Thursday, December 29, 2011

Charlie's class & the ready-mix truck

It was a big day at school today - Uncle Todd visited Charlie's class with a ready-mix truck! The class has been learning about trucks for several weeks and were well prepared for seeing the real thing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Movie Night

We've started a(nother) new tradition. When your family is as young as ours, potential new traditions are popping up all the time, the key is to make them stick. I think Christmas Movie Night could stick.

We put on our matching Christmas pajamas (Dad needs to have some that match next year!), gathered on the floor for a pizza picnic and watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was a Saturday night when we could have been out braving the crowds to shop or dine amongst the holiday hype. Instead, we had our own quiet pajama party with the other Charlie and his friends. I think it will be fun to rotate through all the Christmas classics one year at a time and enjoy new favorites as they come out. How long do we have to wait before the kids will appreciate "Elf"?? And won't it be fun to torture them with matching Christmas pj's as they get to be teenagers?

This one is getting faster by the day. Crawling and pulling up on anything she sees. Christmas morning is going to be fun!

Seeing Double

Sometimes I am struck by how similar two pictures of Charlie and Izzy can be. Two pictures taken almost exactly two years apart and with no intention of replicating an image or an event. I happened to see these two both floating around on my computer at work and realized they were taken at just about the same age for both babies. And in these pictures I see how similar and how very different they are.

It's fun to imagine how they will grow and change over the years. It's been an incredibly good year in the Maniger household. We are so grateful, so lucky.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On the move

Did I say things would calm down after last week? Silly me. I should have known better, what with only 2 weeks til Christmas. So things have not slowed down at all, but I'm busy with things that I enjoy a whole lot more than really long days in the lab. Birthday celebrations, finding the perfect gift, mailing Christmas cards, packing - did I mention we're heading to Colorado for some relaxing and active days in the snow? Can't wait! It's just Ryan and I and I'm already missing the kids. This will be our first trip without Izzy. Sniff.

But holding true to her standing as the best baby in the whole world, she went ahead and figured out how to crawl right before we leave town so we wouldn't miss this milestone. She figured it out at home today, lowering my Mom guilt considerably. I was there to see it! Thanks Iz, I really appreciate it. You have given me a wonderful gift for the holiday!

Not only did she figure out how to crawl, but almost simultaneously she is pulling up and standing. Watch out Charlie, all toys are fair game now!

I'm still figuring out how to get videos from my phone to the blog. For now, its easier to post them on Tumblr. Check out the first crawl here. (For the record, Charlie's dog does not have fleas!)

Friday, December 9, 2011

All the stockings are hung...

Five stockings (including Roxie's!) grace our mantel this year. A perfect number!

Note: My book advent calendar for this year, pictured on the mantel, is still a work in progress. (It looked much better last year - I can't find the tags I made and saved! Where are they??) But it is in place, for the most part, and it has been fun to open what is now becoming a nice collection of Christmas classics and favorites.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You are my sunshine

This is a rough week, I knew it would be. Work is super busy and every day this week is a long day. I've left the house without seeing the kids in the morning and come home to only see them for an hour or so before bed (and last night for only about 15 minutes). Its only Wednesday and it feels like Friday x 2! I will be so glad when this week is over and I can spend more time with my family. I'm trying to keep it in perspective and remember that it is finite, life will return to its normal pace again (until the next busy time!).

In the meantime, I have this little song to keep me company. Charlie is pretty picky about what songs we sing at night before bed. It's a good night if we move away from the old standby "Old McDonald" at all. I love it when Charlie sings along with me and this song is one of my favorites. Turn up the volume on your computer and try not to smile!

Singing with Charlie on Tumblr.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Going it alone

I don't know how single parents survive. It's only been three days (and nights! in our house one night can feel like a week) and I'm about at wit's end. Part of it is timing, I am swamped at work and there is this little thing called Christmas around the corner...I don't have gift lists yet for family members, I haven't purchased or even thought about purchasing anything yet, my Christmas cards are not addressed, my advent calendar is not up, we don't have a tree...the list goes on. It bums me out that I am behind on all these things because I love this time of year. Having kids to experience it with and share new traditions makes it all the more fun. I have to kick it into gear!

