one year of you...

Boys are found everywhere - on top of, underneath, inside of, climbing on, swinging from, running around or jumping to. Mothers love them...and Heaven protects them. A boy is Truth with dirt on its face, Beauty with a cut on its finger, Wisdom with bubble gum in its hair and the Hope of the future with a frog in its pocket. - Alan Marshall Beck
My sweet George,

The past year has been the most transformative of my life all because of you.  On a cold, sunny Christmas Eve one year ago at 8:36 am, you screamed your way into the world and made me your Mama. From the moment your Baba brought you over to me in the operating room so I could kiss your tiny cheek, you gave me purpose and filled my heart in a way I never would have imagined.  The first time I looked into your original grey, wide, startled eyes I vowed to teach you, love you and protect you as much as a mother can.
Now, one year later I want to you to know that you are an absolute joy.  You have filled my life and our home with giggles and dimply grins, squeals and shrieks, mountains of diapers and such unwavering love.  You have changed so much from that 7 lb, 14 ounce swaddled bundle to the rough and tumble, sturdy, gorgeous (I'm your Mama so I can say so!) 22 pound toddler you are today. I adore every bit of you and the darling boy you are becoming. 
At one year you:
  • weigh 22 pounds, 8 ounces (50%) and stand 30 3/4 inches tall (77%). 
  • have two teeth on the bottom and two more on the top that decided to start pushing their way through today, your birthday.
  • have started walking, a few wobbly steps at a time. You took your very first steps for Baba on December 11, 2010. You prefer to crawl or cruise right now because it's much faster but, I think you'll likely be running circles around us in a few weeks time.
  • make coffee for us every morning. You love buttons and gadgets so, Baba taught you how to press the power button on the coffee maker.  Each morning you point to the kitchen and and motion to us to hold you up to the machine.  You press the button (usually with your left hand), giggle as the machine starts and wave "bye-bye" to the beans as they are pulled into the grinder.  I can't think of a brighter way to start breakfast each day.
  • say: Mama, Baba, YiaYia, Voom (for 'vroom' as you push your cars and trucks), Ba (for balloon and bottle), 'Did it' and 'Got it'.
  • love your books.  You'll sit and flip through page by page for long periods of time and you bring us your favorites to read to you, over and over. You enjoy touch/feel books and any that have us making animal sounds.
  • are getting better at following direction. You will pull your hand back when we say "No touch", which is helpful when we are visiting new places.
  • when asked (in both English and Greek) you will wave hello or good-bye, clap and give kisses.
  • are so good with other babies. You are curious and want to see what they are doing but, play gently.
  • are a climber! You climb into drawers, on to the couch and ottoman and on top of your large toys. 
  • are fearless.  You dive right into new situations from climbing to exploring new places to crawling up stairs (even though we have none in our home and never taught you!).
I love you to the moon and back...and I always will,

the birthday boy, a.k.a. cake destroyer...

"Mama, I will humor you for just one photo with the silly party hat.  This cake and I have important business."
This, my friends, is how birthday cake is meant to be eaten.
The life of the party.  Looks like he may kind of like his new toys, no? (Parum Pa Pam Drum set by B. at Target)
 Our little family, Est. one year ago today.
All worn out after the cake-fest of 2010. 
Happy FIRST Birthday little guy!


one year ago today...

I was waiting and dreaming and thinking I would have the holidays plus two full weeks at home to finish preparing for a certain little boy's appearance.

One year ago today, I was sitting at work with all of my office in order for my leave, just biding my time.

One year ago today I looked like this:


a birthday, a cold and a partridge in a pear tree...

As I write this post, I'm still trying to figure out exactly where the last week went. Between my three-day birthday celebration, work and George coming down with a cold, time slipped away. I've been reading the #reverb10 prompts and am hoping to get to some of the backlog later this week but, if not, I'm letting it go. There are enough potential stressors in December without adding another to the mix.

