Monday, June 27, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of June 26th

Sunday:  Grilled Hot Italian Sausage (from the farmers market!) with Baked Potatoes and Zucchini

Monday:  Baked Chicken Chimichangas with Deluxe Tomatillo Sauce with Fresh Tomato Salsa and Corn - carried over from last week

Tuesday:  Tuna Noodle Casserole with Peas

Wednesday:  Mom's night out with friends!  Mark and Jack are on their own for dinner.

Thursday:  Grilled White Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Garlic Scapes

Friday:  Burgers on the grill with Baked Sweet Potato Fries and Broccoli Salad

Saturday:  Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos with Mexican Sour Cream Rice and 'Refried' Beans

I'm linked at

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cloth Diapering a Toddler

I'm quickly discovering that cloth diapering a toddler is different that cloth diapering a baby.

The first year of our cloth diapering journey was simple!  We just chose a diaper we liked, established a simple wash routine and went on our way.  I had heard tales from other cloth diapering mamas struggling to find the perfect wash routine and I always felt bad for them, but I was thankful that we didn't have any trouble! 

Well, come to find out, although some people do experience struggles early on, a lot of problems arise once baby enters todderhood. 

Right around the time Jack hit a year old we started having trouble with leaks overnight and sometimes at nap time.  When he was a young baby we were using his bumGenius 3.0s stuffed with the one-size microfiber insert for both day and night time.  Easy peasy.  Eventually, he got to the point where he needed more absorbancy overnight so we started stuffing his night dipes with the one-size microfiber insert plus the smaller microfiber doubler the diapers came with.  This worked for a while, but then suddenly it seemed that nothing worked.  He leaked more often than not and I found myself trying to find an overnight solution for a heavy wetter.

bumGenius 3.0

Microfiber doubler on left.
One-size microfiber insert on right.
Photo Source.

After trying a few different things (including a new style of diaper - a fitted diaper with a wool cover, which is supposed to be a bulletproof option for overnight.  Jack promptly leaked straight through!) we found that the winning combo for us was his BG 3.0s stuffed with the one-size microfiber inserts plus two large Joey Bunz Hemparoos.

Joey Bunz Hemparoos in Large, Medium, and Small.

That's  A LOT of absorbancy, but that's what he needed.  Once we shoved three full size inserts into his poor diaper the absorbancy was right (and his hiney was big!), but it was causing a little bit of a gap in the legs and we'd still have occasional leaks as a result of that.  Within the last 2 months or so, it seems Jack has had a growth spurt or something which has eliminated the gap which previously existed so finally NO MORE LEAKS!  Yay!

In addition to a better fit on his overstuffed night dipes, I feel like he actually doesn't wake up quite as wet in the mornings.  I think this probably has to do with him getting bigger, but still taking in about the same amount of liquid in a given day so proportionally he's drinking less than he was when he was smaller.  Make sense?  I don't know, but all I care about is waking up to a dry baby in the mornings!

Anyone who has trouble with leaks like we did (and is frustrated, like we were), I definitely recommend that you try some form of hemp.  It's super absorbent, relatively trim, AND the nice bonus is hemp has natural antibacterial properties so you won't end up with any of The Stinkies, which often occur with microfiber.  Also, it's an environmentally friendly option because as a crop, among other things,  it's naturally resistant to disease and insects, which eliminates the need for pesticides and herbicides!

So, cloth diaperers, be aware that you baby's needs will change as they grow and your mission is to keep up with their changing needs!  This may take some trial and error, but there are a lot of options out there and you WILL find something that works for you.

Or your baby's needs will just change again and you'll be looking for a solution for something else.  Right now we're battling ammonia and trying to find a new working wash routine.  It's definitely the most frustrating cloth diaper related thing I've delt with to date.

