Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Six Months

I feel so overwhelmed with conflicting emotions--sadness regarding how quickly he's growing up, a sense of loss of his tiny days, pride at his new accomplishments, and overwhelming love. Mostly love. He is pure sweetness and I can't get enough.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Party Menu

I'm doing reverse trick-or-treating this year instead of having a real Halloween party, but the menu for my imaginary Halloween party is coming together nicely. I'm trying to keep it theme-y with as many orange and black foods as possible. Maybe next year.
Bloody Marys
Some kind of Oktoberfest beer
Orange soda

Roasted garlic (to keep away vampires)
Cheddar cheese (orange, not white cheddar)
Served on mini slices of pumpernickel (or any black bread)
Maybe Doritos too (depending on the crowd)

Roasted carrots
Mashed sweet potatoes or the black rice I saw at the natural foods store

Pumpkin pie
Halloween candy

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Are You Freaking Kidding Me: Keep Your Big Trap Shut Edition

When did people stop following the whole "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" rule? Today, the baby and I went to Target to get some more infant acetaminophen (side note: teething is kicking our butts and the amber necklace is not living up to the hype) and the checker kept talking to my baby and calling him "Butterball". She must have said it at least half a dozen times in the few minutes it takes to check out. At one point, she even reached out and pinched his thigh and said, "Look at those fat thighs!"

Dude, my baby's not fat! He's in the 97th percentile for height and only the 67th percentile for weight. Proportionally, he's a little slimmer than most babies. Do people just not realize that babies are supposed to be chubbier than adults? When did it become OK to comment on other's weight? How hard is it to just say, "What a cutie" so we can both continue along with our days without me imagining throwing discount boxes of generic Tylenol at your head while screeching like a banshee, "My baby's perfect THANKYOUVERYMUCH. Don't you dare touch him!"?

Really people, really. Let's all just keep our opinions to ourselves, shall we?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Western Maryland

Panorama of Deep Creek Lake
I always ask for a trip for my birthday. Plan A was a cheap cruise out of Baltimore, but that was deemed (by Chuk) not doable with a baby, too expensive, and too time consuming. Plan B was staying in a yurt at Deep Creek Lake State Park in Maryland. I have such a fascination with yurts. Unfortunately, when we arrived the yurt was already occupied. (They don't take reservations, so we knew it was a hit or miss plan.) Plan C was stay in a hotel but still check out the fall foliage in the area.
Chuk planned all the baby's outfits for the weekend. Notice the bear on his shirt. 
While I'd still love to stay in a yurt one day, Plan C worked out beautifully. I'd never been to that part of Maryland before and it was just gorgeous.

The weather was perfectly cool and crisp. We took some short hikes and were able to admire the changing leaves and check out some waterfalls.
Bundled up and ready to hike
Muddy Creek Falls, the highest in Maryland

I love living in the city, but weekends in the country are sometimes just the thing. We had a lovely, relaxing time.
And one the way home, we saw a double rainbow! They aren't very clear in this picture, but in real life the one on the left was so vibrant. I'm taking it as a good omen for my 33rd year.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How I Got Here

This week, twelve years ago, I was a senior in college. A friend of mine from high school came down from Smith to my college for the weekend and we went to a free Wycliff Jean concert sponsored by my school. Afterwards we went to another friend's dorm room and did Thin Mint shots (peppermint schnapps and chocolate syrup). I was thinking about breaking up with my on-again, off-again boyfriend, again.

This week, ten years ago, I was living in California, working at a job I hated and taking pottery and ballroom dance classes. I played badminton for exercise. I was single and went to happy hour with my girlfriend every Friday night.

This week nine years ago, I was living in China and baked a boxed yellow cake with canned chocolate frosting that I had brought with me all the way from the US. My apartment didn't have an oven, so I baked it in a borrowed toaster oven. It turned out terribly, but I ate it anyway.

This week, seven years ago, I was living in Washington DC with a roommate and nursing a broken heart. My boyfriend, the one I thought I had a future with, had just dumped me while we were on vacation in Boston. I worked all the time, often traveling more than three weeks a month, and had just started grad school at night.

This week, five years ago, my dad died. I had just finished grad school and gotten engaged. I was shell shocked from so many life changes occurring at once.

This week three years ago, I was vacationing in beautiful Quebec. I had just gotten married and started a little blog.
This week two years ago, I took a little trip to Chicago. I was dreaming of moving to Wicker Park and reconsidering my position on never having kids.

This week, this year, I'm eating Ethiopian food and going yurt camping in Maryland with my husband and five and a half month old baby. Today, I turn 33 and (in both a good way and a bad way) I still can't really believe this is my life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hooded Baby Towel Hack

I think hooded bath towels for babies are super cute, but they're expensive and can be too big for a wet, squirmy little body. Ages ago, someone had given me a microfiber hair towel as a stocking stuffer and it was sitting in the back of our linen closet. I never once used it for my hair but it works extremely well as a baby towel.
It's easy to cover the top of the baby's head quickly with the towel and it is the perfect length for a baby's body. (When we first started using it to dry him off, it reached almost to his feet and now it only covers a bit past his bottom. At both lengths it's long enough, without being too long.) Because it's microfiber, it dries him very quickly, which helps to keep him from getting too cold. We often use a hand towel to dry off the front of his body.

