24 September 2012

Perfect Moment Mondays

Baby Nerd has her first pair of rubber-soled Chucks. Red, of course. She keeps kicking her left foot as she quietly eats her mac and cheese with a side of peaches. The sun is at a lower angle in the sky now that fall has arrived, and it illuminates the kitchen in a whole new way. It's a lovely lunch date with our little nerd.

18 September 2012

Nerd in the World: Month 11

Had to sneak in the sticker since she always tears it off. Jeopardy is our best distraction for such a job.

Age: 11 months
Weight: ~21 lbs.
Length: Not quite sure since we haven't been to the doc recently, but she's a tall one.
What can she do now?
  • there are 7 teeth in her little mouth
  • walk with assistance from the hands of an adult
  • adding new sounds to her "vocabulary", like "doh", "ba", and "wo"
  • climbs the stairs with no trouble whatsoever (but definitely makes Mommy's heart palpitate when she does)
  • uses walking toys to get around when crawling gets boring
  • will turn your face to the side to see what earrings you're wearing
    • pulls everything off of shelves and out of drawers
    • won't go to bed without watching Jeopardy (we have to keep it on the DVR)
    • turns the pages in a book
    • "asks" for you to read a particular book to her (pulls books off shelves until the finds the one she wants, then grunts as she gives it to you)
    • "chases" Mojo
    • claps, taps, splashes, smacks her lips, and shakes her head on command
    Celebrations from the past month:
    • How did I forget to mention our beach trip for Month 10? Mal may have dipped her toes in the Atlantic Ocean back in February, but she hadn't seen the Gulf! Michael constantly gets offers for a free three-night stay at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, MS. So while we still had a little summer left, we took advantage of the deal and drove the nerd to the Gulf Coast. The water may have been a little murky from the Mississippi River's deposits, but we had a wonderful time helping her jump in the waves and play in the sand. It was obvious, thought, that there was nothing more entertaining in her mind than the pool. She's our water baby!
    Bathing beauty. 
    Her favorite part of the hotel room? The view from the window.
    Hey, Mom!
    Family dinner on the bay at Margaritaville.
    Night view of Biloxi.
    The Nerd was all about swimming in the hotel pool.
    Tacky tourist time!
    • I also forgot to mention the visit with an old friend... On the way to Biloxi, we stopped in Auburn, AL to see my childhood friend, Amanda (aka--A. Hab in the blogosphere). We hadn't seen each other in…uh…a lot of years. We got to meet each other's husbands and daughters over a meal of BBQ in downtown Auburn. (And it was goooooood BBQ!) Photographic evidence of our reunion was taken adjacent to Toomer's Corner before we had to be on our way. Another reunion between the mommies will have to happen again very soon.
    We danced ballet and sang in chorus together as children.
    After collecting a several college degrees each, getting married, and having babies,
    we're still great friends!
    • Play date with Patrick! This kid gets cuter every time we hang out.
    Mal: "Here's where you put the ball."
    Patrick: "That ball isn't part of the table!"
    • Kenneth turned 30! He was my stand partner in high school orchestra and is still one of my best friends. When he announced that he was coming back to Georgia from his new home in Los Angeles for his 30th, we made sure to clear the calendar. The entire night was a reunion of everyone from the high school music community.
    Jarrod, David, Kenneth, Grace, and me with Mal. The night was more than I could have asked for!
    • Mal went on her first zoo trip. My mom works for the Gwinnett County Public Library System. So when she told us that you can check out tickets to the park, we scheduled a family day trip. Mom came with us and we enjoyed an almost-free day introducing Baby Nerd to various critters from around the globe.
    The Wynnes arrive! And Nana takes their picture.

    Mal meets a goat at the petting zoo.
    • FOOTBALL!!! Baby Nerd is in training to be a Georgia Bulldawg. She may not pay attention to every game we watch on TV or listen to over the radio, but she sure does know how to wear the red and black.
    "Next year, they'll have me trained to call the dawgs!"

