2008 Review

It’s time to begin a new year, and I think we, as a society, spend too much of this time dwelling on what needs changing and not what we’ve accomplished.  Here’s my top five accomplishments in 2008 that I’m most proud of:

1.  Surviving.  I was 12 days overdue and in labor for 28 hours.  That was promptly followed by a level 2 tear, cracked nipples, and sleep deprivation.  I bet you thought the baby would be my number one?  Any fool can make a baby, but not everyone can survive.  Rest assure that she’s next.

2.  Cecilia Laine.  Dang, I’m proud of everything about her - from her awesome name to her long finger-toes to her pretty blue eyes.  Did I also mention her sweet personality and feisty mohawk?  Yep, half of her genetic makeup is mine.
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3. Providing healthy, delicious meals.  This year I’ve really taken my cooking skills to a whole new level.  We’re eating low in calories, high in taste food.  Chris’s stomach is happy and so is my waistline.  I’m very proud that I’ll be able to offer my daughter healthy dinners, you know, as soon as she’s done with the all-you-can-eat momma’s milk buffet.
Sweet and Spicy Stir Fry with Chicken and Broccoli

4. Paying off our credit cards and renovating our bathrooms at the same time.  Okay, we do have a small loan for the home improvement, but we increased our home’s value.  The key point here is that we have no consumer debt because I kick ass.

5.  Well, I racked my brain and can’t think of a worthy enough number five.  I did, however, type this whole post with one hand because Cecilia is sleeping on my left arm.  She’s also smiling in her sleep, which reminds me that she’s so wonderful that she deserves another spot on the top five.
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Six Months

Categories: Cecilia | 1 Comment


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Dear Cecilia,

You are six months old today, which means your daddy and I have successfully cared for you for half of a year now. This is quite an accomplishment, especially for a person who didn’t want children until I met your father. Becoming your mommy gave my life a special meaning and new purpose – one that I didn’t anticipate – and I’m so glad that I was blessed with the job.

This month has been a big one. We had our first momma-Cecilia outing. You ate your first solid food. You also celebrated your first Christmas. With every new thing introduced, you took it all in stride. It was almost as if you had anticipated it and prepared mentally for the new challenge. There are days that I’m truly taken aback by your development. It has become increasingly apparent to me that God carefully designed mankind and specifically, you.

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Over the past few weeks, your mobility has exploded. You’re no longer the baby that hates tummy time. You’re the baby that cannot stay still. Once you’re placed on your back, you flip and roll to wherever you desire. This inner wiggle worm stops for no man, no momma, and no diaper change. In fact, there were a couple Christmas presents that were unwrapped by your little hands before Christmas morning because you rolled your way to the tree.

Speaking of Christmas, we had a wonderful holiday. I took the opportunity to start some new Christmas traditions, like hosting Christmas breakfast and issuing matching pajamas on Christmas Eve. For those two days, the house felt so warm and intimate, but it wasn’t because of the new fleece pj pants. It was cozy because it was filled with love – the love your daddy and I have for you and the love we have for each other.

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I do have one regret from the holidays; I didn’t take any pictures. I have a hard time balancing my dueling jobs as momma and photographer. Lately, it has been especially hard because you seem to be in a momma-only phase. You’ve started reaching out for me and babbling, “Ma-ma-ma-ma.” It’s not quite “momma”, but it still makes me feel privileged and special. I would choose being your momma over another job any day.

Love,

Momma

A Letter from Lucy

Categories: Lucy | 3 Comments

Lucy-Santa

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a really good puppy this year.  I’ve done a good job alerting my humans if anyone comes within a 50 meter radius of our house.  I’ve also protected us from pesky squirrels, and one time I even killed a bird in mid-air that had flown in under the screen door.  (The male human didn’t let me eat it, much to my chagrin.)  I did have a couple accidents, my first ever, when they brought that miniature human thing home (more on that later).  However, I always received good reports from school, and I’m well loved at the dog park.

