Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Waiting

Sending encouraging thoughts to Melinda. She is less than two weeks from her due date. So close to becoming a mother for the first time and meeting her sweet baby boy. I remember all of those feelings - the worry, the excitement, the discomfort - did I mention the worry?!

Love to you Melinda! Elyse and I are so excited for you! I know it is hard right now, but such joy is headed your way! Keep your chin up and rest as much as you can. You won't even want to shut your eyes when he arrives - you won't want to miss a minute!

PS: this is my first mobile post. Crossing my fingers!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings

Bill loves chicken and dumplings. Marcie has made PW's version a few times and shared leftovers with us. I decided it was time for me to try it. I decided to use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken to save time and I also omitted the 1/2 c of celery. It turned out amazingly good and I'm so surprised how quick and easy it was. It is definitely a "comfort" food and not something we'll have all the time, but it sure was good!

Pioneer Woman's Chicken and Dumplings - Even Easier!

2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole rotisserie chicken, deboned
Salt And Pepper
½ cups Finely Diced Carrots
1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
½ teaspoons Ground Thyme
¼ teaspoons Turmeric
6 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
½ cups Apple Cider
½ cups Heavy Cream

1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
½ cups Yellow Cornmeal
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1-½ cup Half-and-half
2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Parsley (optional)
Salt As Needed
Preparation Instructions

Melt butter in a pot and add diced onion and carrots. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir in ground thyme and turmeric, then pour in chicken broth and apple cider. Stir to combine, then add chicken. Cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

While chicken is simmering, make the dough for the dumplings: sift together all dry ingredients, then add half-and-half, stirring gently to combine. Set aside.

Remove chicken from pot and set aside on a plate. Pour heavy cream into the pot and stir to combine.

Drop tablespoons of dumpling dough into the simmering pot. Add minced parsley if using. Cover pot halfway and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Check seasonings; add salt if needed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Seriously good!

Monday, June 20, 2011

How to Baby Proof Your Fireplace Hearth

How can you really baby PROOF anything? I'm already struggling between letting Elyse learn and not letting her hurt herself. Last week she was having a ball swinging a wooden puzzle above her head and down to her lap. Up and down it went and I just knew she was going to bonk herself. I watched her wondering - do I take it from her and make her mad? Or do I just let her go and if she hits her head it will be one of her many lessons in learning to be more careful. It wasn't a real heavy puzzle, so I chose the latter, ended up with a crying baby crawling into my lap and me wondering if I'd made the wrong choice.

Choices like these are how I feel about baby proofing. There is such a range of how to "baby proof" your home. Our goal is similar to the day with the puzzle. Our "baby proofing" is going to be more like "baby resistant". We're working on safety covers on outlets, getting chemicals up high, securing bookcases to the wall and moving out the sharp-edged coffee table, replacing it with a leather storage ottoman. Floor lamps are staying and so are some of the knick-knacks. Here we will work on the word "No", "Stop" or "Not for Elyse" and see how we do!

The biggest safety concern in our home is our fireplace. It is a slate fireplace with a beautiful slate tile hearth. Lovely as it is - it is incredibly dangerous for an on-the-go babester making her way around the room. We talked a lot about the hearth and how to make it safer even before Elyse was born. We discussed gates, pillows, foam, bumpers, guards, but none of the ideas really sounded ideal. Then, Bill came up with the idea to build it into a bench. It is genius really - and I'm so happy with how it turned out!

From Fireplace Hearth to a Bench

1"x2" and 1"x3" Furring Strips
Wood Glue
2" Foam
Vinyl (or your favorite fabric)
Staple Gun & Staples
Felt Floor Pads (optional)

Build a frame to encase your hearth. We used 1”x2” and 1”x3” furring strips to form the frame. This wood is extremly lightweight and easy to use. Use glue to piece together and then screw the ends and corners to ensure it is secure. Use a hand sander to round the edges and corners to make sure there are no sharp edges.
Here is a closer look at the underneath of one of the sides of the bench.

We went to our local foam outlet and purchased 2” foam. Cut the foam and attach with glue and finish with staples. We chose vinyl to cover our bench, but you could use oilcloth, leather or faux - or any time of washable surface. Baby is going to be attracted to this, so you'll want something easy to clean. Based on the price and selection we went with vinyl in a grey color that closely matches the slate on the fireplace. It blends in beautifully.
Another look underneath.

Wrap the fabric tightly onto the foam and fold the edges like a package - securing it with glue. Attach felt pads to the bottom to keep the floor from getting scratched (if you have hardwood like we do).
Here is the bench pulled away from the hearth - really easy to remove.

I am so proud of Bill. He did an amazing job! It is comfortable enough to sit on as a bench for extra seating, keeps us from gasping when the baby goes near the fireplace and looks great! Much better than ugly baby gates and because it is built-to-fit it is a much better (and cheaper option) than what you will find on-line.
Just a quick slide onto the hearth and you are set!

Let us know if you give this a try. We'd love to see what you come up with!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Bill is spending his first Father's Day doing what he really enjoys - riding his bike! I'm waiting for Miss E to wake up so we can go to the store and get some groceries to make him a nice dinner. Enjoy your day!

