Fall Texas Trip – Part 1

At the end of September–the day after my craft fair–the kids and I flew down to Texas with my mom. On Wednesday, the cousins came over to play. This was Benjamin’s first reunion with the cousins and the big wagon since November, so he was excited to play.

Mia and Wade relaxing on the swing

Tommy bonded with Madeleine while the other kids played outside. In fact, whenever we were around him, he held or played with Madeleine for much of the time. Very sweet 🙂

And Ella got in on the loving action, too.

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Toddler Revelations – Leaving the House On-Time

I’m a punctual person. Or rather, I’m afraid of being late. This usually means I’m early to most places, which I don’t mind. Like when I arrived at my hairdresser’s 25 minutes early on Saturday in case there was football game traffic. (I sat in the car for 15 minutes so that I would appear to be only 10 minutes early once I casually strolled into the waiting area.) And it was worth it. I don’t like to be late.

So on the first day of pre-school last week, as I scrambled to take my shower late (Madeleine slept in that morning past 7 a.m.!) and feed Benji and then her and get out the camera and brush my teeth, I got a brief taste of how horrible school mornings could be if I were always running behind–i.e., if I don’t get up before the kiddos and get my shower in.

This also led me to another revelation:

“If you look at the clock and think, we need to get in the car now so we can leave in 2 minutes, you’re already late. Sorry.”

Because watching a toddler climb into his car seat “by myself!” and strapping in an infant and then going back around to strap in the toddler and handing back sunglasses and verifying that the backpack and diaper bag and pacifier are all where they’re supposed to be takes longer than 2 minutes.

Homemade Bread with Chia Seeds

As many of you know, I make my family’s sandwich bread. I bake four loaves a week, two at a time, freezing one and storing the other in a breadbox in our pantry. For a year or so, I had been using an easy bread recipe referred to me by my friend, Kristen, who has a lovely cooking blog.

Then my sister started raving about the bread recipes in the classic, Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads. I quickly fell in love with the Cuban bread, which requires no butter or milk, so as long as I have bread flour and yeast on hand, I can make it! I love the beautiful rounds of bread, crispy crust, and soft chewy inside. It also only takes about 2 hours from start to finish, including one quick rise. So what could I add to make an already fabulous recipe even better?

Chia seeds!

I had heard of them a year ago from a friend who mentioned all the nutritional benefits (omega-3’s, increased energy, weight loss, etc…) and didn’t feel very convinced. I also hadn’t thought about adding them to bread. And then I ran across the seeds on the King Arthur Flour website while I was browsing for yummies. So I picked some up and added 1 tablespoon (and 1 tablespoon of wheat germ since I mostly used white flour). I also add about 1/4 cup more water to account for the increase in dry ingredients.

The results have been consistently DELICIOUS!

(Those little flecks of black are the seeds.)

I don’t have to grind the seeds and they even taste good raw. I can’t attest to any of the health benefits since I’m probably not consuming enough at this point to see a difference. But I do add them to other foods–smoothies and quick breads–when I think of it.

So if you’re in the mood to try something new (and maybe grow a Chia pet in your tummy?), add a bit to your next batch of bread or meal.

Resources:
– Here is a copy of the Cuban bread recipe; I too have never used the optional seeds on top.

– For more info on Chia seeds and they’re purported benefits, look here and here.

Etsy Shop launched!

On August 31, I officially launched my Etsy shop, January Sun Yarnworks. I initially hoped to start this business in spring 2010, when Benjamin was only a few months old. But I didn’t have the time (or enough sleep at night!) to make it a reality. All of the other details–a name, packaging, etc…–felt overwhelming.

Until this past spring, when my friend Meagan C. expressed interest in selling her hand-sewn items at a craft fair. I thought, Well, I could split the booth with her and see how it goes. She liked the idea and I’ve been knitting and crocheting away ever since! I’m energized by the Etsy shop and excited to see how the logistics of the craft fair work out 🙂

Toddler Revelations – Potty Time Freedom

In the last three months, Benjamin has announced himself as a full-fledged two-year-old with words like, “No!” and whining and crying spectaculars. I knew this would happen but still marvel at what has happened to our little boy’s easy-going personality. His outbursts show up almost exclusively when he is extremely tired or when we’re asking him to do something he doesn’t want to do (which usually involves stopping doing what he loves to do–playing with trains or cars.)

For example, he has never resisted going potty before about 2 months ago. Potty trained during the day since 18 months, he has enjoyed potty breaks–the books, the toys, the release. But suddenly, if we told it was time to go potty before lunch or dinner, he melted down.

So what could we do?

We tried a few things like giving a choice between obeying and going to the potty or getting a time-out; reminding him that we do this every day before lunch and dinner; encouraging him to take the opportunity just to try; putting up with the tears until he was on the potty and then, of course, never wanted to get off.

These things worked some times. I really believed in establishing habits and that by taking him to the potty even if he didn’t absolutely have to go, we were teaching him to create a rhythm and not just run to the potty at the last minute or after his undies were already a little wet.

But then last week, I realized I had found the solution and had even been using it intermittently for a few days when he had already gone potty an hour or so before a meal. So this is what we started to do.

At any previously scheduled potty break, we said and did the following:

1) “Benjamin, we will be eating lunch in 3 minutes, so if you need to go potty, now would be a good time to go. You don’t have to go potty, but if you need to, you can.”

2) Waited patiently while Benjamin, at first, immediately said, “No, no, no,” until he realized we’re giving him the option to not go to the potty at all. (joy of joys!)

3) Watched as Benjamin either walked straight to the table for his meal or listened as he said, “I need to go potty,” and marched himself there.

No more melt-downs surrounding the potty. Hurrah!

This wouldn’t have worked 6 or even 3 months ago. I don’t think he was ready. He was still sometimes waiting too long to tell us he needed to go. This happened infrequently but still, we didn’t trust him to consistently pay attention to his body’s signals. In other words, we were afraid (of all the messes). For the past two months though, he has been able to pull down his own pants and undies and climb onto the seat by himself.

So when he started resisting, that was his very indirect way of telling us he was ready to make these decisions on his own. And I’m so glad we listened!

MIA for awhile

So I’ve obviously been out of touch on this blog for a good 9 months. Life has been busy. Madeleine arrived on January 31, 2012 and since then I just haven’t felt the itch to blog. But as she turns 6 months old in just a couple days, I think I will be returning to the world in all areas, including this blog. I won’t try to play too much catch-up, but will try to get up pictures of Madeleine and of our Disneyworld trip back in June.

 

Homemade Crackers

I ran across this easy recipe for homemade cheese crackers and made some last week. They are yummy and, as I mentioned, so easy! And depending on the size of your cutters, you get as many as 48 crackers out of each batch.

Benjamin is still deciding whether or not he likes them. I’m hoping he will eventually because then I will simply freeze them and thaw out a few at a time.

Here is the recipe for the Crackers.

The finished product! Fluffy and crisp 🙂