Friday, August 30, 2013

14 weeks

Here is what is going on with Elisha this week according to;

At last, your baby's sleep patterns may start to settle down, giving you some rest. Many 4-month-olds sleep for a six-hour stretch through the night, though others still wake for an occasional feeding. Some babies take until age 6 months or later to sleep through the night, though, so don't get your hopes up! Two daytime naps are usual now.
Your baby's starting to draw conclusions about the world around him. He's looking at everything with curiosity, even his own reflection.

Prop an unbreakable mirror next to him or sit him in front of your mirror when you're getting ready. Your baby won't realize that it's actually his image in the mirror (this usually begins to happen well into the second year), but that doesn't matter. He'll love to stare at his — or anyone else's — reflection, and he may show his delight by an all-out gum grin.

Your baby may stop sucking his thumb or bottle to listen to your voice. By cooing or making noises at him, and by describing even the most mundane household chore, you're not only connecting with him but also encouraging him to express himself. Wait and see if he "answers."

Your baby is becoming more animated and engaging (even with others) — flashing smiles, oohing, and cooing. And the fun has really begun as he's starting to laugh.

When you're with friends, keep your baby nearby so he can hear the richness of human interaction. He'll enjoy watching the antics of other babies, toddlers, and pets, but keep up your guard: Neither he nor they know the rules of safe engagement just yet.

Anything within your baby's reach is fair game now. While he's mastering his grabbing skills, give your baby interesting things to hold: lightweight rattles that are easy to grasp, a plastic or rubber ring to hold with both hands, squeaking toys, or soft stuffed animals.

Your baby will start to favor one hand for a while and then switch to the other, but you can't really tell whether he's a lefty or a righty until he's about 2 or 3 years old.

Elisha is doing great.

He is still sleeping about 6-8 hours at night, getting up around 4ish most mornings.  He usually takes 3 naps during the day, 1 being for 2 hours or more, and then other 2 being an hour or less.

He is for the first time starting to tolerate and enjoy being on his belly.  I'll lay him on a blanket in the middle of the floor, sometimes propped up on a boppy, and Noah always comes and lays next to him and gets a kick out of being able to interact with and make his brother laugh.

Elisha is also starting to enjoy the mobile in his crib (which he is almost never in).  I can lay him on his back looking up at the mobile and leave him there to be entertained for a bit.  Anytime that Noah realizes this is what is going on he climbs straight into the crib and lies on his back next to Elisha while they both watch the mobile.

He is still so happy, healthy, and getting thicker by the week.  He is a very active baby, constantly moving his body around and looking to engage anyone with eye contact whom he can capture.

We took the boys to the aquarium last week, and I thought that Elisha would be too young to enjoy it, but I was wrong.  He LOVED it and had a great time starting at the sharks and fish, when I would turn around so that he was no longer facing them he would turn his head from side to side trying to see them again.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hasselback Potatoes with Garlic, Rosemary, and Lemon

I made these Hasselback Potatoes with Garlic, Rosemary, and Lemon.  I thought they were good, an an elegant twist on a plain old baked potato.  Jeremy was very unimpressed, thinking it was just a plain old baked potato.  He ended up eating his with ketchup, saying he'd prefer them sliced all the way and cooked as fries or chips.  If I made them again I'll probably slide some parmesan in between the potato slices also.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

So That

Back in February I was going through a season of comparison, jealousy, bitterness, and resentment.  I was discontent.  And it affected everything I did, said, and thought.  It was toxic.

I remember that one of the particular things I was struggling with during this period was feeling negatively about all of the things that being a mother of a busy toddler was keeping me from doing.  I was looking at all of the things that I was missing out on and letting them convince me that my child was a burden, inhibiting me actually living and enjoying my life well.  (I know these feelings aren't pretty, but that's the ugliness my heart was going through at that time. I can assure you that I feel very strongly about my calling as a mother, and although there are hard days, I consider my children, and being a mom a blessing and pure joy).

I was looking selfishly at everything and how it was affecting me.  Things like community group, where I would spend most of my time wrangling an energetic child rather than being engaged in group discussion, started to seem unfair.  I wondered why I even bothered to go if I didn't get to participate in the discussion.

One day I took the opportunity to discuss these negative feelings with an older, wiser, more spiritually mature woman who I was spending time with.  I played the victim all too well and mentioned all the things that were hard for me and I was unable to do in this season of life.  Then she, full of grace, shared with me some insight from the time she was spending in the book of John.
John 1:6-7 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.
John 1:31  I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.”
John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(and there are many other verses in John with this phrase)

She shared with me that this was my "so that".  I was sacrificing/ doing these things so that my child would be included in community, one day coming to a relationship with Christ, and to raise up the next generation.

