Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A simple, frugal Christmas gift

My new go-to Christmas gift, courtesy of the lovely, brilliant ladies at Urban Nest:



With a different mug:


Close up of tag with instructions:


This is a fantastically simple and frugal gift.  I got my mugs and treat bags to hold the cafe mocha mix at the dollar store, used curling ribbon I already had, and an editable gift tag I had saved to my computer from last year.  I apologize for ruining the surprise for any of you who may be getting this for Christmas from us but it was too good an idea to not share.  

Here's the recipe straight from Urban Nest:


3/4 cup instant coffee
3T cocoa
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup non-dairy creamer
1/4 cut nonfat dry milk
Mix the ingredients.  Add 2 tablespoons to 6 ounces of hot water.


I doubled the recipe and put about a cup and a half of the mix in each treat bag.   


Happy Christmakwanzukkah!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

16 months can BEAT IT

I blame each and every one of you with a child older than 16 months for not telling me. For not telling me that my dear, beloved, mild tempered child was going to turn into a whining, pinching, throwing, leech-like creature in his 16th month. It's all your fault and you ARE going to share blame with me for his bad behavior. Not only is he cantankerous, he's also deliberate in his evil ways. He looks me square in the eye before he throws his sippy cup halfway across the kitchen. He makes sure I'm paying attention before he attempts to throw himself off the couch onto the coffee table. His methods are sure and fast and he knows he'll get maximum response the more dangerous the behavior. He's shifty. He's rascally. He's a...toddler. And it's all your fault for not warning me.

Also, as evidenced by the following video, he's easily suggestible. Keep in mind, he did NOT fall down nor did he hit his head. I can totally use this to my benefit, no?

Monday, December 7, 2009

And so this is Christmas (at the Smiths)

After much blood, sweat, tears, and whoops of joy, our house is decorated for the 2009 Holiday Season.  Welcome!






















I am SO happy that's all done.  Every year I dread the task but every year I am so pleased when it's all put out and the stockings are hung (on our faux mantle) and the tree is twinkling.  Now I just need a team of elves to do my Christmas shopping and clean my house.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Before the first snow of the season



1.  He is so damn cute.

2.  The snow started falling minutes after I took this photo.  He looked up at the sky and said "Bubbles!"  I said, "No, try again."  He cocks his head and ponders the falling snow for a minute. "WaWa (Rain)?"  Close, buddy, but not quite.  This stuff is way worse than rain.  And so winter has officially arrived in Chicago.

3.  I'm in love with my new iPhone app: Camera Bag.  Go buy it.  Right now.  I'll wait.

4.  Got it?  Good.  Now, you can make any iPhone photo so very pretty with this app.  See that one up there?  I took that and then used my app to make it look like it was taken with a Helga.  There are about 10 different "lens" you can use to alter and prettify your photos.  It almost makes my DSLR and Photoshop seem unnecessary.  (Just kidding.  iPhones are't THAT good at taking pictures.)

5.  I'm attending my first blogger meet-up thingymajig tomorrow and I am NERVOUS/EXCITED.  I think I'm a relatively outgoing person but I haven't thrown myself at strangers in a long time.  I've heard there is wine so that helps.  All of you non-bloggers are snickering now.  Don't make fun of me.  Stop it.  I mean it.  

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

For the dog lovers

UPDATE: Wrigley has a new home!

This little pup,Wrigley, needs a new home:


From her mom, M:

Is anyone interested in adopting a dog? Sadly, our 2.5 year old Shih-Tzu/Yorkie mix, Wrigley, is in need of a new home. She is generally a good animal, but she has demonstrated aggression towards our 16 month old son and we no longer trust her around A.

Wrigley is paper/mat trained. She is smart, affectionate, loyal and very cute. Like most small dogs, she is on the yappy side but she was never trained otherwise (our fault). She is initially aggressive when meeting other dogs, but quickly calms down. She has had a constant companion, Finley (our silky terrier), since we got her and the dogs get along really well. As of this coming weekend, she will be updated on her shots and freshly groomed. She was spayed when she was six months old.

We'd love to give her to a good home (one without young children).



We've met Wrigley and she really is a lovely pup but she needs a new home and I'm putting this out there in case you know of someone who would like to take her. Contact me via email or through the comments if you, or anyone you may know, is at all interested. Thank you!

