Thursday, September 29, 2011

My baby is officially a toddler

His walking skills have improved exponentially, as seen in this footage from his friend J's Elmo-themed 2nd birthday party. I love that when you see him from the back he looks like a tiny, toddling gnome with that hat on. SO cute I could eat him up. All of the kiddos were equally as adorable, and they resembled an army of little el-gnomes walking around. I would like to add that J's mama had an awesome Elmo pinata where the kids each pulled a string to see which one released the goodies, instead of having to beat the crap out of Elmo. I appreciated that ;-) Happy Birthday, J! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Eat Your Veggies!

Excuse my little blogging hiatus. Last week kicked my butt with back-to-school activities and general busyness. But I'm back and I have to tell you, the day I've been dreading has arrived. Sweetie Pea has decided that he's not into vegetables anymore. The 8 month old who greedily gobbled up squash, sweet potatoes, edamame and spinach is now an (almost) 14 month old who'd rather feed them to the dog. I have diced those veggies into microscopic pieces and I'll be darned if he can't find them and pick them out. Of anything. But on the plus side, the dog is really healthy ;-)

Hubs and I try to eat as healthily as possible, and we did so even before having a baby. Unfortunately for me, having a child kicked my (adorably) neurotic Type-A personality into overdrive when it comes to things like nutrition. I'm pretty obsessed with making sure Sweets gets a rainbow of fruits and veggies, lean fresh meats, whole grains and dairy products. When he started rejecting every vegetable in sight, I decided to get sneaky. 'Cause I just can't let him not eat vegetables. It goes against everything in me.

I give you, Exhibit A:

If you haven't heard of these books, they are totally devoted to helping you hide pureed veggies in your child's favorite meals. Since I made all of Sweetie Pea's first foods, I am well-acquainted with chopping, steaming/roasting, pureeing, and freezing veggies, so this strategy was right up my alley. One trip to the farmer's market, 3 hours, and every ice cube tray I owned later, I ended up with this:

If there is a vegetable apocalypse in the next 30 days, I think it's safe to say we won't starve. Behold what was formerly 1 large butternut squash, 3 HUGE red peppers, 2 lbs of carrots, and 4 sweet potatoes the size of my head. 

Now why, you may ask, would I give up 3 hours of my life to pulverize poor, innocent veggies? Because if I had to make a vegetable puree every time I wanted to sneak it into something, I would never do it. This way, my nutrient-laden deception is as easy as pulling a few cubes out of the freezer and defrosting them. And being the Type A that I am, I couldn't wait to test out the vegetable guerrilla warfare. My first attempt was the "Masterful Mac and Cheese" from The Sneaky Chef. It is full of multi grain noodles, carrots, sweet potatoes, colby jack cheese, and a crunchy topping made from crushed bran flakes, wheat germ and parmesan cheese. The best part about it is that it does not require you to make a white sauce. I loathe making white sauce (seriously, who has all day to stand there whisking so it doesn't scorch? Not me). 

And? ZOMG. It was to die for. I nearly ate myself sick it was so good. As for whether Sweetie Pea liked it, I give you Exhibit B:

Yeah, that'd be him licking his plate

Score. Fueled by this early success, I road-tested another recipe, "Breakfast Cookies," also from The Sneaky Chef. No veggies in this one, but they are chock-full of whole grains, ricotta cheese, cinnamon and wheat germ (which apparently is super healthy. I've never eaten wheat germ a day in my life prior to this little experiment). 

And again I say, OMG. So delicious I had to force myself not to eat the entire batch this morning. Sweets gobbles them up and I have to remind Hubs that they aren't anytime cookies, they're for breakfast! 

So if you're in a similar situation with your child, I highly recommend giving these books a try. I checked them both out of my local library (along with a DVD of the "Will and Kate" Lifetime movie that was on the new media rack. I know, it's going to be bad. I'm ok with it ;). I can't say that every recipe will be a winner, but I can say that tonight, I'll lay my neurotic little head peacefully upon my pillow, knowing that my kid willingly ate his fair share of ((secret)) vegetables. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Forever 30

So recently, I went shopping. For me. I haven't done this in quite some time, for a multitude of reasons:

a) While on maternity leave, I lived in sweats. I know, so trite. But come on, I had a baby puking on me 8 times a day, would you get dressed up for that?
b) When I returned to work, I was pumping, so my wardrobe consisted of easy-access basics (read, khakis and a button-down, 99% of the time).
c) Summer arrived, and my new temporary stay-at-mom mama uniform became a tank top and yoga capris.

But, with the start of the school year upon me, I found myself in need of a little wardrobe spruce up, mostly essentials like camisoles, long-sleeved shirts and accessories. One day when Sweets was hanging with Grandma, I went to the mall. Dude, it was a total sensory experience that I had completely forgotten about because it had been so long since I'd been there. Stylish, shiny displays around every corner, the smell of hot pretzels and cinnamon rolls, the sound of water fountains, baristas, and multiple conversations whizzing by. And me, toddler-free to wander as far as I pleased, pausing to look at things whenever I wanted, and for more than 15 seconds at a time. Bliss.

