Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lemon Quinoa with Asparagus and Feta

2 cups quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
4 cups asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
8 ounces feta, crumbled
Juice of 1 lemon

Start quinoa cooking according to directions on package. Saute the shallot in a tablespoon of olive oil. When shallot is brown, add in asparagus and thyme. Cook asparagus until tender but still bright green, about 8-10 minutes. Halfway through cooking time, add about a tablespoon of water.

When the asparagus is done, remove the pan from heat and stir in cooked quinoa. Then add feta, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

This should make about 8 servings. Each serving is 6 points and has 11 grams of protein.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kid Funnies

I thought I'd post some of our recent kid funnies, since I need a laugh.

Today, Lachlann cut his head open falling down the steps on our pool deck. I ended up taking him to our doctor's office to get checked out, and after the nurses gave him a once-over, we all stood around waiting for the doctor. Lachlann decided to try his hand at small talk, and said to the nurse, "Did you know that bulls like to attack red? If you have something red, you should use it in a bull fight."

Colwyn had a lot of mispronunciations when he was little, but most of them have disappeared. He's still in the habit of saying shushi and smarshmallows, though he can say them properly when asked.

Both boys like to make up words, and for the longest time, I had no clue where they came from. Star Wars related words - zigging (the lightning that the Emperor uses), augh (Force choking that Vader uses), and hooving. Hooving is when they play Lego Star Wars and switch from one guy to another guy. Well, I can explain augh and hoove - in Lego Star Wars, these are the approximate sounds the game makes.. when Vader chokes a guy, the guy says "Augh!" and when they switch characters, the game makes a sound like "Hoove." Leave it to my kids to turn augh and hoove into verbs, though.

Fiona has a lot of great mispronunciations. "Look-a-meem!" for "Look at me!" Baby soup for bathing suit. Just today she finally learned to say hummus instead of dummus, though she says it more like "Huh-huh-huh-huh-awmus." Oreos are no-e-os, and open is nopen.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Backyard Orchard

Last spring, we planted some fruit trees in our huge, unused side yard - two peaches and two apples. There's already a mature pear tree there, though it rarely fruits. Our baby trees haven't grown much, and I figured we were neglecting them more than was wise (we pretty much haven't touched them at all since we planted them). This is one of our peaches.. all the branches go off to the side of the trunk, and I can't figure out how to fix it. My poor lame peach tree.

So, I was completely shocked when my dad came up to me today after doing some weed-whacking in the yard, and said, "Do you know you have some peaches on your peach trees?"

I can't believe it! Aren't they just so gorgeous? I'm immensely proud of them, which is ridiculous since I didn't do a single thing to help them grow. But this tree has four peaches on it, and the other tree has one. They're teeny, and still hard as a rock, so I don't think they're ready to be picked yet. I wasn't expecting any fruit until next year, and I probably should have prevented the tree from fruiting this year if I'd noticed, but still.. I guess my baby trees are doing okay after all.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

IKEA Fabric

When we were at IKEA a few weekends ago, I fell in love with this new fabric they had. It totally reminded me of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, a favorite story in our house. I bought two yards, intending to make some pillows for our dark brown leather couches.

They're very basic envelope pillow cases to go over pillow forms I bought at Walmart, of all places. Of course, it took me several weeks to find the time to get them done, but I finally managed it yesterday and the kids were thrilled and started playing with them immediately. Not quite what I had planned for them, but that's okay.

I also decided to frame a few pieces of the fabric to put in the playroom. You can see why it reminds me of the Three Billy Goats Gruff:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day Two of Sugar Detox

Today's day two of going sugar-free. I've had some headaches in second half of the day, tons of cravings, and it almost feels like I'm mourning my Ben & Jerry's and peanut butter M&Ms. It's so, so hard.. and it feels like nobody around knows how difficult this is for me. Doug definitely doesn't, but he's still being very supportive. I know I'll feel great soon enough, and I'm crossing my fingers I can last that long. I haven't had any refined sugar. I have had a good deal of watermelon and a handful of Triscuits (with hummus). On a good note, I've discovered the joys of quinoa, which I think will be a new staple in our house, replacing couscous and rice in a lot of our meals.

