Sunday, May 31, 2015

Healthy Banana Pancakes

My little guy is 4 months old today; I can't believe it! The first few weeks were so hard, but the whole thing has gone by really fast. Some people assume that because it goes fast, that it isn't hard. But it has been really, really challenging to have these two home alone with me for the past few months. They are such great kids, but oh my, it has stretched me to the very edge of my physical and emotional limits.

With Alex, my doctor recommended that he start eating rice cereal at 4 months because he was having trouble gaining weight, and it was such a great experience. I know that the advice is to exclusively breastfeed or bottle feed for the first 6 months now, but since my first was eating at this stage, I can't help thinking about making baby food for this little one.

Baby food is so fun to make because it is so easy! And you can really play with a lot of flavors and spices. It's so fun to see your baby's reactions to all the different tastes. I can't imagine how exciting it must be to go from exclusive milk to all these tasty options.

One of my favorite breakfasts to make Alex when he was about a year old was banana pancakes. We were very careful not to give Alex any added sugar for the longest time, we even stayed away from juice 98% of the time. These pancakes are fun because they are sweet and cinnamon-y and they are healthy.

Plus, Alex just gobbles them up like no one's business.

It is one of the rare moments when he is completely quiet.

Healthy Banana Pancakes
1 mashed banana
2 Tbl flour (you can use whole wheat flour to be healthier or baby oatmeal)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg

Stir it all together and pour onto a greased skillet. Flip when lightly browned on the underside and serve. Makes about 3 medium sized pancakes.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

10 Reasons Why I Know I Seriously Love My Toddler

Being a mom is hard. If you don't believe me, just read any mom-blog out there. Those blog posts about how hard it is to be a mom used to be just an annoying thing that clogged up my facebook feed. But now, I totally relate. Oh, how I relate.

I'm not gonna lie, there have been days where those blog posts have just given me that extra boost of energy to make it through. I realized I wasn't alone and that I'm not the worst mom ever even if I let him have his binky at night still and ruin his teeth.

There are simply days of mothering a toddler and newborn that push me to the breaking point though. Today is not one of those days. At least not yet. Seems like the climate can change in 30 seconds around here though. Every day is an adventure.

But for when my life does get overwhelming and I have to stop myself from scheduling a vasectomy for my husband, I thought it might be nice to have a list to remind me how much I freaking love my toddler.

1. I make him eat healthy food. This may seem like a no-brainer. Every parent should try to make their kid eat healthy food, but it is easier said than done. Growing up, I used to think that my parents wanted me to eat healthy food because it was cheaper than the yummy desserts and things. I never realized that healthy food can be so expensive! Even if you make all your own meals, feeding a toddler healthy food can be a hefty bill and it is so frustrating when they waste all of their meal.

It would be so much easier to always give my son food that I know he likes, like french fries and milkshakes, but one of the ways I know I love him is that I'm willing to spend a lot of time, energy, money, and deal with a few more tears to make sure he's healthy.

2. I'm willing to act like a crazy person. When it comes to keeping my toddler happy, I'm willing to do a lot out of my comfort zone. I'll make faces at church and crawl around with him at a playplace. I don't have a lot of pride left.

3. I change my behavior so he'll be better than I am. I'm not the most outgoing person and I have a lot of inhibitions when I'm in public. I'll initiate talking to other parents at the park so that he can be comfortable playing with their child. I want him to be more outgoing than I am, so I'm constantly stretching my limits and pretending I'm more confident than I am.

4. I constantly talk to him. Even though he only says a few words right now, I know he understands a lot more, so I'll go down every aisle in the grocery store saying every thought that enters my mind. I tell him what sauce is the yummiest and I tell him which can of tomatoes is the most expensive. I show him what ingredients will be in his dinner that night. I used a good combination of big and small words so that when he decides he wants to talk more, he will have a versatile vocabulary.

5. I tell him "no" and mean it. I love to see my kid happy. It is the most rewarding thing to hear my little guy laugh. In fact, a majority of my day is spent trying to keep my son happy. However, there are times when I have to put my foot down. If he is crying because he wants to watch TV, I'm just not going to let him watch it. I know once I put on a show, he will immediately be happier, and honestly, if he is happy my day is just so much better. But because I love him and I don't want him to turn into a spoiled teenager who then turns into a tool that no one will ever want to marry, I have to say no every once in a while.

Yes, I really do think that far in the future when I am making small parenting choices like this.

6. I don't sleep like I used to. It is impossible for me to completely relax, ever. Sure, I get some solid stretches of sleeping time at night even with an infant in the works, but my brain never, never, never, NEVER turns off. No matter how I try.

I sleep with a fan and earplugs just to try and keep my brain from straining to hear crying or knocking on doors. I know that my toddler is capable of sleeping through the night, but I am always listening for him. Even with my earplugs, I wake up immediately when he starts making noise. Even if he's completely fine playing in his room. I cannot sleep through it. I can't turn off the natural mom concern for her babies. I'm hoping that I will be able to sleep when he is a teenager but I'm not counting on it.

7. I let him get dirty. I try to let my son get dirty whenever he can. When we are out, I let him roll on the ground and stomp in puddles. I want him to know what it feels like to have water sloshing in your shoes. I want him to know what it feels like to be covered in mud.  I don't love to do laundry, but I do love watching him explore the world.

