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February 3, 2016

she loves me!

She loves me.

Just wanted to share.

My heart is fit to burst :).

We’ve come a long way. A few weeks ago, I shared how she was breaking my heart, but these days she is always asking for me to put her down at night. I have, and it’s been so sweet! But we’ve also since decided that, for consistency’s sake, it’s best if we keep that going-to-bed routine as her special time with Papa. On the whole, we have been working hard to make things more consistent for her, and it has definitely paid off.

Last week was awesome. It was a huge turning point for so many reasons, not the least of which was Baby Boy’s sudden ability to sleep through the night (STTN). He went ahead and did that all on his own. WOOHOO!!! Yes! I know! We win!!! Let’s hope it continues! Last week was also awesome because my little girl was so, so sunny and warm and fun and pleasant. I think it had a lot to do with all the moves we have made toward making her day-to-day life more consistent. And her not being sick. I’m so sorry to all the families with kids who get sick all the time. Big. Hug.

At this point, keeping things consistent basically means declining most of the help available to us, and me choosing to just be “on” all the time. Happily, the timing of this happened to coincide with Baby Bear’s STTN happiness… whew! Thank you, Lord!

Last week was seriously one of the best weeks I can remember having in a very, very long time.

I also learned the secret to SAHM happiness. No really, I discovered the key to going through a day nearly frustration-free and as relaxed as can be. It’s a good one.

Are you ready?

January 27, 2016

<image to come! my fingers are always dirty when i need to take a picture of this one… *oink oink* 😉 >

I love me some good ribs. This recipe from my dad was my go-to favorite for a long time, but it takes about 3 hours to get that fall-off-the-bone goodness going in the oven. With my new Instant Pot, it takes 45 minutes to achieve the same (if not better??) results. Since I assume others are also on the hunt for delicious tried and true Instant Pot recipes, I thought I’d share one of my new favorites! The one I’m sharing today uses a tasty rub recipe that I got from Great Food Fast, an electric pressure cooker cookbook I’ve been using. When it comes down to it, the instructions are simple:

  1. Rub ribs, then place them in the Instant Pot with chicken stock and ketchup.
  2. Set on high pressure for 15 minutes.
  3. Cover with bbq sauce, and broil for 2-4 minutes.

YUM.

I can’t say I’ve liked everything I’ve tried in my Instant Pot so far. I’ve had some hits, like the ribs and this Beef Bourguignon I’ve done twice so far, and some misses, including a really disappointing kale and carrots recipe. These ribs are definitely a hit, though! We had friends over recently and it was a snap to throw these ribs together for dinner.

This recipe is pretty straightforward and simple, especially if you have some Butt Rub handy. Yes, it’s a thing, and no, I’m not being dirty. And Yes, my friends and I giggled about it like 12 year olds when I was pouring some of the rub into a jar to share. But you see, I was sharing it because said friends enjoyed the ribs very much and wanted to try making them at home! They don’t have an electric pressure cooker, so my suggestion was to bake the ribs in a foil tent at 300 degrees for 2 hours, then cover with the bbq sauce and bake for an additional 25 minutes at 375 degrees. Maybe you can try broiling for 2-4 minutes instead of 25 minutes at 375… I’m not sure, I haven’t tried it yet. LMK if you do try it!

My husband and I personally liked the ribs better when I made them with the rub recipe below, but we also enjoyed it with the Butt Rub. You can’t really go wrong either way. One is a bit tastier, and the other saves you a few minutes. Do what you need!

So if you are also figuring out ways to make the most of your Black Friday Instant Pot splurge, try this recipe out. It’s a keeper!


Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Baby Back Ribs Recipe
Makes 1-2 racks of ribs
Total cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

Rub ingredients*:

*Or you can be lazy/quick and use Butt Rub. Hubby likes the recipe above better, but Butt Rub is handy if you’re in a hurry.

BBQ sauce ingredients*:

*Or use your favorite bottle of bbq sauce. 

Instructions

  1. Combine rub ingredients in a small bowl. Coat ribs with rub.
  2. Place rubbed ribs, chicken stock and ketchup into Instant Pot and set it to “high” pressure for 15 minutes. After time is up, do a 15-minute natural release (i.e. let it sit for 15 minutes, then open the vent to let any remaining steam go).
  3. Carefully place ribs on foiled pan, coat with bbq sauce, and broil for 2-4 minutes. Watch it to make sure it doesn’t burn- every oven is different!
  4. Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting into it and enjoying!
January 25, 2016

When she was just a baby, this was a colorful caterpillar toy that she batted at and pushed around. I rattled it for her, spun the spinny thing around, and made funny faces with it by my face.

