Thursday, January 28, 2010

Baby Goat at 11 months

On Tuesday of this week baby goat turned 11 months which simply blows my mind.  In the last week or so I have been struck with memories of what became the last several weeks of my pregnancy.  I was so proud because I was finally starting to look pregnant rather than just a little fatter than I was before.  I remember breaking out the maternity dress for a wedding, and finally submitting to a few belly shots.

Now suddenly it is a year later and I have an 11 month old who hardly resembles the tiny preemie we met last February.  He's grown taller and if possible even more boyish.  He is topping the scale at 27 lbs which is a far cry from 4 lbs 7 oz.  He has opinions, strong ones.  He loves balls, musical instruments and standing.  He has yet to master the forward crawl but it doesn't seem to prevent him from getting around via a variety of rolling, scooting and backward crawling.

He has been sick since last Thursday but it was his 11 month birthday that saw a development for the worse.  On that day the cold seemed to reach his lungs and he got progressively wheezy over the next 24 hours.  (As a result my 11 month photo shoot was not so successful).  So Wed morning I took off and we packed up to the doctors office.  I'm glad we did as his wheezing had gotten awful and LOUD.  The doctor determined that it was likely a cold and no real sign of pneumonia or RSV, but worried that baby goat has asthma. If you've seen yesterday's Wordless Wednesday then I'm sure you already gathered that fact.

Feeling under the weather on his 11 month birthday.

While it may not be a difinitive diagnosis due to his young age and the high number of kids who grow out of breathing problems, it still called for a rigorous treatment of nebulizers a steroid and an antibiotic (just to be on the safe side).  A day and a half later, baby goat is looking up.  He still isn't quite well but he no longer sounds like a crazed heavy-breather phone stalker.

The next day: Drugs make me feel better!

Surprisingly, the thought of baby goat having asthma doesn't have me channeling my neurotic worry-mom talents.  Maybe it was his beginning or the fact that I had asthma as a child myself but I feel like now we know that colds will need extra care and that we know what to look for as danger signs that his breathing isn't what it should be.

Baby goat continues to be one my greatest joys in life.  I can't wait until I see him each morning and each night.  I adore playing with him and hearing his babble of mama and baba (ball mostly).  (Dada is there but he doesn't say it as often - score one for mom?)  I am blown away everyday by the fact that I get to be his mother.  Happy 11 months baby goat.  I wouldn't trade a snot-filled minute!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Uneven determination

When I was pregnant I ate with the baby in mind.  I avoided cold cuts and soft cheeses.  I limited my diet cokes, I watched my fish intact and had a prenatal vitamin everyday.

Since baby goat was born I have pumped everyday (between 5-8 times a day) to provide him with breastmilk since we couldn't get breastfeeding to work.  I have pumped for 11 months and am still going.

I do it because it is:

1. Healthier for baby goat.
2. Cheaper.

I want to quit pumping each and everyday.  I don't like the time or dedication it takes.  I don't like the extra dishes to wash.  I don't like not being able to play with baby goat because I'm hooked up to a milking machine.  But I do it.  I will do it for at least another month.  Everyday.  I am determined to do this for him.  He deserves it.

11 months committed to baby goat - hours a day - to ensure he gets the healthiest start I can give.

So why can I not give that same time and determination to myself?

Take something simple like taking my lunch to work.  Let's see, it is:

1. Healthier for me.
2. Cheaper.

It doesn't even take as much time as pumping.  Nor does exercise.  Or cooking healthy meals.

Why is it so much easier (still hard but easier) to commit the time and energy to give baby goat the healthier option than myself?  It is hard.  I know it is hard, but I know I have 11 months of determination in my for baby goat and more.

Do I have it for myself?  Surely I deserve it to?

Monday, January 25, 2010

20 Questions

Sometimes I want to blog but my head is filled with questions instead.  Many of them are trivial, some are serious, others practically rhetorical but there they are.  I've done this once before not expecting such a great response to my random questions but it was great to get input from people on some of the questions floating around my brain.  So here are my 20 questions for today.  Answer any you want to, ask your own if you want, but thanks for letting me get them out of my head.

