Monday, December 31, 2007

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happy new year's eve!

the weekend was good. hannah and oliver spent friday at mom's house. hannah spent the entire day enjoying the snow - making snowmen, snowballs, rolling around, taking the dog for a walk. she was pretty pooped by the end of it all. i'm glad she got a chance to see some snow (and we're supposed to get more before she leaves). ollie was the perfect baby all day for mom, of course.

saturday morning, hannah, shannon, and i hit the mall and libby lou first thing. libby lou wasn't as crazy as i thought it would be, probably since we got there right when it opened. we did the "spa" portion - which is a help yourself station where you make some cosmetics. i was going to make a face mask, and the pump was clogged - and unclogged ALL OVER ME. i was not thrilled about my purse being covered in tropical breeze goo, but luckily i had my leather purse, which cleaned off much easier than a cloth one. my coat and jeans had to take multiple trips through the washing machine. we had fun, though. hannah make some beautiful bright magenta lip gloss, and shannon and i made some lip gloss as well. hannah tried out her face mask that night, and loved it. we made it out of the mall without further incident (though there are plans to go back for limited too and macy's, so i'm not in the clear just quite yet).

mom, dad, and shannon came over saturday afternoon for family movie day. chris was flying in that evening, and actually hopped an earlier flight, so was able to join us to watch mr. magorium's wonder emporium. i was in and out of the room taking care of stuff, but it was a pretty cute movie. on a side note, chris brought me some trader joe's candy cane joe-joe's, which i had mentioned in an email i thought sounded great. turns out they are - a lot like thin mints but with bit of candy cane, we all headed out to hibachi dinner for dad's birthday. hannah had been at a place similar, but apparently the place she had been at before wasn't half as fun, as she hadn't seen any the tricks the chef did before (such as the "butter fly" and onion volcano... not to mention the giant oil fires every chef started at the beginning of each "show"). she thought it was the NEATEST thing ever. dad had a blast as well. the chef kept hitting on shannon, and bryan was trying to help him out, which earned him some extra sake. dad and chris also won extra sake shots (squirted directly into their mouths) by catching shrimp in their mouths. very mature. ;)~ all the noise and commotion had oliver feeling a little agitated, though, so we skipped pie at mom and dad's and opted to head home instead. bryan and chris watched football downstairs while hannah and i sat upstairs and watched the disney channel with oliver. rocking in a familiar place helped calm him down.

sunday morning was oliver's baptism. we managed to show up at the church on time, which was a small miracle in itself. ollie had been a little fussy in the morning, so we feared the worst during the service. however, he was the most amazingly well behaved baby EVER. he was a little squirmy when we got to the church, but i think that is because he doesn't seem to like being strapped into his car set when he is awake. i took him out, he immediately calmed down, and he slept in my arms during the entire service (though his dead asleep weight started to make my arm pretty sore - i wasn't about to tempt fate and try to put him back in his carrier!). even if he fusses for us at home, at least he is the perfect baby for everyone else. ;)
when it was time for the christening, he woke up and was perfectly quiet and cute, even when the water was poured over his head.

he sat in quietly in bryan's arms and checked everyone out while the priest completed the ceremony. he was all bright eyed and cute while the priest showed him off to the congregation as well. :) just perfect!! adrianne made his christening gown, and it was just beautiful. everyone came to congratulate us and fawn over the baby at the end of the service. all the matrons of the church whom we love to visit with on sundays were pretty close to tears over his cuteness, i am sure (and who can blame them?). everyone came over to our house afterwards for hot ham and rolls, and white cake with pineapple frosting (which i am told was stellar). we had a lot of fun sitting around and chatting, and i got to get all the details of maggie's proposal (and see the KNOCK OUT GORGEOUS ring). mom and aunt mo swear oliver smiled at them a TON... but he does a pretty good job of pretending he can't for me (i think i've gotten a few real ones out of him, but he's so gassy we may all be wrong). we played some wii (which chris kicked all our butts at), and everyone wandered home.

