February 2010


two of my recent favorites, in black and white:

jason had the genius idea to buy a jumper for arden after the holidays.  high-pitched squealing had become her favorite new ‘trick’ and it was obvious she was ready for a deeper level of entertainment.

THEN alison and michael brought us mae’s ‘jump-a-roo’ to borrow, and it was a whole new can of worms.  she didn’t quite get it at first, but she enjoyed sucking on the plastic veges and hanging out.

NOW, however, arden has it down.  she is a pro.  when she really gets jumping, we say she’s riverdancing.  her feet are hilarious to watch bouncing all over the de kooning book on the floor below her.  (she doesn’t need to know it is full of nude sketches!)  this wonderful contraption has occupied her for nice, long stretches during which i can get dinner ready without the bloody-murder-screaming accompaniment.  aaahhhh….  i love it.  she loves it.  and jason loves to dance to its music, which i have seen him do many times when he doesn’t know i’m looking.  XOXO

there are so many things i should be doing right now: working, cleaning, shaving my legs, backing up the laptop, working out, sleeping….especially sleeping, since insomnia attacked at 5 a.m. and these 3 LARGE cups of coffee haven’t helped wake me up one bit! 

but since it’s already past valentine’s day, and i am getting more and more behind every day with this blog (sorry!), i decided to post some christmas memories while listening to tiger woods’ statement live on, like, every channel.  ah, just one more reason (among many) that i am glad we didn’t name our first-born tiger….or tigress. 

our christmas was spent in atlanta this year.  jason and i had so much fun conspiring with grandmommy to pull off a big surprise for jason’s mom (marilee/nonna).  grandmommy took the red-eye train from centralia to memphis, jason picked her up around 6:30 a.m. and then we immediately headed to atlanta.  ALL of us, in one crowded truck: 3 adults, 2 dogs, 1 baby and lots of baggage!  it was so much fun, though, and totally worth it to see the look on nonna’s face when we arrived and she saw her mom holding her grandbaby.  needless to say, there were tears involved! 

arden was showered with gifts from santa (because she was a perfect little girl last year) and the family.  i realize that the whole gift-giving and opening was more for us than for her, but she looked like she was having fun surrounded by all her stocking stuffers on christmas morning.  she even tried to steal one of her uncle jonathan’s gifts (see below)! 

we did alot of relaxing, ate tons of yummy food and made lots of great memories with the entire family….and also with marilee’s friend kim, who gave arden her very first board game, candyland.  jason and i will always remember this as the trip when arden starting sleeping through the night.  she was already making it through the night without eating, but during our stay in atlanta, we suddenly stopped having to wake up once or twice a night for pacifier resets.  a christmas miracle! 

 

back in memphis, we had another christmas celebration with my family.  well, almost the whole family.  my nephew, lee, just about cut his pinky finger off the day before they were scheduled to visit.  so the hardmans ended up taking a fun ambulance ride to the hospital for surgery instead of a road trip to memphis!  (his finger is okay now, although it remains to be seen if the pinky nail will grow back….EEK.) 

arden was, once again, showered with gifts.  every gift was ogled for a second, and then went POP! straight into her mouth.  we all had fun watching her take in the sights and sounds (and tastes) of the holidays.  

 

SOME FAVORITE HOLIDAY MEMORIES: 

nonna giving arden her first truly solid food....she LOVED chomping on apple slices!

lee with his poor, wrapped-up hand

 

 

 

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY TO MY WONDERFUL, SEXY HUSBAND AND TO MY BEAUTIFUL BABY GIRL, THE TWO TRUE LOVES OF MY LIFE….

my baby girl is 6 months old.  i can hardly believe it.  although people often comment on how ‘little’ she is, in my mama opinion, she is HUGE!  she has grown so quickly, and is more observant of and excited by the world around her each day.  i am awestruck at how much FUN she is at this young age, doing things i didn’t expect until much later: blowing bubbles, saying ‘mama’ and ‘dada’, hugging our necks, giving us slobbery open-mouthed kisses, giggling at our silly faces, snuggling into my chest at bedtime, humming along to lullabies, eating solid food like a champ, bouncing higher and higher in her jump-a-roo, playing with her toys more attentively and just growing like a weed every day.  i say this often, and i’ll say it again:

WHERE HAS MY ITTY-BITTY BABY GONE?

