Dec 11, 2010

"Please come to Boston..." - Boston, MA. - November 2010

Back in November the Hub had a conference in Boston, MA. and the Monkey and I got to tag along. So it was the first installment of the Wandering Family.
Checking out the view.
Riding the T makes us sleepy...
Now she's ready to party!
And we got to see this lady and Mr. Sabbe! =)
Diaper Changing 101... A+!!!
Waiting for the flight home.As always I wish I'd remembered to take more pictures. We did so much that isn't captured. We took a walking tour of the South End, had breakfast at Mike's City Diner, walked through some SUPER cute baby boutiques, went to Church with the Sabbes and to visit their cute new place, went to Harvard, which was beautiful. I guess it's just because I went to UT Knoxville , but I was surprised by how small it was. I really thought it would be bigger. Riding the T was an adventure in itself, and made us very appreciative of the easy to navigate Baltimore Metro. Oh and we definitely made time for LOTS of chowder!

We LOVED the Boston and hope to come back soon!

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Dec 6, 2010

Chicken Livers & The Hub's Birthday - Baltimore, MD - December 2010

I need to start by saying that Thursday was the Hub's birthday. He's moving from the lower 30's to the uppers! YAY!!! You guys know how much I LOVE birthdays, especially other people's birthdays. Well in our family, on your birthday, you get to have your favorite food. No matter what it is, we'll take all possible steps to make sure that it gets in your tummy on your day. My favorite is Japanese hibachi style food. Fried rice... YUM YUM... Eat 'em up!!! On the other hand, the Hub's birthday request is quite different...

Some of you may have heard this story before but if you've ever heard me tell a story more than once, you know that generally it gets better and more amazing each time it's told, so hold onto your hats!

The Hub's favorite meal request is... Drum roll please... Fried chicken livers with mustard, mashed potatoes, corn bread, and carrot cake for dessert. I know... RIGHT... No this is for real!!!

The Mashed potatoes, corn bread, and carrot cake are not a big deal, but the fried chicken livers are a little tricky... (to put it mildly). So for the past 4 years I've embarked on a search for the livers with last year being particularly difficult. "But Lili" you say "haven't you been married for 5 years?" Why yes... As a matter of fact I have... Let me tell you about that first year.

There I was, Queen of domesticity... Actually I'd just started a new job, in a new city and just learned that the Hub's mom makes "the BEST fried chicken livers on EARTH". Well naturally, just as I'm sure ANY of you would have, I decided that anything the Hub's mom could do "the Best in the WORLD" was something I needed to at least be proficient at. So after making a call to my wonderful mother-in-law and getting step-by-step instructions on how to make these illustrious "fried chicken livers" (a dish I've never even laid eyes on let alone cooked), I headed to the grocery, shopping list in hand. After about 30 minutes I had everything I needed except the main ingredient, so with a shutter I headed back to the meat counter and asked the sweetest old man behind the counter if he could please direct me to the chicken livers.

He maneuvered his jolly self through the diner style swinging doors and walked me to a nearby refrigerator case, lifted a jar of about 40 floating chicken organs and put them in my hand. Before he let go he asked me kindly, "you know how to cook these, right?" I nodded with what I'm sure was a ‘dear in the headlights’ look on my face and said "yes sir, I think so".

Well to make a long story short, I DID NOT know how to make chicken livers and after burning all 40 of those livers, and making my kitchen smell like something died in it I realized that I needed a new plan. I called the grocery and wouldn’t you know it, they were out of chicken livers. For about five minutes I sat in my living room floor pouting, but then I had a light bulb moment.

Several months back the Hub and I had eaten at a restaurant in down town Memphis called the Flying Fish where he’d ordered… wait for it… Chicken Livers!

The next 15 minutes was a complete blur and consisted of me finding the number for and calling the Flying Fish and ordering large amounts of chicken livers. I jumped in my car and as the man was delivering the livers to the passenger seat of my car my phone rang, it was the Hub. “I’m on my way I’ll be home in a few.”

