Monday, January 30, 2017

Baby Wed Leaning: Spinach Banana Muffins

Now that Asher is officially eating solid foods, we get to once again experiment with baby led weaning recipes. We had so much fun cooking for Zahara when she was a baby and are excited to do the same for Ash.

Zahara and I made these muffins together this week and they're a big hit with the whole family. They are surprisingly addictive and incredibly simple to make. Plus, they're packed with nutrients. Win-win.

Spinach Banana Muffins
Original recipe, slightly modified, from here

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 6 ounces baby spinach leaves
  • a few handfuls of frozen blueberries (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  • In a separate large bowl whisk the eggs. Add the apple sauce, yogurt, vanilla, and bananas. Gently mash.
  • Add a few handfuls of spinach to the large bowl. Use an immersion blender to puree, adding more handfuls as you go.*
  • Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, a little bit at a time, and stir to combine. Be careful not to over mix.
  • Add batter to greased mini-muffin tin, filling them to the top.
  • Add two or three blueberries to each muffin.
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from the muffin tin and cool on wire rack. Store in the fridge or freezer.

*If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a traditional blender or food processor to blend the leaves before adding them to the wet mixture.

Read more about our adventures in Baby Led Weaning here

Friday, January 27, 2017

Dear Asher: 6 Months

Dear Asher,

Happy six month birthday! How are you already halfway to a year? This was a big transition month for us; I started back at work and you started daycare. We were pretty nervous about it since you still weren't consistently taking a bottle, but you have been absolutely thriving at Ms. Aster's. She loves you and the feeling is clearly mutual.

First day of daycare

We sold your baby swing and bassinet. I'd like time to slow down just a little bit. Since you are our last baby, it's hard not to get emotional thinking about all of the "lasts" that are happening. Of course there are so many "firsts" still to come, and I can't wait for those. But, still, the last curl of your tiny baby lips. The last snuggle where your whole body fits on my chest. The last gummy smile and chubby, wobbly knees. You are just so perfect and I wish I could bottle this time up.

But, time waits for no man and you continue to grow into a little boy. This month you are sitting on your own like a champ. You still fall over sometimes, but you are so much steadier by the day. Still no rolling yet though. You'll get there one day.

You started experimenting with solid food! Of course you took to it right away--I mean, you are our child. So far you've had carrots, cucumbers, cantaloupe, turkey meatball, cauliflower with garlic, and a spinach banana muffin (recipe coming soon!). I'm not sure that you understand that food is for eating, or that it's any different than your teething toys, but you seem to enjoy it nonetheless.

The number one thing that I hear from people who meet you is how happy you are. And it's true! I love how freely you give smiles and giggles. You are ticklish under your neck, on your chest, and under your arms, but what really gets you going is anything Zahara does. If she's laughing, you laugh hysterically in big, throaty giggles.*

Asher, you are such a delight. These past six months have been so wonderful (truly!). Keep doing what you're doing. We love you to the moon and back!

*If you can't see the video, click here.

Read about Zahara at this age:
Dear Zahara: 6 Months

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Zahara's First Parent-Teacher Conference

I cannot believe how big Zahara is getting. It seems like just yesterday we were introducing her to solid foods, teaching her how to walk, and hearing her say her first words. Now, she's in school full-time, making friends, and learning ballet and Hebrew! She's growing up so fast.

Last week we had our first parent-teacher conference. It was really fun to hear what Morah Tali (Teacher Tali) had to say about Z. She said Zahara is a "rule-follower," and picks her friends with absolute precision. She is content spending hours doing arts and crafts, and Tali and the other teachers are impressed with Zahara's attention to detail and concentration.

It was funny for me to hear that Zahara will often sit quietly and just observe others. I like to call her the mayor of her school because she knows everyone and everything! She can tell me who all the parents are, who has a new baby at home, and who was sick over the weekend.

Lately, Z has been coming home with half of her lunch uneaten. She's always been a great eater, so when I asked her about it she said she didn't have enough time for lunch. When I asked Tali about it though, she said Zahara would have plenty of time to eat if she would just stay still! Apparently she spends the whole lunch hour getting up to chat with friends, get a drink of water, go potty...etc. 

Zahara still naps pretty consistently, and is obviously tired when she doesn't. Tali said she has even fallen asleep on the rug in the classroom if she misses a nap! We're still working on potty training, but it's getting better. Z is fully capable of doing it (since she was potty trained before this summer), but she's also pretty stubborn. Not sure where she gets that from. She'll do it when she's ready, is the school's view.

We loved hearing an outsider's perspective of how she's doing, even if it doesn't necessarily jive with the Zahara we know and love at home ("rule-follower?" cough, cough). It is so nice to see how loved Zahara is. Morah Tali and the rest of the teachers had nothing but good things to say about Zahara. We're so proud of her!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Chanukah in Dallas

This year we celebrated Chanukah in Dallas with my family. My mom, dad, sister, aunt, and uncle all live there, and my grandparents flew in from San Antonio. It was amazing to have the whole family together for such a happy occasion.

