Goodbye Sweet Lexi

Today our family said goodbye to the sweetest dog we've ever known. My Lexi girl had the most amazing life, always surrounded by her best friends. She graduated from college with me and went to the office every day for several years with me before retiring to the farm when we went to law school. Her days were filled with walks on the woods loop, swims in the pool and weekend trips to the cabin. 

She was friends with so many people through every stage of our lives together. She had so many experiences in her 14 years, she was such a good buddy. She danced with us at our wedding and patiently watched on as Little M learned to crawl (toward her) this past summer. She was so happy to have everyone home for Christmas a month ago. 
My dad, her bestest friend ever, lay next to her all night last night and scratched her ears as she calmly left this world. Rest peacefully, sweet Lexi girl. You are so loved.

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Our First CSA Box

On a total whim, we bought a CSA share this week through Sinclair Farms. Have you ever belonged to one before? We've never had a share before so we decided to go with the single share instead of a family share. It's supposed to be enough for one person who doesn't eat out much or two people who do. I was a little skeptical about fresh produce in the middle of the winter, even if we do have a very long outdoor growing season around here.

The winter share runs for nine weeks starting this week. Pick-up was in the parking lot at a local church very close to Little M's daycare. The farm owners were there under a tent with their van packed with boxes and cloth shopping bags - one or two for each of the share holders. I stood in line for a couple minutes in the frigid cold (no complaints, I'll take it over a DC summer any day), signed in and picked up my bag. When Little M and I got home, we unpacked it to find a whole bunch of delicious, fresh, organic produce straight from the farm and their greenhouses. Yum!
The novelty of fresh produce that someone else picked for me has me inspired to cook a little more than I have been lately. In two days we've already eaten most of the lettuce and arugula, at least half of tomatoes, one of the apples, half of the parsley and one of the sweet potatoes. Today I made a sandwich with the tomatoes and arugula, had apple for a snack, roasted sweet potato rounds for Little M's lunch and for dinner made spicy Spanish shrimp with the parsley and served it with salad. Yesterday for dinner I made chicken kabobs and served them on salad with tomatoes, feta cheese and tatziki.

We have just a touch of lettuce left, which will probably disappear along with the tomatoes at lunch tomorrow. I'll probably roast the rest of the sweet potatoes for my sweet at some point over the weekend and I can guarantee that by the time next Thursday afternoon rolls around, everything will be gone and I'll be looking forward to our next bag of fresh goodies. Have you ever had good luck with a winter CSA? I hope we continue to be pleasantly surprised each week!

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Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies w/ Sea Salt

I follow Annie's Eats on Facebook and when she posted a photo of Nutella stuffed cookies the other day, I had to make them immediately. And by immediately I mean I made them a few days later because I didn't have Nutella in the house. I'd actually never tried Nutella before. Thank you, Annie, for introducing me to yet another treat destined to live on my hips. I ate a spoonful today. I may have to throw away the rest of the jar tonight!
These cookies are really good. Like the best cookies I've ever had. Usually I'm more of a cookie dough person and I pass on the baked cookies, but these are irresistible. I just packaged up all but a few of them to give them to Little M's daycare momma to have with her afternoon tea. Not because I can't resist them, but because I want to make more. They're so good. And I need to use up the rest of the Nutella before I eat it all.

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies w/ Sea Salt
adapted from Annie's Eats
Jar of Nutella
1 cup unsalted butter
1 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 1/2 t. vanilla
1 T. greek yogurt or sour cream
2 1/4 c. all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. sea salt, plus more sprinkling
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. mini chocolate chips

1. Lay a piece of parchment paper or silpat on a cookie sheet. Using a small spoon drop dollops of about 1-2t. of nutella on the sheet. Neatness does not matter. Place in the freezer until firm, about 2 hours.
2. In a frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir constantly as bubbles form and the butter begins to turn brown. Remove from the heat when the butter turns brown, don't burn it! Set it aside to cool a little.

3. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugars and butter until well combined. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating until fluffy. Mix in yogurt or sour cream

4. Stir in dry ingredients until combined, making sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

5. Add chocolate chips. Cool in the refrigerator slightly, if the dough is still warm from the melted butter.

6. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop cookie size pieces of dough. Flatten each cookie and place one dollop of Nutella in the center. Pinch the cookie dough around the Nutella to completely encase it in cookies.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of your cookie dough scoop - you want the cookies to be just set in the center as with any chocolate chip cookie.

