Monday, February 22, 2010

He's a Growing Boy

Matthew has officially outgrown his last piece of baby furniture. After a month or so of sleeping diagonally in his crib (the only way he would still fit), we decided that he was ready for a big boy bed. We found one on super clearance at Pottery Barn Kids and they just happened to have twin mattresses at Costco that week. Done and done.

Still, I knew that hardest part would be convincing Matthew to actually sleep in his new bed. Why? He loves his crib. He sleeps in it. He plays in it. He chews on it. He has a little ritual of running his hands back and forth along the rails before bed. But, the thing that has me the most concerned? When we got Embry her big kid bed, she loved it immediately. And everyone knows that if Embry likes something, Matthew will hate it. If Embry does something well, then Matthew will resist that same thing for weeks. They are opposite in every way possible.
So, in preparation for la resistance, we decided to keep the crib up in his room, so that we could ease him into the new bed gradually. We were totally prepared to go back a forth a few times before making the switch permanent.

Well, we have finally found something that Embry and Matthew have in common. Yes, they both like to prove their parents wrong. Matthew jumped into his new bed on that first night and slept like a champ. For the last week, when bedtime rolls around, he runs into his room, climbs up into bed and lays right down without so much as a whine. And did I mention how cute and small he looks when he's asleep in such a big bed. It still makes me say "Awww," every night.

On the same subject, Matthew has also outgrown his carseat. Well, it was actually Embry's carseat; the last one that she had before the booster. We stupidly assumed it would be the last non-booster seat we would have to buy. (He's getting really good at proving us wrong lately.) It seems that the old seat, as huge as it was (especially when trying to fit it through the security x-ray machine at the airport), it has a weight limit of 50 lbs. And although the salesperson at Babies-R-Us didn't believe me, Matthew is dangerously close to that number, and will surpass it far before his 3rd birthday. For anyone who doesn't know, you're not supposed to put kids into a booster until they're at least 3. So, I had to shop for a special (read expensive) seat with a higher weight limit that still has a harness. Babies-R-Us had one, and it was a Graco which I know to be a safe brand, but it was $180! Yikes. Fortunately, the same salesperson reminded me that they were having a "trade-in" sale, where you could bring in an old carseat and get 25% off of the new one.

Now, I was planning on keeping the old carseat and selling it at our next yard sale. But, I decided to trade it in for a couple of reasons. 1. (selfless reason) You're actually not supposed to use carseats for much longer than we have because they start to become less effective with age. And I would hate to think that I sold an unsafe carseat to someone. 2. (selfish reason) I would never get $45 dollars for it at a yard sale, which is how much I would be saving on the new one. Plus, I would have to spend at least an hour getting it clean enough for a yard sale (yes, it is that disgusting). So, I dragged the old dirty one in and wheeled out the fancy new one. Matthew loves it because it has a cupholder like his sister's. Bonus: the new seat is convertible to a booster for kids up to 100 pounds. Now that sounds like a lot, but I'm sure that Matthew will grow out of this one before he is old enough to go without a booster. (Come on Mattie, prove me wrong on this one).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Birthday!

It was a very snowy Valentine's Day this year. As a result, Embry's party got cut a little short. Grandma and Pawpaw had a long snowy drive home ahead of them, but I think Embry had a good time while they were here. Her friend, Olivia, also came by to play (her first official playdate with a school friend). She opened lots of presents...

And ate puppy cupcakes...

I made these from Hello, Cupcake! A very cute decorating book. They were incredibly easy, which is good because I made them at the last minute and after a very long and busy day at work. At about 9pm, the night before Embry's birthday I assembled the cupcakes while J put together Embry's dollhouse...

...which Matthew loves just as much as Embry does. Not that I didn't expect a boy to play with a dollhouse, but I wasn't sure he would be old enough to be interested yet. The good part about this dollhouse is that it actually has two big halves that can be separate or together, so they can both play without fighting... too much anyway.

Matthew also had a good time with the balloons.

I can't believe my baby is 5 years old! Happy Birthday Embry! I hope your wish comes true!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mid-Month Update

Ok, so January was not a great blogging month. However, I am vowing to get back with it this month (what's that, February is halfway over already?! Hmmm.) with a few more posts.

Around the House: A busy week this week. Embry's class is spending an evening at the Magic House on Thursday and I am both baking treats and helping to organize and serve them at the museum. This year will be slightly different than last, since we are taking Matthew. We agreed that he is old enough to enjoy the museum now, and old enough not to get tired and cranky at 6pm. We'll see. Embry is off of school Friday, her birthday is Sunday, and she is off of school again on Monday. So, a very long weekend for the birthday girl... lucky her! We are having a very small party at home on Sunday afternoon with me, J, Mattie, Grandma and Pawpaw, and one friend from school of Embry's choosing. I have a feeling that having a friend over to play will be the only thing she remembers from this birthday.

In the Kitchen: We are not football watchers in this house. So, the only part of Superbowl Sunday that we celebrate is the food. I picked up a couple of frozen appetizer things from Trader Joe's, including mushroom turnovers and arancini balls with bruschetta. I made this yummy hot cheese and red pepper dip from my new fave recipe blog, Our Best Bites, and of course, little smokies. Because you can't watch football without little smokies, right? Ok, so we didn't watch any football. We watched Big Love instead, which is absolutely great this season!