This was truth being spoken to me straight from the Lord.  It hit me so hard it almost felt like my heart was going to stop.

Of course I had already known in my head that one of the greatest Christian principles is loving others, and putting the needs of others above my own needs.  That in making Jesus Lord of my life, I chose to die to myself and find life in an through Him.  Yet somehow the application of these principles had alluded me.  I had somehow gotten so small minded that I couldn't get my eyes off of myself and how things were affecting me to see the bigger picture.  I had lost sight of the fact that my life is not my own and is not about me.

It was like a light bulb had turned on.  Of course I should be putting the needs of others above my own.  Of course I should be joyfully spending time with the children (who were so important to Jesus).  Of course this has eternal impact, probably even more so than the conversations, or me centered things that I thought I was missing out on.

It was a great encouragement to take a step back and consider the "so that's" of my current circumstances, and refocus on why I do the things I do, and have made and continue to make certain decisions.

So friend, if you're feeling frustrated, worn down, tired and weary, I encourage you to take some time to reflect on your "so that's", and to above all else, seek His love, rest, and peace, because without these, all of the things/ acts/ sacrifices that we do and make are futile.

Cilantro Lime Slaw

Cilantro Lime Slaw

I served this as a side dish for fish tacos.  I usually shred 1/4 of a head of red cabbage for a taco topping, and then find something to make with the other 3/4 of the cabbage.  This is the perfect side item to use up the leftovers.  Jeremy, who doesn't like cole slaw, actually loved this stuff and ended up topping his fish tacos with the slaw instead of the plain cabbage, so this might need to be our regular accompaniment for fish tacos now.  You could substitute green cabbage for the red, do half and half, or use a bagged cole slaw mix

-1/4 c light sour cream
-1/4 c light mayo
-1 Tbsp lime juice
-1 Tbsp white vinegar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp cumin
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
-3/4 head red cabbage, shredded
-2 carrots, shredded

Whisk together the sour cream through cayenne.  Toss with cilantro, carrot, and cabbage.  Chill at least 2 hours prior to serving.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Indian dinner

Tonight Jeremy was inspired to cook me dinner, for the first time in years (aside from scrambled eggs).  He's been missing India and craving Indian food lately so he got the recipe for the fish from someone he partnered with while he was in India this year.  The fish was good.  It was fairly simple, inexpensive, healthy, and flavorful.  I whipped up a quick dal to go along with the fish.  The dal was good, but I think I'd do some things different next time... I tend to like my dal with spinach and tomatoes in it also.  So this recipe was just okay in my book... a good starting point, and I'd probably make a few additions next time.

Indian Fish Fry

-juice of 2 limes
-1/2 Tbsp tumeric
-1/2 Tbsp salt
-2 Tbsp masala
-1/2 tsp cayenne
-6 tilapia fillets
-vegetable or canola oil for frying

Combine the lime juice and spices in a dish.  Add the fish fillets and swirl to coat.  Allow to fish to marinate for 2-3 hours.  Cook fish in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, over medium heat, for 4 minutes per side.

12 weeks

Here is what is going on with Elisha this week according to;

During this month, your baby may be able to lift her head while on her back and hold it for several minutes. If sitting with support, she may be able to hold her head steady and erect. When she's on her stomach, you might see her lifting her head and chest as if she were doing mini-pushups. You can offer encouragement by sitting in front of her and dangling a toy.

Your baby can now wave her arms and kick her legs. As her hip and knee joints become more flexible, her kicks are getting stronger. And if you hold her up with her feet on the floor she should push down on her legs now. She can bring both hands together and open her fingers, though she'll probably use a closed fist to bat at dangling objects. (Of course, swatting at a toy or other object is developmental progress in itself!) Encourage her hand development by holding out a toy to see if she'll grasp it.

Starting about now, sleep-deprived parents may get some respite. By three to four months, your child's sleep patterns start to settle down. Many babies this age can even sleep through the night, though they may still wake up for the occasional feeds. But some children may not sleep through the night (which, for the first year, usually means just six hours at a time), for a good three to six months, so don't worry if your baby still wants to keep you up at night.

By three months, and probably earlier, your baby will have formed an attachment to you and be familiar with your face. Most likely she will still smile at strangers, especially when they look her straight in the eye and coo or talk to her. But she's beginning to sort out who's who in her life and definitely prefers some people to others.

