Jul 31, 2009

Extreme Home Makeover

OK, so maybe it wasn't that extreme, but we (and when it comes to home remodeling "we" means "Patrick") did some major work in our house a couple of weeks ago. We've wanted to put in hardwood floors in our living/dining rooms for a really long time but have never had the money to do it. We still didn't have the money, but thanks to a very generous donation from my grandfather (who recently sold his house) and strict rules that we could only use the money toward home improvement projects, we decided to go ahead and get hardwood floors. Yay!

Patrick got a number of bids and we determined that they all pretty much averaged out to the same amount - $4 per square foot for the wood and $4 per square foot for installation. We decided on Lowe's because we had just received a 10% off coupon in the mail and we're all about saving some money. Then Patrick called me and asked me the question I was dreading: "What do you think about me installing the floors?" Oh crap. Seriously? When it comes to projects around the house, skill level is not the issue. Timeliness is the issue. I had visions of our floors being torn up until Thanksgiving. But he promised me. And we had a deadline looming - Griffin's first birthday party, which was less than two weeks away. Plus, I needed a few days before the party to get everything back in order and clean the house in preparation for the party. He said he'd be done by Tuesday.

I'm not even going to get into everything that happened that next week, but let me just remind everyone of Griffin's bout of pneumonia that kept him (and us) home for 3 days. It seemed like everything got in the way of this project, including me and my complaining and whining and anxiety-fueled rants. "This is never going to happen!" seemed to be one of my favorites. Wait...that and "Who cares about matching the color, just nail down the f'ing wood!" Poor Patrick. I know that one of the big reasons he wanted to do this project himself (aside from saving us a lot of money) is that he and his dad had talked about doing the floors a couple of years ago. His dad used to be a carpenter and back then, if we had the money, I would have been more than happy to have them do it mainly because my father-in-law really knew how to light a fire under Patrick's butt to get stuff done.

In the end, it doesn't matter when the floors got done (yes, they were done in time for the party). Patrick did a beautiful job and we're so happy with how they turned out. I've got some "mid-project" pictures. I need to take some real "after" pictures, which I will do as soon as we clear Griffin's b-day presents from the living room:

[caption id="attachment_895" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Pulling back carpet in living room"]Pulling back carpet in living room[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_896" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The crappy carpet as it looks in the dining room"]The crappy carpet as it looks in the dining room[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_898" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="A before shot of the living room (aka Tools and Crap)"]A before shot of the living room (aka Tools and Crap)[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_899" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Patrick planning out how the hell he's going to get this done in a week"]Patrick planning out how the hell he's going to get this done in a week[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_900" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Oh yeah, and we painted, too..."]Oh yeah, and we painted, too...[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_901" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="We = Patrick"]We = Patrick[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_902" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The color is Mississippi Mud"]The color is Mississippi Mud[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_903" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="It looks great with the color of the wood floors"]It looks great with the color of the wood floors[/caption]

Stay tuned for the "after" pictures. Patrick really did an amazing job and I know his dad is proud of him...

Jul 28, 2009

Let them eat cake!

Not much time to write the details of Griffin's party (will have to do that later this week), so here are just some pictures of the birthday boy:

Birthday 066

Birthday 084

Birthday 088

Birthday 100


Birthday 104

Birthday 116

Birthday 122

Birthday 143

Birthday 129

Jul 22, 2009


Dear Griffin,

One year ago today you came into our lives two weeks earlier than expected with a loud and healthy cry, just your little way of telling us that you were ready to take on the world. And now, one year later, I am amazed at how your personality hasn't changed much from that first welcoming cry.

I've been thinking about this letter for the past few months in anticipation of this big day, but when it came down to it, I waited until the last minute. (I hate to tell you this, Griffin, but the odds are stacked against you in that department). I figured things would come more naturally once I just sat down and started typing.

