Monday, December 31, 2012

holiday meal recap

Ahhh, the goose. I soaked the bird in a brine mixture for 24 hours, which I think helped it retain moisture. The skin was brown and tasty--I had to prick the goose's flesh all over before baking it, which drained unnecessary fat and made the skin crispier. I ordered an 8-9 pound bird and ended up with a 12-pounder, but we didn't have excessive leftovers, so it worked out fine. Also, I didn't know this but geese are solely dark meat. We enjoyed it, but that's a consideration if you or guests are die-hards for white meat.

The goose was easy to prepare, cook, and carve, but was more expensive than I had anticipated. (I also got shafted by the butcher, but that's a story for a different day.) Overall, the goose was a hit and I would cook one again. But I think I'll try something else, like rack of lamb, for my next holiday meal.

On another note, my marvelous knockout roses are still in bloom, so I clipped several and scattered them around my holiday table. They brightened up my ordinary table, and were much prettier than the overpriced greenery that the florist at Eastern Market tried to sell me!

I hope your holiday meals were tasty!

Friday, December 28, 2012

wise choices

Thanks to both sets of grandparents for free babysitting on Thanksgiving and Christmas, Brad and I have now enjoyed two excellent movies--the only two movies in the theater that we've seen together since Mason joined our family.

We made wise movie choices, and I'm so relieved. I am rooting for both of these masterpieces come Academy Awards time! (I saw Les Mis, the musical, nearly 15 years ago, and I loved it then, but now I've fallen in love all over again. I am DYING to read the book now, but am I am for another 1,200+ page tome?)

Has anyone else seen Lincoln or Les Miserables? What did you think? What movies have you enjoyed this holiday season?

Friday, December 21, 2012

cards display

I love receiving photo holiday cards. But until this year, they've remained in a lovely stack on my kitchen counter until the holidays passed, I looked through them all one more time, and then threw the cards away.

This year, I decided that we needed to enjoy these cards a little more. They aren't cheap. And our friends and family have put in substantial time and effort to create and send them, not to mention their generosity in keeping us on their mailing list year after year.

I retrieved a roll of tape from our office and set it on the kitchen counter to have handy during mail time. As cards come in, I tape them on our half-bathroom door, which is conveniently located in our kitchen, right across from Mason's high chair. He delights in admiring all of the bah-bahs (babies) while eating his breakfast and lunch. I find myself looking at the cards much more now that they're on display. Our guests can enjoy them, too.

The only challenge now is having enough space to hang them out of Mason's reach. Our collection may have to expand to the walls!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Two years ago, I dreamed of it. This year, I'm doing it! We're staying put for Christmas and I'm serving goose. And chestnut stuffing. And a sampling of English puddings straight from London. (My mom just spent a few weeks there and is bringing them with her when she and my dad visit for Christmas.)

I plan to make our usual Christmas meal, rare beef tenderloin, on New Year's Eve. But until then, I'm all about the goose!

What do you plan to serve this Christmas?

Monday, December 17, 2012

prayers abound

What a holiday season this has been thus far. My heart aches for a couple of close friends who are each grieving losses. And of course, there are no words to describe the horror of Friday's tragedy in Newtown.

I saw the poem below posted on facebook, and thought it was really touching. God bless those precious families!

"twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
they could hardly believe all 
the beauty they saw there.
they were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"this is heaven." declared a small boy. "we're spending Christmas at God's house."
when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
and as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"may this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"come now my children, let me show you around."
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
and i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA"

Friday, December 14, 2012

adventurous evergreen

2012 marks my fifth annual celebration post of our Christmas tree. Check out previous posts here: 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Oh, Christmas tree, how beautiful you are to me! Thank you for coming back into my home, sweet tree, especially this year--you're risking your precious life by doing so. There's a little hooligan underfoot, and he could bring about some serious damage to you (and to himself). You've survived here for nearly three weeks, but I still don't take any day of your stay for granted. My little cannonball of a boy could hurl himself into you, and your exquisite attire, in less than a second.

You remain upright and regal, sporting an elegant new skirt and topper--you've been due for an upgrade for years. Your classy white lights spruce up the shabby chic collection of mostly hand-me-down ornaments that adorn your boughs. But you boast a couple of new ornaments, too--precious, personal ones that mark each of the cannonball's Christmases. Thank you for cherishing them as I do, and for displaying them so proudly and carefully (and out of reach of grabby little hands).

