Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The First "Real" Halloween

Well, yes, Robby dressed up last year.  And, he even received a couple pieces of candy.  But he got carried everywhere.  And there was NO chance that he'd get to eat the candy.  This year?  Whole new ball of wax.  I made the costume, he went door-to-door, and he "got it". 

Please note the bandana.  This is about as long as it was on his head.  It made it across the street to our neighbor's where he pulled it off.

While Sandy had finally left the area, it was still pretty chilly.  For the first round of trick-or-treating, we wrapped him in a blanket, and unveiled him at each house.  For the second round (because a neighbor texted us that we needed to come over), Robby just wore a coat.  And then someone accused him of being Uncle Sam.  REALLY?

It was great, though, when he started to pick up on what it was all about.  The first house we had to spend a long time convincing him that he wanted to pick up the FULL SIZE candy bar and put it in his basket.  As soon as he figured it out, though, he tried to grab a couple more.  Mmm...nice try, but no.

So, obviously, once we returned to our house, he had to raid our candy.  Repeatedly.  For once, I didn't over-buy, so I started to get worried that we wouldn't have enough for the trick-or-treaters.  Not because he was getting to eat the candy, but because he was smushing it all.

Yes, I did let him have one Milky Way, and WHO boy did he enjoy that.  It kind of opened up an obsession that perhaps I didn't care to encourage.  Whoops.  AND he got chocolate all over his shirt.  I guess I expected it, but still.  Boo!

And here is where my son looks like a giant.  This is our neighbor who is only 2 weeks younger than him.  And yet, Robby looks like he could crush him.  I swear our neighbor is of completely normal size.  See the pictures where he towers over his swim buddy, too.  Where did Chris and I get such a bruiser?

While he may have started out the evening very fussy, chocolate can bring out the best in anyone.  He thoroughly enjoyed it until around 7:30 when it got to be too much, and he just lost it.  I had taken him up for his bath, and the fact that he wasn't able to answer the door for the kids?  Meltdown worthy.  Amazingly, he went down, and stayed down, even though the doorbell continued to ring. 

While I spent a lot of time making his costume, even sewing on the buttons during lunch today, mine was a last-minute closet scavenge.  And yet, a neighbor still gave me credit for "dressing up"!  Yay!  Honestly...not sure if anyone would be able to tell if I wasn't in matching stripes, but I'll take it.  But, I'm mostly proud of at least sewing this costume.   So now, even if I never pull it off again, I can take pride in this year.  Though, I know I'll attempt it again, since it wasn't painful, and my fabulous mother always made mine.  (Including the Queen of Hearts when I was 8!  That took serious talent.)
How was your Halloween?  Any good costumes?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy Update

I don't have any pictures, but a quick update to let everyone know all is well.  We never lost power, daycare and both of our offices are open, and life is returning to normal.  It is still raining, but not bad.  There is quite a bit of debris, but for the most part, our suburb seems to have missed the brunt of things.

Yesterday's only real excitement for us was that daycare was closed, and I have to give a HUGE thank you to a teacher friend who watched Robby for the morning.  The schools were all closed, so she was home with her boys.  Apparently, Robby was well behaved, but a pig (as always), and by the end of the day was at least saying the older boy's name.  Sounds pretty good.  She also gave me a few Christmas present ideas for him based on what he was playing with.  Thanks!

I'll update later, but we're fine.  Hope everyone else is, as well!

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Lion at 17 Months

Wow.  I am behind.  So, yes, Robby's now 17 months old, and last weekend we finally went to the pumpkin patch.  This is a dual post, since we all know I won't get around to it later.

I'm going to work through things entirely based on the order of pictures.  Innovative, I know.  These were taken last Friday through Sunday, and I haven't taken any since.  Hypothetical kid #2 can anticipate no photographs ever.  I am falling off quickly.

Favorite activities and things:  He likes to be a "big boy" which means helping with whatever we're doing.  He still loves to clean, but now cooking is definitely on the list, too.  He loves to climb.  Which means that he climbs on the oven drawer and reaches for the burners while saying, "Hot".  Cute, Robby, cute.  I attempt to give him his own pans to cook with, but usually end up holding him.  He also LOVES lawn mowers.  One of his more recent words is "mowing" and he'll take off down the street to visit any neighbor who might be outside tending to their law.  Trucks are still a big hit, and he'll wave his arm back and forth at any car or truck going by saying, "Stop, stop, stop."  I'm not sure what he'd do if they DID stop, but, y'know, he tries. 