8. As soon as you remove the cookie sheet from the oven, sprinkle each cookie with sea salt, kosher salt or some other large-grain salt (I used "Real Salt" that my mom brought me from Utah)


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One Year Gone

Baby M turned one almost a month ago. I’ve literally been writing this post for a month and am just now starting to accept that putting off a monthly update isn't going to stop time, so it's high time I hit "publish." I can't believe a full year of his little life is gone. So sad!

As a one-year-old Baby M has graduated to “Little” M. Our 12th month was super eventful (as has been our 13th since I’m clearly behind schedule.) As it seems to be the trend, Little M and I spent half of the month with S and half of the month without. As always, monthly photos are incredibly difficult to do without S home to help. As soon as I focus on the boy he's off and moving, climbing down from the chair of wailing! My parents came to visit during our Thanksgiving holiday for M’s first birthday party. S left the day after M's party and then the day before M’s first birthday my mom flew back into town and we drove to Maine for an extended Christmas vacation. We were everywhere this month!

We threw a birthday party for M a few weeks early since S was away for a month and missed his actual birthday. M and I had a fun time shopping for party supplies for his “baby bee turns one” party. It was like wedding planning, only on a tiny scale. We have a small house so we were only able to invite S’s family who live in the area and my parents, who flew in for the party.

Our house was packed! M loved it, I loved it. It was a great party. He loved everything – his favorite people all together, the cake, the balloons, the airplane toys, the xylophone….

For his birthday I gave him a boat for the bathtub and then had to buy a bathtub big enough to fit his boat since he couldn’t use his boat in his buckets. Then I introduced his letters and numbers toys and oh my goodness we need a master bathroom; there are too many toys in our bathroom now! S gave him a Little People airplane, Mamie and PawPaw gave him a safari airplane with propellers that spin. He received several other wonderful gifts too – I’ll tell you about our new toy rotation plan in another post ;)

On Little M’s actual birthday we had a visit from one of my friends who gave M a tractor with little farm animals. Then we all shared chocolate cupcakes, GF of course. And by share I mean that M ate one of his mini cupcakes and then leaned in and took a giant bite out of our guest’s. Yummy!

Early in the month we went to Little M's second Navy football game. This time the weather was much better and M played with logs in the back of a pickup, which were intended for a fire pit and then with corn hole corn bags.

He was a little fussy inside the game, but I passed him off to his Nola and he was happy to cheer and clap equally for both sides.
M and I did a bit of Christmas shopping together this month; he’s a great shopper in the Ergo or stroller. And if he starts to get cranky I just dole out puffs one by one and all is right with the world again. He even joined Mamie and I on an excursion to Ikea to pick up his Christmas gift from Santa (it was a little too heavy for Santa’s sleigh.) M loved the slide in the kid’s area near the end of the display floor and spent quite a bit of time climbing up and sliding down the slide on his belly. I refrained from buying one. You’re welcome, S.

During one of our shopping excursions we ran into S, who was also out shopping at the posh mall. We took the opportunity to see Santa, since there were no other children in sight. M thought the dude with the gray hair was so funny! Just like PawPaw! We got some great photos, but could only choose one.  Santa said that M asked for a baby sister next year. Santa is Out. Of. His. Mind.

M and I saw Santa again when we were in Maine and he thought the guy was just as great the second time around!
S helped put up our Christmas tree up before he left and then M, Mamie and I decorated it together. We put all the ornaments from thigh height and higher and thankfully M wasn’t too interested in pulling them off. We also managed to get in a couple of family photo shoots for our Christmas cards. Of course I chose one where M looked good and I did not, so is being a mum.

We rounded out our pre-holiday festivities with a trip to Zoolights at the national zoo with Mamie and PawPaw. It was such a cool display and we even got to take a ride on the new carousel! M did great even though we stayed out a little past bed time. He was very cozy in his nice warm stroller.

While S was away we Facetimed dada each night during bath, which M really liked. He started to call my phone “Dada.” We also Facetimed with my mom after she bought a new iPhone too. When M saw  PawPaw on the screen he said “PawPaw.” He hasn’t said PawPaw very much lately, so it was pretty cool that he could recognize him on the small phone screen.

