Thursday, January 29, 2009

potty, potty, and more potty

Note: Photo was edited...that's a cartoon flower in the potty. Daddy wanted to make sure Mommy didn't miss out on anything while she was gone and he made sure to capture every detail :)

I'm going to stop apologizing for posting about the potty all the time since approximately 80% of my waking hours are spent thinking about it (I do OK with the's the two little ones I'm concerned with).

Last weekend we started talking a little more about going potty with Ella. We tried to keep her in underwear when we were home but we weren't trying too hard (I would rather try to get the kid to connect the sensation of having to go with actually going than ask them every 20 minutes...too exhausting for them and me). I could tell she was definitely getting ready though because she has a lot of words for the potty process and loves everything about it - including the toilet paper, flushing, and hand washing. We had a success or two but what was more notable was the fact that she absolutely freaked out if she had an accident. We're talking snot-flying, blubbery, sobbing - it took quite a few hugs to calm her down. Anyway, she had her last accident Monday night and she's been in undies or Pull-Ups ever since completely accident free including nap time and a few outings in public (she's still sleeping at night in a Pull-Up). The big test was still out there though because she hadn't done #2 on her own, but tonight while I was gone Matt said she just said she had to go, walked over to the potty, and went. Just like that.

Now I'm not sharing all of this to make you jealous (I have been on the other side of that and while I'm smiling and happy for you on the outside, on the inside I'm thinking "why can't my kid do that??"...and I really am happy for you :) ) Most of you know that we have had a terrible time getting Dylan trained. Poor guy. We started a year ago when he was 3 1/2 and we're still not all the way there. I was a little concerned about starting to train Ella now because I didn't want Dylan to feel bad if she could do it before him. On Sunday night when Matt was tucking him in, Dylan said, "Daddy, I'm sorry my poop is so hard." That makes me feel really bad and I'm trying to be conscious about not comparing them or saying anything that will make Dylan feel worse. On the other hand, it's been helpful now that Ella is interested because all of a sudden the potty is cool again to Dylan. I've always joked that they would be trained about the same time, and I guess I could be right. I did talk to our doctor again today and she's going to look into some more ideas for us to try with Dylan (the egg-free diet hasn't led to any big breakthroughs besides less tummy aches). She told me at the end of our conversation that what we're going through isn't normal and that she thinks I'm right to be pushing it which was very good for me to hear.

Legend has it (according to my mom) that I potty trained myself when I was two years old. Just walked over to my mom, told her I was done with diapers, and that was it. She took all my diapers over the neighbors, put me in underwear, and the rest is history. If Ella could follow in this proud tradition, we would be thrilled.

Now before you get too jealous about the self-training child, I will leave you with this little story. On Tuesday, Dylan had his third accident of the year at preschool. As a parent, I will tell you it's terribly embarrassing. It gets better though. His teacher was telling me about it as I was picking Dylan up and here's what happened: she saw something on the carpet that kind of looked like a little piece of poop. As she's processing it in her mind to decide if it is or isn't, Dylan announces to her that he's had an accident. As she's processing that, a kid on paper plate skis skies over it. Flattens it. So awesome. Not feeling so jealous now, are you?

Anyway, we love both our kids no matter what...Dylan will get there eventually and someday...someday we won't have to spend $50 million on diapers each month [exaggeration mine].

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mom's Meatloaf

OK, it's my turn to share a recipe. I'm sharing the meatloaf recipe that my mom made for us growing up (and that I make for my family now). It's great comfort food - and we all need a little comfort when it's this cold out - and the kids love it because they can slather it in ketchup :)

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2/3 cup (small can) evaporated milk
1 egg
1/2 cup cracker or bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 cup chopped onion

Mix; bake in loaf pan at 350 for 1 hour. I usually squirt some ketchup on top too before putting it in the oven.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Buttered Linguine with Romano, Tomatoes, and Basil

Julie says this is "really fast and easy, and doesn't require any exotic ingredients." Sounds great to me!

BUTTERED LINGUINE with Romano, Tomatoes, and Basil
(from Confections of a FoodieBride)

1/2 lb Linguine
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp basil, chopped/chiffonade
3/4 cup Pecorino Romano, finely grated
Salt, to taste

Cook pasta 6-8 minutes, or until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.

