Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in Review

I've been thinking about '09 for a few days now and trying to remember just what happened that made it so much of a blur. Oh, yeah, there was that baby I had in March. And the subsequent lack of sleep accompanying said baby has much contributed to that blurry factor of not quite knowing where a year went. I'll try my best to recount it (the '08 wrap up might be more coherent), but I sure am glad now that I have the monthly Milo updates. I think mommy brain has finally caught up with me.

In January and February we were busily preparing for the birth of Olive. I was getting bigger (and bigger) and the nursery was done. We were showered with gifts at an absolutely lovely baby shower with friends and family. I continued to yoga with an ever growing belly and overall just nested, trying to journey within to prepare for the birth of the baby.

March brought Milo! The birth was a shock. The first few weeks home were a shock. Thankfully by April things started to click into place. We were getting to know our little guy and he was getting to know us. We started having fun family days in the spring weather. May brought lots and lots of walks as I started in on that baby weight and came to terms with returning to work.

On June 8 I headed back to work and Milo headed to and from daycare with Daddy each day. It was an adjustment for all of us and by the end of summer, we had decided that the best place for me was at home. September 18 marked my last day at work which was bittersweet. I really liked the people I worked with and found great satisfaction in the organization. However, after the stress and blur of the summer I was confident I was making the right decision in staying home. I was starting to notice the twinkle leaving from Milo's eyes and although me being home has been an adjustment for us all, I'm glad to see that twinkle is back and brighter than ever.

The fall months featured lots of walks (finally lost all the baby weight plus some!) and fall traditions such as apple picking, pumpkin carving and trick or treating. We started eating many more dinners at home and I was able to incorporate a weekly yoga night into the mix. For Thanksgiving we traveled to Atlanta to visit Chris' family. Milo did great in the car, but not so great at night. Christmas was spent here in Columbus and we all enjoyed the day through Milo's eyes.

New Year's Eve tonight will be an early dinner with Milo at one of our favorite wine bars and then home for bed time and games. I'm looking forward to 2010, but will always think fondly of 2009 as the year I became a mom.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009


Year after year I experience a rough Christmas hangover. I used to think it was an actual hangover, but since I've barely imbibed these last two years I can't blame alcohol for the general feeling of malaise that haunts the days after Christmas. Maybe all the sugar is the culprit? Although fictional, Bridget Jones said it best when she remarked how unfair it is that just when you get used to the holidays they are rudely snatched away.

Compounding this feeling is that I just don't think we got Christmas right this year. Chris and I were still decorating and rushing around gift buying on Christmas Eve. We missed attending church due to out-of-whack nap schedules. All in all it was a little bit of a disaster in the traditional Christmas sense, but there were also some shining moments of brightness. So before I sink any further into this Christmas hangover of despair, let's reflect on some of the great moments of this holiday.
  • Waiting in line with Milo to meet Santa. Although he had not a clue what was happening, this was really fun. I was whispering in his ear explaining to him who the guy in the red suit was and why we would be placing Milo on his lap. Milo had just woken up from a long nap in the car and was in a great mood. He liked watching the other kids and was all smiles. After meeting Santa we walked around the Zoo lights and had a nice time being out in the cold winter night.

  • Waking up at my parent's house on Christmas morning with Chris and a smiling Milo between us. Due to Milo's aversion to sleeping anywhere but his own crib or car seat plus a couple more teeth coming in, we had a rough night. There was much crying and flailing of body parts (mine and Milo's) before we all cuddled into bed together. Although this isn't the most restful of sleep for me, it did make for a very nice waking up.

  • Watching Milo play with his new toys and best of all his grandparents and uncle. Fun times to be sure. Truthfully Milo wasn't all that interested in the new toys, but he sure does love the Christmas tree idea.

  • Hosting Christmas dinner at our house for the first time. Our house is a bit small to be a good place for entertaining, so it was certainly cozy. And I forgot to make the broccoli dish I had on the menu. Otherwise it was nice to give my parents a break from always having us over for dinners. I also really like the idea of Milo being in his own home for Christmas.

    Hoping you all formed some great memories of this past Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Super Fudge

Do you remember several years ago when Rachel Ray went on Oprah's Christmas episode and made five minute fudge? This was back when Rachel didn't have her own talk show. She went on Oprah with this fudge recipe (that actually came off the back of a sweetened condensed milk can) and suddenly you couldn't throw mistletoe that Christmas without it hitting a pan of the fudge. Everyone made that fudge and it was the hit of many an office gathering I am sure.

Well, everyone, except me made that fudge. I didn't make the fudge because it was everywhere and I could eat my fill of it without dirtying a pot. This year though, I have no office to go to and eat free treats so I am left to making my own. Five minute fudge I can fit in during nap time and it tastes delicious.

Although it is easily found on the Internet, here is the recipe:

18 ounces or three cups of chocolate chips (the big bag - I only had the small bag so I added some Hershey's kisses to make up the difference)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Whatever add-ins you like in fudge - I used walnuts

Over low heat, melt the chocolate and the milk together. Once melted, stir in salt and add-ins. Take off heat and stir in extract. Work quickly to pour the mixture into a pan lined with wax paper. Let chill to set in the fridge for about 2 hours.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nine Months

Milo spent about nine months inside me and now he has spent the same amount of time with us in the world. I like the idea of nine months in / nine months out being a developmental stage. He spent nine months as a fetus and nine months as an infant. Now with each day it is becoming clearer that our baby is turning into a toddler.

