date night

Brian and I took some much needed time for each other last night and it was wonderful. Back in March I bought 2 tickets for us to see Ray Lamontagne live, and the day finally came that he was in town. What a night!

Much of our time, ok all of our time, is spent wrangling our two babies. I wouldn't change that for anything. Brian and I have become a great parenting team. We tag team diaper changes, feeding bed time...all of it is done in tandem. Let's just say I have no idea how anyone can parent children alone and stay sane. Raising kids ain't no joke and I am forever grateful to have such a wonderful and supportive partner. I am first in line to admit that I hate leaving the kids unless I have to.(That's called "Mom guilt" for all of my friends that aren't moms yet. ) I don't leave them for haircuts or spa days. I don't leave them for doctors appointments or grocery trips. Every errand that I run, every meal that I make and every "date-night" involves our two precious babies. And really, I enjoy this life. I love doing life with our kids and teaching them about this crazy place that we call home.
But wow, something about a few baby-less hours is just priceless. We held hands and walked through the concert venue, we people-watched like nobody's business, we cheered, we sat in silence as Ray astounded us with his raw voice. And last night I remembered all over again why I fell in love with Brian. Life isn't about the 9-5, the meal plans and the daily grind. It's those little moments, the look of pure joy on your husbands face, the uninterrupted conversation, the simple pleasures of just being together. That, to me, is living.


John Hardy: My green school dream | Video on TED.com

Please take the time to watch this, so inspiring!

John Hardy: My green school dream | Video on TED.com


2011 Goals

I will start off by saying one thing, we will not be having a baby in 2011. It seems a bit strange, as Julia was born on June 9, 2009 and then David came on June 29, 2010. Brian and I really feel like our family is complete. We have two happy and healthy babies and we are so excited to see how they grow and change in this new year.

But would you believe as the ball dropped signaling the start of 2011, I sat on my couch and cried. Watching the ball drop on our computer (no TVs in this house-more on that later) and all of the people celebrating brought on a rush of emotions. I am not pregnant this year and there will be no new baby to welcome this summer. I got it all out of my system on January 1, 2011. And then that was it. Bring on 2011!

Getting back to the point of this post...Goals for 2011. With no sleepy newborns to watch and keep me inside all day I am hoping that this summer will bring new adventures for our family. Here are some of my 2011 goals.

1. Read 25 books.
2. Make more of our food from scratch and ditch as many processed snack foods as possible.
3. Decorate our bedroom, new furniture and all!
4. Learn how to preserve food.
5. Be more active in the planning, planting and harvesting of our garden.
6. Plan and go on a date with my husband at least 6 times this year. (sans kids!)
7. Learn how to use our camera and take photos.
8. Line dry our clothes whenever weather permits. ( I didn't do too well with this last year)
9. Come up with a solution for organizing our recyclables.
10. Take a girlfriends trip. (Lauren, are you reading this?!)

So, there it is. What are your goals for 2011?


Tot School

Julia Claire will be turning two this year! How on earth my 4 pound newborn transformed into a talking little person over night I do not know. I have wanted to start something called Tot School with her for a while now. I have been slightly busy with her brother (2 under 2 is not for those who like sleep!) but now that he is playing with toys and generally happy to be watching whatever is going on around him, I am ready to start some planned activities with Julia.

From the Tot School website: "Tot School isn't really school at all! Don't let the name confuse you! Tot School is basically a focused time each day on the tot in your family." "Tot School is the time each day I spend with my tot, exposing early learning skills through FUN play."

I am not much of a "planner" I would much rather just jump into something new and figure it out as I go. Brian and I believe that learning is something that happens all of the time. Through play, observation,reading and talking...learning is living. We strive to create an environment that promotes learning for all four of us, and as the babies grow older this will evolve into something more specific. (I would love to have a designated "space" for planned activities to take place.)

