Tuesday, April 29, 2008

flippin' ridiculous

can i just say, it is 41°F (feels like 38°F), and that really stinks? like, seriously. it's april 29th. bryan thought i was joking when i told him i wouldn't feel safe warm weather wise until june, but i was serious.

oliver & his breakfast prunes. :)

friday night, oliver slept like an angel: down at 7pm, up around 12am to eat, and back down until 5:30am. flipping awesome. after his morning nap, we headed out to do some shopping for kitchen stuffs. we really have our hearts set on finding a recycled material countertop. seeing as how we couldn't find a dealer of icestone, our current favorite, we decided to check out some vetrazzo. we went to a nearby design center, where the sales guy did everything he could to sway us AWAY from vetrazzo, and instead go with one of their granite or quartz options... AND upsell us on their crappy cabinetry. we eventually convinced him to get us a quote on the vetrazzo, but even if we decide to go with it, we sure won't be buying from him. we had much better luck at the tile shop. we found some beautiful dark gray/black slate tiles that will work perfectly. just need to find a matching countertop. ;) we then headed up to lowe's, to compare their corian/granite/etc options to those of home depot (exactly the same, pretty much, just different names). we decided to go home and mull over what we had seen, and to let ollie nap. we tried going to milwaukee marble & granite to look for a marble remnant (which figures into our design) as well as the granite gallery, but both were closed. no such luck.

we stopped by our favorite grocery store to pick up some food for sunday dinner, including beets, which i was happy to find had full beet tops so i could finally make the beet green calzone i had been thinking about. they turned out really, really delicious. we added some sweet italian sausage, since we didn't have a ton of greens AND bryan needs protein. we used some of his famous homemade pizza dough. the filling was cider vinegar braised beet greens with sauteed onions and garlic, crumbled feta, and the sausage. they were really, really good. did i say that? ;) definitely a new favorite.

saturday night wasn't as good for oliver; he is getting 2 bottom teeth and he's feeling pretty miserable. i gave him lots of extra cuddles in the wee hours of sunday morning, and we skipped church so the two of us could nap. dad fired up the pit smoker that morning, and he and mom had us over for a smoked beef brisket dinner. i made a marinated beet salad and bryan made bread pudding (with apple brandy marinated raisins, and an apple brandy creme anglaise... bryan, ftw). le yum. ollie had fun hanging out with nana and grandpa, who i'm pretty sure he favors over us. ;)

yesterday, i spoke with a green design center in chicago that carries icestone, and they said they have recently started working with someone in the milwaukee area to install it here. WOOHOO! he said he would find the information and email me; no email yet but i will definitely be calling them later this afternoon. it's pretty important to us!

last night for dinner, i made a hammy mac n cheese with some of our leftover smoked ham. omg. i'm not gonna lie - it was good. made bryan all starry eyed. i still got it. ;) i made a cream sauce, using butter instead of oil as the base for my roux. i added onions and thyme, and once the cream was in, a healthy dose of white wine. i used both provolone and cheddar; half melted directly into the sauce and half stirred into the pasta. cubed the ham and tossed that in, then poured it into a casserole, topped with breadcrumbs and butter, and baked for a bit. i seared some yellow squash, and that was dinner. i am WAY looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

this evening, we have an appointment with our home depot designer to finalize the plans and order the cabinets. the clock will start ticking!! the contractor who does the cabinet installs came out for the final measurement, and we found some additional changes we need to make. we'll get those in tonight, verify everything, then push the button. i'm excited and nervous - we have a TON of work to do.

other than that, we're pretty boring. poor oliver has been feeling SO miserable with teething. and i noticed this morning it feels like he's got some coming in the top as well. i'd rather get it all out of the way at once, so that works for me, but i feel pretty bad for the little munchkin. we're having good success with the teething tablets, which are homeopathic (so we feel better giving that to him on a fairly regular basis), and we've resorted to tylenol a few times as well. he really likes chewing on wet washcloths... and pretty much anything else he can get into his mouth. :)

no fun plans for the week. this weekend, we'll try to go to those marble and granite places, and HOPEFULLY we'll get to check out the icestone as well. bryan and i are going on a saturday afternoon DATE to see iron man at the matinee at the super theater. i'm also going to clean the house, and nap. i hope.

HEY - whatchoo' looking at??