Trouble-making activities: It really is largely exploration, but he's also started doing things that he knows will immediately get my attention.  Note the standing on the playstation, because I was at the computer.  Similarly, pulling stereo wires or dumping dog water while I'm cooking are favorites.  We are still trying time outs, and they are somewhat successful.  Right now, the MOST effective thing is just counting to 3.  I have to talk to daycare about what they're doing, because I was floored that the first time I ever tried it, he stopped dead in his tracks.  Can't say I was disappointed!

People skills:  We continue to have a VERY social animal who will eagerly talk to anyone (and occasionally walk off with them).  At the same time, though, he is VERY attached to mommy.  The photo above is actually an oddity.  It's sad for Chris that Robby usually will throw a fit if I leave him with daddy, and will not normally select his lap for cuddles.  He knows the exact time that I'm supposed to pick him up from daycare, which unfortunately for him, I have been late for every day this week.  He stands at the gate shaking it and will SQUEAL "Mommy" when he finally sees me.  I was laughing a couple days ago, because they were inside due to rain.  As each parent entered the room, I could hear my son squealing, "MOMMY!"...and then being disappointed.  Apparently he had done that for at least 1/2 an hour to every person that had walked in the door.  It really is the sweetest thing and makes my day. 

Sleep: Sleep is a little bit of a battle right now, but not too bad.  The picture above is the first time in MONTHS that he fell asleep on me, but his schedule got thrown off on Saturday, and he had boycotted his nap until very late in the afternoon.  He had been up for a couple hours that night, though, so I was THRILLED to have an excuse to nap on the couch.  We've had to do some tough love/crying it out, but it's improving.  A large part of the problem is that he now HATES wet diapers, and while he used to sleep just fine with a damp diaper, he now wakes up and wants to be changed.  By the time he's changed, he's fully awake.  So, he now is often waking up around 4:30/5.  GAH.  This ends up with me waking up at 4:30/5 most days, even if I do get him back to sleep. 

Mr. Personality:  I.  Love.  His.  Faces.  He can be the silliest little goofball right now.  He loves making us, and even himself, laugh.  He is a man of extremes, though.  And very loud.  We felt pretty guilty that he taught our friends' son the joy of shrieking when we went over for dinner.  The two of them squealed back and forth across the table at each other for a good 10 minutes.  Hopefully, Dean has forgotten already.  :)  He laughs hardest if he is jumping on something (couch, bed, pillow, etc...), chasing the dog, rough-housing with mom or dad, or generally just running around like a maniac.  This week we've made some headway with the crying.  Previously, when he got home from daycare, he would pretty much cry continuously, particularly if I was trying to cook dinner.  But sometimes, it was even if we were outside playing ball with the dog.  He just could not get under control.  It's become clear that this is largely exhaustion, but since he hates to chill, I was at a bit of a loss.  Shamelessly, we now take about 1/2 an hour, and mommy and Robby cuddle on the couch, watch Octonauts, and eat a snack.  He really doesn't need the snack, and it ruins his dinner, but it does mean that he is then sane enough that I can cook without crying.  I might still have to hold him, but it's quieter.

Food:  They claim he eats well at daycare, but I'm not sure exactly what that means.  I like to pretend that it means he's eating all the food groups there, and I don't want to ruin my happy little dilusion by asking.  At home, he eats eggs.  Ok, a little more, but he really loves scrambled eggs.  And, being a creature of habit, he comes downstairs every morning and directs me on each step from getting the pan out, to putting butter in, getting a bowl to mix them, etc...  If I forget something, like getting his plate out of the cabinet at the same time as the bowl, oh, I hear about it.  I fear that, if ya'll remember the story of me cooking hot dogs at 18 months, Robby will replicate this with scrambled eggs.  Sometimes he'll surprise us, and these pictures are of him eating a pizza I had made with sausage, leeks, and fennel.  He loved it (so did I for that matter).  He really is very carb-focused at the moment, though, and besides eggs, his favorite foods are rice, rolls, and any junk food he can charm you into (fruit leather, cereal bars, popcorn, and cookies if I've baked them).  He loves milk still, though rarely will go with water and pushes for juice in it.  Especially orange juice.  He figured out a straw last month and now is thrilled that he can steal mom's lemonade.  (I still haven't lost that craving from pregnancy.)     

