I've been thinking about how being the mom to a boy is a unique experience as to a mom to girls or to both sexes of kids. It's funny, but I always thought of myself as a mom to girls, complete with the Lilly Pulitzer pink and green bedroom and lots of American Girl dolls. In fact, one of the first thoughts I had when I found out I was having a boy baby was that I guess I'd be saving thousands of dollars by not having to buy any American Girl stuff. I don't know why I assumed I'd have a girl; maybe growing up in a family of girls had something to do with it.
Now that I have a boy, I have completely embraced the wonderfulness of it. My son is a blast and loves to do many great things, mostly without involving bugs and worms yet. He keeps my girly-girl side in check! There are cetain times that I still get a little pang for the girly girl stuff, especially at Easter time when Macy's is FILLED with beautiful girly spring dresses! I avoid Macy's kids' department at this time of year!
But just because boy clothing is not all that exciting doesn't mean we can't have fun with it! My son has two birthday parties this weekend (one is a tea party for his two best girlfriends, but he doesn't know it yet!) and on Easter weekend we have two days worth of celebrations with family, so he needed some proper clothes for the events. We spend the afternoon shopping today for new sneakers and an outfit. So while I may not be buying those cute pink sparkly shoes, I can buy the cool light up when you jump sneakers that he likes. We hit Stride Rite, as their shoes really do last. (The cheaper shoes I buy for him never survive more than a month or two on the playground, while he has worn the same sneakers from Stride Rite for almost a year now and they are just starting to wear!) The shoes he picked out were out of stock for the size he needed, so they are ordering him his size for us to pick up later this week. They are crazy police car shoes! He was so happy to have them.
We stopped at Gymboree because they still have cute clothes for boys and I had a coupon. I love a little boy in an argyle vest or sweater, but my darling child has grown to the age where he doesn't like "those funny looking diamonds" on his clothing. (ugh) He did like the cute red vest with a baseball on it, so we found some coordinating pieces to make most of an outfit and added a few accessories from the Children's Place to complete the "ensemble!" He even decided he needed a new belt to go with his outfit! He was a great shopper, and very patient.
He's going to look awesome in this: And it was all on sale!
It's a week late, but then I just realized that the cold/sinus infection I've been nursing is going on week four, so I clearly have lost all track of time.
I was not up to making a rainbow cake or cookies to celebrate, as in years past. But, there is always time for jello, which is ridiculously easy! The kiddo even helped a bit with the mixing. We made a rainbow out of jello using six different colors/flavors. Normally, I limit his consumption of food dyes, but make an exception from time to time. Silly me thought he would find the rainbow jello delightful! Nope! He said there were too many colors and he didn't like it. He's not a jello kid. Oh well, it still looked pretty and I enjoyed some of it while feeling blah.
Crazy week last week....kiddo caught pink eye from a classmate...not fun. Then this past weekend he came down with a stomach bug. Gross. He's on the mend now, thankfully and we are hoping to have a less stressful week this week.
I lucked out and found a corned beef at Whole Foods that was not preserved with nitrates, so I decided to make my corned beef recipe that has become a tradition here. The meat was much less salty than a conventional corned beef and I liked it much better. I did use ginger ale instead of beer, since we are not beer people. The brussel sprouts were really green!
I baked up some potatoes to go with the dinner and made enough to have leftovers to make baked potato soup this week.
I've been using Pinterest to find new recipes for inspiration and menu planning. So far I've liked the one's I've tried so far. This week I included links to several recipes I'll be tring for the first time.
My son's been to the dentist twice now, most recently about two weeks ago. I really love his dentist. He's been in practice for a while and has a very kid-friendly office without being overdone. Recently he was even listed in Philly magazine on their best pediatric dentist list! My son has received a good bill of teeth twice now, which was very encouraging to me. For a while getting him to brush properly was a challenge and he was adamant that I could not help him brush. At his first dental appointment last summer the dentist told him he had to let me help him. That made a huge difference and he now lets me help, especially with those back teeth. This last visit was great with no problems. I really appreciate that his dentist, Dr. Lloyd, lets me stay in the exam room with my son, who prefers to sit on my lab for his exam. I know many pediatric dental offices do not allow parents to go into the exam rooms with their children, and I am not comfortable with that practice.
To prepare for going to the dentist, we read a Bearenstain book about going to the dentist. In it the bears talk about getting a cavity filled. The drill fascinates my son. I have told him that I hope he never had to experience the drill! My husband has PERFECT teeth and has never had a cavity. (I'm hoping our son's teeth take after dad!) I, on the other hand, have many filled teeth! I just found out last week that I may have yet another cavity and have to go back to my dentist next week to get it checked out further. Grr.
