Wednesday, February 27, 2013

preschool fights

...and my heart keeps breaking. I got home from work the other night and found Kevin and the kids in Parker's room playing. I got my hugs and kisses (Avery ignored me until I asked her to give me a hug and kiss, which she did) and played for a bit. Then Kevin prompted Parker to tell me what happened at school. So I geared myself up: either Parker did something he wasn't supposed to or he did something cool/fun. What I learned next broke my heart. Here's how the conversation went:

Kevin: "Tell Mommy why your teacher took your glasses off." 

Parker: "Blue shorts punch my nose. I cry. He go timeout."

Me: "What?!?"

Kevin: "Apparently a kid wearing blue shorts punched him in the nose, he cried, the teacher took his glasses off (assuming to take care of Parker), and sent the other kid to timeout."

Now I know to take things that Parker says with a grain of salt. His speech isn't all that great and he has learned how to lie fib a little, but he usually trips himself up by laughing or telling the truth 5 seconds later. And his fibs are usually pretty transparent and aren't complex. For example if I ask him why his sister is crying (she's got a specific cry that's reserved for Bubba  aggrieving her in some sort of way) and his reply is: "I no hit Sissy." or "Sissy hit me!"...well duh of course he hit her! Or if I ask him if he has put his toys away and he hasn't, he'll say "yes" while smiling. This time Parker kept saying the same thing over and over again. I also asked him a few additional questions to try and get a better understanding of what happened, but he wasn't able to clarify much.

Me: "Why did 'blue shorts' punch your nose?"

Parker: "Umm, 'blue shorts' punch my nose and go timeout."

Me: "Did you hit 'blue shorts'?"

Parker: "Yes I hit."

Me: "Did you hit 'blue shorts' first?"

Parker: "I hit blue shorts."

Me: "Did you go to timeout?"

Parker: "No. Blue shorts go timeout."

Kevin said that he really didn't get a chance to talk to the teacher when he picked Parker up b/c Parker ran straight to him. Kevin's a little different than me...I LOVE information. I NEED information. Especially when I'm not with the kids. It's not even just because they are in daycare. I ask Kevin, my mom, whoever is watching the kids what they ate, how much they ate, how long did they nap for, how were they overall...lots of questions. Call me crazy, but I've been that way since Parker was a newborn. I just like to know...I suppose it's my way trying to be in control when I'm not with the kids. I feel like Kevin can take the info or leave it. It drives me nuts when I ask him the details and he tells me he forgot. Bless him, he knows how OCD I get so he has gotten so much better about giving me details.

I don't know why I was so surprised and taken aback by this. Parker wears glasses and I know how mean kids can be so I've already thought about Parker getting teased. My imagination ran wild and I started to think about whether this little boy was bullying Parker b/c of his glasses. Truthfully I wasn't prepared for dealing with bullying or teasing. I didn't think it would happen this early on. And I know hitting goes on at pre-school. You've got a bunch of 3 year olds who can't always verbalize their needs and wants and frustration runs high and kids can lash out to vent some of their feelings. But when I heard the word "punch", it just triggered something deeper, it's bigger than just a little whack on the arm. That and he was punched in his face...on his if this little boy really knew how to punch.

After a few minutes of talking to Parker, I dropped the topic, but I was mad, confused, and hurting inside for my little boy. My question was, why didn't the teacher, even if she was busy, say: "Can you wait a sec, I need to discuss something with you." Or even send a note home to tell me that Parker was involved in an altercation. I don't need to know what "blue shorts" name is. I understand that they need to protect the other child's privacy. But I also have a right to know that my kid was punched in the face and was hurt badly enough that he cried (he's not a crier like that either) and the teacher had to take his glasses off to assess the damage (there's none that I could see that night, but he could have been gushing blood for all I know...ok so Parker probably would have told me that). No, I don't need to know each and every time Parker gets hit or pushed b/c that's part of going to preschool and being around lots of other kids that are the same age. But this seemed a little more serious and I was a little ticked off...not because it happened. Ok so a little bit because of that, but mostly because I was not informed by the school. 

Well I talked to the preschool director, which I should mention was absolutely fantastic in helping me out with an issue prior to Parker starting preschool and she was wonderful while discussing the issue. I just wanted to know exactly what happened and what their normal procedure is when something like this happens. She advised she wasn't aware anything had happened, but would talk to his teachers. Here's what she was able to tell me (again she couldn't be specific, which I was ok with, for privacy reasons): Parker pushed a little boy whose first reaction is to hit or punch. The teacher saw all this happen and took Parker aside to check him out and the other little boy was talked to and removed from the situation. Parker didn't cry and his glasses weren't taken off (Not sure I believe this part b/c I don't think Parker would just make it up...his fibbing level is just not there and he said it so matter of fact and on more than one occasion). A notice of incident was written and sent home with the little boy. I told Ms. Allen that I was worried that Parker provoked the other kid or instigated the whole thing. She said that according to the teacher, Parker didn't push in a mean way and it happened while playing and it wasn't hard. Apparently "blue shorts" has a history of hitting and punching and it is something the school and his parents are working on. Ms. Allen apologized that a letter wasn't sent home with Parker and it wasn't discussed at pickup and that she talked to the teacher about the importance of filling out the forms to send home for both parents. I made it clear I don't expect them to tell me about every little hit or shove, but on more serious things then I def need to know, which she understood and agreed with. 