hannah the good big sister let bryan, oliver, and i take a nice quiet nap for a bit, which was much needed. hannah and i played battleship, which was fun. hannah won by a full ship and a half! we watched nancy drew, which hannah hadn't wanted to watch but ended up totally loving. then we all hit the hay! we were pretty beat.

today, aunt mo & uncle tom are taking the kids sledding. we got a fresh layer of snow last night, so it should be a perfect day for it. hannah hasn't been sledding yet this year, and hasn't been for a few years, so she should have a blast.

mom, dad, and shannon are coming over for dinner tonight (see my previous post for a menu), and i'm pretty excited about dinner. i LOVE coconut curries, and the whole meal should be nice and warming on a chilly night. we're supposed to get MORE snow tonight. it will be nice to have tomorrow off!!

we had planned on taking hannah to chicago on saturday, but with oliver being sick, we're not too keen on taking him on a long day trip or leaving him all day (even though i know mom would take great care of him!). we were afraid hannah would be upset, but it turns out she wasn't feeling it either and would rather go to the domes. done and done! :)

and as promised, here are some additional pictures:

random cute picture of aunt/godmother shannon and oliver, on christmas eve --

here are more pics of christmas, including dinner:

mom had been dropping hints for a good year about how much she would love to have a laptop, and while dad pretended not to listen the whole time, he did GOOD and got her one for christmas, which she was pretty surprised and happy about! --

me in a rare moment without the baby --

aaaaaaand he's back! :) --

our holiday table (which extended from the dining room all the way through the foyer) --

roasted pears with herbed goat cheese and bacon --

mom's delicious rolls --

ham, cranberry sauce, and panettone --

a closer look at the SUPER delicious ham --

cauliflower gratin (cream sauce AND gruyere - i was in 7th heaven) --

roasted potatoes --

me and the boy again (could we get any cuter, seriously??) --

Thursday, December 27, 2007

notes from a holiday

well, christmas is over, quickly as usual. so much time spent planning and them BOOM! it's all over. :)

christmas eve, mom, dad, shannon, and adrianne came over for dinner. bryan and shannon made a fantastic shrimp and grits (though shannon doesn't like shrimp so would not eat any - mom made her empanadas instead), which we served with peas and a caeser salad. for dessert, we had the coconut candy bars i had made. it was all so very delicious, and i was tipsy with joy to be having dairy again.

after they headed home, bryan opened a gift - a storm trooper coffee mug from oliver. does he know his daddy or what?? when bryan was young, they used to open gifts on christmas eve. while i won't let him open ALL his gifts, he does get to open one. :)

christmas morning was very special and fun with oliver, even if he had no clue what was going on and couldn't have cared less. next year will be a lot of fun with him. oliver gave me just what i wanted for christmas - 4 solid hours of sleep. at his 2am feeding, bryan wanted to open presents, but i told him no. i swear he is worse than hannah! ;) bryan had let me sleep a good bit early on in the night, so i got up super early and made the pecan toffee i promised chris. it turned out tasty, though i think i could have cooked it a little longer, made it a little harder. once that candy thermometer hit 310°, i pulled it off! i had never made toffee before and wasn't going to start messing with sugar. ;) now that i've made it, though, i feel more comfortable with it, so next time it will turn out better. once bryan and oliver woke up, we opened a few gifts, including my cute new purse and the frog garden statue i bought bryan. oliver's day care provider bought him a book and a cute toy; and he got a stuffed hippo, some books, new pjs, and a toy from us and santa.

we made biscuits with sausage gravy for breakfast (oh man it was good), which we enjoyed while watching the disney christmas parade on tv, then got ready to head to mom and dad's house.

