Thursday, May 27, 2010

Using Utensils

Ethan is already starting to use his spoon and fork. I don't even care if we're on track, a little late, or whatever-- I'm just so happy for him, that he's starting to learn some skills to be self-sufficient! It must feel pretty empowering to him. Check it out!

Not even watching where the spoon's going...
CIMG3055-2 (Medium)

Most of it actually made it inside his mouth, shockingly enough.
CIMG3057-2 (Medium)

Isn't that amazing? I'm so proud of him!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eating Like a Pro

Kielbasa, apples, mangoes, cheese, and juice. A feast for a king, or even a lucky toddler.
CIMG3000 (Medium)

And...... it's a goooooaaaaaalllll!!!
CIMG3004 (Medium)

It's actually a big step for him to be able to use two fingers and his thumb to lift the food to his mouth. For a long time, he had to use his entire hand to grasp items, then sort of shove his hand against his open mouth and just wiggle it around until whatever he had a hold of fell inside. Hopefully. So this is definitely progress!

CIMG3005 (Medium)

Look at that smile-- he's so proud of himself. Or maybe he was just watching something funny on Yo Gabba Gabba, I'm not sure. Either way, he really enjoys feeding himself, and is starting to get very decisive about doing it on his own. Growing up fast, my little man!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ethan updates, May '10

Last week we hit some milestones with Ethan. First, he finally ate a grilled cheese sandwich. I'm not sure why it took so long for him to get into sandwiches, but he's finally becoming receptive to eating peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, and he even ate a "veggie" sandwich I made out of soft-cooked carrots and toasted, buttered pita bread. So it looks like he's starting to broaden his food horizons. Thank goodness! He also ate eggs for the first time since he was born; this is more of a miracle than you think. It's not that I haven't tried to feed him eggs, don't get me wrong; it's that he has spit them out every time I put them in his mouth. This time, he actually chewed and swallowed, and asked for more. Hallelujah!

In addition to that, he started really using his fork and spoon this past week. It's neat to watch him work out how to scoop and lift and get the food to his mouth without losing all of it along the way. He's doing pretty well, but of course has moments of deciding to chuck it all on the floor, or splash it on the table, or just stick his entire hand in the food and squish it around. Just testing his limits and seeing how far he can manipulate the world around him, I guess.

Along with those advances in meal-taking, he has also really conquered "bye-bye" and says it all the time now, not just when prompted. He says it at the end of TV shows, when one of us is going to go take a shower, when his dad walks out and ties his Converse... sometimes he even says it just to let us know he wants to go outside and play. Being able to communicate with him is such a blessing, and I'm glad we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

In other news, he is starting to be able to walk again, though with a limp, and seems to be in much less pain after twisting his leg going down the slide on the 13th. I'm so glad to see him trying to walk again, because it was tough to see him wince in pain every time he put any weight on his ankle. Poor thing; it must have been so frustrating to have his movement hampered like that, and be unable to walk around like he's been used to doing for so long now. At least he's on the mend now, though. I never thought I'd say I can't wait for him to be running around the house again, but there you have it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Yard playhouse

My sister and I ran around to some yard sales a few weeks ago and scored big. We were able to get several large pieces of yard playhouse furniture for Ethan-- all for under $20!

CIMG3064 (Medium)

He was playing with it even before his ankle/leg healed... and when we moved it off the cement and into the yard, I think he appreciated the change. :)

CIMG3061 (Medium)

It has a door, window shutters, a slide, and even a "key" that he can turn. What more could a kid ask for? Besides another kid to share it with, I mean... but I suppose that'll have to wait, at least until next year (at the earliest!).

CIMG3063 (Medium)

Owie... Face Plant

Ethan was walking out towards the street, trying to throw out the annoying round, spiky seeds that fall in our yard, when his foot caught on the slanted curb and-- BOOM! Right onto his face. On the asphalt. Ouch, anyone?
CIMG3014 (Medium)

The very next day was when his leg got twisted going down the slide. What a week! He heals pretty quickly, though, so when we took him in to the urgent care to deal with his leg, his face looked like this:

CIMG3021 (Medium)

The doctor seemed more concerned about that than about his leg injury! Oh, the trials and tribulations of childhood. And parenthood, I'm starting to discover.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Photo Fix: Melanie 2009

Another photo repair I worked on was much, much easier than the photo of my dad from 1949. In the old photo, there were fold-marks and wrinkles across the entire page, and taking those out without losing detail or ruining the image underneath was time-consuming and required lots of precision. The photo below, on the other hand, needed some fine-tuning with color balance, hue and saturation, and a few minor cosmetic repairs (i.e., removing stray hairs across the face, improving the lips because all of the reddish color disappeared when the overall yellow tint was removed, fix the strange "bruised" looking shadows on the cheekbones, and so on). I'm really not sure what Joel's camera did that made it yellow; wrong flash setting, maybe?

