August 31, 2009

Library Picks: Chihuahua Cats, Dinos & Madeline

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
Believe it or not, my gynecologist recommended this book. I am not kidding. I told her our almost-4-year-old was a total book worm and she said that we HAD to get a copy of Skippyjon Jones. She was right. It is just as fun for us to read out loud as it is for Peanut to listen to. The illustrations are really funny. Skippyjon is a little Siamese cat boy who believes he is a chihuahua. He finds adventures in old Mexico by simply entering his bedroom closet. So cute. So funny. You'll find yourself (& your kids) saying "Holy Guacamole!"

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?
by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
We've hit a serious dinosaur phase in our house. What we can't make up for in dinosaur toys, we are making up for in dinosaur books. This particular gem attempts to teach preschoolers table manners. Do dinosaurs bubble their milk or throw their food? Of course not! That would be rude. All of the books in this series are great...I only wish they had How Do Dinosaurs Get Dressed and Out the Door So We Aren't Late.

Madeline's Rescue
by Ludwig Bemelmans
Madeline is probably not new to some of you, but we just recently started reading these books. I found a mint copy Madeline at the Goodwill and Peanut was instantly hooked. Madeline's Rescue is the latest one we've brought home from the library and the boys love it. The rhythm is superb, the illustrations simple & lovely. Little Madeline once again finds herself in trouble, this time rescued by a dog. The boys love that the story ends with each little girl getting their own puppy!

August 29, 2009

First Day of School

Dear Peanut,
In exactly two weeks and two days you will attend your first day of preschool. I am so excited on so many levels. You are definitely ready for school this year and I can't wait to see your reaction. The closer you get to 4, the more inquisitive, curious and excited you seem to get about learning. I can't wait to hear about your first day, see your first art project, hear about snack time, story time and outside time. Will you like your teacher? Will you like the other kids in your class? Will you miss your brother and me while you are at school?

I'm also excited to get a little break a few times a week. You are so energetic and fascinated by the world around you...I feel like I can't keep up some days. We have started to butt heads a lot and I honestly think the short break will work wonders for both of us.

But mostly I'm excited to see you growing up. It happens so fast. But I'm proud and honored to be your Mommy and to be the one that gets to witness every moment of your important childhood milestones.


August 28, 2009

Mommy Confessions: Bed Time

#42 Hubby put Sprout to bed tonight while I was out with my mom. It's the first time he's let anyone but me put him to bed. I was so proud of Hubby for managing to get him to sleep and proud of Sprout for trusting in his Daddy. But another part of me is sad that he doesn't need me as much anymore.

#43 I have developed a habit of responding to Peanut's "Why" questioning with the dreaded, "Because I said so!" response. I have got to work on that.

August 26, 2009

Amber Teething Necklaces

Sprout often gets compliments on his "cute little necklace." Or someone will comment on how sweet it is that he and I have matching necklaces. What they usually don't realize is that we are wearing pieces of jewelry that have had health benefits for both of us. Call me crazy, but I swear these things works!

I had often seen the mention of amber teething necklaces on a parenting board I once frequented. At first it just sounded like a choking hazard. Plus, why couldn't my baby just chew on a teething toy like babies have done for generations? Then my friend Ashley at Miss Monkey's Boutique gave me the low-down. She told me about the benefits of amber and that people in Europe have been using amber for a variety of ailments for centuries, including infant teething.

Sprout had a horrible time with teething starting at 2 months old. Restless nights, constant drooling, fussiness, etc. I decided I'd give the amber necklace a try. What could it hurt? It made a difference immediately. He still had some discomfort and restless nights, but he was a lot less fussy. I was able to cut down on the amount of pain reliever he needed during the day because he just seemed so much more comfortable!

There are certain precautions you need to take in order to keep your little one safe while wearing an amber teething necklace:
  • Do not allow your child to chew on the necklace. They are made to wear, not to chew.
  • Children should be supervised while wearing jewelry.
  • Remove jewelry if child is going to be sleeping.

Ashley suggested I also get a necklace for myself. I have had migraines since my early twenties and she said that wearing amber has helped some people with migraines. Once my necklace arrived I started wearing it daily. I was able to avoid my monthly migraines almost completely. At worst, I'd take an Advil at the onset...but other than that, I barely notice them. There have even been a few times when I forget to wear my necklace, feel a migraine coming on and can still avoid a full-on attack if I put on my necklace.

After Sprout and I had success with our necklaces, I bought my mom an amber anklet. She has bad arthritis in her feet and one ankle tends to swell very badly. After wearing the anklet for a week or so, her ankle had a significant decrease in swelling.