Monday, November 30, 2009

You just come for the pictures

It's ok.  I don't have much to say anyhow.  Noah and I are fighting over how much Sesame Street is too much Sesame Street.  His answer: there is no such thing as too much Sesame Street.  My answer: 30 minutes with that Grover and his Wubba Wubba song and all the letters and numbers and I am DONE.  Though, come to think of it, Noah does know that 2 comes after 1 now...

So, Friday.  On Friday, we saw Santa (at the Lincoln Park Zoo's annual Zoo Lights).  On Friday, Noah hated Santa. 

Behold:


This Santa thing isn't so bad...


Make it stop!  NoNoNoNo! And yet, I can't let go of your soft, velvety red suit.  
Kind of feels like my blankie.


Lights!  That dance!  Much better.  I hate Santa.

 I mean, I KNEW he was going to hate Santa.  But I thought I would give it a shot.  And honestly, I still don't have a good picture for the holiday cards and was desperate for a decent one.  Those up there are not decent ones.   Back to the drawing board.  


Friday, November 27, 2009

Eternally grateful



Curious.  Confused.  Creative.  Inquisitive.  Intelligent.  Inspiring.  Fast.  Furious.  Fantastic.  Perfect.  In every way.

Sometimes I just sit back and marvel at our son.  We're so lucky that HE picked US.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Major accomplishment

Toilet locks are installed.  I don't want to talk about WHY we finally needed toilet locks but let's just say that our son, ever the explorer, had his last hurrah with the toilet this morning.  So, I apologize to our guests that they will need a tutorial to use our toilets from this point on.  It had to be done.


He is SUCH a stinker.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

16 Months

Dear Noah,

Son, you are really testing us these days.  I knew this whole parenting gig was going to get harder and I knew you were going to test our limits and I knew you were going to do all this while displaying a major independent streak but good lord boy.  Mama's tired.  One second you are trying to throw yourself out of the highchair at the restaurant because the noodles aren't noodle-y enough and the next you are nuzzling your downy soft head into my neck and kissing me open mouthed on my cheek.  It's those moments that make me forget the ones that come before...and also how the human race keeps reproducing.

I do have to say that I think you're really something.  You constantly amaze me with what you pick up and know.  The other day I was watching you on your video monitor wake up from your nap and rather than waking up crying or babbling incoherently you sat up, shot your right arm into the air and said "Wa wa, skkkkyyyyyyyyyy!"  And I looked outside and realized it was raining.  Well hot damn little man.   We've talked about rain and played in the rain but you put all that together by yourself.  Your vocabulary keeps expanding everyday...new and/or improved words are purple "puple", Poppi "PopPop", Auntie Danielle "DeeDee", turtle "tutle", Lily "Yiyi", among others.  You've mastered pretty much every body part except the elbow and I think that's because yours is still covered in baby chub and hard to see.  You adore bellies and find such joy in forcing people to lift their shirts when you demand more "bebe" (belly).  You're an enthusiastic greeter who waves hello and bye bye with such happiness and cheer.  You're also a professional kiss blower and you get both your arms into it.   You don't do things halfway that's for sure.

I appreciate that you know what you want.  Last night Daddy and I spent the night away from you and your Auntie Danielle took care of you.  She told us that when you were ready for bed you trotted over to the stairs and rattled the gate until she came to take you upstairs.  And once in bed you settled in right away and were asleep before she could shut the door.  But you also know that when you're done with meals, YOU'RE DONE WITH MEALS RIGHTTHISVERYSECOND.  And we better remove your plate before you throw it across the room and wipe your hands before you run them through your hair.  It's like you just KNOW what you shouldn't do and you do it with more gusto than I can fathom.  So I suppose this "you know what you want" business is both a blessing and a curse.

We visited that lovely orange labeled home improvement store today to pick up some things Daddy needed and while there you took great notice of the 12 foot blow up Santa at the front of the store.  By the time we left you were chanting "Santa!  Santa!" and baby?  You have no idea what you're in for.  Christmas may be my very favorite time of year and I hope to pass that on to you.  Your father is a scrooge this time of year but I won't let that interfere with sharing my unbridled love of the holiday season.  You will know the magic of twinkling lights and the joy of Christmas carols and the transformative scent of evergreens.  But always remember that Christmas is not all about the presents, ok?  Regardless of what your father says.

