Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Goose is Getting Fat

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving in San Diego with my mom's side of the family. The Mazda car did great on the road trip, although Nate wishes it had more power. In good 'ole 3-year old fashion, Louisa managed to initiate some great Thanksgiving table conversation, asking, how did the turkey die?

Because Thanksgiving was so late, we decided to get a mini-tree from Home Depot this year instead of going to the Santa Cruz mountains and chopping down a big one, as we have in years past. I feel a little bit unfulfilled when I look at our tiny tree with unevenly hung ornaments, but I'm just trying to remember that it's good to let some things go.

I guess when I feel disappointed by the tree, it helps to look at the mantel, where our new Christmas stockings hang! I love them so much. I made three...all slightly different, and let Louisa and Cora pick theirs, leaving the last one for the new baby. I was surprised that they left my favorite for him. I bought a pattern to get a consistent stocking shape, but ended up turning to a sewing blog for help adding a lining. The perfectionist in me knows that someday, someone is going to look inside their stocking, so a lining was a must!

Cora puts the tree's size into context nicely

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Bunkin' Up

We have less than 10-weeks to go before our parenting style transitions to a zone defense! At times it feels crazy that I'm over 75% done with this pregnancy, but other times, probably when my pregnancy symptoms flare up, it can't seem to go fast enough. All in all, it's been a pretty good pregnancy though. On this Thanksgiving eve, I can easily reflect on a few things I'm thankful for, that have made my pregnancy easier:

1. Louisa's oft-repeated statement: You need extra help 'cause you're having a baby
2. A wonderful pre-school for Lou to attend on Monday and Friday mornings
3. A gym membership with childcare for Cora so I can work-out while Lou is at school
4. My artistic husband who insisted on making a beautiful bunk-bed for the girls
5. Cooler weather so I can cover up my hideous left leg, purple and puffy with varicose veins

I would have been happy to have the bunk bed ready to go by January-something, but Nate was very interested in getting it done sooner. It turned out so well and Louisa loved helping build it as much as she loves sleeping in it. Cora won't join her until Nate adds a railing to create a crib at the bottom. Reflecting back on Lou's crib-to-bed transition, we did it too quickly (before age 2) and I now realize we probably could have avoided much frustration keeping her contained for a bit longer.

Although I know the process would have been more enjoyable for Nate if he had a nice indoor shop to work in, it was so nice to see him back in his wood-working element...designing, creating and perfecting. I know he's talented, but during this design-build process, I was reminded that he not only has engineering smarts, he's really artistic too.

Because the world needs more before and after photos sets, here goes:
Before (a trundle/day bed given to us by my parents)
After (complete with Alicia-picked. Louisa & Nate approved bedding)
After (water-cup and tissue shelf installed ASAP to avoid call-backs after the final tuck-in)
After (Louisa loves the trellis-ladder and Cora has yet to attempt the climb)

Looking at these photos makes me realize that Ries' dog bed should absolutely be removed from the room. It doesn't match at all and she'll never sleep on the floor of anyone's room, let alone the girls'. Also a shout-out to my Aunt Jeanne who made the black/red fish pillows, to for a nice, thick zebra rug that has stood the test of Louisa's first 3.5 years of life, and to myself for some great coordinating black-out curtains. The patterns of the curtains, pillows, bedding and rug have the potential to be overwhelming when thrown together, but I think they look really great with the modern, white bunk bed. So three cheers again, for Nate, my artistic, project-finishing husband!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ramekin Chocolate Decadence

I have no intention of transitioning our blog to a cooking/baking blog, but I'm going to tell you about another recipe. Many of you have probably had the privilege of devouring Marcia's chocolate decadence (an almost-flourless chocolate cake). It's one of my favorite go-to dessert recipes because it's easy, yet looks (and tastes) so fancy. One problem with it though, and I realize this is a dietitian-only-problem, is that when I make it for less than say, six people, I end up eating it for the next week. Which is fine, I suppose, but I could potentially grow tired of it during that week which would make it lose it's special place in my heart.