Every parent says the same thing - they had no idea how much their baby would change their lives - but it's true. That first night alone at home with you, I went to bed and thought, "There's another person in this house with us." I was so worried I wouldn't wake up when you cried. But you cried, and I heard you. And it was like we we had been doing this for years - feeding you, changing you, rocking you. You fit into our world so nicely.

Oh, there were the rough times. The colic and the screaming, but I don't want to think about those times right now.

I'm not even sure what I want to say to you right now. Maybe how you've changed me from being a very anxious, uptight person to a more go-with-the flow person. Believe me, I've got a long way to go, but I'm a work in progress. You've taught me that I can't plan my life any longer. I have to let things happen. And they just will. You've taught me how to stop and enjoy the right now because it's what's most important. You've taught me to not care if I'm a few minutes late for work...especially if it meant that I got to spend more time with you before taking you to day care.

You have this uncanny ability to make me smile when I'm in a bad mood (even when I might be a wee bit frustrated with you!). I envy the way that you approach the world, with eyes wide open and no fear. Every morning is a fresh start and a chance to learn. When you wake up each morning  and you reach your arms up for me to take you out of your crib, we always do the same thing: We walk over to your windows and I reach out for your curtains. You anticipate it now and you start to smile right away. I sweep open the curtains and I say, "Hello world!" and your face just lights up. I just know you're ready to take on the world. I love that about you.

And here we are, 7:04 AM. Exactly one year later. And my eyes are tearing up thinking about that moment when you entered this world and our lives. I want so much for you in this life.

I love you, Griffin.

Love, Mama

Jul 20, 2009

Bag o' tricks

Griffin fussed on the drive home from Chicago last night. Of course, I was the one in the back seat with him. I gave him a bottle. I played peek-a-boo with his blanket. I stuck a pacifier in his mouth. Nothing really seemed to work. Fortunately, being in the back of Patrick's car is like being a contestant on "Let's Make a Deal." I swear, there's some good junk back there. I found an old-school baby rattle, some masking tape, a neon green highlighter, baby socks, a rubber glove, napkins, a baseball hat, a small plastic Spiderman figurine, two nearly empty travel-size bottles of hand lotion, a baseball, a pair of cleats, a pair of jeans, a Grover stuffed doll, and a blue dress shirt rolled into a ball. Seriously, there was more stuff on the floor...I just couldn't reach it.

I used most of this to try to entertain Griffin for the drive home. The socks were used as rather boring sock puppets (now that I think about it, I could have used the green marker to draw on some eyes - what was I thinking?). I rubbed some lotion on his arms. I put the baseball hat on my head and then on his head (which only elicited more screaming), and then I put it on his Grover doll. Now that made him smile. Grover in a Cubs hat! After the novelty wore off, I ended up trying to tie the baby sock around Spiderman's neck like a cape so he could fly around and stuff, but then I was informed that Spiderman doesn't wear a cape and I was all "Whatever. I'm a girl. I'm just trying to keep this kid from flipping out." So, I spent the remainder of the drive making Spiderman jump from the back seat into Griffin's car seat and when he got bored with that, Grover started jumping.

At least I know that if we ever get stranded in Patrick's car, we might starve, but we'll be entertained...

Jul 16, 2009

One year ago...

I looked like this:

Griffin's first birthday is next week and I'm getting all nostalgic and stuff.

Jul 14, 2009

Griffin + Pneumonia in 10 words or less











The past two days have been a roller coaster with Griffin. Whiny one minute (um, make that like many, many minutes), and the silly the next. He has been sleeping a lot and refusing food. He still has a fever, although it was only 100.5 this morning and is a lot better than on Sunday. He still can't go to day care until he is fever-free for 24 hours (without being on any fever-reducing meds). I stayed home yesterday and Patrick is at home with him today. I don't know if he had any Tylenol since this morning, but I hope he goes the rest of the day/night without any fevers.

