Monday, March 28, 2011

Grand Finale

Laura and I made a list of things to do while she was here. One of the main priorities was to check out the local cupcake shop in downtown Hudson. While we went a little late in the day to enjoy the best selection, the experience did not disappoint.

I'm pretty sure that Maggie ate more than either of us.

And Gary has found himself a very easy solution to my birthday cake this year.

I had to include this picture because this is one of my favorite faces that Maggie makes right now. Most of the time it's in association with the word, "BIG." I imagine she was probably saying, "BIG bite" in this picture.

And thus concludes my documentation of our visit with Laura. We were truly sad to see her go, and are already looking forward to her next visit!


Laura was able to experience an abnormal amount of sunshine during her trip. Unfortunately, the weather has also been abnormally cold.

This did not stop her from earning the title of Greatest Aunt Ever and one afternoon she volunteered to take Maggie outside to play. As I cleaned up the kitchen and did things around the house, I could hear squeals and giggles coming from the driveway. I looked out the door not only to find them playing but saw Laura RUNNING with Maggie up and down the driveway in her little car. Maggie was beside herself. The first half of the driveway she would yell, "GO GO GO GO GO!!!" and the second half (before the car even stopped) she would yell, "MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE!!"

Have I mentioned that we are ALL missing Laura??

Baking with the Best

Laura has a reputation for being The Baker in our family. While joining Maggie and I for our weekly grocery store trip (how boring is that??), we picked up some cookies that Maggie could help make, too. Seemed like an apropos activity and the fact that the cookies had bunnies on top really sent the excitement factor over the edge for Maggie.

I will certainly be picking up at least one more package of these cookies this week, as "Bunny Cookie" is pretty much all Maggie has asked for since we made them (mother's daughter, remember?), and there is only one left.

Elephants for Dinner

Maggie is developing a knack for bonking her head recently, and had at least three bonks within a 24-hour period of time during Laura's visit. The last of which happened right before dinner - never a good time for anything, as she is usually tired AND hungry. As I was attempting to calm her down I decided to try to distract her from the trauma of her fall with the thought of food. (She is her mother's daughter...this tactic often helps)

Me: "Maggie, what would you like for dinner?"
(More sobbing)
Me: "Would you like chicken?"
M: "No."
Me: "Would you like sausage?"
M: "No."
Me: "Would you like macaroni and cheese?"
M: "No."

I was absolutely perplexed at this point, as none of her favorites were working. So I decided to take a cue from, "What's Wrong Little Pookie?"

Me: "Would you like...ELEPHANTS??"
M: (pause) "Yes."

Gary: "I can't wait to see how you're going to pull this one off."

Fortunately I took the picture before I flipped it. And fortunately between the pancake and syrup combo she forgot all about the fact it was supposed to look like an elephant.

First Visitor

We are coming off of the high of having our first official visitor in our new home. My sister was kind enough to spend a good portion of her spring break a) in Cleveland, b) hanging out with a Very Pregnant Lady and her 18-month old daughter.

Considering that most of our time together in Chicago was spent in hour or two chunks of time after Maggie had gone to bed, we all enjoyed the treat of being together all day every day. Maggie showed particular delight when she saw Laura each morning.

I am starting my documentation of this visit with this picture for a couple of reasons. First, Laura was gracious enough to play with Maggie, crawl with her on the floor, take her outside, sit inside her tent, etc...all things that are becoming increasingly uncomfortable for me these days. Maggie LOVED it, and for four days straight we heard a near constant stream of "Wah-rah."

This is also one of the only pictures from Laura's visit that does not revolve around or involve food.

Laura is reading "Are you my mother?" in this picture (Maggie's current favorite), and this is the face Maggie makes when she says "Dahwg."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Eighteen Months

As it's been awhile since I posted a true Maggie update, I thought that 18 months seemed like a good time. And even though "Baby vs. Grinch" is not really appropriate any more, here's where they stand these days:

It's been a long time since I've done a formal-ish "photo shoot" with her (Remember when I used to do them on a monthly basis? That was nice.), but I've tried to include some recent pics from my phone that document life lately.

Very proud to be sporting the new dress that Auntie Kat made her. I love the buttons on the shoulders. Such a cute touch!

This girl is constantly ON THE MOVE. Part of the reason that the photo shoots have gone out the window. This shot was originally supposed to document her laying on her stomach shoving alphabet letters under the fridge. Hmph.

Yes, even though it's getting longer (and curlier), Dwight Hair still exists.

I wouldn't say that she's necessarily naughty (although she does have her moments), but she is for sure mischievous, as can be seen by the glint in her eye. (A look seen often throughout the day)

Not many people will appreciate this picture, but it is to document a small miracle. Of Maggie eating vegetables. Yes, that is a green bean she is trying to pick up. Just goes to show you if you douse it in enough soy sauce anything is delicious!

Exploring our new library. I would say it was a hit.