So the birthday recap. in short, this was one of my favorites ever. Mr. Boom was able to take a day off of work to make a long weekend and both my parents and my in-law's joined us in baby-friendly outings to celebrate. That's what I wanted, time with my family. That (and the Kindle3 + green case....squeeeeee!) is exactly what I got.
Last Sunday kicked it all off with a trip to the Children's Museum. My parents met us and everyone had a great time watching G explore all of the exhibits. Not surprisingly, those that involved water were among his favorites. Is there any better gift than the joy on that little face? I think not.
The day was capped off with a delicious lunch at an italian restuarant around the corner from the museum. Blue crab and corn stuffed shells for me...oh, yum! And that was just day one of the festivities. Much more to come - soon, I promise!
Happy Tuesday, everyone!


first steps...

Today, our sweet little growing-up-far-too-fast boy took his first steps!

We knew it was only a matter of time before he made the short leap from cruising along furniture (and walls, and any other available surface!) and walking behind his push toy to taking actual unsupported steps. I had just hoped that he would hold off and do it on a day when Mr. Boom and I were both home and, honestly, was also half hooping that G would reserve his first couple of steps for his Daddy.

Well, he must have heard my wishing. His first two steps were just for Daddy, and the next few and then, finally, I was able to come in the room and catch a couple for myself from behind.

Soon enough, we'll be chasing him all over the condo but, right now he'll only try his new skill when he is bribed with a coveted item, such as the wireless computer mouse. Can you say obsessed?


reverb10: day 3

REVERB10 : Prompt 3 : Moment

Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Ali Edwards)

Put this year down to one moment in a year where there have been countless moments that have taken my breath away? Nearly impossible. To many to choose. But, there is this one.

George's first laugh.

I could not tell you the actual date off the top of my head but, I remember it vividly. He was sitting in his bouncy seat and I was doing whatever crazy faces and things I could come up with to get him to smile. Just looking for another sweet smile. And then, there it was. He giggled.

This sweet, delicious belly laugh that had me laughing along with him and streaming tears in the same moment. This sweet little boy of mine, wearing that awful hip harness underneath yet another cotton gown. The house was hardly clean, I likely had not yet showered and we were still trying to figure out some type of schedule. But, in an instant none of that mattered.

Life was (is) perfectly imperfect and it is truly all about the moments that take our breath away.


reverb10: day 2

REVERB10 : Prompt 2 : WRITING

Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author Leo Babauta of Zen Habits)

Too much time on social media and web surfing. Too much time in front of the television at night instead of writing. Mainly though, too much thinking. When I sit down to post, I often over think even the most simple topics. Posting online at times gives me a minor case of performance anxiety. Will anyone read this? Is it as humorous to others as it sounds in my head? I need to focus less on perfection and more on just typing it out, sending it out and letting it go.

reverb10: day 1

REVERB10 : Prompt 1 : ONE WORD

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? (Author: Gwen Bell)

My word for 2010: Fulfilled. Throughout this year, I have been on the journey of my lifetime as a newlywed and a new mother. Both are roles that I had longed for and were (and are) finally mine. As in every stage of life, this year has not been without challenges - nor would I wish them away or expect differently - but it has been fulfilling beyond all imagining.

My word for 2011: Present. This year moved so fast. I'd like to think that I was truly alive and present for each moment but, I'm sure that wasn't the case. Next year my goal is to do more of just that. Be present in all the incredible and ordinary moments of my life.


a december daily, of sorts...

2010 has been an extraordinary year in my life, filled with incredible joys and challenges. I've documented a lot of what has happened here, in part because I wanted a record that I could look back on and share with G one day. There are stories and letters that will eventually find a way into scrapbooks and photo books. Some memories will be held close to my heart and a few anecdotes will live on to be told at family functions for years to come.

December has always held special meaning for me because of my own birthday and those of several friends and family members and, of course, the celebration of Christmas. I love December, not the weather so much, but for the season of giving, sharing and family.

Over the past few years, I have seen fellow bloggers and scrapbookers take on the December Daily project, a journal to document the spirit of this month in a unique and personal form. While I love the idea behind the project, I have failed often enough at paper journaling to know that it wasn't for me. This year is no different. But, today I followed a link on Ali's blog to a different type of December daily and one that, hopefully, will be much more manageable for me while still keeping the meaning.

I've signed my commitment and joined #REVERB10 - "an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. The end of the year is an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead. With Reverb 10, we'll do both. This December we invite you to share your story and join us in reflection."

