Thursday, April 30, 2009

18 months

today oliver is 18 months old (or is it tomorrow? since he was born on the 31st, i never know... i figure we've lost or gained a bunch of days in the last year and a half, so whatever). i can't believe he's 18 months already, and that in another 6, he'll be 2 - an official kid.

what's oliver like at 18 months?

he's a total goof; always joking around, being silly, and wanting to play games that make everyone laugh. he can be so sweet, giving hugs, kisses, and cuddling. he LOVES being outside, playing in the dirt. he loves climbing and running, and bugs. he is an absolute boy. he's an absolute sass, too - that child is always testing his limits and doing (or just almost doing) things he knows he's not supposed to in order to get a rise out of me. that, i think, is probably his favorite game. but he's also such a good listener, and helper. he always amazes me when he so clearly understands what we say and follows directions to the letter.

in terms of communication, the last two weeks or so have shown a huge explosion in communication from him. he's started saying more words more consistently, attempting to use a word for everything. he's also started repeating everything we say, so he's picking up new words every day. he can identify letters; not which letters are which, but that letters are indeed letters, so that's a little ahead of the curve, right? when he sees letters, he'll start repeating whatever letters he knows: "eeeeeee, eeeeeee, x!" he likes repeating the alphabet after me, too, which is pretty darn cute.

here's a list of the words he uses (and by uses, i mean daily - not the words he's said once or twice and then never again; since mommyhood can in fact make you crazy and hear things, those don't count):
airplane ("pane")
all done
apple ("bapple")
blankey ("key")
box ("bots")
bubble ("bubboh")
butterfly ("buy")
cat / kitty cat (and he has on occasion identified "meow meow" as the sound they make)
cereal (i actually can't tell if he says cereal or cheerios, since it comes out "seeroh", and we always have cheerios for him, so it could be either)
choo choo (which is the sound every train, bus, and truck makes, according to him)
cow (and he knows a cow moos)
cracker ("cackuh")
dinosaur ("dinesooh")
doggy / dog / puppy
(he'll also occasionally call ally and moose by name, as well as the neighbor's dog, max - "mats")
duck (and he knows a duck quacks - "cack! cack!")
grandpa ("gappa")
help ("hep")
hi / hello
i see you (a variation on the peekaboo game)
maria & ruthie ("meea" and "rooty", the girls at day care)
nana (both for nana and banana)
(he doesn't say yes yet, really, but he will shake his head yes)
oh no!
outside ("side")
peas (his favorite vegetable)
please (which pretty much sounds like "peas" too - it's all about context)
sleep (and then he'll pretend to sleep by laying down and pretending to snore)
snack ("nack")
trash ("tash")

...and when he sees a bear, lion, tiger, or dinosaur, he will growl. he knows an owl says "hoooo hoooo" (though he hasn't used the word "owl" in a few months), and that a rooster says "cock-a-doodle-doo" ("ca-doooooo!").

not a bad list, once i sit down and think about it. genius child, obviously.

he hasn't started combining too may words yet, but we've been working on "help please" and "more please". i have a feeling that the next 6 months will be amazing in this department. by the time he's 2, i'm sure he'll have all sorts of phrases.

he definitely understands far more than he can say. he will answer questions with a shake of the head no or yes, so it's been fun asking him if he wants such and such for a snack, or if he wants to play whatever game, and have him make a decision and communicate it. he seems absolutely thrilled to be making decisions for himself, though when i turn him down, he can turn on a tantrum like nobody's business (he has perfected his "spaghetti legs" move). i try not to laugh, but the kid can be such a faker sometimes it's all i can do. once he finds all the words he needs, i imagine all sorts of amazing, funny, and frustrating/sassy things will come flying out of that tiny little mouth of his.

being a mom to an 18 month old is joyous, tiring, and frustrating. he is so amazing to watch grow, i can just sit and watch him. he never stops moving, and his morning wake up time is generally far earlier than we would like, so it is exhausting trying to keep up with him. he has, at least, FINALLY taken to sleeping pretty well more often than not (though you know i just jinxed us majorly by saying that out loud). he gets frustrated at not being able to communicate well all the time, and also at not always getting his way, and it's frustrating on our end for some of the same reasons - and for those award winning tantrums that accompany his frustration and unhappiness. lucky for him, he's cute, so we've decided to keep him.