Mel_01 21 2010_original (Medium)

Mel_01 21 2010_fix (Medium)

It obviously looks a lot better after the fix; and yes, it's true, my skin really is that pale during winter. Once the sun starts shining more, I get covered with freckles and can pretend I'm tan. Yay, summer!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Camo Cheese Attack

"Joel, do you know where Ethan is?"
IMG_0555 (Large)

"No, haven't seen him..."
IMG_0554 (Large)

"And I can't seem to find the cheese, either."
IMG_0553 (Large)

Sneaky monkey!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blankie Love

This baby blanket was handmade for our son by a friend, Vy. Ethan absolutely adores his blankie, and has it with him whenever times are tough-- when he's sick, tired, or feeling miserable. And I have photo proof!

When he was a feverish sickie, and wouldn't leave my lap:
Ethan_blankie1b (Large)

When he was teething and couldn't bear to put any food in his mouth:
Ethan_blankie2 (Large)

When he is just waking up and still feeling a bit sleepy:
Ethan_blankie3 (Large)

He loves that blankie!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Photo Fix: Dad 1949

Just got inspired by some photo repairs my Aunt Kathy has been working on recently in her photoshop classes... so I'm doing some of my own! Here's one of my dad's childhood photographs that I attempted to clean up and repair.

Original photo; highly weathered, faded, wrinkled, and stained--
Dad_004 copy (Large)

I tried to keep his freckles distinct and retain as much detail as possible--
Dad_003 (Large)

I used the second photo along with about 150 others for a DVD slideshow I made a couple of years ago, celebrating my parents' 35th anniversary. It was pretty awesome; I've got to figure out how to post a link so that others can watch it too. It's the type of thing I'd love to do for a living, if I could only figure out how to make sure people actually pay for the services. This isn't Walgreens or Costco, people, it's an individually crafted work of art! (So say all the independent small business owners out there, right? Oy!)

Monday, May 17, 2010

EDD update

So, it appears that there may possibly be a chance that EDD might have allowed me to decline a job offer last month... I called this morning to find out the status of my check--which was supposed to be here two weeks ago, but got delayed while they investigated my claim form--and it looks like that check is now on its merry way! We'll see, this week hopefully. I don't want to hope too much, but I'm much more hopeful than I was last week. It would be such a relief to just know what their decision is, as opposed to wondering and worrying and praying for the best. Anyway, enough of that for now. More later, as events unfold.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Here is my beautiful family, gathered together to celebrate on Sunday.

Mothers Day 2010_2_Lg

All of the ladies got together for lunch at the Elephant Bar... we had some issues with the shrimp (first batch was undercooked, and second batch was old/off/smelled way too fishy), but the manager redeemed the situation by giving first class service and even handing out gift cards to make up for the food problems. Can't wait to go back for their yummy Bloody Mary and a salmon roll!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Danger: Slide Warning

So, I totally injured Ethan yesterday afternoon. Not on purpose (OF COURSE), but while trying to keep him safe. Isn't that ironic? And yet, somehow, not really. I found a great article by Abbi Perets on the "She Knows Parenting" website discussing the ways that going down a slide with your child on your lap can be dangerous. It describes exactly why doing what I did-- placing baby on your lap, then sliding down together-- is actually a pretty common way to break your child's leg. Ethan didn't end up with a broken leg, thank God, but he easily could have. What the heck was I thinking? Why didn't I take better care of him and anticipate that he might get hurt? I guess that's the typical and everlasting lament of parenthood... and so it begins.

