Monday, April 2, 2012


Well hello there, you poor, ignored little blog. You thought you could slide away into the abyss and join Xanga, did you?

I would say nine months is a pretty solid gap. I won't promise more more consistency to you hoards of devoted readers (I'm talking to you, mom) but after opening my blog to see the cliff hanger of vegetarianism, I thought an update might be in order.

I truly enjoyed our little stint as vegetarians. If nothing else, it opened our eyes and helped us make more conscious decisions about what we eat. As a couple, Nathan and I have always been fairly healthy. We both have our weaknesses, but we know how to make good choices and keep a healthy kitchen. When you have kids, though, your tastes and choices are often drowned out by small voices. I don't cater to my children, but there are limits to the spices and foods they will eat and occasionally our meals get a little bland and boring. Maintaining a vegetarian diet that could please me protein obsessed husband, nourish my 2-3 year old, and give me the nutrients to nurse was not as difficult as I thought and helped us spice up the rotation of dishes.

If you remember, the idea of going meat free was my husband's. Because I've never been a big meat eater, it was a much easier transition for me. I found out towards the end of the first month that he was only sticking to the diet when he was home. To each their own, though, right? Because I do the cooking and shopping, our home remained vegetarian through Christmas, or roughly 6 months.

While I still keep my meat intake fairly limited, I had some health problems that required change. I know experienced vegetarians would argue (correctly) that there are ways around it, but for me, it was a deal breaker. Since age 17, I have taken thyroid medications for Hashimotos thyroiditis, or hypothyroidism. It took a deeper look into my patterns (and a pretty great doctor) to find that the diagnosis wasn't incorrect but it wasn't a full picture. Like a small percentage of people with thyroid disorders, I also have Graves disease flare ups (together, they refer to it as Hashitoxicosis) and the food (soy, mainly) that made up a good deal of my diet triggered Graves episodes that were taking a huge toll not only on me and my body but on my family. Exhaustion, anxiety, and depression ran rampant. A few months later with a more balanced diet, adjusted meds, and a baby that's nursing far less, I am feeling much more like my old self. It's nice to enjoy full days of activities with the kids like I want to without freaking out or fighting to stay awake and I think they are much happier when I am, too.

If nothing else, it was my first (and probably last) adventure into restrictive dieting of any sort. I've never dieted or understood strict plans others stick to (so not advocating fads, yo-yoing, and pyramid schemes) but now I better understand the battle with temptation dieters endure.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Week One: Success!

A day after our vegetarian adventure began, I left town for the weekend while Nathan stayed behind. I'm not sure what he ate over the weekend, but I definitely succumbed to a cheeseburger during the road trip. I felt some guilt as I might be letting my partner down, but I'm only human and those small town cafes make it so hard to resist. Back home, we've been trying out new recipes and looking at ways to get more protein, especially for Nathan. Using a recipe from Buy Bulk Whey, we made a banana bread with about 20 grams of protein per slice. (Our powder has more grams of protein than the one on the site, so it measures differently.) It didn't turn out too badly, either. The house smelled amazing and the bread tasted ok. I think I'll add zucchini and chopped nuts to the mix next time and cook it in muffin tins for better portability. Nathan has been topping slices with peanut butter for a protein packed snack.
Not the best picture, but I have since made one with pecans for my grandpa and he loved it.

I have to say, I am LOVING trying out new recipes and eating fresh, yummy food. It's almost like a step back into my pre-family days, before I married my carnivore. I really have to hand it to him, he is really invested in this. Making things I love and having him enjoy them too has been great.

Some other "new" recipes we've tried out this week:
Black Bean Quinoa Tacos (high-five to my husband for sticking to these at the July 4th BBQ)

Almond Garlic Pasta (Had my doubts, but it was delicious.)

And a Leftovers Smoothie. That's what happens when you have extra's chopped in the kitchen. This one is strawberry, fresh mint, lemon, and greek yogurt. Yum :)

We enjoyed spending the week with my youngest sister, Regan. She was a good sport and didn't complain about being along for the ride. Lily doesn't seem to notice any changes, but she did help me put together a lasagna. Regan said the pseudo-beef we used in it tasted like sausage, so I guess it was a winner.

Onto week two. As I write this, I'm trying to throw together a menu and list. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Meatless Month

As we were driving home on our first ever road trip as a family of four (more on that later), my husband told me he thought we should try eating vegan for awhile. If you know Nathan, you've probably abandoned the computer and are instead scanning the skies for flying pigs. Myself, I just laughed it off and kept driving. This is the man who grumbles if I cook anything less than a pound of meat for dinner. The guy who consumes said meat and still finishes off a few protein shakes a day. As he continued to talk about FDA standards and other related things, I half way listened (still couldn't tell you what his argument was, really) and then, with a start, I realized he was serious.

It's a day later and I'm still pretty baffled, but I love both my husband and a good challenge so I'm game. Since today is the 1st, what better day to start? We are challenging ourselves to stick to it for the month. Maybe we'll like it, maybe we'll hate it, but I think you have to try something for a few weeks before you really know. I don't think it will be too drastic of a change for Lily and myself, but I think Nathan's world is about to be rocked. We compromised on an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet and I started in on meal plans and shopping lists. I quickly realized meal planning was completely different and there was next to nothing in my usual recipes that would work. I found a few sites that help with meal planning and purchased a membership with E-mealz. You choose a diet and even grocery store, if you want, and they give you a meal plan shopping list. Even if you aren't on a special diet, I think it's a pretty great tool and can seriously cut down on your planning time. While I like the simplicity of their meals and lists, I do wish there were a way to add or delete meals from the plan. Grocery shopping also took a bit longer and made me wish I was back at the Central Market I visited last week in Plano. Oh, the produce! It was gorgeous. E-mealz is tailored to your cooking style and experience, though, so I didn't have to search for a bunch of gourmet ingredients I was unfamiliar with. (I chose "good without a cookbook" for my cooking experience.)

Here's our meal from Night One:

The recipe is one from the meal planning site and includes ingredients I probably would have never thought to put together, but it was actually really good and simple. Potatoes, sweet potato, carrot, apple, onion, garlic, canned tomato, cinnamon, meatless sausage, and some other herbs and spices over brown rice. They call it "Skillet Veggie Sausage."

One night's not hard, but we'll see how the month goes. If you have any tips, hints, or recipes, I would love to hear them! I'm especially interested in eating out on a vegetarian diet. We like to go out at least once a week usually, but besides Jason's Deli I don't know what might be good.

Friday, June 17, 2011


My mother was nice enough to run a post (Staycation) in the Eagle Press this week. If you're in the Hutchinson County area, grab a copy and show your support! I'll probably be contributing there once in a while. I believe there is also a special right now on a year's subscription. Tell them I sent you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Playing With Purpose

I am by no means an education expert or a proponent of homeschooling. I am a mom, though, and therefore an educator, and I believe that the home is the first school a child encounters. With that in mind, I set out to create a functional, fun area in our home for Lily a few months ago. Her room is full of toys, too, but she tends to play in the communal areas of the house more than anything so that's the part I wanted to focus on.

There are so very many resources online when it comes to things like this. I spent hours lost in Regggio Emilia, Montessori, and found the blog to be helpful. In the end, we pulled inspirations from each of these but the main idea is to keep it simple, fun, and interesting.

Accessibility is important because it fosters independence. With that in mind, everything is at child height and she can do what she likes without asking for help. However, in the montessori spirit, that thing has to be put away before a new activity can begin. To help with that, we labeled her bins with pictures instead of words. Check out that fancy tape job:

The shelves and bins are filled with blocks, wooden puzzles, crayons, books, magnets, playdough, and the like. Almost everything is from around the house and I'm pretty sure I've spent less than $50 putting this area together. I had Nathan add the curtain rod to display her art just this week and she is very proud of her "art wall."

