Saturday, September 24, 2011

8 Months (or when Ben transformed from a bitty baby to a big boy!)


On the day Ben turned 8 months I fell and hurt my hand causing me to delay this post...


Highlights from the month: Ben went apple picking and discovered that he loves to suck on apples. We hung out in Fredonia painting the kitchen, visiting the hardware store and going for long walks in the sunshine. Ben is a star wherever he goes and he gives smiles to anyone who needs one. He is often stopped in the grocery store to give someone a smile with his big blue eyes. He loves going to Privitera's--a local farm stand where the owner loves to hold him while I shop. In addition to hanging out at home, Ben and I took a trip to Harrisburg for a dear friend's baby shower. He endured the long car ride with a little help from "Slugs, Bugs, and Lullabies" (thanks Aunt Elaine!)

Stats:
We had our sixth month check-up at 7 and a half months. On that wonderful day Ben weighed 19 lbs 13 oz and was 28 inches long. His head circumference was 17.5 which puts it in the 44th percentile so despite what everyone says, his head is quite tiny. His new doctor said he wasn't very big for his age but I'm not sure she was looking at my baby. He wears mostly 12 month clothes (although they are a little big)

I don't think Ben has lost weight from month 7--I think I might just be awful at weighing babies and our scale weighs heavy (which also means that I've lost more baby weight than the scale says, right?)

Teeth: 4--two on the bottom and two on the top--although his lateral incisors came in before his central incisors and Andrew likes to call him "White Fang."



Skills:
Movement--during his seventh month of life Ben became a mover. He started scooting all over the house with incredible speed. Gone are the days when he would play in one spot. He can sit unsupported and enjoys playing on both his belly and in a sitting position. He deliberately grabs things and is learning cause and effect. He enjoys dropping things off of his high chair to see them land on the floor (and to see if the game of parent fetch will work). He moves so much that we had to lower his crib.

Communication--Ben loves to laugh and smile. He seeks out others for praise when he does something awesome, like smile. He babbles away making several new sounds including , "babababa," "mamamama," and "dadada." He doesn't yet associate his parents with sounds but occasionally he will say, "mom" and look at me--a coincidence?


Sleeping--Month 7 was a weird month for sleeping. The first two weeks of the month he did an amazing job and slept well with only two quick snacks. The second half of the month (after he received his shots) sleeping was again a struggle and he woke up a lot. He started to settle back into a better routine at night towards the end of the month. During the day he wakes up around 7 and goes down for a nap by 9. He takes a one and a half to two hour nap in the morning. He sleeps again in the afternoon from one to three(ish). Occasionally he will take a short catnap around 5 depending on the day. He goes down for the night between 7:30 and 8.


Eating--Sporadic solids turned into three meals a days during the month. He enjoys eating and nursing throughout the day. He loves squash, green beans, bananas, avocado, apples, peaches, carrots, toast, teething biscuits...we add in a new food every few days. I spice things up with cinnamon, cumin, cardamon, pepper and garlic. He seems to enjoy having a little flavor in his diet. He eats every 3ish hours. When he nurses he loves to grab my necklace and hold on to it. He sometimes enjoys a meal on the go.




Toys--He loves to play with musical toys. He also thinks that anything should be a toy and everything goes into his mouth. He is fascinated by electrical cords, electrical sockets, plastic bags--basically anything that is bad for baby Ben wants to get his hands on. We are constantly vigilant.

Diapering--we still love our Fuzzibunz! In addition to cloth diapers, I started using cloth wipes. I was skeptical at first but the only disposable wipes that don't give my sensitive skinned little one diaper rash are from Target--there is not a Target in Fredonia.

Separation: Month 7 was the month of separation anxiety. Suddenly Ben wanted mommy whenever available. He started crying in the nursery, getting sad when I left his sight and crying when I came home from being gone. Towards the end of the month he started to get a little better and is going to other people more easily.



Every day with Ben is a blessing. We love watching our little baby grow into a boy. He is a joy to have and we treasure every moment we get to see his smiling happy face.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shots...

I had a student last year who hated getting shots. Every time she had to go to the doctor for a shot she would talk about it the week beforehand. She dreaded them. With the pain of my own childhood shots a very distant memory, I tried to play down her upcoming appointments "It's not that bad" "They won't hurt for long." Now as a parent I wish I could go back and give her a big hug--it is bad,it does hurt.

Monday Ben had to get his sixth month shots. We were a little delayed because of the move, record transfers and waiting on an appointment. The shots went smoothly but the night after was long and yesterday he woke up looking like this:


We were up a lot Monday night getting comforted at the mommy drive thru. His chunky thighs were red and all he wanted was to be held by his mom. I obliged. Sometimes a little snuggle is just what the doctor ordered.



Monday, September 12, 2011

Over the weekend...

