My Kid Eats Anything... Finger Food or Not

As I've mentioned time and again, William eats just about anything. He is incredibly easy and, yes, I am very thankful. (I know this can change at any moment.) So, since I have an easy eater, I tend to keep it simple and throw together things we have in the house.

Top 100 Finger Foods by Annabel Karmel is a very pretty book, but tough for people like me... I don't have to hide vegetables in muffins. I can throw anything on my kid's high chair tray. But, here's the biggest reason it was tough: I don't have the time, kitchen utensils, or the oven features that some of these recipes demanded.

When we bought this old house we knew that the state-of-the-art Magic Chef oven was missing its broiler feature and the stove top was missing the use of the back two burners. We'll replace it, we thought. A year and a half later and we're still short a broiler and two burners. It's not that big of a deal, except when you're trying to make your kid some kid-specific treats.

The recipes in this book were more complicated than I would have liked and demanded more ingredients than I would consider simple. There were also a lot of calls for skewers, which I don't think I trust William to deal with right now and didn't feel like pulling meat off of, so skipped. And when I flipped through to find the easiest recipes possible, two of them demanded the use of a broiler. (I rolled with it and just turned my oven up really high.) None of that works for a full-time working mom.

The highlight of our recipe book testing were curry chicken tenders that we all loved. (Seriously, they were AWESOME and I will absolutely make them again for all of us.) The low point was the corn and cheese muffin situation. Maybe it was because I made them in a large muffin tin, rather than a small tin... Which leads me to another item I didn't have: Small bite-size muffin tin.

So, when I stock up out kitchen, get a new oven, and somehow find more time, I'm ready to give some more recipes a whirl... However, I'll triple the recipes to make enough for the whole family. I'm not going to that much trouble to feed one little person. And the food all looks like it would satisfy the pickiest of our eaters (me) and the easiest palates in our household (Matt).

This post was inspired by Top 100 Finger Foods by Annabel Karmel, which I received complimentary as a part of Chicago Moms Blog (Silicon Valley Moms Group) Book Club.

Self Confessed Baby Food Making Lover

I made all of William's baby food and I LOVED it. I really did. Most people would assume that this process would annoy me, but I really took joy in making the little guy's fruit and vegetable purees. I often hear from other moms that they would like to make their baby's food, but it kind of sounds like a pain. But, trust me, it's not. Here are my tips on making it work for you.

1. Buy or request a baby food maker, such as my trusty Beaba. The investment will be worth it, trust me. Especially when you recieve it as a gift from your awesome mother-in-law.

2. Choose a few days a week that you will spend on baby food making. If you make a few items a few times a week, you always have plenty of options in the freezer. If I knew that certain days meant making baby food, then I planned for it.

3. Get to know your vegetable and fruit options. The produce section becomes so much more fun when you're searching for a new option for those new little taste buds!

4. Go frozen when you're tight on time. It took me a while to realize that grabbing a bag of frozen produce was often less expensive and more nutritious than the fresh stuff. And, man, the time saved on chopping and clean up practically paid for itself.

5. Invest in some nice, user-friendly ice cube trays. The best way to freeze the food, but they can be tough to pop out. I spent a lot of time slamming trays against the counter while cursing... But, hey, all in the name of homemade organic baby food, right?

6. Be adventurous and mis it up. I recall a ground chicken/blueberry/asparagus concoction that seemed to go over rather well...
7. Consult a book for guidance when you're looking for ideas. I found it to be helpful when I knew he was ready for more, but just needed an idea. (I did not own or use the book pictured above.)

To this day, I have an extraordinarily laid back eater on our hands. I can't say it's simple because of his early homemade baby food, but maybe it is...

This post was inspired by Top 100 Baby Food Purees by Annabel Karmel, which I received free as part of the Chicago Moms Blog (Silicon Valley Moms Group) book club.

Yes, New Mom, Your Friendships Will Still Matter... Even When They Change

Most of my friends don't have kids. This was a scary realization one night in my early mom days when I knew that a group of my friends was out living the good life and I was up all night nursing a fussy guy while living with my parents in the suburbs. (Don't you feel bad for me?) Yes, it could have been worse. But, with all the hormones and new mom anxieties, that was a little rock bottom moment for me... What have I done?