1.  If people bring lunches to work successfully what do you bring?

2.  Why do "quick" microwave meals have so much sodium and is there a simpler alternative?

3.  Why don't co-workers ever clean the microwave?

4.  How do I train myself to get up without hitting snooze?

5.  When do others go to bed?  (Maybe I just get too little sleep)

6.  What will Conan do now that he's left the Tonight Show?

7.  Will  Brett Favre retire now, decide to play early on, or mess with the Vikings plans until after training camp?

8.  What should we get baby goat for his first birthday?

9.  How many clothes or toys does a baby really need anyway?

10.  Is there a light, cheap, easy stroller to keep in my car so we can each have one and not transfer it constantly?

11.  Does anything lead to baby rage quite like those nose sucker thingies?

12.  Is it too much to ask for the fairies/elves/gnomes/cinderella mice to clean the apartment in the night?

13.  Should we spring for 1 year portraits?

14.  What is a good place for 1 year portraits?

15. Does anything make doing laundry easier?

16. What should we have for dinner?

17.  How do I get over my "raw-chicken-must-not-touch" phobia to learn to prepare it for healthy meals?

18.  Speaking of healthy meals what are your favorites?

19.  What is a good way to monitor your portion control?

20.  Which baby class should we do this spring - mommy and me, music or swimming?

Whew, my head at least feels clearer.  I hope you brilliant readers have some insights for me and my Monday jumbled thoughts.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


You know you haven't been blogging enough when your mom calls you up to check in because she hasn't had any updates to read.  (Hi Mom!)  I've wanted to blog but find that my ability to put words down is inversly proportionate to the amount of snot in my sinuses.  More snot = fewer words.

While it is nothing serious we've got a case of the sniffles here in the Goat household.  Baby goat brought it into the house and since Thursday we've been laying low.  Mr. Goat and I both worked half days to keep baby goat home and help us get well.

This combined with a few poor nights sleep and a sense of quiet that comes from a powerful experience (see my FMSC post) we've been holed up physically and mentally. 

But as is so true of illnesses, we are starting to reemerge and blog posts are beginning to percolate in my head.   I am thinking through some things for this week and hope to catch up with some back Christmas posts too so I hope you will consider coming back in a day or two and seeing what there is to see. 

If though, you need some excellent recent blog posts to read consider these from blogs both long read and just found.

Peace Garden Mama - the gifts that emilie gave
Nachfolge - Faith, Prayer and Drudgery
Off Camera with Trish Van Pilsum - 38 Pallets
The Extraordinary Ordinary - Hi, My name is Heather

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

By the Numbers: Bloggers Give Back

I may work mostly with words these days but channeling my latent math geek is something I still do from time to time.  (Don't ask me about my calculus doodles in my Master's ethics classes!)  Numbers are powerful for me.  Some people are able to take them as simple numbers but for me what they represent make numbers heavy duty things in my mind.

For example if you've been overweight you know that the numbers on the scale can bring intense joy or sorrow.  If you've had pre-eclampsia you know the dread of watching your BP numbers heading north.  If you live in MN the number -20 has a real life chill to it.

Numbers mean things.

Last night meant something too.

Last night 40 Minnesota Bloggers of all sorts (see a full list here) gathered for a gathering to give back.  First we all met at Houlihan's to meet and share our stories and our blogs.  I had met only two of the 40 attendees before but everyone was so wonderful, lovely and giving - not to mention seriously talented writers - that I'm still a bit in awe to be considered among them.

The dinner and mingling was wonderful but real impact happened 4 miles (and a few U-turns) away at Feed My Starving Children.  In our caravan, 40 bloggers joined some other volunteer groups to pack nutritious meals for starving children around the world - particularly in Haiti where our meals were slated to go.

It was there that the power of numbers hit me in full force.

18,000 - the number of children who die of starvation everyday.

19 lbs - the weight of an 8 yr old starving child named Omar before FMSC.

27 lbs - the weight of my own baby goat at 10.5 MONTHS.

73 lbs - the weight of Omar 6 months later after 1 cup of food a day from FMSC.

17 cents - the amount it costs FMSC to feel one child a day.

13,824 - the number of meals packed in about an hour of work.

38 - the number of kids who will eat for one year because of us.

39 - other bloggers who I was blessed to share last night with.

(at least) 1 - person whose heart was touched because of last night - me.

Numbers are powerful.  The numbers can be daunting, scary and overwhelming, but they can also be uplifting, spiritual and life-giving.  It took so little to do so much.  In one hour it might not be 18,000 but 17,962...will you help make it even less?

