Monday, February 27, 2012

My beautiful little weirdo.

This kid we call ours is just a laugh a minute. I just can't deal.

Before I get into his weird idiosyncrasies, can I just say how cool he is? He's, kind of, thee. coolest. He's just flourishing in Kindermusik.He loves people and walks up and hangs out with other moms, and their kid(s), during class, and then just moves on with his little toddler brain. It's such a kick-in-the-pants good time. One mom actually said to me, while he was running around shrieking from his mind-blowing excitement, "He's such a sweetheart; he has such a good spirit"

Mouthful.

But, after a tiny bout with trial and error, we found a church we just love and Jake has also been kicking aces in his Sunday School class! First, his class is for 2-3 year olds and they're called...wait for it...the Honeybees. Did you just die of cuteness?! As you guys know, he's not a sibling, and he's not a daycare-goer, so it was a big, big deal to leave him with someone else other than family or close friends. But, as you guys also know he's the George Clooney of toddlers and handles himself like a total boss. We sign him in, once we get to church, and walk him over, holding hands, to class and he runs in and doesn't look back. We say our goodbyes to him and he's like, "Dueces!" There's never a second's hesitation. So proud of my little Honeybee!

We, like creepyparentstalkers, peeked in the window of the other door to his class and he walked up to a little girl who had a sippy and, with outstretched arms, seemed to ask, "I can have this?" The girl freaked out and pulled her sippy in close. Jake handled it all in stride and was like, "Kfine, there's other toys here" Even though once in a great while we have a small time frame of parenting Hell on Earth, it is unbelievably, undeniably, uber outweighed by these times. I am so, so proud of the way in which he conducts himself. And, when I can watch it as an "outsider" and witness him handle himself far beyond his years and with an amount of grace you don't really expect in this age, I could just cry.

So, my boy is still a little weird.
As Miss Lisa, Jake's Kindermusik teacher, reminds all us moms during class, kids at this age tend to be very specific. They like to see things a certain way and make sure it happens, just glad my boy is so sweet about it! Jake spends a lot of time lining things up, making comparisons between various items, and making sure they fit into whatever pattern he has going on in his brain. And, what I love the most is that Jake talks when he wants. He said his first word at 13 months and was never like, "I can talk now, I'll NEVER stop" He's very much a thinker. Everyone who's spent time with him comments on how calculating and thoughtful he is. It's so obvious that his wheels be turnin'. So, now it's really very interesting to see what he's putting together and creating because it's all very purposeful. But, he's still kind of weird. Have you looked at that toilet paper picture?

Oh, and the curtains can never have their little cinching tassels on them. They MUST be taken down.

The dishwashing detergent and dish soap cannot remain in the cabinet. Too mainstream.

He has to oversee that everything lines up in a particular order, whatever that may be, and then he catalogs their differences.
Without fail, every single morning, we come down the stairs for breakfast and he HAS to push the books to lean the other direction. I mean, not to say he's crazy about this stuff, he's sweet and happy about his little particular-adventures, but it cracks. me. up. to watch.

He pays no attention to his abundance of toy; he prefers the oven. Obviously.

That's him. My beautiful little weirdo xxoo

Friday, February 24, 2012

Me love you long time.

...is the phrase Jake will, one day, say aloud about his relationship with fruits and veggies.

Before we kick this off, can I just say that I've been up since FIVE A.M. to get dinner going in the slow cooker?It's a new recipe, so I always make it the way I am directed and it takes a total of 12 hours to cook and our dinner's at 6.. But, I deserve some sort of extra points, or praise, or shoes. Something. So, if I become any degree of incoherent it's an occupational hazard. Totes.

I've gotten a lot of questions lately as to how I fed/still feed my main mini man, Jake, so I thought I'd answer everyone at once! First, I think it's important to remember nothing, N-O-T-H-I-N-G, has to be done perfectly. Just do whatever you can, whatever you can afford, and whatever your wee human needs and then BOOM you're bombdotcom.

More important than that? Valentine's cupcakes. Obvio.

My plan was to make red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and frosted sugar cookies cut out in the shapes of hearts. But, Jake woke up not feeling well so I accomplished half that plan. The kid has never, technically, been sick (as in, anytime he has a snot faucet it's all clear), but he woke up not feeling super. Whatever it was made him just need mama cuddles. So, I finished the cupcakes between bouts of cuddles. The day could've been worse, fo sho.

I made Paula Deen's cupcakes and frosting because, well, go big or go home. And then? Buy butter in pounds.



The cupcakes could've been more aesthetically pleasing if I wasn't running back and forth between the couch and kitchen to love on my boy yet love on the husband ;-) See what I did there? Cupcakes are love for my husband. But, I digress.

But, another big stand I take on cooking/baking? Yes, I do love for the meal to look appealing, but, if it doesn't, who gives a shadoobie? As long as it tastes like a sliver of Heaven, get on with your bad self. Shove it in your gullet and be happy. I should write inspirational novellas.

So, we enjoyed a food-fest, but Gary took the rest of the cupcakes to work because a diet of cupcakes is not sexy. Not even a little bit. But, they were a HUGE hit. Husband made sure to say the only thing not made from scratch was the sprinkles. REPRESENT.

People, in particular, loved the frosting. I, on the other hand, tried to like it. I tried hard. I just don't love cream cheese frosting. But, it was very smooth, and not-overwhelmingly sweet, so it was pretty perfect if that's your deal.

Oh, and one Mrs. Deen went big. I, literally, threw out half the frosting. That's how much the recipe made.

Onto how I feed Jake:

People seem to be under the impression that I feed J completely organically. I wish. I really do. But, the sad truth is it's just too expensive. So, I feed him as healthily as I can and count it as a win. I think, not only does his 91st percentile standing speak for what his insides look like, but his skin is just beautiful (I mean, manly and Chuck-Norris-like...) and his hair is so soft. We, nearly literally, get compliments on those things almost every time we're out. I firmly believe all the fresh vitamins he gets are the culprits.

Pee to the Ess...I used to know someone who was pretty extreme in their food choices. She always referred to the way her family did stuff as the "right" way, rather than just their personal choices. You'll never find that here. I'm better than no one. I just do what my family needs. So, take what you want from this and adapt however you like :-)

I began making J's applesauce when, after making a batch of pancakes for him to have for breakfast post-weaning, I realized how manufactured syrup was. There's soo much stuff in it! Or, you can get organic syrup and pay $5 for no more than 10 oz. I just couldn't justify it. So, I began topping his pancakes, and now waffles, with applesauce.

I keep the skin on because skins of fruits and veggies usually contain some good stuff. It gets blended up anyway.

I got this baby food steamer on Amazon for $50 when Jake was beginning solids at 6 months. You throw in some water, steam, then blend, all in one station.

I also got these ice cube trays on amazon. Once your fruit or veggie is cooled, following the blending, spoon into the trays and pop in the freezer.

You can do this with anything. When we began fitting solids into his day, I've made mangos, green beans, kiwi, avocado & bananas (which don't need to be steam, but you can still mash them and put them into the ice cube trays), sweet potatoes etc all this way. This way he was eating completely fresh foods with zero additives. And, I think that's a HUGE reason J prefers fresh tastes. Not to say he doesn't have fries, or chicken nuggets, or other stuff when we're out, but he prefers fresh tastes. He's, literally, chosen brussel sprouts over a bite of brownie. I love that! Oh, and I only made his baby food, at most, once a week!

Note--I don't know if this is something I've forgotten, or didn't know, or what, but try to not microwave the stuff you make. Microwaves kill all nutrients in food. So, even now, I'll take 4 cubes of applesauce out of the fridge at night and put them into Gerber bowls, that have lids, and let them set out overnight so when I toast his morning, pre-made waffles, the heat from the toaster heats up the applesauce. Voila. All kinds of nutrients kept in the food!

