Saturday, June 30, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Foodie Penpals: Hearty Appletite!

This month I participated in something that's great and a lot of fun: I became a Foodie Penpal! I had seen a few of the blogs I follow participating in the past and thought it would be a great opportunity to meet other bloggers (and non-bloggers!). This month my foodie penpal was Sandra of Hearty Appletite. Sandra lives in Vancouver, Washington and she sent me a box full of goodies that are locally produced within 50 miles of her house (except the fudge). How cool is that? Everything in the box was delicious and I'll admit that I hid the fruit strips from Cati and ate them in private so I wouldn't have to share. Here's a rundown of all the things Sandra sent me:
Foodie Penpal

I can't wait to participate next month and I'm so glad I was able to meet and discover another great blogger. Thanks Sandra! For more information on Foodie Penpals visit Lindsey's blog, The Lean Green Bean. The deadline to participate for July is the 4th so head on over!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Green Smoothie

There is a debate raging in our house. An interesting one at that because it involves differing views of fitness. It all started when I saw this picture:
This girl (Becca) looks amazing to me. I love her body and want it for myself. I think it's the right amount of muscle and definition. This is my fitness goal. Alex, on the other hand, thinks it's too much muscle and too much definition. He doesn't agree with my fitness goal. Yet, he wants to look like those guys on the muscle magazines with their veins bulging out of their arms. I don't even know if I have the dedication or the willpower to even have a body like that, but I want to try. One step toward that goal is this green smoothie. It's delicious and healthy and the perfect in-between meals snack. The best part is that Cati likes it so I'm able to sneak in spinach into her diet.

What do you think of my fitness goal? Too much muscle?

Green Smoothie
Source: Iowa Girl Eats
Yields 2 Servings

1 frozen sliced banana
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 cup 0% Vanilla Chobani Greek yogurt
1 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze (or other kind of milk)
4 cups baby spinach (or more, or less)
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
2 Tbsp wheat germ

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Honey Beer Bread

Honey Beer Bread
I love bread but making it scares me. It's the yeast! I had this recipe saved and made it as soon as we had some Sam Adams Summer Ale (our favorite seasonal beer) in the house. This recipe is the easiest recipe you will ever come across. Everything goes in one bowl, then to the bread pan, and lastly into the oven. An hour later you have a bread that is so delicious you won't be able to have just one small slice. The best part of this bread is it's versatility because the bread takes on the flavor of whatever beer you use.

Honey Beer Bread Recipe
Source: Adapted from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
Makes 1 loaf

3 cups bread flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp honey
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
4 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″ x 5″ x 3″ inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer and honey into the dry ingredients until just mixed.

Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

This Week in Mommyhood

I reached a peak (or is it a low?) in my exhaustion. There cannot possibly be another level of exhaustion. I love my girls and I love being with them but I couldn't stop myself from fantasizing about taking a trip completely alone. To be somewhere without anyone knowing me. To not have to respond to anyone's needs or worrying about anyone's schedule. To have a real break and able to recharge. To carry a small purse for once and to be able to choose when to be awake and when to fall asleep. To have a break from being a mother and to have the chance to miss it. That won't be happening anytime soon so for now I simply wish to sleep in and miss out on the morning bustle of getting two kids fed and dressed for the day. Surely, that one's easier to do. Now if I could just have coordinate this with Alex's job we'd be set.

Here are the fun developments from the past week:

Circles. Cati draws circles now. Or in her beautiful imaginary world, she draws flowers.

Four-Month Appointment. Elina had her four-month appointment this past week and she's growing beautifully. Leading up to her appointment I was saying that she was going to measure smaller than Cati at four months. Compared to Cati's pictures, Elina doesn't look as chunky and she doesn't feel as big. I was right and Elina measured 1.5-inches and 1.5lbs smaller than Cati. Elina is healthy and developing right on target and it's things like this that serve to remind me that Elina is very different from Cati.

Fingers & Hand. My doctor asked me if I had any concerns about Elina and I mentioned how it's so hard not to compare siblings (I went into the appointment knowing Cati's measurements). He told me the best analogy and it's one I have been telling everyone who will listen all week. Children are like the fingers on your hand: they all come from the same hand, but each finger is completely different. Never heard truer words...

Brush Brush Comb Comb. Cati let me brush her hair! Twice! This is huge for me because the child doesn't let me come near her hair with the comb. I would always be jealous of the people at her school because she would let them brush and style her hair. Bows still don't last long but at least she lets me do a proper ponytail.

