9.23.2016

On Teething



It must be known that infants and toddlers are great at handling new teeth - all smiles whilst showing them off and newfound freedom while eating and grinding said new teeth.

But also, infants and toddlers can become pitiful creatures as the new teeth are coming in - sore gums and biting everything in their way to find some kind of relief, having to mama-bird comfort foods, and grinding said new teeth. And probably a headache, too.

I have heard it described that if we as adults were to go through teething the way our babies do, we would pass out from the pain.

Not too long ago, j was going through another round of teething. A lot of drooling and a permanent attachment to at least one of my legs are usually the beginning of a new teething phase. And then the mighty wail, head-thrown-back, and tiny baby fists gripping Elephant, his safety blanket. Teething seems to intensify during nights, when everything is quiet {except the baby}.

The fact that he's already sleeping in his own bed by now isn't helping much either. And so, during the most painful days of teething, I grab our Little Man and carry him back to bed with us. His sweaty littly body leaning into mine, while his head rests on my shoulder. I hate it for him, when he is teething, but I'd be lying if I say I didn't enjoy those tight baby hugs. And during those early morning hours, we nurse a lot and snuggle closely, enjoying this little bit of comfort. 



j seems to grow his teeth two at a time, where e had only her two bottom ones for the longest time and after her first birthday, the rest of them came in within a week {I still blame the hormones in the dairy milk I began giving to her for the first time just a short while prior to teething}. With j, my inner crunchy-ness has been coming out more than it did with e, and so we have also successfully been using the homeopathic teething tablets. In addition I still had the amber necklace that was purchased for her a few years ago, though I strangely feel it didn't do as much good as it did for my daughter. And for the really bad days, a small dose of pain meds brings a lot of relief as well.

But medications or not, at times of teething, I am learning to love myself and my children even more. Those are the days where a little more snuggle goes a long way. And some days I wrap him up and carry my baby in the house while making dinner. It may be a little bit cumbersome to wrap an almost one year old around the already hot kitchen with the stove going, but sometimes, we gotta do what we gotta do to. Praise the Lord, and press ahead!   

In the mood for more on Simple Kids? Head here, if you please.

9.21.2016

Simple Food: Birthday Cake



It's September and you may or may not know what this means. September means fall is just around the corner {in most states anyways} and we shall begin our fall baking. It also happens to be j's birth month, and this year we will be celebrating his first birthday. 



Even with fall fruits ripening and practically demanding to be baked into delicious deserts, I am still a bit partial to summer and its fruits. Like raspberries, strawberries and blueberries to name a few. The heat wave outside might have something to do with it. Just sayin'. 

Fall or not, I wanted to bake his first cake even if that meant we had to melt trying. I selected a wonderful sponge cake that I had made before, similar to this one. A sponge cake to me also reminds me of my childhood, and I'm thinking of this birthday cake as a little tribute to my growing up years. 


j's Sponge Cake

I doubled the cake part of the recipe and baked them separately, instead of slicing the baked cake for layering.  I guess it all comes down to the size of your pan.

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 stick plus 1 TBSP butter, melted
3/4 c warm milk
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract 

For the filling and the fruit:
1 c blueberries
4 TBSP jam (preferably the same type as the fruit you are using) 
1 tsp lemon juice
2 TBSP + 1 TBSP powdered sugar
3 c heavy whipping cream

Instructions:

Preheat oven 350 degrees F
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar and 1 TBSP of the baking powder. Mix well. 
Add the butter and then the warm milk. Combine well. 
Add the egg yolks and mix. 

2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until the first peaks show, then add the remainder of the baking powder. Beat until stiff. 

3. Combine the dough with the egg whites and carefully work them together. 
Carefully pour into springform or bundt pan. 

4. Bake for one hour or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

5. After removing the cake from the oven, let it cool a few minutes in the springform, then cool completely on a rack. 

6. During this time you can begin preparing the fruit - washing and hulling {if needed}. Dice about half the fruit, the other half will be used for decorating. 
On the DICED half, sprinkle lemon juice and 1 TBSP of the powdered sugar.