Oh, and if you eat leftovers as much as our tiny family does, try to opt away from the microwave also. Reheat food in the pan with butter or chicken stock, or the like :-)

How J snacks:

The way he naps, he eats breakfast, pre-nap snack, post-nap snack, and dinner. But, I, kinda, got into a rut with what I was giving him for snack. So, I had to nerd-out and make a list of snacks so that I'd be more aware of what he was having.




Some of his snacks include:
-cut-up strawberries, Greek yogurt (organic if possible. Greek yogurt is one of the best things you can feed short ones!), and organic milk (he usually has regular milk, but his little milk carton up there was on sale :-) )

-cut-up avocado and cut-up cheddar cheese squares

-half an apple butter-peanut butter sandwich

-goldfish and 'nana


And, this is what his dinners, typically, look like. Homemade sweet potatoes, veggies, and salmon. Salmon is AMAZING for kiddies, too! I'm happy he doesn't opt for fried and/or greasy stuff now because that's all he'll want when he's a teenager! Not to mention, using food as a source of vitamins is a natural way to get your kids what they need :-)

So, I hope that answers everyone's questions!

And, just like Deep Thoughts with Jack Handy, remember that nothing needs to be done a particular way, or like anyone else. You're doing it perfectly already because you're putting in the effort!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Denver Aquarium

This past Saturday began our knock-things-off-the-pre-deployment-bucket-list festivities, and it was amazeballs! Seeing things through the eyes of a child makes things seriously magical. Jake kept pointing out, "Fish!" I wish we could've had video of the entire trip because seeing his little eyes light up in such a beautiful place. I loved that we took him there! We're great parents.

Are there any new readers who are unsure if that was blatant sarcasm?? No? OK.

Since Erin and I are in real life friends now, and it's fabulous (because I'm going to go all baby-snatcher on her)!!, she mentioned there was some sort of Dora-Diego exhibit going on at the aquarium. When we got there, there was a giant poster of Dora and Jake could not stand it. He imploded. But, I didn't get pictures of it because I was too busy loving on my tiny human. Such is the conundrum of motherhood, I reckon




















Before heading home, we got some ice cream at Baskin Robbins. Pretty sure that's how any great day ends!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Double Eff!

Know why it's not Triple Eff? Because I keep forgetting about the fashion part of things so I haven't been taking pictures. Know what else? I discovered I'm not addicted to skirts+leggings+tall boots. Although, I do love them it's not the only thing I wear. SWEAR. It's just that I don't think jeans are that cute so when I wear them, quite often in the brisk winter of Colorado, it doesn't cross my mind to photograph such a moment. {sarcasm}

Another knowledge ball to drop on you: Remember that episode of Army Wives a LONG time ago when Pamela moved into the new, big house (before her and Chase split up?) Well, Roxy goes over and is all, "Oh my GAHH, matching dinnerware!!"

Is an eclectic collection of dishes a sign of poverty, or something? Because I prefer it that way. If I'm picking up things at Walmart, or Tarjay, I'll pick up a cute dinner plate, or cereal bowl. I like that none of my stuff matches. I thought you'd like to know...

Anyway, you foodies, sooo much food in this post. SO. MUCH.

I picked up a gorgeous pound of green beans and found the most fabulous recipe from The Pioneer Woman. If anything, you should add these as a side dish to your dinner because the aroma produced is so good I'd buy it in a candle. Fact.










I paired the green beans with pasta with alfredo sauce (it's in the recipes list! Pee to the Ess, make this and you'll NEVER go back to jarred sauce). This is probably one of the most delicious meals. EVER.

I've talked a lot about apple butter, but I don't think I've ever actually shown you guys how I make it. It's a bit of a process, and nerve wracking if you're canning (sealing for longevity) it for the first time, but once you've done it you're golden :-) Under the recipes tab, dolls!

