Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tuck in!

I'm cooking. I'm actually cooking. Food. Every night of the week, save the occasional weekend night, for my family. Edible, nutritious (mostly) stuff that's getting us out of our eat-in ruts and our habit of eating out because we're bored to tears with what's in the fridge. And I credit this.

I'm really not one to go hawking stuff to my friends, cookbooks especially, but this concept is just so cool. You can follow the concept for the book or not, but it's designed as follows:

The book is split into the four seasons, and the seasons are split into weeks. Each week has five dishes with suggested (and very easy) sides. You can go to the website and print a consolidated shopping list for the week you're cooking, and the list gives you the ability to cross out a recipe or two's ingredients if you're not going to be using them all.

So far, two weeks in, we've been hardcore and have done all five for each week, with another set of five ready to go for next week. None of the recipes is difficult (or I wouldn't be writing this), and the nutrition values are listed for each one (by serving). The variety is terrific - we've sat down to things we never would have dreamed up on our own and that are just delish. It's also easy to cut most of the recipes in half, which is good, since most are designed to provide six to eight servings. We like leftovers, but not that much.

And while our grocery bill these last couple weeks has run a bit over budget, when I think about what we're not spending on eating out, we're more than covered. I also think our weekly outlay for groceries will fall back into the normal range; I find some of the added expense is stocking us up on what the book - and really anyone with any kitchen sense - considers pantry staples, things that you buy and that then last you a good month or so before needing to be replenished.

The book also has a chapter on good ideas for babies and toddlers entering the world of eating people food, but we haven't done anything with that yet, as Anna will basically eat whatever we eat now - or at least try it. We may need it when Tessa makes her first forays into solids, though, and there appear to be some really good ideas there.

I'm just so darned impressed with myself at having dived into this and stuck to it for two weeks and counting. Next week, I start back at the office two days a week (trying to ease back in). It remains to be seen how this new plan holds up when we're both hauling home after long days at the office, but I have high hopes.

So, yeah, if you're at all inclined, go try the book. If you exhaust the book and want more, you can subscribe to an electronic newsletter that sends you your week's worth of menus and shopping list each week. As much as I can't see getting burned out on the book, I think that might be fun, too.

My God, I'm cooking.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Dora has arrived at our house. Not in the flesh, but she might as well have taken up residence in the guest room for how much we're seeing of her. Anna looooves Dora. And Boots. And Swiper. And, well, the whole gang. So I've seen a lot of Dora's adventures lately, and I just have to say...

That little girl (she's what, four?) has an appalling lack of adult supervision in her life. She treks through forests and pyramids, over mountains...all with a little monkey who wears red boots and keeps losing things. Her backpack is well - if a bit randomly - stocked, and the map at least knows how to carve out a path for her. We know she has parents; they've outfitted her for her explorations. But do they have the slightest clue what she's been up to? This morning, she went to a volcano to find a bouncy ball Boots had lost. An active volcano, even. Come on!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Dear Tessa: Month 2

Dear Tessa,

This past Monday, you turned two months old. So much has changed in just a month - you'd think I would remember how quickly things happen with tiny babies from having watched your sister grow, but your development has made me realize how much I'd forgotten. Probably the biggest addition to your repertoire this past month is your smile. Your beautiful, joyous, light-up-the-room smile. Lots of things elicit your big grin, but you especially seem to like kisses (on your cheeks and nose) and your sister. It's hard to capture on camera because I'm usually too busy trying to get you to keep smiling at silly stuff I do, but we're getting there:

Happily, your sister seems to like you, too! She mimics our attempts to comfort you when you're crying, and she asks to hold you a lot. We have rules for these physical interactions, but she's never shown the slightest bit of aggression toward you - just a little stressful fretting when you're crying. I have such high hopes for your relationship with Anna as the two of you get older, and I hope these early days are an indicator of things to come.

You're growing like a weed. A good weed that no-one wants to pull up. Let me rephrase. You're growing like a very desirable flower in a spring garden. You know what I mean. You're growing fast! Your two-month appointment was on your two-month birthday, and I fully expected that you would be closing in on ten pounds. I didn't expect that you would have blown past ten pounds and be bearing down hard on eleven. I'm guessing you'll be out of these teensy little 0-3 month clothes before you hit the 3-month mark.