My first stop was Forever 21. I know, I'm not 21. But I like to think of myself as a pretty trendy gal, and I do know my fashion limits, don't worry. Ok, something happened between the last time I went to Forever 21 (pre-baby), and this most recent trip (that something was probably that I had a baby, but whatev). It definitely caters more to the "21s" than I remember, and I walked away thinking the following:

  • If you can't tell the difference between a skirt and a shirt, you are probably too mature to be shopping in that store (I'm not a fan of the word old, so I'm going with mature instead ;)
  • If the brand new clothes hanging on the racks are so faded, distressed, whiskered, frayed and ripped that they more closely resemble your husband's work jeans, you are probably too mature to be shopping in that store.
  •  If the size small shirt that would normally fit you anywhere else makes you look like you raided a girl scout's closet, you're probably too mature to be shopping in that store.
  • If you overhear the following conversation in the dressing room: "Ohmygod, KiKi, do you think this shirt makes me look like a slut? I totally couldn't wear this to work, right? I mean, right?" you are probably too mature to be shopping in that store.
So then I got to thinking, us young, hip mamas deserve to be trendy and stylish just as much as the 21s do. We may be like a decade away from the intended audience of Forever 21, but we're also decades away from elastic-waist jeans and holiday vests (and God-willing these things will fall off the planet before we're old enough to wear them). As my mind wandered, I thought about the store I'd open up for the young, hip mamas. Maybe I'd call it Forever 30. And it would be overflowing with stylish and trendy, yet practical attire for the budget-conscious 30-something. Tunics and leggings. Jeans that have a zipper longer than 3/4 of an inch (seriously, what is with the ultra-super-extra-low-rise jeans???). Basic layering pieces in a million colors. Skirts and dresses that are age-appropriate without being matronly. Shoes - oh, the shoes! Funky pumps and comfy flats and versatile boots, all co-exisiting peacefully together. And do you know what you'd hear in the dressing room at Forever 30?

"Those jeans make you look like you never had a baby!"
"That shirt makes your boobs look awesome!"
"Ohmygod, those shoes are only $14?"

Yes, it would be a wonderful place, Forever 30. But sadly it doesn't exist yet. Anyone want to be my silent partner? ;-)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Walking Man

You'll have to forgive me in advance. Because I'm about to be one of those moms who blabbers on about how advanced her child is, how talented, and how special. In the first year of his life, Sweets has hit a lot of milestones. Some have been fairly mundane (gaining neck control), some have been kinda gross (belly button stump falling off), and some have changed my life (sleeping through the night). But none have thrilled, thrilled, thrilled me as much as seeing him learn to walk. Seriously, my heart is busting open with pride every time he takes a wobbly baby step. And if this is how I feel now, omg, how am I going to feel when he graduates from kindergarten? Or high school? Or med school? Or wins the Nobel Prize? Or gets elected President? But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself ;) Check out my big walking man. Such raw athleticism. Such talent. He is definitely going to the Olympics.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I should have listened... that little voice in my head. The one saying "step off, mama, your kid can't handle this." I had to wait a few days before writing this post to put some time in between the actual day I'm about to recount and the recounting of said day. I had to post the cutesy peek-a-boo pictures first to remind myself how sweet and funny and cute my kid is 95% of the time. Because just the other day, the 5% of him that isn't sweet and funny and cute met Murphy's Law and it wasn't pretty.

My extended family was having a Labor Day picnic about an hour from our house, and we were really looking forward to going. It was a holiday weekend, the weather was holding out, the food was going to be fantastic and the company even better. Multiple times leading up to that day, I shrugged off the inner voice saying "are you sure that's a good idea? There won't be anywhere for Sweets to nap." I am a fanatic about sticking to Sweets' nap schedule. That rigidity is born of months and months of him being a crappy sleeper until we finally established a routine that works. And he's not a "go with the flow" kind of kid. He wants to nap in a dark room, in a crib, at the prescribed time. But, I reasoned with myself, there are times you have to make it work. You can't sit in your house all day, every day just because your kid would miss a nap. 