once we arrived, we opened gifts, which i had been very excited about. we bought mom a belleek vase as well as a cast iron porcelain glazed dutch oven. mom loves belleek but as with everything, would never buy it for herself, and she has admired my le creuset a few times. she was thrilled with both gifts, and wanted to just sit and hold the bellek for awhile. :) once she starts using the dutch oven she will fall in love with it as well i am sure - mine is one of my favorite kitchen items. we bought dad a book with wood working projects to build backyard playsets, as well as a gift certificate to his favorite running goods store. he was pretty excited about the book, and started planning with hannah last night. adrianne received a book and a reciprocating saw from us, which prompted her to immediately think of all sorts of new projects for her house. shannon got a cookbook and a book about architecture, which she thought was pretty cool. bryan helped shannon prepare a delicious dinner of ham with a cherry orange glaze, cranberry sauce with port wine (same one we had on thanksgiving), cauliflower gratin, roasted potatoes, rolls (which mom made), brandied carrots, panettone, and i forget what else. shannon made an apple gingerbread pie for dessert, which unfortunately i missed out on. food pictures yet to come.

oliver was pretty fussy - due to gas. we had thought that if i had dairy and pumped off my milk, he would miss the dairy, but it seems to stay in my system longer than we thought. he was pretty bad off yesterday as well, the poor thing. so now we know, and it's back to a strict no dairy diet. at his last doctor's appointment, bryan asked him again about probiotics, but he was pretty dismissive of it. however, i have ordered some online, and i'll tell him... and i am hoping he is not as dismissive as he is last time about the situation. i think he was dismissive because i am sure they get lots of new parents freaking out about nothing, but this is a definite digestive and intestinal blockage issue, and i am hoping he will want to be more proactive. otherwise we'll have to get a second opinion! i can certainly abstain from dairy, but if there is anything else we can do to help oliver as well, i am all for it. i can't stand to see him upset and in pain. i try to not let it get to me, but combined with little sleep, it bothers me. luckily, he is doing much better, though still a bit stuffy from his cold.

hannah arrived yesterday! :) we had lots of fun opening gifts with her (she was fairly speechless about the cheetah girls barbie doll that REALLY SINGS). she was excited to meet oliver, and just loves holding him. she has really stepped into the big sister role well, and is being a huge help - making sure he has his nuk in the car, feeding him, helping soothe him, holding him so we can go to the bathroom, good stuff like that. she's even offered to take up his middle of the night feedings for us, though i'm sure she'd reconsider around 2am. :) they are pretty darn cute together!

we went to mom and dad's for dinner so they could give hannah her gifts. she was excited to see everyone. she was freaking out about all the snow, even though it's super old and gross and there's not that much. we got a light dusting this morning which made her freak out even more. she couldn't wait to go play in it, so we bought boots and snowpants on the way to dinner at mom and dad's, and she and 2 of my cousins romped around for awhile. she was thrilled! she also snuggled on the couch with me for awhile to help soothe ollie while he was upset. she has a little hand crank music box that plays für elise, and since he loves music, that was helping to calm him. she was impressed with mom's ham pot pie, and scarfed down 2 big servings! :)

the weekend promises to be busy. saturday is dad's birthday. shannon and i are taking hannah to libby lu in the morning to do their "spa" thing. we'll see how quickly we can get out of the mall after that. ;) mom and shannon were talking about going to the zoo, since they are doing free admission, but the snow/ice/cold/crowds may mean NO. bryan and i aren't too keen on going, and certainly don't want to take ollie out in it. so we suggested family movie afternoon at our house instead, which sounds just as free and way more warm. i am thinking we'll watch mr. magorium's wonder emporium. then we're taking dad out to a hibachi dinner. i think hannah will get quite a kick out of that as well. chris is flying in that afternoon and will be joining us. he is freaking out about the cold/snow. :)

sunday morning is oliver's baptism. we didn't invite the whole entire family since the family is so big and most people wouldn't come anyways. so we just have a small group. everyone will be coming over to our house afterwards for hot ham and rolls... and white cake with pineapple frosting. MMM. i can't wait to see maggie! her boyfriend proprosed on christmas!! :) i can't wait to hear all about it.

