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Monday, March 30, 2009

Leo's been here eleven months

And it is impossible to take a picture of him sitting still and smiling in a chair that rocks. Here is my evidence:

Here is what Leo is into at 9/10th of a year! (Is that the right fraction?)

-Saying “All Done,” “Milk” and most recently “More” in baby sign language
-Saying “Da” for everything—especially balls
-Playing with balls
-Crawling around with one leg kinda dragging behind him while carrying a toy
-Trying to stand up without holding onto stuff; kinda looks like he’s proposing
-Getting the giggles (as you can see in this video)
-Cheerios—he would go on an all Cheerios diet if we would let him
-His Leo CD; he dances and shakes his head when it comes on
-Riding on daddy’s shoulders and eating his head
-Patting his own head
-Clapping when we say “yea” or sing “Pat-a-Cake”
-Playing peekaboo (but now he initiates it and holds up the blanket himself)!

He is NOT into:
-getting his nose wiped
-people not paying attention to him
-getting his diaper changed

One more month of babydom and I think I have to call this baby a TODDLER. Yikes!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Actors, please don't sing

I heard an interview with Leighton Meester of TV’s Gossip Girl on the radio last week. She says she’s got an album coming up. I immediately thought, “If I was that girl’s agent, I would tell her to NOT do an album.”

Why? Well, first of all, it has nothing to do with Ms. Meester, who I only know from seeing her pic in US Weekly and think she’s a lovely girl. I’ve never watched GG nor have I heard her sing.

But I know it didn’t work out for Jennifer Love Hewitt. Or Lindsay Lohan.

I remember riding in the car with this girl in college and I asked her what the CD was that she was playing. She said, “Okay, don’t laugh. But it’s Jennifer Love Hewitt.” I did laugh. Something about it just seemed cheesy.

So actors, if you’re gonna make the transition from acting to singing then you gotta do it like Keanu Reeves, Kevin Bacon, Jada Pinkett Smith and Bob the Bachelor. They’re in these sort of underground bands that tour and play in small venues. They treat it like a hobby. Their attitude is like, “I’m mainly an actor but by the way, I’m also in this little band on the weekends.”

Now, Jennifer Lopez may be the exception. She started out as an actress and has had much commercial success with her music. I have two theories about this: 1). She sang in her first movie, Selena and 2). She gives herself a different identity with her music—J. Lo, Jenny from the Block, etc.

My “acting-to-singing-doesn’t-work” theory does not work in reverse. Singers are welcome to become actors. In fact, it’s encouraged. Like Beyonce. Or Jessica Simpson. Hmmm…maybe that’s not a good idea either.

And which one was Hilary Duff first?

Anyway, my point is: stick to what you know. And be happy with the job you got. We don’t need to see your face or hear your voice everywhere. That can even be career suicide. So you won’t catch me buying Leighton Meester’s album. But I might buy a ticket to see Bob the Bachelor in concert.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Waking up happy

When Leo doesn't nap well, we're both cranky. Here he is after a good one:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Keep the Change

I rolled up to the ATM the other day and BofA had an ad for their “Keep the Change” program. I rolled my eyes. Then I thought, “Why does that ‘keep the change’ deal bug me?”

Then I figured it out: It’s because people sign up for it and then pat themselves on the back and say, “Good for me! I’m saving!”

It’s just like when people park their car far away and walk up the stairs instead of the elevator. Those are both great things to do but not worthy of logging in your exercise journal. It's supposed to be supplemental to your "real" exercise.

I mean, how much money are you really gonna save with that “KTC” system? Let’s say you made 50 transactions in a month and your average “change” was $.50. That’s $25. Big whoop. Sure, that’s better than spending $25 but it may actually prevent you from saving more because you say, “I don’t need to PUT any money into my savings because the bank does it for me.” And don’t count on any interest accruing. I mean, maybe like some pennies.

And same goes for the keep-the-change-style exercise programs. I bet there are people who park far away at a restaurant and then order an extra dessert because they “earned it.”

So really, you could actually gain weight and lose money by participating in such pseudo responsible practices.

