Thursday, February 28, 2013

Health nuts!

Disclaimer: Please do not let any of the following lead you to believe that I am a zealous health-weirdo. My favorite food to this day is straight up Cheeze-whiz in all it's canned glory.  That being said...

When Eli was born I was BLESSED with one of the world's pickiest eaters.  Even plain rice cereal made him gag.  He pretty much lived on fruits and veggies disguised by fruits.
When Siley came along I was BLESSED with a baby who would eat anything I put near his mouth. A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G.  I had played around with baby food recipes with Elijah but was always discouraged when I'd spend 30 minutes prepping a dish that he wouldn't go near.  I gave it a whirl again with Si and it's been awesome.

I stumbled upon Weelicious right around the time #2 was transitioning to solids.  I made up my mind that I was going to make at least some of his food- mostly b/c the food we have available in our Walmart is super boring.  Sweet potatoes and chicken.  Chicken and corn.  Corn and sweet potatoes.  Apples.  Apples and pears.  Pears and Apples.  Follow me?
I started with simple stuff: steamed green beans pureed with unsweetened apple juice, yellow squash, zucchini, etc.  Soon we were given the go ahead to work in protiens... and you know what?  You CAN puree chicken, much to my surprise.  My first time I was skeptical, but I got a really nice saucy consistency.  I started to work in herbs and spices to enhance flavors and develop his tastes... cinnamon first, a little nutmeg, some cumin, basil, parsley...  At this point the child has a more varied palate than anyone in this family.

Initially I was nervous about the time commitment... I didn't want to create a gourmet food monster and then run out of time one week and have him stick up his nose at a can of peas (I am not in ANY way against canned baby food... I have a couple jars on hand for emergencies still!)  But this process is surprisingly fast.  I spent 1 hour tonight (after the kids were in bed!) cooking, steaming, and pureeing and made a solid 2 weeks of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  After a couple weeks of that you build up a HUGE stock-and it kind of feels like you own your own grocery store when you reach in the freezer and your kid has 8 different breakfast options.  I feel like this is an easy ego-booster for tired mommy who had a big list of "to-do's" and didn't get to play one-on-one with baby as much as she wanted to that day... 
Weelicious is by far the best internet resource I have found for this project. Some of the recipes are complex, others are as simple as mashing up half a banana with a fork, swirling in 2 TBSP of oats, a TSP of molasses and a bit of water and warming it in the microwave (that's Siley's favorite breakfast!!) 

 Once you start, you learn faster and faster ways of working.  Tonight I threw together red lentils, tomato puree, fresh ginger, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, brown rice and a little salt into a pot to simmer for 30 minutes... while that went down I steamed apples, cinnamon and walnuts for an apple-walnut puree (breakfast) and then did a spinach/banana puree that needed no steaming at all-just throw it in the food processor.  I've started finding my own secret ways of adding in extra nutrients: instead of mixing in water for a creamier consistency, I add a little splash of Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness juice: you can get it at Walmart in the milk/juice section.  I drink their carrot juice religiously, and this green juice is just as good.  I've even gotten #1 to down a couple glasses!  It's a grocery splurge, but totally worth it.
At the risk of sounding even MORE self righteous than I already do, Siley's healthy eating has really been motivation for us all to overhaul our diets.  Slowly but surely Mr. Eli is incorporating in more raw veggies, new fruits, extra water, vitamins, and MEAT.  A huge hurdle:)  It's even helped my own diet.  Every now and then I'll throw a couple of Si's spinach & broccoli cubes into a smoothie and you can barely taste them.
Ok, you CAN taste them but you acquire a taste for them and they aren't so bad.  And you feel good-physically AND mentally.  

One LAST time: nothing can ever replace a freshly opened can of salsa con queso.  Nothing.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Photo Dump.

 He sings the old "BATMAN" theme song while stomping around in MY boots.  Why?

Who knows.

#1 reads while #2 turns the pages.

Sick day!

Not only did he wriggle out of his blanket, but he ripped open the zipper from the bottom and top of his sleeper with over-zealous kicking.  And somehow, no matter where he starts, he always ends up nudged in that corner.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

House Tour

When we first decided to move to Cumberland, the plan was to rent for 6ish months.

6ish months became 2 years and a second child.  But that's ok.  It's been wonderful, and I've grown to love our little rental home.  We have great neighbors, a quiet street, and we're close to pretty much everything.

But now we're ready to move... hopefully for the last time.  And here's the preview!

