Friday, September 20, 2013

What are we going to eat?

The question that haunts my brain CONSTANTLY!!  With 3 meals and 2 snacks to prepare everyday, I spend a lot of time in my kitchen.  With meal planning, shopping, and my general love of food I also spend a lot of time thinking about meals.

I am so thankful the 5 eat what we eat and they're not picky at all.  They all have their moments of not wanting some particular food, but nothing consistent yet.  And I'm all for redistributing, sharing, and trading food that's not being eaten, because what I decide to make is what you get!

Establishing healthy habits with my kids, as well as myself, is important to me.  I try to fit in all the appropriate servings of all food groups in a day- doesn't happen everyday, but it's what I shoot for.  I do let them have a dessert if they've eaten well and seem like they could go for a little extra something.

So, I thought I'd compose a go-to list of meal and snack ideas that the kiddos have liked.  Won't be everything we've tried because I've tried so many different recipes (I LOVE trying new recipes) and honestly, just don't remember everything.  I may add to this list in the future or I may start doing recipe posts, but I don't like to make such promises!

Pancakes- any kind, especially blueberry or sweet potato (use puree), and oatmeal pancakes
French Toast- plain or deceptive style with a veggie puree in the batter for a healthy boost
Oatmeal- overnight crock pot style- apple cinnamon, pumpkin, carrot cake- love it all or baked oatmeal
Muffins- just use a mix, or from scratch like pbj muffins, healthy banana muffins, really any kind
Omelet Biscuit Cups
Baked Eggs- plain or lunch meat style
Scrambled eggs- plain or with cottage cheese beat in- I sneak veggies in too
Eggos- my go to quick breakfast
Toast- butter, cinnamon, or cheese- they love it all

Grilled cheese- I often sneak veggies in here, especially spinach and tomatoes
Quesadillas- they love bean and cheese, but I sneak veggies in and sometimes random leftovers I need to get rid of
Noodles and Special Sauce- not so secret family recipe of noodles, butter, plain tomato sauce
Corn dog muffins
Homemade lunchables- crackers or tortilla pieces, lunch meat, and cheese chunks
Artichoke bread
Pizza- frozen, homemade, rolls, whatever you got they'll eat it!
Cans of soup drained- especially chicken noodle or anything else really chunky- super easy, go to quick meal!
Burgers- with or without cheese, beef or turkey or black bean- we love burgers!
Tortilla Wraps- whatever you can think of to put in them
Mac n Cheese- a staple here, also a great way to sneak veggies
PBJ- I spread greek yogurt on for my littles to give them an extra calorie/protein boost
Chicken nuggets

If I'm not already sneaking healthy stuff in the main dish, I'll add a side of veggies and/or fruit.  Mine like: frozen peas, frozen mixed veggies, homemade regular and sweet potato fries, zucchini/squash crisps

*all of the lunch items I've also used at dinner- they're interchangeable to me
Crock pot chicken alfredo- I usually add broccoli
Crock pot pasta e fagioli
Crock pot red beans and rice
Crock pot fajitas
Tamale Pie (layer tamales, corn, chili, cheese, and fritos in casserole and bake at 350 until bubbly)
Parmesan crusted tilapia filets from Sam's
Turkey Veggie Meatloaf
Regular meatloaf
Crock pot ribs- or any BBQ style meat

*I love my crock pot and use it frequently!  The Crockin Girls Cookbook is excellent and where I get many of these recipes.

*some of these snack recipes I'll also use at breakfast time 
Toddler Muffins- I always have a stash of these in the freezer
Banana Roll Ups
Healthy Cookies- also good for a no guilt mommy dessert :)
PBJ bars- just peanut butter, jelly, oats, and a mashed up banana
Fruit- I always do a snack of fruit- fresh unless I'm out then I'll go to canned.  Mine love all fruits!
Puffs/Cheerios/Goldfish/Cheez Its/Graham crackers- you get the idea
Cheese chunks

Graham crackers
Popsicles (break off small chunks)
Special treats are regular cookies/cake/ice cream, etc.

Milk- breakfast and dinner
Juice- VERY diluted at lunch
Water- any other time- sometimes with a little Crystal Light flavor :)

Well, there you have it!  How I feed our family.  Even though I usually eat my own separate breakfast and lunch because I don't mind making myself something different than everyone else ;)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Catchin up in 5 points or less

Not sure why I felt the need to title this post "5 points or less" because it's going to be hard to fit it into 5 stretched out bullets!  Guess it sounds better that way :)

1. Strangers
        I don't think I will ever get used to strangers knowing who I am and all about my family.  It doesn't happen that often, but when it does it always takes me by surprise.  This has happened several times in the past few weeks- I'm making small talk with a stranger (at the pool, a mom's group, etc) and ask about their kids and when I offer up some factoid about one of my kids I get a response like "Oh I know about your family, I follow you on (fill in the blank)/I go to your church/I see you walking all the time"  I never really know what to say after that.  I think I usually say something super intelligent like "Oh, that's cool".