Just like they did for Zahara, my parents threw a "meet the baby" party for Asher. It was a great way for all of my parents friends to meet our newest guy. When my parents make friends, they do it for life. Some of them have been friends for more than 50 years! A lot of my parents friends are from their college days and have been around my entire life. It's great that they have such a community.

We spent most of our time in Dallas eating (what else is new?) and just relaxing. My mom was recovering from spinal surgery so it forced us to slow down and just enjoy our time. It was actually pretty nice not having to run around all the time.

We did have one really active evening though. Bradi got a groupon for a trampoline park and we had a blast! At first Zahara was pretty hesitant about it, but by the end she was jumping like a champ. We really loved the kid's zone where we could run the length of the trampoline and bounce against the wall. Dan, Bradi, and I even played dodge ball, which was a hilarious display of our "athleticism."

Spending time with my grandparents was a real highlight. Seeing them with their two great-grandchildren will never get old.

Here are some more highlights from the trip:

Visiting with Family

Seeing Old Friends

Celebrating Chanukah

Cat Pajamas
My mom got us matching pajamas! They are hilarious, adorable, and surprisingly comfortable. It's not the first time we've matched. Hope we continue this tradition!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Snow Day

Yesterday was our first snow of the season. It was little more than a dusting, but it was enough to make a nice snow day with friends.

Though Zahara is in preschool now, she still hangs out with her buddies from day care. Ben, Zoey, and Liana spent every day together for two years. They spent more time together than apart! Ben's sister Claire is like an older sister to them all. 

We headed over to Ben and Claire's house where they have an awesome set up: tree house, soccer net, and a hill to sled on.

It was Asher's first time in the snow, and he did great! He was a bit confused, but he seemed snuggly in his bear suit.

The best part of the day was the apres-snow hot chocolate and fire. It was such a fun day! Let's hope we get a few more snow days this winter!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Comfort Food

It's been cold here lately. Not Vostok Station, Antarctica cold, but cold nonetheless. When the temperature dips below 40 degrees, I crave warm, carb-filled, comfort food. This week we made chili, Russian potato soup (so filling), and homemade tomato soup and white bread.

A few things. First, we hardly ever eat white bread. We eat plenty of challah and some seeded wheat bread, but not white. My mom is kind of a health nut--sorry mom, but it's true--so we weren't allowed white bread growing up. When I do eat it, it feels like a decadent treat.

Second, this soup tastes just like the tomato bisque at La Madeline. It is so creamy! Don't worry about the calories for this meal. We're going for comfort, not fitness.

I recommend turning the white bread into a delicious grilled cheese sandwich and then dipping said sandwich into the homemade soup. You can start making the meal in the morning and have it ready before lunch. It's so easy!

So grab a comfy sweater, curl up by the fire, and get ready for a delicious meal.

White Bread Recipe
(I can't find where this original recipe came from. If you recognize it, please let me know!)

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 egg (slightly beaten)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups flour
  • Place lukewarm water in a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and sprinkle yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes to proof. After yeast has fermented give a quick stir and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Add remaining sugar, salt, beaten egg, and oil. Mix on low with a dough hook to incorporate.
  • Add flour one cup at a time. Mix on low until ia soft dough forms. 
  • Knead for 8 minutes.
  • Place dough in a greased bowl (or clean and grease the same bowl). Cover with a damp cloth and put in a warm place until doubled in size  (about an hour).
  • Punch dough down and form into rectangle roughly the size of your loaf pan. Roll from the short edge to form a log. Place log inside greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise until doubled (about an hour).
  • Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.
Rich and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
Original recipe from here

  • 6 tomatoes (peeled*, seeded and diced)
  • 6 cups tomato juice
  • one bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Place tomatoes in juice in a stock pot over medium heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. Puree the tomato mixture along with the basil leaves (I use an immersion blender).
  • Place the pot over medium heat and stir in the heavy cream and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Heat, stirring until butter is melted. Do not boil.
* To easily peel the tomatoes: cut a small "x" in the bottom of each tomato. Place in boiling water for 30 seconds. Let cool and remove skin.

Monday, January 2, 2017

January Thoughts by Z

New Year,  new thoughts from Z!

Thought 1:
Z: Mummy, you can have this sticker because you're my best friend.

Thought 2:
Z: We should never leave Asher outside on the street. He might get run over by a car, and I don't want anything bad to ever happen to him.

Thought 3:
Me: Zahara, you missed your chance.
Z: No, you're  Mr. Chance!

Thought 4:
Me: I saw a deer in someone's lawn by your school today
Z: Was it Santa's reindeer?
(So glad we're in Jewish day school...haha!)

See previous Thoughts by Z here