I talked to a friend who told me that when she picked her son up from preschool the other day, she found him in timeout with 6 other boys for ganging up on another child...well as much ganging up an almost 4 year old can do. The teacher said: "Don't worry, he was a follower and not the leader." my friend should have been glad that her son didn't lead the other kids into bullying and instead followed others...the end result is the same...another kid was ganged up on. Ugh! She talked to her son about it and I think that's the important part. Whenever Parker's speech therapist tells me about Parker hitting, acting aggressive, upsetting a friend for repeatedly calling him a chipmunk (you laugh, but this really happened) I made sure to talk to him during the drive home from school. He was also prompted to tell Daddy when he got home and at night time while we are snuggling we talk about what happened that day and what he could have done/said to prevent him from hurting/upsetting his friends or to prevent him from going to time out. I give him gentle reminders again as we drive to school and right before he gets out of the car he recites (without any prompting from me): "I no hit. I no say chipmunk in my school." Repetition is key with Parker and lots of reminders so this definitely helps him.

So my first line of defense is to talk to Parker, but then what??? If he gets hit, punched, or shoved what should he do? I'm not trying to throw anyone under the bus, but my husband was told by his fiery Italian momma that if someone hit him first then she was ok with him hitting back as long as he didn't get caught. Sounds crazy? Yeah I thought so too and laughed when my husband first told me this ages ago. Don't think badly of my mother in law. She raised 4 wonderful kids, but she wasn't about to let her kids get beat up on and she would be the first one to beat them with a spatula if they ever started a fight. lol Anyway, this got me thinking and my momma bear instinct tells me to teach Parker how to punch. Yeah yeah, he's 3.5 (almost), but next time "blue shorts" punches Parker and Parker hits back then maybe "blue shorts" will think twice about hitting Parker next time (ok I know Parker started this incident with pushing, but I'm just saying if it was unprovoked next time!). 

So what is it: teach your kid that fighting/hitting is not a solution and have him get beat up? Teach him to tell the teacher so that he gets branded as a tattle tell? Do you teach him to fight back and defend himself so that other kids doesn't see him as an easy target? For now, I told Parker to tell the little boy firmly to not hit him, walk away and tell the teacher. If "blue shorts" hits him again then we will have issues and I'll be marching my butt up to the school and then I'll teach Parker how to really punch. What would you do or say to your child? I may be blowing this out of proportion, but it's my momma bear coming out and I just want to protect my little cub. How would you have reacted? 

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Creamy Cheesy Pasta

I've been craving pasta and Publix sealed my fate when I saw that pasta and cheese were on sale! I was originally going to make this with grilled chicken, but then I saw crab meat...and I've been craving some since Valentine's Day (which I still haven't posted about...slacker!!!). This was a pretty cheap and fairly easy dish to make! Everyone liked it and Kevin and I have some yummy leftovers for lunch!

Gather it:
1 lb of pasta (whatever shape you want)
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp of butter
1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan and pecorino romano cheeses
broccoli florets (I used frozen since the fresh wasn't looking too good at Publix)
crab meat
1 small onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
dried parsley

Make it:
1. Cook pasta according to directions on the box.

2. In another pan with high sides (not a sauté pan), combine cream, butter, salt, pepper, onions, garlic, and parsley. Cook over medium heat until onion and garlic are softened and cream starts to bubble and thicken a bit.

3. During the last 5 min of cooking the pasta, add the broccoli to thaw it out. Once thawed. Drain pasta and broccoli and add to cream mixture. Turn the heat off.

4. Add the cheese to the pasta and cream mixture and toss together. Add the crab to the mixture and gently toss together so the crab doesn't fall apart.

I topped mine with a little extra cheese b/c I love me some cheese.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Broken Heart

I went back to work full time a couple of weeks ago. This has been a huge change for the whole family and it's a lot harder than I thought it would be. I thought I was going to start bawling my eyes out last Sunday night as I laid in bed contemplating if I was doing the right thing by going back to work...I remember feeling the same way when I went back to work after both of my maternity leaves. I never thought I'd say this, but I miss their crazy antics!

Parker has had a few tantrums at night due to being over tired and dealing with the new changes, but overall I think he has transitioned pretty well. He went to a home daycare from the time he was 4 months until he was about Avery's age then I started staying home. He started pre-school two mornings a week last August and he has loved it. Then he started speech therapy 4 mornings a week mid January so he's been away from me, which has prepared him a little. But being gone in the mornings is totally different than being gone all day! I prepared him by telling him I was going back to work all day like Daddy and he was going to be going to school all day. I really built it up about how exciting it would be for him to go to his new school and he was excited to go to his cousin's school. The downside: he has barely been napping at school and he normally naps 2-3 hours a day! Parker does pretty well during pick up, but has had a few tantrums due to just being tired and hungry.

