Sunday, January 25, 2015

Perfect Brownie: German Chocolate Edition

I made this using my perfect brownie recipe as a base. It turned out so good that I ate a whole quarter of it by myself within 45 minutes of it coming out of the oven! This brownie is truly a real brownie too, not just a dense cake-like confection. If you make it in a shallower baking dish, the top comes out crisp and the insides are soft. Served warm with a little milk or ice cream on top, it is perfectly perfect.

Perfect Brownie
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 t vanilla

Combine dry ingredients, stir with fork. Set aside. Combine wet ingredients, whisk until eggs are completely busted up (nice culinary term, eh?). Add wet to dry, stirring with fork until totally incorporated with no dry lumps. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-30 minutes (depending on the baking dish - a wide/shallow baking dish will be done sooner than a deep/narrow baking dish).
To make these German chocolate, I added 1/4 bag shredded coconut, 1/2 bag butterscotch chips, and 1/8 cup brewed coffee.

I'm 37 weeks pregnant! I'm allowed to eat all the brownies!
Nom nom nom.

Cooking with M: Weekly Meal Plan

Mmm mmm mmm look what's for dinner! You may have noticed that I'm sticking to simple, filling, easy-to-make recipes. Doing that is much easier with a newborn right now. The fancier dinners, including things I've never made before, are coming once life settles down more.

Bar-b-cue chicken thighs and baked potatoes
Baked tilapia with broccoli and rice

Steaks with corn and mashed potatoes

Waffles with mixed fruit salad

Green salad with shredded chicken on top

Black beans and rice with sweet Italian sausage 
Watch for a post with this recipe Friday.

Jamaican Allspice pork chops with peas, carrots and baked potatoes

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Charts Galore

My next phase of preschooler-taming is going to focus on charts and behaviour. We have a really hard time getting JI to get ready for school in the morning, a hard time getting him to understand that vitamins are once a day only and a hard time getting him interested in anything other than the tablet. So I made up a few charts for him to look at and fill up so that he can visualize his rewards.

First is the tablet earning chart. JI has to do nine good things to earn tablet time.An example of a good thing would be doing what I ask of him on the first request or no poop talk (he literally walks around singing, "Poopy dupey!"). Every time he does a good thing, he gets to color in one block, as well as one block for completing the activities chart.

The activities chart lists four things JI must do before he can do anything technology related. He has to do all four to earn a smiley on the face, and once he gets the smiley he can fill in his block on the tablet chart.

The vitamin chart is for both JI and me. I am constantly forgetting to take my medicine and JI is constantly asking me if he can take more of his, so I made a chart where we can mark to show that we already took our medicine and vitamins that day.

The final and simplest chart is the morning routine chart. I made this one super plain because JI is a big crab in the morning and would not want to mess with anything that requires much thought.I put three sections of the three things that must be done before anything else can happen-- diaper off; clothes on; and coat and shoes on. If he does this without fighting, he can get an instant reward of a mint or five minutes on my phone.

Some might say that these charts are too advanced for a 3 year old, but I disagree. JI loves to see his behaviour in action, and enjoys coloring in blocks to fill up a column or put stickers on to show his progress. He's very motivated by completing things. I have high hopes for these charts. I made them all on the computer in Word, using tables and free clipart. This makes it easy for me to change anything should the need arise.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Things M has Learned (so far) Having a Newborn and Toddler

There's a learning curve for everything we do in life. Having two kids, one a toddler and one a newborn, one a boy and one a girl, is no exception. B was born two months ago now so I thought I'd share list of things I've learned so far. Expect to see more in the future.

1. Anyone who says a boy's diapers are easier to change have never done
a girl's. That, or they're just plain lying leading you astray. In theory, boys should be easier. They're not. They're really, really not. Mommy has to master the pee-pee arc dodge, learn to wipe pee off walls and become a ninja with how fast you have to wipe and slap on a new diaper. Boys have more nooks and crannies than an English muffin (or a girl) at least as babies. Mommy has to clean them all and move bits around to get all the sticky icky poo off. All before the pee-pee arc dodge and wall wiping come into play--which isn't going to always be successful, hence having to learn them. Girls dribble if Mommy doesn't get a diaper on fast enough. There's no spray. There's nothing like seeing your daughter's wide eyes as she watches you change her brother's diaper and an arc of pee shoots up high into the air. She stands pointing at the pee, amazed at how quickly you deflected it with a diaper to hit the wall, rather than her.