i've been doing some research for new year's eve dinner, and i think we have a loose plan. in addition to the beef rendang, i plan to make plain white rice (which i love with coconut curry) as well as some rice noodles (which bryan loves). since the rice will be plain, i think we're going to make some kind of flavor to go with the noodles - something with ginger, soy, and chili paste. i was hoping to make stir-fried mussels with chili, garlic and basil, since that sounded like it would be the perfect appetizer, but since i'm not sure if anyone besides bryan, mom, and i would eat them, i'm not 100% sure. i might make raita, since the rest of the dishes will be pretty rich. i am planning on terong belado (eggplant with chilli sauce) and some version of gado gado (mixed vegetable salad with peanut sauce) for our veg. for dessert, i'll see if i can pull off murukku (deep fried indian biscuit), though i'll vary the recipe to include cardamom and cinnamon for a sweeter version, and possibly serve them drizzled with honey. shannon and i will firm up the menu, but i'm pretty exited already!

bryan is set on having corned beef, black eyed peas, and greens for new years day dinner. far be it from me to argue with that. each are symbolic good luck foods. i am all about trying to fix our luck for 2008 - ours was so good in 2007, i think we need some help ensuring that we haven't used it all up! :P

speaking of corned beef, we need to pick up a brisket so i can corn one for st patrick's day. it's almost to late to do one BUT i think it will work. :) we'll do two (or one huge one and cut it into two) - one for corned beef, and one for pastrami (which is smoked corned beef). we did that last year, and while normally i love corned beef and am not a huge fan of pastrami, the home made pastrami knocked my socks off - by far my favorite. i'm excited to make it again, especially seeing as how well our smoker performs in the freezing weather here!

mom has been feeling much better. she loves that she can stay awake through a movie, stay awake past 7pm, and eat crunchy foods again. she gets tired and gets headaches, which is normal, but it's getting better, and i think the pay off with no jaw problems makes it very worth it.

update on ally: i called the vet to get the results from her bloodwork, and it is not a cancerous lump, woohoo! the vet said it appears to just be irritation, from her licking her skin tag. so that is great news. they gave me a spray to put on it, which seems to be helping. i am just glad that she is healthy!

Monday, December 24, 2007

christmas eve

i can't believe it's christmas eve aleady. as i've mentioned before, this year has positively flown by for us. then again, we've done everything you can possibly do in a year, i think - move across the country, i found a new job, we bought a house, had a baby, bought a new car, sold a car... i think the only thing we didn't do was get a new pet (and we couldn't have handled one!). all in all, it was a pretty great year. there were plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong, and luckily we made it through without any major disasters.

oliver caught the cold i've been struggling through, and came home friday from day care feeling pretty miserable. he is doing slightly better today, but still not 100%. saturday was pretty rough for the poor little guy. i think once he finally was able to nap late in that day he began to feel better. i just hope he continues to. it's pretty difficult watching him, since there's not much we can do for him. he's still too young to take anything like tylenol, any cold medicine, or even use the baby vick vab-o-rub. so we've been using the saline nose drops, a cool mist vaporizer, some hot steam showers, warm baths, and lots of hugs and kisses. he's currently chilling out in his swing with a nuk, the cute travel blankie hannah got him, and the hiccups (i am working from home today since, well, there will be roughly 2 people in the office). he really loves the mobile on the swing.

ally has gotten another lump, near one of her skin tags. this one is different than the one she had removed in july, but we went to the vet on saturday morning nonetheless. they took some blood, and i need to call today for the results. they said it may just be from her licking her skin tag, so we'll see. we may just have her skin tags removed to avoid the problem.

mom has been feeling pretty good since her surgery. some headaches, which is to be expected when they cut open your head and let air in. but she's already able to stay awake longer during the day, and no jaw problems - woohoo!

