Eliza started saying, “Mama” this week.  It is beautiful to hear!  I never minded that she said “dada” first, but it is a good thing that I didn’t know what I was missing.  She will now say it over and over to get my attention as well as greet me with it when I walk into the room.  Kirk was a little sad that she wasn’t saying “dada” anymore, but just yesterday she started saying it again, although “mama” is definitely her favorite word for now. 


Super Man (Crush)

When you have a man crush this big, you have to do something to celebrate. So I'll blog. Tonight was a good day for football fans in Indiana. The Colts made the Super Bowl, and Purdue's favorite son, Drew Brees, led the New Orleans Saints to their first ever Super Bowl birth.

Prior to today's games (and throughout the playoffs), I had to explain to many friends that while I don't dislike the Colts, I also don't root for them. I like that when they win it brings revenue and prestige to Indianapolis, but as a native of Chicagoland, I'm a Bears fan through and through. If the Colts weren't so likeable (and Indy weren't my current home), I'd probably despise them for beating the Bears in the Super Bowl a few years back.

So that leaves no question as to whom I'm rooting for in two weeks. I had the sheer pleasure of attending Purdue during the Brees years (and the Orton and Painter years, too), following his team to the Rose Bowl, meeting him once (in passing, not like my long convo with Coach Hope!), and developing a gigantic man crush on the guy. I expect every Purdue fan with no allegiance to the Colts to be rooting for the Saints, too.

I'm sure the Colts will be favored, and the smart money would bet on them, but I'm guessing that's what many were saying about Brett Favre and the Vikings prior to tonight. I think that made the Saints' victory even more special for me. I despise Brett Favre, not only for his diva attitude, over-exposure in the media, and willingness to stab the organization in the back that made him a star for so many years, but mainly for the fact that said organization is the one team I grew up loathing. The Green Bay Packers were pure evil, but mostly because of Brett Favre. This year I despised the Vikings far more than the Packers due to his presence (and hey, I actually like Aaron Rodgers and had him on my fantasy team).

But back to the Super Bowl. Brees will definitely have a tough test against not only the Colts defense, but Mr. Manning as well. Having followed Drew Brees so doggedly, I consider him one of the smartest guys to be playing in the NFL, and definitely to be quarterbacking a team. And while Brees has shown some great game smarts, book smarts, and business savvy, I can't think of a smarter on-field leader in the NFL today than Peyton. It's really refreshing to have two teams that are so likeable and led by such great guys playing in the Super Bowl.

I can't wait to cheer on Brees and the Saints, but I'm guessing that attitude won't get me invited to many Super Bowl parties in Indianapolis. No worries though; what matters is that it's time again to Boiler Up!


Putting the Dollar to Use

img77mWhen we lived in Lafayette, I bought a chinois strainer, pestle and stand at a garage sale for one dollar.  The tool is used to make  ultra-smooth soups, sauces, and clear stocks.  I have been storing this bulky thing since getting it in ‘06 but had yet to use it.  In the effort of getting Eliza to like her baby food better, I thought I would try to put the homemade baby food through the chinois to make it less chunky.  I believe that it helped, but Eliza was just not a fan of baby food.  So, I guess I am going to have to find some recipes that call for this tool (maybe from my new Julia Child cookbook) in order to use it more frequently.  But, I did get my dollars worth!


My New BFF

As I blogged about earlier, I recently returned from a trip to Dallas, Texas. As I arrived at the Indianapolis airport and approached my gate, people were already queuing up to board. In line I noticed a well-known mustached gentleman that I quickly recognized (although it seemed that either no one else did, or they were far too polite to say anything). As I boarded the plane I started to plan what to say to him, just in case we were seated next to each other. Alas, that was not meant to be, as I was stuck a few rows behind. My new friend slept most of the flight, and as we left the plane I quickly hustled up to say hello and wish him a successful trip to Dallas. And the encounter had concluded, or so I thought.

As I arrived at the terminal to leave Dallas, what were the odds that this same man was on my return flight. I didn't let the opportunity slip by and approached him, mildly startling him (sorry!), and proceeded to chat for about 25 minutes until we boarded the plane. I was so impressed by his willingness to answer my questions (despite an exhausting trip and while devouring a sandwich), his positive attitude and enthusiasm, and his openness and candor. We talked about his trip, recruiting, how deceptive the specs can be on a high school kid, speaking engagements, the long hours he has to work, the prospects for the coming season, the coaching carousel, the university, my job, teachers, big wins, a seminar his wife runs that my mother attended to learn more about the sport and team, and many other things. Yes, dear readers, my new best friend in Boilermaker country, head football coach Danny Hope. Boiler Up!

