Monkey's Paw

The problem with having an awesome digital picture frame loaded up with pictures of Saul is that I'm getting no work done because I can't quit watching it!

By the way, have I mentioned that my son is friggin adorable?

Braising. Again.

I'm quite impressed with myself. I made a Cuban beef stew called Ropa Vieja, which means "old clothes."

It consists of flank steak braised in a tomato/beef broth on top of onions, bell peppers, garlic, and green olives and then shredded.

I loved the colorful vegetables, and the spices - oregano, rosemary, garlic, and cumin - made the whole house smell wonderful.

We ate it on corn tortillas. For the last several weeks, I have made some type of large, slow-cooked meal on Sunday and we have eaten leftovers for the first part of the week. The great thing is that most of the things I'm making - braises and soups and stews - just get better after sitting in the fridge for a day or two.

Poetry Thursday - just read it, Becky

Boulevard du Montparnasse

Once, in a doorway in Paris, I saw
the most beautiful couple in the world.
They were each the single most beautiful thing in the world.
She would have been sixteen, perhaps; he twenty.
Their skin was the same shade of black: like a shiny Steinway.
And they stood there like the four-legged instrument
of a passion so grand one could barely imagine them
ever working, or eating, or reading a magazine.
Even they could hardly believe it.
Her hands gripped his belt loops, as they found each other's eyes,
because beauty like this must be held onto,
could easily run away on the power
of his long, lean thighs; or the tiny feet of her laughter.
I thought: now I will write a poem,
set in a doorway on the Boulevard du Montparnasse,
in which the brutishness of time
rates only a mention; I will say simply
that if either one should ever love another,
a greater beauty shall not be the cause.

-Mary Jo Salter



If my mom could take Saul home with her, she would in a heartbeat. And if Saul had a choice, he'd probably go with her!

In which Daddy feeds Baby

Note to self: baby has not yet mastered the use of a spoon...


Having a librarian for a brother-in-law can be a wonderful thing. I got a book for Christmas that I had never heard of. I would have never found it on my own. I read it over New Years Eve and New Years Day. A month later, I'm still thinking about it.



Lately, Saul is fascinated by faces. He likes to stand on my lap and mold my face like it's play-doh or explore my mouth, nostrils, and eye sockets. After my nose ring got yanked out for the fourth or fifth time this morning, I finally made a decision and just put it in my pocket.

I feel like such a grownup now. It's kind of scary.



Today I am feeling very sad about a lot of things, none of which I want to blog about. But I'm not sad about Saul - he just keeps getting better.


Big day

Saul has been acting hungrier and hungrier lately. He has quit sleeping well at night and has started watching my food intently. So last night, he had his first solid food. It was a little bit of organic rice cereal mixed with breast milk. I'm not sure he liked it. And he still didn't sleep well. But more of the cereal ended up on his bib than in his mouth, so I'm not sure it counted. We will try again tonight.



The next experiment in braising went much better.

So you brown some carnitas, right? Set them aside for a moment. Then make a paste from chipotle chile powder, salt, cumin, garlic, onion, and pickled jalapenos. Cook it until it smells so good that you want to stick your head in the pot.

Add some liquid refreshment.

Put the pork back in, along with a cinnamon stick, cover tightly, and simmer for a couple of hours.

Shred the carnitas, add in a bunch of cubed sweet potato and let simmer for another half-hour.

Mix in a bunch of chopped fresh cilantro and find some corn tortillas.

Oh wow. Best. Tacos. Ever.

We had it with spinach salads full of mushrooms and feta cheese to cool down the spice.

This more than made up for having to eat lamb shanks.

But the brussel sprouts were okay

Our brussel sprout experiment was so successful that I decided to see what other nasty foods could be made tasty. My target? Lamb shanks. I braised them in a lemony broth with carrots and cannellini beans. The verdict?

Yuck. Lamb shanks are beyond redemption.

Back to foods that don't taste bad.


Chunky monkey

My monkey is getting chunky! I'm so glad - we've definitely got no more worries about him being too skinny. And I love kissing on his chubby little belly.


Ninja baby

I love one of Saul's new hand-me-down sleepers. It makes him look like a ninja.


The good and the bad

The good:

I think Saul and I have really got this nursing thing figured out. I have learned how to effectively pump at work, and I am mostly able to keep up with him. We have started giving him between 2 and 4 ounces of formula after his last feeding of the night to help him sleep longer. If we don't, then he wants to nurse constantly all night long and neither of us get any sleep. I didn't want to have to supplement at all, but he's been having quite the growth spurt lately, so that's the only way to keep up. Sometimes nursing can be inconvenient. For instance, when I want to work on my computer, or do some laundry, or work in the yard, or do anything that requires more than 45 minutes of time. But mostly, I love that I am forced to sit down every couple of hours, hold my baby close, and marvel at how beautiful he is and what a miracle it is that I can sustain an entire life with my body. He has taken to throwing both arms around my breast while he eats, and it makes me melt every time.

