Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Baby Doing Yoga

Okay, so the baby isn't really doing yoga. But it sure looks like she's trying.

That last picture is her typical hands-and-knees pose. She looks like she's going to crawl, but she just won't. Even when I give her knees and feet some traction. Ah well. She does great with her army crawl.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Today isn't. Which is too bad, really, because we always have such great Sundays. We look forward to our weekly day of fellowship, rest and feasting. We usually go to Bryan's parent's house for lunch or dinner, and always have a fabulous time. There is always a feast of amazing food, and usually everyone is there: Patch and Deb, Bryan's sisters Laura, Christa and Jessie, Laura's husband Austin, and sometimes a few extras. Everyone seems to enjoy taking turns playing with the baby. Even the dogs.

Chloë spies a doggy.

Gypsie. Often cautious around the baby.

India. Always patient with Chloë's curious fingers.

Indie is such a great sport and does so well with the baby. Sometimes she just comes over and lies down next to her.

Chloë absolutely loves being on her feet. And walking with Grandma Deb is just so much fun.

Playing with Aunt Laura. I'm not sure what my goofball baby is doing here. Trying to be a ham, I think.

Aunt Laura really knows how to make the baby laugh.

Babbling a very dramatic story.

Then after lots of playing, we all sit and lie around, stuffing our gills with dessert and coffee, laughing and moving as little as possible.

Monday, March 21, 2011

First Baby Doll

Bryan and I have become the kind of parents that browse through the toy section any time we're out shopping. It is fun to see Chloë interested in new things. She has the same little basket of toys that she's had since she was born, so it's fun to see her so curious about new things that rattle or make noise. The last few times we've been exploring the toy aisle, we've been surprised at how much Chloë liked the little baby dolls stacked neatly on the shelves. We'd pull one down, and she would get so excited. So I finally splurged and bought her her first doll. We gave it to her yesterday. She was so sweet, even though most of her kisses were her opened-mouth ones.

I can't help but think of this picture of my dad giving me my first doll on my first birthday.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shamrock Shortbread

I've been making this shortbread for 20 years now. Well, the non-green and non-shamrock version, anyway. I'm not sure where my mom picked up the recipe, but it has been a family favorite for as long as I can remember. In fact, it won the big, colorful "best of show" ribbon in the Polk County Fair back when I was 10 or 11. Ah, good times.

So in light of good ol' St. Patrick's Day, I wanted to do something "Irish" for dessert. Since I wasn't really in the mood for Irish Brownies, I decided to make shortbread into shamrocks. I must warn you, these cookies are ridiculously easy to make, and even easier to eat. Not like that nasty "shortbread" stuff that you can buy in the bakery department of your grocery story. These are melt-in-your-mouth amazing.

Diana's Shortbread

1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup corn starch
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups butter, very soft

Sift together powdered sugar, corn starch and flour. Blend in butter. Shape, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten shaped dough slightly. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until slightly golden.

*To make shamrocks: Add some green food coloring to your dough before you bake it. Then make dough into balls about a half inch in diameter, arrange, stick a little blob where the stem should be, and the smush them together a bit with a spoon, being careful to maintain the shamrock-y shape. Then bake, and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sound Effects

Maybe it's because I'm a girl and have very little talent in making sound effects, but I really like this video that I recently discovered. (And I can't help but remember all the years of listening to sounds my brothers would make when they played; crashes, explosions, and impalements, mostly. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of the same sounds here.)

I also appreciate that this guy is a little bit nerdy, doesn't take himself too seriously, and reminds me of Andy Samberg.

If you aren't into mainstream music and haven't heard the original song, check it out here for comparison.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nine Months Old

It is hard to believe how much this little person has changed and grown in nine months. She is so curious and capable. I love how she sometimes tilts her head to one side when she's especially interested in something. She loves looking at books, sometimes turning the pages, but always daintily tracing the words and pictures with her finger.

She has mastered her army crawl, and scoots around the house quite well. She is getting up on all fours and rocking more each day, so I'm guessing she'll be doing a traditional crawl before too long. We have installed a hinged baby gate at the top of the stairs leading to the basement so we don't have to worry about her falling down the stairs.

If I leave the room for a few minutes while she is playing on the floor, it sometimes takes me a minute to figure out where she scooted off to, especially if she is being quiet and playing with something she knows is "no touch." It still surprises me how well she understands what I say to her, especially "no touch." The floor lamp in the living room, for example, is a no touch. Sometimes she'll have her chubby little finger stretched out, within millimeters of the lamp, while she decides if touching the shiny lamp is worth the consequences.