On the other hand, Avery has been having a tougher time. All she has ever known is staying home with Mommy. She's never even had a babysitter that wasn't one of her grandmothers or her aunts! She does fine when I drop her off at the nanny's house, but all hell breaks loose in the car on the way home and while at home. Last Friday she had a harder time during drop off. Her lip quivered and she started to cry when I tried to tell her goodbye and she tried to shut the door to keep me from leaving. But she was fine and eating breakfast when I came back a minute later to give Ms. Debbie something I had forgotten in the car. Ms. Debbie said she's the best kid she's had in a long time as far as adjusting really well to a new environment and that she plays all day and plays well with the other kids, which makes me feel better. She's had a few more times where she cried after I dropped her off or I'd see her lip quiver, but I just say a quick goodbye and give her a hug and kiss and run out the door. Ms. Debbie says she does really well all day and doesn't cry. She's having a tough time with napping though. Her first day at day care she didn't nap at all and just cried/whimpered all through nap time. She's never been a good napper, but I can usually get a 1 hour nap from her. An hour and a half or two if I was lucky. Unfortunately she only naps for about 30-40 min at daycare so she's absolutely exhausted and just not in a great mood when she gets home. When Kevin picks her up she does this whiny cry thing where she's not really crying, but just wants attention from him.

Their reactions when I get home is so different. Parker is very excited to see me. The best part of my day is when I walk into the house and I'm met with a chorus of "MOMMY!!", "I miss you so much!" and "I love you so much!" and I get a lot of big tight hugs and sweet little kisses. Avery started out greeting me enthusiastically, but towards the end of the first week she started to say "no no no" when I would try to kiss and hug her. She has been so mad at me for the past week and a half and has been breaking my heart! Not only does she tell me "no" when I reach for her, but she calls out for her Daddy and cuddles up to him. I'm trying not to make a big deal out of it. I know she's mad b/c she feels like I'm deserting her every morning and leaving her with all day long with a strange lady in a house with a bunch of other kids. It's tough b/c I also don't get much time with her at night when I get home b/c she still goes to bed fairly early...7:30 and we've pushed it back to around 8 pm. I'm sure she thinks I'm ignoring her or something. I do make sure to give her lots of extra hugs and kisses in the mornings before I drop her off and I try to make our mornings as positive as possible. Avery and I have always had a "thing". But she's also a Daddy's girl...she has been from the moment she was born. Ok, even before then! I know they have a special bond, but up until recently I thought I was her "favorite". GASP!!! But there I said it! It just might be b/c I feel entitled to being the favorite parent. I mean I was the one who carried her for 37.6 weeks. I was the one who went through morning sickness until I was almost 20 weeks. I was the one who gained 28 lbs and got crazy stretch marks on my belly. I was the one who dealt with sciatic pain. I was the one who got kicked in the bladder and had to pee 100 times at night (a big deal since I rarely get up to pee in the middle of the night). I was the one who constantly felt like there was a foot stuck in my rib and couldn't breathe. I was the one who endured contractions that was like no pain I had ever felt (Parker's labor was practically pain free even before the epidural). I was the one whose epidural barely worked and felt her coming out and being stitched back up (TMI??? Sorry!). I was the one who endured months of trying to breastfeed and pump. I was and still am the one who mostly wakes up in the middle of the night to be there for her if she needs something (rare, but still). I'm the one she runs to when she's hurting or needs a snuggle. So yes my heart hurts when I come home and she refuses to acknowledge me or to give me a kiss hello.

But it is completely heartbreaking at night when I try and cuddle her and she just cries out for her Daddy and tells me no. I left them alone a few times b/c I figured she needed time with him and to feel comforted without me intruding. But, after over a week of this craziness, I just couldn't take it anymore! My solution: I put one arm around Kevin and the other around Avery, lay my head on Kevin's chest right next to Avery's little body and we stand there in the dark while I sing "Twinkle Twinkle". So yes I've pushed my way back into her night time routine! She has let me put her to bed the last couple of nights, but she doesn't want to snuggle at all. She just wants me to lay her down in her crib right away. Being the pushy mom I am, I don't just leave her alone. I lean over her crib, rub her chest, run my fingers down her face, sing to her and talk to her. I need some Mommy and Avery time! Sigh!

Oh, and Parker...while he is adjusting fairly well he has started to ask me every night and every morning if I'm going to work. After I reply yes his next question is: "You coming back home?". His little lip quivers sometimes when he asks this as if he really thinks I'm not coming home! Ugh! Somebody help me pick up the pieces of my broken heart!

Has anyone else dealt with being ignored by their child or the child suddenly favoring the other parent? How did you deal with it?

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bananas with Honey & Cinnamon

So I was browsing Pinterest and found a yummy looking snack. I had actually pinned this ages ago and had forgotten about it. Well I was hungry and craving something sweet...I had all the ingredients and it was super easy so I decided to make it. This was so easy and yummy. I don't count points, calories, or anything like that, but this has to be so much healthier than the M&M ice cream sandwich that I was really craving last night...and I maybe pouted a little bit when Kevin told me that they were all gone.