P.S. Coach Hope noted that he hadn't been recognized by anyone else at the airport, and, one of the highlights, I responded, "Give it time. Once you lead us to the Rose Bowl, they'll all know you well." ;)

Big D

This week I headed down south to Dallas, Texas for work. While I was only there for two short days (one night), I still got to spend great time with my colleagues and see some of the city. Overall, it was just nice to get to Texas, since now I only have five states left on my list to visit. Here's the list:

Alaska - a lot of people go on an Alaskan cruise when they are older (like my folks), so I bet that'll happen

Washington - I need to go to Seattle at some point, right? (and wanting to go to nearby Vancouver)

Louisiana - Definitely need to visit New Orleans

North Dakota - Maybe I can talk Russ into taking me on a trip back home. Otherwise, this is going to be a hard one to manage

Oklahoma - Also not sure what will draw me to the state, but I was just an hour away in Dallas!

Back to the Dallas trip. I definitely had some great food, including brisket tacos at Mia's. I also learned that Mia's is famous as being the spot where Jerry Jones hired Jimmy Johnson to coach the Cowboys, being spotted by a reporter doing so before officially firing long-time coach Tom Landry (who is just a bit of an icon in the city...think Ditka in Chicago but even bigger). Dallas fans weren't all too happy, but future Super Bowl wins made up for that lack of tact, I think.

I also had some great barbecue at Sonny Bryan's. More brisket, pulled pork, sausage, beans, and potatoes. It was quite filling and top notch. And they had IBC root beer on tap, which I never see around here.

I also saw the old Cowboys Stadium, American Airlines arena where the Mavericks play, the grassy knoll and spot where JFK was shot, as well as spent quality time with my teammates. A short, but fun trip.


Lucy and Otis

Otis got to get out some more energy on Sunday when John and Megan came over to hang out. The two pups got along very well this time (their first meeting was a little hairy). Although, Otis did not like being the little guy.




All we did was sit around and talk (there was a football game on, too), but it was great to catch up. (John trying to look serious and not laugh at the same time.)








I should say that the people sat around…there was no sitting happening with these two rascals!

Megan’s Birthday

Megan’s birthday was this past week, so we celebrated on Saturday night. It was great to see everyone. We are hoping that John and Megan move back (from Ohio) so that this can happen more often!

I got to work on my cupcake recipe again (see this previous post), and we liked them a bit more this time. I still might make them again before April, so if you have a celebratory event, let me know!

Finger Food

Last week Eliza had her 9 month check-up. She is starting her "stranger fear" phase, and cried the whole time the doctor was in the room. Everything else went well and she now weighs 18 pounds.

He said to start her on finger food and that hopefully that will help the eating problem. He had thought that once she could feed herself, eating would be more interesting. He was right! She is LOVING it! This has been such an answer to prayer.

We started with Puffs because of their dissolvability. She is a carb girl! She also has liked pear and avocado, but they are much harder for her to pick up. She doesn’t want me to help her either.







She loved poking at them at first (see picture below), and then she finally figured out that putting them in her mouth was better!









She was much quicker at using her teeth then I expected. The only problem is that her teeth are all in the front, so the food kept wanting to fall out! Her hands haven’t been there for back-up support until more recently. Of course, the real back-up person is Otis, who waits for every drop.









She has loved the Happy Baby Puffs. She has recognized the container since this first feeding (Otis as well). I have to keep it out of sight until the right moment or she will go crazy for it. She is definitely not a baby anymore.



Every once in a while we catch a side profile of Eliza and think of how it reminds us of her ultrasound photos.  It is so crazy what technology can do for us!

We also are told a lot that Eliza looks like the Gerber baby.  I think that this is due manly to the cheeks.gerber2 An interesting USA Today article on the Gerber baby, Ann Turner Cook.