Talking:  Obviously, it's coming back fast and furious.  He may not be talking as much at daycare as at home, though.  His teacher was very excited to tell me he said "baby" a few days ago, which...that's a few months old.  He's picking up a few interesting things like, he's sing the tune of "ABC" with me, but won't say letters yet.  However, he will say "three" when you're counting to 3.  He now will answer questions "yes" and "no", and can shake his head both ways, as well.  I do get frustrated that he KNOWS a lot more words than he uses, frequently preferring to cry.  I feel terrible that I'm forever saying, "We don't cry" to him in an effort to get him to use words.  It seems like I'm setting him up for some psychological repression.  I really don't mind legitimate crying, but when all it means is, "No I want a drink, not a snack" when he knows the words "drink" and "snack"...c'mon.  The most important development?  We finally figured out the mystery word!  It was "Ah Bah".  He'd say it at all times, in all locations.  NO CLUE.  Eventually, it turned into "Ah Bee".  AHHH!  That's when we figured it out.  He's saying his own name.  Currently, it's evolved into "Bobby"...little off, but we'll take it. 

The pumpkin patch was a hit.  He loved that he got to run around outside, see tractors, and try to pick up pumpkins.  Surprisingly, he had very little interest in the animals they had out.  That's not exactly true.  He was happy to stand there and look at them for a very long time, but did not want to touch them.  This is funny only because he adores dogs and will touch every single dog at the dog park if we let him (which we usually don't unless we know the dog).  In fact, Harper has become more protective of him recently, so sadly, Robby and I usually take a jog on the bike path (Literally, he is jogging, too.  No stroller.) while Chris and Harper are in the dog park now.  I feel bad that he has to miss out, but we can't have Harper acting up.  

Ok, that was a tangent.  Perhaps I need more frequent, focused posts.  Ya think?  This is about 10 pages long now.  Pumpkin patch.  Really.

The funniest part of the "pumpkin patch" is that, in reality, this is primarily a dairy farm.  Their "pumpkin patch" is a bunch of pumpkins set out that they brought in from somewhere else.  Perhaps elsewhere on the farm,  but they were set out in a big field.  Don't get me wrong, it was fantastic, but Chris and I were laughing at some people that were telling their children that the cherry tomatoes that legitimately grown in the field were "baby pumpkins".  We really think they believed it, too. 

Whether they actually grew the pumpkins on site really is beside the point.  The kids had a blast, we got to go on a hayride, and...the whole reason why we went there...they have an on-site creamery.  Scroll down a few pictures so I can talk about that already.

The creamery!  SOOO very delicious.  I had heard from many people that this is the most delicious ice cream you will ever taste, and, I've got to say, I'm inclined to agree.  (Oh, we were at Milky Way Farms)

Chris predictably got cookie dough, which he enjoyed.  I got apple cinnamon, which for the world tasted just like apple pie.  It even had cake-y pieces in it.  Absolutely delicious.  As can be witnessed by Robby having stolen it.  Really, he's in love with cones, and that's what he wanted, but he enjoyed the ice cream, too.

And...I leave you with a picture of Robby carrying his blanket around like Linus.  He loves this blanket that my mom knitted for him, but we've quit letting him sleep with it, because he keeps pulling long yarn loops, and that scares us.  The parental curse.  Fear of everything. 
Happy month 17, buddy!  I'm so glad we get to hang out and play and you're my best little buddy.  I still get those insuppressable urges that, "I just want to go home and see my son", which I was so worried would fade as time went by.  I may not still be as crazy hormonal as post-pregnancy, but I still love you with every ounce of my being.  I love seeing you discover new things, and discovering who you are going to be.  I can't wait to see it all.  Love, Mommy 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Leek & Collared Green Crock Pot Meatloaf

I know, I know, you're going...whu-what?  It sounds crazy.  And seeing as I absolutely did not intend for this to be a blog post, I have no pictures.  I was just trying to use up CSA veggies and did something absolutely bizarre.  My friends and family will freely admit to you that I may be perhaps even a little OVERLY adventurous when it comes to cooking.  But this was a resounding success.

This is the time of year that CSA baskets perhaps get a little repetitive.  And, perhaps contain things that certain spouses are not overly fond of.  In our house?  That is greens.  This was the third week in a row with them, and I've been coming up with many innovative uses.  Even the leeks, which I adore, had already been in potato leek soup, and the remaining ones are probably going into a quiche, so I needed something new.  (By the way, if anyone has some ideas for radishes?  AWASH in radishes right now.)

Also, life's been a little hectic, so the crock pot has been getting a lot of use.  Whole chickens, more soups than you can count, casserole type things, the whole gamut.  However, I had never made a meatloaf in the crock pot!  I was intrigued to try and here is the resulting recipe.

Leek & Collared Green Crock Pot Meatloaf


2 lbs ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 c dried parsley
1 cup parmesan
1 cup chopped collard greens
3 leeks chopped
1/2 tsp Lowry's seasoned salt
black pepper to taste
4 eggs
6 pieces bacon
1/2 cup barbecue sauce


Crumple a piece of foil and put it at the bottom of the crock pot to raise the meatloaf off the bottom so it doesn't sit in the fat.  Take another piece of foil, folded a couple times, and lay it across the entire pot, to use as a "handle" to pull it out when it's done.  Spray everything with cooking spray.

