March 31, 2011


The world needs leaders, my colleague Dan said after I told him about Jill and her inability to wait in line.  Each day Jill comes home from school with a report.  It includes details like diaper changes, "I ate all, most or some of my lunch," naptime, things I did well today and things I need to work on.  Jill needs to work on being more patient and waiting her turn.  What are some ideas to practice this at home?  I think her patience will increase as she spends more time at day care and plays with the neighborhood kids after school at the playground.  But, as Dan pointed out, the world needs leaders, and it seems that Jill carries an in-charge personality and may be destined to lead.

It's been a challenge two or three days this week to get Jill to actually leave day care.  She's thrilled to see me but then gets sidetracked with toys, the chalkboard or other kids when it's time to put on her coat and walk out the door.  I guess that's a good thing.  We know she really enjoys it there!

Jill's been big on immitating us this week.  She puts on deodorant, stretches her hamstrings while sitting down and does yoga moves like child's pose.  She also dances and smiles while watching herself in the mirror, so much so that Tony made a comment this week like, "who needs a little sister when you have a mirror!"  The one-and-done or have a sibling conversation is for another post.  Have a good night!

March 28, 2011

Turkeys and Turbo Shots

I’d rather say “too short” than “good” every Monday when co-workers ask how the weekend went. I suppose good is the polite response. This morning I could have whipped the Ibuprofen bottle out of my drawer, pointed to the jug of water and told them about my Sunday night out. It’s easy to get carried away when you don’t get out much.

Anyways, back to the too short weekend. I was spoiled Friday afternoon when Tony picked me up from work (we normally carpool in then I take the T home) with Rachael. We got Jill at day care and drove straight to my Mom’s for a seminar with Sandy Alemian, An Invitation to Remember. This is the spirit medium my Mom and I saw in January. She’s a great speaker and she said many things that hit home for both of us. Her message was to live in the moment and think with your heart, not your mind. I took two pages of notes…

Saturdays are usually strong napping days for Jill. She boycotted it this weekend. Instead, while I was running a few quick errands, she started talking. Jill’s been saying Da-Da, Ma-Ma, Ra-Ra (for Rachael), kitty and a few other words sporadically. Saturday she very purposefully said Da-Da while looking right at Tony. She made the connection; her voice was stronger; and she was quite pleased with herself when he responded. Later that afternoon, we made the short walk to the playground (thank God it’s so close because it was chilly and windy). Tony got to see Jill in action on the slide. He even took a couple rides down with her. That was a sight!

Our normal weekend mornings consist of walks around the neighborhood. Sometimes we walk to the beach; other mornings we go all-terrain down a wooded path. This Sunday morning we were joined on our walk by EIGHT TURKEYS! I kid you not. Turkeys, in Quincy, on a peninsula no less! It was a riot! People were stepping out into the cold wearing just their pajamas to see the group wandering down the street and through fenced yards. One neighbor’s dog got loose and came barreling toward the rafter (aka group of turkeys, I had to look that up). It was a frantic escape! Some beelined it to the nearest rooftop and others hung out in the trees. That’s when we made our move to pass on the left... Jill and Rachael were amused.

The sun was shining this weekend but the air was cold and the wind was bitter.  Tony worked cutting wood for the porch in the driveway, shielded from the wind by the house.  Jill yelled Da-Da, knocked on the window and smiled at him every time he went to make a cut on the sawhorse.  We discovered a new children's music channel on Pandora.  Jill danced in the kitchen (I may have danced with her) while I chopped peppers and onions for Andrea's turkey chili recipe.  We baked our weekly supply of sweet potatoes, butternut squash and acorn squash. 

Jill's a climber.  She really enjoys navigating stairs, flinging herself up on the couch and the like.  So when she was entertaining herself very well on Sunday and it went quiet for about 7 seconds, I thought she was getting ready to scale her stroller again.  I rounded the corner and found her one step from the top of the chairs.  My heart stopped.  She was thrilled.  There goes my Mom of the Year Award.  Minus that incident, we had a really fun day of dancing and singing, painting, playing and cooking.