The parietal lobe, the part of the brain that governs hand-eye coordination and allows a person to recognise objects, is developing rapidly now. And the temporal lobe, which assists with hearing, language, and smell, has also become more receptive and active. So when your baby hears your voice now, she may look directly at you and start gurgling or trying to talk back.

Reading to a child, no matter how small, will pay off. It helps your baby develop an ear for the cadence of language -- in fact, varying the pitch of your voice, using accents, singing, and vocalising make the aural connection between you and your baby that much more stimulating. But don't worry if she looks the other way or loses concentration -- adjust her stimulation by trying something else, or give her time to rest. Co-ordinate your interactions with her responses and interest.

There are also plenty of good books to read to your baby. Choose board books with large, bright pictures and simple text -- or even wordless books with pictures for you to narrate.

But at this point you needn't be slavish to age guidelines. Books designed for older children with clear, crisp images and bright colours can captivate a baby. Or you can even read poetry originally written for adult ears. What your baby doesn't understand will nonetheless delight her because of its musicality (you'll probably be amused as well).

This is a sensitive time when verbal stimulation is particularly important for your baby. Seize the moment and engage her with a variety of words and sounds. Recent research links higher intelligence levels to how many words a child hears in the first year of life. This is the time to set a sound foundation. Even a trip to the shops can be a chance to stimulate your child -- as you roam the aisles, point to objects and identify them by name. Your baby can't repeat these words yet, but she's storing all the information in her rapidly developing memory.

A baby in a bilingual home will get double the language training if she regularly hears both languages spoken. If you'd like her to learn more than one language, have each parent speak to her in a different language.

Stimulate your baby's sense of touch with materials such as fur, tissue, felt, and terrycloth, or look for books that make touching a part of the reading experience. Touching, carrying, and massaging your baby, along with moving her through the surrounding air when you lift her, are powerful ways to relax her and may even increase her alertness and attention span.

Your child is set on "receive," drawing conclusions about the world around her. By now, she may respond to her face in the mirror by smiling (babies love looking at themselves), and she may stop sucking her thumb or bottle to listen to your voice. By cooing or making noises at her, and by describing even the most mundane household chore, you're not only connecting with her but also encouraging her to express herself. Even with others, your baby is becoming more animated and engaging -- flashing smiles, oohing and cooing. The fun has really begun. When you're with friends, keep her nearby so she can hear the richness of human interaction.

Elisha is doing great.

At his 2 1/2 month appointment last week he weighed 15 lbs 8 oz, which was at the very top of the charts for weight.  He was about average on length and head size.  He is quite a sturdy little chunk of a baby.  He's so thick and padded that I swear if we dropped him he would bounce back up.

This week he gained much better control of his hands and arms.  He can now reach out and touch the toy animals on the tray on his swing.  He has also started grasping rattles and small toys now.

Elisha has the biggest grin that I've ever seen.  When we look at him and talk to him he stares straight back at us with a gummy grin that engulfs his whole face.  I LOVE it!

Monday, August 12, 2013

11 weeks

Here is what is going on with Elisha this week according to;

Your little one first discovered her hands a couple of weeks back, and now she's downright fascinated with them. Watch as she examines them, puts them in her mouth, and tries to suck on them.

Don't worry if your baby becomes a bit obsessed with her newly discovered digits: This form of self-comfort can be very soothing for your baby — and can possibly give you a little break, too.
This week, when you go to pick up your baby, she may be able to lift her head and hold it up for several moments, or even longer, while lying on her back. When sitting with support, she should be able to hold her head steady and erect.

When she's on her stomach, you might see her lifting her head and chest to about 45 degrees as if she were doing mini-pushups. You can offer encouragement by sitting in front of her and dangling a toy.

For a fun game that also develops her neck muscles, place your baby on her back and slowly pull her up by her hands to a sitting position. Slowly ease her back down, and repeat. She should be able to hold her head in line with the rest of her body as it's pulled up.

Your baby may be ready for a jogging stroller at 4 months, but stick to smooth pavement for now. Running trails will be too bouncy for her at this point, unless she can hold her head up well and is able to sit up. When her head is steady, she may be ready for a backpack with good support and a headrest.

Reading to your baby, even at this young age, will pay off. Hearing you read helps your baby develop an ear for the cadence of language. Varying the pitch of your voice, using accents, and singing will make the connection between you and your baby that much more interesting.