Here's to another week of finding a way to survive and laugh along the way.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Blender Waffles

Blender Waffles
Here's a perfect anytime waffle recipe because of how quick and easy it is to make. I like waffles but don't particularly enjoy making them because most recipes call for separating the yolks from the egg whites. This recipe keeps them all together and all you end up dirtying is the blender and measuring cups/spoons. The waffles are vanilla-rich in flavor so you can't go wrong here. Cati loved these and had half a waffle to herself, which is a lot considering I can barely make it through a whole one myself.

Blender Waffles

Source: Baking Bites
Yields : 4 servings

1 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine milk, eggs and melted butter in a blender and blend until very smooth. Add in flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and vanilla and blend until batter is thick. Scrape down the sides of the blender with a spatula if necessary to ensure that no flour sticks to the walls of the blender.

Preheat waffle iron.

Pour batter onto waffle iron and cook as directed by the manufacturer.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Sensible Summer Fun: Enjoying the season without breaking the ban

If you have kids, then you understand the love/hate relationship with the summer season. You get to see your little ones more often, but then again, you get to see your little ones more often. Having the kids around the house all summer long will wear on even the strictest parent’s sanity, and that’s why I suggest planning outings as often as possible so everyone in the home can get a little fresh air and exercise.

Of course not all parents have the opportunity to cart their kids around to various summer activities. Most parents have pressing responsibilities that prevent them from spending tons of free time with their kids; most parents have jobs that take up most of their time, not to mention parents who juggle multiple jobs, college classes, and raising a family simultaneously. What’s more, most of these same busy parents can’t afford to send off their kids to a summer camp or to an exotic getaway, so summer plans tend to be few and far between. Thusly, I’d like to propose a few budget conscious solutions for summer activities that will keep the kids busy without costing parents a fortune.

Local swimming pools and homemade water activities 

Summertime is unbearably hot no matter where you are in the United States. So the easiest way to entertain kids is to provide them with some fun and distracting means to cool off. This can be as easy as going to the local public swimming pool—if there’s one in your area—so your kids can play in the water while you catch up on some reading or just to soak up the sun.

If the idea of going to a local pool isn’t your cup of tea, you can just as easily provide some water-based fun in front of your own home with a hose and sprinkler system, or a small wading pool. No matter where you decide to let your kids play in the water, make sure that they get proper skin protection from the sun, because nothing is more painful than dealing with sunburn the day after spending a day outside.

Free museum visits and citywide children’s events 

One of my favorite memories from childhood summers is when my parents would take me to the children’s museum to see the latest exhibits. My family would usually go to the museum on free days so we didn’t have to spend a penny on the visit, but I got so much out of the experience. My childhood museum experiences definitely influenced my future education in high school and in college.

You can do the same if there are any museums in your area—simply find out when they have free days and plan a trip to take your kids for some free learning. Your kids will love the change of pace from lazing around the house, especially if there’s some event at the museum specifically designed for children. And you don’t have to limit yourself to museum visits—most major cities have free activities planned throughout the summer just so families can have a reason to check out the town with their kids. It just takes a little searching to find out the best deals going on in your community.

Scavenger hunts 

This is an activity that I usually suggest for multiple parents to tackle together with their kids just because it’s more exciting with more people involved. Parents and their kids can choose a convenient time to get together at a nearby park and start the scavenger hunt from there. Parents could list off a few commonly found items around the park for the kids to look for (a leaf of a certain shape or color, for example) or they could bring along some items to hide around the park. After the parents establish what the kids need to find, they can just sit back and relax while the kids search around the park for as long as it takes them. It’s a great activity to help kids socialize with other children their age, and it gives parents a chance to chat with fellow parents and friends in their local community.

Katheryn Rivas is a freelance writer and resident blogger at online universities, a site dedicated to distance higher education. She welcomes your comments at

Monday, June 18, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

These Weeks in Mommyhood

The stress, drama, and exhaustion of the past few weeks finally caught up with me this weekend. Unfortunately, it caught up with me in the form of what was surely mastitis. Father's Day was spent with me pumping as often as I could. Thankfully, things are better but it's a reminder that I need to do a better job at taking care of myself. The girls are both growing and developing spectacularly and I won't be able to enjoy it if I'm not feeling well. I won't be able to spend as much time taking care of myself as I do taking care of them, but at the very least I need to try to rest more. I think I might just make that my daily goal and challenge. We'll see how it goes!

