Tuesday, March 30, 2010

30 Before 30

30 before 30

In some of my blog-wandering this week, I ran across this lovely and witty blogger (and she's an English teacher!  Of course I like her!) and her list of 30 things to accomplish before turning 30. Chronic list-maker that I am, I jumped right on her bandwagon and started making my own 30 Before 30 goals.  

Unlike most of my lists, though, I actually want to complete this one, so I left off "become the American Idol blogger for CNN," which is my real heart's desire.  I also tried to keep these goals observable and measurable (woot, education terminology!).  Some items are a little wild and crazy for me, some are little things I've meant to do for a long time, and some I shamelessly stole from other people's lists.  Without any further yammering, I give you, in no particular order, my 30 Before 30 list:

1. Get totally out of debt, except the mortgage
2. Save six months' worth of living expenses

3. Run a half marathon in a cute running skirt
4. Run a shorter, family-friendly race with Ben in a stroller
5. Take a family vacation (just Daniel, me, Ben, and any future babies) to a fun city
6. Finish Ben's baby quilt
7. Take some sort of class just for fun
8. Read 25 books in one year
9. Get a makeover and buy the makeup
10. Shoot a real gun
11. Clear the junk out of our back flower beds and replace it with something edible (tomatoes, peppers, piles of Snickers bars?  I don't know)
12. Paint the inside of our house -- no more white walls

13. Have a bright red front door
14. Make a surprise visit to my parents
15. Memorize a book of the Bible and still remember it a year later
16. Eat out zero times for a full month
17. Beat my friend Susanna at a game of Scrabble
18. Take Ben's picture by something pretty at my alma mater
19. Spend a day at a spa

20. Pretend to be Donna Reed for a day
21. Organize the garage to my satisfaction
22. Go snow skiing

23. Participate in the Great Fruitcake Toss in Manitou Springs
24. Make a pretty cake from scratch
25. Host a tea party (the scone-eating kind, not the political kind)
26. Climb the Manitou Incline
27. Come up with an acceptable system for organizing my recipes
28. Throw my husband a spectacular 30th birthday party
29. Complete another 100 Thing Challenge

30. Watch the Balloon Classic in Colorado Springs

You can be sure that I'll keep you posted on my progress over the next three years and eleven months. 

EDIT:  Making this list was so much fun -- you should all play along!  You can pick any milestone you want.  Go here for more details.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Sometimes I just can't stand how cute that kid is.  His routine for a long time has been to fall asleep while I nurse him at night, so I was surprised the last two nights when he finished eating and was wide awake -- and extraordinarily happy about it.  It didn't feel right to put him straight in his crib, so I read him a story from his baby Bible, then I rocked him and sang him a couple of songs.  Rather, I tried to sing him a couple of songs, but I had some trouble containing my laughter.  He was staring at me, smiling, and reaching up to touch my mouth.  And he made me so very happy that I had to laugh.

Everything goes straight to his mouth these days.  Everything.  Even things that do not come close to fitting in his mouth, like my giant Nalgene water bottle.  The picture above doesn't quite capture it, but I put him in his Exersaucer one morning while I got ready, and when I looked back, he had each hand on a different toy and his mouth on that steering wheel.

Last week, his favorite face was the old-man-with-no-teeth face.

This week he prefers the stick-out-your-tongue-like-a-crazy-person face.  He has probably spent fifty percent of his waking hours making some version of that face this week.  All the weirdness he inherited from Daniel and me is already starting to come out.

We took a family day trip to Estes Park on Tuesday and had a chance to use our baby hiking backpack for the first time.  Ben was definitely a fan.  Doesn't this picture make us look outdoorsy?  You would never know that we only hiked about a quarter of a mile, including the walk from our car to the trailhead.  Behind us is a lake that was so frozen people were making snowmen on it.  Pretty impressive destination for such a measly hike.  That's my kind of outdoorsiness.

