Sunday, February 28, 2010

C is for cookie

It's Girl Scout cookie season!! Can you tell which ones are my husband's favorite?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cure for the wiggles

For the longest time, Haley was like a turtle when she was on her back. She could do nothing but kick her legs and flail around until someone came along and rolled her over. Try as we may, she could not get down the skill of rolling from her back to her stomach no matter how much we worked with her.

A few weeks ago, she finally got it down. While I'm really glad she mastered the roll over, I now have a bigger problem. Before she could roll from her back to her front, I had no problem changing her diaper. She had no choice but to lay there until I was finished since she knew couldn't go anywhere. Now that she knows she has options, she won't stand to be on her back. The minute I put this kid down on her changing table, she immediately begins to struggle and try to twist herself onto her stomach again. If you were thinking, "she's just a baby, it can't be that hard to hold her down and change her, I challenge you to come to my house and give it a try.

Just the other night, she had a particularly vile diaper that needed changing. So I scooped her up and laid her on the changing table. As soon as I took the tabs off of her diaper and began to wipe, Haley realized what was up. She immediately began to squirm and then realized that she could grab the railing on her changing table to help her get to her stomach. Now, this would have probably been a heck of a lot easier to handle if it had only been a wet diaper, but we're dealing with poop here. I don't care what others may say, poop doesn't get any easier to change. I still fold the wipes over several times in order to avoid contact with the poo. It's gross. Enough said.

No matter how much I tried to hold her legs down (while trying my best not to touch the poop of course), Haley somehow twisted herself around so that her face was flat on the changing pad and I was holding her feet in the air as she continued to struggle. It was quite a sight, and could only be compared to a naked wheelbarrow - you know, the exercise where someone holds your legs as you try to walk forward on your hands? This is where I frantically yelled for my husband, who promptly came to my rescue.

After that little move, I needed some kind of solution for the wiggling child. Haley loves books, so today I grabbed one of the board books out of her bookcase and gave it to her as I laid her down on the changing table and braced myself for another one of her little squirm-a-thons. But then, nothing happened.

She lay on her changing table the entire time without a single escape attempt. That book captivated her for the length of the diaper change AND a clothing change. Thank you, Dr. Seuss, for one less day of being covered in bodily fluids. Now that's the gift that keeps on giving.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ring around

I bought a book of sewing projects for babies called Sweet Booties! before Haley was born. Aside from the questionable name, it has a lot of really cute projects in it. After looking through them and deciding which one I was least likely to royally screw up on, I decided to try making cloth stackable rings. The project required assorted fabrics, ribbons, and materials to make the wooden post that the rings are stacked on.

I managed to make all of the rings before Haley was born, and they ended up looking pretty good. The wooden post was another matter though. It didn't take much - a wooden dowel, wooden ball for the top, and a wooden base that have to be attached with dowel screws and then painted - but I haven't worked with wood since middle school when I had a woodworking elective. Looking back on it, woodworking is kind of a weird elective for middle school. Did anyone else have woodworking in middle school?? Anyway, fast forward 11 months and I finally finished it!
Haley loves to chew on the rings and play with the ribbons. She hasn't gotten the whole "stacking" thing down yet, but she'll get there soon.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Birthday take 2!

Ok, so I think we finally got it right this time!

If you remember the recent cupcake disaster of 2010, then you'll know that things could only get better from there. I knew that a mediocre cupcake wouldn't do. This is a first birthday people, the official anniversary of her escape from the womb! I had one goal: to make the perfect giant birthday cupcake. And I didn't care how many boxes of cake mix had to die before I got it right.

Since the first cupcake was a disaster, I had to change my game plan. And that meant changing the cake mix. If I were feeling more adventurous, I would try to make the actual cake batter myself. But, it being Haley's 1st birthday and all, I would rather the pressure of making the cupcake taste perfect fall into the hands of the Pillsbury Doughboy rather than on me. After all, the guy has been making cake way longer than I have.

For the trial run, I tried Duncan Hines yellow cake mix. The cake came out pretty mediocre. The texture was crumbly and the flavor wasn't anything special. After surveying my baked good options, I decided to give Betty Crocker a try to see if that one turned out any better. I also made a different icing since the first one, which was a homemade cream cheese frosting, had an overpowering powdered sugar flavor. This time around, I went for a homemade buttercream which I had tried once before with success.

Everything turned out perfect! The cake actually came out of the mold easily and held its shape instead of falling out in pieces it did last time. The taste was 100% better too; it was crisp and brown on top and moist and delicious in the center. It also rose so well that I had to shave the top and bottom pieces down so I could stack them (my favorite part because Patrick and I got to eat the extra pieces.) What can I say? We took one for the team. The frosting was great too, it was creamy and not overpoweringly sugary like the last one. Oh, and no more red food dye. I don't want my child dyed red after she stuffs her face.