Besides teething discomfort, migraine pain and swelling from arthritis, amber is said to help other issues as well. Among them are diaper rash, growing pains, eczema, fatigue, pain and inflammation. If you are looking for a non-invasive way to treat what is ailing you, you might want to look into amber jewelry. I know it has cut down on the crabby-teething-baby-syndrome in our house.

August 25, 2009

Dish of the Week: Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

My mom is in town visiting and staying with us. We usually cook up a storm, but not this visit. This time we are working on painting our kitchen and dining room...which means very little cooking. But tonight my mom whipped up an amazing shrimp cocktail recipe she found in her local newspaper. It is almost a cross between shrimp cocktail and a spicy gazpacho. So delicious! Hubby insisted on grilled halibut to go with it...but I seriously could have just had the cocktail and some fresh bread. The kids ate my halibut and I had seconds on the shrimp cocktail.

My mom is sitting next to me in her pajamas and I'm literally making her recite the recipe. What can I say?

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

1 lb cooked shrimp, cleaned & deveined*
1 tomato, chopped,
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded & chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 ripe firm avocado, diced
1 cup Clamato (more if desired)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded & chopped
juice of 2 limes
salt & pepper to taste
tabasco to taste

Just combine all of these ingredients. Chill and serve! My mom says it's best if chilled overnight.

*Oh, my mom also says that the original recipe called for a different preparation of the shrimp. You were supposed to buy raw shrimp, cook them & add the juice from the cooked shrimp to the cocktail sauce. We didn't bother (because we are busy painting a kitchen), but I bet it adds the perfect brininess (is that a word?)

August 21, 2009

Mommy Confessions: Stinky Feet & Sleep

#40 I let Sprout stay up later than Peanut...even though he's 2 years younger. But it's not because we favor's because he WON'T GO TO SLEEP! So we stopped fighting it a long time ago & now just let him stay up a little later than his brother.

#41 I think it's adorable that my kids have really stinky feet. I don't know why, but I'm amazed that such tiny cute feet can smell so bad!

August 19, 2009

When Nana Comes To Visit

My mom is visiting this week, thus the short blog post. There is just something so wonderful and special when she comes to visit. She lives in California, so only comes up to Seattle two to three times a year. But when she's here, it's like the entire house smiles. The kids get excited, I get excited...honestly, Hubby even gets excited!

She's an excellent cook. She likes folding laundry. She is pretty good at playing trains and she will read endless amounts of books...even if she isn't sure how to pronounce apatosaurus. Some times we have a lot of activities planned. Some times we plan nothing and just do whatever we feel like doing.

This time we probably have way too much planned. Trips to Ikea, Goodwill, consignment shops, our favorite ice cream parlor and the wading pool. We also have dinners planned with various family members that live in town. When we aren't out and about, we are going to paint the kitchen, fold more laundry, sort through the kids' old toys and try some new recipes.

But really, it doesn't matter what we do. Everyone is happier when Nana comes to visit.

August 17, 2009

Dish(es) of the Week: Black Bean Corn Salad & Cilantro Lime Chicken

I debated which dish to post this week & then realized they are just best together. This makes for a simple, healthy summer meal.

Black Bean Corn Salad

4 Tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tomato diced, or 1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 can corn kernels, drained,
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 avocado (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil and lime juice. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss gently. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with extra cilantro or sliced avocado. Serve with grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken!

Cilantro Lime Chicken

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lime
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 lb chicken (I used boneless skinless thighs)

Remove zest from lime and set aside. You will need the juice from the lime as well. In a resealable bag, mix the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice. garlic, salt and cilantro. Add the chicken, seal bag. Squish the chicken around in the marinade until it well coated. Marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator. Cook on a hot grill about 5 minutes each side. Garnish with cilantro!

August 16, 2009

Library Picks: School & Dentist

Two big topics of conversation in our house right now are preschool and the dentist. Peanut starts preschool in exactly four weeks. We've been reading all kinds of books about school and I think it's really helped him to feel less nervous.

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney
We have really enjoyed all of Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama books. Peanut can really relate to the sweet little Llama Llama...and I can relate to the Mama, who is always needed and or missed. In this latest book, Mama takes Llama Llama to his new preschool. He is quite apprehensive and shy at first and only wants his Mama. But soon he realizes how much fun there is to be had at school and forgets all about his Mama not being there...but he is very happy to see her when she comes to pick him up.

Little Cliff's First Day of School by Clifton L. Taulbert
This book is set in the South in the 1950s. Hubby had a blast reading this book to the boys in his best southern accent (ha!). Little Cliff is terribly scared of going to school on his first day. But his great-grandparents are there to encourage him every step of the way. Once he arrives at the little school house and sees his friends playing, he realizes that school is going to be fun after all! The illustrations in this book are beautiful and add so much to this cute story.

