Friday, March 30, 2012

Little Bits and Pieces: Inspired By My Facebook Newsfeed Edition

 **Disclaimer: After I got this all written, Craig informed me that most of this is old news, so I'm going to apologize in advance if you've already read most of these. 


Have you seen this article from the Chicago Tribune? What can I say? We South Dakotans are pretty proud. Perhaps the reason why the First Lady visited this week is because she's slightly embarrassed of her hometown newspaper's pretentious remarks.

To be fair there's a whole lot more to South Dakota than Mt. Rushmore and the world's only Corn Palace. I mean, yeah, if you're here, you may as well pay for the $8 parking permit to see Mt. Rushmore, but I'm far more taken aback by the beauty of Sylvan Lake, The Badlands, and Spearfish Canyon. One of my all-time favorite places is most definitely Lover's Leap.

Near the top, there's a sign that says, "...place where one can be an unworried and unregimented individual and wear any old clothes and sit on a log and get his sanity back again."


 ***

In other Dakotas-related stories, this lady is pretty adorable. What can I say, I'm sure it's no LeBernardin, but I enjoy an order of soup, salad and breadsticks every now and then, too. Craig told me that some guy posted this story and made some snide remark. Everybody jumped all over him for going to a "b-list culinary school" and "he'd be lucky if he could even get a job at an Olive Garden." I love it.

***

Have you guys all heard about the Cinnamon Challenge? Maybe it's because I live with a 16-year-old trapped in a 32-year-old body, but I've seen several versions of it on YouTube. (We also have a jar of Ghost Chiles in our cupboard.) Anyway, there's a post on the NPR health blog, Shots, about all of the risks associated with the Cinnamon Challenge. I'm not sure if I needed NPR's advice to keep me from trying it, but it's good to know.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

From Blume to Grisham

Each year, my mom read Where the Red Fern grows with her fifth graders. Each year she insisted on reading the last chapters aloud to the class, even though she knew she would cry when Little Ann died of grief.

When we moved and she started teaching 7th, 8th, and 9th grade, she was encountered by a concerned parent who was worried because the public library had Harry Potter on its shelves. My mom's response: "I'm just happy the kids in our community are excited about reading."

I could count on books in my stocking almost every year. My tastes in books evolved over the years from American Girls and Sweet Valley Twins to Judy Blume and Lurlene McDaniel to John Grisham and Mary Higgins Clark in junior high to books like Primary Colors in high school. It didn't matter how awful my taste in books was, my mom always worked hard to foster a love of reading. I hope to do the same with Liam.

Liam's going to kick back and enjoy The Alchemist.

Or perhaps some Tom Friedman will suit him better. 
What about you? What were some of your favorites growing up?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

So Not Ready for This


In August, I started pinning ideas for Liam's first birthday party. At the time, I didn't think anything of it. It was so. far. away. I haven't even begun to think about bringing those ideas into fruition.

A few weeks ago, I ordered these books. They're still stacked just like this-- unread. I have opted to devour The Hunger Games instead.

It doesn't seem like that long ago that I went in for my 36 week check up, and my doctor said, "Wow, Amber, I don't know if you're going to make it to your due date." That was almost a year ago.

It is so hard to believe that in just over four weeks, I am going to be the momma to a toddler--a curious, independent, temper tantrum-throwing, loveable toddler.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Full of Life


I glanced up from my computer at my favorite photo of her, taken just a few months before the accident. "She was so full of life," I thought to myself.

I stopped myself in my tracks. "Jesus, Amber. Was? How about she is so full of life?"

Because the fact of the matter is, that spark is still there. She's still competitive. She loves deeply. She pushes herself to learn new things.  She loves to soak up the sun. She insists on having her hair and makeup done every day, which quite frankly, is more than I can say for myself.

If only we could all be as full of life as she is.

Just Write

Sunday, March 25, 2012

His Father's Child

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the fact that I thought we had a little mini-me on our hands. Truth be told, Liam does look a lot of my features (especially the facial expressions), but there are oh so many ways that he is definitely his father's child.