2. Someone is going to end up unhappy. With two kids who are still at the age where they needs lots of help, one tons of help, Mommy has to make a choice on who to help first. Neither will comprehend taking turns. He or she wants you to help them, now. If you don't, screaming, crying and possibly destruction will ensue. The problem is, it's impossible to take care of both at the exact same time. Someone is going to have to go first and that other someone is going to not like it. Most of the time, it'll be the baby who comes first which then causes the toddler to feel left out. It's heartbreaking to have to make the choice and even more heartbreaking to hear a child cry when he or she just needs mommy's help. Sometimes, it'll be Mommy that needs something immediately (like going pee before there's also a mess on the floor to clean up). That has the potential for leaving two kids unhappy.

3. One-on-one time is a must. Each kid needs to feel special and like the center of Mommy's universe they are. It's Mommy's job to make that happen by juggling schedules and activities to spend special time with each. The baby automatically gets cuddles, kisses and love as he is fed often and needs to be held much of the time. There still needs to be time where that happens without the distraction of watching a toddler at the same time. Conversely, the toddler has had Mommy all to herself for awhile now. She doesn't understand having to share Mommy. She wants all the love. Taking the time to cuddle, hug and do something fun with her without baby brother around is special for her, and for Mommy. Enjoy the special time you have with each.

4. Be flexible. Daily life, and life in general, doesn't often go how we want. For example: Bed times aren't always going to happen at the set bed time. In fact, having a range of when bedtime makes things much calmer for all involved. That way, Mommy isn't freaking out when bedtime is a half hour later because dinner had to be cleaned up off the floor and the toddler didn't want to put on jammies and brush her teeth. She much preferred to dump out more toys while being chased around and told it's bed time. Mommy feels accomplished because she met the bedtime goal. Flexibility in nap time is also helpful. If toddler and baby MUST NAP AT X TIME, COME HELL OR HIGH WATER!! it's going to be hard to fit in things like errands, events, doctor appointments and, well, life. If the kids are used to a more variable naptime, say, somewhere between 1-3 p.m., and are used to missing it every now and then, it won't be as big of a disaster when nap time doesn't happen as planned. This really goes for anything--rigid schedules will get bent. Remember science class? That hard, inflexible pencil will snap. The nice, pliable paper can be folded into something else just as beautiful, if not what you'd planned for it to be.

5. Foster sibling love. Having big sister help change diapers (read: be in the room, hand over the diaper or wipes) makes her not only feel special and included but more connected to her baby brother. Letting her put a blanket on the baby when he's in his swing or on his play mat achieves the same goal. Keeping her involved and encouraging giving baby kisses and hugs builds a bond and connection that lasts a lifetime. It's beyond priceless to see the look of total adoration big sister gives the baby and him giving her the same one in return.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

We're on Facebook!

Everyone is on Facebook now it seems. It as time we joined as well. Come like us on Facebook so you can know when the latest posts are up and read more from K and M. You'll find posts from both of us, pictures, links to other pages, recipes, crafts, news articles, etc., that we like and lots more. You're invited to comment, post and share articles and ideas with us. We can't wait to see you there! Click on a link in this post (like this one) or search for K&M: The Stay-at-Home Life to find us.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Looking Ahead to 2015 with M

A new year means new plans. New goals. New hopes. New dreams. So much new comes when the clock ticks over to midnight January 1. For me, I have a number of these for the blog, my family and myself this year.

M2 is finally old enough to start  doing more crafts. I've got a number of ideas in my head and on Pinterest I'm excited to do with her this year. Even before she was born, I was thinking of all the fun things I could do with her.

