Friday, December 31, 2010

14 months of Mac


You turned 14 months on Christmas Eve, you are no longer our little baby! You try so hard to be a little girl! You are exploring everything around the house and are very curious and busy trying to figure out what everything is and how it works. You are spending more of your time walking, talking, and pointing at the world around you.

Your vocabulary, both verbal and signed is tremendous. Your verbal vocabulary includes: mama, dada, puppy, pretty, ball, book, duck, and balloon. You will tell us that a puppy "pants", a sheep says "baa", a lion says "aaaaaa", and you will point to the Baby Jesus of the nativity or in books and say "Deezus". Your signed vocabulary is: water, milk, more, please, food, thirsty, fan, read, and airplane. You are very pleased with yourself when you learn a new word or a new way to communicate with us. You will also point out your own foot, tummy, and hair and will point to other people's eyes or nose whenever asked to. This probably is not the best thing to do, but we often teach/bribe you with one of your new favorite marshmallows. In fact, we had to hide the marshmallows so you would stop carrying them around the house!

Some of your favorite things to do is to push things around in boxes or your new shopping cart, reading books endlessly, and playing with your puppys. You are very content to sing to yourself or dance to music on the radio and you love toys that you can make music on. We got you a new kitchen and some play food for Christmas and you like to pretend to cook and eat the food already.

You are doing a better job of pretending to eat the food than eating real food. Your appetite is voracious in the morning and gradually slows throughout the day. Mommy tries not to worry about it, but makes sure to give you a good breakfast with protein in the morning so that we only have to worry about veggies and fruit for the rest of the day. You still love Mac and cheese, green beans, and bananas most of all. We gave you some asparagus last night which you really enjoyed the tips of, but your diapers have been less than pleasant this morning.

You are happy to tag along as we go visit people or run errands every day. Everyone comments on how friendly and happy you are as we get out of the house. I try to get out with you once a day at least which has been helped by the fact that you are not taking your morning nap as frequently. This has also stretched your afternoon nap into a nice long 2-3 hour nap which helps mommy get something done and rest a bit herself as you lay down. You sleep from 8/8:30 to 8 most nights and we rarely have to go to you at night. You pretty much put yourself to sleep as long as you have a blankie to snuggle and a blankie to cover up with. You spent the night at both MiMi and PawPaw's house and KiKi and Popi's house this past month which was nice for Mommy and Daddy to relax (and we have to prepare for your brother or sister coming in two months or so.

I hope you know how happy you make us and we hope we will make you laugh and smile as much as you do today, for the rest of your life. Thank you for another wonderful month or so!

Mommy and Daddy


Our Christmas this year was amazing! Matt had the whole day off, making it our first Christmas Eve ever that we have had the day off together. We relaxed in the morning as we had all of our shopping and baking done ahead of time which made for a nice way to spend time as a family. I went to my very first Christmas Eve service and really enjoyed the candlelight portion of the service. We were stunned on our way out by a very heavy falling of "Texas/Houston Snow" (a downpour) and had to be very careful driving after that. We spent time at my mom's house with my mom's side of the family, our dear friends the Medlins, and my grandmother on the other side. It was nice to talk with family we don't necessarily see very often. Christmas morning was all ours and we woke MacKenzie up (how many more Christmases will we get to say that?) to have belgian waffles with homemade peach sauce. We had her open her presents (one toy, one book, one new outfit) and we also gave her a kitchen we got off of craigslist. She enjoyed her presents, but really liked trying to put the paper back on the packages, standing in front of the tree dancing, and pushing around a box with all of her toys inside. Matt and I set a budget for our gifts this year (just as we do every year) and we were both able to find some really good items for one another. That afternoon we spent with my Dad's side of the family and had our usual appetizers (everyone else had Jack and Coke too), with a "formal" sit down meal, and presents. MacKenzie slept through dinner (just like she did at Thanksgiving), but enjoyed presents and a movie with the family. She really liked the Grinch doll my Dad and Debra got her! Matt's side of the family got a little disheveled because of Rob's assignment with the military so we came up to College Station and exchanged presents with Matt's parents and grandparents, but we will not get to see the siblings until MLK weekend. It will be nice to see them soon!

The day after church they sang a new song that I have been trying to keep in mind for the past week...Happy Day after Christmas and Merry rest of the year! Stay safe this New Years Eve and a multitude of blessings to all of our friends and family in 2011!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Guido's Pizza

Last night Matt, Mac, and I cashed in on a groupon (the fastest growing company EVER) that we got a few weeks ago. It was to a pizza place not far from us called Guido's. We gave it a whirl in our never ending search for the perfect pizza...