(And maybe, just maybe, I stuck with numbers because I don't yet have the words to describe it all, but you can't prove anything.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Make New Friends

Some people make friends easily.  I have rarely been one of those people.  An introverted nature combined a bit of anxiety at first meetings often means that I don't make a lasting impression.  There have been times where I wonder if I am not better of taking a children's book approach to friend making and as everyone "Will you be my friend?" until I get an affirmative.

Sometimes it seems when you get to a new point in your life you need new friends that understand it.  It isn't that you abandon your old friends, far from it, but rather you need friends that identify with what you are going through.  8 or 9 years ago was one of those times - the occasion: Mr. Goat and my upcoming wedding.

If you've ever planned a wedding or known a bride you know that weddings can lead even the most rational minds to a somewhat, er...focused...mind.  That is that brides-to-be can talk at length about flowers, dresses, halls, caterers, favors, centerpieces.  And the only one you can find to care - short of the mother of the Bride - are other brides.

Nine years ago found me on on a chat board swapping ideas for our weddings.  It lead to some real life friendships, a book club, an private online board, and eventually to blogging.  It gave me strong friendships, something that I really needed now that I was out of school and living in a city where I didn't grow up.

It lead to my friendship with Emilie, and Missy, and countless others.  And it lead to meeting new blogging friends as my circle of friends combines with their online circles.  In a way, it is through Emilie and her story that my circle of friends continues to grow, even in her passing.

On Saturday night several of us got together to celebrate Emilie's birthday.  Some of us were friends way back from theknot, and others I'd just met including Roxane and Marie who came all the way from ND! But we got together in mutual love of a fallen friend and as I told them, if they were friends with Emilie they are friends with me.

It amazes me how the online community has changed the way that adults (moms in particular) can come together.  Tomorrow I have another opportunity to meet some of the blogger community at Missy's Blogger Volunteer Event at Feed My Starving Children.  I couldn't be more excited.  Not only do I get to see some friends, meet some friends for the first time in real life and meet a whole host of others, but I get to do so while helping the world, especially Haiti. 

How has the internet made it easier for you to make and connect with friends?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Should have been

Today is baby goat's "should be" 9 month birthday.  If he'd been born on his due date rather than 7 weeks early he'd be turning 9 months old today and I'd be taking pictures and likely going to the doctor and countless other things.

The whole aspect of prematurity, once I've been removed from the fear and stress of it, is a lesson in "should have beens" for me.  When your child is brand new and so small the should have beens are big.  He should have come home when I did from the hospital.  I should have had gone into labor like a normal woman.  We should have had 7 more weeks to prepare the babies room - we didn't even have car seats.  I shouldn't have had to go back to work before he'd even left the NICU.

When it was all fresh these should haves were like open wounds and in a way they took longer to heal than my c-section scar.  But as we celebrated milestone after milestone the should have beens became real live joys.  Does anyone celebrate a full feeding like the parent of a child born too young to be able to eat without a tube?  Does anyone celebrate an ounce like a family watching a scale creep up day by day?

I am prone to should haves.  They are a form of guilt.  For example I should be cleaning, but instead I'm trying to process these thoughts, and that's ok too.  I can get overwhelmed by should haves.  But it is baby goat that reminds me that the should haves are so rarely what God has in mind.  Baby goat came 7 weeks early, I was very sick, he was very small, and yet 10.5 months later I couldn't change a thing, even if I wanted to.  So it is his should be 9 month birthday, today it doesn't matter because he is just exactly who he is regardless of how you count his age.

I have been pondering this week who baby goat will grow up to be.  Will he be a musician?  A scientist, lawyer or teacher?  Will he be good at sports or math or both?  Will he be kind, generous, loving and faithful?  What will be our struggles as he is our first "tester" child?

The wounds of the should haves heal with time, so does the guilt.  Baby goat is exactly who he is and instead of looking back it is time to start looking forward.  Each day he is less defined by his early start and more defined simply by himself and the love he gives and receives.

It may be his 9 month "should be" birthday.  But his real life 1 year birthday is less than 2 months away and countless other real milestones too.

There may be scars left from those open wounds.  Scars are signs of where you've been, but after a time they do not dictate where you are going.

Happy "9 months" baby goat.  Who you are is more grounding to our family than any should have been.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Anyone out there?

Apparently it is delurking day - or so the blogs I read tell me.  I'll have a real post where I final get into the travel of our Christmas break. But in the mean time stop by and leave some blogger love?  If you want  you can ask some question of me and I'll do another post of them.