“Okay,” I said trying to hide my panic. I dropped my phone in my coat pocket and hit the gas. I like to think there was smoke coming from my tires, but as I’m sort of a grandma driver, it was more like a ’look both ways, use my blinker, and gradually merge into traffic’ situation. I arrived home with just enough time to deposit the purchased chicken livers on to our plates and hide the take out containers in a trash bag in my closet.
I waited 3 years before I told him the truth about where I’d been getting his birthday chicken livers.

So for the past 2 birthdays the Hub’s chicken livers have been procured from Lexington Market. The Monkey and I took the train and had a fantastic time! I know it’s a little bit of trouble and I don’t really care too much for them, look at this face!
(The first year of the Fried Chicken Livers)

(This year's Chicken Livers)

He LOVES them, and so that’s why I do it.

Happy birthday to the Hub!

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Nov 30, 2010

The Feast - Baltimore, MD - November 2010

So here it is! Yum yum!!! Makes me hungry just thinking about it!
Yes, I broke out the good china, and as I do every time we eat on it, I talked about how much I love it and vowed to use it more often. Then, after everything had been hand washed and dried, I proceeded to pack it away. Maybe we'll see it again before Easter.

This year we have so much to be thankful for but as she slept quietly through dinner, the Hub and I agree, without a doubt, that this little lady is what we are most thankful for.
Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Nov 25, 2010

Our Lobster Day Feast - Baltimore, MD - November 2010

It's Crazy that it's already the end of November and I'm really just getting used to typing 2010. Anyhow, Since we arrived in the "Northeast" (even though they think of themselves part of the south as they are JUST below the mason Dixon line... Whatever) We've started a tradition of having lobsters for major holidays. I know this sounds a bit odd, but really the fun of these massive eating holidays, as far as we're concerned, are the AMAZING side dishes. Neither of us really just swoons over turkey so why not have a main meat that we like. Plus this eliminates the need for freezer space for the 10+ lb bird, frees up the oven for sweet potato decadence, takes away the need for refrigerator space needed to store the uneaten gobbler and it eliminates the need to come up with 100 ways to use the MASSIVE amounts of turkey leftovers.

So this year, in addition to a pair of crustaceans, we're having,
Squash soup (The Hub's original creation)
Green Bean casserole (a cult classic)
Mashed cauliflower (comparable to the best mashed potatoes you've ever eaten)
Cranberry sauce from a can (Why mess with perfection)
Sweet Potatoes and Bananas (for the Monkey)
Pumpkin pie (need I say more)

I tried to sneak in Mashed potatoes, home made bread, holiday jello salad, a sweet potato pie and a few other dishes, but as he so often has to do, the Hub brought me back down to Earth by reminding me that we really were the only two "people food eaters" in the house.

So now that the parade is over and I've showered and the Monkey is down for a nap, into the kitchen we go.

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Treditions - Baltimore, MD - November 2010

Note To Readers: Last night I dreamed a million times over that I was blogging. I miss blogging. I know I've probably lost almost all my readers because of my inconsistency over the last year, but if you're still out there, let me know. I miss your comments and I'm promising to blog more. It helps to know I've got people I'm writing too.

So today is Thanksgiving. One of my favorite holidays! And the Monkey's first. So it seams only fitting to start her out right.My sisters and I have Always watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. From the bands... to the Santa float...I LOVE every bit of it!EEither together or apart, we usually call each other at some point during the morning. I miss them terribly on days like this and hope that one day we'll live close enough to do it again with our little ones.


Til next time,
Bon Voyage!

