Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Ohio law for booster seats...

Law Requires Booster Seats for Kids

COLUMBUS - A new state law will require more children to be seated in boosters when traveling in motor vehicles. Amended Substitute House Bill 320 will take effect in six months. Additionally, lawmakers included another six-month period in the bill, during which violators will be issued warnings by law enforcement rather than tickets or citations.

Under current law, children younger than 4 or weighing less than 40 pounds are required to be secured in a federally approved child restraint system (car seats), according to an analysis by the state's Legislative Service Commission. Violators are subject to misdemeanor charges and at least $25 in fines.

Under the new law, children who are younger than 8 and less than 4 feet, 9 inches in height must be secured in booster seats. According to the analysis, "For example, a child who is 7 years old and over 4 feet 9 inches in height would not specifically be required to be in a booster seat, but would continue to be required by current law to be in a child restraint system or occupant restraining system. A child who is 7 years old and less than 4 feet 9 inches in height specifically would be required to be in a booster seat.

Offenders will be subject to fines of $25 to $75, although the offense will be considered secondary (meaning parents or guardians cannot be pulled over by law enforcement for that offense alone)

Home Again...for now

We're pretty sure we deserve some sort of award because we actually took a trip that didn't involve a trip to the local hospital. I think it's the first time in a year! It was a bit of a whirlwind, so we're catching our breath...and our zzzz's, but then we'll make some updates and post of pictures...we promise, Dutch Dad!

Okay, I feel the guilt from across the pond...here's a picture of Daniel's first trip to "The Dutch Store" in Grand Rapids. We got him a new Dutch children's CD (still looking for a Dutch lullaby CD) and I got a Dutch find-a-word book--it's a great tool for learning my vocabulary. So far I've only finished the tuin one so I know lots of new gardening words! There were several nederlanders in the store and I even got complimented on my accent! Woo hoo!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Grampa Elmer's Visit

American Dad, Auntie Liz and Carole made a surprise visit on Friday, March 20th. They were in Tennessee for a gathering of natural bearded Santas. On the way home to Minnesota, they stopped by for a short visit. They brought lots of hats and Daniel got his first golf lesson. Here are a few pictures:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pretty Quiet on the de Jong Front

Unless you count Jen's incessant coughing. Jen's been down for the count for the last two weeks with a cold/flu/pneumonia yucky thing. Lots of deep chest coughing, throwing up, night sweats and overall good times! :-)

But, that hasn't keep us from hosting Dad, Carole and Liz for dinner last Friday (pictures to come) and hiking 3 miles at a local metro park on Saturday. Denial is a beautiful thing.

And we will continue the denial theme as we pack up tonight for our long awaited Grand Rapids trip. The last time we were in GR was Labor Day, immediately after which, Jen got put on bedrest, thus cancelling her baby shower. So this weekend we'll be up to show off our adorable son to any and all, and we can't wait!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Daniel's first hike

Now that we have a Baby Bjorn (thank you, big bad baby sale!), we are now able to take Daniel hiking with us. We took our first on March 21st at Cuyahoga Falls Metro Park. Daniel did pretty good for most of the hike. Looks like he's a nature guy like Daddy. Mommy did pretty well as well, considering she's still getting back into shape after all the months of bedrest and her current cold/flu/pneumonia bug.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nothing minor about brain injury

New study shows thousands of Ontarians suffer brain injuries each year


TORONTO, March 19 /CNW/ - The death of actress Natasha Richardson has thrown a spotlight on an often invisible injury - brain trauma. "This tragic loss is a terrible reminder to all of us that a brain injury, even a seemingly minor one, can have devastating consequences," says John Kumpf of the Ontario Alliance for Action on Brain Injury.

Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability world wide. Traumatic brain injury is more common than breast cancer, HIV AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injury combined. The leading causes of brain injury are falls, being struck by or against an object, or being in a motor vehicle crash.

Media reports indicate that Ms. Richardson took what seemed like a minor fall during a skiing lesson on a beginner slope in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. "As people watched this sad story unfold, they couldn't comprehend how a seemingly minor injury could have such tragic results," Kumpf noted. "But as people who work with brain injury survivors every day, we know that even what appears to be a harmless fall can cause lifelong impairments or death."