I think I'm ready to do this first birthday thing! Well, in a manner of speaking. I'm ready to make the cupcake, I'm still not ready for my little Haley bug to grow up :(

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A lesson learned

As a parent, there are moments in your child's life that you will never forget. First, there are the milestones: your child's first tooth, their first time crawling, first steps, their first word. Then there are the kind of moments that stick in your memory simply because they're so absolutely gross you'll never forget them, like the numerous times I've been projectile vomited on, the time Haley spit up in my mouth while I was flying her over my head, or the time I was cooking dinner while Haley was playing in her jumper and I turned around to find her bouncing in a pile of her own poo. Take a guess at which kind of moment this post is about.

Yeah that's right, it's not the first kind.

The day started out innocently enough. It was Saturday evening, and my husband and I had just sat down to a dinner of pancakes and sausage. Let me pause and tell you how much I love breakfast for dinner, or "brinner" to be exact. There's nothing like a hot plate of syrupy, buttery pancakes and sausage. I could eat breakfast all day. Anyway, back to the story at hand, my daughter is quite the little beggar at dinner, brinner time. Even though Patrick and I feed her before we eat, she somehow always has room to eat our food too. I think she may be under the impression that her food is an appetizer and our food is the main course.

Although she's not walking yet, she's mastered the art of pulling herself up and cruising to get to countless things she shouldn't, like the tissue box, the DVD player, and the occasional piece of mail that was left on the coffee table supposedly out of her reach. This particular night, she had just finished her appetizer and bellied up to the coffee table to beg for my pancakes. I should probably stop giving her my food, but she gives me this little Puss in Boots stare that I can't resist. And yes, I'm sure she will continue to use this against me for as long as she can. I gave in to her cute little pleas, but I couldn't manage to stab a piece of pancake small enough for her to eat. Using my fingers, I pinched off a piece of pancake with syrup and put it into Haley's mouth, which left my fingers a little sticky.

Now, what I've neglected to tell you is that I forgot to get myself a napkin, which isn't such a big deal until you take into account the other thing that I had forgotten.

What I had also forgotten, was that my daughter had had a cold for the past 2 weeks, which left her with a runny nose. Since I was napkinless, I decided to just lick what I thought was syrup off of my fingers and continue on my merry, pancake-eating way. And then it happened.

I put my daughter's boogers in my mouth.

What I thought was syrup wasn't syrup at all. when I put my fingers to her mouth to give her some of the pancake, I hadn't noticed that some snot from her runny nose got on my fingers, making me think I had syrup on them. I immediately freaked out as my daughter looked on, innocently chewing on her pancake and getting ready for the next bite. Of course, my husband laughed hysterically when I told him what happened and then found me a tissue to spit in. No matter what I did, I could not get that (shudder) flavor out of my mouth.

So what have we learned in today's lesson kids? When you're a parent, you'll have lots of experiences that stick with you forever, both the good and the bad.

That, and always, ALWAYS carry a napkin.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day

I know I'm a few days behind on this post, but I wanted to talk a little about how I spent my Valentine's Day.

Patrick and I have been together almost 3 years (and married for almost 2,) and during that time, we've had the privilege of spending 3 Valentine's Days together. For the first Valentine's Day, I honestly cannot tell you what we did but if Patrick asks you, It was extremely magical and romantic. for the second Valentine's Day, I can't remember exactly what we did, but I know it involved a bed. Now now, don't go jumping into the gutters people. I was on bed rest last year while I was pregnant with Haley, so most of my life revolved around a bed at that time. All I was allowed to do was get up to take a shower and make myself a sandwich, so I'm sure that Valentine's day consisted mostly of TV watching and eating chocolate because, really, what's Valentine's Day without chocolate?

This year, Patrick and I were looking forward to spending a special Valentine's Day together since this would be our first "official" (aka not on bed rest) Valentine's Day as a married couple. Since we have the most perfect, wonderful baby in the world (I'm a little biased, but it's still true) we were lucky that one of the girls who does daycare at work volunteered to watch Haley for us so we could go out. What to do? We decided to have a nice dinner at J. Alexander's and then see a movie afterward. I even convinced Patrick to dress up some - he wore a collared shirt - it's the small victories. Being V-Day and all, we decided to go to dinner at 4PM so that we had enough time to catch our 7:30 movie. For those of you who are math illiterate like me, that means we have 3 1/2 hours between dinner and a movie. Plenty of time, or so we thought.

