Thursday, November 29, 2007

Eli Sitting Up, Teething, Laughing... And the Dilemma of Joining a Gym...

This week Eli started sitting on his own without support! And tonight he surprised me and Ben by pulling himself up to sitting from lying on a pillow on our bed - so he wasn't flat on the ground, but maybe at a 30 degree angle (this picture is not from tonight - here the pillow is propped up pretty high). He's never even attempted that before! We were very impressed. It's funny the things that make you excited when you have a baby - there are so many big and little milestones as they grow. And today I noticed Eli's second bottom tooth is coming through his gums - the first has come up pretty far and you can feel the second, but it's just barely poking out.

This afternoon I was playing with Eli and it was so cute - he was in the type of mood where anything I did made him crack up laughing. I think we were both laughing for about 10 minutes - it reminded me of college when my roommate Emily and I would just laugh and laugh and laugh...

Eli is not one to show off in public though. A lot of times when he is around an unfamiliar person, he gets this blank stare and saggy cheeks, like he has lost all expression. Earlier today I went to a gym to check it out and Eli just stared at the girl giving us the tour. *I recently had my "Eli is 6 months old and I'm still not back in shape" crisis and know I need to do something to change it. I like to think that having a c-section makes it harder, but by now it is no excuse! My biggest concern is leaving Eli in the gym's childcare while I'm exercising (the people who work there are supposed to be great, but I'm still anxious!!) - Let me know if you have any tips to make it easier!

Here is an example of the blank stare:

I do think it will be good for Eli to get used to being with other people, since he is just with me in the majority of the day. He gets excited when Ben comes home from work, which I think is so cute. There is something so special about having a connection with a baby... tonight Ben was feeding Eli his baby oatmeal and squash, and Eli kept looking over at me and laughing - for no real reason, just because he was in a happy mood. I love it!

Here is a picture with my chubby baby from two Sundays ago:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Festivities for the Big 27

I'm officially a year older today. Yesterday we got a group together and went bowling, which was fun! Here are some pictures of Ben, Davey, and my friend Rebekeh and her cute daughter Marlee bowling:

I realized as we were leaving that I wasn't in any of the pictures inside the bowling alley. And I would have liked to take a picture of our group. Oh well! Here I am with Rebekeh outside of the bowling alley afterward in the freezing cold :)

Two nights before, we went out to dinner at Francesca's with the Christensens (shown below) and went shoe shopping at Pink Frog Shoes in the city. I got some fun boots for my birthday!

Today my actual birthday was pretty low-key. Steve (in the picture above) shared his delicious pork carnitas with adobo sauce - Eli was SO exhausted after church, so we did a trade and at at our own homes rather than eating together - Ben made a good salad and salsa to share with the Christensens, and they shared the carnitas. YUM!

Ben got my favorite ice cream turtle pie from Baskin Robbins, which I have every year. Eli enjoyed staring at the candle flames. And then while we ate ice cream pie, we fed Eli baby oatmeal and peas, which he liked for the most part but it made a huge mess as you can see below. And to drag my birthday out one more day, my friend Rachael is bringing her homemade kettle corn over tomorrow, which I am really excited about!) I'm thankful for fun friends and family to celebrate with. Thanks for all of your sweet phone calls, cards, and emails!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Not Your Typical Thanksgiving...

Ben and I have spent every Thanksgiving in our almost 7 years of marriage with my family (my parents, Davey, and Gram). This means I have never had to even think about making a Thanksgiving dinner on my own. Well, this year was a little different.

My Gram went to Italy a few weeks ago to meet up with some friends. Keep in mind that she is 82 years old, but very spry and energetic. However, while they were in a train station in Milan, she tripped on a bolt and broke the neck/top of her femur. Gram had to have surgery (in Milan, where few staff speak English) to have a pin placed in her hip. Since then, she has been at this hospital recovering and having physical therapy. My parents decided a few days after the accident that they needed to fly to Italy and help her, so they used up every airline mile they could muster up and went to Italy, totally last minute. They will all fly home on Nov. 29th. Gram is doing well, working on walking with crutches. She said her Italian surgeon is "dashingly handsome," which cracks me up!

