Saturday, October 30, 2010

Whole Wheat Egg-Free Muffins

Here's a recipe for egg-free muffins (B has an allergy). In the interest of full disclosure, they are not the best muffins I've ever made. The texture isn't quite tender enough, but they taste good and the kids ate them up. Bonus: the nutritional value of the whole wheat flour cancels out the sugary-badness of the chocolate chips.
You know this was originally a recipe from Betty, with a few modifications.

1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Add everything to a big bowl and mix just until flour is moistened (these muffins aren't tender by nature, so don't over mix or you'll end up with briquettes).  Divide amongst 12 muffin cups with paper liners and bake for 20-25 minutes. Ahhh egg-free perfection for the allergic child in your life.

Here's the wee one last Halloween - check out the bulb syringe - over-cautious mama!

Curry Butternut Squash Soup

This is a Crock-Pot recipe. (And by "recipe" I mean "guesstimate, approximate, and taste" - sorry - that's how we roll in my kitchen)

1/2 of a butternut squash (I bought the pre-peeled-and-seeds-removed halfie available at the grocery store)
1/2 large yellow onion
1/2 green pepper
2 stalks of celery
2 handfuls baby carrots (a little over a cup)
3 cloves garlic (smashed)
1 can coconut milk
2 tsp green curry paste (I think red might have been better, but we didn't have any)
4 sprigs thyme
a few shakes of garlic and onion powder
salt and pepper
enough low-sodium chicken stock to just cover the veggies (you can always add more later)

Cut all the veggies into chunks, add your spices and liquids and cook for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high. Then comes the fun part, whip out your immersion blender. Puree thoroughly. Add additional chicken stock to achieve your perfect consistency.
We served it with a dollop of sour cream, and of course a chunk of that great Honey Wheat Bread.

Who takes photos of soup? Here's a cute one of hubs and B.

Honey Wheat Bread

This is a bread machinerecipe. Add all the ingredients into the pan (liquids first, yeast last).

1 cup plus 2 tbs room temperature water
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbs wheat bran
2 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup bread flour
2 1/2 tsp yeast (for bread machines)

I use the "dough" cycle and then transfer to a bread pan for a final rise (about an hour). Then bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
This was a recipe from my sister so I don't know where it originates (Hey Liz - leave a note in the comments).

I do not have a photo of this bread, so here's an amusing photo of J eating a giant pretzel.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I do it myself!

My two boys could not be more different.

If left to his own devices, my oldest would still let me feed him from a spoon. He shows no interest in picking out his own clothes, or in putting them on himself. For the most part, he follows rules and is fairly compliant with grooming and dressing. He likes to watch things carefully before he tries something for himself. By the time he's ready to try something new - he's already mastered it in his mind.

And then there's his brother.

If left to his own devices, my youngest would rule the world like a crazed, ego-maniacal, despot. If you've ever read The Boss Baby you'll know what I'm talking about.

He's already declared a complete embargo on assisted feeding. He'll do it himself or he'll scream bloody murder go hungry in outraged defiance.

Applesauce. Messy. Sticky. Sloppy. Fruit flies everywhere, rejoice.

He even insists on solo sippie cup handling, even if it means he walks around sucking air 90% of the time.

Rockin' the pink sippie. Thanks Auntie A and Uncle N!

In an effort to stem the tide of complete food-related chaos that is consuming the floor under the dining room table, we have instituted the use of a child-themed tarp. Perhaps the term drop-cloth is more appropriate. Either way, it beats scrubbing the floor three times a day.

I think it adds a nice touch to the decor, no?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Things I hate

 Here's an uplifting blog post!

Sorry, but it's been a challenging week over here, and there's just a few things I have to get off my chest.

I hate it when the sponge gets smelly.

You look so innocuous sitting there, sponge. But you're not fooling me, not this time.

I hate looking for things which are: 1) not mine 2) of vital importance 3) missing by no fault of mine.

Can you spot the binky in this picture?

I hate finding my coffee mug in the microwave, hours later.

There's just something so sad about that mug, sitting there, waiting for me.
"Hi Mom! I've been waiting here for you. All. Day."

 I hate the empty wipes container that strikes when the poopy diaper is already opened up, and the squirmy one-year-old smells my fear.

Where IS that fairy that refills the wipes container?

The only thing I hate more than the empty wipes container is that desperate moment when the diaper stash spot is empty AND the diaper bag is astoundingly empty as well and I have to dash upstairs to "main diaper storage" to obtain a diaper before my naked toddler realizes he can pee on the floor.

For shame, diaper bag! I never would have expected this of you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nutrition by good intention

Very often in this house vegetables make their way from the kitchen

My hubby thinks I leave cabinet doors open as booby-traps for him, but as you can clearly see - I do it even when he's not around

to the kids' plates

Note the pile of broccoli on the napkin to the left of the plate.

to the trash (we're going to start composting, I promise!)

