Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tree Trimming

[as you can tell these are totally all out of order - We're at Gordon's brothers in New Jersey so I'm getting some free time to do some posting here and there. I think I'll back date this one so it's not confusing in the archives....]

The craziness of our holiday season starts pretty much with Thanksgiving. My Mom's birthday is November 28th, so she either falls on or just after Thanksgiving. It's become somewhat of a tradition to have a little birthday celebration for her the weekend of Thanksgiving since we've all got some extra holiday time. Sometimes Gordon's parents come up that weekend too and we get to have a big "MasterWong" family dinner. But that didn't happen this year, since G's Mom was in Hong Kong.

Our plans got a little skewed this year due to a mishap on Thanksgiving (my Mom fell and had to get to a dentist on Friday, but she is OK now) - so we moved our gathering to Sunday instead. My parents drove up from Fall River and Eric and Liza made the trek from the Cape. We decided to take advantage of the opportunity to pull out the Christmas decorations. We have a "fake plastic tree" that we've used for the past 4 years. I do think it'd be nice to have a real tree someday, but I do LOVE how easy this one is to put up and decorate. I mean the lights are ALREADY ON IT. I worry that once we decide to make the leap to a real tree we'll never actually have a tree.

Everyone pitched in and our condo was ready for Christmas in no time. Lily really enjoyed the tree-trimming experience and did a great job carrying the ornaments that Uncle Eric handed her over to Grammy.

Eric working hard on the tree

Getting some help from Lily

A rare Masterson family portrait

In honor of Mom's birthday, Gordon cooked a yummy surf and turf - prime rib and baked stuffed shrimp - dinner for everyone. I think I may have made some potato gratin to go along with it - I can't remember. Of course we also had a chocolate raspberry cake from Rosie's to top it off -because - well yum. Lily went from eating only fruit for dessert to having cake quite regularly during the month of December thanks to all the birthday celebrations (my Mom, Gordon, his Mom, Lily). She's going to be very disappointed once January rolls around and life returns to "normal".

The cake that started off the month of sweets

Topping off the night with a story from Papa

Dutch Babies!

Here is a LONG overdue post (I have lots of such posts swirling around in my brain and in the photo archives). A while back I posted about blueberry picking and mentioned that we made Dutch Babies. Brian asked if we made our own and I promised to post the recipe here. Well I'm finally getting around to doing that. The really sad part is that these photos are from a Dutch Baby making extravaganza that we had back in late August when Erica, Doug and their girls were in town for a wedding. So yeah - WAY PAST DUE. (Note that Erica did a MUCH better job posting about the visit - also note that I promised THIS post in my comments to her post - oh I'm so full of it).

Anyway, some dutch baby background. I learned how to make these when Corinne and I lived together during grad school. To be honest, Corinne pretty much taught me how to survive on my own in the whole "nourishment" area. Then I met Gordon who cooks like a master and keeps me well-fed - but that's a whole other discussion. Wiki doesn't have a whole lot to say about Dutch Babies, but they do talk about how the Original Pancake House has helped make them famous. I think that part is true - I've had them at the one in Chicago and they're really yummy. But they are SO EASY to make at home. We have them, on average, once a weekend and Lily loves them. We had one this morning in fact. When Lily was first learning to talk she would call them "babies". So if I told her we were having Dutch Babies for breakfast she's say "Eat Babies?" Totally cracked us up.

So without further ado, here's the recipe:

- Preheat oven to 425
- put about 2.5 Tbsp butter in a round cake or pie pan. Put pan in oven while it's preheating. Keep an eye on it though and pull it out when the butter is melted, before it starts burning! The amount of butter to use here is subjective. I think the original recipe called for 1/2 stick, but that always seemed like an awful lot to me.

- Mix in small bowl:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs

- Add a dash of salt and some grated nutmeg
- Pour batter into pan with melted butter and bake for 15-20 minutes. They will puff up and look really cool:

- Garnish with lemon, powdered sugar, syrup, fruit, jam, pretty much anything! Lily's favorites are strawberries, "hot apples", syrup and jam.

And finally, here are some pictures of all the really cute people at our get-together. A mutual friend from college got married that weekend on the Cape (Congratulations Adam!), and a bunch of my MIT friends were all here for the event. So we drove down to visit with them all in the morning for brunch.

Nathan enjoying his chow

Lily, learning how to count cards from Iyad

Elisabeth, all smiles

Charlotte, hours before taking her first steps!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lily Update: more Sunday Funnies

It's been a long time since I posted about Lily and what she's up to lately. Blame it on complete exhaustion or whatever you want - but we're past due.

