Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

We did it! We put on our ugliest Christmas-themed sweaters and went out to a house party thrown by one of Joel's friends, and now hopefully one of mine. It was a ton of fun; we don't typically get to have a night out on the town, or even a night *in*, without the baby, so this was a very nice break. We dropped Ethan off with a sitter and headed over to check out some very chintzy sweaters, congratulate their owners, and have a few holiday beverages to put a nice spin on the evening. I finally got to meet Joel's friend JH, whom I'd heard so much about for so long... she was great! Tons of fun, very energetic and outgoing, an awesome hostesss, and witty on top of all that. She seems like she'd be so much fun to hang out with, so I hope we both make good on our promises to keep in touch and set a date to get together sometime. It's so easy to say it in the moment, but much more difficult to actually buckle down and make real plans. Maybe it'll be my resolution for next year...

Anyway, without further ado, here are our amazing Christmas sweaters. Joel's by the way, won first prize. Can't wait to try to win again next year!
uglyxmas09_1 (Large)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Milk Machine

This kid loves milk! Yes, it's true: Ethan finally made the switch over to whole milk and is no longer on formula. I just followed the pediatrician's advice and warmed the milk in the bottle so that it was served the same way he has his formula, and he loved it. Now that he has that part down, we're working on reducing the amount of milk he drinks each day to about 20-24 ounces, so that he'll start eating more food. So far, it's working pretty well; he actually is eating more now that he's not full from his liquid diet. Later on, we'll work on weaning him from the bottle. That's not
a huge priority for me at this point, or at least not as important as the food issue.

He just seems to have these weird eating quirks that make it a tad difficult to know what and how to feed him. He is definitely interested in feeding himself, with no help from mom, thanks. Sometimes it works, sometimes it just ends up a game for him, but I know this is a stage we have to get through on the path towards independent eating, so we just keep forging ahead. He's eating a lot of different fruits, and even some vegetables, but he's not so sure about meats yet. He'll eat scrambled eggs and omelets, and seems to enjoy a pretty good variety of seafood as well, but-- and this is a big 'but'-- I never know if the food item he loves today will be spat out tomorrow, for some unknown reason. I'm not sure if it's just the novelty he enjoys, or what, but it seems like the second time he has something he is totally over it. What the heck, kid?! I just keep offering it, of course, along with a few other options, so that he at least gets repeated opportunities to try it. We don't completely dismiss a specific food just because he pushed it away once or twice or seven times. But man, that does get expensive after awhile!

On a good note, though, he doesn't appear to have any food allergies (knock on wood), so we have so far successfully avoided some of the nightmarish experiences a few friends of mine have gone through with their own allergic/sensitive kids. No thanks! I'm so grateful that he may just be picky, rather than one of those kids who can't eat 95% of the groceries we typically buy. Phew!

Either way, though, we know one thing: Pandas are not safe around my boy. Run for your life, Ling Ling! (Just kidding; he's hugging him, of course! Right?)
2009 12 02_Ethan panda 2 (Large)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009

This year was a bit of a subdued holiday, mostly because my dad is in the hospital recovering from his stroke, but also because we are highly aware of our financial situation and didn't want this to become yet another money pit for us. Instead, we focused on getting things we needed, like new hair clippers (I cut Joel's and Ethan's hair at home) because the old ones were starting to yank hair out by the roots, and a new hat and shoes for Ethan. We still have to take my sisters out for their gift, which is a visit to ye olde theatre for an awesome Christmas movie-- we haven't decided which one is going to win the prize of our attendance, yet-- and then follow the movie up with some good ol' chow time. Simple, but that's okay. Buying gifts is fun, too, but not always necessary. Sometimes, it's not just enough to hang out, it's actually more valued and more memorable than getting a package wrapped up in nice paper. I'm also looking forward to a "game day" with my mom, sisters, and niece, hopefully sometime this week. It has been so long since we've gotten the time to play games that we'll probably spend half the time re-learning the rules!
2009 Christmas family_4x4 (Large)

This is one of our "official" family photos. I just noticed, after sending this out to several friends and family, that at first glance it almost looks like Ethan's left hand has grown to gigantic proportions-- and then you (hopefully) realize that it's actually my hand, resting on Joel's knee. Go ahead, look again; kind of freaky, isn't it? :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I apologize for not posting for so long. First, we had the busy days of preparing for Ethan's birthday party/our family holiday party on December 19th... then, that same week, we had a pretty scary medical event take place. On Thursday the 17th I dropped Ethan off with his grandparents and aunt for a couple of hours so that we could have some baby-free time together, a not-so-common occurrence that we take full advantage of when we get the chance. We had just returned from getting a pizza and a movie to watch, when I got a phone call from my mom, stating that she thought my dad was having a heart attack and needed me to come over right away. I thought she meant to get the baby, but instead they wanted me to drive him over the five or so blocks to the hospital. Well, when I got there, he didn't seem to be having heart problems-- instead, he was feeling dizzy and weak, and was feeling numbness all down his left side. It was pretty clear that he was probably not having a heart attack at all, but rather a stroke. It was very scary to think about what might be happening, and how this was going to affect my dad-- such a vital, active, healthy man, who dearly prized his independence.

