Saturday, January 30, 2010


Hey Abby...

where's your bellybutton??


oh, there it is!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

thinking about home.

I should probably preface this post by saying that all of these musings are purely speculative and that neither Kyle or I are planning any big long term location-decisions any time soon.

having said that.

I've been thinking a lot lately about home. And about the future. And Boston and Arkansas. And of course, nobody knows what life will look like in a year, let alone 5 or 10. But, it doesn't keep me from thinking about it.

On one hand, Arkansas still feels like "home" to me. My families are there, my friends are there and all the places that have grown to be so familiar and all the memories for the first 24 years of my life are there. The southern charm, the food, the weather (even the humidity) are things I miss. And when I think about my future, it is so very easy to imagine myself there with my own family - sitting on my front porch sipping my sweet tea while the kids catch fireflies at dusk. ....Yes, that's what I imagine.

On the other hand, Boston is a great city. It didn't take us long to feel like it was our city either. When I walk through the Boston Commons - it feels as if I'm in my own back yard, very comfortable and familiar. I love looking at the skyline as I drive to work in the mornings, I love walking by the river in the summer, I love the diversity and the opportunities that this city provides. And when I try to imagine myself here in the future - it's hard. It's hard because, in my mind, we are still here on a temporary basis. Even entertaining the idea of being here forever is difficult for me. And not because I don't love it here - but because my family isn't here. ...that and the snow. ;-)

However, if I try to imagine leaving Boston to move back to Arkansas - that is equally as difficult. As much as I love the south, there are many many things I would miss about living here. I would miss the art and culture, the many museums and concerts. I would miss the trains and taxis and the pedestrian lifestyle that comes with living in a city. Boston has some amazing schools, and while I believe Arkansas does as well, it would be a factor in leaving. I would miss the history and the diversity in food. And, eventually, I would even miss the snow.

And then there's the whole issue of kids. Raising kids in Arkansas is familiar - I know what to do. I know when Toad Suck Days are and the State fair and Riverfest. I know where Pinnacle is and what to do in Hot Springs. I know the regions and the towns fairly well, and I know people. All of that would be new in Boston. Abby and I would have to learn about what things there are to do. And I often wonder - if Abby is raised in Boston, how will that affect her personality? If I stay here or if we move - am I making a decision that will impact who she grows up to be - for the better or for the worse?

And it's about at this point in my musings that I snap back to reality and realize three main things. One, nobody is moving back south without a job. Two, Kyle has some school left to finish before we even have to think about these kinds of things and Three, Kyle's independence.

Boston allows Kyle to go where he wants when he wants without having to worry about anybody else. And part of me can't imagine taking that away from him. Just as much of me can't imagine living so far from family forever. Hard decisions - and decisions with no answer - nor do they need answering right now. Right now, the only thing I have to decide is whether to go to Target or Best Buy after work to pick up paper. That's it.

And I do believe, that no matter where we live or for how long, we will make the best of our days together. And I guess that's the most important part.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

and all that jazz

1. Abby loves her socks. She loves to carry them around with her all day - mostly in her mouth. Sometimes, she'll sit down and put the socks on top of her feet and look quite proud of herself. But, most of the time, they are in her hand or in her mouth. She still likes it when I put them on her - but she likes taking them off a game.

2. I forgot to update about my cooking endeavors. So far, so good. I was able to make all of my new recipes and they all turned out edible. I was proud of cooking lamb chops for the first time and I thought the chicken piccata came out pretty well too. I've continued cooking every night, but haven't branched out as much since that first week. I did learn that those recipes, while they weren't particularly difficult, used many more dishes than I typically use. And I got tired of all the clean up for a meal that was "good" but not "spectacular" Well, lets be honest, even if they were spectacular, I still would have been tired of the clean up.
Anyway, cooking is going well. Kyle and I allow ourselves one meal out every week. Usually, that's Sunday lunch.

3. It rained yesterday and it was nearly 50 degrees. It was wonderful. The rain and standing water melted most of the ice from our driveway. It's so refreshing to see the ground again - even though I'm no longer naive enough to think that winter is done...can't wait for May.

4. Often after her nap, Abby doesn't want to get out of her crib. Yesterday, she took a 3 hour nap and then played by herself in her crib for 45 mins before I went in to get her. Then, she refused to get out. So, I let her play for another 20 mins in her crib before I was ready to get on with the afternoon. This is mostly due to gloworm - she loves gloworm. And no, we don't have a good name for him...sometimes we go with Glowie. Yeah, I know.

5. Speaking of names. Kyle's sister got Abby this fantastic neon green Hippo for Christmas. He (she?) wouldn't fit in our suitcases, so my parents mailed it up with a few other toys and things yesterday. We need a name for this Hippo. I have a few in mind, but I'd like to see what y'all suggest. Oh, but I'm nixing Henrietta. And it doesn't have to start with an H - but should be either cute, funny, or something Abby might actually be able to say.