In a bowl, mix everything except the bacon and barbecue sauce.  Put into the crockpot on top of the handle in as much of a loaf-type shape as you can manage.

Lay the strips of bacon on top of the loaf, then cover with barbecue sauce.

Cook on high for 6 hours. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Robby loves his "swimming" lessons.  I put that in quotes because, really?  At 16 months?  Not doing that much actual swimming.  It's more just getting used to the water.  Although Katie over at Marriage Confessions had a post (sorry, I didn't go search for it) that talked about how her kids were able to FLOAT at this  Robby would be like one of those sinker toys that you retrieve from the bottom.  The goal of the class, and you must realize this is our second time through it, is to get them to kick, use their arms, and blow bubbles.  Robby will kick.  Occasionally use his arms.  But the bubbles are just dunking his head under water.  He also will enthusiastically jump off the wall on his own, though, this wasn't so much taught, but a function of his craziness.

Anyway, another mom in the class was nice enough to send me pictures!!!  Her daughter is Robby's best friend in the class, and they go a little batty when they see each other.  Which is great!  I'm glad he has a buddy!  And it's meant that the mom and I have talked more and are trying to set up a play date.  Yet to happen, but should be fun!

Robby was pretty darn funny on Saturday.  Toward the end of class, we always sing the "toy song" and then they get to select the toy they want to play with in the water.  They have balls, and watering cans, and various sand toys, etc...  Anyway, the teacher says, "Let's sing the toy song" and Robby LOSES IT.  He starts SHRIEKING with glee and flailing his arms in an attempt to get over to the box.  Apparently, he knows what all those words mean.

So, I think it's been a positive experience.  I at least enjoy it, and I think he does.  If nothing else, he gets to run around the locker room, banging on lockers, of this week...climbing into them and up on the benches...  I may not be thrilled about that, but I DO need to change out of the wet bathing suit!  AHH!  Anyway, I was always a fish, and I'm glad that my boy seems to be, too.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Trips to State College

In my failure to post recently, I've missed some things that were actually, gasp, interesting.  Like, Chris and I went ALL BY OURSELVES to see the opening game of Penn State's season.  And, before you try to accuse us like one of Chris's that does NOT mean Lion #2 is on the way.  We stayed with another one of Chris's cousins, and just had a good time.

And, you can pretend that this is even from this past weekend, because I wore this same outfit on Friday.  Though my hair is shorter now. 

We went up early enough so that we could see the pep rally on Friday, and then the game on Saturday.  We did not get to go out, though, as Chris forgot his ID.  Believe it or not, they still won't let him in bars, even though there isn't a chance we're under 21.  We did tailgate with some of his college friends on Saturday, and I may have consequently sent entirely too many of you text messages.  ;)

Ok, now this past weekend.  While this was not Robby's first trip to State College, it was his first time attending a game.  Well, he was in utero for #400, but that doesn't really count.

The car ride up could have been a complete disaster, but blissfully, it was not.  Traffic was awful, and it took us 5 hours to get there.  Robby napped for about the first 2.5, but after that?  It was all on me to entertain him.  I am very grateful that he is entirely obsessed with trucks right now, so a lot of the entertainment was pointing out the window and talking about each truck we went by.  I also brought a stack of books, including some he didn't know by memory, that I had checked out from the library.  He had his yankee doodle singing doll, a toy steering wheel thingy, and toy computer, and then his dad's iPad that had a few apps and the movie "Cars" loaded on it.  Robby still really has very little interest in tv or movies, so the video really didn't hold his attention for more than about 10 seconds, but it was worth a try.  But let's own up to it.  By the end I was relying on potato chips.  And there was still some screaming.  But overall?  It went much better than I would have anticipated.  

We got to State College around 5:30, and stopped in to McLanahan's for some subs and cookies, and then snagged a spot on a hill to watch the parade.  Please ignore Robby's food intake, or at least don't judge.  This weekend was far from following nutritional recommendations.  He had some sub, but then was very intrigued by the cookies (he does NOT usually get them).  So enthralled, in fact, that he kept trying to hand out 1/2 eaten cookies to all the people sitting around us.  They appreciated the sentiment, and thought he was cute, but...soggy 1/2 eaten cookies?!?!  Gross!