8. I let the house get dirty. I would love to have a clean apartment for a whole week. It would be so exciting, I think I would cry. I'm not purposely making my home dirty, and I do spend a fair amount of time cleaning it. I have just chosen to be happy that my apartment will only be clean between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. I could keep my home spotless if I didn't spend any time with my son, but I'm not satisfied with that. I try to teach him life skills, so I do give him several moments of watching me and helping me clean, but I also allot a good amount of play and learning time into his day.

9. We read and pray. There are two things that I never say no to when my son initiates them and that is reading and praying. We have family prayers at meals and before bed but it is a relatively new concept for my toddler and he thinks it's pretty cool. So when he looks at me and folds his arms, we always say a prayer even if it's just me saying that we are grateful for cookies. It is important for me that my babies have a relationship with God and it is also important that they love books. Even if my kids are in trouble, I will never give them a time out from books.

10. I miss him when he's not around. No matter how hard my day was or how many fits he threw, every night when my son goes to sleep I miss him. Logically, I know that I don't want him awake because I just plain need a break and I am exhausted. Even if I've been looking forward to bedtime ever since I woke up in the morning, I still always miss him when he's in his own room. That always reminds me after a long day of terrible twos  that my little buddy is still in there somewhere underneath all the fits and sticky hands.

Now I'm not a perfect mom; I'm not even close. But on those days that I feel like I'm doing everything wrong, this list will help remind me that I'm trying my best and that I am doing everything for a reason.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Anytime Salad

Being healthy is not super fun for me. I wish that I had a grown up palate, but I just don't. I think I only just started to enjoy eating broccoli and asparagus about 5 years ago, but I haven't even ventured into the world of quinoa and brown rice.

Okay, so I'm not super adventurous. That doesn't mean that I eat poorly and I try to fit vegetables in wherever I can in meals. I just don't go out of my way to cut out a nice piece of cake for dessert. In fact, I feel like I need to reward myself when I have an especially healthy meal with dessert. This is a problem.

I'm trying to kick this habit of needing something sweet, because heck, I'll admit that I'm addicted to sugar.

Enter salad and vegetables stage right.

The problem with salad is that having fresh toppings is pretty hard for me to always have on hand. I either use them for other recipes or I just don't have the energy to chop a million vegetables with a baby on one hip and a toddler constantly bringing a chair over to "help" me.

I have found that the best way to make salad interesting enough for me and keep me from my cookie cravings is to keep them fruity. It is also easier to have fruity salad toppings on hand. Canned fruit, dried fruit, and fresh fruit always seem to be on hand in our home. Whereas sometimes our only vegetables on hand are the frozen broccoli florets.

Here is a salad that I threw together with just things that I have on hand.

Anytime Salad
1 pkg. fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup candied walnuts (obviously if you are really serious about being healthy you can get naked nuts)
handful dried apricots quartered (about 10)
handful craisens
fresh parmesan or mozzarella

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp mustard
2 tsp poppy seeds
3 TBL olive oil

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Training for a Half...Again

Well, the time has come! It is officially swim suit season and I am a little more than officially un-pregnant, so it is time to get my booty back into gear. I have never been one to willingly work out, and I'm definitely not the type of person who would ever be caught saying, "I love to run!" But exercise is a necessary evil that is becoming just a little more necessary and a lot more evil as my metabolism is running to a halt.

I always hated it when teachers would say, "kids just think they are invincible." I always knew I was going to die one day and I always knew that I could die at any moment. However, one thing I did not predict was that I would actually have to work hard to keep my weight down. I've never been super skinny, but I figured that was because I didn't work hard at it. I thought if I stopped eating cookies then I'd be a lot thinner. Now I'm realizing how much work staying fit can be.

Baby weight is the worst, and not only because you have to watch what you eat and exercise regularly. The worst thing about it is that you have to break all these horrible habits you made when you were prego.

Like the ice cream. Every. Night.

I really tried to exercise with this last baby, but holy Hannah, it is SO hard to work out when you are so exhausted that you fall asleep right when you hit the pillow. (Typically it takes me at least half an hour to wind down and fall asleep.) Those days are gone. I don't even remember the last time I watched a movie from beginning to end. I'm becoming my mother! (Not a bad thing; love you, mom!)

Anyway, my sister, Jenn (who wrote this excellent guide to marathon running) has a goal to run a marathon between having babies. I have absolutely no desire to ever run a marathon in my life, but I have done two half marathons with her so that is my goal: to run a half marathon between my kids. I did both of my half marathons in the first trimester of my babies so hopefully that pattern doesn't continue. I must be more fertile when I work out!

So for all my readers, here is an invitation to run with me. Not just because it's healthy, but because it's freaking cool to nonchalantly say, "Yeah, I ran a touch over 13 miles before. No big deal." (but it really is a pretty big deal)

I started last Monday, following this schedule and I've used Hal Higdon for both my other runs.

I will say this: training is so so so so so so SOOOOO important!

My first half marathon, I was inconsistent with training and only made it to the 7 mile long run, which is about 3 weeks short of the full training. That run, no joke, hurt worse than child birth (keep in mind, I'm an epidural girl). And it certainly was harder to recover from than child birth.

My second race, on the other hand, went great. I was so scared from my previous bad experience that I never missed a running day. And it paid off! I didn't even have to recover from it.

Me, my mom, and sister after my second half marathon. See how I'm smiling? That is because I trained! After the first one, my husband had to carry me to the car. 

So if you happen upon this blog, please run with me. Because being healthy is pretty great. And mostly misery loves company.