Wednesday, May 27, 2015

10 Months Old!

Yes, we are getting alarmingly close to that one year mark.

This has been a big month for Heidi. 

She is walking! Kind of! She is still in the stagger stages, and I haven't been able to catch her on video yet, but for the past week or so she has been doing the 2 to 5 step thing where she will walk to see us. She walked to see Erica at her house the other day! Such a big girl.

I am fairly certain that she has officially said her first word with meaning (outside of "mama"). When she wants to be picked up she has crawled toward me saying "up up up up". It's pretty cute.

She continues to be the world's best eater. Sophia has been going through a toddler phase (I think) where she is more, let's say, discerning about the foods that she'll eat. But whatever Sophia isn't eating, Heidi will eat her own portion and then finish off Sophia's! I feel like I just can't keep enough food in her little tummy. Still the only thing that she doesn't seem to love is shredded cheese...but she loves almost every other kind of cheese, and just about every kind of fruit. She recently tried those little mandarin oranges for the first time and wolfed those right down. She likes chili as well, especially the beans but she eats up all the turkey too.

She absolutely loves playing peek-a-boo and just gets a kick out of it. If I am in the kitchen cooking she will get herself over to the oven (usually by standing up and walking with one hand on the cupboards) and pull the kitchen towel down from the oven door handle and start playing peek-a-boo. But she'll play with anything she can hold... swaddling blankets, daddy's sweatshirt, a teddy bear, even a necklace (though this didn't cover her face too well). She also really loves push or walker toys. We have a little alligator push toy and also a baby stroller that is a good height for her, and she loves to walk around behind them (or in front of them and push them backwards). Her other new favorite thing is swinging - she loves to be either in an infant swing or swinging in somebody's lap.

This past month we moved her from her infant car seat (already!) to a larger, permanently-in-the-car rear-facing seat. Her little legs were dangling off of the end of the infant seat so it was time. She still doesn't love riding in the car, though it does help when she and Sophia can interact in the back because the two of them will babble to each other (or, shout) and they both seem to keep each other fairly amused. Along that note, Sophia is now in a booster with a back that buckles in using only a seat belt! Wow did she get big quickly.

She is becoming quite the snugly little girl. She has a couple of stuffed toys in her crib, primarily a small stuffed penguin from Oma and Papa when they went to Holland, and a plush pooh bear, and often I will find her in the morning or the middle of the night snuggling with a plush. Then in the mornings when she wakes up I will hear her chatting with them and playing with them, and when she is ready to get out of bed in the morning they usually come flying out too!

She has just about weaned herself. Once she started to eat solids she fairly quickly lost interest in breastmilk, especially during the day, and now she doesn't nurse at all except for right when she wakes up in the morning and right before bed in the evening. I do, however, have about 6 or 7 gallons of breastmilk in the freezer so I am putting it in her sippy cup to drink at breakfast and lunch time, and have contacted a donation center to see if I am eligible to donate my breastmilk. Hopefully somebody can put it to good use!

This might be my favorite picture ever. I love the baby toes curled underneath.


















Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dinner musings

Last night, dinner started out as a reasonable time as a family, sitting around a table, eating... you know, those normal family things.

Then it devolved.

The newly discovered way to eat (for Heidi) is to forego all those middle men (for example, utensils...hands...) and to just eat with her face on the tray. Which of course Sophia gets a kick out of, especially because she likes to "attend" (pretend) she is a dog and eat her dinner by licking the plate (feels rather like "A Christmas Story" at our dinner table sometimes). And as the night wore on...

Heidi loves to play peek-a-boo. At dinner, she found the bottom of her shirt and lifted it up over her head and started playing. Sophia caught on, and was lifting up her shirt at the dinner table, which was only egged on because Heidi was laughing.

None of this was too far out of the ordinary, and then Daddy got in on the shirt-lifting peek-a-boo action.

I am so glad to have the technology to capture all of this on picture and video.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Big Week, and The Saga Continues, II

It was certainly an eventful week in the Pitts' household.

Starting with last weekend, Sophia has mastered riding her bike. I am impressed with how quickly she picked it up this summer and how much fun she's had going up and down the street. She is almost to the point where I could let her go up and down the street by herself (still has some trouble remembering to look up while she is pedaling... has almost biked right into a few parked cars). We rode our bikes to Walmart to pick out cards (read: Sophia rode her bike and I walked hunched down next to her most of the time making sure the handlebars were facing foward). There are a couple of flocks of geese near our house with their little goslings and we had to pass right by the two flocks to get to the store. Geese are nasty little creatures, and the ganders were hissing away and waddling towards us (and just about got their little necks wrung if they had come any closer to Sophia - which in essence I guess makes me the same as the goose). I had to pick up Sophia and the bike and make a little run for it until the goose daddy was convinced we weren't going to eat his babies.