Tony and I were excited to get out of the house for adult interaction Sunday night.  We planned to meet Heidi and Houston at The Fat Cat and since my Mom kicked us out of the house, we arrived early.  There was a wait.  Ummm we never go out.  Sorry, but we're not waiting.  Tony suggested a restaurant a few doors down.  He looked it up on his phone.  Asian fusion tapas or something like that.  Right up Tony's alley.  You know that's not true!  Back to the Fox and Hound we go for pizza and boneless buffalo tenders.  And Trivia Night.  That was an added bonus when sitting at a table with the Master of All Useless Information Tony and Movie Buff Houston.  Heidi and I held our own.  We also shared a bottle of pinot grigio after a pint of Magic Hat #9. 

Tony and I went to bed around 10, which is honestly an hour later than a typical Sunday night, only to be woken up by a very upset Jill at 3:30.  She was uncomfortable, sitting up in her crib with tears streaming down her face.  We think she had gas bubbles from the regular pasta with parmesan cheese that she had earlier in the day.  It was the only item new to her diet that day.  Back to wheat pasta for sure!  Jill finally went back to sleep only to wake up again about 40 minutes later.  Our 5 a.m. alarm reset itself for 6:15.  That's more like it.  My headache could have been from the wine or the lack of sleep.  But getting up at 5 to sweat on the treadmill was not happening.  I would rather sit in traffic on the Expressway, thank you.  This morning I was thankful for my loving and patient hubby for pulling into the Dunk's drive thru when he saw the short line.  That medium coffee with turbo shot may have just saved the day!

March 24, 2011

Diaper Rashes and Faux Fur Thursdays

"Have you tried Triple Paste??" My fellow parent colleagues raved about this stuff. I'd never even heard of it. You mean there's creams, ointments, potions and lotions in addition to the ones we've tried? Some prescription, most not, the list is long. A+D, Mometasone, Butt Paste, Mupirocin, Nystatin, Lotrimin but Triple Paste? Tony, can you please stop at CVS on your way home and pick up really expensive diaper rash cream? Sure, why not? We'll add it to the basket. Hopefully it works. Which creams/ointments have worked best for you?

Diaper rash or not, Jill was styling in her faux fur vest from Gi Gi Smith today. If there was a Best Dressed award, she would be a strong contender. She was also a complete goofball in the tub tonight (notice the waves). Overall, it was a much better day!

March 23, 2011

The Forgotten Sippy Cup

This morning was a disaster. Halfway to the T came the realization that I didn’t pack Jill’s Nutri Grain bar. OK, no big deal. I didn’t pack her milk yesterday and I seamlessly swung into CVS and sprinted through the parking lot. Tony saw me while he was waiting at the light and asked me to please not do that again. I looked like a fool. Better than running through the store, I told him. Today was a different story. Today was a disaster.

We’d already passed CVS so we opted for a Panera stop. If I had known that Susie from Blue Cross and Blue Shield was buying breakfast sandwiches with different bagels and toppings for each for her entire office, I would have driven a few minutes out of the way and back to CVS. The wait in this line prompted an addition to Jill’s croissant order: a medium dark roast coffee for Mom. So I walk briskly through the parking lot, jump into Tony’s truck and start talking about how irresponsible I am. Tony doesn’t have lunch. Jill didn’t have milk yesterday. She has nothing to go with her grapes today. I’m losing my mind, and the like … My loving husband informs me that Jill is not upset with me; he is not annoyed in the least bit and could have made his own lunch; and the only person beating themselves up over these little things is myself. Good point. Deep breathes.

Arrive at day care. Fill two post-its of reminders for Jill’s endless diaper rash. Please tuck in onesie, don’t button. No juice, please, just water. Wipe with warm water and soft towels provided. Apply prescription cream mid-day. I check that everything is labeled in black magic marker. Peak into the fridge to grab her sippy cup. It’s not there. It’s clean in the dishwasher. So much for the deep breathing as I feel tears coming on and pressure building in my chest. Back to the house.

