Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Funny: "Stuff" nobody says

I saw this video featured on the fourth hour of the Today Show last week (I was pumping while working at home, thank you very much) and spent a solid 5 minutes trying to find it online before giving up.  Hello ADD.  One of my favorite bloggers posted it on her site this week and I can't stop laughing.  I don't know why, but I find this really hilarious, and I hope you do too. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What's Cookin': Holiday Treats

Anna's PTO puts on a wonderful luncheon for the teachers each holiday season and asks for volunteers to supply dishes.  Being our first year, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to donate and eventually decided that the way to anyone's heart is through dessert.  I've never made a cheesecake at home, but was intrigued when I saw a recipe for White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Bites in a Kraft Foods e-mail.  My only regret here is that I didn't post this recipe on the blog sooner as to inspire others to bake during the holiday season.  These were VERY easy, EXTREMELY delicious, and received rave reviews; an added bonus is the easy "wow factor" with the garnishes.  I had teachers stopping me in the hall during pickup for days to tell me how much they'd enjoyed the dessert.  That said, I think peppermint lends itself to being a winter dessert idea and there's a strong chance I'll be making these again before Spring : )

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Bites
Adapted from Kraft Foods

1-1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
1 cup Sour Cream
4 squares White Chocolate, melted
4 eggs
1cup thawed Cool Whip
Peppermint candies or miniature candy canes, crushed, for use as a garnish

Heat oven to 325°F.

Line 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Mix graham crumbs, 3 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 min.

Beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and extract in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Add sour cream and chocolate; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.

Bake 40 min. or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 4 hours. Use foil handles to lift cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve. Top each piece with a dollop of Cool Whip and a sprinkle of crushed candy cane.

Yields: 32 cheesecake bites
Note:  The recipe called for cutting these into 16 pieces, but I went with 32 instead and it was *just* the right amount for such a rich dessert.  You could easily cut the recipe in 1/2 or 2/3 and make a smaller portion. 

I also made several "batches" of holiday chocolate pretzel bites, a recipe that literally CANNOT be fudged up ... pun intended : )  Preheat your oven to 250 degrees, prepare a baking sheet with miniature pretzels, top each pretzel with a Hershey's Kiss (could also be done with a Rolo candy), bake for 5-7 minutes, until the chocolate is soft, press a M&M candy into the top, and refrigerate until set. 
I found inexpensive holiday-themed plates and tins at a local drug store and purchased miniature ornaments to adorn the ribbon used to tie the plate together.  These, along with a card and gift certificate, made wonderful gifts for Anna's teachers. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It was the most wonderful time of the year!

Anna had the best first Christmas a gal could ask for ... she was spoiled by everyone, has more toys that she'll ever be able to play with, and charmed the socks off everyone we had the pleasure of visiting.  Here are a few of my favorite shots from a wonderful holiday season.
Ready to open presents at Grandma & Grandpap's on Christmas morning!

Love the innocence on her little face here, in front of our tree at home.

Loving her new bear from Grandma & Grandpap! 
He plays a special message for Anna!

Reading with Grandma, so much fun!

So many toys, so little time!

Some people gaze into snow globes, Anna dives right in, literally!

Helping Grandma polish her snow globe : )

Our "Candy Cane Cutie" hangin' out with Gigi

Anna became a professional present-opener!
Love this new puppy!

But a taste test will confirm : )

"Don't worry Paw Paw, I can help you open your presents!"

Sunday, January 22, 2012

So much to say!

Anna's turned into a little chatterbox lately, and what started out with "dada dada dada" has expanded to "mama mama" and "gaga gaga" and is growing daily.  The same as her gentle nature when exploring a new face, toy, or surroundings, she has a "gentle" voice, but can really get going when she's hitting a point home. 

"Today at school I played peek-a-boo with my friend
and gave my teachers some big smiles!"

"This food is good and all, but maybe tomorrow we can try some chocolate? 
You two sure seem to enjoy chocolate!"

I promise she says "mama mama mama" about 1/3 of the time now ...
wait for the 26 second mark and she says it totally just to appease me here : )

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Growin' Like a Weed: Month Eight

Although we had one trip to the doctor this month for a fever, cough, and congestion, no official stats and we'll have to see what the little Miss tips the scales at next month when we're back for shots.  Boo for shots, yay for staying healthy!  We've got a lot of backwards scooting going on around here, as well as some swaying on all fours, so next month you may be seeing the back of her head and a flash of lightning as I chase her around the house for her monthly shot : )

Filling out!!
And, figuring it out!  She had the sticker off in 10 seconds flat!

