Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Foodie Resolution Weeks #8 & 9 of 52: Easy Salsa & Sprinkles Birthday Cake

I have made quite a few new things in the last couple weeks, but either didn't take photos or was too busy to blog about them. Or both. I did manage to snap some photos of salsa I made from my Blendtec recipe book recently, and obviously, week 9 was all about birthday cake. I made both cake recipes from scratch and that may have been the first time I'd ever done that.

First up, Easy Salsa. 

I'm still wary of using tomatoes from cans to make salsa. It almost feels like why bother when I can just buy jarred salsa if the ingredients aren't going to be fresh, you know? I do have PW's salsa pinned and just might consider someday... but for now... it's salsa with real tomatoes. I actually prefer the cheap Roma tomatoes over the others to make salsa because there are less insides and therefore the salsa will be less runny, because I use the whole thing.

For this recipe, I substituted about 6 tomatoes in place of the can of tomatoes, added 1/2 jalapeno instead of the green chilies, and way more cilantro. Because 2 Tbsp? I mean, really. We're talking about salsa here.
I've made this recipe twice in two weeks and it's a great way to clean out the produce.

Next up, Birthday cake. 

I don't have a single photo of the cooking process, but man did that take forever. We ended up with like 72 mini cupcakes and a smash cake, all from scratch. I don't own a mini cake pan for the smash cake and asked all of my local friends if they had one and none of them did. I ended up using two of my Pyrex 1 qt. glass storage containers to make the two layers of the cake. I have this set. Got the idea here. My mom has way more baking skill than me and suggested we heavily butter and flour the insides to prevent sticking. I filled each of them with even amounts of vanilla cake mix (see below), added sprinkles to make it my own funfetti mix and baked until done. Then I plopped them out immediately onto a wire cooling rack for cooling. The next day, I cut off the top of each cake to make them flat, added icing to the middle, a sliced strawberry, and iced the rest before adding the sprinkles. Sprinkles cake inspiration here.
Steps: starting top right and going clockwise
Steps to the Sprinkle Number Process:
1. Bake layers, cool, slice off tops using bread knife, ice center, stack, icing all around (shown in 1st step).
2. Let icing harden for about 30 minutes. When no longer sticky, place number piece of paper in the center. We printed to size - many images available on Google images & using Paint, you can shrink them.
3. Use a butter knife to ruffle the icing around the number so it's sticky again, because you want the sprinkles to adhere and stay.
4. Sprinkle all around, being careful to keep that number down without pushing too hard that it stick too well when it comes time to pull it off the cake.
5. Quality control. The key is to get into the corners of the number (with sprinkles) so it's sharp. You want the number to be distinct when you pull it off the cake. Peel number off once you feel the sprinkles are good to go!

I used two cake recipes-- one vanilla and one chocolate. And the recipe for the vanilla buttercream frosting. I planned to make cream cheese frosting, but I forgot to buy the cream cheese at the store. But the butter? Yeah, I didn't forget that... so buttercream frosting it was!

They were okay, but the only thing I'd probably make again was the frosting. It was extra vanilla-ey and I like it that way. Otherwise, the cake was just... cake. I did add chocolate chips to the chocolate cupcakes, so that made them pretty yummy, but the cake itself was just okay. I loved the sprinkles top and plan to make that again for sure!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Full Circle

This is just one of the series of birthday week posts, but I felt like it deserved its own.

This day is big, you guys. Remember this post last year?

Huge. Monumental. It's the day we brought one of our babies home for the very first time. It was magical. On the way home, I snapped about a hundred photos of Benjamin staring confused about his new surroundings that didn't involve bright lights and alarms everywhere like the NICU. Just the flash of the camera as we drove away with excitement and adrenaline fueling us.

We cried on the way home as we talked about how it felt like we were being followed home by the NICU nurses we fought so hard to release our baby. How the feeling was so surreal and bringing home one of our children was all we'd dreamed about for nearly two years.