A new research report by Dr. Angela Colantonio for the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation shows that there were 17,482 emergency room visits and/or hospitalizations for traumatic brain injury in Ontario in 2006. In addition, there were over 19,000 hospitalizations and/or emergency room visits due to brain injury from non-traumatic causes. Non-traumatic brain injuries can include vascular problems including aneurysm and malformations, brain tumors, infections such as meningitis, loss of oxygen and other medical complications. Approximately 3,600 hospitalizations ended in death. "These are new and staggering numbers - and we know they're not even capturing the whole picture," says Dr. Angela Colantonio, the lead investigator for the study. She explains that the study does not include injured people seen by family physicians without a visit to hospital, or people who died before receiving hospital care. "Research also indicates data from administrative data sources used in our study may not record all brain injuries" says Dr. Colantonio.

While a vast majority of Ontarians will survive a brain injury, they often lose their lives in other ways. "You can lose the person you used to be: Your memory, your identity, your job, your friends and loved ones - all because of a brain injury," says Kumpf. ABI often results in a complex combination of cognitive, psychosocial, behavioral and physical problems. Even people who sustain "mild" injuries can have long term consequences. And yet, ABI survivors are largely invisible to the general public. "Ontario's health care system does a great job in the immediate aftermath of injury. But once they're released from hospitals and rehab facilities, ABI
survivors are often left on their own," says Kumpf. "But with no comprehensive long term system in place, many ABI survivors fall through the cracks."

About Brain Injury:

An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is damage to the brain that occurs after birth as a result of a traumatic or non-traumatic event (not congenital or degenerative). An acquired brain injury that is the result of a traumatic event, such as a blow to the head, is called a Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI.


The Ontario Alliance for Action on Brain Injury (OAABI) was created by Ontario's experts in brain injury. The Alliance seeks to create public awareness of ABI and to partner with government in the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to support brain injury survivors and their families in the community.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson Dies of Head Injury

Throughout the last few days I've been following the news about actress Natasha Richardson, wife of actor Liam Neeson. Natasha fell face first during a ski lesson in Canada on Monday. At first, she seemed fine. Observers noted that there was no blood from her injury and she was walking and talking like normal. She turned down the advice of the ski instructor to see a doctor. She returned to her room, and about a hour later, complained of a headache. Monday night she was admitted to the hospital, and just a few hours ago, a mere two days after her fall, she's dead. 

This is the second Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) death I've heard of in as many weeks, and it's hard for me to articulate how this news affects me. Aside from the obviously grief for the families involved, it's hard not to recall my own TBIs, and again wrestle with both thankfulness for the life I still have and sadness for the life I did lose.

On January 21, 2004, I took a break from work to get some snacks at the Speedway station just down the road. It was a cold, blustery Michigan day and there was ice on the sidewalk leading to the store. I wish I knew what happened exactly. Best I can figure, I slipped on the ice and struck my head on the concrete sidewalk. I don't know if I passed out. I don't know if anyone saw me. I don't know if anyone helped me. I do know that I got up and drove the mile and a half home. People fall all the time and so I figured it wasn't a big deal. In actuality, my life has never been the same.

Once someone sustains a TBI, they are more likely to sustain additional head injuries, and those additional head injuries tend to have more serious consequences. I was very fortunate. A colleague could tell I was a little off and drove me to the Urgent Care. Again, I brushed off any concern over my head. I was advised to have someone spend the night to observe me. It was a good thing, because the next day I had a throbbing headache. My doctor sent me to the ER for a CT. It didn't show any bleeding, and that's where my story differs from Natasha's. Her TBI led to bleeding which led to death. My TBI was more like, as my neuropsychologist explained it to me, a bowl of Jello being jolted around. The pathways in my brain were shaken up and in some ways, five years later, they are still recovering. I am a different person today. I have a different personality, and my mental functions are not what they once were. I used to be a writer. Now, too often, I find I don't have anything to say. I used to be super organized. Now, I too easily find myself overwhelmed by disorder. Routines and structure are more important to me now. I can't rely on my memory so I need lists and reminders. I'm not as social as I used to be, because, quite frankly, I can't handle as much stimulation. I lack the filter out what I don't need so in a room with several conversations, I hear them all at the same level and get overwhelmed. I tired much more easily and need much more sleep. I work very hard to structure my days to make the most of them, but my most productive days now, are just a shadow of what I used to be able to do. 

