Saturday, July 31, 2010

moments and milestones

Brother drank from a straw for the first time and did quite well.

He has also started to copy me blowing on food. If he keeps it up, he just might be able to blow out his own birthday candles!

Brother is getting very, very good at climbing stairs. He climbed all the way up our stairs to the basement. Now the next big goal is getting him to climb down safely!

One morning Little Man requested hopefully: "Will you [s]pike my hair?" And so I did.

Little Man was playing with an animal puzzle. He carefully put the animals in the right places, and as he did so, he informed me, "They're going to Dairy Queen."

The other morning Little Man was underneath Benjamin's three foot ladder (he's been using it for the remodel) making tapping noises. When I asked him what he was doing, he responded enthusiastically, "I'm doing dangerous work!"

Brother has also started clapping.

As Little Man stared at his scrambled eggs, he told them in a very Max-ish voice: "I'll eat you up!"

[a turtle painted by Little Man]

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Menu

[insalata caprese]

As we have another week of kitchen remodel ahead of me, I have made a simple, prone-to-change menu again. Here's my (tentative) plan:

M-grilled chicken salad
T-tuna melts and fruit
W-hamburgers and grilled corn-on-the-cob
Th-grilled chicken, rice,
F-to be decided

What are you making this week?

Friday, July 23, 2010

moments and milestones

[I love his sweet grin.]

Little Man picked up a blue crayon, stuck it under his nose, inhaled deeply, and sighed: "It smells like blue."

Little Man, Brother, and their cousin got to go "swimming" in a kiddie pool, which was a first this summer for my boys at least.

"I like tasting this." -Little Man while enjoying his first Red Lobster meal ever.

At the end of our Red Lobster visit, we took Little Man to look at the lobsters in the tank. The nice hostess took one out and let him pet it. After she put the lobster back in the tank, it stayed near the glass, right at Little Man's eye level. He started seriously at it for a while and then explained, "The lobster is talking to me."

Brother has started calling, "Ma-ma!" more and more. He also frequently expresses his joy about seeing "EEEEeee" (Little Man) and "Da" (Daddy).

Brother has discovered that he can drop things on purpose and exclaim "uh-oh!" It has become quite a game to him.

Little Man is taking tower building to new heights. I'll have to post photos of his beautiful block creations one of these days.

I'm 99% sure that Brother has also started saying "ba" for ball.

Little Man has the oh, so sweet way of looking up at me and saying, "I like you!" It hardly ever fails to get him a good squeeze.

Brother tried eating with a spoon by himself for the first time this week. The first day he just used it as a drum stick, the second day he actually got a little bit of food in his mouth.

[taking a break after some hard running]

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

eleven months

Brother is already eleven months old! I can hardly believe that my baby will be one next month. While I feel less of a need to post his monthly summary of accomplishments since I have started the weekly moments and milestones posts, I still want to write this month's summary down. Here are some things Brother is doing right now:

crawling around at racing speeds
getting into Little Man's toys, his own toys, and my cabinets
becoming more interested in books
trying to climb
diving fearlessly from furniture or peoples' arms
pulling up on anything he can crawl to
drumming with and on anything he possibly can
taking an occasional step all by himself
calling us "Ma-ma," "Da," and "Eeee" (his name for Little Man)
experimenting with saying more words
realizing that he can scream and get Little Man in trouble
but at the same time being more charming than ever in his times of sweetness
one of his charming ways is being a sweet cuddling boy
eating large amounts of an ever-broadening array of finger foods
taking only one nap some days
sleeping through the night more and more consistently
starting to need a hair cut
outgrowing his infant car seat
looking more like a little boy and less like a baby

As always, I'm trying to hang on to the precious fleeting moments, yet I would not change my strong and healthy, growing boy for the world!
[wearing Daddy's cap after his graduation]


(Please excuse the heinous photo quality; this was the first set timer-run-and-pose photos I've taken of myself with the new camera, and I didn't have the time to make sure my set up was ideal.)

A while ago (I can't remember if it was one or two weeks ago; vacation has a way of messing with your sense of time) I did a simple refashion that I thought I'd share. A while ago, I found a long sleeved chocolate brown shirt made of the lightest cotton weave at a local thrift store. Since it was a good brand, in good shape, and a good price, I went ahead and bought it even though it wasn't exactly my size. I wore it a few times and liked it fairly well but decided I could make it better.

