Three Months

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Cecilia,You are three months old today. Just like in your last two letters, I cannot believe that you’ve been with us for this long. I’ve been so absorbed in loving and caring for you that I didn’t notice that the time has passed. During these three months, you’ve changed from a newborn to an infant. You are no longer a little creature that only sleeps, cries, and poops. You’ve developed a personality, and it’s one that is very determined and opinionated, just like your momma and daddy.
This month you’ve started announcing your presence to the world with a myriad of squawks, squeals, and grunts, and all it takes is for a person to smile at you to illicit a smile and a squeal. You are a very sweet and social baby, and I’m so proud that you’re mine. Everyone comments on how cute you are, and I couldn’t agree more.A couple weeks ago you started laughing for the first time. The one person that can get you to laugh is your daddy. This is fitting because he’s your funnier parent. I hope you inherit his sense of humor and comedic timing, but even if you don’t, I know you’ll still enjoy his jokes. I can’t express the sense of pride I felt when I heard your first giggle. Laughter has played an important part in mine and your daddy’s relationship. It was the first thing that attracted me to him and was one of the reasons I fell in love with him (and continue to fall more in love). It makes me smile knowing that your laughter will now fill our home too.
You’ve also developed a strong hatred for car rides. It’s been difficult listening to you scream. We tried various methods to calm and console you, but so far nothing has worked. As your momma, I never want to hear fear in your voice. It’s heartbreaking for me. Unfortunately, short of never leaving the house, we can’t avoid it. I know that there will be several instances like this in the years to come, times when I have encourage or insist you to do things you don’t want to do for your own good. I promise to never become calloused to your cries. Though it will be important for you to go through hard times and sometimes feel fear, I will always be there to pick you up and comfort you when the ride is over.Love,Momma

Takin’ It Off Here, Boss

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We’ll miss you, Paul.

FRS - Dinner Doctor - Curried Crab “Gumbo”

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Well, with the Curried Carrot Soup a bust,  I’m on to my next recipe in Anne Byrn’s the Dinner Doctor. I thought I’d give Curried Crab “Gumbo” a try.  Generally I stay away from things with quotations, but I had all the ingredients in the house.  However, if I keep cooking her recipes, I might run out of curry as it appears to be one of her favorite spices.  This is a bit strange because she’s a pasty white woman.  (As you can see in the last post.)

Here’s the ingredients from the still copyrighted recipe.

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This recipe ranks high in the simplicity category.  If you can dump things in pot, you can make this recipe.   The only skill you need to possess is onion chopping.  Strangely, it’s one I struggle with.  Most people cry when cutting them, but I’m rendered practically blind.  I usually have to chop an onion in multiple stages and must leave the room between them for fresh air.  There are a few tricks to make it a little more manageable.  You can spray your cutting board with vinegar, or you can light a candle to help burn off the gases that cause you to cry.  I recently told Chris about the candle trick and now he’s obsessed with reminding me to do as if he was the one that taught me the trick.

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You can also see my J.A. Henckels Zwillings knife in that picture. It’s an awesome knife. It’s also a very expensive knife. However, I got it at a bargain price of $25 at TJ Maxx. I rarely spend that much money on something from TJ Maxx, but if you look at their usual prices, you’ll understand why I splurged.

So here’s almost everything dumped in the pot.

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After a conversation with my sous-chef, we decide to add the optional shrimp to the “gumbo”.

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The final product:

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Final Verdict: Not my favorite recipe, at least not how it’s printed. Chris said it’s a winner. I think if you substituted a lean summer sausage or ground chicken for the seafood, it would be a lot better. There is a significant amount of pepper sauce in it, and everything tastes good with hot sauce. I’d also change the name of the soup. Just because it has okra, doesn’t mean it’s gumbo, quotations or not.

Laughing Girl…Sorta…

Categories: video , Cecilia | 1 Comment

I’ve been trying to capture Cecilia’s laugh on video, but she’s a bit camera shy.  Either that or she just gets distracted by the presence of the Boob Lady.

Laughing Cecilia 9.19 from sleepingKelly on Vimeo.

Giving the People What They Want

I realize most of you visit my site for pictures and information about Cecilia and not for my ramblings.  I figure I better feed the masses just enough to lure them back for more.


