Sunday, March 29, 2009

Advanced Skills

Where's Your Hair? from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

He's also really good at refusing to talk.

Stubborn from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


The weather has been just wonderful here for the last week. Thomas and I go for a walk on the days that Jeremy is on campus and we spend all day together. Lately we've been able to come home and play outside for another hour or so. Our back yard is a barren wasteland of broken glass and nails left from when they remodeled our house so we hang out in the driveway. Thomas prefers the front yard anyway because he likes to watch the cars drive by.


Our street is insanely busy for a residential area. People cut through our neighborhood to avoid slow spots on the freeway. We recently voted for a traffic plan that will put speed bumps on our block to reduce the traffic. I hope it passes because I'm terrified that I'll get distracted while we're outside and Thomas will wander out into the street. Although even if it doesn't, our landlord Bob is planning to have the backyard cleaned up and sodded in May while we're in Houston for Jeremy's graduation. It will be nice to go outside without following two steps behind him.

Funny Faces in the Bike Trailer

You might have noticed the advertisements in the right sidebar. If you click on the ads, we get some tiny payment. And, uh, we're broke. So, pretend that you're interested in teeth whitening. Really, really interested.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Hello, originally uploaded by leslie.ann.

Sorry about the lack of new content. I am running up against a deadline so all blog activity is officially procrastination. I have to turn in pages to George on Wednesday (or Thursday). I'll have a new stuff up after that.

Friday, March 20, 2009


We went to the Sacramento Zoo this morning. It's a small zoo and badly in need up updating. It really made me appreciate all the work that has gone into the Sedgwick County Zoo.

Fortunately, they are doing some work on it. This sad little giraffe exhibit is being replaced with a much bigger enclosure next year. Hopefully, it won't have any concrete.

Sitting in this little dump truck was probably the highlight of the zoo for Thomas. The kid is seriously obsessed with vehicles. Jeremy was holding him at the chimpanzee exhibit when a young chimp walked right up to the glass and climbed a rope that was hanging there. It was very cool. Unfortunately, a plane flew overhead at the same time. Thomas missed the chimp because he was frantically pointing at the sky and saying "Pway! Pway!"* over and over again.

Silly monkey.

*"Pway" is how Thomas tries to say "plane". The "p" sound is just barely there. As far as I can tell, he has no idea how to make the "n" sound. I've never heard him make it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Appointments Update

Thomas had his speech and development evaluations on Friday afternoon. (The speech therapist rescheduled so we could do them both at once.) Overall, it went very well. He tested at 9 months on his speech development which is a 50% delay. But we already knew that. I mean, he's supposed to talk and he doesn't. No big surprise there.

I was more worried about the other areas of development: language comprehension, social skills, gross motor skills and fine motor skills. We thought he was doing fine in all of those areas but we're no experts. It would have been awful to have found out he had further delays that we hadn't even noticed. But there was no need to worry because, as it turns out, he's 3 to 6 months ahead in all those areas. They seemed particularly impressed when he showed them where his eyes, nose, ears, mouth, hair and feet are. I thought we were supposed to be teaching him body parts at this age but apparently it's an advanced skill.

He does qualify for free speech therapy once a week. We should start in a few weeks. In the meantime, the speech therapist recommended that we find a way to give him more exposure to other little kids. Toddlers are more likely to mimic other toddlers than adults. That's where he's gotten stuck. He mimics us physically; if I'm wiping off the counters, he'll bend down and wipe the floor. But he doesn't try to mimic the sounds we make. So, we're looking for an affordable (read free) way to get him around other kids.

We also went back to The Shriner's Hospital today. His arm is almost completely healed. There's one very small spot that is still open but it should scab over in the next day or two. Now we just have to manage the burn so it doesn't leave a scar. We're supposed to massage moisturizer into it 4 times a day for 5 minutes at a time. I don't know how I'm going to convince him to sit still for that long. He's also wearing a pressure sleeve to keep the new skin from puffing up and leaving a raised area. He'll have a red mark and be especially susceptible to sunburn for the next year or so. After that, good as new.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Food Friday - Vegetarian Gumbo

This is the first time I've made this gumbo from Veganomicon. It will definitely be added to our regular rotation.

