Archive for July, 2009

Well, seeing how July is now over, I guess I should post my “July Product Rave”…here it is, in all its glory…


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is a Ceramic Tools Flat Iron you see before your eyes.  I can’t believe it took me this long to actually OWN a flat iron (I’d been making due with my large barrel curling iron prior to this fabulous purchase…so sad, I know).  But, I was talking with my wonderful hairstylist the last time I had my hair appointment and I asked her what brand she used.  She recommended Ceramic Tools, so I checked it out online, found it for $23 at amazon.com (half of what the salon was going to charge me, holy mark-up, Batman!), so I indulged in my guilty pleasure of online shopping and added that baby to my shopping cart.  (of course, I added some baby spoons for S to my order to get the Free Super Saver Shipping!)  And now, it is mine…all mine! (insert evil laugh).  I love how sleek and shiny it makes my hair.  With the curling iron, my hair always looked dried out and yucky (I now realize the error of my ways), but this has some kind of negative ion charges or something that actually condition my hair as it straightens.  I get sleek, sexy mommy hair in about 3 minutes, and I have some pretty curly locks now (It’s amazing what pregnancy/child birth does to your hair!).  I feel like I should do one of those Pantene shampoo commercials after I use this and swirl my hair/head around for the cameras.  Seriously, it rocks.  Go buy one…oh, just be careful not to let baby near it.  It heats up to 425 degrees.

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While J is doing his annual summer gig in Oshkosh, I decided to head up to my parents’ house and spend some time with them. I enjoy spending time there, it’s always fun to go “back home”, especially now with S.  It’s fun to see her run around the same house I grew up in. I also enjoy coming back home since my BFF from high school still lives there, so I always make it a point to see A when I’m home.  Normally, we meet for coffee or just chat at her house, but today we had the kids with us. Since it was a beautiful summer day, she had a great idea to take the kids to a splash pad park (we went to the Red Smith School Park). S and I had never been to one before, but they are the perfect invention for small children.  What is a splash pad you might ask? Basically, it is a concrete slab with various water fountains, sprayers, sprinklers, etc., that go off at different intervals and the kids run around and get wet and have a splashy good time. Much more fancy than the days of simply hooking up the ol’ sprinkler to the hose and running through it.  Of course, I was a little worried how S would do since it’s WET concrete and she’s still a little wobbly on her feet.  My fears were put to rest after just a few minutes when I saw she could manage just fine while holding onto my hand…I released the protective mommy grip and let her run free. She was very brave and not afraid at all of the sprinklers.  I think she enjoyed seeing my friend’s children laughing and splashing as well, and not wanting to be “outdone” by older kids, she kept up pretty well. Here are some pictures of our day…

S 014

S 020

S 018







S 026

S 019







S 023

On a side note: It is very difficult to hold any meaningful conversation with your old BFF while watching your toddlers toddle all over the place and chasing after them.  It was good to see you, A, your kiddos are adorable.

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Just For Fun

I happened to take these two shots of S today.  It’s rare that I can capture her in a silly mood (normally she’s too busy being serious and business-like).  Today was my lucky day, I guess.  She posed just long enough for me to snap these…what a ham.

Baby 1316


Baby 1315

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Baby 1280

I’m a big fan of easy prep, light clean up, healthy meals (who isn’t, right?). Having a one-year-old doesn’t really allow me much time in the kitchen for slicing and dicing, so I love go-to meals like this one.  Another plus is that it is kid-friendly, too (if your child likes mildly spicy foods).  S enjoyed sampling the rice and beans (she’s not  big on chicken just yet, so we held off on giving her some of that). 


1 can fat free cream mushroom soup (I use the Fat Free, Low Sodium Soups)
1 can fat free cream chicken soup
1 can water
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with chilies
1 1/2 c rice (uncooked long-grain white rice)
1 pkg taco seasoning (I used the low-sodium packet)
6 frozen boneless,skinless chicken breasts

Optional toppings: Chopped cilantro and green onions, sliced black olives, shredded cheese, sour cream, Cholula sauce (if you like it spicy!), Corona w/ lime 😉  Ok, that’s not really a topping, but you get the idea.


