Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter dinner on Saturday

I woke up this morning and it felt more like Thanksgiving than Easter - dark, cold, gray, snow. So we stayed in and had a great indoor day-before-Easter. Heather and Jason came over with their kids and we had a great time - an Easter egg hunt and chicken cordon bleu for dinner. It was my first try at chicken cordon bleu, it came out all right. Next time I will use more cheese. I used an aged Swiss cheese that was great, but just not enough. I wish I has pictures of my beautiful veggie tray and cheese platter, but I ran out of battery. Heather and Jason made an excellent chocolate tiramisu for dessert and I ate way too much of that. After dinner, Vincent dyed eggs and Boo played with the egg markers. She's not bleeding, just got a little crazy with the red marker.

Have a wonderful Easter Sunday everyone.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Uncommon Reader

This is a great little read, less than 100 pages. A fictional Queen Elizabeth wanders into a book mobile, feels obligated to borrow a book, and discovers a love of reading. Books soon consume her life, much to the concern of those around her. "Thus it was the dawn of sensibility was mistaken for the onset of senility."

It is not an action packed book, but I loved seeing how reading dramatically changed the Queen's life, and made me consider how reading has changed my life, and how my reading has changed over the past 15 years.

"But then books, as I'm sure you know, seldom prompt a course of action. Books generally just confirm you in what you have, perhaps unwittingly, decided to do already. You go to a book to have your convictions corroborated. A book, as it were, closes the book."

A warning: the F bomb is dropped once.

Book Tag

My cousin, Arwen, tagged me with book tag. Here are the rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open it at page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence/ phrase.
4. Blog the next four sentences/ phrases together with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig your shelves for that very special or intellectual book.
6. Pass it forward to six friends

My nearest book did not have 123 pages in it - I almost did the last page, but then it gives away a great ending. So here is the second nearest book, A People's History of the United States, 1492- Present. It's from the chapter called "Intimately Oppressed" about women's rights.

Then came the list of grievences: no right to vote, no right to her wages or to property, no rights in divorce cases, no equal opportunity in employment, no entrance to colleges, ending with: "He had endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life..."

And then a series of resolutions, including: "That all laws which prevent woman from occupying such a station in society as her conscience shall dictate, or which place her in a position inferior to that of man, are contrary to the great precept of nature, and therefore of no force or authority."

A series of women's conventions in various parts of the country followed the one at Seneca Falls. At one of these, in 1851, an aged black woman, who had been born a slave in New York, tall, thin, wearing a gray dress and white turban, listened to some male ministers who had been dominating the discussion.

I have enjoyed this book so far, I hope this bit entices you to read it sometime.

If you haven't yet done this tag and would like to, I tag you.

Applesauce Muffins

I tried these last week and they are really really good. They are from Deceptively Delicious, with a few changes.


2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 TB butter

1 1/2 cups flour (you can use white wheat flour)
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TB ground flaxseed
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butternut squash or carrot puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat muffin tin with cooking spray.

Topping: stir together oats, sugar and cinnamon. Stir in butter.

Batter: combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, flaxseed, in a bowl. In a second bowl, mix the applesauce, milk, vegetable puree, sugar, oil, and egg. Add the flour mixture slowly, stirring just until moistened.

Divide the batter evenly in the muffin tins and sprinkle with the streusel topping. Bake until the topping is lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.

Fruit Bars

I made these last week and they make a great snack for Boo. I halved it and that made plenty for us (8"x8" pan), but the crust turned out too crumbly. Next time I would either add more butter or less oats and/or flour. I got this from The Baby Bistro Cookbook by Joohee Muromcew.


2 apples, cored and chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots (I used about 3/4 cup carrot puree and liked that better)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup fresh or frozen thawed blueberries, cranberries or strawberries
1/2 cup water
4 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups flour (you can use white wheat flour)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 TB ground flaxseed
1 cup butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13"x9" pan.

In a saucepan, bring apples, carrots, dried cranberries, cranberries/strawberries/blueberries, and water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until the apples are soft and juices are syrupy. Remove from heat and cool.

In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt until blended. Cut in the butter until mixture makes coarse crumbs.

Evenly press 1/2 of oat mixture into prepared baking pan. Evenly spread the fruit mixture on top. Top with the remaining oat mixture, pressing gently with the palm of your hand to even out the top.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden. Cool completely, then cut into 1 1/2" x2" bars.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Boo in the cupboard

Boo loves to hide in the pantry, and lately has discovered the fun of hiding in the cupboards. Here are some cute pictures of her popping out.

I think she looks a lot like Emily in this picture.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Obama visits Indy

"Suddenly Indiana matters" is what we have been hearing since the Texas and Ohio primaries failed to give either candidate a decisive victory. Obama came to Indianapolis on Saturday - I wanted to go, but I had other things to do and tickets were gone before I even knew they were available. Here is a link to an article about his visit. Clinton is scheduled to be here on Thursday. There's still six or seven weeks before Indiana's primary, so I am sure they will both be back.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Birthday Party

Brookie had her first friend birthday party today for Abby Grace. The party was at Gymboree and the kids had so much fun. Boo was a little shy at first, but warmed up quickly and loved to climb and slide and walk the balance beams. I just had my camera phone, so the pictures aren't the best, but I got a few cute ones. I wish I had gotten a picture of the good-bye hugs (and there were many) between Boo, Abby Grace and Keegan.