Toss hot pasta in a large bowl with butter, pepper, tomatoes, basil, and cheese. Add 1/4 cup pasta water and toss to moisten. Add additional water if necessary. Salt to taste and serve immediately.

Yields: 3 servings (entree)
Source: Heavily revised from Everyday Pasta, 2007

Julie's Notes: DELICIOUS! We really like it! I like to let the pasta cool just a little bit, and perhaps not add the reserved pasta water. My enemy: lumpy or stringy cheese. It could be too that I used the wrong kind of cheese. Even using the "wrong" cheese (ie Parmesan from the green can) it tasted alright. I can imagine that using the "right" cheese would do nothing but improve the taste. I added two cloves of crushed garlic, and we really liked it. But then again, we really like garlic.

Friday, January 23, 2009

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Theresa is a friend of Katie M's who I have recently connected with at church. Here's her recipe...looks family movie night worthy to me!

Purchase pre-made pizza crust, such as Bobboli
Top with a light layer of bbq sauce
Layer mozzarella cheese on top of sauce
Boil two chicken breast and mix with bbq sauce
Spread chicken across the pizza
Top with extra mozzarella cheese
Chop cilantro and sprinkle over cheese

Bake at 350 until cheese is melted

Theresa's notes: we have also added portabella mushrooms to spice it up.

kindergarten conundrum

Dylan goes to preschool this year two mornings a week - not a completely necessary activity, but one that we both enjoy. Our main goal with sending him this year (he was only 3 1/2 when school started) was to get him some social interaction - we figured it would teach him to stand in line, meet other kids, and have someone besides his Mother telling him what to do. Anyway, it's been a great experience for him and I'm glad we did it.

The original plan was to send him to pre-K next year at Hudsonville and then kindergarten the following year. I know that sounds like a lot of school, but since he has a November birthday that's just how things worked out. I am very confident in our decision to send him to school "late" - Matt has a November birthday and he went when he was older too, and every teacher and parent who has been there before has very much recommended that we do that with him (and later we will do the same with Ella).

However, if you've been paying attention to the media, pre-K and kindergarten funding is up in the air depending on how the state mandates funding for them (the push is for all-day, every-day kindergarten in Michigan). At this point it's really sounding like Hudsonville and most other districts won't be offering pre-K next year; they will need the space and the teachers for the all-day kindergarten programs, and they won't receive enough funding from the state to keep pre-K programs going.

Sign-ups just started up again at Mapletree, so we decided to sign Dylan up for their Four Years Old & Beyond class. We're risking a $50 deposit, but the peace of mind was worth it to me. This will allow some time for the situation with the state mandate to work itself out and also reserve a spot for Dylan at Mapletree.

As we have been weighing the pros and cons of both, it's starting to occur to us that it probably makes more sense to send Dylan to Mapletree again next year regardless of what the state decides. The upsides to pre-K (if they continue to offer it) is that's its free :) and the hours are more convenient for the parents. On the other hand, I think an all-day (8:50am-3:40pm), every-other-day schedule would be a little overwhelming for Dylan. The Mapletree schedule (4 mornings a week) involves more driving back and forth, but as long as Matt can keep taking him to school on his way to work, it's not a big deal for me to pick him up. And the extra money we spend on tuition is just an investment in his education, right?? :)

SO, I guess the point of this long post is just to state that we're leaning towards sending him to Mapletree again next year. The class he's signed up for next year has different teachers in a different room with a different curriculum so I think it will feel "new" to him while also feeling comfortable since he's familar with the school. I talked to a few moms at MOPS this morning who have kids in the Four Year Old & Beyond class this year and they had a lot of good things to say about it.

Anyone else out there with 4 year olds?? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic too.

White Turkey Chili

My blog-buddy Heidi just emailed me this white chili recipe which sounds like the perfect meal on a cold day. Keep 'em coming!

1 large jar White Northern Beans
1 large jar salsa
1 bag shredded cheese
1 turkey or chicken

Pour all of it into your crockpot. Shred the turkey or chicken before putting it in. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8.

