Friday, July 29, 2011

Bentos - Fun with cookie cutters

It's been a while since I've posted any bentos, and I've been trying to up my cute-factor ever so slightly with the help of cookie cutters. These two look very similar since they both include cheese and watermelon, and use the same bento box. In reality they were done several weeks apart. Although I used the cookie cutters on the bread and cheese in both bentos shown here, I've also used them on other types of sandwiches at lunchtime and on toast or french toast for breakfast.

First up, we have the star bento:
This one has a tier of watermelon and grapes, and another tier with 3 layers of star-shaped toast and muenster cheese, baby carrots, and a small slice of homemade banana bread. I realized much later in the day I should have omitted the banana bread because it had walnuts in it and SchmoopyBoy's school is supposed to be nut-free. Whoops, totally forgot about the walnuts. I'm so glad no one was hurt.

I used the smallest start cookie cutter from a set I bought with 4 different sizes. This size is sufficient to cut 3 stars from a single slice of bread and a single slice of cheese. It also fits perfectly in my 2-tier bento box.

Second, we have the car bento:
This one has the first tier filled with just watermelon. (SchmoopyBoy takes after his mama - loves him some watermelon!). The second tier has sliced cucumber and some corn sliced off the cob, as well as a two layers of toast and muenster cheese in the shape of a car. My car cookie cutter is the right size to cut 2 cars from a single slice of bread and a single slice of cheese.

The car cookie cutter came in a set of transportation themed cutters that also included a train and an airplane. I took SchmoopyBoy with me to pick the set. I was sure he'd go for the animal shapes, but he's quite happy with the transportation set. The train and airplane don't fit in the bento box shown, and they are sufficiently big that I can only get one cutout per slice of bread/cheese. The train in particular is plenty popular.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How I got my kid to eat kale

Kale Chips!

I don't know what took me so long to try these. I've heard about kale chips for quite some time. They sounded intriguing and easy to make. Just do an internet search for kale chips and you'll find oodles of recipes. Here's what I did:

Baked Kale Chips

1 small bunch of kale
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Optional - Line a cookie sheet with foil for easier clean-up. Wash the kale. Cut or tear the kale off the thick stems in "chip-size" pieces and arrange on the cookie sheet. Dribble the olive oil over the kale and toss to coat. Generously sprinkle sea salt over the kale. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

All the recipes I found said to bake until the edges of the kale were brown. I first tried 10 minutes and it looked like they weren't done yet. So I put them in for another 5 minutes and a lot of the kale along the sides of the sheet were burnt. I'm thinking about 12 minutes would have been about right. I recommend checking every couple of minutes after 10 to make sure they are cooked to your satisfaction but not completely brown.

Here's a picture of my chips cooling. You can see the ones on the edges are completely brown and overcooked. The brown ones aren't bad, but the greener ones are definitely better.

How they were received by my 3-year old
SchmoopyBoy is going through a period where he's pretty much been avoiding all cooked vegetables except corn on the cob. Most of the time pretty much the only veggies he will eat are plain raw carrots, cucumber and occasionally peas. As much as I'm all in favor of him eating fresh raw vegetables, there's not a lot of variety in the mix. I keep putting whatever veggies I've cooked on his plate, just to eat them myself when he is done with his meal. I do know that he likes to snack on chips on occasion when we have them. So when out of the blue I offered him chips, he was all excited. That is, until he looked at his plate and saw green crinkly things. His face was very skeptical. I think I did a pretty good job of selling them, if I do say so myself. "Look! They're green! We get to eat green chips today! Isn't that fun?" All it took was one bite and they were declared "Mmm, yummy!" with a bright smile.

This one is a keeper.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gratitude Post - 7/24/11

Inspired by Amanda at Lets Take the Metro, I am posting 5 things for which I am grateful each week. Here are this week's top 5:

1. Pancake breakfasts made by the husband – I have a confession to make. I don’t do cooking for breakfast. A fried egg on toast is as complicated as I get, if I have the time. Otherwise it’s typically cereal, cereal, and more cereal. Forget about mixing batter for pancakes, waffles, or even French toast for that matter. That’s why having a husband whose forte is breakfast is awesome. My favorite is his whole wheat pancakes (note everything he cooks is vegan, it pretty much comes with the territory of having a vegan husband). Both last weekend and this morning he made my favorite and I ate more than my share. Speaking of the husband…

2. Picking up my slack without complaint - The husband and I share typically share the chores around the house. This includes daily kitchen clean up which usually get done at night after I’ve put SchmoopyBoy to sleep. Lately, however, I’ve been super tired so I’ve been falling asleep while putting SchmoopyBoy to bed a lot. This also means I’ve been leaving the kitchen is a state of post-dinner chaos. The husband has totally been picking up my slack. If he complains about anything, it is not that he is doing more than his share of kitchen cleanup chores, but that we haven’t had as much “us” time to talk at night the way we usually do. I’ve got to appreciate a person who laments the loss of talking together more than all the extra chores he’s picked up lately.

