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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Look out, Laura Ingalls

I can’t use my microwave. Well, I could use it but I run the risk that flames will appear. It only happens about 20% of the time but still, the electrician who came out to fix it says it’s dangerous. Plus, when flames appear in my microwave, I tend to get a little uneasy. Maybe that’s just me.

Oh, and the guy who came to “fix” it didn’t actually fix it. He said it was unfixable. I stupidly held out for our home warranty company to replace it but since the electrician told them I broke my microwave with “blunt force,” they’re not buying me a new one. By the way, he didn’t tell ME that he suspected blunt force. What does he think I did? Swing at my microwave with a sauce pan? “DAMN MICROWAVE!! HOW DARE YOU OVERCOOK MY MICROWAVABLE SWEET POTATO!”

So anyway, we haven’t had a chance (or the motivation) to get a new one which means I’ve been cooking like an 1886 farm wife since early July. At first I would try to sneak things in the microwave. “Oh, ten seconds just to warm up a cheese sandwich can’t hurt…” but I’d hear one snap, crackle, pop from the MW and get all frantic.

Today, as we were warming up baby food on the stove and heating a microwavable sweet potato in the toaster over (which takes about 55 minutes longer than in the microwave), my mother-in-law said, “I bet you’ll be glad when you get a microwave.”

But here’s the weird thing: I don’t really miss it that much. I’ve always been a little suspicious of microwaves and their radioactive waves. In fact, I’ve even hypothesized that MWs are the reason for all the weirdness in today’s kids. When I was pregnant I always left the room when the microwave was on. Now, out of habit, I still keep my distance.

Plus, warming up things on the stove or in the toaster oven isn’t such a biggie. It kinda tastes better. And it makes me feel more like a true cook. Or a pioneer woman.

So I may just stick with this no-microwave situation. But you won’t catch me milking a cow or anything.

Leo's been here 15 months

Leo is walking now—really walking! He walks around the house, in the driveway and in public places. He still likes the proposal scoot about 40% of the time though.

Here’s what else Leo is into:
He just finished up his first session of music class. Whenever we even say the word “music class” he sings, “Bah bah bah.”

And speaking of music, he insists on listening to his “Leo music” in the car. All the time. Wherever we go.

He’s always loved Twinkle Twinkle but now that Granny Jo taught him the hand motions to go with it, he has a renewed love for this classic tune. He puts his hands up and does “twinkling” motions when we sing it and also makes a little diamond with his fingers.

He’s not just musically inclined, though. He also likes other finer things like literature. He’s really into “Pat the Bunny” although he calls it, “Paul.” His favorite part is when Judy plays peek-a-boo with Paul. Leo says, “Hi, P-P-Paul.”

In fact, “Hi” is his favorite expression. You’ll hear him say it on the video below. He especially likes to hide behind you and when you turn around he says, “HI!!”

He’s still chatting away and adding words all the time. Some new faves are: Rah Rah (for Grandmother and Grandpa Ron), “Guh guh” (for Granny Jo), “Ot-sey” (for Popsy) and Dah-son (for Dawson). He’s really into saying names lately. A few other regular words are “Baby” (he sounds French; you’ll hear it in the video), “Yeah,” “Slide,” “Truck,” “Flower,” and “Book.” Unfortunately, I think his favorite word is “No,” most especially, “No-no-no-no.” He answers any question with “no” including, “Do you want to go to Disney World?”

He knows lots of body parts but his favorite is his belly button. And our belly buttons.

If we’re in a room with a few people he can point at everyone by name. For instance, we’ll say, “Where is Mary?” and he points at the right person (even if he just met them)! Sometimes we think it’s just process of elimination like if we’re in a room with mama, dada, Granny Jo and someone else he’s like, “Duh, of course that must be Mary. I know everyone else’s names.”

He’s still super social and will go up to everyone, even workers who come to the house.

He likes to hug and kiss—people and his stuffed animals (as you’ll see in the pictures).

He’s still wild about balls. He throws them really well.

