Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Why haven't you been blogging?"

Apparently, I have more followers than I realized, because I have been asked that question a lot in the last few days! 

::waves hi to everyone::

My first explanation is the obvious one: Oliver! He's going through the "I don't need no stinkin' naps" phase again. I'd swear it's that last incisor coming in, but he's not cranky or fussy, though maybe a bit more ornery than normal. So, since I really only have time to blog during his naps, that hasn't been happening. When he finally had a great nap yesterday (hooray!), I used that time to catch up on a bunch of other things I needed/wanted to do and never got around to writing.

My second explanation is just boring: we didn't really do much of anything over the weekend except hang around the apartment and go shopping. The weather was hot, humid, and rainy, so we didn't plan anything exciting. Planning is better. Getting out of the house is better. Oliver was especially ornery so I think he felt the boredom too. So, because we didn't do anything fun, I didn't have any pictures or stories. It's ok that we had a boring weekend, I don't really mind that. Boring weekends are good sometimes, though more so when you don't have a toddler. But I just didn't have anything to share, except how boring it was, which I'm sharing now. :-)

My third explanation....ok, excuse, is.....I couldn't think of anything to talk about. A bit of writer's block, perhaps? See my thought process lately:  Isn't my talk of meal planning and exercise boring? How stupid is that "five sweet things" thing? Am I talking about Oliver too much? Of course I'm talking about Oliver too much. I should think of something else to talk about besides Oliver. But people like hearing about Oliver. Or am I coming off as that mom who is so absorbed in her child that she has no real life any more? What would people like to hear about? Who am I writing for? My readers include my family, my in-laws, my friends from real life, from long ago (newly re-found on Facebook from high school and college), from the message boards I frequent, and maybe even some strangers.

::pauses to wave again, feeling a bit exposed::

Is my mother-in-law reading this? (Hi Charlene!) Dang! That means I can't write a blog complaining about my husband. Though now that I think about it, she'd probably tell me to go right ahead. Oh wait, is Marty reading this? No, of course I would never even need to write a blog complaining about my husband! 

But aren't I supposed to just write for myself? Wasn't that the whole point? I guess this is something a lot of bloggers go through, but I'm just starting to get it. This isn't a diary, or a private journal. I'm not sharing my innermost thoughts. I'm writing about my life, my family, my struggles, my joys...for fun, for posterity, and as a way to close the distance between me and you....all of you.

Well, look at that. I wrote a blog entry about nothing. Without even trying. Guess I'll save that hilarious Oliver story for another day. :-p

Friday, August 21, 2009

Photo Friday

Climbing on the MegaBloks bin

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Five Sweet Things About Oliver

The other day on the phone, my aunt asked me what Oliver was doing these days. I was quick to reply, "Oh, you know, throwing tantrums, throwing food, throwing toys...the usual." Later that night, I thought to myself that it wasn't a good answer, and that sometimes I'm quick to complain or note the things that annoy me. So for a little change today, I decided to do this instead of bore anyone reading this with my calorie intake or exercise output.

Five Sweet Things About Oliver
  1. Sometimes it is so entertaining to watch him play. Of course, you can't let him know you're watching, or he'll want you to play along, or more likely, he'll stop and ask you to read him a book. But when he plays independently, it is so adorable. He likes to categorize and sort things. Like his menagerie of little rubber animals (they're squirt toys I found at Walgreens for a few bucks). He loves them. He loves to move them from one place to another, or just move their positions on the table, strategically placing them just so. That's what he was doing in the pictures above. He'll place one on the table, then stop and hold his arms out like, "Ok, nobody move!" Then he'll move one to a different spot...and so on again and again and again. I'd love to get this on video, but lately he stops whatever he's doing when we get out the camera.
  2. I believe I mentioned that his newest word is "poop" (pronounced 'pewp'), though he had only said it mimicking us, not to actually identify anything. The other day, we were going upstairs and I was carrying a dirty diaper to put in the Diaper Champ, and he pointed at it and said "poop!" One step closer to potty training, perhaps?
  3. This face, while he was "practicing" with a grown up spoon and his yogurt:
  4. How he can feel like he weighs a ton when I'm carrying him in from the car, but is light as a feather when he crawls into my lap with a book.
  5. The sweetest: Oliver "practicing" giving kisses on my cheek this morning. He's been doing this more lately, giving slobbery open mouth kisses and then making the "muah" sound. He gets jealous if Marty & I hug or kiss, and demands that we pick him up and hold him in the middle of our hug and kiss him too. Well, today he must have loved me a lot, because while we were reading, he stopped and looked at me and leaned in and gave me the biggest kiss! Then I got about 100 more slobbery kisses in about 5 minutes. It was so sweet and cute and hilarious, I was laughing so hard. Completely made my day!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Oliver goes to the gym too!

