Halfway There?

Here we are, at (a little past) the halfway point of this year!  Today I’m going back over my New Years Resolutions to see where things stand six months (and one baby) later.  Since I conveniently made seven resolutions, I’m linking up with 7 Quick Takes as well.

1 – Have a baby

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As predicted, this one happened.  It wasn’t even so bad!

2 – Establish a good housekeeping routine

As it turns out, I was right to have very low standards for this one.  I’m just starting to get back into a post-baby routine, and it’s true that getting one room tidied, plus making dinner, is about enough for one day.

3 – Read at least 15 books

I have a whopping 13 books on my 2015 Goodreads shelf, but some of them were started long ago, and others have been abandoned permanently.  Of those 13, I’m counting 9, plus 2 that are still in progress.  I don’t think I’ll have any trouble getting to 15.

4 – Go to Confession at least once a month

I think I’m on track with this one, but I have to admit that I don’t remember much of March and only a little more of April, so I may have missed.  Of course, if I don’t remember what happened, am I really culpable for anything that happened?  (I kid, I kid)

5 – Improve my food photography skills

This one took an unexpected hit, because I didn’t consider the fact that to have food photography, one must first make food.  Maddy has thrown a bit of a wrench into my ability to plan, make, serve, and eat dinner without someone crying (sometimes, it’s even her!).  We’re also stuck in a bit of a rut, and while there’s dinner on the table every night, it’s the same rotation of five meals (and one of those five may rhyme with Schmostco Schmizza).

In any case, when I do take photos, I’m being a little more deliberate with the setup, and pretty pleased with the results.  I’m hoping to step up my game in the second half of the year.

Look forward to more wins like this rice.

Look forward to more wins like this rice.

6 – Run a 5K

Being too cold is no longer a concern.

Being too cold is no longer a concern.

Well…we’re still running, Maddy and me.  I don’t know that we’re making swift progress, but there’s a long time between now and Turkey Trots.  We’ve been getting out 2 or 3 times a week to run, but it’s harder to find a good time as it gets hotter.  I’ve been saving my podcasts for run-time listening.  Thanks for keeping me company Fountains of Carrots and This American Life (and the last couple weeks, Little House Mothering)!  It’s like running with smart, interesting friends who don’t expect me to answer when I’m out of breath.

7 – Write at least 50 blog posts

If I’m counting correctly, this post makes #28, so gosh, I’m right on schedule!  A baby really does make the best content fodder.

Visit Kelly for more Quick Takes – her summer bucket list is positively ambitious compared to mine!

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Blackberry Ricotta Cake

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Last week, we found ourselves with a Friday solemnity to celebrate, and a half tub of ricotta cheese to use up.  A quick Google search led me to a Bon Appetit recipe for Raspberry Ricotta Cake.  We didn’t have frozen raspberries, but I did have a container of blackberries and some cherries in the freezer.  I made a few tweaks to the recipe, and the result was a solid home run (high praise from us, when it comes to cake).

It’s a sturdy cake, and I think it would hold up well in layers (if my geometry skills are still working, one 9″ cake is roughly equal to two 6″ layers).  I’m also pretty certain that it would freeze very well; in any case, ours was better than ever after a few days in the fridge.  It was a snap to mix up, and we’ll definitely be making it again!

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Blackberry Ricotta Cake

Source recipe

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • cups ricotta cheese
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh berries or cherries (if using cherries, cut in half), divided

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9”-diameter cake pan or pie pan. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a separate bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Fold in butter, followed by 1 1/4 cup of berries, taking care not to crush them. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining 1/4 cup berries over top.

Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool before unmolding.  Serve with ice cream or whipped cream (a cup of tea pairs well, too).  Stores well in the refrigerator.

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Maddy at Four Months

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Four months! A third of a year!  Despite feeling like I don’t *do* much every day, the ridiculous length of this post is evidence that at least something is happening.  Photo overload ahead.

This is a funny age: we’re struck one moment by how big she is now, and the next moment, she’s still just a little baby. Every day brings a new skill (yesterday, she started noticeable reaching when she wants to be picked up), but then again, she still can’t really sit up on her own, and rolling over is hit or miss.

She’s still a chill baby, as evidenced by this incident from a couple weeks ago when she did this to herself. I was sitting right next to her reading, but she didn’t make a peep, and I didn’t notice until Johnny walked in and pointed it out.

