Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Food for a toddler

I thought I'd share a few ideas for good, healthy, and most of all easy toddler meals. I figure everyone can use ideas and I know at least a couple of people with toddlers are reading this blog, so what the hey?

I like to make a variety of food to feed Fintan, and yet I can't make things from scratch every single day, so I have some tricks I use to keep feeding him homemade meals as often as I possibly can. Tonight's dinner: oven fried chicken and zucchini:

This meal is so easy because I've done some prep in advance. I buy "extra tender" chicken breasts at the grocery store and slice it into strips. Extra tender chicken really is much more tender than your average chicken breast which is great for toddlers. The alternative would be to get regular chicken breasts and pound them with a meat mallet a bit before slicing them. Either way I slice them up and then I wrap the pieces in saran wrap one at a time, rolling the wrap to keep a layer of plastic between each piece. I do this with 4 or 5 strips in each little packet I make so it will be a toddler sized portion. Then I put all of these little packets in a freezer bag. When I'm ready to make a meal for Fintan I just pull out one little packet, put it in the microwave for 30 seconds and it's soft enough to work with. I use this chicken for all kinds of easy meals!

To make the oven-fried chicken I first made a crumb coating. This can be a cereal coating like cornflakes, or it can be dried bread crumbs, stuffing mix, crackers, croutons, anything you'd like that's dry and flavorful. If the crumbs are not already flavored, then I just add some salt, pepper and seasonings. I like adding a bit of thyme (rubbed between my hands to crush it). I prefer to choose a healthy coating if possible, something with whole grains preferably, but it isn't necessary of course. Just crush a small handful onto a plate or cutting board. I often use a potato masher, but a rolling pin works too.

Then scoop a small amount of light mayonnaise into a small dish, just enough that you can put a thin coating onto the chicken strips. I do this part with my fingers. I dip the chicken strip into the mayonnaise and rub it in, you don't need much, and then roll it in the crumb mixture to coat it. Then I put the chicken onto a cooling rack (it makes the chicken crispy all the way around) and put the cooling rack on a cookie sheet and bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending upon how thick your chicken strips are cut so be sure to cut through a strip to check for doneness.

While the chicken is baking I cut and cook the zucchini. Target sells individually wrapped zucchini which keeps it fresh much longer so I try to buy that (I had seeds to plant but my baby-belly got in the way of planting them this year. Next year we'll pick our zucchini from the garden). I like to cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut that into long triangle shapes. I cook them in a skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil (a healthy fat) and a little salt and pepper. I cook them until the fleshy sides are browned and then slide them onto a plate to cool.

A simple, fast, healthy and tasty meal--says Fintan, anyway,

Snuggle buggle

Muffets, anyone?

Having a second child has necessitated the introduction of many new distractions into our lives. Namely for Fintan, and namely a butt-load of movies.

I don't really like the amount of time he spends in front of the television these days but I do adore the names he has come up with for a couple of his movies:

"The Muppets Take Manhattan" is now "The Muffets Take My Hat", and was previously "The Muffins".

And also:

"The Surmousimoles" (though this one is "broken" because we didn't think the amount of hitting portrayed was good for our little hitter) is what he calls "The Incredibles".

Cracks me up.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ahhhh, Autumn!

I love this time of year. I know, it's EVERYONE'S favorite time of year, but holy guacamole, there's a good reason for that. We had a good day at our house. It's surprising because one of our own is sick--AGAIN. He caught the cold I picked up at his two year old well-visit. His nose is running like a faucet. But with this weather who could be upset? Especially when you can start the day off right: in jams and wellies with a trusty kitty by your side and a (spider) web-collecting stick in your hand. Then later in the day Fintan went out with his daddy to play. He loves going on "nature walks". He'll ask in his high pitched "good boy" voice, if you'd like to go for a nature walk. Then he leads you on the same course every time. Back to the playground, bypassing the toys. Through the garden where he usually says "Mommy pick tomatoes for the road". I'll pick a handful of cherry tomatoes to take along while he waits at the end of the row for me to help him jump the pumpkin vines. Then we follow the path that he helped his daddy mow through the field and head over to the mulch pile, his very favorite place. (Folks, save your money. Don't buy expensive and fabulous playground equipment for your toddler. Just call your local tree-trimming company and ask them to dump a pile of wood chips somewhere on your property.)
Anyway, Fintan took his daddy on a nature walk to the mulch pile today and while they were out there they were lucky enough to find a really cool bug: a praying mantis! Fintan used to do a whole-body shudder at the very mention of the word "bug". But now look at him!
Three cheers for Fintan! Hip hip hooray!

