Monday, October 31, 2011

Menu Plan In Reverse

I always enjoy reading Menu Plan Monday posts, it is inspiring and helps me plan our meals.  I've never posted my own though, because my menu plan is not quite set in stone.  I generally make a list of 6-7 meals and buy ingredients for them.  What I make on which day depends on if Ross is going to be home late, what I remembered to take out of the freezer to thaw, or how well behaved my kids are that day (meaning: are they going to let me cook a more involved dinner or should I just do something quick?).  This week I decided to write down our meals after the fact and post them, doh!  Of course by posting these, I can always look back and have a ready made meal plan whenever I need one.  :)

I started with Tuesday:
B- oatmeal topped with blueberries, yogurt, and brown sugar
L- homemade pizza (had soggy crust, needs to bake longer)
D- scrambled eggs with cheese, sausage, ranch potatoes, and smoothies (pineapple, orange, banana, yogurt)

B- pumpkin donuts (leftover from our field trip Monday!)
L- whole wheat muffins, apple slices
D- chicken tortilla soup, topped with sour cream, cheese, and avocado chunks, tortilla chips

B- bread with butter and honey
L- macaroni and cheese (with hidden carrot juice), grapes
D- BBQ meatballs, mashed potatoes, corn

B- granola bars
L- pretzel crisps, cheese, pickles, orange slices
D- baked zitti (with more hidden carrot juice), salad (lettuce, carrots, peppers, radishes)

B- toast with almond butter and honey
L- scrambled eggs, potato pancakes (with leftover mashed potatoes)
D- leftover baked zitti, green beans

B- toast with almond butter and honey (I'm all out of eggs!)
L- bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwiches, smoothies with kale, apple, and raspberries
D- pepper chicken, quinoa, and salad

There, are you inspired?  :)  Check out Menu Plan Monday for more inspiration.  and here too.

Undercover Mama

When I nursed my first baby, I wore the nursing tanks from Target constantly.  They covered my tummy when I nursed, but there was not much support in them.  I ended up looking kind of really flat.  Since then I've tried various nursing tops, but I usually end up getting frustrated with the baggy look and all of the layers.  I've enjoyed wearing belly band type things under my normal shirts, but then I'm still fiddling a bit to be sure the band is pulled all the way up before I lift my shirt.  I tried a milkshirt, but felt dorky and the seam kind of showed through my shirts.

Enter: Undercover Mama!  I recently got to try one of these out and really liked it.  Undercover Mama is a nursing shirt that attaches to your normal nursing bra.  When you unhook the bra to nurse, the tank unhooks right along with it, keeping your tummy covered of course.  I enjoyed being able to wear my regular nursing bra with this.  The shirt is just a bit stretchy and a great length.  A size small fit me well.  The top of the Undercover Mama shirt did show at the neckline if I was wearing a V-neck top, but that's fine.  I was worried the back of the shirt might fall down since it only attached at the bra strap in front, but it actually stayed in place just fine.

I used the loop to attach to my bras, but there is also a hook option on each shirt, making it quite versatile.  Having a couple of Undercover Mama shirts allows me to continue wearing my normal tops and eliminates the need for an expensive nursing wardrobe.  I'll definitely be purchasing at least one more before the new baby comes.  I think I need a pink one!  ;)

Would you like to win one?  To enter, do any of the following and leave one comment for each, being sure to include your email address so that I can contact you:
- follow my blog or email subscribe
- like Undercover Mama on Facebook
- follow Undercover Mama on Twitter
That's a total of three possible entries.  The giveaway will close November 7 at midnight and the winner will be contacted by email.  Happy Nursing!  :)
*Giveaway closed.*

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nursing Break

Esther is done nursing.  Around 13 weeks into my pregnancy it was just really uncomfortable.  While I loved being able to nurse her, I knew that we were at the end of our nursing days.  I cried and was upset, not because I love breastfeeding (I was ready for a break.), but because I felt bad for Esther, she's still my baby!  She actually did really well with stopping, and just needed a few extra snuggles with Daddy in the evenings when she was used to nursing to sleep.

Although I do not fit in it anymore, one of my favorite tops is this V-neck from Boob Nursing Wear.  I absolutely love the opening, so easy and no extra layers of fabric to mess with.  I've ended up getting rid of most of my other nursing tops in favor of this simple style.  (Just lift up the overlap part and nurse.)  I enjoy feeling like I am wearing a normal fitted shirt instead of baggy layers that many other nursing tops have.  The length on this one is also great, just a bit long, which is nice.
I posted about my nursing hoodie last fall - it was probably worn several times a week and it still looks great.  The fabric has held up perfectly.  (I'm going to cry... Esther is so tiny in that post!)  Both the hoodie and the v-neck shirt are size small.  The shirt is more fitted than the hoodie, almost tight, even before my belly started growing, so you may want to choose a size up in that one.  I'm sure these tops will be getting tons of use once our new little one arrives in a few months.  :)  Boob Nursing Wear is a great, high quality, functional choice for a nursing wardrobe!

