Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Make this tonight!

I like recipes that:
-are cost-effective
-I already have a bulk of the ingredients for on hand ( I hate buying 12 different things for one new recipe)
-are nutritious and include vegetables
-can be made quickly with minimal prep
-are delicious!
-my kids can eat too

I made this recipe last night and it met ALL of my criteria, especially the last two.  It came from our favorite cookbook, which I highly recommend.  It is called The Best 30-minute Recipe by the authors of Cooks Illustrated.  If you are not familiar with Cooks Illustrated, they basically test out every recipe in a variety of ways to find the best way to prepare the dish.  Sometimes, their recipes are a bit time consuming though.  This cookbook, however, only has recipes which have been shortened to 30 minute prep times without compromising flavor (which is what I find is often compromised with fast recipes).  Anyway, enough about that, here is the recipe!

Fiesta Chicken Casserole

1 Tbl vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced (I used the pre-minced kind in a jar)
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup salsa, drained (I prefer the "fresh salsa" rather than the kind that is more tomato paste-y if you know what I mean)
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed
3/4 cup frozen corn
2 cups cooked shredded chicken (I added chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper to my chicken and let it bake in the oven while I prepared the other parts of the dish)
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
 1 cup shredded cheddar
 1 cup coarsely crushed fritos corn chips (you could use tortilla if you like, but I think the fritos gave it a nice flavor and texture)

1. Heat oven, saute aromatics, and make sauce: Heat oven to 450. Heat oil in skillet and cook onion until soft, 3 min.  Add garlic, cook 30 sec.  Add broth and salsa and bring to simmer.

2. Add rice and vegetables and bake:  Stir in rice, beans, and corn.  Pour into baking dish and bake for 10 minutes (I actually omitted this step and just heated everything through in the pan)

3. Add chicken and remaining ingredients and heat through: Stir in chicken and cilantro.  Sprinkle cheddar over top and then corn chips.  Continue to bake until edges are bubbling and chips are toasted, about 5 minutes.

Enjoy!!  Let me know if you try this recipe or if you have any recipes that are your favorite that might meet my recipe "criteria!"

Also, interesting note:  As I was cooking, I was offering my girls the ingredients for their lunch--beans, corn, rice, chicken, etc.  They would hardly eat any of it.  However, when the ingredients were baked together in the casserole, they SCARFED it down!  Sophie never eats meats, but she ate the chicken as well as all the other ingredients in the dish (even onion).  I was so impressed and happy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is there really any supermom out there?

Today I have been wondering to myself, "Is there any mom out there who actually gets all the things done that she thinks should be done each day?"  I mean, is there anyone out there who can work quickly and efficiently enough to get the groceries, make a meal each night, clean (which is a never-ending task), do laundry, start and finish any crafty/fun/home makeover projects they have been wanting to do, and THEN have time to feed, diaper, play with, read to, entertain, calm down, hug, kiss, dress, undress, pick up, put down, sing to, and bathe her children as much as she'd like to?  And then there are those other things that, for me, also "should" be done each day or at least things that I want to do: working out, having a devotional/reading the Bible, going through mail/paperwork, keeping up with friends' phone calls, e-mailing/blogging, eating well, spending quality time with my husband, doing fun things that I just like to do every once in a while.  The list could go on and on.  I have come to the conclusion that, no, there is no such supermom.  There just literally isn't enough time in the day.  I do realize that as my girls get older, I will probably have a little more time to do some of those things, but even still, there is no way anybody could accomplish that much every day.  And if there is somebody that does, I am sure they are EXHAUSTED.  Sometimes, I look around and try to decide what I am going to get done while the babies nap, and then, I get overwhelmed by all there is to do, so I do NOTHING!  Ha! I think that is okay sometimes.  I think it is okay to just be still and rest and think.  But most of the time, I feel like I should be doing something instead of nothing.  I was reading a blog today, which may have become my favorite blog ever, and was cracking up at this excerpt where she is describing how "Mommy Guilt" has stayed with her both as a working and stay-at-home mom:

“Did you go to all three of those college classes just so you could clean the kitchen and play Candy Land all day? And how is it that you don’t even do those things very well? Can you concentrate on nothing? Look at this mess! A good mom would clean more and play less. Also, a good mom would clean less and play more. Also a good mom would clean more and play more and quit emailing altogether. Additionally, I’ve been meaning to ask if you’re sure you feel comfortable spending so much money when you don’t even make any. Moreover, when was the last time you volunteered at Chase’s school? What kind of stay at home mom doesn’t go to PTA meetings or know how to make lasagna? Furthermore, nobody in this house appreciates you.”
My favorite, though, is that when I finally do sit down, concentrate on one of my kids, and read a few books all the way through… instead of saying “Good job!” Mommy Guilt says, “See how happy your daughter is? You’re home all day…why don’t you do this more often?”

-from momastery.com

She has totally captured the guilt that plagues me and I am sure other moms from time to time.  If I am cleaning, the girls are usually whining for my attention, so I think, "I should play with them more." But as I am playing with them, in the back of my mind I am thinking, "When am I ever going to get to ____ task?"