But I digress, back to the single parenting. Mornings are probably the hardest for me on my own. It is nearly impossible to get out the door at a decent time with two little ones. There are bottles to be made, clothes to be taken off and put on, last minute trips to the bathroom for the newly potty-trained that involve stripping all the way back down to just a shirt, a dog to feed and let out, and coffee to be made and sucked down quickly while avoiding the grasps of small hands. Then there are all the things that have to be put in the car - my laptop, said coffee, lunch, bottles, extra clothes for the newly potty-trained and the one that spits up 10 times a day, a carseat with an infant stuffed inside, a toddler carrying a cup of cereal, a fire truck and a nickel. (I won't mention the fact that I have to back my car out of our too-narrow garage before I can load in the infant seat as the door doesn't open wide enough inside the garage. But we live in a charming neighborhood, see?). Needless to say, this routine is monumentally more difficult if both kids have been up numerous times the night before.

This morning I pulled out of the driveway with just about everything in the car that needed to be in the car - minus the little fire truck to go with the already present big fire truck. Really kid?!

But this post wasn't meant to complain so much as to express my gratitude for a helpful spouse that really does so much in this shared parenting process. I heard news today of a work colleague with three kids getting a divorce and it made me incredibly sad. I know I don't appreciate Ryan enough for all his help with the kids (and making coffee and breakfast, dinner every night -  I know, right?! I'm a lucky girl). The truth is, there is no way I could do what I do and try to balance work/family without being married to someone so supportive of my career and someone so willingly engaged in our daily family life.

Please hurry home, honey. We miss you more than you know!

Here's a few photos to of what we've been up to while you were away.

Working on our stance. Without pants, of course.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grandma Helen's Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Thanksgiving always makes me think of my Grandmother Helen. She loved to cook. No, she loved to cook for others. She didn't make fancy things, she didn't try out new recipes with strange ingredients, or look to follow trends. She made traditional recipes - casseroles, pork chops, macaroni and cheese, and pies, always pies. With traditional, family recipes and comfort foods at the center of attention, Thanksgiving was her holiday to shine.

Every Thanksgiving my Grandmother and her two nieces, more like sisters as they were close in age, would cook. Everything. My Mom always handled the bird and was the gracious host (no small feat) but all the cooking was done by my Grandmother, Ruth and Janet. I remember the hum of the kitchen before the meal, pots clinking, oven doors opening and closing, instructions being given for stirring the gravy, and laughter, always laughter. A few years ago my Grandmother passed away and Ruth and Janet moved far away and we were left to figure out new Thanksgiving routines and traditions. That first Thanksgiving without the three of them was tough. I remember my Mom turning to the new generation in the kitchen (myself, my sister and sister-in-law) and asking "How do you make the gravy?" We all just stared at each other with blank expressions. Someone gave it their best shot but it was a far cry from what we knew.

Since that first year on our own, we've figured out how to put together a decent Thanksgiving dinner. We've assumed new roles and taken over favorite recipes. My sister has mastered the mashed potatoes (and I dare say they are as good as Ruth's!), my aunt does the cranberry mold with aplomb, my sister-in-law handles the greens, my Mom stilll handles the bird, and Ryan makes a mean stuffing (his recipe is decidedly updated from Stouffer's, but I think Grandma Helen would have liked it). And I have taken over the task of making the pumpkin pies. Not just any pies, Pumpkin Chiffon is what Grandma always made and what we're all forever biased to prefer.

This pie is no simple task, as I've learned about pretty much all of my Grandmother's recipes. I wish I had learned them straight from her. I had the chance to learn a few recipes from her (the most amazing Snicker Doodle cookies - have to post those soon!) and a few others. But all of her recipes are a bit of a mystery because she didn't really follow them to the letter. She would add a pinch of this here, a pinch of that there, and when you asked her why or how much, she would just shrug and say you just have to know what it needs. Not my style of cooking or baking. I'm a scientist, after all. So with all of her recipes it has taken a lot of practice and do-overs. I think I've finally got this pie recipe down (as I type this I am nervously waiting for the pumpkin mix to 'mound' slightly!). I'm still working on her Christmas fudge recipes. I'm going to keep trying because she made the best fudge I can remember.

So here is my Grandmother's Pumpkin Chiffon Pie, with as many notes as I know to include to make it fool proof. If you try it out at your next holiday gathering, you won't be disappointed. Family recipes, even those that require a little extra TLC, are well worth the effort.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Two gallons of red wine a day keeps the doctor away

Here is a post to help you enjoy an extra glass of wine this Thanksgiving. Salute!