My recommendation? Keep your own change in a jar. When you fill it up, take a walk to the bank and cash it out. Then keep walking and get some ice cream. You earned it.

Guys Gone Wild

Leo had fun with his boys this weekend.

Hanging out topless with daddy:

Going for a stroll with John:

Sharing his plastic rings:

Getting a lift from John's daddy, Mr. Josh:

Peeking through the window with the other boys while the women folk prepare the food:

Just being smiley:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tanning and Texting

Leo said he's tired of being the palest baby on the block so we went outside for a little sun. (Don't tell him that the lotion I spread all over him was 50 SPF).

While we were "sunbathing" he decided to send a text to his buddy John:

Leo: Hey, dude. The weather is awesome here. How is it over there?

John: It's pretty nice on our end of the street too.

Leo: My mom's making me wear this dorky hat. I keep trying to take it off.

John: My mom does the same thing to me!

Leo: Ooh, I just got the hat off. My mom doesn't even notice. My head is gonna be so tan!

John: Good job, man!
Leo: Darn. She got it back on me. But I don't care because I put the ring on the ring tower and now I'm clapping for myself.

John: I'm clapping for you too, dude. Enjoy your day!

Milk Matters

My parents, Leo and I are driving to visit my grandma in North Carolina in early May. I spoke to her last night and even though I know better, I got caught up in this circular conversation about milk:

Grandma: I’d like to get some stuff for you to eat before you get here.

Me: Don’t worry about that, Grandma. We’ll just go to the store when we get there.

Grandma: I know but I’d like to have a few things on hand. What kind of milk are you drinking?

Me: I drink skim milk.

Grandma: Won’t you drink 1%?

Me: If you normally buy 1%, I can drink 1%.

Grandma: What about 2%?

Me: Yes, if you prefer 2% I can drink 2%.

Grandma: No, I don’t drink it. I get my milk from Grace. (Her sister lives in a retirement community where they give her little cartons of milk after dinner each night. She ends up with a surplus and gives it to my grandma.)

Me: If you’re just buying milk for me then I prefer skim.

Grandma: I’m not gonna put skim milk on my cereal. That stuff is like water. Won’t you even drink 1%?

Me: Yes, but if you’re getting it just for me and not for you then I prefer skim.

Grandma: I thought you liked 1%. Last time you drank 1%.

Me: If you buy 1% I’ll drink it.

Grandma: What about Leo? What will he drink?

Me: Well, by that time he’ll be drinking whole milk.

Grandma: So I need to get whole milk for Leo and skim milk for you?

Me: Or Leo can just drink the milk from Grace!

Grandma: No, he doesn’t want that. It’s whole milk.

Me: But that’s what he’ll be drinking.

Grandma: Well you can just go to the store when you get here.

Me: Good idea.

Leo and my grandma discussing milk last September:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Ten for my Torte

Every year around St. Patrick’s Day I make my famous chocolate mint brownie torte. At least every year since 2007.

Here it was on its debut. (I'm not sure why there are chips around it; that's not part of the recipe.)

That was the same night we met Colman Fagan (2 months old at the time). (Exciting side note: Colman and big brother Charlie are getting a baby brother today! I hear they’re not naming him Patrick but maybe they could name him Torte.)

I once made the torte for our anniversary. I bought green food color and wrote “Happy Anniversary” on it. But I didn’t wait for the torte to cool so it looked more like “Haaaaaaaaaapppppppp Avvvvvvvvvvvrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyy.”

The torte recipe (which I got from good old calls for Snackwell’s Mint Crème Cookies. But since I can never find those, I’ve often substituted York Peppermint Patties. (The Kraft people, by the way, get peeved if you write this on their website and will send you a curt email saying that they have ways to help you find the correct ingredients.)

Well the Kraft people would be ultra-angry if they knew what I did to their torte this year. Instead of using the Snackwells or YPPs, I used Girl Scout Cookies! I can’t believe I’ve never thought of this before. It’s brilliant!