The menu is diverse enough with a wide variety of pizzas, some sandwiches, and a few pastas. The part of the kitchen where they make the pizzas is open to the dining area which it is fun to watch them carefully peer into the pizza oven to check for doneness on the crust. One portion of the dining room has a little kid area where your kid could play on an indoor playground (which can be nice and can be annoying depending on why you are going out).

We got a Greek salad and a Guido's Special pizza. Matt was excited there was Peroni available so he indulged. The salad was more than enough for us to share and had a really tart balsamic dressing on it. The salad ingredients were all fresh and crisp so I would rate this salad highly. The pizza was good, it had real ingredients and a lot of italian seasoning mixed in with either the cheese or sauce. I liked the crust, it had that slightly sweet flavor that east coast pizzas are well known for. The middle of the pizza was a little soggy, but the last two thirds was crisp and perfectly chewy at the same time. All of that being said, I think it could have used more cheese and a stronger, bolder sauce. To me a pizza has to have a good foundation of crust (which it had for the most part), but also needs a stand out sauce and generous amounts of good quality cheese.

All in all, the pizza was good, we would gladly go with others if they suggested it, we would go if we needed a place to eat where the kids could also play, but there are other pizza places around that we like a lot more. So good, but we have other suggestions if you need it!

Additionally, we weren't sure if they were going for authenticity, but the bathrooms (not the whole restaurant) smelled really NYC/New Jersey authentic. They stank bad... not sure if it was a grease trap issue or a plumbing issue, but both of us noticed at our respective trips to use the facilities...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


This recipe is not what I thought of when I think of Goulash, but it is yummy and delicious. I would say it is a cross between Goulash and Chili Mac. The base recipe is a recipe from Paula Deen, Bobby's Goulash...

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound ground turkey
2 large onions, chopped
3 cups water
1 (29-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
2 cups dried elbow macaroni
In a Dutch oven, saute the ground beef and ground turkey over medium-high heat, until no pink remains. Break up meat while sauteing; spoon off any grease. Add the onions to the pot and saute until they are tender about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups water, along with the tomato sauce, tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, soy sauce, House Seasoning, and seasoned salt. Stir well. Place a lid on the pot and allow this to cook for 20 to 25 minutes.

Add the elbow macaroni, stir well, return the lid to the pot, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves and allow the mixture to sit about 30 minutes more before serving.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

I change this up in a few ways. I add Worcestershire sauce when browning the meat, extra garlic powder, and sometimes a little Tabasco. I also brown the meat and saute the onions at the same time. You can obviously use a regular pot instead of a dutch oven and switch around your ground beef to whatever you have on hand (we usually use venison). This most recent time we made the recipe x1.5 and added one can each of dark kidney, light kidney, and pinto beans. Further advice is this...the recipe is huge! The 1.5 recipe basically would have fed 14 adults and this does not freeze well (the noodles get a little too mushy). Also I would highly recommend grating sharp white cheddar cheese on top, it adds a nice sharpness and cheesy flavor.

Enjoy this wonderful dish that is warm and filling!

Monday, December 20, 2010

11 weeks left

We are 29 weeks today, so officially well into our third trimester. In some ways this pregnancy has gone by fast, in others it seems slower. Either way I am enjoying it and wish that I could write down every little detail (and had done the same with MacKenzie). I am feeling good, getting larger (sometimes Matt helps me up) and getting a bit more tired. MacKenzie is so good at playing by herself that sometimes I can doze for a few minutes on the couch if I don't get to a nap when she is laying down. I thought I felt great last pregnancy, but I feel even better this time! The baby moves like crazy, with very strong kicks, and I am able to distinguish what is baby butt/back and what is baby arms and legs.

I went to the doctor last week. Blood pressure and both of our heart rates look good, there is no swelling, I passed my glucose test without any problems, and I am measuring just slightly ahead (which is expected with our size babies). Trike kicked the doctor when she measured my uterus, which I thought was amusing and the Doctor said the baby is already in an up/down position and probably will stay that way for the duration.

Here are a few pics...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Things I like about Christmas...

Just a few thoughts about the little things I enjoy about Christmas...