As my mom puts it I've always been "very social." And I am incredibly lucky to have some really good friends. Although I don't get to spend much time with them anymore or make last minute, fly by the seat of my pants plans these days, it doesn't mean that being a mom has forced some of these friendship to go astray.

So, when I talk to new moms or pregnant ladies who will be new moms, I tend to warn them about the transition of friendships. I also wrote a post about it on Chicago Moms Blog.

But, trust me, your friends will surprise you -- Mine have. Just thought I'd share some fun friend shots from the last year.


Dr. William

I like to find the silver cloud of situations, which is not always easy. For instance, consider this example: Your child gets sick a ton and you're multiple visits to the doctor each month. Nothing good can come of that... Or can it?

Prior to William's little bout with pneumonia, he was not a fan of doctors listening to his chest, looking in his ears, etc. etc. But, check him out these days! He loves walking around the house with this stethoscope around his neck.

Watch out, Doogie Howser!


All Slow Cooking Dinner Week Challenge

You know how much I love the crock pot, right? Well, here's the truth, my attempts are really hit and miss. I have trouble mastering anything that doesn't include a can of corn or black beans... So, I'm challenging myself this week: All Slow Cooker Dinner Week.

Yes, compared to others a week is lame. I get it. But, I have to start somewhere. And, man, if there is anything I love it's a ridiculous challenge for myself.

Here is my plan for the week. I'll let you know how it goes....

Sunday: Crock Pot Style Rotisserie Chicken and asparagus
Monday: Vegetable Soup
Tuesday: Yoga night. No cooking.
Wednesday: My Mom's Pepper Beef (Yes, I'm attempting to cook with red meat for maybe the fifth time in my life and this is the only way I really like red meat.)
Thursday: Lisa's Famous Chicken with Spicy Black Beans and Corn (Haven't heard of it? You will.)

Here's to goals and all the grocery shopping I did today. We'll see how it goes....


Crime and Punishment - William Style

Crime: Staying up until (gasp) after 11:00 pm gorging on Dexter. (Just finished the first disc of Season 2 - Feels different from Season 1, not necessarily in a good way.)

Punishment: 1:00 am wake up call from a certain toddler insistent on joining us in bed, followed by three hours of kicking, hitting, and hair pulling, until his 4:00 am decision that he needed to "See Howie" and 45 minutes of wrestling to get off the bed until we finally gave in and let him tear out of the room. FAKE walking down the hall followed (no kidding, he marched in place) to see if we would chase. We did.

No trial. No jury. This is my kid's idea of justice, I guess. Not a fan. I can't believe that the crime warrants such a harsh punishment.


Not Quite Ready for #2

We're getting lots of questions from friends and strangers alike. Everyone seems to think that #2 should be on the way. We're not quite ready. You can read my post on Chicago Moms Blog for more details.

But, when I look at this, I think "Awwwww, let's give it a try!":

Then I see this photo and think "No way, not ready for that again!":

(Yes, this is a photo of a my feet wrapped in cabbage... A natural way to relieve my insanely swollen feet and ankles. And when you're done... Dinner!)


Crime Stopper

Justice. One of my most favorite past times. I'm kinda into crime stopping. Back at our old condo in West Bucktown/East Humboldt Park, I waged a war against the gang members dealing from the stoop next door, the crack heads wandering our alley, and the handicapped fellow who used our alley as an open air bathroom. Without going into too much detail, I ultimately received the direct number to the gang enforcement unit and was told all the right things to specify, such as "silent dispatch" (meaning do not let them hear you on their scanners). Let's just say crime fighting became a daily habit.... Maybe one day I'll share more.

For now, I'm stuck with the minor issues I stumble upon in Wilmette, and I have to say, it's been totally boring. Until today. We finally got out of the house and did some lunch. While we were eating the owner of the restaurant noticed a kid on a bike trying to break into his car... In the Wilmette train station lot... With few cars... In bright day light... Wearing a bright white hoodie. Stupid. He was shooed away and the day went on... Until we got out to our car.