Then I took it a step further. I had some leftover frosting (made by Pillsbury which I think is under Kraft) so I threw that on top. I also made it as a bundt cake just because I like to use my bundt pan.

Between the GS cookies and the frosting, I knew I was in for a high score. I mean, my torte is always well received. But this year I got a TEN!

Hurry, before St. Patrick’s day is over, make my torte!

Chocolate Mint Brownie Torte (courtesy of Kraft Foods and Cookinggal):

Prep Time:10 min
Total Time:50 min
Makes:16 servings, one slice each—(Cookinggal comment: Only if you eat guppy-sized bites. It’s more like eight servings.)
1 pkg. (19.8 oz.) brownie mix
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup cholesterol-free egg product
1 pkg. (6 oz.) SNACKWELL'S Mint Creme Cookies, coarsely chopped (Cookinggal comment: or York Peppermint Patties or Girl Scout Thin Mints--the more the better)
Cookinggal comment: chocolate frosting!
Optional but recommended: whip cream

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package using 1/2 cup water, the applesauce and egg product. Gently stir in cookie pieces.

POUR into lightly greased 9-inch springform pan. (OR BUNDT!)

BAKE 35 to 40 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely. Cut into 16 (Uh, EIGHT) slices to serve.

If it doesn't turn out as good as mine, just give 'em some green beer. Then you'll get your ten.

Friday, March 13, 2009


In Memory of Wally

Wally from Walgreen’s passed away. He was 86. I know I poked fun at him in a previous blog but he was a very nice guy. And he worked really hard. Here are some nice memories of Wally:

Whenever I bought those “Fresh Ink” brand cards and I would accidentally get the square envelopes, he would tell me, “You might want to go back and get the rectangular envelopes because these are gonna cost you extra postage.” I totally appreciated that because I never meant to buy the square ones. And it’s so bizarre that they cost extra anyway.

If he was working at the front register (which is where he always was) and I needed help in photo, he would page someone. Now, the teenage girl who works there just says, “There should be someone there.” And I say, “But there’s not.” And then we go round and round like this until I say, “Could you page someone? And whatever happened to Wally?” And then she tells me he died.

He always knew what was on sale. So if I bought a giant bag of cotton balls he would say, “You know, those are buy one, get one free. Go back and get yourself another!” FREE cotton balls? Now whenever I take off my toe nail polish, I’ll think of Wally.

He loved life. Instead of just saying, “Have a nice day” because he had to, he said, “Enjoy this WONDERFUL day!”

We’ll miss you, Wally. Walgreen’s just won’t be the same.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More of Cookinggal's Favorite Things

The other day as I searched for a chip clip for some frozen veggies I thought, “Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned, wooden clothes pins?” I mean, if I had some of those babies lying around I could clip everything. I wouldn’t have to make three bags of chips share one clip. I wouldn’t have to clip something small (like chocolate mini morsels) with a bulky chip clip.

So I bought some clothes pins at Target the other day. They weren’t easy to find. I had to ask an associate for help. He was like, “Clothes pins?” And I said, “I know. They’re probably not cool anymore. But I don’t care. I want clothes pins.” Some other red-shirted dude found them for me.

Now I have my clothes pins and they make me really happy. Every time I go to clip something I think, “Ooh, I can use one of my clothes pins.” They’re so much more compact than the chip clips and so much more versatile. I’m clothes-pinning everything—bags of spinach, ground flaxseed and of course, the mini morsels.

And while we’re on the subject of things that make me happy in my kitchen, let me tell you about my snack bags. I’ve seen other moms with these and I finally got my own:

Aren’t they cute? Oh, and that’s just a picture I found on the web. But they would be great for marshmallows.

They’re also great for Leo’s Cheerios or Puffs or when he only eats a quarter of a piece of cheese and I have to save the rest. Just like with the clothes pins, I get excited when an opportunity arises for me to use a snack bag.

I tried to think of a third favorite thing from my kitchen because of the whole rule of three but I’ve already told you about my olive oil holder.

And I didn’t think choose-a-size paper towels were really worthy mentioning.

Monday, March 09, 2009

What does the lion say?

