Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Passing pebbles

Well it’s official: Owen’s constipated. After wondering aloud for a day or two about just how transformed Owen’s poops were becoming, a little TOO solid it seemed, he’s started passing pebbles of poop (four of them today and straining with each one). I’ll spare you any photos.
So you can scratch my little plan to focus on vegetables, then fruits. I’ve learned since doing more research that carrots and sweet potatoes – Owen’s two first vegetables – are starchy culprits in constipation for some babies. And that butternut squash I was getting ready to cook, puree and freeze in ice cube trays for the next vegetable? It’s on the list too.
Isn’t it lovely how we’re told to start babies off on the BRAT diet (bananas, rice ceral, apples – and well, I guess the toast comes later) when those are the very things that constipate a baby. (Luckily we hadn’t made it to bananas or applesauce yet).
So Owen’s eating pureed prunes for breakfast and baby oatmeal for dinner – and slurping up a wee bit of apple juice diluted in water for now. Then comes the karo syrup, recommended by the nurse at our pediatrician’s office, if I can’t get things going smoothly without it.
Hopefully his little body will start learning how to process all this strange gook soon.
To be honest, I’m kind of missing exclusive breastfeeding. Owen’s diet was so simple then.

If you’ve got a favorite constipation remedy for babies, please share.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Plane bedfellows

Some kids cuddle with teddy bears. Will prefers....

metal airplanes.

My best convince-the-kid-to-take-a-nap strategy is to graciously offer to fetch just about anything in the house for him to read or play with on his bed until he gets tired. Sometimes it's all the mouse books and dog books I can find. Sometimes it's a few toy airplanes -- and a person to go in the little old-school one. (Today, when I brought a female little person for the green plane, Will started to protest that he needed a man, but I soon convinced him that women can be pilots too.)

So, what strange things have your kids been known to cuddle with? One-word answers are welcome here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Meet the orchestra

Yesterday Will and I went to the RiverCenter for a family concert – the Columbus Symphony Orchestra performed Lemony Snicket’s “The Composer is Dead” -- after we lucked up on some last-minute tickets. It was such a wonderful introduction to the orchestra for Will that I plan to make an annual event of it. The concert itself was a fun mystery-musical tour through the different sections and instruments of the orchestra, with a lively storyteller guiding the way and throwing in plenty of humor for the adults. And the prelude to it all was equally fun. The kids got their faces painted (here are Creight, Mary Margaret and Will as tiger, butterfly and dog, complete with permanently-hanging-out tongue).

And then they explored the instrument “petting zoo”

Here’s one “zoo keeper” letting Will try his hand at the violin

And another assisting him with the cello.

There were bells to play

And some up-close musical introductions to several brass-playing musicians. Here Will and a handful of kids meet the French horn.
The whole afternoon made me giddy just thinking about all the concerts and plays we’ll be able to take Will and Owen to as they get older and we feel less and less confined to places where babies and toddlers can be themselves -- as in: cry, run around, wreak havoc. (Until now, we've been limiting ourselves to outdoor concerts where Will can run around, dance and talk and laugh at full volume.)

Meanwhile Will has been reflecting on his favorite instruments – he especially liked “the big one and the other big one,” which we determined after some discussion were the saxophone and the trombone.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fats and fertility

Rob and I decided a while back to retire from the baby-making business. We’re content with our cozy family of four. But for all of you out there who are still interested in getting pregnant – or who have friends who are struggling on that point, here is an article worth reading. Granted I’m a month and a half late sharing it and some of you probably already read it, but I didn’t get to it until this week.

It was the December 6 Newsweek cover story, which reviewed a bunch of the key findings presented in The Fertility Diet, a Harvard Medical Book that offers strategies for increasing your fertility odds simply by eating healthfully -- based on data from 18,000 women who took part in a long-term research project called the Nurse’s Health Study (which examined how diet and other factors affected a broad range of chronic conditions including heart disease and cancer). So there’s implications for how to stay healthy for those of us not personally vested in fertility probabilities anymore.

And for the thousands of women who consider fertility treatment every year, it would be nice to know that just some basic dietary manipulations might solve the problem naturally. Of course it’s not a panacea. The recommendations are aimed at preventing and reversing ovulatory infertility, which they say accounts for one quarter or more of all cases of infertility. And I’m sure there are plenty of causes of ovulatory infertility that are beyond the realm of a dietary fix.