In the meantime, baby goat thanks you for reading! (and ignore the food crusted on his face - we just ate)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Next American Idol?

How much can you tell about your child's future in their first year of life?  I guess you never know until a child is grown and you have hindsight to guide you.  Still, I wonder if music isn't in baby goat's future.  Most babies like music I suppose but there are moments where I wonder if baby goat's love doesn't go a bit beyond the average 10 month old.  (Aside: is there a way to write this post and not sound like a total bragging mom?)

Even in utero he would wiggle and shake when music was playing, particularly at the St. Olaf ChristmasFest.  He seems to have a budding sense of rythym, beating toys together but in a distinct beat.  He loves his Mozart Cube, and his shakers, and his drum.  He jabbers mirroring the syncopation of what I've been singing.  He falls asleep to Cantus and calms down when crabby in the car to Mr. Goat's choir.

But tonight we were playing on the floor and American Idol was on in the background.  He wasn't paying a lick of attention to it, just like most TV doesn't seem to hold any interest for him (the only exception -baseball).  He and I played through all the introductions, the talking, the bad singers.  Then one of the first good singers came on and he stopped and stared at the TV totally engaged.

The moment the singer ended he turned back to his toys bored by it again.  This continued and on every singer that got through to Hollywood baby goat would stop and watch rapt.  Then he'd go back to his playing.  When we had our bedtime bottle I left it on to see what would happen and it continued.  He was chowing down on the bottle until the next good singer came on and he stopped eating (not a normal baby goat thing!) to watch.

It was only the good singers, every single time, particularly the men.  (No surprise given that Mr. Goat is the musical talent in the family).

So I wonder...and I put it out here so I remember this in 5, 10, 20 baby goat a musician in training.

Baby Goat

The Next American Idol?

Only time will tell.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Swamp of Sadness

Have you ever seen The Neverending Story?  It was one of my go to fantasy movies as a child.  It had it all that an angsty pre-teen needed.  Misunderstood child who turns out to be the key to saving a world, a book, a quest, despair, fear but also love and hope.

It is a great movie and I never fail to laugh and cry even in the midst of it's cheesy 80s filmmaking technology.  But the part that always makes me cry is the swamp of sadness.  The swamp of sadness were dreary and it sucked the happiness right out of you.

I've felt a bit like that in the last few days.  Not a depression so much as a slogging through waist deep muck of stuff that needs addressing.  It may be the cold weather, or the fact that my sleep has been less than I'd like.  It may be that I still really haven't able to unpack or get through the growing to-do list or the gnawing reality of finances, businesses, job stress and concern for some friends who are struggling.  On there own nothing is so serious but they add up and soon you feel like your are sinking in a swamp.

In the end it isn't serious, and even now I'm feeling better than I did earlier.  Some chocolate helped.  So did watching baby goat spill a large glass of water on Mr. Goat while trying to drink.  So did the glee soundtrack and a new episode of The Big Bang Theory.

Still I wouldn't mind having one of these to save me from the swamp.*

*This is Falcor the Luck Dragon who saved Atreyu from the swamp of sadness in case you don't have quite as many geeky tendencies as me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

50 Book Challenge 2010

As I said in December, I successfully finished my 50 book challenge 2009.  I ended up with 54 books in 2009, which given that I had a newborn for most of the year is pretty darn good if I do say so myself.  What is more amazing is that I've read 228 books since 2006, my first year keeping track.  I know of people who read much much more than that but I'm glad that I've exceeded my goal over the last 4 years.  So now I'm on the way to my 2010 50 book challenge. 

As always I love recommendations.  It seems as though my library queue is always a mile long but I'm always keeping one eye out for something great!  Thank you for your support.