Actually, as a sad side note, when I was driving to work this past week I noticed a dead goose in the road and now one of the flocks has one parent instead of two. Perhaps the parent goose got upset at a car thinking it was approaching his little goslings and had a bit of a Napoleon Complex and lost to the car.

Anyway. Sophia rode her bike to the grocery store and back, and got a lollipop out of it, so I think we'll be doing a lot more of that as the summer wears on.

Also new for Sophia, she had her first dentist appointment on Saturday and she ROCKED it! I wasn't sure what to expect, and I'm sure the dentist doesn't know either when it comes to 3 year olds, but she did an amazing job. At her 3 year old well child check she was just not interested in playing games with the eyes and ears but she let the hygenist really scrub and floss her teeth. The only thing she didn't do was allow them to take X-Rays, but really, I gag on that little thing they shove in my mouth... I was hardly surprised that Sophia wasn't going to let them do it. The bite block was seriously the size of a domino, maybe a little wider... they really don't have a better way to do those pictures on kids? So poor Sophia... the hygenist was trying to help by saying "it's like a big sucker!!" and then all the rest of the day on Saturday Sophia would turn to me and say "I didn't like that sucker...".   The best part, of course, was picking out the toothbrush at the end and to make it even better they had Mickey and Minnie Mouse toothbrushes. She has asked to brush her teeth about 100 times in the last two days. It's so cute too, she spits out the toothpaste and when it makes a mess in the sink she uses a nail scrub brush to clean out her sink. I'm not sure where she picked that up, but she keeps that nail brush by and doesn't use it for her fingers but keeps her little sink toothpaste free.

Second, on Saturday, May 16, Miss Heidi Olivia took two steps! While she was holding two remote controls, one in each hand!! I wouldn't go so far as to say that she is "walking" yet, as she doesn't quite have a handle on it, but she's definitely getting dangerously close.

And THIRD, and perhaps the biggest news, CHRIS GOT ACCEPTED INTO THE MILITARY CHAPLAINCY PROGRAM WITH THE AIR FORCE RESERVE - he got the official email on May 14th! I cannot emphasize my excitement over this enough. And in typical 'Chris' fashion, he let me know by forwardig me the email and sending me a text message that said "Check email". No exclamation mark, no other description. Just "Check email". But he is thrilled. Once he swears in and heads to OCS, he is going to be a second lieutenant, but from what I understand (which is not much) no matter the rank a chaplain is referred to as 'Chaplain'. 7 months in the making, with a lot of hurdles to overcome along the way from finding an endorsement agency to waivers, and we got the approval email. An answer to our prayers. Sometimes, with the way that things have been going with different road blocks, Chris has been wondering (as have I) what God's will is, but with so many opportunities to close those doors, Chris (we) are happy to have this answer to prayer!

As for me, I have been enjoying relaxing while Alfred Pig (the official name) does the vacuuming for me. We're also considering making some big financial changes to get our debt paid down more quickly, including getting rid of smart phones, getting rid of retirement savings, selling the jeep for a smaller, less expensive car and not putting away any additional savings for extraneous things.  I will be sure to document progress, but speaking of God's blessings, when we were living in our townhome 2 years ago it looked like we were going to not be able to pay off student loans for 30 years, in addition to having a mountain of credit card debt. 2 years later, and God has helped us trim that 30 years down to 7-8 years, and has given us the resources to have our credit card debt eliminated as well. We are hoping to make some more dramatic changes and really get rid of all of the debt. There are a couple of great reasons for this. In Proverbs 22:7 the Bible says "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender", and in Romans 13:8 it says "Owe no one anything, except love to each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law".  In light of what the Bible seems to clearly say, it seems it would be in our best interest to eliminate debt quickly and not be indebted (enslaved) in that way.  We are thinking about having a couple of really "painful" years (read: first world problems) without smart phones and other extras, to get out of the debt.

That's our family now, updates will follow!









 
Sophia one of the many times brushing her teeth... after going potty and
getting her nightgown stuck in her undies. Adorable.