Anyhow... I'll write more on the story later, but that's why the blog has been so empty of late. My dad is doing much better and is in recovery right now at a rehab hospital in town, and the rest of us are doing our best to support him and my mom while they figure out what's happening now. Meanwhile, I still have to write on Ethan's party, the Ugly Christmas Sweater party, and so much more. Until then, happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One Year Old!

I can hardly believe the time has passed so quickly... My tiny, can hardly figure out how to drink from a bottle, not gaining weight quickly enough, eensy beensy baby is now a one-year-old. He walks, he talks, he dances, he climbs and points and babbles, he eats real food and plays games and does all of those simple but amazing things that babies do when they start to grow up-- and it's hard to believe how happy that makes me. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing things right; are we watching too much Baby Einstein? Are we playing enough, and stimulating his brain adequately? Did I read to him long enough, and am I teaching him how to brush his teeth the right way? There are so many ways that we as parents can find ourselves not measuring up to this mythical standard of greatness.

In earlier times, I wonder, did parents worry so much about these developmental milestones? I doubt it. And I hardly think it mattered, either; it wasn't in the last year, the last decade, or even the last century that we produced such outstanding people as Michelangelo, da Vinci, Aristotle, Shakespeare, and the minds that designed the pyramids. Not that I'm expecting our son to be a genius or a visionary who changes the course of history. No, I just want simple things for him: To be genuine, caring, balanced, healthy, and positive; to have the courage to pursue his dreams, and the endurance to see them through; and, of course, to have the blessing of love and friendship in his life. Is there more I could wish for him? Probably, but I think that's a good start. :)

Happy birthday to my darling, precious boy, who went from this...
2008 Christmas family photo

to this, in just one year. You're still our favorite Christmas gift. I love you!
CIMG2516 (Medium)

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Wean

So, I've finally come to the conclusion that it's time to start the weaning process. Ethan sits up well, eats solid food, likes to use his spoon to "feed" himself (kind of), and is turning one year old this week. To all intents and purposes, he is ready to be off the bottle. But am I ready? That's the real question... How many parents admit that they don't wean their child off of the bottle because they don't want to lose those precious moments of holding and cuddling their baby while he drinks his milk? I'm not necessarily proud of myself, but I do love those times we spend together, when he holds my fingers while I hold the bottle... even though he never really looks at me like they describe in those parenting magazines, with that wide-eyed gaze that looks straight into your soul-- I always wanted that, but he just isn't an eye-contact-while-drinking kind of kid.

Anyway, even without the eye contact, it is a special, intimate, snuggly time for both of us, and I'm not sure how I'm going to do without it. As for Ethan, he is really struggling with the switch over to a sippy cup. It might be partially because he usually takes his formula/bottle warm, while the whole milk is cold from the fridge. Should I be warming his milk now, too? Should I be leaving his formula cold-ish so that he starts getting used to the temperature change? Should I stop asking so many questions and just go with my gut? Tune in next week, same time, for the jaw-dropping answers! (Or maybe not.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Poem: Soul in Flight

Another poem from a few years ago... I really need to start writing again. Soon, I tell you, very soon.


"soul in flight"

into the air
up past the trees
i spy on little birds
and laugh at the people
down below

the atmosphere
is cold up here
and the quiet
is almost frightening,
like a silent film
without subtitles

the clouds
breeze past
like somnolent cows
not even sparing
a condescending glance
for my giddy smile

the ground
is far from me
for the moment
and i will soar, gladly
deep into the horizon
for as long as i can

up into space
and out of myself
the world seems
clearer, somehow
from a blue distance

and it even appears
that this,
whatever this is,
is no daydream
borne from my own
aching solitude...

but, real or not,
i can only believe
up here, with the
other creatures that fly,
with those who reject
solid practicality

far from the dirty sidewalks
and grumbling souls
of anchored things,
i can dream,
and in dreaming~
soaring, spinning, floating, flying~

i wake, and live.

© M.S.E.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hard Freeze

The weather is crazy cold right now! Yesterday and today, in Modesto of all places, the low temp was in the 20's. The weather stations even warned of possible snow flurries-- in Modesto!-- yesterday. I haven't lived in this area all that long, compared to some of the families we know, but I have never been here when it was going to snow. How cool would that be? Don't get me wrong; I don't necessarily want to live surrounded by several feet of snow for the entire winter, but it would be cool to just once have a white winter. Or am I asking too much, living in central California? Maybe instead I should just focus on having peppermint hot chocolates, listening to Christmas music, and bundling up with my baby. Yeah, that should take the edge off a bit. :)

Friday, December 4, 2009


Ethan started saying "mamamama" this week. It's not like they show in the movies, where a baby looks up at you with these angelic eyes and says "Mama" with a sort of wonder and joy that transcends words. No, it's more of a process than that. First, they start sort of babbling the syllables that you want to hear, then, they babble them while looking at you or when they want you, and then, slowly, they figure out that it's only the two repetitions that you need-- Dada, or Mama-- and then you're golden. So far, he's starting to get that the dada sound goes with Joel and the mamamama sound gets my attention the fastest. He will even say dada by itself, which is cool, but has just barely started on the mama's. Still... it's the sweetest thing ever, and I'm thrilled.