I love red wine. And I really love the idea that red wine might actually be good for me. Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably heard mention of the potential health benefits of red wine. Those health benefits are thought to be due to a compound found concentrated in grape skin called resveratrol. Despite all the hype and promise - the ability to protect against obesity and diabetes, to improve an individual's exercise capacity, and even to extend lifespan - the benefits of resveratrol have only been demonstrated in rats and mice. Until now.

The first human study demonstrating positive health benefits of resveratrol was just published in the journal Cell Metabolism. This study, performed by a group from the Netherlands, appears promising. Eleven obese, but otherwise healthy, men were recruited to take either a placebo or resveratrol treatment for 30 days. After the initial 30 days, the subjects waited 4 weeks, for what amounted to a washout period, and were then assigned to the opposite treatment (this is called a crossover study design). Neither the subjects nor the researchers knew which treatment was being given at any point of the study (referred to as a double-blind study). To obtain the dose of resveratrol given in this study (150mg/day) from red wine, would require drinking more than two gallons of red wine a day (!).  No adverse effects of resveratrol were seen after the 30 day trial.

The metabolic changes observed with resveratrol in humans were very similar to what has previously been shown in animal models and cells. To spare you the details, resveratrol treatment for 30 days resulted in improvements in glucose control, inflammation, liver function and showed enhanced energy utiliziation by muscles. All of these changes suggest resveratrol has the potential to protect against obesity and type 2 diabetes, much like endurance exercise training or calorie restriction.

Why is this important? Do we really want a pill that mimics exercise and diet and eliminates the need for us to live a healthy lifestyle? In my opinion, nothing will come close to replacing exercise for overall health benefits. But, while we all know that exercise is good for us, very few of us manage to fit exercise into already busy lives at a frequency or intensity that is necessary for profound health benefits. And given the dire predictions that by 2020, 83% of men and 72% of women will be overweight or obese, something has to change. While the state of semi-starvation known as calorie restriction has shown significant health benefits and a demonstrated effect on lifespan extension in animal models, its potential to catch on in the general public is low. Calorie restriction demands a decrease in daily calorie intake of about 30% - far more than is currently recommended for weight loss. There are die-hard proponents and practitioners of calorie restriction out there, and they will swear that the body adjusts to the diet and they feel energized and better for it. They are probably right. But if you ask me, they look hungry!

Perhaps the most important reason researchers keep searching for the evasive exercise pill is because there are many individuals that are incapable of exercising to the degree necessary to improve their health - the frail and the elderly, individuals with neurodegenerative diseases, or the morbidly obese. They need an option, perhaps in the form of a pill, to jump start their metabolism and give them a chance for a healthy lifestyle. Resveratrol just might be the pill to do it. It has come closer than any other compound so far.

So, feel free to pour a glass (or two or three) of red wine and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Group runs

I remember the day I brought home my Bob jogging stroller like it was yesterday. Bright shiny and new, cheerful in orange, ready to hit the pavement. The Bob is the stroller of choice for runners and I felt like I had joined an exclusive club - sort of like how people that drive Minis all wave at each other on the road (they really do, there is even a set wave you exchange by just lifting your palm up while still holding the top of the steering wheel). We got the Bob towards the end of my maternity leave when I really needed to get out of the house. I was itching to get back in shape and the Bob was my ticket there. It was spring time and the parks and running trails were calling me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekend in pictures

We had a nice relaxing weekend. We gave Roxie a bath on Saturday and had brunch at Succotash. Charlie is crazy about pancakes these days and can eat a surprising amount! Here is a pic from Saturday brunch:

Check out more pics from the weekend here:

Can't believe it is the week of Thanksgiving. How is that possible? I will be posting Grandma Helen's Pumpkin Chiffon Pie recipe soon!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Roasted Brussels Sprouts - guest post on The Fresh Fridge

We are big fans of the food blog The Fresh Fridge. Local to Kansas City, Megan posts some great healthy and easy recipes. Check out our guest post on Ryan's Brussels Sprouts recipe and other tasty recipes on the Fresh Fridge:

Rroasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Hazlenuts

Thanks Megan!

Chana Masala

We've been on an Indian food kick lately. Spicy, fragrant, and filling - perfect for chilly fall nights. We're completely hooked on Kansas City's new Chai Shai restaurant for a quick fix. But this recipe for Chana Masala is easy to make at home and is currently on our menu list about every other week. If you've never made Indian food at home, this is a good place to start.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekend recap in pictures

Our weekend included a Veteran's Day Parade in Leavenworth (the biggest west of the Mississippi), some volunteering and hanging with Elmo.