Nov 1, 2010

Our Monkey is 5 Months - Baltimore, MD - October 2010

Note To Reader: I think it's important to let you in on a little secret. On her actual birthday this picture was taken. Isn't she just the cutest stinkin' thing you've ever seen!?!Anyway, in my post child birth sillyness I made the comment that it looked like she had "monkey toes" and we've been calling our sweet daughter Monkey ever since.
So just like the 3 month, there's not an official doctor's visit so these stats were taken on our bathroom scale. (Yes she's finally outgrown the food scale!) and my sewing measuring tape.

Monkey Brand New Monkey 1 Month Monkey 2 Months

Monkey 3 Months

Monkey 4 Months Monkey 5 months

Here's her new stats:
Weight: 12 lbs (3rd %)
Length: 23 inches (1st %)
Head Circumference: 40 (2nd %)

The Hub has taught her how to growl and stick her tongue out so the first few hours of our morning are spent with her tongue out as she makes a very serious "GRRRRRRR" sound. It's really funny now, but I'm sure one day in the not too far off future we'll have to fix that one.

Her new favorite toy is her door way jumper seat. She could spend hours in that thing and as a result her legs are getting SUPER strong. She's still doing a great job of supporting herself on her legs with minimal assistance and she'll sit for a few seconds all by herself.

We've started going to a play group with several of the girls from bible study once a week and I really think she gets a lot out of the interaction with other children and adults, as she’s developed a bit of stranger anxiety, so being around people is really helping with that.

She’s moving into the 3/6 month sized clothing so we’re always on the hunt for great deals on warmer clothing as winter is quickly approaching.

I'm realizing more and more each day how blessed we are for me to be able to stay home with our beautiful daughter. She is a joy to be around and each day her personality grows.

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Oct 11, 2010

Fish - Baltimore, MD - October 2010

Several weeks ago El and I were in the pet supply store getting cat food. we were on our way back to the register to pay when we passed the "Fish" section of the store. Out of nowhere El let out a squeel. I stopped in my tracks thinking she was hurt or something and to my amazement she was smiling and her eyes were locked on the bright blue tanks. We stood there for about 5 minutes (which for an infant is an eturnity) as she was mezmerized by all the tiny fish.
Now El has her own fish to watch and she does. One of our favorite pass times is to set her up to watch and talk to her 5 fish; Tom, Tetra, McCullough, Bloom, and Rowling, (the last three are our favorite authors) while I fold laundry on the floor beside her.


Til next time,
Bon Voyage!

Oct 6, 2010

4 Months! (Only A Week Late) - Baltimore, MD - September 2010

So Ellie Turned 4 months old last week and we were lucky enough to get to celebrate with her birthday twin Elias. I'd fully intended to post pictures of them both on the butterfly, but after 4 month shots and a few other unexpected speed bumps, it didn't quite happen.

El Brand New

El 1 Month

El 2 Months

El 3 Months

El 4 Months

Here's her stats:
Weight: 10 lbs 2 ozs (2nd %)
Length: 21 and 1/2 inches (1st %)
Head Circumference: 38 and 1/4 cm (2nd %)

As things go, it's been quite an exciting month. As you can see from the pictures, she really is filling out. El has added laughing to her bag of tricks, which will melt your heart on contact. She is really close to sitting on her own and as of 5 days ago she is a solid food eater, the first of which being avocados. I must apologize because with all my computer savvy I can't figure out how to get the videos to work on my blog. She is also rolling from front to back, another feet captured on video and waiting for the bloggesphere stars to align and allow me to post. And she really is enjoying her new found voice. She will chatter at the top of her lungs for hours on end.

Oh and one more development over the last month is that we have completely transitioned her into cloth diapers. She is finally big enough to wear them, yahoo!!! So, let the money saving and the saving of the environment begin.

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Sep 25, 2010

Grrrrrr...! - Baltimor, MD. - September 2010

So I'm pretty sure we took this video at the beginning of this month or sometime last month when El first started being what you'd call "interactive". If you pressed your finger lightly on her forehead to furrow her brow she'd growl.