After WEEKS of begging to go outside, the weather finally warmed up a bit last week for a couple of days and we took full advantage. From the very beginning this girl has LOVED being outside. When we first went out she went right for the snow shovel, but after I "explained" that there was nothing to shovel, she conceded to take the mini rake instead...even though she ironically won't step foot into the grass because it is "YUCK."

Thanks to some suggestions, we've discovered a great local park. And Maggie's love for the slide has been rekindled. Yes, she goes down head-first. For being a generally overly-cautious child, she shows absolutely no inhibitions when it comes to the slide.

Maggie is currently obsessed with Elmo and Abby from Sesame Street. One of the Elmo episodes she loves to watch talks all about drums. I intermittently catch her "drumming" on various things throughout the day.

Asking to play in her car is one of the number one questions I am asked throughout the day. She asks for "Car? car? car? car? car? etc." until you respond and then makes sure to point to herself and say, "Ma, ma, ma, ma, ma." So that you know that she is talking about HER car, and not just going for a ride in A car.

Like I said, always on the move, and not a big fan of the diaper change and/or getting dressed these days.

Really the biggest changes we've seen in Mags in the past few months (and even weeks!) is her vocabulary. There is not much that she is not saying these days, and if she doesn't know the word already she'll repeat pretty much anything you say. Her pronunciation is getting better and better, so that she is saying whole words (i.e. "Baby" instead of "Ba" or "House" instead of "ouw"). There are still a few animals that she calls by their sounds instead of their names, but this week she finally changed from "ruff" to "dog," which - adorably enough - she pronounces "Dahwg." I will be really, really sad when she stops clucking (clicking her tongue on the roof of her mouth) instead of saying chicken. Also when she actually says "Oops" instead of "Biss." And the jury is out whether "Bops" will remain Gary's dad's name for good.

She continues to be an absolute joy. She has done remarkably through this whole past month or two of transitions and changes...blown away all expectations. She loves having her dad around on a daily basis now, and when the morning permits, they spend the first part of the day together and let mom sleep in. A win-win-win! We are having so much fun watching her change from a baby into a little girl and experiencing life from the perspective of an 18-month old.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Little Helper

Maggie's independence is growing by the day. She is really into doing things herself (i.e. eating with a fork, throwing things away, etc.), so I have been trying to be intentional about having her "help" when she can. She especially loves it when I let her sprinkle the cheese or the salt and pepper when I make her an egg.

This morning she was extra excited as I offered for her to help make bread. It could have mostly been because she got to squeeze the honey bear (which she can often be found walking around the house with at random times), but I think it made a fun morning activity for both of us in general.

As an added bonus, a train went by right after we added the flour. (Note the tip-toes to look out the window)

She is truly a great companion, and I know she will be a super helper once Baby Brother comes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Food: Bacon, Ranch and Chicken Mac and Cheese

Around the new year, I REALLY wanted to make a "resolution"/effort to try one new recipe a week. Despite a couple of random efforts, the motivation for this quickly died as I came to grips with the reality that most nights my dinner consisted of Maggie's leftovers and/or a bowl of cereal.

Now that we are getting settled together again, I took great joy and pleasure in cooking dinner both last night and tonight.

One of my Christmas presents I was most excited about was a subscription to "Cooking Light" from my sister-in-law. I have tried several Cooking Light recipes based on the recommendation from friends (including the famous Ginger Steak), which have all been fantastic. My first copy came yesterday, and I could hardly mark the pages fast enough with all of the recipes I wanted to try.

One stood out in particular that basically had me drooling at the name (let alone the picture) - "Bacon, Ranch and Chicken Macaroni and Cheese." Really?? You're going to feature something like that in "Cooking Light?" It did not take much persuasion for this Very Pregnant Lady to be convinced to make it for dinner tonight.

And so starts my New Recipe of the Week least for the next few weeks until Baby comes. I promise to be honest about the good, bad and the ugly.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture, and didn't realize it until the leftovers were in the tupperware. Fortunately, it looked very close to this:

The Recipe:
You can find the recipe here.

The Score:
We give this recipe a B/B+. It was good. I would make it again. But I'm not planning next week's meal around it, and I don't think it will be on the "company" must-serve list. I do think it would be a great dish for kids, especially because it's a nice departure for the parents from a typical mac-n-cheese, and what mom doesn't love everything all in one dish? I would venture to say that you could add some veggies, too, and no one would notice.

My Notes:
The Sandra Lee in me just couldn't stomach putting forth the effort to cook ONE piece of bacon, so I used real bacon bits...maybe that would have made a difference?

Also along these lines, this would be a great dish for leftover chicken, and would cut out one step.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say that (gasp!) I am LOVING my electric cooktop stove. I seriously think it was made for people like me. It may not look as pretty as a gas top or cook as efficiently (as if I would notice), but the clean-up and maintenance is absolutely a dream.


A couple of nights ago Gary looked at me and said, "My heart is full." Is it any wonder??

(I couldn't get to my phone fast enough, but about 15 seconds before this, they were both coloring. It was a truly precious snapshot of what life together means now.)