Shopping for presents for others. I have really enjoyed that this year and have a mere handful of things to pick up before I can complete my wrapping for the year! This year a lot of ideas came to our heads and we hope that people enjoy what we have picked out for them. Hopefully Mac won't pull all the presents out and unwrap them before we can give them to the recepients!

Decorating the Christmas tree. Matt and I don't usually buy souveniers when we go places, but we do try to find an ornament when visiting a new place or when we have a "big" change in our lives. When we decorate the tree we talk about the ornaments (briefly) while we place them on the tree. We need to write down where and why we got the ornaments before they increase in number too much. Our deocrating this year has been ongoing and I love the new tradition. We have a somewhat sparse tree (not sparse in ornaments, but sparse in branches (it was a cheap fake tree...what did you expect). So when we receive a Christmas card we have been placing the card in the branches to keep it on display. I thought it was a rather clever idea!

People make an extra effort to get together over the holidays which we love. We work really hard all year to keep up with family and friends...sometimes that is reciprocated, sometimes it isn't, but we never feel jilted or cheated of social time around the holidays.

The smells of cinamon, pine, baked goods, and crisp cold air... Sometimes we are lacking the last right now...come on cold weather!

Something new this year... I will be going to my first Christmas Eve service that I can remember. We never went as far as I recall as kids and since we will be in town this year and we are plugged in to our church, we are going to the service. I hope it is as joyful as my mind is playing it up to be.

I am enjoying creating new traditions and things that I like for our home and for our family. I am sure there will be plenty more to come!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Self Rising Flour and Big change to a recipe

For all of you out there getting ready to make my Snickerdoodle recipe that can be found here, I want you to stop immediately. Put down the mixer, put down the measuring spoon, put down the cinnamon sugar. Today I made a batch of the cookies (my friend Karlin is making me mushroom soup, I make her Snickerdoodles...we have a symbiotic relationship based on food) and was dismayed when mid cooking (and mid nap for Baby Girl) I discovered that I was out of AP flour. I had just used almost all of my AP flour in replacement of Bread flour which I was out of to make foccaccia (more on that later) for the same person. Lucky for me I was in possession of five other flours... The first was Tapioca flour, used more for thickening it was automatically out. The second was Pasta flour, with too grainy of a texture, it too was gone. The next three were Whole Wheat (possible, but would definitely alter the taste and probably would alter the texture), Cake flour (definite possibilities there, but would it be too light and airy), and Self-Rising flour (could work, but would it leaven the cookie dough too much). As I muddled over my conundrum, munching on a corner of the aforementioned foccaccia, I saw two stars next to the flour on the recipe. What is this I thought? I looked at the bottom of the recipe and to my delight there was a replacement for the AP Flour! I could use Self-Rising and merely omit the salt, baking powder, and cream of tartar. An approved replacement and less things to measure...Yippee!!! I mixed up my ingredients, baked my cookies, and marveled at their puffy shape as they came out of the oven 8-10 minutes later. I tried one hoping that it would taste as good as the standard gems I made even if they were a little rounder. I only have this to say...when Betty Crocker says you "could" change the recipe, what she meant was that you "should" change the recipe. I marveled at how light, fluffy, and perfectly sweet this cookie had become. The cinnamon sugar barely coated the outside of the cookie and it was like eating a puffy cloud of soft sweetness. I will make a note (along with the note that this makes about 45 cookies) in my cookbook for this to be a permanent change.

What will I do with all of this extra self rising flour you may ask? That one is easy. As Self-Rising flour has a somewhat legitimate expiration date (unlike the fake date of AP flour, salt, and other staples that could last indefinitely), you do need to use your flour within a year or so. Now the Snickerdoodles are easy and delicious, but something equally delicious and even easier to make is your very own beer bread. I got this recipe from an old college roomie who I did not get along time she made this recipe and replaced the sugar with salt...that was gross, but this is not! Pre-heat your oven to 375. Mix 3 cups Self-Rising flour, 1/2 cup sugar, a sprinkle of salt, and your favorite bottle of beer (I recommend Shiner Boch, but Shiner is my recommendation for almost everything...Guinness is good too). Butter a loaf pan and put the very sticky batter in the pan. Bake for 55 minutes, buttering the top of the loaf for the last 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Have fun with your Self-Rising flour!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


You might not want to read any further if you are creeped out by breast feeding...or maybe you should read is up to you...