WFD: pork chops. probably greek style. maybe i'll make a little beet salad side with the leftover feta. and perhaps potatoes. or - ooo - potatoes with feta. and a salad. screw the beets. ;)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

still not friday

i feel like i've been struggling to catch up all week, even if by monday evening it felt like friday already.

monday we had our smoked ham and it was DELICIOUS. more smokey towards the outside, which is to be expected. it came out a little dry, so we'll have to remedy that next time (perhaps with a mop). even so, it was very good. i also got to nibble on some pig fat, which is one of the few real joys left in this life. ;)

tuesday, bryan's father flew into town to spend a few days with us. oliver decided he didn't want to nap at day care, and took a grand total of one nap all day, from 12pm - 1pm. so he was pretty cranky by the time he got home at 4pm. and thus had more interest in crying rather than settling down for a nap. i gave up completely on sticking to our nighttime routine, administered some tylenol, thinking perhaps it's the teething, rocked and snuggled him, and he conked out around 6. the first half of the night went really well, but he was pretty fussy the second half of the night (or rather, the morning, as it was technically after 12am). he just seemed restless and uncomfortable. i should have given him more tylenol, but didn't. i just hesitate to dose him all the time, but if he needs it, i guess he needs it.

wednesday, bryan took the day off so he and his dad, bill, could do some projects. they got our vegetable garden planted!! it's pretty small, but has a good variety: green beans, sweet peas, onions, garlic, tomatoes, a variety of peppers, asparagus, rhubarb, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, and i think that's it. it will be a nice supplement to our csa. bill made us his specialty for dinner - spaghetti. i had been craving spaghetti lately. it was delicious - slow simmered, with italian sausage and bell peppers. i cleaned the last bits off my plate with garlic bread. YUM!

oliver hadn't done much better during the day - one nap from 12pm - 2pm. but, although he was tired in the evening, he wasn't fussy/cranky. so he hung out with grandpa bill instead of crying in his crib, which made everyone happier. he ate his dinner like a champ (oatmeal and sweet peas). we had a nice bath, got ready for bed, and tried to settle into the rocker. our day care provider had recommended trying teething tablets, so bryan picked some up while running errands. i'm not sure if they did the trick of if i was just lucky, but last night was a breeze! he fought me for a few minutes trying to feed at bed, then calmed down, ate, and went right to sleep by 7pm. he woke up just before 10pm, and i went to change his diaper and figured i had a good hour of trying to calm him down. but he settled right into my arms! so i was able to put him back down quite easily. he woke up around 12:30am, ate well, and went back to sleep without a peep. he woke up at 4:30am, and bryan tried to give him a bottle, but he wasn't interested. i think he got frustrated trying his new trick - pulling the nuk OUT of his mouth. he just can't figure out how to get it back in. :) he's been working on this new ability all month, and while he's fantastic at grasping the ring and yanking the sucker out, and he's better at consistently making contact with his mouth trying to get it back in, he still can't quite figure out how to position it so that he gets it back - any time he does i estimate is pure luck. ;) but, i got him tucked back in and happy, asleep at 5. at that point, though, we were pretty much laying in bed fooling ourselves that we were resting, since we get up before 6am. we woke the baby up, to keep with our schedule. bryan packed the munchkin up and they went off to take grandpa bill to the airport, leaving me some quiet time to get ready. oliver was in a great mood this morning, eating his breakfast well (oatmeal and prunes, his new food for the week) and smiling all the way to day care. i LOVE happy smiley baby!!

bryan has an appointment with home depot today to make some tweaks to our kitchen cabinet design. i am really looking forward to nailing that down. hopefully we'll get a chance this weekend to solidify our tile selections.

i am definitely looking forward to the weekend. we've got some rain forecasted, but hopefully we'll be able to sneak in a bike ride. i'm actually looking forward to doing the laundry, since i miraculously got 99% of it done last weekend (except folding the whites), something that never happens. usually on saturday i'm scrambling to fold the last 2 loads so i can use the baskets to haul that week's dirties downstairs (and haven't even washed the whites). on sunday, we're having dinner at mom and dad's - they will be smoking a beef brisket. yeehaw!

WFD: something with pork loin, since we have one in the fridge we need to use. probably with a mojo type marinade, since i have some tangelos that aren't sweet enough to eat. and salad, i need to use lettuce. and maybe potatoes, because that sounds good. now, if i only had some cream cheese and guava pasta for empanadas, i'd have the full cuban meal!