We love you, Bubba-loo.  Can we try to sit still next month for some pictures?  Please and thank you.

Love,
Mama

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sad

If you can, please go visit K at Two Adults, One Brown Baby.  She gave birth last week to very premature twins and her son, Noah, lived only a short time and his sister, Iris, is in the NICU.  I'm sure any words of comfort and encouragement you can leave for her and her family would be much appreciated.

Our thoughts are with you, K, T, E and little Iris and Noah.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Boredom in Chicago and cookies from the East Coast

Is anyone else still feeling slammed by the time change?  Noah's finally adapted and stopped waking up at the god awful hours before 6 am and is actually napping on schedule again but this getting dark at 5 pm business?  WRONG.  So very very WRONG.  I feel like the hours after he wakes from his nap are never-ending and I've noticed my temper is shorter with him.  We used to hit the neighborhood for a pre-dinner walk and to burn some daylight but now that it's dark so early there is no daylight left to burn.  We're like two marbles rolling around the house, bumping into each other constantly.  By 5 pm we're tired of books and Sesame Street and the choo choo train and puzzles.  Any ideas on what I can do with him that will entertain us both as we stare down the barrel of a long, long winter?

Our neighbors across the street turned on their Christmas lights last night.  They leave them up all year long and I guess they decided it was time to bring out the festive.  They're totally in cahoots with all the stores, I know it.  And I feel myself falling prey to the lure of the twinkly lights and sparkly ornaments.  I'm trying to resist.  I swear.

Noah's room is almost done.  Hopefully, fingers crossed, Tim can put up his drapes tonight and I'll get around to pictures tomorrow.  Which means I'll have to clean his room...I'm really so good to you people aren't I?

In the meantime, head on over to Milkymilk and enter to win a special batch of homemade cookies from her Etsy shop, Buttermilk Bake Shop!  You have until Saturday to enter by leaving a comment.  I've yet to try Mary's delicious looking cookies but they're a hit with Etsy shoppers.  And of course I entered the contest.  I would never ever turn down cookies.  Ever.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Future career?

I'm seeing "zookeeper" listed on his business cards.  It sounds better than "housekeeper".




I broke out the swiffer duster contraption this morning and Noah thought it was the best thing ever.  Right now, he's "dusting" every square inch of our first floor.  Had I known he loved this thing I would have given it to him months ago!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Watch out for the dinosaur!

Simply stated, we had a fantastic Halloween.  We terrorized the neighborhood, oh, excuse me, trick or treated.  We handed out lots of treats.  We ate good food with good company.  All in all it was spectacular.  And I don't even like Halloween to begin with...I feel that may be changing.  The sheer wonder on your child's face has a way of doing that, doesn't it?










And I promised you a recipe...possibly one of the best meals I have eaten in a looooooonnnnggg time.  I'm only posting the main dish, but we also had homemade pumpkin ravioli in a gorgonzola sauce and sauteed green beans.  Please promise me you'll make this sometime soon.  Promise?

Rosemary Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Harvest Apples
Cottage Living, Sept 2004 via myrecipes.com

Yield: Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2  pounds  (about 5) Fuji or other sweet-tart apples, peeled and each cut into 8 wedges
  • 2  tablespoons  butter, melted
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  (1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloin
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground pepper
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1  small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2  cup  white wine or apple juice
  • 1  cup  heavy cream
  • 3  tablespoons  Dijon mustard
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Toss apples with butter and lemon juice in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish or shallow ovenproof Dutch oven. Bake at 400° for 20 to 25 minutes. Season tenderloin with salt and pepper; brown in hot oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottom skillet 7 minutes. Remove apples from oven; place tenderloin in center of baking dish. Set aside.
3. Cook onion in skillet 5 minutes. Turn heat to high, and add wine; cook about 2 minutes, scraping bottom of skillet. Stir in cream, mustard, and rosemary.
4. Pour cream mixture over tenderloin, and bake at 350°, basting occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 155°. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes. (The pork will continue to cook.) Slice into 1/2- to 3/4-inch slices, and serve with apples and mustard cream sauce.


And then, afterwards, rub your belly and sigh in contentment.  

