Sunday, January 24, 2010


Apparently, my immune system decided to take a vacation for the winter. That's all well and good, but couldn't it have taken me with it?? Yeah, I'm sick again. And to add to my discomfort, I also have a toothache which I'm assuming is due to a cavity. Luckily, I was able to get an appointment with the dentist tonight. I know this sounds lame considering I recently gave birth unmedicated, but I'm mildly terrified. I did have a cavity filled in a baby tooth, but I haven't had Novocaine in at least 15 years. (Wow...I can't believe I'm old enough to have memories from 15 years ago...)

I don't mean to be whining so much. After watching a few episodes of "Taboo" on Nat Geo yesterday, I am most definitely counting my blessings. I have insurance, a well trained dentist, painkillers, and absolutely no reason to be complaining.

I'll keep you posted...I mean, nobody has ever died from getting a cavity filled, right??

Friday, January 22, 2010

Finer Things Friday: Dairy Free Pizza

Today, I am joining Amy at The Finer Things In Life in reflecting on...well, the finer things in my life. And today, it may seem shallow, but one of those things is pizza.

Stephen and I typically have been excessive pizza eaters. I'm not hyperbolizing when I say the first month I moved to Maryland, we ate nothing but Pizza and Chinese takeout. Since Ava has dairy issues and I am still nursing, I have not had a slice of pizza since before Thanksgiving. (And let me tell you - a dairy free diet is a quick way to lose baby weight, especially when you eat as much butter as I do did!)

Yesterday I was perusing the special foods section at Safeway, and I happened upon an incredible find - Amy's dairy free pizza!! I guess I never realized there was such a thing, but I'm very glad I found it. It was manna in my dairy free dessert!! Ahahaha...ahaha....I'm such a nerd.

But seriously, it was good. If you're going dairy free for any reason, I'd definitely recommend giving it a try!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

6 Months

My sweet little Ava turned 6 months old yesterday! Everybody warned me about how quickly the time goes, but I don't think you get it until you get it. You know? I was shocked to find out she was only 14 lbs. 14 oz. - I thought for sure she would be at least 25 pounds. I must be getting wimpier, because I feel like she's getting waaay to heavy to be carrying around all the time :) You may think 25 pounds is a bit excessive, but it's really not...see below.

This is a picture of me and my mom when I was 2 MONTHS old. Don't you just love my chins? By 5 months, I had racked up a whopping 21 pounds. Wolfram Alpha projects that my adult weight should be 398 pounds...I guess I'm still young, but I'm pretty sure I've hit a plateau...

Of course with every doctor appointment at this age comes shots. I am pleased to report that both Ava and I did remarkably well this time around :0) I was downright sick before the 4 month shots. Thankfully, Ava handled them like a trooper, instantly calm once I shook her favorite monkey toy in her face a few times. The aftermath at 4 months was a little rough though - she had a bout of hypercrying once we got home and a fever for quite a few days afterwards. This month, I held it together much better. The monkey toy didn't cut it this time, but she didn't cry for long and she had absolutely no fever or any other symptoms this time! Wahoo!!

Next up, allergy testing on Tuesday...:(

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New York, New York

We're finally home from a nice long weekend visit with my family up in New York! (Ok, ok...we got back Monday night. I've been catching up on laundry!!) It's always a great time being with family, and it's SO hard to leave. I so wish we could all live closer...if you live near your family, enjoy them!! Not everyone has that privilege.

Me and Emily

We pretty much took it easy during our visit (a 6 hour drive with baby wears me out, and I don't even do most of the driving!!) and spent our time together as much as possible. One of our fun activities was salsa making. To sum up using the old adage, "if at first you don't succeed..." Yeah, big fail. But at least we learned to use less onions next time!

Onion Soup Salsa

Our good friends the Crane family (including the new Humphrey branch! So good to see you guys!!) stopped by as we were finishing up the salsa, and so they became the unfortunate victims of the onion soup. However, Mr. Crane suggested a little trick that made the salsa much more manageable...sugar! (A spoon full of sugar works for more than just medicine apparently...) It was definitely more edible after the addition, but I think our salsa was just too far gone to be salvaged. However, if the ratio of onions to tomato was slightly more intact, I think the sugar could have really saved the day!! Just thought I'd pass that handy tip along...