One interesting finding though: “The more low-fat dairy products in a woman's diet, the more likely she was to have had trouble getting pregnant. The more full-fat dairy products in a woman's diet, the less likely she was to have had problems getting pregnant.” The authors don’t recommend consuming pints of ice cream at a time. They say “aim for one to two servings of dairy products a day, both of them full fat.” And they advise switching back to lowfat once you’re no longer pregnant. But I wonder about the broader implications for how whole fats consumed in moderation might be generally healthier for our bodies than they are generally given credit for.
(We’re still drinking whole milk and eating butter in moderation in our house after my interview with Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation. I don't know if we’ve chosen the right path, but we’re at least enjoying the flavors. If you're interested in the whole saturated-fat-as-good-or-evil debate, this is another very interesting and fairly comprehensive article on the subject -- entitled "What if bad fat isn't so bad?" -- at

Highlights of the strategies outlined in "The Fertility Diet," according to the Web site for the book, include:

*Avoiding trans-fats, the artery-clogging fats found in many commercial products and fast foods
*Eating more vegetable protein, like beans and nuts, and less animal protein
*Drinking a glass of whole milk or having a small dish of ice cream or full-fat yogurt every day; temporarily trading in skim milk and low or no-fat dairy products for their full-fat versions
*Getting into the "fertility zones" for weight and physical activity.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Homemade play-dough

Yesterday we retired a big plastic back of jumbled up, slightly dried out store bought play-dough that had begun to look like a bag of multicolored peas – and made some new from scratch.
We used this recipe from Super Baby Food, a book I’ve been referring to occasionally as I make some of Owen’s baby food from scratch (more on that later).

2+ cups white flour
½ cup salt
1 cup hot tap water
1 teaspoon cooking oil

In large bowl, mix flour and salt. Slowly mix in water and oil while stirring, then knead in the bowl. You may have to add extra flour (up to a ½ cup or more) until the stickiness disappears. Divide into three balls.

To color the dough poke a deep hole with your finger into the top of the dough ball and place color in. We used washable tempera paint in red, yellow and blue (1/2 teaspoon or so per ball) but food coloring is another option. Knead color into dough.

To store, put each color in a fold-top sandwich bag and then place the bags together in a Ziplock.

It was so simple that Will did most of the work preparing it and then played for well over an hour with his new, wonderfully pliable dough. Building snowmen, cooking pancakes, making footprints in the dough. And on and on.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dinner planning on the Scramble

For a couple weeks now I’ve been trying out dinner planning, Six O’Clock Scramble style (the healthy, family-friendly dinner planning service and cookbook I first mentioned on January 7). First I tried out a week’s worth of menus from the online service for free. And once I realized how much I was enjoying this new approach for simple but healthy cooking, organized grocery shopping and the opportunity to let my family’s tired taste buds try out a new meal every single night, I decided to do a story for the Ledger-Enquirer’s Taste section, which you can read here. It includes an interview with Scramble mastermind Aviva Goldfarb, who’s made it her mission in life to discover recipes that are healthy, kid-palatable and relatively simple to execute.

I’m no artist in the kitchen, and since I rely on recipes anyway, the Scramble has been a nice way to mix things up and try out a lot of new meals without worrying that Will might snub the stuff. So far, we’ve all eaten hearty portions of every Scramble meal I’ve made. (I’ll admit here that Will is probably a less finicky eater than your average toddler.) Rob says he might not want to have the New Year’s Gumbo again but it was fine once. And I’ll admit that I didn’t like Chips Ole’ quite as much as Will (he was THRILLED to get to dip blue corn tortilla chips into meat sauce – we used ground turkey -- and call it dinner). But for the most part, everything’s getting rave reviews. Many of the recipes do rely on canned beans or canned tomatoes to keep things manageable in terms of time and cost, but there’s also a lot of fresh produce and whole grains in the mix. Most of the time, I made the suggested sides too (or my own variation on them), and we wound up eating a wider variety of vegetables for that reason. Here’s some of the Scramble menus (minus all the side dishes) that we’ve eaten over the past couple weeks:

From the sample online newsletter (you can view these five recipes here):