2, 4, 6, 8, who do we appreciate?  ANNA, ANNA, ANNA!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Letter to Anna: Month Eight

Dear Anna,

Even though you're only eight months old, you've officially entered your second calendar year of life and I can't believe how close we are to your first birthday, you're two-thirds of the way to being a year old … wow! The world around you has turned into your playground and everything must be explored with touch or taste. You're a gentle little girl and love to feel faces, clothing textures, and your toys, always with a tender touch … then you decide that tasting is the best way to be sure you know what you're dealing with and everything has been going into your mouth.

Your personality is really developing and you're a bit of a ham. You love attention and will often times look around to ensure you have an audience when you're being extra cute or trying something new. This turned into a favorite pastime during our holiday visits when you wanted to make sure all eyes were on you before showing a big smile or giving us a laugh. One of your favorite games happens when you're nearing the end of a nursing session and your Dad is around. You coyly turn your head toward him with a huge smile on your face, and then wait for him to come over to give you a kiss on the cheek and then quickly turn back toward me. I've implemented a "three strikes and you're out" rule when this game starts and then hand you over to your Dad. You've also become a real chatterbox this month and love to babble about your day. Your favorite phrase is "dada dada dada," but it's not necessarily directed at your father, at least that's what I'm telling myself anyway. I definitely see a Daddy's girl in our future and he wouldn't have it any other way.

You have a real interest in feeding nowadays, even though we're still giving you purees for the most part. You would love nothing more than if I'd let you put both hands in your bowl of food as though you were getting a paraffin treatment at a salon and we often cave-in and let you chew on your spoon during meals. After a few minutes of hearing you grunt after a meal this month, we introduced you to Baby Mum Mums and you think they're the bees knees. You feel like such a big girl feeding yourself and although the Mum Mums turn into a rice-paste all over your face and hands, I'm learning that this is the first of many steps toward mealtime messes. You like the challenge of getting finger foods (puffs, yogurt melts, pieces of banana) to your mouth, but aren't necessarily in love with the taste or texture of anything you've tried so far. We've also started to let you sit in a high chair when we're out to dinner and you think you are nothing short of hot stuff when you get to sit like a big girl. You always give our waitress and those passing by a huge grin and can't wait until you're able to order off the kids menu, or at least color on the menu.

You're getting up to speed with technology faster than some adults and have developed a real affinity for my phone and any and all remote controls. I'm not sure what that says about our parenting, but I'm telling myself it's the bright colors and buttons that are grabbing your attention. You Skype'd this month with your grandparents and weren't sure what to think at first, but I have a feeling you'll get the hang of things pretty soon and will be hamming it up for them in no time.

Outside of your friends at school, Milo is one of your best buds. After returning from our Christmas in Pittsbugh, you let out an excited squeal when we arrived at home and you saw him greeting us at the door. He loves to sit next to me as I nurse you and I can't tell you how many times he's "buddy bumped" you as you are *this* close to dozing off. Daisy has a new affinity for your room and loves to nap in your glider. It's only a matter of time before those two are mixed in with your stuffed animals and everyone is slumbering together or sharing in an afternoon tea party.

Although you love your Dad, you've started to show preference for me at times, usually when you're tired or in a new situation. I recognize the "I want my Mom" whine and selfishly admit that I love the instant snuggle I get when I retrieve you in those situations. You were under the weather this week with a fever, runny nose, and cough and I heard those whines and whimpers often. Although I hate seeing you sick, I love that part of the treatment that gets you back on your feet are cuddles and snuggles with me. I feel fortunate that I have a job where I can put you first at the drop of a hat so that I can nurse you back to health. I love the tender moments when I garnish a laugh, when you're gripping my finger during a nap, and when we are able to spend an hour nursing not because you're necessarily hungry, because it gives you comfort.

Although I know a day will come when hugs and kisses from Mom are un-cool and unwelcome, I know you'll come around after those pesky teenage years pass, and I hope you will always know that I stand with open arms ready to for a hug, will offer a shoulder to cry on, and will always listen without judgement. 