Here are Cati's developments from the past two weeks:

Peak Into My Brain. My favorite development is definitely language because I get to see how Cati processes and understands the world. I am also constantly impressed by the things that come out of her mouth. She likes to ask, "Mommy in Spanish?" when she wants to know what things are called in Spanish; thanks to that she knows her colors and numbers in both languages. Or one day, after me saying Elina needed to eat, Cati said, "Elina no tiene hambre. Porque? No esta llorando" ("Elina's not hungry. Why? Because she isn't crying"). Or another day when she was trying to show Elina something and she said, "EnseƱa la. Elina no sabe" ("Show her. Elina doesn't know"). She's just such a little sponge right now and making connections left and right. It's pretty amazing!

Imagination Expansion. Cati now pretends to be playing with things. She will pretend to change the diapers and, all weekend long, her and Alex would pretend to play with cats and bikes. Cati would come up to me to hand me a cat and then she would come back to take the cat back.

My Name is Pepito. File this under funny. Apparently, Cati's bunny's name is "Pepito." I have no clue where that name came from but I think it's great she is starting to give her toys real names.

Winnie the Pooh Obsessed. Cati had never seen Winnie the Pooh on TV but she did have Winnie the Pooh and Piglet stuffed animals. She recently discovered them and has since become obsessed with all things Winnie the Pooh. After the dogs ate Piglet, I took Cati to the Disney Store and she came home with a new Piglet, Roo, Eeyore, and Tigger. Now Cati spends the days at home with a Little Mermaid bag at her side filled with all her stuffed animals.

Here are Elina's developments from the past to weeks:

Wakeful Period? Elina had a few days of waking up at night. The first day she woke up and ate an entire bottle. The following few nights she didn't and eventually she stopped waking up at night. Even though it was only a few nights, I was amazed at the body's ability to get used to sleeping straight through the night. I felt like a zombie during the day after those night wakings. She's lucky she's so cute...

Oh the Horror. Elina's cries have changed. They have been changing over the past few weeks but the most significant change is the screaming. Whereas before it was a high-pitched shriek, now she sounds like someone screaming out of a scary movie.

Grab, Hold, Mouth. Elina has been working on her hand-eye coordination. First, it started with her grabbing on to my hand when I was feeding her. Then, it progressed to her holding on to the bottle. Now she's taken to pulling the bottle in and out of her mouth. She also reaches out for things now and brings them to her mouth.  is  things and bringing to mouth

Raspberries. Over the past week Elina has started blowing spit bubbles and raspberries. As if she didn't have enough drool coming out of that beautiful mouth of hers!

Sleeping Unswaddled. Elina is sleeping without the swaddle. It started when Elina fell asleep in my mother-in-law's arms and I decided to see if we could lay her down in the crib and have her stay asleep. She did and ever since she has been sleeping without the swaddle. This reminds me that changes are easier for the kids to accept when they are ready for them.

I think that just about sums up all the fun that's been had over the past two weeks. As always, I'm sure I've forgotten things. Here's to another week of surviving and living in the moment.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Elina: Four Months

Dear Elina,

You have taught me so much this past month. You have taught me the importance of being flexible and accepting you as an individual. You constantly remind me that you are not your sister and that experiences do not repeat themselves because you are a different person. Being your mother has been an intense experience but you lack the intensity Cati herself had. Instead, you are calmly observant and have such a wonderful peace about you. It is so easy to want to be with you.

You have taught me to lower my expectations and enjoy the small victories of the day. You need and want me, nothing else. You don’t need me to be superwoman. It was hard adjusting to being needed on that most basic level again and it was hard accepting that I couldn’t do it all. In the end I realized four things: (1) you won’t be this small forever so I better enjoy it, (2) life is too long to spend so much time feeling frazzled and stressed, (3) life is too beautiful to miss out on all the heart-swelling moments, (4) and, life is also too short to not spend it enjoying the joy and simplicity of the here-and-now.

This month saw many great developments but the best one thus far was the one that confirmed I was doing all the right things: you intentionally smiled at me. You smile me all the time now and there is so much pleasure from knowing that just my presence makes you happy. I’ve learned how to make you smile and even the ways to make you giggle; sniffing your neck and making funny voices are always good places to start. You smile at your sister and I love knowing this is the beginning of your adoration for one another. Like me, Cati loves your smiles and will go as far as physically trying to make you smile while saying, “Elina sonrie.”

