Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pizza dough

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup very warm water (my mother taught me to use water as hot at it comes out of the tap, so about 120 degrees)

Combine and let sit covered in a reasonably warm place (so, not the fridge) for at least 1 hour.

Add approximately 2 cups of additional flour, kneading gently until just mixed. (Unfortunately, how much flour to add is something I could only teach you by feel. You want it to be soft and pliable but not sticky.)

Grease pizza pan with olive oil. Make sure you get oil on both hands.

Use your oily hands to spread the pizza dough over the pan. (It works especially well if you rub it around for a bit and then flip it over so both sides get oily.)

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.


Bake at 400 for 12-14 minutes or until cheese is golden-brown near the edges.

Topping variations:

Cheese: Use tomato sauce and spices of choice (I use the same combo as I do for spaghetti sauce), mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkle of parmesan.

Alfredo: Use a half batch of your favorite alfredo sauce, mozzarella cheese, and diced chicken.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: High needs and food

And here I am throwing out quick takes on Friday evening again. It's been a rough week here. I am not quite sure what's up; Tad has been chewing on his hands like there's no tomorrow so I'm inclined to say teeth but I'm not emotionally ready for molars yet. (I suppose he could be getting his canines out of order. Would that be better or worse than molars?) I also had somebody point out that there's a "Wonder Week" from 42-46 weeks old. Tad was 46 weeks on Wednesday (according to my Bump emails), but since he was early technically he's 43 weeks for WW purposes. That would make sense with his mood and sleep worsening last week. I am going with that theory because it means I can pretend this will be over in another 2.5 weeks or so.

Yesterday (Thursday) morning was the worst, with Tad waking up screaming at 4 a.m., going back down at 7, and then waking up *again* at 8. I had been planning on going to our monthly LLL meeting, but was feeling so depressed I almost skipped it out of sheer inertia. At 9:50 I decided we might as well be miserable somewhere else, so I changed Tad's diaper, stuck him in a sleeper (he had been undressed so he could eat an apple for breakfast), and schlepped down to the car. I arrived at the meeting at 10:05 (yes, it's really close) and literally walked into the middle of a conversation about how stressful and isolating it can be to have a high-needs baby. I'm definitely glad I didn't skip after all.

(One of the leaders said that LLL meetings probably have a higher than usual ratio of high-needs babies because their mothers are the ones who come to meetings desperate for help because their baby doesn't do what the books say he's supposed to.)

I was going to post a video of Tad pushing a box around the apartment, but I can't figure out how to make it not sideways, so I will talk about his language development instead.

Milk: The sign for this hasn't really resurfaced, but he has a "muh muh muh muh" sound that seems to be associated with "I want you to pick me up and nurse me."

All done: As I was writing this post, the baby was eating pizza. Once all his pizza was done, he said something like "gih dih" and raised his hand, palm up. (I wonder if the g sound is a conflation with "Do you want to get down?", which is something we usually ask when he's stuck on the furniture, not in his high chair. But he's a smart baby.) This is an evolution of his previous version of the "all done" sign, which involved smacking himself in the head. (And the associated sound is new.)

Mama: When I walk out of the room or otherwise am unreachable, he says "MA MA MA MA" insistently until I come over and pick him up. (This sound is distinct from the "muh muh" of milk, above.)

No: Another of his favorite babble strings is "nih nih nih nih", which seems to be associated with doing something he doesn't want us to do, like changing his diaper or strapping him into the carseat.

"Mama" is the only one that Scott has verified as being used in a decidedly word-like way. So odds are I'm making at least 75% of this up. But what's the point of being a neurotic first-time mom if I can't do that?

Tad is basically in love with Elsa at this point. I'd feel bad, but the 10 minutes he spent watching "Let It Go" on repeat on YouTube (while holding onto a chair and "dancing") turned out to be the only time I had today to stuff some diapers for him. I think he'd rather have a slightly rotten brain than have to sit in the same diaper for hours.

Plus, I don't think he really understands how screen time works. He gets just as excited about sitting on the kitchen floor staring at the microwave whenever I heat stuff up in there. Weird baby.