Monday, April 20, 2009

slacker, i am

ok, not really. work has been INSANELY busy lately. we are pushing to meet a deadline, and on top of that we found some issue which need resolution asap - and brilliant me offered to do that. sometimes, being an overachiever really bites you in the ass.

monday, april 6th: penne with sausage, mushrooms, cognac, and spinach. this was quick and easy to make (always a plus for a weeknight meal in our home), and everyone loved it - so, double bonus.

wednesday, april 8th: mushroom moussaka and sauteed zucchini. i was really looking forward to this, and it did not disappoint. oliver, on the other hand, decided to throw a fit and not eat any of it (seems to be a common theme with 18 month olds - even when it's over something they actually like).

thursday, april 9th: coq au vin, green beans sauteed with almonds, marmalade glazed carrots, and wild rice. it was absolutely as good as it sounds. even oliver abandoned the idea of throwing a fit just for fun, as he couldn't resist eating lots of chicken.

friday, april 10th: meatloaf, smoked cheddar macaroni and cheese, and acorn squash with butter and maple. definite comfort food. oliver usually won't eat squash, but drowning in butter and maple, he was a big fan (so much like his mommy).

sunday, april 12th: easter! we had dinner at my uncle larry and aunt debbie's house, but we all bring a dish, and my contribution was homemade pierogies. having made my own pasta, including ravioli and tortellini, a number of times, i expected this to be more difficult than it was. it took about 2 hours to make about 50, from start (making the filling), to finish (boiling the pierogies). and they were good. i really ought to make a large batch and freeze some, so we have some on hand.

monday, april 13th: chicken paprikash with sour cream, wild rice blend, and sweet peas. the recipe is actually a crock pot recipe, but bryan made it in the cast iron on and in the stove instead. this was another well received meal. even though the sauce was slightly spicy from the hot paprika, oliver ate a good deal. the kid doesn't seem to mind things that are a little spicy. he must have that same spicy food gene his aunt katie does.

wednesday, april 15th: potato kurma and garlic ginger lamb burgers. another stab at an indian dish, since bryan wanted one with potatoes. i thought the kurma sounded simple and delicious (i was right), and thought lamb would pair nicely. bryan coated the lamb burgers with a ginger/garlic/tumeric paste and seared them. i wasn't sure how oliver would like the lamb, it being a stronger flavored meat, especially coated in ginger and garlic, but he loved it. he ate a bunch of lamb (far more than the potatoes). the kid never ceases to amaze me.

thursday, april 16th: jamaican jerk burgers with orange chipotle mayo on sprouted wheat buns. my oh my, this may be my new favorite burger. something a little different, and *two* sauces (i do like it saucy). i made oliver a bbq cheeseburger instead, as i thought the jerk sauce and chipotle mayo would be too spicy, and although he liked his bbq burger, i needn't have worried - he liked both sauces just fine as well.

friday, april 17th: curried beef potpie with mango chutney. the recipe calls for puff pastry, but bryan made pie dough; the recipe also calls for mixing the chutney into the pie, but we served it alongside. rather than use powdered yellow curry, we used some leftover masala curry. the indian dish we made earlier this month had plenty of sauce (and eggplant) leftover, so we froze it. this was the perfect application for the leftovers. shannon had made this before and we loved it. friday turned out to be a rather warm day, so not exactly pot pie weather, but it was good nonetheless.

saturday, april 18th: bacon wrapped scallops, grilled asparagus with olive oil, grilled radicchio with balsamic vinegar and fresh mozzarella, and grilled potatoes with butter and onions. spring, oh spring! the weather was perfectly gorgeous on saturday, and i was overcome with the urge to eat a bunch of delicious vegetables, and so i bought many while grocery shopping. the scallops were on sale and bryan and i had been wanting some, so i snatched them up. while we had planned a simple dinner of tacos, we decided the scallops and veggies would be better fresh that day. bryan broiled the scallops (which is the recommended cooking, versus grilling, to ensure cooking the bacon fully but keeping the scallops medium-rare). for the asparagus, i simply tossed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grilled. i had wanted to finish with some lemon zest, but we had no lemons. for the radicchio, i quartered one head, and drenched liberally with a marinade of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, thyme, and crushed red pepper, then grilled, finishing the grilling with a slice of fresh mozzarella atop each piece. the potatoes are something mom made often when we grilled out: a foil packet with sliced potatoes, onions, salt, pepper, and butter (or olive oil); i usually add garlic as well. the potatoes and onions get soft, and the ones on the bottom carmelize and crisp. it's literally the easiest side dish to serve with grilled food - stick everything in the foil, toss it on the top rack of the grill, and forget about it. 20 or 30 minutes later, you have potatoes. this was the perfect meal to welcome spring with.