other than that, we're just waiting for my work day to be done so we can start celebrating the holiday. we're excited for our christmas eve dinner of shrimp and grits, even though it means i'll probably have to avoid feeding ollie all day tomorrow so he doesn't get those nasty milk proteins that make his tiny belly hurt. i am excited to have some dairy though... while i am certainly more than happy to give it up for the baby, i have been going through some serious dairy withdrawal. it's a true physical withdrawal, i swear. i eat a LOT of dairy normally. it's probably good i am eating some, lest i freak out and devour an entire brick of cheese in one sitting, eat some random cream sauce, and top it off with some ice cream. it could happen! anyways, i am looking forward to dinner. my family may or may not be joining us; shannon apparently doesn't like shrimp so we shall see. i bought some breakfast sausage for our biscuits with sausage gravy christmas morning breakfast (we'll see if i brave that much dairy, though). shannon has a lovely ham dinner planned for tomorrow, which should be scrumptious. hannah flies in wednesday, and has our day planned out to the minute! new years eve we're making malaysian (i'm making a beef rendang, and shan and i have yet to plan any additional sides). bryan insists on corned beef and black eyed peas for new years day, as that is a southern tradition, and i am a ok with that. it promises to be a week full of yummy food!

happy holidays to you and yours!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


another week is flying by, and i can't believe christmas is already next week.

mom had surgery for her neuralgia this week, and it went well. i am glad she finally got it, and that she'll be feeling much better because of it. her recovery is going well; bryan and i will be spending the day with her tomorrow to help out and bring her everything her heart desires (her balance is a little off so she shouldn't be moving much).

dad leaves tomorrow morning to pick shannon up from school. he'll be doing the trip to minneapolis and back all in one day, which will kind of stink, and will be good to get out of the way. i'm excited to have shannon in town again!

shannon has begun planning christmas day dinner; her and bryan had such a fun time and did such a fabulous job with thanksgiving, they're looking forward to working together again for christmas. they have such similar styles (little prep, giant mess) that they have a bunch of fun together. i stay out of the kitchen and pretend it's not getting trashed, and everyone is happy.

i'm excited about christmas eve dinner as well. bryan and i started a new tradition last year - shrimp and grits on christmas eve. it'll be nice to have a little bit of the south in december, since we have traded the atlanta weather for a much colder climate. i'm trying to figure out how i'll handle feeding ollie with milk in the grits, but i am sure we can make it work. i'm going to have the same problem with lots of holiday foods.

oliver does seem to be doing better with digesting. he started day care this week. he's been doing just fine, but it is kind of hard on me. it's not that we don't love our provider (we do, she is perfect, and the more i talk to other moms the more blessed i feel that we found her), and it's not that i don't want to work (i need to for my personal happiness), but it is just hard to leave him with someone we barely know. monday, when we arrived at her house, he was wide awake, bright eyed and quiet. didn't even cry when i left. though i almost did! they've really been enjoying having him this whole week; her daughters are absolutely fascinated with him, and have been playing baby with their dolls all week! yesterday, he was laying in his play pen and fussing a bit, and her oldest daughter, who is 4, said don't worry mom i'll go sing to him. she sat next to the play pen, and sang, and calmed him right down! we are sooooo happy with the care he is getting already, and we know as he grows he will just flourish in this environment.

now if only we could get him to sleep through the night! he's been doing better, but we're just not there yet. last night was pretty good actually. it's not that he slept a ton, but i did! i fed him at 6 and he fell asleep between 6:30 and 7... and i dozed off by 7:30... until 9:45. got him up, changed, and fed, and we were back down around 11, and he slept until 1:15 or so. he was up, fussing a little but mostly just awake, until 3:30, when i tagged out. bryan fed him and they slept for a bit, i fed him again at 6 and he went down again until it was time to go to day care. so, we were still up a lot, but falling asleep at 7:30 really helped me get some needed sleep! it's tiring, but as long as we get a few solid hours of sleep (even if they are broken up into one or two hour increments), it's not going to kill us. it's a temporary thing, and every time he gazes up at me with those big blue eyes, or falls asleep in my arms, i forget about everything else!