The bad:

Boy, is he sick. He's been coughing and snorting and stuffed up for a few days now, but this morning was terrible. He was running a fever, he didn't want to eat, and he was crying, but without any energy. His coughing was sounding suspiciously like a bark, and he could barely breathe through all the snot in his nose. I am at work while B is staying home with him until his doctor's appointment this afternoon. But I find myself anxiously wondering if he's ok, wondering if he's able to sleep, wondering if the Tylenol is bringing his fever down. Babies can't taking decongestants, so all we can do for him is keep him upright, suction out his nose, and sit in the shower with him. Before he was born, I thought the hard part of being a parent would be staying up all night with a sick baby and then having to go to work. I imagined how sleepy and miserable and stressed I would be. But now I understand that my own exhaustion is nothing compared to the heartbreak I feel when I know my baby is hurting and I can't fix it.


A funny from Overheard in NY:

Dude #1: They have been underestimating my power.
Dude #2: What?
Dude #1: They have been underestimating my power for quite some time now.
Dude #2: What are you, a supervillain? Who's been underestimating your power? The justice league?
Dude #1: No, the electric company. They say I owe them eight hundred dollars.
Dude #2: Dude, you and I were having two totally different conversations.


Lemon cheesecake

I made this too long ago to really remember how the recipe went.

Anyway, I chose it because it had lemon curd in it, which is something I had never heard of. It sounded very tart and exotic and lemony.

I was quite disappointed to find out that it tasted more like lemon pudding.

But lemon cheesecake!

With an almond crust and little flowers made of raspberry jelly and almonds just like in the magazine picture! So yummy!

I should make that one again.


Getting bigger



Burning question

It is commonly believed (at least among my relatives) that anything can be tasty as long as it has enough butter. But can this apply even to something really gross like brussel sprouts? That is the question B and I took on last week.

Okay, so you take half a pound of shallots and a pound and a half of brussel sprouts.

Then you realize that the reason brussel sprouts are so nasty is because they're just little, itty-bitty heads of cabbage. Gross.

Anyway, you chop both. You melt 3 tbsp of butter in a pan, and then saute the shallots for 10 minutes with some coarse kosher salt and pepper. Then you add 2 tbsp of apple-cider vinegar and 4 tsp of sugar and cook for another three minutes until everything is all nice and caramelized. Then you remove everything from the pan and set it aside.

Add 3 tbsp of olive oil to the pan and then saute the brussel sprouts with salt and pepper for about 6 minutes.

Add a cup of water and another 3 tbsp of butter. Continue to cook until most of the water has evaporated. Stir in the shallots and add a little more salt and pepper.

Did it work?

Yes. It's true. Anything is good as long as it has enough butter.


Sweet relief

My fever has been gone for a couple of days, but I have one nasty cold left over. My throat is very sore and I have mostly lost my voice. Because I'm nursing, I can't take decongestants. But I can take whiskey!

Hot Toddy

1.5 oz whiskey
1 oz honey
1/3 oz lemon juice
3 oz hot tea

Put the honey and lemon juice in a small teacup and warm in the microwave until you can easily stir. Add whiskey and then hot, freshly brewed tea. Stir again and enjoy.

It's not the best tasting concoction in the world, but it's making my throat feel so much better.



Saul has a new favorite trick. He screeches as loud and high as he can. I have no idea why he's doing this; it makes my throat hurt just to listen to it. Not to mention my head. He does it whenever he's in a playful mood and sometimes he keeps it up for half an hour or more, only stopping to take a breath every now and then.

Does anyone know if this is normal? Cause if it is, then someone should have warned us.


Good decision

So when I was pregnant and we told people that we were planning on using cloth diapers, we mostly got confused looks or comments like "yeah, I bet that won't last more than a week" (except from my Mom, who said "well what else would you use?") The original decision was made for conservation reasons. We just couldn't imagine throwing away 10-12 large pieces of plastic a day for the next three years. But as we researched more, the decision came to be for Saul's comfort and safety also. Most disposable diapers are made of plastic and contain an entire chemistry lab of nasty substances. We didn't want those things next to our baby's skin.

Now, more than three months in, I think this is one of the best decisions we have ever made. The cloth diapers are simple to use, and they are more comfortable for Saul. On our holiday trips, when we temporarily used disposables, we had trouble with leaking and diaper rash and heat rash. We normally don't have those issues. As of tomorrow, we are switching from the old-fashioned diapers with covers to some all-in-ones called Bum Genius. These pretty much work just like a disposable diaper, except that they aren't disposable. They are quite expensive at about $18 each, but they have snaps that make them smaller or larger, so one diaper will work from newborn to toddler. For an investment of about $200 now, I shouldn't ever have to buy another diaper.