3. Having a swimming pool – I’m in my 3rd trimester and I am officially big and uncomfortable. One of the most comfortable places I can be is in a swimming pool with the water pressure holding up my belly and pushing the fluid surrounding my feet and ankles back into my veins. I’ve been able to get into a pool several times a week for the past couple weeks. It’s been heavenly. Oh, how I wish I had this kind of access to a pool when I was pregnant with SchmoopyBoy!

4. Squirmy McKickersons, which is how I’ve been referring to afore-mentioned yet-unnamed child - Some days it feels like this baby never sleeps. He goes from playing bongos on my bladder, to trying to push an alternative exit route through my side, to using my intestines as a trampoline, and so on. While it certainly is not comfortable, it is a constant reminder that my baby is alive, growing, and thriving, for which I am grateful.

5. Really nice hand me down children’s bedding – My sister in law has two boys that are 3 and 6 years older than SchmoopyBoy. Both of them have gone through periods in which they loved Thomas the Train. Consequently they’ve had Thomas merchandise galore – books, train toys, clothing, etc – most of which has made its way into my house as my nephews have grown out of them. This has fueled SchmoopyBoy’s own love of trains and Thomas in particular. (Oddly enough, he’s only seen the show maybe 3 times if that, and never at home, since we don’t have cable and the clips we found on You Tube are mostly fakes that are not child-appropriate. But the train toys... Oh, the train toys!) Our most recent acquisition is a complete set of bed sheets, in excellent condition. Yesterday we took them home, washed them, and made his bed with the set. SchmoopyBoy positively beamed when he saw them. He loves loves loves his “new bed”!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Interesting Kabbalistic Thoughts on Children and Parents

This came in the Daily Kabbalah Tune Up for this last Wednesday, July 20:

Children choose their parents prior to conception. When a soul is in the Upper World, it chooses parents who will be able to provide it with the spiritual and physical DNA necessary for the child to achieve the personal transformation for which it comes into this life.

Both the child and its parents create for each other the opportunity to grow, evolve, and transform.

These opportunities are especially obvious during parent-child conflicts.

Interesting idea, although it brings a lot of unsettling questions into my mind. Particularly with respect to (1) situations in which abuse or neglect is involved, and (2) infertility.

With respect to abuse/neglect, I have such a hard time believing that souls choose to suffer in their lifetimes on this earth. What about infanticide? What about the many children that are abused, literally to death? When a soul is taken from this life too young to "achieve the personal transformation for which it comes into this life" how can the soul have chosen such a fruitless path to transformation?

With respect to infertility, Does this include foster or adoptive parents, or is it limited to biological parents? What about parents who have children through donor gametes or sperm, or use a gestational surrogate? This really brings up the question in my mind of what/who is a parent in the 'eyes' of a soul, so to speak.

It's been something like 4 years since I've been to the local Kabbalah Center, but I would be interested in discussing this with someone more advanced in Kabbalistic knowledge and theory than myself. What do you think of this theory?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Finally some good news in the war against women

A couple of days ago the Institute of Medicine came out with a formal recommendation that birth control, breast-feeding assistance (including breast-pump rentals), counseling for domestic violence, and annual wellness exams and HIV tests be covered with no cost to patients under the health-care reform bill. You can read news stories about the report here and here, among I'm sure many other news sources.

In a year where we've seen law makers attempt to defund agencies that provide vital women's health care services like Planned Parenthood, as well as cut funding for agencies that provide basic nutritional support for low income women and children like WIC, I'm happy and relieved with the recommendations. At last, science and logic over anti-woman extremism!

Of course, there's no guarantee that the recommendations will be followed. There is still a very vocal contingent that feels the need to continually attack the physical autonomy of half the U.S. population under the excuse of "but funding birth control is like funding abortion!!!!"

Umm, no. Actually, it's not.

I can appreciate that a lot of people are opposed to abortion. I am unapologetically pro-choice myself, but I get that there are people out there that have genuine moral issues with the idea.

News flash. If you want to decrease the number of abortions, you need to cut down on the number of unintended pregnancies. Period. Full stop. End of story.

Another news flash. Women have sex. Period. Full stop. End of story.

Given these two indisputable facts, it follows that making birth control available to all women who don't want to get pregnant is a good idea.

So says she who has lost multiple wanted pregnancies.