Gather it:
1 ripe banana
sprinkle of ground cinnamon
drizzle of honey (ok, ok I LOVE honey so I used a little more than a drizzle)

Make it:
1. Peel and chop banana into little circles.

2. Drizzle (or pour in my case) honey over bananas and sprinkle with cinnamon.

3. Scarf it down...and try not to think too much about "making" a second dessert b/c you know that your daughter will want a banana for breakfast tomorrow morning.

I clicked on the link, but it took me to a page that wasn't related to the recipe so I can't give due credit...sorry!!! 

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Cheeseburger Pasta

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and def wanted to try it. I can't believe I'm about to admit this on a public blog, but I LOVE Hamburger Helper. There...I said it! I was first introduced to this delicious concoction by some friends right after college. I've been hooked since. We don't eat it often b/c it's not all that good for at all! So I was pretty excited when I found this tastes so much better! Plus, I already had all the ingredients so I didn't have to buy anything! I did have to alter the recipe a little bit b/c 1 cup of macaroni (well penne in our case) wasn't going to feed my family of four. My hubby and kids can eat a lot and we like leftovers for lunch the next day. There's quite a few more steps than my usual recipes, but they are all super easy!

Here's my version:

Gather it:
1 lb ground turkey
3 cups of penne
4 cups of chicken broth (this is a little less than two 14.5 oz cans of broth)
1 can of Rotel (tomatoes with green chilies)
1 pkg of taco seasoning mix
1 small white onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced

Cheese Sauce:
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
1.5 cups of milk
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

Make it:
1. Brown turkey. The original recipe says to drain it, but I'm lazy so I just turn the heat up on high to cook off the excess liquid. Mine's not really fatty since I use turkey and not beef so it's just mostly water. I also throw the onion and garlic while the liquid cooks off.

2. Add taco mix, broth, penne, and Rotel. Mix together and bring back to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Allow pasta to cook through.

3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter and whisk flour in 1 Tbsp at a time to make a rue. Cook for a few minutes.

4. Whisk milk in slowly and bring to a boil. Keep whisking until smooth and thick.

5. Remove from heat and whisk cheese in a little at a time until melted.

6. Pour cheese sauce over the pasta and mix together. FYI my pasta mixture had a lot of liquid until I mixed the cheese sauce in and allowed it to sit for a few minutes then it thickened up nicely.

Add salt and pepper to taste. I didn't add it to the overall dish b/c I figured there was already plenty of salt from the taco mix and I wasn't sure how spicy the Rotel would make the dish and the kids are going to be eating it too. FYI it wasn't spicy at all so I added a sprinkle of pepper and salt to my dish. The kids got theirs as is. They absolutely loved it!!! Yay!!!

You can tell they were really concentrating on their dinner! lol Kevin said both kids were so quiet and just really concentrating on eating.  

Both also asked for seconds. Here's Avery eating seconds...and was a hot mess!

Here's the original recipe.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day Lunch & Gift

I'm not huge on celebrating Valentine's Day. It was never a big thing growing up and even when Kevin and I were dating we never did much for it. I love that it's a day about love, but we celebrate that every day. I'm still not huge on it, but Parker is almost 3.5 years old and he has been doing Valentine's Day stuff at school so he knows what it's about. Plus it's his first Valentine's Day since starting school and I wanted to do something extra special and cute for his lunch...maybe entice him to eat his lunch more at school. Nothing big or time consuming but I'm sure he'd get a kick out of it. I wish I could bribe one of his teachers to take a picture of his reaction!

I'm cheesy...I cut his strawberries, carrots, and rice cake (or as Parker calls it popcorn cake) into little hearts. I was going to do a heart shaped peanut butter sandwich, but Parker has developed an aversion to them since Sunday and the kid rarely eats turkey sandwiches. For protein he gets a hard boiled egg. You can't see it, but the cupcake liners have red and pink hearts all over it. 

Everything smushed together. I added 5 little peanut butter stuffed pretzels as a special treat. 

And umm, slacker mom I decided to do something super easy for gifts for his friends in his speech class. Miss Phyllis got the same gift...I was going to do an additional gift, but Valentine's Day kind of snuck up on me! lol Anyway, I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it was so easy! Plus it's something he can give to his 2 friends that are boys that isn't all sweet and lovey! I went to the Dollar Store and bought the rulers. It came in packs of 2 so I only spent $2 since I already had the red paper and the red ribbon. Parker kept saying he wanted a ruler...bad Mommy didn't buy him one so I promised him that I'd go to the store and buy him one. Parker picked which color ruler he wanted to give to his friends and Ms. Phyllis. He was very adamant! 

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Crockpot Chicken Pesto

I found this recipe on Pinterest (surprise!) and wasn't sure if Kevin would like it, but it looked so easy and yummy that I just had to try it. I had it cooking all day and I was still at work when Kevin and the kids had dinner. Kevin told me that it was really good and both kids ate everything on their plate and Avery had seconds. I think she might be going through a growth spurt b/c when I fixed myself a plate, she kept coming to me and saying "bite, bite". Little girl ate about 1/4 of my meal!