Here we are!  This house is 10 minutes from where we live now, and 5 MINUTES from work/church. That's 50% closer (lazy?)!

It's in a development which wasn't our first plan.  Our FIRST plan was to live on a 50 acre beet farm and open a bed and breakfast with table-making demonstrations.  But then we started thinking about "grown-up" stuff like school districts and the fact that I don't really like gardening.  So we looked elsewhere.  I love these giant trees in the front yard.  I will make Ben string lights in them every Christmas, Valentines, St. Patty's, MLK, and every other holiday EVER.

The white door is the front door.  The room we are about to enter is the one you see in front of us...

The living room!  The curtains will promptly be removed.  I have been pinning paint ideas on Pinterest and think that this will be the first room I "muralize".

This is the back of the living room, with doors that open onto a...

...private deck.  It's not huge, but it's got a fence around it and built in benches.  Party central.

It opens into the front yard as well.

Right next door to the LR is the dining room, with another set of doors onto the deck (they REALLY want you to spend time on the deck).

It connects to the kitchen...

Past the kitchen are 2 bedrooms and a bathroom.  You can guess what they look like (white).

Onto what lies below that railing near the front door...

WOOHOO!!!  Best Ever.

When you walk in this is what you look down on directly on your left.  Our Christmas tree will kill everyone else's Christmas tree.

Looking up the staircase...

I'm pretty sure planking is over (fingers crossed) but Number One lives his own life.

The big window to the right has a set of doors beside it that lead into the backyard.

This is a bedroom.  They all look pretty much like this.  There are three more on this floor, and an additional bathroom with a mustard yellow tub (you have to visit to see it).

And Eli's favorite part... an actual yard.  

I will finally have an ACTUAL laundry room, an ACTUAL storage room (more boring things only exciting to the homeowner) and Ben will have his king size garage.  It's pretty much our dream house :)

I hate writing stuff like this for fear of sounding "braggy" but I don't mean it that way.  I'm just thankful and happy and want to share it!  
We waited a long time to share this... this was a short sale and we've been in the process of "buying' for almost 6 months... but it feels pretty safe to say we've got it at this point!
Move in date: April 4

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Number 1...

... and number 2...

... it's no surprise they keep us busy.  But sanity's deepest secret is carving out a tiny bit of time for yourself on a regular basis.  Even if it's just crocheting a few stitches on a blanket or plunking out a couple of songs on the piano, those little breathers keep us moving forward.  That said, here's a couple of things I've been up to lately...

This was actually done before Christmas.  I wanted my students to find a way to use their artistic abilities to benefit someone other than themselves (as much as I LOVE "art for art's sake").  We were given the opportunity to design and paint a mural in our church's nursery.  I have "before" pictures somewhere and "after" pictures without all the furniture blocking the walls, but they're on our hard drive and that's like, 15 steps away.  So I snapped a few while at school today...

Embarrassingly enough, you can see that it's still not finished.  Several characters still need shading and mouths... but after a week of 8 hour days we were pretty spent.  So we've taken some time off, and whenever I get an hour here or there I bring in a couple colors to do touch ups.  It won't be too much longer.  The kids did a killer job, it was a long process and they really had great attitudes the entire time.  

This upcoming week is "spirit week" and the cheerleaders have had it rough.  Our school, despite its size is SUPER awesome at sports- unfortunately our cheerleaders are... well, there's two of them.  There's a lot of awesome-ness in them... but just 2.  And they are in charge of decorating every team player's locker, the hallways, the gym, etc.
So I DEFINITELY jumped on that volunteer train b/c I LOOK for excuses to make anything.  I found this super easy/awesome tutorial on pinterest and from it made 45 of these giant, 3-D paper stars. With coupons it cost me $11.  You can't buy that crap.

We hung them in the school entryway, strung them through the hallways, and tomorrow night we'll be filling the gym with them.  I'm super happy with how they turned out.  

We have some seriously talented students in my art class, and I wish I'd photographed more of their work before sending it home with them.  Anyways, here are 2 pieces completed within the last week: this was a grayscale portrait collage.  They crosshatched a 9 shade grayscale on paper, then tore the paper into pieces to create a portrait of their choice of US president.  

This is James Monroe, by one of my seniors.

This is Abe Lincoln (with an eye patch) by one of my 11th graders.

Pretty nuts, right? I love how each of them chose to interpret the shadow/highlight shapes in such totally different ways.  Very satisfiying.  For me, at least.

I've been doing a lot of crochet lately, but no notable, completed projects yet.  (Ever?)