Archive for November, 2007

Last one out turn off the lights

November 30, 2007

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Thirty days. Thirty posts.

Can you believe it?

It was fun, and I’m not sure I’ll ever have the writer’s fear of the blank screen again, because, heck, you just write something.

But I definitely underscored the fact that quantity does not equal quality.

So many posts I didn’t write this month, because my life just does not allow for meaningful, reflective writing time every day.

But JUST IN CASE I was unclear on that, I probably don’t need to do NABLOPOMO again.

And you definitely won’t find me hanging out with the Holidalies, a bunch of crazies posting during every day of December. But for those of you that stayed with me all month, thank you, and for the new folks that found me, I’m glad you’re here.

Now to go read what other people have been doing for the last thirty days!

See you in December.

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It’s probably Toe Fungus Awareness Month, too

November 29, 2007

Well, friends, we’ve nearly reached the end of NaBloPoMo, but we’re also nearing the end of another “National Month of” — Prematurity Awareness Month.

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It seems like a funny thing to promote awareness of—if you have a preemie or know one, you’re aware of it. And if not, what do you need to be aware of?

Plenty.

We can all be aware of that one in eight children are born prematurely, even to those women with low-risk pregnancies and excellent prenatal care.

We can be aware that premature labor can happen to any pregnant woman at any time.

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We can be aware that the economic costs—costs we all share through our insurance premiums—are staggering, with pre-term births costing more than $26 billion a year, or approximately $51,000 per baby. (My million-dollar baby hit $51,000 in expenses just within the first few days of his hospital stay—at one hospital.)

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And we can be aware that researchers working to solve so many of the mysteries of pre-term labor are supported in large part by private donations.

Today I look at my healthy 17-month-old boy born at 36 weeks, barely an official “preemie” at all and now hitting so many of his developmental milestones on time or ahead of schedule, and I hardly feel like I have a place in the preemie parenting world. It is a world in which some truly amazing former preemies are thriving despite the feeding challenges, developmental delays, vision problems, mobility impairments or other lingering side effects of prematurity.

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But then I look back on the extraordinary life-saving therapies Henry received, some that even a baby born half his size might never need, and I know that I have earned my preemie parent stripes in the trenches like any other NICU parent, even if our time there was far shorter than for some.

 

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I know that I don’t wish it on any other parent and would do anything I could to help another family avoid this. And I’m so grateful for the combination of expert neonatal clinicians and the generations of medical research that, together, allowed us to bring our baby home.

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Click here to learn more about the March of Dimes and their Take Action campaign.

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And then go find a NICU nurse or doctor and give them a hug for me.

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Will’s Front Tooth: A Retrospective Journey

November 28, 2007

(A year ago today, Will knocked out his front tooth. Indulge me, if you will, on this mother’s journey.)

At about four months of age, Will began drooling, like every other baby. We nodded our heads knowingly and said, “He must be teething.”

The months went by and he continued to drool and chew on his fingers and on his toys. He occasionally got cranky and we nodded our heads knowingly and said, “He must be teething.”

At his nine-month visit to the pediatrician, she observed him climbing around the room and said, “I predict he will walk in here for his 12-month visit and I predict he will have a tooth by then.” He walked six weeks later, ran into the pediatrician’s office at 12 months—and gave her a big, gummy, toothless smile.

Finally at 14 months, two little teeth poked through the bottom gum. And slowly, slowly, slowly, others followed.

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Will and his mighty fangs, June 2006, 23 months of age.

By his second birthday he had what looked to us like a mouthful of teeth.

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Happy second birthday, Will! Breakfast, July 20, 2006

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Need a closer look?

 

He slowly added a few more as the summer and fall progressed.

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A year ago Will still had both of those hard-won front teeth. As you would expect for a two-year-old.

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Last known photo of his front teeth, November 2006.

And then one morning, he took a terrible fall, and tumbled teeth first onto a bedside table. With a magazine on it. His teeth marks went all the way through to page 35. (Those magazine pages are now in his baby book.)

Bleeding, swelling, tears, an emergency trip to the pediatric dentist—but he still had two front teeth, even though one was pushed up into his gum. The poor little fellow was as brave as can be, and we took him home for cuddles, movies, soft foods and popsicles.

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You can’t really tell from this photo, but his mouth is so swollen it looks like a beak. November 13, 2006

 

Over the next few weeks, the tooth worked its way down, we were cautiously optimistic and then…he fell again, two weeks later at school. The tooth came out.

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November 29, 2006

The phrase, “I was devastated!” is overused, but I was. Truly. My sweet, beautiful little baby had a huge, gaping hole in his smile. I felt like I should have been able to protect him from harm and the fact that it happened without me there was a extraordinarily painful metaphor for life as a working parent.