Jul 12, 2009

No sleep tonight

I got back from the ER at around 11 PM with Griffin. He had a slight fever this afternoon. It spiked to over 103 degrees only a couple of hours later. The diagnosis was pediatric pneumonia. A fever and a very slight cough. No other symptoms.

There was something else that the doctor noticed about his chest x-ray. Something "odd," or maybe he used the word "unusual." I can't remember because when he walked in that room and introduced himself, my head started spinning. I can't even get into it right now. It's almost 1 AM and I just know that I'm not going to sleep tonight. Right now Griffin is asleep, although I am checking on him constantly. He's on a really high dose of antibiotics, and we need to follow-up with his doctor tomorrow morning.

I want it to be morning. Things always seem so much better in the daylight...

Jul 8, 2009

It's raining, it's pouring

It has been raining since I woke up this morning. Griffin had a bit of a rough night. The other three upper teeth that started coming in about a week ago are finally making their way through his gums. He had a restless night and therefore I had a restless night. I would like nothing more than to curl back in bed and fall asleep to the sound of the rain beating against my window, but I'm supposed to be working from home. A girl's work is never done.

It was a bit chilly in the house this morning and as I walked upstairs to grab a light jacket, I stopped at the front door and watched the rain. It has almost been a year since we had Griffin and I stood in this exact spot, looking out this same window, holding him and wondering if things would ever get better. Those days when Patrick was at work and my family was back in Chicago and I felt so alone. No neighbors. No friends. Just me and Griffin. We would take walks in the mornings. Walks in the "nice neighborhood" - the one with the homes with the three-car garages and professional landscaping. The ones where the moms don't ever have to go back to work. We did that every morning and every afternoon to try to calm the colic. One day it was absolutely pouring. Buckets of rain. No walking for us. We took a quick trip to the local library and checked out a ton of baby books (I showed Griffin a bunch of books and when he "smiled," I determined that those were the ones he wanted me to check out for him). I still remember the books we got: Let's Nosh!, Hola Jalapeno!, and First Book of Sushi (even now I still say to him the part of the book that always made us laugh: "Miso in my sippy cup, tofu in my bowl. Crab and avocado fill my California roll."). I carried him in his car seat through the parking lot of the library and got soaked because I couldn't figure out how to carry the car seat and hold an umbrella at the same time and I didn't want to be a bad parent and stuff all the library books on top of him, so I got soaked and he was screaming (but dry!). Was this what being a parent was all about? Uncertainty? Confusion? Always feeling like you're doing the wrong thing? Always feeling like someone is going to criticize what/how you're doing something?

We left and I was tired and hungry and anxious because his colicky time was coming up and I didn't want to deal with it. I drove home in the rain and all I could think of was to sing the old nursery rhyme "It's Raining, It's Pouring," but I just changed it to "Griffin isn't snoring" because I really, really wanted him to go to sleep for a little while. When we got home, my mother-in-law showed up and brought me lunch. She helped me with Griffin during his colic and told me to go upstairs for a little while to get a break from the screaming. I sat in his room and watched the rain. I could still hear his screams. There wasn't much that could block those out. I cried thinking about all of those moms who were rocking and enjoying their babies while mine screamed for hours. I cried and put my fingers in my ears.

I sat in Griffin's room this morning and watched the rain. I closed my eyes and listened to it beat against his windows. It's almost one year later and the colic is gone and the screaming is gone. Griffin has even taken a few steps. In a really weird, really twisted way, I would like to go back to that day. That rainy day in August when I felt alone and confused and scared. When I thought he would never stop screaming and I would never stop crying. If I could go back knowing what I know now - that there would be an end to the colic and that I would make it through that darkness - I would have done things differently. I would have savored each day a bit more.

Jul 6, 2009

Who moved my cheese?

I made sausage calzones for dinner last night. And yes, I added extra garlic. However, in my attempt to get dinner on the table quickly (for some reason, neither Patrick nor I had lunch), I completely left out a very important ingredient - mozzarella cheese! Ricotta cheese? Check. Parmesan cheese? Check. Mozzarella cheese? Doh! Thankfully I caught this error 5 minutes into the baking process. With a little skillful calzone surgery, I added the mozzarella and all was right with the world (and our calzones). They were delicious and I highly recommend the following recipe by Rachael Ray (Shh...don't tell Patrick, because he can't stand her!):


  • 1 1/3 pounds raw Italian sweet sausage, casing removed

  • A drizzle olive oil

  • 2 cups ricotta

  • A handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • A handful grated Parmigiano, plus extra, for knots

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated or a couple pinches of ground

  • A few grinds black pepper

  • 2 (10-ounce) tubes prepared pizza dough

  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella

  • Garlic oil (1 or 2 cloves chopped and heated in 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil)

  • 2 cups tomato, marinara or pizza sauce for dipping or Five Minute Spicy Marinara, recipe follows


Preheat oven to 425 F.

Brown sausage in a small skillet in a drizzle of olive oil. Transfer the cooked crumbled sausage to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Combine sausage with ricotta, parsley, garlic, Parmigiano, nutmeg, pepper, and pimento. Roll out doughs and halve cross-wise. Place a dough rectangle on a nonstick cookie sheet. Use 1/2 cup mozzarella on half of each dough rectangle and pile a mound of filling on half of the total area. Fold dough over and pinch edges to seal. The result is a rectangular turnover.

For half-moon shaped calzones, trim excess dough. Roll dough bits into strips, tie in knots and brush with garlic oil and cheese. Garlic knots are fun to dip at the table.

Bake calzones 15 minutes or until golden all over. Serve calzones with warm tomato, marinara, or pizza sauce for dipping.

Cook's Note: For an additional time saver, 2 packages precooked sausage crumbles, 8 ounces each, may be substituted for raw Italian sausage used in the above recipe.

Five Minute Spicy Marinara:

  • 2 tablespoons (two turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 cloves garlic crushed

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 (32 ounce) can chunky style crushed tomatoes

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 teaspoon Italian dried seasoning

  • 1 handful Italian parsley leaves, chopped

Add olive oil to medium saucepan over moderate heat. Add garlic and crushed pepper to the heated olive oil; when pepper snaps and garlic sizzles, stir in crushed tomatoes. Season sauce with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook for five minutes and stir in parsley. Serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Jul 5, 2009

The best day ever

On Friday I woke up with an awful migraine...and no medicine. Once I got Griffin settled with a clean diaper and a bottle, I plopped him in bed with Patrick and drove to Walgreens as fast as possible to get my prescriptions. The pain subsided within a few hours, but I was left feeling tired and out-of-sorts. I was so upset because this was my day off from work - a "free day." A day I could take Griffin and take a walk or go to the park. I made all sorts of plans because Patrick had a few things he had to do for work and then we were going to meet up and do some stuff together later that evening. But I had to go ahead and get a migraine.

After Griffin's morning nap, I forced myself out of the house and to the park. I was disappointed that no one else was there. Seriously. It was a gorgeous day...where were all the other families? I got Griffin in the swing and he had a blast. I don't know who giggled more, me or him. I had my camera with me and took a ton of pictures. It was so bright outside, so I couldn't really tell if I was getting anything good, but when I got home, I was pleasantly surprised.

Later that night, the three of us went to dinner and ate outside and then off to downtown Rock Island to watch the fireworks. What started off as a pretty awful day, turned into one of the best days ever, and here are some pictures to prove it:






Jul 1, 2009

Because I'm awesome

I've been battling some wicked migraines over the past week. One of them, on Sunday, left me pretty much incapacitated. I could feel one coming on last night and by this morning, it was bad. Even now, after taking my medication, I still have some pain.

I'm working from home today and while I ate lunch, I watched an episode of The Office. I really needed a good laugh, and nothing can make me laugh like Dwight playing air guitar...