As the SAHM of an energetic toddler, one of my goals is to leave the house at least once a day. This keeps him stimulated and me from going stir crazy. It's not hard to do; we try to go for a walk every morning if the weather cooperates. Then there's always Target or the grocery store or the mall. But since those involve me pushing him around in a stroller or a cart, they don't really fulfill the "keeping him stimulated" part. So I've been trying to find playgroups and activities. My friend Monica had written in her blog about their visit to "My Gym," a children's fitness center that has locations nationwide. It sounded like so much fun, that I immediately looked it up to see if they had a location near us, and hooray, they do! So Oliver and I attended a free session to see what it was like, loved it, and got a membership! They have classes for different age groups, with age-appropriate physical activities, songs, and toys. It is somewhat structured, but includes some free time to just play on the equipment. Can you guess what Oliver's favorite part is?

If you guessed "ball pit!" that would be correct, and you win a million smiles! Of course he loves the ball pit! One day we went a little too close to nap time, and he almost fell asleep in it. I'm not kidding. They also have soccer balls, basketballs, beach balls, and big bouncy balls. He loves them all. Seriously, if I didn't re-direct him towards some of the other activities, that's all he'd play with!

He also loves the swings, and in the few weeks we've been going, has grown more comfortable with the staff and more adventurous with the equipment. Check this out:

They had a swing attached to a zipline, and ran the kids back and forth. Wow, did he love this! I know the picture is blurry, but I love the look on his face!

So this weekend we didn't make any big plans or travel. We needed a break after last weekend! Instead, we went to a Saturday morning class at My Gym so that Marty could see what it was like in person. Then spent some time walking around the mall, eating lunch, hanging out at home, and then going out for ice cream. Just a nice summer Saturday. Because I tend to be the photographer of the family, the result was a little father/son photo essay of our day. Enjoy!

In "circle time" singing songs and warming up those muscles.

Swinging with Igor (the instructor). Oliver loved this too!

Daddy catching him.

On a regular swing, smiling at Mommy

And at Daddy

Eating lunch at Moe's. My boys love to eat!

"Hey, you gonna eat all that? Can I have a bite?"

That night, after dinner, we got ice cream at this nearby farm that has a creamery, some animals, and beautiful scenery. Oliver wanted to go play with the cows.

Checking out the baby bunny rabbits. Dad: "What does the bunny rabbit say?" Oliver: "Hop, hop, hop."

I know, the perfect way to end would have been a photo of them crashed out on the couch at the end of the day. Sorry, but Oliver doesn't crash until after we put him in his crib these days...too full of energy!

Five Sweet Things (from the weekend)
  1. Gotta start with homemade ice cream from a farm creamery. Yummy!!! I don't care that it wasn't low-cal/fat/carb....sometimes you just have to experience the truly wonderful sweet things like this.
  2. Our very healthy meals on Sunday (to make up for Saturday), included dinner of salmon, a side spinach salad, broccoli, rice. Dessert was peaches and strawberries (love summer!).
  3. Walking an hour Sunday morning in the unbearable heat. I think the amount I sweated out had to count for at least an extra hour!
  4. Short hair is cooler!
  5. Watching Marty & Oliver play together, the sweetest!