Monday, April 21, 2008

holy crap, it's spring

the weekend was fairly phenomenal. i'm almost afraid to believe it, but springs seems to FINALLY be upon us, and the weather was absolutely amazing. i'm not deluding myself into thinking we won't get another day or 8 of 30 degree weather at some point in the next month, though.

but before we get to the weekend, i must brag a little about our dinner last thursday. bryan made carnitas (something he's rather adept at), and they were really, really good. i had mine with a little salsa verde and sauteed zucchini. bryan made a little salad type side as well. super delish, and not many leftovers to speak of. bryan certainly seems to have a divine ability for cooking true mexican cuisine. i'm sure his training in the more classic/french styles helps him to do that so well (technique is universal in some aspects). i am happy to reap the benefits either way.

then came friday. i worked from home, as our day care provider had the day off. the day started out with me realizing that with ollie's morning change i was using up the last diaper in the basket. i had thought earlier in the week what we had would last until saturday, but i was off. by a day. that's a LONG TIME in Infant Diaperland. luckily we have a few back ups floating around, so we were able to make it until mid-day. between naps, oliver and i had fun playing with toys (his grip gets better every day) and in his jumperoo (he can spend hours in it and i can spend hours watching him). we went to home depot to meet with one of their designers about kitchen plans. oliver's nap schedule luckily coincided with our appointment time perfectly. i love well rested and not cranky baby. we really liked the plan the designer came up with, and started making a few small adjustments. we have a few more updates to make, but we're pretty happy. then it's time to write down all the $$ numbers and figure out how we're going to pay for it, since we're not too keen on incurring too much debt. that aspect of the whole thing has me feeling a little nervous, but we're both REALLY excited to have a new kitchen. all these years of planning "well, if it were OUR kitchen..." and "well, when we do our OWN kitchen..." while renting will finally come to fruition! we're still trying to decide on final choices for the counters, floors, and backsplash... and then we're off! my laptop also decided to DIE COMPLETELY late friday afternoon... as in not even trying to come on, no sound, no lights. it worked when i arrived in this office this am, but i'm still having the helpdesk come take a look since i've been having a few problems.

saturday dawned bright and sunny. oliver had some oatmeal with bananas for breakfast, then he and i played for awhile (which consisted mainly of him trying to chew the bejesus out of everything i handed him). bryan woke up right when ollie was settling down for a nap, so i assigned him to baby duty so i could clean the house, thereby regaining a little of my sanity. bryan even took the babe with him to the grocery store to do all our grocery shopping so i could continue cleaning. it took me half the day, but i was finally able to get the house cleaned the way i like, oh happy day! bryan's friend dirk arrived around lunchtime to work on computer stuff, and he and bryan made us roast chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. oliver decided he was NOT in the mood for his last nap of the day, so the 3 of us whisked ourselves off to target to get some shopping done before dinnertime. the day passed too quickly, that is for sure.

sunday, bryan performed in our church's passion drama. good friday got snowed out (that was the 16" snow day, if i recall), but the pastor put a lot of work into the drama, so they moved it to this past sunday. and added scenes. lucky us. it was LONG. oliver's AM schedule worked fine with church, and he would have been ready for his next feeding and nap about 20 minutes after getting home from church - on a normal day. but this drama was LONG so he ended up pretty cranky.

after a much deserved nap (for both oliver and i), bryan hooked the bike trailer up to his bike so we could all go for a spin in the gorgeous weather. i had been looking forward to this weather for this exact purpose! oliver grinned at us from behind the mesh of his seat (not for the picture though, of course!). he seemed VERY excited at this new experience! i think he was also very happy that he was outside, it wasn't chilly, and the wind wasn't blowing in his face (another new experience for him). i was thrilled to be on the bike again, and while the ride wasn't very long (just around the block to the park and around the park once), my butt is currently remembering how a bike seat makes it feel the next day. i look forward to overcoming that pain. oliver seemed to enjoy the ride, at least until the end, when i think the strap was rubbing against his neck, making it a little uncomfortable. he was pretty happy to get home and out of the contraption. we'll have to come up with a solution for that. if he'd just learn to sit up already, that would do it! :) hopefully we can think of something (and he should be sitting up unassisted in the next month or so), so that we can take some long weekend rides together. i want to wear the wheels out on that trailer! actually, not really, as i don't want to have to spend money on new wheels.

oliver and i spent some time sitting on the back deck watching daddy do some yard work. it was at this time that i believe to have diagnosed oliver's current sniffle situation. he's had some congestion and a light, dry cough for a little over 2 weeks now. we saw dr andy week before last, who said it was viral and come see him again if it lasted more than 2 weeks. this weekend, his nose started dripping, his congestion seemed worse (especially at night), and his eyes looked watery and red. when we were sitting outside, his nose went into overtime snot production. allergies! so we have that to contend with. unfortunately, there's nothing the doctor could do to make him feel better, as he's too young for any kind of treatment. and i am not thrilled with the prospect of subjecting oliver to allergy testing (my memories of the same have a nightmareish tinge to them, and i was old enough to understand what was going on), but i think he's too young for that anyways. we have oliver's 6 month wellness visit next week (6 months! already!), so i'll be sure to discuss it with the doc then. in the meantime, we'll continue with the baby vicks, nose drops, humidifier, elevated crib mattress, tylenol at night when he's feeling just terrible, and extra hugs and snuggles.