Monday, November 2, 2009

A proper Halloween post is forthcoming (along with one of the best dinner recipes I have had in a loooooonnggg time), but for now this little dinosaur, who terrorized the neighborhood, will have to do:



Thursday, October 29, 2009

Littlest thief

This is what happens when you leave you diaper bag unattended in the vicinity of a toddler who a) knows that's where the snacks are and b) has an unhealthy obsession with credit cards:




Do you see how there was a diaper in the way of the wallet in the first photo?  And then in the second it was thrown behind him towards the stove?  He chucked that sucker so hard I thought it would tear in two...that's how much he's obsessed with my wallet.  I ended up at the bank today without any ID because of this little episode.

Also, someone should report the parents of this child for leaving the cabinet locks open...there are CERAMIC PLATTERS in there for god's sake.  What ARE they thinking?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hand wringing

I'm sure you've all read a million articles about vaccinations and the flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine and do I or don't I and so on and so forth.  Let me first say that I am a full believer in vaccinating our children and have followed our pediatrician's inoculation schedule...until now.  We have Noah's 15 month appointment tomorrow and are scheduled for his MMR and the seasonal flu vaccinations.  And I'm worried.  No, I'm not just worried, I'm anxious about it.  I have not given a second thought to his vaccinations until now and with all of the reading (research?) I have been doing I am not comfortable bombarding his system with two reactive vaccinations on the same day.   Add on top of that a pretty nasty cold and I fear a recipe for disaster.

I've never asked my pediatrician if he would alter the set schedule for vaccinations and tomorrow I think I will.  Basically I want the first of two seasonal flu shots (he's never had it before so he gets two doses a month or so apart) tomorrow, followed by the second shot next month and the MMR in December.  Now, what do I do about the H1N1?  I don't know if they even have the vaccine available at their office yet.  But if they do, do they have the ONE shot that doesn't contain mercury as a preservative?  So far only one manufacturer has made a mercury-free shot and there isn't a whole lot of it to go around.  Also, from what I've read, it's not recommended that children receive both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 at the same time since both are reactive vaccines.  So that brings me back to do I or don't I and, more importantly, when?

Sigh.  Do you see why I'm anxious now?  I feel like I can't make a definitive decision on the vaccines until I speak with my doctor tomorrow at Noah's appointment.  I don't like going into the appointment knowing I have to make a decision on the spot armed only with the information that I have today and what the doctor says tomorrow...it feels rushed.  And we're talking about my BABY here.  My sweet, happy, snot-nosed baby.  What would you do?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

15 Months

Dear Noah,

I'm late on this letter and for that I am so sorry.  Let's just chalk it up to being busy chasing you...EVERYWHERE.  Yes, my son, you officially started walking this past month and your mama is tired.  So, so tired.   Your grandmother and I learned a very valuable lesson the other day when we attempted to navigate shopping without you in your stroller or in a shopping cart, i.e. me carrying you and you screaming at the top of your lungs to be put down.  I don't mind you having a little freedom to explore but it's the fact that my stern "come here right now, Noah" admonishments went unheeded.  You bulldozed displays, ran out of my grasp, and laughed uncontrollably because you thought Mommy was "chasing" you rather than trying desperately to corral you.  We are so going to work on this little man.  Oh, and I am never taking you out in public without some sort of tether ever again.

Not only are you walking, you're also talking.  You have new words, new sounds, and new gestures everyday.  Your recent language acquisitions are: YiYi (Lily, our dog), Jojo (great-grandma), PopPop (grandpa), Pa (please, and you better use this all the time), among others.  You can do TOUCHDOWN!  and raise your hands in the air, you like to "fist bump" with me, "knock, knock" on all closed doors, make elephant noises accompanied by raising your hand in the air to mimic the trunk, and scratch your armpits when you're being a monkey.  You know that the train says "choo, choo" and the cow says "moo, moo".  You're a little sponge and I am constantly reminding Daddy to watch his mouth around you.

We took you for your first official and professional shoe fitting and I am going to admit something terrible.  I had you wearing shoes a size and a half too small.  I know.  I KNOW!  Talk about Mother of the Year over here.  I honestly didn't know they were too small.  In retrospect they were CLEARLY too small...enough that your young and observant Aunt Hilary noticed and demanded you get new shoes.  You owe all your future foot comfort to her.  So we hauled you off to Stride Rite and got you properly fitted with a couple new pairs of shoes.  And to add even more shame, you clearly walked much better in your new shoes.  You were near running afterwards!  Sigh.  Shameful.  I promise to never deny you new shoes and proper fittings again.