Suggestions on how to handle this situation are welcome!  Except for recommending Tide, I'm aware that this is really popular right now, but I'd like to only switch to that as a last resort.  :D

Monday, June 20, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of June 19th

Sunday:  Dinner with family for Father's Day

Monday:  Chili Cheese Dogs with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday:  Chipotle-inspired Chicken Burritos - carried over from last week

Wednesday:  Four Cheese Baked Penne (from the freezer!) with Green Beans and Garlic Bread

Thursday:  Baked Chicken Chimichangas with Deluxe Tomatillo Sauce with 'Refried' Beans and Corn

Friday:  BBQ Chicken Pizza

Saturday:  Leftovers/Take-out

I'm linked at 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tried and True Recipe: Chipotle-Inspired Chicken Burritos

We love Chipotle around here, but we really make an effort not to eat out too often.  Although Chipotle is a fairly cheap option and it's not too bad for you (well, the stuff IN it isn't so bad, the size of it is!), I can make a similar meal at home for about half the cost of take-out and no one has to go out in rush hour traffic and stand in a line out to the door to pick it up!

These Chipotle-inspired burritos will definitely be on our regular meal rotation from now on!

To make a Chipotle burrito the way I like it you will need the following:

Pico de Gallo
Cilantro-Lime Rice
Seasoned Grilled Chicken
Black Beans  (Canned or homemade, I cook mine from dried beans in the CrockPot), heated
Burrito Shells (I like to use whole-wheat, but use your favorite homemade or store bought variety)
Cheese (Monterey Jack would probably be closest to what they have at Chipotle, but I used Cheddar Jack)
Sour Cream

Start by making the Pico de Gallo so that it can chill while you're making everything else.

Pico de Gallo
a Stephanie Original

3 Plum Tomatos (or other small, ripe variety), seeded and diced
3 tbsp. Red Onion, diced small
1/2 Jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, diced small
2 tbsp. Cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 Lime
1/2-1 tsp. Kosher Salt (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine.  Chill at least 30 minutes - 1 hour prior to serving.

Next make the Cilantro-Lime Rice.

Cilantro-Lime Rice
Recipe courtesy of C+C Marriage Factory

1 cup Basmati Rice
Juice of 1/2 Lime
2 cups Water
1 tsp. Salt
3 tbsp Cilantro, chopped
4 tsp Vegetable Oil, divided

In a medium sauce pan, add rice, water, 1 tsp. oil and salt. Turn heat to high and boil until most of the water evaporates. When the water just skims the top of the rice, reduce heat to low, cover, and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Shut off heat and keep covered pan sitting on burner for additional 5 minutes.  Remove from burner and fluff rice with a fork.  Stir in remaining ingredients: lime juice, cilantro, and remaining 3 tsp. of oil.

While rice is cooking have your husband (or DIY if you know how ;) ) heat the grill and cook chicken.  I take some boneless, skinless chicken breasts season with homemade taco seasoning, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and then Mark does the rest.  After chicken is cooked, cube it into bite-sized pieces. 

Update 4/5/2013: We've been marinating the chicken rather than just seasoning it and wow does it make for extra tasty chicken!  If you want a quick short cut, just season and oil the chicken as described above, but it's really not that big of a deal to toss it into a quick marinade at the same time that you get the Pico de Gallo together so I highly recommend you do the following:

Chipotle Chicken
Adapted from Simply Scratch

1 large or 2 smaller chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise
1 tbsp. Lime juice
small handful of Cilantro, chopped
1 Chipotle pepper in Adobo, minced
1/2 tbsp. Chili powder
3/4 tsp. Cumin
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
1/4 tsp. Paprika
1/8 tsp. Dried Oregano
1/8 tsp. Garlic powder
1/8 tsp. Onion powder
OR 1 Tbsp. of taco seasoning can be substituted for the spices if you already have it mixed up and ready to go
2 tbsp. Exra-virgin Olive Oil

In a bowl, combine all ingredients minus chicken.  Once well combined, add the chicken and toss to get it coated well with the marinade.  Refrigerate.  Allow chicken to marinate for 1 hour.  Then proceed to grill and cube as directed above.