The cutest baby ever enjoyed scooting around the house (and getting sniffed by Tessa)



Ate delicious sweet potatoes and carrots and felt very satisfied



Found the stairs and started cutting his first top tooth (yummy drool)



Played with toys


Discovered he can flip over on his changing table


and Tessa ran 11 miles with her favorite person


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pizza Night



If you wander by our house on a Friday night, chances are good that you will find pizza in some form--rising, ready to eat or leftovers ready for the fridge. I'm not entirely sure when our pizza night tradition began but it is one that is a constant as we eat pizza at least once a week and typically on a Friday. We began making our own dough years ago using a recipe from Baking Illustrated. The simple recipe includes five ingredients, water, yeast, flour, salt and olive oil. Once we mastered that recipe we decided we should branch out and try other varieties of pizza including deep dish and grilled.

Deep dish pizza pans are hard to find in local stores. The first time I tried to make a deep dish pizza we were living in Hamburg, NY and I searched Wal-mart, Target, TJ Maxx, and Bed Bath and Beyond for an acceptable pan. I ended up with a large round casserole dish that worked okay but the sloped sides didn't allow my crust to stand up. When we moved to Morgantown I decided to give deep dish another try and again searched all of the local stores without any luck (I probably should have just ordered one online but that would have taken planning). Andrew suggested that I try to buy one at Pizza Hut. So I did. I sauntered into pizza hut, batted my eyelashes and explained my plight.

"I really really want to try to make deep dish pizza but can't find a pan anywhere, may I buy one, pretty pretty please?" (bat..bat...bat--I might have even twirled my hair)

The Pizza Hut employee looked at me skeptically and went in the back to ask. Out he came a few moments later with a used pizza pan and said, "That'll be three dollars."

"All I have is my debit card, is that okay?" (more eyelash batting)

He looked at me uncertainly, "Ahh...just take it." Score one for me! That moment marked the beginning of our relationship with deep dish pizza. I've passed my pan around so others can try and even went into another Pizza Hut trying to get a second pan. (The eyelashes didn't work a second time). We did find a deep dish pan at an outlet store but it just isn't the same as our well oiled, slightly scratched pan from Pizza Hut.

If my eyes were as big as Ben's I might have gotten a second pan

Last night was a deep dish night and we called upon our Pizza Hut pan for service. My wonderful in-laws joined us for our Friday night festivities and we enjoyed pizza, salad, and blueberry-peach cobbler. In our rush to eat the delicious smelling food I forgot to take a picture of the final product. Thankfully, we've taken pictures of our pizzas on other nights.

Do you have any weekly food traditions? If so, what are they? We can't wait until Ben is old enough to be a part of pizza night. I'm looking forward to teaching him how to make dough and getting him to grate the cheese. I think he'll look pretty cute doing it, don't you?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

High School English and Eggplant

I adored my junior and senior English teacher so much so that we still keep in touch. She even came to Ben's baby shower. A petite barrel of energy she made books come alive and introduced me to authors that I still treasure. We didn't only read the classics but she also helped us explore newer authors. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver was one of the books in which I fell in love. I developed a Kingsolver connection and have since read everything with her name on it. In 2007 she wrote Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a witty exploration of Kingsolver's family as they moved from Arizona to Virginia with the goal to eat locally for one year.


When I read the book four years ago I turned into a "locavore." We were living in Hamburg, NY at the time and it was easy. I spent hours in the grocery store staring at labels to find out where different foods were made. In New York it was easy to do. We bought nearly all of our food from local sources. What we couldn't get locally I bought organic. We were so committed in our efforts that Andrew's grandmother worried he was going to get scurvy because I wouldn't "let" him eat oranges or bananas in the winter because there wasn't a local source. (In the winter we ate a lot of New York apples). When we moved to Morgantown it was harder to eat locally because of our location. Now that we are back we are enjoying the farmer's market, local produce stands and a small market that makes its own sausage.

Today, when it came to finding a recipe for dinner, I looked on the book's website and found a recipe for Eggplant Papoutzakia.





The simple recipe involved sauteing eggplant and topping it with sauteed onions, garlic, and tomatoes before melting mozzarella cheese on top in the oven. I added Italian sausage and we enjoyed our meal with a side of pasta and some red sauce with the leftover sausage.




While we enjoyed our delicious dinner, Ben enjoyed his role as the cutest baby ever.



Wednesday...

Yesterday was one of "those days." You know the type of day that starts the night before with a baby whose tummy is full of gas bubbles because I ate brussel sprouts for dinner. I woke up sleepy at 5:45 but was determined to meet my friend Cat for a run. We ran 4 chatty miles and when I got home everyone was ready to be awake. It was cloudy and rainy outside so I decided it was a great day to chill in yoga pants. Ben took two short naps and I didn't check much off of my list of things to do. Short naps and ornery dogs led to me feeling tired and I needed to get out of the house. Ben and I ran some errands in the afternoon to pick up some treats for the dogs and a few things from Wal-mart. Once we returned home it was time for me to start dinner and time for Chopper to take a solo tour of the neighborhood. Andrew got home a little late from work and he received the honor of feeding Ben peaches and pears for dinner while I got things going in the kitchen.
"Daddy lets me get food all over!"