Tonight we had 2 guests over and I realized that I had the ingredients for chocolate decadence, but didn't want to make a full 9-inch springform pan of it. Thankfully I also realized that for my birthday this year, I got 6 ramekins. I googled "flourless chocolate cake ramekins" and found this recipe. The problem with using her recipe is that I didn't have bittersweet chocolate and didn't feel like experimenting with sugar to make the adjustment for the semi-sweet chocolate that I did have. So I ended up making a 1/2 recipe of chocolate decadence to fill 5 ramekins. Sorry Cora, but I planned to put you to bed before dessert.

So that I can make it again and be confident in cooking time and temperature, here is the recipe: 

Ramekin Chocolate Decadence
  • 1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1.5 teaspoons water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 teaspoons flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the chocolate chips, butter and water in a bowl and microwave for 90 seconds. Stir until smooth. Beat 2 eggs until pale and increased in volume. Add flour, then beat in melted chocolate. Divide batter between five 5-ounce ramekins (mine were half full). Bake for 18-20 minutes. Serve with whipped cream and frozen (thawed) raspberries.

As I type, I'm watching and feeling my belly wiggle and jiggle. I think little baby boy Bosscher is trying to say something: MAKE THE FULL SIZE CAKE EVERY WEEK MAMA! I LOVE IT! Sorry baby, but I firmly believe that the adults choose which foods to prepare and the kids choose how much to eat. Although I realize that the amount part is probably not a choice for you right now. Pretty automatic based on how much I eat.

As proof that I'm not becoming a baker/cook blogger, I have no step-by-step photos, nor do I have photos of the finished product! You'll just have to make to see for yourself.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Frizzled Sage

Two weeks ago we had a wonderful visit from my parents and only one day later, Anne and Wren came to visit! Oh, how easy it is to get used to being able to run errands during nap-time or cook dinner while my children are entertained. It was fun to confirm that I still love to cook as long as I've planned/shopped ahead and don't have to tend to Cora-meltdowns while keeping the pecans from burning under the broiler, sweating an eggplant's bitter juices and preventing dishes from piling up.

Speaking of cooking, one of my larger fears about having kids was introducing ungrateful, potentially picky eaters into my cooking utopia. I know they're only 3 and 1 years old, but so far Nate has remained grateful for the food I cook and the girls have not yet become too picky. And although Nate can't cook as much as he'd like, he still sends me interesting recipes (saying we should make this) and is happy to cook on the weekends when I say I don't care what we eat, as long as I don't have to make it. For these things, I'm thankful. Cooking was definitely a shared interest when we first met, so it's fun to be able to enjoy and talk about food together a short 7-years later.

Tonight I made this Pressure-Cooker Butternut Squash with Frizzled Sage and Brown Butter. Yes, that is actually the ridiculous title of the recipe. I'll refer to it as "risotto" from here on out. We grew some beautiful and massive butternut squash this summer, so it's always nice to find interesting recipes that call for 3.5 pounds of the stuff. The risotto tasted great, but it's definitely not a quick dinner, despite the "pressure-cooker" part. Very tasty though, so I won't complain. It seemed like the perfect kid-food, and it was even finished at 6:30 pm, the perfect time for a tired Cora to eat. Unfortunately, she was in no mood to even consider whether or not she'd like it. Louisa must have been trying to be really nice to me because I let her watch PBS Kids while I cooked, because she said, very sweetly, mom, if Cora doesn't want it, I'll eat it! And she did while I got Cora ready for bed...without dinner. I really felt no guilt, because I AM NOT a short-order cook and the fact that she pushed the risotto away told me that she wasn't truely hungry.

All that in order to share the recipe and also to say that if you decide to make it on a chilly fall evening, don't skip the "frizzled sage" or brown butter. Both sound so optional, and they are, but also added something tasty, rich and fancy to the dish. I did make a stop at the garden store to buy a new sage plant today though, because our other plant got overtaken by tomato vines. This one-stop shop was welcomed because lately I've been very open to structured activities with the baking Halloween candy into cookies, planting mums they pick out, and going swimming outside in November. I'd love to say that I do these things to enrich the minds and lives of my children, but really, it's more selfish than that. I'm pretty sure I would...

a) go crazy
b) waste time on Facebook
c) clean too much

....if I let us stay home without at least one activity or outing per half-day (pre-nap = one half, post-nap = the other half). And then of course taking photos or videos during these activities gives me something for my checklist (i.e. blog about making cookies, going swimming or planting mums), which makes me feel like I've accomplished something each day! Whew.