I always knew that I wanted to give breast feeding a whirl when I had kids, but I thought I would do it for 6 months or so max. For some reason that all changed as soon as I found out I was pregnant with MacKenzie. I wanted to breast feed for as long as we could with my goal being a year. I knew it would be better for her and it would be an incredible way for us to bond. I was scared of it all going wrong though. I hated the idea of being attached to an idea like breast feeding and then failing at it. So I read a lot of different websites and books on the subject and told myself that we were simply going to give it our best effort. I was crushed when they had to take MacKenzie to the NICU right away to get her breathing under control. I was, of course, super thankful that they had her best interests in mind and that they were going to be able to help her, but I wanted to nurse as soon as possible after birth. I had read that it was a great way to get things started off right. Her waiting on nursing was not the end of the world and they soon brought her back to me to give it a try. I cannot tell you what I thought it would feel like, but it wasn't what I thought. The first time or two it didn't hurt (we will get to that later), but it was definitely a new experience. We knew that the first few days were really about trying to nurse as much as possible and we were happy when the pediatrician on staff told us that as long as we were trying to nurse every few hours not to worry if she was sleepy or didn't latch on for long. Heartened by this, we went with the flow, knowing that being relaxed was better for the overall nursing experience. Until "That Nurse" came in... She asked how long we had nursed for and got really mad at us for only nursing a few minutes before MacKenzie fell back asleep. I, being rich with pregnancy hormones and worry about not being a good enough mother, immediately began to cry and bawled that the pediatrician said we were doing fine and not to worry about it. I must have been forceful enough that we were fine because the nurse was really nice and very complimentary the rest of our time there. We went home armed with an assurance from the Lactation consultant on staff that everything looked fine and we just needed more time (practice and experience basically) and that it would all fall into place...just keep nursing.

We took MacKenzie in to the pediatrician that week and they were worried about her jaundice levels (I tried not to freak out and kept telling myself "You are a good mother" repeatedly). They informed us that this was perfectly normal and that the best solution was to nurse as much as we could. Matt and I immediately went home, I settled on the couch with my shirt up, he brought me water and snacks, and we let MacKenzie nurse to her hearts desire. If she so much as made a peep in protest, I offered nursing to her. She frequently fell asleep while nursing for the next few days (as did I), but her jaundice levels were down a few days later. Having not discovered how wonderful a nursing cover was at this point, I struggled to cover up with a blanket when company was over. I was thankful when it was just my mom who came over to visit because I didn't have to worry. Over a year later, I would tell new moms not to stress about covering up in addition to learning about breast feeding, but I am (and was) modest too, so I totally understand!

Weeks later I was still in pain. I wondered if it would ever get better. I cracked and cried and struggled with even showering because of how much pain I was in. I told myself I had to make it to four weeks. If, at the end of four weeks I wanted to give up I could, otherwise I had to keep going another four weeks. In the midst of this we kept nursing. MacKenzie nursed every two to three hours for at least 30 minutes. The couch had a permanent indention where I sat to nurse her. I enjoyed giving her nourishment, but wondered if the pain would ever go away. One day I looked at her tiny little mouth and realized that it was, in fact, a tiny little mouth. Not just a baby mouth, but literally a smaller mouth. The next time I nursed her I held her with one arm and used my free hand to drop her jaw as she rooted to latch on. That one little motion of dropping her jaw for her made all the difference. Within a day, my pain was gone and I felt great about breast feeding. Until Thanksgiving that is...

My bout with Mastitis was one of the worst sicknesses I have ever had. This is the only time in my life that I felt like I wanted to die. I thought I was dying. I couldn't stop shaking, I was freezing cold even with three or four blankets in a warm house, I couldn't keep my eyes open, I merely wanted to pass out and for it all to end. Through this...we kept nursing. I knew from reading that the best thing to do was to keep nursing, so we did. Poor MacKenzie didn't cause my infection, I couldn't punish her! Within two doses of antibiotics I began to feel alive again. The next day I felt like I was a whole new person. Mastitis was the worst...nursing her is so worth it though.

Going back to work presented a whole different set of challenges. I had to pump before leaving for work and twice at work. One of those times I knew I could use my classroom, the other time presented a challenge. I asked about gaining access to my room during an off period (I had someone who "floated" into my room). The administrator tried to find a way to switch it around, but was unable to, she sweetly and naively asked if I could use a faculty restroom...silly woman was obviously unaware of how much work and how disgusting that sounded every day. I ended up using a side room (and sometimes the supply closet) in the nurses office. It was a lot of work going down there and pumping, washing the parts, storing the milk, pumping again during lunch (with students knocking on my door), washing again, storing again... but it was worth it. MacKenzie might not have me during the day, but I could at least give her that. It was never an option for me to stop...I knew it was something I had to do. It was tiring, but I didn't become a mother so that I could rest. By the end of the school year I had a deep freeze full of milk and happily donated 450+ ounces of milk to the Mother's Milk Bank in Austin.