WFD tonight: steak roulade (steak rolled with red and yellow peppers, onions, and parmesan cheese), grilled endive with balsamic vinegar, and artichokes (preparation yet unknown). we'll see if i can sweet talk bryan into making a homemade garlic aioli to dip the artichoke leaves into.

what else have we been up to? why, the usual of course (yes, we're pretty boring).

the saturday before easter, we headed way out to slinger to have dinner with a friend from work, kelli, and her family. they have two boys, aged 5 and 7, who were so excited to meet oliver. oliver was impressed with the large number of toys they have, and had such a blast playing with both the boys as well as kelli and steve, her husband. we had a lot of fun getting out of the house and having some adult conversation as well! i forgot the camera, though (oops!), so unfortunately no cute pics from that adventure.

easter sunday, we headed to mom and dad's house after church for brunch with gram and gramps. mom made a spring vegetable frittata, bacon, polish sausage, and i don't even recall what else - i think my memory is blotted out by the delicious sugar treats there as well: gram brought hot cross buns, and mom made a lamb cake. my grandma (dad's mom) used to make one each easter - white cake in the shape of a lamb, with coconut frosting, and jelly beans for the eyes and nose. it was pretty delightful having one for easter again. oliver had fun walking around the house, chasing the cats and dog, and generally being a goof and showing off for everyone.

easter dinner was at my uncle larry and aunt debbie's house. oliver had a royal blast running around the house like a madman with my cousin andy's 4 year old daughter jakita, and picking on (to my horror) his 18 month old son ryan. jakita seemed intent on getting him super riled up, and oliver was all too happy to oblige. all in all, they had a great time.

the kids, hanging out. oliver has stolen ryan's sippy cup, while also holding onto his own. (ryan later had oliver's, so i guess it all evened out in the end.)

jakita could not pose for enough pictures. oliver wanted to be right there too!

oliver and jakita invented a game wherein they would give each other a big hug, then yell as loud as they could and push each other down. nice, right? at least they both wanted to be doing it, and it seemed to be very fun (for them).

oliver did his first solo somersault! he and bryan play a game where oliver gets up into the tripod position and bryan will flip him over, and while we were sitting around on easter, oliver up and did one perfectly, all by himself. i guess that was the one good thing to come out of his craziness.

oliver and ryan sharing the couch (and, later, their bread).

oliver had fun being crazy, but after awhile we packed him up and took him home (which he was not thrilled about). the good news is he was pretty spent, and conked out very quickly that night.

this past weekend was as usual busy but good. i worked friday night and saturday morning, but was able to get all the critical stuff out of the way early saturday so we could enjoy our weekend. the weather was beyond perfect on saturday, though it was chilly rainy yesterday. we ran our usual errands - the outpost, the grocery store, target, home depot, and trader joe's. got some very delicious things to eat. have i ever mentioned how happy a well stocked fridge and pantry make me?? yesterday, after oliver's nap, we headed to my aunt maureen and uncle tom's house for my cousin jesse's birthday party. oliver was a little shy at first, but soon got over that when he realized that all the people there just made a larger audience. my cousin's child james, who is 3 years old but smaller than oliver (he had a heart defect as a baby), wanted very much to play with oliver and show him what to do. oliver, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with that. another cousin brought his 7 week old baby, who oliver was so cute with - gently giving him kisses and calling him baby.