ABC Dentist: Healthy Teeth from A to Z by Harriet Ziefert
We discovered last month that both boys have cavities. They have been to the dentist for cleanings, but this week they both go in for fillings. I am probably more anxious than they are. But, reading about the dentist has really made the experience of going to the dentist feel a little more normal. Apparently you can attach anything to the ABCs...even visiting the dentist! C is for cavity. can't be scary if it's part of the alphabet!

August 15, 2009

Hugs & Kisses

Dear Sprout,
You give the best hugs and kisses! That is why Daddy and I ask for them constantly. One day I'm sure you'll be too old and too cool to give us hugs and we are going to take as many as we can now.

It's so funny to me that you give real, honest, baby bear hugs. And I love how you say "mmmmah" with every kiss you give.

Hugs & kisses!

August 14, 2009

Mommy Confessions: Dinner Time & Landscaping

#38 I miss cooking dinner in peace. Most nights I try to start cooking dinner as early as possible. But somehow I still end up with Sprout standing at the baby gate by the kitchen whining and whining and whining. If I toss him a few snacks he'll usually quiet down...temporarily. But if he eats snacks, he won't eat dinner. I long for that chapter in my life where I'll be able to, once again, become completely absorbed in cooking without interruption. When might that be, do you think? When they're in school? High school? When they move out?

#39 We have some major renovation going on at our house right now. Most mornings we can find two to three contractors making noise in our front yard. At first I was dreading the hammering and sawing that would accompany my morning coffee. But do you have any idea how long two little boys will sit still when they can look out the window and watch contractors working with power tools?! It's like their own personal Bob the Builder right in their own front yard! Go watch the construction, boys...Mommy is going to enjoy her cup of coffee!

August 13, 2009

Raising Healthy Kids: Tooth Decay in Toddlers

In case you haven't read enough about my kids' cavities, I'm over at Everyday Health today!

Everyday Health: Raising Healthy Kids

August 12, 2009

You Know You're A Mom of a Terrible Sleeper When...

You know you're a mom of a terrible sleeper when:
  • If you are lucky enough to get any "extra" sleep, you can barely function. You might even get a headache.
  • When your husband wants to watch a movie with you at night, you start calculating in your head when you'll get to bed...based on the length of the movie and how many times your child might wake up.
  • You laugh to your self when parents of newborns complain that their baby isn't sleeping through the night yet. If they only knew.
  • You tell yourself, "This won't last forever. Some day I'll complain that he's sleeping too long or sleeping in too late."

August 11, 2009

Dish of the Week: Apricot Blackberry Yogurt Parfait

This is such a simple thing to make. I love it because it combines three of my kids' favorite healthy foods into one meal. They usually eat every last bite. I was inspired to start making these for breakfast after I bought Peanut a yogurt parfait at Starbucks that cost around $4. Not only was that way too expensive for ingredients I already had at home, but I am sure theirs has a lot more sugar (and preservatives) that I would ever think to use.

Our blackberries are coming on strong right now, so I almost had no choice but to include them. I found the apricots to be a nice sweet balance for the tartness of the berries. Have fun & make it yours!

Apricot Blackberry Yogurt Parfait

(makes 1 serving)

1 handful fresh blackberries
1 half apricot, diced

6 - 8oz plain or vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup granola or favorite cereal.

Start by putting your apricots and blackberries at the bottom of a glass bowl.

Then simply top with yogurt and cereal or granola! Voila!

Too many blackberries in your garden? Check out more blackberry recipes!

August 7, 2009

Mommy Confessions: Brothers

#36 My boys definitely look like brothers. I love to stare at them while they are playing and find their similar trates. The other day I noticed that they both have the cutest cleft chins. It's adorable...and I honestly have no idea which side of the family tree it stems from.

#37 Recently, Hubby took Peanut out of town to visit Grandma...Sprout stayed home with me. On the first day I missed Hubby and Peanut terribly. On the second day I was loving having only one child. Less noise, less mess and a little less work. I had short-lived day dreams about what it must be like to be a mom to an only child. But by day three I wanted everyone home again.

August 5, 2009

How Breastfeeding Changed My Opinions About Breastfeeding

This week is World Breastfeeding Week. It seems that most people, parents or not, have opinions about breastfeeding. Some mothers choose to breastfeed their babies and some choose to give their babies formula. Some choose to do a combination. Some are unable to breastfeed even though they want to. Some mothers who breastfeed do so only for the first few months of their baby’s life, while other mothers choose to breastfeed well into toddlerhood.