Another great development is that you started sleeping through the night (my definition). Even if I’m not sleeping through the night myself or if I’m staying up late and waking up early, at least I am comforted by the knowledge that once you are down for the evening, you are down until the next day. Part of this has to do with your ability to roll over and sleep on your stomach and the other part has to do with your increased hand-eye coordination and your ability to bring your hand to you mouth for sucking (you also bring just about anything to your mouth). Toward the end of the month I took away the swaddle and you adjusted well and continued to sleep the same. I love to see your little body sprawled out in your crib. The swaddle burrito is still adorable but I love that booty-in-the-air position.

There was a shift in your schedule this month. At the beginning of the month you were taking three naps during the day with one long nap in the afternoon. At the end of the month you were taking for short (60 minutes, max) naps during the day. This shift was followed by a shift of when you get your bottles and now you eat around the following times: 8:30am, 11:30am, 2:00pm, 4:30pm, and 7:00pm. You’ve also increased how much you are eating and you get 5oz bottles at all five feedings.

This past month with you has been so delightful. You are growing and developing beautifully. You are finding your voice and playing around with different sounds. You are excellent at tummy time and hold your head up high. You are beginning to do crunches so I know sitting is just around the corner. You like to stand on your feet when we hold you so I know crawling and walking are around another corner. You are spending more time being quietly actively alert. Each day comes with new developments. I am so happy I can have the pleasure of being your mother, of seeing you grow into who you are meant to be, of seeing you become our daughter, and of seeing you become a sister. You are my sweet, sweet little baby and I live for your gummy smiles and husky giggles. Thank you for choosing me to be your mother and guide through this crazy, unpredictable world.


More on Elina: Birth Story, One Month, Two Months, Three Months
Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Happy Father's Day

I always used to be indifferent to Father's Day because the relationship with my own father was complicated. Then Cati was born and I had a reason to celebrate. Not only had Alex become a father, but I also reconnected with my own dad. Cati, before she was born, was already able to bring out the best in people. There's nothing like reflecting on the shortness and beauty of life than the beginning of new life. Happy Father's Day to all those fathers who try to be the men their children need them to be. And to the number one father in my life, thank you for having beautiful girls with me and for being the man all other men will be measured against.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Thoughts on Motherhood

Here I am, almost four months in, and being a mother of two is simultaneously kicking my butt and making me swell with joy. Each day is full of little battles and pull-out-your-hair moments, but each day is also filled with laughter, kisses, and smiles. Having two kids has been one heck of a ride. I had no clue what to expect and it's all been so thrilling. I am exhausted all of the time, but I feel so accomplished. There is something so gratifying with simply surviving the day and ending the day on a high note of goodnight kisses and sleepy snuggles.

My perspective and attitude has changed a lot over the past four months and I have found myself being a more relaxed and chilled out mother. I'm still a stickler for schedules (mostly for Elina) but I hold onto to that little bit of order like a lifeline because my days are made up of a series of chaotic moments. It was quite a mental leap to go from where I was at one month to where I am now at four months and here's what I have learned along the way:

Look for the Positive. On one especially bad day in mommyhood I sent my friend an email listing out all the bad things that happened to upset me. The list included things like napless children, Cati having three ground-hitting tantrums in 20 minutes, me losing my temper with both children, and the dogs pooping inside. I saw the list and, not wanting to bring my friend down, I also listed the things that happened during the day that made me happy. That list was shorter but the things I listed where things that I was amazed I even did considering the day I had with both girls. Seeing both lists helped me escape the negative fog I had enshrouded myself in and I realized that I need to do a better job at looking for those things that made me happy. It's so easy to pinpoint the negative but pointing out the positive is so much more rewarding. And even when I have bad days, I remind myself of this most beautiful and unshakeable positive: the day will end and the girls will go to sleep.

Lower Your Standards and Give Yourself Credit. One of the biggest adjustments you have to make when you have kids is adjusting to not being able to do as much as you did when you were child-free. I made the adjustment with Cati but then that became my new normal so when Elina was born I still expected to be able to do the things I did when it was just Cati and me. I would get frustrated and had children that cried more than they do now because I still tried to operate as if I only had one child to look after. I had to lower my standards and give myself more credit for what I was actually doing. How could I honestly expect to do laundry, have a clean house, and make dinner while I was caring full-time for two kids? Why couldn't I realize that cooking dinner and making a dessert were actually huge accomplishments?

