May 31, 2012

Eisenhower Park

the tot lot
I really wanted to love this Eisenhower Park. We have driven by it so many times and I looked longingly at the big duck pond and expanse of green space. We finally decided to go check it out Memorial Day weekend.

Yeah, Memorial Day weekend. So the park was packed - which is fine with us, except that it was also fairly trashed. I am not sure if it is always this way or just the result of a busy weekend.

The park is SO big. It has great green space to run around in. It doesn't have a ton of shade and Monday was HOT. There were several shady places, but they were pretty well staked out for holiday gatherings. The playgrounds were nice. The duck pond was scummy and had trash floating in it. But the ducks were fun to watch. I didn't see any swings.

more of the tot lot
Also, there were a couple of small, dedicated parking lots for the park, but they were all packed, and the neighboring shopping center had up a fence between it and the park (presumably) to keep

Our toddler had toy envy, and we weren't sure how to handle the situation. Normally we just tell him the toys aren't ours and encourage him to play with the ones we brought or head back to the playground, but my mom was with us and encouraged us to see if the other kids (er, parents) would share. So we let him borrow a ride-on toy we came across that didn't seem to have an owner in the immediate vicinity and kept an eye out to see if anyone claimed it so we could ask permission. Eventually one little girl stared me down and tried to tell me (I think... we were literally not speaking the same language and I had to think back to my high school days to ask her if the toy was hers) that the toy was her brother's. How does your family handle toy envy?
big kid play structure

Anyway, I can't say that we will be planning to return to this park, but one day we may have to give it another try...

I love granola - Toddler Lunches

Short week, so only four lunches to share.

I do hate to brag, but good produce is really cheap on the left coast! We picked up cherries this week! Mmmm mmmm mmmm....

People: have you tried the weelicious granola bars yet? I am addicted to the chocolate chip version. M seems to be enjoying the dried fruit version, too.

Cheers Pizza!, halved cherries, peas and corn ("beh-ja-buls" at our house)
steamed carrot sticks (cut from regular-sized carrots) and yogurt
weelicious granola + apricot wedges
sausage and rice (and peppers and broccoli) and orange slices
watermelon and yogurt
weelicious granola and apricot slices
This was our super fast lunch that we put together after coming home from
a trip to the ER to have a rock removed from the toddler's nasal cavity...
1/4 turkey and cheese sandwich slices, steamed carrots, grape tomato halves, frozen peas
cherries and yogurt
granola and apricot wedges
leftover from our Memorial Day grilling:
grilled marinated chicken, grilled squash and zucchini, strawberry slices, Annie's Snack Mix
watermelon and yogurt
granola and apricot wedges

May 25, 2012

Toddler lunch - home made fish sticks were a hit!

Happy Friday!

I have a fun recipe to share this week: Fish Sticks.
Not the frozen ones, but simple, healthy ones made at home - quickly. Both kid- and dad-approved.

rasperry summer salad (raspberries, grilled chicken, goat cheese, apricot dressing
 and green beans instead of lettuce) + rosemary crackers;
whole grain blackberry muffin + tangelo slices;
grapes, carrots and yogurt

Homemade Fish Sticks, quick whole wheat cheddar biscuits, frozen peas, apple slices;
whole grain blackberry muffin + apricot slices;
blueberry granola + yogurt
hard boiled egg, Annie's snack mix, cherry tomato slices, green beans, black beans;
blueberry granola, yogurt;
watermelon chunks, whole grain blackberry muffin

Not pictured: two days of the same recipe: cauliflower mac n cheese with our typical sides/snacks of veggies, yogurt, muffin and fruit!

Fish Stick Recipe
(adapted from from Cooking Light's)
  • 1/2 c panko
  • 1/2 c bread crumbs
  • 1 pound skinless Pacific cod or other firm-fleshed white fish fillet
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (we used whole wheat) 
  • 1-2 large eggs, beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups frozen green peas
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 mint leaves
    • Preparation

      1. Cut fish into 16 (3 x 1-inch) pieces; pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle fish evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place flour and egg in separate shallow dishes. Dredge 1 fish finger in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip fish in egg; dredge in breadcrumbs. Repeat procedure with remaining fish, flour, egg, and breadcrumbs. Arrange coated fish on a cooking-spray-coated broiling pan. Bake at 425° for 8 minutes or until desired degree of doneness, carefully turning once.
      2. Bring chicken broth to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in peas; cover and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter, mint, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place pea mixture in a food processor; process until smooth. Place about 1/3 cup pea puree in the middle of each of 4 plates. Stack 4 fish fingers on the puree. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
      (note: our toddler preferred the whole frozen peas for dinner instead of the mushy ones, but I enjoyed the minty version in the recipe!)