7. In a large bowl, whip the cream together with the remaining 2 TBSP powdered sugar

8. When the cake is cooled, slice the cake horizontally {or do what I did, bake two separate cakes}. Place one-half on a serving plate. 

9. Spread the jam over the bottom half of the cake, top with the diced fruit. Add about a third of the whipped cream on this. Top with the top half of the cake. Now thickly spread the rest of the whipped cream on  and around the cake {if desired}. Decorate with the rest of the fruits. 

This cake is best kept cool. 






9.20.2016

Pumpkin Puree


If you have been around me lately, you have heard my excitement about preparing our first round of pumpkin puree. Followed by roasting pumpkin seeds!

Just today I read a great quote saying "Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go". I don't know who said it originally, but hearing autumn described this way gives it a new meaning to me. I have also heard it being called the spring of fall. For someone who usually hangs on to summer for dear life, I now have found a new way of looking at fall. How precious this time of year is.

And fall gives us so much to look forward to - not only the beautiful autumn colors, the hearty stews and warm lattes, apple picking and pumpkin patches but most of all, fall leads us right into the Holiday season, beginning with Halloween and Thanksgiving.

I know, right? 


And before we start panicking too much, let me show you an easy way to prepare pumpkin puree that you can store for use this fall season. I have already used my first cup of prepared puree and am looking forward to the next recipes to use it in.

It is also up to you what type of pumpkin you prefer. Through talking with a close friend of mine, I learned a while back I now rather use the lighter type for cooking, but if you prefer the dark orange jack-o-lantern type pumpkin feel free to roast them. The instructions remain the same.



Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin 
some olive oil (if desired)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees F
  2. Cut the top off the pumpkin - think Jack-O-Lantern here - then half that Baby. 
  3. Scoop out the seeds and reserve them if you like to roast them for a delicious and healthy snack later.
  4. Cut the pumpkin into small(er) chunks, almost like you would a watermelon, and place them on an ungreased baking sheet, if you prefer your puree to be as pure as possible.
  5. Bake 45 minutes
  6. After you remove the pumpkin from the oven, let it cool and scoop the inside off the skin. Discard skin and puree the pumpkin in a blender.
  7. Measure 1 cup each for freezing or canning or baking. 
  8. Make fresh pumpkin butter with at least one cup of the new puree :) 







9.19.2016

Simple Moments

Playing outside.

 Lots of baking done this week.

Feeling all kinds of textures (yes, he's licking the floor ha ha!)

 A reminder of time spent with wonderful people this week. Leftover whipped cream also happened to have made it into my coffee. 

9.14.2016

Birthing j



This month marks baby j's birth month - he will be one year old. And because as I am typing this, a year ago this darling baby boy of mine was still in my belly I can't help but feel a bit nostalgic. Thus, I'm thinking of this post as a little tribute to this special day, when we welcomed our little son.

We still had roughly two weeks to go until our due date, and with e coming close to her date, I was almost certain we would still be going like this for a little while longer, though looking back apparently everyone except me had a feeling he'd come so soon. 

Earlier that weekend, some wonderful friends from church had thrown Little Man a Baby shower. My sister even flew in from PA and on my previous doctor's appointment that week, a kind nurse had asked if I wanted the doctor to check me. I graciously declined by saying I had a baby shower on Saturday and rather not wanted to know our progress. We all joked around that Baby Brother needed to stay put until after the shower. And he did. 

Sunday night, my sister's flight to State College left from Charlotte - an hour away from us. I drove her to the airport and on the way back home, stopped at the Cookout to purchase a red cherry milkshake for my wonderful husband. Walking into the fast food restaurant, the young man taking my order dropped his gaze on my ever so low hanging belly and then proceeded to ring me up. One milkshake for the pregnant lady coming right up. 



That night, from Sunday to Monday, I had gotten up to soothe e, who had awoken mid-dream, walking around her room a bit disoriented. Helping her back to bed, with a hug and a kiss good night, I felt a very low ache in my belly. It was so deep down and almost unnoticeable, that only thinking back to this night I now know this was the beginning. As imperceptible as it was, I returned to bed also.  

