Monday, January 31, 2011

Love Bites


Have I mentioned that we love pizza? I have? Well, then it should come as no surprise that this post is about pizza.

I wanted to do something fun for Sweet P's dinner one night and suddenly thought of heart-shaped pizza! Perfect since Valentine's Day is so close and easy enough to do again several times before then.

The Recipe: Love Bites

Here's what you need:
about an 1/8 of homemade pizza dough (use more if you have more kiddos)
3 tsp homemade pesto (or pasta sauce)
10 spinach leaves
1 small mushroom cut into slices
sharp cheddar or mozzarella cheese cut into slices
any other topics your kiddos like
large heart shaped cookie cutter
small heart shaped cookie cutter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Flour the counter and roll out dough. Cut the dough using a large heart shaped cookie cutter.
Place on a pizza pan or a cookie sheet.
Use a spoon to place about a tsp of pesto on each heart and spread.
Cut mushrooms, cheese and spinach with a small heart shaped cookie cutter. Place on dough and put in the oven for 12 minutes.

Serve with a side of veggies!

And there you have a simple recipe for Love Bites! Trust me, your little Valentine will love them!

I'm linking up to these Parties!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tot School: Snow Edition


Sweet P is 20.5 months old

Last week we focused on the Letter A, but I didn't post Tot School because time got away from me and I didn't take many pictures anyway.

This week we focused on a snow theme. It was so fun! She thinks all snowmen are Frosty and loves to sing Frosty the snowman. Her lyrics are "Frosty, Frosty!" to the tune of "Frosty, the Snowman!" Plus, we actually got to play in the snow which made it even better!

I found most of my materials at Itsy Bitsy Printables. We ordered the Frosty Days unit and picked a few age appropriate activities for her. I've listed our activities by days of the week so keep it a bit more organized.

Monday:
Morning playdate with friends
Snow day! We played in the snow for about a half an hour on Monday afternoon and she had a great time. You can read more about our snow day here.

Water play: Sweet P and daddy spent 20 minutes playing in the bathroom after we finished playing in the snow. She LOVES to play in the sink!
Snowflakes: Monday evening we made snowflakes for our window. She sat with me and watched as I folded pieces of scrap paper and cut the edges to create snowflakes. After I cut them out, I smeared glue on the back and she pressed them onto pink sparkly tissue paper. I cut around the snowflakes, put some double stick tape on the back and hung them in the window.

Tuesday:
Morning mall walk/play area with friends

Playdoh Snowman: My friend told me about her making a snowman with a paper plate and playdoh so we had to try it out that afternoon. I realized when I went to get out the playdoh that we didn't own black playdoh so he had blue eyes and a brown mouth instead! We also made orange and blue snowmen with the playdoh.
Snowman tracing page from IBP: This was just for fun because I didn't think she'd be able to trace the lines, but we showed where to trace and she had fun trying.

Wednesday:
Story and Craft time at Wellspring Christian Book Store: I love this story time. The leader is great and the activities are fun, too. This week she read a story about the 10 commandments and the kiddos colored 10 commandment bookmarks. After they were finished coloring, she laminated them, punched a hole in the top and put a ribbon through. Last week she read a Jesus Loves Me book and they made trains out of toilet paper rolls. An activity I'll for sure do again with her!

Construct a Snowman: I cut out pieces of construction paper to construct a snowman.
Here's what you need:
1 blue piece for the backgroun
1 large white circle (head)
2 small black circles (eyes)
1 orange triangle (nose)
5 smaller black circles (mouth)
1 long black rectangle (brim of hat)
1 square (top of hat)
2 long red rectangles (trim on hat/scarf)
2 small red triangles (ties of scarf)
I had her smear glue from a gluestick on the back of the large circle and push it down on the blue paper. The rest of the items I adhered the glue and handed her the piece, told her it was like a sticker and pointed to where it went. It was such a simple craft and an easy way to talk about colors and shapes. I love how it turned out! (she'd just had a quick bath in these pics)
Frosty Shape Puzzle from Itsy Bitsy Printables: I printed these and colored in the shapes since they were colored before. This was another great activity to work on shapes and colors, especially since we'd never talked about diamonds and hexagons before. She did it twice before she was ready to move on to something else.
Snowflake matching from 1+1+1's Winter Tot Book: She's done this before so it was fun to introduce it again during snow week.
5 Little Snowmen: I printed this little book from IBP, laminated it, then tied it together with a red ribbon. This is such a fun book for counting and colors. I made it into a song so we sing it and do hand motions! I'll post the hand motions on a later blog.
I found "snow" batting at Hobby Lobby in the 90% Christmas pile for .40! So we dumped some out on the floor and played with it. We shoved it into a measuring cup and I hid toys in the snow for her to find.