It's hard, often, to describe to others what it's like to be head injured.  And people say the strangest things: "I know just how you feel." "I do dumb things like that sometimes." "You don't look head injured!" Sure, everyone has bad days, but people without head injuries don't have structure every part of their day just so they can function like a "normal" person. I think of the Alzheimer's patient who has a rare lucid day. On rare occasion, I do have days when I can function well, get a project done, record my thoughts in a meaningful day. It doesn't mean I'm cured, it just means that, that day, God gave me a gift.

I'm very fortunate though. Within two weeks of my fall, I was in a brain injury program where I saw a physical therapist, speech therapist and occupational therapist three times a week. I also saw a neuropsychologist and neurologist. But even as I came to understand my injury, so many others around me, couldn't. TBIs are a silent disability. I look fine. It's frustrating to those who know you when all of a sudden you can't keep up with your job, your commitments, your relationships. I lost some friendship, and strengthened others. I'm very loyal to the friends who walked with me through my recovery. 

In May of 2006, I hit my head again, this time on a sharp corner in a friend's home. It seems insignificant at the time, but now I know I sustained another TBI, and this one cost me my job. After 18 months of trying to work with my rehab program, it became painfully obvious that I was not capable of the work I was hired to do. 

My head injury is one of the most life-changing events in my life. It took my job, my ability to write, my house, my independence, my security. It changed my personality and how I view and approach each day. But I am fortunate. I managed to find a man who was not scared off by my disability, and when I told him about it, expecting him to run, he instead asked me how he could learn more. I married that man and he is my greatest advocate on my bad days. 

As I think about the grief Natasha Richardson's family is facing right now, I grieve the life I lost, the books I'll never write, the way things could have been. But, typing this blog in my comfortable home, with my dog curled up in my lap and my husband and newborn son in the other room, I feel blessed.

I hope that Natasha's death can be redeemed a little bit with articles like this one, to educate others about the potential seriousness of a "simple fall."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

our little leprechaun

We found this shirt a few weeks ago in the dollar bin at Target. (We love the dollar section). Daniel is a wee bit of Irish. We're actually not quite sure how much. Niels and I had an interesting conversation about ancestry. In America, it's quite common to claim the ancestry of family who immigranted to American. In the Netherlands--and, I imagine, other European countries--one claims the ancestry of the country their relatives actually live in. 

So, growing up here in the States, I would say that I was part German and part Irish because my mom was 50% Irish and 50% German, and my dad was 100% German, even though my mom has never been to Ireland or Germany, and my dad has never been to Germany. Part of my dad's German ancestry is in question though, because when he named the city his great-grandparents emigrated from, it turns out it is a Dutch village on the German border!

So we were trying to figure out Daniel's ancestry. The straight answer is that he is 50% Dutch and 50% American, because he is the son of a Dutch citizen and an American citizen, and by laws of both countries, he is a citizen of both, which I guess it could be argued, makes him both 100% American and 100% Dutch. But in a few years, when he's asked the seemingly simply question of his ancestry, as commonly understood by Americans, we're a little lost in the math.

Dad is 100% Dutch
Mom is 25% Irish and either 75% German OR 50% German and 25% Dutch. 

So what is Daniel? A wee bit of Irish!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Big Bad Baby Sale

Six months ago, a local church hosted what we like to affectionately call, The Big Bad Baby Sale. I was about five months pregnant at the time, we had nothing in the nursery. After the sale, we came away with a stroller, car seat with extra base, car seat cover, and a ton of other things, for a steal.