For the most part, the toy sat in the basket, something that she rarely reached for.

A few months later, she rediscovered this colorful little guy and to her delight, it rattled and shook and spun! I couldn’t wait for her to discover the fun of pulling it apart and putting it back together in whatever configuration she pleased. Unfortunately, her little hands were not yet strong enough to pull the pieces apart. So, in an effort to show her one way to play with it, I tried setting it up to make it easy for her to pull apart. Sometimes this worked, and she experienced the joy of taking the bug apart… but unless I was right there with her playing with it, her interaction with it was still limited to spinning a bit and rattling a bit. This only kept her interest for so long, but it was a step forward!

Again, the toy found its way to the bottom of the toy bin, smiling but unloved.

One day, as I was rotating toys out, I left it on the floor. When I came back to it, the head was gone.

Wait, the head was gone.

HOORAY! THE HEAD WAS GONE!

I turned and found my daughter, who was turning a yellow and green smiling head about in her hands, “You did it! You took apart the caterpillar!” She smiled and then proceeded to dismantle the whole thing, one segment at a time.

It’s the little things, guys.

As I’ve observed her growing ability to interact with this toy, I couldn’t help but reflect on how

babies : caterpillar toys :: I : Bible

For you younguns, that’s old school SAT speak for babies interact with caterpillar toys like how I interact with the Bible. 

January 17, 2016

I never thought I’d write about vegetables.

I never imagined I’d buy a cookbook focused completely on vegetables.

I never thought I’d buy my best friend a cookbook about vegetables as part of her birthday gift.

But look! Here I am, writing about vegetables because I got this cookbook on vegetables which I liked enough to buy for my BFF for her birthday! To be fair, I also gifted her some of my favorite chocolate products, but… vegetables. I’m sure she didn’t see that coming.

Because I like pastries. And chocolate. And coffee. And milk tea. And bacon. And fried stuff. And usually, vegetables don’t fall under any of those categories (except veggie tempura and onion rings, I guess, but does that really count??).

If you really think about it, though, it totally makes sense that I should get a cookbook on vegetables. Veggies are my relative cooking weakness, so why shouldn’t I turn to an expert who LOVES them and get advice on how she prepares them? I mean, if I wanted to make more delightful desserts, I’d look to the greats like David or Thomas or Dorie. So when it comes to veggies, I now look to Susie. BTW, this is not a sponsored post. Susie Middleton does not know I exist. I just really like this book and I’m glad someone told me about it, so I figured I should pass the info on to you. Cuz that’s what friends do.

January 13, 2016

Transitioning from one child to two

I used to always wonder which was the hardest transition for young parents: going from 0 children to 1? From 1-2? From 2-3? I think every parent in each situation will have a different answer, and I find them all fascinating. I used to ask more experienced parents for their take all the time, because I like to know what to expect. I’d be really interested in hearing what your thoughts are! Here are a few thoughts I have now that we’re a few months into our transition into a family of two kids.

1) Preparing for labor is different. On the upside, you don’t have to go to classes to learn how to give birth and how to breastfeed and all that, but the actual going to the hospital part is more complicated. When we had our first child, I just woke Ben up one morning and said, “I think I’m going into labor.” We packed up, then headed out. Simple, right?

This time, the process was a lot more stressful, for many reasons. First of all, we had decided to potty train our daughter, which meant that this 8-month pregnant lady was frequently trying to run around to get this toddler from point A to point B really, really fast. Then this 8-month pregnant lady was stooping, crouching, hoisting, lifting, holding, carrying, bending, etc. etc. to achieve potty training goals which, let me tell you, is NO FUN. None. My body said so too, with false contractions eventually driving me to bed rest.

