My current snack

The night before Sylvi’s birthday party, I panicked and thought I needed to have a warm dip to go with the random bag of pretzels I felt compelled to purchase.  I made it, tasted it, declared it tasty and then packed it up to take to the party.  Once I got to the party room at the Children’s museum, I discovered that my mini crockpot never even started to warm the dip up, so I just packed it up and brought it home.

Honestly, it sat in the fridge for over a week because I was afraid it wouldn’t reheat well and I’d have to throw it away.  That’s right, pushing something to the back of your fridge is the best way to avoid it.  Anyway, my husband has hardly been home for the last few weeks and I’m finding myself getting hungrier and hungrier while I  try to stay awake long enough to say hello and the dip called to me.  It’s so warm and gooey and cheesy and flavorful.  I had caramelized the onions until they lost the bite and were sweet instead.  Even then, they were still too chunky for the style of dip I was going for so I added them into the food processor with the rest of the ingredients.  The result is a smooth dip that when heated retains that gooey, cheesy goodness that makes me glad that no one got to eat it at the party… just me, after the kids are in bed, curled up with a vapid Disney movie waiting for my husband to make it home from a night being the artist he is.

  • 1 large Vidalia onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. minced chives
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • hot sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
Chop the onion and the garlic and saute slowly in olive oil until well caramelized.  In the bowl of a food processor, shred the cheese and then add in all the other ingredients.  At as much hot sauce as you like, but don’t leave it out… it really adds a different layer of flavor that you can’t miss!  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until browned and bubbly.  Serve warm with crackers.

Tuesday Quotidian

*Note*  When you see what I was doing at 930 last night, you’ll know why this didn’t get posted until this morning

700 – Why, oh why can I not get myself into bed earlier?  Sylvi is yelling from her room and I find that she’s gotten herself stuck, sitting with her legs dangling through the slats… it amazes me that her legs still fit through there… she’s never going to have thigh chub.

830 – Mad dash to the car.  I tried to get Liam to use the potty before we left, but he’s in a mood and wouldn’t cooperate.  Oh well.  At least we have diapers for leaving the house, right?  It takes 15 minutes to get the kids wrangled and into the car so we can leave for MOPs.  I peel out of the driveway only to discover that Kennedy is blocked off with random construction equipment.  Drat.  They are widening the main road that runs parallel to mine… it’s going to be a long summer of detours!

900 – Yay!  My table gets to be in line for brunch first!  I get a hot breakfast twice a month without someone pulling my hair or stealing my carbs.  Sigh… heaven.  Today’s topic is on loneliness.  I’m so grateful that I’m in a different place mentally now, almost 3 years into mothering.  I sat through the whole meeting calmly and didn’t shed a tear.  There are women in my life who need support and love given their unique situations, but it was nice to not feel overwhelmed by the topic.  Yay for progress!

1130 – Geesh.  That road construction is going to be a thorn in my side.  I made the mistake of attempting to drive by to see what exactly is closed; Liam was irate that we didn’t stop.  It’s very hard to explain traffic to a toddler.  Oh well, peanut butter and jelly soothes all disappointments.

1215 – Sylvi in bed for her much needed nap, Liam watching Mighty Machines, I head to clean and do laundry.  I am struck by the realization that I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.  I felt this way last Spring, but I thought it was because I’d just had a baby.  Shoot.  Pollen count is at the highest for today.  Make a note to call my dad and ask what he does for his allergies.  30 years old and now I’m afflicted.

130 – I’ve been trying to get Liam to use the potty since 8am.  He’s been stubbornly dry.  I’m tired and congested and every time I bend over to help him with his unders, my nose runs.  Into a diaper he goes and I settle down to work on a post for the Green Phone Booth.  Liam is supposed to be napping, but I hear him calling me.  Of course.  I close the door and expect him to sleep and he fills his diaper.  We switch gears and I get one of the quiet time baskets I made for him down.

215 – Sylvi is up and grumpy.  Her teeth are attempting to pop through.  All 4 of them.  It’s awesome.

230 – I go to tell Liam he can come out of his room, quiet time is over, but he asks to stay in longer.  Hmmm.  This basket idea could be golden.

330 – We had now made 3 panicked trips to the potty.  No results.  Wonder how long he’ll hold it this time?

400 – Matt calls to tell me he’s on his way home from work.  He plans to continue work on the fence.  I plan to continue following Liam around, waiting for a sign that he needs to pee.

530 – Finally!  There’s pee in the potty!  I’m thrilled, but wary.  I know how much he drank this afternoon… the numbers don’t match.  The pasta is a little overcooked for supper due to my continued Potty Watch.

600 – I made it to Mommy and Me Fitness class a few minutes early!  While I am burning calories, Matt is at home with the kids.  I warned him before I left that Liam would for sure need to pee again.  I was right.  This is why I am the Mama.  Matt was changing Sylvi when Liam came running in and announced he had to use the potty.  Matt didn’t have a diaper back on Sylvi yet, so he took the time to finish diapering and then placed her safely in the living room.  In the meantime, Liam is dancing.  He waits forever to potty and then is too panicked to get his underwear down without help.  Disaster ensued.  Matt was trying to get Liam over the potty when Sylvi came cruising around the corner and slipped in the pee.  Liam was screaming because he was upset about missing the potty and now Sylvi joined in because she had fallen.  Matt put a towel down on the floor, Sylvi crawled over it and slipped again on the otherside.  Liam by now has also slipped in the disaster.  Baths for everyone!  Matt is flustered, but can do nothing but laugh.  I am relieved to have not experienced this, and I laugh hysterically.

730 – I inform Matt that if he wants me to help with the fence, we’d better get on it.  Melissa worked us hard during class and I know that if I sit down, I will not be getting up.  Liam yells “no” at me 13 times…. I hate bedtime on days when Liam doesn’t nap.  Oh wait, 14 nos.  And he’s asleep.  Tomorrow could be a doozy.

930 – I am using the flashlight app on my phone so Matt can see to use the drill to secure the last panel of the fence.  I am so disappointed to realize that 2 hours of work only got us 6 whole panels done.  Oh well.  Progress is progress, right?  And who cares.  I am really hungry.

1000 – I wake up on the couch, bowl of taco soup dangerously close to falling out of my hand, an episode of Arrested Development ending.  Whoa.  I give up and head to bed.  Double whoa.  There is a good possibility I won’t be able to walk in the morning and boy howdy, my abs hurt.  Matt laughs at me and I set the alarm for 6.  I can always type in the morning.

Diapers, bananas and soup

Well, hello!  It’s Monday and in this house, it’s laundry day for our diapers.  I don’t have many to wash and I’m hoping this is the beginning of the end of 2 kiddos in diapers.  We’ve already had a potty victory today and also a defeat.  Oh well.  Sometimes, the learning curve is just that: a curve.  Do you have any potty learning advice for me?

I wrote this post today about how our life is changing.  Parenting was something I always wanted to do.  I love being a parent and I really love having a little boy, but life doesn’t always fit into the neat little cubbies we plan for the moments.  In light of that, it’s going to be an interesting journey to see what we learn along the way.

In between countless trips to the potty today, I made these banana cream cheese muffins.  Wow.  Just Wow.  I am using all my willpower right now to not go back into the kitchen and eat… more.  This week, I think I’m going to make this Chicken Florentine Pasta from The Pioneer Woman.  Haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since I saw it this afternoon.  Yum.

Supper tonight was Taco soup.  Our house shook from the strong winds blowing all day today and soup was all we needed!  Taco soup is one of the easiest meals I make.  1 pound of ground beef, 1 pint of my home canned corn, 1 pint of my home canned diced tomatoes, 1 quart of my home canned tomato puree and 1 recipe of taco spice.

Homemade Taco Seasoning:

  • 1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
Even though it’s only a pound of meat, one pot of soup stretches very nicely for the week.  And, it freezes great!  I’ve been slacking on my freezer cooking lately, so it’s nice to have something extra on hand again.  I made a double batch of the banana cupcakes with the plan to freeze half… although the number to freeze is dwindling.  🙂

Tea and Cake

I am fully aware that the 1st birthday party is for the parents and not so much for the child.  Obviously the attention is on the child, but the celebration is the parents’.  We’ve made it an entire year and everyone is still in one piece.  Personally, I think all birthday parties must come with cake.  I am learning that I like to do cupcakes instead of a cake since they are faster to ice and serving sizes are equal.  Also, small children feel they have hit the jackpot when given their own cupcake.

This cupcake recipe has the ability to be flavored however you’d like.  Because it’s a basic white cake, you can experiment with the tea you use to infuse the milk.  I chose a brightly flavored tea, but you could use Earl Grey or Green tea or whatever your heart desires!

Tea infused cupcakes

  • 7 oz. whole milk
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 2 cups All Purpose flour
  • 1 level Tbsp. Baking Powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 Teabags (I used a Pomegranate Green Tea for this recipe)
Warm the milk gently in a small sauce pan.  Remove from the heat.  Unwrap the tea bags and place them in the milk so that they are submerged.  Cover the pan with a lid (leaving the tags hanging out so you can grab them easily) and allow to steep for 10 minutes.  When the time is up, squeeze the excess milk out of each tea bag and discard.  Check the temperature to make sure the milk is not warmer than 100 degrees.
Beat the eggs and then add the rest of the ingredients, the infused milk last.  Do not overbeat.  Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and bake at 325 degrees for 17 minutes.  Ice according to your taste and the flavor of tea you used to infuse the batter.  Cupcakes are best if eaten within the first 24-48 hours.  (After that, they were pretty dry.)

Low Impact Birthday Round 2

Ok.  When Liam turned 1, we threw a party at our house to celebrate.  I was really, really excited about it since I felt that there was minimal waste and I had succeeded in utilizing all the local food sources.  This time, I realized that while I wanted to have the same environmentally friendly celebration, there were older siblings to entertain and the yard still is not yet fenced in.  We booked our party the local children’s museum and then all I had to to was figure out how to make this party happen without a lot of waste.

Paper Product Usage:

Of course, I still have my cups and plates from Liam’s first birthday and they have gotten a lot of use.  While I realize they are plastic, I don’t care.  Nope.  Parties with children mean at some point, something will get dropped and in our case, the plates and cups just bounce.  And also, at the end of the party, we literally tossed them in the tote, snapped the lid on and brought them home.  We were late setting up the food stuffs at the party so I couldn’t find my biodegradable forks (found them when we got home, though) and the huge box of plastic silverware came out.  Also used, paper napkins.  However, I’d like to mention that they came from a package purchased for a baby shower over a year ago and have been used for several parties since then.  In light of this, I think I will have to start scoping out the fabric sales in search of fabric that will work with the party stuff and just make a huge stash of napkins to go along to parties.

Food:

Once again, I stuck to the locally grown or produced foods.  I made my first deli tray this weekend.  It was nice and I learned that for every 30 people, they recommend 4.5 pounds of meat and 3 pounds of cheese.  People at local delis are so nice.  Meat and cheese produced an hour from our home.  I made Remoulade sauce, brought a jar of my pickles, and some homemade jams.  I had thought that the kids would like peanut butter and jelly, but not a soul wanted any.  Also, fun idea for fruit: smaller bananas, clementines and grapes.  Bonus: leftover fruit is perfect for afternoon snacks and Matt’s lunches!

Decorations and Gifts:

Sylvi didn’t get a giant banner because as a second-time mother I realized that it was impractical.  Instead, I made her a picture that used the same fabric I used for her invitations and bib.  It worked great for portability and I will be making another one for Liam.  I also made little toppers for the cupcakes, but that was probably my most wasteful decision yet.  Seriously.  They were cute and all, but I threw every single one away.  I saved all the tissue paper and cardboard in the recycling bin.  Most of the gifts people brought were books, but one friend brought a plant (she was informed she rocked for knowing me so well) and another brought a handmade outfit. Matt and I bought her a shopping cart and some felt veggies from Etsy; I was really into a food theme this year as her Easter basket had books about gardening and food too.  It was a great way to celebrate her first birthday!

In retrospect, I see a need for cloth napkins to permanently take residence in my party tote.  Even though I did my best, there was still a lot of plastic useage, but considering that there were lots of kids and I had to haul everything from my home to the museum and then all the way to the back and up a flight of stairs (thanks to those to helped me with muscle!) I think that I’m doing the best I can for now.  Maybe in the future, I’ll add glass plates and phase out the plastic, but for now, this was as low impact as I can get!

How do you celebrate birthdays in your family?