I can't think of a better, more eventful year to reflect on than 2010.

Will you #REVERB10? If so, leave me a comment and let me know you are sharing in this process. Merry December!!!


11 months of you...

My sweet George,

My letter to you this month is few days late. I could blame it on the busy events of last week, preparing for your first Thanksgiving and going out of town but, to be honest, I think it is more because I cannot believe that my next letter to you will be on your first birthday. The past eleven months have been filled with countless joys and my heart and life are fuller than I could have ever imagined because of you.

At 11 months you...
  • stand on your own for brief moments, until you remember you are supposed to be holding on and grasp for the closest surface.
  • walk around the house behind your push toy. You are so fast, quickly learned to maneuver around corners and away from walls and say "voom, voom, vooooom..." as you go. Pretty much the cutest. thing. ever.
  • initiate peek-a-boo several times a day, whether it is from behind a chair or around a corner. You'll start the game and let out big, long belly laughs when you make eye contact with whoever plays with you.
  • are headstrong. You want what you want, exactly when you want it and will stop at nothing to get it. This includes scaling the couch, using your toys, pillows or whatever else can serve as a step stool - unassisted. Oh boy!
  • eat, eat and eat some more. You still have a terrific appetite and continue willing to try anything. You are still eating purees in addition to whole foods, mainly to help give you enough to eat because chewing with only two teeth is tiring work.
  • have slept though the night several times in the past month. Then, you hit a growth spurt and your sleep took a dive again. Then DST started and complicated things further. One day you'll figure it out.
  • are wearing 12 month clothes (though some pants are already too short!) and size 3 diapers (size 4 at night).
  • are saying: Mama, Dada, Yia Yia (grandma), voom (vroom), this, and got.
  • love books. You flip through the pages of your favorite books several times a day and hold them out to us to read to you. When we read the Mr. Brown book one page says, "He can sound like a hand on a door. Knock, Knock, Knock." Mama will knock on the floor and you'll crawl over and knock, too.
  • have some separation anxiety. You want to know where your Daddy and I are every moment when we are at home. If one of us goes in another room, you will crawl over and knock at the door, yelling for us.
  • will pick up the tiniest piece of nothing from the floor and put it in your mouth. When I attempt to retrieve whatever it is you will either 1) smirk and crawl as fast as you can in the other direction or 2) fish it out of your mouth and proudly hand it over. Let's work on developing #2 a bit more, shall we?
  • play well with others. We have had a few playdates this month and you have played so well with the other babies around your age. You will share toys and are very gentle when you touch other kids.
  • enjoy music. You fall fast asleep to your music in the car and bounce/dance to the Toddler Tunes music channel on cable or the songs on your toys.

You have grown so much in the past month and, every once in awhile, I catch a glimpse of you as the big boy you are becoming. It both thrills me to see you thriving and saddens me (just a bit) that you are a baby for just a few more weeks. I plan to enjoy every minute of time with you in this last month of babyhood.

I love you with all that I am, to the moon and back,



you better watch out, you better not cry...

He was the best Santa I'd ever seen and such a nice man. We were standing right there. The event was at a private little shop near my parents house, very low-key and no crowds. You'd think it would be the perfect setting for a first introduction. Notsomuch. Poor little boy was just not impressed with the jolly man in the red suit.

G is normally very easy going and will allow himself to be held by anyone, once he gets the nod that his Daddy or I approve.

So, what is it about Santa Claus?

PS - My friend Sara commented about the cell phone in his hand. No, even the shake the dice game on his Daddy's cell phone, which normally brings on fits of giggles, would not quell the Santa terror.
I assure everyone that G was not actually traumatized and that he sat calmly for a photo with a mall Santa another day.


wordless wednesday: aspiring to be spidey...

At the library this morning - can't beat the view or the entertainment value!


yes, you've come to the right place...

In search of a cleaner look for the blog for awhile, I've played around with different templates and have finally landed here. The yellow makes me happy and the little bits in the header art sum up much of my day to day life. I'm still working out a few hiccups and trying to figure out the order of content in the sidebars but, what you see here is essentially the new look for Messily Ever After...

Feel free to poke around and leave a comment letting me know what you think about my facelift.

the gift of christmas, from afar...