We like to ask him, “Leo, what’s on your shirt?” and he pulls out his shirt, looks down and says some random word—usually “car.” He’s often right since lots of little boy clothes have cars on them.

If you’ve had enough bragging, here’s a complaint: He’s a picky eater! He doesn’t like much right now but I’m hoping it’s a phase. The only things he’s excited about are yogurt and milk and sometimes cheese. I think he’s a dairy guy like mommy.

And this whole “feeding himself” thing is a big mess.

He may not be into food but he loves getting into the kitchen cabinets. He pretty much just tears the kitchen apart on a daily basis.

Oh, I have so much more to say but maybe I’ll save them for future blogs.

Happy 15 months, Leo!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Leo the Sailor Man

I have two reason that Leo reminds me of a sailor:

1. Whenever he sneaks his way into the fridge, he goes for the spinach:

2. When he scoots around with his cup, he reminds me of a drunken sailor:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Things I wish I liked: Starbucks

I’m going to start a new series here on the WG blog. I call it “Things I wish I liked.” At first I thought it would just be one blog—a list of all the things I wish I liked. But then I realized that many of these things required more explanation. I’ll probably spread them out and write a “thing I wish I liked” once a week. Or maybe I’ll do some back-to-back TIWILs. Today I’m going to explain why I wish I liked Starbucks:

When I go out walking in the morning I pass a Starbucks. People look like they’re having so much fun there. They’re sitting outside, sipping their coffee out of those paper cups. Sometimes they even take their coffees to the park and just stroll and sip. Stroll and sip. It looks so pleasant.

Plus, the few times I’ve been in Starbucks it seems like such a warm, comfortable place. I would totally want to hang out there. I even have a password to use their wi-fi. Oh, and I can't forget the celebs: The Afflecks, Brit, the cast of Grey's...they're all there.

The problem is, I don’t like coffee. If forced, I get their creamy, high-calorie, froo-froo drinks. I never know what to order but I think I’m supposed to say “skinny.” But I think skinny just means no whip. And I like whip. So should I say fat?

It’s all so confusing.

Side note: Once Frank’s boss took him to Starbucks for a one-on-one meeting. Frank didn’t know what to order so he got chocolate milk. Nothing says ‘professional’ like sipping chocolate milk through a straw.

So in summary, I don’t like coffee, I think their whole menu is confusing and their prices are ridiculous. Plus, what’s with ‘tall’ really meaning ‘small?” Total scam. Bottom line, I don’t like Starbucks.

But I wish I did.

Next up: Golf.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mush Mouth

Growing up my dad (now known as Grandpa Ron) used to say I had a “mush mouth.” For instance, I’d say, “Can I have a sip of your drink?” And he’d say, “I don’t want your mush mouth all over it.”

I think Leo inherited my mush mouth.

When we feed him with a spoon he insists on holding his own spoon. At first he just needed to hold the spoon. Now he wants to actually dip it into the bowl (or jar) and try to feed himself. I understand that we’re supposed to encourage this as it helps him develop his fine motor skills and become less dependent on us.

But, woah, is it messy. Here are some pics of our little mush mouth:

And here is what feeding him looks like with the dueling spoons:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

From Top to Bottom

Here is Leo, showing off his many parts. I forgot to quiz him on eyes but trust me, he knows that one the best! (And I promise I only gave him a hint on one of them!)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Spin Class Cast of Characters

So I’m still teaching spin. I teach at the YMCA every Tuesday and Thursday and every other Saturday. I’ve been teaching for almost four years now and I still love it. I love the energy, the intensity and most of the time, I love the people in my classes. There are some really positive, lovely folks like Happy Holly, Enthusiastic Emily, Ready-for-anything Rodney, Fun-loving Franny, Chatty Buddies Janie and Mary and almost-pro-biker Brad.