To continue, right after I felt his leg crush between my leg and the slide, I practically leapt off the slide and told my sister "I think I might have broken his leg." He was wailing out these terrible cries, and we rushed him (through after-work traffic, of course) to the Kaiser Hospital emergency room. The gracious staff there (thank you to reception, nurses, radiology, Dr.Basi, and everyone else!) moved us rapidly from the emergency waiting room to an exam room and then straight on into the x-ray room. That last bit was painful-- both for Ethan, and for his mommy and auntie to watch-- because we had to hold his little ankle in various positions for them to get the best images. Ouch! The results came back faster than I would have thought possible, and showed that it was not a break. Instead, he was left with a very sore leg and ankle, and he can't put any weight on it right now without a lot of pain. It makes it very difficult to roll over, crawl, stand up, or walk, and pretty much everything that a happy, active toddler wants to do.

He's just miserable right now, poor thing. And I feel so guilty! I wish I would've read this article before taking him to the park yesterday. Guess it's time for the mommy of the year awards!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Closing My Ears

A dear friend (T, you know who you are!) has suggested that I make a change in my life... and not a small one, either. You see, she has accurately determined that one of my besetting problems is that I listen to much to others' opinions-- solicited or not-- about how to live my own life. In fact, sometimes I make decisions based on what people might or might not say, think, or do; whether or not they've even done or said anything! For example, I debated for a long time about getting an augmentation done, and the majority of the reasons were not financially based, as you might have thought; instead, my worries were primarily about how I would deal with the people around me and their possible judgments. It turns out, I haven't had any really negative reactions (or at least none that I've heard about!), and also haven't regretted the surgery one bit. In fact, it was one of the best things I've done for me in a long time.

So why do I care so much about other people's opinions? Is this why I'm so attracted to the idea of Burning Man? Because there, you can try to get out of the little box you've stuck yourself in, and be whoever you want without fear of judging or moralizing or negativity? Maybe it's something I need to start practicing in "real life" too; less regard for what other people might say or think about my actions, and more regard for how it makes me feel and how true it is to my real self. Now, there's a goal I can work on for the next few decades. One more step on the path to enlightenment!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hiding in plain sight

Ethan likes to watch TV. Sometimes, though, he likes to watch it while being completely hidden beneath pillows on the couch.
CIMG2939 (Medium)

So that he can then slither out from under them and slowly creep forward...
CIMG2940 (Medium)

Peering over the edges to make sure we can't see him...
CIMG2967 (Medium)

And then, BOOM!
CIMG2954 (Medium)

He jumps out to "surprise" us and cracks himself up in the process.
Mission complete, he can then sit back and relax, congratulating himself on a job well done. That's my boy...
CIMG2944 (Medium)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Baby Instructions

Came across this awhile back and thought I'd share... very helpful for those moments when you're just not quite sure what to do. Keep posted around the house for constant reference. Also nice for babysitters to check out when they get confused. The instructions come from a book called Safe Baby Handling Tips, by David and Kelly Sopp. One example of their very helpful tips:

I had originally posted an entire selection of instructional diagrams on my blog, before thinking about it more and realizing that I was patently infringing upon their copyrighted material. These are published authors who have written a smart, entertaining, very affordable book chock-full of great illustrations and hilarious commentary. Who am I to try to rip them off for a couple of laughs? Let's give credit where it's due, and the credit goes to Mr. & Mrs. Sopp. Thank you for your work, folks-- a sense of humor is long overdue in many of the fine parents I know. Here's hoping your book can help bring it back to life!

Friday, May 7, 2010


I think that some of Ethan's teeth are coming in... again. This boy never stops teething, poor thing. He's been shoving his whole fist in his mouth lately, and when I tried to brush his teeth he practically impaled himself trying to get the toothbrush deeper into his gums. The weird thing is, he already looks like he has enough teeth:
CIMG2979 (Medium)

Yep, plenty of chompers there. Are more really necessary? How many teeth does one person need, anyway? I mean, sure, you don't want any huge gaps up front, and you need your molars for chewing, but aren't the number of teeth we have kind of overkill?