Favorite Recipe Search (FRS) - Dinner Doctor

Categories: FRS , Foodie | No Comments

When I started writing my “To Do” list, I knew that it would take a life time to complete.  However, I didn’t fully grasp the amount of time that it would take me to complete what appeared to be a simple task:

100. Find a favorite recipe in every cookbook I own

For a girl that is only 26 years old, I own quite a few cookbooks. Several that I’ve never used, and many that I’ve only used a handful of times. It’s going to take some time to scour over their pages to find recipes that I’d like to try, let alone my favorite.

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I decided to start with the Dinner Doctor by Anne Byrn. I chose this one because I’ve never used it and the whole premise is easy, fast cooking with basic ingredients that are usually in your pantry. My first trial recipe was “Warm Curried Carrot Soup.” We really like soup in this house. In fact, I whip up vegetable soup soup and chili pretty regularly. However, they always have meat so I was a little hesitant to make a meatless soup. But, like the book’s claim, it was easy and fast.

first book

Since it’s under copyright protection, I can’t share the recipes with you. However, here’s a picture of the ingredients. Probably stuff you have in your house already except the ginger. We always have ginger. It’s great to use in marinades, but I don’t use it enough to buy a fresh ginger root. In my experience, the jarred stuff is just as good. I’m sure food critics would disagree but they can shove it.

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Here’s a picture of most of the ingredients cooking. Doesn’t look too appetizing; sorta like the mess that bubbles out of the garbage disposal when the dishwasher is running when we haven’t run the disposal for fear of waking the baby.

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In several of the soup recipes, Anne’s instructions say to pour the cooked mixture into a food processor or blender and puree. However, there is a tool that will save you the frustration of pour hot liquid back and forth, an immersion blender. This fantastic red KitchenAid one was given to us as a wedding gift by Chris’s good friend and groomsman, Jim. I put it on our registry because I wanted to make some tasty soups, but so far, I’ve only used it to make milk shakes. Finally, I get to use it for soups!

immersion blender

So here’s the soup after the puree. Notice the circle imprint from the immersion blender.

final simmer

After pureed, I mixed in the final ingredient. It made the soup creamer. Then I served it up in a lovely white bowl.

Warm Curried Carrot Soup

The soup was pretty good. Though you could taste the spices, it was rather plain. I think it would be nice opening course for chicken satay or with a grilled cheese sandwich with fancy cheese. Coconut milk would probably make it better too, but that is an ingredient most people don’t keep around which would defeat the purpose.

Final Verdict: It’s not my favorite recipe. There are several tantalizing ones in the book so I’ve got high hopes.

‘Cause I’m Worth It

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I received this pitcher as a wedding gift (though I’m not sure which wedding).  I’ve always thought its simplicity was very pretty and a nice change from the typical unwanted crystal pieces that are usually given.  Actually I’ve never quite understood why people give those gaudy candy dishes and vases anyway. No one registers for them.  I have a theory that the same few pieces have been re-gifted across America. This pitcher, however, was not re-gifted and has resided in my cabinet, for at least a year, waiting for a special occasions.  Since we rarely have dinner parties at our house, I’ve only used it one time.

Yesterday, as I was making iced tea, I began to question my methodology.  What’s the point of holding onto something and letting it take up space in my cabinets if I’m not even enjoying it? So I pulled it out, filled it with tea, and made something that would normally feel ordinary feel a little special.  As corny as it sounds, it made my day a little better.

So, what have you been holding onto and saving for the right occasion? (We’ve fixed the comments section by the way!)

Comparing Diapers to Degrees

I think as humans we have an innate need to compare ourselves to others. We use this to evaluate our wants and needs, our successes and failures, and to gain a general assessment of our environment. A rare few individuals have overcome this in an attempt to banish social norms and overcome conformity. However, I think comparison is good. After all, how can we ever improve without some kind of check and balance system and defined benchmark? Unfortunately, I think too often it’s taken to an extreme and it begins to permeate every aspect of our lives and thoughts. The height of this is probably during the junior high years and, hopefully, slowly diminishes from there. I do believe, however, that it can have small peaks later with the ebb and flow of life. I think I’m at one of those peaks.

These eleven weeks that I’ve been home, I’ve been self-reflecting (between feedings and diaper changes that is). I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the social networking site, Facebook, reconnecting with high school classmates. For those of you who do not know, I attended the Arkansas School for Mathematics and Sciences (now Math, Science, and Arts). It’s a residential high school for academically gifted juniors and seniors in Arkansas. Basically, it pulls the best and brightest students from across the state, asks them to live together, and attempts to exhaust them with course loads equal to that of top colleges. (Sounds almost like a science experiment, huh?) These kids go from being the top in the class to just an average student, and, speaking from my own experience, it’s an ego crusher. Thankfully, when I went off to college, I regained my top performer status and my confidence started to rebuild. It also continued when I was successful in my career.