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Our road trip included Maddy’s first trip to Notre Dame, although it’d probably be more accurate to call it a “trip,” since we literally left the car running while we snapped this quick photo. She’ll look more impressed when we actually show her around.
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She picked up lots of new skills on our trip, some of them thanks to her grandpa and his well-known baby whispering skills.

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He was the patient chaperone as she worked her way to the edge of the couch (which took about ten minutes), and then fearlessly peered over. We were all a little curious to see just how far over she’d have to look before she tumbled off. The answer is, pretty darn far; her butt is a pretty effective counterweight.

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She also got to help change oil, so hopefully she can start pulling her weight around here soon.

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We got a little visit from Johnny’s parents, and Maddy liked the extra attention and another opportunity to be charming.
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She started to get interested in watching people eat, and every time she sees someone drinking from a cup, she stares until you let her suck on/lick it.

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After months of shunning the pacifier (which we haven’t pushed too aggressively), she’s suddenly very into it.  I think she’s transitioning from sucking to gnawing, and she’s also better at holding it in her mouth.IMG_0798

Her current favorite toy – and my favorite, for the freedom it gives me – is this walker.  She’s really good at walking backwards, but is still working on coming forward.gerardis-2

She’s still losing her “baby” hair, and I’m pretty sure the new stuff is coming in very blonde.  I can’t wait to see if that holds true; that and her height are the most concrete contributions from my side of the gene pool.

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She’s started babbling a lot, often in response to being talked to or when she gets excited by a song (The Beatles are her new discovery).  It’s hard to capture, since she clams up around the camera, but here’s a sample:

Maddy’s a girl after my own heart: her favorite part of the day is whenever Daddy comes home, and she’s a big fan of his guitar.
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I’ll update with her official measurements when we get them, but I unofficially weighed her at 16 pounds recently, and a few weeks ago, she was 26″ inches tall.

Official measurements: 16lb 10oz (90th percentile) and 25″ (75th).

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Love you, Smiles!fourMonths-5

Maddy at Three Months

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This is extremely late, since we’re just a few days shy of the four month mark, but I’d hate to leave a gap, so here we go!  Also, someday I’m going to bring this orange chair to live with us, and all of our milestone photos will happen there.  It’s so fun.

Maddy’s biggest leap forward this month was learning to grab things intentionally.  Once she could use her hands, the world became her oyster!  She’s grabbing everything she can and getting it to her mouth ASAP.

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The first day she figured out grabbing!

I photographed a fundraising dinner for a local school, and Maddy came along with her date.  They look pretty good together, if I do say so myself.Cathedral-3

Maddy’s blossoming personality has led to some new nicknames.  Below, the incarnation that her daddy lovingly calls “Oogie the Goon.”

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Our trip to Minnesota took place over her three-month birthday,and she kind of leapt forward on that trip, developmentally.  I give credit to all the time she spent with people besides me.  Her cousins get credit for introducing her to the concept of “playtime,” “running around,” and “love taps.”

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Below, her first encounter with a ceiling fan:  MNtrip-1

Coming soon (very soon) – Month Four!

7 Quick Takes: Summer Fashion, Sacred Heart, and Miscellany

— 1 —

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New camera (phone) alert!  I upgraded my phone, and the new camera is so much better.  Compare the old photo (left) to the new one (right).  Maybe it’s just my over-scrutinizing photographer brain talking, but they look so much better to me.  Full Instagram-Speed ahead!

— 2 —

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I recently pulled out an old unfinished knitting project, and I’ve been making steady progress on it every evening.  I’m pretty sure I bought the yarn and started working on it before I got married, so it’s been languishing in craft purgatory for a long time.  The finished product is huge, but I’m hopeful that someday I’ll get it done.  Just in time to send it to college with Maddy.

— 3 —

Netflix’s suggestions for me are usually dubious at best, but I followed their advice and watched the first episode of their original series Chef’s Table. Each episode profiles a different chef (ahem, hence the name), and the first one is about Italian chef Massimo Bottura. I thought it was fascinating from both a culinary and artistic standpoint, and his relationship with his wife was very endearing. I haven’t gotten to the other episodes yet, but I highly recommend the first one.