Despite your twinkling lights, tempting ornaments, and intoxicating smell, the little hooligan has paid you hardly any attention. Don't take this personally. You see, he's busy . . . all the time--he is very, very, very busy.  He has places to go, things to do, and people to see. He didn't even have time to pose in front of you for a picture. This was the only photo, after multiple attempts, that I could capture with you and him in the same frame . . .

until I planted his little butt on the floor in front of you and he yelled and then pouted about it. Don't take his tears personally, either. He can be a real grouch.

You do hinder my little guy's access to the front windows, where he likes to watch for Babas (beloved things... babies, dogs, construction equipment and workers, etc.). You are so kind, though. As he charges past you, pushing in frustration at your branches and nearly slipping on your skirt, you show him nothing but love. Your soft, green needles tickle and caress his bobbing blond head. Your branches gently make way for him, no matter how rough he is with you. You make a picturesque backdrop behind my little boy peering out the window to the delight of passersby. You understand, wise old tree, the preciousness of a moment, and that these moments are fleeting. And so you put up with the big and small annoyances, the danger, neglect, and abuse because it's all worth it for the pitter patter of little feet and the knowledge that you've served our family well for one more year. 

Thank you, beloved tree, for your courage and adventurous spirit this year. I'll try by best to keep you safe, upright, and all in one piece for a couple more weeks!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

mothering on display

Mason's nearly 15 months old, and his disobedience is in full force. (Well, it feels like it's in full force, but he's not even two yet. The best is surely yet to come.) The combination of his endless energy, strong will, and quick temper get him in trouble frequently. As first-time parents, Brad and I are muddling through--praying and thinking about how to wisely and effectively discipline Mason. It's not easy. Regardless of our method, we strive to be united and consistent.

A natural rule follower and a lover of structure and policies, I anticipated no problems being consistent in my disciplining. But I did not expect the act to be so exhausting, especially when I'm scolding him for the same offense for the 20th time in an hour when all I really want to do is finish a sentence conversation with a fellow mom or complete the task at hand, whatever it is. It's often tempting to ignore Mason's disobedience and carry on, but my passionate boy doesn't learn the expectations with my negligence, which often makes his behavior worse.

Alas, I find myself in this season that I call "mothering on display." He tests me both in public and at home. I feel the least amount of pressure among moms with similarly aged children--we all feel each other's pain. People in public will be judgmental of my child and my parenting skills, that's a given--I cast plenty of judgment on other parents and children pre-Mason, too. Some doting family members mean well, but they've forgotten what it's like to have a disobedient toddler and that it's inappropriate to laugh at or encourage Mason in his troubling antics, which only tempts me to discipline them, too!

In what ways do you feel like your mothering is on display? How do you deal with it?

Monday, December 10, 2012

common grammar mistake

While strolling to the park with Mason over the weekend, Brad and I noticed the following sign attached to a street light in our neighborhood.

Do you see the mistake? Take a closer look.

How about now?

Now why on earth would the word holiday be possessive? Perhaps the person who created this sign should read my post on possessives vs. plurals.

Has anyone received a holiday card with this or a similar mistake? I suspect you'll receive at least one this season!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

part-time work for stay-at-home parents

Even though I recently quit my full-time job, I haven't left teaching completely behind. This semester, I've been working a few hours a week for Cooking Thyme, a small business that offers cooking classes for children. The company's owner attends my church, and she recruited me and a couple other stay-at-home moms to teach. It's been great fun and well-suited to my new role at home. Mason's allowed to accompany me to weekly teachers meetings, and during my class, his care is covered by Cooking Thyme--he gets a weekly play date with other teachers' kids, which he enjoys and is also great for him.

Although a full-time, professional position working outside the home is not my choice right now, I'm not at all opposed to working a little, especially if some tasks can be done from home or Mason's allowed to accompany me while completing them. I may be biased, but I do believe that stay-at-home moms and dads, generally speaking, are a goldmine of untapped talent. Especially in this culture where an increasing number of people work from home, there are all sorts of jobs that could be outsourced to men and women looking for part-time work that they could complete in their home on their own schedule. And most stay-at-home parents don't need insurance and other benefits--a huge savings for any employer.