Soooooo, that was the long way to arrive at sharing these photos and this recipe, which I would recommend if you want to make your Halloween candy feel less processed while quickly diminishing your supply.

And finally, a video from our time at the pool today. I'm so glad that Cora is tall enough to be in the deepest end of the kid pool without hand holding by me. I'm such a baby. The water was probably 80 and the air temperature 73, but still, I didn't really want to go in.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall & Love in Wisconsin

Two weeks ago we all traveled back to Oconomowoc to attend my cousin Claude's wedding. It was beautiful, creative and drenched in beautiful sunshine! One of the highlights of the trip was seeing all my siblings and meeting Matthew's lovely girlfriend, Kelly. For my parents, the highlight had to be seeing their pack of grandchildren that has grown from zero to six (almost seven) in less than 5 years. Because gatherings like this are so rare, we hired a photographer to take photos and the session went as well as we could have hoped. We have at least one photo where everyone is looking at the camera with eyes open!

My mom did an amazing job of coordinating housing, food, babysitters and people all while hosting the rehearsal dinner, wedding and Sunday-brunch in their gorgeous, restored carriage barn. As a bonus, she even offered to keep Louisa for a special "grandma week" while Cora, Nate and I flew back to San Jose after the wedding weekend. All of these events made October fly by and I'm not at all surprised that November is nearly here. I'm confident that November and December will pass quickly too, which makes me realize that soon enough, I'll be done with these varicose veins in my left (yes, only left) leg and we'll be learning how to parent a little baby boy, most likely to be endearingly referred to as Peter _____ Bosscher!

Alongside all the events of October and the upcoming months, I finally found the courage to launch my mini-business endeavor on Etsy. See my newest blog tab, My Etsy Shop, to read more about it. Or if you don't have time to read the update posted today, here's the short version: it's so FUN and I've sold 10 sets (30 burp cloths) and continued to gift sets to friends!

Enough about me and onto my favorite pictures from our visit!

Thankful for a layover in Denver so we could stretch our legs

"My fingers are cold and it's windy in my eyes, Mom"

Cora took to Uncle JP wonderfully

Sarah's Japanese bike quickly became a favorite of Cora's

The barn, all spruced up

Prepped for a beautiful ceremony

Fun on the "farm" with Oliver, Sarah's oldest

Matthew, Cohen (JP's oldest), Oliver & Kelly

Louisa quickly warmed up, apparently

Chilly, but sunny Saturday morning

Nate being squished by silly LouBear

You really do need a professional to capture this bunch

I'm still not convinced we're twins, but I will agree that Cora and I look more alike than Lou and I

Killing time in the Milwaukee airport

Saturday, October 4, 2014

My Apple Girls, Captured on Film

Our real camera whispers to me from it's shelf every so often. Use me! I take better photos than your phone! I swore I'd never sacrifice "good" pictures just because I have a decent camera on my iPhone, but sadly, I have. So earlier this week, I tried to capture some cute but normal moments during our post-nap hours of 4-7 pm, when I'm making dinner, the girls are making a mess, and we're all counting down the minutes before Nate gets home.

I think this apple break was snack time at Louisa's make-believe school, where Cora is the only pupil. Actually, while editing the photos, I noticed for the first time that they each have a lunch bag next to them, so maybe the apple was part of lunch. Naturally, Louisa is the teacher. My instinct is to stop Lou from being bossy in make-believe games such as this, but then messages from articles like this ring through my head, so I bite my tongue.

The attire you see the girls in is rather representative of the norm: Louisa dressed as a princess/ballerina and Cora wearing mostly what I dressed her in, except for her shoes, which she is very particular about. The only exception to this rule is that if Louisa picks shoes for Cora (which is the case here), she generally doesn't object. The ones she's wearing are a size 8 and she wears size 5. Me to myself, constantly: Let it go! Let it go!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Poor Ries Dog

In December 2013, we knew we'd be traveling back to Wisconsin for Christmas and we wondered if Nate's sister, Georgia (a veterinarian student at Wisconsin), could hook us up with some discounted eye surgery for Ries. For at least a year, Ries' eye sight has been failing. Hoping that the cause was treatable, we took her to her VTA vet here in Campbell, who threw cotton balls in front of Ries to see if she would track them. Although I'm generally happy with this particular vet, this time I regretted not just googling "how to tell if your dog is going blind" so I could throw cotton balls at home for free. Alas, he referred us to the pet ophthalmologist, conveniently located just another mile or two away.