I live a charmed life, blessed with a warm home, a wonderful husband, a healthy child and the love of family and friends. While the normal day to day annoyances crop up and there are inevitable bumps in the road, I am grateful for every one of my many blessings and count them often.

For years now, I have donated gifts at Christmas time. Sometimes they have gone to Toys for Tots, other times they have gone to my own workplace and children in the foster care system. But each year, when I am carefully choosing gifts for my own loved ones, I make a decision to also give to a child in need. This year, I'm filling shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

If you are looking for a place to donate a gift this year, you may want to consider this amazing project and fill a shoebox for a child in need.


it's good to be back...

The last I sat down to scrapbook was in July of 2009 at the last full-day crop I attended. That day feels like a lifetime ago, with so many changes since. But, I've missed the creativity and longed to find a way to get back to the hobby that I love. Determined, I dragged papers, letter stickers, punches and my trimmer out of the dust on Thursday night. I started organizing a bit and pulling together boy-friendly patterns and colors (who would I be kidding otherwise, there is only one scrapbooking subject right now) with the intention of making page kits. It just wasn't happening. I couldn't get inspired and everything continued to sit, littering the kitchen table.

Last night, I figured I'd try another approach. Dive in. Pick out one single photo and just do something with it. And, you know what? It worked! Once I set my mind to it everything started to come back to me and in minutes, the layout came together, my trimmer was slicing and my dusty tape gun was functioning once more.

There wasn't a thought in my mind about creating for a magazine or feedback from fellow crafters online. This was purely for the love of the hobby and for G. Getting a start on documenting his story is important. As is doing something that I love and believe in.

I'm back, baby!!! And, it feels wonderful.


holiday shopping help: deal of the day...

We're all aware that it's a tough economy and that the frenzy of Christmas shopping and excess may not be as possible as in years past. Even knowing that the true meaning of Christmas is not in how many gifts one can give or amass, it's easy to get caught up in the slick advertising, the enticing sales, the "please, Mom?" and go a bit overboard.

Early bird sales can help, internet shopping linked with free shipping deals, shopping early. All good strategies. Lately, I've been seeing some really great sales and offers in unconventional places. Groupon is one of those spots. It's a site with a daily deal per city (although you don't need to live in that specific city to take advantage) for goods or services at, many times, incredible prices.

I took advantage of one for the first time today and, if you are thinking about custom photo albums as holiday gifts you might want to take a look:

$100 worth of Picaboo albums for $35!
If you buy the deal, it's good for one year and can even be applied toward shipping and handling. Enjoy :-)

I have no affiliation with Groupon or Picaboo, just thought it was too good of a deal not to pass along.

maybe there is a resemblance after all...

G is a miniature version of his dad, right down to that oh-so-cute dimple on his right cheek. Whenever we are out as a family, people stop us just to comment on the striking resemblance between father and son. They look at me and say, "Well, maybe he got your eyes? Maybe." He may not have gotten much, if any, of my appearance but he did inherit a couple of other things.

From an impossibly young stage, he took to raising one eyebrow in expression. Classic mom.

Then, there is his love of books.

I've been reading to G every day since we arrived home from the hospital after his birth and there is no denying that he is an early bookworm. The past month or so, he has been determined to teach himself how to flip though his board bocks page by page and about a week ago, he got the hang of it (mainly he'll get them right side up...ha). He'll flip to his favorite pages in his favorite books, hold them up to one of us and grunt for us to read to him. You've got it, buddy!
And something else he learned this past week? Clapping! He knows the word "clap" in both Greek and English and will clap if we ask him to or along with us. Love it! 10 and a half months is SO much fun.


giveaway thursday...

I've been reading Beth's blog, I Should Be Folding Laundry for awhile now and had to share this fun giveaway on her blog today. Click on the link and hurry on over if you want a chance to win a very fun, chic dSLR camera strap slipcover from Eclectic Whatnot's Etsy shop!

Comments close at 11:00 pm CST on 11/11/10

If I win, I think I might just step out of my box a bit and go with this one:

So what are you waiting for? Go here now -----> Giveaway


merry and bright, a bit early...