Now it may have been that we were sleep deprived new parents, but we found this hysterical

Note to Reader: In a desperate attempt to get some video up, I've had to go about posting this in a strange way, so I hope you can hear it. I'm hoping that The Hub's Mac Book will make posting videos a little easier. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Till Next time,
Bon Voyage!

Sep 13, 2010

El’s first “Game Day” – Baltimore, MD – Sept 2010

Last Saturday, September 4, 2010 we awoke to the sounds of Rocky Top and orange and white shakers dancing in our heads! Although we weren’t able to go to the first game of the season, today was a very special day. It is El’s first Tennessee football game day, Tennessee vs. UT Martin!

Here she is! So CUTE!!!
We bought a back up long sleeve onesie but as it turns out, she actually fits into the one we received as a gift from the other residents, yay!!! And it looks great with these great leg warmers.

Girl clothes are so FUN!!!

It was also new head coach Derek Dooley's first Tennessee football game day. It was a great start and we’re excited to see how the rest of the season will unfold.This past Saturday was a tough loss, so for now, we’ll take it one game at a time. We're looking ahead to next week, Tennessee vs. Florida!


She didn’t quite make it all the way through the game, but we can already tell she’s a fan for life!

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Aug 29, 2010

3 Months (or the 4th Trimester) - Baltimore, MD - August 2010

Although she doesn't have an official Well Baby Check-up this month, we can't resist taking her stats. So take these for what they are worth, as the weight was taken on our bathroom scale and the length and head circumference were taken with a tape measure. Ha!

El Brand New

El 1 Month
El 2 Months
El 3 Months
Weight: 8 lbs
Length: 21 inches
Head Circumference: 13 inches

She smiling all the time now and is so close to laughing. She's taken her first big girl tub baths and discovered she, like her parents has a LOVE for the water. Next summer at the pool will be so much fun! For those of you that don't know, her hernia repair surgery went well and she has completely recovered. As far as milestones go, she is supporting all of her weight on her legs. She tracks objects and people as they move across the room. She has also started cooing conversationally which has been really fun!

We're gearing up for the fall, looking for hiking trails for when the temperatures finally cool down a bit. We're also still on the hunt for the perfect Tennessee "Game Day" outfit as she will not quite be big enough for the "T" and Smokie onesie the residents made for her. She's just now moving into the 0-3 month clothing range, so she'll definitely fit into it by basketball season! Go VOLS!!! And GO EL!!!

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Aug 24, 2010

Our Top 5 - Baltimore, MD - Aug 2010

Everyone tells you that "a baby will change everything", and that "your life will never be the same". They're right. But one thing that's impossible to convey is how dramatic and scary, and wonderful that change will be.

As we speak my almost 3 month old is crying in her baby bed because she doesn't want to take a nap. Give it 5 or 10 minutes and she'll be sleeping... well... like a baby, but it takes everything in my being not to go scoop her up. In the beginning I did. What I've learned over the last three months is that going in there and "rescuing" her would be for me and wouldn't help her one bit. The beginning is so so so hard. I've had an AWESOME support team around me and although God's Grace gets us through each day, I thought I'd share a few of the Earthly things that help us get through.

1.) The Hub: From Day one (back when we found out I was pregnant) he has been the person I've leaned on, emotionally and physically. He really has been there for every part of this journey and has been 100% willing to take on anything I ask him to help me with and even the things I haven't asked for help on. He has synced a need and offered unsolicited to watch El while I take a moment for myself, be it a long hot bath, a hot whipped cream topped drink from the coffee shop around the corner, or even just a nap.

