Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The duck redeemed the tub

serene at 27 weeks
serene at 27 weeks
serene at 27 weeks
serene at 27 weeks
serene at 27 weeks
serene at 27 weeks
Serene has been getting too long for her little bathtub that fits in the sink, which we've been using affectionately since her newborn days. Though we got a bigger tub that sits in the bathtub a while ago, we haven't used it because washing her in her little bathtub in the sink makes the pastime efficient, and therefore more ideal. However, at six and a half months, Serene is past the age recommendation for her little tub. Her limbs stick out and splash water like a hyperactive fountain. Her ever-growing dexterity leads her to turn the hot water on full blast, to her and our chagrin. This has become a daily occurrence, which finally convinced us to make the switch to her bigger tub over the weekend. When we plopped her into the unfamiliar, watery abyss for the first time, she immediately looked up at us with furrowed brows and voiced panic-stricken cries. Until we waved a friendly water creature in her face. Instant satisfaction washed over her, and she spent the remainder of bathtime splashing contentedly with her new rubber duck in her mouth. I don't know what it is about these yellow fellows, but I'm glad its charm worked on Serene's transition to her new tub!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Serene attends a conference

serene attends a 'conference'
serene attends a 'conference'
Dear Daddy,

While you were away this week in Louisville for this pastor's conference, I attended a conference too: the Daughters Missing Daddies Conference 2014 here in SoCal. Mommy thought it would be fun for me to experience conferences the way you do.
serene attends a 'conference'
serene attends a 'conference'
serene attends a 'conference'
serene attends a 'conference'
I bet I attended just as many sessions as you did. My favorite one was How to Cope Without Your Daddy For a Week. Dr. Cosette Fox from the Department of Personal History at Woodland University gave such profound insight into the topic. She used easy-to-remember alliteration in all her points, and she gave some really funny illustrations too.serene attends a 'conference'
But I have to confess - I got distracted after a while. Conference sessions get a tad long sometimes. serene attends a 'conference'
So I started fiddling with the conference swag they passed out during registration. They gave us a bunch of Daddy-Os.serene attends a 'conference'
I was so happy to spend time with fellow attendants. Chatting with Posie, Banana Friend, Dolly, and Cosette  about how much we miss our daddies was refreshing for my soul. Is that how you feel when you hang out with other pastors at your conferences? serene attends a 'conference'
Posie said something I disagreed with, obviously. serene attends a 'conference'
Hours of presentations and workshops wore me out. I was thankful for a nap break. Snoozing time goes by so quickly, huh?serene attends a 'conference'
I loved getting free books at the conference though! I don't think I received fifteen of them like you did, but I agree that they're one of the biggest perks. They said that the books are for you to read to me. I can't wait!serene attends a 'conference'
I tried to call you during my call-your-daddy break to tell you all about my conference, but you didn't answer. I suppose you were at a breakout session. So I wrote you this letter (complete with pictures that Mommy took for me) instead. I miss you so much, and I can't wait to see you when you come home this afternoon!


Love,
Serene Joy

P.S. Mommy missed you a whole bunch too. She told me so every day while you were gone. Especially when I subjected her to poop explosions.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lemony and oniony

guacamole and chips
guacamole and chips
guacamole and chips
guacamole and chips
As I mentioned before, we were gifted a trove of homegrown lemons from sweet friends, and avocados have been on sale at the store, so it has been a no-brainer to whip up one of my favorite snacks: homemade tortilla chips with guacamole. I'm pretty confident I could eat guacamole every day. My grandparents had an avocado tree while I was growing up, and I would snack on the creamy fruit with a sprinkle of salt pretty often. The tree is long gone by now, and if we were ever blessed with a home that featured a backyard, I would advocate for an avocado tree. For now, store-bought avocados make a frequent appearance in our kitchen, usually in the form of these easy-to-make, so-good, and good-for-you homemade guacamole and chips. I prefer my guacamole pretty pure - just large chunks of avocado, a bit of red onion, a generous squeeze of lemon or lime, some garlic salt, and freshly ground pepper. The avocado's creamy taste is highlighted, and, when paired with freshly-baked tortilla chips, make for the tastiest snack. I don't have specific measurements for the guacamole, only because it really is suited to your preferences. Just sprinkle a bit of this and that until it is to your liking!

Guacamole and Baked Tortilla Chips
Ingredients:
1 pkg (18 count) corn tortillas
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 large avocados, halved, seeded, and peeled
1/4 red onion, minced
1/2 small lime or 1/3 lemon
Garlic Salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Stack your tortillas into groups of 6, and cut each stack into sixths, so that you have chip-sized wedges. Throw wedges into a large bowl. Add extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp sea salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and 3 tbsp lime (or lemon) juice. Toss until all seasonings are well distributed onto the wedges.
2. Lay tortilla wedges into a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until crisp, or about 10-15 minutes.
3. Slice avocado halves into large (1/3") cubes. Place into a large bowl and toss in red onion and the juice of about 1/3 of a lemon or 1/2 of a lime. Sprinkle with dashes of garlic salt and freshly ground pepper, a little bit at a time until the taste is to your liking. Fold all ingredients gently so that avocado cubes do not get too mashed. Enjoy with freshly baked tortilla chips!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Discovering food

serene at 26 weeks eating her first food
pureed carrots
serene at 26 weeks eating her first food
serene at 26 weeks eating her first food
serene at 26 weeks eating her first food
serene at 26 weeks eating her first food
serene at 26 weeks eating her first food
serene at 26 weeks eating her first food
serene at 26 weeks eating her first food
serene at 26 weeks eating her first food
This past Saturday was a momentous day for Serene, who tasted solids for the very first time. Her doctor gave us the go ahead after her six month appointment last week, so we stocked up on supplies to make Serene's baby food at home. We decided to go homemade, just so we can be sure about what we're feeding her. It helps to ease our qualms about whether there are additives that might not be beneficial (if we were to buy store-bought). Not only would it more wholesome, but also more economical. The benefits of homemade baby food seemed to be the best option for us. I puréed some steamed organic carrots on Saturday morn for Serene's first meal, and was pleased by how simple and gratifying the process was (perhaps a post on baby food making shall be forthcoming!). Serene was excited to see her plate of puréed carrots sitting in front of her, and tried with all her might to grab the orange stuff. When she tasted a wee spoonful for the first time, though, she was at first puzzled about the non-liquid mush in her mouth, and then reacted in distaste - frowning, shuddering, and all. Alex and I thought her expressions were hilarious, as you can tell from the video here. She wasn't crazy about her carrots, and more so wanted to play with her food than to eat it. We're aware babes take a while to acclimate to solids, so we're hopeful that she develops a palette for it (veggies in particular) in the coming weeks.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Letters to Serene: 6 months

serene joy at 6 months
My dear Serene Joy,

Happiest of half birthdays, my little love! This past month has been about honing the developmental milestones you gained the previous month. Your heightened curiosity has led you to play on your own for longer stretches of time since you turned 22 weeks. You love play time in your pack n' play and on your mat in the living room. You're content to play with anything within reach, whether they're toys or a pack of wipes. However, you prefer Cosette your fox friend since we introduced her to you at 24 weeks, and Sophie le giraffe most. Your favorite activity during play time is rolling around and about. If we put you down on your blanket in the living room, you'll have rolled yourself to the opposite end of the room within seconds. Your primary mode of transportation this past month has been rolling around, but you also deftly scoot around on your tummy to grab objects. Rolling and scooting has allowed many an adventure on the carpet, against the wall, and around furniture. No matter where you are, you wiggle madly. When you're nursing, your legs climb my arms, and your hands explore my face. You think it's hilarious to stick your fingers in my mouth. Diaper changes have become a battle since you turned 25 weeks last week because you'd rather flip over to explore your changing area than stay still to receive a fresh diaper. You roll around in your sleep too, waking up at times because you landed on your face or your limbs got caught in the crib's bars, which contribute to a rude awakening. After we detangle or flip you over, you resume snoozing.

Thankfully, your sleep regression ended before you turned 22 weeks and you're sleeping through the night in your crib again. You're back to usually waking up between 5-7am for a diaper change and quick feeding before you knock out again for 2-3 hours (on our bed because your mama and papa are too tired to put you back in your room at that point). During the day, you whine to let us know it's naptime. You rub your blanket against your face as we pat you on your bum and hold you close until you fall asleep. Your daddy loves napping with you for that reason, because you love our proximity to you while you do so.

You went through a growth spurt at 24 weeks, and nursed more often. You're still exclusively breastfed, though you've been telling us loud and clear that you can't wait to start solids. During mealtimes, you eye our food with utter fascination. You make lightning fast attempts to grab our food, which makes holding you on our laps during meals an adventure and a test of our own dexterity. You eye a piece of food travel from plate to mouth, and sometimes even jump and whine because we're cruel not to share with you. The doctor told us to wait until after your 6 month appointment to start solids, which I wasn't opposed to (for the sake of putting off stinky diapers as long as possible). You mastered sitting up this past month, and can sit for longer periods of time, which you love. You get so thrilled by the vantage point the position offers that you throw your head back in excitement, which means that you land on your back. Because you're sitting up well enough now, we just got you a high chair and feeding supplies, and shall be giving you your first food this weekend since we got the green light from the doctor at your appointment this afternoon.

At six months, you're still 14 pounds (you only gained a few ounces since last month), and are now 26 inches long (1 inch longer than last month). You're still wearing size 2 diapers, 3-6 month clothes, and some 3 month clothes. You wear size 2 shoes now, and are still using your newborn bathtub that fits in the sink (although you're getting too long for it so we'll be transitioning you to a bigger tub that sits in the bathtub this month). Your hair is still really fine, and we pray for you to grow more hair on your head pretty often. This past month, you developed a double eyelid on your left eye. You had faint double eyelids when you were born but they disappeared within a few days. Your double eyelid on your left eye appeared at 22 weeks and has been here to stay. We're waiting for the double eyelid on your right eye to emerge, and until then, your left eye seems bigger than your right eye. Your daddy likes to tease that you have my eyes because when I smile, my right eye looks smaller than my left eye. For now, we'll be eye twins, but I sure hope your other eyelid shows up soon.

But really, we can't believe we've been blessed with you in our lives for six whole months already. At the same time, we can't imagine what life was without you. You are the joy of our little family. No matter how discouraged your daddy and I may be, we take one look at you and cannot help but smile at your giggly and goofy self. God uses you to remind us that momentary afflictions shall always pass, for you exude exuberance, being as quick to smile and laugh as ever. Your shining personality is evident; everyone, even strangers, mentions how friendly and happy you are. We like to encourage your grins and giggles. I played peek-a-boo with you at 22 weeks, and you laughed really hard for the first time. You also fancy dancing with us while Mary Poppins Pandora plays in the background. We like to think you love Frozen too (only because your daddy and I have been obsessed with it ever since we watched it when you were 24 weeks). We're guilty of playing the songs for your enjoyment nonstop. You're pretty much content when you're around other human beings, though your mama and papa are still your best buddies. You pant and jump up and down in excitement and reach your arms out to be held when you see either of us. It makes us feel pretty special that you prefer us. It is an absolute joy to love you and  ascertain that you reciprocate our love. I wonder if this is but a shadow of what our gracious God feels when we seek to love Him by His grace. He is teaching me so much of what it means to love Him through you, little love. Praying that you'd come to know and love Him too.

Love you so,
Mommy


P.S. Serene Joy at 0, 1234 ,and 5 months.