Monday, August 23, 2010

Menu Monday

Last week my new Cooking Light magazine arrived in the mail and, let me tell you, there are soooo many good lookin' recipes this month! CL has long been one of my favorite go-to places for recipes and I always look up the recipes online to see the ratings and comments other cooks have left about them...a good tip to save you from many mishaps! Shortly after the magazine hits newsstands each month, puts up a webpage with links to a LOT of the recipes from the magazine {so even if you don't buy a copy, you can still make the recipes!} is the list for September.

I've already made five of the recipes from this month and they all turned out fantastic {and kid-friendly too}!

Meal #1: lemon-splashed shrimp salad {next time I'd add chunks of cheddar cheese too}
veggies & dip
cherries, oranges & grapes

Meal #2: spicy honey-brushed chicken thighs {we all loved this meal...very quick, too!}
green salad
Quinoa Salad with Peaches
Bring 1.5 cups water or chicken broth to a boil in medium saucepan; add 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa {I used my favorite blend from Trader Joe's: Israeli couscous, red quinoa and orzo pasta}. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes {or follow package directions if using a different grain}. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in 1/2 cup minced red bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped green onion, and 1 sliced ripe peach or nectarine. Make dressing: 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 1.5 Tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, 1.5 tsp. honey, 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Serve at room temperature.

Meal #3: crispy ravioli with cherry tomato sauce {mmm...I'd make this again in a heartbeat}
roasted pepper & asparagus salad {I saute the pepper, onion and tomatoes until tender...I like it better that way instead of raw}

Meal #4: {Slow Cooker} Cuban braised beef with peppers
cilantro rice
{and for Darlene & me} roasted cauliflower & roasted fennel-spiced carrots

Meal #5: Seoul-ful chicken thighs {I cut down on the spices since I'm a wimp}
marinated cucumber salad
morning glory muffins {think my husband will notice I'm trying to sneak in zucchini?}

Meal #6: chicken schwarma wraps
Greek salad
hummus with pita bread

Ooohhh....and last week I needed dinner on the table PRONTO, so I made this black bean-corn tortilla pie that I saw on, which is my FAVORITE food blog. I've made at least a dozen of her recipes so far and all of them have been scrumptious!

On Saturday morning I made these oatmeal pancakes {added blueberries} for Maddie and she LOVED in, she'd already eaten a bowl of cereal + stood at the stove with me and ate FOUR big pancakes as I cooked them. I call that a hit! :-)

On Sunday my brother-in-law Travis is going to be visiting from London, so I'm bringing this corn, tomato & potato salad to the dinner party. Looks delish!

Now I want to hear from you...what's on YOUR dinner menu this week? :-)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Great News!

Just in time to cap off our first year with James, he got GREAT NEWS at the doctor today!

1. His bilirubin levels {which show how the TPN is impacting/damaging his liver & what gives him a yellow tint like jaundiced babies} are excellent and...his doc was amazed...are almost at the level of a NORMAL child! Praise God! This is wonderful news.

2. His blood sugar levels are holding steady, so now he can be off of TPN and his G-tube formula for 6 hours {instead of 4} every day!

3. He can go up to 3 bottles a day instead of two & in a couple weeks we can try one of the bottles with breastmilk! {We thought this wouldn't happen for many more months.}

4. We are going to try increasing his formula rate in his G-tube by two milliliters each week instead of just one.

5. He's almost up to 16 pounds. Still below the 3rd percentile on all the charts, but growing well.

Yay James! :-)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Learning to Stand

I tell ya, Mr. James is literally learning new things every day! I am just amazed by him. He's not letting any obstacles get in his way of being independent. Yesterday Keith set out a waist-high box and lured James to it with his new birthday toys...apparently a cell phone is just the ticket for getting him to learn new tricks! {Must be in the DNA...Maddie took her first walking steps while holding a cell phone that Keith and I were taunting her with!} James' physical therapist will be very happy with his progress when she visits next week. Now if we can just get him to bend his legs and sit down! :-)

Oh man, we're in trouble now! :-)

Speaking of standing, in the evening after his birthday party, Keith was standing James up on the changing table to put on a new outfit, James stepped on his stomach tube and ripped it out of his stomach {again}. He wailed, of course, but was smiling again within a few minutes. What would a birthday celebration day be without a trip to the ER {again}? The docs got it back in fine and you'd never know anything had happened. Our boy sure is a trooper.

* * * * * *
A couple weeks ago we got two new couches for the living room {on super sale at Macy's!}. Our dream couches were at Rejuvination here in Portland, but the price tag of $5000 for a couch/loveseat/chair was just too hard a pill to swallow. So I found these at Macy's instead and saved us thousands! Much better, considering they'll have to withstand the wear-and-tear of two kids and a dog for many years to come.

Nice rich brown leather with exposed stitching. Clean, simple lines and not overstuffed. Just the way we wanted it. It has the potential of making for a very classy living room set-up...until you pan back and realize that we apparently live in a daycare center...

THIS is why we're biting the bullet and have started construction on our basement this week! The first wall went up this weekend {we're starting with the laundry/kitchenette/storage room area on one far wall} and now there will be many months of banging and heavy machinery sounds in our future. When it's all done, the basement will include: laundry area, kitchenette with full freezer/full fridge/slide-in range, a storage room with floor-to-ceiling storage, a bathroom, Keith's office, a family room/media room and an open-concept office/studio for me. AND ALL THE KID TOYS WILL BE BANISHED TO THE BASEMENT OR THEIR OWN ROOMS! Hooray! That means we can finally reclaim our living room as a grown-up space that looks organized and presentable. Can't wait. :-)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Learning to Walk...It's the New Crawling

{It's official...the Cutest Boy Ever!}

James loves to be upright...standing, jumping, walking or climbing. Tummy time and crawling are okay, but standing up is so much better and you can get to what you want so much faster! If he wants it, he goes after it, with no sense of boundaries. Edge of the bed? I'll crawl to it and just keep on going. Cruising furniture? Sure, and then let me lurch forward or fling myself backwards at a moment's notice when something new catches my eye. Yesterday at his party, James was standing in Keith's arms and then two seconds later was doing a face plant into the ground! This boy is going to be a crazy go-getter when he's able to move independently! Mom and Dad are in for it!

A couple days ago, Keith decided to teach James how to practice walking using a car toy we have. We've been putting it next to James when he's in his Johnny Jump-Up toy and he "walks" while holding on to it and pushing it around. He's been enjoying walking with an adult holding his hands, so Keith decided to put the two together. James was thrilled and not at all timid. He took to it right away and only lost his balance a few times, usually catching himself. Let me tell you, when he's hooked up to his IV's this is a 2-person job! James holds the car and we hold James, his tubes and the IV pole! As if teaching a one-year-old to walk isn't tricky enough!

{like the Sumo Wrestler get-up for holding up his tubes?!}

We've also been enjoying the company of Grandma Darlene from Ohio. She was just out here for 3 weeks in May when James had his surgery and now she's out here for gimpy-old-me! Since I'm not allowed to lift much yet, including James, caring for him was not an option and neither was Keith taking off tons of work, so she generously offered to fly out and help us. What an angel! Maddie and James love having her here to play, take them on daily walks to the park, read books, play games, and put them to bed at night. She's already taught James how to say YAY and just today he learned how to clap! We wouldn't be making it without her. Thank you, Grandma!

{Check out Mr. Natural Curls! We just discovered them!}

{James' favorite game with Grandma is Patty Cake. If she sings it to him, he calms right down and gets happy, even if he was just crying. That's how she taught him to clap this week!}

{Maddie, apparently feeling left out of the photo session, decides to insert herself in the frame!}

{headed to the park...first time in the big stroller, which he's discovered is even better than the umbrella one because of its built-in "entertainment tray"!}

{Awww...the sibling love melts my heart!}

Yesterday was James' 1st birthday party! Stories and photos to come.}

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My Back & Party Prep

First, an update on my back...and then it's time to show you sneak peaks of James' birthday party preparations! :-)

My ambulance ride to the ER was about 10 days ago and the first few days of recovery were rough. The only position that felt half-way decent was to keep my spine either standing up or laying flat on my back. I spent a lot-- A LOT -- of time on the heating pad on the couch, only getting up to eat or use the bathroom. A few nights I couldn't even walk across the room to get to my bed, so I just slept on the couch. It was just too painful to move or put pressure on my right side, all of this while taking a lot of heavy-duty pain meds throughout the day/night. We're talking Ibuprophen, Valium AND Oxycodone. Boy, the meth heads wish they could have been in my house! Score! {Honestly, I don't see what the big deal is at all. It only dulled the pain, didn't take it away and didn't give me any "cool" feelings whatsoever!}

A couple days ago I started feeling a tad better, so I'd alternate between periods of standing and walking {like a gimp} around the house and then laying down. Sitting usually still hurts, so it's limited. {Maddie has informed me that "eating dinner at the table while standing up is bad manners, Mama!" but when you're hurt you get a free pass.} :-) I'm feeling better each day, weaning myself off medication {today I've only needed one dose of Ibuprophen} and waiting until Tuesday to get the results of the new MRI that I had done last Friday. Then this Friday I'll go in for another nerve root block steriod injection in my back. Hopefully that'll help me get back on track. My mother-in-law Darlene is here and helps with everything, since I'm not yet allowed to lift anything over 15 pounds {which means James}. I sooo miss cuddling with my little guy! Keith has been SUPER DAD through this whole he even scrubbed the kitchen and living room and dining room floors BY HAND. When he cleans, he means business.