6. This age, Abby's age, is so much fun. It just is. She makes me laugh a lot. I don't know if she means to or not, but she does. I love seeing how well she understands us now. Last night, I said "where's Tilly?" and she went and got her doll. She kissed her when I said to kiss her, and fed her when I asked "Is Tilly hungry?" Later on, I asked Abby, "do you want a bath?" and she looked at me for about 5 seconds before speed-crawling to the baby gate and trying to throw herself over to go upstairs. She's really good at her shape puzzle now and can do all the pieces. She tries to say "circle" which sounds more like "Sirgul" for every shape though. She's also taken to bringing me a book and crawling in my lap for me to read it. When we're done, she gets down and goes and finds another one. We'll do this for every book in the room before she finds something else to entertain her.

7. Kyle has taught her "give me noggin" Y'know, like in Finding Nemo? The sea turtles? So now Kyle and Abby will bonk foreheads and say "duuuude" It's pretty funny. She also does it to her doll...which is funnier.

8. I've been missing Taekwondo a lot lately. Kyle misses it even more, and I'm really trying to figure out a way for at least him to go train. I think that our only option is for him to go on Saturday mornings. This has always sounded good, but has prooven to be difficult to pull off. Mostly because Kyle doesn't sleep very much during the week, and so I like to let him sleep in during the weekends...but maybe if he can get to bed early on friday night, we would have a good shot at leaving the house in the morning. Taekwondo, it gets in your blood or something, and you just can't leave it forever. And its been far too long since I put my belt on.

9. In related news, I think Kyle and I will have new gym memberships to the BC gym in the next day or two, so be looking for me to be complaining a lot about my sore and broken muscles. :)

all righty, that's probably good enough for now. Thanks for filling up the rest of my lunch break. Gotta get back to work. Have a good it only Tuesday? Sheesh.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Abby is into spoons now - she's entered the spoon phase. We started letting her have a spoon during dinner about a month ago just for her to play with. Even if we weren't eating anything that needed a spoon. Y'know, she can get used to the idea of holding them and all. In the past few weeks, she's really started trying to use it. Many times now, if I'm trying to feed her something on a spoon, she'll only let me feed her a few bites, and then she'll shake her head "no" It's not that she's full - she just wants to try to do it herself.

Most of the time, she'll let me keep a hand on the spoon and help her guide it - but other times, she wants to do it all alone. Those usually end up being the messy times. But, she is getting better at it. She can usually do stuff like cottage cheese pretty well. Stuff that's thick enough not to slide off.

So, today, Abby started playing with her doll Tilly a lot. Tilly was a gift from Kelsay & Ernie in Australia and is still her premiere doll. Lately, she's really started showing more interest in treating her like a baby and less like a discus. She spent the morning putting things on her head, and putting her to bed (this meant putting her on a big green lid from one of her buckets and then piling toys on her chest - but we're gonna call it "putting her to bed") This afternoon, she started feeding Tilly. I thought it was cute.

She took out her puzzle piece and used the empty space as her bowl. Here she is getting the food.

Now feed it to Tilly

....and don't forget to save some for yourself. :)
(I mean, I have no idea where she got that - I would Never steal bites of her food...nope, not me)

After a while, Abby made up a new game. She has these stacking bowls that she got for Christmas that she loves - they're different sizes and colors and have a hole in the top. So Abby took several of them, and started poking her spoon into the very center of the bowl - into the empty spot. You'll see what I mean. She did this for like 7 minutes - which is a really long time. By the time I got Kyle's phone out to take a video, she was down to these two cups.

Anybody watch Grey's Anatomy? Remember when they had to drop the pen through the cup and onto the dollar? Yeah? Kinda like that, huh? Obviously, Abs is well on her way to being a great TV surgeon.

Happy Sunday! Time for Football.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


We shot this last night. She is a complete goof. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

lots of random stuff

Dear person who invented Infant Motrin: Thank you.

Poor Abby woke up this morning still not feeling well. She has all the signs of a viral infection, which means we just have to wait it out and try to keep her as comfortable as we can. When she does not have her medicine, her fever comes back and it makes her lethargic and limp and pretty pathetic. But, once that medicine kicks in - she is back to her normal self in no time. In fact, I think she's even sillier than usual. Which is kinda funny.

After her nap today, however, she refused to drink the pedialyte I picked up for her and she refused to drink water and she refused to eat. Luckily, after the medicine kicked in I was able to offer her some tortilla with some hummus on it that she really enjoyed. You know those big tortillas that you're supposed to use for burritos? Yeah, she ate two of those with hummus on each bite. She managed to then down a whole cup of water and most of a cup of pedialyte. The girl loved hummus. loved.

drinking her grape pedialyte

All that to say - that other than being sick, she's fine. ;-) We just have to keep her fever down so that she feels well enough to keep hydrated and hopefully we'll have our healthy Abby back by next week.

Usually while I cook dinner - Abby is standing at my feet tugging on my pants or sitting by herself whining that I'm not giving her enough attention. On rare occasions, she'll play alone while I cook - but most of the time, if I'm in the kitchen, she wants to be there too. She's fine the rest of the day, but there's something about cooking that apparently just bugs her. Not today. I noticed I had finished prepping most of our meal and hadn't heard Abby - this is what I find when I peek into the living room. She was almost asleep.