And, yeah, anything Mom is drinking is WAY better than what's in his sippy cup.  Even if they're both water, which is the norm.  At least he's getting better at drinking out of bottles and cups and it's not as big of a mess. topic...every time we're in the bathroom, he insists on getting a little dixie cup of water, and then dumping it on the floor, smushing it, then throwing it in the garbage.  He may not have that concept.

In the little bit before the parade started, he met a golden retriever that was getting very nervous about the drums approaching, but still seemed to enjoy the attention.  And, fortunately, the owners were nice and didn't mind a toddler coming over every 5 minutes to say "hi".  He's got waving and saying, "Hi" and "Bye" down very nicely, and so is pretty good at melting strangers' hearts.  We, and everyone around us was referring to him as, "The Mayor" because of his outgoing personality.  Again, this is a mixed bag.  I'm glad he's friendly, confident, sweet, cheerful, all that...but terrified that he would just walk off with a stranger.  

When the trucks started going by?!?!  WOAH nelly.  He couldn't get enough of them.  And then there were bands, too?!?!?  He was dancing like a mad man, to the point that I saw a college girl videotaping him on her phone.  I honestly never know how to feel about that.  Do I think she had any malicious intent what-so-ever?  NO.  Was the time the guy at the swimming pool videotaping me running around after Robby in my bikini a little more creepy?  Absolutely.

He made it through a lot of the parade, but it was too long, so by 7:45 we left to go to the hotel.  That was alright, but not as expected.  Robby flat out refused to sleep in the pack n play, but consented to sleeping in a bed with me. meant that I ended up going to bed with him at 8:30, but so be it.  I was tired, anyway.  He is currently waking up multiple times a night with nightmares and SCREAMING, often needing comfort to go back to sleep, so I've been pretty tired.  Chris, of course, managed to not even notice when he was in the bed next to us.  Men and their sound-sleeping.  Bah.

We hit up the Creamery for breakfast (bagels, not ice cream, though it was tempting), and were thrilled that the glee club stopped in to sing.  We chatted with some nice Northwestern fans (one named Robby), and then headed back for some "tailgating".  Our usual tailgate had been cancelled because of the rain, and it was less than ideal for us to fully set up ours, so we grilled a couple burgers and called it a day.  We went a bit early...and...I became the worst mother ever.

See Robby sitting nicely on the bench 2 pictures up?  Well, he started moving at lightning speed climbing over benches.  He made it over one, and then the picture above is the 2nd.  See my hand baaaaarely grasping his pants?  Yeah, he managed to go head first over the bench and conk his head on the cement.  He really wasn't too phased, but it was scary as anything, and I felt awful. will notice in all the rest of the pictures he has a giant egg on his forehead.  (Which, actually, daycare tried to have me sign an incident report for on Monday, because they thought it had happened when he and Louisa were fighting over a toy...but I digress.)

Our seats are really pretty good.  They're about 1/2 way up the lower section over my right shoulder in the above picture.  Robby, however, was not cool with sitting in them.  He wanted to move, there were too many people, it was his nap time (can I say going to a 12pm game is perhaps not the best choice for him?), was just not happening.  He and I hung out on the concourse for the 1st quarter, and then Chris found us and said that his cousins had a bunch of space near them, and we should go join them.

Chris's cousins always make their way to the VERY top of the stadium, which is actually ideal for kids (don't steal this!).  They have room to spread out, move around, and generally be maniacs without disturbing other people.  Even better?  Robby had a bunch of 2nd cousins that were more than happy to chase him.

Note the horrible egg screaming, "Worst mom ever!"

I've raved about Nicole before, but here I go again.  I lament every time I see her that I wish she lived closer.  But, she's about 2 hours away from us.  Her dad joked that he'd have to drive her down to babysit.  She's still a bit young (about to turn 11), but soon!  And, oh man, is she eager to get to start babysitting!  She'd be fantastic.  She's so good with Robby.  Yes, this really makes me wish I had family nearby!

They continued the "stuff Robby full of crap" practice, and he chowed down on lemon water ice and nachos.  Sigh.  Totally with my permission, but, we'll have to figure out a healthier way to do football one of these days.

And...with cousins and 2nd cousins on babysitting duty?  We got a breather!

Our view from the top of the stadium.  It actually was a great spot to sit!  You got a really good vantage.

Around 1/2 time, Robby was starting to melt down, and we decided that we'd be better off driving home and letting him nap, then trying to stick it out.  Chris was BESIDE himself when the game got so good, but at least we got to listen to it on the radio (LOVE XM), and the trip home was fairly painless.

We were amazed how well Robby did with the crazy amounts of activity, though by the end he was a little manic and overtired, but generally?  Couldn't have hoped he would do better.  Great weekend!

And, just for fun, last year at the same time: