Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ryan: 3.5 Years

Dear Ryan,

Happy half birthday! You are 3 and a half years old now, and I feel like you have changed so much just in the past 6 months. What's new since you turned 3? You potty trained, started Awana, learned how to ride your first bike, and recently started going to preschool 1 day a week.
You are still very shy and reserved. You always hang back and observe a situation before talking or participating. You are like this no matter where we go, even if it is somewhere you have been many times, such as Sunday school, or a friend's house, or even with close relatives. People always comment that you are grumpy or tired. While you do often come across as grumpy, I think it is sometimes just you being shy.

I have noticed lately that you are very different when you have my attention and your brother isn't around. You listen really well and are fairly obedient. You can be such a sweet little boy when you choose to be! But when your brother is awake and wanting me, the jealousy and acting out begins.

You eat a little better these days. We can usually get you to try 1 bite of something you don't like, such as a fruit or vegetable. But that's it. Your list of foods you will eat is still extremely limited. Healthy foods that you will eat include peanut butter, bananas, apples, and salmon.

You have become very affectionate lately. You constantly ask to be held, and when you sleep in our bed at night, you wrap yourself around me. You tell me you love me all the time, and are always wanting to give me a hug and kiss. I'm going to be sad some day when you won't do this!
Although we do have some really difficult days with you, for the most part, I am really starting to love this age. You are approaching an age that is more independent and agreeable, but not old enough to lose your sweet boyish naivity.

You are still a small boy. I have been searching for a pair of 3T jeans that you will fit you without falling off, but so far I have been unsuccessful. Last month at the doctor you weighed just over 30 pounds.

You have definitely inherited some of your Daddy's strengths. You are incredibly good with tools. You have never been taught how to use them, but you know how to take things apart with a screwdriver and put them back together. You are excellent at driving your large John Deere truck around the yard, and you are extremely coordinated and agile.
I love you so much Ryan!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Olympic Nurser

Lucas will be 17 months old soon, and I am still breastfeeding him. I only nurse him 3 times during the day; upon waking, before his nap, and before bed. But I also nurse him in the middle of the night when he wakes up, which is 1-3 times per night lately.

I've never had a set age when I wanted to wean either of my boys. With Ryan, I was pregnant with Lucas when he was 17 months, so I had a reason to wean him. With Lucas, I don't have any specific reason to wean, other than the fact that he is, well, nuts.
While Lucas is nursing, he is doing things with his body that resemble an Olympic gymnast. His feet are on top of my head. Then he is doing backflips off of my lap. Then he is scratching my stomach, my face, my chest. The other day I exited his room after nursing him, to find that I was bleeding in two spots from his scratches. Lucas isn't exactly the gentle, calm type.

So part of me wants to wean him, and part of me isn't sure if it's the right time yet. I like being able to comfort him when he needs it, but if it gets any more difficult I may seriously start the weaning process.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Made My Day

Whew. Today was one of those days. If you have little kids, you certainly know what I mean. Both boys are kind of sick, so this was a contributing factor to the extremely high level of whining and crying in our house today. Ryan has a cough, but otherwise seems fine. Lucas has no symptoms (except a fever Sunday night), but something seems to be bothering him.
Lucas was whining, crying, and screeching for most of the day. He would want to be picked up, so I would pick him up. He would point and scream for something, so I'd walk over and try to figure out what he wanted. I don't think either of us knew what he wanted. I would put him down and he'd either flop on the floor and bang his head repeatedly against the nearest hard surface, or pull on my legs and scream. When Ryan sees him doing this (always, not just today) he will come over and whine to be picked up. I know it's jealousy, but I never know what to do in this situation. If I pick up one, the other cries even harder. Sometimes I pick up both, but this is a no-no right now since I've hurt my shoulder. Other times I try to drag them both over to the couch, both clinging to my legs and shirt. I sit down and try to let them share my lap, but one will always try to shove the other off, or one (Lucas) will bite the other one. Oh boy.
Trying to give both of them the attention they want is hard sometimes. So at the end of days like today, I just try to think back to all the good things that happened. Like the fact that we made it to the park with minimal crying. We got to spend time with my oldest niece. Lucas didn't hurt himself when he fell out of his crib. And Ryan told me he loves me no less than 20 times today.
That last one definitely made my day.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Farm Fresh To You: Round 2

I have been subscribing to the Farm Fresh To You organic produce delivery service for a little while now. I took a break at the end of the summer and put my account on hold because we live 5 minutes from Ardenwood Farm and their produce stand. You can't beat fruits and vegetables that were grown 2 miles away! But now that their produce stand is closing this month, I have started receiving my box of produce again.
 Here is what I got in my "small" box this morning.

