Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Comedy Central

Oh my, we're a silly bunch! Check it out for yourself:

Here's Silas on his potty in the Target parking lot. He couldn't wait until we got home, and it was just as well because this way he got a front row seat for the construction work across the street! (BJ initially tried with the potty in the van, but Silas kept standing up to peer at the construction site, which BJ determined to be a dangerous situation.)

The four of us at Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Go Thunder! Although the Thunder ultimately lost the series, our family can say that we were all present to cheer them on (well...the boys did drop off on us at the end of the fourth quarter).

And here is George being his usual early-morning cheerful self. This is a face that I love waking up to! Won't be long and this roly poly will be sitting up all on his own.

We've laughed and joked quite a lot around here lately, which is good for our spirits. I know that my sense of humor is lame, but we've each gotten in a few good zingers lately, including me!

Silas' Zinger
(setting the stage: George's shooey diaper explodes all over BJ. BJ quickly hands me the oozing child while he takes off his poopy shirt)
Silas (loudly): Daddy, you's naked!

BJ's Zinger
(setting the stage: we're taking a walk in the neighborhood and a teenage neighbor girl is outside vacuuming her car)
Jenny: Ugh, I wish I had her legs.
BJ: Ugh, I wish I had her clean car!

Jenny's Zinger
BJ: I've been listening to this band at work that I really like. I think you'd like them.
Jenny: Oh yeah? What are they like?
BJ: They're called "Of Monsters and Men." They're from Iceland. The band is males and females. Kind of like The Decemberists.
Jenny: Hmm, BJ, sounds kind of like Ace of Base to me. Has it come to this?
(cymbal crash)

And now that the comedic routines have been shared, the update on the allergy situation is that I apparently have no food allergies. This is good, but the doctor said that my problem is a dermatology issue caused by hormones from pregnancy and nursing. I should outgrow them no problem, and nothing is to be done about them in the meantime except for daily antihistamines, which I am opting to not take. In the meantime I can resume drinking almond milk! We will revisit this same allergy doctor in a month or so for George, who he does strongly believe has food allergies.

Have a great day everyone!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Growth Sticks

A few months ago I was browsing a boutique and saw some adorable growth measuring sticks for kids. I was charmed until I saw the price...28 dollars a piece! "You must be joking!" methinks. "I bet I could make something like this for far less money!"

So I did.

And for a grand total of 11 dollars, I made not one, but two growth sticks, one for each of my boys. I picked out two good quality 1x6's from Home Depot, painted them with leftover paints in our closet, used wood glue to affix cheap and adorable wooden figurines from Hobby Lobby, spelled the boys' names out of little wooden blocks on top, and then drew lines and foot-markers with a Sharpie. Not too much work, all with a decent result! Pics:

Friday, June 15, 2012

You Can Always Go...

Downtown! Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city...

Okay, okay. Well, in case you don't live in the Oklahoma City area, you've just got to know about the turnaround that has taken place in our downtown area in recent years. The transformation of downtown OKC from my childhood to its current state is an absolute 180-degree turn. There used to be no life to it at all, and now it is constantly the busiest area in town. Downtown OKC offers Bricktown (the canal with boat rides, lots of restaurants, etc.), Chesapeake Arena--Home of the Thunder, the Cox Center where the Barons' hockey plays, the Redhawks ball park, the Myriad Gardens, the art museum, the bombing memorial and its museum, open air concerts, Bass Pro, the new Devon tower, tons of places to eat, plus so much more. When BJ, the boys, and I checked in at the Cox Center for our marathon relay at the end of April, we meandered across the street just afterwards and discovered the recently-opened gardens, which were renovated so beautifully! We loved it so much that we took BJ's parents back with us a couple of weeks ago. Here are some highlights of our trip:

At the splash pads: 

At the Children's Garden:


A great time had by all!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Mudroom

Meet the boring wall in our entry way, between the garage and the kitchen door. Hello boring wall.

Thank goodness life is really all about teamwork, because I envisioned something much better for that wall but had little capability of producing it without my talented posse. My vision became a reality that was even better than my vision, thanks to my dad and BJ.

Now, meet the boring-wall-turned mudroom!

Man oh man, those boys are talented! My gorgeous mudroom cost about $200, which included the wood, wainscotting, molding, and all other supplies, the hooks, the baskets, and a little bit of the decor on top. I thought that labor would only cost me a lunch at McDonald's for my dad, but he ended up slipping cash into my purse for that. I'm so thankful for these men in my life that put up with my projects! (And that's not even mentioning the chair rail that BJ put up in Silas' room for me! I painted the wall beneath it a warm brown.)

But I digress!

This mudroom is a combination of several different mudroom designs I have seen, all rolled into one. I wanted some funky-looking hooks, and BJ found these at Lowe's for a real steal.

It was important to me to create a space that is functional for our family's needs; we often throw purses, diaper bags and work bags, Silas shoes, and gear (I'll call it gear--winter gear in the winter, rain gear on wet days, sun hats in the summer) onto a nice wooden bench I have in the entryway that I never intended to become a catch-all. The hooks are perfect for everything from bags to nursing covers to cameras. The bench legs run straight down into the tile so that we don't have to feel guilty about throwing boots or snowy shoes straight under them. In addition to its function, my posse kept the class intact by adding base molding and front-facing 1x2's.

 The top of the mudroom consists of functional cubbies and a decorative shelf. The baskets hold winter hats, baby scarves, and jogging essentials.