As if that all was not stressful enough, these false contractions also led me to think I was about to have a baby. All the time. Apparently the more babies you have, the more likely this is to happen. So that was a lot of false contracting. This meant that instead of storing up much needed Zzz’s at 2… 3… 4… 5am, I was busy timing the minutes between contractions, trying to determine whether or not it was time to head to the hospital. And several times, it was… except it wasn’t. As in, the contractions were regularly under 5 minutes apart, hurt, and all that jazz… but we didn’t go to the hospital yet because of…

Stressor #3: Finding childcare. We have a ton of friends and family around who all were willing to help at this time, but we really didn’t want to call them up to come over at 3am only to send them home at 8am with false labor reports. If we really did call for help each time we were 95% sure I was going into labor, that would have been like 5 false alarms. So instead, I lay in bed stressed all the time about whether or not to make the calls and head to the delivery room and all that. GUYS IT WAS SO STRESSFUL. Especially because all of these false labor incidents decided to happen during normal sleeping hours (i.e. 11pm-6am!).

All this to say, you can’t just tap your hubby at 4am and say, “It’s time!” and then calmly head out the door. You have to prep your toddler, prep the people who will care for her, and then be reallyreallyreally sure you’re going to have a baby before troubling all the people to come help. GLAD THAT IS DONE.

January 6, 2016

beef bourguignon recipe for instant pot electric pressure cooker

Black Friday got us. Black Friday got us good. Here is one example:

You know Black Friday got you good when you spend nearly $100 on something you didn’t even know existed earlier that morning. That’s what happened to me when my friend Diana advertised the Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker on her wall for all to see. I went from, “Hm. Yup. Don’t need…” to “Wait but she wouldn’t have posted it unless it was really useful…” to “Hey Ben, so Diana shared this deal on this thing called an Instant Pot…” to “So Ben, that thing I told you I didn’t really need called an Instant Pot… yeah so <insert all the reasons I suddenly realized I needed it>…” to “I BOUGHT IT!” In about ten minutes.

And then I had to do all this research to figure out how to use this thing without blowing the house up. It’s actually way easier and safer than I had imagined… whew! But we’re kinda superdupercautious about everything in our household (like we actually unplug the toaster oven when it’s not in use… and we use it like 5x/day), so I felt I had to study the manual and all that.

Then it was time for recipes. The Instant Pot came with a recipe booklet, but who ever uses recipes from the booklet that comes with the thing? Really?

Actually, I did. I tried the creme brulee recipe from it, only because I fell for Costco’s half gallon of heavy cream again and didn’t have time to make ice cream. (FYI I think it’s worthwhile to make it the traditional, non pressure cooker way in the future). I guess I also tried the “Jasmine Rice” recipe from it, only because we needed some white rice in a pinch and for some reason our rice cooker takes foreverrrrr to make rice so I thought I’d try this “4 minute white rice.” Let me tell you now, though. Four minute rice doesn’t mean four minute rice. It means 1) let the pressure cooker take 10 minutes to get up to pressure, and then 2) add an additional 4 minutes to cook the rice, and then 3) add an additional 2 minutes to depressurize the thing before you can safely access the rice. So really, that’s like 15 minute white rice. Just so you know. Cuz I didn’t.

January 3, 2016

tell her who she is

I pop my face in front of hers with big eyes and drop the news: “Guess what? Your friend is coming over to play soon!”

Her eyes light up and she claps, “I so excited!”

Then she pauses a moment and a thoughtful look crosses her eyes before she says, “I share.”

My eyes light up for a completely different reason, “Yes! That’s right, when a friend comes over to play, it’s nice to share your toys! You are so generous!”

When her friend arrives and she hands over her play fruit, I am so proud of how she’s grown in this area, and I reinforce her verbally, “You are so generous! You shared your food, you are so generous!”

“I share!” she smiles, proudly.

“Yes, you are such a good sharer!” I say, wondering if sharer is even a word. Nevermind that. The point is, she is internalizing that being a sharer, or being a generous person, is part of who she is. It’s part of her person, ingrained in her way of being, and something she will continue to do. I will call her a sharer all day if it helps to cultivate this part of her character!

Later, when beans spill onto the floor, she quickly begins picking them up and putting them back into the bin.

“You are such a good helper! Thank you for picking up the beans!”

“I help!” she smiles.

“Yes, you are a helper. Thanks!” I repeat.

While this may sound like a pretty ordinary conversation between mother and toddler, there is actually very intentional language going on here. Here are phrases I did not say when she picked up the beans:

Instead, I said: You are a helper!

And when she shared, I did not say:

Instead, I said: You are a sharer! and You are generous!

While they may seem to give the same message, there is a subtle difference between the phrases I didn’t say and the ones I did, and it boils down to this: If it is a quality I want her to have, I frame it as a quality that is a part of who she is, not just something she did.