He also just started with another word. My parents have a cat that Ethan is enthralled with right now. He follows her around the house like she's the best thing in the world, and she tries to keep just a step or two out of reach the whole time. Sometimes, we fool her by holding him in our lap and calling her over so that he can pet her from the relative safety of an adult's body-zone, and he absolutely loves it. We call her so much that he decided to do it the other day-- "Ki-ki" and even, once or twice, "Ki-di"-- how awesome is that? He's calling the kitty! I know, I know, a minor event to be so happy about, but I warned everyone earlier that I could very easily turn into one of those obnoxiously easy-to-please parents who just has to tell everyone about junior's little accomplishments. Except that this is such a big accomplishment that it only makes sense for me to tell the world, right? Uh, right?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pre-Yard Sale Book Heist

My mom is planning to rid the household of the accumulated debris from various homes over the past thirty years. What we can't sell, we'll either donate or take to the dump. My minimalist heart is absolutely singing with joy at the prospects of a nearly empty garage... even though it's at my parents' house, not mine. It will be the project of a lifetime to get my husband on board with my agenda, and stop keeping everything he comes across. "But I could use that!" is the common complaint when I start rooting through the piles and boxes and containers that people haven't seen in years. Well, if you could use it, then why don't you? If it's not seasonal, then why is it sitting out in storage? There are certain things that don't get used often but also shouldn't get thrown away, of course; specific tools, for instance, or childhood keepsakes. But there is really no reason to keep the amount of useless stuff that most of us have piling up in our homes. I'd much rather do a clean sweep several times a year and keep the clutter to a minimum, instead of live amongst boxes and bags or stuff I never even look at, let alone miss.

So anyway, because of the yard sale, we're going through a bunch of the boxes that have been there since my parents moved-- not this time, the *last* time-- and I found a few treasures. For instance, I grabbed the following books to read through the next time I get a few minutes to myself:

-- The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch.
Can't wait to read this one and use up a whole box of tissue at the same time. At least it's motivating, though!

-- A Stir of Echoes, by Richard Matheson.
I loved the movie by the same name, so I wonder what the book will do differently...

-- Eats Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss.
This one is purely for the nerd in me. Grammar is sort of my secret super-power.

-- The Conversation Piece 2, by Bret Nicholaus and Paul Lowrie.
I enjoyed all of the little questions and conversation starters the last time I read it, and wonder how our answers will change this time.

And, of course, because I'm a total grown-up, The Ultimate Adult Only Joke Book. You know, just to improve my vocabulary and such. ;)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Food: Turkey Tortilla Soup

So, can you still call it tortilla soup if you make it sans tortillas? Either way, I had to come up with something to use up at least a little of our Thanksgiving leftovers. The soup was so simple to make, and so flavorful-- a bit spicy, even. Here's what I did: I heated up a pot at medium heat on the stove, then sauteed about half of a chopped onion (plus ~1 Tbsp. minced garlic) in butter. After the onion was translucent, I added 4 cups of chicken broth, 1 cup of hominy, about 1 cup of shredded turkey, 1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, 1-2 Tbsp. of diced jalapenos, some salt, and 1-2 tsp. cumin. Then, the secret ingredient: a packet of dry enchilada mix. You could have used the wet enchilada sauce in the can, but my pantry is sadly lacking and the dry mix was all I had available. I let all of that simmer for about half an hour, then added about 1/3 cup chopped cilantro and about 1/4 cup milk.

Side note: You may have noticed the number of times I say "about" in this recipe; that's because so much of what I do while cooking involves just eyeing the measurements and making do with what I have in the cupboard or fridge. It would be great to have every ingredient necessary at all times, but that's more of a "Someday..." type of scenario. For right now, our motto is MAKE DO!-- and make it good.

Anyhow: After about 5 minutes, just long enough to heat everything through and make sure the flavors were melding, I took the soup off the stove and served it with shredded cheese and some more fresh cilantro on top, plus a generous squeeze of lime. It was so delicious! Spicy, kind of creamy, and full of the earthy warmth only tomato-based sauces seem to impart to a dish. I can't wait to try it with maybe a green and a red enchilada sauce, this time the liquid kind, and some additional toppings: crunchy tortilla strips, avocado slices, sour cream. I'm salivating already!