We spotted the same kid trying to break into a few other cars in the lot. Matt watched him while I called 911 and gave them the play-by-play. While we were watching. From 500 feet away. Clearing noticing that he was using a screw driver to attempt a car jacking. Once the cops showed up, the stupid kid jumped the tracks.

"He saw the squad car! He's run over the tracks! Near the Starbucks. Now he's going south on Greenbay Road. His white hood is down, he has a black knit cap underneath."

"And he left his bike here in the parking lot. It's blue and silver. It's a mountain bike, no maybe a hybrid road bike/mountain bike. Its right here. Next to a red car."

And then I happily left my full name and phone number. (They haven't called.)

By the time we made it to the other side of the tracks, the kid was cuffed with his head down as they escorted him from the Jaguar dealership parking lot to the squad car, an ambulance was arriving and a fire engine turning the corner. Big sting. And I was part of the team!

I think the kid must have hurt himself when he leaped onto the tracks or maybe the cops tackled him in the Jag or the Starbucks lot. And I felt a stab of guilt. Was he desperate? Starving? What could have led a 13 year old to act so stupidly? And for what? To steal a car stereo? And then he had to run into a Jaguar dealership to hide? Like getting smacked in the face with having nothing while hiding behind a $60,000 sedan.

"Did I do the right thing?" I asked Matt. Could that cd player he might have gotten put food on his family's table? The owner would clearly have insurance and the loss would be minimal. Was it that big of a deal?

"Probably a kid with a trust fund who was trying to prove something. We don't live in the city anymore." Matt said.

Maybe he was a spoiled brat bored on a Sunday or maybe he was looking for something he could turn into a little cash. Regardless, it doesn't matter.

Guess what, Wilmette... There's a new crime fighter in town.


A Little Taste of So You Think You Can Dance

Apparently, So You Think You Can Dance was in Chicago this week holding auditions for the next season, which will start in May. Matt walked by on his way to work and saw the early morning line of dancers waiting for their big break. Cool, huh?

Knowing that I would find this to be incredibly exciting, he reported that as he walked to the train at the end of the day, he walked by as a girl came flying out of the theater, shrieking, and jumping up and down with her friends... Apparently, someone was going to Vegas!

"Isn't that cool?" he said.

"Yeah, but did you see Cat Deeley???? Were there cameras? Will you be in the background of the audition episodes?" I asked. The answer to all these questions: No.

Oh, Cat, how I've missed you.

Welcome to Chicago, Kid

Yesterday the weather was in the 60's. The Hannemaniacs have been taken down by two respiratory infections, an ear infection, and pneumonia. It was a tough week of shuttling around to doctor's appointments and spending a beautiful week stuck inside. We had to break free yesterday afternoon, so drove to Gillson Beach and let W run around a bit. It was gorgeous.

An overzealous little guy who was probably about five years old, stripped down to his swim trunks and played in the sand. His grandparents were struggling with it, should they let him enjoy this special day or save him from his future cold? Spring was in the air, the sun was shining, runners were freed of their ear muffs and treadmills. It felt good.

We were warned it wouldn't last, that it would drop dramatically overnight. And it did. We were greeted this morning by a yard blanketed with snow, gusty winds, icy snow falling to the ground. Yuck. Poor William ran to the window, looked out, and wondered aloud: "Snow?"

Now, how exactly do we explain this one? Only in Chicago. Sorry we live here, little man... We'll make it up to you this summer, for a few months at least.


Sometimes I Keep My Mouth Closed... And Then Wish I Didn't

After Trip #3 to the pediatrician this week, I stopped at Target to grab W some new pacifiers. (Note: Please do not choose this as an opportunity to try to convince me to take his away. We're not there yet.) Since he's sick, I thought it would be wise of me to carry him through the store, rather than infect a cart with his germs. He's over 26 pounds.

So, I'm carrying him along and come to the check out area and some lady maneuvers her cart in front of me. Full cart. She was there first, its fine. But, then she proceeds to talk on her phone and sloooowwwwlllllyyyy take out one item at a time, leaving the employee to slowly check her out. My patience is wearing, possibly because she is everything I never want to be. She is dressed about 20 years too young in far too tight of clothing. Her hair is over processed and heels too high for a Thursday afternoon trip to Target. And then there were the sunglasses that she was WEARING INSIDE. I mean, really?