Grab stupid sippy cup. Back to day care. Michelle, the assistant director: “I tried calling your cell phone to catch you. I can’t apply Jill’s cream without the prescription information.” This is the ointment that she was using the majority of last week. This is the ointment that she chewed the box with the prescription information so I threw it away. Fantastic, I thought. This has been an awesome morning. Call the doctor’s office while sitting in traffic on the expressway and request the prescription information be faxed to my work. Arrive at work nearly an hour later than usual. Co-workers can tell something is wrong. All I have to mention is that we forgot the sippy cup this morning and all the parents nod their heads and smile. They understand. Thank God. More coffee, please.

March 22, 2011

What's Cooking?

Beef. It's what's for dinner. Not exactly while you're counting your WW points and trying to lose weight. Don't get me wrong: I love steak, hamburger, roast beef and any other red meat. We just don't eat it very often, especially during the week when dinner comes much later. My diet has shifted to even more fruits and vegetables (0 pts) than before. Tony didn't believe it either, until our grocery bill spiked. Fruits and veggies have to be purchased at Market Basket or we will go bankrupt. I will be thinner, but we will be in the poor house. I'm happy to report that despite the multiple birthday celebrations and alcoholic outings, I somehow managed to lose weight last week. Down 4 this round of WW at Work; down 24 from my heaviest days in New Mexico; down I'm-not-even-going-to-say-how-much from the pregnancy. A lot.

Although we didn't try any new recipes this weekend, we did manage to buy some meat in bulk then actually wash, separate, marinate and freeze it into smaller portions. I won't even tell you how many times we planned to do this, didn't bother and cooked 3 lbs. of chicken for two people. Chicken is great for leftovers. You can fold it in a sandwich (Tony likes to spice it up with buffalo sauce); throw it on top of a salad; press it between tortillas. But you can only eat leftover chicken for so many meals when it starts to dry out, nevermind bore your tastebuds.

Does anyone else love looking around other peoples' kitchens? Although I'm not a nosebag like my daughter, I enjoy looking in my Mom's fridge, freezer and spice cabinets. This is fairly new since my interest in cooking evolved and I feel like it helps with ideas. Lord knows I'm not getting any creative meal ideas from Tony. We all know he would eat cheeseburgers, pasta or steak every night of the week. My Mom and I recently tried a ridiculously easy tomato bisque recipe. The ingredients? Condensed tomato soup (the healthier version), diced tomatoes and a cup of Half n Half. It was delicious! I tried fat free Half n Half the next time around. Don't do it. It was awful. Sunday night we made the bisque with diced tomatoes with basil and oregano. So tasty!

kabocha squash, from Apple Pie,
Patis & Pate site
I had a goal in mind for tonight - A Tackle it Tuesday idea from Tony's cousin, Sara. I was going to clean the bathroom floor. Maybe tomorrow night. I did, however, manage to cook Tony's frozen Uno's pizza so that it was hot out of the oven when he got home and bake butternut and kabocha squash. I'd checked out recipes and articles about kabocha squash but had never seen it in the grocery store, or bothered to notice. I grabbed it this weekend from the Market Basket by my Mom's. I cut it in half lengthwise like the butternut squash, scooped out the seeds and baked it skin up for 45 min. at 400 degrees. I used my sister-in-law's tip to line the baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up and added a cup of water to the pan. Now that I have time to look up additional recipes, there are definitely more tastier ways to serve kabocha squash, but I wanted to try it plain and simple the first time around. I'm impressed! It's softer and smoother than butternut squash so I would definitely try it in a soup. Now that's getting crazy for me!! The best thing about both types of squash? Jill can enjoy them too!

March 20, 2011

The Soon-to-be Canning Family

Jess and baby Guy were showered with thoughtful cards, wonderful books, adorable outfits and more today. The shower was held at Nicole's house in Berkley. It was great to see many of the Cannings, Furzes and Ransleys, and I was really proud of Jill and how well behaved she was. Jill entertained herself and others and played with the other kids inside and out on the swingset for 3 hours! We can't wait for early May for the arrival of Guy Joseph, Jill's first cousin!