So, I have come to a conclusion.  This is only an idea that God has given me.  I have yet to really put it into practice, but I think it would work well if I did.  God continues to place this verse on my heart and mind, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  Matthew 6:33.   I believe that God is interested in the finite details of my day, that He is with me through it all.  When the girls are playing sweetly and I am sitting there in wonder of them, He is with me.  When they are both screaming and upset, He is also there.  I believe he cares about how I spend my time.  Not that He has a "perfect schedule" for me in mind where I accomplish all kinds of things and am super productive, but that the way I spend my time can glorify Him or not.  Also, my thought life can glorify Him or not.  He doesn't want me to feel guilty as I read to Sophie because I think I should be reading to her more!  But I do!  As I go through my day, I want to have that verse on the forefront of my mind. I want to choose activities that bring Him glory, which means prioritizing some things on my list in a different order.  And then, whatever I choose, I want to enjoy it fully without thinking about what I could have/should have done instead. 

What about you? Do you/did you ever struggle with the balancing act of being a mom?  How did you come to terms with it?  What encouraged you through it?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sophie lately

 Sophie is absolutely adorable, and every new age with her is more fun than the one before it.  She just turned 2 on December 2nd.  Most of you know the story of Sophie's early entrance into the world, but if you don't and would like to read about it, you can visit her caring bridge website here: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/sophielungwitz
We are so thankful to report that Sophie is developing well with only minor delays in some areas.  Until age 2, doctors and professionals make an allowance for her premature birth when considering her development.  For example, since she started walking when she was 17 months, they considered that she started walking at 13.5 months (since she was born 3.5 months early).  But once a premature baby turns 2 years old, they would like them to be caught up with full-term babies their actual age.  So, when Sophie turned 2, a teacher who visits our home on a monthly basis suggested that we have her evaluated for speech and language development.  This teacher comes out as part of a program we are involved in called Parents as Teachers.  It is available to all families and is provided through the school district where Ryan teaches.  She comes for Sophie and Sally and gives us fun ideas for play activities to try that are age appropriate and educational.  So when she made that suggestion, we had a non-profit organization called Rainbows came to evaluate Sophie, and she did qualify for services.  Just to give you an idea of where she is:  at age 2, she had a vocabulary of about 25-30 words and did not use 2-3 word sentences.  Most kids at that age have a vocabulary of about 50 words and use 2-3 word sentences.  I cannot say enough about Rainbows and how amazing they have been.  Their services are FREE and they come to your home.  So far we have had 3 visits with our speech therapist, and she has been great!  She has been focusing a lot on Sophie's eating habits (which have always been a HUGE issue for her) and helping us understand that it is normal for preemies to have problems eating and drinking.  This has been very helpful to us.  Before this experience, no doctor has explained how often and commonly these problems occur and really worked with us to find solutions.  Sophie had a very difficult time transitioning to solids and, to this day, has a hard time with a lot of different textures.  She also drinks very very little (usually 10-12 ounces of milk a day--this is including milk I mix with cereal to feed her).  She will eat a little when she is hungry, but will not feed herself very much food in one sitting.  I have to spoon feed her a lot, which she HATES, but tolerates if she is really hungry.  I could do a whole post on our struggles with her eating, but basically it has always been hard.  I wish someone had explained to me sooner that this might happen with her, because it would have alleviated a lot of stress and wondering on my part.  Why is she like this?  Did we do something that caused her to be this way?  Should I take the advice of other parents of normal-eating kids or defer to my mommy instinct that something is just DIFFERENT about her and try my own ideas?
In addition to working on her eating habits, the speech therapist offered us a bunch of ideas on how to get her talking more.  I LOVED so many of these ideas that I wanted to share some of them.  I feel like they could be helpful for any kid, delayed or not.  Here are a few:

-Don't anticipate your child's every need or desire before they have a chance to communicate it.  Otherwise, they won't bother trying.  (You may know what they want, but encourage them to communicate it before you give it to them)

- Delay responses to your child's pointing, gestures, or babbling when he wants things.  Wait for 15-20 seconds, and then respond.  If he attempts any meaningful words, respond right away.  Show him that they payoff for attempting to use words is much greater--things happen faster.

-By age one, never talk baby-talk to your child.  Even when he mispronounces a word in a cute way, rather than say it back to him, pronounce it correctly and use it in a phrase.

-Always make your child feel good about making the effort to speak.  However, if he uses unintelligible jabber, never pretend to understand and never talk for him by guessing at or interpreting what he says.  You need to be honest and let him know you don't understand.  Example:  "You talked.  I like that, but I don't know what you said." Shrugging shoulders.

-When reading to your child, rather than read the printed words, shorten the phrases.  Example: Shorten "When Billy came home sick, he went to bed." to "Boy sick."  or "Feels bad."

-Use parallel talk to describe everything in your child's surroundings.  Example: "When your child is playing with a ball and then daddy comes home, you might say, "roll ball--get ball--pick up ball--daddy home--run to daddy--Billy wants up."

