Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December recipe challenge: Les Croquets Denison

It took me three months, but I finally revisited Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking for the final recipe challenge of the year. I made a type of petits fours, Les Croquets Denison, also known as walnut and almond puffs.

For a Julia recipe, these puffs were rather easy. I'm not a huge fan of nuts, but these treats were delicious--the freshly grated lemon peel makes this delicacy.

Whew! I made it--twelve months and that many recipe challenges. This was a fun challenge, but in all honesty, I'm glad it's over.

Now that I have an infant, I wonder how long it will take me to voluntarily pull out Julia's cookbooks again.

Friday, December 23, 2011

merry christmas

May you know and trust the Lord's goodness and faithfulness to you, and rejoice in his Son's birth and what it means for your salvation.

Merry Christmas, Gentle Readers!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mason's room: DIY projects

I'm not much of a do-it-yourself type of decorator. But, I refuse to pay ridiculous prices for simple things like window valances and lampshades. So, I attempted those two projects on my own.

I had made a window valance before. I whipped up this one during Mason's nap when he was about a month old.

I found a great video on You Tube that demonstrated how to cover a lamp shade with fabric. I had the toile fabric affixed before Mason arrived; I added the turquoise ribbon after we got home.

With the leftover material and ribbon, I followed this awesome gal's tutorial to make some burp cloths. Again, I sewed the toile material in advance and added the ribbon after Mason arrived.

What do-it-yourself projects are you not afraid of?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mason's room

Oh, how naive I was to think I would have all this time to finish the nursery after the baby arrived. And I'm an inexperienced seamstress, yet I genuinely believed I would not only have the time, but the talent to make some of the items for his room? Ha! Thank you, current mamas, for not laughing in my face after reading this post. Choosing a color scheme that I couldn't finalize until after the baby's arrival was a mistake I needed to make on my own.

If I had to do it all over again, I still would not find out the baby's sex, but I can totally understand now how that information would be helpful to get the room completed in advance. It's such a conundrum. But the joy of the surprise still trumps the stress of more work afterward, at least, for me it does.

Three months after Mason's arrival, his room is now as finished as it's going to get. It really has no rhyme or reason; it's a hodge podge of things I love, and hopefully he, one day, will too.

Had Mason been a girl, the room would have been accented in fuchsia. But look at that blue on the book festival poster hanging over the changing pad. Could it match the rest of his room any closer? I should have known I was having a boy--that poster, which I saw for the first time in probably July, was a hint!

Longtime readers know how much I love toile. So are you surprised that I was immediately drawn to the Central Park children's toile in cream and chocolate? The furniture and bedding (except the blue sheet) was all that I had purchased in advance of Mason's birth. Here's a closer look at the bedding.

And there's my little sweetheart, being very patient while I photographed his room.

These built-in bookshelves were already there. They are very narrow, but I found some skinny baskets to hold books and toys. I stupidly believed I could whip up the basket liners, never having even sewn three corners together in my life. My mom ended up doing them for me, and even being an experienced seamstress, it took her a long time.

And here's where we spend most of our time. Look at how the blue in the boppy cover perfectly matches the room. That boppy cover was on my registry--I chose it for its gender neutrality, but maybe way deep down inside, I knew I would have a boy.

No, I really had no idea what I was having.

One of my favorite pieces is the six-foot, round shag rug in the center of the room. Mason loves it, too. He clutches handfuls of shag and tries to eat it when doing tummy time.

Next up, a highlight of the (few) DIY projects I accomplished for this room.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

overrun freezer

In preparation for going back to work, I've been busy. People told me to pump, and now my freezer is being taken over by bags of breast milk.

I'm confused about how the frozen/fresh thing will work though. As I understand it, Mason will eat what I pump the day before, supplemented with frozen milk if necessary. But with different rules regarding the shelf lives of fresh and frozen milk, how will I keep things straight? The frozen milk must be used within 24 hours of defrosting, so he should drink the frozen bottle first each day, which means I should label it accordingly, correct? And then if he doesn't get to all the fresh milk, it can carry over until the next day?

Is it possible to have too much frozen milk?

And how much will he eat each day anyway?

Please share any tips you have for how to make the pumping, storing, freezing, defrosting,  and serving process a little easier. I'm overwhelmed. And I'm worried about giving my baby food poisoning (is this possible?) with old milk.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

good baby?

People ask me if Mason is a good baby and I never know how to respond. What defines a good baby?

