Monthly Mara Letter: Month nine

Dear Mara,

IMG_7036You turned 9-months-old today. You have biologically functioned on your own longer than your mom incubated you. And with that, you’ve become more and more independent this month.

You cruise a lot. Cruising is that think where you stand up and “cruise around” by supporting yourself with something. This usually means the coffee table, a chair, a mom or dad leg, the cat or the fireplace screen. For the past couple weeks you’ve been making valiant attempts at standing on your own. This usually happens in mom & dad’s bed, and it makes for loads of laughs. You’ll stand up by supporting yourself on one of our hips, then you’ll throw your hands in the air and wait. Sometimes you’ll stand for a few seconds. Other times you’ll immediately fall back and land on your butt or flat on your back. Either way, you think this game is awesome because your mom and I laugh heartily with you.

We’re pretty sure you’ll be walking before your first birthday. As much as you cruise and as fast as you crawl, it seems logical that you’ll be walking soon. You have an older sister and parents who are always on the move, and I can tell you’re compelled to keep up with us all.

IMG_2077And holy hell could you stop getting into EVERYTHING? The light sockets, the cat food, the plants, my alarm clock, the blinds, the tupperware, the fireplace. And what’s up with you wanting to go into the guest bathroom, where all the scary monsters live, when it’s pitch black in there and steal the little plastic cover that goes over the toilet bolts?! You’re obsessed with that thing. When we can’t find you, invariably you’ll be in the totally dark bathroom, sitting next to the toilet with that bolt cover in your mouth. It’s kind of odd.

This month you also grew a set of full-on fangs. Last month we’d noticed not only your front two bottom teeth, but also a fang. This month your fangs have grown in quite nicely. Your fangs are cute and make your mom and me chuckle, especially whenever you’re really happy or laughing and you do your big, full teeth grin.

This month you have also started attempting to communicate with us. You can say “cat” and “dad,” although both of them come out as “dat.” Whenever we ask you to find the cat, you crawl around while saying, “dat. dat. dat.” You also say “boof” a lot. We don’t know what that means. I think it might mean “food,” or “we should go outside and put dirt in our ear!”


This past December was also your first Christmas. We spent this Christmas at your Grandma’s house. I can’t remember what all Santa brought you, but I do remember he brought you your first teddy bear, which I’m hoping you’ll hang on to and pass down to your daughter. Christmas this year reminded me of how important it is to treasure these times with you, and all of our friends and family as our time together is so precious and finite.

Christmas or any day I count as a blessing to be with you and see you grow & learn. Your smile is amazing and gorgeous and infectious. Thank you for your smile and for everything that is you.

I love you, Sugar.


Flat iron steak marinade

One night we went to the best little neighborhood Mexican restaurant. Now, I don’t mess around with entrees like enchiladas. I ordered the bistec encebollado because steak dammit. And man, that was a good steak. Maybe my iron levels were low, or maybe it was just a really good flat iron steak. I think that was the first time I knowingly consumed a flat iron steak. But it was so good that I made a mental inventory that “I really love flat iron steak.” And like on most occasions, if I dine out and have a really good meal, I like to think about said meal and figure out how to cook it myself.

Seared flat iron steak with marinadeI didn’t bother trying to replicate how the steak itself was seasoned. I went out and bought flat iron steaks the next time I was at the grocery store. When they don’t have flat iron steak, I like to get a flank steak. If they don’t have that, I might get a skirt steak.

I grew up in a ribeye steak family. My dad loved ribeyes, so when the family had steaks, that’s what dad made. I still like a good ribeye, but I like skirt and flat iron steaks even better.

One night Elise was going to make carne asada. Now, if you know Elise, you know that she’s more of the verbatim recipe follower. For whatever reasons, I commandeered the kitchen and took over making the meal for the night. She handed me her phone, on which contained the recipe for the carne asada. I read the ingredients, not paying attention to the measurements and quantities, and made beautifully seared, juicy and delicious grilled flat iron steaks. Usually for steak I just rely on salt, pepper and garlic powder. Sometimes I’ll just use Montreal steak seasoning. But not for the flat iron. I like this simple, non-measured marinade for my Mexican steaks:

  • white vinegar
  • soy sauce
  • garlic, minced
  • limes, juiced
  • olive oil
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  • chili powder
  • dried oregano
  • ground cumin
  • paprika
  • white onion, chopped
  • crap ton of chopped fresh cilantro (crap ton is an actual unit of measurement in my kitchen)

Throw all of the above in large stainless steel bowl with the steaks and let them sit for a while. Throw the steaks on a really hot fire to get a good sear. Quarter turn steaks after 2.5 minutes, flip after another 2.5 minutes and then generously pour some of the marinade on top of the steaks. Close the grill lid so the smoke from the steaks and marinade add a bit extra of that awesome smoky and marinady flavor.

Laser Tattoo Removal: Phase II

4 hours after my second laser tattoo removal sessionWhite hot pain. I was reading Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets last night and when Harry gets jabbed in the arm by the fang of the basilisk, Rowling used the term white hot pain. That’s what getting a tattoo removed by a laser feels like. I’ve never tried this, but imagine taking a magnifying glass in the Texas summer and focusing the point of the most intense, white heat at your skin for a brief moment, just long enough to where the scorching pain registers. Then do that a thousand times in a fairly isolated spot on your body. And there ya go… laser tattoo removal pain equivalent.

I had my second laser tattoo remove treatment with Cara at Austin Laser Clinic yesterday. Here’s a video of my first treatment back in early November. This treatment was not much unlike the last treatment, quick and painful. Thankfully Cara makes for good company during the process.

What’s interesting about the process is that it’s ongoing — not specifically the treatments that are spaced apart — but how your body reacts and handles the tattoo weeks and months after treatment. Since I’ve had this particular tattoo for 20 years, I’ve grown to where I don’t even really take notice of it anymore. Every week or so I’ll take a gander at it and realize that another line or specific section of the tattoo has really faded, or is almost gone. The body’s lymphatic system is slowly taking the broken down pigment particulates and chromaphore away.