Wednesday, July 28, 2010

California, here we are!

On July 23, Andrew, Sonia, and I flew to California to celebrate my dad's 60th birthday. After all of the festivities were over, Andrew flew back home, leaving me and The Great Sosini to party for a week with Niki, Charlotte, Peter, Grandma Jojo and Grandpa Spike. I'll do a longer blog post later, but here are some pictures to show what a great time we're having so far!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Best friends: a girl and her cat

There is nothing like watching your daughter giggling hysterically (and promptly getting the hiccups) while your cat goes nuts over feathers on a stick. I love those two goofballs! I shot this video a month ago but hadn't gotten around to posting it yet.

Margie Cat + Sonia + igloo tent + feathers on a stick = craziness!

Monday, July 19, 2010

She walks!

It's official: Sonia has learned to walk! She walks everywhere unless she needs to get there fast-- then crawling is far more efficient. The cats look a bit alarmed at Sonia's new skill, but I keep telling them not to worry; they will always be able to outrun a human. I don't think they believe me, though!

Sonia tested out her fledgling walking skills when we were at the Morton Arboretum last week:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

14 months old: a state of the baby address

I'm a day late in posting this, but Sonia is now 14 months old! We have so much fun together.... She is currently obsessed with doors (and shutting them), throwing various items through the cat door & down the basement stairs (any time I can't find something, I check either there or her toy cabinet), and playing with Margie in the Ikea igloo tent. Sonia jibber-jabbers constantly, and although I'm not sure what language she's speaking, she does sprinkle her babble with a few English words like baby, Mama, ball, Bobo, and uh-oh.

The biggest news is that The Great Sosini is starting to walk pretty well! Yesterday and today, her walking started improving dramatically. I was able to capture this video:

She is so proud of her walking efforts!

I have so much fun playing with her outside.... Sonia likes to hang out with the neighbor's dog, Bailey:

Sonia also loves to play with her wagon and her strollers.... I don't even bother to bring toys out because she just ignores them!

Andrew loves that black & white top she's wearing in the pictures above.... He thinks she looks like a little French baby.

I've posted a bunch of pictures of Sonia with her buddy, Sara, but I haven't yet posted some of Sonia with another one of her buddies, Samantha. Samantha is such a sweet little girl! She has the best smiles, and she and Sonia love to crawl around acting like goofballs together. I managed to snap a couple of cute pictures of those two monkeys yesterday:

S&S were wearing their similar purple gingham rompers with froggies.... Both rompers are from different clothing manufacturers-- we want to know which designer ripped off the other!

The only problem we're having right now is sleep.... Sonia's sleep had improved a bit once she started taking the antibiotics for her ear infection, but now it's back to the same terrible state I mentioned a few posts ago. I'm taking her to the doctor tomorrow to see if the ear infection is going away or if we need to try some stronger antibiotic. Oh, Sonia. I hope whatever is interrupting your sleep goes away ASAP!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Visiting the godparents

This past weekend, we loaded up the SportWagen and drove East to Dublin, OH to visit Sonia's godparents, Emily and Gonzo. The drive is about 6 hours from Lisle to Dublin, but that doesn't include any stops. We ended up making it in 7 hours on the drive there and 7 1/2 hours on the drive back. Not too bad when you're with an antsy almost-14-month-old!

On our drive to OH, we stopped in IN for some gas, ice cream, and a diaper change. Sonia was more than happy to help me finish my cone!

Soon after we arrived at Em & Gonzo's beautiful house, Sonia attempted to make friends with their kitties, Cookie (pictured below) and Squeakers. C&S were so good with Sonia! They hung out with her pretty much all weekend. Andrew and I were wondering if Gonzo & Em would be mad if we took Cookie & Squeakies back with us to Lisle....

Gonzo made us some of his fabulous fajitas made with pre-marinated meat that he carries back to Ohio with him when he visits his family in Texas.

Sosi loves Uncle Gonzo's guacamole!

Sonia loved playing in Cookie & Squeakers's tent-- at least until she got stuck and couldn't get back out! Squeakers went in the tent with Sonia, but soon realized that was a bad idea and hightailed it out of there.

We fed Sonia lunch at a beautiful little playground that is a 30 second walk from Gonzo & Em's house. I love their neighborhood so much!

Boys will be boys....

Gonzo & Andrew ran through the sprinklers with Sosini after we got back from the playground. Sosi loved it!