Friday, January 13, 2012

Anatomy of a sick day

Miss Anna came down with a little bug this week, afever, a runny nose and a little cough.  Luckily she checked out fine otherwise and was put on an antibiotic just to be safe.  I wish I could say this round may have been caused by teething, but alas, no teeth, not even a bud in sight.  I'm always struck by how resilient children are in most situations, and Anna has been no exception.  I captured a timeline of sorts over a couple of days, so you can judge for yourself.  I think we're back on the mend and here's to hoping that winter colds blow over just as quickly as they blow in!

It started out like any normal weekend, there was a lot of playing ...
But Sunday she woke up and we could just tell she wasn't herself.
She was even too tired to cheer for her favorite football team!

So, we stayed home from school and took a sick day filled with cuddles and naps.

But, then, wait, a burst of energy ... playing in Mom's bed with the remote, a new favorite toy!

But then, what's this, laughing??? 

And, just as quickly, back to napping. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Growin' Like a Weed: Month Seven (and 200th Post!!!)

Well, three weeks late is better than never, right?  I got behind on the picture itself because of the fact that by the time Anna had nursed and cat-napped after getting home from school it was too dark to get a decent picture with natural light ... then work got crazy ... then the holidays snuck up ... None of those reasons stopped this little one from growing, though, and I feel like she's gotten so looooooong over the last month while still working to puff-out those cheeks : )  We don't have a full check-up scheduled until she's nine months, but did have to go back this month for the second stage of her flu shot, so I popped her on the scale. 

Seven Month Weight:  14 lbs, 3 oz, exactly one pound over 6 months and 5th percentile.

Seriously, could she get any cuter ... or longer for that matter?!?!

One, Four, and Seven months, literally growing like a weed!!

PS - This is my 200th post!!  Thanks for hangin' in there with me, I hope you enjoy reading about what is going on in our lives as much as I love sharing it with you.  Here's to 200+ more posts!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 ... the year of Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

I generally make the usual blanket resolutions with each New Year. Lose weight. Read more. Be charitable with my time and money. And make every effort to be happy regardless of the situation. This year I decided to be more specific in an effort to hold myself accountable, but I wouldn't necessarily call these resolutions ... more a change in lifestyle mentality ... so, here goes, my goals for 2012, insprired by and packaged into a tag line that should ring a bell. 


My stress level. My resolution here is to hire a house cleaner to come to our home once a month. I've always resisted the urge to hire someone in this regard, but I think I'm ready. I have a few names and just need to make the calls. I've made great strides in accepting that things will never be totally in order in our home again, but I just can't bear spending my time scrubbing tile when there's a cute little peanut in the other room just waiting to play games with her Mama. I honestly think I'd be fine if someone just came to clean our bathrooms ... I don't really mind the rest of the house, but have developed a passionioate hatred for my shower and toilets.

My waistline. I'm hovering about 10lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight, which was about 10lbs over my ideal body weight and I'd like to get it off before Anna's first birthday, which coincides nicely with my brother's wedding where I'm a bridesmaid. I'm watching portions, working on evening snacking, and aiming to work out 2-3 times a week, which will mean committing to a wake-up call of 5am 1-2 times on weekdays.


Books. Going along with my standard goal of reading more, I want to resist the urge to physically buy any books. Between loaners from my mother-in-law and friends, and the library, there should be a minimal need and will also be pocketbook friendly : )

Anna's Attire. We have very generous friends and family and so far I've had to purchase very few items for Miss Anna in the clothing department, but when I do, I often find it easy to run to Carter's or Old Navy or and buy new duds. I'd like to make an effort to check out consignment stores in our area and/or look into a swap program with friends.


This one is actually just what it says, I want to be better about recycling in an effort to maintain and build a better tomorrow for our future. Our household is fairly good about this already, but I really want to hit this point home (pun intended) ... actions include purchasing a bigger recycling can for the kitchen, putting the currently used and smaller can upstairs, inspecting everything that goes into the trash, and putting reusable grocery bags in Mike's car ... and then (quite possibly my biggest challenge) actually remembering the bags when we leave our car. 
So, there you have it, my goals for 2012. I promise I'll be back with pictures of our little angel and stories of our wonderful holidays later this week, I've got tons of post ideas swirling around in my head, I just need to download pictures and figuratively put pen to paper. 

This little girl's resolution is to expand her palate beyond
purees, stuffed animals and dragonflies : )