Before I sound too sarcastic about serious matters such as blindness, I should officially admit that my concern and love for Ries is not what it was before children. I don't think I could quite give her up for adoption, but I've considered it. Thankfully, as my love has scaled back, Nate's has remained strong. He often tells Ries, she didn't mean that, or reminds me to be kind. It sort of makes me feel like there is only so much love in my heart and that as I have children, that love can no longer be divided amongst four-legged things, only those with two. Maybe it's just a hormonal thing? I used to be a cat lover, now I don't think someone could pay me to let one reside with me.

So, all that to say that I would have just accepted "going blind" as a diagnosis, but Nate was fairly insistent on paying $120 to take Ries to the specialist. So I scheduled a Saturday appointment. Sound familiar? Louisa's Saturday at the dentist with dad? In the end, I'm glad Nate insisted, because now we know that Ries has progressive retinal atrophy. There were no surgeries back in Madison last Christmas because other than experimental nutrition supplementation, there is no treatment. It's sad, but there are worse diagnoses for a 6 year old dog, right? As long as we keep Ries safe from cars, it doesn't seem like her life should be shortened. She still gets excited about treats, the sound of a squeaky toy, and the moment Nelly, our nanny, walks in the front door. I don't know what kind of treats Nelly gives Ries, but she adores Nelly.

Unfortunately, she can't track tennis balls much at all anymore. She hasn't seemed to let that ruin her excitement the dog park though:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Letter of the Week

I admit that I spend very little time reading about what to expect next developmentally from Cora or Louisa. It's nice to read the occasional BabyCenter update that comes each week or month, but generally I delete the emails quickly, thinking, yeah, yeah, I'll come to you if I have questions. Well today I found a wonderful benefit of not reading ahead, so to speak, and that is being pleasantly surprised when your child draws their first actual stick figure or flower, writing their name, or spells a word out loud.

Louisa goes to preschool 2 mornings per week. She loves it socially and I love it anti-socially. That's only kind of a joke. Louisa loves to talk, and often entertains us with her funny make-believe scenarios and questions, but being the introvert that I am, I appreciate some time with my less-verbal Cora Bean, too. Today Cora and I picked her up from "sool" as Lou calls it, and drove home in our new/used Mazda5, Louisa finishing her lunch as we drove.

I knew that the letter of the week is "A", so once we got home I asked Louisa what letter the word "apple" starts with. To my surprise, she spelled the whole word. Another surprise...she happily did it again while I took a "bideo". I think I could listen to Lou say the letter " L" over and over again.

I felt so proud that I sent the video to Nate. I must be tired, because it took me a minute to get his joke.

Okay, free time is over...Cora's awake. Love to you all!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Peace Like a River

A few weeks ago, I had a really good problem: whether or not to accept a job offer. I had applied to a clinical nutrition position in late March, every step of the way feeling like things weren't going well. I guess I had failed to remember that things take a while in big hospitals. Before the third interview, described as a "meet and greet" I finally felt like maybe a job at Stanford was really in my future. But I happened to be about 8-weeks pregnant at that interview, so maybe not feeling very energetic or interested in starting something new? I came home and told Nate that I felt like the diabetes team could see through me...I was sure they could tell that I didn't really want the job. Did I though? Not really, even un-pregnant me. There were many pros and cons, but in the end I decided that pediatric diabetes was not what I was aspiring to.

I won't bore you with the internal (and occasionally external...thanks Nate, Marcia, Mom, Tina, Stephanie) dialogue I had before I turned the job down five days after the offer, but it was tough! I was texting with Nate on the morning that I had to let them know. He said, give Lou something quiet to do and pray about it. Cora was sleeping, so I did. At the time we were listening to iTunes radio, some kind of kids station, and right after I finished writing my prayers and felt God say, nope, this isn't the one, the song Peace Like a River by Elizabeth Mitchell came on. We have one of her albums and love it, but I had never heard her rendition of this great, comforting song. I smiled, breathed, thanked God and called the recruiter. It's been about a month since then and I can confidently say I've had no regrets.