With hardly a nibble removed.

That being said, my boys do not appear malnourished.

Come on! Those cheeks!

Therefore, it is my theory that we, as parents, are able to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals by simply offering the vegetables. They do not necessarily have to be eaten by the child to do the job they were intended to do.

What is this hogwash, Melissa? I hear you thinking. But, hear me out.

If you put healthy food on the plate and you eat some of it yourself, I firmly believe some sort of magical osmosis occurs, between your good intentions and the child's body - completely bypassing the digestive system.

How else do you explain my sturdy and robust almost-3-year old who has survived on milk, goldfish and fairy dust for the past 20 months or so?

Magical Osmosis. That's what we're going with in this house.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reading: The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison

The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoiris an amazing book which I first heard about over at Trains, Tutus and Teatime. It is the second "motherhood" book written by Katrina Kenison and I can't wait to hit the library for Mitten Strings for God. This book describes a tumultuous period in the life of this family - adolescence combined with moving. What I loved most about this book is the sense of perspective this mom was able to provide for me. She waxes nostalgic about the very period of her life that I am currently living - long, tiring days with two young boys. As she describes the family's journey through the adolescence of her boys I found myself thinking seriously for the first time about my own boys and the fact that they will, in fact, grow up one day. I was shocked to consider that I too will pine for these simple days, as difficult as they are for me right now. 
"It's hard for me to believe that all of this has vanished, that those times are truly gone for good. How fresh and green they are, still, in my memory--the intense, constant physical intimacy as well as the countless peanut-butter sandwiches, bedtime stories, earaches and scraped knees, baking soda volcanoes, snowball fights, trips to town for ice-cream cones. Yet I am grateful to have had all of those moments, for they are the ones that have turned out, in the end, to be the most precious recollections of all, through they went unrecorded, unwritten, unremarked on at the time."
Wow. That's me right now. Living and surviving and not even realizing how beautiful these moments are, and how very short.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Last week's bad day

Today was a bad day. I mean a really, really bad day.

The wee one was up twice during the night and then up again too early to start his day, resulting in both of us feeling quite overtired and grouchy.

The big one was disgruntled to wake and find the wee one up already, since the early morning is the only mom-and-B-alone-time we usually manage to find.

There were four poopy diapers between 6:30 and 8:30am. One requiring a complete outfit change for the littlest.

Generalized crankiness was the mood of the morning. There was a lot of bickering over toys, falling down and scraping of knees and elbows. Screeching for my attention, and the endless, "Uppa!" ("pick me up, mama) from the wee one (who does, in fact, weigh 20+ pounds).

There were a few incidents of hitting, and several of pushing.

There was a lot of crying.

In the end, I loaded them into the car and went to the gym - foisting them upon my beloved gym childcare providers saying, "Good luck, they're HORRIBLE today".

I was a bad mama today. Too harsh. Too much yelling. Too much scolding, not enough understanding. Not an ounce of patience. Grouchy and cranky and (did I mention?) tired. Now that they're FINALLY napping, the guilt settles down.  My voice replays in my mind, and I wish I had been kinder, gentler, easier. I wish I had remembered to breathe.
I feel restless yet exhausted. I can't relax, but can't bring myself to attempt to get anything done. I am frustrated with myself, the kids, the dirty house, the endless piles of laundry, and myself. Did I mention myself?

Unable to get out of my own head, I break out: The Duo

Crock Pot and Bread Machine. You'll have to imagine the super-hero capes
 Soup (curry butternut squash) and Bread (honey whole wheat).

A few minutes spent chopping vegetables and measuring flour. A settling begins in my frazzled mind.  The endless stream of little frustrations and the guilt-laden thoughts begin to grow just a notch quieter as I work.

I am not the perfect mama. No where near the mama I thought I'd be. This is harder than I ever imagined it would be. I'll take a measure of comfort wherever I can find it.

A bowl of hot, spicy soup. A slab of warm bread. A good night's sleep.

Tomorrow's another day to try again, to find some measure of patience. To be the mama I can be, even if it's not the mama I feel I should be.

And when I fall hideously short again, I'll shine my soup-ladle-spotlight into the sky (like the bat signal - get it?) and The Duo will come to rescue us again.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A few of our favorite things

If left to their own devices, my children would play with the strangest collection of (occasionally dangerous) household items.

Empty Breadcrumb Can
This thing is an unbelievable hit. Not only is it an effective drum, but it rolls like nobody's business and scares the heck out of the cat.

Baby Monitor
This delightfully dangerous item poses both an electrocution AND a strangulation hazard. No wonder my little cherubs are so endlessly drawn to it.

Here we are with a poison hazard! Beloved Husband uses some frightful chemical to keep these scum-free, the warning label of which gave me terrors for weeks.

Breast Pump Parts
Reminiscing? I doubt it. The kid just likes chewing plastic.