We arrived home and fed Benjamin, swaddled him, and laid him on our bedroom floor as we took turns staring at him and switching off to feverishly tear apart the nursery that was left in shambles from when we lost Andrew. We didn't want to count our chickens that Benjamin would be coming home with us, so we had a lot to do to make things functional.

We were exhausted, but wanted to soak in every moment of this baby. He brought so much love with him and we needed it all. We need it all.

Tonight at 6:30 p.m., we celebrate. With champagne. Benjamin will celebrate with a sippy cup of milk. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

One. Whole. Year.

I can't really put into words how important and special it was celebrating Benjamin's first birthday this weekend. I'll post about all the birthday details (though sad I didn't get all the shots I wanted of the food spread!) soon. It will take a bit longer than this post to get in order. Having a toddler is hardly something we're taking lightly. I knew we'd be celebratory at our childrens' birthdays always, but reaching our first ONE was just huge.

We had both families here this weekend and it was just plain special.

Let's recap his first year.
In Numbers:
Weight: 20 lbs, 9 oz.
Height: 29.5 inches
Shoe size: Still in 6-12 month Robeez with no plans to transition anytime soon. 
Clothes: 12 month, mostly

Food: He's eating everything but nuts. We'll be consulting with his pediatrician about introducing nut spreads into his diet soon. 

Favorite foods: yogurt, blueberries, oranges, bananas, peas, pancakes, pizza, nitrite/nitrate free hot dogs, meatballs (thank you, IKEA), cucumber, Goldfish & Annie's Bunny crackers, Veggie Sticks, pasta with marinara, tofu, bagels with cream cheese...

Drink: We're breastfeeding only wake time and bedtime, though the wake-up feed might be gone quite soon. We introduced whole milk on his birthday and he sucked the cup down. He's been drinking about 3 cups of that (one at each meal) since. Otherwise, he drinks water and an occasional smoothie if I make one.

Sleep: Naps 2x/day. First nap is 2 hours after he wakes in the morning and 2nd nap happens in the afternoon. Naps in his crib with an Aden & Anais blanket only. Nighttime routine starts around 8 p.m. and depends on when he woke up from his 2nd nap. Bath, teeth brushing, sleepsack, then Dad puts him down for the night after family hugs and kisses. He sometimes sleeps 13 hours with no wakeups and sometimes doesn't. 

Favorite Games: Loves to be chased around the kitchen island, open/close doors, empty cabinets of Tupperware and anything else he can find, explore the inside of the fridge, climb stairs, crawl insanely fast, play peek-a-boo, picking out all the Goldfish in a pile of Cheerios, hold his (transparent) plate after mealtime and look through it while making faces, play cars, play with door stoppers (especially the spring ones!), rolling balls & handing back to us {baby fetch?}, read books...

Favorite Toys: Anything you're playing with, cars, his new dump truck, anything he can suck on.

Favorite Book: Where is Baby's Belly Button & any flap book, really.

Mode of Transportation: Speed crawling and cruising. My parents saw him take a step toward them this weekend, but I think he still has a ways to go before he's fully walking.

Bad Baby Antics: Licking the metal floor vents, escaping the baby gate, crawling swiftly away from us, dropping his sippy cup on a regular basis just to hear it bang, trying to stick fingers into {covered} sockets, pulling out computer cords, chewing on cords, banging on shower doors, attempting to unroll toilet paper, chewing everything, standing and peeing in the tub

Happy Birthday, Baby Love.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Weekend in Dallas

Another wedding, another trip. Few photos to share, but plenty of fun stories. Here it goes.