Friday, August 14, 2009

As Oliver would say, "Uh-oh!"

I forgot to do my Five Sweet Things!
  1. Walked 1 hour....check!
  2. Lifted weights 20 minutes....check!
  3. Healthy dinner.....check!
  4. Ready for the weekend....check!
  5. Getting my list of Five Sweet Things done in record time...check! Yay me!!

Extreme Haircut! Ackkk!!!

I did it. I got it chopped off. Wanna see? Okay.

Disclaimer: These are not great pictures of me, I apologize, and honestly can't believe I'm putting them out there for the world to see. But they do show the hair. Also, no, Oliver was not upset about my new haircut. He had just pinched his finger in the laundry room door, and I was giving it a kiss to make it all better.

This is how my hair looked most recently, a shaggy mess:

Ugh, another bad picture. My husband is a wonderful man, but he is not a photographer. That's why there aren't very many pictures of me in our photo album. Then again, he isn't working with the best subject.

Anyway, my hair was bugging me a lot, it had grown really fast since my last cut and was in desparate need of a new one. As a SAHM, I don't have to, nor am I often able to, get up and shower and blow dry and style first thing in the morning. So Oliver and I often went places while I looked pretty shabby. If you notice the past few weekend pics, I just put it up in a stupid barrette, which is probably even uglier. So I went to a new hairstylist (miss you Janis!), and asked her to do whatever she wanted, as long as it was low maintenance. I'm very trusting of hair stylists. I feel like it's their job to figure out what will look good. And hair grows--mine especially fast.

So she decided a shag, shorter in back, longer in front, with lots of layers and thinning because my hair is so thick. It's hard to tell from the pics, but it is really short in the back, so it's assymetrical angling towards the front. She did style it a little to enhance the curls before I left the salon. It's definitely not as curly today, just wavy. But it did look ok this morning, in that "I don't care about my shaggy bed head" way...think Meg Ryan but not as perky. I just took a shower, so we'll see how it does drying on it's own, since my goal was to have it look decent without a blowdry. It's really short in back. When I shampooed, it was like I kept trying to wash my "phantom" hair, as if it had been amputated. I'm still not sure about it, I'll have to see how it looks in the next few days. I think some more highlights (I didn't get any this time) would help a lot, but it's not really in the budget and too high maintenance.

So what do you think? I did go short last summer, but not this short. It was shorter on top and the same length all the way around, here's a pic (Oliver was 3 months old!):

No really, I want to know what you think, honest truth! Take the poll, over there on the left, and tell's anonymous!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oliver is on ESPN!

Look at this screen shot:

Does that baby over the host's left shoulder look like Oliver or what??? (For a better look, you can also see a clip of the video here). I put a recent pic of Oliver up for comparison, but it's hard to find one at exactly the same angle and expression, but you get the idea.

Tonight, we were watching Pardon the Interruption on ESPN (and by we, I mean Marty...I just happened to be in the room), and we noticed that one of the heads behind host Tony Kornheiser looks exactly like Oliver. At first I thought it was just my eyes as I only saw it for a second. But then when the camera stayed on him a bit longer, I was like, "That is Oliver!" Seriously, Marty and I sat there the whole show and every time they put the camera on Tony, we'd study it. Everything about it, the hairline, the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the chubby cheeks...that is Oliver.

I actually wondered if some stock photo site stole one of our pictures or something. But that probably isn't the case. You might be wondering what those heads are all about if you aren't familiar with PTI. They do this segment called "Role Play" where the hosts alternate speaking as a sports figure with the person's picture on a stick in front of their faces. After a picture is used, it is usually stuck somewhere in the background of the set until it is replaced. So the heads on the sticks are photos of actual people (usually sports figures). This "head on a stick" wasn't used in tonight's show. It was probably from an earlier episode. Marty thought he remembered something about Kornheiser's grandson, but who knows.