Check out the pics here!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. After a long, hot and sticky summer, I look forward to the chill in the air, seeing bursts of colors in the turning leaves, carving pumpkins, and wearing sweaters! And I love the kitchen to be filled with the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin. This pumpkin bread recipe has become a new seasonal favorite in our house. It is easy to make and utilizes simple ingredients. Plus, it combines pumpkin and chocolate, a perfect combination for fall baking.

I recently made this recipe with Charlie's class at school. They have been talking about pumpkins and using them for different activities in class. Baking with 12 two-year olds is a little different than just baking with Charlie! It was really fun -  I will post some pics of my adventure soon. This recipe isn't real spicy and I think that makes it very kid friendly. Plus, there are lots of chocolate chips! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Running for two: the controversy and the facts

These days everyone is running a marathon. From the unofficial kickoff of the fall marathon season in Chicago in early October, to the ING New York City Marathon this coming weekend, almost a quarter of a million people will complete the 26.2 mile distance. With so many people conquering this once formidable distance, why should the youngest runner to finish yet, a 39 week baby in utero – draw so much attention? If you haven’t already heard, Amber Miller, aka “The Marathon Mom”, ran the Bank of America Chicago Marathon at 38 weeks 5 days pregnant and then delivered her baby girl just hours following the race. This mom and, by all accounts, her very healthy baby have generated a lot of attention, and not all positive.

Despite abundant evidence that exercise during pregnancy is not harmful for mother or baby, Amber Miller was openly criticized and attacked for putting her unborn child at risk by running a marathon. A veteran of eight marathons, three of them while pregnant, Amber’s actions were called “reckless,” “stupid,” “selfish,” “unfair,” and “ridiculous” in online reader comments to the news story. Some said she should be locked up. Others compared her to a crack addict, an alcoholic, or a smoker endangering her child for her own selfish wants. Even elite and experienced runners are not immune from the criticism. Paula Radcliffe, mother of two and current world record holder in the women’s marathon, won the 2007 ING New York City Marathon only 10 months after the birth of her daughter Isla. She has said of running through her pregnancies: “You feel like saying, I'm not sick. There's nothing wrong with me. I'm just pregnant. Even people I know really well will come up and say, "Are you still able to run a bit?" And then they'll see me on the track and say, "Should you be doing that?" 
There is a longstanding debate on the safety of pregnancy and exercise. However, extensive research demonstrates no adverse outcomes for mother or baby, no adverse effects on fetal growth or size, and no increase in early pregnancy loss or late pregnancy complications as a result of moderate regular exercise during pregnancy. Rather, the untold story is that numerous benefits of regular exercise exist for both mother and baby. Maternal benefits include increased fitness and decreased pregnancy weight gain, reduced muscle cramps and swelling, overall improvement in mood, and reduction of gestational diabetes and hypertension. The exercise benefits for baby include decreased fat mass and improved stress tolerance.

Perhaps the most compelling reason for women to stay active during pregnancy - new research shows that women who voluntarily maintain their exercise regimen during pregnancy continue to exercise over time at a higher level than those that stop. Over time they also gain less weight (7.5 pounds vs. 21.8 pounds), deposit less fat (4.8 pounds vs. 14.7 pounds), have increased fitness and a lower risk for cardiovascular disease than those who stop exercising during pregnancy.
Not a marathon, but a 5K race
one week before Charlie was born
In an era when more and more overweight and obese women are becoming pregnant, limiting pregnancy weight gain and losing the weight post-pregnancy are critical health priorities. Scientists are just beginning to understand how maternal health can impact not only fetal health, but also disease risk throughout adulthood for both mother and baby. For example, research shows that gestational diabetes puts both mother and baby at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life. With this dire evidence of the negative consequences poor health can have on future generations, greater emphasis should be placed on positive lifestyle change during pregnancy.
Running a marathon while pregnant is not for everyone. Even running while pregnant is not feasible for many women due to other risk factors, increasing size, or levels of discomfort. But the extreme example of Amber Miller completing a marathon at 39 weeks pregnant brings this important issue to light and will hopefully encourage people to start viewing pregnancy differenty - as a period to enact positive lifestyle changes that could benefit both mom and baby in a big way. And maybe then, a pregnant woman accomplishing a remarkable physical endeavor like a 26.2 mile race could be cheered rather than jeered.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween with Pooh and Piglet