Even though I was a very good puppy, I don’t want a gift.  In fact, I want to give you something - a miniature human!  All I want for Christmas is for you to take “Cecilia” with you to the North Pole.  You see, my life was foot-loose and fancy free before she came along.  She’s constantly squacking at me and grabbing my fur.  The other day she even pulled my tail! I was appalled.  What did my humans do?  Put me in my crate just because I told her that I didn’t like it. Before she came along, I was the center of attention.  I got to go to the park regularly and play frisbee.  Momma and I would cuddle on the sofa, and Pops would let me chase birds in the park.  Now they only acknowledge me when they want me to “go to my place.”  (Apparently they don’t know my place is suppose to be #1 in their hearts.)  Since you don’t have a puppy, I think you’d make a great parent for this miniature human.  It’s in excellent used condition - less than 6 months!

If you can’t take her, I understand.  She does require a lot of work.  As a consolation, will you convince the humans to start feeding it solid foods?  I’m desperate for some table scraps, and I’m pretty sure she’d share hers with me.  Maybe you can put some canned carrots in her stocking.  Those are my favorite.  And a deer antler.  All miniature humans need a deer antler.

Have a safe trip.

Yours,

Lucy

Model Behavior

Categories: Cecilia , Photography | 1 Comment

If you’ve been following my flickr widget (to the right), you know that I’ve been trying to take a picture of Cecilia every day in the month of December.  It’s been going pretty well so far;  even though I don’t upload every day, I’ve taken a daily photo, missing only a day or two.  Taking a good picture in our house is a bit of a challenge as we have very little natural light and I have a deep hatred towards pictures using the built-in flash on my camera.  Someday I hope to have a better flash (hint, hint Chris).

At the moment, there are only a limited number of places in our house that provide the lighting that I long for, and these show up repetitively in my shots.  My favorite is the bed in the master bedroom.  It’s right next to a south facing window, and it’s a plush place for Cecilia to land if she topples over while shooting.  I’ve spent many hours there making goofy noises and faces in an attempt to get her to smile and look at the camera.  However, that’s all changed as she’s become more and more mobile and interested in her environment.  She is now bored with me and can no longer be distracted from her exploring.  This week she discovered the embroidery on the duvet cover.

“Hey. What is that?”
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“Gotta get closer.”
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“Hmm…”

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“That’s interesting.
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“Only one thing to do…”
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“Put it in my mouth!”

FRS - Muffins - Cranberry Muffins

Categories: FRS | 1 Comment

I must confess that I’ve made and photographed several recipes over the past month, but I’ve been too lazy to upload and post them.  I like to tweak most of my pictures in Photoshop.  Unfortunately, Photoshop makes me laptop run SUPER SLOW, which makes me SUPER ANGRY, and since I’m not suppose to take anxiety medication while breastfeeding, I procrastinate things that make me want to chunk expensive electronics across the room.  As a compromise, I’m going to post unedited pictures.  (Oh the humanity!)

Several years ago I decided I wanted to open a muffin shop and spent quite a bit of time designing a logo, menu, and concept to my store.  (Chris even had the logo printed on a apron for me when we were dating.  He’s got some crazy awesome wooing skills.)  Despite the plethora of hours spent planning, the only result was a steady stream of muffin cookbooks given to me as gifts.  Don’t get me wrong though.  I loved receiving them.  However, there is only so many ways to make a blueberry muffin, and I’m pretty sure I have the recipe for all of them.

Since muffins aren’t exactly figure friendly, I won’t be making them very often so it might be a while before I find my favorite recipe.  On the bright side, muffins generally freeze well, and this will be an excellent opportunity to find the right recipes for the hypothetical muffin shop.   I thought I’d start out with Muffins by Gemma Reece  (She was wildly creative with her book title.) and her cranberry muffins.  I actually whipped these babies up about a week before Thanksgiving.  We were taking a day off from our dieting to celebrate the holiday, and I wanted to have a special breakfast treat that was lighter than eggs and bacon and required no additional cooking since I was already making 3 pies, 2 pans of stuffing, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and peas and artichokes.


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I love that grocery stores stock fresh cranberries around the holidays.  They are so much better than the canned version, and homemade sauce is easy to do.  Thankfully, someone else made the sauce for our Thanksgiving dinner, but I still picked up two bags when I did my holiday shopping.  (They freeze well too.)  I thought I’d make use of them in the muffins.

Here’s the ingredients.  (The little red bowl is salt.)