Thursday:
Morning playdate at our house
We ran LOTS of errands (grocery shopping at 3 different stores!) in the afternoon and didn't have much time for tot school. But we talked a lot about what we were buying and she bought her snack at Trader Joe's.

Friday:
Waterbabies at the Y (our swim class)

Snow Sensory Bin: I also found large plastic snowflakes at Hobby Lobby for .20! I poured in white pompons, clear decorative beads and cotton balls. She's really into this bin. She likes to put the "snow" on her chin and say, "Ho Ho Ho!" We made snowmen out of 3 cottonballs and did counting activities with the pompons, cottonballs and snowflakes.
She spent Friday afternoon with daddy while mommy worked!

It was so fun having a theme this week. See what other mom's are doing at 1+1+1=1.
Next week's theme: Groundhog Day.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Iowa Farmer's Wife's Pizza Dough

The Recipe: Pizza Dough

What you need:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups warm water (not HOT!)
2 1/4 tsp yeast (or one packet)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp of sugar, honey or agave nectar (we use agave)

Place yeast and 1 cup of warm water in your KitchenAid mixer bowl (or you can use a regular bowl and do the kneading by hand). Add your tbsp of sugar, honey or agave...it doesn't really matter what you use, the yeast just needs something sweet to eat (and no, a piece of candy won't work). Let it sit for 10 minutes until the mixture looks beige and bubbly. Add 1 cup of flour and turn your mixer onto setting 2. Gradually add another cup of flour until it starts to form a dough. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/4 cup warm water. Add the rest of the flour a 1/2 cup at a time until the dough forms a ball (or lump). This takes 2-4 minutes. Make sure you put the lock down on the mixer, otherwise it'll be dancing all over the place. Take out the dough and form it into a ball.

Place it back in the bowl and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Cover the dough with a clean towel and let it rest in a warm area where it won't be disturbed for 1 hour. After an hour, punch down the dough and get to rolling!
Sprinkle a bit of flour on the counter, flour up your rolling pin and roll the dough into a rectangle or circle. We use a cookie sheet with a rectangle pizza, but a circular pizza works, too. Transfer the dough to the sheet and add your toppings!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Day

Not that we got a snow day, it was just finally warm enough for us to actually play in the snow. It'd been in the single digits or teens for a week or so until this week hit. And hurray for 30 degree weather!

Really?! Who says that?! Oh right, people who live in Iowa.

So we piled on our snow gear and played out in the backyard. There was a tiny hill where the Farmer has piled all of the snow from our drive so we all took turns going down on our disc sled. It was little, but oh so fun!
Her snow boots are too big so any time she bent over in the snow she'd get stuck and we'd have to help her out a bit.

The Farmer and I couldn't resist joining in the fun.

Monday, January 24, 2011

God's Plan

12 weeks ago I was pregnant. Today I'd be 21 weeks. I'd have just had the gender ultrasound and we'd know if we were having a girl or a boy. In just 19 weeks I'd have another baby. But it wasn't meant to be. God had a different plan for us. I decided to wait 6 weeks after the miscarriage to see whether I wanted to blog about it and it took 6 more for me to be ready. While I won't go into detail about the process, it was scary and I was unprepared. I found myself wishing I'd read more of What to Expect When You're Expecting. You learn a whole lot about pregnancy and miscarriage when you're in the midst of one.