I was surprised when my cycle returned while I was breast feeding. I was less surprised when we found out we were expecting another baby despite MacKenzie's nursing schedule. I knew (and hoped) it was possible and that it would happen. I knew that my Doctor would want me to wean, but she merely wanted us to be working on weaning and would like us to be done by 20 weeks. That was right around MacKenzie's birthday so I was fine with that, plus (even with donating 450+ oz) I had plenty of frozen milk for Mac. I was dismayed when I began contracting pretty hard during MacKenzie's nursing sessions. I wanted to wean on a less aggressive schedule, but Baby Trike needed me to stop sooner. We weaned her to once in the am and at night, then dropped the am, then two weeks before her birthday dropped the night nursing. I was a bit sad that I didn't officially make it to one year, but I did the best I could.

The purpose of this post was to write a lot about how difficult nursing could be...but despite it all...we kept doing it. Despite these difficulties, it was absolutely, 100%, in all ways worth it. When she would snuggle up to me while nursing and slowly stroke her tiny hand across my chest or would reach out to touch my hair or face, I knew that I was a happy Mommy doing the best for my kid. When she would be so happy that she would start signing to herself as she nursed or when she would grin mid way through nursing...I knew that this was right. I hope any Mommy out there that reads this gets encouragement for nursing. I know that there are circumstances that feel overwhelming and that sometimes you can't control, but before you give up...just keep nursing and see what happens...

A few websites:

One of our first nursing sessions, one of our last nursing sessions, and taking the milk away!

Things I am Thankful for...

So this post might be a week late, but I am still thankful for them even if today is no longer Thanksgiving...

I am thankful for my church and the friends I have made there. Matt and I were really floundering in looking for a community that we could be a part of and we really wanted a strong group of friends that could be a support as well as "hang out buddies" too. We had tried several churches in the area and never really found our niche. We were recommended to CBC time and time again, but resisted. We finally tried their traditional service and LOVED it, but needless to say for those of you who are familiar with the traditional service at CBC, there was a definite lack of "hang out buddy" potential. We didn't exactly qualify for the IHOP senior citizen discount that most of the congregation would be enacting for "hang out" time. We spoke with people at the front desk knowing that we could join a Sunday school (ABF) in order to meet more people our age... Fast forward a year and a half and we really enjoy our Sunday mornings at church, treasure our ABF, love the nursery workers that ooh and ahh over Mac, and feel lonesome without our Small group time each week. Thanks to all of you who are a part of that blessing.

I am thankful for our past, present, and future servicemen and their families who sacrifice so much for our country. Currently, both our brother in law (Rob) and my cousin (Marc) are serving in the Air Force. Both will be leaving the country this spring for different assignments and we appreciate both of them for what they do. I know it is hard on my aunt and uncle to see their youngest going so far away, even though they are immensely proud of him every day. I can't imagine what McKay (Matt's sister) will be going through as the longest Matt and I have ever been apart is three weeks. I think that the spouses of members of our armed services should be just as decorated as our service men and women. Thank you to our veterans (we have several in the family) and our current military personnel.

I am thankful for the country that we live in. Even if I am discouraged by some of the policies of the United States, I love the overall attitude, freedoms, and pursuits that we have here. I try to never, ever forget that we have been guaranteed the right to pursue happiness here in the USA and I work hard with Mattie every day to pursue that happiness as we are allowed.

I am thankful for my home and the shelter it provides and the loving memories we have created as a family in it. It is not a perfect house or a huge house. It will more than likely only be one of a few houses we have in our life, but this house is a great first house and I have enjoyed living in it and learning about home ownership from this house. I love the little family we are nurturing and growing in it. I love the talks and the laughter that resonates in this home, I love the food cooked for our nourishment in this home, and I love the people we have visited with and grown closer with under this roof. I am thankful for my home and the lovely family I am a part of within it.

A huge thank you to my special friends, my wonderful husband, my beautiful daughter, and the little life that grows more ferocious within me each day. You have given me much to be thankful for and I am grateful for this life everyday!