— 4 —

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Our balcony garden is, well, still alive, and that’s something!  The morning glories are starting to climb on the balcony and each other, making for some complex knots.
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Globe Basil, with its small leaves, is becoming my favorite variety.  They’re so small that they can be tossed into the pot without any chopping, which saves a step.  The poppies, in the same planter, are still shooting up, and since I don’t know much about flower gardening, I’ll consider that progress.garden 6-12-4 The blooming flowers are still going strong, possibly due to the fact that someone else did the hard part before entrusting them to me.  It’s nice to have such a vivid splash of color out there!garden 6-12-6

— 5 —

Maddy and I had the chance to go to a new-to-us mall yesterday (the open-air kind that’s probably more common in warmer places but is a novelty around here). We’re happy to report that the summer fashions currently in stores are great. Fashion is cyclical, so I guess we’ve circled back around to a time that pleases me. Neither of us really needs anything new right now, but here are some things that caught my eye. There’s a definite theme of skirts and nursing-friendly dresses here…

Loft. I’ll be watching for this one to go on clearance.
Anthropologie ($198).  This will never go on deep enough clearance for my budget.
Loft.  Vertical stripes – yes.
JCrew.  The color is fantastic.
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H&M.  I’m not exactly sure what you’d wear under it (it’s clearly a little short as is), but it looks breezy and comfortable.
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H&M.  Something a little different from the usual t-shirt, and there were cuter colors in store.

— 6 —

Sacred HeartIt’s a solemnity today!  That means our home altar is decked out, and I’m off to make (meaty) lasagna and cake for dinner.  There’s no particular tradition behind either choice, except that together, they’ll use up a whole container of ricotta.

— 7 —

This week’s MaddyCam comes courtesy of her “new” walker, which is an awesome development. It keeps her happy for long enough that I can empty the dishwasher or do some cooking, but she really loves it when one of us gets down on her level.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

Lessons from the Sick House

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This.  This is the face of a baby who learned the hard way that “breastfeeding immunity” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

And this is the face of a mom who realizes that she’s got a real illness on her hands:

Ten days later, she’s finally pretty much over her first cold, and we’re getting some momentum back in our lives.  Ten days of sickness, two days of fever, several doses of Tylenol, so very many loads of laundry, and countless bouncing sessions on the bouncy ball.  Here it was, in a nutshell:

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Here are some things I picked up over the last couple weeks:

Go Dog Go is 70 pages long, and that’s okay.  On day 5 or so, I discovered that we’ve been blessed with a baby who, even at this young age, prefers to just read books on a sick day.  Luckily for me, Maddy’s got a pretty sizeable library already, so I got to branch out a little from Moo, Baa, La La La.  The same seven books get old fast, so I can’t wait till she’s old enough to appreciate a little plot (Make Way for Ducklings and The Very Hungry Caterpillar are still way above her interest level).

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Firefly only gets better with age.  My entertainment of choice was to rewatch Firefly, which I do every so often, like rereading a favorite novel.  I’m pretty sure Maddy needs a replica of Kaylee’s ballgown for Halloween.  I’ll just…get right on that.

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We’re lucky to have such a great baby.  Maddy spent almost a week being a very sad baby, which made me and Johnny both grateful for how happy and easy she usually is.  Parents of colicky and sick babies have my respect; the days get long so fast when the baby won’t stop crying.

I am not as young as I used to be.  After spending several nights sleeping on the couch with Maddy, I’m adding sleeping on the couch to the list of *things* for which I am too old (inspired by Caitlyn’s ongoing list, which I find so relatable).

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I married well.  There are some days I feel especially lucky to be married to such a great guy.  Last Saturday, when Johnny learned how to use the Nose Frida and take a *non-oral* temperature was one of those days (in lieu of photos, I’ll just give you the one above).  This is love.  God bless him.

Routine is our friend.  I’ve put a lot of effort into setting Maddy up with a stable routine, and that has really paid off lately.  I was concerned that a week of constant napping, couch-sleeping, and other disruptions would throw everything off, but two days into our return to normalcy, she’s back to being in bed at 8.  Based on the way I keep waking up at 4am, my own routine is going to need a little more coercion before it returns.

Parent sick days are lame.  At least I didn’t get sick until Maddy was almost better, but I still long for the day when I could sleep in and really embrace the sick day.  I’ve just been grabbing as much sleep as I can, and I’m sure I’ll be better soon enough, but in the meantime, my social baby wants a lot of attention.  Iced coffee is my friend.

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