I made baked oatmeal with apples and cinnamon, omitting the brown sugar.. and it's not so great. It's not bad, but I definitely have to force it down in the same way I had to force down stovetop oatmeal. That's not a new thing for me, so I can deal with it. I figure I'll alternate baked oatmeal and smoothies for breakfast.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sugar Addiction

I've finally admitted to myself that I have a sugar addiction. I crave it all the time, regardless of my mood and/or the crappiness of my day. Even when I'm completely satiated, I want sweets.

Obviously, this has to stop. I've decided to cut out all refined sugar, eat only whole grains, and not a lot. I'm thinking brown rice 2-3 times a week, and maybe a whole wheat tortilla 2-3 times a week. I will still have my baked oatmeal in the mornings because maintaining my milk supply is paramount, but I'll omit the sugar from the recipe. I'm both dreading this and really excited about it.

For research, I check out some books from the library. The New Sugar Busters! Cut Sugar to Trim Fat, Sugar Busters! Quick & Easy Cookbook, and Potatoes Not Prozac: Solutions for Sugar Sensitivity. I also requested The Primal Blueprint, which I'm very excited about. I did some reading on the website that goes with this book, Mark's Daily Apple.

The only book I've started reading so far is Potatoes Not Prozac. I'm not depressed, just stressed, but I figure it can't hurt to read how to boost serotonin levels naturally, right? It's pretty interesting. I did skip the first few chapters, as I didn't think they were really relevant. But what I'm reading makes sense and I'm excited to implement some of her ideas into my life.

So I went to the store tonight and bought some new foods so I can have a no-sugar-added breakfast. I'm planning on a smoothie with Greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, and a tablespoon of coconut oil. Wish me luck.

If anyone has any tips on meals (specifically breakfast, or quick prep) that have no refined sugars and are low grain or grain free, let me know!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Why I Love Family Practice Doctors

Niall and Fiona both had to go to the doctor's office today. Fiona needed a lead test, which means a blood draw. I took her for it when she was a year old; this time I made Doug do it. The fact that the practice doesn't do finger pricks for lead tests is the one thing I don't like about them. She did okay.. I could hear her crying from the waiting room, which got me a bit choked up, but she calmed down pretty quickly. Then Doug took her and the big boys across the street to Richardson's for some ice cream.

Niall's appointment went really well. We usually see Dr. Allara, but he's on vacation so we saw the nurse practitioner, Kate. We've seen Kate a bunch before, and I really like her, so it was no big deal. Our appointment was actually 45 minutes long, if you can believe it. She did her usual baby check (everything great, he's 11 lbs 3 oz and 23ish inches long). Then we talked about pretty much everything from how well we're all coping, Niall's development, his birth and Fiona's, homeschooling, and vaccines, to my breastfeeding issues and birth control choices. The great thing is that she's not just there for him, she discussed my medical needs, as well. It really was more of a chat, with some medical stuff thrown in. She was cool with the homebirthing and homeschooling, and sounded genuinely interested. When I described how we do vaccines (the kids will eventually get them all, but we space them out a lot - Niall just got DTaP today instead of DTaP, Prevnar, HIB, and polio), she was totally okay with it and thought it was a good idea.

When we switched from our old (literally) pediatrician, I had no idea how much of a difference it would make. I miss Dr. Kriteman sometimes, since we have such a long history (he was my doctor and my mother's, as well as my cousins').. but switching to Dr. Allara's office was one of the best decisions we ever made.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kitchen Decluttering

This week I worked on decluttering some of our kitchen cabinets. I recycled a lot of plastic containers and boxed up some dishes and miscellaneous junk to be sold at our yardsale. Here's the before shot:

And here's the after:

Now, opening my cabinets isn't nearly so hazardous.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Respectful Parenting

The kids and I have been craving more socializing lately, so we made plans with a friend to meet up at Lynch Park today. It turned into a big get-together, with two other homeschoolers we know and a new homeschooler joining us. The kids had a fantastic time (Colwyn told me, "It wasn't just great, it was awesome!") and I really enjoyed the adult conversation.