50 Book Challenge 2010

1. Follow the Model: Miss J's Guide to Unleashing Presence, Poise, and Power by J. Alexander
2. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency) by Alexander McCall Smith
3. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm, Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm
4. The Other Queen: A Novel by Philippa Gregory
5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
6. Blue Shoes and Happiness (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Book 7) by Alexander McCall Smith
7. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Book 8) by Alexander McCall Smith
8. A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle
9. The Miracle at Speedy Motors (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Book 9) by Alexander McCall Smith
10. Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer
11. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
12. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
13. Shanghai Girls: A Novel by Lisa See
14. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle
15. Missing Mark by Julie Kramer 
16. Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell
17. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Book 10) by Alexander McCall Smith
18. Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir by Susan E. Isaacs
19. Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle
20. God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World--and Why Their Differences Matter by Stephen Prothero
21. Best Friends Forever: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner
22. The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen
23. An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L'Engle
24. Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal by  
25. Origins of Story: On Writing for Children by Barbara Harrison and Gregory Maguire
26. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
27. Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler
28. The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
29. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson
30. The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose
31. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
32. Love, Love, Love: and Other Essays by Charles Taliaferro
33. Her Fearful Symmetry: A Novel by Audrey Niffenegger
34. Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run by Alton Brown
35. Trailing Clouds of Glory: Spiritual Values in Children's Literature by Madeleine L'Engle and Avery Brooke
36. It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita

by Adriana Trigiani

The Double Comfort Safari Club (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency)
Allison Winn Scotch
Julie Klassen


50. Cherries in Winter: My Family's Recipe for Hope in Hard Times by Suzan Colón
51. I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali, Delphine Minoui, and Linda Coverdale
52. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
53. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
54. The Principles of Uncertainty
55. Beatrice and Virgil: A Novel by Yann Martel
56. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
57. Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
58. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
59. Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins
60. Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins
61. Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins
62. Gregor and the Code of the Claw by Suzanne Collins 

Final 2010 Total = 62

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Don't Blink

There is a Dr. Who episode from a season or two ago that is the scariest (and best) one I've ever seen. It involved an alien race that would turn into stone if they were watched.  That didn't stop them from being fast, scary and hard to beat.  If you don't believe just watch the trailer....

I've realized that baby goat is becoming more and more like these alien creatures. I don't think he's trying to kill me but rather his desire to move has changed the name of the game. It seems as if he can be playing quietly on the floor and as soon as I blink he's 6 feet across the room having rolled, scooted or army crawled his way there in an instant.  It's as if he knows when I'm watching and when I have turned away.

Thankfully I am a Geek and have the Doctor to tell me what to do:

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I hate this...

I hate... discovering a piece of pinkish chicken in my lunch.
I hate...the shame the server makes me feel when I ask for a new one - "It's all precooked, we just heat it...Are you going to throw out all that food for a bit of pink chicken?"
I hate... discovering an even pinker piece of chicken in my second lunch.
I hate... that I am so cowardly and ashamed to ask for refund or to go up a second time and demand new food.
I hate... that I ate half of it anyway after removing the offending chicken and getting a new knife and fork.
I hate... that halfway through I was too anxious about it all to finish.
I hate... that I threw away "probably" good food when other people are hungry.
I hate... that I wasted my money too, not eating the food I paid for.
I hate... the inner debate in my head between neurotic fear and reasonable concern and my inability to tell the difference.
I hate... the fact that I'm compelled to tell this story in not-so-secret hopes that you will all make me feel better.
I hate... that I now want a bag of cookies to make myself feel better.
I hate... that I'm still worried about it and will probably not eat cookies for fear of getting sick from lunch earlier.
I hate... anxiety and fear bubbling up in places and times when I least expect it.
I hate this...

Wordless Wednesday - Not spoiled at ALL!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Random Thoughts

I'm interrupting my own blog recap of the Christmas adventures to get some random thoughts down on "paper."  So here we go:

* I am very sad that Augsburg Publisher, the  publishing house of the ELCA, is out of money and being forced to cancel their penisons.  While I don't know the details of their finances it is never a good thing to see a company forced to make such tough decisions and I don't think it bodes well for the ELCA in general either.  Is it a sign of the greater church's decline?  As a church worker I certainly hope not.

* Baby goat is trying so hard to be on the move and is getting frustrated by it.  He loves to be standing and can pull himself up in ideal situations.  He also is getting towards crawling but really doesn't have anything down yet.  The problem is that he's grasped the concept of moving and not the application...hence loud baby frustration.

* As wonderful as two weeks off are it is always a shock to the system to get back to work.  Is it Friday yet?

* The Packers are in the playoffs!  And I won the championship of two of my three fantasy football leagues, beating mostly men.  This is always something I love to do!

* I'm starting to contemplate baby goat's first birthday and am torn.  I want to go big and celebrate it since his birth was a bit more rushed and tense than I would have preferred.  He deserves a proper celebration, but when, how and who is a whole other story.