It's aroused our curiosity enough that I emailed ESPN to ask who it is, just out of curiosity. They probably won't respond, but it was worth a try. I'll let you know if I hear anything. Freaky, huh?

Five Sweet Things
  1. Dinner was a healthy flounder, broccoli, and peas.

  2. Marty came home at 3:45, early enough that I could go work out in the gym before starting dinner. That made for 2 workouts in one day!

  3. Some light Chocolate peanut butter ice cream as my bedtime's allowed! Hey, it's also sweet!

  4. Oliver "fake laughed" for the first time. It was hilarious. We had been playing and he was laughing really hard, then a few minutes later, when he was playing quietly again, he stood up and started "laughing." It was like he was trying to make himself feel like he felt before when he was laughing so hard. He did it several times, it was so cute to see! We caught him fake crying the other night, he's definitely doing that more too. Cute and funny now because it's new....I won't think about when that gets annoying!

  5. Finishing a good book (one I'll try to talk more about later).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Five Sweet Things

My apologies in advance for the rambling nature of this post, but I've been thinking about accountability a lot lately. I am accountable to no one. I am writing this blog for myself. I am working on being healthier for myself. And yet, I feel this strange need to "report" on what I ate or what exercise I did. Why is this? I know what I ate, good or bad. I know when I did or did not exercise. What is it about telling others that feels so...necessary?

The last time I was really working on being fit, before I got pregnant, I was on a great website called SparkPeople. It's a free website where you can log everything you eat, your workouts, and other healthy living goals. They help you set goals based on your current and desired weight, time frame and exercise abilities. They customize it for you, so they tell you how many calories you should be eating, how much exercise, etc. There is lots of content and some great articles and tips, as well as message boards, contests, everything (I promise, this is not an ad, but if you are interested, click the link below). Get a Free Online Diet

I really liked it a lot and got a lot out of it, and lost some weight. The one thing that really seemed to work was logging my food and activities. I don't know what it is about writing it down, but it really helps you stick to it. It's private, though you can make parts of it viewable if you want to. I haven't started back with SparkPeople again, though I'm realizing more and more that I probably need to and will re-start my program there. So I think it's that kind of accountability I've been thinking of. If you write it down, it's there forever.

So thinking about all of this, I wondered, how could I incorporate some aspect of this into my blog? I absolutely don't want it to be any sort of a log--boring! I know I want to share healthy recipes that I find (and the occasional amazing but fattening ones too!). But I want to keep it positive and honest, but without feeling like anyone out there might be thinking...."Ooooh...she ate banana pudding today...bad girl." I don't want judgment, that's a hard one for me. I kind of want this to be my little place of encouragement and peace.

So, in light of keeping things positive and optimistic, I've decided to do a daily "Five Sweet Things." They will be five things from the previous day or so that I am proud of myself for, or did right, or a challenge I get the idea. Because even if it's been a hard, bad day, there is always something good in it. Kind of a gratitude journal, but focused more on my journey with healthy living. Though I'll include some things about being a stay-at-home-mom too, because there are some hard days when I need to focus on what's great about it. I'll still blog as planned, but at the very least, every day I'll do those 5 things. I chose to call it "Five Sweet Things" because I'm having to give up a lot of sugars for my meal plan, and this way I still have something sweet in my life everyday. bit a healthy sweet. Just because I'm doing this, it doesn't mean I won't talk about my failures too. But this way, I can focus on the successes, so that maybe I'll have more of them!

So, let's see, Five Sweet Things from the last day:
  1. Even though it was wicked humid today, not only did Oliver & I go walking in the park, but we went up the big hill and kept up a good pace, and got 50 minutes of good walking done.
  2. Dinner was a healthy chicken, veggies, and rice.
  3. I stopped at one glass of wine....ok, maybe it was one and a half.
  4. Oliver napped for 3 hours! This was amazing given his sleep patterns the last week or two.
  5. Because Oliver napped for 3 hours, I got some housework done in addition to some "me time" on the computer.
And now, a confession for the record: I totally made homemade banana pudding on Sunday. I'll blame Marty....Vanilla Wafers were on sale at the grocery store! It was really yummy. Hey, I used sugar free pudding and 2% milk...that had to help!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Day in Philly