      Quick whole wheat biscuits (we used all whole wheat flour, regular milk, and added 1/4 - 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar to the batter before baking!)

      May 22, 2012

      Back Yard Camping

      We are itching to try out camping in the Great Outdoors. Our big goal this weekend was to give it a "test run". We have dug up all the camping/tailgate stuff we have, and this was our chance to try them all together from the comfort of our backyard. 1) to make sure everything works, 2) to make sure/a list of everything we need, 3) see how M does. Did I mention that we are not campers... even before we had a kid?

      So on Saturday we had a leisurely breakfast and a not-so-leisurely trip to REI. M was only interested in riding the bikes and we wanted to try out sleeping mats, which is pretty hard to do with an un-interested toddler so that will have to be another day. Suggestions (for a cheap but comfortable option) welcome! In the meantime, the yoga mats we used instead did nothing for comfort, but we weren't cold (not sure if they helped in that department either). I digress.

      After a Tyke Hike in the morning, M was worn out and took a  nice long 3-hr nap. By the time he got up and had a snack, it was time to set up camp in the back yard. We picked our spot (and turned off the sprinklers). We were pleasantly surprised how big a 4-person tent really is. It easily fit two sleeping bags, a pack n play, and a little pallet for Our 30 lb. dog. There was a nice little space to store shoes underneath the pack n play, too, and handy pockets for keeping our cell phones and flashlights attached to the inside of the tent.

      M loved the idea of being in the tent and zipping and unzipping the door. We did have to remind him a couple of times not to lean on the tent. He also very much liked his toddler-sized bag chair, and how he could fit his water bottle or sippy cup in the cup holder. He encouraged us to use our chairs as well.

      For dinner, we made grilled cheeses, using the grill as our campfire, and had apples and canned green beans as our sides (note to self: add can opener to our checklist). M was a little wiggly sitting in a grown up chair our our outside table and wanted to keep sliding off his chair and climbing back up until he finally fell over in it. *sigh*
      After we cleaned up (we cheated and used the indoor sink. I haven't totally wrapped my head around doing dishes outside, though I think we can use one of our storage tubs and biodegradable soap)we went upstairs and brushed our teeth and took a shower (we do plan to hit up some 'upscale' campgrounds that should have decent amenities for both activities... I think... Am I overestimating?). Then it was time to get M into his diaper and PJ's (It was starting to get chilly, so we dressed him inside. I worry the tent is going to be small for these acrobatics, but I suppose this could be done in the bathing quarters as well?). Then we read our 3 books with a cup of milk (our  nightly routine) and it was bed time, al fresco. He was excited to get in the tent and after a few minutes of singing to himself, he was out like a light. Hubby and I then wondered what it was we were supposed to do until our bed time (suggestions welcome!). We read a book on the iPad and surfed the Internet (pretty sure these amenities may be limited at the campsite).
      all dressed for bed, reading a book and drinking milk
      Sleeping was a little uncomfortable on the hard, slightly sloping ground, but plenty warm. Actually too warm we realized when M woke us up, all of us sweating. Once, Hubby said he woke to M standing in the crib and motioned to him to lay down, which he did. But on the instance I heard him, he was standing, with his hat strapped only around his neck and looking very sad. He wanted to get out and said hi to The dog and crawled all over the tent, laid down with me for a bit, sucking his thumb but not sleeping, requested a diaper change (claiming he had poop in it, but didn't) and then announced that he was "all done" in the tent around 3:30 AM. So we moved inside, I laid him in the crib and we got into our bed and we all went right to sleep until 7:30 AM (which is an hour late for us, thank goodness).
      Anywho. We got up the next day, and went back outside to make egg sandwiches on blueberry bagels and our instant (Starbucks Via) coffee with water boiled on the grill. This turned out well. M was slightly less wiggly in his chair, but not much (how do you attach a booster seat to a picnic table?). We went over to the playground with M still in footy pajamas (sandals on top - quite the sight... and of course we met a new neighbor at the playground, but hey, we are roughing it!).

