A beautiful woodsy session with Melissa Neck Photography, and this year’s resulting holiday card:
They told us kids AND dogs are in the parade.
Our old-school historic neighborhood proudly maintains many traditions, among them a 4th of July parade down Main Street. Wagons, bicycles, strollers, a historic fire truck, a modern fire truck, classic cars, and lots of happy faces were decked out in red, white and blue. A neighbor held a block party brunch where we decorated our vehicles the morning of the parade and then congregated after for some amazing potluck treats and good conversation. Both Madeline and Henry had a great time.
And now, the parade (which started off with motorcycles before the grand marshal and reminded me of my time in the Disney Stars and Motorcars Parade):
The parade ends at the elementary school, where everyone in the parade gathers to watch the rest of it. Some of the vehicles are parked so that the kids can explore them. The neighborhood milkman also has a tent where you can sample the dairy’s products.
Then we headed back for brunch and a day of barbecues with the neighbors.
We’ve doped her with myriad cartoon shorts along with occasional full-length animated features for months now. She invites us to do the “Mee-key Gonald?” round and round the nursery (see video below). She’s got her princess dresses ready and has been asking to wear her Minnie polka dots to school. Minnie herself has been lovingly smeared with yogurt, milk, cookie crumbs, and various other toddler foods. Yep. At long last, we are going to meet the Mouse and the rest of the Gang.
Isabel March, our fabulous wedding photographer, held a Little Love Portraits event with complimentary(!) mini studio sessions in honor of Valentine’s Day. With our busy lives, it was a nice reminder to stop and capture the moment. Only a short time ago, our tiny 5-lb valentine came home and transformed our world. She’s now a sweet, endearing toddler who seems to have picked up her puppy’s habit of making friends wherever she goes. A singing, dancing, belly-laughing little girl with a big grin, tiny feet, and baby wisps still waiting for real hair to grow. Happy Valentine’s Day, and happy birthday, little Madeline. May this memory be one of many we will hold dear always.
This year might be Mommy’s last chance to make Madeline valentines for a while. Besides being super into Frozen (audio here and video here), Madeline loves “Mimi Moush,” whom she knows as her crib buddy. So Mimi Moush valentines we did.
She’s come a long way from her tiny almost-9-week-old self.
This morning, she was not feeling the Valentine dress, so we went with her “babybug” shirt instead.
The cupcakes were a big hit, as were the treats from her class party.
What a visit to the Poconos! Although Madeline first became acquaintanced with snow in Philly, she was delighted to play in fresh, deep fluff for the very first time. She also, for the very first time, identified “Gama” and “Gampapa.” By the end of the weekend, she added to her vocabulary “Eemee” (Amy), “No-wah” (Laura), and “Mee-am” or “Ee-am” (Liam).
First came story time with Gama and Gampapa on the evening we arrived. M loves her board book collections, perfectly sized for her hands. She especially loves her Mother Goose rhymes, including “Dumpy Dumpy,” “Fuffin Man,” “Kinko Shar,” “Pah Cake,” and “Diddo Diddo.”
The next morning, we headed out for the grownups to ski while baby and puppy explored the snow:
Back home for lunch and a little playtime with Dad:
Heading out for the afternoon, we were much more about our wits and ready to play.
Fortuitously, we discovered a neighborhood friend!
Winding down after a full day. Let’s do some rock n reading.
Out to play the next morning. Say goodbye to the adults! We’ve got business with a toboggan.
Afternoon ski time. Go away Dad, I’ve got a toboggan to ride.
Finally, some scenic shots over the weekend:
The babies in our little circle of friends were all born around the same time, so rather than have a slew of birthday parties (and cakes…and goodie bags…and party commitments), a friend and I decided to do our kids’ two-year-old birthday celebration together. Happy birthday to R, M, and the rest of the gang.
Our amazing two-sided Elmo cake and cupcakes were made by my friend Judy of The Good, Bad and Yummy. Judy is a hilarious kind-hearted soul and directed me in my all-time favorite role, Sally in YAGMCB. Most. Fun. Ever. Nowadays she pours her creativity into her baking. She made the bottom tier of mint chocolate chip cake and the top of red velvet, and both were indeed yummy.
First, the kids went to play while things were getting settled.
Then, we started on the cake and munchies.
Next, we attempted a group photo. You can just imagine the storyline here. We had a near fall with a dad on hand to catch, someone who brilliantly conferred upon each toddler a balloon, a brief alignment of smiling babies, and rapid deterioration into chaos as their attention lapsed.
Finally, they went back to the playroom. M was a big fan of the cat (“Kitty! Kitty!”).
The kids had a few presents to open. M was excited for books, Minnie Mouse, and shoes.
The first real snowfall of the season occurred a few days after New Year’s. Until then, Madeline had never truly experienced snow; she was only a bundled-up baby in a carrier the previous winter. I am thankful to be able to capture this moment in photo and film. Thank you, smartphone.
Better late than never, right?
Poor Henry endured much yogurt, fur tugging, and swatting from Madeline last year. Fortunately they are still buds. It’s amazing how M has grown and yet still looks very much like her baby self.
2014 might well be our last year to sleep in on Christmas Day for quite a while. (Last year’s photos are here.) Madeline had been asking to open the gifts under the tree, but she doesn’t yet understand the concept of Christmas Day. This year’s holiday was all about introducing her to the tree, to decorating it with ornaments, to seeing the Nutcracker (a kids version put on by the Rock School), wrapping presents, and now opening them.
With a little help getting started, she’s gotten the hang of ripping off wrapping paper. First came a Hess truck with a space cruiser and a little baby scout ship. The space cruiser emits sound effects upon swerving or diving, making it a big hit with Daddy (and baby).
Next, we have a family of Calico Critters, the Woodbrook Beaver Family.
Then some snow mittens, a detour to the trash (“srash”), and Brio trains!
And in the biggest box was a Safari Express train set, a perfect finale to Madeline’s Christmas morning.
Madeline had a present for Daddy, but she was somewhat reluctant to give it.
What’s a holiday without coloring on your face?
Some shots with the afternoon sunlight.
Some evening shots of the tree.
Madeline ended her Christmas day by laying her head in Mommy’s lap and falling asleep on the hard wood floor. Mommy was unable to move for the next half hour.
This recipe is my version of the meatball-egg noodle dish, adapted from recipes from the Fannie Farmer cookbook, The Dirty Dish Club and Food.com. After some initial skepticism, Madeline approved. This one might become a cold-weather staple.
Swedish Meatballs (or, Meatballs with Egg Noodles in a Sour Cream Sauce)
- 12 oz wide egg noodles
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided into 1 tbsp each for the meatballs, sauce and noodles, plus more as needed for the sauce
- 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley, divided into 1 tsp for the meatballs and 1 tsp for the noodles, plus more for optional garnish
- about 1.25 lb ground beef, pork and veal (sold at our grocery store as “meatloaf mix”)
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup minced onion
- 1/4 cup finely shredded carrot
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup flour for dredging
- 2 tbsp olive oil for frying
- 1/2 large onion, minced
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 2.5-3 cups beef or vegetable broth
- 1 cup sour cream
- Meatballs (start the mix several hours ahead or the day before):
- In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, breadcrumbs, egg, onion, carrot, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, and 1 tsp parsley. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
- Form 1-inch meatballs, dredge them in flour to coat all over, and set aside. I spray my hands with a bit of cooking spray to prevent them from getting too sticky.
- In a large pan, melt 1 tbsp butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Lightly brown the meatballs on all sides and remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan. The meatballs do not need to be cooked through at this point. Unless your pan is very large, this step will probably require working in batches.
- With the pan on medium-low heat, add the minced onion to the pan and caramelize the onions, about 20 minutes. You can start the noodles while you are waiting.
- Combine the flour, paprika, onion powder, sugar, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, and cloves in a small bowl and set aside.
- Add 1 tbsp butter to the pain and stir to melt.
- Add the flour mixture to the melted fat and onions and stir quickly to form a roux. If the fat seems too scant for the amount of dry ingredients, add more butter. Continue stirring the roux for 2 minutes.
- Add the broth, stir well, and bring to a bubble.
- Add the meatballs, cover the pan, and reduce the heat, allowing the meatballs to cook through.
- Once the meatballs are cooked, turn the heat very low so that the sauce is not bubbling. (High temperature might cause the sour cream to curdle.) Stir in the sour cream and turn off the heat. Continue stirring to mix well.
- Noodles: Prepare the egg noodles according to their directions. Drain most of the water and return the noodles to their pot. Toss with 1 tbsp butter and 1 tsp parsley.
- Assembly: Place noodles on serving dish. Spoon sauce and meatballs over the noodles. Garnish with a bit of chopped fresh parsley.
Miss Mads arrives in her shore outfit:
Miss Mads gets acquainted with the waves:
Miss Mads discovers an old-school pull train toy and takes it for a loop around the deck:
Miss Mads plays in the sand and harasses Daddy with the shovel to play too:
My dear friend Karla married her longtime beau Rob in a beautiful ceremony and reception that reflected their cozy laid-back vibe perfectly. They were wonderfully accommodating to us with regard to Madeline, even welcoming her with a bucket of toys! They are going to be wonderful parents 🙂 Congratulations, newlyweds!
On another note, we discovered the following:
- A wedding full of pediatricians makes the best baby entertainment/childcare ever. Period. For your tot’s next birthday, forget the magician, the balloon artist, and the live appearance by Elmo. Just hire a cohort of pediatricians.
- Madeline LOVES to dance. We thought she might be overstimulated with the party and loud dance music, so we took her off to the side toward the trees and pond. She shrieked to be put down and toddled a beeline straight back on to the dance floor, where said pediatricians had previously been twirling around with her. We tried reigning her in at least twice, and each time she toddled back to the party. On the dance floor, she would bounce and sway and clap. Here’s hoping she has more rhythm than either Chris or me.
Toddling, exploring, and meeting Danielle, who would become Madeline’s best friend for the evening:
Roaming amongst the pants and skirts:
Playing with Danielle and meeting the rest of the pediatricians:
The bride and groom during their toasts:
By 7:30pm we thought Madeline might have been tired, but she protested leaving the party and headed straight back to the dance floor:
We realized after several attempts to head home that we have a party girl, and she had several dance partners to bounce-twirl her around:
The next morning, she slept in:
Last year around this time, Madeline was still nursing every 3 hours, plus a few times overnight. So, all Daddy got was a Photoshop collage Father’s Day card that half-asleep Mommy made at 6am. Oh, and a trip to the spy exhibit at the Franklin Institute.
This year, Mommy planned a bit more. A few weeks before Father’s Day, while Daddy was at work, Mommy bought a tie and some craft supplies. Mommy, Baby, and the coffee table all donned protective gear. After some fabric paint, a bath, and a call to Poison Control (just in case), we had a special gift for Daddy.
So today, for Father’s Day, we had brunch Devon Seafood on Rittenhouse Square. The weather was beautiful, and we dined al fresco both for the view of the park and to diffuse the occasional baby squeal.
Daddy liked his gift very much.
In the afternoon, we went to Washington Square to enjoy more of the sunshine.
Madeline loves to see Henry run around, so three dogs running around looks even more fun!