Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Keegan at 10 months


Last week you turned 10 months old. Wow! I cannot believe how fast you are growing up. I realize that our job as parents is to guide you along the way as much as we can in order to prepare you for becoming you own person, but I just wish it would slow down a bit. Didn't you come with a pause button?

You are so physically active. I remember you being very much so in my belly, but I think it is amusing to see that translate to out here in the open as well. You are always moving, exploring, and getting into everything. You love to crawl around, but it almost seems like you are not satisfied with crawling and wish you could walk. I promise that it will be soon. You like to pull up on furniture and reach for as much as you can. You also love to bounce to music while pulled up and will really groove! Your body is always wiggling and moving around, I hope you stay active your whole life!

You are an amazing eater and will eat almost anything we put in front of you. You have not been a huge fan of bananas or olives, but other than those two things, you eat whatever we eat just in smaller form. You would think you wouldn't be a huge fan of chewing things with just two little teeth, but you manage to chew an awful lot...or you will just stuff it all into your mouth and hope it isn't too much for you to manage! You really like pasta, bread, green beans, and fruit. But I don't know that anything is your favorite yet. You certainly enjoyed all of the Christmas food we had and I think you have been eating as much if not more than your sister.

You have really started looking at and enjoying books recently. You will babble when you see a book you like or shriek with happiness if you like the picture. You love the touch and feel books, especially the pages with animals. You also enjoy stuffed animals, dolls, and any toy that makes noise. Yesterday you chased the big red ball around the house a bit. You love messing with anything MacKenzie is playing with and will lurch for any electronics that are around.

You are a sleepy baby! If we let you, you will sleep from 8:30 to 8:30 and will take two solid 2-3 hour naps. Many days you don't get quite that much. You are so easy to put to sleep too, you will fuss for about 20 seconds then lay on your tummy, suck on your fingers, and pass out. Sometimes you wake up for a bit and fuss, but we know unless you are getting really upset to just let you sleep some more. You seem to be enjoying sharing a room with your sister and she loves to throw books and stuffed animals in your crib when you two are awake in the morning. I am glad you find delight in that.

You are laughing, squealing, and babbling more each day. It seems like you are starting to wave bye bye and you understand the signs for milk and more. Sometimes you do the sign for milk, but we aren't as consistent as we should be. You definitely say Mama and Dada and it seems at the end of our prayers (at meals and bed time) that you will say "Ay-ay", but we aren't sure if it is a definite word or not. You also seem to be getting the hang of putting your hands above your head for "Yay!". You love bath time with sissy and Daddy and you love to be tickled and snuggled. You are also getting in the habit of playing with and chasing MacKenzie so it will be nice to see how you two get along in years to come.

We love you Keegan Joy. You are an amazing and unique little girl who brings much happiness to our lives.
Mommy and Daddy

Chocolate Cake Taste Test

This taste test had been a brainchild of mine for some time. It sounded like a really good idea at first...but we were way wrong about it being a good idea...it was a very painful and overwhelming idea! I will explain how later.

Matt and his sister LOVE chocolate cake. When she was in Texas this past October around her birthday, we invited her down to celebrate by having a taste test of some of our favorite Chocolate cakes. Additionally we had wanted to try one of the chocolate cakes in town that we hadn't before and figured this might be a good time to do so. We chose three fancy places and one normal place that we knew had good chocolate cake as a "control". We had fancy score sheets and I made sure they didn't know where each slice was from so we could control as many variables as possible.

I will start with the worst...and boy was it bad.

We had heard amazing things about The Chocolate Bar here in Houston. They had been written up in several magazines for having wonderful chocolate desserts. Matt went down and asked for a slice for the most popular chocolate cake they had.

The scores for this ranged from 19 to 12 on a 30 point range. The icing was flat, the taste was "eh", and I wrote that "it left me wanting more from the cake, not more bites of cake". This was a really dry piece of cake too and we definitely expected more from a $11 piece of cake.

The next best (and nowhere near as bad as the previous) was the cake from Cheddar's. This was our control cake and we knew it would be good.