To assemble burritos:

To a shell add rice, chicken, black beans, pico de gallo, sour cream, and cheese to your heart's delight. 

Wrap it up, eat, and enjoy! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jack - 15 Months

I'm a little late on this as Jack is about 15 1/2 months now and with the rate that he's changing, advancing, and learning new things, 2 weeks is HUGE in his world!

What is Jack up to at 15 months?

So far, his only words are still "MaMa", "DaDa", and "BehBeh" (Belle Belle), but is babbling more and adding new sounds to his repertoire.  I think we're going to be hearing some new words very soon!

He still loves to play with trucks and other wheeled toys, but instead of just pushing them back and forth he has now figured out how to push them along while crawling with them.

He can now climb onto his riding toys unassisted and is rapidly figuring out how to scoot himself around.

 He's proficient at moving backwards, but is still working on forward motion.  He can move forward, but it's pretty awkward.  He kind of walks with the giant riding toy between his legs! 

As you can see in the above picture, and as I've mentioned before, he experienced his first black eye :(

After several months of them being there, Jack discovered the corner guards that we had on the corners of our tables to protect him from potential injury.  Of course, once he discovered their presence he decided they didn't go with the rest of the decor and that just wouldn't do!  So the morning of his discovery he proceeded to take a few moments to use all of his might to rip each one of them off of their protective perch.  I tried reattaching them during naptime in hopes that he had tired of his game, but no dice, if he sees them back in place he just rips them off again.  What to do about that? 

I'm in big trouble now as he has discovered how to remove his diaper when he deems it necessary.  He pretty much deems it necessary whenever he has access to it, and often through clothes he tries to remove it as well.

The other day, this is what I came upon when I went to get him after naptime:

This would be a diaper without a baby.

And this is a baby without a diaper.
Neither is a good thing.

I really loved seeing his little hiney running around in just a t-shirt and diaper, but I guess that's not really going to happen anymore.  We have diapers with velcro and diapers with snaps.  The velcro doesn't stand a chance, but he's even figured out how to pop the snaps.

He loves to go for walks in the stroller and be outside.  He also likes to dance and will dance to anything from songs on shows to short jingles during commercials!  He'll sometimes dance even if you sing a short, silly song to him.  I LOVE this!

The other day, we were watching Sesame Street and they showed a segment with step dancers, Jack LOVED it and started dancing right along:

We watched that part several times because he was having so much fun!

He signs "more" (usually he just means he's hungry/wants food) and "all done" (he does seem to kind of understand what this sign is now.  He uses it when he doesn't want to do something - like during a diaper change!  He also uses it towards the end of meals.  Sometimes he signs "all done" and then proceeds to take a few more bites and then is really done.  Sometimes he signs it and he's really done, but he does seem to use it at the end of every meal now.

And of course the signs that he knows have to do with food, he's a pretty good eater!  If it's something he really likes, he's a GREAT eater.  Right now, his favorite food is definitely blueberries, followed closely by strawberries.  I think he'd eat either until he turned into a berry!

Yep, that's strawberry face and fingers!
He also really likes bananas, cheese, yogurt, any type of crackers, he loves grilled cheese or quesadillas, toast, and eggs.  He also really likes potatoes and sweet potatoes.  Oh, and pizza.  The kid loves pizza, but really, who doesn't?

Those are things he will ALWAYS eat, but generally, he'll usually eat whatever we're eating, at least some of it.  I really try to make it a point to not feed him the same things over and over because I want him to like all kinds of food.

He's still taking 2 bottles a day, one before nap and one before bedtime and he drinks water out of his sippy cup during the day.  He loves his sippy cup!

Sleep.  Oh my.  Sleep has been all over the place lately.  Remember last month?  When I talked about how awesome he was sleeping and how he was FINALLY sleeping through the night and had a schedule like clockwork and it was OH SO AWESOME!