Turbie Towel or Turbie Twist are the brand name of the product to which I'm referring, and they sell for like $5, but I've seen generic versions at the dollar store as well for just a buck. Either way, they are much less expensive than actual hooded baby bath towels and I'd say slightly more effective since the baby doesn't get all tangled up in it.

Using a hair towel as a baby towel works for me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A New Way to Celebrate Halloween

Is it lame to take a baby who is too young for solid foods trick-or-treating? I fear the answer is yes, but GAH, it's his first Halloween! In an attempt to balance my need for pictures of every one of my infant's "firsts" with my shame at knowing the neighbors are going to know his 30-something parents are going to literally be stealing candy from a baby, I think I've struck a Halloween compromise. I'm calling it "Reverse Trick or Treating". 
My plan is that we'll go to one or two of the houses on our street (minimizing the shame) for the trick-or-treating photo op and the authentic Halloween experience, but we'll spend most of the evening going door-to-door in our apartment building passing out mini loaves of pumpkin bread. Apartments never get trick-or-treaters (which is so sad because no one should be denied the cuteness which is small children in costume) so I don't think my neighbors will be prepared with candy, but if we do the treat-giving I think it will eliminate some of that awkwardness of an unexpected knock at the door and give us a chance to meet more of our neighbors. It's a win-win-win*: baby gets to trick-or-treat/I get more pictures, we get to meet more of our neighbors, and the neighbors get pumpkin bread and to see a baby otter.
Speaking of the baby otter, I bought this clearance costume online while I was still pregnant because it was brand new and less than $5. It's a size 6-12 months so I thought surely my very tall sixth month old (he'll be six months and one day old on Halloween) will fit into it. But no, it's about five sizes too big on him (except for the hat, which fits perfectly on his big noggin.) I was debating getting/making him another costume, but Chuk put the kibosh on that and suggested we stuff the costume with newspaper. I'm not going to stuff it, but he's probably going to be an otter next year too.

What are you doing (if anything) for Halloween? Do you know your neighbors?

*Win, win,win is from The Office. You can watch a clip from episode I'm referencing here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


It was 75 degrees today, so we took the baby to the zoo for the first time. He liked it. So many people and trees to look at, and the animals were pretty good too.
The flamingos were, hands down, his favorite animals. I think it's probably because they were the easiest for him to see. At five months, his eyesight is still not fully developed.
This mama and baby gorilla napping together were so sweet; it made me want to cry. When Chuk and I were last here, in January, that mama was carrying that baby around on her back and now he's so big. He's not to big for a cuddle though. 
In less sweet viewing, I saw this silver back gorilla catch his poop in his hand and then eat it. Everyone let out an audible "Ewww" at the same time.
Not to be undone in the gross department, at the very next cage, this orangutan was eating his barf (licking it up off the floor) when I came over. When he was done, he sat there for a minute, looking at everyone through the glass, then he barfed again and ate the barf again. Seriously, animals are disgusting.
This guy, who knows a thing or twenty about barf himself, was worn out. We're already talking about and strategizing  for our next trip to the zoo. Next time, more time at the farm, and we'll skip the bird house and go straight to the flamingos.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Choosing an Appropriate Halloween Costume

Below is a repost of one of the earliest posts I wrote. I am just as dismayed now as I was four years ago, when I first wrote this, by the scarcity of modest Halloween costumes for women and the pervasive sexism that this represents. I continue to boycott these types of costumes and I hope you will too. 
Is it just me or could nearly all women's Halloween costumes be described as "Slutty ______"? Seriously, it's all just different versions of the same prostitute costume. I thought Halloween was supposed to be scary, not objectifying.

They don't pull that crap with men's costumes. They sell men's doctor costumes, but only "sexy nurse" for women. Men can get a fire fighter's costume, but sorry ladies, you'll have to be "Hot Stuff". I thought this was the 21st century. Can't women be doctors and fire fighters too? (I know, theoretically I could wear a man's costume, but I'm 5'4", so it's unlikely any would fit.) 
Let's compare two costumes in the same theme: prisoners. They are similar down to their little hats, except that the man is covered up in loose clothing while the woman is in a low-cut, skin-tight mini-dress. AND they are charging women $15 more for half (or a third) as much clothing. These are from the same catalog.

It's time for us to vote with our dollars, ladies. Just say "no" to overpriced, skanky costumes. Even if you can't sew (I can't either!) you can throw a sheet over yourself and say you're a ghost. It'll be retro cool.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Getting Your Pumpkins to Last

As I've mentioned here a time or twelve, I'm pumpkin crazy. I love using pumpkins to decorate throughout the fall. They feel so autumnal to me and I like that they're also natural, affordable and disposable. Disposable is important when you live in a small apartment, like I do. I don't have the space to store decorations for every holiday and season.

I've kept pumpkins for up nine months before, but nowadays, I just want my pumpkins to last from the time I get them in September or October until the end of November. To keep my pumpkins looking nice and fresh and new throughout the season, this is what I do.