When Kyle came home, he took his turn hugging our little space heater.
Abby wouldn't eat much (anything) for dinner, but she got a second wind right at bed time and wanted to laugh and dance and giggle and play (sorry I don't have any pictures of that - I was too busy watching & basking in her momentary happiness) We eventually finished her bath and put her down for the night - and then it was time for me to go grocery shopping. I'm not really a fan of leaving the house after 7pm, but we've needed groceries for 4 days and we were running out of - everything. So off I went.

Something they don't have in Arkansas are bi-level grocery stores. Many of the stores here have services where you send your groceries in bins down a conveyor belt and then you drive your car through a garage where a bag boy finds your bin and puts everything in your car for you. It's kinda neat. Well, we have a new grocery store near our house that finally put in cart escalators. I'm constantly entertained by these types of things. So as you go up and down the escalators - you can watch your cart do the same thing. Now I only go to this grocery store - just so I can watch the a 5 year old.

I tried to take a picture without looking like the dork taking a picture of her grocery cart on an escalator - but I failed, so it's not a very good picture. But, it's just one of those things that has been in the part of my brain labeled "things to tell people who don't live in Boston" Grocery escalators.

oh, and for the first time ever, I actually remembered to bring my reusable grocery bags with me! I'm hoping by acknowledging that fact, that I will be able to remember next time too. Yay me!

Ok, what else. Oh yeah, the gym. Long story short - I can use the gym at BC for much cheaper than my current gym and am in the process of getting mine and Kyle's memberships squared away. Once we get a parking permit - my plan is to go as often as I can on the weekends, and at least twice during the week after Abby goes to bed. This means I'm going to have to get over that whole - not wanting to leave the house after 7 - thing. But I think I can do it. I'm feeling re-motivated. I'm actually excited about a lot of the classes they offer - I'm thinking about taking up tennis again even. We'll see. :)

Oh - and today marks the first day that Abby started stepping up the stairs with her whole foot instead of climbing them with her knee first. Does that make sense? Just wanted to document.

Ok. That's a lot of random info for one blog. Now it's time to sit back and put my feet up and watch Modern Family with the hubby. And if you haven't started watching that show yet - you need to. So funny.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

first fever

Poor baby Abby had her first fever today. At least her first notable one. We've been so blessed and made it her whole first year (and beyond) without ever getting sick. And even today, she only had a fever - no coughing or congestion or any other visible sign of illness - so I'm thankful for that.

But, my goodness, if you couldn't just see that she didn't feel well. When I got home, Beckah told me that she thought Abs was not feeling great. While we chatted, Abby just sat on my lap, very still. After Beckah & Reese left, Abby spent the rest of the afternoon with her head on my chest/stomach/leg - just lethargic as lethargic can be. I eventually just turned off the lights and wrapped us both in a blanket and let her nap on my chest for a long time....which was kind of sweet in that "I still wish she weren't sick" kinda way.

When she woke up, I took her temp and it was 103.8 - I would have wanted to sleep all day too. So I gave her some Tylenol and we went and picked up Kyle from work and went to go vote. When we got back home, you could tell she felt a thousand times better. She started playing by herself and actually was smiling and such. Her fever was down to about 100 before bed and she was more herself.

I suspect she'll be fine tomorrow - but I wanted to document this moment along with all the happy ones.

Here are a few pictures of her while she was snoozing on the couch. You can just see the fever can't you?

Feel better baby girl!

Monday, January 18, 2010

photo shoot #685: Stripes

This must be a record - this is like 3 posts in one day! It's probably a sign of how much I don't want to go clean the bathrooms or finish the laundry...

Anyway, this afternoon, Abs and I had an impromptu photo shoot. We have this area at the top of our stairs that has nice lighting, and so I pulled out her new numbers and letters and snapped pictures. They're just for fun.

I posted these on facebook, so most of you will have already seen them, but I know some of you aren't on facebook - so here ya go! I added a couple of extras anyway.


I know - I've been a little video happy lately. But here's another one of Abby working on her puzzle. She can usually get all but the triangle in the spots relatively easily now - although, as you'll see from the video, it often still takes a little trial and error. Good job Abster!

baby steps

We were planning on spending this holiday doing something fun in the city as a family- since we all have the day off; however, mother nature decided to play a mean trick and since yesterday the ice finally melted from our driveway, today I'll have to shovel out my car again. We don't really feel compelled to get out in the icky snow/rain/ice and wind.

But so far, the day has been great. I made hasbrowns and eggs for Kyle and Karen (who stayed the night with us) and we've been playing with Abby all morning. And really, what could be better than that?

Enjoy the video.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

morning in pictures

Abby and I played upstairs for a while this morning. It was fun spending the time with her and watching her get into everything. It's now almost 7pm and I'm still in my's just been that kind of Saturday.

This morning, Abby took out all her animals

and played with her train

and then ate her train

we played with her gloworm

and she played with her letters

until she started eating them and I took them away

and these are from later - but here are a few pictures of Abby standing on her own. Even though this one is blurry, I still like it.
such a big girl!

And here's a (very) short video of Abby taking a few steps. Its harder to get that on video when you're by yourself than you might think. Enjoy!