But there are a few weirdos who make me wish my bike wasn’t stationary and that I could run them over. Allow me to introduce them to you:

Bored Barbara: BB has been coming to my classes religiously for two years. She doesn’t actually take the class though. She sits on her bike, barely pedals and literally twiddles her thumbs. I’m up there trying to be super motivating with all my “You’re on fire” cues and I get nothing from BB. I want to tell her she'd get just as good a work out sitting on her couch watching Army Wives.

Dirty Deborah: She’s the angriest woman to ever enter a group exercise class. She complains about everything from the bikes to the lights. And she just looks dirty—like her face always has brown spots on it as if she just came from working in a theater where she plays a homeless woman.

Music-hating Margaret: I used to like MHM until she told me she hated my music. Now you’re allowed to hate my music. You’re even allowed to tell me about it. But if you’re gonna dis on my tunes, give me some constructive criticism like, "I really hate techno" or "Could you play more country?" She just said, “Can you use different music?”

Me: “Yes, I have 36 different routines so what kind of music do you like?”
“I don’t know. Just something different than what you had today. I didn’t know any of the songs.”
“Well, I had rock, hip hop, techno, 80s…is there a certain genre that you like?”
“The only song I liked today was ‘Dancing with Myself.’ That’s the only one I knew.”

Since none of her feedback was helpful I completely disregarded it. For the next class I just moved onto the next routine (like I normally would). At the end of class MHM came up to me with a big thumbs up and said, “Thanks so much for the new music!” I wanted to be like, “Yeah, I went home and spent hours searching for music that you like based on the awesome feedback you gave me.” I mean, if I had done that we would have spun to 60 minutes of Billy Idol.

Old-School Bob: OSB is old as his name implies. And he calls me “Sweetheart” in the way that Humphrey Bogart says it: “Good class today, sweet-haht.” OSB likes to do his own thing too. He’s not twiddling his thumbs like BB; instead, he does his own warm-up stretches and he likes to do push-ups on his bike in the middle of class. Oh, and he hates the fact that we changed one of the 60-minute spin classes to 50/50 (30 minutes of spin and 30 minutes of weights). And he always acts like he forgot that we changed the class. We’re all getting off our bikes 30 minutes into class and he’s over there, doing push-ups and pedaling, going, “What’s going on, sweet-haht? Is it not an hour of cycle today? Can I cycle over there in the corner?”

I usually let him because it’s hard to say no to an old guy.

Please note that I have changed their names to protect the weird.

Oh, and in other spin class news: Enthusiastic Emily got engaged! And it happened after one of my classes so I feel somewhat responsible. So happy was I for EE that I resisted the urge to run over BB (at least for that day).

Monday, July 13, 2009

And I would walk 500 Miles

Over the past few weeks Leo has taken a few steps each day. But yesterday--in an effort to impress his Grandmother or "Rah Rah" as he calls her--he did a personal best by walking from his room, across a hallway and into the office/playroom. That's about 20 Leo steps.

Here he is on the end of that walk:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dahlonega: a good back-up plan

We set out on the Monday after 4th of July for Big Canoe--a place I had heard about from a friend and read about online. In this magical place called Big Canoe (just an hour outside of Atlanta), you could frolick at their swim club and nearby lake for just $5. Well, after getting Leo and ourselves all ready for a day of water fun, we made the drive out there only to learn that Big Canoe is actually a private residential community. And they don't let just any old riff raff in--not even if you slip the people at the gate $5.

So after some pouting on my part, we ended up in another town, Dahlonega (Duh-lawn-a-guh), known as the site of the first American Gold Rush. In Little D, you don't need a membership. So we just strolled around their town square, sipped some wine, played in their semi-park and had a nice little lunch. Here are some pics from our "lemons to lemonade" day of fun (in reverse order because that's how I posted them and I don't feel like changing them all around)!

Back at home, getting on his pool pants (aka speedos) for a trip to the Y:

Lunch at this adorable place in Dahlonega called the Crescent Moon Cafe.

A straw always keeps Leo occupied:

Playing with daddy in the park:

Note for Safety Dave and Aunt Laura: I know you guys have perfected the "arm way out self-portrait" but it's much tougher with three people. You'll see!