I told him he's a better wife than me. He's putting me to shame!

I'm such a lucky woman {like, times-a-hundred!} :-)

Today my parents picked Darlene and Maddie up for church and then came over afterwards for lunch. James got to sit at the table with Papa and "eat" like a big boy...a teriyaki stick! One of the few foods he is allowed to have, since he just gets flavor from it and can't bite off any chunks.

Anyhoo...lots of time on "bedrest" = time to catch up on TV shows {I've just discovered Mad Men and watched the first 2 seasons over the past week!} and a few movies. It's also allowed me tons of time to keep my hands busy...very busy...doing crafty things and preparing for James' first birthday party next weekend! {His birthday is August 31, but with the holiday weekend and craziness of school starting up again, I figured earlier was better.} I'm good at some party things...decorations and food...and bad at others, especially games. So what's a mother to do? Have the party at a park & playground--built in entertainment! I'll post lots of pictures after the actual party, but here's some sneak peaks at my paper obsession and party decor so far. All the bright colors make me happy! :-)

{Project #1: Rainbow layer birthday cake. Make batter using 2 white cake mixes. Divide into 6 bowls, approx. 1 cup each. Color with gel/paste food coloring. Pour each color into it's own greased cake pan. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Layer, frost, done! Imagine the kids' surprise when we cut into a white frosted cake and they get all the colors of the rainbow!
P.S.--like all the drug bottles in the background?}

{Madeline is always a super-enthusiastic baking helper.}

{Project #2: Just a few days ago I saw this idea pop up on a couple party cake flag bunting. I've already made two other large flag banners for the party, so this fit in perfectly. It'll be the decoration on top of the cake. Isn't it just so dang cute? It says "happy 1st birthday james". Love love love it.}

{Project #3: Apple juice boxes. Why serve regular juice boxes when they can look THIS cute?! Some red wrapping paper, one sheet of scrapbook paper and a few labels printed on my computer. That's it.}

{Project #4: One of the party favors...the other one is rainbow playdough...shhh! Yet another idea I saw on a party blog, but they used cute metal tins...which I did not have. But I did have these plastic jam jars! Want an inexpensive favor idea? Bubbles! {and come on, having your own jar of bubbles to blow at the fun is that!} 6 jars: $3.50, 1 package pipe cleaners: 99 cents. Labels printed on computer, scrap paper, super-size refill bottle of bubbles & cut-down green plastic straws we already had: free}

Now I'm so excited for the party! Maddie never got to have her first birthday party because she came down with a double ear infection, so James' party will seem double fun!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Watch Out World, Here Comes James!

Mr. James has become a little daredevil lately. He's discovering new ways to move his body, to get from here to there, to explore his world and he's LOVING it! The last two days his new thing has been cruising furniture {with some assistance...especially when he gets distracted by some new cool thing and dramatically flings himself backwards to get at it! We're still working on the whole "where your body is in space" concept}. Now when we put him in his Johnny Jump-Up, we set either a walker or his Exersaucer next to him and he "walks" around them, pulls them to different locations, or spins them to get at what he wants. He is super excited when you stand him up and he races his little feet to walk the length of the couch...or from one end of his crib railing to the other...or across the footboard of our bed. He'd crawl over head-first if we'd let him! {Good thing he's not actually able to pull himself up onto things yet.}

Throw caution to the wind. {Apparently caution is for GIRLS!} Just go, go, go!

Today was also his first ride to the park in the "big kid" stroller, instead of in the front pack or the infant car seat/big stroller. He loved it, but he did find the red clip on the side and held onto it the whole entire ride...just in case of turbulence, ya know!

He's starting to look so much more like a big boy than a little baby lately. OH, AND HE'S GETTING TWO TEETH! Had to be an over-achiever and get his first two at the same time. He's over 15 pounds now {still under the 3rd percentile for height and weight} and is so curious about the world around him. It just blows my mind to think that on August 31st he'll turn ONE YEAR OLD! Didn't we just bring him home from the NICU? :-)

{Just had to include this "little old man who forgot his dentures" shot!}