oliver's new food this week was green beans. he likes them. :)

last night for dinner, we had planned on making a ham, but i was excited by the weather and we decided to smoke it today instead (see the WFD below). so instead, we made a teriyaki glazed pork loin with pineapple "crust", teriyaki onions, grilled baby bok choy, and crispy potatoes. bryan augmented a bottle of teriyaki with soy and mirin. i seared the pork loin in the cast iron, then transferred it to the oven to roast, continually basting with the teriyaki. in the meantime, i let sliced onions marinade in the teriyaki. at the end, i dumped the onions into the pan, pressed crushed pineapple onto the pork, and turned on the broiler. it worked out rather well. it would be much better with fresh pineapple; we had the canned variety, leftovers from a cake i had made. i thinly sliced potatoes, which bryan pan fried and then broiled until a bit crispy. the baby bok choy i simply seared on the cast iron griddle, which still had a trace of butter on it from the grilled cheese bryan made me for lunch. bryan had 2 helpings of everything. :)

check out new pictures and movies in the april 2008 gallery. the new gallery plays the movies much better, fyi.

WFD: the aforementioned ham. as i stated, the weather inspired me to eat outdoor type food, and in the absence of gas for the grill, i thought about the smoker. smoke & spice, our go to bbq book, had a few good recipes for smoking whole hams. since i didn't have any ginger jam, i opted for a more traditional maple bourbon recipe, to which i added some brown sugar. i scored the ham and rubbed in a wet rub, wrapped that sucker up in plastic wrap, and left it to ruminate overnight. bryan's had it going on the smoker since mid day, using some cherry wood i believe. we'll just make some cheater's mac n cheese (orzo+cheddar) and grilled zucchini to go along with it. i've got a few ideas for that leftover ham too... but more on that in good time. :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

tsunami ollie

i'll make this quick and easy, because i'm feeling really lazy today.

last night, i gave ollie a bath in the big boy tub, since as he now weighs 20 pounds AND has discovered splashing, no matter how low the water level is in the baby tub or how far away i stand, i get completely drenched (literally - and you should see the counters and the floors!). he creates tidal waves of massive proportions. we had tried his a few months back, but he was too light and just floated. not anymore! :) it was tough to keep a good grip on him over the edge of the tub (especially once he was greased up with vaseline). but he was utterly enchanted with the whole big tub thing, and was in total awe of the water coming out of the faucet (a brand new experience). life will be so much easier when he can sit up on his own!

for dinner, bryan made pork and cabbage egg rolls with vegetable fried rice. um, yum. i had leftovers for lunch today, and everyone was coming into my cube going, oh wow that looks good, you always have the best things for lunch! uh, yea, i know, i kinda do that on purpose (the eating good things, thing). ;)

i am working from home tomorrow since our day care lady has the day off. so that will be kind of fun. hopefully oliver will comply nicely. we have an appointment scheduled with our home depot "designer" tomorrow afternoon to go over possible kitchen layouts. what we really want to know is the estimated cost of the cabinets. i am excited/nervous about it. i desperately want a new kitchen, but it would be way more exciting if it wasn't so expensive. damn the man.

weekend plans including cleaning the house and running errands and with god's love and mercy, a nap (whichever god is listening).

WFD: no idea. hopefully fried chicken with cider honey glaze. we have a bunch of veggies from our peapod order, so we have good pickin's in that arena. maybe yellow squash, and biscuits if the boy goes to sleep nicely.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

a note from the management

an fyi to all out there: bryan is creating a new picture gallery for all our digital photos. the old gallery will remain in tact for awhile.

the new gallery can be accessed here. please update your bookmarks. the gallery structure is the same as in the old gallery.

the other effect this will have will be to obliterate all pictures on this blog once the old gallery is removed. as i have a job and a child, i don't have the time to go back and re-upload and link all the pictures. :( so at some point over the next few months, they will disappear.