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"What? Can't I guy eat his Cheerios in peace?"

Thursday, July 09, 2009

You're welcome, mint/chocolate lovers

Every time I order VitaTops I take this survey at the end. One of the questions is, "What new flavors would you like to see?" I always write, "Chocolate/Mint and Chocolate/Caramel." The last time I wrote it, I thought, "What's the point? They're clearly not reading my survey." I must have submitted these ideas like, 37, times and I've never heard any chatter about my awesome flavors combos.

Until today.

It's here: a chocolate/mint VitaTop. And it's all because of ME!!

Of course, there's no way to prove that it was all my idea but I'll know. And now you'll know. I'm sure there are other great inventions out there that were really someone else's ideas. Light Bulbs? Probably Thomas Edison's wife. Cotton Gin? Eli Whitney's neighbor. iPhone? Some guy in the mail room at Apple. And retractable cords on hair dryers? That was so me!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Fourth: Fo' Real

I remember a 4th of July a few years ago that was like, on a Tuesday. And it rained. We were in the backyard grilling with an umbrella. The neighbor on the other side of the fence was doing the same thing. Frank said to the guy, "We HAVE to grill! It's the 4th of July!" But it was pretty lame. It didn't feel like a real Fourth of July.

But this year's independence day had all the makings of a perfect 4th: It fell on a Saturday; it was hot; we had hot dogs. We went to the pool, went to a party and watched fireworks. The rain held off until today. Here are a few pics from Leo's second 4th of July:

With Daddy at the YMCA pool:

Isn't it a nice pool? I love the slide (over on the left).

Leo loves to play with his "BAALL" in the "POOOL."

And he thinks this waterfall is so cool.

I can't stop stuffing: these are yummy crabmeat stuffed mushrooms.

And here's a pic for Popsy--the ice cream cake, made by Claire! It was awesome.

Leo got to practice his new word, "Ta-tal" since Chantal hosted the party:

Leo and John are so close to walking...

...especially John!

Me, Chantal, Maria and Evelyn sipping our fun drinks (although Maria's isn't quite as fun as ours)!

Next year's 4th is on a Sunday so it should work out well. And Leo might even be able to stay up late enough for the fireworks!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Cookinggal: Stuffed

I've been Cookinggal for about four years now. I've come a long way from the days of, "Jacquie, what exactly is garlic and how do I mince it?" I mean, not only can I follow a recipe, but I can spice it up and even create my own.

People sometimes ask me to borrow ingredients (which I always have on hand). Sometimes people even ask me cooking advice. I'm serious!

But one cooking challenge has always intimidated me: stuffing something. I love the taste of stuffed stuff; I just didn't have the confidence to actually stuff something myself. I would shy away from recipes that called for "pounding the chicken into 1/4 inch thickness." But I secretly longed to stuff.

So last night I tried it. I stuffed chicken. I flattened it out with a rolling pin and I stuffed it with spinach, roasted red peppers, Italian dressing and--what else--stuffing! It was delish. Now, of course I went out and bought a regular red pepper (which are only $1 at the produce stand by my house) instead of a jar of roasted red peppers. But no prob. Cookinggal knew just what to do: I just sauteed those peppers in olive oil and they worked perfectly. Oh, and I added some crushed red pepper because we like things spicy...and I like to "make it my own" like the kids on American Idol.

My cooking evolution sometimes makes me wonder--could I ever become GardeningGal? I currently don't know a gardenia from a pansy but is it possible that I could transform my dull backyard into a heavenly garden, much like I have transformed our frozen dinner fare into elegant dining? Perhaps. But it will be a long time before I'm stuffing any chrysanthemums...see? I don't even know what that means.

New Word: Chantal

Leo and I went to breakfast with Ms. Chantal this morning and he loves to say her name: "Ta-Tal." And he holds on to the second syllable so it's like, "Ta-TAAAAAL."

After we dropped her off, he whimpered for a little while and every few mintues he says, "Ta-TAAAAAl." I told him that this is impressive because most adults can't even pronounce her name.