oh yes - and remember the thing i mentioned last time about oliver being deathly terrified of baths? well, we seem to have resolved that - through the help of my 10 year old stepdaughter, no less. my mother (with 4 kids), her mother (with 12 kids), and even the child psychologist who lives next to my mother couldn't think of a solution, but leave it to hannah! we talked to her saturday and she suggested trying bubble bath. so we picked some up, and it intrigued oliver enough that he didn't have a complete meltdown when i put him in the tub. he still freaked out when i washed his hair (from the water in his face), but then he was so thrilled with the bubbles, he happily played just like old times (and kept joyously exclaiming "bubble! bubble!"). had hannah been there, i would have kissed her (then taken her out for ice cream).

and today i received the BEST NEWS EVER. my friend cat and her kids are coming to visit us this summer! she is booking the tickets today! i haven't seen her since february of last year, the last time we were in atlanta. we had planned on going down there again last fall (which didn't happen) and were hoping to this spring (which isn't going to happen), so i am SO EXCITED that they're coming to visit us!! they will be here while hannah is here, so she's pretty much going to pee her pants when she finds out.

this coming weekend, bryan is traveling to chicago with his friend dirk to see throbbing gristle. it's their first u.s. tour in something like close to 30 years, so they're both pretty excited. it not being exactly my type of music, i will be staying home with ollie. i am very much looking forward to an evening with a book, a glass of wine, and an early bedtime.

a few more random cute child pictures:

oliver practicing his manly recline (thursday, april 9th)

the face of a troublemaker (thursday, april 9th)

practicing his puzzle skillz (monday, april 13th)

on a walk with daddy (saturday, april 17th)

quite a few more pictures, especially from easter, in the gallery.

Monday, April 6, 2009

in like a lion . . .

moroccan vegetable stew with couscous: i don't recall which date we had this one, and since we had the date/time set incorrectly on the camera, i can't tell by the picture. tomatoes, chickpeas, carrots, zucchini, celery, lima beans, and potatoes in a broth. the recipe calls for the stew to be served over couscous; we used an israeli couscous, orzo, and split pea blend. we also served it which chicken, since bryan needs his protein.

croque monsieurs with french fries. another one i don't have the date for. this was a quick, off the cuff meal - and everyone loved it.

saturday, march 28th: pan fried sole with lemon, pasta, caesar salad. this was so, so good. the fish was so delicate, so tender, so delicious with all the lemon (which is easily one of my favorite foods).

sunday, march 29th: pepperoni calzones. this was my clever way to have bryan essentially make me his kick ass pizza, without asking for pizza yet again. bryan made a giant calzone for us to split (and have plenty over for lunches). we, of course, did the right thing and ate the calzone with beer. oliver got his own personal size cheese pizza, since he's not too big on the pepperoni. i cut the pizza into slices, which he then happily devoured. the boy can be such a good eater!

monday, march 30th: chili nachos. when we had chili a few weeks ago, we froze the leftovers in anticipation of NACHOS. we loaded chips with the chili, pinto beans, diced tomato, green onion, and cheese, finished with sour cream, and put a hurtin' on the pile. they were decidedly good. we gave oliver the same, minus the chili. he was a huge fan of the sour cream, happily dipping his chips into the sour cream. needless to say, we all stuffed ourselves.

tuesday, march 31st: sweet and sour pork with sweet peas, green pepper, pineapple, and rice. oliver couldn't get enough rice, as usual. this really hit the spot.

thursday, april 2nd: cordon bleu brats (i.e., containing ham and swiss cheese) from rupenas, with grilled onions, on pretzel rolls, sauteed peas and carrots, and tater tots. oliver couldn't stuff enough tater tots into his mouth, which was both amusing and slightly dangerous. luckily, he didn't choke - every time he opened his mouth to add another, one would fall out and make room.

friday, april 3rd: roast chicken, spaghetti squash, and roast sweet potatoes with bacon.

saturday, april 4th: we used the leftover roast chicken from the night before to make a southwestern style caesar salad for lunch, by adding one of bryan's (homemade) chipotles en adobo to his (homemade) caesar dressing, along with, of course, his (homemade) croutons.

for dinner, we had our neighbors bill & eileen over. i made a garlic and herb stuffed roast pork, potato pancakes, marmalade glazed carrots, and rye bread. for dessert, we had black & white brownies. everyone was very pleased, and very, very full.

