Monday, July 29, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 28th

Sunday:  Out with family

Monday:  Leftovers

Tuesday:  Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

Wednesday:  Grilled Burgers with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Thursday:  Beef and Bean Enchiladas with Zucchini

Friday:  Homemade Pizza

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Friday, July 26, 2013

Tried & True Recipe: Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

This is a really lovely salad and a new favorite of mine.  Perfect timing as we're in prime berry season!  It's so delicious because it has a wonderful balance of flavors.  You have the tender greens, bright, juicy pops of flavor from the berries, tang from the blue cheese, crunch from the crisp bacon, a delicious creaminess from the avocado, and it's all perfectly complemented by the sweet, tangy poppyseed dressing.  It's a snap to throw together with seasonal ingredients this time of year and is also tasty with some added grilled chicken to make it a little heartier as a main dish.  Give it a try!

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppyseed Dressing
Inspired by Lauren's Latest

For the dressing:

2T mayonnaise
1/2 T sugar
1/2 T white vinegar
1/8 t poppyseeds
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine ingredients and set aside.

For the salad:

2 big handfuls spinach and spring mix (or all spinach, or all spring greens, or baby kale, whatever you'd like!)
2-4 strawberries (depending on size) sliced (also delicious with blueberries!  I have both in the salad pictured above.)
1 piece cooked bacon, crumbled
1 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese
1/4 avocado, cut into large dice
Diced grilled chicken (optional)

Layer greens with strawberries, bacon, blue cheese, and avocado.  Drizzle with dressing.

Recipe as written yields one full-sized salad with more than enough dressing.  Leftover dressing can be refrigerated for future use.  Recipe can easily be scaled up to serve 2 or more.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Molly - 6 Months!

Wow, that was a quick half a year!

Time just seems to speed by so quickly right now.  I'd like to just slow it down.

This month, Molly hit another Wonder Week and we definitely went through a rough patch.  We had some good days and some fussier days, but sleep has definitely been impacted.  Naps have been all over the place as far as length.  Some days they're an hour, occasionally even closer to 1 1/2 - 2, some days they're 30-40 minutes.

The ease with which she will go to sleep varies greatly as well.  We've had some epic sleep fighting happen this month.  But we've also had times where she just lays down and goes straight to sleep.  There's just no predicting it.  Molly is also waking once overnight for a bottle.  Typically this happens between 4 and 5am, but sometimes earlier, sometimes later.  Definitely could be worse.  Hopefully we should be on the tail end of this so ::fingers crossed:: that things improve a bit here soon.

In big milestone news Molly is definitely sitting up now.  She's still a little unsteady and easily tips if she leans too far in any direction, but she's doing really well.

She had her first taste of food this week, right on her 6 month birthday anniversary.  We gave her some avocado and she seemed interested and liked it okay.  She didn't eat too much, just enough to get a taste really, but did plenty of smushing and mushing and rubbing it all around her tray.  I went into this introduction without any expectations, but she did really well with it.  Definitely more receptive than Jack seemed with his first taste of real food.

Right now, we're planning to use a baby led weaning approach, which essentially just means letting baby feed themselves from the get go.  So, no purees, no spoon feeding.  We just present the food to her and she will introduce it to herself at her own pace.  It's an interesting, and sensible, concept and it seems like there are many benefits.  We'll see what happens!

Skeptibaby is skeptical, but she's now big enough to fit comfortably in the Boba.  It's nice to have a quick on/off option for babywearing.

Molly's schedule is still about the same as last month and she's still eating 4-5oz at a time during the day with a larger 8oz bottle for her first feeding of the day (which has been very early morning/overnight this month).

Attempted her first ride in the stroller at the zoo a couple weeks ago.  She liked it fine, until I was pushing her and she couldn't see me anymore.  Then she was over it.  The ride was very short lived.  It's okay though, I wasn't too crazy about not being able to see her face.  Back up into the wrap she went.  We'll give it some more time.

Still no back-to-front rolling, but she doesn't really seem interested in trying it.  Rolling onto her side seems to be enough for her.

She's very into toys this month.  She's a pro at grasping things and bringing them to her mouth so she loves to shake rattles and chew on new textures.  We've pulled out a handful of toys for her now and she enjoys entertaining herself with them.  She still loves the jumperoo and hangs out happily in her bouncy seat to watch what's going on in the kitchen.  She loves anything Jack does and tries to grab his attention whenever she can.