Well I've got plenty to catch you up on, so I'll be back with more soon!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dabbling in the organic

Well my adventurous spirit is officially gone for the week. We played it safe with the tilapia last night and breaded/baked it. (And Stephen, being a wonderful husband, ate it anyway...) I had grand ideas about this mango salsa topping for it, but I went to my freezer and discovered I must have already eaten all the mango in my sleep. It was pretty bland because I definitely didn't season it enough, but it was edible and didn't taste terrible (it really didn't taste like much of anything...Anne, I wish I would have read your suggestion sooner!!) Tonight's dinner was also extremely pathetic - thyme and rosemary chicken with boxed potatoes and canned green beans. Big fail. (I'm telling myself that we needed to use up that nasty stuff so we can move on to the fresh produce...)

But enough on dinner, back to Monday's shopping trip. Along with buying adventurous cuts of meat (wow...did I just call my cuts of meat adventurous?? I really need to try new things more often...) I also bought organic when the option was available. I never thought I would care about buying organic, but it's amazing what happens to you when you become a parent!! I've read a lot of anti-organic articles citing that organic produce is no more nutritious than regular produce and that pesticides stay on the outside of many fruits and veggies so as long as you're not eating the skin, you don't need to buy organic...but the fact is, even if the levels of pesticides you consume are well below the human tolerance threshold, you are still consuming them. And while that might be fine for me and you, it makes me nervous to feed them to my sweet baby girl :) (As my brother pointed out to me earlier, you also have to consider the environmental benefits of organic farming...)

The real kicker for me was the milk. While picking up Stephen's half gallon, I noted organic milk in the case. Since almost everything else in my cart was organic, I said hey - why not? I've heard great things from people who drink organic milk. And yet, I've never bothered to ask...what IS organic milk, anyway? Once home, google gave me my answer. According to this article, there are four requirements for milk to be labeled organic:

1. Cows must not be treated with bovine growth hormone (BGH)
2. Cows must not be treated with antibiotics
3. Cows feed must be grown without pesticides
4. Cows must have access to pasture

I've always preferred buying free-range chicken eggs, but I never saw "free range cows" labeled on milk jugs so it's nice to know that by buying organic milk I can be supporting better living conditions for cows. However, other than #4, the benefits of organic milk seem to be just as controversial as the produce. (Google "organic milk" and grab yourself a snack, because you're in for a looong evening...) I'm intrigued by this article's claim that organic dairy products may have an impact on allergies and eczema, and it makes me wonder if Ava's dairy troubles could have been avoided. Additionally, organic milk is usually ultra-pasteurized, and it seems like this could potentially damage even more of the valuable nutrients contained within. Of course, anyone can make any outrageous claim they'd like on the internet (by the way, did you know I invented the internet??) and much of the information you'll find is not cited. It's definitely something I'll be doing some research on, so I'll let you know if I find out anything good. For the record, Stephen gave the organic milk two big thumbs up...

I'm curious to know if anyone reading this blog drinks organic milk (or has a compelling reason why they don't...) What do you think??

Monday, January 11, 2010

Confessions of an aspiring chef.

One of my unofficial resolutions for this year is to branch out in the cooking (and eating) department, and today I tried to make good on my goal. I head confidently into the meat department, found some good looking cuts on sale, then turned to the checkout counter.

And then I got home.

As I stared at the packages, the realization of what I had done quickly set in. For starters, I specifically sought out tilapia in the seafood department because that is the only type of fish that Stephen likes...the problem is, Stephen does not like tilapia. He likes haddock. And I realized this as soon as I saw that beautiful package of fish sitting in my refrigerator.

I also realized I had no idea what I on earth I was going to do with this meat. After months of trying to plan meals and then buy my supplies, I decided to throw it all out the window and take a cue from some of my fellow frugal mom bloggers who advocate buying what is on sale and planning meals around that. So I bought meat that was on what? I picked out the package I wanted to start with, and then stared at the meat for a few minutes...then I walked to my computer and did a few google searches...then I went back and stared at the meat again...I repeat this cycle several times before deciding to clean up the apartment while I "thought about it" (translation: my fight or flight response kicked in, and I chose flight).