A mom herself, the owner of Cooking Thyme goes to great lengths to recruit, appeal to, and retain stay-at-home parents as employees. Of course, again I'm biased, but I appreciate the fresh and innovative way she runs her business.

I love hearing about the types of jobs and tasks that other stay-at-home parents have stumbled upon. Do you have an experience to share? What works for you and your family?


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

kids and gifts

I was over at The DC Moms yesterday with a post about an unexpected minefield of parenthood (for me, at least): kids and gifts.

How do you manage the influx of presents into your home at this time of year?

Monday, December 3, 2012

blankie baby

Mason has a second best friend (besides his thumb): his blankie. I have a little Linus!

Or actually, I should say the tags on his blankie are his true loves. When I hand him the blanket, he frenetically searches the edges for the corner with the tags. He then sucks his right thumb and holds Blankie's tags close to his face with his left hand. Aren't toddlers' ways peculiar?

Blankie stays in the crib all the time. He's only allowed to come out for photo shoots and long car rides.

Blankies make everything better. I think I need one myself!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gone Girl

After nearly eight weeks of watching my name slowly inch up on my local library's hold list, I finally have it in my hands: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, my book club's January selection.

I don't know where I started on the hold list, but after four weeks of waiting, I checked in to see that I had moved up to #135. Are you kidding me? I had no idea of this book's popularity until then.

Knowing the basic premise of this book, I don't expect an uplifting story or any warm and fuzzy feelings. But, I do hope to get hooked. I am in desperate need of a book I cannot put down--I haven't had one of those since Mason's birth, which is a small part of the reason that I've only read 5-6 books this year instead of my normal 50-60. (Mason's mostly to blame, in all the best ways of course, for my reading less.)

I also hope to fly through this book because the library will only let me keep it for three weeks--books with hold lists can't be renewed. I haven't finished a book in three weeks or less since Mason arrived. We'll see if I can do it this time.

Have you read Gone Girl? Will this book hook me? If not, what book will?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

eagerly anticipating my Christmas present this year

My pathetic iPhone 3
How many of you have had, and regularly used, the same cell phone for more than three years? I got my iPhone soon after our house was broken into, and my previous cell phone was stolen.

My cell phone and I have had a good run, and I've certainly gotten my money's worth out of it. The poor thing barely works anymore, but that's mostly my fault for letting Mason play with it. New apps aren't compatible with the iPhone 3, which makes me feel like I own a dinosaur. I am eagerly anticipating upgrading to the iPhone 5 in a matter of days!

What's on your Christmas list this year?

Monday, November 26, 2012

instant toddler

toddling away
Mason turned one, and someone flipped a switch. In an instant, it seemed, I went from having a baby to chasing around a toddler.

Mason couldn't even walk completely on his own by his first birthday. He took plenty of independent steps then, but we didn't officially classify him as a walker until he was 13 months, when Hurricane Sandy blew through and we were trapped inside for two days. Desperate to get out, he grew brave and started walking running. He hasn't slowed down since then.

By Mason's first birthday, we had survived and even thrived during the various phases one's first year: keeping a detailed eating, napping, and pooping log to share with the pediatrician during the early days; waking Mason up to eat every three hours; middle-of-the-night feedings; sponge baths; caring for his circumcision and umbilical cord wounds; swaddling; teething; and introducing solids. We also celebrated myriad other firsts: holidays, visits, and accomplishments. We survived shots and his first cold, fever, and stomach bug. He survived his first falls when learning to sit, and then eventually to walk. Breastfeeding came and went. And so did my full-time job outside the home.

Even Baby Center immediately changed their language after Mason's first birthday. The weekly update emails went from "your baby" to "your toddler".

How can one year of life contain so much change? My head and heart are still reeling. Many days, I think, "What just happened?" in regards to the past year.

I miss the little baby days. My heart yearns for them. But at the same time, I love each new stage more than the last. Even with Mason's hot temper and constant need for discipline, my boy is such a blast! There's something to be said for a child who can say Mama and give sweet, unsolicited kisses. That simple display of unconditional love makes the all consuming effort in caring for a young child feel less exhausting and cumbersome.