      All in all, I am not sure if this is a success or not. I would love any suggestions or feedback. I am not sure why M got up (3:00 is when we could hear our neighbors' sprinklers turn on, we were all much warmer than we needed to be, he could see us through the crib walls.... other thoughts? suggestions?).

      I would like to say a special thanks to the other outdoor blog writers who inspired me to even do a test run of camping, and answered my questions. I want badly to do this at a real campground, especially during our adventurous 100 Weeks Challenge!!! Thanks to Cragmama, Adventure Tykes and FunOrangeCountyParks!!

      >>> update: we did it! we actually went camping!!! see the post!<<<

      Also, here are a few links I used in my research for tips and checklists:

      May 21, 2012

      Tyke Hike at Rancho Sonado

      We are so fortunate to have found some resources for kid-themed nature activities in our new home. This weekend we participated in one sponsored by Inside the Outdoors.
      walking up to the nature center to start the hike
      Saturday morning we headed to Rancho Sonado (in Silverado) for our second Tyke Hike. This one was themed "Where the Wild Things Are". Conveniently, M requested a book about monsters at bedtime on Thursday this week (I am really not sure where this request came from...), so we started obliged with said book, hoping to prepare him with some key elements from the book. Our favorite element is when Max tells the monsters to "Stop!" We also practiced roaring our terrible roars, gnashing our terrible teeth, rolling our terrible eyes, and showing our terrible claws. The hike was cute all around. For one, my son's friend (and his mom) joined us, and the two were incredibly cute together. They held hands going up and down the hills, and copied each other when they fell or even coughed. 

      enjoying the sand toys
      One thing I particularly liked about the program itself was that as a mingling agenda item, they put out a bunch of sand toys for this kids to play with in the gravel drive. They all would have been happy if that were the only activity for the next hour and a half. 

      making crowns (like Max's) from nature materials
      However, our first task was to hunt around to find some nature objects to decorate a crown with (like the one Max wore when he was king of the Wild Things). I can't say that M really got this concept, but he obliged in walking around and playing with random leaves (and promptly dropping them when he moved on to the next thing) and stopping to look at lizards. Luckily the staff had pre-gathered some materials, and M colored on his strip of paper while I helped taped some of our objects to it. He wore the crown some.

      The next 'leg' was walking around the lake (where we saw fish and stink bugs and M and his buddy happily dawdled) to a circle of tree stumps where the kids sat and listened to one of the guides read the title book. M was very still and enthralled for the whole thing. He only got up once to chime in excitedly.
      reading Where the Wild Things Are
      Then we had a "wild rumpus" back to the classroom area where we went on a make-believe hike and got to pet (real) animals we encountered along the way. These included a snake, a salamander, a tortoise, a bunny rabbit, a tarantula, and a chinchilla. M was only up for petting a few of these, but I was very surprised at how many he remembered on all his own when he recounted the animals for his grandparents later. Especially the "itsy itsy spider". Oh, we also learned that supposedly Hollywood got its name from the Toyon plant (that looks like holly but isn't) that was abundant there when people settled it. What do you think about this theory?
      petting a salamander

      Needless to say M was sufficiently worn out and took a 3-hour nap after a little lunch when we got home.

      I enjoy these opportunities to get outside, and can only imagine how much more fun it is for the kids (especially the ones just a bit older).

      May 20, 2012

      The Getty Center

      I am a little behind on posting this, but here is how I spent part of my Mothers' Day last weekend - at the Getty! Even though M is a little too little to really appreciate (or even tolerate) the inside exhibits, I had heard the gardens were very lovely and appropriate for toddlers. Unfortunately, we found that they were under renovation (to open in a couple weeks). However, we still had a blast filling up a couple of hours. Not to mention that we get to ride a train (tram) from the parking deck up to the museum.

      the architecture of the buildings themselves are
       'enough' to make for an enjoying day.
      There is a ton of outside space to walk in (apart from the gardens) and sculptures and fountains and vistas and architecture to take in and a toddler can (mostly) have free reign. There is also one exhibit' especially for kids, where a few key pieces from the inside exhibits have been highlighted and transformed into something even wee ones can appreciate. They call this exhibit The Family Room. at first we thought this might just be a place for nursing and diaper changing, but I am so glad we went in! M gladly would have spent the whole day there, particularly in one part where you connect fun noodles to holes in the wall to imitate one of the outdoor sculptures. The featured pieces change from time to time, so we will definitely be back to check this (and the gardens) out!