Buddy, you're a rock star.  Your fourteenth month was trying for all of us but I think you came out the other side a very cool little kid.  You spent the majority of the past month pushing out tooth after tooth and fighting cold after cold and yet you remained relatively cheerful and playful.  We had our moments, to be sure, and you and I are still learning how to manage each other, but we're hitting our stride in this new place called Toddler-ville, Land of the Bi-Polar Baby and Manic Mother.  It has it's ups and downs but it's a pretty cool place to be and I'm happy I'm here with you.

I love you more and more every moment of every day.

Love,
Mama

P.S. I don't have many pictures (read: maybe two but they're blurry) of you since you're, you know, WALKING and all now.  And any time I take out the camera you see buttons and make a beeline for it.  Seems that getting your picture is a lesson in patience.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pretty! I like pretty!

Isn't this so pretty?  An "S" for Smith, for Sara and for Super fantastic free stuff found on the internet.
S





Go here to see if your initial is available!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Punkins! And apple cake!

Let's take a look at Punkins! 2008:



And this year, Punkins! 2009:



Differences:

1) No Daddy.  Very, very sad.  Stupid work got in the way.
2) It was downright CHILLY this year.  Stupid global climate change.
3) Noah's a BIG BOY!  Egads, that boy has grown!
4) No bangs this year.  I kind of like the bangs...perhaps I shall cut some again?


Slide!  Possibly the highlight of the day for Noah.



Melts your heart, does it not?



He was more confused by the whole chair thing than he was about the scary feet to his right.

My mother and I also bought every possible baked good the pumpkin farm's market shop sold.  Dutch apple pies, pumpkin pies, apple strudel bread, pumpkin bread, apple cider donuts (it is not, NOT, fall without a dozen of these...perhaps TWO dozen), apple cider, and a half peck of apples...which leads me to this:






I made apple cake!  What?  Was I supposed to eat the apples all healthy-like?  Ridiculous.  Apple cake is a much better use of fresh-picked apples.  Don't argue with me.  And because I said so.  Recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  I kind of love her story of how her apple cake came to be so maybe I will manufacture my own story to tell Noah and he can think his mommy's apple cake came from his long-lost ancestors from Germany.    Though I'll probably have to write it down on some piece of paper, stain it all up, and fold and crease it to pieces to convince him it came from the Old Country.  And then he'll call me out and tell me I got it off the internet.  Kids these days!

Recipe update, aka when I finally cut into it and possibly died from happiness: This cake is more of a morning coffee cake and best when room temperature.  I tried a bit right out of the oven and was a little underwhelmed.  But this morning!  Oh my, this morning...I had a little slice of heaven on my plate.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thinking

I have to let go of the idea of my home being perfectly clean and perfectly neat and perfectly accessorized and perfectly perfect now that I have a toddler. Chaos reigns here and I need to be a-ok with that.

I should not buy a new rug for the family room. I have a toddler and a dog and a cat and a husband and that is a recipe for mess and dirt. Why ruin a perfectly new rug?

I need to master the sewing machine that sits in my basement. I get sucked into this crazy blogland where all the people are pretty and talented and make beautiful things with their own two hands. And then I get PUMPED! UP! to do projects and then realize I can't sew a straight line. I need to work on that.

I may have painted Noah's room last night in a fit of "pale aqua blue is for BABIES and Noah is a BIG BOY and must have a BIG BOY room!". So now it is beige. I love beige. For real. I gravitate toward neutral colored walls. I won't lie though...this was mainly spurred on by the Pottery Barn Kids sale email where I saw that my very favorite roman shades that I have been wanting forever for Noah's room are on sale and pale aqua walls just weren't gong to work. I ordered them and decided that new shades meant new paint color and that's how we ended up in the Lowe's paint department on a Tuesday afternoon. Pictures forthcoming.

I need to figure out Photoshop. I have that plus a really spectacular camera plus a new lens and I need to spend some time learning how they all work individually and in conjunction with one another. Which means I have pumpkin patch pictures but I want to work on them a bit. Stay tuned for those pictures too.