Thanks Ricky!

If you've read my blog or have known me in real life for any amount of time, I'm sure you've heard me talk about my friends Billie Jo and her husband Ricky. Billie Jo and Ricky were simply made for each other - and as a couple, I'm pretty sure they were made so that Kyle and I could know them. They are both amazing people and I can't imagine my life without them in it. They're also Abby's godparents and have spoiled her and loved her since before she was born. I'm so grateful that she'll have them in her life too.

Billie Jo and I have so much in common - and the places that we differ are often the things that Ricky and I have in common. It's actually pretty uncanny. Kyle and I just feel very blessed to have such good friends.

Anyway, Ricky has recently taken up photography and has shown that he has a lot of talent. Since these two live in Oregon, we don't see them often. However, over Christmas, we were lucky enough to spend a half day with them and Ricky was kind enough to spend some time taking pictures of us. And not only that, Ricky actually found time to share some of them while he's away in Florida at umpire school - which consists of a very busy schedule everyday - so for him to take the time to share these just shows you how nice of a guy he is.

Most of you will know how difficult it is to get good pictures of your family. And for us, it's rare for me and Kyle to be in the same picture since I'm usually the one with the camera. So, we are very thankful for Ricky's generosity and talent. I've posted a link to his flickr account so you can see the sum of his work if you'd like. And *shameless plug* if you happen to live in the Portland area and are looking for someone with a good eye and a camera - give Ricky a shout, you won't regret it.

Here are a few of my favorites. :) Thanks again Ricky - we miss you guys terribly.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dear Abigail


Yesterday your daddy started a new semester of school. He works extremely hard for us; not only is he going to school full time, but he is also working a full time job. I know you're as proud of him as I am, and you and I will always make sure we tell him how much we appreciate all the work he does. He's busy applying for a couple of different doctoral programs and he hasn't slept in days because he's been so busy. Your daddy is so smart and you should be proud of that. Your dad and I both think school is very very important and we hope we can teach you to value your education - but, for your sake, I hope you inherit his math skills and my sleep habits.

Oddly enough, this isn't what I sat down to write about. So let me find my original thought again. Oh yes - your dad started classes again yesterday.

This meant that you and I were going to be on our own in the evening. We've been quite spoiled having dinner together every night and playing together after dinner and we even both sit with you while we read and put you to bed at night. It's been really really great having him home in the evenings these last few weeks. So I was a little sad about him being gone - even though it's a very good thing that he was starting classes.

But then I realized that it was also going to be kind of fun just having some girl time together. You're still so young - but you're old enough now that we can just spend time together and play and laugh and have a good time. So after we dropped dad off at class, we went to the grocery store and we picked out some dinner for just us (turns out you don't like dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets yet). We ended up eating beans and rice together - we just shared a bowl and then we played.

I love playing with you. I chased you around and you crawled through the little house/tunnel I made for you out of that big box. You like to sit in it because you think I can't reach you in there - but when I lunge for you anyway - you squeal and laugh. We worked on your puzzle together - and you're getting pretty good at it. You definitely understand that the pieces go on the empty spots, and you can get about 3 of the pieces in pretty regularly. We read some books and we danced to the silly songs on the Toddler Tunes station. You like that station because they rotate an image of a rubber duck on the screen. Every time the duck shows up - you get really excited and point at it saying "dud!, dud! Dedow dud!" ....that's how you say Yellow Duck.

While you were reading by yourself, I decided to try out some new curtains - so I got out the drill and ladder and started getting ready to put the brackets up. You do not like the drill. It's not very loud, but it scares you. And this is why I started writing all this in the first place.

While I would try to drill, you would sit by the ladder with your arms held up crying. So, I would come down and put the drill away and pick you up. You would put your head on my shoulder and just be very still while I rubbed your back and told you it was ok. After about 5 minutes, you were fine and I would try to go drill a little more - but the same thing happened. we repeated this process about 5 times before I gave up on the drilling and just held you.

When it was time to bed, you leaned on me while we read goodnight moon. You always always point out the mouse on the page that says "goodnight mouse" You were so relaxed though - and so comfortable. It made me happy to be there with you. When I put you in your crib, you were perfectly still while I covered you with your blankets, and then you rolled over to snuggle with your gloworm and went right to sleep. You were so very sweet.

There will be a day, all too soon I'm afraid, where you won't want me to hold you anymore, but there's just nothing better than having you lay your head on my shoulder and rest. I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I found myself feeling thankful that I can comfort you...and you felt comforted by me. I can still be there hero that saves the day - and makes the evil drill, or vacuum, or other loud noise go away and the mom that gives you a thousand kisses before bed.

This parenting gig is still pretty new to me, and I'm learning the rules as I go. And just as you've grown and changed these last 13 months, so have I. I'm at the point where I feel not only confident being your mom - but comfortable. I don't even bring your diaper bag into most places we go now - that should say something. I really feel like a mom now. The mom with yogurt on her shirt, a rubber ducky in her work bag, and a heart that swells whenever I hold you.