Fellow parents, tell me, will Mason's birthdays always feel like flipping a switch--from baby to toddler to little boy? I can't imagine any other year containing as much change as the first one did.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

happy thanksgiving

My baby, giving thanks on his 1st Thanksgiving, 2011
Happy Thanksgiving, Gentle Readers! Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday.

We're driving to Knoxville, Mason's longest car trip yet, to celebrate the holiday with my in-laws. And guess what? No Cracker Barrel this year!! Yes, Mason will get to consume his first Thanksgiving meal, home cooked. I am thrilled! I hope he shows utmost appreciation to his grandmom for her hard work in the kitchen by devouring every morsel.

What are your plans for the holidays?

Monday, November 19, 2012

movie recs?

Since Mason's birth, I've seen two movies in the theater: the last two Twilight films. Brad and I have not seen a movie in the theater together since our bundle of joy arrived. But fear not! We're taking advantage of both sets of grandparents during Thanksgiving and Christmas visits, and plan to hit the movie theater, just the two of us.

But, what shall we see? With limited time, money, and free babysitters, we must choose wisely!

What movies are on your must-see list this holiday season?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

secret ingredient

Now that fresh cranberries are readily available at the grocery store, I've been adding a handful to my banana bread to spruce it up.

Yummy and pretty!

What's your favorite secret ingredient to make a mundane dish extraordinary?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

the end

The last movie in the Twilight Saga opens later this week, and I can barely believe it.

When the first Twilight movie opened in the fall of 2008, the books were relatively unfamiliar to me. After hearing significant buzz about the movie (which is awful, compared to the books and even the rest of the movies in the series), I jumped on the bandwagon and devoured the books. I read the entire series, including Midnight Sun, twice, back-to-back. Ah, what a glorious summer 2009 was!

New Moon was the first Twilight movie I saw in the theater. I received a boxed set of the books for Christmas that year and devoured them again. I attended the midnight premieres of Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, Part 1, the latter being the only movie I've seen in the theater since Mason arrived.

In preparation for seeing the last movie, Breaking Dawn Part 2, this weekend, I've picked up the first book again. It's been years since I've read Twilight, but I'm finding myself drawn back in--teen angst, first love, sparkly vampires, shoddy writing, and all--and loving this book as much as I did the first time. I'm a sucker for romance, and the rawness of this one gets me every time.

Fellow Twihards, can you believe it's over? Are you seeing the movie later this week?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

life and learning at home

Home Office: Managing the House
Has it really been 12 weeks since I've been unemployed? My blank slate lasted about two days. I now have regular commitments four of five days a week. The weeks roll by even faster than they did when I was in the office full time, if that's even possible.

People keep asking me if I miss working outside the home. I don't. Not even a smidgeon. It baffles me how something that I poured my life into for 12 years, something that I really enjoyed, suddenly ended and yet I don't miss it at all. I kiss Mason's head and praise God each day for providing me a new love and the opportunity to focus on my little family for this time, however long it lasts.

Each season of life brings new lessons. Here's what I'm learning as a stay-at-home-mom:
1. A shower, make up, and wearing something besides yoga pants makes me feel purposeful and productive, even if I haven't been either of those things.
2. Getting up at 5:30 AM, like I used to, is still a good idea most days.
3. Children's moods are real, and are a force to be reckoned with.
4. Play dates, or any commitment or appointment involving children, have about a 50% chance of happening. (See #3.)
5. Spontaneous play dates are welcome surprises!
6. When in doubt, go outside.
7. There will be days when nothing gets done and the schedule is shot. Life will go on. Go to bed and try again tomorrow.
8. Regular, at-home date nights, with the computer/TV off and the phones put away, are a necessity for a marriage in a busy season. Schedule them if you must. (We do!)
9. Young children are demanding, intense, and irrational. Their emotions are raw and unchecked. But the many ways they show their love make every exhausting minute and unglamorous task worth it.
10. Staying at home with Mason is the most demanding job I've ever had, but it's by far my most joyful.  By all means, there are challenges as a SAHM, but they are happy ones.

What lessons are you learning in your current season of life?

Monday, November 5, 2012

running again

Brad and I are running again!