At just two months, you are packed with personality. It's not just your smiles, which convey a world in and of themselves. I honestly think you're kind of laughing at the things you see around you, almost in an inside joke kind of way. I swear I saw you roll your eyes once. But onward. You are a LOUD baby. Your sister cried. You shriek. "Banshee" is probably not too strong a word to use in association with your cries. Those wails sound so angry, so desperate. More often than not, the wailing and crying and gnashing of gums just means you're exhausted - you'll drop off to sleep in a moment with the right cuddle. For a while there, it was all or nothing - quiet contemplation or rage at the world (more specifically, at your carseat, which seems to have mortally offended you somehow).

Now, though, you've started with these adorable baby coos that sound downright conversational. Sometimes we just sit and chat, and I hope I'm getting my half of the conversation right. You might just be humoring me. And I might have agreed to three trips to Disney World before your second birthday.

In just a week and a half, you'll start day care, and I'll start back to work. Just two days a week to start while we get used to being away from each other during the day... I keep telling myself that it won't be as difficult this time. I've done this before, and I didn't have the benefit of easy access to Anna during the day when she first started day care. You're starting at the center near my office, and I can see you whenever I want to during the day. But something fundamental is about to change for us. We've nailed down a connection that I hope is the foundation for a lifelong relationship, though, and I'm counting on that connection to help us both with this transition. I know you're not your sister - I see the differences between you every day - but of course I hope that your experience in someone's care other than mine is as wonderful as hers has been. So here comes our next chapter - always remember that I love you more than I ever dreamed possible.

One more grin for the road...


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tessa's latest stats

Tessa had her two-month appointment on Monday, and she's doing just great! She weighed in at 10 pounds, 10 ounces and is measuring 22 inches. She was a brave little creature for her four shots and one oral vaccine.

She had just started to come down with a cold on Monday, and the after-effects of the shots with the cold symptoms layered in made for one cranky baby. Monday night was rough, and the cold was in full swing on Tuesday. By Tuesday night, she was absolutely exhausted, as were we. A dose of infant Tylenol helped to settle her down, and she slept for over seven hours, from 11pm until about 6:15am. Which means that I slept almost as long for the first time since Tessa was born. This morning was like Christmas morning when I realized that I hadn't been awake in several hours.

We headed back to the pediatrician's office this morning and spent much of the morning there. First, we waited. Then, we waited some more. Then, Tessa was seen. The doctor ran a couple of lab tests while we were there (waiting) and pronounced Tessa afflicted with a cold but, happily, nothing more serious than that.

I hardly dare hope for seven straight hours of sleep again tonight, but, hey, I can dream. Especially if I'm sleeping for seven straight hours.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Slow motion

I was all set to put together a post on Tessa's 2-month appointment, but it'll keep. My heart aches for the friends and families of today's awful happenings on the campus of Virginia Tech, and I feel like I'm walking underwater as I watch the news coverage. When Tessa and I left the house this morning, the story was that two people had been shot and that the shooter was in custody. When we got home, the news was so much more terrible.

How do those families and friends and witnesses put one foot in front of the other? How do our open college campuses (one of which houses my job) move forward from this?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What a difference a day makes

I've taken three of my twenty antibiotics, and I already feel so much more human than I did this time yesterday. I woke up this morning without the aches and chills, just some residual pain at the site of the infection (without getting too graphic...). Tessa and I stayed in all day, and, while I did get some work done, we took it pretty easy. I toyed with the idea of heading out to do an errand this afternoon, but the hailstorm (!) nixed that.

I talked with a lactation consultant late yesterday afternoon in the hopes of figuring out why I keep getting this lousy infection. She said that some lucky women just get mastitis chronically. Oh, good. Apparently, taking lecithin has been shown to help these women, and she suggested I take it if I get it again. Everything else I'm doing is, happily, on target for not getting mastitis all the time, so at least I have the part under my control covered.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I hate being sick. I hate that feeling of so much to do and just not being able to slog through the illness to do it. I hate not being able to pull my weight, especially when the Asco home is as nutty as it's ever been. But sometimes, the illness just doesn't give you a choice, and I'm currently afflicted with perhaps my least favorite illness (of those I've experienced, anyway), and that's mastitis.