2.) My friends and sisters: Remember back at summer camp when you were a kid and you always had to have a buddy to go into the lake or the pool, well that's what you need during pregnancy and the first few months... No scratch that, years.I was blessed enough to have an older sister walking me through a lot of pregnancy. I also had some pretty special friends. First off my friend Robyn was amazing and still is an amazing source of encouragement for me. She basically walked me through her own labor and delivery step by step and I can't stress enough how important it is for you to have a truly honest friend that will be candid with you and not with hold any of the disgusting details, because it's really important that you know this stuff, because at least for me, if I hadn't known some of it was coming, I really would have been scared when it actually happened. The most unexpected blessing of all though was that one of my very best friends, Sarah was about a week and a half ahead of me in her pregnancy and remarkably our babies were born on the same day, only 3 hours apart. I know I will make her blush by writing this, but she has been a source of strength for me from the beginning. We have literally walked side by side through this entire adventure. In fact we texted back and forth while we were in labor until about 4 hours before her little guy was born. I can't stress enough how important it is to have your family and friends beside you on this walk, loving on you and lifting you up when you are low.

3.) A schedule: My friend Cozy, fantastic mother of 3, was a great source for me in this department. She helped me understand that having El on a schedule was not only good for the rhythm of her day, but also gave me a significant portion of my sanity back. Since about 6 weeks El has been on a 3 - 4 hour schedule. Eat... 30 - 45 min eating. Play... About an hour. This could be in her bouncy chair, reading a book to her, tummy time, or sitting her on the counter and talking to her while I wash the dishes or dance around like a freak while mopping the floor (she really loves when I do that). Basically just an hour or so of solid interaction. Sleep... Exactly as it sounds, sleep is 2 hours of napping. Sometimes we nap together she in her swing and me on the couch, but for the most part she is in her bed and I use this time to do chores, pump, or shower. It's amazing what you can get done in two hours when you really try. One rule I have for "nap time" is that if she wakes up and starts to cry or even if she's just awake not crying, I don't go get her. Unless she cries for 20 minutes (it helps to set a timer because when they are crying every second feels like 10). I'll check the video monitor to be sure she's safe, but as long as everything is good, I'll leave her in her bed. 9 out of 10 times she has stopped crying before 5 minutes have gone by and she sleeps the remainder of the time without a peep. It doesn't always work, but I'd say 90% of the time she really thrives on having a routine. She is noticeably happier and since she's been on a schedule she has slept through the night all but 2 nights, so for me, the proof is in the pudding.

4.) Food: This is another one that I have the Hub to thank on. be it snacks or meals I am ALWAYS well fed. Especially during pregnancy when I could hardly stomach a salt cracker, he boiled an entire chicken to make stalk for home made chicken and dumplings. He packed my lunch with pickles and chicken and stars and didn't get mad at me when I couldn't eat the meal he'd made because I was so sick I couldn't stand up. He just kissed my head and handed me the pickle jar and the Sour Patch Kids he new were stashed in my jacket pocket.Now that El is here he reminds me to eat. I know, if you know me your thinking, Lili would NEVER need to be reminded to eat, but on more than one occasion I've honestly forgotten to eat. It's a really good idea, especially in the first few months, to keep snacks around both healthy ones as well as your guilty pleasures. Things like peanut butter, fresh fruit and veggies, milk, Mini candy bars, soups you can drink, etc.

5.) An Excellent Pediatrician: Before El was born we asked a lot of our friends who they took there children to and after stressing about it I got some advise from one of my OB's that really helped. He said "Choose someone you can talk to and listens well. Most importantly though is that you know that if it turns out that you don't end up liking who you've chosen you can always change". Luckily I think we've chosen well. She's been a great help to us. She listens to my concerns, small or large. She makes me feel comfortable. El likes her. Her staff is helpful and prompt getting us back into a room and out of the waiting room where there are generally sick children and definitely not the place you want to be with your new born. They are also very good about responding quickly if I have a question. She has seen El on Saturday and also made time for her when the appointment we had was accidentally deleted from her schedule. Even though it's only been a few months, the comfort and knowledge she has offered has been invaluable.

You can take all of this for what it's worth in that it has worked for us. Every mom and every baby is different and what works for us may not work for you. You may be able to put your own spin on something here to make it work for you. I do know that these 5 things have been invaluable to our little family.