Do I still want to work more than one day per week? I think so. But through this process I learned a few things:
  1. God is still speaking and guiding my struggle to balance motherhood with the professional me
  2. I have a passion for wellness nutrition, and would ultimately love to design and manage a wellness program
  3. I need to appreciate the small moments at home, like I used to...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Photo Stamps or Passports?

A few weeks ago, Nate's ultimate frisbee team traveled to Toronto for the championship tournament. It was a last-minute frenzy, but I was lucky enough to go too...without my dear, sweet children. Well, okay, I did take the wee one inside me, but other than that, FREE! We're so thankful that Marcia was willing to miss her weekend retreat in Northern Wisconsin to come out and stay with the girls. It was a quick trip, but I have no regrets about choosing to go alone. Nate's team even took home the trophy.  Very fun.
Toronto is a very cool city and the stadium was right downtown

The San Jose Spiders

This technically international excursion got me thinking about whether or not it would be useful to have passports for the girls. While I don't see any family vacations to Italy in our immediate future, I thought it wouldn't hurt to apply for passports while we don't have a timeline. Nate thought it would be useful too since a few weeks ago, taking Cora on a flight as a lap-child was more stressful than it needed to be. Easy fix - next time, just remember the birth certificate! You're probably wondering why a passport would be easier to remember than a birth certificate. I'm asking myself that too. But all that matters is that in the end, we decided we might as well get passports for the girls. Step one (the decision) complete.

My in-house photographer set up a studio in the bathroom this morning to take photos of the girls. Which is really my reason for writing the post. I just think the pictures are too cute not to share. We have an appointment at the post office in a couple of weeks to submit the applications, so the pictures may not even pass the test, but for now, they're making me smile. They are also giving me side-by-side photos in the same light to really analyze how similar (or not) the girls look. What do you think? I was struck by how similar their hair colors have become over time. Thanks Nate for the pop-up studio and photo services!

The title of this post refers to something funny Louisa said as we were preparing to go to the post-office. Last time we went, she helped pick the stamps (flowers won) and so I think she was confused about why were were taking photos to the post office. As we walked out the door she asked if we were putting the pictures on stamps. Cute idea, Louisa, and I know you can buy them, but not this time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Oh Baby, Baby

Ready or not, here comes the next Bosscher baby! People have asked how our conversation went regarding having another baby. Well, something like this:

Me: So Nate, if it were up to you alone, which of course it's not, how long would you wait to have another baby?

Nate: Oh, I don't know, maybe two or three years?

Me: Uhhh, what? (shocked, because I thought he'd say "whenever you're ready!) No thank you. If we're going to do this, let's do it now.

And that was that. At the end of May, we found out that life could be (will be) quite challenging for a while. I only say that because I'm trying to over prepare myself for having three young children at home. I was totally over prepared for Louisa because everyone said how hard it life babies just cry all the time. But then Lou was pretty darn easy. So while pregnant with Cora, I settled into this false hope that she would also be easy and that everything I learned about caring for a baby the first time around would make my second "go" easier than the first. Not so much. Eventually I'll be able to describe what I felt/feel, but for now, let's just say that I miss the days of putting ONE child down for a nap, knowing they're going to sleep for two hours. Occasionally Louisa and Cora are asleep at the same time, but those moments feel so fragile and unexpected that I can't accomplish anything because I know one is due to wake soon.

So little 13 week old peach, it would be so awesome if you were easy-going, but I won't hold my breath. I guess even if you're easy going, it's not easy to take care of a 4 year-old, 2 year-old and a newborn. We'll love you and care for you no matter what. God helping us.

(Here is Louisa's surprising (non) reaction to the news. We told her at about 7 weeks.)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dentist Saga

In early June, Nate said he thought we should take Louisa to the dentist because of some dark spots in her teeth. I knew that when it comes to dentist appointments for kids, the earlier the better, but I still felt like yearly visits starting at age two were overkill. After all, she got a healthy report at her visit at 22 months.

So after I got over the shock of Nate suggesting that anyone go to the dentist (he hates going himself), I promptly compared our in-network options to Yelp reviews and scheduled a Saturday appointment with a pediatric dentist. Nate and Louisa went together and they returned home with stickers, prizes from the treasure chest and corn dogs and french fries from Wienerschnitzel. Louisa was perfectly happy, but Nate whispered, with wide eyes, she has six cavities. SIX CAVITIES? I must have shouted. I was instantly so ashamed, nervous, extra-sick-to-my-stomach. But I'm a dietitian, I thought. My kids aren't supposed to have cavities!