Thursday night around 8:00 p.m., we fed B a bowl of oatmeal and whatever else I can't remember... and then let him play a bit. He was resistant to the food, so that's why I resorted to oatmeal because it's our go-to meal if he puts up a fight. Should've listened to the cues. He came down with a cold five days prior, but things were on the mend. I sat down to breastfeed him and realized he couldn't breathe, so I grabbed Nose Frida. Apparently the pressure was too much, because he started to gag and then proceeded to projectile vomit all over me, the couch, the Boppy pillow, the blanket, my clothes, and all over himself. I immediately called for Ray and he grabbed him and walked into the kitchen. First time real vomiting on me before, ever. Before this, it had only been spit up.

As I was trying to figure out where to go from there, I heard two consecutive splats of more vomiting. I spent the next 30 minutes following scrubbing down baseboards, walls, cabinets, countertops, clothes and all the items still covered in vomit from the living room while B was fed another bowl of plain oatmeal and given a bath.

Did I mention we had to wake at 3:45 a.m. the following morning to make our 6:30 a.m. flight to Dallas? And that it was Valentine's Day?


B was showing no signs of the flu, but all signs were pointing to a minor case of food poisoning. We carried on with our plans, slept very little, and managed to make our flight. Except, after boarding, our flight was mechanically grounded for an hour.

Did I mention we had to wake the baby up at 3:45 a.m. after only 6.5 hours of sleep (when he normally sleeps 11+ hours?).


Pissed off and tired baby, exhausted parents, rude flight attendants, and of course the plane was full of unsuspecting fools who thought they could sleep on the early morning flight.

Finally, we're off the ground after attaching the baby to a breast and getting him to sleep. No more than 10 minutes into the flight and... you guessed it...

Projectile vomit all over me. Just as I was finishing up the McDonald's hashbrown I bought for B to eat.

I spent the next 2 hours attempting to rid myself of the nastiness, pass a screaming baby back and forth, and cleaning the area so it wouldn't smell like rotten eggs.

At the end of the flight, I handed over a granola bar to our seat partner as a peace offering. He accepted.

Finally, in Dallas. The rest of the trip was a whole lot easier, thankfully. First stop, hotel. Then, lunch with a few pretty cool cats that I felt like I'd known my whole life. We drank beers, ate Mexican food, hung out with rainbow babies toddlers, and talked about Cale and Andrew like it was no big thing. It felt good.
We attended the wedding rehearsal dinner at a sushi restaurant and spent lots of quality time with B's grandparents, aunt, and lots of extended family in which I took basically no photos.
Crawling around the hotel hallways with fun Aunt Samantha & hanging out with Gramie & Grandpa
We had quality hangout time in our amazing hotel suite and enjoyed a lovely wedding, reception, and a little dancing before heading home on another early morning whirlwind of a flight that had us with the entire back five rows of the airplane to ourselves. They definitely lost money on that flight. Let's just say it was a world better than the flight to Dallas. As if you wouldn't have guessed that. There's no question that flying is getting so much harder now that B is more aware and more mobile.
In the car on the way home, B had ditched the toys we gave him {per usual} and since I was in the front seat, I was searching for something to keep him entertained for the last 10 minutes of the ride. We had an Oats & Chocolate Nature Valley Granola Bar (amazing, btw) and knowing how robust and difficult those wrappers are to open, I handed it to him because he enjoys manipulating shiny and crinkly packaging. About 3 blocks from our house, Ray and I both looked back at the same time having realized the baby was eerily quiet and sure enough, he had both granola bars, one in each hand and was covered in chocolate. The rodent baby managed to get that package open and was none too happy we took the bars away from him either. He had a full mouth of the chocolatey goodness. So much for introducing him to chocolate ourselves. This is the shrapnel he left behind.
Wished we had the means to really explore Dallas, but something tells me we'll be back eventually. But hopefully not before we explore Austin.

Stay cool, Dallas.
{No really, stay cool. It was in the 70's days leading and following out visit but in the 50's while we were there. Now we're living in negative wind chills again. What a bust.}

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Recap: The Shred

It's finally over. Hallelujah.

