Sunday, November 29, 2009

Easy Way to Bake Your Own Bread

So this has been blogged all over the world, but I guess I'll join in too. This bread really is simple. I admit I have messed up this recipe the first time I made it (I used old yeast) and I was a little annoyed that all the blogs I read said it was idiot proof. But it really is easy and it takes only a few minutes a day and it tastes really good. Here is a link to the 5 Minute Artisan Bread Recipe. I've been trying to eat less bread, especially stuff that isn't whole grain, as it isn't good for blood sugar levels, but I have decided that if there is something I'm trying to eat less of and I make it myself then it is fair game. ;)

This bread tastes great. It has a slight sourdough taste. It is very convenient to always have dough in the fridge. Whenever I make a meal that would taste good with bread I can just pop it in the oven. It also makes good french toast. I keep my dough in a ceramic bowl with saran wrap over it with a small cut in it. I also took the suggestion of not cleaning the bowl between batches to get a head start on a sourdough flavor.

I have also used the dough for pizza. It isn't as good as this recipe, but since I always have this dough in the fridge it is more convenient. I'm impatiently waiting for the author's books at the library (see little amazon ads). I have heard there is a good cinnamon roll recipe and I also want to try to make sandwich bread. I would love to find a fairly easy recipe to make bread like Dave's Killer Bread. We spend a small fortune on that stuff every month.

The other great thing about this recipe is that it provides instant toddler entertainment. Selena loves to roll the dough, so I give her a chunk and a rolling pin and she is entertained for at least 20 minutes. We even used cookie cutters to cut out dough shapes and baked them for bread sticks.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Allie's Half Birthday

Allie isn't a newborn anymore. She is a big moving baby. She started crawling, pulling herself to standing, eating solid foods, and getting teeth this month. It is amazing how they can learn so much in such a short amount of time.

She is an opinionated little girl and lets you know it. I can't believe how much she can communicate without talking. If she is on the ground and you stop to talk to her and look at her, you better pick her up. If you walk away, she lets you know her displeasure. She wants to grab and mouth everything in sight. If her sister has it that makes it even more desirable. She is constantly lunging out of my arms to try and get what she wants.

It is fun to see the absolute adoration of her sister already. She is always tracking Selena, watching her play, and wants to join in. Selena is fairly accommodating, but is also known to throw fits, or yell at Allie to stop slobbering on her toys. But other times she'll bring Allie toys and tell her to put it in her "baby mouth". Allie loves to play chase with Selena. I hold her and we run around the circle in our house chasing Selena, but Selena is so fast she laps us which Allie thinks is hilarious.

At the beginning of this month when she wasn't crawling but could scoot a bit it was funny because she was lying on Selena's bed (mattress on the floor) and was trying to play chase with me. She was facing away from me, but would turn around and smile and then start to giggle and turn back around and do her best to "run away" from me, but in reality only managing to scoot a few inches. So adorable.

She now can fit in the soft structured backpack carrier I made without sinking inside it and will be perfectly content back there for long periods of time. I had been putting her on my back a bit for the past couple months, but she was a bit small and would "fall" inside it so she didn't really like being back there for too long. But now she does and often falls asleep back there. I use it occasionally while shopping or around the house since it makes it real easy to cook and clean as long as Selena is occupied. I occasionally will give Selena a turn back there as well, but she is quite a bit heavier.

Today I swore that she signed for milk, but Floyd is accusing me of interpreting a random hand movement as a sign. But I don't know; it seemed pretty deliberate. But I've only shown her the milk sign a half dozen times or so... I don't know. I'm going to maintain she did sign it, and she is brilliant. :)

Her first teeth are poking through on the bottom and she is biting me a lot while nursing. Selena only bit a few times and stopped after a firm NO. Allie isn't cooperating so well.

We've given her a little bit of real food. I am really not too excited about feeding solids though. It is so messy. But we gave her some avocado, banana, and sweet potato. I also occasionally let her suck on an apple slice or a carrot. But I made a batch of sweet potato puree and froze it today so at least now I have some homemade convenience food.

