Jan 22, 2012

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Today, Isabel delighted me by taking a 3 hour nap!! I jokingly said that she deserved a cookie for her awesome nap, and then I started thinking about cookies...

Mmm, cookies.

Once my pregnant mind fixates on something, the craving must be satisfied.

Here is the recipe I use to make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world.
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In your mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light. Add in the egg and vanilla and blend well.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together all dry ingredients.

4. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients with the butter and sugar mixture. When blended well, mix in the chocolate chips.

5. Using a tablespoon, drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. (The tops will not brown, but do NOT cook longer than ten minutes.)

5. Let cool, on the sheet, for five minutes. Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely.

I've found that this recipe makes just over 2 dozen cookies (I have a tendency to make medium/large sized cookies and eat some dough). Double the recipe if you need more cookies. I give you permission to forget that there would be 3 sticks of butter in a doubled recipe - you don't eat cookies for the nutritional value, am I right?

Jan 15, 2012

The Weekend

As a general rule, I cherish my weekends. I relish every second, bask in each moment.

This weekend, however, has not been one of my finest.

I've been trying to write this blog post for hours, but everything that comes to mind is negative - Isabel was difficult this weekend, my house is a complete disaster, I'm entering my third trimester and therefore am tired of being pregnant already, I watched a sad movie, and the dinner I made kinda sucked.

I need a vacation, or at least 8 hours of sleep.

Here's hoping Isabel sleeps all night and I wake up with a more sunny disposition.

*ps. I drew this this week. I know it's lovely, but please don't use it for anything without permission. I'm nice and I'll probably say yes, but it's my art, so be courteous. Kthxbai.

Jan 11, 2012

Prayers, Singing and Other Bedtime Routines

Bedtime at our house seems kind of like a train wreck every night.  An incredibly sweet, cuddly, noisy train wreck, if that makes sense at all.  I woke up thinking about it this morning, so I thought I would walk you through an average bedtime at Casa de Dodd.

At around 6 pm, we eat dinner - well, Isabel eats dinner and Drew and I tag team watching her to make sure she doesn't toss her peas on the ground and smear spaghetti o's in her hair (she did that last night, btw.  I apparently fell asleep on the job).  After cleaning her up and stepping on a few lost peas, we do one of two activities - every other night it's bath time.  That's an adventure all in itself, and another blog for another day.  Otherwise, we generally turn on Nick Jr., which she will watch for about 30 second intervals in between walking from the living room, through the kitchen, picking up a pot or a cutting board, carrying it to the hallway or dining room, dumping it, heading to the living room to play with her toys or in her "new car", climbing on something she's not supposed to climb on (yesterday it was the step ladder I forgot to put away, sometimes it's her baby rocking chair, last week it was the Christmas tree box), and then heading back to the den to sit in her pink elephant chair and start the whole process over again. 

After she does this 10-20 times (or the clock ticks one second past 7pm), she is sufficiently exhausted and starts to walk like a wobbly little drunk baby - that's the main cue that she's about to lose it if we don't start the next step of the bedtime routine.  I think she'd play all night long if we'd let her, which makes the transition to the next step kind of a fight on most occasions.  The next step is diaper change and jammies.  Lately we have been doing this part of the routine in the den as to "trick her", but she's too smart and has figured it out.  Usually I can get her clothes off and her diaper off before she manages to wiggle free and try to escape.  Fortunately, I have the advantage of size and strength in this equation, but sometimes she does manage to get free. 

So, after the chase, she finally gets her diaper on and her jammies on and then we all breathe a sigh of relief because this is the signal to her sweet little brain to start settling down (perhaps why she fights it so much).  Next she gets her milk.  I know there are moms out there that will judge because she still gets it in a bottle at bedtime, but I do not care.  She is happy, it makes bedtime easier and I don't think she will be 16 and still be needing a bottle at bedtime because I let her have it now.  So, if you are of the opinion that a baby should turn one, give up the bottle and never look back, I respectfully ask that you keep your opinions to yourself. *steps down off soap box*

This is my favorite time of the day.