It took 3 days and it happened in the last place I wanted it to happen. At the Farmer's grandfather's birthday party. We left without really saying goodbye to anyone, telling them all I wasn't feeling well, which was very much the case. The Farmer took Sweet P outside to play as I lay on the bed and I was doing okay until I received a text message from Auntie Kannon that said, "We'll all float on okay." Our theme song. And I knew we would be. But I lost it and cried and screamed until I shook. I knew God would carry us through and He did.

I was sad, frustrated, scared, discouraged and honestly, I was angry. I'd suddenly joined a club I didn't want to be a part of and I found myself envious of other pregnant women. But I told myself I needed to feel these emotions. I stayed home as much as I could for a week to allow myself to heal and process what was flooding through my head and heart.

Having Sweet P to fill my days with smiles got me through the dark spots and making things with my hands gave me something to do other than wallow. Because I very much wanted to wallow. But one day while I was playing with Sweet P, I felt a darkness come over me and I knew I couldn't give in to it. How easy it would be to fall prey to the sadness I felt and lose myself in it all. I said "God, get him away from me. I can't do this without you." And we carried on.

Even before I had one I knew how hush-hush miscarriages were. After I had one though, I was angry about how secretive it seemed. I was mad that no one talked about them, like they were some terrible secret that should be hidden away. And while I thought I was alone, I realized one day how many women I knew who had gone through this exact same thing. And as I read and heard more and more stories, I felt overcome with grief for those who had lost babies at a much later stage. Not to discount our tragedy, but I could not imagine the pain of a woman who'd lost a baby at delivery or further along in her pregnancy. I cried for these women and for myself.

I found myself wanting to be alone, but yearning for a woman to come sit with me. I didn't ask anyone to come over because honestly, I just wanted my mom. While the Farmer was wonderful through the process, something about having your mom nearby makes things better. She couldn't come because of work, but she and Auntie Rosita checked on me every day.

4 weeks after the miscarriage I doubled over in pain and had the Farmer take me to the ER. I had a cyst on an ovary and they said it wasn't anything to worry about, but I was scared and worried it was something bigger than that. I sat one night praying that I would be okay, asking God to keep me healthy because Sweet P needed me. And a follow-up ultrasound showed that things were okay.

6 weeks to the day I began miscarrying, a dear friend shared news that her baby didn't have a heartbeat and the rebuilding I'd done came crumbling down as I lay on the floor telling God I couldn't do this again. And for the first time asked him "Why? Why her? Why now?" And knew I wouldn't get an answer. Because there wasn't one. And because He didn't do this. And again, I knew He'd carry us through. And He is.

It took me awhile to realize it wasn't something I did and it wasn't something I could prevent. But after having a relatively easy pregnancy and a healthy Sweet P, I was blindsided by the miscarriage. I was naive to think it would be this simple the 2nd time. Not that it can't be, but that isn't always the case.

We had a memorial out at the farm one cold afternoon in November. We bought a balloon that said "Thinking of You" that had birds flying on it and took it out to the farm. I'd written a prayer and the Farmer held Sweet P while I read it out loud. Afterward, we put the balloon in Sweet P's hand and had her let it go. I stood with the Farmer watching it fly away, getting smaller and smaller. I cried as I realized the symbolic nature of the balloon, but the memorial gave us closure as we said goodbye to our baby.

So here we are, 12 weeks later. Continuing to heal. I know God has a plan for us. One greater than we could ever imagine. We are so thankful for our precious little girl and she fills our days with songs and laughter. We may never know why we lost our baby. But I want women to know that they aren't alone. That it happens more than we know and that it's okay to talk about it if you want to. It's okay to talk about the baby and grieve for all the things you looked forward to doing. And that the pain is still great even if you already have a child and in the words of the Farmer's mom: don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

To our baby: I know we won't meet you in this life time, but I will love you and treasure your memory always.

"A person's a person no matter how small." ~Dr. Seuss (thanks, Val)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

I received a Stylish Blogger Award last week from Jen at Lil Mop Top and am finally sitting down to claim it! Stop by Jen's blog to see the fun things she's up to. Thanks for the award, Jen!