Once the shock wore off and Nate reassured me that it likely didn't relate to candy, juice or poor brushing habits (they simply blamed "deep pockets"), I contacted the dentist for the treatment plan:

Yes, lots of details, but my stomach really flipped when I saw the work "SEDATION" and the total patient portion of $585.00. Really? I thought we had good insurance! This paired with the fact that Nate said the dentist was not at all patient with Louisa made me want a second opinion. Generally I'm a fairly trusting person; I don't know that I've ever sought a second opinion for myself or my kids, but I had to go with my instincts on this one.

Result? Amazing! I took Lou to my dentist (family, but not specifically pediatric) and they were incredible with her. They only found two cavities, made Louisa LOVE the dentist, and already filled one cavity without sedatives or tears. She'll have the other cavity filled next week and I can't wait to write a Yelp review.

Ah, I'm so glad we're on this side of this one.

p.s. I was nervous about agreeing to silver filings (cheeper, faster, better…), but the first one is hardly noticeable, and Louisa is proud of her new "star" in her mouth.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Little Moments

A few things to share before they slip away to thoughts of what did she say that one time about frogs and Jesus and watching sporting events on the iPad?

This is also a good time to remind myself that I'm not only exposing Louisa and Cora to girly things. Some of you may have seen my FB post about the pirate festival. My comments got me thinking about what other not-specifically-girly things the girls are exposed to. So first-off, we raised a tadpole in our kitchen! He mostly made it to frog-hood, then died one month after we snatched him from his habitat at a birthday party. Maybe his diet of basil and mint leaves was too limited? After we covered him with dirt, Lou asked but mom, where will the frog play now? I told her that to die is like sleeping forever….that he won't need to play anymore.

Way to miss a chance to talk about heaven, Alicia!

(that was me, critiquing how I handled the situation. Lou doesn't call me Alicia)

Thankfully Lou redeemed it though and said that's okay, Jesus still loves the little frog. The timing of the frog burial was apparently perfect! We had just picked Lou up from vacation bible school, where the theme was even when you feel left out, Jesus loves you.

So there's frog rearing. We also watch plenty of sporting events, mostly ultimate frisbee, in-person and on TV. We've been to all of the home games at Foothill College, and even watched some of the away games on ESPN3. Anne and I were commenting on how our children are growing up thinking it's normal to watch aunts, uncles and fathers play ultimate frisbee on TV. How true! Louisa confirmed that this is normal by asking if we could watch Nate's Apple-league basketball game on the iPad. Funny.

Third, our backyard is a large, parched, dirt yard with only two wide steps going down from the porch to the patio and yard. I can't recall now, but I think Cora learned how to crawl down those two steps way before she learned to walk. Now she has free reign of the house with her big sister Lou, including the dirt yard, where they love to dig, collect rocks, and make various make-believe foods. Telling you that all of the digging tools are pink and purple doesn't help my case, but at least I'm not forcing them to stay clean all day, right?

Seeing Louisa's pink tank top in this picture made me think of another funny thing she said recently. We were getting ready to walk to her first dance class, so I told her to pick something to wear. Someone has to wear a pink shirt, so I'll wear mine! It's probably true. Someone has to wear a pink shirt!

You can probably guess, but I'm interested in avoiding princess-obsession and I'm afraid I'm failing. Louisa has seen Frozen and would probably watch it daily if we let her. That was the beginning of loving princesses. Then our wonderful friends bought her a princess dress up kit, complete with three different dresses and matching accessories for each dress. Now Nate's been offering special movie nights once every couple of weeks, so she's seen Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Her favorite princess to pretend to be is Belle. At least she loves books, started out as a poor peasant, and fell in love with someone ugly but kind (instead of Gaston, who Louisa says, isn't very nice). Instead of denying Louisa her princess fix, our strategy has been to remind her that princesses need to be useful too. They can be doctors! Chefs! Engineers! Speaking of engineers, here's the book on the top of my wish list. Ironically recommended by the friend who gave Lou the princess dress up kit. I guess I need to believe, truly believe, that princesses can also be smart, kind and useful too.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Raising Eager Eaters - Part II

