Monday, April 22, 2013

Fun at the “Farm”

Auntie was interested in hanging out with Toby and I last week on one of her days off so I started researching some places to check out so we could spend time outside instead of being stuck in the house.  I have a Groupon for a butterfly place but we decided to save that for a rainy day.  I knew of a huge farm near us with lots of outdoor attractions (including a corn maze that Hubby and I explored a few years ago), but when I saw the admission price, we decided it was a little expensive.  Maybe when Toby’s walking on his own it would be worth it. 


So I started looking for other farms in the area with petting zoo’s and found one nearby that also has ice cream and a farm store.  They opened in March and don’t charge anything to check out their animals.  It’s definitely not a huge farm or anything but it was perfect for us.  When we went, only the goats were out but according to pictures on their Facebook page, it also looks like they have cows and horses.  We’ll have to go back soon to see the cows, considering Toby was laughing his little butt off at the goats.  As soon as I took him out of the stroller, he reached his hand out to “pet” one and then started giggling with his chicken cackle.  It was adorable! 



After we enjoyed some ice cream, but Toby’s still not a fan of how cold it is.  He was content with his carrot-mango puree and puffs :)  I can tell this summer is going to be a lot of fun since he interacts with so much of his surroundings now.  I’m already looking to see if we can budget zoo season passes. 







Saturday, April 20, 2013

Toby: 10 Months!

Toby turned 10 months on the 16th earlier this week!  Double digits…hard to believe.  This post is late because it’s impossible for me to take the monthly pictures on my own so we have to wait until the weekend when I have more assistance.  But I also haven’t had the heart to put the update together after all of the events this past week.  I was debating including anything about the Boston Marathon bombings on my blog as I try to keep things on here positive.  But looking back a year from now, or five years from now, I do think it’s important that I write something, even if it’s brief.  Being 40 minutes away from Boston and then even closer to Watertown made me physically sick yesterday.  I was begging Hubby to not go to work at 5am as I was glued to the TV watching the news and  seeing the manhunt get more intense.  It’s horrible that in Toby’s short 10 months of life the Newtown school shooting occurred and now everything in Boston.  I hate that these events seem to be getting closer and closer to my family and friends.  When you watch something on the news, you think “oh, that’s awful” and you’re sympathetic for the victims…but when these events happen in the same region, the same state that you live in, it just hits too close to home.  The fact that the four victims that died this week are all under the age of 30 also makes it even harder.  Such a waste of young lives.  I sincerely hope that this, like the Newtown shooting, is a turning point for our country and that we learn how to love and help each other more.  As Martin Richard’s poster simply but beautifully stated “No more hurting people.  Peace.” 


Sigh…moving on to a lighter note.  Today my plan is to start working on Toby’s first birthday invitations!  Party planning is well under way, but I won’t be sharing any of the plans until after the party actually takes place :)  The challenge has been coming up with a theme as he’s not obsessed with anything yet.  While I’m in denial he turns one in just two months, I think focusing on party planning will get me excited instead of being sad it’s gone by so fast.

This past month his personality has blossomed even more.  We’ve had less tantrums which has been nice.  He’s a generally happy boy and always busy, always observant, and always curious.  He definitely has a serious side and can be shy around strangers, but he does warm up eventually and becomes playful.  Random stuff will make him laugh and sometimes when he starts giggling a lot, he sounds like a chicken clucking.  He’s so good when we are out and about…rarely fusses in public and I can usually distract him with a book or toy if I do sense he’s getting restless.  Multiple people have warned me that our second baby will probably be the complete opposite of Toby since he’s so easy. 


Weight: Assuming he’s 20 pounds now.

Height: Was 28.5” at his 9 month appointment, so probably still close to that, although most of his 6-9 pants are capris now so they have been retired.


Medical Issues: Eczema is getting better on his body, it’s more his face that gets irritated now.  He’s had a runny nose that started two weeks ago, then went away for a few days and now it’s back.  I think it’s teething related as he doesn’t show any other signs of a cold.  We can definitely see two of the top teeth that have finally come through (not the direct front ones).

