Tuesday, December 13, 2011

11 Months

Well Avery, here you are, 4 days shy of your 11-month birthday. Where did this year go? It seems like it would've gone by slowly as we were awake for most of it. But your daddy and I were commenting just yesterday about how this by far the quickest year we have ever experienced.

You are a hoot & a half and already have the biggest personality in the house. Watching you play is one of our favorite pastimes: you'll pick something up - anything - and shake the hell out of it. If it doesn't rattle, you go on to the next item to be shaken. And you adore anything with buttons. We've taken the batteries out of both a remote control and a cell phone just so you can play with them, but you want the real ones that work. Last night I caught you with the remote control. You put it in the hand opposite from me, waved it in big circles over your head, and crab-walked across the front of the couch as fast as you could, playing keep away from Mama, laughing hysterically the whole way.

You have also discovered the button that changes the lights on the Christmas tree to various stages of flash/twinkle/scatter/blink/seizure-inducing light display. And you can only reach the control for the bottom half of the tree.

You're so cute, people like to give you free stuff. I can't tell you how many free cookies you've been given, just because you smile at somebody. You especially love the grocery store and going out to eat.

Dante is your special friend, and you adore him. You will reach out your hand to him sloooooowly, and when you finally barely touch his soft fur, you dissolve into a fit of shrieking giggles. He's not so sure what to think about all that, but he loves orbiting your stroller as we go out for our daily run.

Kearney still likes you too. You're too heavy to crawl all over him like you did just a few weeks ago, but he'll still let you pull his ears and tail, and you light up every time you see him.

We are anxiously anticipating the arrival of your third cousin, Ann Trotter, who is due any day now. Bubba is exquisite in her pregnancy, and you think she's the bees' knees.

We took you to Highland Village for your photos with Santa. Again, you were given free stuff for being cute: I paid for five prints, but we were given nine! I thought you would freak completely out with Santa and was prepared for a screaming-fit picture, but you were very, very good and seemed to really like him.
(c) Lisa Patti

You are still a cuddlebug, and my heart melts when you lie your head on my chest or go forehead-to-forehead with me. I hope we can do that always.
Your giggle is the sunshine of the house. I'll sit cross-legged in the floor with you and play with one of the little horses Cindy bought you from the co-op in Hazlehurst. I'll hide it behind my back and have it pop out on either side of me while you like to try to predict from where it will come. Then I'll let the horse attack you, and you dissolve into a fit of giggles and belly laughs.
Your daddy is your HERO. You light up, dance, babble, and DADADADADAAAAA when he comes home.
You are generally sleeping well, but you went on a bit of a sleep strike this weekend that really threw us for a loop. One night you finally went down at midnight and woke up again at 6:30. I think you're gearing up for a big milestone, like perhaps standing on your own. You'll stand right now very briefly - generally you have a toy in one hand and the coffee table in the other. You'll decide you want to play with the toy with both hands and let go of the table. Then, like Wyl E. Coyote, you'll slowly realize you're standing up and bump down on your booty. It's pretty precious.
Nine months old, no teeth.
Daddy took us down the Natchez Trace on my birthday for a picnic with the camera, tripod, and camera remote control for family pictures. You were pretty good......

..... but you really liked playing in the leaves and dirt most of all.
You were a peacock for your first Halloween. We're original like that.

Your first four teeth have popped out! One day you still had your gummy grin, then the next afternoon you cruised over to me and started CHEWING on my hand. I panicked and thought you had broken glass in your mouth, but it was just your teeth. TEETH?!? When did my sweet baby do that? Now you really enjoy crunching on Cheerios with them. You also like to sharpen your new pearly whites on our stone coasters, which sets your dad's teeth on edge. You love it when we brush them.
Dante's toy basket is your favorite place on the planet.

I have officially started exclusively using cloth diapers on you, and we both love it. I wish I'd done it a long time ago and am looking forward to a summer in which you have nothing but cotton against your skin.
Every day with you is like Christmas, and I find myself lying in bed at night looking forward to the joy you'll bring in the morning. Your daddy and I delight in and are so very, very thankful for you.
With so much love,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Turkey & Dressing Casserole

While pregnant with Avery, I became a bit of a freezer packrat. I would cook up vast pots of this or that and freeze most of it so we would have something easy to pull out when time was short. Combined with culinary contributions from friends and family, nine months later, our freezer is just now beginning to once again look normal, and it's no longer a fight to close the thing. I'm considering revising my birthday wish from a deep freezer to something from Tiffany.