  • I'm careful to pick pumpkins with no soft spots, blemishes on the skin, gouges, or mold at the base of the stem or on the bottom. You really have to check them carefully. So many, especially ones from the grocery store, are damaged and aren't going to last. 
  • When I get them home I wash them thoroughly in the sink or tub to get off any dirt and to wash away any mold spores and excess bacteria. The mold and bacteria are what causes the pumpkins to soften and rot.
  • Make sure they are very, very dry. I dry them with a towel and then let them sit on my cold stove burners for a few hours so air can circulate underneath the pumpkins. (You could also use cooling racks, like for baking.)
  • When I'm sure they're clean and dry, I take it a step further and wipe them down with either rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or a bleach solution. This ensures you're really killing the bacteria and mold spores. Be sure you clean the bottom of the pumpkin and the base of the stem very well. 
  • Let it dry again. This shouldn't take as long as before. Then you're ready to display them in a cool (room temperature is fine, but try to avoid keeping them right under your heating vents or near your radiator or fireplace) dry place.
  • I rarely carve pumpkins anymore, but if you do carve them, be aware that they'll only last a day or two at the very most.
It sounds like a lot of steps, but they go by quickly. It actually takes less hands on time than arranging grocery store flowers in a vase and then you don't have to think about your decorations for three months, so it's totally worth it. That totally works for me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Adobo

There is something about fall that makes me want to cook everything in the Crockpot. I think, that to me, fall smells like leaves on the ground, dirt in a pumpkin patch and something slow cooking in the kitchen all day. It's all very Marcel Proust. So in keeping with the idea of food smells bringing back happy memories, I decided to try and make my grandma's adobo in the Crockpot.

Why, why did I not try this earlier? So good and so easy. Seriously, if you eat meat, you must try this. It works with both chicken and pork.

Crockpot Chicken Adobo

3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. minced garlic
6 Bay leaves
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black peppercorns
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
10 Tbs. sugar

Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Pour enough oil into your slow cooker to coat the bottom, just a couple of tablespoons. You don't want your meat to stick, but you don't want it greasy either. Pour all the other ingredients into the slow cooker and give it a stir. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve over rice with lots of green vegetables on the side.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy Hour at Home: Cosmopolitan

Like the rest of the world, I fell in love with Cosmos while watching Sex and the City. When I was home from college on breaks, my mom and I would mix up some cosmos and sip them while watching SATC. Good times. Since then, they've remained one of my favorite drinks and I can't believe I haven't written about them before now.


2 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. Cointreau (or triple sec)

Shake ingredients vigorously with ice and pour into a martini glass. Lime is the classic garnish, but I prefer it garnished with a maraschino cherry or drunken gummy bears

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Helping Your Newborn Stay Asleep

Whenever anyone asks my how my baby sleeps, I always answer a little sheepishly. My guy was sleeping seven hours straight at night before he was a month old. This usually make other parents jealous...or hate me.  While I think there's a lot that contributes to him being a good sleeper (not least of which is pure luck!) one thing we noticed in the beginning is we'd put him in his crib completely asleep and he'd wake up in a minute or two. We'd put him back to sleep, lay him in his crib and then he'd wake up again, over and over. My intuition told me it was going from the warmth of our arms to the cool sheet that was causing the problem.
Turns out, my intuition was right. (I later learned there is an actual response in babies called "sheet shock".) By simply putting a heating pad on his bed for a few minutes to warm up his sheets before we put him down, we never again had the problem of him waking up again right away. It was such an easy solution and since we already had the heating pad, it was free.
Now, most of the time we would take the heating pad out of the crib right before we put him in it, but as you can see from the pictures, sometimes we let him sleep right on the heating pad. Let me assure you, the times we did this, we turned off the heating pad before we put him on it. It is safest for there to be nothing in the crib with your child, but if you do allow your child to sleep with a heating pad, please make sure it is turned off first. Use common sense.

Using a heating pad to warm my son's bed worked for me very, very well. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Random Monday

1. Random Monday should be called "Couldn't get my act together until Tuesday."

2. We went to Oktoberfest on Saturday with friends. I tried two kinds of beer and two kinds of sausages. I didn't get a pretzel and I still feel disappointed about that. It was my first Oktoberfest experience and it was really fun. Hopefully one day I'll get to go to the real Oktoberfest. One of my dork dreams is to dance in a dirndl. 

3. We got pumpkins on Sunday. A stranger took probably our best family picture to date at the pumpkin patch. Thanks random guy!

 4. My new hobby is dressing my baby in animal hats and taking his picture.

5. My husband bought our son a bike for his five month birthday. You know, because every five month old (who can't even sit up yet) needs his own bike.

6. The bike retails for $80; the guy at the second hand store was asking $19, but I bargained him down to $10. Score! I actually really love to haggle, but have almost no occasion in my life to do so.

7. Chuk made bagels again this weekend. Those bagels are SO good. I ate two on Sunday. It kind of made up for not getting a pretzel at Oktoberfest. Almost.

8. Linking up with Deb over at Not Inadequate