Or maybe I'm just overly sensitive because it's tough to watch him go through the painful process of teething. Either way, it's a point to ponder; next time you're at the Dentist's office, go ahead and bring it up. Of course, they are slightly biased; the more teeth, the merrier, right? At least someone will be happy to hear he's got more coming in!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Food: Carnitas with Pineapple Salsa

The other day I cooked carnitas from scratch for the first time. It took a lot longer than I expected, but was totally worth it. After the pork was finally ready, I got the rest of the meal together. It involved a whole lot of stuff:

- Carnitas (cooked pork)
- Flour tortillas (we prefer the uncooked ones by Guerrero)
- Fresh limes, chopped cilantro, and diced onions
- Shredded cheese blend
- Habanero sauce
- Spanish rice and refried beans with jalapeno

and, for the piece de resistance, Pineapple Salsa:
pineapple salsa (Medium)

YUM! It literally "made" the meal. The tropical flavors of the salsa really enhanced the flavor of the pork, and it was just an awesome meal. The salsa I threw together based on several different recipes and what I had in the fridge, which was basically the following:

- Chopped fresh pineapple
- Diced orange bell pepper, jalapeno, and onion
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Orange-mango fruit mix (flavored applesauce)
- Lime juice, habanero sauce, and salt & pepper to taste

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Birthday BBQ

To celebrate the birthdays of my niece Leila and my sister Adrienne, we hosted a barbecue on the third weekend in April. Here are some photos to remember the day...

Ethan loves to play with his Aunt Elena. And she always has a great time, too. PS-- Notice how long her hair is? Careful not to trip over it next time, Auntie!
CIMG2931 (Medium)

Here are the two birthday girls, going through the time-honored ritual of "shake it and see what's inside..."
CIMG2927 (Medium)

Joel, sporting his "I'm older than I look" facial hair. Hot, hot hot!
CIMG2920 (Medium)

And finally, my darling boy, so much cuter than he has any right to be:
CIMG2919 (Medium)

Don't I have a great family?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pondering a new career...

I'm thinking about how to get myself into a career path that would allow me to stay home with my child or children, have flexible hours, be able to go on family vacations or couples-only holidays when we need to, and yet also make enough money to pay for those little things like rent, utilities, health insurance, and-- if we're lucky-- babysitter fees every so often. Here are some possibilities I'm considering:

- Creating DVD slideshows:
I've made several of these and really enjoy doing it. It would require serious time to myself in front of the computer, which would be difficult without having Ethan in daycare at least part-time. I could sell them for baby showers, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, reunions, retirements, and more. A few years ago I got a business license to start working on this, but it never got past the first few steps; maybe now is a better time for it...

- Creating costumes and accessories:
I started sewing and creating costumes last year for our Burning Man experience. I bought a sewing machine and taught myself some of the basic skills, but I'd love to really get into it this year. They have classes at the local junior college that I'm thinking about taking. Some of the projects I'm going to make this year include furry hats, boot covers and boot toppers, shrugs, and providing some accents to clothes I already have (like wrist cuffs added to a jacket, etc.). Shops that cater to the Burning Man crowd (plus ravers, cosplayers, furries, and others) can charge a heck of a lot of money for their goods-- and still get tons of orders! I already bought one section of material to start working with, so that I can see if this is something not only that I can do, but that I want to do.

Other than that, I'm hoping a book editor miraculously discovers Lemon Tart Life and realizes that it is different from all of the other blogs out there-- it's brilliant yet humble, hilarious yet touching, simple yet thought-provoking, and in a word-- perfect. Then they'll contact me, offer me a lucrative writing contract, and voila! Problem solved.

Yeah, um, I'll go ahead and let you all know when that happens. Meanwhile, here's how my days will probably pan out if I'm my own boss:


Monday, May 3, 2010

Return to the Resolution

So, this week it begins... again. The resolutions I made at the beginning of the year faded away somewhat as I got caught up in the preparations for job searches, job interviews, and a possible move-- all of which basically led me back to where I began, on unemployment and home with my baby. Since I'm back at square one, I might as well re-start my vows to make some lifestyle changes. Ethan and I are going back to the gym again, and I also decided that we need to have more routine in our lives. Like, gym in the mornings, then "field" trips in the afternoon: mall, library, park, playground, grandma's house, etc. That, plus getting back on track with the healthy eating, will make a big difference around here. Can't wait to get started!

I don't necessarily have to look like Halley Berry here, but I'd like to get more fit and toned. And a little more tanned wouldn't hurt, either. Too bad the only way I tan is by amassing freckles and/or getting burnt to a crisp. Some people (HB) are just born luckier than others, I guess.

halley bikini

Oh, and I'm going to be much better about taking my ibuprofin for the shoulder pain, too, because that is half the reason why I don't end up going to the gym in the morning. When I wake up aching, I just can't see how I'd get through a workout *and* carry him in and out of the car several times. Time for major pain control!