Showing posts from 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.

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…

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.

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 pu…

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.

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.

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 fo…

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 n…

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…

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.

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!

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.

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!

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! 

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 acti…

Halloween with 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.

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.

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…

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.

One minute with Helen Elizabeth

MVI_3515.AVI a video by Pager13 on Flickr.

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 t…

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?

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.

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.

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.

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!

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 cl…

Little bums


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.

Double the fun

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.

My least favorite part

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 m…

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.

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.