      We had hoped that all the walking and playing and exploring might tucker the toddler out, so that we could go inside while he napped, but we were not so lucky (maybe you will be!). So hubby and I will be back on a date night to soak in some further culture. 
      M and I taking in one of the fountains
      We did eat lunch at The Getty, in the cafe. The setup was much like a cafeteria, which worked so we could pick a la cart what we each wanted and it was 'mid-priced'. Still a little pricey for lunch, but we also got a half-bottle of wine, and enjoyed the whole meal outside where we enjoyed the beautiful weather, view and smell. And we were slightly less self-conscious about any toddler disruptions (like him pretending his apple was a ball and repeatedly throwing or kicking it).
      reading on a Victorian bed in the Family Room
      building with fun noodles in the Family Room
      riding the "choo choo" from our car to the museum
      the view of cacti (M's favorite) and Culver City

      May 17, 2012

      Toddler lunches this week - breakfast for lunch!

      So we got some feedback this week from school that Mason is no longer interested in his cereal bars. He eats half and throws half. We will no longer be including those, I guess... one less prepackaged thing probably isn't bad.

      Also, in talking with another parent at school, he asked, "Are you the family that packs the eco-friendly lunches?" Maybe. I'll take that as a compliment!

      So, here are this week's lunches (and a few from last week - sorry I forgot to share)! Perhaps this lends some inspiration to your shopping this weekend.
      mini-frittata (see recipe below), half a biscuit, steamed carrots, frozen peas, cherry tomato halves
      yogurt and cereal bar,
      Weelicious granola, orange slices and raisins
      turkey slice, cheese slice, rosemary crackers, cherry tomato halves, raisins
      Rise and Shine Muffin, yogurt
      Weelicous granola bar, strawberries
      leftover black beans and rice, steamed carrots, leftover chicken (from our bike-to-chick-fil-a kids' night), cherry tomato halves
      Rise and Shine muffin and yogurt
      Annie's snack mix and stawberries
      peanut butter and honey sandwich, pear sticks
      mini-frittata, half a biscuit, steamed carrots, orange slices, cherry tomato halves
      mango and cereal bar
      Weelicious granola and yogurt
      taco salad toppings, steamed carrots, shredded cheddar, Annie's snack mix
      1/4 blueberry bagel and yogurt
      Weelicious granola and orange slices
      taco salad toppings, steamed carrots, cherry tomato halves, cheddar slivers, Annie's snack mix
      mango and yogurt
      Weelicious granola and orange slices

      (modified from a recipe)
      1 c chopped mushrooms
      1 c chopped red pepper
      10 large eggs
      1 tsp salt
      shredded mozzerella (about 3/4 cup)

      Preheat oven to 350. Saute mushrooms and pepper. Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray. Divide the veggies evenly among the muffin sections. 

      Whisk the eggs with the salt, and pour into muffin tin, dividing equally. Top each well with some cheese.

      Bake for 15 minutes or until puffy.

      Serve with tater tots!

      May 8, 2012

      My Favorite Apps!

      there's an app for that...
      A friend of mine has just gotten her first smart phone, and asked me to suggest some of my favorite apps.

      When I started to think of a few I realized how much I really depend on (leverage? I could live without it...) my phone! If you have an iPhone and an iPad, you can really capitalize on any not-free apps by sharing them between the two devices.

      For starters, the more baby-direct apps (which we employed on our recent visit to the ER):

      YouTube. This is our go to distraction when we are out and about and need to keep our toddler calm. We usually search for "wheels on the bus" or "Elmo" and then let him choose recommended videos in the sidebar afterwards. I do happen to like that there are many Sesame Street sketches with actors that I recognize (Adam Sandler, Jack Black, Natalie Portman, the Asian dude from the Hangover...) which keeps me interested, too. There are some pretty catchy tunes, too (OK Go's Primary Colors, ABC's with India Arie, Wheels on the Bus with Pete the Cat). I could go on and on... so yeah, this is number one for us.

      Some other kid apps we like (that we use when we can't get a signal, like... in the ER) are:

      Elmo Calls - it gets repetitive, though M never tires of it, but maybe you get more options if you buy the not-free version.

      Gumbo Lite - hide and seek with a doggie. What kid doesn't like those two things?