The very last day of the Shred, on the last cardio circuit, Benjamin started crying... less than an hour after putting him in his crib for the night. Never a good sign. He woke up congested and ever since, we've all been dealing with the wrath of a sick baby and then getting sick ourselves. Quite the celebration party. Gah.

Before you ask how much weight I lost, I'll tell you this: We don't own a scale. Nor was my intention to use the Shred as my weight-loss tool. Unfortunately, there are no before & after photos of what my abs look like or anything. I didn't have much weight to lose, to be honest... so even if I lost some, I wouldn't have lost much. Though, considering the difficulty of the Shred, I can see the impact it could have on someone who is hoping to lose weight. Instead, I use working out as an excuse to eat. It's like food is my reward. There were no calories being counted here. I still maintained my pizza-eating skills throughout. However, we don't recommend an entire Chipotle burrito before workouts. I'll spare you the details on that one.

We chose to take this on because winter in Chicago is brutal and neverending. And hey! Thirty days later and it's still as cold as ever outside. But at least we're done with January.

Personal Shred Results & Commentary:
  • Abs - Not that I'll ever obtain a 6-pack again, but I definitely have more definition than I have in a very, very long time.
  • Endurance - We're both able to do more pushups and situps than we have since college. The workouts definitely get easier with time. Good thing, because I was ready to quit after day 1. 
  • Reality check - Our bodies, while still young, are definitely not college bodies anymore. At different points during the 30 days, we both complained of some kind of pulled muscle or knee pain. I blame it on the jumping lunges.
  • Time - We actually found the 20-minutes (well, 18 minutes + warm up/cool down) to be a perfect length of time to keep us engaged and actually stick to the program. We'd put B down for the night and head straight to the basement where we'd immediately knock it out before showering and relaxing on the couch for another hour before bed. It was just long enough to feel like we got in a decent workout, but not too long where we felt like our nights were robbed of any relaxation time.
  • Accountability - Having my husband do it with me was huge. I would have never stuck with it if I knew he was upstairs watching our favorite TV shows while eating chocolate. 
Just a Few Favorite Quotes by Jillian, the Beast:
  • If we're going to make big promises to you, we've got to deliver.
  • Your neck was not invited to this party; this is all abs.
  • See these abs? These kind of abs don't come for free, people.
  • Don't phone it in, don't stand up.
  • You think you can handle it? We'll see. {fake intro nonsense}
  • I could always use a good chest fly in my life.
Other Shred Nonsense:
  • Anita is way more rockstar than Natalie. I mean, did you see her body?
  • In Level 1, please pay attention to Natalie phoning it in on those lunges. Chick is a cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater.
  • I curse the fact that you have to sit through Jillian talk about the 3-2-1 routine for 30 straight days. There needs to be a fast-track to getting straight to the workout.
  • On that note, why do you have to scroll down past "recommendations" to get to the workouts? I will read the recommendations once and need to press the workout selection thrity times. Please make this more convenient.
  • While torturous, working out every single day was really smart. We didn't have a choice to make concessions or excuses about why we couldn't work out that day. We just did, no matter what. On days we didn't get started until 10 p.m., we still did it. They may not have been our most fruitful days, but we kept with it. That has to be part of the success. Don't skip days!
Final Piece:
  • We really did love the 30-day requirement. As much as we loathed putting Benjamin to bed at night because we knew the inevitable was ahead, we did like feeling like we weren't such lards sitting on the couch each night.
  • We've discussed doing this each January! We'll see if that comes to fruition. It did take us four years to even buy the DVD
  • It's been a solid week of being sick and caring for a sick Benjamin, and we haven't worked out again. However, I do plan to see what else our library has in stock and make a trip every week or two and continue short basement workouts for 5-10 days straight after B goes down for the night.