If she looks the other way or loses interest while you're reading, just try something else or give her time to rest. Take your cue from her responses.

You'll find plenty of good books to read to your baby — such as Goodnight MoonGood Night Gorilla, and The Big Red Barn. Choose board books that have large, bright pictures and simple text — or even wordless books that have pictures for you to narrate. At this point you needn't be slavish to age guidelines. Books designed for older children can captivate a baby if they have clear, crisp images and bright colors.

You can even read out loud to your child from something written for adult ears — try reading from the newspaper, your favorite novel, or a magazine. Whether it's Shakespeare or the latest bestseller, if you enjoy reading it, your baby will like hearing the rhythms of your voice.

Elisha is doing great.

He's getting bigger, and more alert and interactive all of the time.

He is such a good baby.

Right now he sleeps from 8 pm until around 4 or 5 ish in the morning.  He also takes a bit of a morning cat nap at some point, a 3-4 hour nap in the middle of the day, and maybe another cat nap sometime in the afternoon or evening.  We usually spend our mornings on the go, running errands, or having playdates for Noah, so Ellisha is very flexible and catches little bits of sleep along the way... usually in the stroller, or car.

With Noah I worked around his schedule, and catered to his needs, but with Elisha, we're mostly just pulling him into what we already have going on.  At first I felt a little guilty for this, like this is a problem.  But the more I think about it, the world does not revolve around any one person, or baby, and him learning that a little sooner than my first born doesn't seem like such a bad thing to me.

With Noah, I adhered fairly strictly to sleep scheduling and parent directed feeding models.  With Elisha, I am still trending towards those models, but with a lot more flexibility than I had with Noah.  He pretty much naturally settled into a schedule on his own, so I didn't have to force that issue.  The main difference with Elisha is that I rarely give him the opportunity to "cry it out", as I did the majority of the time with Noah.  This isn't really due to a change in my parenting philosophy, but is more a reflection of me not wanting Elisha to wake up Noah, or our neighbors (whose bedroom wall is against the wall that Elisha sleeps in) in the evening or middle of the night with crying.  The good news is that Elisha seems to fuss less, and go to sleep a lot easier than Noah did (and I thought that Noah was a good and easy baby).  He goes to sleep in the evening usually without fussing one bit, and the same with any middle of the night, or early morning feedings.  On multiple occasions, I remember that Noah would lie in his cradle crying endlessly, and the only way that I could get him to stop was to bring him in bed with us.  I have never had to do that with Elisha, he has never been fussy or unable to sleep in the middle of the night.

Elisha enjoys his swing, and way prefers sitting up straight to laying down.  He is very alert and aware, constantly glancing around a room and taking it all in.  He also constantly rubs his hands together like he is doing in these pictures, and frequently sticks them in his mouth.

As of now, he has completely quit taking a pacifier or a bottle altogether.  He doesn't want anything to do with anything plastic in his mouth.  Noah was the same way, and I thought it would be different this time around by never going more than a week in between bottles, but he quit anyway.  One week he took it, and the next he flat our refused, even though I've tried multiple nipples, bottles, and people giving them to him.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Broiled Hearts of Romaine

Broiled Hearts of Romaine

This is my friend Jill's recipe.  She served them with a poached egg on top, and some bread as a vegetarian dinner.  I think they are great for a side dish or salad course for a meal.  I think these would also be great with a little dijon mustard and/ or garlic in the dressing, and maybe some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.  I think Jill baked these at 450 for 10 minutes instead of broiling them, or you could even put them on a grill.

-2 hearts of romaine, sliced in half, rinsed, and water patted/ shook off
-1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
-1 Tbsp lemon juice
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Lay romaine face up a greased baking sheet.  Whisk together remaining ingredients.  Brush dressing over the hearts of romaine.  Broil 5 minutes, or until lettuce is wilted and begins to char.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Baked Eggs with Kale and Sausage

I made these Baked Eggs with Kale and Sausage.  The changes I made were to use turkey sausage and use the whole 1 lb roll for a 13x9 pan, and to use sharp yellow (not white) cheddar because that's what I had on hand.  This was delicious, and would be great with feta instead of the cheddar.  It's a little more sophisticated and healthier than the standard egg casserole, and even a little more easier to assemble.  Jeremy doesn't like kale, and the combination of cheese, sausage, and finely diced kale was enough to convince him to give it a try, and enjoy it this way.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

I have been on a caesar salad kick lately and wanted to make my own dressing.  I have an aversion to making and storing something with raw eggs in it, so using the mayo was my solution to that.  I used to get a chicken caesar pasta salad from a deli that I loved in VA, so I'm sure one day I'll also try tossing some cold spaghetti noodles in with the mix as well.

