Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Running for President

I'm starting to suspect that my little guy has some type of hidden agenda. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it almost certainly has to do with taking over the world or running for president.

As most people know, Brayden is an infectiously happy baby. He makes almost everyone he comes into contact with sport a giant, cheesy grin that you can tell will last quite a while. He flirts with the ladies, he schmoozes with the guys. The bottom line is: he's a charmer.

The ladies can't seem to resist those eyes and smile!
Lately, he's taken his interactions to a whole new level. A month or two ago, he learned to wave 'hello' and 'goodbye'. Now, he spends the majority of his time in public waving to everyone. (Please understand this is not an exaggeration. I'm uncertain how his arm doesn't get tired after an hour of it) Once he garners someone's attention (almost always in the form of a smile and comment about how sweet/cute he is), he starts smiling at them and babbling to them. That only perpetuates the situation. I half-expecting fan letters to arrive in our mailbox each day.

This weekend's trip to Chicago really epitomized this behavior. On the plane. At the White Sox game. In the parking lot. At a store. It just doesn't matter. This kid LOVES interacting with people (in fact, once he got grumpy on the flight home, the only thing that soothed him was letting him babble and smile at the people in the seats behind us).  I really adore how social Brayden is and I just love his happy, cheerful personality. If he starts shaking hands with people and kissing other babies, though, I might start to get a bit worried.

(For more of his adorable face, sift through the updated photo gallery and growing up pictures).

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Traveling Scientist

Although Brayden's future occupation may be unknown, he's currently enjoying his time exploring a wide variety of vocations. His recent trials include:

Sumo Wrestler
Brayden has been spending numerous hours each day practicing his basic squat.

Tech Support
"I've already explained this to you Grandpa. The 'mouse' is the thing you use to control the pointy arrow."

Food Critic
"Hmm... I'm not sure these flavors pair together very well."

Professional Mini-Golfer
That's a thing, right?

Lion Tamer
Brayden decided to start out with something more manageable (and available) than a lion.

Professional Mover
"Really mom? Another box of books??"

Race Car Driver
Vroom. (And yes, that is a hair dryer diffuser as the wheel)

My little guy seems to be quite skilled at most of his endeavors. However, there have been a few flops. Occupations not in Brayden's future include

Easter Bunny
Enough said.

Brayden was not impressed with the lions, tigers and bears.

And finally, we come to his favorites.

Brayden has been spending much of his free time coming up with and testing hypotheses about how the world works. He has moved on from his original endeavors (which included "What is the minimum amount of sleep a baby can get before exploding?" and "What does everything in existence taste like?") to more thought-provoking questions, such as "Is my level of cuteness directly related to how many times I can get Mommy to pick me up?" and "What makes noise when I shake it?" He has also been testing the boundaries of shapes, sizes and purposes of various objects. After realizing that a spherical object would slide down his tower toy, he tried out other toys as well (the stuffed lion and block were not successful). And needless to say, his big blue ball covered with nipple-looking points has seen better days.

Brayden is becoming quite the little traveler. He is currently averaging one trip every three months of his life and will soon be making the jump over the pond to his first international destination. He was quite excited to finally receive his passport in the mail, allowing him to explore a whole other country! (Hmm... I wonder what types of things make noise when you shake them in England...)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

March Challenge Wrap Up

It's April now. I'm breathing a sigh of relief that my March Madness Challenge is finished. It's not that I didn't enjoy it. It's just that... well, it took up way more time than I anticipated. Now that it's over, I might actually have time to do other things - or maybe -- insert gasp here -- nothing at all. (My husband is probably rolling his eyes right now, because he knows as well as I do that I'm always doing something)

The Cooking Part

This took up the vast majority of my time. I made some absolutely delicious meals, but I was cooking every day. And not that "oops, I forgot to take something out for dinner and it's time to eat so I better whip something up real quick" kind of cooking. It was the "company is coming over and I want to make something really good" kind. (The last batch of meals is listed at the bottom of this post) I did complete the challenge - and only fell a few recipes short of my 30 in 30 goal.

