Sunday, August 31, 2008

10 Months





Dad had the clever idea to try parting Laurel's hair down the middle and pulling it back - which is incredibly cute right after her bath when the humidity makes her hair curl, but less cute when she's all dry and it hangs straight - but aren't these a fun series of portraits? By the way, are there regional differences as to what aspect of a baby's body people comment on? In Cambridge, I received multiple comments about Laurel's beautiful lips, and Texans cannot get over her dark blue eyes.

Water Baby


We spent a few days in a hotel while waiting for our apartment to be ready, and Laurel enjoyed showing her dad her swimming skills - after all, she received excellent marks from her instructors during this summer's class. And we had to buy her a new swimsuit as those cute thighs of her have been plumping up of late.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Austin!

Wow! We arrived 24 hours ago and my husband was right: I love this town and am ready to plant some roots. Our first task was to visit Whole Foods World Headquarters and its flagship store. We went through Whole Foods withdrawal living in Iowa (after all, it was our local grocery store in Cambridge) and it was a bona fide pleasure to troll their aisles again. This cool store is definitely a tourist attraction. There are small kiosks all over that offer quick bites to eat: a soup and chili bar/brick oven pizzeria/gelato bar/sushi bar/dipped chocolates station/All-American deli etc. We grabbed soba noodles and rice bowls for lunch.
Additionally, we saw some fly flora and fauna around town: palm trees/wild parrots/salamanders/road runners (which look like small dinosaurs).

When you head out on the highway, the adventure one should be looking for is: Pie!



In our various criss-crossings of the country, we've managed to drive through Kickapoo, Illinois three times. Two years ago we were heading east and I saw a billboard for the Jubilee Cafe; it didn't sound too special, until I saw the small postscript: homemade pie. The restaurant serves basic family-style diner food - note the chicken broccoli casserole special for the Friday we visited. But oh, they have the best homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie. Not only was the filling luscious, but the pie crust was impeccable perfection - thinly rolled, tender yumminess. I called and asked for the recipe - no dice. I came in person and asked for the recipe - no luck either. Luke and I agreed that you have to respect someone who protects their recipes as intellectual property. I shouldn't complain since I have one recipe I don't share either but oh man I covet that pie crust recipe.
Years ago before I was married, the Salt Lake Tribune reviewed "American Pie: Slices of Life
(And Pie) From America's Back Roads". The article highlighted some of Utah's best pies, and my sister was willing to explore the back roads with me [note: you really need to get to Veyo for some killer cream pies! - it's a healthy distance from St. George in the middle of nowhere].
Right before we left Cambridge I used a credit at our local independently owned bookstore to get a copy of the paperback edition. So on our drive to Texas we stopped west of Dallas for some pie at a hole in the wall called the Ranchman's Cafe - but we almost didn't find it. Before we left IA I verified that it still existed, and just planned on using the GPS device to locate it once we arrived in town. But even satellites don't know how to find this place. Fortunately, the town of Ponder, Texas has about 2 blocks of a commercial district, so we found it after a few blocks of wandering. Anyway, let me tell you about this chocolate pie. Now, at our house, I am a fruit pie gal while Luke favors non-fruit pies like chocolate silk. In honor of Luke, I've tried a few chocolate cream pies, and let me tell you, they generally aren't anything more exciting than a Jello chocolate pudding filling (even the Jubilee Cafe's chocolate silk fits this category). Granted, chocolate pudding is a very pleasant flavor, but it doesn't make for an exceptional pie. Well, when we arrived at the Ranchman, they had just pulled a chocolate meringue pie out of the oven. Oh man, oh man! It was dark with cocoa and springy with some thickener - this was not your average pudding. Topped with toasted meringue and a great crust remniscent of brown sugar...I was in pie heaven! Nope, they don't give out this recipe either.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Babies love being under the table

Shenanigans




Trying to move/clean/pack means that I am more negligent in my "what in the world has Laurel gotten into" duties. Behold the results.

Laurel loves the camera

Wow, doesn't she look like her dad?!

Nauvoo




Nauvoo is somewhere inside the triangle formed by St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Davenport - so the family members that live there met in Nauvoo for the last night of the Pageant. Check out the auspicious beginning - is it good luck to be lit upon by a moth? We had great fun seeing our niece Lydia and her brother Isaac. Lydia trained Luke on how to hang out with a 3 year old! Btw, if you visit, the Motel Nauvoo has awesome digs - you've never seen such a clean motel!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Just like her Momma's family


What's that you say? Why, that's a plain yogurt mustache! (Luke says that "plain" isn't a flavor; isn't he silly?)

Milestones



Laurel said her first full official word on the 31st: "Dad"! It was adorable. She loves her daddy so much - she's always thrilled when he comes home from work and she can spend time with him - after all, he's an awful lot of fun!
She loves to stand up and can get back down by herself too - and she now opens cabinets and pulls out pots and pans and unrolls the toilet paper and flushes the toilet. Egads! We'll have to babyproof our next place. Her most recent trick is that she's insulted that we're feeding her "baby" food; we've had to graduate to using an adult spoon and adding chopped foods to her diet. We're getting ready to take a trip and I just put Cheerios in a container for her. !!! I'm turning into such a mom!
On Sundays, we like to take walks around local college campuses. (Kinda weird, I know.) But they feel safer than our regentrifying neighborhood. These are pictures taken at Augustana College, a private liberal arts school in Rock Island, IL.