We ended up talking a lot about general parenting philosophies, with an emphasis on radical unschooling. A friend was having trouble with a family member who does RU and it's negatively affecting my friend's children when they're all together. I don't have a problem with radical unschooling in theory, though it's not something we do. I do notice, though, that a lot of RUers tend to be very ego-centric, to the point where they don't take other children's needs into consideration. That seems wrong to me.. if you believe that children have the right to do whatever whenever they want, that their needs and wants are paramount, then that has to include children other than your own.

I remember hearing a mom complaining about how she was at a park with her son, and her son wanted to sit at the bottom of the slide, not letting any other children use the slide. She got into a major altercation with another dad, whose children were waiting patiently to use the slide. This mom felt that her child had every right to sit there as long as he wanted, and couldn't seem to understand that the other children also have every right to use the slide as they want. How would this mom feel if the situation was reversed, and a child was preventing her son from going down the slide? From what I've seen, a lot of parents like this will ask the other child to give in to her child's whim. That's awfully one-sided.

Personally, I really identify with the unschooling philosophy when it comes to education. We're definitely not radical unschoolers, though. Our over-arcing parenting philosophy is to respect our children as people, just the way we do other adults. Our children's needs and wants are just as valid as ours - what I want should never automatically trump what my child wants. Rather, if there's a conflict, I try to use the same techniques I would use if it were an adult friend I was dealing with and not my child.

However, that's not to say that I don't guide and teach my children. I liken parenting to hosting a friend from another culture. I can love my friend unconditionally and still want to teach them the ropes for being a functioning member in our society. I wouldn't let someone drive on the wrong side of the road, nor commit a social taboo, just because I don't want to infringe on their autonomy. I also recognize that I have a lot more experience and knowledge than my children do, and I encourage them to defer to me when I see they're making poor choices based on a lack of knowledge or ability to see the big picture. The point is, I do it respectfully, explaining my reasoning in ways they can understand, so our judgement doesn't seem so arbitrary.

I hear parents say sometimes that they don't need to teach their children manners, sharing, etc, that the natural consequences (not having friends, not being treated well) will do the teaching for them. Personally, I think that's cruel. Why not explain to your children, kindly and lovingly, that behaving in certain ways will make life easier for them? And you know.. some kids just won't get it. I don't think my boys would make the connection at this age that they'll reap benefits from being polite. I'm not going to force my children to say thank you, shake hands, or hold the door open for people, but I do encourage it. And when the bank teller gives them a lollipop for being sweet, or when an elderly woman gushes about how they're such gentlemen for holding the door open, I point it out to them. And I also stand up for my child when a family member gets huffy that he doesn't want to give them a hug - my children have the right to make that decision for themselves.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Delicious Dinner

Trader Joe's sells a Harvest Grains Blend, which is a mix of Israeli style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa. It's pretty healthy.. 170 calories per serving, with 1 gram of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein. I like to serve it cold with some tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and a little olive oil. Tonight it was a side to some catfish that Doug made.

I'm trying to find time to exercise, but it's really difficult. I put my weights next to the changing table, thinking that I can do a set or two after diaper changes. What I'd really love is a treadmill in our room, but that's unlikely. First off, we have no room for it, but with any luck, that will be changing soon. The other problem is that I don't want to spend a fortune. I could try Craigslist, but I worry about getting a crappy one. Anyone have any tips on buying exercise equipment from Craigslist?

Buying a treadmill right now probably isn't a good idea, anyway. We're facing a foreclosure, and while we've hired a lawyer to fight it (the bank is being unreasonable since we can actually make the payments, it doesn't make any sense), there's no guarantee that we'll still be here in a month or six. Who knows how much space we'd have in an apartment. In the meantime, we're struggling to save up for first, last, and security.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Goofy Girl's Car Trip

Fiona is newly 2 years old. She is a very silly girl. Totally adorable, charming, etc.. but a total goofball.

We decided to drive the hour to IKEA today. They were having a big sale, though nothing we bought was actually on sale (I know, I know). We got four sets of Trofast shelves for the kids toys and plan to totally clear out their playroom. Fiona had a great time in the store and was super well behaved. The big deal, though, was that I was really nervous about the drive.. our babies tend to scream nonstop in the car, and while Niall has been more tolerant thus far, I didn't have high hopes for this trip. Luckily, he did great and only needed us to pop his binky in a few times each way. Fiona, on the other hand.. she had me turning back to adjust her AC vent dozens of times, to stop her from chewing on her sandals, to brush off the bag of Cheerio snack mix she'd dumped on her lap, and to do the obligatory tickling.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

And the Winner Is...