      Peekaboo Barn Lite - a barn opens to show you different animals and their sounds (free)

      Parents Flash Cards - we have the purchased version and we use this more on the iPad, but its helpful in a pinch on the go, too

      Pat the Bunny - we use this on the iPad, and it was great fun on the plane for M to interact with a familiar character and get to "color" on the pages. I think it updates seasonally with themes...

      I will also tell you that hubby and I searched high and low for a good baby monitor app in hopes that we could leave one phone in the crib and take the other down to the hotel lobby bar, but even one negative comment (and they all have them) implanted images of ourselves on the 10 o'clock news as the idiots who left their baby in a hotel room to go to a bar and ___ happened to them. So I don't have one to endorse. But there are several out there you can review yourself!

      Now - for the super-helpful apps Mommy might enjoy more (and are still very relevant to parenting)

      Facebook (and don't forget to like jbabythoughts' page)!

      Camera - this should be pre-loaded, and isn't really an app per se, but I use my phone for photos way more than phone calls, and our expensive camera usually stays home on outings now since the phone is so handy and of such high quality!

      Instagram - (now owned by Facebook, those geniuses!) for those extra-artsy photos everyone is taking. you can even tag photos with #(insert keyword) to see who's thinking like you are!! I like Paper Coterie's monthly challenge to take a photo in their daily theme. Just makes you appreciate life (though honestly, i have been pretty busy living and enjoying my life to remember to take the photos!!)

      OurGroceries - hubby and I both have this loaded on our phones and we share our lists. Which means we can have one single grocery list that we can each update as we think of things or run out of things and have for reference in case we need to stop and get something on the way home. And besides groceries, since I am a list-maker by nature, we have used it for Christmas present ideas, trip-packing lists, and general To Do lists

      MyFitnessPal - if you are still looking to shed a few pounds from the baby (and mine is nearly two!) you can use this app to track the calories in and out. It has tons of pre-loaded nutrition information for popular products, or you can add your own recipes, or scan barcodes off of prepackaged items. You can log your daily activities or workouts and track your progress. You can link up with your friends and congratulate and encourage each other. I am linked with my sister and cousins and aunts and uncles. You can be my friend, too. My user name is: jillfrog

      RunKeeper - since we are on the health and wellness theme, this app uses the GPS function to tell you your running/walking/biking/hiking distance and even estimates your calories. If you choose to create and account with it, you can store all your workouts and track progress here, too. This has been updated since I first installed it, and now has so many bells and whistles that I don't even know what they all are! I think you can even link it to a heartrate monitor!

      Maps - since moving to a new state I have needed directions everywhere. On our weekend adventures I usually navigate while hubby drives. The app even factors in traffic when finding you the quickest route. This was invaluable back east when driving home on holidays, since we could avoid the dead stops on the interstate.

      Key Ring - I have officially taken off all of those ragged plastic cards on my key ring and loaded them all in this app AND shared them with my husband so he can never use the excuse that he didn't have the card to capitalize on sales. Besides grocery store loyalty cards, I have also loaded my Hallmark, Aveda, Babies R Us, Barnes and Noble, CVS, and AAA card info. And all you have to do is scan the barcode!

      Trillian - this is how I have Google Chat on my phone. When I am not texting for free to other friends with iPhones, I use the chat function to pseudo-text. You can link in chats from most email accounts (so if you have, say, Gmail and Yahoo, you can be logged into both at the same time. Handy

      Blogger - how do you think I can stay so up-to-date on the blog? Its not perfect, but it works best for me to upload photos on the go and fill in short ideas, until I can get back to my computer. Really helpful in keeping everyone updated our personal blog when we are away for vacation.

      Clock/AlarmClock/Timer - this wakes us up every morning! And I use the timer for making my perfect cup of French Press

      Pandora - hubby logs on and plugs his into an auxiliary cord in his car, so he can have customized tunes on the way to work

      Wine Notes - I actually want this app to be better than it is, but if you are looking for something to help you remember that great wine you found on your trip to Napa, this one will work. You can take a photo of the label, record the varietal and vintage, document the exact shade and flavors, and more! Again, you can scan the barcode, but besides a box wine, I have yet to get one to register automatically (though I guess it will help when I head to Total Wine later to see if they carry it...).

      Starbucks - they have their own loyalty app! The perks are pretty crummy, but it seemed worthwhile to keep track of when we lived right across the street from one!