Another goofball:

Perusing the menu at City Barbeque.... Their BBQ is out of this world! Definitely not your typical Midwestern fare....

Being a happy little traveler on the way home to Lisle on Sunday.... She was so happy every time we got out of the car for a rest!

Thank you for a really nice weekend, Gonzo and Em! Sosini loves her godparents!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Grinning through the pain

I found out today that Miss Sonia has an ear infection on her right side. Poor baby.... Poor me & poor Andrew, too, though-- Sonia hasn't slept through the night in at least two weeks. I'm starting to get that feeling of dread as bedtime approaches, and even though I've been napping while Sonia naps, I still feel like a zombie at times.

Thankfully, even though Sonia must have been feeling a lot of pain and discomfort lately, she's still managed to have a bunch of fun (with occasional bouts of fussiness). She has been working more on walking.... I'm guessing that her equilibrium might be a bit off due to the ear infection, so I'm interested to see what's going to happen when she starts feeling a bit better. Swim lessons are going well, and although I didn't get any good pictures on Monday, Andrew was able to come with us to lessons on Monday night and see our little fishy in action. Sosi thought it was very cool to swim with her daddy!

My friend, Toni, took this fantastic picture of The Great Sosini on Saturday during our playgroup's family picnic. I love her sweet little smiles!

The other day, Sonia pushed her high chair all the way out of the kitchen, down the hallway, and into the entryway. She's actually getting pretty good at steering! Then, she proceeded to clamber in and out of the space under the seat for a good 10 minutes.

Yesterday, while Sonia was "helping" to clean up our family room after a play date, she decided that she is a toy, so she put herself away in the toy bin. I piled more toys on top of her, which she thought was pretty funny. Silly goose....

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Water baby

I have a suspicion that Sonia must have been a fish in a former life. She loves water so much! Andrew and I both spent a good amount of our childhoods in various pools, lakes, and oceans, so this makes us very happy.

This past week, Sosini started taking swimming lessons; at her age, the lessons are actually considered more of a "water orientation", but she's learning a lot nonetheless. Our "parent-tot" class is a half hour long, and we usually spend the first 10 minutes of the class wading around in the zero-depth entry part of the pool, fishing for rings. Sonia's actually not too interested in this part.... I think it's because she can't walk yet, so it makes her nervous to be wading around in water (even though she is holding my hands)-- walking in water is even harder than walking on dry land! Then we spend 10 minutes or so sitting in the shallow water, splashing and kicking. She thinks this part is okay, but she can't wait until the last 10 minutes of class: swimming time! Sosinini thinks it's positively hilarious when I help her "float" and "swim" on her tummy. She gets a great little grin on her face-- hopefully when Andrew comes with us to swim lessons on Monday, one of us can capture her swim-related glee on camera.

Yesterday, after a great picnic at Gartner Park with some wonderful friends, we got together with a few neighborhood families to have a 3rd of July barbecue. Sonia went nutty over the kiddie pool that one of our neighbors brought over to the festivities. She thought it was so fun to climb in and out of the pool, and she kept making me help her crawl up the inflatable slide. Two of the neighbor kids (one is 3 years old and one is almost 2 years old) provided a lot of entertainment for Sosi as well-- she loved to watch them running and splashing.

Looking all suave in her hand-me-down sun hat from Charbunkle

Proudly brandishing an inflatable fish toy while squinting into the setting sun... I love that swimsuit!!

Sonia, don't nom on the fishy!

Anya provided moral support and cheered as Sonia tested out the slide. After Sonia crawled away from the pool to go play with Danny's cars, Anya kept coming over to Sonia, pointing at her, and asking, "water?". She wanted Sonia to come back in the pool with her!

We love our baby beluga!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Excess (by Andrew)

"The refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one's obsessions, is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of us all." -- John Updike

In my last post, I discussed the types of corners that I cut when cooking -- out of necessity -- to salvage some sliver of leisure time. If you didn't read it, the long and short of it is this: I know you can make your own mayonnaise. Ruhlman tells me I should make my own mayonnaise. But I'm not about to chop shallots, emulsify the ingredients with a hand-mixer, fish lemon seeds out of the mixture, clean my hand-mixer, clean the cutting board, clean the knife, clean the bowl, and chill my mayonnaise for an hour before serving. I'm going to buy a freaking jar of Hellman's and play with my daughter.

