Friday, August 28, 2009

Back to Work

My first day back to work and first day of daycare went well. Not too many tears were shed (by me of course). It definitely helped that Killian gave his teachers a big smile when he saw them that morning, and it warmed my heart when he was all smiles when I picked him up that afternoon. All the teachers were very supportive and told me to call as often as I needed to that day.

The day care I chose only has 3 other babies in the “infant room” and they are all 8 months old, so Killian is the youngest. Because of that, he tends to get a little extra attention by the staff. Even the 8-month olds are seem interested in him too. All the ladies fawn over the littlest one and Killian loves it and flirts right back :)

The main teacher has been there 15 years and when I first met her when I was pregnant I couldn’t help but think she reminded me of a village wet nurse. She just looked so matronly and honestly seemed so happy to spend time with babies all day.

This small, close-knit group is in contrast to the daycare center I originally picked out when I was pregnant. Of course, my perspective changed after Killian was actually born and I had a whole slew of considerations that I never would have thought of before he was born.

I liked the original center mostly because they have a live camera and I (and family and friends) could log in as much as I wanted to take a look at what he was doing throughout the day. I appreciated just the fact that the center had the cameras. It showed they have absolutely nothing to hide.

But when I spent time there with Killian in the weeks before I would be going back to work, I was not pleased. The infant room was filled to the max. Killian would be the 10th baby under the age of 6 months in the room. The teachers just could not seem to keep up with the needs of all the babies. Sure, their basic needs were being met, but I wasn’t comfortable with how much time the babies were spending alone in their bouncy seats without someone interacting with them. I was also really turned off watching one of the teachers feed a baby a bottle without even making eye contact with the child. So I decided what good are the cameras if I I’m just watching him not get the attention he needs all day :(

So the first week went well. Besides leaving Killian, the other aspect of work I was not looking forward to was trying to figure how how/when/where I could pump at work. (Pumping in the bathroom just does not feel very sanitary, nor is it very comfortable.) Fortunately, two great things happened. First my manager told me right off the bat I could work from home when possible. (She had told me in the interview she works from home 100% of the time, so I had been keeping my fingers crossed that there would be some working from home for me too.) And secondly, someone told me about a “wellness room” reserved exclusively for pumping moms. It turned out that the room hadn’t been used in months, so the office admin just gave me the key to the room and told me to keep it!

The “wellness room” is a small conference room and the only thing in the room besides the table and chairs are stack of magazines: Parents, BabyTalk, etc – all with pictures of happy, smiley babies on the covers.

Of course I couldn’t help but notice this was a small, private room people use to help them…accomplish a task…and I guess the magazines are there to help you “get the job done?” I guess some people need to look at pictures of babies to help them get the process started! :0 Oh, no I didn’t!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Passing Out in Random Places

Last week we were at a get-together and there were a few babies and toddlers there. Two of the babies had to "go down for a nap" at some point and this involved putting the child down in a designated sleeping area (crib or playpen) and then waiting by the door in a very concerned fashion as the child would cry and fight the going-to-sleep process.

This is a process I am totally unfamiliar with. In the Economou household, children were never "put down for a nap" at scheduled times to avoid crankiness. Falling asleep was just something that would happen naturally and usually not in a designated sleeping area. I'm hoping Killian picks up this gene, as it just makes life easier for everyone.

This is usually what happens to young children in the Economou family after a night of playing dress-up and drinking. (Ok, the empty beer cans are staged.)














Thank you to Gillian for this picture of John looking like he's sleeping pretty comfortably at the airport:


















And last but not least, this is not something that we outgrow. Pictured below: Michael circa 1991 fallen asleep in his favorite position on the couch and Michael at his home last week. Some things just never change. Thank you for sharing this recent photo, Gillian!



Easy Fruit Cobbler Recipe

Thank you to Will Cross' mom for this delicious and easy recipe she dictated to him over the phone. Will whipped up this cobbler in about 10-15 minutes of prep time including peeling the large peaches. Sadly I did not get a picture of Will or the cobbler last night, but Mike & I think we are going to make this today, so a picture may be coming soon.

1. Preheat oven to 350, place pan in oven with butter (1 stick)
2. Cut up 3 peaches and open a pint of blackberries (or any seasonal fruit you desire)
3. Make the batter by stirring the following:
  • 1 cup self rising flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • add 1 cup of milk (a little at at time to prevent lumping)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
4. pour batter onto butter (don't stir)
5. pour fruit onto batter (don't stir)
6. bake for approx 30 min until brown
7. Serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy the warm fruity gooiness!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Killian's Pappou gave us this onesie last Christmas. It says, "Made in America with Irish & Greek Parts."














He also gave us a mug that read
"50% Greek
+ 50% Irish
= 100% Perfection"

which has been tested actually (7 times) and is a sound formula!

When I was pregnant this lead to Mike & I joking about how the Greek genes would probably dominate the others. "25% Greek + 25% Irish + 1/8 Norweigan + 1/8 English + 1/8 French = 100% Greek"

The Greek genes obviously dominated in my siblings and I, and everyone was curious to see how the Greek genes would play out in the next generation when they would be "watered down."