Until three weeks ago, I had run exactly one time since last spring's Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. Sad, I know. But goodbye hot weather. Farewell breastfeeding. Good riddance full-time job outside the home. All of my excuses for not running have vanished. I have an awesome jogging stroller, free time in the early mornings now, and live in a beautiful, running friendly city. It's time to get back out there (even though it does involve getting up at 5:30 AM most mornings--ugh)!

Brad and I each run alone two mornings during the week while the other one cares for Mason. We enjoy Fridays off. On Saturdays when we don't have plans, we take Mason with us on family runs.

I'm not running far, or fast, but starting off a couple days a week with a few minutes alone while getting my blood flowing in the crisp fall air is good for all parts of me: body, heart, mind, and soul.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

new life!

Fern's newest stump has sprouted TWO new growths, and it's only been about two months since her most recent surgery.

Twin sprouts, just as I had hoped! Now, if I can just keep Mason from destroying them . . .

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

hurricane sandy

Weather-related closings take on new meaning as a stay-at-home-mom. I no longer get the day off and we're housebound, which is especially tough when Mason keeps bringing me his shoes (his way of asking to go outside). The upside? Brad's here to help care for and entertain our boy. Believe me, trapped in a small space with a thirteen-month-old, it takes two of us!

Local readers, how are you passing the time indoors?

Monday, October 29, 2012

mama's boy

Tell me, are all little boys Mama's boys? Or am I just  extraordinarily blessed to have one?

Mason is in such an affectionate stage right now. He gives Brad and me open-mouth kisses and zerberts, voluntarily and on command. He reaches for and kisses pictures of us. He also enjoys smooching characters in his picture books, himself in the mirror, and other babies, so it's not all about Mama and Dada.

But much of the time, he's all about Mama. His face crinkles and lip pooches when I leave him, and he acts so sad! Mason asks for me and marches Brad all around the house to find me if I've left the room or gone upstairs without him. He will even play favorites during story time and meal time by indicating his preference for me to read to or feed him (rather than Brad). And of course, if he's hurt or really upset, no one but Mama will do.

As much as I love the attention, I don't love how Mason's actions occasionally hurt Brad's feelings. That's not acceptable at all.  But at the same time, I believe that this period of adoration is just a stage. Once Brad teaches him to play ball and do little boy things, Mason will be all about Dada. Until then, I will cherish this unconditional love and constant attention from my little man, all while making sure he gets plenty of alone time with Dada, of course.

Do you have a Mama's boy or a Dada's girl? Or what about a Mommy's girl or a Daddy's boy? And how do you keep one parent from feeling left out?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

comfy and roomy

Sometimes I really miss the bucket car seat and its ability to keep my curious boy contained. Because Mason is tall for his age, he outgrew his infant car seat when he was only seven months old. We upgraded to a convertible car seat and retired the bucket seat to the basement, with all of the other outgrown baby items.

Imagine my surprise and delight to learn that Graco makes a rear-facing bucket car seat for children up to 40 pounds and two years: the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40. Last week, I joined other DC and Baltimore area bloggers at Stephanie's house for an information session and live demonstration of the seat's key features.

I walked away from the event in awe of this car seat. Every criticism I have about Mason's current convertible car seat is nonexistent with the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40

Photo credit: Stephanie Torres
This seat has amazing leg room, which is important for tall boys like mine. The base adjusts with eight different reclining positions to offer the most leg room of any rear-facing, infant car seat. Being able to recline farther keeps Mason's head from flopping forward when he falls asleep. I suspect he will not only sleep more comfortably, especially with the seat's extra padding and high quality fabrics, while riding in the car, but also for longer--a win for both of us!

This seat grows with your baby. Without having to rethread the harness, I can adjust it and the headrest with one hand. The adjustable canopy--an infant car seat feature I didn't realize I would miss so much--effectively keeps the sun out of Mason's eyes.

Brad, Mason, and I are driving 1,000 miles round trip over Thanksgiving, and I'm hopeful that this car seat's comfort and roominess will help make the trip a pleasant experience for all three of us.