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One interesting thing about this cookbook is it’s origin.  It’s from England.  The measurements are listed in English measuring units (England actually uses the metric system.  The U.S. uses the English unit.  It’s confusing I know.), but the recipe calls for some hard to find ingredients, like superfine sugar. Like the name suggests, superfine sugar is finer than our typical granulated, but it’s not as fine as confectioner’s sugar.  It’s used by bartenders in cocktails because it dissolves faster, and it’s found in light and uncooked recipes like meringues and souffles.

I did look in several stores for superfine sugar, but in the end, I had to make it myself in the food processor.  Having no experience with superfine sugar, I had to guess at the coarse.  The whole point of the finer sugar is to make the batter have a smoother texture, but it’s not overly important in a baked bread.

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Here’s all the dry ingredients.  Nothing overly exciting to report here.  I did sift my flour.  After all, what would be the point of pulverizing my sugar if I was just going to mix it would clumpy flour?  It did remind me that my sifter sucks so I ordered a new one this week.

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At this time, I’d like to take a moment to encourage you to hug your microwave today.  Some of you guys might remember a time before microwaves, but I have been fortunate enough to always have a microwave.  Well, I did until mine died the week of Thanksgiving.  At first  I thought,  “Ha! I can live without one!”  But that change when I had to melt butter for this recipe.  I actually had to do it twice.  Apparently you have to melt it until it’s transparent,  not cloudy.

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See the clumps?  That’s not because I forgot to temper the eggs;  that’s the butter trying to re-solidify.   I tossed that mess.  I’m not sure if it would have hurt the recipe, but I didn’t want to waste any more ingredients in order to find out.

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We bought a new microwave that weekend.  I promise that I’ll never take my magical heating appliance for granted again.

Here’s the dry ingredients meeting the wet ingredients and becoming the best of friends.  They’ll hook up with the Cranberries soon and sing songs about Ireland warfare.   Oh wait, wrong cranberries.

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We wait to add the fruit so they don’t burst and permeate the batter.  It’s so much better if they burst  in the oven and create sticky little cranberry pockets.   Once the fruit was gently mixed in, it was time to pour them into muffin pans and bake.  I used my awesome Williams-Sonoma muffin pan that was purchased by Chris while we were dating.  They bake muffins better than my other pans.

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I forgot to sprinkle the muffins with the raw sugar before sticking them in the oven and remember about half way through baking.  Most of the sugar stuck, but I regretted forgetting. The muffins, however, were still very pretty and tasty.

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Final Verdict: Not my favorite.  It was good, but it wasn’t fantastic.  I like my fruit muffins a bit sweeter.  However, I’m only experienced in American muffins.  Maybe they don’t like their breakfast pastries as sweet.  Never the less, they were great for Thanksgiving morning.

Shedding the Paranoia

Categories: mommyhood | 1 Comment

As the woman in the house, I have a lot of Christmas presents to wrap, and I hate dedicating my precious free (read baby-free) time to the activity.  This morning, I put Cecilia in her bumbo and decided to tackle a couple of gifts in my wrapping station upstairs.  There are no toys upstairs and I didn’t feel like making another trip downstairs since I’d have to bring the baby with me. What did I do?  I handed her a piece of scrape wrapping paper.  In the past, I would have been paranoid that she would swallow a piece or get a paper cut on her tongue.  I did, however, lick it  first to make sure it wasn’t toxic.

An Outing

Categories: Cecilia , mommyhood | No Comments

In our family, it’s a well known fact that Cecilia does not do well in the car, and if you’ve ever ridden with her, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.  Actually, her blood curdling screams probably haunt your nightmares.  It’s really no surprise that I rarely venture out with her alone.  And when I say rarely, I mean rarely.  In her 5 months of life, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve done this, and it includes instances when I’ve met up with Chris at our destination (like a pediatrician appointment).  When contemplating this, you should also consider that Cecilia only drinks from the tap (as in, my boob), and since she refuses to take a bottle, I cannot be away from her for more than 2-3 hours at a time.

Stir-crazy.  I believe that’s the word you’re searching for.  Or maybe cabin fever.