I've been working on a birthday/Christmas wish list for Tad on Amazon for probably four months (I like to plan ahead!) and realized the other day that it has 17 items on it. I was worried we'd look greedy, but then I sorted by price and noted that of those 17 items, 3 are under $5 (board books ftw), 6 more are between $5 and $10, and another 6 are between $10 and $20.

The only really expensive things are this block set and an Ergo. And the Ergo is just on there for my own reference. I should probably take it down before I give the list to anyone but my mother.

Food continues to be by far the best way to keep him entertained for any length of time. On Tuesday he spent literally a full hour eating an apple. (Well, mainly chewing off the skin and spitting it out, but it took far less than an hour to pick apple shavings up off the floor afterwards, so that was a net gain.)

Since I started him on three meals a day (did I mention that?) I've been trying to figure out a way to incorporate more vegetables. He ate frozen peas for lunch almost every day one week because I couldn't think of anything better. So this week I increased my crunchy mom cred by buying an avacado. I hope it keeps for a while, because nobody else likes avacado and he can't eat that much in one sitting.

I can't remember where, but I recently read a suggestion to use ground oatmeal as a substitute for bread crumbs. I tried this with some parmesan-breaded pork chops yesterday and it actually worked really well. I did not tell Scott about it, so we'll have to ask him if he noticed any difference from regular bread crumbs.

I've been sticking with my exercise New Month's Resolution so far. I did slack off on the water drinking for a few days (apparently that habit didn't get cemented enough in a month), but I pretty much immediately noticed the effects and got back in the saddle.

Even though none of my resolutions thus far have been food-related, I've been thinking about food more since I started. It occurred to me that I should eat more protein and vegetables (I eat about the right amount of dairy and fruit, and waaaaaay too many carbs). Then it occurred to me that the reason I don't eat more protein and vegetables is that they're much harder to prepare than the other food groups. I mean, if the time it takes to play through "Let It Go" is the only time I have to get myself a snack, I'm getting a bowl of ice cream, not peeling a few carrots or cooking up an omelette.

Maybe my resolution for next month should be to get rich and hire a personal chef.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Seven Quick Takes that get kind of sentimental at the end

I keep thinking of posts to write and not writing them. I have a housekeeping post (as in actual housekeeping, not blogging-about-blogging housekeeping) that is a little too involved for a Quick Take, I have at least two posts about PPD and related matters, I have a recipe or two I want to put up...but at the same time all this thinking has me too inwardly focused to write.

I have been keeping up with my September resolution to drink more water. I still don't feel like it's habitual. I had a good groove going for a while when I was pregnant and I'd basically get a snack/small meal and refill my water cup every 2-3 hours. Now I have a small needy person hanging off me all the time, so that kind of intense focus on my own bodily needs is not really possible.

My new month's resolution for October is to do at least 5 minutes of stretching-type exercises every day. 10 months postpartum, I still have no core strength at all and it's having a major negative impact on my ability to live my life and I'm sick of it.

The goal is only 5 minutes for two reasons: 1) I am that out of shape. 2) I get bored easily--thanks to #1, there are only a tiny handful of exercises I can do without hurting myself, and you really can't just keep cycling through those for 10 or 15 or more minutes.

Tad's interest in food is continuing to increase. I usually give him a normal child-sized portion (so, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of an adult-sized portion) simply because he makes such a mess I figure only about 10% makes it into his mouth, so he needs a fairly big portion.

Lately, though, I've been having to clean a lot less off his tray and his seat and the floor. He ate pretty much all of a hamburger patty last week, and just today ate probably a cup of macaroni and cheese.

I haven't been obsessively tracking his eating habits for a few weeks now, but I might start up again--not to watch for allergic reactions, but just to make sure he's getting enough vegetables and things now that he's getting a substantial amount of calories from his solids instead of just using them as a garnish for breastmilk.

His eighth tooth is definitely fully out now, yet somehow he's still chomping on his hands and drooling all over the place. There should really be a break in between the incisors and the molars. I need to contact some kind of Mom Union representative about this.

When we move to our new place and get all settled and hopefully totally toddler-proof the bedroom, I am probably going to crack down on his sleep habits. He's still not going to cry-it-out or anything, but he desperately needs better sleep and the grownups do too. So, we're checking out all the No-Cry Sleep Solution books ever written and he's going to have regular naptimes and all of that. For at least a week until I give up and let him do whatever he wants again.

