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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Vegetable Pasta

Recipe adapted from EatingWell.com.

Vegetable Pasta

8 oz pasta (I used penne)
4 T garlic-infused olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
6 C spinach

-Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 C of the cooking water.
-Heat oil in large skillet and add halved tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes release their juice, 1 to 2 minutes.
-Stir in 1/2 C water, spinach, and pasta.
-Serve immediately.

I really wanted to add the broiled goat cheese to this recipe, but I FORGOT TO BUY SOME. I was so disappointed. But, I still liked this dish. It's so simple. And I think next time I'll grill some tilapia to go in it. Kev doesn't like goat cheese, but he likes fish so it could work.

While this was cooking, Aspen loudly announced she was so very hungry/starving to death. She asked what was for dinner and when I told her, she said "YUCK" to every element. And then she asked why it smelled so good even though it was gross food.

She had toast for dinner.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Aspen starts Kindergarten

Aspen just started her second week of Kindergarten and we're all like, YAY!!

The first day, I raced home from work in time to walk Aspen to school, but Linc woke up just as Kev got in the shower (his day off) and I was about to walk out the door. So I had to make that poor little girl practically RUN to her first day of school so we wouldn't be late after changing Linc and strapping him into a stroller. I felt so badly! It was at least 90* and she was wearing her backpack and trying to talk to me about everything and she was so winded by the time we got to school.

But, she had insisted on walking rather than riding in the sit 'n stand stroller, so I guess I can't feel too awful about it.

The rest of the week I tried to stick to walking, and even though it was a million degrees, we did well most days. It's still a little tricky with Linc's nap schedule (ALL OVER THE PLACE THANKS TEETH), but I know both kids really love the walk. Also, I love how on the walk home, Aspen gets to eat her snack and decompress a little. I've learned (from her two years of dance class) not to question her about the day, and instead to let her volunteer information as she's ready. The walk home gives her that time to figure out what she'd like to share with me once we're at the house and unpacking her bag. It's a good system!

On her first day I took a bunch of selfies with her, and in all of them she's ignoring the camera and looking over at the line of kids waiting to go in. She wanted me to leave so badly. But each day I took her, Linc and I sat in the shade and waited until she walked into the school with her teacher and classmates.

This Monday, though, she wanted me to wait at the fence surrounding the playground and let her walk to the school herself. I didn't have any problem having her in school last week. It was so nice to have her back in a semblance of a schedule and out of the house. Yesterday, however, as I watched her walk across the big, huge field, backpack bouncing against her body, I almost cried. She looked so little as she wound her way through the crowds of kids at recess. As she got closer to her class lineup, Linc and I casually walked a little closer to the school ourselves. I just had to make sure she went in safely with her teacher. We hid in the shade of a tree, though, so as not to damage Aspen's sense of independence.

I'm so glad she loves school and that she's adjusting well. And I'm really glad that sometimes Linc naps while she's gone and I have some time all by myself!!

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Spaghetti and Squash

I'm still trying to be diligent with dinnertime. Even though both kids are so picky and it's terribly depressing seeing food rejected and thrown on the floor every night. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

This recipe is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, January 2013.

Spaghetti and Squash

1/2 spaghetti squash (about 1 pound worth)
2 T garlic-infused olive oil
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, seasoned with basil, garlic and oregano (don't drain it)
4 oz spaghetti

-Wash spaghetti squash and cut in half. Removed seeds and strings. Cook face down in a microwave safe baking dish with 2 T water and covered with vented, clear plastic wrap. Microwave times vary, but try 10 minutes and check to see if skin is easily pierced with fork.
-Meanwhile, heat olive oil and tomatoes over medium heat. Boil gently, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
-While tomatoes cook, prepare pasta according to directions; drain and add to heated tomato sauce.
-When the squash has cooled enough to handle, gently scrape the pulp into the pasta/tomato pot.
-Makes about four servings.

This was nice because it's fairly easy to prepare. Everything can be heating up at once, and not using the oven for the squash helped cut back on some of the heat in the house at the end of the day. I really love spaghetti squash, and I bet Kev would have liked this dish more if I'd added meatballs or sausage or something for his carnivorous palate. I thought Aspen would just eat the spaghetti, but she has a strange disdain for ALL NOODLES. She's five years old and I can only just barely get her to even eat macaroni and cheese. What kid doesn't like mac 'n cheese?!

Regardless, I'll make this again and try adding some of the other ingredients as the kids learn to tolerate new foods.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Yes... I'm still nursing my baby

I debated for a while whether or not I would post my thoughts on this experience. My intent is not to make anyone feel badly for their thoughts or opinions. However, I was so thrown off by this that I couldn't get it out of my mind. After writing about it and sitting on it for a few days, I finally decided to share. 
 