Despite her disdain for the car, she loves to be out and smiles and coos at anyone who looks at her.  It’s clear that she’s tired of our blasé life at home and longs to be surrounded by her adoring public.  This weekend, while out at Trader Joe’s as a family, Chris and I decided it would be good for me and Cecilia to get out more.  (And, truthfully, it would be good for Chris for us to get out more too.  I think he’s tired of me bitching whining about it.)  So I resolved to load up the baby and get out of the house this week.

Why did I decided that today was the day?  Especially when the local radar looked like this? I just don’t know, but I did.


weather.jpg

Actually, I do know;  I needed to pick up some photo prints at Wolf Camera for our Christmas cards.  I had uploaded them to their site at 9:57 this morning, and though I only received one confirmation of the 2 orders I submitted, I just assumed they would be done by 3:00pm.  After all, they promote their 1 hour prints all the time.  That should have been my first hint.

When I got to the store, it was pouring down rain, and there were no parking places by the front door. That should have been my second hint.  I parked, grabbed Cecilia in her car seat, and started to walk towards the door.   However, I had to stop because a large SUV was backing out and refused to yield to the pedestrian carrying an infant.  The only way they could have missed me was if they weren’t looking.  I guess that was entirely possible.

We get inside.  I’m completely drenched.  I give the boy behind the counter my name, and he produces one envelope.  One envelope.  Just one.  And he doesn’t have another for me.   Then he explains that they are out of 3.5X5 paper and that they won’t have more until tomorrow.  Tomorrow.  Not today, the day I decided to finally get out of the house, but tomorrow. 

Despite all of this, I kept my shit together.  Wolf Camera boy is very lucky that I worked 6 very long retail Christmases, and I have a lot of mercy on store employees and their limitations.  He’s also very lucky that Cecilia did wonderfully.  She even fell asleep on the way home.  If she hadn’t done so well, I’m pretty sure all my compassion for retail workers would have washed away with the rain.

Number 65, Check

65. Lose the baby weight
At the end of July, a full month after my daughter was born, I was weighing in at 160lbs. This past week, I weighed in at 129lbs. That’s actually a couple pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. Of course, it’s not distributed like it was before, but I know that takes time.

How’d I do it? A combination of healthy eating, some exercise, breastfeeding, and a natural appetite suppressant. Before you get alarmed, it’s not a suppressant you swallow; you inhale it - dog farts. Nothing makes dinner less appealing than puffs of sulfuric stench floating out of my little IBS puppy’s hindquarters.

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Good Bye Autumn


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It snowed on Monday.  It makes it that much harder to believe that I took this picture just a month ago.

Five Months

Categories: Cecilia | No Comments


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Dear Cecilia,

You turned five months old this past weekend, and you’re entering the time that most people deem “the best months”. I couldn’t agree more (but I have a suspicious feeling that the current month will always seem like the best month). Your personality is shining through more and more. You’ve become a much easier and more predictable baby. It is reassuring to have some insight into your needs and wants and the ways to fulfill them.


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We’ve had lots of visitors this month. I’m always so proud to introduce you to new people. You’re such a sweet, friendly baby that’s always happy to give people a smile. Everyone raves about your cute face and loves your natural Mohawk. Your Mohawk, by the way, is compliments of your father. He has congenital cowlick syndrome, and I’m afraid he’s passed that on to you. Thankfully you’ll be able to wear your hair long in the future, and in the mean time, it’s undeniably adorable.


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This month you started sitting up. We actually stumbled onto this skill. One day I propped you up for a picture, and to my amazement, you stayed in that position. It put a big smile on my face, but part of me felt guilty for not trying sooner. I’m so proud of your current abilities that I forget to encourage you to try new ones. I think that’s one of challenges of being a parent – finding the right balance of praise and adoration for your child and still help them improve and grow. It’s going to be hard because I know you’ll have some falls along the way.


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We celebrated your first Thanksgiving this month. You did a great job and didn’t get overly fussy. In fact, you even napped during dinner, which allowed me and your daddy to enjoy the meal uninterrupted. Once you woke up, you were content as long as you were in my arms, and I was happy to hold you. This was the first Thanksgiving that I felt truly grateful. I thank God for you and your daddy, and I feel so blessed to have such an extraordinary family. I know the coming holidays are going to be more meaningful because you’re here. I’m so glad that we’ll get to spend them together.

Love,
Momma