Friday, November 18, 2011

Bottles and Sippy Cups and Straws...Oh My

Bottles and sippy cups and straws...oh my! With so many different drinking choices, what's a mom to choose? I mainly breastfed my little one until his first birthday. He had the occasional bottle during that time, but mostly it was me he was feeding from. So luckily I didn't have to think too much about our choice of drinking vessel.  We were told the next step was the sippy cup. Now comes the choices! I had received a couple as shower gifts and then bought a couple other brands myself until I found the one that produced the least amount of spills for me to clean up, The Playtex brand sippy cup. I also purchased a Playtex cup that had a straw just to see how he did with that. What I found was that when I gave him the sippy cup he ended up drinking more. The straw cup always led to leftover milk. So I naturally steered away from these a bit because I wanted to make sure he was getting well hydrated. As someone who does not like drinking water herself, remembering to give my little one water was something I had to work on. 

Recently I took a course called, Enhancing Language Development, in order to keep up my teaching certification. In an article I read about the development of the muscles in the mouth I learned that moving to a regular cup or straw helps a child's lips, tongue, and jaw muscles develop. These muscles need to be strengthened in order to successfully produce many of the speech sounds. When drinking from a sippy cup, the liquid often comes out more quickly.  The tongue moves forward to stop the flow so the child can swallow. Maybe this won't be detrimental, but without properly strengthening those muscles, speech issues could occur. I certainly don't think that children who drink from sippy cups are destined to speak with a lisp. But if using a straw can help to set him up for successful speech I might as well start to incorporate it more and more.  Now drinking from a normal cup would produce the same positive sucking as the straw cup, but I'm just not ready to clean up all those spills. Maybe we'll practice that outside next summer. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cake Pops Yum!

For several years I've been making a fabulous dessert treat; I make it whenever I host or attend a party. We gave them a rather colorful title due to their amazing deliciousness. When I had a baby we decided, being the responsible parents we are, to clean up the title and call them simply Oreo Balls. I recently came across a recipe that was very similar. The next day I heard mention of them on an episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I think I even saw one of the housewives eat one! I just had to try this recipe to see if their flavor could match or surpass my sweet treat, the Oreo Ball. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to, the Cake Pop!

1 box of white cake mix--plus ingredients to prepare cake according to box instructions
1 container of white frosting
1 bag of melting chocolate discs (you can find these at craft stores)
Lollipop sticks (optional)

1. Prepare the cake according to the box directions. Let cool completely.

2. Use your hands to crumble the cake into a bowl.

3. Mix in almost an entire container of white frosting.

4. Roll the mixture into small balls about 1.5 inches in diameter. Then place the balls on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper.

5. Chill in the refrigerator or freezer for several hours to set the balls.

6. Melt the candy melts according to the instructions on the bag.

7. You can dip the cake into the chocolate using a spoon or fork and then gently shake the excess off if you want to make little cake balls or you can insert sticks if you want to make cake pops. If you are making the pops, dip the stick into the melted candy first and then insert into cake ball. Let that candy harden to set the stick in the ball, then dip  entire ball into candy. Place on waxed paper to let the candy 

8. Yum yum yum!

About This Mom

I am Kristin, wife to one amazing husband and mom to two adorable sons. I taught for 9 years in the classroom and now that I have two boys of my own, I spend my time teaching (and learning) at home.  Mom Wasn't Built in a Day because I am constantly learning and trying new things in parenting, teaching, crafting, cooking, and homemaking. It's what I love to do, so I thought I'd share some of my successes, messes, learning moments, and most of all, the teaching I continue at home with my children. 

Kale Chips Are SO In Right Now

Kale is the new "it" vegetable. It's got crazy amount of vitamin A and C, not to mention a bit of calcium, potassium, and tons of other nutritional goodies. It's great sautéed with some garlic and a little balsamic vinegar, added into soups, or tossed in a salad. The recipe that I've been hearing rave reviews about for a while now though is kale chips. My first attempt at cooking this supposed treat was a huge failure. They tasted like a crispy, salty, sandy bits of cardboard. I was determined though! The reviews had me convinced that these things had to be delicious and that I just was not preparing them correctly. Six or seven attempts later I have a pretty yummy healthy snack. I mean it's lettuce, you can't expect it to taste like pretzels, potato chips or nachos, but for lettuce it's pretty good. After trying various oven temperatures, cooking times, and toppings, here is what I found works best.