Oh Abby. One thing you'll learn about me as you get older is that I sometimes have a hard time organizing my thoughts. This has all been very random and disjointed, I know. Sorry about that. I just had all these little snapshots in my head from our evening together last night and I wanted to keep them forever. Which is why I write. So I, and you, can remember.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

13 months

I guess its a sign that Abby is getting older. I no longer count down the hours until her next monthly birthday. I've started to generalize more. When people have asked me how old she is, I say "she just turned a year" or "a little over a year" I used to say things like "she'll turn 4 months old in 2 days and 9 hours"

Yesterday I went the whole day without remembering that it was the 12th. And then a lady at Target asked me how old she was and I started to say "almost 13 months" when I realized it was, in fact, 13 months on the dot.

So, happy 13 months Abby.

At 13 months, she is - once again - more fun than ever. She is a total goofball.

Things she loves include: blueberries. being chased, flipped, flown, tickled, tossed, or tackled. She loves bathtime. She loves little einsteins. She loves her gloworm and her blocks, her puzzles, and stacking toys. She loves books - especially the eric carle ones, goodnight moon, and what do snowmen do at night? She loves eating - and she'll eat pretty much anything. Blueberries and strawberries are her favorites, but she's recently learned how to eat tuna and grilled cheese sandwiches. She loves putting on her pink cherry shoes - but no others. She loves going to stores and flirting with all the people. She loves stairs. She loves Beckah and baby Reese.

She is 100% completely off formula and bottles *crowd cheers wildly* I did not shed any tears packing up those suckers. She gets between 12-18 oz of whole milk each day and probably about the same in water. She loves milk now....which is nice.

As previously blogged, she is starting to try to walk. She can only take 2 or 3 small steps at a time, but she loves trying. As soon as she is standing by herself she starts laughing. It's a lot of fun to watch her try and to keep encouraging her. I still think it will be a little longer before she's actually walking efficiently, but she's well on her way.

Other developments. She knows how a spoon and fork work, and can occasionally get something like mashed potatoes to her mouth using a spoon, but, really, we're just introducing them to her. Mostly she feeds herself everything with her hands (except for liquid type foods of course). Her receptive vocabulary is really growing. I can ask her where things are and she'll point - or I can ask her to go get me a book, block, gloworm, coat, shoe etc and she usually will. Her expressive vocabulary is also expanding. She's getting better and better at mimicking our tones and inflections. The other day, she tried to sing after I did and Kyle and I have both heard her point to the computer and say "Comtutr" multiple times. She'll say "cir-sel" for circle and "shs" for shoes. She still says "bab-ab" when she sees her reflection. She's saying Ma-ma allll the time now and can diffreciate between ma-ma for me and da-da for Kyle.

She still signs "all done" when she's finished eating - and has now generalized that to when she's done with other things - like when we finish changing her diaper, or when I put away a book or toy. She points to her tray/plate when she wants more food - and drops her food off the side if she doesn't want it anymore. If you ask her if she wants something, "do you want more potatoes?" She'll either open her mouth for yes or shake her head no. If you insist - she'll push out her hands as if to say "no, stop" She knows when she's not allowed to do something. She'll look at a cabinet or the blinds and touch them and then look at you and shake her head no.

All in all - we communicate fairly well.

She's still in size 3 diapers and mostly size 12 month clothes. Her hair is growing, but is still thinner than thin.

What else? Oh, dislikes. She hates having her nails filed. I tried to clip them the other day, and after 3 or 4 minutes of trying to get one finger still - it just wasn't happening - so maybe we'll file them forever. She does not like crawling in her coat because she trips - so if we put the coat on, we have to leave right away or she gets mad. She's ok in the car seat as long as she's occupied. She doesn't like being in the car when its dark and she can't see to play. She often wants me to hold her in the evenings when I'm busy cooking - so she doesn't like it when I don't. She doesn't like falling, but with all the practice she's getting, I bet she gets used to it. :)

So, that's Abs in a nutshell.

I've got to run now, I'm hoping I can get some pictures up soon. I just gotta make room on my computer first.

Monday, January 11, 2010

look ma, no hands!

I don't have long to write at the moment - but I wanted to document that Abby officially took her first steps this weekend. It will be a while before she's regularly walking - but on Saturday, she took four whole steps towards her daddy. I was pretty happy that we were both there to see her do it - since the time that we're both at home with her and in the same room isn't all that often.

So, while she's not yet a "walker" She's (you know its coming...) taking the first step in that direction. ha.

Most of the time, Abs just practices standing on her own. If you tell her to "stand by yourself" or "stand with no hands" she will. Her receptive vocabulary has really picked up lately...but that's a blog for another time.

Here's a short video of Abby training with dad. Please excuse the mess - I promise my living room floor starts clean every single morning, but trying to keep things put away while Abs is playing is a futile effort. :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Laura goes to the kitchen

One of my new year's resolutions is to plan our weekly dinners. I want to plan what we're having, make a list of ingredients we need, and stick to the list when I go grocery shopping.

I think this will, eventually, help us cut down our grocery expenses and - while we don't eat out too often (anymore), it will continue to motivate us to eat at home. I say "eventually" about the budget because - I want to branch out. I'm a boring cook.