Milo doesn't toddle per se, but he has his own method of moving around. He's perfected a one armed army crawl which can get him across a room surprisingly quickly. Chris helps him walk across the room by holding his feet on the floor. Milo thinks this is so funny. The little guy also gets around by a hand-me-down ride on toy (operated with the help of mom or dad). He particularly likes to take his codependent puppy on ride and also enjoys arriving at his high chair via the toy.

We're still working on the sleep thing. He's getting better about sleeping in his crib, but naps are still a crap shoot. He's also waking up several times a night and wanting to nurse. On our Thanksgiving trip, we discovered that Milo is not a fan of sleeping his pack and play. In fact in a strange place, Milo would prefer to just sleep with me.

Over the last five weeks, we've been having Thursday night swim "lessons" at our gym. We have all really enjoyed this time in the water. Our little Pisces baby especially has taken to the pool like a fish to, well, water. Although he is the youngest in the class, he holds his own with splashing and hasn't been afraid of the water.

Just in the last week, the concept of finger foods have clicked for Milo. He is now a Cheerio eating fiend. Watching this skill develop as been interesting. He needed the fine motor skills to pick up the tiny piece of food and then the desire to put it in his mouth and chew.

Another very exciting to me revelation of this past month has been that Milo now understands the concepts of books. Although I've been reading to him since he was just weeks old, he hasn't really gotten the idea. Now he knows that the pages turn and there is something new on each page. He also shows likes and dislikes towards specific books - or rather likes and really likes a whole bunch.

This past month has been really great as Milo's personality becomes more apparent. He is a lot of fun to be around with his sunny smile and his contagious giggle. I really like watching him discover new things. Sometimes he looks at me as if to say is this for real? Yep, buddy, it is and it only gets better!
* 9 month old Milo is too busy to pose for pictures and doesn't have time for sitting still.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Menu Planning

In the last several weeks, I've started planning out what we're having for dinner in advance. While some of you might think this is a no-brainer, this has revolutionized life in our house (okay, there is some hyperbole in that sentence, but menu planning has made life easier). When I was working, Chris and I would send e-mails back and forth toward the end of the day trying to figure out what dinner was going to be and who was going to stop at the store. This was not an efficient system. After I stopped working, things were marginally better, but still the question of what we would be eating that night often loomed large. When there isn't a plan, it is very easy to call Lavash for take out of delicious lamb kebab sandwiches and hummus.

So I have started listing out the days of the week, taking into account what nights we have plans and starting from there. Here is the menu last week as a sample:
Monday: baked mahi mahi, roasted brussel sprouts
Tuesday: lentil soup
Wednesday: eggplant curry and brown rice
Thursday: Chipotle
Friday: -
Saturday: pizza night
Sunday: dinner with my parents

As you can see, the menu is a work in progress. I usually make a batch of soup on Tuesday so leftovers can be eaten at lunch through the week. Thursday night is swim night, so we usually pick up dinner on the way home. And by Friday, I typically am out of ideas and don't want to cook.

Having a set menu has saved me from ordering carry out several times. If I know what I am to be cooking and have the ingredients on hand, it seems silly to not prepare the dish. I tend to cook with few ingredients, but getting to the store is sometimes a challenge. I also need to time the grocery trip with when the fresh ingredients need to be used. Monday's dinner last week should have been later in the week and further from the grocery trip because the fish and veggie were both frozen and the prep ingredients were shelf stable.

So this whole menu planning thing is a work in progress, but we're getting there.

Just for the fun of it, here is this week's menu:
Monday - dinner at parents
Tuesday - minestrone soup
Wednesday - crock pot roast with sweet potatoes
Thursday - carry out or leftovers
Friday - stuffed shells
Saturday - pizza night
Sunday - dinner with parents

Now if I can just get to the store...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On Walks

Although I promised myself that Milo and I would continue our daily walks until the sidewalks became impassable with snow and ice, this first real cold snap of the winter has the stroller gathering some dust. Walks have been a great help to me, in a number of ways. Of course there is the exercise aspect. I credit walking with losing that first round of pregnancy weight back in the spring. Walks around our neighborhood, to the grocery store, or for coffee have kept me moving and pushing around 20 pounds of baby up the slight hills of Clintonville have kept those calories burning.

Part of the reason we really like this neighborhood is because it is walkable. The sidewalks actually lead to useful places such as Kroger and Starbucks. It's also fun to just walk up and down the different streets, seeing how the houses are decorated for the holidays or who is renovating. When all else fails, we count cats on our walks.

A quick jaunt around the neighborhood gets us out of the house and the change of scenery is always helpful. I had come to think of our afternoon walks as a reboot for our day. Baby is cranky and won't nap, Mom is losing patience and would like some quiet time? Out with the stroller where we had just enough distance from one another to peacefully make it through the rest of the day. The fresh air lends some perspective I think.

I miss our walks and I am hoping that either the weather warms up or I get brave enough to get out there and walk anyway. Mittens, coats and blankets are made for a purpose, right?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wanted: Christmas Spirit

Last night we attended Chris' work holiday party. It was a nice night out and a lovely party (apart from the magician). Although I enjoyed myself at the event, I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that Christmas is coming in 20 odd short days.

While I want to make this first Christmas with Milo a special and memorable one, I also realize that he isn't going to know what is going on. Chris and I bought him only one gift, along with some stocking stuffers. We'll go see the lights at the Zoo and we're still debating a trip to see Santa.

Really, I guess I want this Christmas to be a remarkable one for me. If that is going to happen, I better lighten up, accept that the holiday season is once again upon on, and try to enjoy every moment.

Maybe baking cookies will help.