Sleep: Back to normal, woo hoo, and even better than before!  He’s usually in the crib by 7:45pm, fusses for 30-60 seconds after we leave the room and then falls right asleep.  Sleeping straight through until 6:30ish still, I usually don’t have to get him until closer to 7am as he will play quietly.  Naps have been okay, but he does fuss longer before settling down (sometimes will move around for a good 10-15 minutes before falling asleep).  Napping once in the morning and once in the afternoon for 90 minutes each.  Sort of still following a 2-3-4 schedule but now it more looks like 2.5-3.5-4, so he stays up a little longer between naps now.  A few days last week he took shorter naps in the mornings and I was thinking he was getting ready to drop a nap, but then he went back to the normal 90 minute nap.


Clothes/Diapers: Mix of 6-9 month (mostly onesies and some long sleeve shirts that were oversized to begin with), 9-12 month, and 6-12 month outfits.  He’s wearing a lot of three piece sets from Carter’s that include zip-up hoodies which are nice since it’s chilly in the morning but then warms up in the afternoon so he can wear the onesie and pants and be fine.  Wearing 3’s for diapers.  I accidently bought a box of size 3 overnight diapers (he’s been wearing 4’s the past couple months) but he hasn’t leaked through them by morning so I guess he doesn’t pee as much overnight as he used to.


Diet: Still drinking four 6oz bottles each day (usually every 4-5 hours).  Has breakfast, lunch, and dinner (about 60-90 minutes after he finishes a bottle).  Eating almost all Stage 3 purees at this point and he’s tried a ton of new finger foods this past month.  Basically anything that is soft I can tear into little pieces, I will let him try.  He has tried bagel thin and English muffin pieces with some apricot preserves or grape jelly, ground hamburger and ground turkey, pasta noodles, roast beef pieces, roasted sweet potatoes (not pureed all the way, just soft pieces), zucchini, black bean and corn mixture we had for tacos, cheese, bananas, peas, carrots, meatballs.  I’m sure there are other things I’m forgetting.  He only will eat 5-10 pieces of something before he gets bored and starts rubbing his eyes.  That’s when we move on to giving a puree.  I would say his favorite food is probably sweet potatoes.  He HATES regular mashed potatoes, though (still).  He also finally enjoyed some frozen yogurt for the first time!  Last month it was too cold for him apparently and he refused, but when we went a week ago to the self-serve place he did end up liking a few spoonfuls of vanilla. 


Baby Gear Love: Bumkins bibs.  Munchkins sippy cups.  Nothing really new I can think of at this point.

Milestones/Firsts: Started using his walker to take steps in early April (now can walk pretty fast with it).  Started waving!!!! Oh my gosh, I love this milestone.  It started off with him flapping his arm and we couldn’t tell if he was waving or if it was coincidence, but then towards mid-April he definitely started an actually waving motion and most times is good about waving back if you wave to him.  First trip to Ikea was in April (pretty exciting haha!). He enjoyed testing out stuff in the kids’ section.  Not really a milestone or first, but his hair is starting to curl!  I love it, Hubby’s not a fan.


Likes: “Petting” the kitties and chasing them. Opening and closing the kitchen cabinet doors.  Hiding behind the living room curtains. Climbing up the stairs very fast. Reading. Brushing his teeth.  Really likes any toys that have wheels – enjoys spinning them.

Dislikes: Being told no (I mean, who likes being told that?).  If he touches something he shouldn’t be and we say “Nooo”, he pulls his hand away and flaps his arms in disgust, while grunting “ahhh”.  At least he knows what the word means now.  Laying on his back (hence why I need assistance for photo shoots).  He also doesn’t like getting cleaned up after eating or getting his nose wiped.  Getting better with being put in the car seat – only fusses half of the time now.


Things I don’t want to forget: How fast he will take your finger or hand away from a page if you’re covering a picture he wants to see in a book.  How sometimes he will put his hand over my hand when I’m holding a bottle for him (since he still refuses to hold a bottle on his own, though I know he can).  How he quickly grabbed a piece of cat food off the floor and promptly shoved it in his mouth…sigh, at least we feed our kitties “good” food.  How when I finish reading the last bed-time story and shut off the lights, he will rest his head on my shoulder and we’ll sit for a couple minutes before I lay him in the crib.  I usually sing him “Twinkle, Twinkle”.  How he turns toys over in his hands, examining every side very closely, flipping them back and forth (I like to say he’s going to be an engineer or a scientist because he is so observant and interested in seeing how things work).  How he goes “ahhhhh” after taking a big gulp of water from his sippy (Grammy taught him that).  How he hates the purple phone being on the hook on his walker – has to immediately take it off if he sees someone has put it back on.  How he flings stuff out of his toy bin to get to the bottom where the books usually are. How he reads books differently with me and Hubby – if I try to read him a new story, he cries and arches his back, demanding for me to get another book that I’ve read him before.  However, if Hubby reads him a new book, he will sit there patiently and look at the pages with him.  I have to make sure that Hubby has read the new books to him at least a few times before I can attempt to read them.  So picky. 