2. Sensory Bags
      Again, I copied my Quad Mama friend and made these neato burrito sensory bags for the kids to play with.  I had visions of 15-20 minutes of pure entertainment as they squished and smashed the bags to see the colors/ glitter/ confetti/ soap suds move around before their very eyes.  Um, not so much.  Maybe 2 minutes?  We've tried this several times now and each time has gotten better.  At first only Andrew liked the bags, now everyone but Levi likes them (of course, Levi doesn't like new things).  Levi and Ben mostly like throwing them off the table.  I even switch the bags around every 30 seconds-ish so they don't get bored with one bag.

     For those curious readers, I made the bags by filling ziploc gallon size bags with various household items.  Hand sanitizer, baby shampoo, baby oil, hair gel, and water were all used as bases.  Then I used puffy paint to color the liquid base and added fun materials like glitter, confetti, and beads.  Voila!  Mediocre sensory bags!  Buyer beware- they can leak!  Duct tape and double bagging saved me from a huge mess.

3. Leah
     Leah's had some pretty cool things happen to her lately.  We found a new ophthalmologist  who specializes in CVI!  She was much more thorough and informative than her last one.  The best part was she informed me about weekly national conference calls for parents of kids with CVI (based in NY) where parents call in to ask questions and consult with each other.  They even have expert professionals every couple of weeks to speak to us.  I've been listening in for a few weeks now and it's truly a great resource.  Leah also has received her bath chair and her stander!  Haven't needed the bath chair yet, but she's done really well in the stander and her therapist can already see a difference :)  Lastly, she is now taking her liquid antibiotics by mouth!!  This is a huge deal for her!  Her eating still varies a lot, but teeny tiny baby steps are where she's at and as always, I'll take a little progress over none at all.

4. New Skills
     With my almost 17 month olds, the new skills are constant!  I'll probably miss some on the blog as I don't remember to jot everything down.  Andrew is walking!!!!! FINALLY!!  He also said his first word- "go".  They are all much much more vocal, not many real words, but lots of pretend talking and attempts to let us know what they want, including some head shaking.  We've started 'word of the week' flash cards and their little faces light up when we review the word.  No one has said the words yet, but they do point some of them out in books.  Ben can walk backwards and the girls walk reeeeally fast.  They love riding their push cars and after my back was tired of bending over one day, I taught them how to push each other!  Success!!  Now if only they could steer around obstacles...  They are all getting better at getting into things- doors, drawers, and cabinets- any container really- are all fascinating.  They're starting to figure out climbing.  Imitating has increased dramatically and is so much fun!  We love to make faces and sounds and watch them focus on copying us.  They do imitate each other as well.  Alli has started going over to Leah's pump when she hears it beeping and pointing at it and looking at me-  it was so funny to me to realize that she picked that up from watching me.  They're starting to dance more on their own too; they LOVE music and seem to enjoy bouncing/shaking to the beat.  I've also gotten Caroline and Andrew into helping put toys back in containers :)

    Negative new skills- throwing (Ben), hair pulling (Andrew), and biting (Allison).  Can't wait to see what the others come up with! several minutes of free play time Caroline dancing Alli pushing Ben

5. Big Events
     I got brave and trimmed Alli and Caroline's bangs.  They were way too long and had been in their eyes for weeks.  Alli would not stop squirming, so hers are a tad shorter than I intended, but Caroline's came out pretty good.  I keep forgetting to take a picture though!  And, no, I didn't save any hair.  It was a mess.
     We had our last swim day of the season :(  It was extra special though because Daddy, Nona, and Grandpa were there to share it with the kiddos!  Also several of our favorite friends!  I hope they continue to enjoy the water and I'm looking forward to some splash pad fun next summer.
     Ben, Allison, and Levi all tested out of ECI physical therapy and have moved on to communication/developmental skills!  This is the typical natural progression for preemies in the program.  I'm glad they're having so much success, even if we miss our ECI PT!
     We attended a birthday party a few weekends ago for our neighbor friend turning 1.  All was well until it started getting really crowded and Dave and I had a hard time keeping track of where everyone was and which adults had which kids- so we trekked home.  Andrew did manage to crawl around and steal food off strangers plates!  How embarrassing!!
     Lastly, my wonderful friend who has been helping 3 days a week for the past year decided to return to work part time and reduce her Pack days to once a week.  She has been an enormous help to me through pregnancy and the first year.  I could never thank her enough and the kids adore her!  I've consulted with her so many times it's been strange to not get her opinion before making a decision.  She's always up for one of my crazy ideas/adventures/whatever new thing I'm trying with the kids which I've always appreciated!  And as God would have it, a few weeks before she returned to work, a new neighbor moved in who is recently retired, looking for a way to volunteer- preferably with kids, is really bored and doesn't know anyone, and her husband works and her kids are grown.  Um, walk across the street and help me please!  And she has!  And she's wonderful and just the sweetest lady ever.  I always tell people that God has blessed my family and truly provides for us, and this is just another example!
Dave with the Bigs at the party

Aunt NeeNee with the kids before she goes back to work just for laughs :)