Goddess Chicken with Artichokes
Ginger Shrimp (Chicken or Tofu) and Broccoli Stir-fry (We chose tofu, even though we try not to eat very much of it these days),
Tortellini Soup with Spinach and Tomatoes
Chips Ole
New Years Good Luck Gumbo

From the winter section of the cookbook:
Chicken Diablo
Flounder with Lemony Bread Crumb Topping
Quesadillas with spinach and onions
Split Pea Soup with a Touch of Curry
Lentil and Cheese Casserole (Vegetarian meatloaf)
Pumpkin black bean soup

Tonight we’ll be trying a honey-baked salmon (stolen from the summer section of the cookbook, when I realized I’d forgotten to get lime for the “Wild Salmon or Arctic Char with Chili-Lime Spice Rub” in the winter section).

You can view a couple of Aviva’s favorite Scramble recipes at the end of the online story. And she gave me permission to share a couple of my favorites so far from the cookbook. I’m not going to include recipes for the suggested side dishes, but they are in the cookbook.

Chicken Diablo (Prep 15 minutes; Cook 50 minutes)

4 Tablespoons butter
¼ cup Dijon mustard
½ cup honey
1 tsp curry powder
1 whole chicken, cut up (or 8-12 chicken pieces of your choice) (I cut up a whole chicken and made chicken stock with the left-over carcass and wings to use in later meals. Obviously this turns it into less of a quick scramble recipe, but the payoff of a batch of homemade chicken stock was worth it for me.)

Preheat the oven to 350. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the mustard, honey, and curry powder and continue cooking and stirring until the sauce is well mixed, about 2 minutes.

Arrange the chicken pieces in a large baking pan. Pour the sauce over the chicken. (At this point you can refrigerate the chicken and sauce for up to 24 hours or bake it right away.)

Bake the chicken for 50 minutes. Halfway through, turn the chicken over and baste it with the sauce. For browner tops, put the chicken under the boriler for the final 5 minutes of cooking.

Recommended side dish: Lemon-pepper asparagus

Flounder with Lemony Bread Crumb Topping (Even Rob, who just doesn’t like fish much, admitted he enjoyed this meal. The fresh lemon and fresh parsley are a must, I think.)
2 flounder fillets (about 1 to 1½ pounds total)
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsely
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about ½ lemon), plus additional for serving
½ teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 clove)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the top of the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Lay the fish fillets on the baking sheet. In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, oil, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, salt and mustard and mix them together well with a fork. Press an equal amount of the bread crumb mixture onto the top of each fillet.
Bake the fish until it is white and flakes easily in the center, about 10 minutes. For a browner topping, broil it for the final 2 minutes of cooking. Sprinkle the fish with additional lemon juice before serving if desired.

Recommended side dish: Asian Rice Pilaf

I haven’t been a Scramble purist quite. When one week’s menu called for a Greek penne pasta with kalamata olives, for example, (one of the few things Rob just plain refuses to eat is olives) I substituted with a chickpea pasta recipe that my friend Ginny recently shared with me. It was easy and delicious, so I’ll share it soon when it won’t get confused with the Scramble fare.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Helmet-wearing carnivore

Will enters the kitchen with his red bike helmet on and explains that he’s got to wear his helmet because he’s going to eat some meat. (This is fantasy meat, it was after-breakfast playtime with no real meat-eating in sight.)

He apparently learned the importance of being a helmet-wearing carnivore the hard way: “Yeah ‘cause one time I got sick ‘cause I ate meat with not a helmet,” he tells me.

And it took some thinking on my part before it occurred to me that a couple days earlier I’d been telling Will the story of how we discovered Rob had a red meat allergy – when he broke out in hives and had trouble breathing after eating a hamburger one time, a steak another.

So I guess it makes sense that Will has deduced that meat-eating is a dangerous contact sport. Some of my vegetarian friends might agree.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Chopping the twirl

Over Christmas vacation, Will who’s addicted to twirling his hair (instead of thumb-sucking, this seems to be his form of self-soothing), started telling me that he wanted to cut his hair short “so it won’t tangle anymore.” But it’s not just his own hair that gets twirled. One morning, after he’d been sleeping beside me on a futon at Grammy and Grandpa’s house, I woke up with a lock of my hair sticking up in a twirly tangle and knew that Will had done some twirling on me.