And of course, outdoor access because, well, that's where the dirt is. I guess you could say we take the "environment as the third teacher" idea literally. I'm not sure what it is about dirt, but it makes her infinitely happy.

All in all, I am pretty proud of the space. It's serving it's purpose & she seems to enjoy it. While my husband disagrees and says our house looks like I'm running a preschool, I think it takes up a very small area and keeps things from exploding all over. If you know me, you know that my home is in a constant state of evolution. I rearrange my furniture way too often & just last week swapped curtains from one room to another. I guess I'm bored easily or just like to try new ideas. Any way, I'm sure this space will change, too, and I would love to hear (and see!) ideas you have on functional play areas, or ateliers.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Yum Balls!

After a few hours of playing outside and (uggh) laundry, Lily and I headed to the kitchen this afternoon to satiate my undying peanut butter craving and her unending demand for cookies. What we came out with was a variation on the no-bake cookies you were probably served or taught to make in your childhood. The major difference here is ours contain no sugar, corn syrup, or butter and there's no need to use instant oats. Rolled oats have more texture, protein, and fiber.
Also, I don't really believe in measuring unless I'm baking so everything's a bit approximated.

1/3 C Peanut Butter (we used Skippy Natural)
1/3 C Honey
3/4 C Rolled Oats (or whatever you have on hand)
1/4 C Wheat Germ
1/4 C Coconut
Dash each cinnamon, vanilla, and cocoa powder (ok, maybe 2 dashes of cocoa!)
Small box of raisins

Mix wet and dry ingredients separately, then together. Spoon onto wax paper (should make about 12 balls) and refrigerate.

This takes about 5 minutes to prepare and is completely toddler approved. Lily has deemed them "yum balls." If I were making these for Nathan, I would probably dump in some protein powder, but Lily and I like them just fine like this.

Friday, June 10, 2011


My husband asked me if I wanted to actually go somewhere this year or just take a week off and do a staycation. After some thought, I asked what one does on a staycation. The answer was something like "parks, swimming, museums, etc." Ok, that's not an exact quote, but you get it. At that moment, I realized that I was, in fact, on a permanent staycation. The things that other people take off of work to enjoy with their families are just my daily activities.

Earlier this week, my staycation included a picnic at the park followed by a trip to the Don Harrington Discovery Center. Somewhere during this, my lovely, usually well behaved daughter remembered that she was two and decided to act as such. About the same time, my three month old woke with a start and small explosion. A quick check confirmed my fears: a blow out to beat all blow outs. After using every wipey in the diaper bag to wipe such things as his ears and my forearms, I settled into a chair in the preschool area to accept the stares that come with nursing a naked baby, tried to relax, and then called my husband. No answer. This annoys me. I'm a cell phone era girl, born and raised with the idea that everyone should be reachable at all times. How dare he ignore my calls when I'm covered in the excrement of HIS children!

Two hours later, he finally calls back. I've calmed down, of course, but nonetheless tell him about the overall suckiness of our hot, sticky afternoon. "Oh. Well, sorry I didn't call back. I was stuck in an outdoor elevator 150 feet in the air for the last 3 hours." And that, folks, is what I like to call perspective.

Maybe the days can seem a bit long and monotonous sometimes, but really, I am thankful for the opportunity I have to enjoy my life every day with the people I love. Some days may be shitty (pun totally intended), but my bosses are way more cuddly and easier to pacify. It can be a thankless job, but it's one I'm thankful for.

As Father's Day approaches, I think it's important to say thank you not just to our own fathers, but to our children's fathers. So, thank you, honey, for affording me this opportunity to enjoy these years with our babies. Thank you for allowing me unlimited lazy mornings such as this one to snuggle, sip my coffee, and watch them play. Thank you for being a modern father, not afraid to come home and help with laundry, dishes, and diapers. Although somedays I might seem ready to throw in the towel, I can't imagine doing anything else with anyone else.