But, I'm not a completely disgraceful, lazy prole either. There are some "sacred cows" that I have when I eat (see especially #4, below) and drink as well. I've found these things really are worth the extra time and expense.

1. Bean Juice.

"This is some serious gourmet $&%*! Usually, me and Vince would be happy with some freeze-dried Taster's Choice, right, but he springs this serious gourmet $&%* on us! What flavor is this?
" -- Jules Winnfield

I drink coffee every day, including weekends. I am not addicted (I can quit any time); I just love it (just one more drink drink drink...). But one thing is non-negotiable: I buy good whole beans, store them in a vacuum-sealed container, and take the time to grind them fresh. My preferred brand right now is Starbucks Pike Place Roast, but there are a ton of options out there.

2. Hop Juice. The greatest food discovery of my adult life is that beer can actually taste good. It can be exciting, interesting, refreshing, glorious. It can be paired with different foods. It can be an aperitif that starts off a meal. It can be a springboard for discussion about various other types of brews. It can finish a meal and taste like the essence of Christmas. It can be stored, and it changes with time. And it's something that America has become very good at, even in my own backyard (at Two Brothers, Goose Island to some extent, and Three Floyds, for example). And, even good craft brews are still insanely cheap. You can get some great 650 ml bottles for $9-12, and 4 or 6-packs for $9-14. Wine at that price is almost always unquaffable, but conversely, you'll never find a craft brewer with the arrogance to put a price tag on a 650 ml bottle of more than about $15. I buy great beer because financially I can, and emotionally I must. The supermarket carries almost zero craft brews, but the extra trip to Malloy's Liquors is objectively worth it. Stay thirsty, my friends.

3. Risotto. Risotto is an easy, predictable dish -- but there is no doubt it takes time and nurturing. I love it so much, and have determined there are few shortcuts, so I'm willing to make the sacrifice. You have no choice but to use arborio rice, which usually means a trip to Whole Foods (otherwise, you're just making sticky cheesy rice, a college favorite of mine, but no longer a suitable meal for adult Me). You have no choice but to cook it slowly. You have no choice but to saute the rice first. Only fresh herbs make sense because the dish is already simple enough and many risotto recipes highlight the herbs anyways. All that being said, the May 2010 Cooks Illustrated offers about the most efficient way of doing it in their "almost-hands-free risotto" recipe. It is hands free enough that I was able to make some huge tuna steaks and salad during waiting periods.

4. Too Much At Steak. Making a steak does not actually involve any cooking. Not really. It involves buying. And if you buy the wrong steak, then you're making a horrible mistake. The stakes are far too high to screw this up. No amount of mastery at the grill can save a thin, muscle-y supermarket steak. No about of incompetence can screw up a prime cut. The quality of your steak, like your wine, is almost always directly proportional to the amount you pay for it. I'll stake my credibility on this unassailable fact. And America rocks at raising cows. We are better at it than anyone except Argentina. So why do you buy tough, stringy manflesh? Are you an orc? Why do you hate 'merika?

5. What Would Santa Do? I have one total exception to my Economy concept: for the holidays, all bets are off. At Thanksgiving, you make turkey and stuffing and homemade pumpkin pie and everything else, and you dirty a ton of dishes and pots and pans. At Christmas, you make your family traditional dinners and mincemeat pie and homemade cookies, and the whole kitchen is a mess. But all of this is okay. In fact, all of this is a critical part of any major holiday. Of course -- yes -- these holidays are about giving thanks, and good wholesome Christian ritual, and dressing up, and family. But the glue that binds all of these together is good 'ol fashioned gluttony, excess, and having to wear your Thanksgivin' Pants so you can fit that final turkey leg in your belly. And God bless us, everyone.

Eyes to the Skies!

This morning, Sonia and I were brushing our teeth and Andrew was downstairs getting ready to head in to work when we heard a weird noise. When he investigated, Andrew discovered that a hot air balloon was flying over the golf course across the street from our house!

It looks like the Lisle Eyes to the Skies Festival 2010 is in full swing. Sonia didn't seem to be all that impressed with the balloon, but Margie Cat almost lost her mind. I was too busy remembering the fantastically beautiful balloon ride Andrew and I took over Sonoma wine country the week that I found out I was pregnant with The Great Sosini. And that gives me an excuse to post this picture of Andrew, helping to inflate our ride. Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the father of my child:

Ohhhhhhhh, Andrew!