much fun to play with.

You are also mimicking things that we do now. You started shaking your head "no no" on Easter day and since then, when we say "no," you shake your little head. You also copy us if we shake our heads. It is so cute. We are working on teaching you "yes," too, but for now, you just laugh when we nod our heads at you.

You have also learned to clap your little hands when we clap or when we say "yea." Your little fists flap wildly together when you are happy. It doesn't always look like a clap, but it's close. We have been working on teaching you sign language for a few words that will make life easier for all of us, like "eat," "more," and "all done." You now recognize each word and sign and are trying to wag your hands in the "all done" sign.

And, you try to repeat us when we say your dog's name, "Bella." Your version sounds more like "bewaaaa," though. Bella doesn't mind. In fact, she adores you-- and the feeling is entirely mutual. You are in love with both of your animals, Bella and Allie. As you know, Allie, our cat, doesn't let you get too close to her, but Bella is more than willing to let you pet her. Your version of petting, though, usually includes some fur grabbing and pulling. We are working on teaching you to pet easy. You love to crawl up to your Bella and play with her fur or her feet. Bella has learned to get up and move when you are getting to be a little too much for her.

But, oh, how you love her. Your little face lights up when you see your animals and you let out the most endearing squeal when you see them. A few nights ago, Daddy was consoling you while you were fussing before bed. You turned your head and saw your Allie and immediately went from crying to squealing and laughing. I love that you already adore animals.

You had some fun adventures this month, too. You celebrated your first Easter and had your first visit from the Easter bunny. I had no idea that you would love your Easter basket as much as you did. You loved looking in your basket and pulling things out to play with. Easter was really the first day that you sat unsupported and didn't terrify me. Although you have been sitting for months, you still swayed and crashed when you got tired of sitting. This month, you finally learned to catch yourself when you wanted to lay down or crawl.

You also visited the zoo for the first time this month. Your love for animals didn't seem to extend to the zoo wildlife, but I think you might have been too distracted by all of the people to really notice the animals. We plan on taking you back to the zoo again soon, though.

I know I tell you this all the time, Sweet Pea, but I want to make sure it is in writing since I doubt you will remember much about this time of your life. I love you. It's that simple but that complicated, too. I also can't wait to see what this next month brings. Given the speed with which you are learning new things, I wouldn't be surprised if you are out mowing the lawn by June 1. That would make Daddy the happiest father ever!

I love you, Hadley.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spit Up Clean Up, Part II

It has been raining non-stop for what feels like months. It's really only been three days, but that's enough. Call me lazy, but I have no desire to get out of the house with a baby and her 20-pound carseat and stroller, 10-pound diaper bag, and assorted toys and blankets in the pouring rain. It's just way too much trouble. So, we've spent the better part of the last few days in the house avoiding the rain and the germy (potentially swine-flu infected) masses. Okay, not really but I feel a little less lazy when I use my child's welfare as my excuse for not leaving the house for three days. In an effort to be productive and to have something to do with myself while we have been cooped up inside, I have been perusing Etsy for fun stuff Hadley might need. Or, that I might want her to need.

One thing we never seem to have enough of is burp cloths. We use them for everything-- cleaning up spit up, of course, but also for drool, spills, and general wipe downs. I usually use those white organic, Gerber cloth diapers that you can buy in bulk for these clean ups, but sometimes, it's just fun to have pretty ones around to liven things up. And, to make up for the fact that I routinely change clothes three times before noon because someone keeps spitting peaches on me.

Right now, I am loving modern, graphic burp cloths. Here are a few I found that make me drool.

1. Etsy shop boopalinabebe's Eco Modern Burp Cloth in I Mod Pod, $10-- I love anything in blue and green and this pattern is amazing!

2. Etsy Shop BabyMomo's Green Dots Chenille Burp Cloth, $7-- perfect for a boy or girl and I'm loving polka dots right now.

3. Etsy Shop HazelMay's set of 2 burp cloths in Disco in Mango, $10-- pink without being too girly or froufrou. Can you tell I have a thing for dots?

4. Etsy Shop Whimzeeebaby's Yellow Sparrow Burpies, set of 3, $22 (two prints and one solid)-- I love the birds and can't get enough orange right now. This would be gorgeous for a boy or girl, too!

Next up: Bibs. You have to fight fire with fire. Or, in this case, the buckets of drool with beautiful bibs. It's the only way.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mom-A-Thon: Free Mother's Day Cards

Thanks to My Mom Shops, I recently learned that Kodak Gallery is holding a Mom-a-Thon, in which it is giving away one million free Mother's Day photo cards. I love deals and you can't beat a personalized gift! I spent an hour this afternoon making cards for Hadley's grandmothers and they turned out great. Only one card was free, but the price for the other two cards was only $2.95 each, plus $.99 each for shipping and handling. You can hardly get a generic Hallmark card for $2.95. A personalized photo card for that price is a steal! There's still time to order if you don't have gift ideas yet for mom or grandma.

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