  • He's a charmer (especially when he's in trouble). I caught him trying to get into the garbage can recently and said, "No, Liam." He crawled away and continued to play. He slowly inched his way back to the garbage can. When he noticed I was looking, he looked up with a little grin on his face like, "You're not going to yell at me are you mom?" 
  • He has selective hearing. This weekend we went to a barbeque with a few of our "parent" friends. One of the moms said, "Wow. Liam knows the word 'no'." "Some days," I responded. 
  • Craig used to greet Liam when he got home from work with a "Hey, Kid." Now Liam beats him to the punch and greets Craig with a resounding "Heyyyy." 
  • They both like to give me the "business."  
  • He's a goof ball. I have a tendency to take life a little too seriously some times. I'm lucky to have Craig and Liam in my life to keep me laughing. 

    Saturday, March 24, 2012

    Our Weekend So Far

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    courthouse museum rummage sale + we finally found maps



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    flip flops + vintage gray toenails
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    young adult lit from the library + soaking up as much vitamin d as possible


    60-degree temperatures, a lazy Saturday, and tonight we're off to a friend's house for a barbeque. Life couldn't get better. Here's wishing you a wonderful weekend.

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    Am I raising a junk food fiend?

    Shortly after Liam was born, I went for a walk with one of my friends, a mom to two little boys. She started telling me about a class she took in college about the politics of fat. Her professor, who happened to be obese, talked a lot about the fact that when parents force children to eat certain things or deliberately deny their children certain foods, the child hates the foods that are forced upon them even more and craves the foods that are being denied to them. My friend told me that she incorporated that philosophy into feeding her two-year-old. "Sure," she said, "Rudy would probably choose candy a lot more often, but we just don't keep it around." She went on to explain that if for example, they're eating chicken one night and he doesn't want chicken, she allows him to choose something else that's available.

    "Yeah," I thought. "That's the kind of parent I want to be." I liked the laid-back nature of her approach. I also really liked that she was confident enough in her son's decision-making skills to allow him that kind of freedom.

    When I started feeding Liam, I decided to go the puree route for a number of reasons--Liam was (and still is) really skinny so I wanted to be able to measure exactly how much he was eating, it was more convenient, and my daycare provider seemed to prefer that approach. I tried to not be too strict or forceful about what he ate. While it was important to me to maintain a balanced diet, I didn't really force anything upon Liam. If he didn't want peas, I didn't force him to eat them. I just dug out the carrots or the sweet potatoes, which I knew he'd eat.

    As Liam got older, though, I wanted to start incorporating some finger foods. As I was researching, I found this post on The High Chair times by Heather Morgan Shott. I was able to relate to her in so many ways. I started to worry that even though Liam is super skinny now, I might be setting him up to become an obese toddler.

    I discovered that some of the things Liam loved as purees, like mangoes and pears, he did not like as finger food. If I baked those mangoes and added some vanilla, though, he loved them. He's not a big fan of the original Baby Mum-Mums, but loves the strawberry-flavored Toddler Mum-Mums, and we know about his affinity for yogurt melts. He loves sweet things like strawberries, but avocados, he could take them or leave them (he feels the same way about bananas, though, so I'm wondering if that's a texture thing). If I give him a sippy cup full of water, he just throws it aside, but if I add juice, he's definitely interested. I'm worried that I've created a monster who only loves sweet things.

    Do I throw my laissez faire approach to feeding out the window? Or do I hope that he will choose healthy options on his own? (With some guidance, of course.)

    "These strawberry Mum-Mums are delicious."

    "Really, Mama. Do you want to try a bite?"

    It's {Almost} Spring!


    It's no secret that Liam is a lover of all things outside -- walking, swinging, blowing bubbles, and just sitting on the deck enjoying the fresh air. Even though this winter was definitely warmer than most, Liam and I were going a little stir crazy. We've definitely taken full advantage of the warmer weather.



