Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Eggs and Babes

I know, I know, this post is a few weeks late.  Meh, it happens.  My biggest excuse is that I returned to work and have spent my time restructuring our lives to accommodate the change. Now that I've excused my lack of timely posting, let's get on with it.

Our little town throws an Easter Egg hunt for all the kids on the Saturday before Easter.  This was our first year participating and we took full advantage of the festivities.  We dressed the kids up for the occasion and the weather was perfect for us to walk over. Upon arrival we were directed to our place for the 'hunt' (there was no actual hunting involved as it was just a bunch of goodie filled plastic eggs strewn all over a soccer field).  Miguel and the kids posed for some amazing pictures before the egg race began.  I decided to check out the few shots I snapped of Salem and Piper in their wagon and the family pics I had just taken when I was met with shock and horror; I HAD NO MEMORY CARD!!! Not one of my fantastic snapshots had actually ever existed.  Needless to say, my heart sank into my stomach and I was met with a wave of disappointment in myself.  I have missed quite a few priceless photo opportunities in my children's lives thus far and I was so excited to get some quality memories captured.  After a minute of self loathing, I took a deep breath and captured what I could with the camera on my phone.

Salem was so excited to get started he could hardly contain himself to stay behind the starting line.  When the organizer got on the megaphone and shouted for the kids to "GO!" , Salem took off like a rocket.  In the beginning, he had a nice path with little competition but that changed the closer he got to the opposite end of the field.  All of a sudden there were crazy parents getting a little too involved in the race and pushing the limit on acceptable behavior.  Luckily, Salem had quite a few eggs by that point so we called it quits and headed to the line for the special prizes (silly toys).  While Miguel and Salem waited, Piper and I retrieved our wagon.  Once all the goodies were received, we headed home where I snapped too many pictures of the kids and their loot (I had to compensate for my previous absentmindedness).

Salem couldn't take his eyes off his candy! Ha!
Miguel and I had planned to color eggs with the kids that night, but after his nap Salem informed me that he "had enough Easter" and didn't want to dye eggs.  Miguel was sleeping to prepare for his night shift so I decided to take Piper and Salem to my parents for the afternoon.  Salem loved telling Pop and Grams all about his successful egg hunt that morning.  We stayed for a while then headed home to make dinner and send Miguel off for the night.  As the kids slept, I couldn't stop thinking about hiding eggs around the house for Salem to find in the morning.  I had already boiled a dozen eggs and I figured I could hide the plastic shells from the other hunt too. When I awoke before Salem, the Easter bunny in me came out.  We didn't have a fancy basket with gifts to give Salem, but Miguel had stashed a few candy filled eggs from the day before and had a random hot wheels car in his glove box. plus I had a couple of honey sticks in the cupboard.  The bunny wrote the kid a quick note and as soon as Salem woke up the games began!

We are new to this whole celebrating holidays with children gig and are trying to figure it all out as we go.  In all honesty, we struggled with the idea of celebrating religious holidays when we aren't religious people.  After much discussion, we have ultimately decided to roll with the punches while they are young and when they are old enough to understand, we will explain/expose them to the origins/meanings of each holiday.  I think it would actually be fun to celebrate all the holidays on a given calendar, researching the traditions and customs then embracing them or adding a personal twist.  Imagine the things you would learn and the memories your family would create! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

It's Potty Time!!

Many years ago when I was working in the infant room at a childcare center, I was fortunate enough to assist an amazing teacher named Pushpa.  Pushpa is Nepalese and she taught me things about children, education and life that no American I knew could have.  For some reason, a story she once told me about flying to the U.S. from Nepal with her 9 month old son has always stuck in my head.  She spoke of how her son was already 'potty trained' and flew the whole way with just one 'accident'.  I haven't been able to shake the idea of an infant being able to comprehend the concept of waste elimination since then.

As soon as I found out I was pregnant with Salem , the notion of infant potty training immediately came back to the forefront of my mind.  Being the self-learner that I am, I set out to research this idea.  What I found was a real eye-opener and I realized just how brainwashed we are here in the states.  All around the world people practice what many Americans refer to as, Elimination Communication (EC). 