Every night, we have a meat - usually chicken, pork, or fish - a veggie - and a starch. Sometimes we do tacos or pasta or an occasional chili or soup - but there are half a dozen meals that we pretty much have over and over. I'm ready to branch out.

In the past - I've always been discouraged when looking through all the fabulous cookbooks I have by ingredients that I didn't have handy...or didn't know what they were...yeah, I had to look up what a "shallot" was. But you know what? If I only cook with the ingredients I have, we will only ever have chicken and tacos y'know?

SO- as part of my resolution to plan out our meals - I'm going to branch out and learn some new tricks. That will include a little upfront cost of stocking up on things I don't have in the pantry right now. And I want to try new proteins - this will be the most expensive part I know. Even so, I'm convinced our weekly grocery bill will still be lower after a few upfront expenses.

Kyle and I are both bad about skipping breakfast and/or lunch. Or - having something like a cup of coffee for breakfast and a granola bar or plain bagel for lunch. That will be the next phase of my culinary growth. For now -I'm going to focus on dinners. I thought about just trying one new recipe a week, and maybe that would be smarter, but for now I kinda feel like jumping in with both feet. Besides, I'm bound to ruin half of them on the first try, right? So we might as well keep things exciting.

For next week, I'm going to try:
Monday - Chicken Piccata (give me capers or give me death!...ok, so I just love capers)
Tuesday - Beef Stroganoff, the real kind, no shortcuts.
Wednesday - Cranberry Orange Pork Chops
Thursday - Pan-Seared Lamb chops with wine rosemary sauce
Friday - Frozen pizza (I think I'll want a break)
Saturday - left overs
Sunday - undecided - we don't usually eat a big dinner on Sundays. Maybe I'll make Kyle cook.

Oh, hello Accountability, it's so nice to meet you. No, really, the pleasure is all mine. :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I've been thinking a lot lately about how much personality Abby has developed in her first year. Specifically, I've been wondering how much of her personality is genetic and how much of it is shaped by the way Kyle and I have raised her?

In some ways, Abby is just like every other one year old - curious, energetic, likes to throw food, chew on the remote control, and carry her socks around in her mouth...other children do do that, right?

While we were in Arkansas, Abs had the chance to play with three other little ones close to her age. And it was when we were with these other children that Abby's distinctions began to come out more.

For example. When we had our play date with little Avery - who is only a week or so different in age - Avery was very calm and quiet and very much into her baby doll. Sweet little Avery carried her doll around and fed her and patted her and put her to bed - just like a good little mommy would. It made me wonder - does she like to play/care for her baby doll because she has somehow inherited that nurturing vibe or is because she sees her teachers in daycare care for babies? I think its probably both.

I wonder if I dress Abby in all pink everyday and buy her princess toys and teacups - will she grow up to be a girly-girl? Or will she still want to play in the mud regardless of her clothes?

Abby's personality is developing - and it's a little scary to think that Kyle and I have some sort of influence over part of it. Right now, she's not very "girly" She'd rather play with a box than a doll. She's very curious. When she's in new situations, she's quiet and observing. She's shy when she meets new people, which is normal. But at home, she's chatty. She's very easy going - I hope she retains that trait. Unless she's tired or hungry of course - and then she's a bear, but that much is definitely genetic. Overall though, she's very chill. And independent. She's brave and not afraid to go exploring a new room or house without a second though. She does not tread lightly. She's happy 90% of the time. One of the things Kyle and I have noticed recently is her sense of humor. Can you call it a sense of humor this young? I don't know. But Abby is a funny girl - and she is constantly doing things to make us laugh.

I know, she's probably doing them because we laugh. It's hard to tell which came first though.

For instance, when baby Avery was feeding her baby doll a bottle and patting her on the back - what was Abigail doing? She was spinning a plastic bucket on her head making silly noises.

I swear she's really very bright.

She's constantly making funny faces and just...being Abby. I guess, really, its hard to explain. But Kyle and I both have noticed that she's becoming more and more of an individual. Lately, she's started trying to sing. If I sing the notes up the scale, she'll mimic with her voice starting low and getting higher and then she'll laugh.

I just wonder if one day, 20 years from now, Abby will read this and think, "See? I've always been the curious adventure seeker funny girl I am today" or will she say "I'm the opposite now, I'm the play-it-safe keep things quiet kinda girl" Of course, then there's the question of - if I DO have any influence over her personality, what kind of personality do I want her to develop?

The important things are easy. I want her to be respectful and caring. I want her to do for others and understand the value in that. I want her to be creative and imaginative. I hope she loves to read more than she loves to sleep. I want her to be loving. I want her to be confident. I want her to love to learn.

Nature or Nurture - who knows? It doesn't really matter. All I can do is do my best to teach and guide and let her decide the rest. And no matter how she turns out - I'm pretty sure I'll think she came out perfectly. Of course she will - she's my Abby. :)

Anyway, just some thoughts and wonders floating around in my head. Back to work now.