I've sent Christmas cards out to my family and friends nearly every year since college. While I was still teaching paper craft classes, my cards were a major, multi-day (ahem, multi-week) production of sampling designs, cutting stacks of cardstock, setting up an assembly line and spending hours upon hours in my craft space hand-painting, stamping and/or attaching embellishments. I'd like to think that people looked forward to receiving those cards and that some even realized and appreciated the work that went into them.

In the years post-teaching, my focus shifted away from card making and to scrapbooking and as it did, I dropped homemade cards from the Christmas frenzy. Instead, I selected *gasp* store-bought cards with a design and message I really loved and made sure to include personal, handwrittten notes.

As most of my friends got married and started having children, the cards in my mailbox changed from traditional folded cards to photo cards of adorable kids and families with bright smiles, dressed in their holiday best. I have watched those kids grow through yearly cards when time or miles have not allowed me to do so in person. I looked forward to the day when I would have a family, a child, of my own to share in photo greetings.

This is finally the year.

A few weeks ago I started browsing though designs on digital photo printing and hosting sites and found cards I really like on all of them but, particularly like so many of the selection on Shutterfly that I'll share some favorites here.

1) This one because I have a wee bit of an obsession with monograms and have taken to collecting every "B" I can get my hands on since marrying Mr. Boom. I think it's more suited to families with more than one child (therefore more photo variety) but, I have to include it among my favorites:

2) I love the elegance and simplicity of this design - perfect for letting a photo really shine: 3) And, this one. A touch of non-traditional color, yet clean and simple:
So, which will it be? I honestly haven't decided yet and, there are even more designs in consideration though, one major factor remains...that elusive, perfect photo! Wish me luck in getting our little monkey all dolled up on a day with great weather, the perfect surroundings and the ability to coax a great smile or wondrous expression. Or, at least in finding a studio to do it for us!

If all this wasn't enough, there is the little matter of G's birthday being on Christmas Eve. Though the celebration will be small, I still want there to be invitations involved and for him to have a proper 1st birthday party. We are determined not to have our little guy's special day lost in the holiday shuffle!

Required disclaimer: I have received compensation from Shutterfly in the form of holiday cards in return for this review and post. However, I am a Shutterfly customer and had planned on ordering my cards with them before this offer came along for their good quality and customer service. The end.


{nearly} wordless wednesday: quad vision...

That crazy looking bag of plastic heads is not leftover from Halloween. Part of my new job required me to become a CPR/AED/First Aid instructor and that is what the Actar manikins look like disassembled. A little freaky, no? Try being the one snapping together heads and torsos and then tearing them back apart a few hours later. Just weird.

This CPR stuff is exhausting. Teaching chest compressions to novices over and over? Taxing on the body. Add that to a night of almost no sleep because some little person decided to wake-up eleventy-billion times and you have one tired Mama.


mom friendly meals monday: slow cooker chicken in a marsala herb sauce

I came across this recipe in a post by one of my favorite food bloggers, Stephanie Cooks. Though I've used her original recipes many times and certainly trust her ingredients, I prefer chicken thighs in the slow cooker over breasts, wanted a thicker gravy and to get more than one meal out of this. Here is my adapted recipe for 4-5 servings. We'll get two meals out of this, feeding myself, hubs and baby G (who loved, loved, loved it!).

Slow Cooker Chicken in a Marsala Herb Sauce
Adapted from Stephanie Cooks

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1, 14.5 oz. can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup marsala wine
1 packet Knorr Garlic and Herb sauce mix
1 tsp cornstarch

1) Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker (I used our 6 quart). In a bowl, mix together chicken broth, wine and sauce packet. Pour over chicken. Cook on LOW for 8 hours.

2) Remove most of sauce from slow cooker, place in saucepan over medium-high heat. Mix cornstarch with a small amount of water until just dissolved. Add to sauce pan and stir with a wire whisk. Let boil one minute. Sauce will thicken to a loose gravy. Serve over chicken while still hot.


1st halloween: g is for giraffe..