-Talk out loud about what YOU are seeing, hearing, doing when your child is within hearing range.  He does not have to be right next to you or even paying attention.  Use slow, clear, simple words and short phrases.  As you wash dishes-- "hot water--pick up cup--dirty cup--wash--wash--wash the cup--cup is clean"

I was guilty of not doing many of these.  Hope they might be helpful to some of you moms!  Also, programs like Rainbows exist in most cities, and if you want to have your child screened, oftentimes they will do it even without a reference.  Even if you think nothing is wrong, it is a great idea to have a child screened in all areas.  Early intervention really is KEY.  Kids who receive services for delays at a young age (birth to 3) have a MUCH greater advantage to those who don't receive services until school age.  If you have any questions or would like to know more just leave a comment!  I can e-mail you.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Just Dance!

Here is a video of the girls dancing.  I love Sally's little circular dance with one arm up.  Sophie usually sways from side to side with a big grin on her face, but she wasn't doing it today.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sally lately

This sweet girl just turned one on December 28th.  We ended up doing a joint birthday party for her and Sophie since both of their birthdays are in December (this also helps keep things a little less hectic with all the holiday ongoings too).  I will do another post about their birthday party, but basically, we did a really simple family party.  I wanted to post about some of Sally's milestones since I haven't written any of them down yet.  I am already having a hard time remembering some of them, but here is what I do remember.

-sitting up well at 5-6 months ( I remember her doctor commenting that she was sitting up well like a 9 month old)
-first word was da-da (can't remember exact age, but maybe 5-6 months?)
-started crawling around 7 months
-started walking around 10.5 months (by this I mean taking a series of 8-10 steps without falling)
-walking well at 11 months
-breastfed until almost 13 months. always a GREAT eater, willing to try almost any solid food until recently
-always in the 95th percentile or higher for weight.  60th or so for height
-at almost 13 months, these are the words she says: dada, mama, shoe, show, bite (she says this LOUDLY and enunciates the consonants when she wants to eat), water, milk, mano (hand in Spanish), hi, book, bye-bye, poo-poo, kitty, vaca (cow in Spanish), moo, light, bath, yay, night-night, ball, baby, cracker (her FAVORITE food), all done (when she wants down from her high chair)

She was a pretty difficult baby when she was really little.  She cried A LOT for reasons we couldn't figure out during the first 2 months or so.  She was always a great eater, and gained 2 pounds in the first 2 weeks she was here (our doc said she had never seen a baby gain like that in the first 2 weeks!).  This was both a blessing and a burden because she wanted to eat ALL the time.  I never knew if it would be 15 minutes or 2 hours before she would want to eat again.  She woke up every 2 hours or so at night to eat for a long time (maybe 4 months).  She gradually transitioned to longer spurts of sleeping at night, but up until maybe 2 months ago, she would still wake up a few times at night to nurse.  We actually just completely transitioned to whole milk from breast milk about 4 days ago.  I had a stomach bug, and I think if that weren't the case, I would have given in and just nursed her.  Instead, I had to offer her regular milk for her 11 pm feeding (normally I would nurse her then) and during the night when she woke up a few times (she had been sleeping through the night, but since we were weaning, she was waking up more).  She would NOT drink the regular milk, and cried for a solid hour before going back to sleep.  This was with me holding her or not holding her.  It didn't matter.  I felt so sorry for her, and wanted to nurse her, but didn't want her to get sick.  After that, I decided if I had already put her through that ordeal, I should go ahead and finish weaning her completely.  I didn't want her to have to go through that more than necessary.  So, the last few nights have been a little rough since she is still protesting somewhat.  She will drink her milk if she is really thirsty/hungry, but she drinks MUCH less than she did when I was breastfeeding.  I am hoping she will adjust soon.  She has also had problems with constipation, so we have her on myralax which our doctor said is safe to give daily.  It just softens everything.  I feel like I have focused on a lot of difficult things about her, but she is a really sweet baby.  She gives hugs all the time.  To us, to Sophie, to the kitty.  It just MELTS my heart when I witness a sweet, unprompted sister hug.  She is almost always happy.  She KNOWS what she wants and communicates it to us pretty well.  Her favorite things are dancing, music, reading books, playing on any elevated surface (couch, bed, chair), going outside, pulling all her shoes out of her shoe drawer and climbing into the drawer, and seeing her da-da come home from work.  She takes one nap a day for about 2 hrs. (has done this since about 10 months) which is actually nice because now the girls nap at the same time.  She had been sleeping about 12 hrs. at night, but recently is waking up sooner because she is extra hungry (refusing to drink at 11pm when she wakes up and wants to nurse).  I love her SO much and am so proud of her.  If any of you have any similar experiences in weaning a baby and have some advice to share, share away!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Well, Hello blogging world!

If you are reading this blog, you probably already know a lot about me, but I wanted to start it to give myself a place to easily compile memories of my sweet babies and wonderful husband.  On a fairly regular basis, I think to myself, "Oooh, if I had a blog I would write about ____."  I think that reading blogs and social networking have, to an extent, met a need of mine to feel connected to other moms and to be able to identify with what others are going through.  Especially since we recently moved to a new city and since I stay at home with my sweet girls, this past year it has been hard to form friendships with other women my age.  Anyway, for friends, family, and anyone else who is interested in reading, here begins my family blog!