So it was a welcome surprise the other day to uncover the leftovers from last Thanksgiving: our dear friends Cindy and James gave us the most fabulously smoked turkey I'd ever put in my mouth, and the remaining meat, though not enough to make many more meals, was simply too good to throw away. I'd considered making turkey noodles out of it, but that's something you can do with bare bones, and we still had enough meat for a turkey & dressing casserole.
Though this dish is just what it sounds like - dressing with a little good turkey meat thrown in - it's unfortunately one that takes a little eyeballing to get the consistency right. I don't know why people freak out about dressing so much. It's nothing more than a savory bread pudding. Remember that you need enough broth so that it pours in clumps into your baking dish, and it should be just right.

1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 onion, chopped
1 stick butter
1 10-inch skillet of cornbread
4-6 slices bread (white or wheat - I use the heels)
4-6 ounces mushrooms
1-2 boiled eggs
leftover turkey meat
about a quart of chicken broth
4 eggs, lightly beaten
salt & pepper to taste - rosemary is also good.

  • Melt the butter in a skillet and saute the bell pepper, celery, onion, and mushrooms if they are fresh.
  • In a large bowl, crumble the breads.
  • Add mushrooms (if canned), chopped boiled eggs, meat, raw eggs, and salt & pepper.
  • Stir in the chicken broth until very moist, almost soupy.
  • Pour into casserole and bake at 450 until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Now I need to make some chiffon pumpkin pie.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Dear Avery,

So far, you're at our favorite age. You're more fun than ever, but you're also at your most dangerous:
I've watched you climb this step to our bathtub countless times through the shower door as I take my morning scrub but have not yet managed to catch you on film. Your favorite time to pull this stunt is when I'm 8 feet away and soaking wet. Fortunately there's a cushioned mat underneath to catch you, and the one time you fell, your body curled up to protect your head. You are wonderously made.
We took you to the Oktoberfest in Gluckstadt a couple of weeks ago. After setting up camp, strangers came up and asked to take your photo. At first we were nonplussed, then I realized your dad was using your cupholder for his beer. You apparently had a grand time.
You are mimicing everything lately: your Bubba was smushing your face at lunch the other day, so you decided to return the favor.
I took you and the quilt your grandmother made to the MS Craft Quilt Show, and again strangers wanted your photo.
One afternoon you grabbed my hand and started chewing on it. CHEWING. I almost jumped off the couch - how did you put broken shards of glass in your mouth?!? But no, those were the three teeth you popped out in 2 hours. Since then, one more has broken the surface, so you have two top teeth and two bottoms just peeking through. They seem to have grown more every time I pick you up after a nap.

You are going through a phase where YOU want to feed YOURSELF, thank you very much. No spoons for this little kid anymore. You'll tolerate me giving you oatmeal in the mornings, but after that it's kind of a hassle to find healthy finger foods for you. I've managed to cube and steam sweet potatoes, and you'll eat those at every meal along with your favorite staple of Cheerios. We tried eggs and you loved them, but you threw those back up both times you had them, so we'll wait for your system to mature before doing that again. Meanwhile, your dad and I sit by with a spoonful of something green or a protein and do our best. You have figured out a sippy cup, and you suck on the straw of my water bottle, so keeping you hydrated isn't a problem.
You have been quite the party girl this month, going with me to showers, lunches, birthday parties, and celebratory dinners. Here we are celebrating Katy and Ann Trotter, who is due December 12th.
Lately you've become a little magpie: your favorite toy is a blingy, glittery necklace with a big pink rhinestone heart. Last night you slung it so hard the heart went flying off, but I didn't catch that and was worried you had eaten it. Two hours later I found the thing under the couch. It's now one of my little treasures. You can have it back when you're four.
You are pulling up against everything, even sheer walls. And you cruise around the coffee table and couch. Your latest trick has been to attempt to stand on your own, but you usually fall flat backwards. Fortunately I'm always there to catch you. One of your more annoying habits is to pull up against the door to the back patio, so whomever is outside can't come back in without having to gently push you backwards. We need to work on that.
But oh my, you are sweet.
And taking in the entire world. We are loving every minute of taking you in too.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Eight Months