I received the nursing top pictured above for review.  All opinions expressed are my own of course.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Notes From My Kitchen

Sometimes my kitchen feels like a farm!  Feed the kefir, feed the sourdough, feed the worms... oh wait, those are in the basement thankfully.  The kitchen tasks never end, but I do enjoy cooking and baking for my family.  Here are some random notes from my kitchen lately:

- I'm on sourdough starter #2.  My first one was bubbly and happy, but I didn't feed it often enough and it started growing some mold on top.  Since it was still young I decided to toss it and start over.  This time I signed up for GNOWFGLINS and am working through the sourdough course.  Lots of interesting stuff there, but I hardly have enough computer time to get through it all.

- I've had my dairy kefir grains for several months now and have successfully kept them alive!  I do tend to put it in the fridge from time to time if we end up with too much kefir.  I use my kefir in smoothies or in recipes that call for buttermilk.  Tammy's Recipes has some great posts about kefir.

- Our worm composting bin is surviving.  I brought it in to the basement, where it still chilly, but they seem to be doing okay.  I just give them a bit of food every week or so.

- My blender broke recently and I ended up purchasing a Vitamix.  Best kitchen tool ever!  I'll be posting more about this soon, along with a code for free shipping.  :)

- I am always trying new recipes, some fail, others make it into my recipe book.  Spaghetti squash casserole was a big hit the other day.  The picture above is Esther sobbing because we told her there wasn't any more casserole left for her to eat (after she had gobbled down plenty of it)!  I'm still trying to get my hummus recipe just right, it tastes bland no matter what I put in it.  Whole wheat crackers were a success, but no one liked the lemon poppyseed bread I tried.

- On my "to do" list are making bagels, trying homemade yogurt, and several other recipes that I have printed out and ready to try.

What's going on in your kitchen lately?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Easy Pumpkin Cutting Project

My girls are still in their pajamas this morning, having a blast cutting out these adorable pumpkins:

We're going to have a whole patch in no time!  (Click here for instructions.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins

Lucy and I saw some chocolate chip muffins at Costco that looked extremely tempting.  Until I checked the ingredients that is... too much junk.  After craving those muffins for a couple of weeks, I finally did a search and found this recipe and Julia helped me whip these up.  They were exactly what we were hoping for!  (I did change it some, less sugar and chocolate chips.  I'm posting the recipe as I made it:)

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Beat together butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, and vanilla until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, then stir in milk.  Mix in the flour and then the chocolate chips.  Spoon into 12 muffin cups.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Tilt muffins in pan to cool.  (A new trick I learned from this recipe!)

These are sooo good while still warm and gooey.  And the next day, and... well they didn't last any longer than that.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Homemade Cream Cheese (sort of)

My kids enjoy bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, but the flavored cream cheese at the grocery store is full of all kinds of additives.  We've started buying plain whipped cream cheese and adding our own flavors:

Sometimes I mix strawberry jam in with the cream cheese.  Of course though the kids' favorite is when I spread the plain cream cheese on a bagel and sprinkle brown sugar over top.  Not quite as healthy, but still free of colors and preservatives.  :)  What other flavor combinations should we try?

linked to Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pregnancy Update

Exact weeks/days pregnant: 17 weeks

When did you find out? Very early on.  I had to go to the dentist and didn't want an x-ray if I was pregnant.  The line was so faint I ended up telling the dentist that "I might be pregnant."  lol

What size is the baby right now? As big as avocado, but says he/she will double his weight in the next few weeks, yikes!

Weight gain/ loss: Honestly I don't keep close track of this.  My stomach is huge, so I've gained for sure!

Maternity clothes?  Yep, I'm in that "nothing fits" stage.  Maternity clothes still look a bit baggy on me, but my normal clothes are definitely too tight.  I'm wearing a pair of my husband's pajama pants right now.  He's not much bigger than me though, so that doesn't work for long.

Stretch marks?  These tend to show up after I have the baby and my skin is shrinking back to its old size.  I'm not good about remembering to put lotion on.  :/

Sleep?  Since Esther stopped nursing a couple of weeks ago, I get to sleep through the night a bit better.  I still wake up to pee and of course tend to the occasional 6 year old or 4 year old who get up.