-homemade croutons
-chopped romaine
-shaved parmesan cheese
-choice of protein if desired (grilled chicken or shrimp)

-1/2 c light mayo
-1/3 c parmesan cheese
-1/4 c lemon juice
-2 anchovy fillets
-1 clove garlic
-1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1/2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce

Combine dressing ingredients in food processor and process until smooth.  Chill for at least 2 hours prior to serving.  Toss with assembled salad ingredients and serve.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Vietnamese Noodle Bowl

Vietnamese Noodle Bowl

For the last few months I have been constantly craving Vietnamese Vermicelli Noodle Bowls and Vietnamese Iced Coffee.  They have quickly become my favorite foods, so I thought I'd give the noodle bowl a try at home.  It turned out well, and is an easy, light, and healthy dinner.  Since I don't eat meat most nights with dinner I made this vegetarian,with just veggie toppings, but cooked tofu, shrimp, or chicken would be great in here as well.  Instead of the dressing listed, I've also used Sweet Chili Sauce Dressing or Ginger Peanut Dressing with these and all are great!  The peanut is Jeremy's favorite.  When serving to company I like to prepare 2 dressing options and let the guests assemble their bowls and choose a dressing to suit their own taste.

Bowl Ingredients
-Vermicelli rice noodles, cooked according to package directions
-shredded carrot
-cucumber, cut into matchsticks
-bean sprouts
-sliced avocado
-thinly sliced romaine lettuce
-chopped peanuts
-fresh herbs: cilantro, basil, and/ or mint
-lime wedges
-Sriracha sauce

-1/2 c fish sauce
-1/4 c rice vinegar
-1/4 c water
-1/3 c sugar
-2 Tbsp lime juice
-2 scallions, sliced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Whisk together dressing ingredients.

Set up a bar with the assorted bowl ingredients and let everyone assemble their bowl to their preference.  Top each bowl with a generous amount of dressing and enjoy.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Low Country Boil

I made this Low Country Boil by Paula Deen.I think I doubled the seasoning, and next time would at least quadruple it.  I also used turkey kielbasa for the sausage.  This was just ok, but an easy no fuss summer meal.  If I make it again I'll probably throw brussell sprouts and whole mushrooms in the pot also.

10 weeks

Here is what is going on with Elisha this week according to;

He's no Fred Astaire yet, but your little one's movements are getting a bit more coordinated. You'll notice that the jerky arm and leg movements of his newborn days have given way to smoother, more circular motions, especially when he's watching people.

Give your baby enough space to stretch and move his arms and legs. Lay a blanket on the floor and let him move as he pleases. These movements can help your baby strengthen and tone his developing muscles. On his tummy, he'll start to push off with his legs — the first step in getting on the move.
Whether you envision your little one sleeping independently in a crib at an early age or sharing a family bed in the coming years, a soothing and predictable bedtime routine will help your child nod off and get the rest he needs. And it's not too early to start.

Your routine can include rocking, singing, a bath, a bedtime story, cuddling with a transitional object (such as a soft blanket or stuffed animal), being carried around the house and saying goodnight to each room — whatever makes sense for your family. The ritual will evolve as your child gets older.
At this age, your baby should be open to making friends with babies and adults alike. You may notice that he smiles when he sees anyone come in the room or holds out his arms when someone wants to hold him.

Now's a good time to introduce your baby to sitters or other people who might be looking after him later on. Have potential caregivers come over and spend time with you and your baby. Later on, he may be consumed by stranger anxiety, making a simple introduction seem impossible.

Do remember that babies have different temperaments and some are less open to new people than others. If your baby doesn't welcome someone new with open arms, be patient, hold him close, and reintroduce him. It may just take some time. Familiar surroundings will help introductions go more smoothly.

Elisha is doing great!  He is such a sweet, happy, laid back baby!

He is now sleeping for 6-8 hour chunks at night, usually awaking between 3 and 5 am.

A week or two ago Noah started calling Elisha Ecko-lou (we have no idea what this is or where it came from), but it has kinda stuck, and more often than not we call him Eckolou instead of Elisha.

He loves to sit up and look around a room, whether it's propped against the couch, on a lap, or in his swing.  He definitely doesn't love to be in a reclined position anymore, unless he's sleeping.