So we ultimately decided we would leave in the morning shortly before his naptime and hope that he would sleep in the car on the way there. This is always a risky proposition. You run a 50% chance that he'll slide uneventfully into an mph-induced dreamland, and a 50% chance that he'll cry so hard he nearly vomits on himself. Unfortunately for us, the odds were not in our favor that day. 50 minutes into our less-than-enjoyable trip, I was having the following dialogue in my head: "It's ok, it's ok, we're only 10 minutes away. You can make it 10 minutes. You can do anything for 10 minutes. You labored for 13 hours with this kid. 10 minutes is nothing." And then we hit a detour. And I wished I was in labor instead of in my car with my child who was screaming mind-numbing, blood-curdling screams because he was in his carseat and not his crib. I wanted to throttle the road crew who closed some stupid bridge and weren't even there working on it. A good 25 minutes later, we arrived at our destination, frazzled but relieved. Sweets was ecstatic to get out of the car. His euphoria lasted all of 5 minutes before his mood headed quickly south to The Bad Place. You moms know the place I'm talking about. He wanted everything and he wanted nothing, all at the same time. The Bad Place looks something like this:

"Put me down, put me down! Mommy! How dare you put me down!"
"I want that truck, I want that truck! Get that truck away from me!"
"Juice, juice, I need juice!" :::Furious hurling of juicebox:::

And there we lived for the next 4 hours. I felt like the worst mom ever. Finally, battle-weary and simply done, Hubs and I packed it up and called it a day, praying to God that Sweets would sleep on the way home. No. Such. Luck. What we got on the way home was an even more infuriated display of emotion than we got on the way there. And torential, blinding rain. Plus the detour. That we tried to go around and failed.

And so the moral of the story is: your mama voice exists for a reason. Don't doubt it.

Do you have a disastrous mommy story?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Veggie Soft Tacos

I really, really, really love cookbooks. I have a.lot of them. Since having a baby, there are some I reach for more than others. Anything that requires me to have things like saffron, heavy cream or shiitake mushrooms on hand, or takes more than 30 minutes to prepare is out. You know what's in? Fast. Easy. Healthy. Which is why I love this cookbook that my mother-in-law got me for my last birthday:

350 recipes and not a-one of 'em takes more than a half hour to throw together. Love. (And thanks, Mom!) I just made the recipe for Vegetable Soft Tacos this weekend and it rocked. Seriously, I'm such a huge fan of these things for a few reasons:
1. As previously discussed, they are fast, easy, and healthy.
2. It used up some zucchini from our crazy bumper crop.
3. It fed us for dinner two nights, and the remaining filling was fantastic scooped up with tortilla chips.

Do yourself a favor and make these, pronto! :-)

Vegetable Soft Tacos
From Taste of Home Busy Family Favorites

1 2/3 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 zucchini, finely diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup salsa, choose your spiciness
*I ended up using the entire jar and it was perfect.
1 tablespoon canola oil
8 flour tortillas
Sour cream
Shredded cheese

In a large skillet, saute the corn, zucchini and onion until tender. Stir in beans and salsa and cook over medium heat until heated through, stirring occasionally. Spoon the filling onto half of a flour tortilla, top with sour cream and shredded cheese, fold over and enjoy!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Sweets is definitely going through a peek-a-boo phase right now. We play about 47 games of peek-a-boo a day, and his favorite way to play it is to crawl behind a curtain (any curtain will do, including shower curtains) and sit very still while we say "where's Sweets? I can't find him! Sweeeeetie! Where arrrrrrrre you?" Then he busts out from behind the curtain grinning from ear to ear like he just played the most clever trick on us, his oh-so-naive parents. It cracks us up because he totally thinks that just because he's sitting behind the curtain he's invisible. If you peek behind the curtain you'll find him sitting with his little hands crossed, staring at the ground and smiling this sly, secret smile. It is SO.CUTE. Here's the photographic proof:

"Ha ha, Mommy doesn't even know I'm here!"

"She is in for the shock of her life!" 
(for the 18th time today)

"Peek-a-boo Mommy! Look how clever I am!"

"I bet you're surprised!"

"Want to play again? You can't resist this face!"

It's the little things, friends :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New Year, New Digs

Being an educator means that I look at a calendar year as September to August, instead of January to December. The day before school starts is my New Year's Eve, only instead of champagne and Dick Clark, it's packing lunch and an early bedtime. This year, I am super excited to start my year at a new school in my district, and along with that comes a new office. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I am totally into details. That goes for my decorative style as well. I believe that it's the little things that make a space inviting, and if my office isn't a place I would want to spend time, my students won't either.

I honestly feel like I won the office jackpot in my new building - it was a dream to decorate and the space is wonderful! I think space is very important :)

Here it is freshly painted before I moved in. Ya, it's huge. 
My first thought was "how am I going to fill all this space?"

Didn't take me long to figure it out ;) 

I'm pretty in love with pennant banners like the one I made for 
Sweetie Pea's birthday.
I think this one adds a festive flair to my office 
(and obviously you can read all the letters in real life).

Ah,  neat and tidy in the beginning of the year. 
I have to make an effort to keep them that way!

A close-up of my desk area. I found that table between the chairs on the side of the road, slapped a coat of paint on it, and now I LOVE it. A few throw rugs, pillows and potted plants do wonders to make the space inviting.

A little inspiration :)

I've always loved Maya Angelou's work, but this poem is particularly meaningful to me. I hope my students think so too!

Though it is hard to transition back to working full-time after such a wonderful summer with Sweets, I do like the routine of the school year. And, I love autumn. There is something special about back to school time!