I am apparently having blog guilt which is why you are reading such a crappy post. My apologies. Here, cute baby lounging.

To come: pumpkin patch pictures. After lunch. And a nap.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

No going back

This baby walking thing? It's still kind of surprising me everyday. I sometimes forget that he can stand on his own two legs as I am still gently placing him on his butt when I put him down. He swiftly gets to his feet and toddles off while I stand there amazed. His arms are reached up and high, his legs woodenly stepping forward, right then left, right then left. I have to catch myself when I turn around to find a tiny person tapping me on the leg and not startle him with my own surprise. Just this morning I jumped out of my skin when he appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, in the bathroom doorway. It seems we waited for this moment for such a long time and yet it seems as though he has always been just this way.


Toddle forth, little one, toddle forth!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Happy Birthday to me!

It's my birthday!  I love birthdays, mine and everyone else's.  LOVE them.  And there is no better thing to come home to than a homemade birthday card from my sweet boy.  



He's got great handwriting for a 14 month old, don't you think?  And some mad crayon skills.  I'm going to take some of the birthday love I have received today and send it on to you.  I wish you a very happy day!!!  And for posterity, this is me at 28:



Major proof I need my eyebrows done...like yesterday.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This is NOT a product review post, but I am in love and I thought you should know

I have two new loves in my life.  May I introduce you to the first, the Keurig, single cup coffee maker, otherwise known as Madame Cafe Au Lait:



This doll can make me one cup of coffee or tea at a time which means I can have a cup in the morning, a cup later in the day as a little pick me up, or a cup of tea before bed.  I had been making 4 cups in my big coffee pot first thing in the morning and never getting through them before the heater switched off...or ending up with a burned pot of coffee.  Madame Cafe Au Lait is a hand me down from my parents who upgraded to Madame's super special and high class older (and single) sister, Mademoiselle Cafe au Lait plus Sucre.  If I could hug my new coffee maker I would.  She's just that special to me.

My second new love is the Shark cordless handheld vacuum.

Why did I not buy a "dustbuster" before?  Was I dumb?  Missing brain cells?  Or, god forbid, CHEAP, when I owned two perfectly acceptable upright vacuum cleaners?  Whatever it was, it was stupid.  This little baby has made cleaning up after a toddler (helllllooooooo cheerios in every crevice), a husband (how do the crumbs from making his sandwiches end up in the drawers?), a very shed-y cat, and a dog who just makes a  mess by breathing SO SO SIMPLE.  He and I have only been together for two days and already my floors are less crumb-y because I can whip him out with no cords to fuss with which means no outlet protectors to battle with and eventually misplace.  He's easy and I like him that way.  And such a cute shade of green.

I honestly believe that it's these little things that make my days so much easier and more tolerable.  If I am to be in charge of this house, and this baby, day in and day out then I'll take whatever mechanical help I can get. Now, having written all this drivel, it's so obvious that I am an advertiser's dream.  If any advertisers are reading, I am available for paid product reviews.  I am not above that.  Nope, not at all.

P.S. While on the topic of products, remember my fiasco with the Little Tikes broken train set?  I sent the problem part back to them and they agreed that it was defective.  It seems to only be my set and not a whole product line problem which is good and won't warrant a recall.  And they sent a replacement train set PLUS another truck-type toy that Noah adores. GREAT WORK Little Tikes!  Thanks for the fast response and positive customer service experience.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Problem solved

I think I've found the solution to this miserable teething (aside from Motrin, yes we've bought stock).  I'm baking.  Muffins, to be specific.  Not that it helps Noah but it helps me focus my frustrations from dealing with a toddling, gnawing, biting, screeching, whining monkey-type creature all day.  So I present to you, my loyal (and beautiful) readers, recipes from my current muffin obsession. (My notes are in italics.)


Zucchini Bread (turned into muffins)
Recipe from my darling Aunt Norma 
Makes TWO (2) 9x5 loaf pans or as many muffin tins as you can fill


Ingredients
3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cup sugar 
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 can crushed pineapple, well drained (I left this out because I didn't have it)
3 cups flour (I used whole wheat)
2 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans or dates (if you wish)


Instructions
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare loaf pans or muffin tins with non-stick spray or liners.
2.Beat eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla until thick.  
3.Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well.  
4.Pour into loaf pans or muffin tins until 3/4 full.  
5.Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  (Note: I checked my muffins at 20 min just to make sure since they're smaller than the loaf pans.  Keep checking until you have a clean toothpick.) 
6.Cool and serve.