Our adventure this weekend was in Philadelphia. We (foolishly?) decided to just spend the day there on Saturday, getting up early in the morning to make the 3 hour drive before traffic got bad, and then returning home that night. We had good reasons for this decision, though in hindsight, maybe not such a good idea. We just figured that traveling with a toddler is difficult, and we've learned not to plan too much, or he'll get cranky. So maybe just one day would be fine, while 2 might be overdoing it. I mean, there is so much to see in Philly, we knew we'd go back another time. Plus, we'd have to be back in a hotel by 8:00 for his bedtime, why not just be in the car by 8:00, let him sleep, and we'd be home by 11:00. That was the plan.

I won't bore you with the details of the drive, except to say, as emphatically as I can...I hate I-95, and hope to avoid it as much as possible in the future. Yes, this may curtail a return trip to Philly, but really, it was just awful. It's a moving parking lot, and sometimes just a non-moving parking lot, too many cars, too many crazy drivers, too many on and off ramps, stupid stupid signage (thank goodness we had our GPS). Of course, I'm a nervous passenger, and Marty's a, uhm, easily frustrated driver. Let's add it up: 3.5 hours down, and then 4+ hours back...not so good in one day. Lesson learned. Next time: train, or take the highway that takes longer but for good's not near NYC.

But I'm going to try and forget all of that, because we really did have a great time while we were in Philly.

Our first stop was actually in Camden, New Jersey, just across the river, at Adventure Aquarium. As you may have noticed from earlier posts, Oliver loves fish. One day, trying to calm him down, I found this video on YouTube, which I'll share with you because it really is beautiful and relaxing. It is now his favorite and we watch it several times a day. He makes kissy sounds for the fish, calls the sting rays "turtles," and loves the sharks. He also puts his arms up in the air like the guy in the lower right during the beginning of the video, lol! So we decided another aquarium visit was the perfect thing. Oliver's favorite part--the Shark Tunnel:

And, of course, the ducks:

I'm including this photo, because it's one of the few where I can really see that he does look like me, as everyone says he does. Excuse the quality, it's from Marty's camera phone. Taking photos in the aquarium is hard, because they keep all the rooms dark. So, the aquarium was a big hit! It even had a huge tank like the one in that video, of course, not quite as big, but still very impressive.

It was a gorgeous day, so we walked around the promenade that looks over the river to the city (see that first picture of Oliver and Marty above). Philadelphia really is a beautiful city. Then we headed towards Philly to get lunch at this famous cheese steak joint that we wanted to try. Unfortunately, we couldn't get a parking spot anywhere near it, and it was packed, so we headed on towards our next stop and just ate there. We went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which I'd only been to once before when I lived in NYC. Here are my boys on the famous steps looking out on the city:

Our favorite works of art? Well, Oliver liked the Jasper Johns work, Painting with Two Balls, 1960. Of course he did, because he loves balls (word #1), any kind of ball...sigh, boys and their balls. As you can see here, he is contemplating the work's significance for modern art:

He also liked Paul Klee's Fish Magic, 1925. Seriously, I did not make this up. The two paintings he really noticed were of balls and a fish. Hey, at least he's focused! He also liked a sculpture in one of the special exhibitions, I forget the artist, but it was early Modern American, a bronze bust of a woman that looked like she was blowing a kiss. He blew kisses back to her.