Well all of this meant my parents would be gone for Thanksgiving. I thought about cooking the Thanksgiving meal for about 2 minutes, before deciding it would be way too much work, especially with Eli. So we ended up going with some friends to a very nice Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Kellogg, the business school at Northwestern. As you may know, I am QUITE picky, but I was really impressed with the quality of food. There wasn't too much or too little -we had turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, tasty sweet potatoes with marshmallows, a green bean/bell pepper dish, different types of rolls and croissants, etc. We even had the option for some Indian food - basmati rice and a sweet potato curry - apparently this was on the menu because the Dean is Indian (and there were a lot of Indian business students at the dinner). Then there were lots of desserts to choose from, from an eggless chocolate cake to mini pumpkin pies.

This ended up being the easiest Thanksgiving - we showed up at 1:45, ate dinner and socialized until 4, then came home and relaxed. There was no cost, no cleanup, and no fighting the crowds at the airport or traffic on the highways. Thank you Aaron and Jenn for inviting us!

We had Davey with us last weekend and then again for Thanksgiving through this weekend.

We put a napkin around Eli's neck and he looked like a little bandit!

We gave him a lemon wedge to chew on - he loved it!

The dinner was in the Allen Center, with a nice view of the Lake behind us.

Eli chewed on that toy for a while...

Ben played some football in the snow/wind with temps in the 30s on Thanksgiving morning - he had a great time but I heard the game was pretty rough...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy 6 Months Eli!

I can't believe Eli is 6 months old today. It's been a fun day for other reasons too - today was Oprah's Favorite Things show (I totally cried while watching it because I was so happy for these people!), and my Aunt Babz sent me beautiful flowers for my birthday coming up this weekend. These were bonuses to the sweet feeling I had interacting with my now 6-month-old little boy today. Here is how our day went (this is a long post, sorry):

7 a.m. - Eli wakes up (so I did too). I think I heard him fussing a little around 6:15, but he went back to sleep. This RARELY happens! Other days this week, he has woken up between 5:45-6:30 a.m. A little too early for my liking. So I was really happy to get him at 7! Plus I didn't feel well last night (probably b/c our condo was 78 degrees inside, totally out of our control... ugh it made me nauseous), so I went to bed at 10:30 p.m. (I never go to bed this early!)

7 a.m.-8:30 a.m. - I feed Eli, give him a bath, and we play for a while. I take a million pictures of him while he plays. He starts getting fussy and rubbing his eyes, so I put him down for a nap around 8:45.

8:45 a.m.-10 a.m. - Eli naps. Then he wakes up a little grumpy and still tired.

10 a.m.-11 a.m. - I shower (Eli typically plays in his bouncy seat in the doorway of the bathroom while I shower). I also make some more birthday invitations for the family I used to nanny for and put those in the mail (someday I'll put the samples of the invitations on my other blog, but no time now).

11 a.m. - It's time to leave for Eli's 6-month drs appointment. He of course decides to poop before we left, so I hurry and change his diaper, then run down the street, through the drizzling rain, to get to the appointment on time.

11:30 a.m. - Eli is finally seen by the doctor, 15 minutes after his scheduled time (the office was pretty busy). Eli is 50% in everything. Except weight - he was 25-50% in weight, which I attribute to the fact that he had a huge poop right before, and hadn't eaten since before his nap. (If I had fed him right before the appointment, he would have been up a few ounces). No big deal though. Eli gets three shots and an oral vaccine... he's happy until the last shot and then totally bursts into tears. I squeeze my eyes shut through the shots and afterward, Eli gives the nurse very sad looks until she leaves the room.