"Elimination communication (EC) is a practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address an infant's need to eliminate waste. Caregivers try to recognize and respond to babies' bodily needs and enable them to urinate and defecate in an appropriate place (e.g. a toilet). Caregivers may use diapers (nappies) as a back-up in case of misses some or all of the time, or not at all. EC emphasizes communication between the caregiver and child, helping them both become more attuned to the child's innate rhythms and control of urination and defecation. The term "elimination communication" was inspired by traditional practices of diaper-less baby care in less industrialized countries and hunter-gatherer cultures.[1] Some practitioners of EC begin soon after birth, the optimum window being zero to four months,[2] although it can be started with babies of any age. The practice can be done full-time, part-time, or just occasionally."

Having a 'diaper-free' baby sounded like a daunting task, but I was up to it.  After Salem was born, I was all gung ho about getting Salem to use the toilet as early as possible.  I soon realized that it wasn't quite as simple as everything I had read made it sound.  With lots of practice, tons of mistakes, some time and finally allowing myself to relax a bit, we found a way that worked for us.  From birth to about six months, I would simply allow Salem some diaper-free time on a waterproof mat and occasionally set him on a little potty.  Once he could sit up on his own, I started to just sit him on the itty bitty toilet during diaper changes.  Then one day he started to pee in said toilet.  A few days later he pooed in it. Soon he started to make a conscious effort to 'hold it' and communicate with me when it was time to go.  Needless to say, I was ecstatic! After that first poo in the pot, Salem never looked back and I can count the number of dirty diapers I had to change from then on on one hand. He has been out of diapers (except overnight) since around 18 months.*
These are the embarrassing pictures that I will dutifully show my children's future dates.

Now it's Piper's turn and I am proud to announce she has taken to her tiny pot just as quickly as Salem did.  I will spare you the details, but she is equally as impressive as her brother was!  I have read/heard that girls are easier to potty train than boys, so maybe our Piper will be done with the diaper even earlier!  

* Although he has been diaper free during the day for over a year, there have been occasional accidents during nap time.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

This is for Katie:

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

3/4c Whole Wheat Flour
1/2t  Baking Powder
1/2t  Salt
1/4c  Butter- melted
1/2c  Applesauce (I use freshly made applesauce. 1 medium apple=1/2c applesauce)
1/2c  Brown Sugar
1/4c  Turbinado Sugar
2t  Vanilla
3 Flax Eggs (3T ground flax seed + 9T water, stirred and allowed to set for 15min.  I make mine when I begin a recipe. You could easily substitute 3 regular eggs too)
1/4c  Cocoa Powder
1/2c  Chocolate Chips (I made my own using this recipe)
1/2c  Pumpkin Puree (Or canned pumpkin)
1/2c  Walnuts
3/4t  Cinnamon
1/2t  Cloves
1/2t  Nutmeg

Think there are enough ingredients in these things?


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8" x 8" pan.  In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, stir together the butter, applesauce, sugars, vanilla and eggs.  Add the applesauce mix to the flour mix and stir just until all ingredients are moistened.  Split batter in half in two separate bowls.  Add cocoa powder and chocolate chips (if using homemade chocolate chips, keep them frozen until you're ready to use them) to one batter and the pumpkin, walnuts and spices to the other batter.

Pour half of the chocolate batter into the prepared baking pan, followed by half of the pumpkin batter, then the other half of the chocolate and top with remaining pumpkin batter.  Bake on center rack in over for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out nearly clean.  Let cool on wire rack for at least 30 minutes before cutting.  Tip:  Use a plastic knife when cutting warm brownies and the gooey goodness won't stick to the utensil.

Garnished with chocolate chunks and roasted pepitas

March Pumpkins

On Sunday I was craving something sweet and different so I took a container of frozen pumpkin out to thaw and get creative with.  Pumpkin swirl brownies were concocted and promptly consumed.

Finger licking good and chocked full of veggies!
Piper has a new quirky trick where she scrunches up her face and blows air in and out of her nose rapidly.  This move makes my heart smile and I erupt with laughter every time she does it.  She also has a smile that takes her whole body to produce.  I hope the following pictures brighten your day as much as Piper lights up mine.

