Monday, September 30, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 29th

Another weekend quickly passed.

On Friday, the kids and I took a little field trip to a car dealership to pick up a part for my car.  Oh yeah, earlier in the week my car got a serious illness in that it decided to suddenly stop working requiring a $70 tow and roughly $300 in parts to fix.  Lovely.  It could have been much worse and lucky for me my dad was able to make the repair.  Huge thanks to him!  The visit to the dealership was definitely the highlight of car-obsessed Jack's week.  He's still talking about it.

Saturday, I finished up a project for Molly's room that I've been working on for a few weeks now.  I'm super excited with how it turned out!  Pics to come soon.  We also moved the furniture around in Molly's room, but it's still not right.  Mark is super excited to move things again.

Sunday, we visited my parents and shuffled cars around so that I could get my car back.  Jack and I did some grocery shopping and then it was home to wash and fold a mountain of laundry while watching the series finale of Breaking Bad.  Ermahgerd.

This week is kind of huge in that I'm leaving my babies for 4 days (I'm trying not to think about it) to take a birth doula training workshop.  It's a huge step in the certification process and lucky for me it's offered locally, but it's 38 1/2 hours over the course of those 4 days so pretty intense.  (Oh hey, I'm working on becoming a DONA certified birth doula!)  I'll be gone first thing in the morning and won't get home until pretty late in the evening each of those days.  It's going to be really strange, but they're in good hands as Mark will be taking over child care for those days.  Good luck to him!

Sunday:  BBQ Cheddar Burgers with Caramelized Onions with Zesty Oven Fries

Monday:  Tomato Avocado Grilled Cheese (totally slapping some bacon on this.  It's begging for a couple slices, yes?) with Chips and Fruit

Tuesday:  Chipotle-Inspired Chicken Burritos

Wednesday:  Buffalo Chicken Pizza - carried over from last week

Thursday:  At parents' house

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Leftovers/Freezer Meal

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tried & True Recipe: Whole-Wheat Oatmeal Bread

This is an awesome recipe for hearty, flavorful, whole-wheat bread.  It's great for sandwiches and makes the best toast!  I always try to have some on hand.

Whole-Wheat Oatmeal Bread
Originally from Good to the Grain.  As seen on Seeded At The Table

1c Water
1c Milk
1T Yeast
2 1/2 c Whole-Wheat Flour
2c Bread Flour
1c Rolled Oats (a.k.a. Old-Fashioned, just not the quick cook stuff)
scant 1T Salt
1T Honey
2T Molasses
4T Unsalted Butter, melted

Warm water and milk.  Add yeast to liquid mixture and set aside to bloom.  Meanwhile, add remaining ingredients to mixer fitted with dough hook.  Add liquid/yeast mixture.  Turn mixer to medium speed and allow dough to knead ~8 minutes.  

Leave dough in bowl and set aside, in a warm spot, covered with a towel to rise until doubled (~1hr).

Shape loaf and place in a greased bread pan.  Cover and set aside, in a warm spot, to rise until doubled (~50mins-1hr, you don't want to over-rise or it will create holes in your bread)

Pre-heat oven to 400-degrees.

Bake bread for 30-40 minutes (until when tapped it sounds hollow).  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.  Remove bread from pan promptly.


I recommend waiting several hours/overnight to slice the whole loaf.  I also recommend storing slices in the freezer if you're not going to be using them within a day or two.  Homemade bread doesn't have preservatives like the store-bought stuff so it doesn't stay fresh for long.  You can take frozen slices and pop them right in the toaster for some great, fresh toast!

A note about the bread pan: when I first started making this recipe I was using a "regular" bread pan.  It made HUGE slices.  Not the worst problem, but we use this a lot for toast and it didn't fit so well in the toaster!  So I bought a long, skinny bread pan and it makes better size slices.  I have to cook for more like 30 mins with the oven rack lowered to the bottom third position with the long skinny pan.  And I only allow it to rise for 50 minutes before baking, otherwise it ends up rising too much, which creates holes in the loaf.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 22nd

Last week I was talking about hanging onto the last bit of summer, but it's on now.  Fall is here!