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees

2. I got a bag of kale that was already torn into pieces. (I don't recommend baby kale!)  But if you get the full leaves, tear it into bite sized pieces and remove from the center ribs. You just want the leafy part. You need about 2 or 3 handfuls. 

3. Wash the kale and dry really well. I use a salad spinner. 

4. Put the kale in a bowl and drizzle with about 2 or 3 teaspoons or olive oil. Then massage the oil into the kale. I don't normally like to massage anything unless I'm getting a massage in return, but you really need to gets the leaves covered in oil. 

5. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil then spread the kale in a single layer on the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. There are lots of other seasonings you can add to flavor your kale chips but my favorite is parmesan cheese. So sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of cheese. 

6. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the kale over, then bake an additional 10 minutes. Cooking time may vary depending on your oven so keep an eye on them in these last minutes. You don't want them to burn. That's when that cardboard taste comes out. You just want the leaves to be slightly crispy. When you notice a little bit of brown on the edges of some of the leaves they are probably done. 

Yes, kale is rather trendy now. So enjoy this healthy popular snack! Before you know it, the "it" vegetable will change. It might be something retro, like sweet potatoes. Ooooh, I look forward to that one!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

All's Right With the World When Beef Stew is in the Oven

According to Julia Child, "When beef stew is in the oven, all's right with the world, and beef Bourguignon is the best beef stew known to man." I just finished reading Julia's book, My Life in France, and felt inspired. I'm not moving to France, nor do I intend to cook my way through her entire cookbook, but I did feel inspired to become a little more adventurous with my cooking. I would describe myself as a timid cook. I can follow a recipe, but cooking anything beyond chicken breasts or pasta dishes usually intimidates me. I'm just afraid of ruining the food and having to throw it away. But Julia, was not naturally a great cook. She tested her recipes over and over and over, until she had them just right to her high standards. She inspired me to cook outside the box, and try some foods that I don't normally feel at ease cooking. I went to the library and checked out, The French Chef Cookbook and decided to cook beef Bourguignon....for my in-laws. Double pressure. I mean, not that they would ever judge my cooking, they are wonderful wonderful people, but for my own level of comfort, generally if I'm going to screw up dinner I'd rather just screw it up for myself and my husband. But if I'm going to live by Julia's mantra I need to step out of my comfort zone a little bit, so beef Bourguignon for the in-laws it is!

It was a delicious, beefy, confidence boost. Thanks Julia. I know I still have a lot of work to do but I think I've learned to trust myself a little bit more and take some more risks with my menu planning!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hhhhmmmmmm.....What Song Should We Sing Next?

We do a lot of singing in our house. Often my husband and I make up songs that add a fun musical accompaniment to everyday happenings. Mostly we like to stick to the classics though. Sometimes when the little guy and I are singing songs I draw a blank on what song we should sing next. He makes this adorable little "thinking" face where he puts one finger to his lip, looks off to the side, and says, "hhhmmmm". While I don't ever want to stop seeing this "thinking" face, I thought it'd be helpful to put together a list of songs so they are easily accessible.
Let me know if you need any lyrics!

Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Open Shut Them
If You're Happy And You Know It
Itsy Bitsy Spider
Rise and Shine
You Are My Sunshine
Skinamarinky Dinky Dink
The Farmer in the Dell
Old MacDonald
This Old Man
Pat A Cake
Ring Around the Rosie/ Ring a Ring o'Roses
The Alphabet Song
Twinkle Twinkle Little Start
On Top of Spaghetti
Where is Thumbkin
The Wheels on the Bus
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Hokey Pokey
Six Little Ducks
Rubber Ducky
Frere Jacques
(Baby) is Eating (to the tune of Frere Jacques)
I Like to Eat Apples and Bananas
This is The Way
She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain
I've Been Working on the Railroad/Someone's in the Kitchen With Dinah

"Bouncing" Songs/Chants
Trot Trot to Boston
This Is the Way the Ladies Ride
Motor Boat Motor Boat
10 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
Pop Goes the Weasel

Rock a Bye Baby
Hush Little Baby
Great Big Stars Way Up Yonder

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mommy Confessions: I Hope I'm Not the Only One

We have a playdate with friends. I look at the clock. It's 12:30. Naptime is at about 1:00. Sure, I can make it home in time. Pack up the car, buckle us in, get on the road to start our 20 minute drive, it's 12:40. Check the rearview mirror and I see drowsy eyes. So, I turn up the Music Together cd and start singing aloud, loudly. His eyes open up a little. It's 12:45. The speedometer says 70. His eyes are drowsy and his head starts to tilt. My hands at twelve and two are gripping the steering wheel rather tightly. I feel my heart rate increase. Check the rearview, eyes are closed. Turn up the music a little louder, say his name, sing along. No response. He's out. It's 12:50 and we are two miles from home. I loosen my grip on the steering wheel and sigh a little. It's done. He's asleep.