I have found that my own opinions about breastfeeding have changed significantly since I became a mother. Before my oldest son was born I remember thinking, “I’ll breastfeed if it works out. If not, no big deal.” I think I read a little bit about the benefits of breastfeeding, but didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself. It was stressful enough having to worry about delivering a baby, let alone how I was going to feed it! At first, I really struggled (engorgement, bad latch, positioning, a gassy baby, etc.), but after the first 6 weeks it seemed easier than having to make bottles of formula. Before I knew it, we passed the 6 month mark and I had no desire to stop. I was thrilled when we got to the one year mark. It seemed like a second celebration on his birthday. From that point on it was just icing on the cake! I will never forget the day my son weaned. He was 15 months. I sat down in the rocking chair to nurse him like I had every morning for over a year. He cuddled me, patted me on the chest as if to say, “No thanks,” and got down to play. That was it. We were done. I was a little sad. But honestly, I was a lot less emotional than I thought I’d be. In fact, I think I planned a girls’ weekend away with my best friend that week! How I had longed for time to myself, some cocktails with my best girlfriend and a chance to feel completely me again! It was wonderful!

When I was pregnant with my second son, I assumed (wrongly) that breastfeeding would pretty much be the same the second time around. This time I had set a goal of 1 year. I was already planning that next girls’ weekend in my head. But #2 was a little different. Our first night home he would wake up constantly to nurse, only to fall asleep as soon as he latched on. Once we got past that hurdle I developed mastitis. When it was time for me to return to work, he refused a bottle. Then, at 6 months we discovered I had a lipase issue, which made my breast milk taste like soap if it was exposed to air. Around 7 months I was laid off from my job, became a full-time stay at home mom and put the bottles in storage. It really wasn’t until then that our nursing relationship started feeling smooth and easy. What a relief!

My second son is now 20 months old and still nursing several times a day (and at night). I have surpassed my one year goal and I am uncertain of when I’ll stop breastfeeding. I’m not even sure who is going to make that call…me or him. But I do know that I am fortunate to be able to provide him with something that is so good for him for so long. I feel lucky to have that special bond with him. And even though I am longing for that overdue girls’ weekend of appletinis and late night chats, I know it will all be worth it in the long run.

August 4, 2009

Dish of the Week: Blackberry Fruit Cobbler

I have made this recipe every summer for as long as I can remember. You could use almost any type of fruit, but I've always stuck with blackberries. I took Sprout out to our big blackberry bush yesterday to pick the berries for this dish. I was surprised at what a good berry picker he is. And he hardly ate any! Peanut always eats about five berries for every one he puts in the basket.

Blackberry Fruit Cobbler

4 cups blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp butter, chopped
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix fruit with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/8 tsp cinnamon. Place mixture in a greased 9x9 pan. Top with 1 Tbsp chopped butter. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and 1/4 cup sugar. Then add butter, vanilla and milk to flour mixture until it is smooth, but a little sticky. Spread batter over fruit. Don't worry about covering completely. Mix 1 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top of batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 - 45 minutes. Let stand for 20 minutes before serving.

Too many blackberries in your garden? Check out more blackberry recipes!

August 3, 2009

Library Picks: I Love Trucks & Alice the Fairy

Alice the Fairy by David Shannon
I was so happy to find a David Shannon book this week that we hadn't read before. On top of that, this really appealed to Peanut due to his recent obsession with fairies. Alice is a very confident preschooler who truly believes she is a fairy with magical powers. But admittedly, she needs to work on the spells to make her dog do tricks. If you love David Shannon books like we do, check this one out.

I Love Trucks by Shari Halpern

While Peanut loves books and always has, Sprout would rather play with his toy cars or climb on the furniture. But finally, I found a book that he wants to read! I guess I should have known he'd eventually be drawn to a book about things that go (he is obsessed with cars, trucks, airplanes, helicopters, etc.). The pictures are bright and colorful. The text has a very simple and cute rhyme. Just about perfect for a 20-month-old.

August 1, 2009

Under the Sea with Peanut

Dear Peanut,

I love it when we get to spend time together, just the two of us. It is fun to talk to you one on one and not have any distractions. You say the smartest and funniest things! Today I took you to your first movie in a movie theater. It was an IMAX 3D film called Under the Sea. You've always been fascinated by the ocean and sea creatures, so I thought you'd enjoy it. Funny thing is, this was a first time seeing a 3D movie for both of us! I loved sitting next to you and watching you reach out to touch the sharks, fish & sea they were really there. You kept saying, "I want to take them home with me!" I was also touched that half way through you leaned over and said, "I miss Daddy." To me, it was a testiment to how much quality time we do get as a family of much so that whoever is not with us is dearly missed.

Thanks for a fun day!

I love you!