Well, apparently, the Irish genes conspired with the Norweigan genes, and that is how we have a blue-eyed, fair-skinned baby.

I know the name of this post is pretty dangerous by itself, let alone its suggestion that the Greek genes aren't as strong in our offspring. I love you, Dad! Don't take us out of your will ;)

When Killian was first born, I could only see resemblances to Mike, but since he has gotten older and his eyelashes have grown long, I am now actually starting to see some resemblance in his eyes to my baby pictures. A side-by-side comparison will be forthcoming.

Toys!

Killian has just discovered toys. He now shows interest in other items besides faces, lights, windows, and fans. His favorite "toy"at the moment are the items hanging from his bouncy seat. He smiles at them whenever he sees them. He sometimes has long, lively conversations with them, with lots of kicking and gesturing involved.


































He won't be able to reach for his toys for about another month or so (that will be so neat to see him do that!), but for now, he just likes looking and making faces at them.

Grilled Salmon With Strawberry Salsa Recipe


Another recipe based on sale items; strawberries and cucumbers were super cheap this week. Again, I wouldn't have put strawberries and cucumbers together, but it worked out. Mike described it as "fruity, but not gay."

Prepare at least one hour ahead:
Salsa:
English or seedless cucumber, finely chopped
tablespoon fresh cilantro or parsley, minced
4 tablespoons wine vinegar
cups fresh strawberries, hulled and diced small

Sauce:
1 stick unsalted butter or margarine
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon ketchup (or soy sauce when its not Pesach)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 salmon fillets (or fish of your choice), skinless

In a bowl mix together the cucumbers, cilantro and vinegar. Cover and chill at least one hour. Just before serving, add strawberries. In a small saucepan melt butter with garlic over low heat. Stir in honey, ketchup and lemon juice and cook 2 minutes; set aside. Preheat a grill pan. When ready to cook, brush sauce on salmon pieces and place in pan. Grill approximately 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Brush with the sauce again after turning, and again when done. Transfer to warm platter and top with salsa.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vacation Week

Mike took some time off this week to spend some time together before I go back to work. We really enjoyed our "vacation days" around town this week. On Wednesday, we celebrated Killian's 2-month birthday by going to some of Mom and Dad's favorite places :) I had some back-to-work shopping to do, so Killian got to go to lunch at California Kitchen Pizza, watch Mom and Dad sample some tea at Teavana, and then spend some time at the Apple Store.

Thursday Killian had his 2-month check-up and the doctor thought he was doing really well. She said he looked and acted more like a 4-month old than a 2-month old. He's now in the 75th percentile for height, weight and head measurements, up from 50th or 60th? when he was born. Luckily, he didn't seem too phased by his shots on this visit and just slept a little extra that evening.

Friday morning, we took a nice walk through the neighborhood and spend some time at the pool. Amazingly, this was Mike's first time visiting the pool in the four years that we've lived here and only my second. Amie came over to spend some time with Killian and Mike and I went to lunch and a movie with Tina, on her last day in town before returning to school.


















Saturday we spent some time in Dilworth and finally visited Freedom Park which was really beautiful. We will definitely be back for many future walks.














That afternoon we went to a party with 3 other babies and Killian got to try out a bumbo seat. He seemed to like sitting upright like a grown up. In fact, he looked more like an old man than a baby!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mr. Kitty

This week we found Mr. Kitty a new home. We think that Mr. Kitty is a very special animal and felt there could be someone out there who could give him more love and affection than we could.

Mr. Kitty entered our lives last summer at a neighborhood party. We were playing badminton and this Siamese cat appeared and tried to play with us, running around and jumping on the shuttlecock, playfully darting in front of people as they walked across the lawn. He was so personable and wanted to make everyone's acquaintance. It wasn't long before I offered him some leftover salmon one evening and started buying cat food to feed him every night. It didn't look like he was getting much food any where else.

I had no previous experience with cats and definitely was not a "cat person." After our experience with dogs, I vowed our household would never have pets again. I really valued my leather furniture and having a clean, odor-free house. But the cold weather came that fall/winter and I couldn't bear to think about Mr. Kitty sleeping outside in the cold. Mike and I briefly considered trying to adopt him then, but we didn't want to see him go, and decided instead to see how he would do in the house. We would let him inside in the evenings to sleep and then after breakfast in the morning, he would happily trot back outside. This arrangement worked for a long time. He was the most low-maintenance pet ever. He only showed up for meals and for some cuddling when he needed it and would be on his way again. Once the weather warmed up, he didn't even want to sleep inside anymore. He ate dinner and would be anxious to return outside (hot date I suppose). We never even had to buy a litter box.