But, this is what I hope I will never be: When I see a mom holding a child who is obviously sick and only has three items (three of the same items mind you) to purchase, I hope I am never the person who does not encourage her to go ahead and instead takes my time obliviously.

And then I also really hope I'm not the person who puts the case of water on the bottom of my cart and doesn't mention it during the check out. I *almost* said something... I thought about throwing out an "Oops, you forgot to ring up your water." But, instead I held my tongue. And as I drove away I really regretted it. I'm sure that somewhere in that huge purse of hers that woman could have found an extra few bucks for some water. Or maybe she couldn't see it due to the sunglasses.

I tried to set a good example for my son, but I wonder what the better example would have been.

50 Year Old Britney Spears wannabe: 1
Justice: 0


2010 Toddler Health by Numbers

6 - Visits to the pediatrician in 2010.
2 - Ear infections in 2010.
1 - Sinus infection in 2010.
1 - Respiratory infection in 2010.
1 - Case of pneumonia in 2010.
4 - Rounds of antibiotics in 2010.

60 - Dollars spent on an inhaler and air chamber last night.
0 - Times $60 inhaler was effectively used.
100 - Dollars spent on a nebulizer and medications today.
4 - Hours between breathing treatments.
15 - Minutes it takes for a breathing treatment.
2 - People it takes to hold a certain toddler down for breathing treatments.

3 - Repeated viewings of the same episode of Sesame Street today.
20 - Goldfish eaten by a certain toddler for lunch today.
2 - Bowls of apple sauce eaten by a certain toddler for lunch today.
0 - Seconds I felt guilty for any of today's food or activity choices.


The Sick Season

It's a Saturday. W is sick *again* and it's gloomy and rainy, which means we're stuck inside with the task of keeping him occupied. Plus, he seems to be on a nap strike today. Lovely. I'm finding you can only color, lego, farm, and hide and seek so many times. An hour ago he was playing with his truck and I somehow nodded off while playing with him. (No, I have not been drinking... Yet. (Seriously, I'm bored)).

We were going to see his buddy Ralph play an acoustic set at our local book store, but I decided that if some other mom brought her kid out and that kid was coughing, snotting, and drooling all over the place, I would be super annoyed. So, I decided to do the "responsible thing" and we missed the chance to rock out to some Ralph. Hey, the more people keep their sick kids quarantined at home, the less my son will continue to catch their illnesses. I'm trying to be a team player.

As a consolation prize, I made what I used to think were W's favorite pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (this should for sure solidify my title for Mother of the Year), but he hardly cared and instead asked for apple sauce. (Note: I used a quarter cup less sugar and half the amount of chocolate chips, so maybe that's why he wasn't interested. Matt tells me to stop messing with recipes, but a little less sugar never killed anyone. And, W doesn't get the chocolate chips anyway.)

Right now I'm listening to him in his crib "reading" a book to himself and greeting all of the clothes in his closet. "Hello, sweater.... Hello, pants." I'm just praying he'll take a nap, so I can take a shower. I'm afraid to move or do anything to let him know that I'm still in the house, which would then remind him that he's been on a sleep strike.

Please hurry, warm weather. I don't know how much more of this we can take.


My Excuse to Watch Reality TV

I was *forced* to watch reality tv last night while Matt joined my dad at the Blackhawks game. It was rough, but I needed inspiration for a new Chicago Moms Blog post and I found it in Tori & Dean.

I've never seen the show before, but made up for lost time last night. I should be ashamed, but... We all have our moments of weakness and a couple glasses of wine.

Check out my recent post on Chicago Moms Blog here.


When Crock Pots Let You Down

I've been embracing my crock pot. I use it at least once a week, sometimes a couple of times a week. It's the best way to make a meal when you're a full time working mom. I have to embrace the crock pot, I don't have a choice.

