Tuesday

Turkey and Broccoli and Meatballs, Oh My!

I not usually a recipe blogger, nor do I think of myself as anything remotely resembling a cook (unless you count my deep love of sugar and melted butter. In that case I am the spitting image of Her Southern Highness Paula Deen.)

But I am the parent of a toddler with an ever-changing palette, so any food I make that isn't thrown on the floor becomes a winner in my house. Last week I made Turkey and Broccoli meatballs. They were quite the success, so I thought I would share.

You need:
  • One pound of ground turkey
  • One (or more, your preference) stalks of broccoli, cooked and florets chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • Olive oil
Now:
  • Coat bottom of 9x13 pan with olive oil
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl with your hands and shape into golf ball sized portions
  • Drop them in the dish and bake about 15 minutes
  • Flip the meatballs over and cook another 5-10 minutes (until turkey is cooked through.)
  • Let cool and enjoy

Here is what we end up with:



I know they look like moldy meatballs in the tupperware here, but it's just the broccoli, I promise. They are really good. And it seems CeCe enjoyed them:


Another quick tip Moms- if you want to sneak vegetables into meals then you should check out Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. Recipes tell you how to slip cauliflower into Mac and Cheese or sweet potatoes into chicken nuggets. It is a Godsend for picky eaters (CeCe is only one-year-old but I've been using it on Matt for a while now.)

Monday

Merry Christmas To All!

I hope all my readers had a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday! I'll be back tomorrow with some of new favorite toddler recipes to share. I hope all of your families got what they wanted from Santa. I know I did:

Thursday

Spoiled Much?

Santa better watch his back this year. It seems at least one child is on a warpath to check off items on her wish list this year, and who knows how many other children are following suit.

A 13-year-old girl wrote a letter to Santa declaring that if she did not receive items on her Christmas list she would "literally kill" jolly old Saint Nick, as well as hunt down his reindeer, kill them and cook them. And yes, this is real life, not the plot for "Fatal Attraction: Christmas Edition."

Check out the article from the UK's Daily Mail.

Some things on the teen's list? A Blackberry, designer sunglasses and Justin Beiber. Yes, the actual person.

This may be an extreme example, but Christmas is the perfect time to evaluate just how much we spoil our children. My child is still young enough that I haven't experienced the materialistic side of her that is sure to surface in years to come. But I'm formulating my "Anti-Spoiling Checklist" now. Here is what I've thought of so far:

- Are we buying presents year-round for no real occasion, so at Christmas the child expects the moon just so the gift-giving seems "special" this time?

- Are we buying multiple expensive items for children?

- Are we buying them electronics at a very young age?

- Are we allowing the toys to pile up without any turnover of getting rid of old ones?

- Does my child say Thank You without being reminded, and are they aware that other children are not as fortunate as they are?

What do you think, readers? How do you keep your children appreciative and grounded, and prevent them from turning into a homicidal brat?

Monday

Toy Safety at Christmas

'Tis the season for your child to accumulate tons of new crap to litter your household.

While our kids may squeal with glee over their new singing/dancing/light-up thing-a-ma-whatever, a headache for mom and dad is unfortunately not the only injury that can occur.

Toy safety is a new issue for me this year, as CeCe is just now old enough to have the really fun toys that involve batteries, multiple parts and plenty of potential for fatalities.

This article has plenty of helpful tips about choosing safe toys for your kids, and this article from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has similar tips but also covers toy maintenance and safe storage.

Here are the highlights that I have paraphrased:

#1.   Use caution with button-battery operated toys. It's like the battery makers measured a toddler's esophagus and decided "This is exactly how big the battery should be." Major choking hazard.

#2.   Choose age-appropriate toys. We all think our child is more advanced and therefore needs the older-kid toys to challenge their little 18-month-old brain. But just because your baby genius can handle the stimulation of that toy doesn't mean they still won't try to eat the tiny parts.

#3.   No sharp edges. No lead paint. This rule actually applies to a few adults on my list this year too.

#4.   Toys with pull-cords or electrical cords to plug into the wall are basically baby nooses. Don't buy them, or opt for battery-operated toys (in which case, see tip #1)

#5.   We all hate cleaning up after opening presents. Except your baby, who would love to put that plastic baggie in her mouth then swallow. Promptly dispose of all boxes, baggies, tiny little twisty ties and all the other annoying wrapping that encloses the toys. Or better yet, open and assemble all toys before wrapping them for your kid. Saves time anyway on Christmas morning.

Here is to a Happy and Safe Holiday!

Sunday

Daily Dose of Gratitude

This week I was reminded by my daughter that dancing is more fun when it looks ridiculous.

Ce has started to respond to music, to the point where even the background music of a car commercial will start her bouncing up and down. In the car with her dad she bangs her head to Incubus, and with me, I have taught her some amazing hand-shaking, finger-wiggling moves.

When the baby starts dancing, there is no choice but to start dancing too. And as we both wiggle, wave, bounce and bob, I am thankful to have a daughter who inspires to me to move and not care how I look while doing it.

I think the phrase should be "Dance like only a toddler is watching."

Monday

What To Pack in Your Hospital Bag

No matter how many times you checked that duffel before the big day, every pregnant woman will forget something vital from her hospital bag. She will also have a ton of crap she didn't need and a list of things she wish she had thought of after the fact.

So here is my short list of those items. I hope it may save your poor husband or partner a midnight trip home to search for your favorite fuzzy socks.

Things I thought I needed and didn't even ask for once: 

- My ipod. The last thing on my mind was listening to tunes. Not even my favorite jam was going to soothe me in the throes of contractions.