Winnie the Pooh and Piglet

Charlie definitely enjoyed Halloween more this year. We went to several houses on our street and he walked right in the front door at most places, ready to settle in and stay awhile! Iz was still down with a cold but she was her usual easy and cheerful self in spite of that. I'm just glad I got costumes on time and with very little stress this year. Maybe I'm getting better at this holiday...? No, probably not. Just got lucky this time.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

Better late than never. We made it to a pumpkin patch this weekend. The pumpkin pickings were a little slim, but so were the crowds so it all worked out. Combined with the beautiful weather on this late Saturday afternoon, we couldn't have asked for a lovelier day.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Weight loss: a battle of misinformation

Anyone that has ever dieted (who hasn't?) knows it is hard, incredibly hard. And at times it can feel like an exercise in futility. And if you have followed all the diet advice to the letter (take in fewer calories than you consume, eat small meals throughout the day, avoid carbs and sugar, exercise daily, don't eat after 7pm, etc. etc.) only to end up frustrated and right back where you started, you are not alone. The fact is, most diets do work. You can lose the weight if you restrict your diet and increase your calorie burn. The problem is keeping it off long term and this is where most diets fail. Unfortunately, scientists are still trying to understand how the body responds to an energy imbalance over time and the knowledge is far from complete.

A new study to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine and profiled in the NYTimes,  demonstrates how the body's own hormones work against permanent weight loss. Leptin, a hormone that is directly proportional to the level of body fat, drops dramatically with a significant reduction in body weight (10% of body weight loss in the NEJM study).  A decrease in leptin will result in increased appetite and a slower metabolism. Conversely, grehlin, a hormone known to stimulate hunger, increases with weight loss. It makes sense in the context of our need for survival. In hunter-gatherer days, an energy imbalance as a result of going without food for several days would result in the body's hormones kicking in and stimulating the need to hunt for food. This survival mechanism imprinted in our genes is not going to go away just because we live in a modern world with easy access to food in excess supply. The hormonal changes demonstrated in the NEJM study were present one year after weight loss, making the individuals hungrier at their new body weight and essentially ensuring the pounds creep back up.

So our bodies battle against us in the effort to lose weight. This is probably not news to most people struggling valiantly to shed excess pounds. It is time to admit that advising people to diet and change their eating habits is just not enough.

Still going by the advice that if you burn 3500 calories you will lose one pound? If only that nearly universal advice was actually true! To be continued...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Morning snapshot

Ryan takes the kids to daycare in the morning and he usually leaves before I do. After they all leave, I make beds, put away toys, etc. so when I come home at the end of the day I am greeted by a somehwat ordered and clean house. Ready to be destroyed again. I enjoy seeing them out the door in the morning as I hand out lunches, put on jackets, and collect kisses. The other day I made them stop for 1 second so I could capture that moment just before they head out into the world for the day. My family.

Check out pics from the weekend on Tumblr.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A tale of two phones

You may have heard the tragic news already. My iphone 3G came to an untimely death. It was so sudden and unexpected. Having heard so much talk lately about the new iphone 4S coming out (yet another new model to compete with and be compared to unfavorably) my forlorn 3G just couldn’t take it anymore. In a fit of self-loathing and pity, he threw himself off the bathroom cabinet onto the cold, unforgiving tile floor below. Poor 3G, his surface cracked and ugly, he continued to tick in his slow and frustrating way, but his days were numbered. It was time for him to go. I put in a request for the new and improved phone of the hour to take his place. Ah, the mighty 4S. You are so much faster, sleeker, lovelier than I ever knew possible.

Most of my excitement for this new phone is geared towards the camera, the best ever put on a mobile device. In spite of 3G’s shortcomings, I still managed to take over a thousand pictures on that phone. The camera on the 4S is super fast, can flip towards the viewer (which might mean a few pics of me and the kids could happen once in awhile) and has video. Considering I took over 50 pictures on the first Saturday I had my new phone, it will definitely get lots of use. I’m excited for the possibilities!

A sample of what the 4S (plus Instagram) can do.