arden has a stuffed bunny that my long-time friend, meghann, gave her when she was still in the womb.  it is so soft and sweet that it won the role of being the single toy taken to the hospital when i went into labor.  on the ride home, i snapped a heart-breakingly adorable photo of arden holding hands with ‘bunny friend.’  then, on arden’s 1 month birthday, i decided to take a photo of her with the bunny again, and a ritual was born.  each month on or around the 6th (her birthday), i take a photo (OK, i actually take about 100 photos!) of arden in nothing but a diaper cover with her bunny.  see how much she has grown in just the first 6 months of her life!

over thanksgiving, elise helped me make some PEANUT BUTTER BALLS for the family.  now, i’ve made said balls before, but never in multiple batches, and after jason politely demanded (is that an oxy moron?) that i make LOTS of them, it was nice to have some help melting, mixing, rolling and, of course, taste-testing!  there was actually some drama and yanking-of-hair-level anxiety that accompanied the experiment of making multiple batches of these little goodies at once, but we won’t go there.  i will note, however, that the recipe below includes some very necessary tips that you should definitely heed, should you decide to make these treats for your family….and i hope you do, because they are delicious!

many thanks to jason’s grammy, who shared this recipe with me years ago when jason and i were newly dating.  in fact, i believe the first time i made them for jason was as a valentine’s day surprise.  (AWWWW….)  since grammy isn’t often able to make this favorite weeks family treat anymore, i plan to keep the tradition alive since everyone loves them so much, and since i know jason will never forgive me if i let it die!

and the glorious little devils in their finished state:

GRAMMY’S (very addictive) PEANUT BUTTER BALLS

yield = about 80 balls

TO MAKE THE BALLS:  melt ¼ lb. margarine and 2 cups + 2 T. crunchy peanut butter together; set aside.  in a large bowl, mix 4 cups Rice Krispies with 1 lb. powdered sugar.  pour melted butter mixture over Rice Krispie mixture and mix well.  press into well-packed, bite-size balls; set aside.  *TIPS:  if the mixture is too dry, melt 1 T. melted butter with 1/2 cup of peanut butter, and slowly add to the mixture until it is easier to ball up.

TO MAKE THE DIP:  in a double boiler, melt 1/3 bar paraffin wax (found in the canning aisle at grocery store), 8 oz. plain Hershey bar and 16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips.  *TIPS:  paraffin wax is the last thing to melt, so place it in the bottom of the pan.  be careful not to let the water in the double boiler actually boil and splash into chocolate dip mixture!  if dip is too thick for dipping, add more wax (a teeny bit at a time) until consistency becomes smooth and slightly runny.  but be careful that the dip doesn’t start to taste too much like wax!

TO DIP THE BALLS:  using 2 forks, dip each ball into the chocolate, gently transferring from fork to fork to cover it thoroughly; several layers is best.  place balls on waxed paper on a cookie sheet or plate.  refrigerate dipped balls for about an hour, or overnight.  gently ‘peel’ the balls off of waxed paper, serve and EAT!

we spent a lovely thanksgiving holiday with my extended families in memphis this year.  not only were both of my sisters and my cousin in town with their families in tow, but also some of our nearby family members met arden for the very first time on thanksgiving day!  it was so fun to watch her soak up the love, all while sucking on her fist and fingers.  she seemed determined to prove that she can fit her entire fist in her mouth, but she settled for showing off her two brand new front teeth to everyone!

we unashamedly stuffed our schedules with family time and our bellies with turkey.  there are so many things for which i feel blessed this year: mostly, our beautiful baby girl, our loving family and wonderful friends, that jason still has a job doing what he loves, that i am able to work part-time from home with the baby and that we all have our health.  during this tough time for america, there is not a day that goes by that i am not grateful for these things.

our 2009 thanksgiving memories, as with any good year, revolved around….

really, really good FOOD:

CONVERSATION, especially among the ladies:

and fun with FAMILY:

my favorite thanksgiving activity was taking arden to the ‘enchanted forest’ for her first time.  when i was a child, my family attended this magical landscape of moving animals and singing elves each year right before christmas.  at the end of the journey through the forest, it was time to sit on santa’s lap and nervously tell him what i hoped he would bring me for christmas.  so for me, the enchanted forest (which has been going strong for nearly 50 years!) is a great way to conjure up that warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feeling while anticipating the arrival of christmas and the new year.  i hope that arden will, one day, love this event as much as i do.  this year, she mostly slept, but also spent a few waking moments soaking in the bizarre sights and sounds.  she even sat very still and lady-like on santa’s lap for a picture with cousin lee!