I'm startled by how many times it has been suggested I should stop breastfeeding Linc. Whether it's a direct comment or something implied, it seems to happen often. From both family members and friends. And with the recent acknowledgement of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) all over social media, I've been thinking of it a lot.

Linc is 14 months old, not 14 years and yes, he's still nursing. I don't see this as a problem. I'm not even a die-hard breastfeeding mother who advocates it regularly or even does it in public much. In fact, when some friends recently told me I should bind my chest to hide my breasts, and tell Linc they're "broken," they had only just discovered that night that he is still breastfed. It's weird to me that breastfeeding is being seen as a way I'm letting my son manipulate me. Or that it may be the reason he was such a terrible sleeper. If that were true, he wouldn't be sleeping through the night, would he? Maybe. I dunno. I just don't see breastfeeding as a bad habit of his that needs to be broken immediately.

Perhaps looking at it from a different point of view will help clarify why I'm still breastfeeding my toddling son. Not that I need to justify this, but just to educate others on my particular situation.

Do you have a child? Great, then you can relate to the highs and lows of parenting. Do you have a child who suffered from colic? Great, then you can relate to how horrific it is to have a screaming infant who routinely makes your life unbearable from 5pm until 10pm every day for weeks. Was your spouse gone during all of the colic, too? Great, then you can relate to how exhausting it is to be the only person dealing with said colic while also trying to take care of a four-year old. I can emphasize with how hard it must have been for you to juggle bedtime with a wailing infant in the house, all the while your breasts are swelling and leaking since they felt the need to soothe that infant while you read bedtime stories to your other child.

Did your colicky child refuse a bottle and and then abruptly give up the binky around three months of age? Did he also refuse to accept anything other than mom as a source of comfort? Oh, then I really do feel for you and your aching body, because you literally bore the burden of soothing your child almost exclusively on your own.

That is the scenario I faced when Linc was an infant. He wailed so much. He turned blue in the face from all the screaming. Kevin was almost never home. He went back to work just a few hours after I got home from the hospital with Linc and Aspen was returned to us from her cousins' house. When nothing else worked to quiet baby Linc (and give me back some sanity), I nursed him. I no longer solely employ this method of soothing, but it sure did the trick to calm and fatten new-born Linc. And so, he learned that Mom = Soothie. It is unfortunate, but it's how I survived.

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Taking away breastfeeding now wouldn't necessarily affect Linc's health. He does enjoy regular food as well as liquids from a cup. He won't starve if I stop nursing. But, he would no longer have a source of comfort. Nursing is part of his winding-down routine before sleep. Much like a binky, it also offers him relief from distress- such as during the terrible days of teething.

Linc no longer nurses during the night, thankfully, but he does nurse up to four times each day. Sometimes it's just a few minutes to help him settle down before sleep. When he doesn't feel well, sometimes he refuses all food and nurses instead. It's a relief to me to know he's staying hydrated and fortified when he doesn't want to eat (those wretched teeth!). When I'm advised to stop nursing cold-turkey, I am so baffled. Would you just take away your child's binky or special blanket cold turkey? Or during teething? I can't imagine you would. When I weaned Aspen from her binky, we first started just limiting her use to naps and bedtime. Then she could only have it when she was in her bed (and then one night she dropped it when sleeping and we legit couldn't find it so we had to say goodbye forever (until I secretly found it the next morning and decided to go ahead and tell her it was still lost)). I approach weaning from breastfeeding in a similar manner. That's what weaning is; a gradual cessation. I get that it may seem paradoxical that I, who constantly complain about my children sucking the life out of me, would actually let my 14 month old still... well... suck life out of me. But I guess I don't see it that way. I'm just doing my job, feeding and comforting my kid. I've done a lot of things in the last 14 months that haven't been easy.