      These are my highlights! I am not much for games on my phone - just ask my poor mother who wishes I would finish our game of Words with Friends already - so I am sorry if that's what you were looking for!

      Don't forget you can add quick links to your favorite webpages and blogs (jbabythoughts!)

      What's your favorite app?!

      May 7, 2012


      these are our new special hats, and M's "smile" squinty  face

      So I got a bicycle this weekend!!

      I haven't owned one in years, and I am having fun just dreaming of all the places I want to ride it. I am not interested in road races or mountain biking, I am just excited to go places under my own power. One of the things I miss most about college was that I could walk to 99% of the places I needed to get to - and that was so liberating! No hassle of parking or getting gas or carpooling or needing directions or waiting in traffic. Hubby and I decided that if we moved West we would need to own bicycles, and this was the weekend we finally got around to it. And in 24 hours we realized how small/ride-able Orange really is.

      almost all buckled in!

      After we ate breakfast and visited the farmers market (post to follow) in Old Towne Orange, we headed over to Orange Cycle, where the saleslady was soooo patient with us and our toddler (maybe she could see how little we knew about bikes, or maybe she could smell a sale...) either way we were grateful for the guidance, patience, and lack of pressure. We took turns learning about the best bike for our needs (hubby and I wanted different things out of our bikes - me something easy to maneuver and comfortable to ride, and he, something he could maybe off road in sometime) while the other would stay with M while he played on the kids' balance bikes (also very cool, and we will definitely be considering this for his birthday in a couple of months! He took to it very well) and bike trailers. After much education and direction we test drove 3 or 4 models each, and found the ones we liked best.

      We got tuneups included with our purchase, so we left the bikes and headed home for naptime. The staff also installed the mount for the baby seat. Later that evening we picked up some helmets from Target, so that we could get up first thing in the morning and ride our bikes to breakfast! I explained to M, that we needed to get some special hats to wear for when he was riding in his special seat on the back of Daddy's bicycle. He was very excited about this idea, and did not mind wearing his helmet on any of our trips (so far). In fact, he likes to point to the bikes in the garage and tell us all about who's bike is who's and where he gets to ride and that he has a special hat, called a "huul-mit."

      playing with a balance bike at the store
      We did it! Rockwell's is less than a mile from our house, but neither of us had ever really ridden with traffic -and we still stayed mostly on the sidewalk. What are the rules for riding bikes? It seems that people ride on the sidewalks all the time around here (where there aren't bike lanes). We did see a few serious cyclists riding on the road, and I seem to recall that bikes are technically vehicles... Luckily there wasn't much foot or auto traffic out, so we didn't seem to be in anyone's way. We arrived safely at breakfast, figured out our new bike locks (and remembered the combinations!!). M was thrilled with his first ride, and jabbered on about who rode where and that we went fast! I was so glad that he didn't freak out when strapped in, but instead he was very still enjoyed watching things as they passed and patting Daddy on the back.  After breakfast, we figured our first ride was so successful, we'd head another couple miles to Shaffer Park (from the How to Find a Park Near You post) playground before going home.

      Later that evening, though, as we were walking to the car after doing our grocery shopping, hubby remarked on the beautiful weather and how nice some Oggi's pizza would be on their outdoor patio. I asked if we could ride our bikes there, he said yes, and so we did! We unpacked our groceries and headed back on bike.

      In summary, this is how I feel about my new bike (also this is one of our favorite videos to watch on our YouTube apps when we need entertainment in a pinch):
      <iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> 

      May 4, 2012

      Toddler Food - Mexican Recipe!

      In case you need inspiration for your weekend market trip... recipes links are at the bottom!

      I was just scrolling through some of the older recipe posts and getting re-inspired for my own grocery trip!