We get to J. Alexander's and like a good husband, Patrick lets me out at the curb so that I can avoid the rain and put our name on the waiting list while he stalked the nice couple who just came out of the restaurant for their parking spot. As I went inside, I could not find the line to stand in for reservations. I'm not joking, there were people stacked like sardines in the lobby. After doing a little more searching, I saw a tightly-packed group of people who looked like they would punch the next person who tried to elbow themselves in front of them. Realizing this was the waiting line, I took my spot at the end and waited my turn. As the line inched forward, I finally made my way to the front where a frazzled young hostess looked like she wanted to tell me and everyone else in the lobby to walk into traffic.

"How long is the wait?" I asked, giving my best "you can bump us to the top of the line if you want to" smile.

"2 1/2 hours" she said, staring back lifelessly.

And that is how Patrick and I came to eat at Texas Road House for Valentine's Day. Instead of having our steak with a side of orzo and wild mushrooms, we had them with baked potatoes and rolls with cinnamon butter. Instead of nicely-dressed waiters and a wine list, we had waiters in t-shirts who did a line dance to "Sweet Home Alabama" and offered us house margaritas. But hey, I'm not complaining at all. The food was good and the company was even better AND I wasn't confined to a bed - who could ask for more?

As we were waiting in the (much shorter) line to be seated, I had to laugh a little to myself though. With all the peanut shells on the ground, our nice clothes and dress shoes did look a little out of place. Oh well, so much for dressing up.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Welcome to Haley's house!

I love surprises, but not when I'm the one trying to keep the surprise a secret.

Haley's 1st birthday is coming up on March 3rd, so Pat and I went to Toys R Us yesterday to pick something out for her. We knew we wanted to get her something that would grow with her, so we decided to get her a playset. I have lots of great memories about the little plastic kitchens and play food that I played with growing up, but Haley's a little too young for that just yet.

We found this really cute little house playset that has everything a 1-year old could want. It has a ball drop, light switch they can turn on or off, interactive clock and radio, mailbox that opens with little plastic postcards inside, I mean this thing is AWESOME. I know, most of you are probably thinking, "wow, Jen needs to get out more, she's completely forgotten what things qualify as 'cool'" but seriously, Patrick, Haley and I spent last night and most of this morning playing with that little house and having the best time.

Since we moved in, we have been planning to make Haley a playroom, and since our buddy who was living with us recently moved out, we moved the guest room upstairs and made the old guest room into her own little space. Even though her birthday is 17 days away, I just couldn't wait to give it to her and see how much she loved it. Now, Haley has her own space to do whatever she wants without Patrick or I telling her no every 2 minutes. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

Happy (almost) birthday big girl!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cooking in style baby

I've been wanting an apron for a loooong time. If you haven't heard already, I am a klutz. That means I spill things ALL the time. I am a magnet for stains - I have pretty much accepted that if I am wearing white or any other light-colored fabric, I will attract some kind of food in some shape or form on my clothes at some point in the day. When I'm cooking the food, this problem is magnified times 10 - thus the need for said apron.

Like I was saying, I need an apron - not the old-fashioned kind with lace and dingy looking flowers, I wanted one that I loved, something unique and fun. My sister-in-law introduced me to an awesome store called Anthropologie a few years back, and ever since then, I've wanted to live there. They have so many cute clothes and decorations that I end up just wandering through the entire store aimlessly imagining I had the money to buy it all.

When I was there last, I saw a few aprons that I loved but I couldn't bring myself to fork out the dough (my husband was a proud man.) So, with that in mind, I thought I'd try making one myself. That way, I had less chance of hating the apron...unless my perfectionism overruled, which has often been the case with stuff that I've made. I had a pattern in one of the sewing books I own for a reversible apron so, without ever having made one before, I sat down and gave it a try.

It actually wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I really like the blue fabric I bought, and I decided to sew a peacock on the reverse side to add some fun and compliment the front. I may have a new hobby :) I think it turned out pretty well for my first try! What do you think??

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The birthday trial run

Haley's birthday is coming up in 3 weeks. Not just any birthday though, her FIRST birthday. I may be new at the whole "first birthday" thing, but I know it's a big deal. First birthdays (in my opinion) are not really for the little people celebrating them. They're for the parents; and if we're really being honest, they're for the mom's. Don't get me wrong, my husband is thrilled about celebrating our little girl's 1st birthday, but he would like just as much to do with the planning process as he would like having a tooth pulled.
 Since my husband was no help at all, I enlisted the help of my (much more enthusiastic) sister-in-law, Shannon. After throwing ideas around, we decided to make her party a "fairy/garden" theme complete with fairy outfit and flower cupcakes inspired by Martha Stewart. As you may already know, on first birthdays many American parents give their newly-minted 1-year old their own cake and let them dive face first into a sugar overdose. I fully support this tradition, but if my daughter is going to be covered in frosting that I'll be peeling off of her scalp for 2 weeks after, the cake has to be good.