Gather it:
8 chicken thighs
1 packet of Ranch dressing mix
7 oz jar of pesto
1 cup of chicken broth (original recipe calls 1/2 cup, but we like a little sauce over our rice)
pepper, to taste

Make it:
1. Mix ranch, pesto, and broth together in crockpot.

2. Add chicken. Flip it to cover both sides or spoon pesto mixture over chicken.

3. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.

As with most crockpot meals that I do, it's easy and yummy! You must try it!

Here's the original recipe.

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Impromptu Dinner Date

Both the kids have been crazy this past week. I needed to get out of the house and Avery's crazy antics so I was relieved to go out and run an errand. I took Parker to the eye doctor to get the lenses on his glasses replaced. He's had a huge scratch on them for a few weeks and they have to be specially ordered so it took a little a while. Parker's current glasses are starting to get too small - they are typically for ages 3-6 years old so we also looked at some new frames. We just got his glasses April 2012 when he was 2.5 years old! They fit around his head, but the actual frames where the lenses go are starting to look small for his face...his face must have grown quite a bit! We tried the next size up for ages 5-8 and they fit perfect, but the lady helping us suggested going to a size 3 (age 8-11) since he outgrew his current ones pretty fast. His glasses aren't cheap and I really wasn't expecting to have to buy a completely new pair less than a year later. All are the same price, regardless of size so I'm going to consider it. His glasses still fit for now so we will re-evaluate in a couple of months.

these are the size you can see they are big, but they are a bit out of shape too since they are the trials and get abused a bit by the kids (err...even my kid flung them onto the counter top)

After the eye place, I decided to take him out to dinner since we were pretty close my favorite Cuban restaurant. Parker and I had a wonderful time at dinner and it was so great spending some alone time with him. I admit I was jealous of his boys day out with Kevin on Sunday!

waiting for our yummy dinner! Parker's funny...he saw my head tilted so he tilted his too. he does this when I'm taking his picture and I tell him to smile and I for some reason also smile big and tilt my head...

Parker and I drew for a little bit while waiting for our dinner to arrive...crazy kiddo actually pointed to the big TV they restaurant had and loudly exclaims: "My turn!". 

I usually get one of 3 things: Masitas de Puerco (pictured above; it's fried pork) with beans and rice, and maduros (fried plantains); Arroz Con Pollo (yellow rice with chicken), or Pan Con Queso y Tomate (bread with cheese and tomato). Regardless what I get I HAVE to have the white sauce - pictured on the right. This sauce is THE MOST DELICIOUS DIP...E.V.E.R!!!! Kevin actually has been able to replicate it and we use it when we make Masitas de Puerco at home to our homemade tacos. I got the Masitas de Puerco and got Parker the Arroz Con Pollo. Parker loves this dish and ate quite a bit. He and Avery had it for leftovers for lunch and gobbled it all up! I was very tempted to to order a flan to go, but I had just bought a large batch of oatmeal cookies from Costco (I LOVE oatmeal cookies and this is what happens when you go shopping hungry!) and besides my mom had just emailed me her recipe for flan and I swear I'm going to attempt it one day. Problem is Kevin won't touch the stuff and my kids have texture issues and I doubt they'd eat it. Ok, I'm really craving flan...

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fried Rice...errr Fried Quinoa

One day after making Tropical Quinoa Granola I decided to make something else with it...this time I wanted to try fried rice. I pinned a recipe, but didn't even look at it. I just used my own Fried Rice recipe and substituted quinoa for the rice. This recipe changes a little bit each time I make it - it all depends on what I have on hand. I used chicken adobo again b/c my mom made a huge batch when she visited this past weekend, but I've used the other half of the steak the kids didn't eat, some grilled chicken, and shrimp all at once. It just depends on how much meat I want to use or have on hand. It's a great way to use up leftovers. We cap out at eating leftovers once...after that we throw it away even though it's still good. Re-using the leftovers in fried rice makes it seem like we're not eating the same thing for the third time.

The kiddos ate this all up and didn't even bat an eyelash at the new texture. Kevin's response: "It's different, but it's good." lol

My quinoa turned out a little mushy b/c I did not let it cool completely b/c I had some hungry kids to feed. Cool your quinoa COMPLETELY. If you have time to do it earlier in the day or the night before and throw it in the fridge then even better. 

Gather it:
- 1.5 cups cooked (and cooled off) quinoa (it doesn't sound like much, but holy moly, we've got a lot of leftovers!)
- 1.5-2 cups of chicken adobo 
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- frozen peas
- frozen corn
- dried parsley
- freshly ground pepper (to taste - I didn't use much since the Adobo had a lot of pepper in it already)
- soy sauce, to taste (I didn't use much since I used the sauce from the Adobo)
- about 1.5 Tbsp oil 
- about 2-3 Tbsp butter 

Make it:
1. Heat oil in a wok or a large skillet under medium/high heat. Saute onion until slightly softened. Add garlic - do not let it brown.

2. Add quinoa and red bell pepper and toss it in oil, onion, and garlic. Add butter. Let it "fry" for about 5 minutes - stirring every now and then to evenly fry the mixture.