This weekend is the spring version of the sale. I didn't get there as soon as last time, but I did come away with a few items off the check list: a Baby Bjorn carrier for Niels, an exersaucer, a couple of hats and some new dress up clothes for the year. Last night, some new friends offered to pass on some of their baby things, which we'll pick up tomorrow, so now we are very excited to have a swing and exersaucer for both the main level and basement. This will make my days much easier as my day is often dictated based on what toy Daniel wants to be in!

At the top of the post Daniel is checking out his new toys.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Flashback to a Former Life

Back in my good brain days, I worked in the Christian music industry. While Facebook has helped me stay connected to many friends, I have done a better job keeping in touch with my friends from the band downhere. I met the group about eight years ago when I interviewed them before their first national album debuted. I think I described them as Queen meets Keith Green. I found this little treasure on YouTube and had to share:

Monday, March 9, 2009

Partying Like a 3 Month Old

This is how we celebrate being three months old...de Jong men style.

Daniel is 3 months old!

25 Things about Being 3 Months Old
by Daniel, with help from Mommy

  1. I love my hands! I found them about a week ago and think they are pretty cool. I especially like to try to put them in my mouth, along with my bottle and paci.
  2. It’s pretty unanimous that I still look just like Daddy.
  3. My newest trick is drooling. You'll be hard pressed to take a picture of me these days without a good amount of drool on my shirt.
  4. Thanks to #3, Mommy has started putting me in bibs.
  5. I started smiling at 8 weeks. I still don't do it a lot, but when Daddy makes his funny sound, I just can't help myself
  6. Tummy time is getting much more interesting. I can lift my head up and move it from side to side. Mommy puts lots of fun toys for me to look at. I can't quite figure out how to reach them, but I know they are there.
  7. I took my first trip this month...to Canada! I met my namesake, Joel, and his wife Carolyn. They are good people. 
  8. I also got to meet Glenn and Sherri Lavender, and their son, Bram. They are good people, too.
  9. I love classical music. Really, it's just instrumental music from Mommy & Daddy's wedding, but it's my favorite music to listen while napping or eating.
  10. I also like the CD, "Snacktime" by the Barenaked Ladies. My favorite song is "Polliwog in a Bog." Mommy and I like to dance to it!
  11. I have a new nickname: Squealy Dan. Daddy gave me this because whenever I'm done eating, I make a really high pitched squeal to show my displeasure. If it was up to me, I'd eat all day long.
  12. Mommy and I still go to Booby Class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I've made some new friends there.
  13. Mommy and I are starting a new class this month, Mommy & Me Aqua Aerobics. Sounds like fun!
  14. I got my first swim trunks. They are green with little turtles on them. I like to swim in the big tub with Daddy.
  15. This month, I learned that it's not always cold and snowy outside. This past weekend, we went from a stroll in the park. 
  16. I also discovered rain this month. I watched the rain yesterday morning from the porch with Daddy.
  17. I love Miss Ashley! She comes over every Friday afternoon just to hang out with me. Mommy sometimes disappears during this time, but I don't mind because I love Miss Ashley!
  18. I have made peace with the swing. I usually take a couple naps in there everyday.
  19. I might get another swing for downstairs. This weekend is the big bad baby sale!!!
  20. I survived my first cold. I was NOT a fan.
  21. I laughed for the first--and only--time when we were in Canada. Mommy and Daddy were talking about their plans for the day. Ha!
  22. I think cards are pretty. 
  23. I'm starting to get into a routine. It's nice for mom, because she can plan her day.
  24. I can now sit in my Bumbo. I like it a lot better than the bouncer. 
  25. I now weigh about 11 pounds and still wear my 0-3 clothes, but I'm starting to break into the 3-6's.
  26. I've been sleeping through the night for five weeks!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Arlington Road Studios

As part of our church series on 'Just How Married Do You Wanna Be' our small group (which conveniently happens to include our church's Tech Director) has created a series of sermon bumpers.

Our friends the Lipfords wrote most of the scripts and played the married couple, with our Tech Director extraordinair taking the helm of executive producer and director of cinematography. With all of that settled all we needed was a location to shoot. Well, that's were we come into play... and Arlington Road studios was born.