On to month 7!

(Seriously?!  Half a year!  How did that happen already?!)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 21st

Another busy weekend in the books.

Friday, after Mark got off work I had some running around to do, which is SO much easier sans babies.  I had to exchange one of Jack's new sheet sets because literally the second time I washed them one of the hems fell out completely.  So annoying.  Luckily Target exchanged them without issue, hopefully this new set won't give us problems.  After accomplishing what I was there for I, of course, fell into the black hole that is Target and ended up leaving with an armload of purchases (good ones though!).  Then, I headed to Walmart, which always feels like a punishment, but I just couldn't pass up $10 window curtain panels for the kitchen.  Then, to Kohl's to use a gift card where I spent more on things for other people than I did myself.  It happens.

Saturday, was rainy and we were stuck inside so we buckled down and checked a few things off The List.  Mark put together our new TV stand, which provides additional storage in the family room.  Thus begins phase 2 of rearranging things to make a room for Molly.  Little Miss is coming up on 6 months this week and is going to be moving to her new room accommodations shortly.  While he and Jack worked on that I dug into the office/play room and cleaned out the closet to streamline and make space by purging things that need a new home.  I then moved onto my closet, which was in desperate need of cleaning out.  As a result we now have a roomful of items that are going to be sold via garage sale very soon.  I now have at least 50% more space in my closet though!

Oy. Vey.  It's now a disaster area in Molly's room-to-be, but I guess it has to get worse before it gets better.

Also, through The Great Purge of 2013 I learned that I'm very, very, very bad about cleaning out one purse before moving on to the next.  As a result I literally had 10 years worth of purses to clean out (not every one had a bunch of junk in it though, luckily).  I discovered more pens and lip glosses than I can count, mounds of receipts and movie and event tickets, postal stamps from 2006 that I question whether can even be used anymore (they don't have a monetary value pictured and they're definitely not Forever stamps), and nearly $200 in unused gift cards.  That last bit is just shameful.  On the other hand, I've already earned $200 through this garage sale venture.  BOOM!

Sunday, more working on the door.  Allllllmost done.  The stain ended up not matching so we need to get a different shade so the last few pieces of trim can go up.

On the menu this week:

Sunday:  Jalapeno Cheddar Chicken Burgers with Guacamole with Zesty Oven Fries

Monday:  Grilled Steak with Zucchini Gratin

Tuesday:  Grilled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Wednesday:  Leftovers/Freezer Meal

Thursday:  Mexican Quinoa

Friday:  Apps Night

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 14th

Erm... Tuesday.

Friday we took advantage of the gorgeous (seriously, perfect!  Finally!) weather and Mark's shortened work day to head to the zoo.  Much easier trip with two parents!

Saturday, Mark, my dad, and brother, oh, and Jack too, of course ;) worked on putting in a new sliding glass door in our kitchen.  The door was gifted to us by my parents for our birthday (so excited about this gift!  Our old door has needed replaced for so long, but we kept putting it off for some reason.  It was annoying to open and close because the track was worn out.).

While the boys were working I spent my day with a cranky, overtired, but can't-nap-because-I-might-miss-the-action baby.  Babywearing for the win!

Sunday was day 2 of operation door replacement.  Almost finished!  I had no idea how much work went into replacing one of these things.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday:  Leftovers

Monday:  Chipotle-Inspired Chicken Burritos - carried over from last week

Tuesday:  Breakfast for dinner

Wednesday:  Grilled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Thursday:  Leftovers/Freezer Meal

Friday:  Jalapeno Cheddar Chicken Burgers with Guacamole with Zesty Oven Fries

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tried & True Recipe: Zucchini Tots

Zucchini season is starting!  Soon there will be more zucchini to go around than we know what to do with so this is a great recipe to have on hand!

These Zucchini Tots taste kind of like a light mini-quiche.  They're a great way to use up zucchini and make a fun little side dish.  They're quick and easy to put together (Jack loves to help!) and make a great lunch for Jack (he likes them dipped in ketchup, of course).  He calls them 'Kini Tots :)

Once our zucchini plant (hopefully!) starts producing I'm planning to make up a double or triple batch of these and freeze them.  I think it'll work really well and will be nice to have some on hand for really quick lunches!

Zucchini Tots

1 cup grated zuccini (about 1 medium)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I've used both cheddar and cheddar jack.  I really think any cheese will work!)
1 egg
salt and pepper, to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400-degrees.  Grease mini-muffin tin.

