5 months old, and the best laid plans…

Our little boy is five months old today.

5 months old

 

I think that face says it all. “All”, of course, being “Yes, I’m totally cute. Mommy, why do you have that thing in my face? Can I eat it?” Makes me not want to go to work in the morning…

This weekend, we went with Brian’s family to do family portraits. They haven’t had a portrait done together since 2006 (which, incidentally, was the year that the siblings went in on a picture of themselves for their parents as well), and a lot of things have changed since then. Everyone is older, of course; all three siblings are married or committed; and then there’s Arthur!

In order to make portraits more successful than our 3-month visit, we planned ahead. We got to the mall at 11:45 and bought lunch. Arthur woke up in his stroller at noon, at which point I fixed him a 4-ounce bottle. It was enough to make him happy, and we were far enough ahead of our 1:00 pm appointment that he would have plenty of time to eat and digest so we could avoid spit-up. Plus, we figured, by the time he’s ready for his next bottle we would be comfortably resting at my in-laws’ house waiting for early Thanksgiving dinner.

You know what they say about the best-laid plans…

We walked into the portrait studio at 12:40, and within the next five minutes the rest of the family had arrived. We checked in – “Oh, we’re running about 25-30 minutes behind so we’ll get to you as soon as we can.” This wasn’t a horrible setback, until 25 minutes stretched into 35 and people who had seemingly just arrived were taken in before us. (In reality, many families decided to stroll through the store after checking in to avoid the inevitable meltdowns of tired and impatient children.) Arthur started rubbing his eyes and giving us his sleepy face, so Brian hitched him up and started walking as well. Within a few minutes Arthur was passed out.

Of course, that was the moment that they came out and said “We’re ready for you!”

Sadly for the story, but quite fortunately for us, Arthur is a champ. We did a few “couple” shots first, and by the time we were ready to include Arthur in the photos he was awake and bright-eyed. He even smiled through most of the pictures, and we ended up with a couple of gems.

All in all, it was a good day – but I dread thinking of how we’ll prepare for his 6-month portraits…

 

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Kokkinisto Recipe

I have made this so many times that it’s high time I share it! I first visited Sparkley Pink Lemons when she began following my blog, and while I was there I stumbled on this FANTASTIC recipe. Since then I can’t count the number of times I’ve made it and each time I love it even more.

A few notes:
-I use the tweaked recipe and haven’t regretted it once.
-I also used sirloin, just because lamb is so darn expensive (and Brian doesn’t like it. Poor Brian.)
-I’ve only used the 1 cup of water once, thanks to an overeager burner that cooked down the liquid too fast.
-I often throw in a third tablespoon of tomato paste.
-To soften the potato without cooking it separately, I add it after 25 minutes and then add the other vegetables at 40 minutes. They’re perfect for us.

Please oh please, if you enjoy hearty beef dishes, give this one a whirl. It cooks quickly, and you can save even more time if you prep the ingredients the night before. Send me pics of the finished product, and tell me how much you loved it!

Hello..I have had this recipe posted on my message board for some time now, it is from the book Feed Your Face  Diet that I had discussed about earlier. The author Dr. Wu explains how tomatoes are great for protecting your skin from freckles, sun spots and premature wrinkling because of the powerful antioxidant lycopene. She also suggest eating a tablespoon of tomato paste with each meal when you are on a sunny vacation for extra protection for sun rays ( still need to apply sun screen as well). So I made this recipe for dinner tonight and it is amazing!! What I liked best about it was the broth, it was too acidy as I find some tomato based recipes to be.

The recipe is from actress Marina Sirtis, its a family Greek dish. Hence the term Kokkinisto meaning “reddening” as you must brown meat ( lamb or…

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30-day challenge and simplifying my life

Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of new parenthood is carving out moments to just be me. I am Arthur’s mom but I am also Shannon, Brian’s wife and an individual with my own needs and identity. I have an extremely supportive family that gives me the space to be my own person; the challenge has been making the most of that time and space.

It was perfect timing, then, that my friend Alicia posted pictures of a 30-day physical challenge she is doing to stay on track with her health and fitness goals. I had just been considering a membership to Planet Fitness, but decided that I wanted to start smaller – something I could carve out the time to do without needing to find a sitter or wait for Brian to get home. My first idea was mall walking (which I am totally going to do, and treat myself to coffee while I’m at it!), but these challenges also seemed like something I could work in to my daily routine.

If you haven’t seen them, there are three challenges: an ab challenge, combining sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, and planks; a squat challenge; and a push up challenge. They were designed together so all of the rest days are the same, and each challenge is progressive so you continue to build on the work you’ve done in the days before. By the end of the challenge I should be able to do 125 sit-ups, 200 crunches, 65 leg raises, a 2-minute plank, 250 squats, and 20 push ups.

Help.

Day 1 – Monday – was a breeze, as the first day of any fitness program usually is. Whether you visit the gym with a brand-new workout ensemble and a sparkling water bottle to attack the elliptical or do crunches in your living room, the adrenaline rush of doing something is usually enough to help you power through the workout.