    Monday, March 19, 2012

    Mother of the Year

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    Liam got his first of what I am sure will be many bruises this weekend. I was cleaning up after breakfast on Sunday, when I noticed Liam had pulled himself up using one of our kitchen stools. I was standing  a few feet from him. The thing is, I have the world's slowest reflexes, so by the time I reacted to the fact that Liam and the stool were crashing to the floor, it was too late.

    After a few minutes of snuggling, Liam was back to his normal self, crawling around, chasing the dogs, so I think he's going to be okay. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when he turns three and starts doing things like, eh, diving into the baby pool. (My little brother may have ended up with five stitches as a result of that incident.)

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    Luck of the Irish

    I am approximately 0% Irish.  Each year when St. Patrick's day rolled around, I never really got all that excited. I felt like a total sham when my teachers would put "Kiss Me I'm Irish" stickers on my papers in elementary school and never really got all that excited about the annual St. Patty's Day pub crawl in college.

    Then I met Craig. Craig is 100% Irish, and he's proud. So proud. Like had an Irish flag hanging in his house when I first met him, doesn't need a holiday to drink Jameson and Bushmills and Irish Car Bombs, wanted to name our son Seamus proud.

    So, here's wishing you all a happy St. Patrick's Day.



    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Can you believe it's already been two months?

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    Thank you to our friend Bryan for taking these beautiful pictures.

    **It's also Pi Day today. If you have the chance, you should head over to Instructables and vote for my friend Jenny's Mini Egg Pi(e) in the Pi Day Pie Challenge.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Check It Out


    I'm guest posting at (she always loved) larking. today while Courtney is enjoying sunny Florida.  Courtney has become one of my dearest blogging friends. She's a mom to L, who's just a few weeks younger than Liam, listens to good music, and both Operating Instructions and Great With Child are on my "Must-Read" List because of Courtney.

    She's doing a great interview series about how our parents' decisions impacted our own parenting decisions. So many of the questions definitely left me thinking, and I'm so glad she asked me to participate.


    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    And We're Off {A Little Note from Liam}

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    Ramblin' Man by The Allman Brothers Band on Grooveshark


    That's right, folks. Mom and I are heading to Grandma's bright and early tomorrow morning, so we'll be absent around here for a few days. Mom says to tell you all to have a good weekend.

    What We Ate

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    Don't let the lobster and fancy spices fool you. I'm still pretty much a domestic failure. (I did make the Butter Chicken, though. That's right, people. It's only March 8th and I made my recipe for the month.)

    My friend Jenny gave me the spices. When I first saw the Cardamom pods, I thought they were shelled Pistachios. Imagine the following conversation between a trained chef and me. 

    {Craig is showing off our fancy spices to his friend.}

    B: Did you know that Cardamom was once worth more than gold.
    Me: Oh, really. When I first saw that jar, I thought it was Pistachios.
     {Complete silence.}

    Apparently, he wasn't impressed with my culinary knowledge. 

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

    When I first found out I was pregnant, I dreamed of having a little girl who I could dress in cardigans and ballet flats.
    {source}
    But deep down, I always knew I was having a little boy. Things like wrestling and roughhousing and buying toy cars are entirely new to me. I'm totally out of my element.

    On Sunday, Liam and I went to a baby shower. One of my former coworkers is having a little girl. While I resisted the urge to order all of those cute little headbands from Etsy, I definitely loaded her up with all things pink. On the way to the shower, though, I stopped to pick up a Diet Coke at the gas station. When I checked out, the lady working at the cash register said, "Wow. Look at those eyes. How sweet." Liam leaned his head into my shoulder as if to say, "Yeah, I am pretty sweet." It made me realize how lucky I am to have been blessed with such an amazing little boy.




    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    Mind the Gap

    One thing Liam definitely inherited from me is his goofy gap-toothed grin. After my dentist discovered that I was missing a few permanent teeth, my mom dutifully ushered me to the orthodontist. I spent two years clad in braces in an attempt to pull my teeth together.