Squish face

Whole body smiles!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I won!

Katie over at The Red Tin was kind enough to choose little ol' me for a giveaway over on her blog.  When I went to the mailbox on Thursday I was greeted with the sweet smell of lavender.  I wish all of my mail smelled so nice! Not only did Katie send me a handmade lavender sachet, but she also gifted two of her needle felted dolls and some scrap fabrics (which I have already used for a project which I will reveal later).  Thank you Katie for making my week!
Lavender Sachet that Salem wanted to keep smelling

Demon Hare
Demon Hare hugs
Rainbow fabric!

Friday, March 1, 2013

How We Rock a Snow Day

Piper woke me up at 5:30am on Tuesday morning, which is pretty typical.  I decided that since we were awake and the boys were not, that we should get our grocery shopping done first thing.  I mistakenly assumed that Sprouts Market opened at 6:30am, so that's when we arrived.  In reality, the store didn't open until 7am and during that half hour that Piper and I waited in the parking lot, it began to snow.  By the time we finally checked out with our loot, it had snowed an inch. 

Miguel and Salem gleefully greeted us upon our return home and we all settled into our snow day.  Piper was exhausted after our eventful morning and fell deep asleep for her nap.  Salem was so excited about the new snack choices that he threw on his super hero cape and mask and "flew" around the house while munching.  My favorite part of super hero Salem is when he shouts the cutest mispronunciation of his super name, 'Stupid Man' and then makes flying sounds.  It makes my heart smiles every time.
Once he ate an entire container of blackberries and cherry tomatoes, Salem was ready to put on clothes and head outside.  We have a steep little incline in our backyard and with some help from Miguel, a nice mini sledding hill was built for Salem to try.  However, we don't own a sled so I was left to my creativity to come up with one.  I gave Salem a  piece of cardboard to try, but he kept digging into the snow.  After returning to the garage to examine our resources, I spotted my snowboard; what better instrument for sliding down a snowy hill than one that is meant for that exact reason?

Salem LOVED flying down the hill and Miguel continually erupted in laughter as he watched.  The boys played outside until their fingers were numb and then they came in to warm up. While Salem napped, I made a pineapple flax carrot cake with coconut and walnuts, which I served with homemade greek yogurt, blackberries and a drizzle of honey.  Yum!
Piper awoke after a two hour nap happy and hungry, which meant I was glued to the couch for quite a while. During the down time with my girl, I searched for something different and easy to whip up for supper.  I settled on chicken, veggies and noodles in a peanut sauce (using the peanut butter I made from scratch just after returning from the store in the morning).  As soon as I could break away from the famished babe, I prepared a delicious meal and enjoyed it with my family as we reminisced about our amazing snow day.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Piper's Place

Piper never really took to sleeping in her crib very well and tended to wake up more during the night when I put her in there.  Co-sleeping worked better for us anyway since she wakes to nurse.  While I was changing things up for Salem, I figured I should do the same for Piper.  During my research, I read a bunch about Montessori beds for babies, which are the same as they are for toddlers/preschoolers. Many people stated that their babies even slept better once they were on a floor mattress rather than in a crib. We decided it was worth a shot and upgraded Piper's area in our room.
I should learn to take before photos so these changes would seem more dramatic
The mobile I made for Pipes before she was born still works with the new bed and I scored a super cute sheet set for $4.60 on clearance at Target.  That's thrift store pricing right there! I love that if she rolls off the mattress, she can't get hurt.  Since our dear babe will be crawling about soon, I added some books and toys (which I found when organizing Salem's room) to the area to hopefully entertain her.  I have an idea for baby safe wall decor, which I will add at her level soon.  
Piper's vantage point
We swapped beds so I could see what she sees
Piper has been sleeping on her new digs for a week now and she seems to like the room to move about.  I like that when she wakes up at night to nurse, I just go lay with her and then return to my own space when she finishes.  She has also been putting herself to sleep for her morning nap, which was super rare before.
Reading to his sister

All in all, I think the room upgrades for the kids are going to work out.  It will be interesting to watch them grow in their new environments.