Another tech note: One thing I have found that really helps me keep up with pictures, filing them away, backing them up, etc. is Eye-Fi. It is a wireless memory card for your digital camera. You can get a 4GB card on Amazon for around $40. It is easy to set up (if I can do it...) and then you don't have to plug anything into your computer, etc. Just turn on your camera in the presence of a wireless network and it automatically downloads pictures to your computer. You can designate where the pictures are stored on your computer and also have them loaded directly to flickr, facebook and other online sharing sites. There is also an Eye-Fi app that will allow you to transfer pictures from your phone to the same folders and websites, putting all of your pictures in one place. It really simplifies the process and has allowed me to keep up with my blog posts because when I go to put one together, the pictures are already there ready to go.  It is $40 well spent! I heard about it from Digitwirl, a good source for tech help and ideas.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Do you tweet, tumble, pin?

Seems like every day there is a new social networking site or app that is the latest and greatest. Between Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, it goes on and on. These are just the ones I know of and I am by no means one to keep up with the latest tech anything. I like Instagram for photos, and Pinterest can be fun if you have a purpose to your pinning like collecting design ideas for a future house, etc. But it can also be a huge time drain. I've never ventured onto Twitter and don't have any desire to. I like Tumblr because I can post pictures easily from my phone. Speaking of Tumblr, I put up some new pics so check it out here or in the tab up above. I feel like I am at my max capacity right now and I can barely keep up. And yet I know my tech forays only scratch the surface. Any absolutely fabulous new sites or apps that I'm missing out on? Anything you really enjoy or can't imagine not using now that its out there?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chocolate Banana Bread

I have been making this chocolate banana bread forever. Ok, not forever, but for almost 10 years. It definitely qualifies as a go-to recipe in our house. Great for breakfast or anytime. I had a former co-worker who swore he didn't like banana bread but loved this recipe.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A beautiful fall day (and KU football)

I don't remember not going to KU football games. I don't have memories of going at Charlie's age, but I know I've just always gone. To me they are synonomous with fall and family and fun. Now, just like when I was a kid, the game is secondary. This is not College Game Day. We do a G version of tailgate-lite and while everyone loves a win, it doesn't define the day. Because let's face it, no one would have much fun if we were dependent on a KU football win to enjoy this beautiful day. 

Charlie started off the day a little grumpy, as if he knew the score of the game already.

 Iz was all smiles, as usual, for her first KU football game.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Comparing firsts

While documenting Izzy's introduction to food, I couldn't help but look back at Charlie's pictures to see how similar they were. Despite her blond hair and blue eyes, Iz definitely resembles her brother.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Baby eats!

Without further ado...the baby food post. I made most of Charlie's baby food when he was Izzy's age. I wasn't attempting to be super mom, I just thought it sounded like fun and it was easier than I thought. This time around, I'm not making any promises about how much I will make for Izzy. Its already proving more difficult to find the time. But at least for these very early stages when the foods are simply one-ingredient, its doable.

Stocking up on fruit while it is in season is the best place to start. I started with peaches, plums and apples. I have a feeling we'll be having lots of homemade applesauce given the great apples available right now.

Cuteness by Kish

This super cute hat was made by my dear friend Keri's mom, Judy. It is now a perfect fit. Thanks Keri (for the color choice) and Judy for the handy work!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A long day

Yesterday was a long day. A long day at work, a long day away from my kids.

By all accounts it was a successful day. I left the house at 7:30am, leaving my family with all the required bottles, lunches and school items needed to get through the day. I had time to pick up bagels on the way to work to sustain my lab and boost morale through our busy day. We had visitors coming in from Ohio to do an experiment and that was non-stop action from 8 til 2. At 3, I had an important conference call with researchers from all over the world (someone on the line from Australia - it was 6am there - and from Denmark where it was 11pm). The call lasted two hours and by then it was time to make a mad dash to get these two...

Our daycare is open til 6pm but if I get there much past 5, C & Iz might be the last ones there. Is there anything worse than picking up your kid from day care to find they are the last ones there? I imagine Charlie's face as he watches other moms and dads come to the classroom and get his friends. Each time, his face hopeful as he looks to see who is at the door. Charlie is old enough now that he looks for me at a certain time of the day and if I'm later than usual, he knows.  This was all I could think about as I raced across town.

