Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Water Baby (Part II)

Over the summer a new park opened within five minutes of our house and includes a massive play area (complete with "big kid" and "little kid" play areas and swing sets) and a splash park, perfect for little ones with shorter attention spans. We finally had a weekend with no plans and sub-90 degree temperatures, so we headed out for a Family Fun Day.  And, boy, was it fun!  In typical Anna-fashion, it took her a few minutes of observing from the outskirts of the splash park to figure out what was what before she dove in (figuratively) face-first.  She.had.a.blast.  The water cycles changed every 10 minutes and Anna had a favorite area with each cycle.  After playing in the water for a good 45 minutes, we dried off while climbing all over the playsets ... and then we all went home and napped for the rest of the afternoon ... a perfect day all around!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Water Baby (Part I)

As I began a post on our recent trip to a local splash park, I realized I never posted about Anna's first true water experience outside of bath time, so let's start at the beginning.  Waaaaay back in late winter/early spring we signed Anna up for an Aqua-Babies swim class at the local YMCA.  I wouldn't go as far to say that we have the next Missy Franklin on our hands; but we had fun during our eight mornings of class and it gave us something to do when playing outside wasn't an option.  Hopefully all of her skills come back to her when we hit the beach and pool next week on vacation : )  And, PS - yes, it was cute overload seeing a pool full of babies in swimwear.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What's Cookin': Honey-Gingered Pork Tenderloin

You know a dish is going to be good when you realize two differnt people have given you the recipe.  I first encountered this recipe when Mike's Mom made it for us during a visit to Pittsburgh, it was delicious!  When planning the fare for Anna's baptism lunch I knew the oven would be working overtime on side dishes and delegating the main dish to the grillmaster was a great choice.  As I was preparing for the big day, I also realized this same recipe had been given to me as part of my baby shower "stock the kitchen" recipe collection by my friend Danielle, and immediately patted myself on the back in advance. 

We served 14 people that day, so I doubled the recipe and used four 1+ pound tenderloins.  The menu that day also included three side dishes and rolls, but were no leftovers of the tenderloin.  Given the picky eaters that arise between my family and especially Mike's family, this speaks volumes.  The best part about this easy recipe is that you can reserve one tenderloin and freeze it for later use, marinade and all!  And you know how I like to cook once and eat twice ; )

When I made the recipe a few weeks ago, Mike was in love.  I reminded him we'd had the same dish for Anna's baptism and asked if he didn't remember doing all of the grilling that day.  He responded, "well, it was kind of a crazy day" ... that's an understatement given we had to coordinate 4 in-house guests (one of which was a new girlfriend we'd never met, hello, put away the crazy and act presentable), a baby's nap schedule, a cermony at church that put us front and center, and hosting and then feeding a crowd of 14.  Oh yeah, and Uncle Brian lost his keys, so most of the afternoon was spent on a wild goose chase.  Long story short, I don't think he'll be forgetting anytime soon and this has joined our regular rotation. 

(Taken the day I ate this as leftovers for lunch ... health(ier) mac n cheese recipe to come!)

Honey-Gingered Pork Tenderloin

2 (3/4 to 1 lb) pork tenderloins
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. oyster sauce (in the Asian section of your grocery store)
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. plus 1 t. minced fresh ginger root
1 T. minced garlic
1 T. ketchup
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. red pepper  (I didn't have this on hand, so it was omitted)
1/4 t. ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a gallon-size zip-top freezer bag.  Add tenderloins and double bag if you'd like (I'd recommend this!).  Let marinade 8 hours or overnight. 

Remove tenderloins* from the marinade, reserving the marinade.  Grill over medium-hot coals for approximately 25 minutes, turning often and basting with the reserved marinade.  Pork is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the tenderloin registers 150 degrees. 

*  To freeze one tenderloin for later use:  Remove one tenderloin and a small amount of the marinade, cook as directed.  Freeze the other tenderloin, in the marinade, and thaw overnight before cooking. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Letter to Anna: Month Fifteen

Dear Anna,

Over the past few months, I feel like your level of emotion has gone through the roof. You’ve definitely come into your own, have opinions and aren’t afraid to voice them. The flip side is that you are capable of so much love and affection that my heart melts on a daily basis. You’re passionate, just like your Mom, which means you fight hard, but you love harder. It’s not always pretty to see yourself personified in a 15-month old, but since you don’t favor me as much in the looks department, I guess I’ll have to take it where I can get it.