All in all, this mudroom is one of my new favorite features of our house! Thanks guys!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Cows, Beans, and Nuts

Well, it's been a while since I have provided an update on George. Last time we talked about George on here, he was frequently up in the middle of the night for feedings, which I figured was an attempt to make up for the loss in his growth rate. He had dropped from the 49th weight percentile at two months down to the 29th percentile at three months. Happily, he had gained back to the 38th percentile at his four month appointment two weeks ago.

At this point I am plugging along in the dairy-free diet. Emotionally I am doing quite well with this until I imagine a piece of pizza or see one of those Doritos locos taco commercials from Taco Bell. (Sadly, I really want to try that taco, despite the fact that I haven't been a Taco Bell customer in years.) The pediatrician suggested that I limit my soy intake because George might be sensitive to that as well, but it was difficult for me to really detect that in him. To add insult to injury, I began breaking out terribly about six weeks ago and it apparent that I myself was having an allergic reaction too. Two rounds of steroids have temporarily cleared the breakouts, but they just keep coming back. Because the breakouts began shortly after I changed my diet, I thought it was a safe bet that I was allergic to either soy or almond; both my soy and almond intakes rose substantially as I replaced cow milk with soy and almond substitutes. I eventually was given a standard allergy test and was found negative for the most common allergens, including soy (but they didn't check for almond). I eliminated almond from my diet and still am breaking out all over the palms of my hands, so I called today and have an appointment with an official allergist at the end of June. Meanwhile, because I was made certain that soy was not an allergy of mine, I decided to put it back in my diet to see if George would react to it. He did. So, out goes the soy. At this point then, dairy, soy, and almonds are out until I hear otherwise.

BJ and I end up eating at home most nights because it is so much easier to control for this allergy this way; I know exactly what goes into my mouth because I have prepared it myself. I get pretty uncomfortable at restaurants when servers use words like "probably not" when telling me the likelihood of dairy being in a dish. I know that I can't trust the average person's knowledge about this because I, too, used to believe that a milk allergy meant I only needed to avoid milk, and I wasn't aware of milk protein ingredients like casein, sodium caseinate, lactoglobulins, whey, ghee, custard, etc. Some restaurants I have eaten at actually do have allergen menus that I can request, and others have quite helpful websites. It would be extremely convenient if every restaurant made their ingredient lists available, but I guess that is just asking too much. In one barbeque restaurant in rural Oklahoma, our server actually brought me back into the restaurant kitchen with her to look at ingredient labels! =) "Safe" places for our family to eat include Qdoba, Pei Wei, Subway, Chipotle, and the fresco menu at Taco Bell; the process of expanding this list is ongoing. We have to be careful of cross-contamination at each of these places though; I kindly ask Subway sandwich-makers to get new gloves for my sandwich since I know they have touched cheese, for instance. Even worse, the other night at Qdoba I realized that the corn salsa I wanted for my vegetarian taco salad had shredded cheese strewn all about throughout it. When I pointed out to the gentlemen that I had an allergy and that I wished someone hadn't dumped cheese into the salsa I wanted, he simply looked at me and said, "That's rough." Okay, whatever. We settled with a different kind of salsa that night!

George's skin is gorgeous. Utterly gorgeous! He is gaining in his growth chart, is happy as ever, and these little sacrifices seem totally worth it. And as if George's improvements weren't enough to make it worth it, I can say that I have officially lost 51 pounds since the morning I checked into the hospital to deliver George. I'm only one pound above my goal weight at this point, and I see no reason why I won't achieve it. Thanks, George!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Easiest Meal Ever!

My friend Amanda leads a somewhat similar lifestyle as me; she's a mother of two young children, which means that she is busy all the time! Recently she shared on her blog a recipe for the easiest meal ever. Of course, when you tempt me with a statement like this I'm going to have to try it, and I have to say that Amanda is right. For the amount of time and preparation that is actually put into this meal, it is utterly delicious. Plus, it's dairy-free, which is among our essential criteria these days!

So here's how it goes: grab your medium-sized crockpot and throw in four frozen chicken breasts (adjust the number of chicken breasts for how many are in your family or if you want leftovers). I use the Tyson "Trimmed and Ready" kind so I don't have to hassle with any kind of fat that needs to be trimmed. You do NOT have to thaw the chicken; just throw it into the crockpot frozen! On top of it dump a packet of taco seasoning and a small jar of any kind of salsa. Amanda recommended black bean and corn salsa, but last time I made this recipe I didn't have any of that kind on hand. Instead I used a Muir Glen mild salsa (Muir Glen salsa is expensive but the tomato taste is superb!). I liked the taste of the corn the first time I made this recipe though, so the second time I added a cup of frozen corn into the mixture. Turn the crockpot on high, stir occasionally, and the whole thing will be done in about six hours. In my experience, between the five and six hour mark the chicken will begin shredding, and I facilitate this process by using tongs to break apart the meat occasionally.

The shredded meat is really quite good. We serve it street-taco style on a couple of corn tortillas with some cabbage and chunked avocado. For extra ease, I actually just purchase a bag of the coleslaw starter, which consists of shredded cabbage and carrots. BJ also adds cheese to his tacos, but I can attest to the opinion that you certainly don't need to in order to make this meal good. Today is day five of potty training in our house, and this business sure is tiring! Perfect kind of day for a meal that requires so little effort. Thanks Amanda!

(Note: I took delicious-looking pictures, but can't seem to find them anywhere on my overloaded camera card. Imaginations are required.)