Now, as it is appropriate, I will end this post with a poem that I wrote a few years ago.

Praying Mantis

The Mantis bows his head to pray:
Oh let me catch a bug today.
A juicy bug that's plump and fresh,
And full of yummy, tasty flesh.
I want to eat it for my lunch,
So make it crisp and sweet to munch.
I don't care if its striped or spotted,
Red or green or polka-dotted.
Let one insect fly my way,
And I'll be good for one whole day.
Or you could send me three or four,
I'll do good deeds forevermore.
But if you can, please send me ten.
That's all I ask, thank you, amen.

Copyright: Alina B. Klein

Now go out and enjoy the season, folks, it's fleeting!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gay rights

I'm always posting about Fintan, but there is another little man at our house, now, and he deserves some attention.

Coen is just sweet as sugar. He's a little snuggle buggle who nurses a lot and sleeps a little (more than Fintan did, but less than we wish). He smiles a lot and giggles a little. He's growing so fast you can practically see it happening. His head is warm and fuzzy and I like to rub my lips across it. He likes when I bounce him on my legs and sing "This is the way the ladies ride..."

He's precocious, too. He's already talking, of course. In addition to the classic "goo" and "gah", I've quite frequently and distinctly heard the words "gay" and "guy" spoken--even shouted. They have not yet come together to form a sentence. But I'm pretty confident that when they do the word "rights" will come next.

*Sniff* my open-minded little man. Makes a mommy proud.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Fintan is so darned funny. Here are some of the things he says that make me laugh:

When I ask him if he wants a snack he answers "yes sir, yes sir three bags full."

Whenever we walk outside, the nuts he gathers from the ground are not hickory nuts, they're "hickory dickory nuts".

When he picks up something to take a bite he'll call it "my yummy yummy yum" quoting from a book that my friend Dawn gave us.

When he sings "I've been working on the railroad", instead of saying "Fee Fi Fiddle E -I-O" he says B-I-N-G-I-O"!

He feeds his imaginary horses that live in the woods out back with "food" from my empty soda can.

Tonight when he asked to go to the potty he sat on the toilet and looked around and said "It's a beautiful day to go poo poo on the potty, Mommy" then he looked around again and patted the wall and said "It's nice in here." And it was. At that moment, it really was nice in there.

Monday, September 22, 2008

We don't

This from Fintan today, to himself:

"We don't pee on the floor, we don't pee on the rug......or something."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The f*cking game

I was hosting a playdate the first time Fintan asked me if I wanted to play this game. "What?" I asked, shocked. I was going to have to have a talk with his daddy!

"The f*cking game mommy. Do you want to play the f*cking game?"

"I don't know what you're talking about, sweetie."

And he held a tiny little foam block out to me. "The f*cking game".

"OH! The FLICKING game!" The day before I had told him to stand on the other side of the room so I could flick that particular block to him. He threw it back to me and I flicked it again and we'd had a great time. So he'd remembered the fun game and named it all by himself. And of course, it sounds like the worst possible swear word...way to go, mommy.

Friends, choose your words veeeeery carefully around toddlers.

*If you listen carefully this letter actually does sound a bit more like an "i" than a "u", but there is definitely no "l"!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What's that smell?

This is a question that often goes through my mind. Fintan's dirty diapers are obvious of course. Less obvious, but also easily identified are Coen’s dirties which as a breastfed baby have their own special smell. But there are other smells, too. Say a sippy of milk is tossed from a highchair and rolls unnoticed under the old kitchen cupboard where it begins to putrefy. That was a bad one. Or say you have 2 dogs and live in the country…nuff said.

This morning was an eventful one at our house. Pat took a shower in our newly “finished” (as in not really finished except for a working bathtub/shower and working sinks…and some tile. No toilet, walls or mirrors) master bathroom which has the added feature—as it was designed by yours truly—of requiring a towel to be pressed up against the tub to catch the torrent of water that cascades over the side whenever the shower runs. But what’s one more soaking wet towel added to the laundry, right? Anyway, after Pat’s shower Fintan decides to help me get dressed and we walk towards the hallway leading to the bathroom and the closet and see a puddle in the hallway. For a moment I think that the shower puddle has extended much further than usual, but then I get a whiff and realize, no—that’s dog pee. A good sized puddle, too. Lovely. Pat cleans it up while Fintan and I find the antibacterial spray to spray it down afterward. Then we all go downstairs.