This is the time when Isabel and I snuggle up on the couch and sit quietly while she has her bottle and I wrap my arms around her, breathe her in and just enjoy 5 minutes of peace.  It doesn't matter if she's freshly bathed or smells like Spaghetti O's, she is my precious little one and I cherish every second of that 8 ounce bottle.

When she is done, she hands the bottle to me.  I say "thank you" and then we go find daddy for "Nite nite" kisses.  She responds to this routine in one of two ways - either she flatly refuses to give anyone kisses, or she wants to give her daddy about a thousand kisses.  Obviously you can tell which one we like the best :)

After kisses for daddy, we head to her bedroom.  First thing she wants is her paci and teddy bear.  Then she lays her head on my shoulder and we say prayers.  Well, I say prayers and she snuggles, but I like to think that we're instilling an importance of prayer for our little one by saying our silly prayers every night.  Our prayers go something like this:  "Dear God, Thank you for this day and for getting to (insert activity, ie: go to the playground, buy food at the grocery store, go to school, play at Nana's, etc).  Thank you so much for Isabel, for Mommy and Daddy and Baby Olivia, for Nana and Granddad, Grammie and Grampa, Auntie Em and Uncle Steven, Miss Lillie and Daniel and all our friends and family.  Please help us to sleep so good and sleep all night long and have sweet sweet dreams and wake up happy and healthy in the morning.  In Jesus Name we pray, Amen"  Sometimes she will watch me as I do this, and I like that because she seems interested in what I am saying and seems to understand, at least understand who the people are that we are talking about.

Then it's kisses, goodnights, and I close the door and breathe a sigh - of relief that she's in bed, of sadness that another day has passed and my baby is growing up, of happiness that she is growing and healthy...

I know that this might seem like a crazy thing to do every night, especially if you don't have children, but her vibrancy and sweetness make the crazy all worth it.

Jan 8, 2012

Reflection... Or, Things I Learned This Week

Being Sunday, I think it is a great time to look back on the past week and see what happened and what I learned this week. So, here it goes:

1. Sometimes half weeks can seem extremely long.

2. I can get Isabel and I ready really fast when I sleep through my alarm for 45 minutes.

3. This is not new information, but my husband, Drew, is an exceptionally good cook. Had I thought of this more, I would have refused to cook a long time ago, haha. He made egg drop soup this week that was awesome, and the best steak I have ever had today for lunch.

4. Isabel is so smart. This, also, is not new information, but it always shocks me. This week, I taught Isabel how to play Ring Around the Rosie. She adored it and wanted to play over and over and over again. We would walk in a circle, then when we got to "all fall down," she would yank my hands down, then immediately pull them back up so that I would get up and do it all over again. Of course, she never fell down and got back up, so she had a lot more energy at the end than I did, haha.

5. Isabel is rediscovering how much she adores the outdoors. We went to three different parks and the zoo this week and she had an absolute blast. Today, after 45 minutes of swinging, sliding, walking around the duck pond and even more swinging, the sweet girl cried and cried when we had to go, even though she was shivering and it was getting dark. I think she'd live outside if we would let her eat dirt and rocks, haha.

6. I'm not a huge fan of going out to eat with Isabel in tow, since usually I do a lot of baby wrangling and not a lot of enjoying my meal. However, going out to eat at a location that offers Mac and cheese makes the whole situation much more enjoyable :)

7. 25 weeks pregnant is SOOOOO much better the second time around!

8. Apparently, my childhood that I thought was pretty awesome was not as awesome as I thought because I never had a huge Lego set.

9. Drew is absolutely adorable huddled over a giant pile of legos, building the Slave 1 and humming Star Wars themes.

10. Again, not something new, but re-remembering is always good - I love my church and the people in it and I am proud to be a member of such a strong body of Christ.

And a video for good measure - one of mine and Isabel's favorite things to do is animal sounds. Isabel is really good at puppy dog sounds, but we have been working on others lately. Her new favorite is an Elephant. I love how she raises her arm as if it were the elephant's trunk while she makes the sound. Here's the video:

Isabel's Elephant Video

Jan 4, 2012

Don't Forget

Tonight, I am tired.

A long night with Isabel followed by a long day and a tired, whiney baby left me a little frazzled. I was just about ready to call in sick to this whole mommy thing when I got a little bit of a wake up call from myself. I took a few minutes while Isabel was eating her dinner (Mac n cheese and blueberries, her favorite) to fill out the year one page in her Birthday Book. One of the questions made me nostalgic ("How do I picture you when I close my eyes?"), and once I finished the page, I quickly scanned through the rest of the book - a 10 second action that lead me to the page for her 18th birthday.


Tears started streaming down my face thinking of my BABY being 18 years old. Every single little frustration I had with Isabel instantly left and all I wanted to do was hold her and not let her grow up!!

But that is part of life - we grow, and generally it is for the better!

This mama doesn't ever want to forget these precious moments I have when my babies are, well, babies. So here are a few things about One-year-old Isabel that I never want to forget:

1. Her curly blonde hair and her big blue eyes.

2. Her dimples - and that grin, the oh-so-cute one where she squinches up her whole face with a smile.

3. The way she crosses her ankles when she sits on the ground or in her car seat.

4. Her favorite phrase of "Oh, Wow!" If only we could all be as enthusiastic as Isabel!

5. Her awesome animal noises. The two grunts she makes for a puppy dog sound, and the one hand up and high pitched noise for an elephant...

6. Her favorite song is the Doxology and we sing it a LOT. My favorite thing about our morning trips to Nana's house is singing this to her and then at the end she makes a sound that kinda sounds like "aaraaanh", which actually means "amen."

7. Her intelligence. This child is a baby genius. She picks up on things so quickly and her vocabulary at 13 months astounds me.

8. How much she loves her daddy - she's always excited to see him, play with him and especially to have him tickle her.

9. Mornings when we can stay in bed and snuggle for a few extra minutes and she gives kisses and then puts her face up to your mouth to have you kiss her. She is so loving and gentle in these moments and I can not begin to tell you how much I cherish this.

10. Her sweet giggles. They are magical and contagious.

Mommy loves you forever, Isabel Jane!

Jan 3, 2012

New Year, New Baby, New Blog

January 3, 2012... Can you even believe that it is 2012?? Where have my days, weeks, months gone?

It seems like just yesterday...

That I started college at an art school, wondering what I wanted to do with my life, and now I am a teacher, a wife, a mother...

That Drew got down on one knee at White Rock Lake with a ring in his hands, and now we've nearly been married for 6 years...

That my sweet Isabel was born, and now she is a whole year old, walking, talking, making me laugh every single day...

That I took a pregnancy test on a whim and found out I was expecting another beautiful baby, and now I am 25 weeks pregnant with a beautiful baby girl who we will name Olivia...

It's been a little over 10 years ago that I graduated high school. There is no way that 18 year old me would have ever pictured this beautiful home I live in or my sweet husband making my dinner while my beautiful baby sleeps in her crib and another grows in my belly. Nothing I could have imagined would have lived up to this. I love every bit of my life.

The beginning of a new year always makes me a little contemplative. What about the last year did I love? What would I love to have changed? Was there something that I actually could have changed, or was it just the circumstances I encountered? How did I handle the situations I was dealt? Did I project my love for God to those around me, or did I project myself? Was I happy?

As always, there are things I would like to improve, but this year, I have a much better reason for improvement than ever before.

Isabel Jane watches, learns, repeats... She is incredibly smart, and she is watching everything that her mommy does. THAT is a way better reason than a new year to examine and adjust. And now Olivia is on her way. I want to be the best mommy I can be, and to be that, I have to be the best wife, the best teacher, the best homemaker, the best person I can be, so that my girls see the big picture and the small everyday things.

And I am actually excited about this - getting my house in order, treating my body right, eating right, feeding my family good, wholesome food, spending time down on the floor with my daughter and in the Bible with my savior, investing in my marriage... This is what I yearn for!

And over the next year, I hope that you will follow along with me, encourage me, and keep me accountable to do these things. I plan to post here the trials and wonders of being a working mom of two beautiful girls.

Happy New Year, friends!