Christmas 2009

So yesterday night I spent several hours uploading the 1,072 pictures I took in the week and a half we were in Arkansas. That's a lot of pictures. Too many for my little laptop to hold, so they're all on our big desktop computer. Anyway - point is - I don't have access to all the pictures I'd like to share at the moment (here at work).

I've got a link to all the pictures - I just can't post them in the blog yet. And they're on facebook anyway. But, I want to jot down a few memories before they escape through the cracks in my brain. I feel like we didn't get home with any sort of time to relax or unpack (I'm still not unpacked) and just hit the ground running. And then Abs and I have both had a cold and that drains the energy out of you too. I've spent the only energy I have trying to clean, cook dinner, and take care of Abs. So, blogging gets a little neglected. Sorry about that.

But, here's just a review of our trip - for memory's sake.

We got to Arkansas fairly easily. After we landed, we went to my aunts house where both of our families and several friends gathered. We all enjoyed the company and merriment for many hours before we headed to Conway.

We spent Christmas Eve in Conway getting last minute things done. I sprained my ankle right before Christmas Mass. We took Abby to the earlier "kids" service since I didn't relish the idea of taking her to church at midnight. The service was nice, but not particularly Kid-ish. Abby tore pages out of the song book and Kyle walked around with her through a lot of the service. After family pictures were taken, Kyle Abs and I headed down to Pine Bluff to spend the night at my parent's house.

We put Abby to bed right when we got there, but we enjoyed decorating the tree together with my sister and her husband, and my brother. It's nice to have everyone all together. We stayed up way too late, but Abby doesn't care when I go to bed - she was ready for Christmas morning at 6:30am.

We had a nice time with my family. We all got lots of thoughtful gifts. Abby was, of course, completely spoiled. Her big present from my parents was a wonderful handmade wooden train set. There's nothing like wooden toys - and this will be something that will be with her for life, and maybe she can give it to Her kids one day. She still loves it - she loads the blocks into the carrying cars and drags the train around. We love it - so Thanks Granny & Grandpa!

After a hurried breakfast, we packed up and headed back to Conway for Christmas with Kyle's family. Again, we were spoiled rotten. Abby got a gloworm from Papa & Ouma and it's gone with her everywhere since. We got some awesome books and a big green hippo and lots of fun stuff. We ate lunch with the fam before Kyle and I, once again, packed up and headed to Little Rock for Christmas at Grandmas with my extended family.

Christmas at Grandma's is the epitome of tradition. All the comforting foods, the people, the same Christmas decorations that I've seen every year for 27 years. I love it all. We put Abs to bed while the family opened gifts and visited. But all too soon, it was time for us to go back to Conway.

The next day was Shachmut-Day. Our gift to Kyle's parents was a day with all the kids. We took tons of family photos, ate together, played games, shopped, and just hung out. It was a really nice day! The next morning, we drove back to my parents and went to church where Abby was introduced to the congregation and got lots and lots of attention. Jennifer and Ben had to leave after that, but Kyle and I spent the next several days in Pine Bluff.

We found time the next day to spend with our friends Billie Jo & Ricky. I've mentioned them before - but they were just made for me and Kyle I think. We don't get to see them near enough and it was nice to spend the day with them. Kyle and I soaked up the southern goodness of eating yummy fresh fried fish, hushpuppies, fried potatoes and mushrooms and other yummy things. Billie Jo's mother makes sure nobody leaves her house hungry - and we sure didn't.

A day later, we drove back to Conway to spend a few days visiting friends. We had visits lined up rapid fire, but so enjoyed every one. Abby got to meet little Pratt, and I was so happy to visit with Hannah and Amy. If you follow Hannah's blog - I can just tell you that the pictures don't do Pratt justice - he's completely adorable and perfect. We met up with Leah and Justin and got to see Leah's little belly starting to grow with their own little one, we took pictures with the family at the Old Mill - but it was too cold to stay out for long, so that particular visit was brief. We met up with the Deckers for New Years and spent some time with their boys Noah and, our godson, Drew. Those boys are so much fun. :)

New years night was spent strategically packing our suitcases. We kept things low key. Watched the ball drop on TV, got a kiss, and kept packing. You wouldn't believe how much you can get in a suitcase when you put your mind to it.

Kyle flew out New Years Day and Abby and I spent the next few days back in Pine Bluff with my parents. I know they enjoyed the time with the wee one too.

So it was a vacation of much traveling and lots of visiting - but I'm so glad we were able to make the trip. It's always important to me to be around family for Christmas.

I know this wasn't the most entertaining post of the year (hey, we're only a week in!) But I wanted to just document the time.

Here's a link to some of the pictures (not all 1,072) we took on the trip. Maybe one day I'll feel like I'm caught up and have time to blog about all the little things I want to remember as well. At least that's my goal.

Monday, January 4, 2010

getting here

I know, I know, I still have to blog about Christmas eve, and Christmas, and visiting with friends and family, and New Years....

but first I'm going to document yesterday.

Kyle flew home from AR a few days before I did to save some much needed money and so Abs and I were traveling "alone" I was confident. I had my bags strategically packed to the max. I could grab food, toys, books, diapers, or anything else without even looking. We had a farewell lunch with both families and some friends before I had to head to the airport.