Shopping Just Got Easier

Grocery shopping has been tricky since Eliza was born. Her car seat doesn’t have the grooves to sit over the front of carts, so she had to be in the cart itself. This really limitted the amount of groceries I could purchase at one time. Now that Eliza is sitting up, my grocery experience is back to being more normal. But, another problem arose. Eliza insisted on using the cart as a chew toy! So for Christmas we got a Floppy Seat (thank you Aunt Janet!). This thing totally screams first-time mom, I know. But, with this flu season I don’t care what statement it makes. Toys can also be hooked on so that it keeps them all from dropping (a.k.a. being thrown), and it is great for restaurant highchairs too! I love it and will use it in the future, even when I am no longer a first-time mom!

Otis n’ Izzy

Otis has felt very cooped up these past few weeks due to all the snow, so we went and got Izzy this week.  This is the best way for Otis to get out some of his energy.  They loved it and Otis slept very well that night.

I think that this was they only moment that they both stopped moving!



This weekend we have two close friends leaving for Africa. They are not traveling together, but are going through two different ministries. So, to say the least, Africa has been on our minds a lot over the past few weeks.

4204712471_d1456e678c_b Meredith is leaving to go to South Africa for three months. She will be living in Valley of 1000 hills in Kwazulu Natal with the organization Loving South Africa (LSA).

The mission for LSA’s trips are, “to get our hands dirty laboring alongside our partners as they minister to the ‘lepers of today’; to deepen existing relationships with our partners so that we can truly love them accurately and support them in their areas of greatest need; and to ultimately be Jesus to and see Jesus in the ‘least of these’ in the AIDS epicenter of the world.”

We love Meredith’s heart to serve those hurting and sick in South Africa. We pray for her time there and that she is blessed along with the people that she is serving! Eliza will miss her a great deal, and we will too!

Follow her blog while she is gone!

Photo is from Alex, and it was taken at our Christmas party this year.

Karen and I have been friends since junior high school. She has felt called on a two week mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya with Grace Community Church. A group of six are going to teach computer skills at Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST). They will also be helping consult on strategic planning issues that the school is facing. Another aspect of the trip will be for the team to spend time building relationships with families at Nairobi Chapel, as well as visiting social justice focused ministries in the area. Sounds like they are going to be busy! I am excited to hear about all that Karen sees and learns!

Follow Karen's team on their blog.

Photo of Karen and I was taken at my baby shower for Eliza in March of 2009.


First Time to the Children’s Museum

Eliza and I, along with Alisha and Preston, went to the Children’s Museum yesterday.  It was a pretty calm day at the museum, but there were still plenty of kids  for Eliza to watch.  I don’t know what Eliza liked best, but like always, she loved to absorb all that Preston does!  Alisha and I enjoyed the Barbie exhibit.  It is very strange to see things that we played with growing up on display and looking ancient.  (Side note…I realized today that I am in the last six months of my twenty-somethings!)  


Eliza had this look on her face most of the afternoon!









Playing together…or maybe we should just say near each other.









 “Did I miss something?  Is it nap time yet?”

















“You don’t smell that pretty?”


Otis’s New Coat

Otis got a new coat this week from his Grandma. She calls it Otis's warm-ups, like what the basketball players wear out onto the court! There is even a zipper pocket for him to store his treats in. Since Eliza has been born, Otis knows who Grandma Steckbeck is and he gets so excited when we say she is coming over especially when she brings him gifts (and not Eliza)!

So Long…See You Next Year!

We spent this weekend putting away all the Christmas decorations. This meant we had to say goodbye to our tree. Eliza misses all the lights but there is always next year. We can't wait!!!!


In Bed

I love my little girl (as if you couldn't tell), and such a girl she is! She is very gentle and has not been much of a mover. She is happy with wherever we put her, and as long as we move her around every so often she is always very content. It is because of all these things that we have never had to remove the mobile from her bed or even lower her bed down. We put her down to sleep and she just goes to sleep. This week though, we are seeing her roll around a bit more and start to pull up on the sides. So down a peg or two that mattress is going tonight! I thought we would get some photos of her in it while she can still see over the sides! Oh, what a change it will be for us if we were to have a boy the next time around!


Mamma’s Got a Brand New Bag!

Camera bag that is. I got a new camera for Christmas and I am loving it! There is definitely a lot for me to learn. Kirk is enjoying picking it up as well. We treat it like our third child (1. Eliza 2. Otis). Hopefully, you can see a difference in the photos that we post, and we apologize for even more pictures of Eliza! (I am so sorry with how long this post has gotten! I will start using flickr soon, so that you can scroll through all the crazy parent shots!)