Heidi playing with her very favorite toy - an empty water bottle.



Heidi will often sleep snuggling one of her little plush toys in the crib and it is just too cute. And yes, those are
winter pajamas in mid-May.... we live in Minnesota! It is a high of 45 deg today! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pinterest Cooking - Honey Balsamic Chicken Tenders

This I have on my pinterest, officially moved to "Recipes I have tried and liked" because it was good!

So here is the link to the site that I originally "Pinned" the recipe from: Honey Balsamic Chicken Tenders

I did do some minor changes of my own, which were accidental but worked out well I think.

I should note that I rarely measure when I am cooking, especially for recipes like this where there is a marinade, so the values that I am putting here are estimates!

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 chicken breasts
Marinade:
  • 1/4 c Balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 3 TBSP honey
Sauce:
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 3-4 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 3-4 TBSP honey
Slice the chicken breasts into "strips". Depending on the chicken breast, each one could probably make 5-6 strips. Combine the marinade ingredients and allow the chicken to marinade for a while, at least half an hour. I let mine marinade overnight, which kind of was an accident because originally I had planned to make it for dinner one night but we all had a large lunch and nobody was hungry for dinner.

Heat up olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and and cook the strips until browned (3-4 minutes per side). Remove the chicken and keep it close - you'll be adding it back in once the sauce is done.

Turn the heat down to a medium low temperature and add the butter and balsamic vinegar.  Once the mixture has really cooked down, add the honey and increase the heat, allowing the sauce to simmer for 4-5 minutes. Once the sauce has thickened, add the chicken breasts back in to coat with the sauce.

YUM!! These turned out really good. Even Sophia liked it, though she didn't like it as much as Heidi did, which is perhaps even more surprising.

Pinterest Cooking - Sofritas and Stuffed Bell Peppers

I have found myself bored with my cooking lately and have taken to Pinterest to expand my dinner option vocabulary.

What I typically do on Pinterest is pour over recipes and pin all of the ones that sound good (or, mostly, the ones that have really pretty pictures). But I have decided that I am going to ACTUALLY MAKE some of those dinner recipes. I fully expect to have some "nailed it" pictures and stories to share, but mostly I am hoping that I have some excellent new (and simple) recipes to add to my repertoire.

The first recipe I am going to write about is one that I actually learned from Kara while she was here, so it isn't technically Pinterest, and the second one is one that I adapted from my own collection... First:

Sofritas

This is a copycat version of the Chipotle Sofritas, and it is delicious. You may be skeptical because it is tofu, but if you have never tried tofu before I think this is a pretty good recipe to try it in. Tofu tends to pick up the flavor of whatever it is good with, and this has some great spicy flavor to it.

Here's what you need:

  • 1/4 C Chipotle in adobo (Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, generally in the Mexican food aisle in the grocery store). One can lasts me 3-4 times making this, I just freeze in the appropriate proportion sizes what I don't use.
  • A pepper. The recipe called for a poblano pepper, roasted. I used either a jalapeno or an anaheim as well different times that I have made it and liked it either way.
  • 1 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Tajin seasoning
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar (optiononal if you don't like it too spicy!!)
  • 1 package of Tofu (I used a 19 oz package from Trader Joes, which is a larger package than you might typically find).
This is a marinade. Mix everything together in a food processor except for the tofu to make it a paste. Drain and dry the tofu before crumbling it into small pieces, so that it looks like crumbled feta cheese. Add the marinade to the tofu and allow it to sit for half an hour before cooking. Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the tofu for 5 minutes. Serve as you would your favorite Chipotle dish - I always like to serve it on a salad with some rice, salsa, sour cream, cheese, corn and black beans, and maybe some tortilla chips. Chris likes to make his like a sofritas bowl (sans the lettuce!).


Marinating the tofu


Sophia's dinner plate

My next recipe is perhaps the most forgiving and flexible recipe I have ever tried. Stuffed bell peppers are incredibly easily to make and can be thrown together with just about anything. They are easy to make vegetarian as well.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

This is not a recipe that you have to follow exactly. It's more like a set of guidelines. Purchase as many bell peppers as you have people who are eating, unless of course you are feeding kids. I typically make 3 bell peppers for our family. Sophia actually likes peppers enough that she will often eat mostly just pepper for dinner when I make this.