It was a very simple modification. I simply cut off the sleeves, ran a seam 1/4 inch above the bottom of the new, short sleeves, and let them fray a little. (The bottom hem of the shirt is like that; it's a fun, relaxed style.) I also took in the sides a little bit so that it fits better, but that's it! I love it's new look.

Little Man loved playing with the long sleeve pieces that I had cut off. He seemed to think they'd make great leg warmers.

Monday Menu (also late)

We arrived home from a lovely, lovely trip to the Salt Lake area late last night (or rather, very early this morning). I'm getting a slow start to my day today but thought that it would be wise for me to plan my menu right away so that I know what kind of meat I should thaw for dinner. Here's the plan:

M-We ate at Red Lobster on the way home from Utah. Yummy!
T-Grilled chicken, rice, vegetable
W-ginger-lime stir fry with rice instead of noodles
Th-frozen pizza
F-breakfast for dinner

What are you making this week?

moments and milestones (a few days late)

[my mom reading to the boys]

Little Man made a new friend last weekend whose name was Zeke. Little Man spent the whole time he was playing with his new buddy calling him "Zig-zag," which all the grown-ups found oh, so amusing.

Little Man has actually started singing along with songs! All of a sudden he began singing in church, with recordings, and with us. Being the "music people" that we are, we are very happy. I love hearing his sweet voice sing along with mine.

Brother has tentatively switched from two naps to one. At almost 11 months, it seems a little early to me, but I suppose that sleeping so well at night counts for something, right?

Little Man succeeded in climbing up a park slide backwards for the first time, and Brother slid down a park slide for the first time. They were both pretty pleased.

Brother has figured out that he can stand up in his bed and pull things off the nearby dresser. Guess I need to find a better place to store Little Man's toys-with-tiny-pieces that Brother is too small to play with.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


i want to
remember God's goodness
and great grace through hard times

i want to
treasure the memory
though it's bitter as well as sweet

how do i do this
my memory is so faulty
i lose what is close to my heart

i'll set up my version of memorial stones
something substantial to which I can point
can remember to say:

"God was good to me
He watched over each step
through dark, turbulent times"

I'll wear it close to my heart
and remember


Yesterday I spontaneously decided to make a hobo sack, or in this case, a princess bag for my adorable little niece who we will be seeing this weekend. While I love crafting boyish things that will delight my little sons' hearts, it is so fun to take a pink and ruffly break and make something girly.
If you've read my blog for a while, you might already know that I have a hard time making just one of anything. (After all, it really doesn't take much longer to make two!) This time was no exception. I made a second princess bag that I hope we'll be able to deliver along with this quilt. The bag is for the Big Sister, and the quilt, of course, is for the New Baby.
Little Man and I also made a quick batch of more girly colored play-doh to put into my niece's princess bag.
I hope the girlies like their gifts.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Weekend Date

Last Saturday Benjamin and I asked my mom to babysit and went on a fun date together.

We began by getting breakfast (Frappuccinos and bagels) which we ate outside to take full advantage of the exquisite weather.
Next up was a trip to a local hardware store to look at paint swatches and crown molding for our "new" kitchen. Our top three color combinations are pictured here. We will probably go with the one on the top with green being the main color.
Then we went to the golf course where Benjamin gave me some chipping and putting lessons. I am not a golfer, but after the Saturday lessons, I think I could become one. (As if I didn't have enough expensive hobbies...) : )
Then Benjamin actually played (that's him down there, chipping onto the green).
While he played golf, I played with my camera, took photos, and drove him half crazy with my chatter about about the birds, insects, plants, and turtle I observed.
We even got to hang out and talk uninterrupted in the club house for a while during a quick but dramatic Montana thunder storm.
It was a fabulous date.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Menu

Here's my nice-and-simple menu plan for this week:

M-French toast, scrambled eggs, and fruit
T-Grilled chicken, rice, spinach (cooked spinach--not salad)
W-Left overs
Th-Sandwiches for eating while we're on our way to Utah
F-Whatever dinner my wonderful mother-in-law has planned

I'm so excited about this trip to Salt Lake. Not only do we get to enjoy seeing Benjamin's parents as usual, but we also get to see his oldest brother and his lovely wife and adorable daughter who are driving up from Arizona. On top of all that, Benjamin is graduating (exciting!), and as a graduation gift, his parents gave us a night's stay in a bed and breakfast. It will be a full weekend, and I'm sure I'll have a lot to post about when I come back.