My son is excited that I get to have my tooth drilled. See, he saw this play-doh toy about teeth and playing dentist. He wanted it and talked about it constantly. I said no more toys for now, since we don't have room for the once we have! But mommy-guilt got to me. After realizing on Friday that my son's pink eye was the bacteria version, as opposed to the viral version that we thought it was all week, we had to go pick up a prescription for eye drops at Target. He was really upset about having to get eye drops. He asked if we could look at the toys and see if the play-doh dentist was there on the shelf. I was silently hoping that they didn't have it in stock. And then he found it, on sale. I gave in. He loved it and even cleaned it up all by himself and put it away in the play-doh storage bin we have in the toy closet. He is still talking about the drill. I'll rationalize the toy as part of his career training.
I hate cleaning. I really do. But, since I don't have a cleaning staff, it has to get done somehow. In an attempt to reduce the number of toxic chemicals in our house, I've switched to more natural cleaners, including using vinegar and baking soda for a number of problems.
In the kitchen I keep a spray bottle of vinegar and water out to clean the table and counters. I use a four to one ratio of vinegar to water to not strip the finish off my wood table. For cleaning out the sink or the stove top, instead of cleanser I found that sprinkling baking soda around then spraying it with the vinegar solution creates a great paste that removes stains and doesn't damage my skin. The vinegar smell dissipates fast, and doesn't really bother me. (I've read that adding a few drops of essential oil may help with the smell if the odor of vinegar doesn't appeal to you.)
I discovered a bunch of "recipes" for home cleaners on Pinterest too. I found this soap scum cleaner idea there and had to try it out. I bought a 9 oz bottle of Dawn blue dish detergent for this project, as I didn't want to invest in a big bottle if it didn't work. I already had a bottle of vinegar on hand and a spray bottle, so this cleaner cost me under $2. And, it worked great!
The basic recipe is to mix an equal part of Dawn with an equal part of warm vinegar in a spray bottle. I heated up a cup of vinegar in the microwave for about 2 minutes. I poured 8 oz of Dawn into my spray bottle while the vinegar was heating up. I then added the vinegar to the bottle and gently shook the closed bottle to combine. I sprayed my entire tub and shower walls with the solution that came out as a thickish gel. The smell wasn't great, but it didn't make me gasp for air the way the bleach based cleaners do. I left it on the walls/tub while I swept and mopped my kitchen floor, then went back to rinse it. I used a cloth to help scrub it off along with water and was amazed at how well it worked! The tub actually sparkled! I used not quite half the bottle for the shower/tub, so I have enough to do the sink and the other bathroom. This will be my go-to cleaner for the tub from now on!
So I've been sampling the new product line of chicken available at Target stores now from Gold'n Plump. Last week I had the chance to make meatballs using their ground chicken. I used to make "chicken balls" all the time in the past, but since my kiddo stopped eating meatballs I had gotten out of the habit. I'm going to put this out there right away: I don't use ground beef. (Not just because of pink slime either, although that certainly makes me more confident in my choices.) I often use organic or all natural ground turkey for burgers and meatballs, but found that ground chicken works as a great replacement. I've even served ground chicken meatballs with noodles and gravy, sort of a twist on Swedish meatballs.
So last week I decided to try making a version of meatballs I hadn't made in a while, with spinach! I called them Popeye meatballs, but since that is a frame of reference not really common for little guys, these could be called St. Patty's meatballs or slime balls or whatever will get your kid to eat them! For adults, maybe Florentine Meatballs would sound refined?
Here is my recipe, although measurements are not exact since I eyeball most of the ingredients!
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper or to taste preference
1/8 tsp salt or to taste preference
2 T of grated parmesan cheese
1 cup frozen spinach
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray or line with a piece of parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, add the raw ground turkey, the spices, the egg, the bread crumbs and the parmesan cheese.
In a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup, defrost the cup of frozen spinach in the microwave. I set it for 30 seconds, checked it and then added 15 more seconds or so. The idea is to defrost it, not cook it. Alternatively, set it out an hour or so before cooking to defrost on the counter or in your refrigerator. Once defrosted, squeeze the spinach out to get as much water out of it as possible. I ended up with about one handful of spinach when I was done squeezing out the water, much less than a cup. (The cup measurement is an estimate for the frozen spinach...more or less is ok!) Add the spinach to your mixing bowl with the other ingredients.
Mix up the contents of the bowl with a fork to gently combine all ingredients. The mixture will be wet looking. If it is too wet to handle, add a little more bread crumbs.
Using a large cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop out and make meatballs, placing them in your prepared baking dish. I got about 15 meatballs from this recipe.
Bake meatballs for about 30 minutes, until juices are clear. Use in your favorite meatball dish!
Popeye Meatballs with ground chicken
I added my cooked meatballs to marinara sauce and served them on top of linguine. My husband and I loved them! The spinach was too visible for my ridiculouly picky kiddo to give the meatballs a try. He doesn't eat sauce, so I couldn't really hide them! The taste of chicken is a mild taste and the spinach adds some vitamins.
Since discovering Gold'n Plump chicken, I was happy to learn that their products are from family owned farms and are all natural. How convenient that they are available at Target, one of my favorite places to shop!
Disclosure: I was provided a sample of ground chicken for the purposes of review. This recipe is my own and the opinions expressed are honest. No monetary compensation was received.