Heidi's notes: I like to have sour cream on hand to stir into my bowl. Last week, I bought a whole chicken that had already been roasted at our deli, took it home and shredded it and threw it in the crock pot. It was delicious and my prep time for the meal was about 5 minutes.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

recipe exchange (blog-style!)

I am always looking for new recipes, and oftentimes I try stuff out of cookbooks or from on-line sites, but I don't always end up liking the results. My friend Katie mentioned a very yummy sounding recipe the other day, so I asked her to send it on to me. It got me to thinking about how all my friends (regardless of if you consider yourself to be a great chef or not) probably have a few great recipes up their sleeves that they could share with me (wink, wink). is what I'm proposing - send me your favorite, go-to, everyone-loves-it, EASY recipe and I'll post it on my blog ( I would also love to know all the little details that go along with it - tips, side dishes, variations, etc. It can be a crockpot meal, casserole, quick lunch, whatever...I'm sure ideas are already popping into your heads :) 

I figure with a blog-style recipe exchange, I get the benefit of some new recipes but then I can also turn around and share them with other people who read this blog. [The other option is that you could post your own recipe to your own blog (if you have one) and then I can post a link back to you...whatever floats your boat.] And if you can't decide on just one, go ahead and send in two...or three...

Here is the previously mentioned yummy recipe from Katie P.

1 can diced Italian style tomatoes
1 cup shredded chicken (or 10 oz can)
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup salsasalt and pepper

optional toppings: tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, avocado

This recipe is very give and take--use more of one thing, less of all works out and tastes very good.

Katie T's note (really Katie M's note!) - Katie M reports she also added white beans and corn which only added to the yummy-ness.

One more thing: if you end up making any of these recipes, leave a comment and let us all know how they turned out. Now quick...go grab a recipe to share before the baby wakes up :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

poop problems

Caution: if you're not a mom, this post will seem crazy and slightly disgusting...just enjoy this time in your life when you're not responsible for anyone else's poop...your day is coming!

I'm pretty sure I promised a while back not to blog about potty/poop related topics anymore, but I just can't help myself. I'm a mom and my life pretty much revolves around other people's bathroom habits.

Some of you know that #2 continues to be a big struggle with Dylan. He wasn't exactly the easiest kid to potty train (#1 took about 6 months starting at age 3 1/2 and some days I'm not even sure that we're really there) and #2 has been horrible. Words cannot even begin to express the frustration that this has caused all of us - let's just say we're keeping the Pull-Up and wipes people is business single handedly. After months and months of this we started to wonder if something was wrong with his poop (I'll spare you the details but his poop doesn't look or smell like "normal" poop and it comes out in small quanities ALL THE TIME).

Anyway, at his 4 year check-up I talked to our doctor about it and she ordered up a blood test for him to rule out any food allergies or intolerances (we have also tried crazy amounts of fiber with him and also a prescription laxative that's OK for longer term use - neither of these worked). We just got the results back and found out he actually has an egg allergy. We really don't know if that's tied in with his poop problems, but now all we can do is avoid those foods and see what happens.

In brighter potty news, Ella seems to be displaying all the signs of potty readiness and she's even gone a few times on the potty this week...the problem is Daddy and Mommy are not quite ready for another round :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Looking Back...

As I mentioned in my last post, we have done this vacation before...five times before. We are incredibly blessed to have parents/grandparents who like to travel - I love that I have our family captured like this five years in a row.

Bahamas vacation + I love Picasa collages = this post

We are just back from another wonderful Bahamas vacation with the fam. Travel days with my kids are never my favorite, but the rest of it was fun. This was our fifth time back to this resort with kids, so it's a very relaxing, very familiar kind of vacation. Lots of sitting by the pool, playing on the slides, looking at the aquariums, eating until you want to burst, etc. I love the memories we made with our "little" family - Matt and the kids - and our "big" family - my parents, brother and sister-in-law and nephews, and my Grandma. I'm a homebody and I'm pretty sure my kids are too so we are always glad to be home...and of course, there's always next year to look forward to!
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