The Graco SnugRide® Click Connect™ 40 – the first and only newborn to two-year infant car seat that actually grows with your baby from four pounds all the way up to 40 pounds. The car seat is designed for a parent on the go. The infant car seat can be easily removed from the base and used as a carrier when the infant is small, providing portability and convenience so you can easily move your infant in and out of the car without disturbing them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently made the recommendation to keep all children in rear-facing car seats until the age of 2. Graco set out to make this product so parents can keep infants rear facing longer while still keeping them comfortable.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Graco. The opinions and text are all mine.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Am I the last person on earth to join Twitter? Even my social-media avoiding husband has been addicted to Twitter for years now. Despite his encouragement to sign up, I've refused, saying, "I don't need another distraction."

Well, I really don't need another distraction. But I attended a blogging event last week and I was the only person in the room not tweeting throughout the evening.

So, I came home and caved. I signed up that night. My Twitter handle is DrBlondieDC.

Are you on Twitter? If so, I'd love to follow you. Please share your Twitter handle in a comment.

Monday, October 22, 2012

children's book recommendations

Mason's favorite book seems to change weekly. He went through a stage around eight or nine months where he would writhe with excitement at the mere sight of Little Ladybug and Tails.

Mason selects the books we read. Here are a few of his current favorites:

Of course, like any avid reader, I have my own favorites:

Nearly all of my most beloved books have come from personal recommendations, and I'm on the market for suggestions as I will soon compile Mason's Christmas list. What are your children's favorite books? Which ones do you most enjoy (and not tire of) reading?

Friday, October 19, 2012


Years ago, I remember reading in my medical insurance booklet that one mammogram would be covered between the ages of 35-40 and thinking that I should take advantage of this benefit to get baseline images of my breasts, should I experience any problems in the future. At that time, a college friend had been diagnosed, at age 34, with breast cancer. But I've been so distracted the past few years with infertility, pregnancy losses, pregnancy, and, praise God, parenthood, that it completely slipped my mind until recently. Suddenly, age 40 seems right around the corner--well, 16 months from now anyway!

Now that I am not pregnant or breastfeeding, the timing for such an exam proved perfect. I went to Capital Breast Care Center, with a convenient location on Capitol Hill, last week, and the staff were friendly and professional. I highly recommend this center. The procedure was uncomfortable, but not painful, and it took not even an hour of my time. Thinking about and staying on top of my long-term health and wellness suddenly seems much more important now that I have a little one.

Have you had a mammogram? At what age did you get your first one? What was your experience?

Disclosure: No one associated with Capital Breast Care Center has any idea that I wrote this post--all opinions are my own. Happy National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

a first for everything

After being married for more than ten years and eating 95% of our meals at home (that I prepare), guess what I just did for the first time?

I made breakfast for dinner, specifically, waffles and omelettes with cherry tomatoes, arugula, and cheese.

This meal tasted amazing, was quick to make, and allowed me to use up a number of perishable items in the fridge. Mason gobbled it up.

Yep, now I see what all the rage is about. 

What are your favorite breakfast-for-dinner dishes?

Monday, October 15, 2012

on weaning, continued

Breastfeeding in our house has officially come to an end. September 30th was my self-imposed deadline to stop, and I've stuck to it. I miss the nursing sessions like I miss feeling Baby's (aka Mason's) nudges, pokes, and kicks during pregnancy. A small part of me will yearn for those experiences for a while, perhaps forever. They are some of life's most special seasons--all mind blowing, humbling, and incredibly fleeting.

Mason balked when we first began the weaning process in early August, but by the end, he was so used to bottles, he barely noticed that nursing had ended. Although it initially hurt my feelings, I'm glad he took to cows' milk as easily as he did.

Weaning him from the bottle, however, has proven extremely difficult. Wouldn't you know it that he finally learned to hold his bottle and feed himself only about a week or two before we took the bottle away? (Having few bottles these past six months, since we pulled him out of daycare, he's never had a consistent string of bottles with which to learn.) How convenient to put Mason and his bottle in the stroller and he could feed himself! I was sad to give that up. He's a little messier with the sippy cup.

This past Friday, Brad and I went cold turkey and put away all the bottles. We explained the situation to him, and geared up for a battle. He not only refused any sippy cup (with milk or water) all day, he grew downright angry each time a sippy cup even crossed his line of vision, almost as if he were insulted by the mere sight of it. You can see in the picture below that by Saturday (day 2), things weren't much better. (Side note: poor timing on our parts with trying to wean him from the bottle and take our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, all in the same weekend. It was a little much for all of us.)