12:00 p.m. - I'm starving - I just ate a grapefruit for breakfast, but now Eli is fussy from getting shots and there isn't an easy way to make myself lunch without him crying. I grab my favorite granola bar (the totally fattening, but yummy sweet and salty peanut bar by nature valley - yum!) and cuddle with Eli in my arms while we watch Oprah's favorite things on the DVR. I never sit and watch tv with him (unless he's nursing and can't see the tv), but he seemed like he needed to be mellow and to be held. It was funny watching the people in the audience jump and down, scream, cry, etc. and watch Eli taking it all in.

1:30 p.m. - Eli is tired again. I put him down for his nap, spend way too much time reading the news, researching the Beco carrier, responding to emails, thinking about how I'm not working on the article that should have been done last week, and then Eli was up again.

3:00 p.m. - Eli and I play with his toys. I got a few phone calls and wasn't super productive... suddenly it was 4:30 and time was slipping away! I needed to get our place clean because I was hosting a baby shower at 7:30 p.m...

5:00 p.m. - I feed Eli baby oatmeal and prunes for dinner. And since it's his half birthday and a special occasion, I give him peaches for dessert. I talk to Ben - he is working late tonight. Great. Now I have to finish getting the house clean, run to the store to get a few last-minute things for the shower, feed Eli one last time and put him to bed, all before 7:30.

6:00-6:40 p.m. - Go grocery shopping. I have Eli strapped on in the bjorn so I of course get a whole range of looks and comments, from - "he's so cute!" to weird stares, like it's totally unusual to carry a baby in that way. I race home, try to avoid the traffic on my street from Northwestern's basketball game, and haul Eli and the groceries up the two flights of stairs. And this was the first time Eli rode in his new convertible car seat, now that he's too chubby for his infant car seat. I think he liked it!

In the end of my craziness, poor Eli was practically begging me to just feed him and put him to bed. Poor little guy! I finally fed him at 7:15 p.m. and finished nursing him as the first people buzzed to come up. He went right to sleep. The shower was lots of fun and our living room is clean. Eli is 6 months old and I just love him to pieces. I'm excited to see what the next 6 months bring!

Here are a few pictures and a video from today:

Flowers from Aunt Babz - thank you!! They are even more beautiful in person.

Eli stayed somewhat entertained for a few minutes (while I was cleaning/getting ready for the shower) sitting in the booster seat, chewing on its straps and playing with one toy that he eventually threw off of the tray.

And below is a video of Eli pushing up - I love when he smiles with his accomplishment! At the end, you'll see a consequence of working so hard... :)

Eli Doing Push Ups at 6 Months :) from Sarah on Vimeo.

Some New Distractions

Things I've recently stumbled upon or am obsessing over:

  • Confessions of a Pioneer Woman and Pioneer Woman Cooks - sites done by a woman named Ree who lives on a farm - she is witty, takes great photographs, and her recipes look pretty fantastic. I find it especially funny that I've enjoyed these sites because I am notoriously not a fan of things "pioneer."
  • The Belly Hugger - one of my biggest complaints about breastfeeding is how it is so hard to be discreet. And my pet peave is feeling like my back is exposed to the world. I read about the Belly Hugger today and thought it was a great idea (it is like a stretchy band of material that covers your midsection). It would be great to use with my hooter hider nursing cover, which is probably the only reason I have ever been able to nurse on the plane or in some other public setting.
  • Beco Baby Carrier - this is what I'm obsessing over this week... my sweet, chubby Eli is getting heavier, and it's not as comfortable carrying him in the Baby Bjorne. I am debating getting a Beco carrier because it can be worn in the front, side, or back, and allows you to carry a child up to 40 lbs. Not that I plan on wearing Eli on my back when he is that big, but it would be great to have this for a number of situations - at the grocery store, airport, on the train, at street fairs or other crowded places where a stroller gets in the way, etc. My friend Angie has twins and loves her Beco - she's even getting a second one so she can wear one baby in the front and another in the back. I might wait a few more weeks to decide because the company is coming out with a new carrier next month.
  • The movie Mysic and Lyrics - we rented this movie last week and thought it was so entertaining! The first song in the movie (so cheesy and 80s, but really funny), Pop! Goes My Heart, is still stuck in my head. But I genuinely like the song Way Back Into Love.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Bike and Better Eyesight