When I was 21 weeks pregnant with G, we found out that he would be a boy and had already decided on his name and that giraffes would play a role in his nursery decor. The costume was a given. The funny thing was that we found it last September, guessed on the size and hoped for the best.
Luckily, it could not have been more perfect and G did spend his very first Halloween as the cutest giraffe I've ever seen ;-) This boy will do all he can to get out of wearing a regular hat but, a giraffe hood? Bring it on. He was happy as could be all suited up.
We took him to the walking path around our local resevoir to take these photos. He was so intruigued by all of the leaves and surrounding trees that he didn't even attempt to crawl around. This may become a new favorite spot for seasonal photo shoots.

Happy Halloween all!


fall baking: carrot pumpkin muffins

Autumn is my favorite season with the vibrant colors, crunch of leaves underfoot and the cool, crisp weather. In my kitchen, fall means that my oven starts getting a workout, exploiting the delicious, plentiful apples and pumpkins to turn out cakes, muffins, cookie bars and breads. Some of my favorite recipes are complicated with long lists of ingredients that need to be precisely measured. Sometimes though, you just need a quick, easy fix that takes 30 minutes, including baking time. This is it.
I've been using this very simple recipe for years, dating back to my Weight Watchers days. Usually, chocolate is the go-to cake flavor but, for breakfast muffins that would be more baby friendly, I went with carrot this time and the results were delicious enough to share:

Carrot Pumpkin Muffins

1 box carrot cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist)
1 can (14.5 oz) pure, packed pumpkin
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cupcake pan with 12 paper inserts, or mist with cooking spray.

Mix dry cake mix and pumpkin until combined. Batter will be thick but, do not add any wet ingredients. Fold in raisins and cranberries. Divide evenly among cupcake tin.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.


on my {one day} wishlist right now...

I have a very well stocked Google Reader. It's bursting with blogs of creative types - photographers, craftspeople, cooks. I love to browse though the updates for inspiration, recipes and a bit of window shopping. Every once in a while a stumble across something that jumps off the screen and says "Take me home! I'm perfect for you." But, my rational self says, "Hello sister, you are saving for a larger home, you have baby clothes to buy and *ahem* you have NO room for this stuff. Maybe one day but, today is not that day."

Still window shopping is fun and putting together a list of fun, inspiring and maybe-will-be-mine-one-day things is harmless. Right? So here goes:Avid-reader mom + loaded diaper bag + very little home storage + running all over the city for work = Kindle 3 solution. In Graphite, I think. This one would actually save us storage space. So, really, it just makes good sense. Well, if I'm dreaming of the Kindle 3 it would need to be protected and a case with a light for night-time reading would be a natural extension. In Apple Green *yum* because, is there really another option? I think not.
Her name was Lola, she was a freaking gorgeous camera bag! Oh, oh, oh Epiphanie. You nailed everything a woman could want in a bag...a girlie photog's DREAM. Yes, I already have a camera bag that is fairly new but, we are talking window shopping here. And, this one doubles as a large, beautiful bag. Dual duty always makes more sense. This necklace wants to be around my neck. Perfection.
Or this necklace, this one is just perfectly fabulous too. I can't decide.
Chalkboard thought bubble by Rachel. What a super fun photo prop...oh the possibilities!
A speedlite for my beloved Canon. Because, sometimes you just need a little more light.


mom-friendly meals monday: shredded chicken tacos..

I was fortunate enough to stumble across the best, simplest recipe you could imagine on a message board I frequent. With only a few ingredients, no prep work and a rave from the friend posting it, I had to give it a try...and am SO glad I did! This will become a staple in our meal rotation. It was so good, in fact, that I was even motivated to give you a visual. I may or may not have devoured this plateful just after taking the shot...
Shredded Chicken Tacos

Package of chicken breasts (+/- 3 good size breasts)
1 can corn (14.5 oz)
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
1 can black beans (14.5 oz)
1 packet taco seasoning (I used McCormick)

Add all ingredients, including liquids in cans, into crock pot and cook on LOW 8-9 hours.

Shred chicken with two forks and mix all ingredients when finished cooking. Serve with hard or soft taco shells with cheese and the fixings.

This is the easiest recipe I have ever made and is just delicious - and healthy!!! If you are watching sodium in your house, McCormick also makes a low-sodium taco seasoning packet. If you aren't a taco fan, it would also be delicious served over rice...with a dollop of sour cream, of course.


ten months of you...