After climbing through the tunnel...there's Keegan in the background.

Waiting for birthday cake - there's Gracie next to Boo.

Climbing up the 'rock climbing' board. One of her favorites, and she was pretty good at it.

Peeking through.

Having fun!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dump the spinach, keep the cookies

Boo likes to carry around bags. So when she pulled a couple of bags out of the freezer, I didn't make a fuss. They'll keep her entertained while I finish the lasagna. But then she proceeded to dump a bag of frozen spinach on the floor under her high chair (where all unwanted food goes to die). Of course she then dutifully throws away the now-empty spinach bag (note to self: now that she knows "Garbage goes in the garbage", teach "Spinach stays in its bag").

As I'm cleaning that up, I notice the bag of chocolate chip cookies tucked safely into the corner of her high chair. Now she has a stash for when dinner isn't quite up to standards.

Speaking of cookies and bags, yesterday she was standing on her chair helping me make dinner. She was clutching a baggie, not unusual for her. She usually has a baggie of raisins by her side. Not until it was too late did I realize she actually had J's bag of no-bake cookies. Ah well, at least they had oatmeal in them. Four no-bake cookies must equal at least one serving of whole grain.


Let me say first that I am so happy that we have had two days in a row of spring weather. The sun is shining and it's in the 50's. Boo and I have taken great walks with no coats. Thanks to our walks she can now say 'rock' and 'bus'. We went to the zoo this morning and saw some outside exhibits instead of just the inside aquarium and desert.

But this is what greets me in the morning.

And I don't get up all that early either. Since daylight savings last weekend, our sunrise is now at 8:01 am. Ugh.

Best Idol performance ever

This week was the Lennon-McCartney themed American Idol. It was really pretty good. I loved David Cook's "Eleanor Rigby", Brooke White's "Let It Be", and Chikezie's "She's A Woman". I was on YouTube checking out their videos the next day, and happened to find a video of my favorite Idol performance ever. Okay, so this is only the second season of American Idol I have watched, so I haven't seen too many performances. But it would have to be quite the performance to oust this one from it's #1 spot. This is Blake Lewis from last season, singing Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name". LOVE IT. I love it when he is putting the record on and then launches into the song. Enjoy it.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Kaufman Apraxia Seminar

I had a great day on Friday. I got up at 4 am and drove up to Fort Wayne for the Kaufman Apraxia Seminar. It was great. It did get started a little late due to technical problems, so the end was a little rushed. But I learned a lot about apraxia and dysarthria, and enjoyed learning about the Kaufman method. She used videos of clients and therapy quite a bit, and I loved seeing the principles in action. She had a video of a five year old boy with severe apraxia (he spoke mostly in vowel sounds, hardly any consonant-vowel combinations), and then a video of him at 18, sounding perfectly normal. I was thinking later that it was kind of like being in one of those evangelical meetings where people are instantly healed, and you want to cry and applaud and praise the Lord! Seriously.

I loved Nancy Kaufman. She was such an entertaining speaker and very personable. She invited all the parents of children with apraxia who were attending the conference to join her for lunch, and she spoke with each parent about their child and offered her insights. I will say that the Kaufman method is a tad more behaviorally oriented than I had thought, but as I watched the videos, I thought she did an excellent job of incorporating expressive language opportunities into therapy from the very beginning. She also had some great things to say about teaching children with autism and apraxia.

Boo stayed with Heather for the day. Heather said she was shy for the first part of the day, but had warmed up a lot by the afternoon. It's good for her to be with her boy cousins. We got takeout from India Palace (I think is what it is called) and it was so good. Boo ate a little of the curry dishes, but she LOVED the bread and plum sauce.

Autism and vaccinations

I read an article on Thursday about vaccinations and autism. To summarize, this little girl was developing normally, had five shots at age 19 months, and steadily declined into autism spectrum disorder (ASD) afterwards. Her father (a scientist) discovered that she had a genetic mitochondrial disorder, and the theory is that the thimerosal (mercury) preservative in the vaccinations she received triggered the mitochondrial disorder, plunging her into ASD. The parents are now receiving some sort of settlement, and the girl is now nine years old.

Does this make you worry about vaccinating your children? It didn't change a lot for me. In the autism-vaccination debate, it seems that thimerosal is the 'bad guy', and it is no longer used as a preservative in vaccinations. Some argue that autism rates have not gone down since thimerosal was removed from vaccinations, but I don't know that that's a strong argument. There is so much over-diagnosing of autism, and there is no nationwide standard for diagnosing it either. Autism rates may skyrocket in one state because they have lower standards for applying that diagnosis. Here's a big problem with autism - I don't think there is any one cause of the disorder. It may be genetic in some kids, it may be environmental in others, it may be a combination of three or four things for other kids.