what i'm really sad about is that means the naked butt picture i have of ollie on here will be removed. someday i want him to look back on what i've written about him and get an indignant "MOOOOOM!" oh hey, i could just repost it from the new gallery! ;)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

texas is right

so it turns out all those texans who vilify "with beans" chili and instead wax poetic about true chile con carne (note: chile with an e) may be on to something. i had been craving chile con carne, which may have been my stomach's way of getting my brain to decide on eating some of bryan's fantastic chile sauce. as making chile paste is a rather labor intensive process (toast dried chiles, reconstitute dried chiles, blend dried chiles, strain dried chiles to obtain paste, reduce paste with or without water/stock and onions if you're making sauce), bryan tends to make very large batches, freezing it off in one or two cup ziplocs for easy use later. we resurrected some on sunday for chile con carne. p-freaking-nomenal. i grew up with northern chili (with an i), which includes ground beef, beans, tomatoes, and even sometimes (gasp!) pasta or (blasphemy!) carrots. i have nothing against "with beans" (and tomatoes, et. al.) chili; it can be delicious and comforting on a cold night. but true chile con carne is in a league of its own.

we had some beef stew meat from peapod which bryan seasoned and seared in the cast iron. he added some shredded onion, stock, and the chile paste. this simmered for four hours or so, resulting in beef so tender as to be nearly indecent, and a thick, rich, silky chile sauce which could convert any "with beans" die hard. no other chile stands a chance. topped with shredded cheddar, sour cream, and sliced green onion (all of which is not needed - the chile does beautifully on its own), it far outshone my sweet cornbread (no small feat - that cornbread usually kicks the pants off whatever it's served with).

i'm savoring the only bowl of leftovers for lunch today, along with some el rey tortilla chips, lemon flavor (seriously, try them). the short story is: you win, texas.

of course, i'm pretty spoiled to have homemade chile paste at my disposal. reason #9 Why I Love Bryan (that is not to suggest that there are only 9 reasons; chile paste is just pretty high up on the list ;).

other than that, we're boring as always. oliver did not nap or sleep well all weekend due to his cold, which resulted in a Seriously Cracked Mommy. i worked from home yesterday so i could get in a few naps, and was actually able to have a sane conversation by dinner. he did MUCH better sleeping last night as well, so hopefully we're on the up side of this virus. poor little munchkin. i submitted a new peapod order this morning, for delivery tomorrow, which gives me no small amount of pleasure. something about delicious produce delivered right to my door makes me blush with gastronomical pleasure. i don't believe we have any fun plans for the weekend, which is a relief.

WFD: carne asada, black beans, yellow rice. we had bought a beef tenderloin which bryan sliced into filets, so we'll toss those on the cast iron grill pan. the black beans will be interesting, since we're not big fans. :) i think bryan was inspired by shannon's cuban pork roast dinner. ;)

Friday, April 11, 2008

forgot to mention...

some further olive updates...

oliver has rolled over!! :) saturday afternoon, when we checked into the hotel, i put him on the bed on his belly and he flipped himself over. hannah and i thought maybe it was a fluke (the bed is soft, i was laying next to him so perhaps he just rolled), but he did it about 5 times in a row. and he did it last night as well; i put him on the bed while i was changing and BAM he flipped himself over.

also, his sleep scheduling has been going much, much better. we no longer have to let him cry. he puts himself to sleep without any/much fuss, provided he isn't sick/gassy. and when he is, i can usually sit with him for a few minutes, rub his belly, and he'll calm down and go to sleep. now the trick is eliminating a nighttime feeding or two!

hannah has left the building

her flight was delayed (by about 4 hours), but she did eventually make it out of wisconsin. she was actually pretty happy about the delay, though, since her and bryan got to hang out for a few more hours. we had a lot of fun with her. i'm glad we didn't plan as much as we usually do. :) she may have found it a little more boring than usual, but no one died of exhaustion (close, with that minnesota trip), so i'm happy.

i took tuesday and wednesday off of work, and while i ended up listening in the a phone call for the majority of the day wednesday, it was nice to not have to be in the office. especially considering ollie has a virus of some sort (we visited the new doc on tuesday) so hasn't been sleeping well, which means i've barely been sleeping. poor guy. he did better wednesday night and last night, though, so hopefully he's getting better. we made big plates of messy nachos for lunch wednesday, and they were DELICIOUS. mom and dad came over for chicken wing dinner as well. bryan's chicken wings are irresistible. hannah scarfed down a good number. ;) we played the wii a bunch too. other than that, my two days off were pretty quiet.

honest to god, i dare you to find a cuter baby. ;)

pictures from hannah's visit are posted in the april 2008 gallery.

no big plans for the weekend. i am planning on shirking all of my household responsibilities tomorrow so that i can nap every time ollie naps. sunday, i will get to home depot come hell or high water to get them out to measure our kitchen for new cabinets. i want a new kitchen already, damnit.

one more cute baby pic to get you through the weekend...