He says, "Leo's outfit from Tia Kristin is so cute! And it's finally warm enough to go pantless!" Oh, and also, "ROARRRRR"

Friday, March 06, 2009

Show Off

Leo's Granny Jo is here this week so he has been showing her all his tricks. The biggest one is that he has stood up by himself a few times but it only lasts a few seconds so no photos yet. Here are some of his secondary talents:

Playing keyboards for U2:

Climbing in a bucket:

Showing his buddy John the coolest part of our house:

Dusting off John's clothes:

Skyping with Great Aunt Marilyn:

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Writinggal is a victim of the recession. Last week I learned that my weekly column in the Atlanta paper got cut.

Okay, it wasn’t really a “column” as in “Words from Writinggal” or “Shallow Waters” (the latter being my dream name for a syndicated column as in I only write about shallow stuff). It was a weekly article on local people and their favorite workouts. So it wasn’t like the stories were my opinion or anything. But still, it was a regular gig.

So yesterday I felt kind of bummed about that. I thought things like, “I’ve been at this writing thing for three and a half years and what do I have to show for it? I’ve never been published in a big, national magazine, I don’t have a syndicated column or a book and if I were relying on my writing earnings to eat, well I would probably have to cut it down to just breakfast. And I’d have to eat Kroger-brand Kashi.”

I tried to think of who else I could write for and how I could get more work. I started to get myself in hustle-mode. And then I remembered the recession.

And I felt relieved.

See, with a recession going on, you don’t have to feel like a loser. Just the fact that I’m doing any work at all makes me a winner, right? Nobody expects you to be fulfilling your dream right now. A recession lowers expectations. I call them recespectations.

Let’s say it was the year 2000 and you were out of work. People would be like, “What a loser. Why doesn’t she get a job at an awesome dot com? Those things are making tons of money, right?” People had higher expectations at that time. There was a lot of pressure to have a great job and to do something with your life.

But if it was late 2001 and you were out of work, everybody would say, “Oh, it’s because of 9/11.” Recespectations mean you could take any old job. You could be a sacker at the grocery store. All you have to say is the current recession buzz word and you’re off the hook. Back then it was “9/11.” Now it’s “the Economy.”

Like if you had to take a job delivering pizzas right now and the person who opened the door happened to be a buddy of yours and they said, “So you’re delivering pizzas now?” You could just say, “Yep. The Economy.” They would totally sympathize, not judge.

Or if you had worked in real estate and now you’re a janitor, you could use another ’09 buzz phrase: “The housing market.”

So if you’re out of a job, enjoy these recespectations.

I’m not going to give myself a hard time for losing some work. It’s okay to be less than extraordinary right now. In fact, it’s kinda chic. Maybe I’ll work on my book, tentatively titled, “Shove me in the Shallow Waters.” But don’t look for it for a few years. I’m going to wait to publish it. You know, because of the economy.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Leo's been here ten months

If I thought trying to get a ninth month old to sit still for a picture was tough, that’s only because I hadn’t tried it with a ten month old. We are very lucky there were no serious head injuries in the making of these pictures or video:

Here’s what Leo’s into:
-He's especially into things he’s not supposed to be into like the entertainment center, the refrigerator, the dishwasher...
-In fact, he really just likes doors in general—opening them, closing them, repeating this over and over
-Waving bye bye backwards (and sometimes forwards if you’re lucky)
-Pulling up on everything—furniture but also people--even other babies -
-He hates having his diaper changed and getting his pants put on him
-He also doesn’t like to wear hats so it’s good it’s about to get warmer
-laughing when we zurbert his belly
-riding on daddy’s shoulders
-playing with daddy’s guitar
-clapping his hands when I sing “patty cake.”
-balls—especially his football (Grandpa Ron will be so proud!)
-books (another thing to make Grandpa Ron proud)!
-he's not into mommy being on the computer when he wants attention so I gotta go!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

This is Leo's house

I say that to Leo in the morning when we watch the Today show and they say, "But first, this is Today on NBC." And we always look out the back door.

Today the view looked way different though!