* In my love of reality tv and the food network I immediately fell in love with the Worst Cooks in America from Sunday.  Maybe it is my love of the underdog or its assurance that I am a better cook than I think.  This is also cemented by the fact that I made a darn good chili and cornbread on Monday thus redeeming my somewhat lacking abilities of late.

* Please vote:  I'm playing with some ideas for the blog - domain names, templates, etc and am torn between my seemingly different blogging identities on the blog - Lutheran Geek and Mrs. Goat.  I realize I am fully both but does the Lutheran Geek capture my new "mom-ness?"  I don't know that I'm a mommy-blog, especially since I think that puts moms who blog in a narrow box, but I definitely have more mommy content than I did before baby goat was born.  What do you guys think?  Any sense of which identity speaks to you more or how I might merge them succinctly in a blog title?

*  How early is too early for swimming lessons?  We took baby goat swimming for the first time and he loved it, so now I'm thinking of looking for some.  Is ten months too young?

* I'm sure NO ONE has mentioned this, but it is darn cold out in MN these days.  It makes me want to hibernate.

* It is time to shop for a convertible car seat.  Anyone have any preferences?

* Don't forget to follow me on twitter or facebook now!  It is so much fun to get to know new people on the internets.   I'd love to get to know any of my readers better - even if you already know me and I know you!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Wine and Cheese

One of the things our family did during our Christmas celebration was our wine and cheese celebration. This year we had it on December 26th. We started this tradition two years ago and have plans to continue it for as long as we can.

The goal:  get yummy cheeses and pair them with yummy wines and eat and drink.

The Cheeses!

And trust me we are VERY good at this!  Two years ago we had 5 wine and cheese pairings and this year we had six.  It was my dad who did the picking this year and he even included for us about the cheeses and wines.  All the cheeses this year came from Carr Valley Cheese Co and my dad included notes about each pairing.  All in all they were all amazing.  I'd eat any of them again but there were some standouts.  If you love cheese I recommend them all, also the wine.  (My dad's notes are in italics)

Pair One
Carr Valley Creama Kasa – An incredibly rich and flavorful triple-cream cheese that's like pure heaven. Creama Kasa is made from cow milk. Its flavor is buttery and piquant, and it melts in your mouth. Perfect for spreading on warm, crusty bread!

Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne, NV –Wine Review: This clear Champagne is very tasty. It opens with a pleasant doughy bouquet. On the palate, this Champagne is acidic, refined, and elegant. This is a really terrific Champagne. The finish is dry and quite lengthy. This is a special occasion quality wine that will not break the bank.

This was a great cheese.  Along the lines of a brie but very flavorful and firmer.  Great on bagettes.  The Champagne was a great way to start too, and considering this was my first real drinking occasion since I got pregnant it was hard not to fill up on this cheese and champagne.

Another picture of cheese!

Pair Two
Carr Valley Mobay – Sid's whimsically delicious take on the famous French cheese, Morbier. Our version features a layer of sheep milk cheese and a layer of goat milk cheese separated by a layer of grape vine ash and pressed together. The flavor is both delicate and rustic. Taste each layer separately and then together for three different flavor profiles in one great cheese. Mobay took 2nd Place in its class at the 2004 and 2005 American Cheese Society Competition.

2007 Vouvray – Domaine Le Peu de la Moriette – This classic off-dry white is estate bottled from Chenin Blanc grapes in Vouvray, in the Loire Valley region. Low yields, hand harvesting and barrel fermentation are employed to give the wine its authenticity. They call it 'slightly dry' in France, although we would call it 'off-dry'. The aromas are honeydew, peach juice and a hint of spice. The palate is juicy and fresh, and the acidity balances the fruitiness in the finish.
 Domaine le Peu de la Moriette has expanded over the years from 30 to nearly 52 acres of hillside vineyard, cultivated without chemical pesticides. Planted entirely with Chenin Blanc, the vines vary in age from 20-60 years. These steep and chalky vineyards have astonishingly low yields. The grapes are hand-harvested and carefully sorted. Fermentation progresses slowly in the naturally cool environment of the caves in 450-liter oak barrels. New wood is never used. The wine is aged in oak for six months prior to light filtration and bottling, which occurs in March and April.

The sheep/goat cheese was good but the standout here was the wine.  It was AMAZING!  Seriously, go buy this.  It was sweet but not too sweet and very smooth.  It accented the cheese extremely well but went well with anything.  This was the wine I had seconds on.  Yum.  I will be getting more of this wine.