So, I realize most blogs share photos to show what a great meal looks like. Since this isn't most blogs, I'm sharing what an unhappy crock pot looks like:

I had a great idea... Chicken breasts, white wine, lemon, rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper. Set the crock for low and let it cook for seven or eight hours. Sounds good, right? Well, it was, if you consider bland, dry chicken good. Which you don't. No one does. Neither do we. Matt eve admited it was bad, which means it was REALLY, REALLY bad. And, I have to say, one of the biggest disappointments is a terrible crock pot meal that you smelled cooking all day and built up in your head to be the delicious, comforting meal you expected.

What did I do wrong? I tried, I really tried to wing it. I thought I was ready, but alas... BAD crock pot meal. If anyone has tips, please share them.


Oscars Schmoscars

There are some things you do just because you feel like you should. For instance, I'm watching the Oscars right now. I'm not sure why. I haven't seen most of the movies. Better stated: I haven't seen 99% of the movies. I just feel like I should be watching.

I love movies, I just don't have time to go to the theater. And, honestly, I prefer watching movies in the comfort of my own home... On my own couch where I can pause the movie when I have to go to the bathroom and don't have to deal with obnoxious people talking/texting/slurping their drinks/chomping on their snacks/kicking my seat. (OK, I'm a little particular and easily annoyed.) I can wait for the dvd when I get to watch the movie and then all the fun extras, too. (Who doesn't love those extras?)

Admittedly, there are a few things that I enjoy about the awards. The best reason to watch the Oscars is to help me fill up my Netflix queue (currently at 372 -not kidding). I also really love the best song nominee performances. I should say: I *used* to love the best song performances. But, unfortunately these seem to have been axed this year. REALLY?!?! The highlight of my Oscar viewing history was Robin Williams performing Blame Canada. What a loss.

So, now I'm ready to go to bed, even before the In Memoriam montage, which everyone enjoys in their own morbid way. Admit it, you like it, too. I mean, the John Hughes tribute... If that didn't tug on your heart strings and make you feel some nostalgia, then you're just cold. But I'd rather be in bed and just check the list of winners and all the other gossip online tomorrow. And, seriously, some of the presenters have kinda shocked me. Ahem, ahem... Miley Cyrus. What the??? (Matt told me I better get used to her since she doesn't seem to be going anywhere, but I refuse. I'd rather eat glass.)

I'm tired. I have a child who wakes me up at 5:00 am EVERY MORNING. Where's my award for that?!?! Oh, wait! The In Memoriam montage is starting... I'm so going to bed after this.

Update: Eating my words. Luckily I just caught the performance by The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. It was like a SYTYCD reunion with old friends. Can't wait for that show to start again. Now, I'm going to bed.

Also, this must be said: Is it just me or is George Clooney is a really bad mood tonight? Jeeeez, George.


Going Green

We watched No Impact Man last night, a documentary about a family in Manhattan that lives a year making no impact on the environment. It made me think about what we're doing.

I don't make New Year's resolutions. I just don't find them to be helpful. But, I do take time to kind of inventory my life and remind myself that it's a good opportunity to make some slight changes to be a little better at this whole life thing. Resolutions are too much pressure, changes mean growth to me.

One of the things I really wanted to do was make the Hannemaniac lifestyle greener. We're pretty conscious of the environment compared to your everyday guy, I figure. But, are we??? And when I think about it, we probably aren't. Just saying you're an environmentalist and you believe in preservation isn't enough. So, here are some changes we've been able to make and stick to for the most part:

1. My office has sleeves of plastic cups for water and they are used at an incredible rate. I stopped using a plastic cup and brought a metal bottle from home. I figure I have saved over 40 cups in the last two and a half months. That's insane. If any of my co-workers are reading this... Ahem... The Alderman may have to come out on this one.

2. I've really been trying to bring my own bags when shopping. Trust me, I forget a lot, but I'm TRYING.

3. I'm only buying "green" cleaning products, which I know does not necessarily mean they are good for the environment, but it's the closest I can get.

4. I'm trying to turn off the lights. You're welcome, Mom.

5. Guess who started taking the train? Yup! It increases the commute time, however gives me some nice quiet time to read and a nice mile long walk between the station and my office.

6. We're doing some home improvement that will help us with controlling temperature, including replacing five windows and covering a basement window well with insulation.