sunday, april 5th: i took on a very big project, and decided to cook an authentic indian meal. a friend from work, amulya, loves to cook, so we trade tips. she sent me a great website with indian recipes, so i planned to attempt baby brinjals in masala sauce. amulya brought me the ingredients i didn't have: chana dal, urad dal, and curry leaves. she also brought me some bay leaves as big as my hand, from india. i toasted and ground the initial mixture, which i think was supposed to come out as a powder, but became a paste for me. i was having problems grinding it in the food processor, and ended up needing to add extra tamarind concentrate and water. i also added chicken thighs and legs, to make it a full meal. i seared the chicken and added onions before adding the eggplant and proceeding with the recipe. i wasn't able to find the baby or thai eggplant i was hoping to, so i used some smaller eggplant instead, which i cubed. i was a little disappointed that the curry tasted like yellow curry; i was expecting something different. however, it was still very interesting to see how to make that curry totally from scratch, and definitely made me appreciate the flavors even more - and the flavor was good, very good. everyone loved it, even oliver! i served the curry with fragrant rice, which i made by sauteeing the rice in peanut oil along with ginger garlic paste (simply grated ginger, garlic, a pinch of tumeric, and an even smaller pinch of salt), a cinnamon stick, corriander seeds, curry leaves, saffron, and mustard seeds. i placed the entire mixture into the rice cooker, and cooked as normal. the rice was absolutely fantastic this way. i think the rice was everyone's favorite part of the meal. bryan and i generally aren't huge on rice, but i think fragrant rice will become a staple in our repertoire. we also had some afghani flatbread with sesame seeds that was outstanding - soft and pillowly, it was the perfect thing to wipe every last bit of sauce off the plate. overall, a very good meal (even though i'm not sure i did it quite right!); definitely worth the effort.

monday, april 6th: pasta with sausage, mushrooms, and cognac, with spinach. by adding spinach at the end, we made this a one pot meal, and a very delicious one at that. so tasty, oliver even ate his spinach without any complaints.

WFD tomorrow: aunt mo & uncle tom are coming over so bryan can help them determine which new tvs to buy, and they're bringing pizza. holla!

and the other things...

we've been up to the normal recently - working, running errands, trying to relax and failing miserably. oliver actually had some tummy troubles week before last, so we had a long 4 day weekend wherein we pretty much stayed home, and bryan and i agreed that even with the tummy issues, it was a GREAT weekend, doing nothing. we'll have to try that again sometime.

oliver has been doing well lately, getting bigger and bigger, learning more and more - perfecting his temper tantrums, talking, and climbing, mostly. the boy has NO FEAR.

even though it's been a little chilly, we set up oliver's new (to us) climbing cube/slide toy. he loves it - he can get himself up on the ledge and down the slide by himself, and has begun to figure out how to climb all over it (much to his mother's dismay).

the boy loves to be outside. since the weather has been relatively mild, we try to play outside every evening before or after dinner. the cold never quite seems to bother him. he loves using his slide, playing basketball, dragging around bryan's rake, and generally running around the yard. he's actually started counting to 3, i think just in repetition of us throwing the basketball at the hoop on the count of 3. still, it's pretty cute.

it snowed here, again, saturday before last. we took oliver out in the snow for a little while, though he still wasn't sure what to do with it, and wasn't a big fan. he enjoyed holding a snowball - until he tried to eat it. then it wasn't as fun. they've actually been predicting more snow, but we have yet to see any (thank goodness). seriously, WHEN is spring going to arrive?

i also got him a rocking horse recently, a fancy model that looks like a stuffed horse (and which will make noise, and move it's tail and head, if we ever decide to put batteries in it). i had stopped to check out a local consignment shop, and when i found it, i just knew oliver had to have it. it's pretty adorable, my little cowboy and his horse!

(he's actually a well traveled cowboy - he takes safaris too!)

a few other random playtime pics:

ahhh, my adorable little munchkin. the kid can be crazy (apparently the insane crazy tantrums start at 18 months - not to mention he has inexplicably become literally terrified of baths overnight), but what a sweet, cute little boy - usually.

of course, there are more pictures in the gallery. apparently, i've already taken over 400 pictures with the new camera. what can i say, my child is cute!