You are a helper vs. Thank you for helping: It’s not that it’s bad to thank a child for helping. But don’t leave it there. I don’t frame it merely as

December 24, 2015

I think this is the first year where my daughter is really registering the idea of the Christmas season, and it is SO MUCH FUN! I’ve been so excited to share the thrill and anticipation and joy of the season with my kids, and I’m delighted whenever I see that she is delighted. She loves the decorations and lights and music and everyyything.

I’ve dabbled with a few things that may turn into long term traditions, like making a gingerbread house,

gingerbread house

seeing fun Christmas lights,

lights

and visiting Bethlehem:

bethlehem

Here’s one we are DEFINITELY

December 18, 2015

patient hands

She was perched in her high chair drinking milk when I peered into her face and sang out, “Today for breakfast, we’re having… PANCAKES!” She squealed with delight, showing enthusiasm for pancakes in a way only a toddler can really do.

“PANCAKE PANCAKE! I WAN SOME PANCAKE!!” (not a typo)

“Yep yep, just give me a few minutes to mix it up and cook it!”

Rookie mistake. Breakfast rule #1: Do not tell the child you are serving pancakes until the pancakes are already DONE.

Unfortunately, I had realized that twenty-two seconds too late.

So my leisurely pancake-making morning turned into a frenzied dump this dump that, mix mix mix, get the fire going rush to the whines of a hungry almost two year old.

“You need to be patient, sweetheart. It’ll be a few minutes. Can you be patient?” I asked.

Yet I knew, even as I was asking it, that my little girl had no concept of patience yet. I had to teach it to her. And before I could teach it to her, I had to break it down and define it in a way that made sense to a toddler.

Patience. Let’s see. How do I explain patience…? Patience is… waiting quietly? Hm, not quite… 2 tsp. baking powder…  1/2 tsp. salt… Patience… waiting with a good attitude? But she doesn’t necessarily understand attitude yet. 1 egg. 1 cup of milk. Honey. Patience is… waiting nicely? Yes. Let’s go with that. Waiting nicely. And how do I teach that?

Suddenly, a vision flashed in my mind of 33 students sitting up with straight backs, quiet hands, and eyes focused on me. If I could get 33 fourth graders to give me their patient, undivided attention, surely I could get this one 1-year old to do the same.

Okay that logic actually makes zero sense, but still, it was worth a shot.

I paused mid-mix and turned to my whiny child,

December 14, 2015

here we go

It’s my first day totally on my own, guys. I had a luxurious start to the two-kid life, but now it’s getting real. Ben’s back at work, and I’ve got a toddler and an infant allll to myself today.

Stay at home moms: HOW DO YOU DO IT?! It’s only 3:38pm, but I feel like I deserve some serious kudos for making it this far with everyone intact. Some small (or HUGE?) accomplishments:

  1. Guys, I thought ahead of time to sign her up for a gymnastics class. Am I on top of it or what? 😉
  2. We made it to gymnastics class ON TIME. Early, actually, because of accomplishment#3 (see below)…
  3. I nursed in the car. She read books. EVERYTHING GOING ACCORDING TO PLAN SO FAR. Except for the nonstop crying and totally interrupted baby nap. Sorry, second child.
  4. I put him in the baby carrier and snapped the Ergo buckle on the back BY MYSELF. *Applause!* (This is really hard for me for some reason- anyone else feel my struggle?? Or am I just really not flexible?)
  5. When we got to the gymnastics facilities, I took her to the potty (one of those small stalls where you can barely squeeze in when the door is swung open) and held her up on the seat WHILE carrying the baby. Yep. All three of us in the eensy teensy stall together. Good times. I think this one is worth ten points right here. Ten Awesome Mommy Points. Thank you.
  6. We got home. We got food into her belly. Even something green. Okay fine it was a tiny shred of green onion, but still… hooray!
  7. I nursed him and fed myself and fed her ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I have a friend with two littles that does this all the time, but I honestly doubted my own abilities to mother at that level until today.
  8. I vacuumed (okay fine, Roomba vacuumed. But still, I pushed a button twice… HIGH FIVE??), did the laundry, made dinner (which you can do 3 hrs ahead of time when you’ve got a nifty new electric pressure cooker that keeps food warm til dinner time!), and washed the dishes (okay I pushed two buttons on the dishwasher… but I have every intention of putting them away before Ben comes home. That counts for something.)
  9. I wrote a blog post. :D.