Surprise, surprise, Stephen came home from work before I finished "thinking about it" and happily rescued me from my inner turmoil. He took over the meat (a thinly sliced top round roast, in case you were wondering...he fried it up in some butter and onions and garlic...mmmm) while I chopped and steamed some green beans and peeled potatoes. The end result was quite delicious, but sans potatoes. More about that tomorrow...In any case, all's well that end's well, right?

Stephen and I come from very different "food backgrounds". I am firmly ingrained with the idea that dinner consists of a meat, a starch, and a vegetable. When our potato plan failed, Stephen suggested replacing them with fruit. Fruit?! Fruit is what my grandma serves for dessert (of course she always has a few cookies waiting in the wings for her favorite grandchildren...:) Apparently, fruit is something that Stephen's family usually ate with dinner. My family ate a lot of venison, lots and lots of potatoes, and always a healthy serving of vegetables. His family ate a lot of chicken, pasta, and as we now know, fruit. I think it's interesting to see how our tastes and our backgrounds have melded together to form our new family's food style, especially since when I first moved to Maryland our food style was "pizza or chinese". We've come a long way, but we're not done yet! Check back for the rest of this week's dinner adventures...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bread crumbs, bananas, and green beans

Thankfully, I'm feeling much better today and was finally able to test out our new food processor! This thing is great, just like we knew it would be. (Just like we knew it better be, for the price... :)

First, we threw in the slices of bread that had been drying on my counter since we ordered it a few days ago:

Then presto chango:

Awesome!! Let me tell you, trying to do this in a 2 cup processor was...not my favorite thing in the world. The Cuisinart makes this a breeze (and it's quiet to boot!)

Next, we moved on to the baby food. I chopped and steamed some beans, and once again, the before:

And after:

Woohoo! We also did some bananas, which turned out fabulous (it was Ava's first time trying them tonight!)

I got a call this afternoon in response to an email that I had sent Cuisinart a few days ago, and I'm happy to report that the plastic mixing bowls contain no BPA. Good job, Cuisinart. No, I'm not being paid to write this entry...but I should be, right??

Hangin' with Heloise

Well after 2 weeks of being sick, I'm finally getting back on my feet again. It's probably at least partially my fault that it dragged out so long, because I can be ridiculously stubborn when it comes to accepting help and taking it easy. However, my wonderful husband finally insisted that he would take Ava duty for a night and that I stay in bed for a full day. (And since I haven't had the forsight to buy any formula in case of emergencies, that included a messy nightime rice cereal session. What a guy!!)

A day in bed is a mild form of torture to me. And how did you pass the time, you ask? Why, with my good friend Heloise of course :) On one of my visits back home to New York, I came across a very old book of hers and "borrowed" it from my mom. (Mom, you know you're never getting it back.) I'm not sure what attracted me to this book, but as soon as I started flipping through the well read and well marked pages (including old newspaper clippings of her column, thanks, to my grandma!) I was hooked. More on Heloise to come!

While I was sick, I also came up with the random and borderline insane idea to have a "raw food" week. I'm going to chalk this one up to the fever. With all the excess time I had in bed to ponder on the great mysteries of the universe and our family's terribly unhealthy diet, I decided we have been eating far too many foods from a box or a can. Also contributing to this revelation is Ava's unconfirmed milk allergy (we see the allergist in the 26th, more on that later). As I've been eliminating dairy from my diet, I've been forced to read the labels on those boxes and cans, and frankly...I'm mildly disturbed. Why is there milk in my oatmeal and Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix?? So basically, this is going to be an experiment to see if we can actually go a week making all of our food ourselves, using only the raw ingredients. Now I know what you're all thinking, but not to worry - I've already found this homemade twinkie recipe :) Luckily, Stephen is always very agreeable to my crazy ideas. He's a great cook, so I have confidence that we can muddle through this. Tentative date is set for the beginning of February...stay tuned!!

Last but not least, our new Cuisinart food processor was delivered today!!! Sadly, after so much anticipation, I'm feeling pretty lousy tonight and we decided to put off testing it out until tomorrow. I'll be sure to share my baby food puree pictures tomorrow! Until then, goodnight!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Win a Baby Bjorn Travel Crib!