But now I’m not working or attending school. I’m a stay at home mom, which is something I never pictured me doing, and as I reconnected with these old classmates, I began feeling inept again. Many of them have astounding achievements: Harvard, MIT, West Point graduates; law school, med school, and the like. There are more Master’s degrees than marriages, more PhD candidates than parents. I started to feel like I had given up on myself and my future. I felt like I wanted more. Then I realized, I could have more. Chris has always supported my aspiration to work on a Master’s degree. I have childcare if I ever need it. The only thing keeping me is me. I don’t want to leave Cecilia for several hours a week to attend class, and I definitely don’t want to juggle homework, homemaking, and parenting. I’m a perfectionist, and if I had to divide my time, I could never put enough effort into the three areas to keep me happy.

When I was in second and third grade, the school motto was “Be all you can be,” and I feel like I’m doing that. I’m being the best mother that I can be. I can catch up when it comes to post-graduate education and I can try to make up missed time in the professional world, but my only chance to raise Cecilia is right now. Though I can dream about going back to school and earning the title of Dr. Baker-Hefley, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. And I bet that if I compare my happiness to that of my former classmates, I’m probably head of the class.

Fleas and Bees

Sunday afternoon, the entire family, including Lucy, loaded up and went to Chris’s parents house for our weekly Sunday dinner.  Recently, one of their two dogs passed away and propelling the remain pup, Smokey, into a mournful depression. He’s been crying for days, and though he looks like a bloated pinto bean with legs, he has horrible hound bay that’s terrorized their neighborhood for a week and a half.  We thought some playtime with Lucy would cheer him up a bit, and I think it did the trick.  Lucy, on the other hand, was really put out with being outside for several hours with a dog that didn’t match her intellectually or athletically (again, he’s a pinto bean with legs). Despite her snobbish attitude, I think the exercise did both dogs some good.

The next day, I wasn’t as pleased about our playdate.  You see, the pinto bean is an outdoor dog, and our aristocrat is an indoor dog.  Outdoor dogs often have fleas.  Though Lucy has been treated with flea medicine, that medicine only kills the fleas that bite her.  It does not kill the fleas that jump on her fur and then flee from it in our house.  (Okay, forgive me for the pun.)  Monday morning, as I was sitting in the nursery pumping down my super engorged boob, I saw a flea jump on my leg. Then off. Then back on.  Of course, I was trying to catch it with my non-dominant, slightly retarded left hand since my right hand was holding the pump horn.  After several frantic tries, I managed to capture it and stab it with my fingernail.  That’s quite a mental image, huh?

Chris promptly called an exterminator while Cecilia and I sought refuge at his parents house (avoiding the outside and the pinto bean).  Thankfully they came quickly and sprayed the house.  Though we won’t be flea-free for a week or so, the spray does render them sterile, which is good considering that one female flea can lay up to 800 eggs. (Don’t wikipedia these things if you ever have bug problem.  It just makes the panic and repulsion that much worse.)

On Tuesday, another flea jumped on me.  There was some comfort in knowing that we prevented the little punk from passing on his lineage, but it’s still creepy to find a bug on your body.  For the rest of the day, I had phantom bugs crawling on me.  (You know the feeling.  It’s why your head always itches after someone mentions headlice.  Go ahead, try to ignore the tickle on you feel on your scalp right now.)  For those reasons, I am very thankful for Burt’s Bees Peppermint Shower Soap.  It has a nice gritty texture that exfoliates all the phantom fleas. Also, it has a clean minty smell that makes you forget about the smell of bug spray, even if that moment is only short lived.

For the next few weeks, we have to vacuum every nook of our house twice a day.  I love my Dyson vacuuming cleaner, but I don’t love it that much. It’s going to be a workout, but it’s still much better than the idea of flea larvae living in my carpet.  Okay, time to go take a shower. My head is itching again.

Laughter is Better than Eye Candy

I’m a member of a web forum community, and recently another member posted the question, “What is your useless talent?”  I have lots of these, including being able to perform various tasks with my finger toes and sucking my nostrils closed without the assistance of my fingers.  It also made me start wondering about Chris’s useless talents or, I should say, his lack of useful talents.

Eye Heart Chris from sleepingKelly on Vimeo.