I'm being syndicated over at BlogHer today {in the babies & toddlers 0-2 section! Hooray to exposure of loss!} about my recent Grief Lit. topic and how that shapes or alters the grief journey. My first syndication! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Foodie Resolution Week #7 of 52: Almond Butter

I opened up our pantry and realized I had a bag of almonds in there that I was just not going to eat. Costco manages to sell things I love that become things I'm so tired of after the 30th serving. The gift that keeps on bloody giving, you know? That's how I felt about this bag of almonds. They're cheap. I think around $10 for about 3 pounds (~9 cups) and cheaper than peanuts! I also like how they're not salted. Because if there's one thing I love, it's definitely salt. And the very last thing I need are salted nuts by the caseload.

So that big bag of almonds that had about 4 cups left? I made almond butter. And it was so. unbelievably. amazing. that. I. may. never. buy. jarred. nut. butters. ever. again.

Expect plenty of photos because it is well deserved. Here's where I get all annoying about my amazing blender aaaaagain. I also went through the Blendtec recipe book and pulled about 10 more recipes that I intend to show up on my resolution blog posts because I'm so stinking obsessed with my blender. I might also add, that this will work with other food processors or blenders, but probably no less than a Ninja. And even then, I would start with about a cup of nuts at a time. You'll have to blend for much longer, but it will work.

Here's how I went through the process:
1. Roast 3 cups of almonds on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. {This aids in softening and bringing out natural oils for blending as well... in addition to smelling/tasting amazing and cutting down the need for much added salt}
2. Pour them into the Blendtec.
3. Press UP arrow to 1 for a strong, slow grind to get things started. Lasted about 45 seconds.
4. Use spatula to get all the almond pieces back down because it gets a little excited.
5. Press UP arrow to 5 and let it run its course (about 48 seconds). Do this about 3 times for a total of ~3 minutes. Use spatula as needed.
6. Add a pinch of salt. I'm not kidding... that's all I added. Nuts and a pinch of salt. For 3 cups of almonds!
7. It was ready at this point, but I wanted it so creamy that I could pour it, so I hit the Press UP arrow once more for another 48 seconds, and also to mix in that salt thoroughly. Makes just shy of 2 cups of almond butter.
Once it was done, it was still nice and warm from the oven and grinding. It was so good that we ate a few spoonfuls each. There's no question this will be on my list on a regular basis. And yes, that bread above is my favorite bread recipe that I make about every two weeks now. I freeze half and eat half. It makes an enormous loaf.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Grief Lit.

I don't know about the rest of you babyloss friends out there, but when your baby died, did tons of literature, books & articles start flooding your way?

Not that there's anything wrong with that and honestly, I think it's so encouraging that those who care most about you send not only their condolences, but anything they can that they think might keep you treading water. Because that's all we were doing for a very, very long time after Andrew died. Treading water. Sending literature, cards, plants, or whatever means you're acknowledging our loss and sadness. That it's not being trivialized. As much as I felt suffocated by the full mailbox of sad cards and flower deliveries, I felt so thankful that Andrew was recognized at all to a sea of people who had never even seen his face (which is beautiful, by the way).

We sent the plants and flowers away with a friend who works at a nursing home. The people appreciated them there and were willing to see that they were cared for. We would've just let them shrivel up and die... which felt like such a strong metaphor for how we were feeling when our son really did die. We didn't need to watch other things die around us because we were in no shape to care for them. So they went.

But the literature.

I'd venture to say that I read one of the books in the entire pile. It's a children's book and I lost my mind reading it... but felt it was such a good description of grief. Other than that, I didn't even crack open the covers. I hid them away, embarrassed that I needed to own such titles. I didn't want anyone telling me how to grieve or giving me advice on something so crippling and unforgiving. I didn't want someone telling me it would be okay eventually or that I needed to move on and this was how to do it. I did read two books, but mostly just memoirs of those who had babies die before me. I craved that literature, as I wanted to know I wasn't alone. But a psychiatrist's point of view about how to handle the worst thing conceivable? I wanted nothing to do with those words.