My overall assessment of the Smitten Kitchen cookbook? It's a great cookbook to have, but not one to cook out of every day. And when you do make a recipe from it, be sure to read it all the way through before starting. For my more in-depth review of it, click here.

Overall, I highly recommend it - for weekend cooking and desserts especially. Favorite savory recipe? The pancetta, white bean and swiss chard pot pies. Time consuming, but totally worth it. Favorite sweet recipe? Probably the raspberry rugelach (though it was pretty darn close between that and the cinnamon squares).

The Running Part

Also successful. Last weekend's long run was 7 miles. So really - I'm completely on pace for a 10 miler in 3 weeks.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure I'll be able to run it. I keep trying to deny it, ignore it or rationalize my way around it, but the truth is, I'm having major knee issues. After every 4 mile+ run, I had to ice my knee for hours and was in significant pain for the next two days. Since I'm ridiculously stubborn (shocker, I know), I still kept to my training schedule and would run despite the pain. Not good, I know. And I'm sure my doctor is going to yell at me for that when I finally make the appointment to see him. Which is probably why I haven't made that appointment yet.

The Writing Part

Epic Fail.

I started off trying to organize my notes before I resumed work on the actual narrative. But because the other components of my month took up so much time, I just didn't have enough free time to work on it. And on the rare occasions I did find myself with an hour of free time at the end of the night, I was too exhausted to do anything but sleep.

With any luck, I can really devote some time and effort to my writing this month.

Final Round of Recipes

1. Leek fritters with garlic and lemon (I made this along side grilled chicken). Surprisingly tasty! The hubby really enjoyed these quite a bit.
2. Butternut squash and caramelized onion galette. This was excellent. My husband doesn't even like butternut squash and he loved it. The flavors were great and the dough (as usual for the cookbook) was awesome.
3. Chocolate raspberry rugelach. Not sure why the author needs to add chocolate to everything, so I skipped out on it. And man, am I happy I did. These things were fantastic! All I can say is that I'm glad I was training for a race while I made these because they were addictively good.
4. Sesame spiced turkey meatballs with smashed chickpea salad. Lauren liked this much better than I did. I thought the flavor was okay but texture of the meatballs was a bit off (they almost had a toughness to them). He wants to try the meatballs with some red sauce, as we both thought the chickpea salad was pretty boring. Not sure I liked them enough for another go, but we'll see.
5. Wild rice gratin with kale, caramelized onions and baby swiss. This was certainly a sleeper recipe. I expected it to be fine for me and a miss for my meat-and-potatoes hubby, but we both loved it. Really good.
6. Blueberry cornmeal butter cake. Lauren enjoyed it quite a bit. Evidently, I don't like the gritty texture of cornmeal. The flavors were good though, and if Lauren would let me, I'd try it with a substitution for the cornmeal.
7. Big breakfast latkes. Unimpressive. It was just hash browns with an egg on top. I was surprised she didn't add any kind of spice or flavor to the potato latkes. They were really boring.
8. Asparagus pizza. I'll spare the ridiculous story of why this didn't come out correctly (completely my fault), but I can't really make a judgment one way or another. Personally, the bite I had seemed a bit unremarkable, but perhaps that's just the user-error talking. (I will say, it wasted quite a bit of asparagus in the preparation though!)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter: In Pictures

What a happy holiday! We had a very blessed day yesterday full of family, good food and a happy little baby boy. ♥

A gift from the Easter bunny
"Oohhh... I like this plate. I wonder what brand it is."
A happy, hoppy morning with mommy!
Opening gifts from Grandma and Grandpa
Brayden was not a fan of fake grass. Every time he touched it, he made a repulsed face.
"I'll trade you two milk bones for whatever is on the bottom of that bucket."
Easter dinner table
Name settings
Spring flowers ♥
Another gift basket for little guy (thanks Uncle Ken & Aunt Julie!)
Playing with Aunt Julie's bling
Just hanging out with the godfather
Carrot cake... YUM! :)
One last picture before bath time. Happy daddy, tired baby.
Brayden's contribution to Easter: a broken egg and a painted bib.