I'm not one to buy things if I'm able to accomplish them on my own. But, Gary really suggested I get an apple corer/peeler since apple butter is now a regular staple in our house. I recommend the crap out of this! It was only $15, so I was able to justify it ;-)

I also thoroughly enjoy my stainless steel stockpots! I got them, as a pair, for $30 at our PX a lightyear ago. Not only do they withstand use extremely well, you don't have to spend any appendages to get them!


I did forget to add the picture of this, but after the apples have done the boiling step, I rested a food mill on top of my other stockpot and ran the apple mixture, one ladle at a time, through that.

This time I opted to make caramel apple butter (under the Recipes tab I made a note of how to switch it from regular apple butter to caramel :-) ). Gary said it sounded too good to pass up!


You can get packs of mason jars, which have sooo many uses, at most grocery stores. I got a back of 12 for $11ish.

You can also pick up a canning kit, which includes this carrier thing. I know, I'm super precise. I don't know that there's a way around getting a canning kit, but I also haven't heavily considered it. I'm a very if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it type person :-)

You spend a couple hours doing the apple butter and canning and, for us, it lasts 2-3 months! The caramel apple butter is an enormo hit with my boys, but I have the tiniest preference toward regular apple butter; I feel like it has a lighter, more subtle, taste. But, I'd recommend either to a friend! And, now you can have a spread for sandwiches (or use it on waffles, biscuits, english muffins, a spoon...) that you know is healthy because you know every ingredient in it!

Baked Risotto with Asparagus, Spinach, and Parmesan

I grew up with 4 males in the house, so I grew up a meat and potatoes type girl. So, that's what I tend to cook. But, I bought this great cookbook that has a meatless section, so I try to cook from that a couple times a month to mix things up and to keep things, literally and figuratively, fresh.

Remember last week how I mentioned I found a great bulk store? Well, this recipe requires a cup of Arborio (risotto) rice, so I was able to get exactly what I needed AND it was organic. So, I was pretty happy about that :-)








I didn't have the correct ingredients to make my own bread, so I asked Gary to pick up some French bread to make garlic bread. But, I did make my own garlic spread. You guys, butter + garlic powder. That's it. Mix it up to your liking. BOOM.

Chicken Cacciatorre
I'll be adding this to the Recipes tab later today....swearsies. But, I'm trying to wrap this up to head out for a Tarjay date with an amiga, so I don't have time now!


My new crock pot! You don't, in my very humble opinion, need some fancy kitchen gadgets to make good meals. I got this at Walmart for $25 and it's bigger than my last one, hence the upgrade.



I served it atop pasta and it was TO. DIE. The kitchen smelled like I was from Italy all day. The boys couldn't get enough.

Tortillas
I needed tortillas for the chalupa recipe you'll see in a sec, but I had none. It felt like just another thing to add to my list, so I decided to see if I was able to make it myself. I was! They don't look perfect, but who cares? It's not like your belly has eyeballs.








Chalupas!
Not the ones you're envisioning.
Again, soon to come to the Recipes tab. Like, this afternoon, for those who need to make this sometime this weekend!


I always, ALWAYS add more cheese to dishes like this. Nothing has to be specific. Have fun with it. Anyway, I add more cheese because I come from a long line of cheese lovers. It's a genetic compulsion.



Vermicelli Pasta with Sausage
I've put this in the blog before, but I made it again in my new, totally Pioneerish Dutch Oven! I. was. pumped.

See how simple I am? Also? Either $30 or $40 at jcp.com.






Slow Cooker Casserole
This is THEE. PERFECT. cold weather meal. Nice and filling :-)
Again, I suck. It'll be up this afternoon!



It requires frozen vegetables. I'm not the hugest fan of canned or frozen veggies (not that I have anything against them). I just prefer everything be fresh.






OK, guys. Running off to get dressed and dash out the door! A lot of people have been asking how I fed J when he was a mini and how I made his baby food. Next week, loves! Plus all the Valentines treats I'm planning!

Deuces!
xo