I don't have a end-point in mind for Linc's nursing journey. I do know I want to wean organically, as I did with Aspen. This will not only make it easier for Linc, but for myself as well. I don't want to think of the pain of engorgement if I were to wean too quickly too soon. I also don't want to smell like cabbage leaves if I don't have to. As a result of weaning Aspen when she was ready (at 14 months), I experienced no discomfort, and she only had a couple of nights of rough sleep when we took away her last, bedtime feeding. After the hell I've been through with Linc's sleep habits, doesn't it sound so much better not to rock the boat by taking away breastfeeding before he's ready? I still marvel that I survived the last year with just three cumulative hours of sleep most nights. And you know when you just instinctively feel something is or isn't right for your child? Well, that's how I feel about breastfeeding Linc. And avoiding sleep-training. I've approached it a number of different ways (his sleep) and nothing has felt right. I KNOW it's insane that he has to be bounced to sleep. Believe me, I know. But letting him scream in his crib isn't getting us anywhere. I've experimented in the last week with continually letting him cry-it-out for naptime. There were no naps. And it was miserable for all of us. But, y'know, we all have things about us that make us come across as jerks to people. Needing to be bounced to sleep is just Linc's thing-that-makes-him-a-jerk. He is otherwise a very lovely and delightful person. HAVE YOU SEEN HIS DIMPLE?!

I don't care if you breastfeed or not. I am a bottle-fed, day-care raised child. When you're in survival mode, sometimes other people can't and won't understand the decisions you make. I may be curious as to why someone else doesn't breastfeed, but I don't insist she immediately stop with a bottle and try with the boob. I don't care enough to push a breastfeeding agenda on anyone else. But my little MotherBoy and I are still breastfeeding for now. Sure, some days I lament the responsibility, and wish my body was entirely my own again... but soon enough this will be the case. And I'm grateful my experience nursing Linc has been much easier than nursing Aspen. Those first three months of learning how with newborn Aspen were SO HARD. It was painful and emotional and I constantly worried she wasn't getting enough to eat. But I survived it and got the hang of it immediately with Linc.

So I guess I feel better now about what other people think of me breastfeeding my 14-month old. INSERT SMILEY FACE EMOTICON.

For more information on breastfeeding, I suggest getting in touch with your local chapter of La Leche League (contact info HERE).

You can also find information on breastfeeding via the CDC's website, HERE.

Also, did you know the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until the age of 2 (as supplemental nutrition to complement a solid-food diet)? I didn't!

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Living Planet Aquarium

Aspen picked a trip to the new aquarium as a birthday present from her grandparents, and the whole family got to tag along. Sophia and Jose even came up and met us there as a surprise.

Unfortunately, because Sophia carried Linc around a lot, Aspen was pretty ticked most of the time we were there. As evidenced below:

HAHAHAHAHA!! But, I mean, she really did enjoy the exhibits. I think she was just caught off guard when Sophia arrived, and then she was jealous whenever attention was given to Linc.

This was my first visit to the new location, and I have to say it's pretty neat. It was very crowded though, and hard to keep track of both kids as they ran in different directions. Even with six adults, I still felt uneasy about the kids not being in my sight at all times.

But we got to see nearly everything and I was surprised with the huge bird exhibit. It was heaven for Linc.


You can see a photo of Aspen at the old aquarium with a haircut similar to Linc's right HERE.

These two orange clown fish were fending off the black clown fish and keeping him from the anemone. It was fun to watch them scuttle.



The big birds just about blew Linc's mind. He was fascinated. He loved watching them. We were able to get pretty close to a lot of the birds, too.

Oh! Proof I was there! Feeding my kid and hovering so he didn't crack his head open on the cement floor.

We probably spent just a couple of hours at the aquarium, and I didn't even spend time in the shark tunnel (except to retrieve a few family members and tell them it was time to leave). We got there right at shark-feeding-time so the hallway was bottle-necked and we tried to steer clear of that crowd.

It was pretty amazing, but part of me missed the super-humid, super-cramped, old aquarium in the grocery store. This big place can be overwhelming when you're trying to keep track of everyone.

I'm glad Aspen picked something so adventurous, though. It's so nice sometimes to replace material objects with actual experiences. Especially when family comes from out of town. It'll be so fun to remember the summer of Aspen's 5th birthday as the one when she got to do so much with her grandparents.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

It is your birthday.

While my parents were in town, we had a birthday party for Seth (and Aspen and Sophia). But mostly, it was allll about Seth. Aspen "let" him choose the cake and she made him a sweet card and gave him a baggy full of her piggy bank money.

We did a two-layer chocolate cake with a coconut frosting (it was more like a glaze, but whatevs). I let it set up in the fridge since the glaze was oozing all over the place. It worked out pretty well. I still can't decide if I liked it enough to use it again, but it was a big hit with everyone else so I'm relieved.

Aspen was so excited to put the cookie crumbs and dump truck on Seth's cake. And then she picked out Pony candle for him. I'm sure he appreciated the dichotomy.

I grilled steak and chicken for the masses and made corn on the cob, which Linc devoured. The first time he had some (last week, I think) he wasn't impressed. But that night, he kept reaching for my corn on my plate so I handed it over. Everyone was delighted to watch him munch on it by himself.