    Then, the summer before I was supposed to get my braces off, we moved. The new orthodontist did not offer the clear plastic retainers my previous orthodontist had. Instead, I was stuck with one of those metal retainers. In protest, I refused to wear it. By the time I realized my teeth were growing back apart, it was too late. (Let's hope Liam doesn't inherit my stubbornness.)

    There are some benefits to having the gap, though:

    -It's easier to floss.
    -I'm also missing wisdom teeth, so I didn't ever have to go through the pain of having them removed.
    -Before Liam was born, I worked nights and weekends at a shop in town. My boss there told me on more than one occasion that people with a gap between their two front teeth are more creative. (Her example was always David Letterman.)

    Another thing that Liam inherited from me-- his sense of style.

    One night, I caught him playing with my scarf, so I put it on him. Almost immediately, he dropped his voice and started saying, "Dadadadada." That's right Liam. It is important to act manly when you're wearing your mom's scarf.

    Sunday, March 4, 2012

    Explorer Room Essentials

    I've been trying to chip away at a few of the projects I had in mind for Liam's explorer room. I decided to ease into the projects with something kind of easy.

    Something you should know about me is that I'm not an overly clean person-- I don't really like to do dishes or dust or mop, but I do like to organize things. (Yeah, I know that sounds kind of strange.) Craig gave up on putting my clothes away, because I have them organized a certain way in my closet (mostly by color), so I can find things easier when I'm rushing around in the mornings. Another thing that I like organizing is my books (by author, genre, etc).  As I was trying to decide how to best display and organize Liam's books, I found this pin on Pinterest.

    {source}
    I happened to have an old map of Southeast Asia from National Geographic and a couple of shoe boxes left over from Christmas.



    The process was pretty easy. I just wrapped the box kind of like a present. I probably could have paid a little more attention to where I cut the map, because I ended up using the entire map to wrap one box.

    I'm in the process of tracking down maps for a few more projects. I would like to recreate one of these using maps.

    {source}
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    What do you think? Which should I try next?

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Little Bits and Pieces: One for the Books

    "You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child."

    Unfortunately all of the pictures I had of me reading to Liam were really unflattering, so you're just going to have to enjoy a picture of Liam reading to himself.

    In honor of Read Across America Day, I thought I would share a few of my favorite book-related links. 
    My mom used to have a book of Dr. Seuss quotes. When I saw this site with 30 Dr. Seuss Quotes that Can Change Your Life, I couldn't help but feel a little nostalgic. 
     
    Picture books about resourceful children? I like it. I'm definitely looking forward to reading One Cool Friend, Jeremy Draws a Monster, and The Monster Returns to Liam. 

    And speaking of pictures, I was amazed by some of the shots captured by members of NPR's Back Seat Book Club.

    I think we all know that Liam and I are big fans of music. I thought it was kind of fun to check out this blog post about music and literature.

    I know this one isn't about books, but Liam is loving some Alexa Narvaez. Whenever I put it on, he gets really excited. I especially love it when he tries to "sing" along. 

    What about you guys? Do you have any book (or music) recommendations for us?


     

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    Things I Don't Want To Forget

    Yesterday one of my coworkers asked me about Liam. When I said, "He's going to be 10 months old tomorrow," she exclaimed, "Already!" It wasn't the first time I'd heard or thought that. Last week, the subject line on my Parents.com Ages and Stages Newsletter was, "43 Weeks: Plan the Best First Birthday." I was so not ready for that. It was like a shot to the heart-- in two months I'm going to have a toddler. In an effort to remember the little things about Liam, I made a list of the things I don't want to forget:

    +
    all of our bath time fun


    +
    that post-bath baby smell

    +
    playing Earthquake

    +
    the baby giggles that ensue when we play Earthquake

    +
    that look of excitement when I pick him up from daycare

    +
    that same look of excitement when Craig comes home from work

    +
    the Tickle Monster

    +
    the baby giggles that ensue when the Tickle Monster comes

    +
    that sweet smile when he wakes up

    +
    cuddle time