Ben rolled from his back to his tummy for the first time today (the picture above is an action shot of tummy-to-back rolling, which he has fully mastered, thanks to his disdain for tummy time).  It was really entertaining to watch because it required so much effort and concentration.  He made several failed attempts but eventually managed to hoist his body weight over his arm, flop onto his belly, and finish with a big grin.  He was pretty proud of himself.  I might be pretty proud of him, too.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Good enough to share

A few weeks after Ben was born, I decided to start cooking one new recipe a week.  You know, because I had so much more time.  Ha!  No, really I was just tired of cooking the same handful of main dishes I always made, and I have roughly ten million recipes on hand from cookbooks and magazines.  Plus, the sudden disappearance of my income motivated me to make more of our meals come from the grocery store than from Chili's.

So far, my favorite part of this little experiment has been picking the new recipe each week (usually I get excited and end up making two or three new things).  I apparently have a knack for picking duds, though, because none of the new dishes have been blog-worthy yet.  Some of them have been fine, but about half of them make Daniel say, "This is good, honey.  I'm, not as hungry as I thought I was."  Right.

But last night!  Last night I found a winner with Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili (that's a link) from Cooking Light magazine.  I was pretty sure going in that Daniel would not be a fan.  It's healthy, it contains vegetables that are not cooked in butter or wrapped in bacon, it doesn't have any meat, etc.  And I was even more sure it would be bad when the preparation took me for-stinking-ever (prep time seems to be inversely proportional to tastiness in my kitchen).  

My, how wrong I was!  This chili was so good that I couldn't talk about anything else at dinner except how good it was.  It has tons of flavor, and the texture is really nice (my mom is laughing at me now because I always have issues with the texture of food).  It's really filling because of all those awesome, fibery, proteiny beans.  And it's pretty, too:

You should do yourself a favor and jump all over this recipe before winter is over.  Be warned that if your cooking expertise is where mine is (read: low), it takes a little time to roast and peel red peppers and figure out how to peel and cube a butternut squash (I would tell you how, but I'm pretty sure my method was not worth imitating).  But seriously, this chili is worth the hassle.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Happy Half Birthday, Ben!

Dear Ben,

In the last few days, I began the downhill slide out of my twenties, and you began the downhill slide toward being one.  I still remember when my own crazy mother sent me to school wearing an "It's My Half Birthday" ribbon when I was in kindergarten, so I deemed it necessary to acknowledge your first half-birthday in some official capacity.  Fortunately, your half-birthday is very close to my actual birthday, so we were able to celebrate with a half-eaten cake topped with half-melted candles.

 Well, your Daddy and I celebrated that way.  You celebrated with applesauce, the very first fruit ever to grace your sweet little taste buds.  You're much too young to realize that applesauce is a sorry substitute for cake, so you enjoyed it thoroughly.

You also got to play with a cool new toy, which the kind UPS man happened to deliver on the very day you turned half a year old.  Even though playing with toys is not a new trick for you anymore, I'm still amazed that you can do it.  Your fascination with the world in general is really fun to watch.  I understand how you feel, though, because I'm pretty fascinated by everything about you.  I don't think I've quite gotten over the fact that you exist yet.  Just tonight, I was getting you ready to take a bath, and you were laughing and babbling, and I was taken aback by the fact that you are a full-on person with stuff going on in your brain and the beginnings of a personality coming through.  And it is so very wonderful to get to know you while you're in the process of becoming you.

You've come a long way, baby, since the day I first met you.  For one thing, you've gained over ten pounds in the last six months -- a feat I didn't accomplish until my freshman year of college.  It's hard for me to believe that you were ever small enough to live inside me.  You're figuring out how to handle that big ol' sixteen-pound body of yours these days, too.  Just in the last week, you've started to get pretty good at sitting up.  Fortunately for me, you're still small enough that I can make you snuggle with me while I rock you to sleep.  I can already tell when I look at your squishy sleeping face in my arms that I'm going to miss those sweet moments soon.

A few months before you were born, I was struck by a verse from the song "In Christ Alone" that says, "From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny."  It seemed really neat to me at the time that I would know you from your very first cry.  And that part is definitely still incredible to me.  But now, six months out from that first cry, it's the rest of that line that gets me.  I like to think that I have some control over what you do, but you are a full-on person.  So whether my parenting is perfect or not (it's not), a lot of your life now and a whole lot of your life in the future is out of my hands.  What a blessing it is that you are securely held in the hands of a perfect Father.

Happy half birthday, baby boy!