Pat is in a hurry to finish getting ready and feed the dogs because he has a friend picking him up for work. (He bought a new (used) car yesterday after selling his last week and he left his parent’s borrowed Suburban at his office to drive the new car home.) So I’m changing Fintan’s soaking wet diaper and slightly damp jammies (yep, we’re swimming in urine around here) when Pat notices the kitchen ceiling is leaking. Great, I had a feeling that shower was going to cause trouble. The water is dripping out of the side of the light fixture hanging above the island. Pat turns off the electricity and gets up on the counter to take the light fixture down and see what the damage is. As he takes it down I see a gush of water pour out of the top of it all over the countertop. Fabulous. Pat doesn’t have time to deal with a shower leak, his friend will be here any minute. So he just starts wiping up the puddle. I walk into the kitchen with a plastic bag holding a soaking wet diaper and somehow the smell of urine grows stronger with every step. Pat has soaked most of the puddle up with a towel and as I walk by it the smell grows overwhelming.

“Um, Sweetie, it really smells like pee in here.” I said. “Is that….?” Pat, looks at me and slowly bends over to smell the towel.

“Yes” he says, “it is”. Then he adds, “I don’t even know what to say.”

“Oh, that is so gross” I say, but within a few minutes I'm laughing uncontrollably.

That large puddle of dog urine in the hallway must not have been even half of it. But at least our shower isn’t the problem….so that’s good, right?

I should have a t-shirt made

I just had to share a moment with all of you. A slice of life from a mom of two.

Today the boys were especially cranky. I don't know if they're coming down with something or what, but they were both extremely needy and clingy and if one was crying the other seemed to be trying to outcry the first. Well, this afternoon I had Coen all swaddled up to try to get him to sleep and was walking around bouncing him and humming. Fintan was following me around whining and being as loud as possible and trying to hug my legs. Well, I don't have very many clothes that I fit into yet so I was wearing a pair of stretchy capri pants that are almost like a pair of sweats. So there I was bouncing Coen and trying to hum over Fintan's whining. Fintan starts ducking between my legs and hugging my thighs and slowly my pants are creeping further and further down. Coen is SO CLOSE to falling asleep and I know if I take a hand off of him to hike them up we will be back to square one. So I just hum louder and keep bouncing and swaying in the "baby sleep dance" while Fintan hangs onto my legs and my pants creep lower and lower. Soon they're below my hips...and then down to my knees...and then down to my ankles until I just step out of them, leaving Fintan stranded in a pile of pants, and carry a sleeping Coen over to lay him in his swing... in front of a picture window...facing the driveway.

It's a good thing I live in the boonies.

Pat said I should have a t-shirt made depicting the scene. I can totally picture it, too. :)


Sunday, September 14, 2008

My boy is two

This is a post I wrote on September 14th, Fintan's second birthday. It was really windy and I lost my internet connection and my computer froze up while trying to load pics onto this post. This is the first time I've been able to get back to it. I swear I'm going to have to hire a babysitter in order to blog! Anyway, here is the post cut short:

I can't believe it. It's official. Fintan is a two year old. *sniff* I put him in his bed last night and felt a catch in my throat as I kissed my one year old for the very last time.

Last night after his bath, as if to drive the point home to me that he is growing up whether I want it or not, he (and unless you've had babies you will not understand the bigness of this deal) asked to poopoo on the potty. I put him there expecting him to just sit there and do nothing as the potty is brand new and I've hardly even broached the subject with him except to read a few potty books here and there. Well after a minute or two and a few grunts he started unrolling the toilet paper and telling me he was going to wipe. I played along but didn't realize until he stood up that there was actually poopoo in the potty! An honest to goodness pellet. He did it! I couldn't believe it. Pat and I cheered. Fintan beamed. What a right of passage for your last night as a one year old, huh?

Actually, his last few days as a one-year-old have been fun. The weather has been nice and cool so we've been able to get outside a lot, even if Coen is awake. I can wear him in a wrap and we can go for nature walks to Fintan's favorite place: the mulch pile, stopping on the way to pick a few cherry tomatoes as an afternoon snack for Fintan. A few days ago on one of our nature walks we found the biggest toad we had ever seen at our house. It was a pretty laid back toad and he let Fintan pet him for a moment or two before hopping on his way.

He played in his sandbox a lot and even laid down in it once to better sing "Up on the Housetop Reindeer Paws".

I'm going to end this here with a birthday pic since I don't know where I was going with this whole monologue. ;) Here he is, the man of the hour, king of the cube and supreme dictator:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Let's try this again

Well, I started a blog once, here: http://lunawriter.wordpress.com/ Then something happened and I was no longer able to post pictures. (I had a really cool one to post the last time I tried, too, of some baby praying mantises in the garden) This made blogging more frustrating than fun so I stopped. But now, I'm ready to try again.

Stay tuned. :)