My little monkey,
It's written all over your face in your ten month photo that sitting still is just not cool with you right now. Just when we think you are pausing to catch your breath after a marathon session of cruising along furniture, walls or crawling at warp speed you are up and off again, stopping only to eat and sleep. You have become incredibly curious about your world and it's workings. You explore every inch of our home, get down on your belly to look under furniture and doors and we can almost see the wheels turning in your brain as you try to figure things out.
You have started to become a better communicator. When you want something from me, you will assertively call out, "Mama!" When Daddy walks into a room or, leaves it, he hears "Dada!" You point to things that interest you and are making all kinds of pre-verbal sounds - more each day.
But, the best part of ten months? You are the happiest baby I have ever known. You smile, giggle, coo and belly laugh all day long! We are so incredibly blessed to be your parents.
At {TEN} months you:
  • love to play hide and seek. We will hide around a corner and, as you find us you break out in peals of laughter
  • are chewing through the rails on your crib. You may only have the two bottom teeth but, they are sharp and strong!
  • are a big fan of our windows. We have large windows with window sills that are the perfect height for you to rest your little arms and peer out at the world below. You spend a lot of time walking back and forth along the sills, watching the cars come in and out of our complex and particularly love the show put on by our landscapers using the leaf blowers.
  • wear mainly 12 month clothes now. The pants are still a bit long but all of your 9 month pants are highwaters...you are stuck in between, my boy. You are still wearing some of your 6 month onsies though (thank you Carter's). You are in size 3 diapers and likely will be for a while longer.
  • eat anything we put in front of you. You still take fruit and veggie purees but are also a big fan of chicken, fish, ground turkey, rice, banana, toasted cheese sandwiches, hummus on whole wheat and cooked veggies. At dinner time you eat whatever we cook. It is a pleasure to see you enjoy your meals and use that well developed pincer grasp to self-feed.
  • love music! You dance to the Toddler Tunes channel on our t.v., the music on your exersaucer and love listening to your kid's music playlist on Mama's iPhone when we are in the car.
  • have discovered the drawer of baking pans under the oven and like to drag them out and use them as vehicles to navigate the kitchen floor, or as very loud make-shift musical instruments.
  • are starting to show a bit iof separation anxiety. You don't like to see Mama or Baba leave the room and protest loudly when we do.
  • are becoming more social. You enjoy interacting with other kids on our playdates, share toys and are gentle in approaching your friends.
  • give hugs. While you are mostly on the move all.the.time. you do have some quieter moments where you will fling your little arms around the nack of whoever is holding you or, will sit quietly on a lap and cuddle.

It is so hard to believe that you are just two months from your 1st birthday and have come so far from the sweet, tiny bundle we brought home from the hospital. We are loving every little bit of your growing and changing but, stay a baby just a bit longer for us, okay?

I love you to the moon and back,



good {friday} morning, baby boy...

He played in his crib this morning while I folded and put away laundry. Lots of not-so-tiny-anymore onesies, pants and sleepers. Every time I put away laundry lately I'm struck by the relative size of his clothes now compared to just weeks ago.
Now, when he wakes in the morning I go in to find him standing in his crib, reaching up to me and, sometimes, greeting me with "Mama!"
And then, there are the early morning giggles. The best way I can think of to start the day. Today they were due to the sunlight streaming in though the blinds. Apparently bright lines of light are super funny. Who knew?
Whether I get the punchline or not, I hope he always stays this light-hearted and happy.


mom friendly meals monday: ghoulash...

"Ghoul"-ash...perfect name for a fall dinner recipe, no?

At first glance it seemed that this recipe would be too time-consuming to make with a 9 month old crawling around my ankles. But, it turned out to be the opposite so, I needed to share for this weeks Mom-Friendly Meal Monday. It's cooked in stages and each only takes a moment, then sits for 10-20 minute clips. Perfect for a busy mom, actually! It's a simple twist on a classic American recipe and was delicious. Even G thought so!

(adapted from a Bobby Dean recipe I recently came across HERE)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1.5 pounds lean ground beef
1.5 pounds lean ground turkey
1 large onions, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, fire roasted
1 29-ounce can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni


1) In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat in the oil about 10 minutes, breaking meat up with a fork as it cooks. Add the onion; cook and stir for 5 minutes.