I had an inkling last night it was coming on, but I thought maybe it was just a plugged duct. I fed Tessa, and we went to bed. Before she even woke up for her middle-of-the-night feeding, I was awake and feeling positively lousy. Chills, shakes, aches, and a lot of pain in my right breast. Mastitis, for those of you who don't know (and may you never know firsthand), is a breast infection that leaves the person with it feeling as though she's been hit by a semi. Lovely.

I tried pumping after Tessa ate and got next to nothing - that's the next bad sign. A good pump session might at least have meant I just had some oversupply. It took ages to doze off again, at which point Tessa was waking up anyway. I went to the doctor this morning, who confirmed my guess. He put me on an antibiotic and instructed me to go home, drink lots of fluids, get lots of rest, pump (but not too much), and feed Tessa as usual. Tessa had some other ideas, but she eventually took a nap on me the second half of the afternoon, which let me relax, if not go to sleep myself. Now I'm trying to chug the water I didn't have with me upstairs while Tessa was sleeping. Still achy and chilled, but I have high hopes the antibiotics will have me feeling lots better soon.

This too shall pass...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It's a beautiful day for a ball game

That's what I used o say every time I sat down to a game at Fenway Park - because every day I spent at Fenway was beautiful. There's such a reverence about that park - you feel humbled just walking up the ramp and seeing that gorgeous green spreading out before you. I miss it so much, and I can't wait to take the girls someday...

But today I'm in the happy position of watching the Red Sox home opener in high-definition from the comfort of my living room. Tessa was wearing her little Red Sox cap (thanks, Mom!) until it was time to eat. We got home from our noontime errands to see the pregame, which always makes it seem just a bit dusty in here. The '67 team was honored, and I was all teary - never mind that they played five years before I was even born.

Then the current roster was introduced, with enormous ovations for the new guy and the closer who had such a fantastic outing two nights ago. And the super-lovable teddy bear of a clutch hitter, and the World Series hero pitcher, and the no-nonsense captain, and the crazy-but-we-love-him-anyway great hitter...

Oh, but I love this team. Welcome home, guys.

Sunday, April 1, 2007


A sick kid is a sad sight. Your sick kid is a really traumatic thing. At the beginning of a near-40-mile drive home this evening, Anna started to fuss in her car seat. Unusual, especially since she had DVD entertainment. It dawned on me what was about to happen. I looked back as she coughed once, and know then. This wasn't the first time this had happened, but that sad, pitiful cry of a toddler who doesn't completely understand what's happening to her but is full-on miserable about it will break your heart every time.

We pulled over to the side of the road, put the hazards on, and got Anna out to clean her off. Happily, I had a change of clothes for her in the diaper bag, since we had anticipated some potentially messy play this afternoon. Oh. Did I mention it was raining? Lightly, at least. We wiped down the car seat. We got Anna cleaned up, changed, and back into the van, and off we went. Not much later, she started to fuss again, and we got right off the road. Mr. Asco got Anna out and walked her around on the side of the road, and she got sick again, just a little. The poor thing was just miserable, but at least her outfit was spared on this go around. We got back home, got her through her bath and into bed, and she's now sleeping peacefully. Hopefully, this was a one-off.

Kudos to:

1) Dear friends Jon and Jennie, who got to witness the whole thing from the third row of the van and will certainly take a separate car the next time they visit and we go to a common destination with the girls;

2) Tessa, who cried a bit over the fact that the car was stopped but responded well to comfort from Jon and Jennie and then went back to sleep when we got moving again; and

3) Anna, who was Very Brave throughout.

Mom, you'll be glad to know that Anna's 2nd Birthday Sweater, which she was wearing when this happened, came through the emergency wash cycle with nary a spot on it. It's drying flat now and looks absolutely none the worse for wear. Whew.