Here’s a list of 10 things we enjoyed this weekend; different things we noticed about Jill; and methods to keep it all sane. #3-10 are from Jess’s baby shower.

1. Saturday afternoon I organized Jill’s clothes for our overnight at Granna’s. Her pile included the beautiful pink and white sweater Gi-Gi Furze made, perfect for Sunday’s baby shower. It included diapers. I didn’t actually pack any of it.  Yes, none of it made it into the backpack.
2. Tony and I snuck out of my Mom’s house to grab diapers at Rite Aid. Low and behold we took the Rt. 138 loop back and pulled into Surly Johnson’s for a beer and appetizer platter. Relax at the bar from the madness known as Jill. Our kid has more energy than … us, that’s for sure!
3. Jill interacted with the many babies and toddlers at the shower. She approached 7mth. old Sophia (Nicole’s daughter) quickly then gently patted her on the head. “Gentle,” I repeated like she was petting the dog. Please don’t slap this kid’s soft spot, is what I was thinking.
4. Baby Lucy (Jen’s daughter) has quite the set of lungs! Jill walked into the room where Lucy was being changed and stood still. She listened to Lucy cry with a very concerned look across her face.
5. While Lucy was changed, Jill decided it was naptime and laid down on the rug in the middle of the room. There was far too much going on so she didn’t nap, but she thought about it, for about 4 seconds.
6. The sun was shining so we headed to the backyard and playground. Jill squealed and giggled as she rounded the corner to find Lexi, Nicole and Bob’s dog. This kid really loves dogs!
7. For an unknown reason, my Mom handed Jill a cup with “a little bit” of water. Well there was more water than estimated and it poured itself all over Jill’s chest and my sweater and leg (see pic) when Jill two-handed the cup and dumped it down her throat.
8. Do they make Swiffers for babies? Jill grabbed a damp paper towel and started wiping the wooden floor. Our house is a mess hunny, not Nicole’s!
9. Jill is a nosebag. I took her into the bathroom with me and she ran over to the vanity. Hmmm what’s in this drawer? And this drawer? Not your house, sweetie. Please shut!
10. A dare devil on the swingset. Jill played outside with 2-year-old Holly. They poked their heads through the circle at the top of the slide (I’ll try to get the pictures Jess’s cousin took with her phone) and I swear Jill would have thrown herself off if my hands weren’t connected to her bum at all times.

March 18, 2011

Sliding Into Spring

I saw into the near future today and it was chaotic but a lot of fun!  Temps hit 70 in Boston and Jill and I hit the playground after work.  It was our second visit and Jill seemed to discover one of the slides.  Eight steep metal steps up and a decent angle decline to the ground.  I carried Jill to the top and we went down the slide together.  That was the last time I carried her.  Jill climbed the steps on her own (right, left, one foot per step) with Mom's hands on her bum 12 more times.  Yes, we went up and down the slide 12 times, bouncing in excitement at the top and laughing out loud at the bottom each time.  She loved it!  We also played on the swing and made a mess in the sand.  I can't wait for spring!

March 17, 2011

The Irish Italian

With her big brown eyes and Italian hand gestures, Jill is surely a Musante.  She looks so much like Tony that one of my friends at work, Polly, calls her Antonia.  But since everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day - and Jill does share some Irish ancestory - she dressed this morning in her kelly green shirt, a gift from her buddy Cadence.

Happy St. Patty's Day!

March 16, 2011

Time Change Playground Style

The morning is dark and the sun comes up later, but the evenings bring the chance to get outside.  It's 6 p.m. and still somewhat light outside.  Let's take advantage of this!  I took the girls (Jill and Rachael) for a quick walk around the block then decided to turn down the dirt side street to the playground Tuesday night.  Our neighbors and their kids were there and Jill wanted out of the stroller and fast!  She navigated the uneven grass terrain well, stopping only to greet Marilyn (the 22mth old neighbor) and their new dog, Doug.  Rachael and Doug hit it off.  Tony had a serious Dad moment when he turned right one street early to visit us at the playground instead of driving straight home.  I told him he couldn't miss Jill walking around with the other kids and checking out the slide, swingset and other equipment.  Marilyn, on the other hand, was busy going down the steep slide and doing angels on her back in the dirt.  A preview of the craziness to come!