3. Add frozen peas, corn and meat and let it warm through. Then add parsley, pepper, and soy sauce. Stir everything together.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tropical Quinoa Granola

I'm jumping on the quinoa bandwagon. I've learned that it is a complete source of protein, which is great b/c I'm going to need to start packing Parker a lunch for school starting on Monday and aside from peanut butter (in a sandwich), nuts, and a hard boiled egg I'm not sure what else I can give him. He's not huge on lunch meat so that's pretty much out. Enter quinoa...I've read how versatile it is. It can be put into salads,  desserts, and pancakes/waffles, not just made as a side dish.

I decided to run to Costco with the kids this morning to pick up a few things. I walked by the bag of quinoa that I've walked by dozens of times before and was too intimidated to try. I decided to go for it! I turned to Pinterest and found a few recipes I want to try, but nothing really that would work for Parker b/c they were all side dishes. But then I saw it...granola made with quinoa! I've made granola before. The kids and I were on a granola kick back in the summer! We ate it for our snack by itself or used it to top off greek yogurt. So I just used the same recipe (tweaked a bit since this was an impromptu decision to make and I didn't have all of my "normal" ingredients) I used before and just added the easy and my house smells so good!!! You HAVE to try it!!!

Gather it:
1/2 cup cooked quinoa (instruction on how to cook way below in case you need it)
1/2 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup of shredded coconut (I LOVE coconut!)
1/2 cup of cashews, roughly chopped (also a new additions, I normally use pecan halves)
2 tsp of vanilla
4 big shakes of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of honey (I also LOVE honey and prefer a sweeter granola)
1 Tbsp of flaxseed (this is a new addition, hubby bought some for a power bar he made so I figured I'd use some too)
1 cup of dried mango, diced small (I used to use craisins, but I'm out and I just bought dried mangoes for the kids while we shopped to keep them quiet)

Make it:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prep a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Add all ingredients except for dried mangoes into a large bowl and toss together. I prefer not to add the mangoes until later b/c I learned when using craisins that dried fruit can get extra chewy. My young kids have a harder time chewing it.

FYI: I diced the mangoes and combined all the ingredients while cooking and cooling the quinoa so it saved some time.

3. Pour mixture unto parchment paper and spread out evenly. Bake for 40 minutes, tossing every 8-10 minutes to evenly brown it.

Allow to cool and either eat it by itself, eaten as a cereal, or top yogurt with it. Or in my case: abandon half eaten lunch, grab a pineapple Chobani Greek yogurt, top with piping hot granola, and burn the roof of my mouth with its delicious goodness! The tropical flavors: pineapple, coconut, mangoes, and cashews was absolutely perfect!

How to cook quinoa: boil 1 cup of water.  Add 1/2 cup of quinoa after it boils, lower heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn heat off and fluff quinoa. Replace lid and allow to "steam" in covered pot for an additional 10 min to allow quinoa to puff up and soak up remaining liquid. Allow to cool completely. Tip: after allow to puff up, pour quinoa into a plate and spread it out. Toss it every few minutes. This will allow it to cool faster.

here's what it looked like before I put it on the baking sheet

the kids couldn't stand smelling the delicious they watched it for a bit. Sadly they went down for a nap before it was ready.

enjoying their afternoon snack: yogurt and granola! The first thing Parker said when he woke up was: "Gah-ola ready? I eat it?"

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mommy and Son Dates

Parker is almost 3.5 and he is definitely at that age where it can actually be fun to take him out by myself. He thinks he's pretty special when he gets to go somewhere without his sister! This past weekend was my 5th wedding anniversary (in case you missed all 500 of my posts about it!) and Kevin and I were very fortunate to have Lola come down and watch the kids. We were able to go out for dessert and drinks (which turned into appetizer, dessert, and drinks) on Friday night, a wine tour and tasting on Saturday afternoon, and sushi/dinner on Saturday night. Each time, as we were getting ready, Parker would ask: "Where you going?" and when we'd reply we are going on a date, he'd ask: "I go on date with you?". Oh melt my heart, sweet boy! Kevin and Parker had a boys day out on Sunday after being "ignored" all weekend and Kevin thanked me for "letting" him do something with just them two and said he had so much fun with him. Anyway it got me thinking about what I can do with Parker by Mommy and Son date ideas. A lot of these are things we can do at home so it doesn't cost's just about him getting my undivided attention.

this little (b/c he will always be little to me) boy made me a mommy and will always hold a special place in my heart

Here's a list of things we've done before and things I'd like to do with him in the future:

1. Hot Cocoa and Movie Night: Parker and I have done this a few times this "winter". He fell in love with hot cocoa when he had it for the first time at Sea World this past December. He doesn't have it often so he thinks it's pretty special when I bust out a cheap packet of hot cocoa and pile it up with mini marshmallows. We settle down on the couch floor (in case he spills) and sip (well he chugs his cooled cocoa down) as we watch a movie of his choice before bed time.
this was from Date Night