Jack now laughs in the face of that schedule.

At this point, I even wonder if maybe I just imagined the whole thing and he was all over the place at that time, just like he is now, but I was so frustrated that I just created a happy place in my head.  I don't know, but whatever was supposedly going on then, definitely isn't now!

Shortly after I posted his 14 month update, he started teething with his canines and sleep went right out the door!  Yeah.  Not so happy about that at all!  Since then... I can't even tell you what his schedule is right now.  Thank goodness, he's still napping regularly, usually 1-4pm.  He takes a great nap, I'm very lucky!  But overnight?

Well... a few weeks ago, he was waking multiple times overnight and getting up early, like 7am.  Then, he started getting up once overnight (time varies), and waking up SUPER early, like 6-6.30am.  This is the kid who last month had just started waking at 9am and prior to that slept the whole morning away!  6am?  The 6am wake time did not produce a happy baby.  He was NOT ready to get up and spent all day very fussy.  I don't blame him, I was feeling fussy myself!

After a few weeks of that, last week he decided to start doing his overnight wake up around 5-6am, he'd take a bottle and go back to sleep (thank goodness!) and then wake up at a more reasonable time, but sometimes he'd even sleep super late, like 10.30-11am.  He was all. over. the. place.!  It was so frustrating for me and for him and it just wasn't good.

The last two nights (::knocks HARD on wood::) he has gotten back on schedule (or what I guess his schedule should be.  Who knows.) and slept about 8.30pm until 8.30am.  Whoa!  The past two days have been Heaven for everyone.  I hopehopehope that this is him turning a corner and going back to something that we can all be happy with.  I guess time will tell, but anyone who wants to send the sleep fairy my way, or a few positive vibes, I'd really appreciate it!

As I mentioned, he's definitely teething with his canines.  Surprisingly, sleep (and tiredness from lack of sleep) seems to be the only thing affected.  He doesn't seem to be in too much pain during the day and is happy if he gets a good night's sleep, but a peek into his mouth right now tells a different story.  It looks like all of his canines are coming through all at once and his mouth is a mess.  Those suckers look painful!  Anyway, hopefully they'll all be through soon and things can get back to normal!

Some more pictures:

He loves to play when I go to get him from his crib.  He throws himself all around and rolls trying to get you to tickle him and he loves to play peek-a-boo with his blanket.  He hands it to you so you can throw it over his head!

This is how Belle and Jack spend a lot of their day.  Looking out the window to see what's going on.

Jack loves to wear DaDa's hats!
And he tries to put them on himself.  He can't quite get it yet, but he tries!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of June 12th

Sunday:  Cook-out with family to celebrate my cousin's college graduation!

Monday:  General Tso's Chicken with Brown Rice and Green Beans - carried over from last week

Tuesday:  Grilled Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches with Ranch Potato Wedges

Wednesday:  Chipotle-style Burritos with Grilled Chicken, Cilantro-Lime Rice, Black Beans, Sour Cream, Cheese, Avocado, and Homemade Pico de Gallo!

Thursday:  Smoked Sausage with Pierogis and Veggie

Friday:  Homemade Pizza

Saturday:  Leftovers/Out

I'm linked at

Monday, June 6, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Week of June 5th

Sunday:  Chipotle-style Burritos with Grilled Chicken, Cilantro-Lime Rice, Black Beans, Sour Cream, Cheese, Avocado, and Homemade Pico de Gallo!

Monday:  Grilled Italian Sausage (Local, from the farmers market!) with Broccoli Salad and Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday:  Parmesan Tilapia with Roasted Cauliflower and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Wednesday:  Grilled Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches with Asian Slaw and Ranch Potato Wedges

Thursday:  Dinner out to celebrate our 3-year wedding anniversary which is Tuesday!  Mark is off Thursday and Friday for a long weekend!