Ok for everyone reading this who is NOT a parent, please pardon the diversion. I was recently visiting Thrify and Chic Mom and saw that she is giving away a Baby Bjorn Travel Crib. I had never seen this travel crib before, but after watching the demo, I was practically drooling. I think Stephen is actually more excited about this than me, since he is the one who has to assemble and disassemble and lug around the co-sleeper every time we travel.

We bought the co-sleeper thinking we would use it for the first few weeks so I wouldn't have to be getting up and down so much at night while recovering, and also that we could use it for travel and as a play yard as she got older. As it turned out, Ava much preferred the crib (and I actually found it easier to set up and turn my body to get out of bed rather than reach over to the side and pull her into bed at night to feed her.) It's a nice, sturdy piece of equipment, but it really is a pain to set up, tear down, and move around (not to mention quite heavy!!)

I thought all you mommies out there would love to hear about this crib, and also be leaping at the chance to win one!! Go here to find out more details and to enter!

New Years Resolutions: 2010 Edition

Happy Twenty Ten!!

Despite being sick (I've had a fever for a week now and have been feeling pretty crummy these last few days...) I made it 'til midnight to ring in the new year with Stephen and Anne and my beautiful baby girl who woke up about 15 minutes before we tossed the confetti. Ok 'toss' might be a strong was really more like 'sprinkled it from one hand to the other'. Stephen had to keep me in check this year, since I am notorious for making a horrifying mess of our living room on new years eve. Twice, the National Guard had to be called in to bulldoze a path through the paper litter. True story. (It helped that our paper shredder died earlier in the week...)

You may have noticed my new years resolution list on the left side of my blog has been growing. Here's the scoop:

1. Read 24 books.

Reading used to be hands-down, my all time favorite hobby. Growing up, I was one of those nerdy kids who ALWAYS had their nose stuck in a book, who begged to stay up 5 more minutes to keep reading, and who kept a hidden flashlight under their pillow to read under the covers once mom had shut the door. Then one day, I just stopped. I'm not sure how it happened, but I don't remember the last time I made it through an entire book. I think it's probably been years.

24 books really isn't that many, but honestly - the idea of trying to complete 2 books a month is sounding pretty daunting to me right now. I have a few books in mind that I'd like to read, but I think for the most part I'm just going to wing it. I do have my first book picked out - "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes". Ok, technically this is a collection of short stories. I'm not going to count them individually, don't worry :) I've never read any Sherlock Holmes, and I'm interested in seeing the new movie. Maybe a movie date night with Stephen will have to be my reward for getting through my first book of the new year...

2. Run a 5k

Several years ago, I attempted to run a marathon through Team in Training to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and promptly got hit with mono as I began my training. Running a marathon is still definitely on my to-do list, but I did have the revelation in my first few running sessions before getting sick that maybe I should have started off a little smaller...after all, I am the ultimate couch potato.

I don't have a particular event in mind that I'm training for right now, I thought I should make sure I can actually walk 5k first. I've gone to the gym a handful of times since having Ava, and 30 minutes of walking is about my limit (I make it approximately 1 mile in that 30 minutes. Yeah, yeah...cut me some slack, here! I was on bed rest for 2 months.)

3. Learn to do something new

To be fair, being a mom requires learning something new just about every day: How to feed your baby rice cereal without getting it stuck in her eyelashes and behind her ears, how to shave both legs in the shower before your baby wakes up, how to stack your groceries in a pile around the car seat in the back of the shopping cart without having them all collapse on her head...these kind of skills aren't what I'm talking about, though. I would like to learn a skill that I'm interested in that is not simply one that is necessary for my day-to-day survival as a mother. I haven't officially decided, but one thing that is definitely on my top ten list is debate. I would love to find some sort of debate class in the area, but so far I haven't had much luck. I'll keep you posted on this one...

4. Get dressed. Every day.

Ok, day 1 and this one's already busted. You're going to have to give me a break, though...I'm sick!! The point is, I've been wearing yoga pants every day for nearly a year now and IT'S GOT TO STOP. I'm breaking the cycle...starting tomorrow. Probably.

So what are your resolutions?