WFD: no idea. too tired to think. i am, however, wanting to make some chile con carne on sunday. beef stew meat, real chile sauce, and not much else... except a mess of toppings: green onions, cheese, sour cream, and some crunchy, lemon chile tortilla chips. ohhhh yeaaaaaaa.

Monday, April 7, 2008

the mall of america is a death trap

check it out! thursday i had a chiropractic appointment, so i dropped oliver off at home before running off to that, leaving him in bryan's care for dinner time. i arrived home to find oliver feeding himself! i was so proud and so sad at the same time - i can't believe he's such a big boy already! he can't hold a big bottle (too heavy) but a little bottle is just right for him. *sigh* he's growing too fast!!

hannah is here, woohoo! her flight was delayed on friday due to some bad weather in atlanta (more tornado warnings!) but she eventually made it in. unfortunately, i was home curled up in bed, sick - had another stomach virus hit me. luckily, it again missed oliver, AND he was an awesome baby and went down to bed easy so i could die a quiet death in bed.

luckily, i got better, so we could drive to minneapolis and visit shannon. we had been planning on surprising hannah with the trip for some time; we thought she would really get a kick out of seeing shannon there. i had hoped that the baby would be sleeping through the night by this time (naive of me, i know), but as that is NOT occurring, we decided our best plan would be to leave once he had his middle of the night feeding. he woke up shortly before 2am saturday morning. bryan loaded up the car while i fed ollie. once i got him fed and happy, i put him in his car seat... and his eyes went wide like "WHAT THE HECK MOM." he started fussing, but as soon as the car started rolling, he was sleep. he slept for 4 out of the 5 hour drive. i managed to doze a little while bryan made the drive. we arrived at shannon's apartment around 7:30am, a bit earlier than any of us expected. :) bryan and oliver napped while hannah and i showered and dressed. mom and dad arrived shortly after 10am, and we all hung out for a bit before heading over to hamline university to see shannon run.

her hamstring has been bothering her, so instead of the big meet in oregon, her coach sent her to hamline to test her leg, and told her not to run too fast. :) we were pretty excited to see her run anyways. luckily, the weather was GORGEOUS - got up to nearly 70! - though still a bit cool in the shade. oliver got some outdoor exposure. he's still not used to fresh air! i was able to get him down for a short nap before shannon's race, no small feat. then we got to watch shannon beat the pants off everyone in her heat. she took 3rd overall, but as she held back (it's funny to see her run a 400 on a pace), not too shabby! luckily, her leg felt pretty good.

after her race, we headed back to her apartment, where i tried to get ollie down for a nap, and failed, and she got ready for the day. we debated where to go for lunch: i wanted tacos, bryan wanted gyros, and no one else really cared. we decided to head to lunch at a puerto rican place she and mom had stumbled across, but they turned out to be closed. wouldn't you know it, a greek place was just a few doors down! so bryan got his wish. :) we had a lovely meal at the gardens of salonica. we ordered a round of lemonade, which mom ended up not liking, as it was sweetened with honey. we shared a combination appetizer of tyro (feta blended with greek olive oil, roasted red peppers, hot peppers, garlic, seasonings), octapodi (braised octopus in vinaigrette), and anginares (artichoke hearts in greek olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, garlic, seasonings), served with warm pita bread. the tyro was outstanding - definitely going to make that at home. the octopus appeared to be of the jarred variety, so was kinda eh. the artichokes were good as well. we also ordered a saganacki (grilled haloumi cheese), which was served in large cubes rather than the thick slices we've normally seen. quite tasty. and a new taste for mom - who loved it. shannon was not so much a fan, however. bryan, dad, and shannon had gyros, while mom and i both had the pork souvlaki, which was served in a pita with tomatoes and tzatziki. i had normally only had it off the skewer, but this worked too. the pork was very tender, and had a lovely hint of lemon. all our sandwiches came with greek fries, which i am a #1 fan of (and which were sinfully delicious dipped into the tyro). hannah made quick work of some baklava, as she had had a sandwich at the track meet. we were all very happy with the meal, shannon especially, as she had been on the hunt for a greek place. needless to say, we were all STUFFED after that meal.