      Seriously: try the granola bars. They are really easy, and I made half the batch chocolate chip (for myself! so addicting!) and the other half with raisins/dried cranberries/diced dried apricots for M.

      shrimp and corn chowder, wedge of veggie quesadilla, apple slices
      weelicious granola (with dried fruit instead of chocolate chips), granola
      blueberries, carrots, cereal bar
      fish'n'grits, steamed broccoli and carrots
      Weeliciouis granola bar and yogurt
      kiwi and cereal bar
      cauliflower mac n cheese, steamed veggies, edamame, blackberries
      tangelo slices, cereal bar
      Weelicious granola, yogurt
      shrimp and corn chowder, veggie quesadilla wedges, apple slices
      yogurt and weelicous granola
      strawberries, steamed carrots, turkey slice
      Meatloaf cupcake (mashed potato 'icing'), steamed carrots, diced tomato, blackberries
      tangelo slices, cereal bar
      yogurt, weelicious granola

      May 2, 2012

      Whether you cloth diaper or not... find a cloth diaper retailer near you!

      borrowed from Granola Babies' Facebook page - thanks!
      If you are expecting or just received I highly recommend seeking out a cloth diaper retailer near you...

      And I don't even want you to buy a cloth diaper there!

      I was recently emailing with a friend who happens to be interested in cloth diapering her bun-in-the-oven, and mid-epistle, I thought, "She should just go to a cloth diapering store and ask them... better yet ask the moms that hang out for those mommy groups... more importantly go to a mommy group!"

      Having your first baby is hard! And I don't mean the labor and delivery (that is a whole different post). I mean there is a blissful week or two where you are running on adrenaline and being super mom and dad dynamic duo. Your new baby has barely realized he is outside the womb and is so content. You go see a movie (yes, really, do that) and go to a trendy restaurant for whatever meal occurs at 3PM because you've just remembered to eat. Yay, parenting is easy! Then Hubby goes back to work and Grandma goes home and you are there with junior all. day. long. One on one.

      Its awesome and its overwhelming. You had all these plans of all these things you were going to do while home with him, but somehow you can never even make it out the door! Insert mommy group here. I don't mean meeting up at the playground with a tight knit group and drink Starbucks while the kiddos dig in the sand. You are not there yet. I mean a place you can go where there are other moms at your very same overwhelmed stage, and some a few weeks or months ahead of you who can offer sage advice. And you'll feel like everybody knows your name.

      This is the place where you can practice trying to be somewhere on time, with all the required supplies. Because if you are 'late' no one will mind. You will want a place to practice breastfeeding in public (even if that's not the route you're going, they probably won't mind extra's!). You will want to know its OK if your baby cries in public (hubby and I used to be mortified by M's tiny wails... ) and that tiny baby cries are nothing compared to the bigger varieties. You will want to know how exactly other moms do it... and survive in general. You will want to ask the occasional question and be comforted by others' questions and enjoy being around grown ups (that don't mind talking about poop all the time and have spit up on their clothes, too). You will want to come every week... at least...

      Here is another post I wrote about the fabulousness of Mommy Groups.

      And here are some resources to find one near you:
      La Leche League there are meetings held all over the world, and there is bound to be one near you and at a convenient time... and probably in a cloth diaper store, but I also went to one that was in the cafe area of a grocery store, and one that was in a church meeting space.
      BumGenius (they are probably the most popular cloth diaper retailer, so any brick and mortar store that carries cloth diapers, probably carries theirs... and probably also offers mommy groups. )
      The hospital/birthing center where you gave birth or saw your doctor - the usually offer lots of prenatal classes, and many offer ways to connect with other new moms after giving birth, too (see... there is science behind this mommy group idea)

      Google it. I bet you will find one. In fact, I have a friend in Virginia who swears there is never anything fancy going on in her town and there is a cloth diaper store that, in fact, has mommy groups. I just checked :)

      Can I get an AMEN on mommy groups?

      Meatloaf Cupcakes

      These just had the cutest presentation, that I had to share :)

      I used this Santa Fe-style cooking light recipe for the meatloaf, but instead of one big loaf, I divided into 16 mini loaves, using our muffin tins. I modified the prep by filling 16 spots halfway with a little less than half the meat mixture, sprinkled the cheese into each, then topped with the other half of the meat. Then spooned a teaspoon or so of salsa onto each cupcake. I baked for 20-25 minutes on the same recommended temperature.
      If you like a more classic meatloaf, You could do the very same, by dividing it into muffin tins and starting your cooking time at around 20 minutes until they are done!

      For the mashed potatoes, just make 'em how you make 'em (we even left the skins on, but you could also just use flakes if that's how you like them). Then fill up a quart-sized ziptop freezer bag with the potatoes, and cut a small corner off one bottom edge of the bag (start small, you can always make it bigger if you need to) and pipe on top of your meatloaf muffins.

      Sprinkle with a little Parmesan and - Ta-da!