Afterward I was able to convince everyone to head outside for some photos. And we were really lucky to get ONE shot without Sam's behind right in the middle of the photo. AND everyone's looking at the camera! It's a miracle!


It was so nice to have so many family members together to celebrate Seth. We just love him so much!!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Backyard paradise

One of the nights my parents were here we spent some time in the backyard. It's so nice and shady in the evenings, and perfect this time of year. The dragonflies come out in full force, and they're some of the biggest I've ever seen. The birds congregate in the pines and Linc is in heaven pointing them out to us.

Aspen is obsessed with the microphone Kev got her for her birthday, and she uses it to announce almost everything she does. Playing hopscotch in the backyard is no exception.

While my parents were here, Kev had four days off in a row and we sucked it all up gleefully. The night we were in the yard together, we talked about our plans for the aquarium. When I told Aspen her Dad wouldn't be at work, she ran over to him and asked if he was going to go with us to see the fish. He teased her, and said maybe. Then she yelled at him that family is more important than working in the basement.

He asked who told her that, and she pointed to herself. Apparently she's picking up on my desire to spend as much time together as possible when Dad's not working!

Kev finally stopped teasing and told Aspen he was going with all of us to the aquarium. She was thrilled.

While in the yard, Aspen drew portraits of everyone in the family, including out dog and her Uncle Seth's dog. I love her drawings.

It's so sad my parents' week with us is already over! But I'm so glad we crammed so much fun into the few days they were here.

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Lincoln launches to the landing

One of Lincoln's favorite things to do is throw balls. Or kick balls. Or hold a ball. He's always moving one or three around the house.

Shortly after I put this gate up (months ago) Linc discovered he can throw things through the bars, or over it completely. It's one of his regular past-times.

I don't mind except when he throws something huge and/or loud down the stairs. Like wooden toys. Or shoes. Or cell phones.

He loves to watch as the items accumulate, and he loves to watch me go down the stairs and retrieve everything a few times every day. The worst is when he finds one last ball while I'm down there, and he pelts me in the head.

It's so fun to watch him enjoy something so simple. It reminds me of when Aspen was younger, and we would spend ages tossing a big bouncy ball up and down the stairs to each other. She usually sat at the top while I stood at the bottom. It's a game we started in the WJ rental, and continued briefly here in the new house.

He's definitely enjoying all the additional fun activities we've been doing with my parents in town! It must be strange that with them here he isn't just spending his day throwing a ball around. I thought his mind was going to explode at the aquarium.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

City Creek with Grandparents

My parents are in town and we're really being brave, pushing afternoon nap boundaries and leaving the house like carefree people!!

We went to City Creek on Trax and spent a few hours wandering around. When Linc first saw the fountain he wouldn't move an inch. He just stared and stood there. He took a few steps toward it and then plopped down, laughing with glee.

We helped him touch the big fountain, and then let him walk around the splash pad. Aspen didn't want to get her shoes wet, but Linc didn't know what was going to happen so he dodged all around the water and only got him bum wet.

He loved it, and poor Aspen got sprinkled only a little since I didn't have another pair of dry shoes for her. Hopefully next time they can both get as wet as they please.


We showed Linc the fish for the first time and Aspen followed the animal tracks.


When I take Aspen to City Creek, we usually only go into the Disney Store. She's just not a helpful shopper in any other kind of store.

She had so much fun dancing in front of the mirror and waving her wand like a crazy person.

I wondered if they might have an Iago stuffed animal that we could get for Linc since he's obsessed with birds. But after looking through the whole store, I initially didn't see anything. As I was mentioning it to Gail, I looked over her shoulder and saw a little Iago plush poking its beak out of basket.

I was so excited!! When we gave it to him he cropped his cracker and started say, "CAW CAW!" So of course Gail had to buy it for him, and since they're doing a sale right now, for $1 we got a second stuffed animal for Aspen. I was surprised she picked out a Minnie Mouse.

After the Disney Store we had some lunch and then let the kids run around the indoor playground. It was so nice to see both of them climbing and running and laughing and having fun. I love that Linc is old enough and adventurous enough to tackle the play place without me hovering.

The kids both did amazing at the mall and on the train ride, but I was tired by the end of our trip. I'm just such an old person. Okay, and maybe I was wishing I'd brought a whoopie pie with me.

I'm so excited for all the other adventures we have planned while Gail and Marc are in town. Especially since their visit is during one of Kev's four-day stretches off work. We about to get crazy doing kid-things for dayz.

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