This cake exactly served it's purpose. It is a decent cake and one that you could see your mom or grandma serving to you. It is spongy, the icing and cake complement each other, and as Matt said it is "good, but not exceptional". It certainly knocked the socks of the previous cake with scores ranging from 18 to 26 and was nicely priced at around $6. It also gets brownie points (which is odd because it is chocolate cake) for being accessible in many places and for being served with ice cream.

The next two were a bit of a toss up. One we all decided was better as Chocolate CAKE, the other was better as a Chocolate DESSERT.

For the better cake we chose Taste of Texas.

This cake is amazing...as you can see in the picture there are Chocolate Straws that are usually acting as "flying buttresses" to hold the cake up on the plate. It tastes like cake, it is soft and moist, it has quality chocolate in that there are hints of fruity flavors, it has a good icing to cake ratio and the icing is good in and of itself. There was depth of flavor in the cake and you felt satisfied in looking for a good chocolate cake. The scores for this one were 28, 28, and 29. This cake puts you back almost $13.

The better of the desserts though was The Palm.

It is almost difficult to describe the cake from The Palm. The cake is so soft and the layers between cake and icing so thin that it really melds together. This is definitely a dark chocolate flavor so if you are not a dark chocolate fan, beware. A good amount of icing is concentrated on top which made it loose points with Matt and his sister because they like a lot of icing and they want it distributed through the cake. I am not as big of a fan of icing so it got extra points for this with me. This cake is so rich, so soft, and so intense that it almost hurts. Beware if you are prone to migraines triggered by chocolate...just smelling this cake could throw you overboard. McKay killed this one's ratings by giving it a 21 and Matt and I gave it a 26 and a 29 respectively. This one does cost you are pretty penny at $17.

All in all, if you had to ask us which one was best we would have to clarify what you are looking for...a crazy intense chocolate dessert points to The Palm. A really good piece of chocolate cake would mean a trip to Taste Of Texas. Either way...stay far, far away from The Chocolate Bar.

Why was this a bad idea you ask...this was way too much chocolate cake even for the three of us and we barely made a dent in it. All three of us felt very off the next day from trying bite after bite of our favorites. We needed at least three more people tasting with us and a little more self control. I am sure there are more good cakes to taste in Houston though, so I will keep you posted if we try again!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Real Santa

Matt and I have been discussing a lot about the "Santa issue" in our house. We see many sides with whether to introduce him to the kids or not...we still have another year to finalize our stance because as far as MacKenzie is concerned, he is just a nice man (or woman) who gives her candy canes.

This post is not about us fleshing out our Christmas traditions so much as it is, for us, who Santa really should be in our lives...

Today my beloved Nana was doing some last minute shopping at her favorite store Palais Royal (she loves Hallmark too, maybe more so). She wanted to get some little gifts for the caretakers at her assisted living and extra items for her loved ones that she always spoils and dotes on throughout the year. As she was puttering around the store she came across a very nice sweater and one that she very much would have liked for herself. She saw no indication that it was included in any of the store sales so she added it to her items telling herself that she would only purchase it depending on how much her total was for the gifts for the other people in her life. When she was ready to checkout she told her checker that she wanted to see her grand total before she included the sweater in her purchases. A woman that was checking out next to her, but was almost done commented that she wanted to check the price of the sweater as well. My Nana obliged and carefully watched her total. As her transaction was complete, she didn't notice the sweater anywhere, but her checker handed her two bags. The items she had purchased was in one...and the sweater...purchased by the other woman for my grandmother was in the other! The checker next to her said the woman purchased it for my grandmother as part of her total so my grandmother could have something for herself too. Of course my grandmother burst into tears, the checker burst into tears, several other customers in line got weepy, and my uncle who had come into get my grandmother was moved by the generosity and compassion exhibited.

This is the Santa that we want to instill in our daughters hearts. We needed a bit of a reminder of it ourselves. Thank you to whoever that woman at the Palais Royal on Kingwood Drive is. Thank you for showing a bit of love to my Nana who deserves every bit of it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Pictures

We took some pictures of the girls over the Thanksgiving break for our Christmas cards, we got better pictures of the girls separately than we did together, but wanted the together pictures for the cards. So you guys get to enjoy the individual pictures as a "preview".

Such a serious little Santa!

MacKenzie loves her reindeer

What a good little present...

...that sits under the tree!