Dooming the early Monday morning alarm that woke me with a start, my body now felt so different than it did just a few hours before. While my husband snoozed the alarm to turn around for another few minutes of precious sleep, my body was aching with cramps, making it impossible for me to doze off again. I had to get out of bed and heat up a corn bag, which I laid on my back to help ease the pain. If that is a right thing to do or not, I don't know, but I felt the need to do it. And while I crawled back into bed, heat on my back, I told JC I didn't want him to go into work. I didn't want to be alone with a two-year-old and in labor, which I refused to believe that it was labor. I didn't want to be the "one" that called the doctor or showed up at the hospital just to be sent home again. 

A short while later I moved from the bed to the couch and threw a load of laundry in the washer somewhere in between. At nine we called his parents over, and I told JC to go into work. I still refused to think of it as labor, but regardless didn't want to be alone. He left for work, and my contractions continued. At nine thirty I called the doctor's office, pausing the conversation with each contraction. They started to hurt now. A friend had advised me to think of a cow to help relax with each contraction. And so I did, inwardly moo-ing every time.

The nurse gave me the green light to go ahead and come in. Since my in-laws were there, we all made our way into the truck, but not before I finished hanging up the wet laundry first. I clearly remembered my long recovery from having had e, and my goal was to have as much taken care of while I could still move around good {to some extend}. Finally, I shuffled my way to the truck. It was nice and cool outside, and the passenger seat was equipped with a seat warmer, which I turned on as high as possible, all the while thinking of the cow. My father-in-law drove us to the hospital, though all the previous times I did not remember the way taking that long. Nor did I ever notice all those potholes before. On my way, I called my sister, who had just made it home from a delayed flight to Washington DC. 
We made it to the hospital around 10 am, my father-in-law, despite my best efforts of trying to convince him not to, cautiously stopped at the emergency entrance. I was embarrassed, to say the least. After all, I was just in labor, not dying. 
But he did it anyways, and a nice elder man wheeled us to the check-in. Now here's the fun part - my grandmother-in-law had a heart surgery scheduled that morning, to have a pacemaker put in. And when the family heard we were at the hospital for the birth of her sixth great-grandchild, some of them broke away to come and visit us at the door, which I greatly appreciated. 

After check-in, and brief monitoring upstairs we were admitted to labor and delivery, but not before I was asked to walk across the hallway in just a hospital gown {think Something's Gotta Give for a moment}. That was right after 10 or so. The next hour and a half are a blur of contractions and pain, wonderful family and church members taking turns to check in on us. By now the peaceful cow had turned into a raging bull. 

I will skip the boring part of my husband at work {he made it in time}, and increasing contractions {no medications},  breaking the water {it doesn't hurt}, a cousin turned birthing coach {a blessing}, and a moment of my husband running out the door {to get the doctor}. Pushing is a freeing feeling. At least up until the baby is halfway out and you wait for the next contraction to finish his birth. That was just awkward. 



He was here. My son was here. The nurse handed him to me, and I held him on my chest, soaking him in. We done had another baby, I thought. 

Phone calls were made, pictures were taken, and people came to see him. Those first few hours after birth are exhilarating, with hormones on a high, I was ready to hug the whole world. We stayed on the same floor as my husband's grandmother, who came and visited us at night to meet her newest great-grandson. By Wednesday, I was ready to head home. 

The first weeks back home were quite an adjustment. Between exhaustion, tending to two small children two and under, and changing hormones tears fell a few times. Times of change also have me realize again, that my own family is far away and cannot take part in the joy of a birth the same way my husband's family can. Some days I can accept it better than others. 

Birthing j to me was a much better experience than e - even though in the midst of it I wasn't sure if e was this painful or not. But this time around, I knew what to expect. I knew it would hurt and I also knew to hold off a push or two once I felt the urge to push. My hospital bag was packed with only the essentials this time, and the diaper bag remained in the vehicle altogether - less is more in this instance. 
I enjoyed giving birth to him. I enjoyed giving birth to e. Birthing is a wonderful experience that I am very grateful for and I pray that we not only will be blessed with a few more babies but also that I may take a turn and do an even more natural birth in a birthing center or a water birth. But whether or not we have natural births or not, birthing centers or hospitals - what counts is that our babies have made it into this world and that is reward enough I think.