-1 bunch kale
-7 apples
-3 pears
-1 bunch carrots
-3 delicata squash
-1 bulb fennel
-2 sugar pie pumpkins

I don't think I like fennel, but I'm willing to try cooking with it. Any recipe suggestions? I was also excited to see the little pumpkins! I believe these are meant to be roasted and made into pie, so if I am ambitious enough this week I will try to make a pumpkin pie from scratch.

If you are interested in trying this service, use the promo code 6164 and my name to get $10 off your first box!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Grocery Shopping Challenge

Due to a variety of reasons, our food budget is going to be pretty tight for the rest of the month. This is difficult for me, mostly because I love to go grocery shopping! I am definitely guilty of going to the store 2-3 times per week and buying more than I really need. Well, now my well-stocked freezer and pantry are really going to come in handy! Including those freezer meals I made at the end of July.

I have decided to turn this situation into a positive learning experience. I am challenging myself to come up with as many dinner meals as possible based on what we have on hand. Apart from the necessities such as milk, cheese and fresh produce ( and anything I deem "necessary" for my picky boys) I am going to try not to go grocery shopping for the next couple weeks. I am excited and nervous to see how this goes.

Yesterday I took inventory of what is in my pantry and freezer. I came up with an impressive list of meals that I can make based on what I have. All I will need to add is a fresh fruit or vegetable to each meal, and no extra shopping should be required. Here is my list:

Homemade Freezer Meals (Already Made!)
Weelicious Stuffed Shells
BBQ Beef & Bean Casserole w/ Cornbread Topping
Salsa Chicken Tacos (Chicken is already made)
Baked Chimichangas
Trader Joe's Lasagna w/ Homemade Sourdough
Chicken Cacciatore over Egg Noodles

Fresh Meals
Pizza on Homemade Crust
Philli Cheesesteaks on Hot Dog Buns
Crock Pot Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Ground Beef Spaghetti (x3)
Fried Rice
Baked Chicken Parmesan
Bean/Split Pea Soup w/ Bacon
Sloppy Joe Baked Potatoes
Beef Stew
Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
Minestrone Soup
Bean Burritos w/ Homemade Tortillas
BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Impresive, right? It really makes me realize how blessed I am. Next time I say "I've got nothing to make for dinner", I will refer back to this list. Wish me luck on my challenge! What meals do you make using pantry and freezer staples?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dirty Boys

Here is Ryan playing in the mud at the age of 17 months.
And now, two years later, he's still playing in the dirt. Except now he's got his almost 17-month old brother to get dirty with.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Last Warm Days

We have been spending a lot of time at the park lately, trying to soak up the last of the warm sunny days of early Fall. My boys love being outside, so I am slightly dreading the cold rainy days of Winter when they will be cooped up inside.
Ryan and Lucas don't do too well with indoor sitting-down activities, like coloring, play-doh, or reading. Ryan is getting better at these activities (forget about Lucas doing these, he's too young and crazy), but even Ryan gets bored after about 10 minutes. So I'm trying to enjoy all the outside time with my boys right now while we can!

What indoor activities keep your energetic kids occupied?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Potty Trained

Have I mentioned that Ryan is potty trained? Because he is, and I am so happy! I waited until he was really ready to begin seriously potty training. A few previous attempts had resulted in potty chairs being thrown and serious frustration for both Ryan and me. So we took a break and started again at the end of the summer.

At first I was taking him to the bathroom every 15-20 minutes, and it was very tiring. But after Ryan learned how to hold it for longer periods of time, I learned to trust him more when he said he didn't need to "go". He still has the occasional accident when he gets too focused on playing and forgets to come inside, but overall he is doing great! A couple weeks after we started he was not only doing well during the day, but also wearing underpants at night and waking up dry in the morning.
 I am so proud of my big boy!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Stitch Fix Review #2

I got my 2nd Stitch Fix box in the mail today! Once again it arrived a day early, and I pretty much ripped the box open in excitement. Don't know what I'm talking about? Check out my post here, which describes what Stitch Fix is.

In a nutshell, it's a personal styling service. You give them your information and they hand-pick 5 items of clothing for you. Keep what you like, send back what you don't. You pay $20 for the box, but if you decide to buy anything, your $20 gets applied towards your purchase, so it's not wasted. If you haven't signed up yet, do it now! It is so much fun. If you do try it, please use my referral link. (I get $25 in credit for each person who signs up).