Banana Bread Muffins (called Banana Wee-Eat Germ Muffins)
Recipe from Weelicious


Ingredients
1 cup All Purpose Flour (I used whole wheat)
1 cup Wheat Germ
(I used flax seed meal because that was what I had on hand and I think it turned out great and added nutrition...bonus!)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
3 Medium Very Ripe Bananas, mashed
1/2 cup Agave
3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 tbsp Vanilla
1 large Egg


Instructions
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.Combine flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, salt in a bowl.
3.In a standing mixer combine the 3 mashed bananas, agave, oil, vanilla and egg. Beat until combined. (I don't have a standing mixer so I used my hand mixer.)
4.Gently mix in the dry ingredients in 3 stages until just combined. Do not over-mix.
5.Grease or line muffin cups or mini loaf pans and fill 3/4 full with the mixture.
6.Bake 15 minutes for mini muffin cups, 20 for regular muffin cups or 25 minutes for mini loaf pans or until a toothpick comes out clean.
7.Cool and serve.



(I decided to try out this recipe in lieu of my darling Aunt Norma's because I wanted something I could give Noah without sending him up into the clouds on a sugar high (see Zucchini Bread and TWO CUPS OF SUGAR above).  The substitution of agave for sugar isn't entirely noticed in the final product as it's still sweet and delicious.  This Weelicious recipe is a formidable contender, but my Aunt's recipe still wins hands down.  Hers is below.)


Banana Bread 
Recipe from my darling Aunt Norma


1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, well beaten
1 cup mashed bananas (3 large bananas)
1 tsp vanilla
 1 2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda mixed w/ 1 tbsp water


1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare loaf pans or muffin tins with non-stick spray or liners. 
2.Mix together dry ingredients: sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, baking soda w/water.  Add in oil, egg, bananas, and vanilla. 
3.Mix well and pour into loaf pans or muffin tins until 3/4 full.
4.Bake at 375 degrees for 30 min or until toothpick comes out clean.
5.Cool and serve.


Raspberry Applesauce Muffins
Recipe from Itty Bitty Bistro


Ingredients
1c. whole wheat flour
1c. rolled oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. brown sugar
1c. buttermilk
1/2 c.
 raspberry applesauce (the recipe used homemade but I subbed in store-bought berry applesauce)
1 egg


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12 muffin tin with papers or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Stir in the oats.
3. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, buttermilk, raspberry applesauce and egg.
4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until JUST combined. Do not over stir.
5. Divide batter amongst muffin cups.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. 

7.Cool and serve.


(Next time I would add some sugar or agave to these.  Maybe about a 1/2 cup.  As is, they come out a little blah for my taste.)


There you have it.  My solution to life's littlest problems.  Go forth and bake your hearts out my pretties.


(I have no idea why the spaces are so large in this post.  I'm not so sure if I like the new Blogger Editor if it does crap like that.)

General malaise

This is the current theme at the Smith household:



A little "meh" with a side of "ugh".  Noah's molars are still working their way down and causing us all a little pain.  We'll be back soon with sunshine and rainbows.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

14 Months

Dear Noah,

This pretty much sums up what we've been working on during this last month:



Today you're 14 months old and you have finally (FINALLY!) started walking. Every day you're becoming more and more steady and comfortable with being on your feet, arms reached high in the air. I love that this toddling is brand new...so shiny and fresh and positively adorable. From what I hear, now that you're "walking", everyday you'll become better and faster and soon you'll be running. I can hardly believe it.

Your vocabulary has exploded again this past month. Your new favorite word is "football" and only appropriate since your weekends are full of watching the games with your father on the couch. You're fantastic at screaming FOOTBALL (more like "BOOOOO-BAAAALLLLL") at the television screen, demanding that we turn it on. I'll have to make sure the DVR has at least one game on it at all times or perhaps you would enjoy a little ESPN Sportscenter?