Simply Be. This ties in to the above. In trying to do everything I was sacrificing time with my children. Cati was throwing tantrums like crazy because on top of having to split my attention with Elina, she also had to split it with household chores. Neither of them were really getting quality time with me because I felt like I had to do it all. Then I realized they really don't care if I can't do it. They don't care about laundry, clean floors, or a home-cooked meal. Heck, they don't even notice those things. I'm the only one that cares about those things! All either of them wanted was my attention; Elina wanted me to really hold her (as opposed to holding her in the sling) and Cati wanted me to play and converse with her. The house won't fall apart if things don't get done but my girls will fall apart if I'm not meeting their emotional needs. They need undistracted me, plain and simple.

Interruptions. Proof that there is always something to learn, a light flickered off in my brain when I read Shawni Pothier's post on Rockstar Diaries this past week. So much about life is the meaning you attribute to things: change the meaning and you can change the way you feel and react to certain things. Cati constantly interrupts me and sometimes it doesn't bother me but sometimes it bothers me a lot and I can feel myself starting to lose my cool. Then I read this quote and now I don't want her to ever stop interrupting me:

When you are exasperated by interruptions, try to remember that their very frequency may indicate the value of your life. Only people who are full of help and strength are burdened by other persons' needs. The interruptions which we chafe at are the credentials of our indispensability. The greatest condemnation that anybody could incur -and it is a danger to guard against - is to be so independent, sounhelpful, that nobody ever interrupts us, and we are left comfortably alone -Anonymous from The Anglican Digest

Feeling Human. If you've been around me the past few weeks you'll be familiar with me saying I want to feel human again. By that I mean, I want to feel like I am doing something for me, something that is outside that daily routine of caring for the girls that oftentimes leaves me feeling like I'm on autopilot. I want to feel the spasm of new thoughts, the unpredictability of free will, the ability to control something. I cherish the moments I get to myself and they are like little nuggets of energy that help me get through the day.

Embrace Your Unique Child. Oh Elina. I am so sorry. The only thing I regret with Elina is not accepting her as a unique individual sooner. I kept waiting for her to morph into the type of baby that scared and scarred me with Cati. Any little thing that reminded me of Cati would send my mind into a tailspin. Once I started focusing more on how she was different from Cati, I started enjoying her more and that led to me enjoying being a mother of two more. I still make comparisons but they are limited to the physical: when did each start rolling, smiling, etc. Elina is her own special person who is not following Cati's path; she is making her own path and teaching me the importance of flexibility.

Motherhood is a journey. Motherhood is insanity peppered with moments of sanity. Motherhood is bliss, love, anger, forgiveness, and pain all rolled into one. Motherhood is that thing you will never figure out but it's so much fun that you don't even want it all figured out. I love being a mother and I love my girls. I love that they introduced me to this new side of me and I love that we get to go on this journey of discovery together.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Boozy Strawberry Shortcake for Two

Did you know today is National Strawberry Shortcake Day? Well, it is and I'm celebrating with this messy concoction. I had a lot of fun creating this recipe and even more fun putting it all together. I'm not a strawberry fan but I loved the biscuit cookie because it was sweet and buttery and I loved the whipped cream because of its strawberry-orange liqueur flavor.

Boozy Strawberry Shortcake for Two
Serves 2

For the strawberries
5-6 strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cointreau

In a small bowl combine all ingredients. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

For the whipped cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp liquid from strawberries
Combine ingredients in a small bowl. With a hand mixer on medium speed, mix until cream holds stiff peaks, 2-3 min.

For the biscuit cookies
1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp butter, chilled and cut into 6 pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Add butter and, using your fingers, mix until just incorporated and mixture looks like wet sand. With a fork stir in heavy cream until combined.
Let the dough sit for five minutes and then, on a floured surface, knead the dough until it hold together.
Divide the dough evenly in two, shape into circles, and pat them down until they are about 1/2-inch thick.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until risen and golden in color. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Lay one cookie on a plate. Layer with 2-3 Tbsp whipped cream, half of the berries, and 2-3 Tbsp whipped cream. Place the second cookie on top and garnish top with more whipped cream and the rest of the strawberries.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's only Wednesday and yet it seems like this week has been going on forever. There was a health scare in my family that had everyone on pins and needles and it left me thinking about how quickly your life can change in 24 hours or with a single glance at an MRI. Thankfully, what could have been a devastating diagnosis, turned out to be a lot less scary (the remedy was still frightening, though) and everyone is in better spirits.

These Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies are the perfect cookie for celebrating simply surviving the day. I was really distracted when I made these cookies so I may or may not have left out a 1/4 cup of flour and I dropped about a 1/3 of them when I was trying to move them from one counter to another. My cookies turned out flat, crispy, chewy, and full of Toffee flavor. I really do love chocolate chip cookies in all its incarnations.

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: A Pastry Affair
Yields about 2 dozen cookies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sliced or chopped almonds
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used miniature chocolate chips)
3/4 cup toffee pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and continue mixing until well blended. Stir in the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until mixed. Stir in the almonds, chocolate chips, and toffee pieces.

Drop by the tablespoon onto a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. The longer you bake them, the crunchier they will get. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack. These cookies have a tendency to stick to the baking sheet if not removed promptly.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Meyer lemon spaghetti with goat cheese

Lemon Goat Cheese Pasta
I'm always on the hunt for quick and easy pasta dishes. I came across this recipe and was really excited about it because of the goat cheese. The pasta was delicious and, if you are a fan of goat cheese, you will love this pasta.

Lemon Spaghetti with Goat Cheese
Source: In Erika's Kitchen
Serves 2

1/2 lb spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 ounces fresh, soft goat cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, then add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente, and not a moment longer.

While the pasta is cooking, grate the zest of the Meyer lemon into a large bowl. Juice the lemon into the same bowl, then add the cheeses, olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a healthy grind of black pepper. Ladle a bit of the hot pasta cooking water from the pot into the bowl. Whisk everything together until it's smooth.

When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and add it to the bowl with the lemon mixture. Toss, grind on a bit more pepper, and eat.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Who Do I Look Like?

These are always fun...

These are all baby pictures from when we were all around the same age as Elina is now. I still think Elina looks more like Cati than she does either of us parents. What do you think?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

A Year Ago Today...

...I found out I was pregnant. It took another week for Alex to find out, which was so hard because that week was filled with lots of "I hope you're pregnant" and "maybe you're pregnant" comments. I was so happy, excited, and scared when I found out. In the days after I found out, all I could think was "Holy sh*t, we are really doing this again!" I had been pregnant once before so I knew what to expect and I knew that in the big picture of things, pregnancy was the easy part. What had me scared throughout the pregnancy was the unknown of having two kids: how would Cati react? would I have enough love for two kids? will I be able to handle having two kids? I was also scared about my mental state if I were to get another newborn like Cati. Thankfully, things turned out a million times better than I could have ever imagined. I got my VBAC birth and, while nursing didn't work, I am incredibly at peace and happy with pumping. Cati is an amazing and loving big sister and the affection simply oozes out of her. Two kids has been hard and I've had to learn how to let go, but it has been so rewarding and so worth it. The good days far outnumber the bad and I find myself falling more and more in love with my girls. Elina fits in perfectly with out family and she is the ying to Cati's yang. Where Cati is intense, Elina is mellow. All pregnancy long and even now at times, I pictured Elina fitting into the mold Cati created in my mind, but Elina has, in these short 3.5 months, proved to me that she is her own little wonderful person and I couldn't be more thankful for that positive pregnancy test we were blessed with a year ago.

Pregnancy test that changed our lives. 

Elina and me on June 8, 2012.

I am always saying Elina has been my dream baby because she's been easier. The reality is that for as much as she is easier than Cati, I am a different mother now than I was two years ago. She's easier because I am more confident in my parenting skills and in myself as a mother. Elina benefits from all the resolved insecurities and acknowledged mistakes and gets a better mother. I am constantly growing and changing as a mother to be the best mother for my girls and I hope I'm doing the best I can to show them they are loved, adored, and appreciated.

Cati's A Year Ago Today post.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Skillet Cookie
If you like chocolate chip cookies then you must try this as soon as possible. If you love chocolate chip cookies then you need to stop reading, copy this recipe, and go straight to the kitchen. This Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is delicious and seriously addictive. It was so good we didn't bother eating it with anything else; we just cut it up like a pie and blissfully enjoyed. 