Our daycare isn't very far from home or work, but when you are running late and feel desperate to see those little faces, it can feel like it is a million miles away. I swear I hit every traffic light. There was way more traffic than usual. Where did all these people and cars come from out of nowhere and why were they all in my way?? (I might've screamed out loud at a stop light, with the car windows closed, alone with my frustration. If that sounds crazy, then maybe I just imagined doing it). As I crept along in traffic, all I could think about was Charlie's face, his lower lip puffed out, his eyes searching for me. Izzy is only a couple weeks into daycare and still not sure of her new teachers. She has no concept of time, I reminded myself. But surely she will be aware of the quiet in her room with all the other babies gone for the night.

Charlie was on the playground when I arrived, holding a teacher's hand and looking towards the parking lot. He had been asking for mom, wondering where I was. He was trying hard not to cry. Then I had to tell him to wait a few more minutes - the school has a policy about not letting the older kids in the infant rooms, so I had to go get Izzy first and then pick up Charlie. More waiting. And at that point the tears just wouldn't stay in.

It was just one day. I kissed their sweet cheeks good-bye earlier that morning. But it felt more like a week. I hate feeling like my kids get a raw deal on my account. I know many moms have it much worse and work long hours or multiple jobs out of necessity. I feel for them and wish there was another option.

Yesterday was just one long day and today I'll leave a little early and take them to a park to play. Then it will be the weekend and I'll have uninterrupted time with them. Come Monday, we'll start all over again as I have a long day scheduled and I won't get home til after they are alseep. I can't avoid those days all together but I can make the most of the time I have with C and Iz every day. And send along extra hugs and kisses to get them me through the long days.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Budding musicians

Charlie and Izzy are both so fortunate to get exposure to music at a young age at Berkley. Miss Bekah comes to each of their classes twice a week. For the record, Charlie does not need his own drums at home. Anyone that buys him a set of drums gets to keep them at their house and Charlie will come visit often to play them.

Izzy doesn't let go of those fingers for anything.

"I wish Dad hadn't dressed me so funny today. Its throwing off my groove."
"She's playing my favorite song!"
It's never too early to start a band.

Double the fun

Charlie is suspiciously holding Izzy's foot....what is he planning?

At 6 months old, Izzy can do so many new things. Sit up, reach for and hold toys, roll over at will. And she is now big enough to join Charlie in the bathtub. Just about every time I gave her a bath in her small baby tub, I did it inside the big tub and Charlie would crawl in the tub to help. So they sort of took baths together but there wasn't much room for Charlie to move with the baby tub taking up all the space. This bath seat works much better and it is really fun to watch Iz splash around and reach for the bath toys. She laughs when Charlie splashes and spits out water. He is such a clown.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My least favorite part

The daily battle of the bottles
I've said many times how much I love the baby stage and I don't want it to end. But there is one part I will not miss. While home with Izzy it was convenient to breastfeed her - not so much now that I'm back at work full time. The challenge that goes along with breastfeeding and pumping is the working mom's best kept secret. Holy heck is it hard.

I'm so proud that it has gone well with Izzy and in 6 months she has had less than one container of formula (yes, I'm bragging. I earned the right!). But it is incrementally harder now and between washing bottles and pump parts and the lost time at work, its hard to keep the positive aspects of breastfeeding in mind. Now that Izzy has started trying real foods (post coming soon!) I know she will need less milk and the insanity will lessen. But after focusing so much of my energy for the past 6 months on making sure I supply her with enough milk, it is suddenly hard to stop. Mother's guilt. Big time. 6 months was my goal from the beginning and I met it. So why can't I let myself off the hook?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My go-to cookie recipe

Everyone needs a go-to cookie recipe. A fail-safe recipe. A recipe you can make at the last minute for those times when you forget until midnight the night before that you signed up to bring a dessert to the class party at school. A good go-to recipe requires a short list of ingredients you always have on hand, and a recipe so simple you could make it in your sleep. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The forgotten one

It has been a big week of change in our house with Izzy starting school and me going back to work full time. In focusing on how mom and baby are adjusting, I forgot one very important person that is also going through a big change this week.

For the past 6 months, Roxie has had someone (me, a grandparent or a sitter) in the house for most of the day, every day. Now it is back to an empty house for her and I think she is a bit sad. She was following me around and getting under my feet more than usual the last couple of nights and that's when I realized the impact of this week on her. She will adjust back to her solitary days and she probably welcomes the quiet and extra sleep. But at heart she is a people dog and it might be a little too quiet for her in the corner of the kitchen where the three of us girls have hung out for the better part of 6 months.