Here are some pictures from this week... as you can see, the bike arrived - Ben was SO excited and has diligently used it for the last two nights. It's not as enormous as I had feared, so I think it will be fine. We need to get a mat for it to go on - for now it's on an ugly green towel :)

Yesterday I went to my optometrist to get my yearly checkup and buy new contacts. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my eyesight had improved after being pregnant! While I am still pretty blind without glasses or contacts, it's nice to know that my prescription doesn't have to be quite as strong. One other interesting thing - my eyes always feel really dry, and even though I wear certain contacts that are supposed to help prevent the dryness, it still happens. So the optometrist suggested I use a product called Clear Care, which is a special solution that contains hydrogen peroxide that cleans the lens and removes proteins and bacteria from it so your contacts are more comfortable. Then you put it in a special lens case that neutralizes the solution, making it safe to wear the next morning.

Below are some other random pictures - a few from bathtime and some from playing around the house. And today I felt something sharp on his bottom middle gums... we'll see how long his tooth takes to really appear!

Monday, November 12, 2007

My Latest Online Find...

Ben wants an exercise bike for Christmas. (He tells me every day he wishes he had some way of exercising at home now that the weather is cooler... and he works long hours so he doesn't want to join a gym and spend more time away from home) I decided to order the bike now as an early present. In my search for the best price on the bike, I ran into a new site called Jellyfish. It is a shopping search engine that gives you half of every dollar that they earn when you click through that site.

Anyway, you should check it out! The $200 bike purchase got us $15 in cash back from jellyfish - not bad! Tonight I ordered a gift card online for a friend and will get a small % back as well. I figured it might be useful as the holiday season approaches - I know I'll do a lot of my Christmas shopping online and am always looking for a great deal! (And no, I don't usually spend $200 on Ben's Christmas present, but figured it was cheaper than him joining a gym and we'll at least get to talk while he's here exercising)

And for my shameless plug - if you do sign up with jellyfish, I would love it if you included my email in the referral box - You can learn about the referral program here.

Some stores that are on Jellyfish include: BabyCenter, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, BoardGamesUSA, Cabelas, Circuit City, Gap, Home Depot, Kohl's, Old Navy, ShoeBuy, Target, etc.

*In the meantime, I am half dreading the arrival of this exercise bike... it was the smallest (and least obtrusive) piece of exercise equipment that will fit in our small space, and I have to live with the hope that someday we'll stick it in a basement of a house rather than the living room of our condo!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sneaking a Peak

So I have to confess my late-night, right-before-I-go-to-bed tradition (which I suspect many of you may also have) - I LOVE sneaking a peak at Eli sleeping in his crib. Maybe I just have a thing about sleeping people (I think Ben is really cute when he's asleep), but there is something so precious and serene about a sleeping baby. I have to be very careful about the path I take to get to his crib, walking in an exact diagonal line from his door to the crib - any other way has noisy, squeaky spots in the floor that might wake him up.

I am always tempted to take a picture so I can remember how cute Eli was asleep, but it's not worth the thought of disrupting his sleep (now that he's finally consistently sleeping through the night!). So for now, you can look at his other pictures and imagine a sweet, chubby baby in his footie pajamas, cuddling with his snuggli blanket/stuffed animal.

I'm just really grateful to have this wonderful little boy in our family. We feel so blessed!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Big Boy Eli, a Nationwide Lack of Home-Cooked Meals, and Happy Birthday Davey!