Notice the giddy laughter in Mr. Goat - the wine makes this a very happy party.  Also notice the shorts.  His pants fell victim to the Cabernet.

Pair Three
Carr Valley Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar – This white cheddar has cranberries and chipolte peppers for added flavor. It has the taste of the best Texas barbecue sauce and the heat comes on after the flavor of the cheese and has a very warm finish. Cranberry Chipolte Cheddar took 3rd Place at the 2007 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest and 3rd Place at the 2007 American Cheese Society.

2007 Gewurtztraminer – Gustave Lorentz Reserve – Review from Binny’s Beverage Alsatian tasting: nose: good spicy and zesty nose filled with lemons, various citrus fruits, peaches, lychees, and some spice tones.
 A yummy cheese with a bit of a bite.  It paired well with the wine though this pair didn't stand out like the others.
My sister also succumbs to the wine hysteria.  Notice the glasses piling up!

Pair Four
Carr Valley Apple-Smoked Garlic Cheddar – with flavor that's so bold, deep and delicious, Sid says this cheese should be placed on the "Controlled Substance" list. One try, and we think you will agree!
2005 Chardonnay – Miner (wild yeast – Napa Valley) – “Complex notes of ripe apples, creme brulee, toasted bread and savory spices are combined in the deeply framed, rich aromas of this somewhat full-bodied, mouthfilling and well-balanced wine.” Connoisseurs' Guide 95 Points.

This was another yummy cheese (can you tell I like cheese).  The garlic flavor really came out but it wasn't overpowering.  The Chardonnay was really bizzarre.  It was almost like butter at times, it was extremely smooth and complex and none of us could quite describe what the mouth feel was in the end.  This was the only glass I didn't finish (ahem) but I didn't necessarily dislike the wine either.

These aren't great shots but I was sitting on the floor.  Also laughing quite hard and slightly drunk!

Pair Five
Carr Valley 8-Year Aged Cheddar – Handcrafted in the La Valle plant in small vats by cheesemakers with more than 100 years experience. Aged 8 years. Our 8 Year Cheddar won First Place at the 2004 American Cheese Society Competition.

2000 Cabernet Sauvignon – Raymond Burr (Dry Creek Valley) – A blend of 91% cabernet sauvignon and 9% cabernet franc. Winemaker’s note: “plush in texture, dark & smokey, with loads of ripe black cherry and blackberry flavors. Has soft undertones of classy cassis and black current. Well intergrated with toasty oak, with a lingering, rich spicy vanilla finish"

Oh this cheese.  This cheese was heaven.  It was perfect - sharp and smooth at the same time.  It crumbled beautifully but it wasn't crystally like some aged cheddars can be.  I think I may have dreamed of this cheese.  And even writing this post makes me strongly consider ordering some of my own!  The Cabernet was good too and I don't typically like Cabs.  To be fair I didn't finish this wine either because I shared my glass with Mr. Goat after he spilled his over his pants and the floor.  By pair five we were getting more than a bit tipsy.  I should note that my mother doesn't drink but does eat cheese and she was very willingly also on Grandma duty with baby goat.

My view - lots of empty wine glasses.  Would you believe that we all resused one of the glasses for three of the different wines.  Can you imagine a different glass for each one for all 5 of us drinking?

Pair Six
Carr Valley Ba Ba Blue – A native Wisconsin sheep milk blue cheese, aged four months for intense "blue" flavor. This cheese took 2nd Place at the 2006 American Cheese Society Competition.

2003 Sauternes – Chateau Guiraud – “A big nose of honey-coated fruit here, and a big, flavoursome palate to match. Full, firm character, with decent botrytis influence. Rich and opulent style, with a great sweetness. Should make good drinking.” From a Sauternes 2003 tasting. 17/20 (October 2005). Wine Spectator – “This is very sweet and rich on the nose, with toffee, honey and spices. Full-bodied, and thick honey. Spice, dried apricot and syrup flavors. Lasts for minutes on the palate. Big botrytis bomb. Love it.” Score: 95. —James Suckling, March 31, 2006.