I saw a commercial on TV for a giant cupcake mold. I didn't want to be fool because my cake wasn't cool, so I decided to buy the giant mold and make Haley her very own huge toadstool cupcake - you know, the cute little mushrooms with the red top and white spots? Before the official debut though, I knew I should probably do a trial run to make sure everything came out looking like the picture...and man, I'm glad I did.
 After making the cupcake, the cupcake did NOT come out of the mold easily like the commercial claims. The top of the cupcake was pretty much small bits of cake held together with frosting. Since it was a trial run, I decided not to put the white spots on the cupcake since I was going to quality over looks. After frosting the cupcake though, I realized the amount of red dye that goes into giving the toadstool its signature red color. And then I thought about how much of that red-dyed frosting would be all over my daughter as she did a faceplant into her birthday cupcake. With that thought in mind, I think I'm going to go for white frosting and red dots instead, more like Martha Stewart's toadstool cupcake, but giant. And without a worm. And hopefully better looking on my next trial run :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snow day!

I LOVE SNOW DAYS. Especially unexpected ones. This morning, I woke up to 3 inches of fresh snow on the ground and no work. In Tennessee, the whole city shuts down when it snows. There are no snow plows (that I have seen) and no salt trucks. Your best bet is to call up a buddy with a 4x4 and hope that you make it safely to the grocery store, and if not, you better hope you can live off of whatever is in your house until the snow melts.

Having lived in Colorado for 8 years, 3 inches of snow is nothing. I remember many many days waking up and seeing 3+ inches of fresh snow outside and immediately running downstairs to the TV to watch for a cancellation, only to find out that school wasn't even delayed. Not even by half an hour. So I would sit there and wait until last minute, hoping that the superintendant had a change of heart and decided not to risk the lives of hundreds of children that day. He usually decided it was worth the risk. I would then trudge sadly upstairs to get ready for the grueling wait in the 20 degree weather for the bus.

In Colorado, they didn't mess around with the snow. The minute the first flake fell, the snow plows and salt trucks were outside doing their thing. I hated them as a kid. They meant a morning full of algebra and science classes instead of cartoons and hot chocolate. As I began my walk to the bus stop, hands shoved into gloves deep into my pockets and close to my body to avoid letting any freezing wind in, I would inevitably see that one kid whose mom drove him to the bus stop in his warm, cozy van and let him wait inside until the bus came. I always wondered why Van Mom wouldn't let the rest of us in to keep warm. Couldn't she see that we were all losing precious extremities with each passing minute?

We would all stand in a little group, waiting for the 15-minute mark - as we all know, that's the correct amount of time that is allowed to pass before you go home and tell your parents that school must be cancelled because the bus didn't show up. Inevitably though, we would get close to the 15-minute mark and then see it- the white strobe light. When there was heavy snowfall in Colorado, the busses would turn on a white strobe light on their roof and chug along in the snow to pick up the unwilling children. The white strobe light in the distance meant no cartoons or snowball fights...unless it snowed harder by lunch hour.

I haven't had a snow day since...well, since last week, but BEFORE THAT I can't remember when I had a snow day. As an adult, you'd think that the excitement of a snow day would have died a little bit, but this morning, that child in me that used to run to the TV to see if school was cancelled got really excited when I found out that I didn't have to go in to work. What to do? Netflix instant que? Baking? Computer games? Reading? Playing in the snow is not really that appealing to me...I'm not too fond of wet, freezing feet and hands, but since Haley has never been in snow before, I promised my husband that I'd take her out in it. She spent most of her time trying to eat the snow. 11-month olds don't really get the fun factor of snow yet. Give her a few years and she'll be having snowball fights and getting excited when a new blanket of snow means no school that day.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Blog

I wanted to come up with a new blog where I could combine all of my past ramblings into one. That was the easy problem was coming up with a creative name for said blog. So, of course, I went to my husband for some creative suggestions.

Me: "Honey, help me come up with a good name for my new blog."

Husband: "New name? How about 'Blog"? I mean, you never see anyone with a blog named Blog, I mean, that's pretty creative."

Me: "Umm....that's not exactly what I was looking for..."

Husband: "Ok well, I was thinking about how easy-going you are and trying to come up with a name relating to that, but they all make you sound like a whore. Like 'Easy...something' or even something like 'Loose Ends,' those just doesn't sound right."

Thanks Honey.


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