Your personality is developing more and more each day and you are SO funny. I have no idea how you know comedic timing at such a young age, but you do, and it’s hilarious. Your Gigi was up a couple of weeks ago feeding you a banana for breakfast and you were cracking us up. You’d let her put a bite in your mouth, but would then pretend you had no interest in it, would wait for her to almost take it out, then laugh and chow down. You probably had to be there, but we were dying laughing. You are deadpan serious on so many occasions, just waiting for us to fall for your joke, then you grin that grin and die laughing.

You talk a lot and are a total chatterbox. You can say HI!!!, doggies, Daisy, ball, and lots of dadadada and mamamama, and babababa. Ok, not as much mamamama as the others, but I’m trying to not take the personally. You’ll occasionally say “hi!” on command, but mostly you talk when you want to. I can tell you’re trying hard to add more words to your vocabulary; you’ll mouth along when we sing the ABC song and you routinely sit and ‘read’ to yourself at home. You are starting to understand more of what we’re telling you and sign language helps a bit. The book we read to you each night has a line that says “I love you and you love me”, and it only took about a week before you picked up on what this meant and kissed one of both of us when we read that part. Of course that makes us melt and therefore means we usually read that book 2-3 times before you are actually put in your crib.

You’re extremely interactive these days, during the times where you aren’t attached to my hip. You and Dad still love to chase each other around in the evenings and will spend a decent portion of the evening giving each other high-fives. If you’re lucky your Dad will also give you a ride in any random box that’s waiting to go out to the recycle bin, just like your Paw Paw did with me. I don't get left out of the picture, though, you love to sit on my lap when my legs are crossed and if you're lucky, one of the cats will come over and give you buddy bumps.  You're expanding your repertoire of dance moves and now have the "maniac" perfected; that's where you shuffle your feet as fast as you can and move your arms in rhythm, we help you sing along "I'm a maniac, maniac on the dance floor" and you die laughing. 

You love to be in the thick of the action once you’re comfortable with a situation. You love to imitate activities, specifically around getting yourself dressed; we’re still working on putting your shoes on by yourself (it will be quite a while), but you love to brush your hair, attempt to get dressed (sometimes), and put things away. You love to imitate sounds too; allergies have hit me hard this year and I’ve been a snotty, coughing mess, but I die laughing when you imitate me coughing. We could go on for an hour with me making a noise and you “imitating” it, but I usually have a real coughing fit about 5 minutes into the “game.”

You can tell us where your nose, ears, eyes, mouth, hair and belly button are located on your body. The belly button may get us in a world of trouble down the road as you love to lift up that little shirt of yours and show off that tummy. The nose usually causes you to get tripped up on your nostril and then we’re into full-blown picking mode. We’re still working on the logistics with that one. Oh, and when you “show” us your mouth, you take that to mean you should just stick your tongue out. Again, logistics, but we’ll get there. You have several puzzles you can pretty much work on your own and you’re getting there with your bucket of shapes. You tend to get frustrated fairly quickly, but at least you’re trying, right?

You’re getting your first year molars and I can’t say that I love this process. It’s probably a combination of becoming a toddler, slight upper respiratory “funks”, lack of good naps on any given day, or the way wind is blowing, but I’ve noticed an extra dose of “fussy” around the time that one of those massive molars is breaking through. I’d like to personally request the rest of your molars, heck all of your teeth for that matter, come through at the same time; let’s just get it all over with at once.

I try to steer clear of telling you “no” on repeat or too often. Not because some parenting book told me that, and I certainly don’t want you to grow up with a sense of entitlement to everything; it’s just that our time together each day is limited and I’d rather us have fun than me scolding you repeatedly. My preferred method is to divert your attention. That means if you’re racing toward the oven that’s blaring at 400 degrees, I’ll grab your little hand and walk you over to a puzzle. Most of the time you love walking with me, I think it makes you feel like a “big kid” who’s in on a special game or activity; after all, Mom’s leading the way. During our walk, no matter how long or short, you always look up at me with an ear-to-ear grin and it makes me melt each time. I love our walks, even if it’s from the oven to the family room, a mere 30 feet away. I know you won’t want to hold my hand forever and won’t always look up at me with that toothy grin, but right now you do, and I love it. Please know that no matter where you are in life or what distance may separate us, I’ll always be there to hold your hand and attempt to steer you in the right direction.


Monday, August 13, 2012

The thing with childproofing ...

... is that you actually have to use them properly to keep little hands out of cabinets ... they also make wonderful teething chews ; )

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Along for the ride

Who needs toys when you have diaper boxes and a Daddy?  Apologies if some of these are blurry, this was definitely one of my more challenging shoots : )

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Funny: When silence is NOT golden

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Safety First

A neighbor was nice enough to gift us a bag of toddler and girl clothing and we also walked away with a bike helmet ... it's never to early to take safety seriously : ) 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

High Five