March 15, 2011

Monday Night Martinis

Monday night blues?  Nope, not here.  We drink martinis, Guinness and vodka on Monday nights.  We don't mess around.  I'm exaggerating obviously, as this group of Moms hasn't seen many baby-free nights, nevermind together.  We started at the Bell in Hand then met Al at Houston's for some fun drinks and sushi.  We had a really good time catching up - the wine didn't hurt either!  Al was nice enough to give me a ride to the T station where my car was parked. 

What did I find upon my return home at 8 p.m.?  Jill asleep on the couch with Tony.  She boycotted napping the entire day with my Mom then passed out cold before 6 p.m.  A mess, I thought.  I pictured her bathed, fed, diaper changed and fast asleep.  Not at all.  We woke her at 8 to swap out a fresh diaper, suck back a bottle and pass out again.  Right?  Wrong.  She drank her bottle then went wild like it was 7 a.m. and she was ready to play all morning.  Ummmm it's 9 p.m., I thought, and I was planning on plopping in the tub, possibly with another glass of wine.  I was planning on playing with pictures and blogging.  I was planning on continuing my selfish non-Momness for the evening. 

Then again, I was sad of the thought of not seeing Jill at all that day.  Time change troubles?  Nah, not until the fall.  Ha!  Wrong again.  Jill didn't fall asleep until almost 10 p.m.  Are we continuing the party and I missed the memo?  We had to wake her Tuesday morning (typically she's up and ready to go by 6) but her schedule regulated itself at day care where she ran herself ragged, napped for two hours and went to bed more or less on time Tuesday night.  Success!

Birthday Weekend

Thirty-one.  Not quite sure when this happened since it seems like a few weeks ago I was a freshman in college.  That much time has passed?  I don't know when.  It is because Tony and I have been together since the beginning of sophomore year?  Sometimes it seems like only a few weeks ago.

I spent my 29th birthday (yes, again Kathleen) with Jill.  We drove into work then played at home.  My Mom put Jill to bed at her house and Tony and I went to Curley's with Mel & Brian, Mandy, Jess and Jess & Scott.  Laura & Brian came later for drinks.  One of the things I realized this weekend was that I love going out on Friday nights.  It felt like Sunday afternoon and it was only Saturday.  A second thing I noticed was that birthdays never stop being fun.  Lucia made a sign for my cube at work.  Patricia brought in mini red velvet cupcakes.  Texts and emails - some from friends far away or friends I haven't spoken to in awhile - flooded in (not really but it felt like it).  I got presents.

What?  I'm 31 not 13, and yet my Mom still packed shiny gift bags with funky earrings, perfume, flavored lip balm and a new sports bra because - she informed me - mine are nasty (a benefit or not of your Mom coming over every week to watch your child and sometimes swap laundry and empty the dishwasher).  I wasn't expecting presents (ok, maybe something small from Tony) and yet received some of the most thoughtful cards and gifts.  A block of classes at Healing Tree Yoga, Lululemon pants, a massage, gift cards to Kohl's, Old Navy and Barnes & Noble, wow!  Once Jill was born, we knew the center of attention had shifted.  The "Princess" as my parents called me had passed her crown.  The main attraction is most certainly Jill, and for good reason.  But this weekend, I felt remembered, appreciated and loved.  It was very nice :)

Saturday came and I was somehow not hungover.  We tackled Market Basket at full force where the Laughing Cow cheese I so love was a whole dollar less than Hannaford's.  Our extra large carriage was overflowing and paper towels and dog food took up the shelf space underneath.  Evaporated fat free milk, chicken broth and cornstarch were hiding somewhere in the cart along with other ingredients to continue my culinary conquest.