I wish she would start consolidating her naps more. She still naps 3 - 5 times a day. Maximum of 45 minutes, often only 20 or 30. It makes for a long day when Selena doesn't nap at all and Allie's naps are so short that there isn't much of a break. A few times she has taken two long naps and those days have been so nice. With Selena I was able to work on longer naps, but when I try to coax Allie back to sleep I often have Selena or the dog come and check on us and thus completely waking her up.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Toddler Antics

Selena has always been a little monkey. Climbing on things. Jumping off things. But the older she gets the more acrobatic her antics become. She loves making dad be a jungle gym and climbs all over him. She also loves to ride on his shoulders. She likes climbing and flipping in and out of Allie's pack-n-play. We still go to Toddler Gym at the Y and she likes walking on the beam (the real sized ones), holding my hand, and then jumping off the edge. She also likes swinging upside down on the bars pretending to be a bat.

Her play is becoming more imaginative. She likes to play with her stuffed animals and baby doll and she makes them have little conversations. She likes blocks, and we build multiple story houses for her toys. She also really likes TV and her favorite show is Blue's Clues and she also likes to watch Kipper clips on youtube. I dislike her watching as much TV as she does, but it does make life much easier. I can have her watch a Kipper clip or two while I put Allie down for a nap and it prevents her from coming into the room and waking Allie. Or if I need to pickup the house I can have her watch an episode of Blue's Clues and get my chores done without her whining, or making messes faster than I can clean them up. It will be nice when she can read on her own, then she can read a book instead of watch TV.

For rainy day activities we've started doing some toddler yoga. I got Yoga Kids\ dvd from Netflix and got the books Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Toddlers and Preschoolers and Little Yoga: A Toddler's First Book of Yoga. So far she likes the yoga dvd and the Little Yoga book. I haven't tried the Itsy Bitsy Yoga with her much. But she seems to enjoy it and it gives us something to do.

Halloween was fun. She dressed up as a pumpkin and was very excited about it. She remembered trick-or-treating last year and was excited to do it again this year. We just went around our cul-de-sac and she got plenty of candy. We've been slowly doling it out as bribes to go potty.

I'd like to say she is potty trained, but its still a touch and go sort of thing. Some days great, other days not so much. We're making progress, but it is very slow. We've tried potty charts, rewards, etc and they work to an extent but not completely. I think emphasizing that she is in control of when she goes and not showing any reaction when she has an accident is what is working the best right now. I really wished I had waited longer before we first started. With Allie I am going to wait till she can pull her pants on and off by herself. With Selena I was going to wait for this, but I thought it was a long ways off, but it really wasn't, and I was anxious to get her potty trained before the baby came.

We have a new bedtime routine with her and it has worked out well. She now lets Dad get her dressed, read her bedtime stories, brush her teeth, and tuck her in, while I put Allie to sleep. Then I come in and snuggle a bit and sometimes I will leave before she is all the way asleep, which is a huge milestone. Now if she would just stay in her bed longer through the night... But I'll take what I can get.

Dealing with new behavior issues has been a challenge. It seems every few months she hits a new behavior stage and I get really stressed trying to figure out how to deal with it, and then I figure it out and relax a bit. Thankfully running away has not been a problem for a while. (Hopefully I'm not jinxing myself by writing that.) I'm not sure if she outgrew it or restraining her in the stroller as soon as she bolted was the key to fixing that problem. Right now tantrum/crying when she doesn't get what she wants, hitting, spitting, sharing and not doing what she is asked are what we are working on. I am very lucky to have a private message board I belong to with a wonderful group of moms to get support and ideas from. There are a bunch of us with 2 - 3 year olds and babies so we are all in the same boat. Specifically two pieces of advice I have gotten that have worked really well are for not picking up her messes when I ask her to and for dealing with spitting. When she says no when I ask her to pick something up, I physically take her hands and help her pickup what I want her to. As soon as I do that she picks the rest of the stuff up happily and willingly. It is like magic! To deal with the spitting I take her to the sink and have her spit in the sink over and over till she is tired and bored of spitting. So I have small successes and I am working really hard on maintaining my patience and teaching her acceptable ways to behave.