Friday:  Homemade Pizza

Saturday:  General Tso's Chicken with Brown Rice and Green Beans

I'm linked at 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pinterest - My New Obsession

Pinterest pronounced "interest" + a "P", but pronounced "pin-interest" in my head is a virtual pinboard and it's so easy and so fun to use!

Here are some of my boards.  Click to enlarge.

Basically, you set up an account, download a little button to your browser window and then anything you come across on the interwebz that strikes your fancy whether it be a recipe, how-to tutorial, decor inspiration, an outfit, WHATEVAH!  You click your "Pin It" button and then you put it in the correct category/board on your virtual pinboard account and voila!  You'll be able to recall that baby pronto when needed! 

It's kind of like an advanced form of "bookmarking" or "favoriting" or whatever you used to do. 

And everyone needs to play because you can follow people on Pinterest and they can follow you and then you can steal each others pins or like or comment on things one another have pinned and it's kind of like sharing clothes but so much better! 

But, when the people you follow aren't quite as obsessed as you and you've already browsed all their pins, re-pinned what you like, you can also browse the whole Pinterest sight to find things you like.

Seriously, I'm spending way too much time on it, but it's so much fun! 

Anyone on Pinterest?  I'd love to follow you!  Leave me a comment with your link! 

If you'd like to join, because like I said, everyone else needs to play too for maximum fun value, I can send you an invite (it's invite only, I'm just exclusive like that ;) ) so you can get addicted just like I am!  Just leave me your email address in the comments so I know where to send it. 

Disclaimer:  Although I can wish upon a star and hope, this post was nowhere near sponsored by Pinterest, I just love it and think you should too! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Our Memorial Day Weekend

We got a lot accomplished over the long weekend.  And by "we", I mean Mark.  Obviously someone has to direct take care of the baby.

On Friday, my niece Kylie came to play.  She loves Jack SO MUCH that she can't seem to keep her hands off him.  Basically, she thinks he's a doll that she can pick up and put places and Jack puts up with quite a bit from her because he loves her back.  However, in the midst of their playing, a gentle nudge from Ky turned into Jack losing his balance in the wrong location and he fell face first into the windowsill of our bay window.  

The result:

You were supposed to be watching me.  I'm so disappointed in you, Momma.

His first black eye :(

Honestly, I think it looks worse than it is.  He only cried for a minute or two.  I've seem him get far more upset over seemingly less serious injuries.  He got over it pretty quickly, but I didn't.  It hurts my heart to look at his poor little face right now!  I suppose I'm going to need to get used to it though.  I doubt this will be the last black eye he ever gets, probably not the last we'll see during todderhood :-/

On Saturday we visited the farmers market.  Still a little early for a lot of produce, but we did pick up some local grassfed beef and a few plants - basil, cilantro, and 2 zucchini.

Mark worked on stuff outside and mowed the grass.  All of the plants we have are planted now and Mark built a second small raised bed to go with the one that we had last year.

On the left is the new box with 2 zucchini plants.  We're probably going to add a few smallish plants to the front half of the bed, but not sure what yet.  The bed on the right is filled with 5 tomato plants, which my Dad brought back from a recent trip to Tennessee.  We had plants from the same nursery last year and they did beautifully.  Hoping for more success this year!

And here are my little herb plants:

I think I'm just going to stick with Basil and Cilantro this year.  Those are the herbs that I cook with the most anyway and last time I tried to grow herbs it didn't work out very well.  If these do well this year I'd love to grow some more varieties next year!

Mark also fixed my laundry line.  Apparently he didn't dig the hole quite deep enough when he put it in last year and after leaving it to fend for itself over Winter when we should have taken it down and the weeks of rain also known as "Spring" around here, which flooded our backyard it was looking very sad.  It was leaning really far to the side and if I hung stuff on it unsupported it would literally just fall over.  Line-dry FAIL.  I was able to use it by propping it up with a patio chair for stability, but now that the ground has finally dried out Mark was able to actually fix it and I have a nice sturdy clothesline now!