Speaking of apartments, we have called a few places this week, but for various reasons have not yet actually scheduled any tours. Next week I will be running down the rest of my list--as much as my socially anxious brain can handle, anyway--and hopefully we'll at least get some good leads, because hey, we're supposed to move NEXT MONTH. Eek.

(When we got this apartment, we toured it one weekend and signed the lease the next and got married the weekend after that. It was a crazy month.)

He still can't quite walk, but he's been making strides (ha ha) in the talking department. I swear he's said "Mama" twice, though Scott is not convinced, and his babbling is getting more sophisticated. Instead of just repeating the same syllable over and over, he does these long strings of different consonants and vowels--and his inflection is down pat. It sounds exactly as if he's holding a conversation, just without any intelligible words.

As much as the sleep deprivation and the continual crying and everything else get to me--there are so many moments where he is just so precious it makes my heart hurt and I remember why I wanted to do this. I sat down and played with the shape sorter with him the other day and it just blew his little mind that I could get the blocks into the holes--so he sat and worked at it for a couple of days until he figured out how to get one in. (At which point I applauded and made much of him.) I put on YouTube videos for him and he dances, swaying back and forth with a big grin on his face. I sing for him and he dances even more enthusiastically and grins even more widely. Because the way he delights me on my best days--that's how he feels about me every day of his life.

It makes me want to be better just so someday I can be half as awesome as he thinks I am.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, September 29, 2014


The other day, Scott and I were talking about baby toys and how I don't like those annoying "educational" toys that basically just light up and make noises at you.

I outlined a few criteria for toys that I *do* like:

1. Open-ended. This includes blocks, dolls, that sort of thing. There isn't just one thing you can build with a set of blocks; there isn't just one narrative you can act out with a houseful of dolls.

2. Requires active play rather than passive consumption. So, a ball is better than a video, because with the ball you actually have to interact with it in order for it to do anything, whereas the video just goes on regardless of whether you're engaged or sitting there glassy-eyed staring into the middle distance.

Of course, there are exceptions to these rules, as there always are. :) For example, a book on tape is not really open-ended (unless it's a choose-your-own-adventure book on tape, I guess), nor does it require active participation. Does this mean I'll never let my kids listen to books on tape? Of course not! I plan to actively encourage it, in fact.

(For that matter, I don't think videos are inherently bad either--they just seem like they should be the dessert rather than the meat.)

I don't really have a point with this post...I'm just getting down these thoughts as they come to me so maybe one of these days they'll all mesh together into some kind of coherent educational philosophy.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Spinach burgers

Another of my husband's childhood favorites, modified slightly to suit my whims. These were so good that the 10-month-old ate a whole patty!

1 egg
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp minced dried onion (or 1 fresh onion)
2 lb ground beef
Spinach to taste (I used 5-6 ounces, or a little more than half of a package; the original recipe calls for a whole package)

Beat together egg, W. sauce, and onion.

Add beef and stir up a little.

Cook spinach in microwave for a few minutes until it gets wilty.

Stir spinach into beef mixture. This should give you enough moisture to make the beef stick together.

Form into patties and cook however you normally cook burgers. I sauteed mine in a skillet with a little butter. Makes about 16 patties, which is maybe 4 servings if you're hungry. ;)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Baby dreams

Some random memories

When we were in the hospital after Tad was born, he got examined periodically by nurses and pediatricians and so on, as you'd expect. He hated this and every time he'd scream until his whole body turned beet red. (His skin was practically transparent back in those days.)

Scott, being a tenderhearted sort of person, would always hover over the baby during these torture sessions, holding his hands and speaking soothingly and so on. (I was usually sitting in bed on the other side of the room.)

The nurse we had on our first night apparently found this annoying or something, because at one point she said, "You have to let him cry sometimes, you know" in an exasperated tone, and elaborated later that it was good for his lungs. We ignored her. Seriously, on what planet do 12-hour-old babies need to be left to cry?