So we’ve slowly been taking care of that problem. First Rob cut Will’s hair last weekend, using clippers for a close cut on the back. And today, I finally carried out my months-long resolution to chop off my own hair.

For at least three years now, Rob has been daring me to cut my hair really short. And about once a year, usually it’s during these winter doldrums, I get so tired of my scraggly-haired self that I half take the challenge, chop off a few inches and wind up with a rather dull bob.

Today I decided to be a bit braver and Will endorsed the idea. When I asked him if he thought I should cut my hair short, he said, “Yeah, cut it like mine.”

So, in a way, I did. Here we are together, neither of us very twirlable any more.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

On to carrots

We made the bold move from rice cereal to carrots today. Upon his first bite, Owen gave me a look that said, “Woman, you’re crazy if you think I’m going to swallow that yuckiness.” But I looked right back at him with a big grin and crooned “yummy!” then signed and said “eat” with enthusiasm. (We’ve just begun signing along with eating – “eat,” “more,” and “all done” are all we’ll bother with for a while -- and while I’m sure Owen's clueless about the meaning of the signs at this point, he gets really animated at this moving-fingers-while-speaking-with-emphasis thing.)

So Owen tried a few more bites and soon he was feeding himself the stuff.

Here he is content and a mess, having finished his 1-and-a-half-tablespoon meal.

I’m sure that whether or not you wind up with a picky eater is 85 percent luck and 15 percent how you feed the kid, but assuming I do have some miniscule bit of control over the matter, I’m going to be careful to start with vegetables and try to slowly build as much variety into Owen’s diet as I can, so that hopefully he’ll eat a wide range of things along with us as he grows.

What do you think? Did your child’s diet as a baby or young toddler have any bearing on the eater they’ve become?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Chilly-rainy day activities

It was a frigid day for Georgia (it’s now snowing to the north of us, according to Rob's grandmother), and we began it with our heat pump out of commission, so breakfast attire looked like this.

(Late morning “the heat men,” whose very presence made man-shy Will sob in fear, band-aided things up so we could at least remove our hats while we await a part they need to replace.)

Between the cold and the rain, it was no weather for outings so we had fun indoors. We finally got around to using the new doorway puppet theater, which I’ve discovered is a wonderful way for Will to entertain Owen and me (and vice versa) as I work in the kitchen.

And a couple years after I first read this Waldorf-based book

(which suggests that until children reach grade school, painting in just three primary colors is a wonderful way to let them experiment with colors and how they blend) I finally got out some tempera paint in just red, blue and yellow for Will to play artist. (The book actually suggests that water colors are a better painting medium, but oh well…) We had, by chance, just read this book

earlier in the day – a simple tale of painting mice playing in and mixing red, yellow and blue paint. So we talked about the book as Will experimented with creating greens, purples, magentas and oranges in a mini-muffin tin. And the colors he created were richer than when he works from a full set of kids paints or water colors in 10 or 12 colors.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tiny teeth and dream thoughts

As if to herald the arrival of solid food in his life, one day after Owen’s first encounter with rice cereal, his first tooth broke through, finally surmounting – just barely – the surface of his gum. Today he was even grinning as he ate.

Meanwhile, his elder brother shared this thought with me today: “My dreams come to me when I’m in bed. When I’m not in bed they notice, and they don’t come.”

And now I’m off to bed in our 58 degree house. Our heat pump, which likes to act up on an annual basis, is up to no good again.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bring on the food -- or not

Yesterday, at 6 months and two days old, we finally gave Owen his first taste of solid food.

He was excited to play with the spoon.

But once he got to tasting the stuff, his expression stayed pretty much like this:

mildly repulsed.

He didn’t spit it out, but he accepted about a third of his two-tablespoon portion before losing all interest. Will was convinced he loved it; Rob and I, not so much.

We began to wonder if we had a less voracious, more finicky eater on our hands than Will had been as a baby and toddler. (Will devoured his first portion of rice cereal at Owen’s age.) It’s also possible that he had a tastier meal than Owen’s today. (After flirting with the idea of launching with something other than rice cereal with Owen, I decided to stick with the old standby – only I used an Earth’s Best whole grain rice cereal on Owen and I think Will may have had the traditional white Gerber stuff.)