Anyway, back to menu-ing. What are you making this week?

Recipe Reviews

I've been trying quite a few new recipes lately. Here are the photos, links, and reviews for the four most recent ones.

The recipe: In my search for new grilled foods to make, I came across the recipe for these Grilled Brown Sugar Pork Chops which happily coincided with my search for new pork chop recipes. I was excited to try it.
The mods: The only change I made this time was adding a sprinkling of crushed red pepper to the sauce in an attempt to increase the flavor after I sampled it.
My impression: This was a reasonably good recipe. It was not inedible; in fact, we even enjoyed it while we were eating it. However, the sauce was much more bland than I would have imagined. I don't anticipate making this again, but if I do, I would omit the oil in the sauce (it just sat slimy-ly on top and never incorporated into the sauce), use more and fresh ginger, and use all apple juice instead of half apple juice, half water.

The recipe: I was intrigued when I found this recipe for Tomato Cucumber Salad with Mint and even bought a cucumber for it because I was too impatient to wait to try it until garden cucumbers are in season.
The mods: The first modification I made was to use balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. The velvety richness of the balsamic instead of the more acidic bite of the red wine vinegar appealed to me and more than made up for the less pretty color it imparted to the cucumbers. The second change I made was to use about one tablespoon of crumbled dry mint instead of the fresh mint. The last change was omitting the onion; I simply wasn't in an oniony mood the day I made this.
My impression: I liked it. I'm a fan of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and mint and thought the combination of the three was a refreshing and delightful new experience. The boys and my dad also seemed to like it quite well. A friend who tried it made polite but not enthusiastic remarks, while neither his wife nor my Benjamin were inclined to try it at all. My conclusion: this recipe is one that totally depends on individual taste.

The recipe: When I found this recipe for Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Orzo, I thought it sounded like a perfect summer dish.
The mods: I substituted plain sun dried tomatoes for the oil packed ones after reading a couple of reviews stating that the oil-packed tomatoes combined with the oil in the recipe made for a too-oily dish. I also substituted some dried basil for the fresh basil since 1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves was more than I could expect from my puny little basil plants.
My impression: This was a delicious recipe! Everyone who ate it enjoyed it. I will definitely be making this one again. Next time I hope I can use the fresh basil (I really think it would add a lot to the dish). I'll also plan on adding just a little bit more salt.

The recipe: Another recipe found in my search for new grilled foods, Grilled Lemon Chicken, looked like a simple, delicious alternative to plain grilled chicken.
The mods: The only thing I changed in this recipe was that I did not add bell peppers to the marinade. I don't care for them, and I didn't want to buy any, so their fate of being left out of this recipe was sealed.
My impression: This recipe, while not earth-shattering, was tasty. As I anticipated, it added a slightly different spin to plain grilled chicken which was refreshing but not overwhelming. I may not use this exact recipe again, but I will be planning on experimenting with these marinade ingredients some more; they have fantastic potential!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

moments and milestones

Brother has figured out that he can reach up and "help" play the piano.

Little Man loves to build.
Last week he and Grandpa built a marvelous house
out of Lincoln logs.

Little Man enjoyed his first real fireworks show last weekend. When he saw a particularly brilliant pink one, he exclaimed: "That's a girly firework!"

Little Man came into the room where I was and announced that he had made a double boiler out of a pot and a bowl. Concerned that he had been raiding the cabinets, I went to check. What I saw was a bowl-like bath toy stacked on top of a pot-like stacking cup. Inside the "bowl" part of the double boiler, he had placed several small toys. Who knows, maybe someday he'll be a chef.

We were setting out on a walk, and I was pushing Brother's stroller when Little Man looked up at me and said, "But I need to hold your hand!"

Little Man has started stating happily at random times throughout the day: "This has been such a good day!"

Brother (angrily): "WAAAAHHHHH! WAAAAAHHHHH!" Little Man (soothingly): "Here is a tissue for you. You're going to be okay."