Sunday:  Parents' house

Monday:  Salsa Verde Chicken Soup (I'm going to make this is the Crock Pot)

Tuesday:  Roasted Tomato Caprese Sandwich with Chips and Fruit

Wednesday:  Stuffed BBQ Pulled Pork Sweet Potatoes with Green Beans

Thursday:  Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Game day apps

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Monday, September 16, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 15th

Even though this cooler weather we're experiencing has me thinking of comfort meals and soup I intend to take advantage of the grilling weather we still have available!  Contrary to what some might think as evidenced by excessive talk of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, fall-scented candles, and the apple-flavored recipes I've seen all over the place recently (all of which I enjoy as much as the next girl!) it's still summer for one more week and I'm happy to put off those fall things for a little while longer!

Sunday:  Smoked Ribs with Corn Pudding and Southern-Style Green Beans

Monday:  Grilled Chipotle Chicken Tacos with Chips and Salsa

Tuesday:  Locally-produced Brats with Cheesy Potatoes

Wednesday:  Maple-Bacon Beer Burgers with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Thursday:  Leftovers/Freezer Meal

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Game Day Apps

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Jack's First Day of Preschool!

I'm kind of in denial that my baby is in preschool.  Obviously I'm going to have to stop denying it as I'm going to be dropping him off at school two times a week, every week over the coming months.

Huge, I tell ya.

He LOVES his "packpack".  It has tractors, trucks, airplanes, trains, and firetrucks on it.  All of his favorites!

This whole thing kind of snuck up on me.  We toured the school he's attending as a family moooonths ago (because these sorts of things fill up quickly.  I'm a procrastinator by nature and that's probably one of the biggest things I need to work on as a mother.  Procrastination doesn't work.  You have to plan 6+ months in advance to book birthday parties, sign up for school, apparently you have to start buying Christmas gifts in July and making Halloween costumes in August.  Anyhoo...), filled out the required paperwork, paid the registration fee, then I promptly pushed the whole thing to the back of my mind.

When we first arrived the kids got some free play and Jack settled right in.

Over the coming months I was caring for two kids, one in the midst of 3-year-old insanity, and the majority of my worries regarding Jack attending school centered on the potty training issue.  The school really wants the students to be potty trained to attend and with Jack not only not being potty trained but actively hating and resisting the idea of it, I just really wasn't sure how things were going to shake out.

He gravitated toward the vehicles, of course.  While we were waiting to enter the classroom he was already talking about what kind of trucks they would have to play with.

A few weeks before the start of his program we tackled potty training head on.  After a very rough couple of weeks Jack is now doing really well with the potty!  More on this later.  He's still not 100% trained, but we've come a very long way.

They even have Mack and Lightening McQueen!

Mark and I attended Jack's orientation 5 days before his first day of school (and only a day after he started actually using the potty, oy.) and while I was sitting there listening to information about the program and what he would be doing while at school, it suddenly hit me.  Oh. my. goodness. this is actually happening.  Jack is going to start school and two days a week he will be in someone else's care for 2 1/2 hours.  Learning new things, meeting new people, and expected to follow instructions and conform to structure.  He is never going to be home with me all day, every day again as he's on the precipice of his entire school career.  Big stuff!

A little circle time.  At first he was a little hesitant to sit with the other kids while I stayed in the back of the room, but he got over it quickly.  He was so excited about everything he had trouble holding still and announced to everyone mid-story time that he was wearing Finn McMissle underwear today and that he was SO happy that his mama came to school with him today!  Hahaha!  He was quite the chatterbox all day.

The great thing at his preschool program is they have a parent stay with the kids for the first day.  This gave him a chance to experience preschool with me nearby and it gave me a chance to see what his days will be like and how he'll interact while he's there.

Lined up and waiting patiently for a potty break.  He even used the potty at school, which was huge!  I didn't know how he would react to using the potty there.  He's not used to going anywhere but at home, but he did it!

Jack did so great on his first day!  He was so excited to go to school and he really did well following instructions and interacting with the other kids.  He was excited about school before, but now that he sees what it's really about I think he's even more excited!

Doing some fun activities!  Coloring Cat in the Hat.

And painting an apple green.

When we would talk about school before he would say he wanted to go, but that he wanted me to go with him.  I would explain that I would be there for the first day, but that he would be going on his own after that.  He would just keep saying he wanted me to be there too.  When we were leaving yesterday we had the conversation again, but this time when I reminded him that the next day he went it would be by himself he just said, "okay".  My baby is growing up.

And hi, I was there too :)  This was during music time.  Jack really liked that too.

I know this is going to be a really great experience and I'm so excited for him.  Who knows, maybe it will be good for me too.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Molly - 7 months

Better late than never!  Molly hit 7-months-old on August 23rd.

She's still a very happy girl and relatively content most of the time.  We've definitely hit a fussier, clingier stage and I suspect it's due to a little bit of separation anxiety and teething.

Sleep hasn't been so great, but it could be worse.  She still goes to sleep pretty easily most times, but nap lengths are pretty unpredictable and she's been waking quite a bit at night.  She's been in her own room for a few weeks now and it hasn't seemed to impact her sleep either way, which is a good thing, I guess, even though some improvement would have been welcome :)  Moving her was definitely bittersweet.  While it's nice to have our room back to ourselves, and I know she was ready for her own space, I certainly miss her sleeping close to me.  She transitioned very well though and I do think she's ultimately more comfortable in her new digs.

Right now she tends to wake up around 7-8am, takes her first nap around 9-10am (~2 hours after waking).  She will sleep anywhere from 30 minutes-1 1/2 hours and typically falls somewhere in the middle of that range.  She takes her second nap about 3 hours after she wakes from her morning nap, which typically puts it around 1-2pm (again, she will sleep anywhere from 30 minutes-1 1/2 hours, typically around an hour-ish) and then she goes to bed between 7-7.30pm, which is hopefully about 4 hours (sometimes a bit longer) after she wakes from her second nap.  She's consistently on a 2 nap a day schedule at this point.  Some days (especially if it's a longer than 4 hour stretch until bedtime) she'll get pretty tired around dinner time, but at this point putting her down for a third nap just doesn't work out so well so we don't even try and just hold out until bedtime.

Now... overnight.  For probably 2  months now she's been waking at least once overnight.  The last couple of weeks she has been up more frequently than that, up to 3 times overnight and sometimes once even before Mark and I go to bed for the night.  It's often.  I really think it started with a growth spurt where she was waking once to get some food in her tummy and then escalated from there due to teething discomfort.  However, other than the night wakings she hasn't shown super obvious signs of teething.  After a couple particularly rough nights I decided it was time to introduce the amber teething necklace.  It might be a coincidence, but the day after I put the necklace on her (not the same night, the following night) she slept clear through the night and has slept through the night for 3 nights in a row now (::knocks on wood hoping I didn't just jinx it::).  I like to believe in the magical amber!  I do hope it's because she's more comfortable.  We'll see what happens.

She's eating anywhere from 4-8oz of formula at a time.  She typically eats upon waking and before going to sleep.  I feel like in the last handful of days she's been more frequently taking 5oz than 4oz at a feeding, so that's good.  I'm sure that's probably helping her nighttime sleep too.  I think that might be happening because I switched her from a stage 2 to a stage 3 nipple.  She was still eating fine from a stage 2, but she had a few days where she was particularly fussy with food and wasn't taking much at all during a feeding so I thought it would be a good time to try out a stage 3 nipple and it has seemed to help.  Maybe she was bored with the slower flow.

Eating chicken, strawberries, and avocado

Molly is doing awesome with solid foods.  She's still exclusively doing baby-led weaning and this girl loves her food.  She has tried all sorts of things at this point.  Notable favorites seem to be sweet potatoes, chicken (yeah, chicken!  It's crazy.), and bananas, and she seems to love pretty much any fruit you put in front of her.  She does really good with everything though.  She's eating all sorts of things and gets really excited for meal time.  She eats dinner every night, I've started to introduce lunch to her as well, but need to become more consistent with it.  We tried out a sippy cup of water one night and it was a disaster.  It was just a distracting toy, not something to drink from.  We'll work on it.

She scoots around just enough to get where she wants to go eventually.

This month she has become semi-mobile.  She's not crawling yet, but she's reaching and stretching so far for things that she's gradually scooting herself around.  If you recall, Jack was a scooter, he never crawled.  I think it's because neither of my babies have liked to be on their tummies (when I put them down they just flip right over onto their backs) so it will be interesting to see what happens with Molly.  She has been doing some backwards belly scooting, which I'm sure may just evolve into crawling.

We've been predominately using the Boba lately for babywearing purposes.  It fits her well right now and you can't beat the simplicity of pre-adjusted buckles and straps.  I have gotten some good back carries with the wrap (YAY!) so that's still in use as well.  I really struggled with back-wrapping at first, but I think now that Molly is a little bigger I can finally get my short arms back there (some what :/ ) to properly wrap her up.  I still need a mirror to properly accomplish it though so no back-wrapping in public yet.

This kid is a hair. puller.  She will yank on any hair she can get a hold of, which 98% of the time, of course, is mine.  Ouch!  I pick her up and she immediately clings to my hair like a little monkey.  She's drinking her bottle and yanking on my hair.  Jack's playing on the ground within reach of her go-go-gadget arms and she helps herself to a fist full.  Luckily I have a lot of hair to spare or I'd probably have bald spots at this point.  It's even worse when my hair is pulled up because then she gets the baby hairs, which hurt REALLY bad!  At least she's... secure?  When I'm holding her.  We can move out of this hair pulling thing any time now.

Lately Molly has introduced new babbling sounds.  She loves to "talk" and "sing" and her favorite babble term right now seems to be DA-DA-DA-DA-DAAAAA!  Of course, she would say "dada" first ;)

Due to her interest in everything she can get her hands on and her semi-mobility, pictures this month were difficult to come by.  Most of them look like this:

So begins the challenging portion of photographic documentation.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 8th

Another fun weekend in the books.  We had some friends over to watch football on Saturday and this happened:

Buckeye Brownies
Sure did.  And yes, they are insanely delicious.

We have a big week this week as Jack starts preschool (eek!)!

Somehow we ended up with lots of leftovers in the fridge so we'll be eating leftovers for a couple of days.

Sunday:  Leftovers

Monday:  Leftovers

Tuesday:  Jalapeno Cheddar Chicken Burgers with Guacamole with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Wednesday:  Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

Thursday:  Leftovers/Freezer Meal

Friday:  BBQ Chicken Pizza

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Go Bucks!

Molly's got her game face on!  Be afraid, be very afraid.  

Friday, September 6, 2013

Weekend Projects

Happy Friday!  This week went by really fast, but wanted to update with a few projects that we accomplished over the 3-day weekend last weekend.

First, we did MORE rearranging and I think we've finally come up with a working solution for toy storage!  At least for the time being.  Big thanks to Mark for brainstorming with me!

We moved the majority of the toys that used to be in Molly's room (before it was her room) to Jack's room.  Here's what his room looks like right now:

This is where a lot of his toys and some books are now stored.  It seems to be working out well.

Oh, hai Kitteh.

We added these vehicle decals recently and Jack really loves them.  I'm planning to take down the animals the are currently on his wall, but I haven't yet done this because I think Mark's going to have to touch up the paint when I do.  I'm also planning to paint his name letters white and probably get some sort of artwork or something to go above his shelving unit.

Also this weekend, I made Jack a superhero cape.  He has recently taken an interest in superheros and really wanted a red cape.  This was a quick, fun project.  I followed this tutorial, except I turned and top-stitched my cape and then added the lightening and "J" embellishments with felt.

Another quick sewing project accomplished this weekend was a new changing table pad cover for Molly's room.

I'm just starting to turn my focus to decorating her room and it's going to be a lot of fun!

Here's what it looks like now:

Pretty boring at the moment, but we're just starting to get things situated.  She's only been in her room for a few weeks now.  We recently put up her new curtain (ruffles!  Girls are fun :) ) and I have a new hamper and trash can, but we don't really have room for them yet.  I think we're going to end up rearranging the furniture in this room, just have to figure out how it's going to work best.  Right now it's functional, but I don't like the set up very much.  The room is small, not tiny, but the placement of the door, closet, and window kind of make things challenging with the bulky nursery furniture and keeping in mind that things need to be out of her reach once she's (very soon!) able to get around in her crib.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of September 1st

Yeah, it's Tuesday.  But... it's kind of Monday because of the holiday, right?  Okay then, here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday:  BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad

Monday:  Grilled Burgers with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday:  Chipotle-Inspired Chicken Burritos

Wednesday:  Orzo Salad with Tomatoes, Basil, and Feta with Grilled Chicken

Thursday:  Mom's Night Out!

Friday:  Homemade Pizza

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by