Even by the end of Saturday, he was still a wreck.

On Sunday (day 3), he took sporadic sips of milk from the sippy cup during the day, which gave us hope! But then Mason got angry again and had a complete meltdown when offered milk in the sippy cup at bedtime. We'll see what my bullheaded boy pulls today (day 4). He can't hold out that much longer. Or can he?

Does anyone else have a stubborn child like mine?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

little fits

There are two surefire ways to spark Mason's quick temper: put him in the stroller to leave after playing at the park and tell him it's time to go inside after strolling up and down the walk in front of our house. It doesn't matter how long he's played at the park or walked outside, or how hot and exhausted he is. Mason is relentless. When he wants something, or wants to do something, he has a one-track mind.

First, he ignores my instructions and tries to keep playing or walking. Next, he relaxes his body and throws himself on the ground, all while crying and yelling. I pick him up and he tries to get back down. Of course, these scenes always occur in front of friends and neighbors.

Mason just turned one year. Isn't he a little young to start acting like this?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I found this bag of 30 tulip bulbs for $4.99 at Aldi and I couldn't say no. Even if they don't come up, at least I only spent $5. I've never planted fall bulbs, but I've always wanted to. Lacking an open bed, I tucked them here and there all over my yard. I'm looking forward to beautiful spring colors in random places!

Are you planting fall bulbs? Which ones?

Friday, October 5, 2012

the relationship and its jobs

A few weeks ago, soon after my official last day at work, several friends posted links to this parenting article on facebook. Maybe it was the timing, but this piece really resonated and it's been weighing on my mind since then.

I love, love, love how Moxie distinguished the relationship of parenthood from its associated jobs, and then posed the million dollar question: "Do you want the relationship enough to suffer through the jobs?"

Her reasoning, which I found right on target, makes it even clearer why there is no universal answer to the often heartwrenching dilemma of whether or not to stay home with your child. The answer is different for every person and family, and one may not know what's best until long after the baby arrives.

I just wish that more parents felt like they truly had a choice in the matter.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Those of you who follow Mason's blog know that each month, I've taken a picture of him with a sticker on his chest that designates how old he is. I bought this package of stickers soon after he was born and started with the first sticker: one month. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I pulled out what I thought was the last sticker in the package--12 months--and found this:

I missed a sticker! Agh!

But why on earth would zero be the last sticker in the package? Shouldn't it have been first?

Has this happened to anyone else or did I just receive a defunct package?

Monday, October 1, 2012

apple picking

Family outings have taken on new meaning with a little one. Brad and I call these "mandatory fun days". These excursions are much more enjoyable for us than for Mason right now, especially if the day's destination involves a lengthy car ride, but maybe one day, he'll feel differently.

Local readers, have you discovered Larriland Farm? What a gem! We went to pick apples, but they also currently have spinach, beets, swiss chard, tomatoes, and pumpkins. Huge fields! Stunning views! And only an hour's drive from DC.

Reliving my childhood, I climbed a tree. Brad handed Mason up to me so that he could pick his first apple.

Yes, here we are, up in a tree, balancing on a limb to pick the perfect apple.
We all sampled the goods. Scrumptious!

This Maryland farm is top notch--not at all cheesy or chintzy--offering a huge variety of fruits, vegetables, and flowers to pick for what I thought were reasonable prices. And isn't there something so romantic about picking your own produce? (I am a farmer's daughter. I spent years "picking my own". And there was nothing romantic about it. But time and distance have made my memory rosy.)

I look forward to making other trips to Larriland Farm during strawberry, raspberry, and peach seasons next year. What is your favorite fruit or vegetable to harvest yourself?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

poor man's pesto

After sowing three packages of seeds and nary a plant in sight, I purchased a handful of basil seedlings, which thankfully, have produced a record crop this year.

I am busy making loads of basil pesto. I love having a another reason to use the ice cube trays I bought to freeze Mason's baby food.

I opted for walnuts instead of pine nuts in this year's batch. Pine nuts, although I love them, are ridiculously expensive. The pesto made with walnuts, which I'm calling poor man's pesto, tastes exactly the same to me. I'll save splurges of Brad's hard-earned bacon on pine nuts for recipes where it really matters.

What food substitutions do you make to save money?