Today's blog is a little random... I weighed Eli this weekend and he is up to 18 lbs at 5 1/2 months!! He is my cute chubby baby, that's for sure. My favorite of his features are his rubber band wrists, dimpled elbows, cute tummy, and squeezable thighs and bum. And of course his fun cheeks! I kiss and squeeze him ALL the time, poor guy. :) Here are some pictures from this week:
And the other topic I wanted to blog about came from this article I read today in the Chicago Tribune - apparently 46% of families confessed in a national survey that they eat a home-cooked dinner just two to three times a week. The article then asks what we are eating the other four or five nights of the week?

So that got me thinking. Ben and I were just talking about how when he was growing up, his family of 8 kids rarely went out to eat. And my family with 2 kids went out a little more often, but my mom made most of our meals (which was probably often torture since my brother and I are both picky eaters). Fast forward to today... I remember thinking when I worked full time that once I was a stay-at-home mom I would make a wonderful, well-balanced dinner every night. All I can say is, YEAH RIGHT!!

My excuses range from:
  • I am too busy with freelance projects
  • Eli doesn't stay entertained long enough for me to make a full dinner (or take long enough naps to give me time to do it)
  • His bedroom is right next to the kitchen, so even if there is time to cook during his nap, I usually wake him up when I'm clanking around
  • I'm too tired
  • I didn't have time to go to the grocery store during the day
  • It's too hard to take Eli to the grocery store because he screams in the car seat, but can't sit up on his own, so I tend to go late at night after Ben and Eli are in bed - but there isn't always energy for this
  • Raw meat grosses me out, so I'm always looking for a good vegetarian meal to make
  • I'm out of ideas of what to make for dinner
  • Everything I want to make is too complicated/takes too much time
So this brings me back to the article. It talks about a book, The Take-Out Menu Cookbook: How to Cook the Foods You Love to Order Out. I hope our library has it so I can check it out! Usually for our little family, Eli eats baby food and Ben and I often just fend for ourselves. Our easy choices usually consist of one thing for dinner - roasted potatoes or other veggies, spaghetti, sandwiches, homemade salsa with my current fav. tortilla chips, Xochitl (found here in the organic section at Jewel - they are DELISH!!), soup, salad, etc. Not too exciting! Otherwise we tend to order food from:
  • Dozika in Evanston (I love the mild curry chicken and honey garlic chicken, along with their sweet potato maki rolls)
  • Cozy Noodle in Evanston (I love the noodles panang, pad thai, and pad see ewe)
  • Joy Yee's in Evanston (I love the orange beef there)
  • Wholly Frijoles in Lincolnwood (I love the tortilla soup and Lincolnwood burrito)
  • Carmen's Pizza in Evanston (I get a thin pizza with pepperoni, no cheese and Ben gets a deep dish special)
  • Merle's BBQ in Evanston (It has $1 bbq pork/chicken/beef sliders on Monday nights... yum!)
As you can see, I like to take out more ethnic foods (with the exception of the bbq and pizza) since I don't know how to make them myself. I love the blog Pimp My Dinner because there is a variety of fun recipes. But somehow I still get in a rut, and we end up eating a real meal just a few times a week. Do any of you have a good system for making good meals for your families on a regular basis? If you're in Evanston, what are your favorite places to eat out?

And finally, (speaking of eating out... sorry that this is the world's longest post!) here is a picture from going out to dinner on my brother Davey's 23rd birthday - my grandpa and his wife Judy flew in from Utah (my aunt and uncle and cousins Abby and Natalie from Ohio drove in too - more pictures from our weekend get together is below).

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Tagged... with a twist :)

My friend Marci tagged me last week, but with all of the Halloween activities I didn't have much time to sit down and think about these. But here are some things you may or may not know about me:

1. I worked as a locksmith in college - yes, I drove around one of those utility vans around campus and worked for BYU Locksmith. I learned how to use a lock picking kit (I never became very advanced though - my highest capabilities are with picking things like a cabinet lock), installed new locks and doorknobs, and put pins in locks.