OK, on with the review!

Fate Leora Striped Open Draped Cardigan
This is an "Aztec" style cardigan, which is really popular right now. Not at all what I had in mind when I requested a cardigan, but a fun surprise! It was incredibly warm and cozy, but my skin started to itch a little after wearing it for a while. That, combined with the high price made me decide to send this one back. My specified price range is "the cheaper the better", which means everything is less than $50. This was my first piece they have sent me that was over that range. Although I must add that Adam really loved this sweater! He tried to talk me in to keeping it.

Tua Rowson Shoulder Button Striped Shirt
I immediately liked this striped top. I like blue, I like stripes. It feels very "me", if that makes sense. I decided to keep this one, even though it feels a little safe and predictable. The buttons on the shoulder make it a bit more special, though. And the fabric is incredibly soft.

Kensie Kaine Floral Print Skinny Jean

Then there were these floral jeans. I immediately wrote them off because, well, they are floral jeans! I realize that is trendy right now, but just not for me. But the longer I wore them, the more I liked them! Stitch Fix is sneaky like that....they make you try things on you would NEVER pick up in a store, and somehow you end up liking them! Ultimately I said no to these pants because they are pricey and I couldn't figure out what top to wear with them. Although they would have been a unique addition to my closet. (Adam really liked these as well)

Velvet Heart Dixen Mixed Stripe Button-Up Blouse
This top was an definite no because it reminded me of the top I hated from my first box! I did like the button-up sleeves, and I would like a tab-sleeve top, just in a different color. I think they chose this for me because I told them teal/aqua was one of my favorite colors. I just don't like it on this top for some reason.

Evolution by Cyrus Val Metallic Hi-Lo Knit Sweater
I liked this sweater, just wasn't in love with it. I went back and forth on this one, but ultimately I don't think the color does anything for me. And I'm not sure if you can tell, but there's a sparkly metallic thread running through it that for some reason makes it look a little cheap to me. It was actually the cheapest item in my box, at $25.

So even though I only kept 1 item from this box, I felt like it was better than my first box. Everything fit really well, so if they can just figure out my style a little better, it will be a home run! I have had a few friends sign up using my referral link, which means I have some credit to spend. (Free clothes!!) I hope you don't get tired of seeing these reviews each month, because I plan on doing them at least until my credit runs out. If you had received this box of clothes, what would you have kept?

Here's my referral link again! You need to try Stitch Fix!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Chocolate-Garbanzo Donuts

I love donuts. LOVE. There is a reason I only allow myself to eat them once a year on my birthday. Put a pink donut box in front of me and I could easily eat the entire dozen. Not so healthy. But a homemade baked donut? Well, that doesn't count as a donut, does it? Not in my book. I own a donut pan but do not use it nearly enough. So lately I've been trying out some healthier baked donut recipes that are nutritious enough to feed the boys for a special weekend breakfast. Still not the healthiest things to feed them, but much better than a sugary bowl of cereal, or an actual fried donut.

I once made brownies that had pureed black beans in them. I know that sounds strange, but I promise the bean taste was completely hidden. To this day Adam doesn't know that he ate bean brownies. Please don't tell him. So when I heard about donuts with garbanzo beans in them, I knew I had to try it. I adapted the recipe slightly so that I could call it my own.

Chocolate-Garbanzo Donuts

For the Donuts:
1 cup garbanzo beans
1/2 cup whole organic milk
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup chocolate chips, melted
1 cup white whole wheat flour

For the Glaze:
1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1.5 tablespoon whole organic milk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup powdered sugar
sprinkles (optional)

First, buy yourself a donut pan.


-In a blender, combine garbanzo beans, milk, baking powder, vanilla, white vinegar, salt, sugar, and melted butter. Blend until pureed. (Use a strong blender! You don't want bean chunks in your donuts) Transfer to a large bowl, pouring through a mesh strainer first. Blend with the melted chocolate chips and flour. Transfer to a large zip-top bag. Snip the corner of the bag, and pipe into donut pans that have been generously sprayed with nonstick baking spray.

-Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes, or just until the donuts set. Remove and cool for 3-5 minutes before turning your donuts onto a cooling rack. Frost immediately with frosting.

-While the donuts are cooking, mix together the chocolate chips, melted butter, milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Mix just until smooth. Add more milk if needed to make the consistency spreadable (but not overly runny). Place donuts top-side down in the glaze and immediately transfer to a wire rack.
 The recipe makes 12 regular donuts or 6 plus 12 "minis".