Bad cell phone pic, but this is how my clothesline started the Spring.  It got worse from there.  Timmmmmber! 

Much better!

Jack spent some time walking around exploring the backyard.  This is one of the first times we've let him in the yard because well... it rained for about 6 weeks straight in Ohio and even when there was a break in the rain and we could get outside the backyard was a swamp.

He's still trying to figure out how to navigate the rougher terrain of the outdoors.  This was pre-mow so the grass was a bit long and of course the yard isn't perfectly flat like he's used to walking on everywhere else.  He has to learn how to pick his feet up more when he walks.  He's starting to get the hang of it, but he's getting some help from DaDa here. 

Sunday, I went grocery shopping for the week and visited Half Priced Books to pick up some new reading material for Jack.  I'm sure it's hard to believe but we needed some new blood in our stack of books because I'm a wee bit tired of reading the same stories 50 times an hour.  They were having a 20% off everything sale so I got some great deals!  Later that evening, after his nap, Jack and I went out to my parent's house for dinner while Mark stayed behind and cleaned the carpets.  They were in desperate need of a good cleaning and are in a much improved condition now.

Monday, we went to Kohl's and got Mark a few new clothing items, Jack got some sandals that he hasn't yet figured out how to walk well in, and I got some new tennis shoes because I hated the ones that I had. 

I kept telling myself that I'd like them more after they were broken in a bit.  Intermittent wearing over the last year or so is probably sufficient enough breaking in time and I still hated them.  I'm angry at Nike because clearly they make goofy fitting shoes.  My new tennies are pretty - they have pink laces! - even if I did have trouble choosing between this pair and one other and Mark and Jack were rushing me.  You can't rush this type of decision.  I was probably rushed when I picked out my last pair and that didn't work out so hot. 

Jack finished off Memorial Day in the right way, with a dip in his pool for this first time this year!  The last time he was in this pool he couldn't even sit up on his own yet!

When I first put him in he was excited and he plopped right down and I guess the water was still too cold because he freaked out :(  Whoops!  I felt it with my hand first and we had it sitting out in the sun, but how it feels on your hand is a little different than how it feels when you're sitting in it!  So, I had to drain out some of the water and add a teapot's-worth of boiling water and then all was fine.  Once he realized I wasn't trying to dunk him into too cold water again he had a great time!

Oh, and also, this didn't happen this past weekend, but two weekends ago I finally sold my pre-baby car.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I'm sad to see it go, which is silly because I literally have not driven it in about a year.  It's been stored at my parent's house and we tried to sell it last summer, but it was a whole process because I was still paying it off (Note to self: avoid car loans in the future.  They're a pain the rear.) so, we decided to hang on to it until it was paid off.  We finally got things in order and paid it off a few months ago, and then the car needed some TLC because it had been stored for a while AND THEN we finally put it up for sale and found a buyer and now it's gone.  I'm glad to have the money though.  The money is going to do a lot more for us than a car that I can't drive on a regular basis and has just been sitting around for a year!  I'm still sad to see it go.  I'll get over it though.

And we're trying to get a family vacation planned for this year.  I don't know if this is brilliant or insane.  Possibly a little bit of both, but people go on vacation all the time with toddlers, right?  Right.  So... we'll see what happens.

Whew!  So that's what we've been up to recently!  Because it hasn't been raining I've been outside as much as possible.  Jack loves to take walks and I enjoy sitting outside in the sun for a while reading while Jack's taking his nap.  I'm really enjoying the nicer weather!  Of course it's face of the sun hot now, but it's better than endless rain!

Jack just turned 15-months-old (crazy!) on Saturday.  Stay tuned because I'm going to get an update posted soon with copious amounts of pictures detailing what Mr. Jack has been up to lately!