Food cravings?  I'm eating pretzel crisps with Nutella on them at the moment.  Mmmm.  I don't know if I've had any cravings lately.  Some random ones I've had are chicken soup, and potatoes.

Gender?  We are having a homebirth again with a midwife.  She doesn't do ultrasounds unless for some reason she thinks one is necessary.  Ross is happy to have it be a surprise again, while the suspense kind of drives me nuts.  

Belly button in or out?  Eh, mostly flat and starting to poke out.

Movement? Yes!  This past week I've felt baby kick or wiggle most every day, sometimes several times a day.  :)

Best moment this week?  Ross keeps putting his hand on my stomach trying to feel the baby move.  I think it will be a while before he can feel it, but its cute that he is excited.  

Anything else?  I'm happy that the constant nausea is finally gone, but I've been extremely exhausted these past few days.  I need to drink my Red Raspberry Leaf tea and remember my vitamins daily.

What I'm looking forward to:  So much - finding out if its a boy or a girl, seeing the girls' reactions to the new baby, meeting this new little person, having another homebirth.  (Ross wants to catch the baby again, although we'll try to have the midwife arrive on time this round...)

Milestones:  Hm... I don't know?  I'm in the second trimester?  Almost half way there?  Eeek!

(I know, this post needs a belly picture!  I'll have to take one soon.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Grocery Shopping

Alright, at the risk of potentially boring you to death, I'm going to talk about my grocery shopping trips this past week.  I think its interesting to peek into other people's carts and see what they are buying, and I always think Tammy's posts about her Costco trips are fun to read, so here goes...

Costco is about 25 minutes away from my house, so I go once a month and stock up.  Meijer is right around the corner from my house, and I usually run there once a week.  I'd say most of my shopping is done at Costco, but there are several things that we only buy at Meijer.  In general, I try to buy organic when possible and Meijer has a great organic Meijer brand as well as organic produce that we like.  This week I made a Meijer trip yesterday, Costco today, and even stopped at the health food store on the way home for a few things.  Phew.  Keep in mind that all of this shopping was done with three little girls in tow, so I may or may not have made completely healthy choices.

Meijer -
organic Meijer brand: whole milk, sour cream, spaghetti sauce, orange juice, and ketchup;
organic: apples, bananas, potatoes, and onions;
regular: parsnips and a sweet potato (for roasted root veggies)

this is just some of our purchase, waiting to go into the pantry and fridge

Costco -
whole wheat bagels (not completely whole wheat but better than what Meijer carries.  I'm still intending to make my own again sometime, but for now we need something different to eat for breakfasts),
turkey jerky (bad purchase, not flavorful at all),
coffee (for hubby to take to work),
sausages (not free range, but no nitrates, so that's good),
organic frozen green beans,
organic fresh spinach,
pretzel crisps (wish they were whole wheat, but the ingredients are minimal),
fresh raspberries and strawberries (not organic, oh well),
turkey lunchmeat (no nitrates, yay),
cheesecake (yeah, caved on that one, figured we'd save it for a special dinner),
organic butter - 3 double packs,
organic wheat bread - 8 loaves (great price, we freeze this and use it up all month long),
Kashi granola cereal,
wild rice,
rice mix of brown and red rice (this was out for tasting and Lucy loved it),
organic chicken breast 3 pack,
organic eggs - 2 24 packs,
Hanna Anderson leggings (we've purchased a few HA brand clothes here, love them!),
organic Annie's mac and cheese (not whole wheat, ugh),
organic cream,
6 pack of scotch tape (the girls are always taping up some picture or another),
mild cheddar cheese blocks - 2,
maple syrup,
fruit crisps (not organic, but a great snack, its just freeze dried fruit pouches)

Health Food Store -
organic dry beans - black, pinto, kideny, and garbanzo,
yogurt - Stonyfield whole vanilla (Yum!!),
organic cream cheese (the flavored cream cheese at Meijer has all kinds of junk in it, so we buy this and mix it with jam),
hamburger buns (not whole wheat, but not too much junk in them either)

There you have it.  I do buy other things at Costco, but I was already stocked up on them (organic tortilla chips, organic sugar, organic brown rice, etc.)  As you can see, not everything we buy is organic.  Sometimes its just not available.  I could have made my own bagels, hamburger buns, and granola, but not this time.