All I wanted to do was talk with babyloss friends, cry, and try like hell to get pregnant again so I could mask some of that sadness in the form of a sibling. While having B is much more than that now, it definitely felt like the best salve I could have to ease the pain. And it has... but just like a salve, it only masks the pain a bit. It doesn't eliminate the pain.

Yesterday during B's nap, we were cleaning the utility room in our basement. I swear those pictures are on my list, but travel and a special birthday celebration are taking precedence. I cleaned through all my teaching supplies to consolidate and eliminate some of the stuff I know will be valueless in a few years when I finally head back to the classroom. We organized our camping and hiking supplies, and made room for our tools and other things that belong in basement utility rooms... like dust-collecting tennis rackets.

I came across Andrew's bag. It's a Trader Joe's bag that our friends brought to the hospital full of snacks and goodies the day after Andrew was born. I can't bring myself to use the re-usable bag, as it most definitely feels like Andrew's bag. Yet, it's such a cheap representation of his life and value. But I just don't know where to keep his things. The things he wore in the hospital. The only things he ever wore. The trinkets people sent us and keepsakes, his footprints, certificates of sad things... and the literature. The grief literature that just seemed to pile and pile when we opened our mailbox during the weeks and months after he died.

I only now might be able to crack open the covers of some of them, but I don't know if that's healthy. I'm an experienced griever now, and I do believe my words could very well be written on those pages. I fear the words will open wounds that are salved over and maybe even present more anger than I continue to harbor about losing our perfect firstborn.

Do these books remain on my shelves? What about Andrew's things? Where do those go? They were in the nursery until Benjamin was born, and then we moved them to the basement because we didn't know where else they should go. I moved them from the basement utility room to the basement bedroom closet yesterday because it seemed like a warmer environment for the only things Andrew ever touched. I don't know that I value them a ton, but it seems like I should or at least separate them from dusty tennis rackets and the hot water heater.


I received an email from another babyloss mother, Sarah, over at Land of Abe. She lost her daughter Genevieve in 2011 and wrote an article about how stillbirth and grief are currently represented in our society. It was published over at the New York Times parenting blog yesterday. There are some wonderful comments of those who have both lost and acknowledge. It's a lovely read that's raw and true to what most of us parents who live beyond our babies want-- for grief to be handled better in our society and for stillbirth and {insert how your child died here} to be researched so other families might be spared from the reality of such devastating losses. Head on over there and join the discussion, if you will.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Quick Jaunt to The Cheese State

These business travel bits are getting a bit more challenging with a crawling monster on my hands, but I do love to get away. It might be the winter that makes it all the more challenging, but we bundled up and pressed on, heading to Wisconsin's capital city of Madison. I think it's funny that we're closer to Wisconsin's capital than we are to Illinois' capital. Anyway... we headed north 2.5 hours for a short trip, which meant waking up at 4:45 a.m. to make it in time for the husband's early meeting. B was confused, but managed to sleep in the car and napped like a champ both days. A few snippets of our adventure, along with things I've learned while traveling to Madison with an almost 1-year old.

Three-wheeled strollers are not all-terrain. They do not handle thick slushy snow well.
Oh man. I was totally pushing through what felt like quicksand up a hill. A wonderful university student came to my aid, but I managed to {wo}man up and make it happen.

Target is a great place to go early in the morning when you can't yet check into your hotel room.
Not like I needed another reason to visit a Target, but I definitely walked the aisles and loaded up on lemonade, mac 'n' cheese, a new hat for B (since the 5+ he already has aren't enough), and signed up for a Target RedCard Debit. Why hadn't I done that before? Random tidbit for you Target lovers... did you know you get $.05 off your total for each reusable bag you use? And with the Target RedCard, you get 5% off all purchases and it's not a credit card-- just comes directly out of your debit account.

Target almost always has a Starbucks inside, which is also a great place to feed a kiddo breakfast.
Hello empty seating, warm oatmeal (and anything else I want to feed him available in the store!), and warm beverages! And, they even have cart wipes that you can double as disinfecting wipes for high chairs and tables fo' free!