Yesterday morning, while Brian was slaving his life away at his desk at work, the kids and I began our Tot school. With Julia still being on the young side I decided to start small. I created a small sensory bin for her to explore. I just used an old Tupperware container and filled it with small objects from the house. Macaroni noodles, rice, heart shaped sprinkles and some gauze for added texture. I threw in a little container for her to fill and dump. (working on those pouring skills!) To say that she loved it would be an understatement. I parked her on a blanket, gave her the box and opened it up. She laughed. I showed her how to fill up the little plastic container and then how to pour all of its contents out. She giggled. I let her play with it for a good 15 minutes. Exploring the new textures, pouring, scooping, using fine motor skills to pick up the small pieces. And then she started to put the rice in her mouth...and we were done. She screamed, she kicked, she threw an all out hissy fit. Tot School was over for the day, and she was not happy about it!

Parenting is fun! I am so very excited to see where these little ones take us as they grow older and learn more and more about this crazy world and their surroundings.


Homemade baby food

Our little man is growing up, and with that comes the introduction to something besides breast milk and formula...real food! Introducing your baby to food can be exciting and scary. There are so many different brands and types of baby foods out there. Jarred meats and stage numbers are confusing-and gross looking!

If you haven't shopped for baby food then you don't know how costly it can be. Simple purees can cost .75 for a mere 2.5 ounces! Baby food is such a simple thing to make. I am the first to admit that I am not a cook, but knowing what is going into my precious babies' mouths is important to me. So, I put on my apron and channel my inner Diane Keaton ala "Baby Boom." (Am I the only twenty something that is obsessed with this movie?)

We choose to feed our children organic fruits and vegetables. Brian and I feel like limiting the exposure to chemicals and pesticides is the best choice for our family. If you haven't switched to organic fruits and vegetables, you can start by switching out conventional produce in the "Dirty Dozen".

Step One: Get your helpers ready. AKA- Strap your toddler into her high chair and fill her plate with lots of yummy foods to keep her busy.

Step Two: Bake or steam your fruits and veggies. Today I baked sweet potatoes and put apples and pears into the crock pot. I find the crock pot method to be very easy. I simply cut up the fruit, cover with water and turn on high for around 3 hours or until it is soft.

Step Three: Puree! I use a small Cuisinart food processor. There are all sorts of appliances that you can use to puree your fruits and veggies. I like the mini processor because it will see me past baby food making and be a useful kitchen appliance for many years.

Step Four: Pour pureed baby food into tray for freezing. I have a lidded tray made by OXO that I bought of of amazon. Once the cubes have frozen I pop them out into freezer bags and label them with the contents and date. FYI-Sweet potatoes and squash look very similar, so unless you like feeding your baby mystery vegetables I suggest labeling everything.

And there you have it...easy peasy! Happy baby food making.

Resources that I use. www.wholesomebabyfood.com and the book titled, " Cooking For Baby" by Lisa Barnes


Homemade Bread

I've been wanting to bake bread for my family for a long time. We buy our bread at a local grocery store, Dorothy Lane Market. Fresh bread can cost $4.50 a loaf from there. I'm ok with that though, the quality and taste are top notch. It is our goal, as parents, to teach our kids to love real foods. Not squishy wonder bread and super processed candies. We try our best to introduce Julia, and eventually David, to fresh and local real food.

Enter Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day. If you haven't heard of this, google it! If I can do this anyone can.

I had been longing to learn this method of baking fresh bread for months. I watched YouTube videos, read blogs and googled my little heart out. Santa must have been watching. The wonderful book showed up under my parents Christmas tree (Thanks Mom!) The week after Christmas, I began baking.

Without further ado, these pictures are worth a thousand words.

Step One: Mix dough, let it rise then put it in fridge for easier handling. This is what it looks like after being in the fridge overnight. It is all yeasty and bubbly.

Step Two: Dig into the bowl with floured hands and shape the dough. This takes 1 minute tops. Drop it into an oiled pan, let rise for an hour, then cut vents on top.

Step Three: Bake the bread for 35 minutes, then cool on rack. We have yet to let the bread cool before tearing into it.

This fresh bread costs around .60 a loaf using all organic ingredients. YUM!


The Story of Bottled Water (2010)

If you haven't seen this yet, please watch it. I have to admit, this is one of my biggest nasty eco-habits. I love me some bottled water! Making a commitment to ditch the fancy water is on my list of things to do to live a more simple and healthy lifestyle. Are you addicted to the bottle?