Marty loved the Asian Art Collections. He is entranced by everything Asian, especially Japanese art and architecture. He desperately wants to move to Japan, but I said no. Visit? Sure. Live? No. He knows this, so he's settled for using Asian elements in the design of our future Dream House That We'll Never Have. They had several rooms re-created in the museum; he liked the Chinese Scholar's Study and the Japanese Tea House. And throw in a little Medieval Cloister. I also really liked the Medieval and Asian galleries, they are so peaceful. Oliver thought so too, as you can see here in the Japanese Tea House and Garden room:

My favorite? It's so hard to choose. That's the problem with being an art historian. It's like children, you can't have favorites. Philadelphia has a great Cezanne and some of his landscapes, and a nice collection of 19th and 20th century art. There were some works by George Ault (early 20th century American) in one of the special exhibitions that I hadn't seen before that were interesting. I was disappointed that the rooms with the works by Marcel Duchamp were closed because of an upcoming special exhibition on his work. Philadelphia has the best collection of his works, and I've seen them before, but really wanted to see Marty's reaction to Dada in the museum setting. They had a lot of Picassos (who doesn't?), and actually, some pretty good ones, but I am so burned out on Picasso (the class I taught last semester) that it hurt just to walk into the room. So I think I'll be a wimp and say I just really enjoyed the museum. It is a beautiful building, and walking through it reminds me of the Met in NYC. Oliver did pretty well. He did babble his way through the Modern collections, I think he liked how his voice echoed in the big rooms the louder he got. I'm sure the other patrons enjoyed that too. But then he snoozed the rest of the time, which we all needed!

We made the mistake of not really researching restaurants for dinner before we left, and discovered there aren't a lot near the museum. So we got in the car and stopped at Cherry Hill Mall at Maggiano's Little Italy. Yes, it was a chain restaurant in a mall, but we were starving, and with a toddler, so there wasn't a lot of options. I had lobster fettuccine, and it was delish! Then the long trip home that I really don't care to re-live right now. I think we'll be doing a low key, local weekend next. No more driving!

Friday, August 7, 2009

We don't need no stinkin' naps!

This week, Oliver has decided to wake up an hour earlier than normal. And take less of a nap. Today we're at 40 minutes and he's babbling. So this means no blogging for mommy. And no sanity for mommy, who needs her "alone" time. TGIF!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rotisserie-style Chicken in the Crockpot

Didn't I promise recipes??? Ok,'s one! We had this on Sunday, super easy and good!

1 whole chicken, approx. 4 pounds
2 tsp. salt (kosher if you have it)
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning blend
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. black pepper

4 aluminum foil balls, approx 1-2" diameter

Place aluminum foil balls in crock pot. Place chicken on balls. Mix together all seasonings, and rub chicken with them. Add no other liquid! Cook 6-8 hours.

I got this recipe from a friend on a message board I frequent. The idea is that the aluminum foil balls keep the chicken out of its juices so it doesn't get so waterlogged and the skin gets somewhat crispy. It doesn't get as crispy as real rotisserie chicken, but it was still very good, and very tender...I cooked ours for almost 8 hours and it collapsed on itself, it was so tender. I think 6 would have been fine, not that I'm complaining.

We had fresh corn on the cob on the side, along with some roasted potatoes. I mixed dry onion soup mix, 1/4 cup (probably less) canola oil, potato wedges, baked in 9 x 13 pan for 35 minutes, stirring once. Also great with dry ranch dressing mix or dry Italian dressing mix! Adjust the amount of oil for the quantity of potatoes, typically 4 average sized ones.

Yes, I realize that potatoes aren't the best on a low carb diet, but if you remember my earlier post, it's all about portion sizes. Since I had corn too, I had a small portion of the potatoes, but lots of chicken! Marty gave it a big thumbs up. Oliver wasn't as impressed, but I think it was more about him being a toddler that day than his true opinion of the meal.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Smiles for a Monday

This weekend, we had no exciting adventures, just some shopping around town and a little time in the park. It's the simple things in life that make a boy happy:

Playing on the swings with Daddy

Riding a truck

Playing with a brand new bin of Mega Bloks (you can't see the smile....but believe me, it's there!). He had a small set that was becoming his all time favorite toy, so we decided to get him some more. Hours of fun!

We also added word #14....poop! He started imitating us when we'd say, "Do you have poop?" and check his diaper. No, he isn't using it to tell us he has poop, not yet. Hopefully that will come soon!