So grateful for this sweet little face that I get to wake up to every single day.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Recipe Review–BLT Mac & Cheese

I’ve been on the hunt for a “skinny” version of macaroni and cheese for a long time.  I tried adding butternut squash into the cheese sauce and wasn’t really a fan.  We tried making sauce with just Laughing Cow wedges and for some reason they didn’t melt well, hence a clumpy mess.  So when I found this recipe, I figured it was worth a try, especially since I always love finding new ways to incorporate more veggies into the main dish. 


The BLT Mac & Cheese did not disappoint!  Original recipe can be found here.  It was SO good – lots of veggies are hidden in with the pasta, and the cheese covers the veggies well so you don’t taste the spinach and the squash doesn’t have a strong flavor, either.  Things I changed:

  • I used a cup of shredded reduced fat (2% milk) sharp cheddar cheese instead of the slices.  I mixed this with the sour cream and Laughing Cow wedges in the pot that I used to cook the pasta in and the mixture came out perfect – creamy and no lumps.  I heated it for about 2-3 minutes over very low heat and kept stirring to prevent it from burning. 
  • I used light sour cream instead of fat-free.  Fat free sour cream always tastes “blah” to me.
  • I only had one summer squash on hand, so that was half of what the recipe called for.  I think this was actually the perfect amount – 2 full squashes may have been too much.
  • I had rotini instead of penne, and the sauce still coated everything fine.
  • I was nervous about all the spinach as hubby is slowly learning that you really can’t taste it when mixing with other items.  I added about 1 1/2 cups of chopped leaves (so half of what the recipe called for).

Things I would change the next time I make this:

  • Per hubby’s request, add more bacon.  I will add one more slice of turkey bacon and crumble them into smaller pieces.
  • Add more tomato – two medium tomatoes should work.
  • There was plenty of sauce to coat the pasta and veggies so for next time I will reduce the amount of shredded cheese to 3/4 cup.
  • Reduce amount of pasta to one cup – with all the squash there’s not much of a need for the pasta.
  • Add more spinach – about 2 cups total should be fine.

This was fairly easy to make (can be a weeknight meal), but it’s not a one pot or one skillet meal.  Overall the outcome was well worth the clean up!  So glad to have finally found a recipe that keeps the awesome cheesiness factor but sneaks in some veggies.  It was great the next day as lunch leftovers, too.  This can be a vegetarian meal with omitting the bacon crumbles, but I liked how the bacon added some saltiness that mixed well with the sweetness of the squash.





Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New Kitchen

We finally took the plunge and started our kitchen re-do a couple weeks ago.  The lovely 80’s white laminate cabinets and countertops were really bugging me and I knew we needed to get it done before we do list our house on the market in the future for re-sale purposes.  Since this isn’t our “forever home”, we decided to re-face the cabinet doors as there’s nothing wrong with the cabinets themselves.  When the salesman showed up to give an estimate, he said replacing countertops would be fairly inexpensive since our kitchen isn’t large.  We decided to go with new laminate countertops, as well, and they threw in a sink for free to complete the package.  We went through Home Depot and are pleased with the results.  I especially love the countertops – I actually prefer them to real granite!  They’re so easy to clean and I don’t feel like they show every little water drop and smear like shiny granite can.  Enough talk, here’s the pictures:




And the after:





It’s a big difference seeing it in person – the darker countertops have really helped to make it feel not so white!  We stuck with white cabinet doors as there’s no windows in the kitchen so it was important to keep it as light as possible in there.  The door handles and knobs are a dark brown brushed with a light brown accent to match the countertops.

Re-facing the cabinets meant a much shorter construction time in terms of the contractor actually being in our house (took about 2 1/2 days total), but it was still a pain emptying out the entire kitchen, moving the fridge into the dining room, and shutting off the water access in the kitchen for half a week.  Lots of take-out was had that week.  This is probably something we should have done before baby, but you live and learn! 

Now we just need to figure out what to do with the ugly striped wallpaper and nasty white backsplash.  Hoping we can do the tiling on our own…