I was really encouraged by the comments-section-discussion that ensued after my blog post about raising eager eaters. One reader and friend even requested a follow-up post to let you all know how the MOPS talk went. So just under one month post-talk, here I am, with a report:

The format our meeting was similar to previous meetings in that we gathered, chatted and ate breakfast. This particular week was different though because we had to sign up for 3 breakout sessions. We call it our Wellness Day and it's fun because it's fast moving and you get to learn about 3 topics instead of just one. The challenge for me was to say everything I wanted to say in 15 minutes, 3 times in a row. Was I successful? No. But after 3 speed sessions, it seemed like the moms felt empowered to differentiate their role from their child's role.

The most encouraging bit of feedback I got was actually from a friend who didn't attend, but asked for the handout. After reading it, she emailed me this:

Hi Alicia! I am ordering Child of Mine and Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family tonight. I am really feeling blessed by this new way of looking at food, eating and meals. My experience growing up was dysfunctional and (my husband's) was REALLY dysfunctional so this will be so helpful to us. I was not allowed ANY SWEETS growing up so.... my best friend's family ended up owning a country store and when I would sleep over we would sneak downstairs and steal candy! and when I was old enough to buy my own, I went to school everyday in Junior High and High School with a huge bag of Sour Patch Kids and ate them all day long... then at lunch I would bum money off of people and buy cookies and ice cream sandwiches. Now, as an adult, I buy candy constantly! All because of a deprived childhood. I am going to turn it around with my own family. My husband was forced to clear his entire plate or he would get beaten.... and if he didn't like the taste of the food, he ate it even FASTER so that it didn't get cold and even more disgusting... I always wondered why he wolfed down food that he said afterward was, "not that good." Anyways, I guess I wrote you a revealing book... I am just really excited about this new way of life. I am inspired.

Her email was so awesome in-part because it made it clear that I didn't come across as a deprivation-dietitian. During the talk, I made a point to encourage moms to serve dessert to their kids, with just two stipulations:
  1. Dessert is an adult's idea and not the child's
  2. Dessert is offered intermittently in order to raise children who eat well whether or not dessert is being served
I definitely believe that dessert is an important part of raising a child that has a good relationship with food, and I wished we could have spent more time talking about the mechanics of dessert-giving at the talk, but year!

And just in case you need proof that Louisa and Cora enjoy their fair share of desserts, here's a series from our visit to The Buttery in Santa Cruz. They're sharing a chocolate dream cookie, chosen by Louisa from the gorgeous, sweet-filled case. I split, she picked…the larger half of course.

One last great thing about the talk that day at MOPS is that there was a woman in one of the sessions who attended a multi-day seminar on the topic of Division of Responsibility and had wonderful things to say about how the approach completely turned things around for her family. Very cool, not to mention super-helpful for me, assuming their were some skeptics in the audience.

Nutrition is so great. Through my various paid and volunteer nutrition jobs, I'm constantly feeling affirmed that I chose the right profession!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Up They Grow

Last week Monday the girls went for their yearly check-ups. Well, for Louisa it was a yearly check-up, but for Cora, it was the culminating check-up in the long list of appointments a baby has in the first year: 1 week, 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months and 12 months. Wow - listed out like that, it's quite an accomplishment!

Louisa loves the doctor. Not so much our specific doctor, although she likes her too, but more the greater doctor: as an outing, activity, place, group of people. Wren/Anne/Andrew sent a doctor kit for Lou's birthday, so imagine her excitement when the nurse explained that she was going to take Louisa's blood pressure. And you're going to check my temperature and pulse too?! This is the best day of my life.

(Okay, she didn't actually say that, but that had to be what she was thinking)

At three years old, you don't get shots. Surprisingly, Louisa was disappointed. I wished she could bear some of Cora's load...the poor dear had to get five. She definitely cried and displayed her strength as she stiffened up in my arms with each poke. As I recall, Louisa didn't get many shots between 15 and 36 months, so hopefully that's it for awhile? Maybe I'm wrong though, because this chart seems to show more. Someday maybe I'll read more about alternative vaccine schedules, but for now, I'm sticking with the standard schedule. Sorry Cora!