13×9 in glass casserole dish with cooking spray
wisk soups, water and taco seasoning in bowl then pour into bottom of dish
sprinkle rice over soups and mix in to soup mixture
place chicken breasts FROZEN over soup and rice
pour beans and tomatoes over chicken
Cover with foil, bake 350 degrees 1 hour, 40 min.
remove foil, sprinkle shredded cheese over to melt (if using), along with additional toppings.
Serve one chicken breast alongside the rice and beans.
Nutritional Info (does not include cheese or other toppings)
  • Servings Per Recipe: 6
  • Calories: 240.5
  • Total Fat: 2.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 72.6 mg
  • Sodium: 502.2 mg (could be less if you use low-sodium ingredients)
  • Total Carbs: 19.1 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3.8 g
  • Protein: 32.6 g

Recipe Source: http://sparkrecipes.com/

Baby 1281

We go through many, many bottles of this stuff at our house.

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Gettin’ Crafty

I can’t take the credit for this great idea, it is from a creative nestie who was sharing her ideas for making car travel with a toddler a little easier (I did change the fastening from a ribbon to a metal ring binder, since S is a little sneaky one and I knew the ribbon wouldn’t last long with her).  I got the flashcards from Target (1$ Spot).  I chose the Alphabet, Shapes & Colors and Animal cards.  They had a few other themes as well, but I thought these would be best for S at the moment.  I think she will like the Animal and Alphabet ones the most because right now she loves bringing us her animal books and pointing to each animal so we make the sounds for her.  She loves it!  Anyway, back to my 10 seconds of craftiness…I hole punched the corners of each card and put a metal ring binder through the holes for each set.  Perfect idea for keeping the sets together and not having to pick up a million cards.  The cards are a little flimsy, so I’m a little worried that S is going to decide they go better in her mouth or practice her crumpling skills on them, but we’ll see how it goes (and for a dollar apiece, I can’t complain). 

Here are all the sets I made:

Baby 1306

A close-up of the animal set:

Baby 1307

And the alphabet set:

Baby 1308










Here is my way-cool find from the Target Dollar Spot.  Next to the flashcards and found all these cute board books (and a Minnie Disney counting book for good measure).  I purchased My First Number, My First Colors and My First Shapes.  They have lots of great pictures and definitely kept S busy while I meandered around Target this evening.  Me thinks I will keep these in her diaper bag to pull out during store trips.  I’m sure I’ll amuse S and shoppers alike with my Horse and other animal impressions as S demandingly points to every animal in her books…

Baby 1309

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For her 1 year birthday, we decided to get professional pictures taken of little miss S.  Here is a link to a sneak peek on the photographer’s blog.  I can’t wait to see the rest…


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While I’m waiting for my pictures of the zoo to upload, I thought I’d write a review of a great restaurant J and I went to last weekend.  It was our first time getting a “real” babysitter for S (besides grandparents), so we wanted to keep it kind of simple in case we needed to evacuate and make a quick trip home.  We were driving around Middleton a few weeks before our “date” and had noticed a cute little place called the Villa Dolce.  We both were intrigued, as anything that looks like authentic Italian really appeals to us.  We checked out the website and decided this should be our date night spot.  When I called to make reservations, I was a little put-off by the gentleman on the phone.  He didn’t seem very enthused about his job, which made me wonder if we would really enjoy our experience there.  However, upon arriving 30 minutes early at the restaurant (departure from our house went better than anticipated with new babysitter!), they were able to seat us right away.   We opted to sit indoors, but they have ample outdoor patio seating on the porch and side street.  The decor is very contemporary and the coolest part was the comfy armchair-like seats at the tables.  Our waitress was super-friendly, but not pushy.  We ordered a bottle of wine ( Fronterutoli Badiola Sangiovese/Merlot;Tuscany, Italy) and the  Calabrese Pizza (Tomato sauce, sliced mild Italian sausage, hard salami, roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, mozzarella, parmesan and fontina cheese).  Our wine was fantastic and complemented the pizza nicely.  The pizza was great, thin crust, great flavor combination of ingredients.  Oh, I almost forgot!  We orded the Caprese salad as a starter (hey, we did it up!) and it was served so cute and the basalmic reduction was so sweet…wonderful!  Our dessert was sinfully delicious (luckily we ordered the smaller pizza to save room!).  J had the Italian sampler with canoli, tiramisu and a scoop of gelato.  I had what is pictured below.  We made a trip over to the gelato case to pick out our flavors, so fun!  There were a few younger girls getting gelato with their parents and I thought how fun it would be to take S when she gets a little bit bigger for her first taste of gelato!  Our dessert was complimented by a nice espresso.  J and I really enjoyed ourselves and reminisced about our trip to Italy a few years back….ah, memories.  I give Villa Dolce four and 1/2 wine bottles (out of five). We will be back!