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Still a little swollen, November 29, 2006

He hardly seemed to notice, and to this day, while he is well aware that he is missing a tooth, it has never bothered him. That’s okay, because my heart breaks enough for the both of us when I see that smile.

 

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And of course, it was three days before Christmas card photos last year. We didn’t use this one, but thought you might enjoy the outtake.

SIGH.

Edited to add: I have NO IDEA why Will looks like he got a fresh red dye job in that last photo. NO IDEA. Is it just my monitor? 

How about some brownies and pie?

November 27, 2007

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So about the Great Brownie Smackdown.

To complete the fall-themed pies already on the menu, I was invited to make brownies for Thanksgiving dinner this year. But, of course!

But recently I spotted a recipe over at Moosh in Indy nonchalantly called The Best Damn Brownies You’ll Ever Have.

The gauntlet? It was thrown down, as far as I was concerned.

When the brownie encouragement came at Thanksgiving I leapt at the opportunity to make Hank & Willie’s Triple Chocolate Brownies and lay them side by side with these so-called Best Damn Brownies. In front of an impartial audience, of course.

So I made them. The only alteration I made was to take them out of the oven five minutes ahead of schedule, because they were starting to look a little dry, and I was pacing in front of the oven like an expectant father in the maternity wing, circa 1955. Except without the cigars.

And?

Casey, I SWEAR I did nothing to bias my family, but 4 out of 5 people surveyed (or something like that) preferred the H & W brownies. Even though your brownies were VERY VERY good.
Let me describe Casey’s brownies for you. Chocolately like a chocolate bar on steroids, but in a good way. And rich, oh so rich. But they were a little firmer than I would like, and had a little less je ne sais qua than I am accustomed to with my favorite brownie recipe. I’m just saying.

However, on the second day, they matured into something even richer, and gained some ground on the H & W brownies. Very interesting.

My father-in-law said he was more than willing to try them both again at Christmas, and suggested I throw a third recipe in there as a true test. I’ll consider it—anyone got a recipe for me to try?

And then? There was the pie.

I wanted to try this dessert from Smitten Kitchen, and baked it on Saturday night. If any of us make it to heaven, I can assure you archangels will feed us this on a cloud using golden forks while winged cherubs rub our feet and peel us grapes.

However, I remain hopeful that in heaven, MY Nutmeg Maple Pie will look like this:

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Photo by Smitten Kitchen

and not like this.

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Photo by me

 

I sure hope those archangels know how to bake.

 

And you thought I was going to miss a day

November 26, 2007

My computer at work is decidedly not pro-National Blog Posting Month.

It picked today to shut down repeatedly. Every 2-3 minutes. Which has a definite impact on productivity, but I did get through a lot of piles of paper instead.

I also went to the hospital and saw the new baby at one day old (and held her!), but I’ll save the photos for another day, since her parents haven’t even seen them yet. Trust me, she’s as cute as they come.

Today’s Best Shot Monday is just this simple snapshot—the four cousins all in one place at one time, and my favorite part? After what feels like years of trying to round them all up in the occasional photo, Jenna, the oldest cousin, called over to me and said, “Anna, quick, take a picture!”

That’s my girl!

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For more Best Shot Monday go to Picture This!

It’s a…

November 25, 2007

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…GIRL!

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Will and Henry’s pal Martha has a baby sister, born today at 5:57 a.m.

Safely, in the hospital, though she tried her hardest to arrive sooner. Like on the way there.

No doubt her parents will have words for her about that later, but now they are just happy to have a healthy baby girl. And not in the car.

And aren’t you all happy you’ll soon get to see photos of a newborn?

Never mind the brownies today…

November 24, 2007

On November 1 of this year, two-and-a-half-year-old Kansas City triplet toddler Charlie Horn woke from his nap, reached up for his glasses and his dresser tipped over on him, killing him.

Read about this terrible, terrible tragedy here.

And then if you have young children in your house, order these.

Then install them immediately.

And send this to everyone you know who has young children.

And then share your condolences with his grief-stricken family here.

Too sad to write anything else today.

Food Friday: The Ultimate Turkey Sandwich

November 23, 2007

I sincerely  hope you haven’t waited until now to construct your turkey sandwich, but I also hope you have tons of turkey meat left and can make many of these.

I could, of course, give you my personal preference for how to make the turkey sandwich, but I am shamelessly full and on hiatus tonight.

But still posting, see?!

So, if you are at a loss on that sandwich, take a look here at Slashfood.

And see you here tomorrow for a full report on the Great Thanksgiving Brownie Showdown of 2007.

Burp.

Bobble, Bobble

November 22, 2007

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Happy Thanksgiving from Hank & Willie, all—or as Henry says, “Bobble, bobble!”

Food, Glorious Food: A roundup of Thanksgiving food resources

November 21, 2007

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Seriously, what did we do for Thanksgiving cookery before Al Gore and the Internet? Called your mom, consulted the Joy of Cooking and if you were desperate, called the Butterball Turkey hotline.

BUT NO LONGER. (Well, still okay to call your mom, but let Joy of Cooking languish on the shelf, because WHO NEEDS IT when you have beautiful full-color photos online?)

There is so much food goodness to be had on the Internets that I think I have added a few pounds simply by looking at my screen.

Like at SmittenKitchen, where if you haven’t been following along all mouth-watering month, (and who has time when you are posting every day!) Deb has been a participant in National Blog Posting Month, and THIS, my friends, is a blog you want to see with new content every day.

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Nutmeg Maple-Cream Pie, photo by Smitten Kitchen 

This month Deb demystifies pie crust and shares a recipe for something I might need to run away with, Nutmeg Maple-Cream Pie. My second choice to run away with would be the Cranberry, Caramel and Almond Tart, and my third choice would be Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake and oh, what a sticky foursome we would be! And have you ever wondered how Smitten Kitchen has such gorgeous food photos? She posts all her secrets here—now you try.

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Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake, photo by Smitten Kitchen 

Then lick your sticky fingers and click over to Serious Eats where they are talking about that traditional Thanksgiving treat—you know— homemade bacon cheeseballs. You also should check out the great stuffing showdown and, good gravy, the secrets to making good gravy! Oh, and of course, how to roast the perfect turkey.

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Pioneer Woman’s Sweet Potatoes, photo by Pioneer Woman

One of my dear readers left me a link to the great stuffing recipe (complete with step-by-step photos—yum!) over at The Pioneer Woman Cooks, a great site for all your Thanksgiving needs. Her photos are incredible, and illustrate everything, even the best dicing techniques. Think you don’t like sweet potatoes? (my sons are shaking their heads yes) Think again with Pioneer Woman’s Sweet Potatoes. If they don’t eat these…I will. And these Delicious Creamy Mashed Potatoes, a reason to get up in the morning. And of course, her take on brined roasted turkey and gravy. Oh, yum.

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Baked Carrot Fries, photo by 101 Cookbooks 

And you do know about 101 Cookbooks, right? A woman who decided to stop buying cookbooks and start cooking from the 100+ that she already had? And came up with things like Thai Pumpkin Soup? And Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes? And Baked Oven Carrot Fries?

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Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake Pie, from epicurious.com 

And of course you know about the almighty Epicurious.com, home to all recipes ever from Bon Appetite & Gourmet. Like Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake Pie.

So what are YOU making for Thanksgiving dinner? And what are your favorite food sources online? And are you as hungry as I am right now?

I think we’re going to make it after all

November 20, 2007

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So, more than halfway through National Blog Posting Month, I thought I would just check in and see how you’re all doing. Everyone okay out there?

If you’re really still with me (and I don’t blame you if you aren’t) I just wanted to say thank you, and assure you that once we hit December I will return to my usual lazy ways of haphazard posting willy-nilly through the week. (Second time I’ve used the phrase “willy-nilly” in a blog post this month, someone turn this thing off, won’t you!)

I have such great posting material (Oh, the stories I have for you!), but alas, whoever thought NOVEMBER, like RIGHT BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS was a good time for this little daily writing exercise CLEARLY did not have a cold that has lasted all month. (I think my coworkers are going to circulate a petition to have me fired if I don’t stop coughing soon. Oh, and my husband, too.)

And was not taking a photography class at the time.

And did not have to make cranberry sauce at 6 a.m. for the Thanksgiving party at school.

Or remember the mixed frozen vegetables for the other Thanksgiving party at the other school.

And remember that Thanksgiving chapel for the third school (and yes, I only have two children) is NOT on the regularly scheduled school day.

Sigh.

But I have to tell you all about Will and his tooth, I SWEAR I will post Henry’s one-year video before he is 18 months and it is nearly time for the first ever Hank & Willie Holiday Gift Guide, so hang in there.

We will get through November together.

It really doesn’t take that long to make cranberry sauce, and it makes the kitchen smell pretty nice at 6 a.m.

P.S. Check out this site, I am ADDICTED. I haven’t scored above a 43 yet, BUT I WILL. Even if I have to read the dictionary at night to triumph.

The new do

November 19, 2007

So here it is, as promised: Henry’s new haircut.

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He doesn’t look a day over 17 months, RIGHT?

For more Best Shot Monday, head over to Picture This!