At the end of the day, we pulled out an old video of Will eating his first rice cereal at 6 months. As he would with most meals in the days and months to come, Will gobbled the stuff and still wanted more. “He’s eating it all!” Will said as he watched himself (sporting a head of hair that makes him look like some kind of baby-man beside Owen). “That’s you!” we reminded Will. And he corrected himself: “Will’s eating it all.”

It was hard for him to believe that he was looking at a younger version of himself – hard for Rob and I too. And even harder to imagine that before long Owen will be a walking, talking self-feeding kid himself.

On the subject of introducing foods, a report in the January issue of Pediatrics suggests that neither what babies eat nor what their breastfeeding mothers eat has much effect on whether they will develop any food allergies. You can read about it here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Airport play date

Yesterday we got a tour of the Columbus Airport courtesy of Earnie Shelton, a spry 90-year-old who’s been flying planes since the early '40s (and who’s the grandfather of our friend Theresa, who invited us for the tour).

Here’s Captain Earnie telling the kids about the airplanes in this hangar (I promise I didn’t tell Will to turn toward the camera and ignore the lecture).

Despite the fact that Will has made multiple airport trips and airplane flights to Colorado and back, we’ve never gotten this close and personal with airplanes and their engines

Or sat in a cockpit.
On Will’s list of airport tour highlights, getting inside this plane ranked right up there with seeing the “big jet plane” below take off . Here it was still several minutes from departure, and we were soon ushered away from the fence when we learned it was a U.S. Marshals Service deportation plane, with gun-bearing officials ensuring that all was in order. A slightly disquieting moment for us moms that sailed over the heads of the kids – and of course we didn’t do any explaining.

So all in all, the airport made for a pretty fabulous play date. And it inspired me to want to give hour-and-a-half tours of something when I'm 90 years old myself.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cooking 101

Here is master chef at work.

A few pillows and quilts to prevent over-reaching or overexcited tumbles, a smattering of kitchen tools (none of them infant-approved) -- and the boy is delighted. I love this age when every object is a toy – and the non-toys are most intriguing of all. Already, Owen and I are cooking side by side. (He's 6 months old today.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Medicating children

Frontline aired an eye-opening segment last night called “The Medicated Child,” which looks at the increasing numbers of children who are being diagnosed with serious psychiatric disorders and the medications that are being prescribed to them despite the fact that they’ve undergone little or no testing in children (since running clinical trials on children is a risky and ethically problematic affair). You can watch the program online or just read about it here. Rob and I exchanged skeptical looks as we watched toddlers diagnosed with bipolar disorder and wondered to ourselves whether a good 70 percent of toddlers aren’t naturally bipolar. Tantrums and elation seem like pretty normal mood swings to us these days. It’s the controversy around childhood diagnoses of bipolar disorder (which have shot up 4,000 percent in the past 10 years, according to Frontline) that is the most heated issue in this exposé. I’m no psychiatrist, and I’m sure that many of these medications are of great benefit to the kids who take them, but as a parent, it probably makes sense to stay tuned to reports like these and make all decisions about how to cope with childhood mental illness critically.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Just the month, please

On our walk back from the park -- where Will got distracted while climbing a playground ladder, slipped and banged his head on one of the rungs, immediately developed a nice-sized knot on the back of his head, screamed and cried in pain, then stopped sobbing just long enough to scream “GET AWAY!” through his tears at all caring, concerned onlookers who were trying to ensure that he was okay (this getting-ferocious-with-all-helpful-people-after-an-injury thing is embarrassing every time) -- Will asked me a simple question:

“Mom, what day is it?”

“January eighth.” (Normally I tell Will the day of the week; this time I had dates on the brain for some reason.)

“No I didn’t want the 8.”

“Oh, you just wanted to know what month it was?”


“It’s January.”

“Yeah, January,” Will said, satisfied with the whole month answer.

Soon after our arrival home, Will asked Rob: “Dad is it the weekend?”

“No, it’s Tuesday.”