But this easy-going relationship changed once we came home from the hospital with Mr. Baby. Mike decided it wasn't a good idea to have an outdoor cat coming in the house even for just a few minutes to eat. So we started putting his food outside when he showed up. And because we felt guilty, we even fed him the good stuff...tuna for all his meals. But even with his favorite food, Mr. Kitty stopped showing up for meals. A few days went by and no Mr. Kitty. Then Mr. Kitty showed up with an injury on his leg. It looked like he had gotten into a fight with another cat or maybe a dog...and lost. We felt so horrible because we realized we must have hurt his feelings when we suddenly changed our behavior and stopped letting him in the house. Who knows what he did those few days he disappeared (did he try to return somewhere else?) but he got himself into some trouble. Luckily Maggie was here visiting that week, so she helped us by taking him to the vet for us. He finally got up-to-date on all his shots and they treated his wound. He came home with a clean bill of health, so we felt it was safe to now have him in the house with a newborn. He seemed so happy to be back in the house with us and spent the entire day cuddled up on his blanket downstairs.

Everything was back to normal for a few weeks and then he disappeared for another couple days. This time he came home with a very bad injury. Instead of a kerfuffle with another cat, it looked like he got attacked by a mountain lion. Mike took him straight to the vet and luckily his leg wasn't broken and would heal fine after a few weeks and a few re-wrappings of the bandage. This incident finally made us realize we were really "half-assing" our pet ownership of Mr. Kitty. We loved how low maintenance he was, but it was in his best interest to be in someone's home all day, not out wandering the neighborhood. Over the next week, Mr. Kitty had to be indoors with us because of his injury. The first few days he would meow by the front and back door and look longingly out the window, but didn't seem too upset that he couldn't go outside. I was surprised. The fact that he was now neutered (something we should have done a long time ago) I'm sure helped quell his desire to be outside too. We now had to buy a litter box and put in the garage. To our amazement, he either instinctively knew how to use it or remembered using one in the past. He even would wait patiently by the garage door when it was time to use the bathroom! (Seriously best cat ever!)
So even though Mr Kitty was doing quite well as an indoor cat and seemed to love being with us at all times, always following us from room to room and never leaving our sides, we realized we now officially had an indoor cat, which is something we truely never wanted for many reasons. We realized there are people out there who would be thrilled to have a cat like Mr. Kitty around, so we posted an ad on craigslist and started interviewing people. It wasn't long before an older man contacted us who had been specifically looking for a chocolate-point Siamese for three years since his Siamese of 16 years passed away. (They have a very distinctive personality.) He and his family members described how every day, he would check craigslist for a male chocolate-point Siamese. It really warmed our hearts to hear how happy it would make this man to have Mr. Kitty in his life and how much love and affection Mr. Kitty would get from this family.

So yesterday we said goodbye to Mr. Kitty. It was hard but we think the right thing to do (for everyone). It was the first time an animal had made me cry since I was nine years old. We will always have wonderful, fond memories of him. I loved how he greeted me outside when I came home from work, would trot with me to the mailbox or to take the trash out. I especially loved when he came for walks around the neighborhood with us because he wanted our company so badly. Many happy memories of a sweet kitty.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy Baby

Killian's having a happy Friday and a happy 8-week birthday!

video

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Salmon with Blueberries Sauce

Lately I've been cooking dinner based on what's on sale that week at the grocery store and what ingredients I already have in the kitchen. This week blueberries were super cheap, so we had stocked up.

I always have fresh onion and garlic and frozen fish fillets of some sort, so this is the recipe I decided to use tonight. I used dry ginger instead of fresh, and I did not have a lemon peel, so instead I marinated the salmon in lemon juice for a few minutes.

I would not have put blueberries and onions together in the same recipe, but it turned out pretty good. Mike described it as "piquanty and compotey."

4 4-ounce fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillets
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar or brown sugar substitute* equivalent to 1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel

Nonstick cooking spray
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Snipped fresh chives (optional)

1. Thaw fish and blueberries, if frozen. For blueberry sauce: In a small saucepan, cook and stir onion and garlic in hot oil about 3 minutes or until softened. Add blueberries, vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, and lemon peel. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until sauce has thickened and reduced to 1 cup.

2. Meanwhile, rinse salmon; pat dry with paper towels. Lightly coat salmon with nonstick cooking spray; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Measure thickness of salmon.

3. Place salmon on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, turning once halfway through grilling.

4. Serve blueberry sauce over salmon. If desired, sprinkle with chives. Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

7 Weeks Old - 7.31.09

Every Friday night is a celebration in the Walker household because we celebrate Killian's "birthday" as he turns one week older every Friday night.

Every week we see more of Killian's personality. He grins at us more and more and occasionally lets out a happy shriek. He is definitely a morning person like his mom. His smile output is extremely high after breakfast and slowly tapers off as the day goes on...

Mike discovered this week that Killian likes having his chin tickled and it was during one of these chin tickling sessions Mike could feel what seems to be an emerging butt chin, I mean dimple. It's really no surprise that Killian would have his Dad's chin too. So I'm sure we'll see more of that as his face matures.

We spent Killian's "7th week birthday" with Dave and Carissa playing Trivial Pursuit on the Wii, and Killian spent the evening being cuddled by his Pretty Aunt Rissa. Look how cozy he is with her:














There were some nice storms that night. On the way there, Mike was giddy like a little girl about the full rainbow in the sky. If you look closely, you can see the rainbow that Mike is pointing to about a half inch from his finger.














Mike got some nice shots of the sky from Dave's balcony: