Tuesday, May 01, 2007

April 2007 Round Up

Monthly Round Up idea borrowed from Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Credit: Pinky Blinkies

Wow, this one got quite long, especially since I added a new question of my own to the list.

April 2007 Round Up

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
Flipped through Parenting magazine again. I think that's about it. I don't know what's wrong with me! I've lost my reading mojo. I have a couple of books upstairs starting to call me softly. Maybe next month. And I really need to reread HP6 before the last book comes out in July.

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
Yay, we actually saw a movie! Hopefully I'll get to say that at least once for each of the next four months as well. One can hope. I actually had this all typed up and had to amend it to account for us unexpectedly seeing a movie very late in the month. We saw Next, starring Nicholas Cage, Julianne Moore, and Jessica Biel. Not the best movie I've ever seen, but certainly far from the worst, and we were rather desperate for a "theater break." DH was off one other day this past month, and we didn't even go to the movies because there was nothing out worth seeing! So this was a nice change. Next month, lots of opportunities! Spidey and POTC are on the must see list.

On television, we did try out Thank God You're Here! Thought it might be on par with Whose Line Is It Anyway?, but it's not. We love Whose Line, the British version more than the American one, but they're both worth watching. Thank God You're Here had its moments, but it isn't even in the same league with Whose Line. It also demonstrates how even well known and gifted comics don't necessarily have what it takes for that kind of improv. We'll probably drop it from the DVR soon.

I've also been watching Planet Earth on Discovery (DH uses that time to play his computer game). We get it in hi-def, and it has been utterly stunning! It is a bit light on details for my personal tastes (though the less details in the cave episode, the better! eww!), but if they made it as in depth as I'd like, it would be insanely expensive, and it could be a weekly series! But it has been absolutely worth watching. I'm sorry it is over.

May sweeps coming up, and then the summer drought begins. We don't watch most of what passes for summer television, except The Closer. In fact, the summer TV barrenness is how we got hooked on poker, IIRC. I foresee either lots of DVDs, or lots of scrapping! LOL Maybe a few more films in the theater, since my brother will be living in Atlanta by then and can babysit. Woo-hoo!

What special days did I celebrate and how?
I don't really recall any specifically. April is a pretty quiet month, except for the birthdays of my two best friends.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
I bought dinner for a policeman at IHOP, just a spur of the moment thing. Paid for it on my way out, so he didn't even know who did it. They give a 50% discount to all uniformed personnel (police, fire, ambulance, military, etc), so they gave that to me as well, which I thought was nice.

I sent a (very late) gift card to Annette's daughter for her 17th birthday. I took Annette to the Titanic exhibit while she was here in honor of her birthday. I mailed out two baby gifts, one to Jenifer and one to Caity. I sent cards for various reasons to various people.

Annette gave me the book The Joy of Cooking, though what exactly she thinks I'm going to do with it is beyond me! Probably makes a good door stop. (I'm teasing! LOL) Oh, and a lady at IHOP gave Luke and me a coupon for our meal. She had some that were expiring the next day, so she just passed them out to other customers who did not have one. It was only 15% off, but still, she didn't have to do that. Quite the welcome little RAK (that's Random Act of Kindness, for anyone who might not know).

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
Too many! I went to a doctor of some sort once a week the entire month of April, and not a single visit was for me. First, an ear infection for Luke, then Luke's finger stitches the next week, and stitch removal the week following. Plus his speech evaluation.

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
The Titanic exhibit was amazing, and I really enjoyed it. Annette and I did a whirlwind tour of Atlanta on our one day together. Titanic at the Civic Center, Mary Mac's for lunch, a brief stop at Borders bookstore, Zesto's for dessert, and a quick tour of the Georgia Tech campus. We couldn't figure out what was up with all the cops on campus, though, until I finally thought to turn on the radio, only to be greeted with the news of the VA Tech shootings. So sad.

We met up with Steve's Aunt Karen and family at his Aunt Beth's house. It is only the second time we have met her oldest granddaughter, and the first time we've met the youngest. It was also our first real chance to interact with his cousin Brooke's new hubby. We went to their wedding back in November, but didn't have much chance to chat. Caity was there with her almost 4-week-old son, and he's so tiny! He weighed over a pound less than Luke when he was born, so Luke literally was never that small in the outside world. I think it was everyone's first chance to meet Luke, too. Quite chaotic with so many folks and lots of little kids running around.

We finally got our yard cleaned up (had two years worth of leaves in it, seriously), so we spent some time in the back yard, er, dirt with Luke. He likes his baseball tee set. You should hear him say "baseball player;" it's so cute! Got lots of good pictures. Luke loves it, and he now wants to go outside every day when we get home, which just isn't practical.

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
I tried TWO new recipes this month, thank you very much! I know, I can't believe it either. One was a Burrito Skillet. Basically brown some meat, add some salsa, taco seasoning, and beans (and a little water). Simmer, then add chopped up flour tortillas. Cover with shredded cheddar and serve. Using my usual substitution, I exchanged stewed tomatoes for the salsa. Not a stellar recipe, but worth having again when we get bored with "the usual."

But, by far the best recipe I have tried in ages was the one for Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups. Instead of trying to describe it to you, I'll just give you the recipe. Let me just say, it was *fabulous,* and I also see lots of future alterable potential (peanut butter, anyone?).

Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups

* 12 pieces Nestle Toll House Refrigerated Chocolate Chip Break Apart Cookie Dough
* 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
* 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
* 1 large egg
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling
* 12 paper baking/muffin/cupcake cups

1. Preheat oven to 325* F. Use baking cups to line 12 muffin tin cups.
2. Place one piece of cookie dough in each lined muffin cup.
3. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookie has spread to the edge of the cup. Cookies will not be done; that's okay.
4. While cookies are baking, beat cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, egg, and vanilla extract in medium bowl until smooth.
5. Pour about 3 tablespoons cream cheese mixture over each cookie in cup.
6. Return muffin tins to oven and bake for an additional 15-18 minutes or until set.
7. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Top with pie filling. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Source: The Magic of Baking: A Kroger Plus Customer Monthly Recipe Book, Spring 2007

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
We had to replace our computer monitor this month. The old one just flat out died. And now the CPU on the desktop is acting up, making an odd noise that we *think* is the fan, but we can't swear to it. That will be an investigation for May, I think. And as I already said, we finally got our yard all cleaned up (it wasn't cheap), not that there is much "yard" left.

What were this month's disappointments?
Work contract will definitely not be renewed. I so absolutely *hate* job hunting. (Yes, you'll be hearing a lot of whining on that topic in the coming months; my advanced apologies.)

And Luke has finally been officially diagnosed with a speech delay, from barely mild to bordering on severe. As disappointing as that is, that wasn't the real let down. The truly frustrating part of all of this is that, after being at this since October, he *still* cannot see a speech therapist, because there is a waitlist. There are 12 kids ahead of him, so it will probably be three months before he can see someone, despite officially being told he needs it. GGRRRR!!

What were my accomplishments this month?
Another case of just making it through the month feeling like an accomplishment in and of itself. I have slowly started scrapping again, at least a little bit. Hope to pick that up a bit more soon (to utilize all those recent purchases I've made!).

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?
I think I will deviate from the set-up that Katie the Scrapbook Lady has and add in this section, since Luke is accomplishing more than the rest of us each month. I like having them here instead of putting them all at the end in the "other" section. Also means this will likely get a bit long. So if you don't want to hear me prattle on about my child endlessly, just skip to the next question.

So, Luke learned to climb out of his crib, though he has thankfully been pretty good about staying in it since the first few nights. He is also working on kicking and catching a ball. He can even, on rare occasions, hit a baseball with an oversized child bat when it is tossed to him. Pretty good for 2, I think! Oh, and he finally learned to use a sippy cup. Yes, I have/had the only 2 year old in the world who does not use a sippy cup. (He doesn't like cheese or pasta.) He never could make them work as a toddler, so we went with straws on the recommendation of my uncle's wife, Leslie. Worked like a charm, so no need to push the sippy cup, IMO. He still prefers a straw in most cases, but every now and then, he insists on a sippy cup. His talking has improved dramatically (no matter what the speech eval showed). I can't believe how many new words he has picked up. It is just so darn cute! However, one of the new words I could do without: bug! He is *obsessed* with bugs. If he even thinks there is a bug, the will point and squeal and jump up and down. If he sees one on the ground, he has to run over and try to stomp on it. This can make playing outside a bit of an ordeal!

He also puts himself to bed now. Well, we used to carry him upstairs, but early this month, he decided he wanted to go up the stairs himself. We think he is a little afraid of the dark, so I think this lets him check everything out on his way up (he scopes out the room and knocks on the walls to scare away any bad things). He also has a new lovey. He's never really been one to carry something around, not a toy or a blanket or anything. A few months ago, his Beanie Baby dog (we call Doggie; aren't we original) started going to various places with us, but not consistently. It mostly just stayed in the car. (It was also an emergency puppy replacement one sick night.) But with the waking during the night (why we think he's afraid of the dark), we started using the Ty Pluffie orange tabby that my mom gave him as a baby to make him smile and comfort him. It now goes most everywhere with us, including bed. That is his first new bedtime toy in two years! It was exclusively puppy and Eeyore until now, despite us trying to introduce some new ones. He wouldn't have it. He would just throw it out of the crib before we even got out of the room. No more! We can get him to leave it in his car seat to go to school, but that's about it.

You can see all sorts of adorable Luke photos in his April 2007 album, if you're interested.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
We had two huge trees fall on houses in our neighborhood during a storm. They came right up out of the ground, root ball and all. Though it was never reported on the news that there was one in our area, I swear there was a tornado. I normally sleep like the dead. Unless Luke is making noise, nothing wakes me up. Except the wind this particular night around 4 AM. Scared me to death! I was ready to snatch Luke out of his crib and dive in a downstairs closet, it was that bad. How we didn't lose power, I will never know. I have never heard anything like that before, and I hope never to do so again. Here are some photos:

The roof you see in the second photo was thankfully only their porch. The actual house didn't have much damage. But that first house is still completely covered with a tarp, and I'm pretty sure no one is living there right now. And see that last picture? The one that looks like a small tree being a bit blown over? It's not. That is a tree branch larger around than my arm, a good 4-5 inches in diameter, and it is sitting right next to MY house! It was jammed so hard and so far into the ground that DH and I could not move it, even working together. We had to have the lawn guys chop it up when they were here. Now tell me that wasn't a tornado! I don't know how else it could have gotten that deep.

That's everything that comes to mind. As usual, I feel like I am forgetting something, but that may never go away. Thanks for reading!

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