Wednesday's dinner included the following main ingredients: carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, red peppers, purple peppers, dill, parsley, pork chops, onions, garlic and rosemary.

The bounty of summer

I used several resources for last night's dinner including The America's Test Kitchen cookbook for pork chops and peppers, 101cookbooks.com for vibrant tasty green beans (I substituted onions for leeks) and smittenkitchen.com for moroccan-ish carrots and sweet potatoes. I braised the pork chops in our dutch oven, sauteed red peppers in white wine, vinegar and some spices and finished it in the oven--it wasn't very time consuming although I did have to brine the pork chops first which made them tender. The green beans were delicious. I sometimes get stuck in a green beans with garlic rut and I loved the beans with fresh dill. I didn't realize until I started making them but the sweet potatoes and carrots recipe was actually a baby food recipe. They were very tasty and not only did I make enough for Andrew and I, but Ben will enjoy them for several dinners to come.

Dinner was a success and through it I found three new recipes that I will make again!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday in the kitchen...

Today Andrew went back to work after a wonderful three day weekend. We spent a lot of time relaxing around the house, playing with Ben and hanging out with the dogs.

"Hey mommy, I love exploring my house!"


We all loved having him around for three entire days. I took advantage of his availability and went for a longish run (12 miles.) In my head I always had the goal to run a marathon before each baby that we have turns 1. It won't be pretty but I am going to try to run the Harrisburg Marathon in November.

Ben and I enjoyed a fun day together. He enjoyed delicious peaches and pears from the local farm stand.

"Mmm....Yummy Peaches!"

He has started to make the "mah" sound and I think mama is right around the corner. We went with Andrew for a walk with the dogs this morning, he took a long morning nap while I thumbed through cookbooks and also slept for a little while. For lunch we made Andrew tacos and in the afternoon Ben took another nap while I ironed. (One of my least favorite things to do around the house). After Ben's afternoon nap we took a short walk to pick up a bottle of white wine for our dinner recipe (I thought I had some in the cupboard) and stopped by the hardware store for some shelf screws.

Ben took another short snooze around 4 o'clock and I started some dinner prep. I wanted to use the brussel sprouts today. We rarely make brussel sprouts and I'm still not entirely sure that I love them. After my morning recipe search I decided to make Chicken Francese (floured/egg coated chicken breasts topped with a lemon wine sauce) from The America's Test Kitchen Complete TV Show Cookbook. I found a recipe for the brussel sprouts on epicurious.com and made up my own recipe for potatoes. Today I used the following ingredients: chicken broth, white wine, chicken, lemons, parsley, garlic, onion, green beans, brussel sprouts, red potatoes and parmesean cheese.



After a much longer than anticipated cook time, this is the result:

Chicken Francese brussel sprouts and green beans, parmesean garlic red potatoes

While eating dinner, Ben let us know that we really need to put the bouncy seat away.

"Don't you know I'm too big for this mom?"

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Kitchen Experiment

I love to cook but sometimes find it easy to get into a food rut. This week rather than meticulously planning my menu and organizing my list by grocery store section I instead bought a bunch of ingredients. I thumbed through the cookbook, Local Flavors, and browsed www.smittenkitchen.com for some ideas for common ingredients. My goal for the week is to embrace local ingredients from the bounty of the end of summer harvest. The following is what I ended up with and each day this week I will post what we had for dinner. One meal that was a non-negotiable is pizza on Friday--the rest is a surprise! Altogether our grocery bill was less than it normally is and I'm hopeful that I won't have to run back to the store. My goal is to use all the ingredients.

From the farmer's market:
2 lbs. breakfast sausage
2 dozen eggs
1 large eggplant
1 stalk Brussel sprouts
4 large colorful peppers
peaches
apple cider

From the local farm stand:
2 quarts green beans
onions
red potatoes
pears
apples
sweet corn
carrots
cabbage
sweet potatoes

From Tuscany (where we buy meat)
Italian sausage
4 Chicken Breasts

From Tops
Milk
sour cream
almonds
dill
parsley
chicken broth
coffee
1 lb. pasta
tomato paste
tomato sauce
mozzarella cheese
parmesean cheese
cheddar cheese
tomato soup

From Aunt Amy's garden
3 HUGE zucchinis
tomatoes


Today Andrew made a delicious frittata for brunch with sausage, tomatoes, parmesean, eggs, zucchini, and onions. For dinner we had grilled cheese and tomato soup--not very creative but it was cooler today and it has been a long time since we've had grilled cheese!