While we were eating lunch, Abby pulled a napkin off the table and I heard something fall into her diaper bag, but when I looked down, it was just her book. So, I didn't think anything else of it.

We said our goodbyes and I rushed off to the airport - antsy to just get to the gate - y'know how it is, when you just want to get through security so you can relax? It took a little longer to check in than I would have liked - had to get an infant ticket thing printed, but soon we were waiting in line for security.

Abby in her stroller, me with a diaper bag across my chest, backpack on my back, gloworm in my hoodie pocket. I decided I would NOT be one of those people that holds up the whole line. I was ready. As soon as we hit the x-ray machine line, I was in motion. Bucket, my shoes, Abby's shoes, wallet, phone, glowworm, jacket, sippy cups, backpack, diaper bag, *juggle child, close stroller with my left foot and hoist it up to the machine* It was smooth as pudding pie. In fact, the man behind me said "Well, I was going to offer to help, but you're awfully efficient, I guess this is isn't her first flight?"

"19th...I think"

Then, for the first time ever, I set off the metal detector. Hmm.'s never set it off before, but whatever. It took me forever to get my belt undone - the nice man behind me put it through the machine for me. I get through and a lady is asking me, "M'am is this your bag? I need you to come with me"

And so we go off to the side where this lady proceeds to unpack everything my Perfectly packed bag. Sigh. I'm trying to calm a crying Abby who doesn't Want to sit in her stroller when I look up and I see the woman pull out a big huge Steak Knife.

And this is where I died on the spot.

Even in that instant of "what??" I already knew what had happened. And I knew that telling the security agents that "Well, you see, we were at lunch and my baby dropped the knife in the bag, but I thought it was a book, and, and and.." already sounded pretty lame.

And because I'm me, I start crying. Sure that they were going to cart me off to some white walled room with a CIA agent and an electric chair. The women were very nice. After many ID checks and telling them what happened several times, giving my info and "surrendering the weapon" I was let go.

We found out then that our flight was delayed, which was fine. This gave me enough time to buy a jug of milk for Abby to drink on the plane. Then I go to put the stroller in its bag. It was bound to happen, I know, but I must have not been thinking straight. I put Abby on this chair in front of me and in the 2 seconds it took for me to zip a bag - she fell off. I looked up to see her flipping backwards through the air, landing on her neck (I was sure she'd be paralyzed for life) and falling on her face. I swooped her up and sat down and held her close while we both cried.

For those of you keeping track at home - this is the second time I've cried before even getting to our gate.

When Abby calmed down, I looked at her to see this HUGE red and purple knot on her head. And I cried again.

Fast forward.

We get on the plane - next to some guy who knows he just lost the plane seat lottery when he sees me approaching the empty seat next to him. His quote was "At least its a short flight" ...although he meant it nicely. He was no help. As we taxi out, I try to get Abby to drink her water and she won't. She needs to drink something for take off, so I chugged her water and opened up the milk I bought.

...and then I watched as I poured rancid, chunks of milk into her sippy. It was beyond spoiled and I was angry now. I scrambled to find where the security agent had stuck my backup sippy and we were eventually settled. Ugh. Abs didn't sleep, but that's ok - the flight is like 7 mins long to memphis.

Ok. Let me *try* to shorten this.

We get to memphis and our 6:50 flight was pushed back to 9:30. Then it was pushed back to 10:30. I walked the terminal with Abby in the stroller to get her to fall asleep for 2 hours before my foot (still tender from the sprain) couldn't take it anymore. I let her crawl around as much as I could, but everything was filthy. She finally fell asleep at 9. 3.5 hours after we got there. She looked like some little street urchin all dirty faced and dusty. Poor kid. It was a looong layover for a baby who hadn't napped more than 20 mins that day and a long layover for a mom who was 2 inches from being Done.

In a panic that our flight would be delayed further and all the stores would be closed, I bought a bunch of drinks and snacks that I never got around to eating - but I also bought Abby a commemorative Delta airplane keychain that lights up and makes airplane noises. Because, it's like her 20th flight (I think?) and if you can't laugh, you'll cry.

We did eventually get on our flight. I'll skip the part about how I wanted to punch the desk attendant who, when she saw Abby crawling around said, "Honey, that floor is really dirty, you might just want to hold her" SERIOUSLY? Yeah, I'll skip that. Abby slept most of the way back to Boston, she fussed a little when she couldn't get comfortable, but she was ok. By the time we got back to Boston, the trains had stopped running so we had to take a cab ($cha-ching$) back home. But really, I didn't care. He could have charged me double and I would have just been glad to be home.

Abby was still in a sleepy stupor when we pullled up to the house, but as soon as she saw Kyle, she was wide awake and chirping "da-da!" It was cute. For as much as I LOVE Arkansas, I found the cold biting air and the mounds of snow on either side of our walkway more than comforting last night.

Abby slept till nearly 10 this morning, I wish I could have. But I got to work and have actually been pretty productive on this first day back. :)

So, I promise to update about Arkansas as soon as I get a moment to unpack and upload pics - but I wanted to also document mine and Abby's adventure home.

Happy New Year!