Guidelines here:
  • 3 large bell peppers, try to make sure they can stand on their own!
  • Rice (I prefer to use the packaged vigo rice - just makes it easier)
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 cup of corn
  • 3/4 pound of ground turkey, cooked and seasoned with taco seasoning
  • 1/2 c shredded cheese (more for inside is optional).
Cut the tops off of the bell peppers and remove the ribs. Wash and dry the peppers. I typically place them in a square 8x8 baking dish that has been coated with some cooking spray.

Combine the rice, meat, beans, and corn in a bowl. You may want to add cheese as well. Stuff the peppers so that the ingredients come just over the top of the peppers. If I have extra, I usually just throw it into the baking dish as well with the peppers.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove and top with shredded cheese. Place back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes to allow the cheese to get nice and melty.

Serve! I like to serve with some sour cream and maybe tortilla chips as well. These are great because you can leave out beans or corn or change the rice or make with your own mexican rice or use beef or chicken or tofu or no meat at all - just such a flexible recipe!
 

Our Newest Family Member

Mother's Day was this past Sunday. As I'm sure Mother's Day is for most households, it does not necessarily mean that I was able to put up my feet and rest while my children massaged my back and did the dishes and laundry and vacuuming... Sophia came into the room right away in the morning, as is typical on days that I am home with her, and said "I want breakfast, Mommy" to which Chris leaned over and said "Daddy will make you breakfast, Sophia" and her response was "No, I want Mommy to".  Well, I should be flattered that I apparently make such good breakfast. Sophia did "let" Chris make breakfast for her, and I had fresh coffee made for me to go with my overnight oats and apple fritter that we got the day before at the farmer's market in St. Paul. It was lovely.

And then, I was given a butler, Alfred, for Mother's Day. So I did get to put up my feet while somebody else did the work for me. Which is awesome.

Sophia and Heidi (read: Chris) bought me a "Robot Vacuum", or a Roomba.

In the past, Chris and I have joked about buying one of these. But ultimately we decided it was silly because we would have to buy two (our townhome at the time was two levels) and it just seemed kind of silly because you'd probably have to empty the canister a lot and really how well can it work? I mean, I'm sure it just bumbles around and doesn't really get everywhere, etc.

Chris decided to take the chance and buy one for Mother's Day (they had it on sale at Costco!). He felt pretty safe about buying it because apparently there is a great return policy, in case things do not go well. I was still skeptical, but a brief check of the reviews on Amazon suggested that people would pretty much rather give up their dominant arm than their roomba. One person said that it had a difficult time cleaning his carpets (he has dark carpets and it doesn't do well and very dark surfaces apparently) so he is changing the carpet in his house. We were pretty excited to play with it, I can't remember the last time I got a gift that was a toy like this. We charged it before leaving for church in the morning and when naptime came, we let it have a go.


Copper and his fur child
Let me just say that I am overwhelmingly impressed by this vacuum. If you are considering buying one, do it. I can't believe how messy we are. The first time we let it vacuum for an hour or so and emptied the canister 3 or 4 times. I can't believe how much dog hair, debris, etc. was in the carpet!! I usually vacuum at least once a week, usually twice in the living room area, but it looked like I hadn't cleaned in ages. Copper is just a beast of a shedder; even with weekly brushing I still pull out a pile of fur that is possibly enough to keep an eskimo family warm. So if I am pulling that much out of his fur weekly, I'm sure that on a daily basis as he shakes and runs around the house there is quite the pile buildup.

As evidenced by what Alfred has been able to clean up for me.

Alfred doin' his thing
The carpet feels nicer, I feel much better about letting Heidi crawl around on the floor, and my house has been vacuumed daily without me having to lift a finger outside of emptying a canster and cleaning off a vacuum brush (with a handy cleaning tool that makes the cleaning take about 10 seconds). And it does carpets and linoleum, which is currently all that our house has, so it can just roam around all over the place from our living room to the entry way to the kitchen to the bathrooms to the laundry room.. and it does!

This thing even cleaned under our dresser and under our bed! I am not even sure how it made it under the bed between the wrapping paper box and the box with maternity clothes and all the other stuff that's jammed under there... but it managed to figure it out. I swear I can actually breathe easier in our house. Coolest toy ever.

Our evening fun on Mother's Day was putting the girls to bed and watching the vacuum. I read some, I painted my toes...all while having my house cleaned. I already said this, but seriously if you have been considering one of these, get one.

This is what I have done with all of my free time. Sophia had her toes painted,
in each of the different purple colors that we have.

Heidi and I playing puzzles while Alfred works away
on Mother's Day