All in all, they are healthy and tall! Here are a couple pictures from our visit, posted here so Lou can relive the whole thing next time she needs a doctor fix.

Check out the mini blood pressure cuff!

Cora says, Mom, I think I need a haircut after this

What you get when you tell Louisa to smile while keeping her eyes open

Saturday, May 17, 2014

We look forward to m(eating) you, tomatoes!

We planted our veggie garden last week! It's so hard to believe that these little tomato plants are going to (hopefully) go bonkers later this summer. Cora enjoyed the afternoon the most.

Be my garden journal for a sec: On Tuesday, May 6, we planted: tomatoes (cherry and heirloom varieties), butternut squash, white eggplant, purple eggplant, banana peppers, bell peppers, jalapeƱo peppers, sage and parsley. The pole beans were planted earlier because my neighbor warned that it might already be too late. Cross your fingers that we don't start to feel too guilty about the drought and stop watering our plants!

My favorite picture from the day

Little bottom covered in dirt
If I plant toys, will more grow?

Our neighbor harvested some bamboo for a pole bean teepee

Lou was crabby for the planting because she wanted more gummy worms

Monday, May 12, 2014

Raising Eager Eaters

Alright, so I know I'm the RD here, but I need your expert opinion. You role: mother (or father) of a child that eats food. I'm giving a talk and I want to make sure it's helpful…

I've mention Karen Le Billon in a previous post. She wrote French Kids Eat Everything, but her newest book is called Getting to Yum, The 7 Secrets of Raising Eager Eaters. I haven't read this book, but the term "eager eaters" came to mind last week as I started to prepare a talk I'm giving at MOPS on Wednesday. The topic is picky eaters, but that has such a negative tone. Not every mom would say she needs help with a picky eater; but on the contrary, every mom wants to raise an eager eater! A side-note: MOPS moms have kids ages 0-5 years.

So I'm posting my handout here, asking for your feedback. The talk is brief - I only have 15 minutes - but I really want to give the moms some solid tips. Is it too much information to cover? Will people feel judged/intimidated? Your feedback can also come in form of personal stories that I could use to make the tips come alive!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Louisa Turns Three

Louisa's birthday party went off without a hitch! We took a risk and invited 13 sweet children to our house for games, lunch and dessert. Only 9 could make it. The risky part was encouraging their parents to leave. We love family parties too, but I wasn't quite up for the "event" it would have been with so many guests. Plus, we hoped our friends would welcome a little adult time.

The bug theme came together nicely 3 days prior to the party when I went on Amazon to buy ones of those big parachutes with handles. The bugs, lizards and snakes by Melissa & Doug were too cute, so I rounded out the party bags and activities with bug nets ($1 bin at Target!), insect tattoos and little bags of gummy worms. If I would've allowed Louisa to pick the theme, I'm sure it would have been a princess party, or more specifically, Frozen or Beauty and the Beast, so I left her out of that part of the planning process. Not that I have anything against princesses (well, actually, I might) but they should at least be DreamWorks princesses, right?

The photos of my peanut butter pie didn't turn out; bad lighting...poor focusing, but it tasted pretty good. My only critique was that it was too cheesecake-y. Louisa acted thankful, but I knew how she really felt when she caught me eating a piece for a snack the next day. She walked out, blurry-eyed from her nap, and said, Mom, why are you eating some pie? I told her it was my snack and asked her if she wanted a piece. No, she said, maybe tomorrow.  That was the first time I've seen this girl say no to a sweet! Nate thinks it was the peanuts on top. Nuts and cantaloupe: these are the only two foods that Louisa is very certain she doesn't like.

**Update: I just found a priceless photo that includes the peanut butter pie. And it goes to show: you can still celebrate your birthday with grandparents across the country. We re-lit the candles after this and called my parents, too!

Here are a few images from Louisa's friend party. As you can see, we tried to do a mock-Lunchable lunch for the kids. I think it went over well. We certainly didn't end up throwing away as much food as you see on their plates in this first picture.

It was very fun! And I can confidently say that three years old is not too young to have a kids-only birthday party. We are thankful that our friend Jacob stayed though. An extra set of adult hands did come in handy more than once.

Whew! We survived the girls' birthdays. Now to come up with a fun theme for Nate's big 34th...

See Where Our Pictures Were Taken