2. I always stay up too late - I have the hardest time going to bed at a decent hour, especially now that we have Eli. You would think that having a child who wakes up way too early would motivate me to be in bed by 11 at least, but it almost drives me the other way... I have to stay up late and get things done!

3. I have a horrible sense of direction - I know the area where we live really well, but if I'm in a new place, I can never tell which way is east/west/north/south. Even in Chicago sometimes I get turned around if I'm in an unfamiliar area. My high school friends used to make fun of me because I would call and ask them how to get home from the movie theater where I worked. It takes a lot for me to really learn an area.

4. I have one cavity - and I didn't get it until high school! And it has bothered me ever since... it soon turned into an onlay, and then a crown, and now I have to get the crown replaced. This tooth will probably bug me for the rest of my life.

5. I hate running - and I think it is because my friends in cheerleading used to make fun of how I run!! (you know who you are... :) But I love how you feel after a good workout, so hopefully I can get back in a good routine soon. I'm realizing it's harder than it looks to get back to a normal shape after having a baby. I'm definitely not the way I used to be!

6. I am organized, but also very unorganized - I am organized on paper and with my computer. I can put schedules, lists, groups, plans, etc. together and keep on top of them - I enjoy organizing our ward playgroup, serving as secretary for the Primary, and writing on a freelance basis. I have my computer files nicely organized and I can find anything on there pretty fast.

However, I tend to feel very unorganized when it comes to our small condo - I have way too many craft/paper/cards/beading supplies and little space to put them, so they are scattered in various places, some on a cart in my room, others in Eli's closet, etc. and while I should just scale down and keep them in one place, that's hard for me too. I also am a toiletry fanatic and have WAY too many toiletries (for backup when things run out) - we have Sam's Club portions of toothpaste, sunscreen, toilet paper, shampoo, razors, lotions, etc. Any advice for cutting back on this obsession?!

7. I am chronically late - and it drives Ben crazy!! His family was always on time, very prompt, often early to things (my parents tried to make me punctual, but I still struggled). I have come to the conclusion that I try to do way too much in any given amount of time, and end up scrambling before needing to be somewhere. It has gotten even worse now that I have Eli, because it adds his unpredictability to my craziness. I really am working on it, I promise!

Here are the people I tag: I had a hard time choosing because there are so many people I would love to learn more about - so after some deliberation, I've decided to tag everyone on my blog's friends and family lists. Maybe that is too impersonal and no one will feel an urgency to do this, but I really couldn't decide which seven people I should single out. So - if you are reading this and have a blog of your own, I would love to read 7 things about you!

The directions: Include a link to your tagger (like I did with Marci) and post these rules on your blog:

1. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
2. Tag 7 (or more, in my case!) people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs. -
3. Let them know they are TAGGED by leaving a comment on their blog (sorry, I'm not doing this part).

Thursday, November 01, 2007

More Halloween Fun

Yesterday was filled with more fun Halloween activities. In the morning, we hooked up with our church playgroup and trick-or-treated around the shops in downtown Glencoe. Eli got lots of smiles as he was strolled around in his bright costume. It was a sunny but windy morning, so I was glad that he had a poofy costume to keep him warm. Eli was the youngest trick-or-treater of the group, but he still got a few pieces of candy (he liked chewing on the outside).

Later in the day, we went trick-or-treating with the family I used to nanny for. Drew (almost 5 yrs old) was a speedy Power Ranger and Caroline (just turned 3) was a cute kangaroo. It was fun to walk around their neighborhood and watch them race from house to house. (Drew was sprinting at times and poor Caroline tried to keep up, but got pretty worn out after an hour or so).

The tough thing in Evanston is that the houses are set back away from the street so the kids have to go up and down long sidewalks and stairs to trick or treat. (These pictures don't show how long they really are) But Drew and Caroline still got plenty of candy! Eli fell asleep in the stroller so it probably felt more like a regular walk to him, but it was lots of fun being a part of it all.