This was a good blue cheese but I've had better "blue-y" blue cheeses.  Compared to the 8 yr cheddar it was a bit bland in fact, but still very yummy.  The standout here was the wine.  My dad said it was the most expensive single bottle of wine he's purchased (thanks dad!) and it showed.  It was a dessert wine and so wonderful!  I  don't recommend buying it because of price only but it was awesome!  It would easily be my favorite if I could afford it.  If it is our turn to pair the wine and cheese next time we won't get anything so fancy but it was very very good.  If you see it on a by the glass wine list would be worth the splurge.

All in all it was a great night.  Luckily I had enough milk for baby goat saved up so he didn't suffer any ill effects of the wine.  With the exception of one or two drinks in the last 18 months this was my real first time drinking and I couldn't have picked better food or company to do so in.  And since we were safe in our parents house and didn't have to worry.  I didn't get too drunk but it definitely was a fun night.  Thankfully no hangover or anything but we ended early and I drank lots of water too.

I think this is a nice tradition.  It will likely be two years until we are all together for Christmas again so we won't repeat this until then but I recommend it as a fun experience.  My dad called the cheese place and got recommendations and had a wine guy to give recommendations too so he wasn't pairing blindly and he did a great job.  And we are especially grateful for his funding of our epicurious adventure!  Thanks Dad!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Christmas - Part One

I'll have to separate our adventures into a few shorter segments as our 12 days away were full of holiday and family fun.  On the 23rd we packed up what seemed like all our worldly goods but in reality was just most of baby goat's and headed to my parents in WI.

It was lovely and slow paced and we spent a lot of time hanging out on the floor of the living room with baby goat.  His mobility seems to have grown exponentially in these nearly two weeks and suddenly he needs even more careful supervision.  But seeing as he's fun it is ok.  Plus we were 6 adults to one baby so we managed to keep him in check.

Santa and the family were good to baby goat but the big hit was his walker train.  While he got lots of other toys and lots of love, the wrapping paper and boxes were also the big holiday hits.

Baby goat and I skipped Christmas Eve church with Uncle Logan since we were teething at it was past our bedtime, so instead we watched parts of the original Star Wars Trilogy.  Not exactly a meditation on Christmas but I figure I pulled a Mary and pondered "all these things" in my heart, particularly on my first Christmas as a mother of a first born son.

The time was mostly an excuse to relax and I'm not sure we got fully dressed for days - at least baby goat didn't, but that was fine with us.  There was the biannual wine and cheese family extravaganza but that deserves a post all of its own.

I'll leave it there for now....coming soon: wine and cheese, travel woes, crib conundrums, swimming and Christmas part two.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Back in the Saddle

I didn't intend to go on a blog hiatus over the Christmas season, it just sort of happened that way.  Now I am left with a dilemma however.  So much happened over the last two weeks that it seems like there are dozens of posts roaming around inside my head.  I would like ot do them justice so I'm beginning to get some thoughts down here and there.  Oh and pictures, lots of pictures.  But it seems that posts will trickle out as I get to them, and we aren't even home yet. 

But to summarize, Christmas is awesome!  Travel was manageable despite some major bumps!  Family was crazy, loving, maddening, and wonderful all at once.  Food was plentiful.  Baby goat was *mostly* adaptable and adorable.  And we are all made it to the new year!

Tomorrow we drive back to the Goat-cave (hmmm, not sure about this nickname yet, thoughts?) and resume normal life.  Daycare and work begin again and we HAVE to spend some immediate time childproofing as baby goat's mobility has skyrocketed in the last two weeks.

It seems sad to be heading home and knowing that I won't get to spend so much real time with Mr. Goat and baby goat as I did in the last two weeks, but there is a strong desire to return to a normal schedule and plan, even if it involves the realities of work, cleaning house and daycare.

I have to say, 2009 has been a wild ride.  Baby goat is a blessing that I can still hardly wrap my head around.  His entrance may have been more dramatic than I'd have liked but I think the year has been good to us.

Now on this first day of 2010 I am hopeful about growth.  I hope that we enter a time of more security (financially especially) than we've known in the last several years, and I am hopeful that Mr. Goat's firm will grow and thrive.  I am hopeful that baby goat will continue to grow and thrive!  I am hopeful that I will grow as a person, and possibly shrink as a person too!  (at least from a numbers sense).

Ten years ago I knew Mr. Goat just barely.  We didn't start dating for another 4 months.  Now we are married with a kid, a law firm, a few crazy cats, and a few degrees to boot.  I'm so thankful for what I've been given and what I hope I have given back in these ten years.

Happy New Year everyone!  It's good to be back!