It seems like she's changed SO much in the past few months we can hardly keep up anymore. I've said before that she was transitioning from baby to toddler, but now it's hard to look at her and find the baby. I stopped posting about her word lists because she made some crazy leap and now talks in full sentences ALL THE TIME. She rarely stops talking - except maybe when asleep - maybe. And when she's not talking, she's singing. So here's just a little update - another "Sunday Funnies" edition (again, too late to read with your morning coffee... well maybe Monday morning).


She's loving music - and I mean LOVING it. If she's awake she wants music on. We're taking a Music Together class this fall and the price has been worth it for the CD alone. Pretty much her first words each morning are "Hello Everybody On?" or "Liza Jane on"? 'Lil Liza Jane is her favorite song by a mile - I think it's becuase Liza is my brother's girlfiend's name and she adores her. Today she asked for Liza Jane and Gordon said "OK I'll sing it" and she said "No! Liza Jane ON RADIO" Smart kid.

Now she's making up her own games. Her newest one: She stares at you all sweet and cute-like until you stare back and get really close. Then when you're right in her face she says (loudly) "Go Away Go Away!" and laughs maniacally. Then as you look horrified she says "No!!! I'm kidding". Of course the first time she did this to me I cracked up laughing. So now she thinks it's great. Wonderful.

Bedtime songs are still a hit. She's got some new requests now though: Yankee Doodle and Spider Man. Gordon comes up with these and she just LOVES them. Spider Man includes a "verse" that we learned from our neighbor across the street. It has nothing to do with Spider Man, but instead is about a baby in the kitchen with pots and pans. We can't sing the song without this verse - she gets indignant. Someday, when she's older, she'll hear the spider man theme song and will break into this pots and pans nonsense and everyone will think she's nuts - ha ha. There's also an "Ameoba Man" verse that Gordon's friend Andrew made up long ago - she likes that one too.

Her newest skill is counting. It's pretty fun to watch her do this. She's totally got two down. If there's two of something -she'll tell you. TWOOO Monkeys! TWOOO Ladybugs! whatever. But she'll also count higher when prompted. She uses her index finger and can consistently get up to three or four without error. Then it gets a bit dicey. Sometimes she rushes through the rest, but she ALWAYS ALWAYS skips seven. Not sure why - she's just not down with seven.

In related news, she seems to like the letter "e". Not sure why - but she always points it out when she sees it. She's also got some weird connection with "K". She's got an ABC book and the K is for kite. Whenver we get to it she stops, stands up and sort of makes a K with her arms - then laughs. I'm not entirely sure if she's trying to be a "K" or the "kite". Either way - it's a little wacky.

Lily loves the library. If she sees an airplane - and you ask her where it's going - she'll tell you "to the library". At random times she'll announce "library NOT closed, library OPEN!" One time she said this loudly in the middle of story-time AT the library (hello Miss Obvious). The hippie babies in the bus in the Pampers ad from the parenting magazine? Also going to the library - though sometimes those babies do prefer the zoo.

Lily digs Barak Obama. The other day my brother Eric and I were drving her to the mall. We're stopped at a light near Union Square and suddenly Lily's all pointing out the window yelling "Barak Obama! Barak Obama!" We looked and looked - there was no Barak anywhere to be found. But she kept getting angrier and angrier about it. Thankfully the light was long and I finally spied a tiny Obama sticker with his face on it stuck to a light post. Seriously it was HARD to find. Of course my brother then asked her "Do you know John McCain too?" Dead silence from the back seat - heh heh. The next day we're driving again and she says "Where'd Barak Obama go? I want to see Barak Obama sticker!" Well Lily dear you'll be happy to know that, "Yes, we did".


Making Room and Finding Space

Time for an announcement... drum roll...

The Masterwongs are soon to become four! Yup, I'm carrying around a new little guy/gal with me now everywhere I go. Hopefully all of you reading this have already heard this news from us personally, so it's not much of an announcement. If you ARE finding out this way - well let me just say that we haven't been the best at getting in touch lately. Honestly I'm still processing the fact that there's really and truly a baby in there. I keep going to the doctor and they keep sending me home with really cool pictures:

Hi Mom! Hi Dad! Hi Sis!

But I have yet to really get my mind fully around the concept of a new baby. So don't be offended if we didn't tell you - it's not you, it's us ;)

I won't bore you with the details of how I've been feeling blah blah blah - well not in THIS post. Instead I wrote a couple of "secret" posts as I went along - before we were confident enough to start posting the news. So I'll be publishing those one a day over the next few days. So check back for those, but caution - they are void of all cute toddler antics and focus totally on the rantings/musings of a pregnant woman. You've been warned.

As the title suggets there lots of prep going on around here lately. So far a lot of it is mental/emotional for me. However we DID post our day bed to Craig's list so that we can get Lily a smaller twin bed and make some space in her room for another dresser. Tonight I finally got to my first pre-natal yoga class with Barrett over at O2 Yoga. I really enjoyed these with Lily and was excited to go back. However, what I had forgotten was how the classes are such a great opportunity to really center and connect with your baby. With Lily all I did was connect with her all the time - I had NOTHING ELSE TO DO but think about her. Poor baby #2 is ALREADY getting shafted in that I can hardly spare a thought for him/her during my day. So yoga class was AWESOME tonight. Just me and Baby #2 hanging out and getting all "om" and "namaste". Definitely going to make these a priority on my Sunday nights.

OK and now some important facts and requests for help:
1. Due date is May 24, 2009 - yay for spring babies!
2. That makes me 13 weeks along today - nearly done with the first trimester. Do I get to wake up now?
3. This baby needs a nickname - any suggestions? Baby Wong #2 is too boring.
4. This blog is going to need a new name! ack! We've got about 6 months to work that one out. Please leave comments with suggestions! We could name Baby 2 in the "swamp theme" and keep it real that way.. mwa-ha-ha-ha

Now seriously folks, I've begged for comments before but this time I mean it! Don't deny the pregnant lady - it's all kinds of bad karma.

And I'll leave you with more fun pics:

Umm the head is attached, right???


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Halloween 2008

Halloween is one of those holidays that I sort of lost - I got older and forgot just how much fun it really is. Could be because anything that requires creativity scares me just a little - so I avoid it. As I "grew up" and shed my youthful enthusiasm for the holiday it just became a chore. The weight of choosing a costume, making/procuring it - just too much! Thankfully having a child is slowly bringing me back around to just how awesome a time it really can be.

Alot of that is due to the fact that Somerville knows how to do Halloween. There's always tons of stuff going on around the holiday and our street really does it up. Perhaps everywhere is like this and I just never notcied before. But certainly having Lily in our lives has put all this Halloween fun right back at my fingertips.

Due to my aforementioned lack of creativity Lily was a monkey this year, courtesy of Old Navy (oh how I love that place). And she LOVED her monkey costume. When we brought it home she would walk around the house clutching the costume and her stuffed monkey, trying to hold up two fingers while proudly proclaiming "TWOOO Monkeys TWOOOOOOO!"

Our first chance to wear it came the Saturday before Halloween at a little costume potluck held at the Somerville Growing Center. We parents basically stood around, ate and watched our little costumed children play and slowly strip out of their costumes. Gordon did manage to get some good shots:

We sent her with a real banana prop - go creativity!

Look! a monkey! in a tree!

The next big event was the Thursday before - a rocking party at Gordon's office. And man do these people know how to do Halloween! I was very impressed by this party - the whole office was decorated and the costumes were spectacular. There was a jambi the genie, smurfette, the whole cast of the wizard of oz and a bunch of used car salesmen. Gordon got some great shots of the decorations and the costumes - you can check them out here if you're curious. In the meantime, here's one of Lily after she "happened upon" a big pumpkin full of candy:

Finally it was Halloween Day. We started off our celebration with a trip to the library for spooky story hour dressed in costume. It was very fun and we met Lily's friends Marlena and Kaylee there. Gordon came home early for Trick or Treating and we got an extra special treat - Mimi (who runs Lily's day care) and her three youngest daughters came out to join us. Lily was SO happy to have Mimi and the girls here with us. The girls also really enjoyed our street - everyone gets so into Halloween here. They do a great job decorating and sit outside handing out candy. It's like a mini block party. It's always so nice chatting with all the neighbors I wonder why we only do it up like this once a year!

We were amazed by Lily's energy. She has no idea really what candy is, but thought it was SO AWESOME that you went up to pepole's houses and they just gave you stuff. I think the whole experience blew her little mind. After every house she'd say "another house! another house!". We were easily out walking around for 90 minutes and brought back a ton of loot.

Lily and her entourage

But eventually the night had to come to an end. Even though Lily insisted that she was "not tired" and protested "no bed" we did wrap up the evening. But not before we got a great picture of Lily and Mimi's girls. Hope you had a great Halloween too!

Lily, Sarah, Susan and Amel