I'm pleased to announce that Kathy Emerick has won the reusable bowl cover! Congratulations.. my husband is very jealous, since I haven't made any for us to keep yet. ;) Please send me an email at ferrets @ quiddity . cc so I can send the cover along to you.

Seven Years Married, Fourteen Years Together

This weekend was our seventh anniversary. Our wedding was pretty simple, though it wasn't originally planned that way. My husband asked me to marry him when I was 16 and he was 18, though we agreed from the start that we would wait a while to get married. At first, we thought we would get married on a beach with a very casual wedding. Then when we actually started planning our wedding, six years later, we decided to have a Renaissance wedding, complete with the castle venue, costumes all around, and period food. When we got quotes from various vendors, though, we decided a big wedding was ridiculous. We'd already been living together for four years, owned our own condo, and wanted to start our family right after getting married. Having a big wedding would leave us with no money for baby gear.

So we went with a simple ceremony in our backyard, on July 3rd. While Doug and I recognize the need for our marriage to be legal, we don't feel that the government or any religious official should have to sanction our marriage. Our marriage is just between us, you know? Bringing clergy or a justice of the peace into it just felt weird. So, while we did make our marriage legal (we didn't share any of the details with our families), we had our own ceremony, conducted by ourselves, with our mothers doing a little bit, too. It was very sweet and just our style. Then we went out to Legal Seafoods with our immediate families to celebrate. The next day, we had a huge BBQ bash with all of our friends and family, catered by a great local restaurant, Woodman's of Essex. I'm so glad we did things the way we did.. it really fit with our personalities much better than a traditional wedding.

Yesterday, we took all the children out to Legal Sea Foods for lunch. They seated us in a booth right next to the function room, and the hostess overheard us telling the kids about our wedding. The meal was wonderful (we don't eat there often, and I had forgotten how truly delicious the food is), and just as we were leaving, our waiter came out with a plate of little desserts with a candle. Now, this is why I love Legal. Great food, and they were sweet enough to give us free dessert because it was our anniversary. Thumbs up to Legal Sea Foods!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Reusable Bowl Cover Tutorial & Giveaway

I finally got around to making the reusable pan cover I posted about earlier, but unfortunately, my camera batteries were dead so I didn't get to take any pictures. Tonight, however, I made a reusable bowl cover, and everything was in perfect working order. This is what I made:

You'll need:

fabric - fat quarters work nicely
nylon ripstop
coordinating thread
scissors, measuring tape, sewing machine, etc, etc.

Start by placing your bowl face down on your fabric. Measure out three inches in all directions, marking a large circle.

Cut out the circle, and repeat with the ripstop, using your fabric circle as a template.

Pin fabric and ripstop, right sides facing.

Sew along edges, using a 1/4" seam allowance. Leave an opening about three inches wide. Trim extra fabric.

Turn inside out. Fold the fabric and ripstop in at the opening. Press the seam and the fabric at the opening. Do not iron directly on the ripstop, and do not leave the iron long on any one spot - the ripstop will melt.

I wanted a nice little ruffle at the bottom, so I sewed a second circle. I just guestimated where to sew, this distance from the edge worked well for me:

Leave another three inches open, lined up with the first opening.

Sew a third circle, creating a channel for the elastic somewhere around 3/4" wide. Do not leave an opening, make this circle complete.

Thread your elastic through, testing how much you'll need on your bowl before you sew or tie the ends of the elastic. Sew the opening closed, and there you have it. A reusable replacement for all that tin foil and plastic wrap. You can wipe down the ripstop after each use, and if it gets really messy, throw it in the wash.

I plan on giving these to family members as Christmas gifts (after I make a few more for myself, of course), and maybe sell them on Etsy. In the meantime, if you leave a comment, you can get the reusable bowl cover pictured above for free! The winner will be picked and notified on Sunday, July 4th.