If you agree with this premise and want to do something to help implement these recommendations, click here to sign a petition to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in support of them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hilarious, and Not so Hilarious

I was being naughty at work on Monday and went to check out Hobo Mama’s Sunday Surf where I found what might be the most hilarious post ever, for anyone who appreciates a good (and illustrated!) poopy story, which we all know I do. So there I was trying not to laugh out loud, for fear of bothering my office mate, which of course just made my laugh more shrill and obnoxious. My poor office mate has to put up with so much, between phone calls from my husband whenever SchmoopyBoy has a meltdown, and random evidence of my wasting valuable work time by laughing hysterically at random poopy stories on the web. But seriously, this one is goood. And, if you stop by sometime in the next year, this is going to be my life. Check out the rest of the blog too - funny, funny stuff.

Not quite so hilarious:
SchmoopyBoy’s language skills and sense of humor have been developing more and more. Somewhere along the line, he picked up an idea that toilet functions are funny. Don’t ask me where he learned that, I just live here… what? So, we’re now at the stage where every other word out of his mouth is “pee-pee” or “poo-poo”. I’m ashamed to confess I did crack up the first time or two it happened, more because I was surprised than anything, but of course that just encouraged him. So now, a typical conversation in my home goes something like this:

Me: Do you want butter toast or jelly toast?

SB: Poo-poo toast!


SB: Come play with me!

Me: OK. Would you like to play with your trains, or would you like to read some books?

SB: Pee-pee!

Me: I don’t think I want to play with pee-pee. How about trains or books? Or would you prefer to cook something for me in your kitchen?

SB: I cook POO-POO for you!

Me: I don’t think I’d like to eat poo-poo. How about a book? Do you want me to read you this book? (holding up popular book)

SB: Pee-pee book!

Me: sigh.

Even less hilarious:
Even less hilarious is when he yells “pee-pee” as loud as he can, completely randomly and unprovoked, at a restaurant. The looks from concerned and appalled customers, fearful that there’s about to be a stream of yellow heading their direction as they’re trying to enjoy their hard-earned weekend dining experience, are something to truly savor.

I may or may not have mentioned this in an earlier post. Parenting a 3-year old is awesome.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

3 things I learned in California this week

1. When going to the beach with pasty white skin, it is critically important to be mindful about putting sunscreen EVERYWHERE. Otherwise one could end up with lobster red feet and ankles… as well as an assortment of random burned stripes… ehem.

2. After acquiring said sunburn, there are not many options for bathing oneself comfortably. Water too hot, scream-inducing pain on the burnt areas. Water too cold, scream-inducing when the cold water hits your back. Cleaning oneself becomes a scream-inducing, no-win situation.

3. The home remedy I had never heard of for soothing sunburn – applying a wet black tea bag – works! Apparently it’s the tannin in the tea that takes the edge off the burn. Yay for my mom who told me about this home remedy!

Sheesh, you'd think I never went to the beach before. Eight years away from the coast and it's like I never lived anywhere near sunlight!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Gratitude Post - 7/3/11

Inspired by Amanda at Lets Take the Metro, I am posting 5 things for which I am grateful each week. Here are this week's top 5:

1. SchmoopyBoy's strong will - Although it pains me to experience it as a toddler, his strong will and persistence will serve him well as he grows into adulthood. This is a person who knows what he wants, and these qualities will help him succeed at his goals.

2. Three-day holidays - In honor of the July 4th Independence Day holiday, I get an extra day to spend with my family this weekend! Hopefully I won't need a weekend to recover from my long weekend. ;)

3. Quaint restaurants near my office that serve breakfast all day - Usually I bring my lunch to work, but on Friday I was running late and didn't have time to throw together much other than a few snacks, like fruit and yogurt. So, I went to a charming restaurant in a local hotel that I didn't even know existed with some co-workers. Turns out they serve breakfast all day. Omelet and bagel for lunch? And I can get a side salad from the lunch menu to go with it? I just hit the lunch menu jackpot! nom nom nom

4. Phone calls from old friends - I don't have much of a social community in my adopted town, so it is particularly meaningful for me to keep in touch with my old friends. This week I got a surprise call from an old friend that I haven't spoken with for about a month. It was great to hear from her.

5. Trip to the hair salon - I am really bad about taking time for myself for things like getting a hair cut. It has literally been since January that I got a hair cut, and it really showed. I treated myself to a Groupon for a hair cut and style at a fancy salon, which I took advantage of yesterday. I spent 2 hours being primped like a movie star, and when I got home my husband and child hardly recognized me! SchmoopyBoy told me my hair looked so shiny, and after requesting that I put a flower clip in my hair, told me I looked "like a princess".

I am going out of town next week to visit family in California, so I will likely miss out on next week's gratitude post. See you when I get back!