    A Mommy's Thoughts…On Daddy Nerd:

    Looking out of our hotel window.
    Gazing upon the waters of the Gulf.
    I didn't cry when I found out we were pregnant. I didn't cry when the doc said the baby was healthy. I didn't even cry when he told us we were having a girl. But when my husband looked me right in the eye at the 14th week of gestation and exclaimed, "I'm going to have to give her away one day...", the water works could not be contained. We were both terrified about having a daughter (pink and girl drama and training bras...*sigh*), but it was in that emotional moment that I could tell my husband was already so in love with Baby Nerd that he would rope the moon if she ever asked him to. They bonded when she was still in utero. She would bend it like Beckham into my kidneys, and Michael would tell her to quit or she was going to be grounded when she was born. He'd greet her after work every evening by placing his hands on my belly and blowing a raspberry.

    Yet, in all the years that Michael and I dated and have been married, I have never seen him shed a tear. Not at funerals. Not over someone being sick in the hospital. And never, ever during a chick flick. So it was incredibly touching when his eyes welled up when he saw his daughter enter the world. It was a fleeting moment. Had I enough time to rest my sleep-deprived lids, I might have missed it. With each day that passes, he cherishes the little things they do together, like pound on the piano keys or roll a ball back and forth to each other. He has grown to hate commercials that dive deep into the father-daughter relationship (Subaru commercial, anyone?). And God forbid you mention anything about dating or boyfriends. He desires to teach Baby Nerd that all boys are gross and unworthy. I've got $10 on Michael welling up on her wedding day.

    But my favorite daddy-daughter moments are the ones Baby Nerd doesn't realize are happening. They are the ones where I glance over at Michael, and he's completely oblivious to anything in the world but her. He is staring at her and reveling, proud of her milestones and adding to the list of things he wants to share with her as she grows.
    Travel. Growing crops. Tasting fancy cheeses. Kurt Cobain. Gordon Lightfoot. Reducing fractions. Hitting a baseball. Identifying a city skyline. Fishing. Putting together a puzzle...

     Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express.   
     Joseph Addison

    12 September 2012

    Baby Bites: Broccoli and Pasta with Lentils

    With a little shredded cheddar cheese on top!

    We would never survive a low-carb diet in this house. We have pasta at least once a week. I could totally buy into the idea of living in a rustic Italian village where we could eat fresh handmade pasta at every meal. So why wouldn't we make pasta dishes for our little one? Here's a meal I made up for Baby Nerd, and she loves it. It's great as a stand-alone meal, but it compliments other main dishes, like fish or chicken.

    • 1 cup chicken broth cut with water (lowers the sodium while adding flavor)
    • roughly 1/3 cup dried lentils, any color
    • half of a bag of frozen broccoli florets
    • leftover pasta (I had 3 strips of leftover cooked lasagna that I cut up into bite-sized pieces)
    • shredded cheese (totally optional, especially if your baby is lactose intolerant...I used cheddar, but any hard, salty cheese would be ideal)
    Bring the broth to a boil and add the lentils. Allow to cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the lentils have begun to soften. Add the frozen broccoli and cook for another 10 minutes. Broccoli should be super soft. Finally, throw in the already-cooked pasta and mix. If there is any broth-water left in your pot, drain it. Portion the mix into 2- or 4-oz. containers and sprinkle a little of the shredded cheese on top in each container. Store in the fridge up to 3 days and in the freezer up to 3 months.

    Also, if you don't have any leftover pasta like I did for this recipe, just boil 1/3-1/4 cup of any bite-sized pasta (wagon wheels, elbows, mini farfalle, ditalini) in a separate pot while the lentils soften. Add at the end just as directed above.
    Let me talk about cheese for a sec. For as much as we love pasta, we love cheese twice as much. This means after we live in Italy and eat pasta until we barf, we'll take up residence in random cheese cellars across Europe. So here's my plea: only use REAL cheese. No liquid cheese, no American singles, and for the love of brie, nothing that can be dispensed from a nozzle (I shudder at the thought of Cheese Whiz). I'm not saying you have to start your baby out on Limburger or a veiny stilton. So for this dish, just stick to cheeses that are made from real and natural ingredients. Baby Nerd has tried and loved parmesan, cheddar, colby, ricotta, and mozzarella so far.

    Dang it. All this talk of cheese and pasta has me wanting a hefty helping of manicotti. Maybe I'll try that one next. ;)

    06 September 2012

    Baby Bites: Baked Fish Cakes

    Getting her fingers into the fish cake.