(I am not saying that you can't ever use the bathroom or whatever if it means your newborn will cry, but there's no need to feel like you're damaging him by comforting him if that's what you prefer. Incidentally, people are always saying that AP proponents make new parents feel guilty, but all the guilt trips I've ever gotten have been from people trying to tell me that I'm being a martyr and I should put him down, let him cry, give him a bottle of formula, whatever.)


In the following weeks, Tad slept a lot and Scott and I did not. (This was before we discovered cosleeping.) Every now and then, Tad would stir and whimper in his sleep as if he was having a nightmare, and we'd try to figure out what a tiny baby could possibly be having nightmares about. Eventually we decided he was dreaming about nurses with cold hands, and that became a running joke we pull out anytime anybody is sleeping restlessly--"Must be dreaming of nurses with cold hands."


I quickly discovered that I could get Tad to settle down and sleep more deeply if I stroked him and whispered soothing things. I really liked the idea that I had the power to affect his dreams like that--I imagined that he was dreaming of scary things and then all of the sudden dreamed that his mama came and saved him from all the cold-handed nurses or whatever.

Because mamas are basically superheroes.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Seven Quick Takes 9/26

Today is my dad's 52nd birthday. This morning he posted a belated Throwback Thursday picture of his dad, who was killed in a car crash about a month shy of his own 52nd birthday. It's weird to think about--at the time, my dad was 25 and my older sister was about 6 months, so really he was at about the same phase of life as I am now (almost 25 and with a 10-month-old).

Matthew still likes a cup of milk before he goes to bed. The other day, instead of trotting off to sleep, he insisted on having more cups of milk until finally Mom cut him off. Apparently he then started yelling for me, claiming that I would give him his milk. It seems that the fact that I nurse Tad on demand has made quite the impression. (No, I am not sure if Matthew thought I would bring him regular milk or breastfeed him.)

Tonight's "It's the end of the month so we're going to throw random stuff together and call it dinner" experiment:

-Melt 1 stick butter in a skillet
-Add 1 lb tilapia; cook until white and flaky
-Add 1 lb frozen mixed vegetables; cook until thawed
-Add 1.5 cups brown rice, cooked (yes, I snuck that one up on you...)
-Add a squirt of lemon juice

I liked it and the baby seems to be enjoying his portion. Scott hasn't eaten yet because apparently he's Reading All The Things on Stack Overflow. (I don't know what Stack Overflow is, or I would link there.)

Last week I had a follow-up with my Creighton instructor. (No, she still hasn't figured out what my cycles think they're doing--I'm "back in cycles" now, btw. I'm sure you all really wanted to know that.) While talking about health insurance we got onto the topic of tongue and lip ties (since we paid for Tad's revisions OOP). Then later I was talking about how I never had milk supply issues in spite of my PCOS, which led to a discussion of how he was so sleepy the first few weeks it made it hard for him to nurse, and she chimed in with, "Plus I bet it was hard for him with his lip."

It's weird that a random RN whose training is in NFP can grok that, but most pediatricians and even quite a few LCs can't.

Tad's 8th tooth is basically through. I will have to have Scott look at it to confirm. I really hope that this means that some good sleep is around the corner for all of us, because we're all exhausted, especially Tad. I don't mind holding him for every nap and cosleeping and all that (well, not much--it would be nice if I could get stuff done during his naps), but I'd mind even less if it actually led to a well-rested baby instead of one who's just barely staving off exhausted breakdowns.

I am pretty sure he said "Mama" at one point earlier this week. It is hard to tell, though, because he babbles so much and "Ma ma ma ma ma" is one of his favorite syllable strings. In this instance, though, I set him down and walked out of the room and he yelled "MA MA MA MA" very emphatically until I came back and picked him up, at which point he stopped babbling and was happy.

A few weeks ago I discovered by sheer luck that Tad likes looking at books during church. He's made it three weeks in a row now without having to be taken to the back!

I figured Sandra Boynton, for all her virtues, is not very catechetical, so I asked for book recommendations on Facebook and my mom ended up volunteering to ship us all their religious board books that didn't get chewed up. She also sent a big wooden rosary. Tad liked the rosary best, but he might be too young for it still--he tries to eat the beads, and I'm not sure they're big enough to not be choking hazards.

I let him play with them for a few minutes and then put them in a bag for church. We'll see if the magic of book-reading lasts another Sunday.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!