But here's the good news about autism. We're getting better at treating it more effectively, and getting those kids help earlier. At Boo's 18 month well visit, I filled out an autism screening checklist. And the doctor said I will fill it out again at her 2 year well visit to be sure there is no regression. There are people lobbying to get these autism screenings to be mandatory, but I am happy to see that there are doctors already screening, even without the legislation.

Now let me be clear. I am not all about slapping on the label of autism at 18 months or even 3 years just because they may show some characteristics of it. But I am all about getting a child the help that he needs as early as he needs it. I'm always a little suspicious of these people that go on Oprah claiming that this treatment or that diet "cured" their child of autism. There's not a "cure" for autism, and I think that popular media misleads parents. You have to find a therapy model that works for you, and the magic diets don't work for everyone (although I went to an autism and nutrition conference once and gained some great insights into that debate, but that's for another post).


I like to make a big pancake breakfast on a weekend morning. Today I tried out a new recipe - half of my regular recipe, half from my new cookbook, Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. I was very pleased that it turned out so well. I thought the pancakes were fabulous. So here is my new Sunday morning pancake recipe:

1 cup water
1/2 cup sweet potato puree
1-2 tsp cinnamon (I like a lot of cinnamon, I don't really measure it out, I just dump some in)
1 cup flour (I used half white, half white wheat)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 TB canola oil

Combine the water, sweet potato puree and cinnamon. In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Pour flour mixture into puree mixture and stir just until moist. Heat a griddle to medium low heat. Add oil just before cooking pancakes. Pour batter onto griddle and cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve with butter and pure maple syrup.

I imagine that these would be just as good if you used canned pumpkin instead of sweet potato puree. I loved that the batter was a little thicker than my usual pancake recipe, so I got nice thick fluffy pancakes.

*UPDATE* - I tried these again using pumpkin puree, sadly, not so good.

Strawberries and this and that

This morning we had strawberries with our pancakes. And Boo said her first 2 syllable word - "bahbo" for "strawberries". Oh, how she loves those strawberries. I can't wait for June to go pick strawberries at Waterman's.

Last night we went to a wedding reception. We had a nice time, even if we didn't get to see the bride and groom. They were (quite) late, and we eventually had to go to put Boo to bed. But like I said, we had a nice time anyway. They had this great vegetable platter, with bits of veggies on skewers. The skewers were then stuck in a head of cauliflower, making a very pretty arrangement. And Boo had her first crush. A little six year old boy came over to see us, and was quite taken with Boo. He brought over little things to show her, tried to teach her to punch him in the stomach, peeked at her from under the tablecloth, demonstrated his Kung Fu moves. She was never quite sure what to make of him, til he started crawling around on all fours like a dog. THAT she understood, and happily crawled around after him. He was wearing one of those zipper ties, and J took great delight in zipping down his tie whenever he came within four feet of him.

And I'm happy to say that Obama won the Wyoming caucuses.

And I'm not as happy to report that we got a few more inches of snow Friday night.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Last day for voting

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO VOTE FOR RACHEL IN THE VIRTUAL BABY SHOWER. If you haven't voted yet, click here to vote.

B is for Brookie, that's good enough for me...

Boo is the resident smarty at our house, learning her letter sounds. J thinks (and I think he is right) that she thinks letters are like animals and they all make a sound. But that's not so far off is it? She has learned more than half of her letter sounds. Her favorite toys are her soft letters and Fridge Phonics. She will even sing along a little bit to the letter song. The other day she pointed out the letters on my Old Navy t-shirt.

Taste of Spring

We had a little taste of spring last weekend. Sunday was beautiful, sunny, and 60 degrees. Monday was cloudy, windy, but still in the 50's. Tuesday was freezing rain all day, which was no fun to go out in, but made some really pretty ice on our trees. The mailbox was frozen shut, I almost couldn't get it open. More snow on the way this weekend.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Can we have some civilization???

Is it really daylight savings this weekend? I thought I heard that on the news, but it seems so early. I miss the days when select counties in Indiana (mine) did not participate in daylight savings time. Did you ever see that West Wing episode when Donna, Josh and Toby get left in Indiana and they can't get out? Check out the clip below, one of the best scenes from the series.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

Today is the birthday of Dr. Seuss!

Boo's favorite Dr. Seuss book is I Can Read With My Eyes Shut. "I can read 'Mississippi' with my eyes shut tight! Mississippi, Indianapolis, and Hallelujah too. I can read them with my eyes shut, that is very hard to do. But it's bad for my hat and makes my eyesbrows get red hot, so reading with my eyes shut I don't do an awful lot. And when I keep them open I can read with much more speed. You have to be a speedy reader, cause there's so so much to read!"

I love Fox In Socks because my dad used to read it to us at night. I love How The Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat In The Hat is so clever.