hannah flies in the morning after christmas, and we're all pretty excited. she has our first day planned out minute by minute, and according to her it will be a very full day. it starts with a fashion session at our house (she can't wait to get into her cute clothes and awesome boots), and involves 3 hours at the mall with shannon (libby lou and limited too, duh), 5 hours at target (we need snowpants and boots, and apparently 4 1/2 hours more of stuff there), a computer store for dad (it's only fair), building a snowman, having a snowball fight, eating dinner at nana and grandpa's house, and opening presents. i have told her i can guarantee dinner at nana and grandpa's and we'll see about everything else. :) i told her we can certainly do it all but maybe just not all in one day!! she also wants to hit up the domes, and we're hoping to get a chance to take her to chicago for a day. it should be a lot of fun no matter what, and i can't wait to see her with her little brother!

what else... bryan and i bought tickets to go see the pogues in march, in chicago. we're not sure if we'll be able to go (we'll have to convince my parents to watch the baby for the night), but we got a chance to buy pre-sale tickets and the pogues NEVER come to america, so we had to jump at the opportunity. they will sell out so if anything, we can sell the tickets on ebay and make some money. adrianne bought a ticket too and will be meeting us there. i am sure we'll be able to make it, and i can't wait! i love the pogues and this may be our only opportunity to ever see them (besides the fact they rarely come here, let's face it - despite his extreme condition of pickledness, shane could keel over any day).

not much else. i am hoping to get a chance to go grocery shopping tomorrow and hit up kohls to exchange some things as well. i promised bryan some coconut candy bars and chris some toffee, so if god loves me, i may get a chance at some point to throw those together too. maybe even NAP. ambitious, i know. remember the days when i spent my weekends moving non stop for 12 hours, cleaning, running errands, cooking and baking, doing laundry, and whatever else i could get my hands on? *sigh* :) wish me luck.

Friday, December 14, 2007

catching up

work has been great this week. busy, but i love my job, so that's ok. bill and linda have been in town this week (they narrowly made it in tuesday night with all the snow), which has been a great help. i've been able to get a few things done around the house, bryan's been able to run some errands, and we've both been able to get some sleep.

i promised some pictures, so here we go.

bryan and oliver checking out christmas trees last sunday:

oliver wasn't too impressed, but he was pretty cute:

turns out the tree we got was huge:

but that didn't bother ollie any:

tuesday we got some monster snow. the snow was so wet the flakes all clumped together and came down in chunks as big as oliver's fist:

bill and linda's flight was rather delayed because of the snow, but they made it in safe and sound.

mom and dad came over wednesday, and we had a lovely dinner to celebrate my birthday:

then we decorated the tree!

the tree may be huge, but it is beautiful!

today is shannon's bday. happy birthday shannon! i can't believe she is 20 already. pavan, you still can't date her though.

it's seriously freezing here today. 10° this morning when i left the house and with the wind a bit colder. says 15°, feels like 3°. that's not joking around. all that wet snow has frozen solid. i haven't been in weather this cold in years. last year we didn't come for christmas; we drove up here for thanksgiving and it was unseasonably warm. the year before that, we flew the girls down to atlanta for christmas. so it's been 3 years since i was here in cold weather. it's quite a shock. and the seriously cold weather is yet to come!

no big weekend plans. bill and linda fly out tomorrow, and i'm sure we'll see mom and dad at some point.

oliver is getting pretty close to sleeping through the night (knock on wood). he's been falling asleep around 8 and waking up around 1, then maybe 2 more feedings. if we can just get him to fall asleep closer to 11, then sleep for 4 - 5 hours... that will just about be it! we've read about a few ways to get your baby on a schedule, so we're going to start working on that.

what can i say, he's the cutest baby ever!