Usually, I do baking and cooking for the holidays. None of that happened last year with pregnancy and a new baby. I just wasn't up for it. My KitchenAid mixer and other fun baking gadgets, many that I've never gotten a chance to use, are torturing me with their presence, whispering, "use me! use me!" All the recipes I stock piled, from tried and true to new-and-nifty looking are on the roster for creation and sharing. Some of the baking I'll be having M2 help with. She's already showing an interest in baking.
A previous creation.
I had planned a veggie garden last spring then realized with morning sickness and pregnancy it wasn't the right time. Those plans are back. Having two kids, including a newborn, means the garden will be scaled down. Maintaining a huge one, without having experience, just doesn't seem wise. It'll go in this spring as my first attempt at putting in a garden and at growing veggies.

My budget is getting revamped after tax time to establish where we stand and figure in a fourth family member. Another year of tweaking the budget as we go is on the horizon since we've never had two kids before. Last year it changed over the first few months as we'd never had a house of our own before.

Having two kids is the biggest endeavour of the year. Learning how to raise a boy (I'm used to girls), keeping up with two kids, reaching the toddler stage, making new mom friends, finding friends for the kids, helping M2 with her speech and overall learning, keeping her active and busy, along with joining a local church to give us better roots and meet people are all current and upcoming challenges.

I'm not great at meeting new people as I'm quite shy at first and don't have the best confidence in doing it so joining a church, and joining a new mom-and-baby playgroup are more difficult for me than you'd expect. Even going to library time to meet other moms is hard--I'm not the type who can just walk up to someone and easily start a conversation. Though, oddly, in the professional world I have no problem with it. Go figure. These things are important for finding the kids friends and making my own though, so I'll be doing it.

Weight loss is a big focus of the year. I have 25 pounds of baby weight to lose (I lost about 45 so far). Before getting pregnant, I was working on losing a substational amount. Once the baby weight is off, I'm going to continue on that journey. I'm going to be looking at is as giving up extra weight as that sounds more positive and happy than having a loss.

Focusing on the positive and being more upbeat are both things on which I'm working. I'm a worrier so I tend to see all that can go wrong which can get in the way of things. So does being a perfectionist. I need to focus more on the good, rather than the things that aren't prefect. Because, let's face it, nothing in life is perfect.

The kids' clothes are organized already.
Organization is something I work on bit by bit each year. We've lived in this house for almost two years so it's overhaul time. In preparation for baby B, we cleaned out lots of stuff from the basement. Now, it needs to be organized. I've got a few organization projects on the horizon. The extra food storage already got a good clean out last week. Being able to know what we've got, what we need and that it's all easily at hand is nice. Side note: had I done it sooner, I would have known we had a solid shelf of just pasta. Should the zombie apocalypse come, we'll be eating pasta and canned veggies. Those two things alone will allow us to stay fed for quite some time.

Being a better mom is an important goal for me. I don't think I'm a bad mom, there are just things I'd like to do and be better at. For example, the finding the kids  more friends that I mentioned earlier. Family day trips are something we don't do often enough. I plan to change that. I'd also like to see the ones we do have more often. This is also part of improving myself as a person. Many little things make up these two goals.
A previous zoo trip.
Daily life is a bit rocky right now. Our schedules are still being fleshed out. I had the cooking, cleaning, child care, errands and playtime balanced pretty well previously. Getting back to that will help me be less stressed and be able to fit in some of the other plans I've mentioned. The daily activities are what we spend most of our time doing. It takes up most of our lives so I want it to be enjoyable, stress free and easy rather than hectic, disjointed and craycray. Well, at least as much as possible. As John Lennon said, "Life is what happens while we're busy making plans." I want to enjoy that life and those plans.

All of this will find its way onto the blog throughout the year. My goal here is to post more, bring in more traffic and grow as we get into our second year in a few months. The first year has gone great, better than expected in fact. It's important to me to keep that momentum going. You can expect more of the things we usually talk about with new topics thrown in to liven things up. K and I appreciate all our readers and are so happy you join us for our stay-at-home mommy adventures.