Please feel free to share this with anyone you think migh benefit from it. It's all stuff that was handed down to me from some of my favorite people on Earth.

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Aug 22, 2010

A Human Doll House - Montecito, CA. - Aug 2010

Note To Reader: This post is a total diversion from my “normal” silliness but I couldn't resist.

I need to start by giving credit where it is due. This blog is partially inspired by my friend Stephanie who has recently started her own interior design company, Sabbe Interior Design. Her website and blog are filled with some of the most innovative and unique design ideas I've ever seen. One day, if she'll agree, I want her to design the interior of our home.

When I saw this house it made me think of her and wonder what she’d think of it.

My other inspiration for this post is my love of doll houses. When my sisters and I were little we didn't have a lot of money, but we had a lot of hand me down Barbie dolls and although we dreamed of the Barbie Dream House, the reality was that we made Barbie houses and their furnishings out of everything we could find; our favorite being an old 5 shelf bookcase our dad made when he was in law school that became the 5 story Manhattan apartment of twins Lucky and Savage Santangelo, heiresses to some unknown fortune. We were 7 and 10 years old with incredible imaginations!

Anyway when I stumbled upon The Glass Pavilion it instantly took me back to those days. This house was designed by Las Angeles- based architect Steve Hermann, and according to the Wall Street Journal this "13,875-square-foot home features five bedrooms, five-and-a-half bathrooms, a kitchen with a wine room and an art gallery that displays the architect’s vintage car collection." and is currently on the market for "$35 million, and the furnishings are negotiable. Suzanne Perkins of Sotheby's International Realty has the listing."

This house reminds me so much of a doll house, with walls and floors, but completely open.

Such an interesting and beautiful home, but can you imagine the amount of Invisible Glass you'd need to keep this place clean? And the poor birds... But I digress; regardless of the logistics I still think this house is really cool!

Photos by William MacCollum and Jim Bartsch,
Aug 18, 2010

Till next Time,
Bon Voyage!

Aug 10, 2010

Panhandling Cheerleaders - Baltimore, MD - August 2010

Note to Reader: Let me start by saying, on the record, “I Love Cheerleading and I love Cheerleaders. If you check my DVR box I have a series recording set up for Cheerleader Nation. I’M A BIG FAN!” With that having been said, here we go.

On Friday of last week I was headed out to enjoy my “Day Off” (such an occasion gets it’s very own post) I was headed down one of the busiest roads in our community. I pulled to a stop at the traffic lite and this is what I saw in my side view mirror.

Let’s take a closer look…

Yes, just in case you aren’t sure, that’s a teenage girl in a cheerleader outfit asking for money from cars and trucks stopped at the light at one of the busiest intersections in the area.

Now I’ve seen the fire department do something similar but they are grown men and women that risk their lives every day fighting fires and rescuing kittens from trees. A little traffic is par for the course, but what parent in their right mind would let their daughter do this? How would that permission slip read?

“I, Crack Smoking Parent of little Suzie Cheerleader, do hear by give my beautiful (NOT hit by a car) daughter permission to beg for money from strangers with a green bucket in the middle of the street> I understand that the cheerleading coach is not responsible if anything happens to Suzie Cheerleader because I, Crack Smoking Parent of little Suzie Cheerleader, am the idiot that is giving her permission to put her life in danger by signing my name to this STUPID permission slip.”


Additional Note to Reader: I do prefer Cheerleaders begging for money vs. homeless people, and YES, I gave her my ash tray change (I’d guess about $5) when she stopped all puppy dog eyes at my window!

I’ll close by saying this. I truly understand the need to fund raise for school trips and sports, and support my friend’s children at every chance that I get, but I hope that when El is old enough to do such things that I, and other parents have better since than to send our children out in traffic. The risks FAR outweigh the benefits.

Till next time,
Bon voyage!