7. Less meat. Cooking with less chicken and more tofu than I usually would. (I don't cook red meat, so this isn't a huge stretch.)

8. Only buying organic milk/yogurt and trying to stick to organic vegetables and fruit when they look ok. (Hey, Jewel, your organic produce sucks.)

Once we enter spring, I'll be composting and adding a vegetable garden to the list.

I know all of this might seem like nothing, but it's a start. If everyone does a little something, think of the overall impact combined. So, what are you doing to cut down the impact you're making on the environment?


Anyone Know a Good Bush Doctor?

William has had a fever between 102-103 since Monday. We're only hours away from Friday and I know his fever will persist well into the weekend. The timing is interesting. I just finished reading The Possibility of Everything by Hope Edelman, which is the latest SV Mom's Book Club pick and a memoir about an otherwise normal mom who makes a nontraditional choice in trying to heal her daughter and family.

Right now I'm feeling tired. I'm feeling frustrated that my little guy is struggling with these fevers. I'm feeling like the two trips to the doctor's office this week have resulted in nothing except for answers of what he doesn't have... Not strep, not the flu. I've narrowed it down to roseola, a virus that doesn't seem to leave us with much we can do to make him feel better.

In The Possibility of Everything we're introduced to a world of natural medicine, bush doctors, shaman, all stuff that I'm not really into. But, right now, sitting in my living room in the middle of the snowy Midwest, I wish I could have a bush doctor lay his hands over my baby's crib, whisper a foreign prayer, and press his hands on his head. I wish I had a salve to rub on his chest and that I could give him a bath in freshly picked herbs and flowers. Instead of waiting it out, I would welcome the opportunity to give natural healing a chance.

I guess being a mom opens you to things you may have not believed in or would have shrugged off. Right? Being a mom has made me realize the phrase, "I would never..." is a load of crap and my worst enemy. When it comes to your child is there anything you wouldn't try? And that's what the author learned, too. The book wouldn't have worked for me if the author was all new agey from the beginning. Because I could see myself in her, because I could see my skepticism and apprehension in her, I could also see the possibilities. Like her, I tend to belong to the "I gotta see it to believe it" school of thought. But in times when there have to be more anwers, more possibilities for healing, I guess I'd climb on board.

No need to worry. I haven't bought any crystals or consulted my astrological calendar or anything. But, I did read an incredible book. And I'm positive that I'm a better mom for it. I'm a new mom. I'm learning each day and trying to grow, so it's stories like these that are shaping the kind of mom I want to be. Our situations may not be the same (croup/obnoxious imaginary friend vs. raging fever), but the overarching themes are the same.

Even better I've found a new author to follow. Not only did the author work her craft at Iowa's nonfiction program (so you know that makes me like her even more), she really is a fantastic, brave writer. The kind I know most wish they could really be. And it's bravery that ultimately made her the kind of mom most strive to be.


Socializing Kids = Germs = Sick = Ice Cream for Breakfast

Since W spends his days with his Grandnanny he doesn't socialize a ton. Scratch that. Let me rephrase: He doesn't spend much time with other kids. It's impossible not to socialize when you're with my mom seeing as she talks to everyone and spends her days taking him around town.

Anyway, in the last couple of months we've really been trying to up this kid's kid-specific social interactions. We have some kids with friends, but already packed social calendars, two full time jobs, houses to maintain, family obligations, etc. etc. usually mean we have to schedule a month out. And then there is the inevitably sick kid who forces us to reschedule once, twice, three times...

So, in our quest for interaction our little guy just cannot seem to stop picking up every virus in the air. He spent January sick with that respiratory thing then a sinus infection then an ear infection. He had *maybe* two weeks off of being sick and then woke up a week and a half ago with a cold. He just got over that last week and then Monday he woke up from him morning nap with a 102 degree fever, which has spiked between 102 - 103 every five hours since and the doc says he has a fire red throat. (Yet somehow he has kept a peachy disposition).

Seriously, I'm considering quarantining him until spring or wrapping him in plastic to create a germ barrier. Two birthdays parties on Saturday (more on that later!) and a brunch/play time on Sunday proved too much for our little guy.

This morning he gets strawberry ice cream for breakfast.