Dear Avery Dale,

I sound like a broken record, but where did the past eight months go? Weren't you born just last week? And now you're all over the place: crawling, pulling up, walking your way around the coffee table. If there's anywhere in the house you want to be, you can definitely make your way there with the cutest crawl I've ever seen.

Everyone said, "Just you wait / when she starts crawling life is over / everything changes once they're mobile / etc." That was a load of crap. Just like Dante, you are a pack animal, and you want nothing more than to be RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of your pack. I've eaten many a supper with you pulled up against my chair, and I can't tell you how many times I've almost broken my neck trying not to step on you. You especially like to help me load the dishwasher, and I have to keep you from crawling in to retrieve your favorite toys - knives. But it's wonderful and lovely, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

You like to help me with whatever I'm doing - filing to polishing the silver - and I'm having a great time giving you loads of babywork.
Bathtime is still your favorite. We bought you a set of ten little sea creatures that squirt water at you. You find them all absolutely hysterical, especially the walrus, and if we squirt water directly into your mouth, you chortle with glee.
The windowsills are your favorite places to be, and they're all grimy with drool. Mike had to go around with the vacuum cleaner and suck up dirt and dead spiders between the screens and panes because you think that stuff tastes great.
You have perfected "cheesy-face."
Did I mention? You adore the water, no matter how you can get into it.
You always take life - and the goats - by the horns. You are fearless. You lunge for the vacuum cleaner, even when I threaten to suck up your toes with it. You have taught me so clearly to carpe diem and reach for goals that I thought I might never accomplish.
You have become QUITE the talker. You will look directly at Mike Peacock and say, "Da-da-daaaaa," but he insists that you're just babbling. Little does he know that you don't do that to anybody else. You also like to sing and have the sweetest voice, especially in the morning, when you come up to me and sing, "Tht-thee-thelll-thththmmmmma." I know exactly what you mean.
You are the light of our lives, and we love you more every day. Thank you for coming to stay with us for awhile. Every day is Christmas with you.

Love you,

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Avery is growing by leaps and bounds. So much so that I feel like I've missed the past six, no seven, months, and want to relive them all over again. As tough as it was, I could so easily and happily go through the sleep deprivation, labor recovery, frustration, terror, spray poop, and whiny screaming again just for one or two sweet gummy 3-month-old smiles. So I'm desperate to preserve just a little of this tiny-ness. Sure, I have her clothes, but now that she's outgrown them it seems more like they were for a tiny doll instead of this larger-than-life imp taking a nap in the other room.

My good friend Rebecca has the sweetest handprint hanging in her breakfast nook of her husband and son's hands together, like Avery's hand is in Mike's above. The highest form of flattery is imitation, so of course I was dying to have one done with our little monster. I was thrilled when Rebecca told me that Mitzi, who owns the business Handprints by Mitzi, was coming to Sweet Dreams to take handprints that next week. I didn't want to be left out of the fun, so we asked Mitzi at Sweet Dreams if my hand could be in on it too. I love how teeny tiny her hands are within ours and that we have hard, physical evidence of her size relative to us. And I love how the sandy beige of the glaze goes with the blue in her room. This plaque is now one of my favorite treasures.

Avery had a kick making these prints too. I suppose she felt like a movie star.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mississippi Hippie Baby

When I was pregnant, everybody had a product that I just HAD to HAVE, otherwise clearly I could not have a baby without it. Usually it was the pack n' play, which Avery now hates. I'd like to say it's because she's claustrophobic, but the most likely culprit is the fact that she isn't the 1,000% absolute center of attention when she's in it. Everybody said I had to have a swing, and sure, I've used it, but a friend of a friend had a baby die of SIDS in a swing, so that ruined it. I'd often stop it just to be sure she was still breathing.