Day 2…yeah, that’s when the realization sets in that it’s called “working out” because it really is work – and if your body is like mine, it doesn’t like being forcibly reminded that those muscles are there to serve a greater purpose than they have been. I did learn, though, that squatting in front of a baby is the most hilarious thing in the world – to the baby. Arthur was more than amused by Mommy’s feeble exercise attempts, though I’m sure he was also confused about why I kept bending down toward him without picking him up.

I wanted to quit, so badly. I did the whole routine yesterday, up to the sit-ups – 8 crunches, 8 leg raises, a 12-second plank, 55 squats, and 4 push ups – and sat there for a minute wondering if it would be so bad to just skip the sit-ups and start again today. But I guess parenthood has changed that part of me too; I looked at Arthur, sitting on Brian’s lap looking down at me from the couch, and realized that I can’t expect or encourage him to keep going through challenges or adversity if I’m not willing to do the same. And I don’t get to put a check mark on the calendar if I only make half an effort.

So I did it. Five at a time, slowly at first and then powering through as I got closer to the finish, and my abs were screaming when I was done. But I did it.

The next challenge will be overhauling the way we handle food in our house – replacing snacks, establishing and sticking to a consistent dinner schedule, and just developing a better relationship with what we put into our bodies. In a little more than a month we will be introducing solid foods to Arthur, and once again we can’t expect him to have a healthy perspective about food if we don’t model that for him from the beginning.

In other news, I’m on a mission to simplify my life. Physical clutter leads to psychological and spiritual clutter, and all of that stands in the way of enjoying all of the wonderful parts of our life. On Monday my friend Amanda posted on The Color Coded Life about a planner that she loves (I am addicted to planners myself) that is designed to – you guessed it – help you simplify your life. It carries a hefty price tag, but the temptation was too great to resist so I treated myself with the proceeds from my paid book reviews. It should arrive next week, and I can’t wait to get started.

This is a daily planner, of course, but it is far more than that. There are lists for planning meals, and making memories, and even for making the time to just be grateful for the people and things we have. As much as I like having a digital calendar, I always need a hard copy within arm’s reach so I can keep everything straight. After all, when I’m juggling two individual schedules, a family schedule, birthdays and anniversaries and my own business, it’s very easy to drown in details. (Besides, let’s face it – I can’t use colored pens and paper clips on my phone!)

Once this lovely planner arrives I’ll do a more in-depth review of it. Who knows, I may even break out the Flip and do a video.

No promises.

Onward with the day, but I’ll leave you with this: “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hoffman

 

Don’t grow up too fast…

For all the writing I do, I don’t seem to have stopped in here recently. So brace yourselves kids, it may be a long one.

Arthur is already 4.5 months old. I blink my eyes and he’s growing out of clothes, rolling himself over, and jabbering with a smile on his face that I swear wasn’t there the last time we woke up. It’s amazing to watch his eyes light up, whether it’s first thing in the morning or when I walk in after a long day of work. He’s started reaching out too, and sometimes I think I’m going to cry all the tears because it melts my heart.

Other things have changed, of course. For one, he’s no longer interested in more than the most random nursing. He’s almost exclusively on a bottle, though yesterday he was rather insistent that he nurse (I think for comfort), so for 10 wonderful minutes we went back to the way we were before. He grips the bottle and pulls it to him, and when he watches us eat he mimics our chewing with an eager gleam in his eye. I don’t think this boy will have any problems eating food.

…which, we sort of tried already. I was adamant that we not introduce food of any kind until 6 months, but once he started waking up in the middle of the night and showing such an interest in food I decided that a little bit of oatmeal cereal wouldn’t be terrible for him. (I chose oatmeal over rice because of the constipation factor, even though the rice is otherwise milder.) I put a teaspoon in his 4-oz bottle and he drank it right down, so the other night we tried a slightly thicker mix that I spoon-fed him. He didn’t spit up…though that’s because he didn’t swallow any of it.

At first I thought it was because he just isn’t ready to guide food to the back of his mouth, but now that I’ve had some time I think it might be more that he was uncomfortable with the spoons we’re using. The little plastic feeding spoons are super cute (and cheap!) but they’re deeper than a traditional baby feeding spoon and the hard plastic can’t feel as good as rubber coating in his mouth. I’m going to pick up some different spoons this weekend and maybe try again. We’re also going to begin switching him over to sippy cups soon (using Avent’s awesome interchangeable caps), which will undoubtedly be fun.

***

Being a parent just astounds me more every day. Arthur’s personality shines through more and more, and it’s just amazing to watch him explore and comprehend his toys and observe the world around him. I’ve already decided that he’s probably going to be a southpaw, which everyone sort of goes with because Brian is and as he said, “mother’s intuition is usually right”. But it’s more than that – he favors his left hand when he’s lifting, chewing, or doing anything. It’s just one more part of this little person who is developing in front of my eyes. I thrive on moments when he just settles in to cuddle with me, moments that are happening more and more as we go but that will one day begin to dwindle until he inevitably argues that he isn’t a baby anymore.

We’re doing family portraits next weekend with Brian’s family, which we’re also using as a holiday card shoot. Yes, we’re those people. I love that we have the ability to chronicle his growth and the changes our family has gone through with regular photos, and I love even more that Arthur seems to really enjoy the camera. (Just like his mommy…) I’ll share once we have them, I’m so excited!

That’s it for now; back to my latte and articles and counting down the hours until I get to see Artie’s face light up again.