Our pantry and refrigerator are full!  I will probably make a couple of quick trips to Meijer for produce or random items, but other than that I do not have to make a big trip out until next month.  The girls did great with all of the shopping.  I bring snacks along and the taste tests at Costco keep them happy too.  I got several comments today along the lines of "How did you get three such gorgeous girls?" and "Look at those beautiful little girls.", which was fun.  :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pop Up Cities

I recently saw these pop up cities linked to from a blog that I read.  Here are the versions we created:

I drew a castle on full size posterboard and Lucy colored it in.  We made it big enough to fit Playmobil people through the door.  When she was finished coloring I used a sharp razor-blade to cut around each piece so that we could stand it up.

Julia wanted a city complete with a store, museum, post office, house, and barn with a silo.

Our pieces didn't stand up well after a while, so the girls put wooden blocks behind each one.  These were super easy to make and kept them entertained for quite some time!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Eye Doctor

I almost missed the fact that my daughter was going blind in one eye.

Neither my husband or myself wear glasses, so going to the eye doctor was never something that crossed my mind.  Of course I take my kids to the dentist, but I didn't realize that they needed a regular checkup with an eye doctor too.

One day Lucy happened to mention to me that if she covered up one eye, it was blurry to see out of the other eye.  When she said that, I immediately had flashbacks to her struggling with the eye exam at the pediatrician's office several years ago.  We thought she just didn't want to do it, never realizing that she couldn't.  We had all chalked it up to a moody three year old at the time.

I made Lucy an appointment with an eye doctor and anxiously waited the two weeks until they could get us in.  I casually asked Lucy several days later how her eyesight was, thinking maybe it was a blurry eye related to a cold or allergies or something.  She confidently assured me, "No mom, it's always like that.". I knew our appointment was not going to go well.

When the day finally came, both Lucy and Julia had check-ups.  In the doctor's office I saw a sign noting that alll children should have a full eye exam at age three.  No one had ever told me that!  The eye doctor mentioned it as well, saying that even the school or pediatrician eye exams cannot catch everything and it's best to bring them in for an exam.

So... Julia did great.  Lucy did great... with her right eye.  With her left eye, I watched her fail each letter as the doctor made them continually bigger.  I think she was able to see the largest "E", but nothing else.  My heart sank.  It was hard to watch.

Lucy's doctor was very kind and explained in simple terms that basically her left eye needs a strong prescription, and always has.  Because that eye is blurry, her brain has been ignoring it.  We never noticed issues with Lucy's eyes.  She reads very well.  She notices things far away and sees details.  She did not have any tell tale signs.  Her doctor said that because so many brain connections are made at this young age, if we had waited just a few more years to bring her in, it would be harder or impossible to get her brain to use that eye.  She could have eventually been declared legally blind on one side.

Lucy has what is called amblyopia, or lazy eye.  Her eye does not stray, it looks completely normal - her brain just does not use that eye well because of it needing the prescription.  Glasses will correct the vision, and then we will need to patch her "good" eye, to encourage her brain to use the newly fixed eye.

Thankfully, her doctor is confident that Lucy is young enough and can regain full use of both eyes. We received a prescription for glasses and waited the two weeks for them to arrive.  (Pinky purple with flowers on the side, she's absolutely adorable in them!). After four weeks of wearing the glasses, we returned for an exam today.  

As her doctor expected, Lucy still cannot see well out of her left eye.  We have seen no noticeable difference and she continues to say that one side is blurry, seeing only the biggest "E" again.  The glasses have corrected her vision, but now we need to teach her brain to use that eye again.  She will be wearing a patch for three hours every day.  We go back in six weeks for a check-up.  

Today was rough wearing the patch.  She cried and I felt terrible.  Tonight I found some cute patches online that I ordered her along with tiny glasses for her doll and a fun rewards chart.  I'll keep you posted on how she does.

Please take your children for an eye check-up.  Even if they can see perfectly.  It's something we will routinely do now and I wish I had known earlier, so I'm sharing our story with you.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Busy Bees

We've been busy bees around here!  I promise I have several homeschool update posts half written, and will finish them up soon.  :)  We're enjoying Heart of Dakota this year and getting settled into our fall routine.  Speaking of HOD, have you noticed the blogroll page?  Over 50 bloggers have joined so far.  Have fun browsing the blogs, sharing ideas, and being inspired!

For now, here's a picture of a bee that we made.  The girls were learning about bees in science and I needed something else to keep the girls occupied in the afternoon, so we made these.  Our bee model helped us count how many legs and wings a bee has.  We also talked about their fuzzy legs picking up pollen.

Start with a toilet paper tube and draw a face on one side.  Use yellow and black markers to add stripes.  The legs are made from one pipe cleaner that I cut into thirds.  Each third = a pair of legs and pokes into the tube and back out again.  I used a pencil first to make holes for the pipe cleaners.  The wings are all one piece that I cut out and glued on last.  :)

Happy Homeschooling!