So far, three of the four videos are ready (fourth one to be added once it's released) and hosted at Vimeo.com. For your convenience we've embedded them all into this post. Have fun watching and do reflect afterwards on how you'd handle such situations in your marriage. You can comment on the videos at the bottom of the post.

Video 1: Painting the kitchen

Painting the Kitchen from Joshua Swain on Vimeo.

Video 2: Visiting Family

Visiting Family from River Tree on Vimeo.

Video 3: Hard Days Work

Hard Days Work from River Tree on Vimeo.

Please feel free to leave your comments...

It's Never Too Early to Think About College

Last night our small group was talking about finances and as usually, our car ride home set the stage for a good conversation about our own financial situation. Thanks to Gramma Ann, we have opened a college account for Daniel (so far he can buy about one textbook!). College education is very different in Europe (MUCH less expensive) so we've talked about how nice it would be in Daniel wanted to go to college in Europe. He has dual citizenship so he qualifies for EU tuition rates, and we hope that by the time he's 18, he has spent enough time in Holland with family to feel comfortable there. And did we mention it's much less expensive?!

Here's a little price comparision.

The Ohio State University
public state university
Tuition: $8,769/year

Malone College
private Christian college in Canton
Tuition: $20,730/year

Calvin College
private Christian college in Grand Rapids, MI
Tuition: $21,460/year

Drake University
Jen's alma mater, a private university in Iowa
Tuition: $25,160/year

Fontys University
Niels' alma mater, a public university in The Netherlands
Tuition: €1,625 ($2,057)/year

Granted, these rates are tuition only, and don't include room, board, books or other fees, but I think we still have a clear winner! Unless of course, Daniel ends up being a jock and can get a full ride wherever he wants!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Daniel, Meet Spring

Daniel and His Parents

Cute Kiddo

Last Minute Lasagna

Fridays are Ashley days. Our good friend Ashley comes over Friday afternoons to watch Daniel so I can shower, sleep, run errands, work on projects, etc. She usually stays for dinner, a game of Gin 13 or Catan, and maybe a movie or our favorite Thursday night shows on the DVR. Last night we were feeling confident enough in our recipe adventure that we decided to try our next one with her. 

Here's Last Minute Lasagna. It's super easy to make and a great way to get in some fresh greens, in this case, spinach.

  • 1 26-ounce jar pasta sauce
  • 2 30-ounce bags frozen large cheese ravioli, unthawed
  • 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water
  • 1 8-ounce bag shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1Heat oven to 350° F. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray and spoon in a third of the sauce.
  • 2Arrange 12 ravioli on top and scatter the spinach over them. Top with half of each cheese. Cover with another layer of ravioli and the remaining sauce and cheese.
  • 3Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 to 10 minutes more or until bubbly.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Daniel's Thinking Pose

Next Project...The Dutch Bathroom

Nine years ago, when I was looking for my future townhome, I like bright white walls. My new home had all bright white walls, with one exception, the guest bath on the main floor. It had bright YELLOW walls. I almost didn't buy the place because of the color. Ultimately, I figured I could always paint it. Funny thing is, first I got used to it. Then, later on, in part to the influence of my bold-color-loving friend Sara, I started to really like the cheerfulness of my sunny bathroom. 

When we moved to our house here in Ohio, all the walls were white (actually pink-tinged primer) with the exception of two. Now everything's painted but the basement and the bathrooms. And wouldn't you know, I want a bright, cheerful guest bath. Niels has vetoed my yellow, so I'm going with my second choice, orange. Since we already have a Dutch verjaardag (birthday) calendar in their, I decided to go with a Dutch theme. Orange is the color of the Dutch royal family, so that will be the wall color. Then, when we go to Michigan this spring for Tulip Time in Holland, we'll take some pictures of Daniel among the tulips to adorn the walls. And when it comes time to sell, we'll put in some Cleveland Browns paraphenalia!

Funny thing is, as I was thinking of this project, some friends used our home (Arlington Studios) to make some film shorts used for church. Here's a link and I promise there's no correlation!