I am a total convert. I really can't understand why people use disposables. Cloth diapers are better for Saul's skin, they don't harm the environment, they are cheaper, babies potty train faster in them, and they are simple to use. The only reason I can think of for using disposables is convenience, except that they aren't really that convenient. They leak, they smell, they require things like "diaper genies," and they cost a ridiculous amount of money.

Here is Saul wearing an old-fashioned pre-fold and cover:

And here he is wearing an all-in-one:

Sorry for the sermon, but I feel strongly about this, and it really irks me when people see the cloth diapers and look at me like I'm crazy. I can just imagine them whispering to each other "I bet she doesn't shave her legs, either."

On another note, could I have imagined myself writing an entire screed about the containment of baby excrement a few months ago? I might need to go and ponder my new identity for awhile.



I was so sick last night. I got home from work and crawled into bed with Saul. I was running a temperature of over 103. I'm feeling better today, but still bad enough that I'm working from home to avoid infecting co-workers. I just hope Saul doesn't get sick. The poor little guy is having a thermometer stuck up his butt every time I change him just to keep an eye out. He's running a slight fever, but that is more likely due to teething.

So. Anyway. He has started laughing out loud now. It's still kind of rare, but since it's the most beautiful sound on earth, I spend all of our time together acting like an idiot trying to get him to do it. See below for proof.

It has taken a little while to get to this point, but I think being a mother is the absolute best, sweetest feeling on earth. I have never been as happy as I am when I am with B and Saul. I love looking at the two of them, looking so much alike, and thinking "wow, I get all of this?"



Saul found his feet this weekend.


Is that Peter f*****g Frampton?

After much consideration, I have concluded that my favorite movie of all time is not Philadelphia Story or Breakfast at Tiffany's like I previously proclaimed, but High Fidelity. I know this is a lame choice. However, not only do I have a deep affection for the Cusack siblings and Jack Black, but the movie is full of lists. And I love nice orderly lists. They make life so much more, um, symmetrical?

Excuse me, I think my crazy is starting to show.

Sweet baby

Here is my sweet baby learning to roll over. When we give him tummy time now, he pushes his butt way up in the air like he's trying to crawl. If he ever figures out to lift his chest, he'll have it. I'm excited that he's doing so much, but it's also sad. He's getting big so fast!


Feeling good

I forgot how good it feels to have a working body! I couldn't do much while I was pregnant. Then there was a period where I was averaging about 2 hours of sleep per day and was walking around like a zombie. Then awhile where B was at work and I was taking care of Saul all day and wasn't able to do anything. Now I'm back at work and I have arranged my schedule so that I can get to the gym every afternoon before picking Saul up from daycare. My muscles are sore in that delightful way that reminds you every time you move that you have been good. And I have more energy then I've had for a very long time. I worry about burning out later, but right now, I can get up at 5:30 am, have a very busy day, fall into bed at 10:30 pm, get up with Saul once or twice during the night, and still feel wonderful and happy and full of energy.

This is going to be a good year.

Poetry Thursday

This is not timely, but I still like it. I wish I had read it when I was full of wonder and amazement at our 20-week sonogram. The last stanza describes perfectly those mingled feelings of unbelief and incredible luck and apprehension and the longing to meet your baby.

The Alien

I'm back again scrutinizing the Milky Way
of your ultrasound, scanning the dark
matter, the nothingness, that now the heads say
is chockablock with quarks & squarks,
gravitons & gravitini, photons & photinos. Our sprout,

who art there inside the spacecraft
of your Ma, the time capsule of this printout,
hurling & whirling towards us, it's all daft
on this earth. Our alien who art in the heavens,
our Martian, our little green man, we're anxious

to make contact, to ask divers questions
about the heavendom you hail from, to discuss
the whole shebang of the beginning & end,
the pre-big bang untime before you forget the why
and lie of thy first place. And, our friend,

to say Welcome, that we mean no harm, we'd die
for you even, that we pray you're not here
to subdue us, that we'd put away
our ray guns, missiles, attitude and share
our world with you, little big head, if only you stay.

-Greg Delanty



I don't believe in making New Year's resolutions about important things. Major life changes should not be dictated by a calendar. Although I calculate that I got knocked up last New Year. But anyway. My New Year's resolutions are always small things. Last year I resolved to use fewer paper towels in the bathroom at work, and I stuck with it. This year, I have resolved to make my bed every day. But I didn't decide on that until yesterday evening, so yesterday doesn't count. This morning, even though I was running late and stressing because it was Saul's first day at daycare, I made the bed up quite nicely.

Good for me.


New Year

I hope everyone had a peaceful New Year's Day. I have had lots of things that I have wanted to write about recently, but I have just been too busy. I am finishing out my first close since going back to work, and have been adjusting to a new, much busier schedule. I hope to be able to post something besides a picture by the end of this week. But if not, I know at least a couple of Grandma's will still be perfectly happy.