Here is the contact info:   http://www.villadolcecafe.com

My dessert, except different flavors.  I had nocciola (hazelnut) my absolute fav flavor of gelato, stracciatella (vanilla w/ choc ribbons), and donatella (choc/hazelnut).  This dessert could easily have been for two, but I happily ate every last bite.  Heaven.

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Today marked another parental rite of passage for J and I. We took S to her very first swimming lesson. We were all excited, and as well-prepared as possible.  Prior to this first swimming lesson, mommy scoped out the pool and locker room situation to see how this would all work.  I have to admit, I was a bit leery of the logistics of getting a slippery, squirmy baby out of a swim diaper and into dry clothes, as well as attempt to dry myself off and get us all out of the locker room safely.  Adding to my worries was the intense fear that S was going to HATE swimming lessons and begin to cry as soon as her little toes touched the water.  Upon arriving at the pool, J went off to wait in the bleachers and S and I went into the locker room.  I changed her into her swim diaper and swimsuit and put all our stuff in a locker.  We got out to the pool. So far, so good.  We sat in the bleachers for a little bit and eventually it was time to start the class.  All the mommies (seems like the act of taking a toddler into the water is a mommy-duty in our class, the dads that were there sat in the bleachers) and babies sat by the edge of the pool.  S seemed very content for a moment splashing at the side in the water.  I was worried that the instructor was going to take too much time talking at the beginning because I didn’t think I could manage holding on to squirmy S very long on my own.  Luckily, we were all playing “This is how we wash our nose” with little pool sponges before we knew it.  Once we got in the water, S had a great time and I was relieved that we didn’t have a crying baby on our hands.  There was still one more hurdle to tackle before the first swim was over…the locker room. After class, we rinsed off, dried off and I struggled to get S out of her wet swim diaper and suit and into a new diaper and robe. I ended up laying a towel on the floor because the cushy changing table was taken up by about five babies and moms trying to do the same.  S occupied herself trying to grab a plastic bottle cap on the floor (which I eventually pried away from her…S didn’t like that so much), while I attempted to dry off and put on my flip flops.  It was a little bit of a challenge, but I’m sure it will get easier as we get more practice.  Here are a few pics from the lesson…

Baby 1292

Baby 1290

Baby 1287

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Against my better judgement, we took S to the Henry Vilas Zoo today (a Sunday). I wanted to take her on a weekday, since the crowds would likely be less, but J and I were a little restless after two days of cool/cloudy weather here, so we were eager to get out of the house.  Plus, S has been really taking an interest in anything furry that moves, so we figured it was as good a time as any to expose her to the wonders of a zoo.  This was also my first trip to the zoo.  GASP!  I know, I know…we’ve been living in this wonderful city for how long now and not been to the zoo??  What is wrong with us?  It is a remarkable zoo for being free.  I can’t wait to take her back during the week someday.  So, without further ado…here are some pictures of our day.




Look, Daddy!


Polar Bear

A Smile!


This was my first attempt at adding multiple photos to a blog post and let’s just say, it took me way too long.  There has to be an easier way to add pics!

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Today was S’s first time on the playground swings.  I’ve been eyeing them up on our walks for some time now, always thinking we’d try them tomorrow when I actually remember to bring the camera along.  You know, to capture the first swing moment.  Well, tonight we walked past them and I said to J that we should try them out.  J surprised me in reversing the roles of “protective parent’ for a moment and expressed his concern that she would “fall out” of the swing.  We didn’t have the camera, but I didn’t care, she was going on the swings…finally!  I reasurred my husband that S would be fine in the swing and I placed her in.  A few light pushes and she loved it!  She even held on to the chains just like a big girl!   The first swing was over soon and then dad stepped in, seeing how much fun playground equipment can be, and gave S her first springy dinosaur ride.  Where was the camera for that??

I often think about all S’s firsts and wonder if we are doing things at the right time.  It’s easy to compare to other families and think, wow, we haven’t even THOUGHT of trying that with S yet.  I mean, S hasn’t even had her first swimming lesson yet and my dad swears my bro and I were in the water at 3 months old.  I really want S to experience all these wonders, but I don’t feel I need to do these in any big hurry.  She is going to grow up so fast (she already is!) and I guess I just don’t want to feel like I’m in a race.  She will have so many wonderful experiences, but I’m not going to rush it.

S is almost 13 months old.

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