Nobody told me I had to have this, but oh my gosh. I couldn't have a baby without it. Forgive the crappy iphone photos - these were all taken while poking around the house. Avery LOVES and ADORES her ring sling made by the talented Kate Dyess of Mississippi Hippie Baby. And I LOVE and ADORE wearing her - she's my favorite accessory.
Great for traveling! No need for a stroller - the above pic was snapped in Florida while visiting Mike's parents. Great for errands! You can leave the $#@*%! baby bucket in the car.

Be prepared for the public reaction when you wear one of these - it's like having a celebrity on your hip. Everybody loves it, and every time I wear it somebody wants to know where I found it. Even a lady working at Babies R Us said this is way cuter than anything you can buy there, and you know what? She's right.

Another plus? People can't reach in and touch your baby like they are wont to do. WHAT is WITH complete strangers touching babies?!?
Great for the grocery store! Vacuuming! Emptying the dishwasher! Brushing my teeth! Writing thank-you notes! Folding laundry! Putzing around the kitchen! Making lunch! Eating lunch! Putting on makeup! Fixing my hair! You name it, we've done it in the sling.
Napping! She was fast fast asleep in this picture and had been for two hours, her longest nap on record. At the time, she was 10 weeks old and had terrible colic. The only place she could find comfort was right on top of me. I could have "frogged" her legs up within the sling, but she kicked and pushed until she was all stretched out. Typical.

Thank you Kate, for the product I HAVE to HAVE. Babywearing is the bees' knees.

Friday, August 19, 2011

7 Months

Dear Avery Dale,

Well, now that you're about 7 months old, you seem to have forgiven us for bringing you to this mortal plane and have finally decided to enjoy it. You are in a constant state of exploration and mischief making, and you have yet to meet a shoe you don't like.
You ADORE the water. Whenever you go into a complete funk, the most sure way to pull you out of it and have you giggling again post haste is to throw you in the bathtub. Your favorite tub toys are rubber ducks, a whale, and a baby-sized beach ball. We have to give you your own washcloth on which to suck and scrub your own face while we soap up the rest of your little body.

You are so obviously proud of yourself whenever you do something new. The first time you sat up was probably more than a month ago, but I remember it distinctly. I was brushing my teeth in our bathroom. You were puttering around the floor. You looked at me, grinned, threw both arms out wide for balance, and sat right up. Then you giggled in your own Avery way. Since then you have really surprised us with your new tricks. Just 9 days ago you pulled up to stand up next to me as I sat on the couch.
I'm not sure if I've trained you, but you've become a little ham, always smiling at the camera. You'll even look up, flash a gummy grin, and go back to whatever you were doing whenever I pull out the camera. Lately you've started scrunching up your nose and kicking your smile up to an even higher notch. Sometimes I swear your ears point and you look like a happy little demon child.
Next to me, your daddy is your most favorite person on the planet. You give him smiles that you don't give anybody else, and sometimes he's the only person you want.
You are crawling everywhere. Just this morning I found you in the hamper cabinet of our bathroom. I'm still not sure how you managed that. Your crawling technique tickles me to pieces: you raise that hand up high and bring it down with a mighty, deliberate wallop, so we always know where you are by the splat-splat-splat of your hands. You go straight for whatever will kill you first, and you have found electrical sockets in our house that we didn't even know we had. Your favorite toys are colored blocks that I stack and you knock down, baby-sized forks, my shoes, and a big can of diced tomatoes.
I make all your food. Prunes are not your favorite.
You have always been a morning person, but now your happy times are pretty much any time of the day. I can tell when you're winding down or running on fumes and when a crash is imminent. But when you're happy, oh my, are you happy. You are the Patronus to fend off any dementor around. You like to sing sing sing with me, to me, and to anything else that will come along, including Dante and Kearney.

Your version of petting is still a little violent for either of the pets - it's more a full-out, straight-arm baby-sized wallop - but Dante often brings you his toys. He desperately wants you to throw them, but you'd rather give them a good chew. Kearney lets you touch him every now and then, but he usually gives you a wide berth.
We love you more than anything in the whole wide world. Through trial and tribulation, you have made our little family (and our lives) complete.
Did I mention that you love the water?



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