Oversized dressing rooms are the bomb-dot-com with a crawling baby. The space under the door where they can crawl out? Not so bomb.
I heart Anthropologie, the two dresses I bought from there, the customer service, free shipping if ordered in store (for things they carry online but are out of in-store), and now their dressing rooms. Going to a wedding in Dallas next weekend and Mama needed a new dress (or two).
Didn't buy that dress (afraid the $120 gold pieces would fray easily), but bought this one & this one & wanted this one, but they were sold out in my size in the entire Midwest. I checked.
Thrift stores in hippie neighborhoods are the best.
I'm not talking Goodwill, though I've found a few scores there myself. I'm talking those little joints that only sell high-end clothes and are really picky about their merchandise. I scored a designer belt for only $2.50. Later I realized it was lacking a tiny metal stud that I think a trip to Michael's will fix. There is a reason it was so cheap. I just love exploring those little gems.

You can order a side of meatballs (or any protein) on the cheap to feed your bambino at Noodles & Co.
It's getting to the point where he's not quite ready for a kid's meal order, but eats a bit too much for us to share with him. Sort of depends on the meal. I'm also a spicy-food lover, and I don't like compromising my fave flavors because the nugget can't handle the heat. Or peanuts. Because my fave dish at Noodles is the Indonesian Peanut Saute... and we haven't quite graduated to peanut status yet. For about $2.50ish, you can get 5 meatballs, which is perfect for the little person.

Even though he wasn't ready for a kid's meal, he got one anyway at Panera Bread. 
His first ever kid's meal was a ham & cheese sandwich with a squeezable organic yogurt that he sucked down at a rapid pace. He ate about 3/4 of the sandwich. The tank is still at it.

Nepalese food is indeed delicious.
The 'burbs of Chicago lack interesting food. I've stopped counting how many brewpubs there are here. Not that I dislike brewpubs, but you have to sell food that's off the beaten path in order for me to differentiate you from Burger King. Most do not. Madison is a large university town that's lively with lots of young people who also have hippie tendencies. Hippies are often vegetarian. I am vegetarian and a little hippie. Therefore, I like big, hippie, granola, liberal, university towns. We ate at a place that gets fab reviews on Yelp, but I was only slightly disappointed at the entree portions. I'm sort of a fat kid when it comes to food and while I'd love to subscribe to the whole ideal of eat until you're content, I just can't. I'll be starving 3 hours later because vegetarian fare is just not as filling. B seemed to enjoy the grub as well. I think he's partial to hippies.

Hotels that favor business guests tend to have pools that no one swims in during the day.
A win for us! Both times we enjoyed the pool, we had it all to ourselves. Which is super for the mom who packed her triangle top bikini that fit really well in college and before she started breastfeeding. Looks like my go-to J.Crew triangle top might be retired soon. Either that, or someone else will need to hold the kid who yanks and tugs at it while in the pool.

Trying to both complete the Shred in a hotel room and with a baby who is awake is close to impossible.
Definitely not the best workout of the 30 days as B couldn't understand why we didn't want him crawling all over us during our ab exercises. He wanted in on the action, obviously. He was probably thinking... man. My mom feeds me butter and high-fat everything. I really have to sign myself up for a Shred soon. Day 28 today. A full recap of the craziness to come in a week or so.

It's getting harder and harder to sleep in the same room as the B-man at night. 
He is a mover all. night. long. I am an incredibly light sleeper and woke up to every twist and turn he made, despite him being in the far corner of the room and having an iPhone noise app to try and drown out the sound. He even cried out briefly a couple times, which I am certain he does in his own room at night, but the walls separating us prevent me from being alarmed when he's merely dreaming or waking startled before falling back to sleep. I cherish, love, adore, admire, covet suites or extra large bathrooms for the pack 'n' play.