The smell of baking butternut squash filled our enormous 1,000 sq. ft. home.  I tried a chicken pot pie recipe from Weight Watchers. 


1 cup reduced fat Bisquick
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 cup egg substitute
2 cups frozen mixed veggies, thawed
2 cups cooked, chopped white chicken meat
2 cans Campbells fat free (Healthy Request) Cream of Mushroom soup

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a casserole dish (at least 2 inches deep) with Pam. Mix together veggies, chicken and soup. Pour into casserole dish. In another bowl, mix Bisquick, milk, and egg. Pour over the top of chicken mixture in the casserole. Bake for about 30 min or until crust is golden.

Separated into 4 large servings, each serving is 6.5 pts., which I count as 7.  Half-points are pointless.

So again, this is a Weight Watchers recipe.  There is no cream, butter, salt, or anything that makes food delicious.  So when my mother-in-law, Kim, visited from northern Vermont on Saturday and tested the pot pie, she - like many Musantes - added a decent amount of salt. 

Kim left Burlington, VT that morning where the temps were stuck in the 30s and a couple feet of snow still line the sidewalks.  She came to our house where the snow has all but melted and the sun was shining for the majority of the day.  What a nice change that must have been for her.  And of course it was nice for us to have her visit.  Family, friends and throw in a little sunshine too - what a weekend!

On Sunday, we baked sweet potatoes for weekday eating and took a stab at beef and beer stew.  Recipe to follow.  Again, Weight Watchers.  Recipe yields 4 servings for 6 pts. each.


1 spray(s) olive oil cooking spray
12 oz lean beef round, roast, cut into cubes
1 medium onion(s), chopped
1 item(s) (medium) bell pepper(s), chopped
2 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), minced (or 1 tsp jarred minced garlic)
2 medium uncooked potato(es), peeled and diced
24 medium baby carrots, about 1/2 lb
1 cup(s) fat-free beef broth
8 oz light beer
1/4 cup(s) fat-free evaporated milk
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp paprika

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add beef, onion, pepper and garlic; cook until beef is browned, stirring, about 3 minutes. Stir in potatoes, carrots, broth and beer (I used Bud Light); bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until meat is tender, about 30 minutes. Stir together evaporated milk, cornstarch and paprika in a small cup; add to beef mixture and stir to combine. Cook until slightly thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes more. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving. 

Like the chicken pot pie, the stew was tasty but nothing out of this world.  What do you want for only 6 pts!

March 13, 2011

Special Visitor

Nana visited from Vermont this weekend.  It was wonderful to have her! 

March 11, 2011

Jill Takes Genzyme

Jill and I ventured into Cambridge today.  It was the first time I'd driven to work and I did a fine job through thick traffic and idiotic pedestrians.  This was Jill's second visit to Genzyme; her first was a long time ago before I headed back from maternity leave.  We visited co-workers.  A good number of friends were able to see Jill, which was nice since it's been so long.  It was a pleasant surprise for some and I could tell Jill lifted spirits on such a dreary day!  Thanks to Kate for taking these pictures with her fancy phone!

March 10, 2011

WKD 2011

with buddy Jenna
It's World Kidney Day!  An important day at work for yours truly.  Months of planning and prep went into this day and it was a success!  All of the signage looked great in our building.  The group of volunteers seemed to enjoy the kidney screening we attended in the afternoon.  Better yet, more of our country counterparts participated than ever before!

Time to relax now.  I took tomorrow off to enjoy my bday with my little girl!

March 6, 2011

Turn Around Time

Our baby - 15 months old today - is too tall for her carseat to remain rear-facing.  So Tony turned it around this afternoon before we made our way to the Fox & Hound with my Mom for dinner.  She smiled and kicked her feet on the way to the restaurant.  It was very exciting!!  What a disappointment it will be to realize she's still rear-facing in my car!