Brother distinctly said "banana" yesterday. In addition, I'm pretty sure he said "Gam-ma" as he crawled to my mom, and he may have even said "Grandpa" at another time.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Last weekend was a whirl of activity. The boys and I drove to Helena to spend the night up there with my mom who is spending a month up there teaching cooking in a program that teaches legally blind adults basic (and sometimes not-so-basic) life skills. While we were gone, Benjamin tore out the upper cabinets and soffiting in our kitchen and got in a couple of rounds of golf. We arrived back in town just in time to head to our friends' annual 4th of July barbeque where we feasted and visited and watched fireworks into the night. It was fun but exhausting. Here are some of the best of my very first attempts at firework photography:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Monday Menu

I may have to adjust this week's menu a bit since my kitchen is undergoing construction (hooray!), and I don't have easy access to all of my cooking stuff and ingredients. For now, though, I'll be trying to stick to what I had already had planned:

T-hamburgers and fruit for the guys (probably spinach salad for me)
Th-savory garlic marinated steaks, insalata caprese
F-grilled pizza, spinach salad

Note #1: In case you were wondering about all the spinach salads and red meat, I'm needing to boost my iron intake right now.

Note #2: I was bored with my same-ol' same-ol' summer dishes, so I did a mega new-recipe-search on I found a lot of good ones to try. All the the recipes links in this post are results of that search. I've never made any of them before, so I'm not exactly recommending them; I'm just putting them out there in case anyone finds the names intriguing. I'll try to post photos and reviews of all of them after I make them to give my official impression.

What are you making this week?

Grace Elaine

a baby who never sees the light
a mother who aches to hold her child

the miracle of conception,
the joy of life
cut short

the thoughts
that in my head sound comforting
find their way to my heart
where they echo in cacophony
and bring no warmth

tears fall in the dark

i hear a still, small voice
experience a sudden sense of Divinity enfolding me
a whisper cuts through
the turbulent noise
in my heart

"this child's name is Grace
a sign of the grace I will show you
grace that you've never been able to grasp before"

i rest

Friday, July 2, 2010

a just-for-fun project

Yesterday inspiration struck,
and I enjoyed working on a just-for-fun project.

My goal was to combine this family photo
with some calligraphy and this thrifted shadow box to make something special. (The shadow box was brand new, and I got it for $0.25 since it had a spot for a tassel and a "Class of 2008" labeled frame in it. I brought it home, pulled them out, and had a nice blank slate.)
An afternoon of calligraphy-ing, designing, cutting, and adhering, produced this:
I must admit that I like it very much.

moments and milestones

Here is this week's installment of moments and milestones. I'm having a hard time making it short and sweet as I planned, though, because Little Man says so many cute things!

Brother got his eighth tooth.

Little Man: "What's that noise?"
Me: "That's thunder."
Little Man: "Where is it?"
Me: "'s way up in the sky."
Little Man: "Oh! It's in the tree tops!"
Me: "Well, not exactly."
Little Man "What's it doing?
Me: "Nothing, it just makes noise."
Little Man: "Where is it?"
I guess I should figure out how to explain the concept of sound waves in a way a two-year-old can understand.

Little Man (helping stir the marinading meat): "This looks so good!"
Me (interested to find out what was going on is his mind): "Does it?"
Little Man: "Yes, it looks very raw!"

Benjamin: "What are you up to, [Little Man]?"
Little Man (jubilantly): "I'm up to smuck!"
(What is smuck? I want to know.)

Little Man: "God, thank you for sticks and pictures and bottles and Mom and Dad and [Brother] and amen."

Little Man (to his Daddy): "Shall we pillowfight?"
Benjamin: "Not right now; I need to go to church and practice."
Little Man: "Can I go with you?
Benjamin: "Not this time."
Little Man: "It will make it better."

Brother ate his first apple. He was delighted and enjoyed gnawing away at it. It was so cute to see him holding that big apple in his little hands and chewing on it that I got out my camera to capture the moment. The minute he saw the camera, though, he put down the apple and gave me a big grin.
This one never fails to make me laugh!
He finally couldn't resist the charm of his apple any more, and I was able to capture the photo I had envisioned.