I was starving when we sat down to eat. I tried to remember what I had eaten throughout the day and all I could remember was a few sections of Thomas' orange at breakfast and part of his apple at lunch. So, I ate three bowls of this gumbo.

Then, I was faced with a quandary: was it really fantastic or was I just ravenous? It wasn't until I caught sight of my coffee cup while I was cleaning up after dinner that I remembered going to McDonald's for breakfast. I started out the day with two sausage-less breakfast burritos. The gumbo must really be wonderful.

Vegetarian Gumbo

Adapted from Veganomicon*

1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 onions, small dice
2 green peppers, small dice
1/3 lb seitan, small dice (optional)
1 stalk celery, very thin slice
4 cloves garlic, mince
8-10 oz frozen okra
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes w/ juice
2 roasted red peppers (usually 1 jar), small dice
1 can (16 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups vegetable broth (1 can + 1 1/4 cups water)
1 cup ale-style beer
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp allspice
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

Make a roux. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a stockpot. Sprinkle in flour and stir until dissolved. Cook roux, stirring frequently, until it is a rich caramel color and smells toasty, 10-14 minutes.

Add onions, green peppers and seitan, stir to coat with roux. Raise heat to medium-high and cook until vegetables are soft, 8-12 minutes.

Add celery, garlic, and okra, cook another 6 minutes.**

Add tomatoes, roasted red peppers, kidney beans, and vegetable broth. Whisk together beer and tomato paste and add to mixture. Stir through. Stir in liquid smoke and all the spices.

Raise the heat and bring gumbo to a gentle boil. Lower heat, partially cover, and simmer 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes.

Serve over rice.

*Overall, I've been disappointed by this cookbook. Too many of the recipes are require four pans and an assembly line to put together. Even their simpler, one pot meals are needlessly complicated. The food is good but the recipes themselves could be constructed better.

*For example, I'm sure you could cook all your vegetables at once, rather than in two steps, and it would turn out exactly the same.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What We Eat

I think a lot of people wonder what vegetarians eat. How do they manage to avoiding taking their own lives from boredom? Well, we don't eat meat and I love to cook, so I can answer that question. And I will, on Food Fridays. I plan to post a recipe every Friday, something that has made it into monthly or bimonthly rotation.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do eat meat occasionally. Jeremy and Thomas are completely meat-free but I refuse to go to a restaurant and spend more money than its worth on something from the appetizer list (which is often the only place on the menu with a vegetarian option). I also could not go on if I knew I would never eat another cheeseburger. What would be the point?

That being said, we don't bring meat into our house. And while I don't think it's inherently wrong to kill an animal to eat it, factory farming is a moral and social outrage. Animals suffer and that should matter to us. Industrial meat production is also environmentally unsustainable; anyone who is worried about their personal contribution to global warming, should limit their consumption of animal products. Oh, and animal products are incredibly bad for you, at least at the rates that Americans eat them. There are a whole host of diseases from the explosion of cancer and diabetes to tooth decay that can be linked to the way we eat.

So, there. I've given you three huge reasons to pay attention on Fridays and maybe make some of my recipes and then tell me how much you liked them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


We are going to be busy with appointments in the next two weeks. Thomas has two evaluations scheduled. He's being seen by an infant development specialist on Friday afternoon and a speech pathologist 10 days later on March 23rd. They each come to our house for the evaluation. I really have no idea what to expect; I'm just glad that we're finally doing something. Although if the future is anything like the past, it will be another 5 months before we get a report or find out if he qualifies for free services.

We're also going back to The Shriner's Hospital on Monday afternoon (the 16th). At our first appointment, they said his burn should heal within two weeks. It's only been two days but I haven't seen any improvement at all. I'm starting to worry that he won't heal fast enough and he'll end up with a scar. On the other hand, Jeremy thinks it is getting better. His arm does bleed a lot when we clean it and blood is a sign of healing.

So much for avoiding the heartbreaking parts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Coming Soon

We're starting a blog to help keep everyone up to date on the cutest boy ever.

Unfortunately, we're all burn, all the time right now. We're going to wait a few more days to start updating so it won't be so, well, heartbreaking.