- A journal. Like that day wasn't going to be burned into my mind forever.

- My make up. Hahahaha!

Things I am so glad I had:

- A nightgown. Even if you aren't nursing, nurses will be whipping away your blanket to check your swollen hoo-haa every other hour. Pajama pants may seem comfy, but they won't be when you are shimmying them down constantly.

- Headband. Pushing will bring sweat, so keeping your bangs out of your eyes is a little thing that saves a great deal of annoyance.

- Extra pillows. For nursing, sleeping, propping your still-swollen feet up, bring some from home if you want or immediately pester the nurse for a few extras when you finally land in your recovery room.

Things I wish I had thought of:

- A "Do Not Disturb" sign for my door.

- Duct tape to keep it there.

- An extra empty bag. The hospital sent us home with quite a bit of baby swag and we were cramming it all in our already-crammed diaper bag. Leave room in your suitcase to bring home the party favors.

Friday

Thankful for the Frost

My Daily Dose of Gratitude today is for the cold weather. Yeah, I actually said that. My daughter makes me thankful for snow and frigid air.

Because without the winter months and freezing temperatures, we would never know how adorable CeCe looks in winter clothes.

Here she is last winter at just three weeks old:



And here she is last week, my sweet one-year-old:



Defrosting the windshield may be a pain in the butt each morning, but when I see my CeCe-Bear wobbling around in her puffy coat looking like a hot pink marshmallow, I can't help but appreciate the cold weather for the giggles it brings.

Tuesday

The Not-So-Friendly Folks

Have you ever wanted to run over someone in the grocery store with your shopping cart?

I had this feeling the other day. Not because this lady grabbed the last unbruised peach in the produce aisle, or because she had 57 items in her cart in the express lane.

It was because she ignored my baby.

CeCe is a super friendly kid. She says hi to every single person she sees. And if they don't respond, she assumes they didn't hear her and she will SCREAM hello and wave her hands until you see her. I think we could get her a job as a Wal-Mart greeter.

Most people are kind enough to stop and talk to her. But even if you are not "a baby person," is it really so hard to just say hi? Apparently, it is.

Ce almost broke her arm trying to get a hello from one young lady in the grocery store aisle. "Hi." "HI!" "Hi-hi-hi!"

Nothing. This girl looked up at my daughter, made a face like she could smell a hypothetical poopy diaper from six feet away, and looked away.

Here is what I wanted to say: "Hey you- yeah, you. You too good for my baby or somethin'?" (By the way, when I get angry in my daydreams I start to sound like a Jersey Shore cast member looking for a fight.)

Back to my dialogue: "You too fancy to say hi to my kid? She's talkin' to you. You too busy to say hi? Your face broken? Can't smile? Can't just smile at a cute little kid who is wavin' at you?"

This continues until the girl apologizes to CeCe, and CeCe graciously accepts like the angel child she is.

I know that type of confrontation in the soup aisle might be a little much, but I don't understand why someone can't just acknowledge my kid. CeCe has so much fun at the grocery store. I've visited Wal-Mart when I didn't even need to shop, just because she loves talking to people.

Does it really disrupt your day so much to say hi to a friendly child? Or wave at her, or just smile? You don't even have to stop your cart, make it a drive-by "hello!"

I know that we all aren't baby-people. Some people are not comfortable with kids. But I love that my daughter is social and isn't afraid to strike up a conversation. I'm sure this will lead to a very serious "stranger danger" talk when she is older, but at one year old, she only knows how to say "hi" and "bye."

So when she says it to you, I expect you to answer. Or we might have a problem here. Capice?

Friday

Daily Dose of Gratitude

This is something I'm going to try to do more often- voice the small things in the daily routine of a mother that remind me to not just love, but truly appreciate what my child teaches me.

Friday's lesson from Ms. CeCe: Ditch the fork.

Today CeCe reminded me that sometimes it's fun to eat with your hands- and not just things you are supposed to eat with your hands. I'm not talking tacos or pizza.

I joined her in eating our lima beans right out of the bowl with our fingers. It was messy and silly and why not? I wasn't just shoveling my dinner in my mouth. I was sharing a meal with my baby. It was as enjoyable as it was sticky.

I think as she gets older and our family grows, "No Utensils" night should remain a staple in our house. The clean up was ridiculous, but the giggles I got in return were worth it.

Thursday

Baby Weight

Living in Kentucky, I've heard my fair share of statistics about childhood obesity. But this news story threw me for a loop.

An 8-year-old boy in Ohio weighing in at 200 pounds was removed from his parent's care after case workers claimed they did not do enough to control his weight. Read the article here.

Is it neglect or abuse to allow your child to become severely overweight? What is the number that tips the scales into child abuse? I understand that this child deserves a fair chance at a healthy life and it is a parent's responsibility to provide that. But is this extreme?

On the flip side, I came across this article in the same day. A couple in Wisconsin is charged with child neglect for starving their baby because- get this- they didn't want the child to become obese.

Chubby babies are one of the great joys in life. I personally love seeing a drooling little butterball with chipmunk cheeks and thighs that look like there are rubber bands between fat rolls.

With the dangers and risks of childhood obesity so highly publicized now days, what happened in this couple's brain to make them starve their helpless infant?

So here we have two ends of the extremes- parents being held responsible for an obese child, and parents being held responsible for an underweight child. How can we teach parents the skills they need to find the healthy medium?

Here are some guidelines from the American Dietetic Association for proper nutrition for infants and toddlers, if you are interested.