Add shredded zucchini to a towel and squeeze out excess liquid.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Spoon mixture into muffin wells.  Make sure to lightly pack it down as you spoon it in so the tots hold together.  You should get around 12 tots.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, until tops are starting to turn golden brown.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of July 7th

We've had two weeks of scattered showers and thunderstorms and it looks like we'll be getting more of the same at least through mid-week this week.  At least it's not sweltering hot, but the fact that it could rain at pretty much any time during the day makes it hard to plan for much of anything outdoors, including grilling!  Ready for this weather to move out!

Sunday:  Panini with Chips and Fruit

Monday:  Grilled Hawaiian Teriyaki Burger with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday:  Strawberry Avocado Salad with Bacon Poppyseed Dressing

Wednesday:  Mom's night out with friends for me, probably pizza night for the boys!

Thursday:  Leftovers/Freezer Meal

Friday:  Chipotle-inspired Chicken Burritos

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Garden Update

Lots of changes to the garden since I first posted about it.  Everything is growing well, but time will tell how things actually turn out.  It hasn't been too hot here and we've been getting some rain to help with the watering.  We usually tend to have problems later in the year once stuff is actually producing things to eat!

Our zucchini plant (rear) has blossoms on it, so hopefully we will have some zucchini to eat soon!  The honeydew plant (left front) is totally taking over.  There are several blossoms.  I'm interested to see how this turns out as I don't have any experience with melon plants.  The green and jalapeno pepper plants (middle and right front) haven't really done much, but they do look healthy and I think I'm beginning to see tiny pepper buds so maybe we'll see some action from these soon.

4th of July (left rear), Cherry (right rear), and Roma (left front) all have green tomatoes on them and the cherry are starting to turn red.  The bush beans (right front) have lots of little beans on them!  I actually think a handful are ready to be picked.  Maybe we'll have some with dinner tonight! 

And here are our herbs.  (Left to right) Stevia, sweet mint, Italian parsley, and sweet basil.  Everything seems to be growing well.  I've already pinched the basil back once to encourage it to bush out and there are new little stems starting.

Hopefully we get a decent yield.  Jack is really into the garden.  Usually the first thing he says when we go out back is "let's go see the garden".  He likes to talk about the plants and really check them out.

Jack likes to "read the clues" (a.k.a. the little information markers that come with the plants).   Look at that post-lunch belly!  

Last night we picked our first cherry tomato and he thought it was pretty fun to pick and eat it!  There would have been one other cherry tomato ready to eat a few days ago, but someone's little fingers might have been a little too rough while checking out the plants and it fell off a little prematurely ;)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Molly - 5 Months!

This month was pretty smooth sailing.  We seem to have gotten past the 4-month development stuff and we've come out the other side with a very happy, personable baby.  Molly's little personality is really starting to shine and we're enjoying that so much!  She's very social and loves to interact.  She'll do anything she can to catch people's attention.  She's constantly chattering away and loves to experiment with her voice.

Very recently, maybe in the last 2 weeks or so, she has started to show signs of separation anxiety.  It seems a touch early, but I'm pretty sure that's what it is.  She loves to interact with other people as long as she's doing so while being held by daddy or me.  We've had several instances now where people have held her (not total strangers, people she knows, but who aren't around all the time like us) and after a minute or two she realizes she can no longer see me and starts crying.  REAL crying, with tears and all.  It's really sad because she hardly ever cries to begin with so it's obviously pretty upsetting to her.  I'm sure it's just a phase!

Molly is doing lots of playing now.  She likes her play mat still and loooves her Jumperoo.  I know exactly when she wants to get in it because she starts trying to jump while I'm holding her.  She still enjoys hanging out in her bouncy seat and watching what's going on in the kitchen.  She just sits and plays with her rings and whatever other toy we have hooked to her seat and watches what's going on.  Everything goes right in her mouth!  Her favorite toys right now seem to be her rings/links, a monkey that has a bunch of different textures and fun things to chew on, and a little pink stuffed bunny that's a good size for her to play with.

Molly's chub.  Oh goodness is her baby chub adorable!  I just love it!  Right now it seems like every day she wakes up a little bit fluffier.

Chubby baby legs and arms in a romper.  Nothing cuter!

And speaking of baby chub, she has pretty much outgrown the Moby wrap.  It's still technically usable, but as she's getting heavier it's just not supportive enough, which means less comfortable for me, so this month we introduced a woven wrap.  There is quite a learning curve associated with using a woven, but we're slowly getting the hang of it.  She seems to enjoy riding along in the woven just as much though.

This month brought Molly's first cold.  We all had a chest cold for about a week and she caught it too.  Luckily it was just some congestion and coughing, but it's so sad when babies are sick!  She handled it just fine though and was feeling better just as quickly as the rest of us.

I can do it myself!

Right now, Molly is working hard on learning to sit up.  She seems much sturdier at this age than Jack and I think maybe having a little bit heavier base to work with probably helps to steady her!  She's doing pretty well and can sit unassisted for very short periods of time.  She has the strength and is pretty good about balance, but she still topples very easily.  I'm thinking by next month she'll have it mastered!

Leaned a little too far forward... what's that?

Oh, yeah.  My foot!  I'll just grab this.


She also seems to be working on rolling back-to-front.  She rolls over to her side now, but doesn't really seem interested in taking it much further than that.  Plus her arm is in the way and she doesn't seem to have any desire to figure out how to move it so she can actually roll to her tummy.

Her drooliness seems to be abating a little bit, thank goodness!  This likely means that her swallow reflex is kicking in, which means solid foods are on the horizon.  More importantly to me, this means she isn't sporting a bib of drool on the front of her shirts!

Also on a positive note, Molly's blocked tear duct seems to be correcting itself.  I can't remember if I touched on this before, but Molly was born with blocked tear ducts (totally common, it's something that babies usually outgrow.  As they get bigger the ducts open on their own.  Sometimes it has to be corrected with a simple procedure.).  It made her eyes kind of goopy when she was really young, but one corrected itself pretty quickly.  The other stayed blocked, but we think only partially.

What this meant was that one of her eyes was king of watery most of the time.  This can result in eye infections, but luckily for us that never happened, just watery eye.  This can cause problems with the development of the eye though since it causes blurred vision.  The doctors really like to see the duct cleared up by 6 months.  If it's not, they like you to check in with an eye specialist to make sure everything is developing properly.  If it is, they give it another 6 months and hope that everything has corrected itself by a year.  If not, they do a little procedure to open it up.

As we approached that 6 month deadline I was becoming slightly worried that it wasn't going to correct itself.  I didn't want to get into having to worry about the pros/cons of forcing it open with the procedure.  Luckily, this month has brought vast improvement with the blocked duct.  Suddenly, her eye is rarely watery anymore so it seems that the duct is probably opening up.  I don't know if it's 100% open yet, but considering the amount of improvement we've seen I think it's going to be just fine.

Sleeping is going well.  Molly is napping 2-3 times per day.  She doesn't have a schedule per se, but she's definitely into a routine.  In the last week or two she has started waking to eat around 5-6am.  I guess this is a regression for her because that was her overnight eating time for quite a while.  Anyway, she wakes, eats, and then goes back to sleep for a short bit.  This usually has her waking for the day around 7am.  She's ready for her first nap around 9am and sleeps for about an hour.  She takes her next nap around 1pm and sleeps for an hour or so.  Then, a good number of days she takes a shorter nap (usually around 30 mins) about 5pm.  She usually goes to bed for the night between 7 and 7.30pm.  That's probably an average schedule for her, but basically her nap schedule adheres more to the routine of morning wake up, ready for nap ~2 hours later, wake up, ready for afternoon nap ~3 hours later, wake up, cat nap ~3 hours later.  We still feed and sleep on demand, but she has settled naturally into a pretty typical routine for her age.  She's still  okay with napping on the go, which I'm happy about!

As far as eating goes it's the same as last month.  She usually takes 8oz in her first bottle in the morning.  Her other bottles are usually 4-5oz, and then sometimes she takes 6oz before bedtime, especially if she's been awake a longer stretch.

On to month 6!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of June 30th

Whew!  Can't believe it's already July.  Happy birthday week to both Mark and me!  Looking forward to the 4th :)

Sunday:  Grilled Italian Sausages with Mozzarella, Tomato, Avocado Salad and Baked Beans

Monday:  Coconut Shrimp Cakes with Mango Pineapple Salsa

Tuesday:  Grilled Hawaiian Teriyaki Burger with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Wednesday:  Leftovers/Freezer Meal

Thursday:  4th of July!  Mark's and my birthday!

Friday:  Buffalo Chicken Pizza - carried over again

Saturday:  Out

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by