mom and dad got on the road, and we headed to our hotel to check in. then shannon directed us (barely) to the mall of america. i had been before, when i picked shannon up for thanksgiving in the fall of 2006, but we did NOT walk around much. we stayed in one area, looked in on the amusement park, and that was it. so i knew how large the place was, and that this wasn't the kind of mall you just go bum around in. bryan, on the other hand, thought we would be walking all over, doing real shopping. so we did not communicate well on that. the place was PACKED - an absolute zoo. we had wanted to go do amusement rides with hannah, but every line was VERY long, so we nixed those plans. plus, the screaming throngs at the amusement park nearly did me in. we went right around oliver's bedtime, and the mall definitely over stimulated him. he did end up napping for awhile (passed out from sheer exhaustion, i am sure), and when he woke up, i knew it was T minus about 30 seconds before he had a very serious meltdown. in all reality, we messed up his schedule something serious the whole day, and messing with his bedtime was not a good idea. he screamed all the way out the mall and back to the hotel. i have no desire to ever go back to that mall, myself.

once i was able to get him fed and changed, he calmed down considerably. unfortunately, a group of kids was in the room above us, running, jumping off the bed, and screaming. it didn't take us too long to decide that this just wasn't going to work, and we agreed we might as well get on the road NOW rather than trying to sleep for a few hours and leave in the middle of the night anyways (the hope being that oliver would sleep). we checked out and got moving. poor oliver, he would sleep for an hour or 2, then wake up VERY unhappy. and we couldn't blame him - he didn't get enough naps during the day, then the whole mall fiasco, plus he was strapped in his car seat (which he hates for long periods)... we had to pull off the highway a few times to take him out, let him eat and stretch and rest. every time we did, we had to pull a chinese fire drill and everyone switch seats, so we kept having to wake hannah up and make her move, poor girl. i tried driving some for bryan, but it seemed i couldn't get far before oliver would wake up. i'm not sure how bryan managed to stay awake, but we arrived home around 3am. i sent bryan straight to bed, got hannah tucked in, fed oliver (the rocking chair never felt so comfortable) and put him down (he seemed infinitely happy to be home), unloaded the car, and finally got to bed around 4am (which felt SO good to fall into).

driving 5+ hours with a baby goes on the NEVER AGAIN list for sure. why it was ever really on the SURE LET'S DO IT list seems silly now, but here we are. we ended up paying for our hotel room that we didn't use, but as we got a deep discount via shannon's boyfriend (his parents own a few), let's call it a $42 stupid tax.

oliver woke me up shortly before 7am on sunday, which was less sleep than i had been hoping for, but we were home so i was happy. we spent the day around the house, where i continually attempted to nap but couldn't seem to get it together. i had been worried we would have screwed up his schedule so terribly with the trip that sunday would be a disaster too, but proving once again that he is the best baby ever, oliver settled right back into his normal routine and schedule. bryan and hannah made a quick trip to get some yard stuff, and planted a japanese magnolia in the backyard, which we're pretty excited about. i did eventually get a short nap in before mom and dad came over for hannah's birthday dinner.

hannah chose Breakfast For Dinner for her birthday dinner, so we had some OJ, bacon (lovely thick cut stuff dad couldn't stop raving about), sausage, eggs, and pancakes with many toppings: raspberry sauce, fresh blueberries, grilled pineapple, mini chocolate chips, and whipped cream. i also put out syrup but no one had any. :) it was all really delicious (i opted for the pineapple and chocolate route). everyone agreed that it really hit the spot. we took a break from eating to open presents.

then came The Cake. hannah had wanted pineapple frosting for her cake. i had made a pineapple cake for oliver's baptism, which she had loved. i wanted to formulate a brand new cake for her. her favorite ice cream is birthday cake ice cream, so i decided to make an ice cream cake. so i came up with the Birthday Cake Ice Cream Sundae Cake. i made a maraschino cherry cake, topped with a disc of homemade birthday cake ice cream, with a hot fudge cake on top, and, of course, the pineapple frosting. it was a bit messy, but very delicious.

i got oliver to go nearly all night without feeding: he went down just before 6pm, as scheduled; woke up at 8:30pm for a bottle; woke up at 12am but instead of a bottle, i just gave him his nuk; and he slept until 3am, when i did feed him. it took some work to get him back down, as he seems to have a sinus infection. he wasn't crying or even really fussy, but i could hear him snorting and draining, so we did a steam shower and i rocked him for a bit. you always feel better when your mom takes care of you when you're sick, right? :)

i have tomorrow and wednesday off so we can all hang out together as a family. i am REALLY looking forward to getting in a nap or 4. we were smart in not making any real plan other than just spending some downtime together. thank god we got that right.

a bunch of new pics are posted in the NEW april 2008 gallery.