Bailey's New Trick

With the new baby, it might seem we've forgotten all about our first baby, Bailey. I've relegated her to maid and taught her to clean the cabinets. Just kidding, we have no idea what she thought she was getting into here

Daniel Holds His Head Up High

Looks like all that tummy time is paying off! Daniel can now hold his head up and look around. And in one more way that Daniel is like his Daddy, note the big drop of drool about to spill from his cheek!

de Jong's World Famous Rasta Pasta

I admit, this recipe is borrowed from The Rainforest Cafe. It's become my go-to recipe when we have people over--like this coming Monday. We've adapted a few things to make it our own and we LOVE it! 

De Jong’s World Famous Rasta Pasta

Ready in: < 30 minutes

Serves/Makes: 6

24 ounces pasta, bow ties
3 teaspoons garlic, chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
3 cups broccoli flowerets
½ cup pine nuts
24 ounces cooked chicken breast halves, sliced 1/2" thick, 1" wide pieces
3 cups prepared Alfredo sauce
3/8 cup pesto sauce
3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
6 tablespoons grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

3 medium red pepper, roasted
small can sliced black olives

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well and set aside. In a 10" saute pan, saute garlic in olive oil. Add spinach, broccoli, red pepper, and grilled chicken; toss to combine. Stir in Alfredo sauce and pesto; simmer an additional 5 minutes. Reheat pasta if necessary under hot running water in a strainer; pour into a pasta bowl. Pour Alfredo sauce mixture over bow ties.

Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and Parmesan.

Homemade Granola Bars

I've been eating a fair share of Fiber One bars lately. As a new mom, it's been hard at times to have time to make an actual meal while I'm home alone. We loaded up on granola bars when Daniel was born, and I still eat a few eat day. When I found this recipe, I had to try it out. My first attempt didn't turn out so well. I used some frozen blueberries left over from Mom's visit, but it made the whole thing too watery so I'll try again following the directions and using mixed fruit. I still like the potential of it. And I add brewer's yeast to make them lactation-friendly!

I found this recipe online. Click here to see step-by-step pictures.

§  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Gather your ingredients:
  • 2 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup wheat germ
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup peanuts, crushed
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • approximately 8 oz. dried fruit
3. To crush your peanuts, put them in a plastic bag and smash them with a heavy mallet, measuring cup, or sauce pan.

4. Then, mix the peanuts, oats, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds in a baking dish with sides. Toast them in the oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that they don’t get burned.

5. Meanwhile, prepare a glass baking dish (about 11 x 13 inches) for your granola by lining it with waxed paper lightly sprayed with a nonstick spray.

6. Put the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. (I forgot to take a picture of this step, but it looks so pretty!)

7. By now, your grains and nuts should be toasted, so mix everything together in a large bowl. The grains, the liquid “glue,” and the dried fruit. Oh, and turn off your oven, because you’re finished with it now.

8. Mix everything REALLY WELL because you want to make sure the “glue” gets all over everything. Now, dump your granola mixture into your prepared baking dish.

9. Spread out the mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula.

10. Now fold over the sides of the waxed paper or add a sheet on top, and PRESS HARD all over the granola. You want to compact it together so that your bars won’t fall apart when you cut them.

11.  Wait 2-3 hours or until the granola has totally cooled.

12. Then, open the waxed paper …And carefully turn the granola onto a large cutting board, peeling away the rest of the paper.

13. Now, firmly pressing down with a big knife (not sawing), cut your granola into whatever size bars you’d like. I wrapped ours individually in plastic wrap, so that we could just throw one into our bag or lunch box in the morning. If you’d like to save on packaging though, you can store yours in an airtight container, between sheets of waxed paper (so they don’t stick together).

Lamb Meatball Gyros with Yogurt and Mind

This is our recipe from March 4 and was a lot of fun to make. I had never cooked with lamb before, and didn't really think I'd like the scallions, but it was really good. Next time though, we'll just use pita bread because the flat bread makes for a messy meal. And we'll use sour cream instead of the Greek yogurt. We also learned not to put the flat bread on the stove. We thought it would warm it up, but it burned a couple of them instead!