She is also learning how to balance by holding on to furniture when she stands. She's such a squirmy little thing that she often wiggles or bounces herself out of balance. Which really, is fine with me. I'm in no hurry to see her walking. She's already growing up way too fast.

Chloë had her nine month doctor's appointment last week, and so we got an accurate height, weight and head circumference. The impressive measurement this month is her head, which at 18 inches in circumference, puts her brain in the 92nd percentile. She is now 28 inches tall, putting her in the 70th percentile for height, but only weighs 18.1 pounds, which has dropped her into the 39th percentile for weight. (Yikes. She was a chubby 72nd percentile when she was two months old.) She is such an active baby that she's just a calorie burnin' machine, I guess. She still eats every 2 or 3 hours, and I try to give her two "meals" of solids every day (usually a homemade carrot-potato-chicken mash mixed with the applesauce I made last Fall), as well as Cheerios throughout the day. She loves them, and often flashes me a huge, cheesy smile while she's eating them.

She loves toys, particularly ones she can chew on and drool all over. She scoots around all day, finding things to slobber and suck on: my slippers, the floor, the legs of furniture, and of course any little crumb that might have escaped my floor cleaning rituals. She really enjoys playing with dominoes, especially with her daddy.

She still enjoys her Johnny Jump Up and bouncy chair immensely, and usually spends about an hour between the two every day. She has recently figured out how to flip over in her bouncy chair and slowly work her body onto the floor. She also still loves taking baths, and seems a bit intrigued by the water coming from the faucet. I think she might be big enough for the real bathtub now. She's a lot bigger than she used to be.

She really enjoys interacting with us and playing little games. She loves kisses and tickles and bumping foreheads and "lip-strumming." I don't know what else to call it.

Her daddy has come up with all sorts of nicknames for her, including Smush and Smushy, Sweeticus Prime, Sweeticus Bunicus, and we still call her Pea Pod, Chub Nugget, Sweety Buns and Fuss Bucket, among other things.

She recently discovered that she can make spit-bubbles. It's hilarious to watch.

She's a happy little person most of the time, but is discovering more and more ways to express her displeasure in things. She is an extremely loud baby, especially when upset. She hasn't started saying words yet, but it very jabbery making every sound imaginable, including lots of "mamama"s and "dadada"s. We sure do love our little Smushy.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chicken Biryani

My friend Sarah asked me to help her plan the menu for our church's big Easter Feast in May. We tossed around ideas and recipes, and decided on an Indian theme.

We had some friends over for dinner this week, so I experimented with our main recipe for the second time. There are so many great spices in this dish, but the recipe we had was a bit vague on some of the measurements. The first time I made this I used whole cloves and cardamom, but I found that it was a bit tricky to find and remove them once the cooking was complete. And a cardamom pod is quite a potent thing to chomp down on. So I used ground spices for the cloves and cardamom, and didn't have to worry about finding them before serving. The bay leaves and cinnamon stick are easy enough to fish out. For you locals, I had to get the ground coriander, cloves and cardamom at the Co-op. Everything else I was able to get at Winco.

I served this with homemade naan and tzatziki sauce.

Chicken Biryani
serves 5 or 6

3 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 teaspoon coriander powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
3 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 whole cloves (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves)
cinnamon stick, about 2 inches long
4 green cardamom (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom)
2 bay leaves
medium onion, diced
3 green chillies, chopped finely (or an 8 oz can)
2 cups white rice, uncooked
2 cups broccoli, chopped
2 cups coconut milk (15 oz can)
1/2 cup diced tomato
1 1/2 to 2 cups water

1. Combine coriander powder, chili powder, ginger powder, granulated garlic and salt, mix well with chicken pieces. Set aside to marinade, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Heat olive oil in large skillet, add cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, diced onion and chopped green chillies. Saute on medium heat until onions are tender, 10 to 20 minutes.

3. Add chicken and stir frequently. Fry until mostly done, about 10 minutes.

4. Transfer to a large pot. Add rice, chopped broccoli and diced tomato, stir for a minute over medium heat. Add coconut milk and water.

5. Place lid on pot, turn heat down to low, stir occasionally, and cook until rice is done, about 30 minutes.

6. Remove whole spices, and serve warm.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chloë Signs

We've been working with Chloë for a couple of months on signing "please." She doesn't seem to get it. Then a couple of weeks ago, we started giving her cheerios, and have been working on signing "more." Tonight at dinner, she did it all by herself! Still a little rough around the edges, but we are very pleased with our smart little girl.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Watching The Snow Fall

We've had over a foot of snow fall since yesterday, giving us around 18 inches on the ground this morning. It's so pretty and quiet. I love being able to just stay home with my baby, and play and laugh and have fun, and help her discover the amazing world around her. We spent a lot of time watching the snow fall.