2) Add the remaining ingredients except the macaroni. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in the macaroni; simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Let the goulash stand for 20 minutes before serving.

Servings: 8 to 10


tagged (and a bit slow on the uptake)...

I was tagged in a blog hop by Stacey at You+Me=Three and am (sorry!) just finally getting around to posting. Here goes!

1. If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I've always had a bit of wanderlust so, choosing one dream location is impossible. Even though I've traveled quite a bit I still really want to see Egypt and the Great Pyramids, back to Israel to visit the Dead Sea and spend more time in Jerusalem, China to walk the great Wall. And, on one of our trips to Greece I am determined to spend a few days in Santorini.

2. Which do you like better, cooking or baking?
Baking. Though I rarely have the time for it at this point, I love the measuring, mixing and watching for the delicious end result. Baking is relaxing for me, while cooking is a necessity.

3. What type of music do you listen to?
A little of everything but, my heart belongs to 80's hair bands, Billy Joel and the Beatles.

4. What's your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving. It's just about family and food...love both :-)

5. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Introvert, which is strange considering that my job (career?) is in staff training and engage in public speaking all the time

6. Are you excited for fall? If so, what do you love most about the season?
I *pinkpuffyheart* autumn!!! The crisp temperatures, baking with apples, the rich colors, the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot. Love.

7. What websites do you frequent most often?
The Bump, The Nest and my Google Reader

8. What is your favorite childhood memory?
Camping trips with my parents and sister - pitching the tent, campfires, swimming in the lake.

In turn, I'm tagging these four bloggers to answer a few questions of my own:

Aurie at It's Our Good Life

Tania at Altered Moments

Sara at NinjaPanza

Lynn at Murphy's Law

Here are your questions, ladies!
  1. As a child, what did you want to be when you "grew up?" Are you doing it now?
  2. What is your favorite, quick go-to recipe on a busy evening?
  3. Do you burn candles in your home? If so, what is your favorite scent?
  4. What was the best vacation you can remember?
  5. If you have a wedding album, how often do you look at it? Where is it stored?
  6. What is the thing your treasure most about motherhood?
  7. What is your favorite day of the week and, why?
  8. Are you doing anything to be more "green" or earth-friendly?


(nearly) wordless wednesday: beautiful morning for a walk downtown...

How perfect is this jacket? My mom found it and picked it up for our little guy during her last visit. Fits him, well, to a "G"...thanks Mom!


mom-friendly meals monday: bbq pulled pork, broccoli slaw and sweet potato hash

It's a three-fer today for Mom Friendly Meals Monday! This was last Monday's meal on our menu plan and turned out so delicious that I had to share each element. I served the pulled pork topped with broccoli slaw on small Kaiser rolls that we had in the freezer leftover from G’s baptism luncheon. Since G is now eating every meal I make, I set aside some of the shredded pork for him before mixing it with the sauce. He loved it! The hash was really tasty and yielded so much that I used it again as a side dish later in the week.

BBQ Pulled Pork (Slow Cooker)
Adapted from Southern Living, Oct. 2010

1 (3- to 4-lb.) boneless pork shoulder roast, trimmed
1 (18-oz.) bottle barbecue sauce (I used Bulls’ Eye Original)
1 (12-oz.) can cola soft drink
1 packet McCormick Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork seasoning
2 sweet onions, roughly chopped

1. Place roast in a lightly greased 6-qt. slow cooker with onions; Mix together barbecue sauce, cola and seasoning and pour over roast over roast. Cover and cook on HIGH 5 hours or LOW 8 to 10 hours, or until meat shreds easily with a fork.

2. Transfer pork to a cutting board; remove bones shred with two forks, removing any large pieces of fat. Skim fat from sauce, and stir in shredded pork.

Broccoli Slaw

1 bag broccoli slaw
1/2 cup Light Sweet Vidalia Onion salad dressing (I used Ken’s)

Toss slaw mix with dressing and refrigerate several hours.

Sweet Potato & Zucchini Hash
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and thinly
sliced crosswise
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until potatoes are almost cooked through and golden, about 15 minutes.

2. Add zucchini, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until zucchini is soft and potatoes are cooked through, 7 minutes.
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