Sunshine

Yesterday, my little peanut turned 1.  It’s hard to believe that a year ago, I was writing about her birth story and still marveling at how intense her labor was.  And how tiny she was.  Well, still is actually.  She weighed in this morning at a petite 16 and a half pounds, despite the volume of food she puts away daily.  She has a bright and sunny personality and while I knew I wanted to throw a birthday party that was low on the ecological impact, I also wanted color.  

In my mind, I could see the colors yellow and teal to describe Sylvi.  No teal food occurs in nature (that I can think of), so yellow it was!  Because I used egg yolks in the cupcakes, they had a golden color, but I wanted yellow icing.  A little bit of research and I was sprinkling turmeric in the mixer with the cream cheese.  I was really hesitant about the taste because I knew the spice was in there, so I could taste India in every bite.  I put out an offer on Facebook and people were quick to offer to taste test.  Not one person thought the taste was off, so I decided to give it another whirl for the party.

Round two of the turmeric colored icing worked out much easier.  I used 2 Tablespoons of lemon extract and mixed almost a teaspoon of turmeric in.  Pouring the color in was so. much. fun!  I had already mixed together the cream cheese and powdered sugar, and when the liquid hit it, this bright streak of yellow spread through and made me feel sunshine.  The happy ending to this already triumphant tale is that only 2 cupcakes out of 3 and a half dozen came home with me.  It was such a happy birthday!

Wiped away

Welcome to the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Personal Care

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles relating to their children’s personal care choices.

 

Since we’re talking about cleanliness this month during the carnival, I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about our diaper wipe solution.  When I first started using cloth diapers and wipes, I just rinsed the wipe (at that time a plain washcloth) with water and wiped Liam off.  I felt like he was always red and as he got older, he started to complain about the washcloths being too “hard”.  Line drying cotton loop washcloths wasn’t the best idea in hindsight.

With the birth of my daughter, I made a bunch of wipes from old receiving blankets and made a simple wash with just plain water.  She was ok with it, but in time I started to realize that as she started to teeth, she might have the same trouble with diaper rash as Liam did.  In talking with a friend, she told me how she just mixed together her own concoction and used it with her cloth diapers.  No problems with absorption or staining or anything.  I mixed my very own batch that night and have used it ever since.  Sylvia will be 1 this weekend and she has yet to have an official case of diaper rash and even after 4 rounds of antibiotics, she hasn’t had any diaper troubles!  I owe it all to a few drops of tea tree oil… so without further ado, if you’ve never made your own diaper wipe solution, this is simple enough that you can whip this up in less time than it’s taken to read these 2 paragraphs.

Wipes Solution

  • 2 cups hot water
  • a small squirt of baby shampoo
  • 2-5 drops tea tree oil
  • 1 drop baby oil
Place all the ingredients in a squirt bottle and shake well to mix.  Apply liberally to cloth wipes and launder with your diapers as needed.

 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon April 10 with all the carnival links.)

 

April’s first goals

Oh hello.  It’s Monday again.  Do you have any major plans for this week?  Or goals?  I had 3 appointments today and I’m wishing they were all I had scheduled for the week.  Alas, life goes on and my calendar is pretty full.  BUT, the weather is supposed to be nice this week, so I’m hoping so get the kids outside and burn some energy this week.  Matt actually cut the grass last night for the first time this year.  On April 1st.  It almost seemed like a joke to have such long, unruly grass in April.

This week’s goals:

  • Continue getting up at 6am to exercise and do research while the house is quiet.
  • Prep some good snack ideas for the kids.  Both of them are getting up earlier so the stretches between meals somehow are longer… I’m beginning to feel badly about the amount of graham crackers they’ve eaten.
  • Finalize the menu and plans for Sylvi’s birthday party next weekend!!!
  • Clean and declutter master bedroom (Anyone else find that the parents’ room winds up being a dumping ground for household clutter?).
  • Work on my book review of the Non Toxic Avenger for the blog.
I’m hoping to get a few extras accomplished and do some freezer cooking because the week after Easter, Matt is supposed to get vacation time and he’ll be home working on the fence.  Our backyard is large, but somehow no one can stay within it’s boundaries.  This also includes the deer who helped themselves to my hydrangeas.  I’m super excited to get my garden planted… the last thing I want is my entire crop of Royal Burgundy green beans to become a snack for someone other than me!