2. The Garden Store aka Home Depot: last summer we I planted an herb, cucumber and zucchini garden. Parker had so much fun going with me to pick out seed packets and gardening materials...hence why he started calling it the garden store. I'm sure Kevin would rather him call it "the man store" or something. lol I plan on planting another garden this year and taking Parker with me to pick our packets again. Now that he's older I'm hoping he will help more with the garden. If not, I'm sure he will get excited once he starts to see the flowers and vegetables growing like he did last year.
our cucumbers last year...sadly our zucchini plant took a beating in a storm and never recovered

3. Park and Playground: Parker loves going to the park and playground. He runs around like crazy and burns off a lot of energy. Score! He loves it when we swing together or when I push him "really high" (he thinks it's scared-y pants Mommy heart can't handle that so it's not so high unless I put him in the baby swing...I know, I know!). Once a month, one of the nearby parks runs a mini train that you can ride and he loves riding this! We don't do it every month so he feels special when he goes on and it feeds his train obsession.
LOVE those dimples! They make my heart melt!

he thinks almost falling off this thing is the most hilarious thing ever. My mama heart can't handle it!

riding the (well they ask that you make a donation, which we do, but what's a few dollars?!?)

4. Busch Gardens: We have season passes and we use it ALL the time so even though it's somewhat expensive up front, we've def gotten our money's worth out of our passes. But I've never taken him by himself. This is something I would love to do this year though. They have a huge tree house with a rope course and maze. He could spend hours climbing through that. He is typically on a time limit b/c Avery can't really go through it and she gets bored so I think if he went with just me then we could spend all day there if he wanted! They also have a big splash area that opens in the spring - I usually walk through it with him...helps keep me cool in the summer heat!
going up the tree house

going across the rope bridge

riding the train is a must at Busch Gardens!

5. local Pet Store: Parker loves to look at the puppies, kittens, and hamsters (which makes my skin crawl). I'm too scared to let him take the puppies out and play with them b/c he might ask to bring one home and the answer would have to be no. We had Bailey and he and Avery were just not nice to her and poor thing deserves a better life so she's now living with my cousin. For now he's content to look.
no pet store pics, but here's a rare moment when Parker and Bailey got along. Bailey decided to give Parker a kiss, which Parker found hilarious!

6. Airport picnic: We have done this as a family date, but I think Parker would love to do it and get some one on one attention. We park at the short term parking garage and go all the way to the top deck, which doesn't have a roof and look at the planes that are landing and taking off. He also loves watching the trams come and go (he calls them trains). The last time we went, we packed a picnic dinner (homemade sandwiches, chips, and applesauce pouches) and sat on a blanket on the back of Kevin's truck. So we would have to "borrow" Kevin's truck...if he lets me drive the HUGE monster. Otherwise I'd just pop the back hatch of my SUV and relax there.
laying down on Daddy's truck bed and watching the planes fly by

7. Cookies and Firetrucks: We've never done this, but I would LOVE to do it. I've been wanting to do this forever! Maybe buy some Publix cookies (who doesn't love them and b/c people get weird nowadays with homemade stuff) and bribe thank them for being such heroes and maybe score a  look at one of the firetrucks and maybe a tour! Parker would think he was in HEAVEN!!! Anyone know of any firemen in the area that can hook me up with a tour? lol

8. McDonald's Ice Cream Cone: Parker rarely gets ice cream so he would absolutely LOVE this and their kiddie cone is on the $1 menu. Cheap and it would make his day!

9. Bookstore Fun: Parker loves to read and some one on one time reading all those books would be fun for both of us. Usually when we read at home, Avery tries to push him off my lap so she can sit on my lap all by herself so he would really like having my lap all to himself, I think. lol Afterwards we could order coffee/hot cocoa and share a big cookie at the coffee shop in the bookstore.
I found this like this one day...each had their own books and sitting in our time out spot. lol

10. Mall Playground and Disney Store: Parker loves to go to the mall playground. He gets to interact with other kids and run around like crazy. We usually go to the Disney Store afterwards if he doesn't throw a tantrum when it's time to leave the playground. Parker just loves to look at all the toys and watch the movies that they play. He does ask for toys, but we rarely buy him anything. 95% of the time he is fine with us not buying him anything. I just prepare him during the walk to the store that we are not buying anything and that he can't ask for toys. He of course asks for toys, but I remind him we're not there to buy anything. His reply is usually: "Oh, yeah!" or "Oh, man!". When it's time to leave, I give him warnings: 2 minutes til it's time to leave (I really give him about 4 min). His 1 minute warning is closer to when it's time to leave. This works 98% of the time and he leaves with no tantrum. And did you know that if you get to the Disney Store before they open, they look for little kids to open up the store with a special key and help from Tinker Bell???
 Parker and Emma got chosen to open up the Disney Store!

We LOVE this mall b/c it has a huge playground...and yes that's the Disney Store right next to it. Smart store renting out space next to the playground!