Why do I give myself a panic attack every time it's approaching nap time and he falls asleep in the car? Because nap time is a special time. It's my time to have a moment alone in quiet, to take a shower, to get some work done around the house. It's special and anything that threatens the existence or length of nap time makes me anxious. I know it's a little crazy, because he will generally fall asleep when I move him from the car into his crib, but even the thought of no nap is scary. Mommy needs her break time.

We get home, I unbuckle the car seat, and the eyes open. I carry him inside with his head resting on my shoulder. Place him gently in his crib, turn out the lights, close the door, and tiptoe away. Plonk! I hear the sound of blanket, pillow, pacifier, and stuffed animal being tossed out of the crib. This is immediately followed by crying. Though I AM crying on the inside, the audible ones are coming from the baby's room. Looks like Mommy's Special Time is going to be delayed a bit today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mommy Workouts

The gym and I don't have a good history together. When I discovered that years ago, I learned to accept it and found many other ways to get in my daily workout. Ok, daily may be a bit of an exaggeration. Certainly some weeks it is daily, but other weeks it is every few days, and there are some weeks where it is nonexistent. I try to keep a positive attitude towards working out by reminding myself weight loss is not the most important goal, rather I try to focus on workouts making me more heart healthy. It's my one little way of trying not to focus on the number on the scale too much. It's totally mental, only slightly works. When you look at those little charts at the doctor's office, I've generally been in the "normal" range, but high up on the normal range. I've always strived to be more in the normal to low end of the "normal" range, but never could seem to get there.

Then pregnancy came into play and for once, I didn't feel the need to agonize over my weight as we women tend to do. I gained a little more that you are supposed to when I was pregnant with my son, but not to the point of being unhealthy. I was eager to get back into my workouts to lose the baby weight post pregnancy. Let's just fast forward to 8 months later and despite my daily walks, runs, aerobics, or weight training I still was not back to my starting weight. I know that they say it takes 9 months to put the weight on, it will take just as long to take the weight off, but I guess I was hoping I'd be the exception to that rule. Somewhere in the midst of all this I decided to purchase the Insanity DVDs. My brother and sister-in-law completed the programs with amazing results. At first it felt impossible! I had never felt so out of shape in my life. But I stuck with the 6 day a week for 2 months workout and I was amazed by how progressively stronger I got. Every few weeks I completed a "fit test" where I did the same 8 exercises and recorded the number I was able to do. What a great feeling to see that number increase throughout the program. And to see the number on the scale decrease throughout as well! I finally got down to that "normal" range on the charts I'd been hoping for. I mean, my heart feels really healthy ;) I'm trying not to sound too much like an infomercial, but I do recommend this program for anyone who needs an intense daily workout to reach their fitness goals.

I completed the program. Now what? I needed a new goal, something new to motivate me. How about a half marathon? Was I nuts? Yes, slightly. I had never run a half-marathon; 10ks were my limit so far. I'm not much of a runner. I can't say that I love it the way that so many do. But I figured if I spent the $80 to sign up that'd be a good motivator. Plus I decided to run one in my hometown of Detroit so I would have a good excuse (not that I need one) to go home and visit my family.  So I signed up and recruited a couple of friends and my cousin to join me so we could help motivate each other. After approximately 35 runs with my son in the stroller, 12 solo long runs on the weekends, 2 pairs of running shoes, and a 600 mile flight,  I completed my first half-marathon! It went great! I feel like my training really prepared me and I achieved my goal of about a 9:45 mile pace. No, I do not feel any desire to run a full marathon now. For the time being 13.1 miles is more than enough, but I do need a new challenge to motivate my workouts. In the meantime, I'm sticking to some easy runs and walks and the occasional workout dvd. For now, this is working.