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie
Source: Cookies & Cups

3/4 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 yolk
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, combine melted butter and both sugars. Stir until there are no lumps.   Add in vanilla, egg and yolk. Stir until mixture is smooth and egg is fully incorporated.   Stir in flour, baking soda and salt until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spread evenly in a 10" cast iron skillet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges start to golden and center of cookie begins to set. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before eating.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

This Week in Mommyhood

Alex has been on vacation this week so we've gotten a lot of family time. The girls have enjoyed having him around, I've enjoyed having him around without the black cloud of work, and I've especially enjoyed being able to split the girls with him. Everything is just less overwhelming when he's around and, even when he girls are at their crying worst, his presence makes me a much calmer person.

Here are the other fun developments this week:

Swaddle Changes. Elina loves her swaddle. I've tried taking it away but she won't fall asleep without it. At some point this week I remember I could slowly wean her from it by only swaddling one arm. She has no problems sleeping with one free arm and now I feel comfortable with her being able to roll while swaddled because at least she has a free arm she can use to push up against.

Sleeping Through The Night. Technically, sleeping through the night means sleeping for a 6-hour stretch. Elina has been doing this for a few weeks, but it never felt like it because I wasn't sleeping any 6-hour stretches by the time I finished pumping, cleaning, and got to bed. On May 27th, however, she started to sleep from 7:30pm to 7:30am and it has been glorious. I think part of the reason she has been sleeping that long at night is the swaddle change; now she gets to sleep on her belly and her hand is free to suck on when she needs to self-soothe. I still haven't been able to sleep though the night because I wake up to check on her, but there's something so nice about not having to get out of bed!

Graduation. Cati finished school this week and they had a little graduation event. Cati got a certificate for being tidy. Despite how messy she is at home this didn't surprise me because for as messy as she is, there is a method and particularity to her messiness. Either way, she is, after all, Alex's daughter and Alex is one of the most anal people I know when it comes to being tidy.
Language. It's so impressive to hear Cati express herself because (1) I get a peek into how her brain works and (2) she knows so many words I didn't teach her. My favorite thing she said this week was, "Mami lea este por favor. Cati no sabe las palabras" (Mami read this please. Cati doesn't know the words). When did she learn how to say this and when did she acquire the words to do so?

I am constant awe of my daughters. There's nothing else to say other than I am hopelessly in love with both girls. Here's to another week of loving and enjoying all their milestones and silliness.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

September to May

It's hard to really appreciate how much your child grows; the changes are all so subtle. The days turn into weeks and those weeks turn into months and it takes seeing pictures that marks two points of time to really understand just how much change has occurred. When Cati started school she was such a baby: her hair was shorter, she only had two teeth on the bottom, her gait was still wobbly, and she still had her fatty baby rolls. As the school year progressed she morphed into a little girl. This was all before our eyes yet somehow I missed this transition. Cati's hair is longer now, she has a full mouth of teeth, she runs and jumps, and she has stretched out all over. And what you can't see in these pictures is the explosion of language that solidified the fact that there is no going back and my first born baby is growing up.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Bailey's Irish Cream Brownies

Bailey's Brownies
Somewhere along the line I forgot I had made Bailey's Irish Cream to give away as gifts for Christmas so imagine my surprise and joy in having found a small bottle of it tucked away in our fridge. I immediately knew I wanted to bake something with it and decided on these brownies. I made an excellent decision because the brownies were fudgy and chocolaty with the Bailey's giving it more of a dark chocolate flavor.

Bailey's Irish Cream Brownies
Source: Gimme Some Oven

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. instant coffee powder (optional)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
heaping 1/3 cup bittersweet or dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup Baileys Irish Cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch pan with aluminum foil and lightly spritz with cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, instant coffee powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. Set aside.

Place chocolate and butter in a large microwave-proof bowl and melt in 30 second spurts, stirring in between each interval until completely melted. Set aside to cool a bit. (Alternatively, melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan set over low heat, stirring frequently until melted. Set aside to cool.)

Once the chocolate mixture is warm (not hot!), add eggs one at a time, whisking constantly to incorporate. Whisk vigorously for about 10 seconds to incorporate fully. Add sugar, vanilla, and Bailey’s and whisk until combined. Add the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, folding until just combined.

Pour batter into the prepared pan, using a spatula to smooth out the top. Bake at for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool, and dust with powdered sugar if desired.