WFD: cheesy sloppy joes. i made these over the summer when hannah was here, and she and bryan both LOOOOOOOOVED them. so they are on the menu while she's here. :) with green beans. easy peasy.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

short & sweet

too tired for a real post, but had to upload some pictures of our smoked cornish hens from last night. omg deeeeeeeeelicious. the meat was so super sweet from the brine. the legs had an intense smoked flavor, a lot like bacon. the breast had a milder smoke flavor, and really soaked up the brine. the hens were so slow smoked they retained all of their juice. definitely our new favorite preparation. it has me dreaming of ways to use that meat. i usually can't finish a hen in one sitting, but i pretty well decimated mine last night.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

go, go, go

the weekend was good, busy as i thought it would be. saturday, we attended a funeral for my great aunt. she had been sick for some time, so her passing was not a surprise. after the service, we gathered for a lunch at her favorite polish restaurant, which was neat - something different. my aunt maureen and her kids, delany and jesse, came to watch the baby. when we got home oliver was just rousing from his nap, so we got him fed then headed off to do our target and grocery shopping (and he was sweet enough to nap, right on schedule, in the middle of it). his adhered to a perfect schedule all day, and i was able to make a delicious dinner of coffee rubbed flat iron steaks, twice baked sweet potatoes, and yellow squash. the potatoes are a new favorite of bryan's. they were quite delish. i'm glad i made all 3 instead of just 2. ;)

sunday morning, bryan drove out to madison to help his friend dirk with some computer stuff, and oliver and i hung out around the house. he was going NUTS bouncing him his jumper (some video of this is in the gallery)! :) CUTEST. THING. EVER. after his morning nap, we headed over to mom and dad's to hang out with mom for awhile. mom offered to watch him so i could head to the mall sans baby/carseat/stroller/diaper bag. which worked out extra good, seeing as how boston store was having their goodwill sale (20% coupon for every item you donate to goodwill) and it was a bit of a zoo. just as i arrived at the mall, bryan called to let me know he was nearly at the highway exit to my parents' house, so he came and met me at the mall. we picked out some new sheets for the bed, and a new quilt, and some king size pillows, all of which we got for quite a steal with the sale. we bought a cast iron 2 sided griddle, which i had been wanting for years, and i got 2 new pairs of shoes too, so i was pretty darn happy. :)

monday night for dinner, we FINALLY got around to cooking the T-bone steaks we had been wanting to grill. since the weather was still gross, we used the cast iron griddle, grill side UP, to "grill" them indoors. hello, delicious. bryan simply seasoned them with salt and pepper, and finished them with a pat (and a half) of butter. i made mac and cheese with some leftover boxes of pasta, a sharp cheddar cheese sauce with plenty of mustard, parsley, and a lovely crust of breadcrumbs with parmesan. this along with some simply steamed broccoli made a DELICIOUS dinner. the steaks looked so big on the plates, i didn't think i would be able to finish one, but i managed to. ;) hey, once you trimmed off the fat and got rid of the bone, they weren't AS big as they had seemed...

monday as well, we bought a new toy for oliver, one of those bridge like things they lay under with toys hanging over them. he has one at day care and LOVES it, so we found one on craigslist for $4. $4! totally beats the $50 or so for a new one! so bryan went and picked it up and boy does ollie love it! he was kicking and grabbing at the toys, pushing on the side ones to make them turn... and last night we put batteries in it so now it lights up and makes music. it's pretty funny watching oliver trying to follow the sequence of lights as they move quickly around the bridge. :) i know i'm a bit biased, but good lord he is a cute baby! ;)

hannah flies in on friday evening, to spend her spring break with us. we're all pretty excited! she can't wait to see her baby brother again. :) we are tentatively planning on traveling to minneapolis this weekend to visit shannon. we think hannah would really get a kick out of seeing shannon's apartment and school, plus shannon will be running in a track meet... and then the mall of america is there as well. i am very anxious about attempting a 5 - 6 hour drive with the baby however. we figure if we leave right after his 2/3am feeding, he'll fall right back asleep and sleep for the majority of the ride. hannah would as well. it's a big risk to take though. :) we'll also have to find someone to watch the dogs, as mom and dad are also tentatively planning on going as well. i think it would be a LOT of fun for us all to go, so i'm hoping we can work it out. we would head home sunday morning, and get home in time to host a birthday dinner for hannah sunday night (she wants breakfast for dinner, and i'm formulating a new cake recipe to make her a special, hannah only birthday cake).

WFD: smoked cornish hens. bryan put them in a brine yesterday and will smoke them today. no clue what we'll serve with them. been too excited thinking about the hens. :)