Lately it's been high volume all the time around our house. You crawl from one room to the next screeching and babbling and yelling. But always happy and always cheerful. Except when I don't turn on "BOOOO-BAAAAAALLLLL" fast enough...I worry the windows will break with the force of your screaming. As your grandfather has noted many times, it's NEVER quiet when you're awake. And I like it that way.

You adore anything with buttons...both the kind you can press (the remote "MOOOOTTTEEEEE!") and buttons on shorts or shirts or pants. And bellybuttons. If it was appropriate I think you would be asking everyone you see if you can get a peek at their bellybuttons. Body parts fascinate you and you love to poke me in the nose ("NOS!") or mimic me sticking out my tongue. You're basically in a crazy exploring stage and can't get enough of the world, and people, around you. Every day you learn something new and so do I... I learn that I CAN love you more each and every day. Your enthusiasm for life is contagious and even days that don't start out well (thank you molars) usually turn around with a smile and a clap from you. And a "MAMA!" paired with a laugh never fails to make my day.

I love you little man. Happy 14 Months.

Love,
Mama ("MAMAMAMAMA!")

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

When you have nothing else, there are always bullet points

  • Well. I sure was the girl who cried wolf. Noah's not walking. Not really. I truly thought we had turned a corner the other day and it was going to be all systems go. But, no. He's done a couple of steps here and there but nothing where I can call up my mother and exclaim "He's walking! He's REALLY walking!" like some lunatic. Not there yet. So I'm still on pick up every little crumb off the floor duty and wash the cat hair off the hands duty. He just needs to be walking by Halloween because his dinosaur costume just won't translate if he's crawling. So we have a little over a month to get our act in gear over here. It can, and will, be done.
  • Speaking of the baby...I've discovered he likes Jazz music. Thank god for satellite radio...jazz on demand. Think he'll be sorely disappointed when we take him to Baby Loves Disco on Sunday? Or perhaps he'll break out some Studio 54 moves.
  • So we have this bar around the corner from us that caters to a rather interesting crowd...the type of patrons who may be missing teeth, enjoy being unemployed and happy to hit up the local watering hole at 8 am on a Tuesday. From the outside it's hard to tell exactly what goes on in there (no, nothing lewd) but when I see a handful of old men drunk out of their gourds sitting out front smoking their cigarettes I can safely guess it's not the kind of bar Tim and I would frequent. Long story short, the other weekend we saw two of these men carrying a third between them at 10 am on a Sunday, the third man couldn't hold his head up nor walk, and all I could think was that I am SO PROUD to know that my tax dollars are being spent keeping these unemployed men drunk at that bar. It's really all about supporting welfare and the neighborhood establishments, right?
  • Tim told me last night that he's going to try not to work this weekend and was it so wrong that I wanted to jump up and down and squeeze him? We haven't had a weekend without Tim working in FOREVER. I am inordinately excited and yet I have no idea what we should do to fill all that family time. Suggestions?
  • I've got nothing else. I would be surprised if you're still reading this.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Toddle toddle

He's walking! Kind of. He'll do about 5-6 steps and then plop down but today he walked from the dishwasher to the fridge, about 7 steps, all by himself! And without any encouragement from me. I'm planning to get this on video...as soon as I find the battery charger. Can you believe I am SO UNPREPARED? Shocker, I know.

More to come.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Product warning

**UPDATED at end of post**

This product, the Little Tikes Fold Up N Go train set, is not safe for little ones. The screw-on battery cover does NOT screw on correctly. This morning I found Noah prying off the supposedly screwed on battery cover and popping batteries in his mouth. Thankfully I got to him before he could so much as close his mouth around a battery but there is NO reason that should happen. I've written a complaint email to Little Tikes and hopefully they will respond appropriately and quickly.

Photo from Little Tikes

It's my duty, as a parent, to only allow safe products into my home. As of now, this product, or more specifically OUR toy, does not meet that criteria whatsoever. If you, or someone you know, owns this toy, be careful and double check the battery cover to make sure it is securely attached. I shudder to think what could have happened had I not been right there watching.

Update: I am playing phone tag with a rep from Little Tikes. So far they've made good on their promise to return emails/calls within 48 hours.

Update to the update: I spoke with a very kind rep who asked me to send back the defective piece for their inspection and provided this was a one time problem they will be sending out a new train for Noah. I'll keep you posted on how this pans out, but so far Little Tikes has been very responsive and I appreciate that very much.