Kitchen utensils
You name it. If it's within reach - it's fair game.

The "whist"

 The "mashah"

The "spa-choo-lah"

Save your money this Christmas, gang. Random recyclables, kitchen utensils, and small appliances are all these two want under the tree. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our poor neighbors

A few visiting muscians, jamming steel-drum-band style.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Someone loves his blankie.

Yes, he's playing with an empty can of breadcrumbs.

He walks with it clutched in his wee baby hand.

Love, love, love baby-fat knuckle dimples.

Putting it down only for cuddle breaks.

Sadly, though he loves it dearly, it does not improve his already tenuous ability to walk without injury.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bad Mama moments: Gross and Painful

Inadvertent Yogurt

Warning: this is gross.
The other day while I changed the sheets on my bed, B came clambering out from beneath the bed and declared, "You found da milk!" and raised a sippie cup to his lips.
Now, I knew that his current sippie cup of milk was safely stored in the fridge and it only took me a fraction of a second to realize this was not going to be pretty.
"Nooooo...." I cried, and lurched toward him, unsuccessfully attempting to vault over a tangled mess of sheets.
Too late.
For the next few days, every time B spotted a sippie cup he'd ask, "Is dat da nasty milk?"
Hey - it's not called Good Mama Moments, ya know.



This past weekend B and I were outside raking together. A lovely, cool October evening.
He had his rake and I had mine. He even managed to put a few handfuls of leaves INTO the wheelbarrow! Working, chatting, playing. It was all very Enjoying The Small Things
That is, until I bent over to pick up a handful of yard debris and he hit me squarely over the back of the head with his (full sized) rake. He brought it straight up over his head lumberjack style - as if he was splitting wood and I was the unfortunate log.  

Friday, October 15, 2010

Burgeoning brotherhood

You hope they're going to love each other. Be best friends. Stand up for each other.
You imagine fort-building, and football. Cruising for girls and best man speeches. You hope and you imagine. And then you watch it start to happen and you are staggered. Rocked right to the core by the sweetness and purity and the beauty of brotherhood.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

An ode to baby hair

I know that very soon this baby will have his first hair cut and it will be time to say goodbye to his baby hair.

Goodbye to wispy, soft strands of blonde (?)

Goodbye to Dr. Seuss style curls

Goodbye to gravity-defying static

 Did I mention that neither parent is blonde?

 Goodbye cowlicks and wings.

I know his hair will never be the same once we cut it. All of a sudden he'll be a big boy. He'll be cute in a new way, but I'll always miss his baby hair.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Being me

These two photos absolutely capture what it's like to be me lately

I take a step, and there he is.

I look down, and there he is.
The wee one has been a bit clingy as of late. Perpetually attached to my leg. This is a challenging phase for me, and frustration runs high.
One moment he runs from me as fast as his be-robeezed feet will carry him (usually into some dangerous situation) and then he clings to me for dear life when all I want to do is make dinner.
I know, I know. Enjoy it while it lasts, mama. He will grow up faster than I can imagine. I try to remember that and breathe when the clinging makes me feel claustrophobic. It is hard to stay present with him. To accept that these pudgy baby hands will eventually stop hindering my ability to walk.
It is impossible to imagine that I will pine for these days, even though I know in my heart it's so very true. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

The mother of all pumpkin bread

Tis the season...
Pumpkin Bread Season!
Time to break out The Cookbook

Most everything I know about cooking and baking can be credited to this book. It's an older edition Betty Crocker's Cookbook, copyright 1969, printed in 1971. I found it at a flea market and (as you can see by the nonexistent binding) it has been very well loved. The text inside is priceless. Here's a quote:
"Basic Eggs. The man you marry will know the way he likes his eggs. And chances are he'll be fussy about them. So it behooves a good wife to know how to make an egg behave in six basic ways. And here they are, with helpful hints."

I love it. Though the marital advice may be questionable, the recipes are always fool-proof classics.

The quick breads page. Splattered, stained and crusty.
Pumpkin Bread (adapted slightly from Betty's original)
2/3 cup butter
2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 can (1pound) pumpkin
2/3 cup water
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp each cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves
1 16oz bag chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9x5x3 inch loaf pans and line the bottom of the pans with greased parchment paper.
In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in eggs, pumpkin and water. Blend in flour soda, salt, baking powder, spices. Stir in chocolate chips.
Pour into pans. Bake about 70 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

The batter is thick like brownie batter.

Perfection improved with butter

This bread freezes perfectly if well wrapped in plastic and tinfoil.
The original recipe calls for 2/3c nuts and 2/3c raisins, but I went for the chocolate. Also the original recipe only calls for cinnamon and cloves, but I like the additional spices - it becomes a little gingerbread-meets-pumpkin-bread, but it's subtle and (in my humble opinion) oh so good.