11. Beach and Sand Castles: Kevin and I are not huge beach people (weird b/c we spent a lot of time at the beach in high school!). We just DON'T like the sand! Kids and sand = A LOT OF MESS! But Parker LOVES the beach...he could spend hours building sand castles! Or rather adding to or tearing apart sand castles that have been left behind by others. Parker would be on cloud nine if I actually got down and got dirty and built a sand castle of our own!

yes that would be my child at the his underwear. This was an impromptu trip to the beach after lunch at a beachside restaurant. We got a few weird

12. Go NOLES: Parker always asks to go to Mommy's school in Tallahassee. I tell him one day we will go and watch a football game. I think it would be so much fun to take him to a game and watch my beloved Noles with my little buddy! I think he would love the crazy atmosphere, eat a bunch of hot dogs and boiled peanuts! One day soon, little buddy we will go! Ok, so call me crazy, but I just looked at his future birthdays and his birthday falls on a 2016. He will be 7 years old. Perfect age to go, I think and sit through 3 hours of football! Now, let's just hope that it is a home game! lol

13. Dinner Date: We've never done this aside from getting Chick Fil A, but I would love for both of us to get all dressed up and go somewhere nice for dinner. He actually said on Saturday night that he wanted to eat sushi b/c I told him Daddy and I were going on a sushi date. I doubt he would eat sushi, but I'd love for him to try a California roll!

14. Donuts and Jammies: I see people doing this all the time at Dunkin Donuts! I want to take Parker in our jammies (ok, I'd probably put a bra on and wear yoga pants lol), but I think it would be so fun to go and get donuts for breakfast and just sit there and talk.

15. Desserts Galore: Parker loves to help me out in the kitchen. When I'm in the kitchen he is always asking: "I help you, please?". He does everything from shaking the parsley shaker over a pan, stirring, or pouring ingredients from the measuring cup into the bowl/pot. Making desserts together is a tried and true way to make sure he eats his dinner that night! lol
Parker loved these homemade donuts and he has been asking for me to make some more. He can't fry them b/c the oil may splatter him, but he would love making shapes using cookie cutters, rolling them into logs or twisting the ropes together. 

16. Backpacking Through the "Woods": Ok, we don't really have "woods" near us. But anytime we drive through my sister in law's neighborhood, he sees this one house that has a bunch of trees in the backyard and a pergola that is covered in vines, he asks to walk through the woods. I think it would be so much fun to take him on a "hike" at a park near our house that has trails and then have a picnic lunch. I think he would get a kick out of having his own backpack to carry with his sandwich, fruit, chips, and water. I would of course carry the blanket and other necessities in my backpack!

17. Chuck E Cheese: Parker has only been once (well twice if you count when he was 10 months old for his cousin's bday) for his bday last year. He had so much fun! Funny story: we went to a store that is in the same shopping plaza as Chuck E Cheese, which was blocked from our view by some trees. Parker out of the blue cries out: "Oooh, oooh! Where Chuck E Cheese? I no see it!". Kevin and I looked at each other and were like, it's crazy that he remembers stuff like that. We went there during the day and we were at the store at night so it was pretty dark. Kids have a way of remembering things...especially if they had a blast. This is still a pretty cheap date for us b/c Parker doesn't really ride or play games - he just likes to run around, press buttons, sit on the riding toys for a bit and then get off. I think he gets freaked out when the riding toys start moving b/c every time we put coins in for him to ride he asks to get off within 5-7 seconds! Their pizza isn't expensive either and I usually bring an applesauce pouch and just get him a water to drink. Or there's this option: GattiTown. Parker LOVED this place!
if he looks a little bit scared, it's b/c he was. He was fine, walked up to him, but didn't want to get too close or to be touched by this "weird creature!". lol

18. Trains and Cars: Parker is a boys boy. He LOVES all things cars and trains! He is always asking us to come play in his room. He would be in absolute heaven if we just holed ourselves up in his room for 1 solid hour of just playing with no interruptions from his little sister who likes to take his train tracks apart or grab his cars, which he arranged in a perfect line.
we bought Parker this rug from Ikea that has roads, parkings spaces, and buildings. He loves to spread it out and move his cars all around it.

Bailey used to love playing trains with us too! 

19. Splish Splash, Fun in the Water: We have a pool in our backyard and Parker loves to go swimming, but if you don't have a pool at your disposable, it's also fun to run through the sprinklers or set up a water table to try and cool off in this crazy Florida heat!
sprinkler fun - great way to cool off and water the lawn at the same time!

this water table was fairly inexpensive, but if you don't have one, large plastic bins or even bowls and pots would work! I grabbed some shovels, small watering can, and cups/pails and Parker had a blast transferring the water back and forth. 

20. Running Errands: Sounds boring, but Parker loves to go run errands...again b/c he gets one on one time. His favorite places to go are Costco and Target. He loves Costco b/c he likes trying all of the sample food! We walk around slowly and detour to the toy section and I let him look around (I prep him before hand that we are not there to buy toys though). Once in a while I let him pick out a book to buy. When the Christmas decorations were out, we would literally spend 10-15 minutes just slowly walking down the aisle. I'm sure we annoyed some of the people who were there in a rush...sorry folks, I'm busy making memories with my little one!
I took Parker to Michael's with me and I let him pick out a $1 craft for us to do together at home. Here he is stacking rolls of duct tape while I picked out some markers. 

What do you like to do with your boys? Any suggestions are welcome! I'd like to try some new date ideas!

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