Monday, June 13, 2011

NINE Months

Dearest Elyse,

June 12 you turned nine months old! Thank you, my dear baby girl, for making that day so special. You see, yesterday was also four years since my Mom went to heaven. I really miss her. When you were born, I was so happy, yet made it made me ache for own Mama all over again. A friend recently said to me, "I understand Courtney. I think the saddest thing ever is for a daughter to become a parent for the first time without their mother. It is just not how it is meant to be." Yes, it is sad. I am sorry you two couldn't be together. You see, my Mom lived her whole life waiting until the day she could become a Grandma. She would have loved and spoiled you to pieces. But, I do remain positive and am quickly reminded of all the other ways we are blessed. I am also comforted knowing you have someone extra special looking over you in heaven. 

Today, you weigh 20 pounds and are 28 inches long. You hovered at around 50% on the growth charts until four months and are now in the 87th percentile. We are so fortunate you are healthy. Your doctor said you are doing amazing!

You do love eating food! We have had no problems with you adjusting to eating all of the food varieties. We don't even do much with purees anymore. We still send them along with the Grandmas and you have rice cereal often for breakfast, but other than that, you eat all kinds of things. You just love feeding yourself! Last night you even had supreme pizza (no crust). I removed the pepperoni, but you ate everything else - cheese (of course), sauce, sausage, olives, mushrooms! I was shocked. I thought you'd be picking through it, but nope! Yes, you pretty much like anything and everything right now.

We've had a pretty grey Spring so far. However, a couple weekends ago, we were blessed with absolutely beautiful weather. You loved being able to hang out in the backyard.

We had some sleep issues earlier in the month after your ear infection. You slept with us a lot when you weren't feeling well and it seems you really liked that! Honestly, we enjoy it too, but we know it doesn't let any one of us get good sleep. A few patient nights of going in and out of your room whenever you'd wake up and rubbing your back, and soon you were back on track. Now, most nights you sleep until at least 6 a.m. You're a pretty good sleeper.

That's my lens cap again. You are so good to hold it for me.

Drying diapers in the sun! We haven't been able to do this since we started cloth diapering!

You've definitely gotten more separation anxiety. It's not bad, but it does happen. You now even get upset sometimes when Daddy walks out of the room. As much as it feels bad seeing you cry, I know he likes giving you that extra kiss and snuggle to soothe you. 

You love necklaces! You seem to focus in whenever you see someone wearing one. You won't pass up any opportunity to lean in and sneak a taste! Yes, the one in the picture below is a favorite of yours for sure!

So, forgive me for talking about your potty-habits, but you have a tendency to "hold it" and then go all at once. Your diaper will be super dry even after a nap and then an hour later you will be soaked. I worry sometimes I didn't get the cloth diaper on right or that we are having leaking problems with them. However, last week we went to Ikea and I changed you into a disposable in the parking lot. Ten minutes later, I was holding you and felt something wet. You had leaked, more like soaked, your entire onesie, shirt and pants. I couldn't believe it. We ended up changing you in the couch section!

On the days when we aren't fortunate to have sunny weather, we do keep ourselves busy inside. One Sunday, we decided to organize Daddy's clothes. You were very interested in this project.

You loved crawling all over his clothes, finding drawstrings and zippers to chew on and shaking that (tightly sealed) Ziploc baggie of pennies around.

One morning you were in the bathroom with Dad and he decided to help you out with your hair styling. A little bit of gel and this is what we got! Crazy how much your hair has grown.

You are very social and really aren't afraid of anyone. You love animals and children. You have a ball at our baby group although we're working on being more gentle. Today, you tried to hold onto Luke (8 mos) to stand up and pushed him straight backward and he bonked his head. He cried so hard and was really nervous around you the rest of the time. Poor bud!

This is a very typical happy face of yours! Just close your eyes and imagine the screech that goes along with it!

You are crawling all over the place now, pull yourself and creep/cruise to get yourself wherever you want to go. And yes, you are often on your tiptoes.

Libby is often not far away from you. She just had to get in the picture! We remain impressed with how incredibly patient she has been with you. She lets you climb on her and even mess with her feet (she barely lets us touch them!).

This is your blowing bubbles face that has continued since last month. You do this when you are playing contently. And here you are on your tiptoes. My Mom said I walked on my tiptoes for months, so we will see how this progresses with you.

This last month has brought some more teeth! You were ready to add to your two bottom teeth and at least four are coming in on top. You don't really like me looking.

In addition to "hi", "hey" and "Dada" you have a few new words. OK, they are mostly baby babble, but sometimes it really sounds like you're saying, "I did" and "I do".

We love plastic-coated bibs. They really are the best invention. The kind with pockets are the best because they catch everything that drops and often you eat your leftovers when Mama or Daddy is cleaning your tray after you eat.

We went to the mall the other day and we had to snap a quick photo before we left because you looked just too darn cute.

I read here about these pillows and knew we just had to get one for you. I was stunned with how well it turned out. The back is pink and white polka dot and the scripture is free-hand embroidery done by machine. This gal is so talented and I love that the proceeds support such a great cause. When I opened the package while at the mailbox it choked me up when I saw it. I love the scripture and the fabric colors are perfect! I had originally intended to save it for your birthday, but your Dad and I loved it too much to keep it on the shelf until then.

Thank you baby girl, for another wonderful month with you! We love you to pieces!




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