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 bunch scallions (white and light green parts), sliced
  • 4 pieces flat bread
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint
  • 1Place an oven rack in the second-highest position and heat broiler.
  • 2Combine the lamb, raisins, cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the bread crumbs, egg, and three-quarters of the scallions in a large bowl.
  • 3Shape the mixture into golf ball-size meatballs and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  • 4Broil, turning once, until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes total.
  • 5Divide the flat bread among individual plates and top with the meatballs, yogurt, mint, and the remaining scallions.

Coke Roast

So the easiest recipe we tried is the one I messed up. We didn't actually use a can of Coke. We had a 2 liter, and I put WAY too much Coke in. It was more like Coke Roast Soup. But the roast itself actually tasted really good! Next time we'll add regular roast veggies--potatoes, carrots and celery. And maybe substitute Dr. Pepper if we're really adventurous. Anyone that that?

1 roast
1 can coke
1 pkg. dry onion soup

Put roast in pan. Sprinkle with dry soup mix. Pour coke over roast. Bake at 350 degrees for 2-3 hours. Potatoes, carrots, etc. may be added. Juice makes extra good gravy!

Lactation Cookies

So this one's for the girls. One of my daily web stops is FertilityFriend.com. I've been with the same group of ladies since we first found out we were expecting, almost a year ago! It's been really fun to compare notes as we experienced pregancy and now parenthood together. 

Just before my milk supply tanked with mastitis, I found this recipe for yummy cookies. The brewer's yeast and oatmeal are thought to increase supply. It worked for me! And yes, guys can enjoy them too!

Housepoet's Famous Lactation Boosting Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip & Flaxseed cookies

Ingredients :
* 1 cup butter or marg
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 4 tablespoons water
* 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal*
* 2 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 2 cups flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 3 cups oats, thick cut if you can get them
* 1 cup or more chocolate chips
* 2 tablespoons of brewers yeast* (be generous)


Preheat oven at 375 degrees F. Mix together 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal and water, set aside for 3-5 minutes. Cream (beat well) margarine and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mix well. Stir flaxseed mixture and add with vanilla to the margarine mix. Beat until blended. Sift together dry ingredients, except oats and chips. Add to margarine mixture. Stir in oats then chips. Scoop or drop onto baking sheet, preferably lined with parchment or silpat. The dough is a little crumbly, so it helps to use a scoop.

Bake 8-12 minutes, depending on size of cookies.

Serves: 6 dozen cookies

Preparation time: 15 minutes

*can be found at any local health food store.


Skirt Steak with Lemon and Chili-Roasted Potatoes

Another recipe from Real Simple. This was was really good, but we changed it up quite a bit. We used red potatoes, because Mom taught me that you can never go wrong with those. Plus, you don't have to peel them! We didn't use sprigs of thyme, we used the chopped thyme spice from the spice rack. And we skipped the lemon garnish. Next time, instead of the skirt steak, we might try ribe eye or strip steak.

  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold or new potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1Heat oven to 425° F. Mix the potatoes, oil, chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and thyme in a medium bowl. Transfer to a roasting pan and cook, stirring once, until crisp and golden brown, about 40 minutes. Remove the potatoes from oven, transfer to individual plates, and wipe the pan clean.
  • 2Heat broiler. Season the steak with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place on the clean roasting pan. Broil the steak to the desired doneness, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
  • 3Serve with the potatoes and lemon quarters.

The Paci Boom Game: Danny v. Daddy

A few weeks ago, we achieved a happy milestone: Daniel sleeps through the night! We put him down around 10:30-11pm and he sleeps til about 5 or 6am. Then Daddy gives him his first bottle and Daniel sleeps until 8. And there is much rejoicing...and sleeping.

Now that he's been sleeping through the night for about a month, we're ready to accept that he's really doing it. But this week we achieved another milestone, the end of the Paci Boom game!

There are a lot of opinions about pacifiers, but we have decided that since babies have a sucking reflex and it's a first step toward self-soothing, we are all about the paci. Which is usually fine. Except at bedtime. 