The rules to accepting the award...
1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 5 recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers to tell them about the award.

So 7 things about me...let's see.
1. I truly enjoy speaking in public.
2. I'm a middle child and definitely have middle-child syndrome.
3. I'm obsessed with Trader Joe's sparkling water and drink one almost every day.
4. I don't have a favorite color.
5. I've visited 31 states in the US.
6. My husband and I LOVE movies and watch a new one at least once a week. We're not fans of rewatching movies.
7. I'm addicted to The Biggest Loser.

I'm awarding this award to:
1. Auntie Rosita @ Rosita Designs (this blog wouldn't be stylish without her help and because she's the most stylish person I know!)
2. Liz @ Fast Daze

Friday, January 21, 2011

Confetti Cupcakes from Scratch

We had reason to celebrate after the Farmer's day today and I wanted to make something sweet and scrumptious for dessert. Since the Farmer doesn't like chocolate, it needed to be a non-chocolate chip cookie or something with white cake. While googling cupcakes from scratch I saw one with sprinkles in the mix and decided to make some of my own with my trusty cupcake frosting. They're funfetti cupcakes without the store bought cake taste!

I'm a firm believer that most cakes (mixes and otherwise) have too much sugar in them so the first thing I did was cut the sugar down. Then I combined the white flour with whole wheat flour to make a heartier cupcake. The recipe I found called for almond extract and I neither like nor have almond extract so that ingredient got pitched immediately. We only have soy milk in the house so I used that as a substitute for milk and since I think cupcake liners are a waste of paper when I'm making them for us, I buttered up that cupcake pan like you wouldn't believe.

The Recipe: Confetti Cupcakes

What you need:

1/2 c soy milk (or regular milk)
3 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c white flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp sprinkles (single color or rainbow)

Preheat oven to 350˚. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin like nobody's business. In a small bowl, whisk together egg whites, soy milk and vanilla.
In a large bowl (use your KitchenAid mixer bowl if you are going to use the mixer), combine flours, sugar and baking powder. Cut in butter using the paddle attachment (or use a pastry blender if you aren't using the KA mixer) on low speed until the batter resembles crumbs.
Add the soy milk/egg mixture and beat on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl and beat for another 30 seconds. Remove bowl from KA mixer.

Stir in sprinkles.
Pour batter into prepared muffin tin. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before icing.

Makes 12.


The Frosting
1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter (room temperature and cut into tbsps)
4 c powdered sugar
1/4 c soy milk (or regular milk)
Sprinkles (optional for topping)

Using a mixer (handheld of KA), beat butter on medium speed until creamy. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and continue beating at medium speed. Pour in half of the milk and another cup of powdered sugar. Continue beating as you add the rest of the milk and another cup of powdered sugar. Slowly add the last cup of powdered sugar as you beat the mixture. Beat on high speed for 5 (yes, I said 5) minutes until the frosting is fluffy and creamy.
*Add more powdered sugar for a stiffer frosting)
Frost the cupcake using a spatula or knife. Sprinkle with sprinkles!


I'm linking up HERE.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Felt Mustaches


I saw these made out of scrapbook paper somewhere and thought they'd make fun stocking stuffers for my silly family. I had tons of felt scraps leftover from the Felt Car Mat so I used those and some skewers I found in a drawer in the kitchen to make these felt mustaches. You also need a glue gun, of course. Since I had everything I needed these funny little staches were free to make!

I freehanded the mustaches by doubling up the felt and cutting. It might be easier to draw the mustaches on a piece of paper first and cut them out to use as a template.

Then take the sharp end of the skewer and hot glue it to the back piece of the mustache. Line the edges of the back piece with hot glue and attach the front piece to complete the mustache. That's it! You're done!

Hold the skewer in your hand and bring the mustache under your nose to show off your new look.

Here's Sweet P showing off her mustache. She didn't make it into the group picture because it had been a long day of Christmas activities and she was beat (did I mention she woke up at 4:30am on Christmas Day?).
Bonus points if you can guess the video game in the background, a gift for my brother-in-law. He definitely had the funniest mustache, the brown one.