Some of Little M’s favorite things this month include:
  • The shape sorter – the triangle and circle are the easiest. When he can’t get a shape in during the first few tries, he lifts off the “roof” of the sorting house and sticks the block inside. Can’t fool him. The stairs…until he slipped ever so slightly going up and his two bottom teeth went into the roof of his mouth. There was a lot of crying and blood, but he was ok after some milkies, but he was wary of the stairs for a few weeks after that.
  • Climbing up his slide on his play set outside. He’ll climb his slide with a little assistance, crawl up onto the platform, turn, look down the slide, turn again, back it up and slide down feet first.
  • Playing “shower.” In the morning, when my hair is too greasy to even do a daycare drop-off without a washing, we’ll play “shower.” I’ll take a shower and M will stand at the side of the tub tossing his toys at me and into the streaming water. It’s one of his favorite games, we just have to “play” it before I dress him for the day since without fail, he’ll roll himself into the dripping wet shower curtain and come out soaked.
  • The walker at daycare – except he prefers for one of the other babies to be inside the walker (her feet don’t touch) and he pushes her up and down the hallway as she sits in it!
 M is even more obsessed with the dog than ever, if that’s possible. He’s always cozying up to him and pulling up on him. He even tries to stick his hand in Feeney’s mouth and I’m all “gentle, Maddox, gentle, Feeney!” while M is squealing and Feeney is just, there. This month began the “feeding the dog” issue with M. Little M “feeds” things under the gate at the top of the stairs to Feeney, who is waiting on the other side. The problem is, Feeney started to eat baby socks this month. And by problem I mean one day when I was away at a meeting he ate one half of nearly all M’s pairs of socks!! I had to take inventory of all the remaining socks then inventory the poo every morning during our walks! The worst of it came when Feeney threw up all over one of our sheepskin rugs one night (two socks, one shoe. ) I was miffed.  We also had to put the TP on the back of the toilet because M feeds it to Feeney, the paper obsessed dog, straight off the roll. The dog gets nutso every time S leaves. It’s kind of like having two babies, except I can’t just slap a diaper on one of them and not take him for walks and have to baby proof differently for each. It’s all kinds of awesome.

Little M continues to eat like a 16 year old teenage who plays sports for four hours a day. He has a huge breakfast after nursing in the morning. Envision huge. Now double that. M eats more for breakfast than S or me, often more and S and me combined. Then he has more milk before his nap, more milk after nap, another huge afternoon meal, more milk, more milk and finally more milk. I ship him off to daycare with frozen milk, which I have lots of. I think we’re working on April’s stash right now. I still pump in the morning after he nurses, but at one week shy of one year I dropped my mid-day pump. We tried to drop the little two ounce afternoon snack bottle, but he couldn’t handle it and had total meltdowns. So I’m still pumping in the morning for a meager afternoon snack. As of December 14th, I’m no longer adding to my stash. At this rate, we should be able to hold off on giving him any other kind of milk for several more months. Although he did share Rice Krispies with milk with me one morning and loved it.

As for his favorite solids, M was obsessed with soup this month. In addition to milk stashes, he’s also depleted our split pea soup, squash soup and quinoa soup stashes. He also loves blueberries still, of course.

We still nurse and rock to sleep at night. It works for us and even though Little M falls asleep on my lap 75% of the time, I don’t see a need to stop yet. When I put him down in his crib on his side like I’ve done since he was very wee, he rolls onto his tummy and sticks his bum in the air. It’s pretty cute.

He’s quite cute when he wakes up in the morning too. He doesn’t really make any noise, but plays with his toys and tosses pacis out of the crib. He just calls out once when he’s ready to get up and that’s enough to wake me up in the next room. Sometimes I’ll wonder if he’s been calling for a while, but I don’t think he does, I’ve become the world’s lightest sleeper since his arrival.

Naps are, um, interesting. Sometimes he takes one, sometimes he doesn’t. Actually he only didn’t take one for three days this month, all in a row, on the weekend, when we were alone. So it felt like a month of no naps. I thought it was the beginning of no naps since he does sleep nearly 14 hours a night, but the naps came back so I think we’re ok…for now. Naps usually last 45-90 minutes. There’s really no rhyme or reason to their length, but I really don’t care. see mention of 14 hour nights.