    Baby Nerd approves!

    Original recipe from 500 Baby & Toddler Dishes (Glock,  2011).

    Fish. It’s something I NEVER eat. Growing up, my parents and brother ate anything and everything that could be caught on a fishing rod or in a crab net. My husband considers all forms of seafood a treat. Me? I’d rather eat a bowl of Brussels sprouts. What makes me turn up my nose to marine munchies? The taste. The texture. The…smell…ugh… I’m just not a fan. And if the hubs does get a craving for seafood, we either go out to eat or he has to cook it on his own. I know seafood cooks much faster than steak or chicken, and that’s about where my culinary expertise in this food genre ends.

    But with all of that said, no child of mine is going to be the weirdo I am about seafood consumption.

    One of my favorite baby food cookbooks is 500 Baby & Toddler Dishes by Beverly Glock. Not only does it contain a wide variety of food options for your youngster, it also offers variations on every recipe to fit every child’s preferences. Even with these variation suggestions, I still adjusted the recipe to fit what we had in our house and garden.

    [And by the way, did anyone notice the 4 cups of milk as an ingredient?!?! The reason they include this as an ingredient is to cook the filets in it for easier flaking and removal from the bone. Their recipe suggests that you substitute formula or breast milk if your child is under 12 months. But think about it: formula is waaaaay too expensive (at least, in my book) for any use other than bottle feeding, and I don’t know a single breastfeeding mother who would sacrifice 4 cups of her supply for what is essentially boiling fish. You’ll notice in my adjustment there is NO milk as an ingredient. It’s lame and unnecessary. Just bake the fish on a sheet of parchment on a cookie sheet.]

    • ·      2 medium-sized russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
    • ·      2 small or medium-sized whitefish filets, boneless and skinless (I used thawed tilapia from the Publix frozen seafood department)
    • ·      2 thin slices of REAL unsalted butter
    • ·      small bunch of fresh chives, washed and finely chopped (we grow these behind our house)
    • ·      4 eggs, beaten
    • ·      1 cup breadcrumbs
    • ·      1 tbsp dried parsley
    • ·      large pinch of paprika
    • ·      large pinch of ground sea salt

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place your boneless, skinless fish filets on parchment on a cookie sheet and bake 10-20 minutes or until cooked through. While the fish is baking, boil the potato chunks in lightly salted water in a deep pot until they are soft enough to mash. Drain and pour the chunks into a mixing bowl. Toss in the chopped chives and use a potato masher to smooth the potatoes and work out all the large lumps.

    Remove fish from the oven and allow to cool to a temperature you can handle with your fingers. As the fish cools, mix the breadcrumbs with the parsley, paprika, and salt and spread out on a plate for dredging your cakes later. Transfer the cooked fish to a cutting board and flake with a fork. Add fish and half of the beaten eggs to the potatoes and chives. Mix thoroughly and bump up the heat in your oven to 400 degrees.

    Make patties with the fish and potato mixture by scooping out a spoonful at a time, rolling it into a ball, and slightly flattening it. Dip each patty into the eggs that are left and lightly dredge each side in the herbed breadcrumbs. Place each breaded patty on a new sheet of parchment on a cookie sheet (I used the same one I baked the fish on earlier to save on dishes). Bake roughly 15 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.

    The recipe says it makes just over a dozen patties, but it made 21 patties when I made it! The fridge and freezer directions should be the same as given in the original recipe.

    Baby Nerd ate her fish cakes straight up, but I can see them being served with a little ketchup or a homemade tartar sauce. And if your baby likes the sour taste of lemon, squirt the cakes with fresh lemon juice! The herbs in your breading can be adjusted to what your baby likes. Baby Nerd has tried many herbs and spices, so I went with ones that would both compliment the fish and tickle her tastebuds: smoky paprika and mild parsley. I can also see dried oregano, ground pepper, or cumin making the breading tasty, too.

    Finally, don't fry these fish cakes. The point of cooking for your baby is to provide him or her with healthy options, and baking these will cut out excess fat and grease. They come out crispy and easy to break apart by hand. It's a fun food for little fingers. 


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