Daniel started sleeping well at night when Daddy started putting him down instead of Mommy. With Mommy comes the delicious smell of his favorite breastaurant, so sleep was not so much on his mind. With Daddy, he got down to business. With the help, of course, of his paci. 

Some friends of ours have an almost-two year old, James. When James was younger, he started a game our friend called, "Boom." He was learning to pick things up, which he loved to do. But what he loved even more was throwing whatever object he picked up down to the ground and saying, "Boom!" Daniel hasn't mastered the art of grasping things yet, but he is a master at spitting out his pacificer. Really, it's quite impressive the distance he can get!

So the only glitch in our nighttime routine was the game of Paci Boom. It goes like this. 
  1. Get Daniel ready for bed (PJs, lotions, bottle, lullabye, prayer, paci). 
  2. Put Daniel in crib.
  3. Put Daddy in bed...in our room across the hall. 
  4. Daniel spits out paci.
  5. Daniel cries.
  6. Daddy gets out of warm, comfortable bed and goes to nursery
  7. Daddy puts paci back in Daniel's mouth.
  8. Put Daddy in bed...in our room across the hall.
  9. Repeat steps 4 through 8 about ten times.
Needless to say, Daddy does not enjoy this game quite as much as Daniel. BUT, over the last few weeks, the game has been repeated fewer and fewer times. Last night we noticed that we've gone two nights without playing Paci-Boom.

Now if only we could get him to drop the game at nap time. I've been playing it as I write this post. It took six rounds, but our sweet little boy is now sleeping in his swing.

We survived Daniel's first cold!

Last week we noticed that Daniel was sneezing a lot, and his eyes were watery, and then he sounded a little congested. It's so hard to see your little guy doesn't feel well, especially when there isn't much you can do for an 11 week old. We mentioned this to some friends us ours and they told us about Vicks Waterless Vaporizor. It's a little plug in thing that emits a menthol-y scent. We put that on for three nights in a row, along with his humidifer and by the first morning he was feeling better. It's about $10 for the starter kit, which includes the vaporizer and five of the pads. Money well spent to have a healthy baby boy!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bath Time for the Boys

Daniel really outdid himself filling his diaper tonight, so that meant bath time for the boys. Since Daniel and I will be starting Mommy & Me Aqua Aerobics (I do the work, he looks cute) next week we got him his first bathing suit. It's really cute and the extra 'bath time' gave us the perfect oppertunity to test it out...

Tortellini with Bacon, Greens and Brown Butter

Another successful new recipe night! This one was really good, and a little cheaper because it doesn't involve beef or chicken! We used real bacon bits (the kind you buy). Next time, we'll use a lot less bacon--like maybe only an ounce or so. Also, we used some fancy two-colored lettuce, not the arugula. I learned a new trick with this recipe--browning butter. 

  • 1 pound cheese or meat tortellini
  • 4 ounces sliced bacon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups arugula (about 1 bunch)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1Cook the tortellini according to the package directions. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Reserve the bacon and discard the drippings. 
  • 2Wipe out skillet and return to medium heat and brown the butter: Melt the butter in a skillet or small saucepan over medium heat. Swirl or stir the butter with a wooden spoon as it starts to foam and sputter. Remove the butter from the heat as soon as it begins to turn golden brown and smells nutty, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  • 3Break the bacon into small pieces and add to skillet with the arugula, salt, pepper, and cooked tortellini. Toss well and divide among individual bowls.

Basic Quiche

This is my favorite recipe so far! Also from Real Simply. I added ham, extra spinach, and extra carrots. We used parmesan and mozzerella cheese instead of the Gruyere. Yummy!

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 8 ounces Gruyere, grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 store-bought frozen piecrust in a tin
  • 1Heat oven to 375° F.
  • 2In a large skillet, over medium-low heat, heat the oil. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Cover and cook until the onions are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the parsley and cook, covered, for 2 minutes more.
  • 3Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs and half-and-half. Stir in the Gruy√®re, nutmeg, the remaining salt and pepper, and the onion mixture.
  • 4Place the piecrust on a foil-lined baking sheet. Scrape the egg mixture into the piecrust; it will be very full. Bake until the filling is set and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve