We Killed the Keg!

Last year we had a BBQ the last weekend in June so we could show off our new house. We decided to do it again this year to show off our new Hazel. We had about 60 people over the course of the day, and a couple of families stayed for a sleepover. Unfortunately, the weather was not the greatest. There were a lot of people expecting a day at the beach with a dinner time BBQ, but because it was so chilly (59 degrees!) and slightly drizzly all day, they just came right over and we had the grill going for the whole afternoon. Hazel was delightful, as always. She was passed around and hardly ever fussed. She loved watching everyone talk and move around, then she went to bed.
Jamie is finding out what a chick magnet a cute baby can be.

Here are a bunch of people in my back yard.

This is Mau Mau, Piper's transitional object, who she decided should be strapped in for safety.

Hector was very content to lay and be admired by all the beautiful ladies.

Piper and Owen, who is pretending to be a boy who doesn't know how to walk yet, but he totally walks and is really good at it!

This is Estelle, who is so beautiful it's scary. But she does like to give the camera the stink-eye.

Here are more of our friends eating food and working on the keg. Hazel is currently in her third outfit in this picture, being loved on by Natalie. I don't know why people like to congregate by the barn so much.

As the night wore on, people decided the fire was more comfortable then the barn. These are some of the folks who stayed for the sleepover. Hardy, Mike, Laura, Danielle.

The folks again, dealing with the drizzle. This is Bacci, Hector's new best friend. Even Flossie got along with Bacci.

John Mike Taylor.

Emma Taylor who said Hazel's shirt made her look "just like a princess" and couldn't get enough of her. We always have fun when the Taylor kids stay over. They spent Sunday at the beach together so I could get a chance to clean up an nap.

Sunday afternoon, I hear a knock on my door as I was cleaning up. It turned out to be my dear old friend Michael Santoro, who I have known since I was 16. I had not seen him in the flesh in about ten years. He and I picked up right where we left off, and I didn't even care that I had not showered or washed my face, was not wearing a bit of makeup (but I was wearing the shirt that I had slept in) and for the life of me could not remember if I had even brushed my teeth. That stuff doesn't matter when you have friends like Michael, who I consider my brother. That is, until he's all, "Let's get a picture together!" Ummmmm.......

Michael is working on cooking up his second child, so he was loving snuggling with Hazel, getting excited for "those quiet little moments".

Have I mentioned that Michael's son, Gio is just as handsome as his father?

Ugh. I'm working on two hours of sleep here. But I love my friend.

Here's Hazel mugging before she heads out to the beach.

Mama. Mama.

And this was how a busy and exciting weekend ended for us all.


Catch Up

WOW. We have a lot of pictures to catch up on here. Hazel has been a very social girl the past couple of weeks and luckily we remembered the camera at least half the time. Hazel will be 19 weeks old on Tuesday! I'm still trying to figure out when I can start going by months instead of weeks. I don't know the protocol. Here are some snapshots of Hazel doing her thing; rockin' sunglasses, teething, sitting in her Bumbo seat (video of strange jerking movements associated with the Bumbo are below), and dancing on the counter in hot-pants with her dad. The usual. Then there are a couple of pictures from a party Hazel attended last week for Corleigh and Janel, who both gave their notice at the North Shore Rape Crisis Center at the same time! Corleigh was schooled in why the Moby wrap is better than the Bjorn, and Janel took every opportunity to snuggle. Then there are some more pictures of Hazel hanging out, which she has been doing a lot of lately. Good for her.

I learned some funny facts about Hazel's birthday from some silly website, but they are kind of cool. Her birthstone is an Amethyst, she is a Pices, and her flower is the Violet or Primrose. She was born in the year of the Rat. This was cool; Hazel will start kindergarten in 2013, will be old enough to drive a car in 2024, will graduate with the class of 2026 (!) and will graduate from college in 2030, if she takes after her father. If she takes mom's route, she will more likely graduate in 2035, but will have some awesome adventures to tell my grandchildren about. At this time last year I was 7 weeks pregnant. She looked like this. She has come a very long way this year..

Rockin' her shades.

Yes, we are teething.

"Mama. Mama."

Dancing on the counter. Not in compliance with federal safety standards.

Corleigh finding love for the Moby. And for Hazel.

This is Janel about to start ovulating.

We love these socks! They came from Genius Babies, which isn't nearly as much of an obnoxious yuppie site as it sounds. They actually have really cool baby toys for reasonable prices and everything is stimulating and not branded with some obnoxious cartoon character. These striped socks have little bugs on the feet. When Hazel kicks, they rattle and when she grabs at them, the bugs wings crinkle. Since she discovered her feet last week, she gets a lot of enjoyment from this game.

Mama is going in to bite Hazel's chinny chin chin! This cracks her up and makes her squeal and shriek so loud!

Chewing her silver teether from Cousin Michelle.

This is a new, adorable thing Hazel does. I started giving her cloth diapers or baby washcloths to clutch and chew on. I think it felt good on her teeth and she loves grasping soft things and bringing them to her mouth. Then I noticed that she was rubbing them on her face and eyes when she was tired. She would pull the washcloth or cloth diaper over her face when she was really sleepy. Now, when she gets overstimulated, she pulls the cloth up over her face and goes right to sleep. If she doesn't have a cloth, she fusses until I give her one, then she instantly calms down, pulls it up over her face, and passes right out.

This is actually Hazel watching TV. No, I do not let her watch TV, but when it happens to be on, she is drawn to it. I put her down for a minute and when I turned around, she was engrosed in VH1. She looks so serious.

This is what we call her Cool Girl outift. Her rainbow legwarmers are from Baby Legs.


We Did It!

318 to 103

...and I'm so damn proud.


Miss Lorna K

Today was a very sad day for our family. Jamie's Aunt Lorna is dying, and appears to have reached the end of her illness. Things happened so suddenly, and she is too young. She was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's only a few years ago, after caring for her own mother with Alzheimer's and the decline has been extraordinary. We brought Hazel by the nursing home to say goodbye to her Great Aunt this morning. Lorna's daughters who are our closest family, wonderful friends, and Hazel's aunties were also there spending the last days with their mother. Watching Lorna's health decline has been so difficult; she had recently married, Jen had her son Owen last year and Lisse had her twin girls three weeks later. Jen is pregnant again with a daughter, due July 20th. Just as Lorna was supposed to begin relaxing and enjoying all her grand babies, enjoying her husband and her home by the water, she became sick. We try to support Jen and Lisse the best we can, but sometimes we just don't know what to do because we want to fix it, and can't.

I've always thought Lorna was such a special woman; she was so welcoming to me, treating me like family from the start. Lorna K was always impeccably dressed, neatly coiffed and smiling. She never had a bad thing to say about anyone and was always a true lady. Lorna loved having parties, and always welcomed all of her daughters friends over, no matter how drunk they would get, no matter how many of them would sleep on the floor that night. I always knew that we were welcome at her house, and she loved seeing her nephews! I just thought she was a really cool woman, and was so positive and optimistic. Lorna K was a rare kind of woman, and I'm going to miss her.
This was three weeks ago when Hazel visited Great Aunt Lorna. Lorna asked to hold Hazel and she just smiles and tickled her little feet. She seemed to really take pleasure in having a little baby on her lap again. Unfortunately I only had my cell phone to take a picture, so it's a little dark but I'm glad that I got it.


So Exciting

...and it's all going down this Tuesday. I wish I could be there.


Four Month Stats

Weight: 13 pounds, 8 ounces (50th percentile)
Length: 25.5" (75th percentile)
Head Circumference: 16.5" (50th percentile)

Hazel is still good and average and right on track! We are going to see a pediatric opthamologist about her Wonky Eye (my diagnosis) which you may have noticed in some of her pictures. If she's lucky, she may get to wear an eye patch for a little while. AAARUGH, mateys! If that's the case, I cannot be talked out of dressing her in a head-to-toe pirate costume until the problem is resolved. I told the doctor that Jamie and I have both had various Wonky Eye issues ourselves and he said, "Well, at least she came by it honestly then." He did point out that she has an uncommonly wide nose-bridge. Thanks, Jamie.

Hazel also had her DTaP and Rotavirus vaccines again today. Our doctor has been supportive of our alternative vaccine schedule, and today he hurriedly whispered to us about coming to appointments prepared (meaning with a copy of the schedule that we want) because the nurses weren't always as supportive. Lo and behold, in comes the nurse acting as if Jamie and I were requesting the moon itself, behaving as if we were totally outrageous people demanding bizarre and unnecessary things like our own brand of hippy, voodoo medicine. AND SHE TRIED TO PUT ANOTHER DAMNED "BOW" IN HER HAIR! This woman is cracked.

So, overall everything is going well. Jamie and I went to a wedding last weekend for his old high school friend Josh, who married Vanessa. They are both pharm reps (read: drug dealers) and get this, they met at an erectile dysfunction conference. I love it. I don't know if they necessarily get the irony, but I'm still getting a good laugh out of it. Even so, they are both beautiful, happy, funny, loving people and we are beyond happy for them both.

The other big news here is that Sunday was Jamie's firs Father's Day! We didn't do much that day, but I got tickets to the Lowell Spinners game and matching, or rather complimentary daddy-daughter Spinners shirts. I also had a little photo book made for Jamie with all the pictures of the two of them together (like this one) so he has something to take with him when he has to travel, and a few prints of some favorite pictures for his office, since he has none there and it has been distressing for him.

Speaking of travel, Jamie has been out of town in Horrible Houston for the past three days, and it was rough for all of us. Hazel decided that since Daddy was gone, she wasn't going to go to sleep at bedtime, so she was up with me every night and ended up sleeping in bed with me, exhausted and fussy. She was ON ME all day every day and did lots of whining. I don't know if I was just lucky, or if Jamie's absence really got to her. We had no problem keeping busy, though since Ella was sick and had to be shuttled back and forth to the vets office, and we had our last Neurotic Mothers Group on Tuesday and lunch with the ladies. When Thursday morning rolled around, we were supposed to attend the new Neurotic Mothers Group for Older Babies where they were doing a baby sign language class, but Hazel and I were so tired ("What do you expect, mama? I have not slept for days!") that we both slept in until 11:30am. Holy Cow. We needed it.

So Jamie returned from Hot Houston last night around 1am safe and sound and is now out back cleaning up our yard in preparation for our big Annual BBQ Kegger that we are hosting next weekend. And wouldn't you know it, but Hazel is sleeping soundly, taking a two hour nap in her crib, after daddy put her down. *sigh*


Love Song

All of my love - all of my kissin’
you don’t know what you’ve been a-missin’
oh boy - when you’re with me - oh boy
the world will see that you were meant for me

All of my life I’ve been a-waitin’
tonight there’ll be no hesitatin’
oh boy - when you’re with me - oh boy
the world will see that you were meant for me

Stars appear and shadows fallin'
you can hear my heart callin'
and a little bit of lovin’ makes everything right
I’m gonna see my baby tonight

All of my love - all of my kissin’
you don’t know what you’ve been a-missin’
oh boy - when you’re with me - oh boy
the world will see that you were meant for me


Pasta with Tuna, Arugula and Hot Pepper

We eat this all the time in our house now. It's quick and easy and the leftovers disappear fast. I make it with a pound of baby spinach in addition to the arugula. I also use the Barilla Plus whole wheat pasta with extra fiber and protein, and I squeeze a lemon over it all just before I serve it. I got the original recipe from the Simply Recipes blog, which I read obsessively. It is very important to use the Italian tuna packed in olive oil, not the Chicken of the Sea packed in water stuff. Save that for a sandwich. Italian tuna is rich and flavorful and it just makes this incredible.

Pasta with Tuna, Arugula, and Hot Pepper Recipe

1 pound dried fettuccine, spaghetti or linguine
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, or more to taste, finely minced (I double this)
Generous pinch hot red pepper flakes (I use about 2tbs)
2 6-ounce cans tuna packed in olive oil, drained
Kosher salt
1/2 to 3/4 pound baby arugula

1 Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and boil until al dente.
2 While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-low heat. Add the garlic and hot pepper flakes and cook until garlic is fragrant and sizzling. Add tuna and shred it into fine flakes with a fork. Season with salt. Keep warm over low heat.
3 Just before the pasta is ready, set aside 1 cup of boiling water from the pasta pot. Drain pasta and return it to the warm pot set over moderate heat. Depending on the size of your pot and skillet, either add the arugula and the tuna mixture to the pasta in the pasta pot, or add the drained pasta to the skillet with the tuna mixture and add the arugula. Toss vigorously with tongs, moistening with some of the reserved pasta water. The arugula will wilt in the heat of the pasta. Divide among warm bowls and serve immediately.


Enter Sandman

This is from the Sweet Juniper! blog and is probably the funniest thing I've ever seen.

The children's books you wish celebrities would write, Vol. 4: Metallica Board Book


Hot Stuff

What a week! Four straight days of Hot Hot Heat and a fussy baby who wanted to cling to mama for comfort from the muggy weather. We were stuck together with sweat. The good thing is that Hazel slept through the night, every night! In the daytime, she was either sleeping on me or screaming and awake. We went to the beach at night around 7pm-ish to cool off, eat sandwiches, put our feet in the water and feel some breeze. Hazel loved it. She would close her eyes, turn her face to the breeze and giggle. Finally my happy baby was back! So we watch the sunset (you heard me, punk...we watched the sunset over the Atlantic because Crane is a north facing beach), drink a bottle of wine and lay there exhausted from the heat of the day. We are so lucky that we have the beach to go to. We head home after the sunset, around 8:15, rinse the sand off the baby and she would fall right to sleep until 6:30am.

On Monday we went to the Peabody Essex Museum to get ourselves into some non-mall air conditioning and Hazel had a blast. At the Wedded Bliss exhibit, she got so excited by the Picasso, Jacqueline Dressed as a Bride, 1961 that she kicked her legs and said, "OOOOO! OOOOO!" She also loved the other special exhibit, "Body Politics: The Art of Maori Tattoo". The large format photographs of the beautiful tattooed faces hypnotized her. She was such a good baby, and so well behaved. She napped in her sling as I walked around the gift shop and was totally absorbed in the art when she was awake.

On Tuesday, we went to our Neurotic Mothers Group again. Hazel is now one of the oldest babies there, and it's time for us to move on to the Thursday afternoon group for older babies but we have become so comfortable in the Tuesday group now and have finally met some very cool like-minded mamas. Our friend Laurie is back at work, so she no longer goes to the group, but we have stayed in touch and will continue to see each other. This past week we met a new mama, Tina and her daughter Lola. She has a trash-mouth almost as bad as mine and shared a margarita with me at lunch, judgemental mamas be damned!

At home, it has been our short yet explosive Peony Season. We are simply drowning in them! Someone who lived in the house loved Peonies as much as I do and they planted several varieties in every corner. I pick them as they bloom and bring them in because they are so short-lived outside and I love the way they fill the house with scent. As soon as I pick one bunch, another plant blows-up. I found myself running out of vases. Here is a sample of the first batch I brought in. I'll spare you the pictures of the three other vases of flowers that I picked last night and this morning.

One of the many varieties.

Yes, I have lots of ants in my house now. It's worth it.

The first bunch. About fifteen blooms.

The second bunch. Another twelve blooms.

And a couple of strays for my windowsill.

So, Hazel is now four months old! She is an amazing baby and gets funnier and prettier every passing day. I want to squeeze her so hard and bite each little toe and just INHALE her! It's pretty lucky that out of all the babies in the world, I got the best one. Here is some cuteness:

Look at my button fly jeans!

The last time she will fit in these. I had to unbutton the top button after she ate.

Lick, lick, sit.

Sit, sit, lick.

Viva la revolution!

And the hand just falls...

What's that out in the lawn? (Call DSS.)

Oh, it's you!

I can never get her to smile at the camera.

Awww. I hope peonies aren't poison.

Everyone loves peony season.