Warmer Temps Still

The warmer temps continued on Sunday and we headed over to Pope John Paul II Park to walk along the hills and water.  The snow is almost melted now.  Rain forecasted for later in the week should take care of the last of it.  You could smell the dirt on our walk, a sure sign that buds will soon be blooming and the grass will soon be green again!  Some pics from our day above taken with Tony's phone. 

March 5, 2011

The Snow is Melting!

The weather warmed up for the weekend and we took full advantage this afternoon with a walk to Edgewater Beach.  Everyone was happy to get some fresh air, especially Rachael!

March 4, 2011

Our Goofball

mmmm yogurt
Jill would rather run around with her snowsuit than get dressed for school

March 3, 2011

In the Kitchen

I'm shocked if you're not already laughing from the title.  Meg?  Cooking?  Yes, I'm trying.  Today was my second week participating in Weight Watchers at Work (on the new Points Plus system) and this requires healthy food.  You know, meals other than pasta drenched in butter and oil and salami and pepperoni sandwiches, which is what Tony eats.  Last week I dropped 3 lbs. only to gain one back this week.  I've been following the plan and working out more so I'm hoping for better numbers next Thursday!

In the last few weeks, I've developed a liking to diet ginger ale, egg whites, Laughing Cow light Swiss cheese, salad and lots of it, butternut and spaghetti squash and did I mention Laughing Cow cheese?  Yes, I live off that stuff.  I read the email newsletters from Hungry Girl and Weight Watchers and try to experiment with recipes that don't include too many ingredients and/or steps and/or time.  That's when I decided to try:

Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Oatmeal (5 pts./serving, from Weight Watchers)
6 cup(s) water
3 cup(s) pumpkin (raw 1-inch cubes), preferably from pie or sugar pumpkins
1 1/2 cup(s) Hodgson Mill Steel cut oats, or other brand
1/2 cup(s) honey (I ran short on honey)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, or grated nutmeg (didn't have any nutmeg so went for ginger....? still learning!)

Put everything in a 3- to 6-quart slow cooker; stir well.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours; stir well before serving. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

This recipe yields a whole lot of oatmeal!  I ate it twice, transported it to work for three friends and stuck some in the freezer.  Next time culinary creativity strikes and I'm in the mood for some pumpkin-flavored oats, I'll use a crock pot liner for easier cleanup.  The steel cut oats and pumpkin cooked at a low temp overnight and in the morning we woke to the sweet smell of .... dog vomit? That's what Tony said it smelt like. Thanks, hunny. That's my breakfast!

Confession:  This is the first time I've ever used a crock pot and it's only because I borrowed by Mom's.  Second confession: I still screw up tsp and tbsp.  Martha, please help!  Maybe opting for video production in high school instead of home economics wasn't the most practical idea.

I'm no chef.  I don't have all the spices and ingredients on hand in the pantry.  And this can be a roadblock from time to time, recipe to recipe.  A new ingredient and the recipe only calls for a couple teaspoons.  So sometimes I may substitute a little ginger for nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon for allspice, a tablespoon for a teaspoon!

Silly Jilly

Jill theft:  It's a common occurrence at day care.  Jill's been part of the expectant parent tour routine from the beginning.  Appropriate because she's a happy kid.  Even more appropriate because she attends "Jack n Jill" day care.  Darlene, the director, carries Jill around to the different rooms where she now waves and smiles at everyone.  Yesterday at pick-up, I looked in the infant/toddler play area (Jill's new "big girl" home) and didn't see her anywhere.  "Mary stole her," Paige told me.  Just then I saw Mary through the glass in the adjacent room with Jill in her lap.  She was clapping, smiling and bouncing in Mary's lap while she led a group song.  I tried to sneak a picture with my phone but Jill was too curious and quick to jump up.  She caught me!  She came barreling toward me with a huge smile and arms in the air.  What a way to end the day!  Jill continued her movie star ways in the hallway on our way to the car.  The big kids walked out in a line and some started waving and yelling, "Bye Jill, Bye Jilly, Bye Silly Jilly!!"  Jill turned around, smiled, waved back and started running down the hall toward her buddies.  My little social butterfly!