When you have to check out of a hotel before the husband is done with meetings, libraries are a fun, free, and educational place to go, especially when it's snowing heavily outside.
Usually, I attempt to find an indoor mall to walk around when it's either too hot or too cold and we have no where else to go. The mall, unfortunately, was about 8 miles away. Sixteen miles round-trip in the sloshy, slippery snow in a town I'm unfamiliar with? No thanks. We grabbed lunch after late checkout and headed to the library to read suck on books and explore their sensory and educational zone geared entirely to young people. Better than the mall where he'd be stuck in the stroller. I'm the genius mom who forgot diapers and wipes in the car... only to of course need said diapers and wipes and have to schlep the kid in the sloshy snow multiple times to remedy the situation. While at the library, we met another mom who had her 13-month old daughter with her and was actually there killing time while her other daughter (2 years old, of course) was in preschool. We chatted a bunch and I was quite fond of her Patagonia and North-Face wearing self and almost wanted to drive 2.5 hours to hang out with her, you know... while her 2-year old was in school, obvi. Except, no. That's silly. Of course I meet people I like in other states.
Another adventure down. Next weekend stop, Dallas! Plans are in the works and we're pretty sure we'll get to meet a pretty fabuloso BLM, her husband and big boy, Finn! Can't wait!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

More Videos

There's just no clever title for uploading videos of Benjamin doing things no baby has ever done before. Clearly.


We're just proud of him, that's all. It still puts me in a daily state of shock to realize I really do have a little boy who's growing and learning and interacting. I have the same mini epiphanies about losing Andrew every week or so as well. The blanket statement of wow... this is really my life comes to mind when I think of Benjamin growing and thriving and Andrew being forever static. Maybe it's because we lost Andrew that I'm stunned when Benjamin hits milestones like he's supposed to. Any and all milestones are very celebrated, because we know the alternative is not being able to celebrate.

So let's keep celebrating, shall we? You won't get this time in your life back, so feel free to skip. But I love this kid and will choose to spend my extra minutes in awe of his little brain.

Little Musician

Yes, he crawls on the fireplace now. Help.

A friend let us borrow this walking toy and B took off with it! I promptly bought one for us to keep.

Big shoes on a little person. First time in shoes... didn't love it. 
They're Keen shoes and beyond cute, no?
Sorry about the sideways. Sometimes I get excited about videos and forget...

Monday, February 4, 2013

Foodie Resolution Week #6 of 52: Vegetarian Chili {with two secret ingredients!}

Super Bowl Sunday meant a few things:
  1. Cheering on the Ravens to win the Lombardi Trophy.
  2. Cooking chili.
  3. Heading over to celebrate/watch the first half of the game with many of our friends with said pot of chili.
  4. Finishing day 23 of the Shred. Is it over yet? Try that with a belly full of chili. Belch. Ick.
B has a track record of 100% wins while wearing his Ravens onesie. He's kind of a big deal. And if you're paying close attention, that undershirt has footballs and helmets on it. Thrift score!
Our friends invited us over to their new house for a Super Bowl party, complete with lots of chili options. Selfishly, I knew that if I didn't make a veggie chili, I wouldn't be eating any chili... so vegetarian it was. I don't usually follow a recipe, but I decided to search for more unique recipes and found one that had a couple unique ingredients that I'd never seen on a chili ingredient list before. I followed this recipe exactly, but also added a small Roma tomato because I had one on hand.

Secret Ingredients?
Unsweetened cocoa and a couple splashes of soy sauce.

Unsweetened cocoa tends to have a coffee aftertaste to it, and though it was very mild, you could taste it at the end of your palate when you took a spoonful. However, I don't know you'd be able to decipher the taste if you didn't know it was present. Overall, it was good but not out-of-this-world like I was sort of hoping it would be. I was just happy there were plenty of Fritos to add to my bowl. And because there were 4 other chili pots, all with meat for these Midwest carnivores, mine was hardly dabbled... which is just fine by me because that means we have dinner for tonight. Chili fries score.