I'm linking up here: Linky Parties

Monday, January 17, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday

I haven't been checking out the themes lately, but there isn't a theme this week so I lucked out! She L-O-V-E-D the pita/hummus combo. Like I said last week, all I hear around here at lunch time is "hummus, hummus, hummus." I found mini pitas at Trader Joe's and I'm pretty sure I did a little dance in the aisle. I was a little concerned that she wouldn't eat the fresh spinach, but she gobbled it right up. Hummus is like ranch dressing around here!
Clockwise from top left: blueberries, pita w/ hummus and fresh spinach, apples, avocado, pita w/ hummus and avocado, celery

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tot School: Week 9


Sweet P is 20.5 months old

We tried to get back into the swing of things this week. But things get a little crazy when daddy's still home from work (the joys of working at a college!).

I tried to set out just a few things for her to work with this week since she'd been overwhelmed with toys and such during our vacation. We'd play with those things first and then move on to something else if she still wanted to play downstairs. We also worked on putting something away before we got something else out. She seems to understand this pretty well, but needs to be reminded each time. Her defaults in the basement are 2 books she got for Christmas. They'll be listed at the bottom (because we read them several times this week!).

I bought cookie sheets at Dollar Tree awhile back to use at tot trays. Here's what I put on them this week:
Dry-erase markers and magnets for her easel, My Little Word Book and fruit flashcards I made out of scrapbook paper and fruit from File Folder Fun.

She loves her new easel and had a lot of fun coloring with the dry erase markers. We played several color games with them.
I set out the magnets and let her put them all over the board. Later in the week (no picture), I'd hand her one magnet at a time and tell her the letter or number and she'd put it on the board. When I started doubling them up, she'd find the letter or number like it on the board and put it next to it!
Gammie got Sweet P this cute Bear Dress Up Puzzle for Christmas. The faces have different emotions on them (sad, happy, angry, surprised, sleepy and sick). She really likes this puzzle and the Happy face. I tried setting them in front of her and asking her which one was "happy?" "surprised?" "sick?", but so far she only does happy and sleepy (because anything/one with their eyes closed is "night night").
Fruit Flashcards: She really liked this game. When she first started she went really fast and just put them anywhere so I told her to look at the picture on the card and she got the hang of it. We tried a few variations, but she liked the matching best.
$2 tunnel from Ikea!
Auntie K got Sweet P the coolest book called Round and Round the Jungle (the book we have has a different cover, she got it at Barnes and Noble in the Bargain Books section). It has puzzle pieces that you pull out to make a track for a little toy tiger. It is SO neat. I think I like it just as much as she does! It teaches her so many things at once and she loves that little tiger. When she's ready to put him away she says "night night."

Nana got her a book called Whose Back is Bumpy? with pieces you can pull out that have textured bodies. This book can also go in the bathtub! She really likes the rhino and snake.
We finally played with her felt car mat! She's not quite sure what to do with it, yet. She played with her cars for a few seconds, then wrapped herself up in it like a blanket!

Auntie Kannon also got Sweet P the Melissa & Doug band set. We left the cymbals in Dallas and Gammie just mailed them to us this week so Sweet P went to town. It gets cold in the basement (hence the hat and blanket!).


Snowflake Matching: I printed this from 1+1+1=1's Winter Tot Book. I printed 2 sheets, laminated both, left 1 whole and cut the other into snowflakes. This one was tough for her at first, but after a few tries she got going. After we finished, we made it snow with the snowflake pieces (she now wants it to "noooo!" with all sorts of toys).
Vegetable flashcards: Later in the week I cut/laminated vegetable flashcards like the fruit flashcards from File Folder Fun. This was a great activity to introduce her to other veggies that we don't eat much of like artichokes and radishes. I think these and the fruit will be great for teaching her about healthy foods (the Farmer said we need to make pictures of junk food to teach her the difference, ha).
That was our week last week. This week we are working on the Letter A. See what other tot moms are doing at 1+1+1=1.