He's a great eater and sleeps well at night. He loves schedules and routines. He goes down easily for naps but has recently had a hard time staying asleep during them. The 45-minute intruder has become the 20-minute intruder. Some days, I feel like I spend his entire nap time soothing him and trying to get him to stay asleep.

Mason adores overhead lights, ceiling fans, and brightly colored artwork. If his belly's full and he's lying on the couch, kicking and flapping, life couldn't be better for him. But his exuberance can quickly turn into this:

My baby has a temper, and he can melt down in two seconds flat. He runs off visitors with his grumpiness; he makes clear when he's ready for company to leave. I'm tempted to dress him as Oscar the Grouch next year for Halloween--what costume could be more fitting?

Mason's the only baby I know who doesn't like to be snuggled or cuddled. He hates being cradled in my arms and he would never sit quietly on my lap for hours (or even minutes) just chilling. The word chill is not a part of his vocabulary. Why sit still and relax when he can kick and flail and talk and fuss? This kid has things to say and places to go. He loves being carried around the house up on my shoulder in the burping position so that he can see what's around him, until he tries to climb over my shoulder to get down. Even at two months old, he began arching his back and squawking to get me to put him down so he could kick and flap and play on his own. In his mind, he's no baby--he's a big boy!

So, is my little grump a "good" baby? He's good for me, and I love every bit of him, grouchiness and all.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

the pull

January 3rd, the day I will return to work, is looming. And I'm anything but ready.

My heart breaks just thinking about it, which I try not to do as I want to enjoy these last days at home with my baby. But I do think about it. And people ask me about it constantly, which brings tears to my eyes almost every time.

I've been blessed to have a nice, long, paid maternity leave and I have a wonderful job, colleagues, and students to return to. Yet, my heart feels like a brick at the thought of leaving my son in someone else's care. I'm his mommy! And selfishly, I don't want to miss out on any moments with him.

I never expected to feel this way. Back in March when Brad and I decided that he would return to work on Capitol Hill and I would return to work after the baby was born, I genuinely believed that we had made the right decision for our family. At that time, I couldn't imagine the pregnancy even working out, let alone quitting my job. (Colleagues who read this blog, rest assured that I won't bail on you! I committed to coming back and I will return on January 3rd, even if it's just for the short term to figure out my exit strategy.) 

Now that Mason is here, my perspective has changed. The more days I spend with him the greater my longing to stay home with him.  But becoming a stay-at-home mom would be a major change for all of us. I abhor change, and it's always been easier for me to stick with what is familiar and comfortable. But now the status quo no longer feels like the easy, or right, choice.

I chide myself for not trusting in the Lord's provision for our family. I know that he will care for us, financially and in every other way. He has shown himself faithful again and again. Yet, why do I still worry and doubt?

I'm struggling, Gentle Readers. Please pray that the Lord makes the path clear for us, and that Brad and I have wisdom in deciding what's best for our family.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December roses

Is there any better bang for your buck than Knock Out rose bushes?

I've lost count of how many times they've bloomed this year. I see new buds, and it's December!

In two years, these bushes have outgrown my planting bed, and I need to do something about it. When is the best time to prune Knock Outs? And how much is safe to cut off?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

evergreen upset

The tree's up! And it's that time again.

Oh, Christmas tree, how faithful you are to me. And how wretched I am to you. Two years ago, I had an affair with another. I'm sorry to say, dear tree, that it's happened again, and it's much more serious this time.

You stand tall and proud, and you're perfectly proportioned. Once again, you are exquisite and elegant and make the house smell divine. Although you are perfect in every way you could be, you fall short this year. I can't help it--I'm just not that into you.

You see, I'm much more drawn to the gift beside you. Although he smells quite foul on occasion, much of the time, his baby lotion scent melts my heart in ways that pine needles never could. And you're beautiful, but you're also silent. The little bundle next to you can scream his bloody head off just because he feels like it, but he can also coo and giggle and make all sorts of silly noises. He smiles at and interacts with me in ways that you never could.

You need me to water you, but he needs me for pretty much everything. He's even more demanding than you are!

Once, I only had eyes for you, darling tree. Now, the gift that sits beside you has captured my heart and sucked up all the love inside it. I have nothing left for you this year. I am sorry.

The good news is that, Lord willing, next year you will have a new admirer. And I have a feeling that he will be much more smitten with you than I ever have been.