And suddenly Will, still fragile after his fall at the park, started to cry. “No it’s not, it’s JANUARY!” he yelled. And cried some more.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Adventures in meal-planning

I’ve discovered in the couple months since I resolved to revolutionize dinnertime, which had grown bland, stale and predictable, in our house, that the most difficult thing about cooking is trying to decide what to make – enough ahead of time that I can get the necessary ingredients at the store. Often, I’d wind up in the store without a plan for the week, buying the same old staples for the same old meals whose ingredients I’d memorized because I’d made them too many times.

So I started finding recipes in cookbooks and in my recipe files and worked on a dinner rotation that now stretches almost 50 meals long. I re-insert quick dinners some of the time and make many of the meals stretch out over a couple nights (we never throw away left-overs in our house), so I just recently got through one “rotation.” And now, just as I was preparing to start over on meal one, I learned from my cousin and his wife in Colorado about “The Six O’Clock Scramble,” a meal-planning Internet service that’s healthy, fast, family-friendly and somewhat in tune with the season – so that’s tempting me to add more meals to the rotation or disembark from my list altogether. I’m sampling a week’s worth of menus this week for free – and I may at least buy the cookbook by week’s end if we like the meals as much as we enjoyed last night’s easy and yummy Goddess chicken with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes (see the recipe here). I’d like to add more simplicity to my cooking regimen.

But it won’t be as simple as following one person’s meal planning lock-step. There’s too many good, healthy cooks out there that I’d like to be learning from. I discovered as I was catching up on my cousin April’s blog this weekend that she too was experimenting with meal planning in Seattle. Her meals are filled with more farm-fresh vegetables and generally healthy sounding stuff than just about anything on my list and I got to thinking that I might buy this cookbook, which she swears by, in part to see if I too can convince my family to eat such things as kale and cauliflower (so far not much luck in those departments) if I come armed with the right recipes.

So my dinner rotation may grow 80 meals long – or it may get filled in with more seasonally appropriate, interesting, healthy or just plain yummier dishes along the way. Whatever happens, I’m just glad I’m no longer making the same old lasagna every other week.

Here’s our dinner rotation (minus the side dishes) so far, with things newly switched around to try to keep the chicken, fish, turkey and vegetable-based dishes coming at fairly well-spaced intervals (Rob has a red-meat allergy that keeps all things beef and pork-based off-limits). I’m forcing some still untested fish recipes into the equation because we don’t eat enough fish, plus a couple other recent recipe discoveries -- but most of the meals are Will-tested and approved. My next step is to type in all the non-staple ingredients out to the side so I've got a one-stop resource for grocery-list making.

If you’d like a recipe, just ask, and I’ll leave it in the comments on this post.

First the sources:

RB = My recipe box (largely comprised of old favorites from my mom's meal repertoire)
VP = Vegetarian Planet
FG = Fields of Greens
EBF = My old edition of the Enchanted Broccoli Forest
HC= The Healthy Cook
C = My recipe files on computer
VE = Vegetarian Express Lane

Then the meals:
Spinach fettucine with sun-dried tomatoes (FG p. 136)
Grace's meat pastry (with ground turkey, onions, carrots) (C)
Cheese Souffle (RB)
Curried Chicken (C)
Lentil and Pasta Soup (HC p. 124)
Baked salmon (RB)
Penne with Red Pepper Sauce and Broccoli (VP – p.251)
Meatloaf (with ground turkey) (RB)
Spinach Calzone (RB)
Chicken in tomato and basil sauce (RB)
Corn chowder (HC) (with potato, zucchini, corn)
Fried Tilapia and crispy rosemary potatoes (C and VP)
Eggplant Parmesan (RB)
Sloppy Joes (HC)
Mac and Cheese (RB)
Chicken Paprikash with Broccoli (HC p. 213)
Black Bean Chili (RB)
Jenn’s La Barbouille (C)
Tuna casserole (C)
Spinach Ricotta Dumplings in tomato sauce (VP p. 312)
Quiche with broccoli (EBF)
Homemade Chicken and noodles (RB)
Chickpea burgers (C)
Hamburger Stroganoff (RB)
Homemade Pizza (RB) with spinach, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms
Chicken Enchilada casserole with tomato soup (RB)
Salmon loaf (Rob hates it but Will likes it and that’s what really counts) (C)
Spinach manicotti (RB)
Crockpot barley with ground turkey soup (RB)
Pad Thai (p. 277 VP)
North African Veggie Stew (FG p. 192)
Ground turkey lasagna with spinach (RB)
Curried brown rice with mushrooms and peas and chicken drumsticks (HC and RB)
Broccoli Soup (VE) and grilled cheese sandwiches
Fillets Neapolitan (C)
Spanokopeta (RB)
Homemade spaghetti and meatballs (RB)
Tortellini tomato spinach soup (C)
Baked Chicken nuggets (C)
Roasted Winter Vegetables with cheesy polenta
Baked rigatoni with broccoli (VP. 293)
Maple glazed salmon (C)
Winter Veggie Curry or Spring Veggie Curry – (FG p. 186 or p. 190)
Rosemary Crockpot Chicken (C)
Stir fry with tofu and vegetables (HC p. 297)
Chicken and spinach pasta bake (RB)
Black bean burritos w/ corn, tomatoes, zucchini