My brother stayed with us for a night when he was on the right coast for meetings. He hadn’t seen Little M since June when M was 6 months old and to say Little M has changed would be an understatement. Nate was shocked by M’s eating – the variety and sheer amount. We have no idea where all that food goes!

For Thanksgiving dinner we went to S’s aunt & uncle’s house to have dinner with his family who live locally. Dinner was pretty late in the day and we were concerned that maybe we wouldn’t make it through the meal. We didn’t even start to serve dinner until M’s bedtime, but he was awesome. He ate his puffs off the coffee table during cocktail hour, threw a radish like a ball, and didn’t even touch the crackers, which he still can’t eat without getting sick. There wasn’t much of the dinner that he could eat, so during the meal he ate some of the sweet potatoes I brought him and threw turkey on the floor.  He rarely throws food on the floor unless he’s done eating or it’s poultry. Boy doesn’t like poultry. He’s mummy’s boy.

After dinner Little M was still going strong so he went off and played with the big kids. Around 7 pm, a full hour and a half after his usual bath time, we found M in the play room banging away on the keyboard with one of S’s young cousins. Baby Mozart had a blast!
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving we had M’s first birthday party.  My parents flew in for a few days for the party and M was so excited to see them. I took him outside to greet them when they arrived and he gave them a big smile as they walked up the driveway. 

My mom flew back down again on the 12th and we did the drive to Maine the next day in a record 11 hours. We usually take 14, but we just didn’t need to stop as long this time. M nursed a little bit at each of our stops, played in the back seat with one of us while the other drove, took a one hour long and a 20 minute long nap, sang along to my Christmas music station on Pandora the entire ride and fell asleep for good at 5:30, as if it were a normal day and we weren’t in a car. We were home so early that I had enough time to bake birthday cupcakes for M’s actual birthday the next day.

M’s daycare momma gave him a Vtech ladybug toy that plays music and has lights. He was really into it right away, playing with it before it was even out of the box. It turned out to be the perfect toy for our car ride – especially when it got dark and he was still wanting to play – the lights were great!

M is saying Dada (A LOT), Mumum, ball and PawPaw. He really likes his Dada.

He’s cruising furniture and going from the couch to the coffee table and is a very fast crawler. He goes up the stairs very well and knows to turn around and go backwards down the stairs, but only goes down one before going back up again…repeatedly.

A tooth popped through on the top just after Dada left, then he proceeded to push through four more and is currently cutting a few more for a grand total of something like eight teeth working through at once. It was a special time for Dada to miss!

After bath he loves to brush all those little teeth. In fact when I want to get him out of the tub at night, I’ll paste his brush and show it to him. He’ll climb out onto my lap so he can have teeth brushing time.

He's big into the drama when he doesn't get something he wants or can't figure something out. He'll throw his whole body to the ground and bury his head in his hands and wail. He's going to major in theater some day.

I think this was probably one of my favorite outfits this month. Mummy and Little M had leggings day. Don't judge ;)

Little M is 18 lbs 3oz and 30.5” tall. He’s wearing size 3 diaps at night and his BGs are on the second rise setting with two rows of snaps between the tabs, as they have been for a while now. He's such a love bug!

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Waffles for the Boy

I'm making pumpkin, flax, oatmeal pancakes for Little M tonight using this recipe and adding a little more oil and omitting most of the milk. They're not much to look at, but they're freaking delicious.

The boy is going to go bezerk for these in the morning.

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A Week of Bento Lunches

Little M got a shallow OXO food storage container and a dozen silicone muffin liners for Christmas. His lunches are so much more organized than the half dozen little containers thrown in a cooler he was toting to daycare last year.

sausage & bean casserole, cheese, baked pumpkin oatmeal, pears, clementines

GF pizza, cheese, black eyed peas, clementines, pear

carrots with hummus, falafel with tatziki, cheese, baked pumpkin oatmeal, clementines, puffs

falafel with tatziki, ham, cheese, clementines, pears

Little M is currently obsessed with cheese, clementines and pears. And bananas, which he eats in two bites.

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