Last week I also made Cheesy Rice and Broccoli Casserole.

Amazingly it is one of my favorite foods to eat at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I have never made it myself. I was inspired by the recipe in my Cook's Illustrated weekly email where you make it (get this) from scratch. No cream-of-something soup, no frozen broccoli, no instant rice. The whole thing from scratch. It took me nearly an hour, and dirtied up a sink full of dishes, but it turned out SO GOOD! It had way more broccoli in it than usual (2 1/2 pounds), so I didn't feel guilty having it for lunch 4 days in a row. That same afternoon I whipped up these Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars.

So easy and delicious, and the crust tastes just like those peanut butter sandwich Girl Scout cookies. (Hmm? I wonder if my Girl Scout cookie order is in yet? Anyway...) Try this recipe from Angie at Half-Assed Kitchen; it takes about 10 minutes and is just as satisfying as the casserole that took much longer.

New with Embry: On the verge of turning 5, Embry is excelling at school, more than I ever thought she would. She loves to write in cursive now, she's reading everything, and a pro at adding and subtracting really huge numbers. The most shocking thing to me? Geography. Montessori schools like to brag that before kids enter the Elementary class (around age 6) they are able to name and locate on a map, every country in the world. "Yeah, right," I always thought. Alex Trebek can't even do that. But so far, Embry has learned the countries in North and Central America, South America and Asia, as well as all of the provinces in Australia. She is currently working on Europe. Wow! I don't think anyone ever attempted to teach me the provinces in Australia. I'm certainly impressed. And I know that she did not inherit this particular talent from me. I got a D (my only D ever) in Freshman Geography in high school. Ok, so some of that was because the teacher hated me, but still.

New with Matthew: Since I can't think of anything for Matthew, and since I haven't posted and pics of the kids of the kids for a while, I'll just do that instead.

I am Grateful For: Not living on the East coast. For lots of reasons, but mostly because of the recent weather. The news said that D.C. got 32 inches of snow last week. I like snow, but not that much.

The Weather Outside: We got between 1 and 2 inches of snow out of that same storm that hit the the eastern U.S. And it was finally the kind that you can make a snowman out of! The kids were very happy.

I am Obsessed With: Nothing at the moment, so I'll talk about movies instead. My husband and I both had the opportunity to go to the movies this weekend. (Not together, of course.) I went to see The Lovely Bones. J went to see Avatar. Now, although the film I saw was not perfect, it was beautifully shot and directed, and had a good story. The ending left me very unsatisfied, but I was entertained nonetheless. And that is the key concept to a good movie. Was I entertained? Or was I checking my watch half-way through thinking, "Wow has it only been two hours?" I am not one of those people who only like serious, meaningful movies. I love a good slapstick comedy or action flick, too. But, sorry to all you Avatar fans out there (especially Susan who has at last count seen it 5? times)... I will not waste $10, plus $3 for the 3-D and 3 hours of my precious freetime on this movie, because I do not think it will keep me entertained. I'm sure it really is visually spectacular, and I'm sure it will win 11 Oscars. But looking good can only get you so far. So, if you haven't seen Avatar yet, don't. Save your $13 for the Lovely Bones, or Young Victoria (very good), or rent Funny People, or Yes Man. Those are just a few of the highly entertaining films I have watched recently.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Thank God It's February

Around the House: It's a good thing that we have the new Wii Fit game to keep us occupied during the cold winter months. Even Matthew loves to watch. Just like all of their games, this one is quite addicting and has become the thing to do around here.

In the Kitchen: I actually had two days off in a row this week, so it seems logical that I would spend some time in the kitchen. However, we've been using the excuse that we get so very little time together that we do not want to spend it cleaning up the kitchen. So, last night, we got Chinese takeout. And although I am perfectly capable of whipping up some pasta and garlic bread tonight, we'll probably just heat up some leftovers. There's always next weekend.

New with Embry: Embry is now counting down the days to her birthday. She still gets upset that she's not having a huge party like all of her friends from school, but I think she'll be OK when she sees her dollhouse and her puppy cupcakes.

New with Matthew: I've noticed that Matthew's attention span has gotten significantly longer lately. He has always loved books and puzzles, but he'd lose interest after a few minutes. Even quicker if it was something he couldn't figure out immediately. But over the last couple of weeks, he seems more patient. More willing to work things out before asking (whining) for help or walking away. Definitely a positive development.

I am Grateful For: The love and support of my extended family through what was a very rough January... for all of us. Our new year officially starts now.

The Weather Outside: Not nearly as bad as it could be in the Midwest in February. It is cold and dreary, but not icy and windy and dangerous to drive in. At least not this week.

I am Obsessed With: Yes, I am excited about Lost tomorrow, but not nearly much as I am to make these...Single Serve Pie in a Jar. I found the recipe on my new favorite blog, Our Best Bites. I am already obsessed with make-ahead and freeze desserts. They are perfect for snacking when I get home from work at 10:30 at night; a few cookie dough balls or an apple strudel popped in the oven. And now these little individual pies. They are so cute and look so yummy! I am ordering the jars from Amazon today. I'll try to remember to take pictures, so I can let you know how they turn out.