What cookbooks, recipes, Web sites or basic strategies have become essential tools for your meal-planning?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Here come the teeth

Owen’s bottom middle two teeth are showing their faint whites just beneath the gums and we’ve been hearing about it the past few nights as he wakes up crying about an hour after bedtime. The tears persist, minus some relief from ice-sucking, until we cave and give him infant Tylenol. Will was relatively unbothered by the process, but unless we’re misdiagnosing some simple unwillingness to sleep, Owen needs relief if we hope to get any sleep. I’m thinking of trying some Hyland’s Teething tablets but I’m always hesitant to try any products (even when they’re homeopathic and “natural”) out on a baby.

So, tell me your favorite teething remedy – especially for nighttime (just gumming on teethers and fingers and ice cubes seems to suffice during the daylight hours).

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A mind of its own

Of late, Will has (thankfully) been careful to try to aim for the toilet when it comes time to pee. I’m washing less splatter off the walls and floors these days. But there are still plenty of moments when he misfires at first.

Today, as he shot a stream straight over the bowl to that handy backboard -- the uplifted toilet seat -- he shouted at his own urine, “Get down!”

“Mom,” he said as he corrected the flow, “I think the penis does that because it thinks it’s funny. I think it’s not me doing that. I think it’s the penis.”

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Christmas photo album

I finally downloaded the vacation camera. Here’s a mini-photo album of our adventures:
In Atlanta: Will discovers his inner performer on the microphone Nana and Papa gave him.

Aunt Alicia stages an elaborate, prop-filled puppet show in Will and Owen’s new doorway theater.

After his first plane trip (to Colorado), Owen met GG, my grandmother, for the first time.

Will and icicle.

Owen and stocking.

Will gets a major assist from Grammy on the slopes (before he learned that he could ski by himself).
Will and Owen enjoyed a day with four of their second cousins* (all children of three different cousins of mine). 10-year-old Wyatt, pictured here, is the eldest by a good five years, and infatuated Will soon announced that Wyatt was his best friend. Incidentally, when Will woke up this morning and I told him Georgia had played Hawaii last night (we put him to bed before the slaughter), he was momentarily convinced that Georgia had played Wyatt.
* I had to go to this Web site to determine that they were second cousins (people with the same great grandparents but not the same grandparents).

Sledding with Grandpa (and the cousins and second cousins).

Uncle Graham celebrates a lucky turn in an impassioned game of Candy Land.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Resolutions at odds

This morning Rob and Will and I discussed New Year’s resolutions. After trying to explain the concept to Will (and omitting the fact that each year I tend to make several of the things in a vague way to myself, then forget them by the next week and almost certainly fail to carry them out by year’s end – although it’s hard to evaluate your progress when you can’t remember last January’s resolutions to begin with), Rob shared a few of his resolutions for the upcoming year.

"Do you have any resolutions," I asked Will.

"Yeah if you put tissue into water that makes marshmallows and if you put cookies into dough that makes oil."

"Hmmm. But a resolution is something you’d like to get done in the next year – or something you’d like to do better. One of my resolutions is to keep the house cleaner," I said choosing a dull, domestic but easily understandable resolution for myself as I scanned our disaster of a house (we have not yet recovered from our 10-day vacation ).

"Yeah. And I want to keep my toys messy."

Somehow I have the feeling Will’s hit upon a resolution he can keep. And that should pretty well thwart mine.