Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, Camden!

This has been a big birthday for us this year. It's one more year older, yes, but this is also the year Camden goes from being a little boy in elementary school to a big kid in middle school! I think I've been a bit in denial about it... But it's happening, regardless. Camden turned *11* on Monday, June 28th (he was also born on a Monday).

This year, Camden had a birthday party at home, and his short list of friends to have over for a cookout and cake somehow kept growing. By Saturday, we had 11 10/11-year-olds in our small living room. At one point there were more people, but this is what it was at most of the afternoon. Man, boys are wild. And LOUD. The girls kept trying to escape to either inside or the patio, whichever place the boys were NOT, saying they were looking for quiet. A couple boys stayed for a sleep-over, and I think we learned to keep that limited to one at a time for a while. Ha.

So....let's see. This year, Camden has continued to play soccer. His team won the soccer championship and had an undefeated season, the only team in any of the leagues for the town to be undefeated. they were pretty proud of that. Camden has been taking guitar lessons and is getting pretty good, though he isn't really a fan of practicing. He loves living in our new house and having lots of friends that live nearby - and living off a cul-de-sac where he can play soccer and football with all the boys nearby. (There are a lot of boys, but hardly any girls! Not that I'm complaining...) He's all about sports, and I've discovered that he would be happy to wear a white undershirt and basketball shorts every single day. He's still very big on reading, which is awesome. He's always been an advanced reader, so he likes carting big, huge novels around - series are always a hit, and he'll read things over and over. Legos - do they ever go out of style? He loves getting big sets of them, but then he makes them once and doesn't want to take them apart! (We've had to create a limit so that his room doesn't get taken over...)

Camden's really gotten better with his food pickiness lately. Not that he's overly picky, but there's plenty that he didn't like a year or two ago and now will eat happily. He always has to try something, even if he claims he hates it, and after so many tries, he usually ends up liking it. With each food this occurs, he'll proclaim "you were right again!" Ha. He will tell you that his mom is very smart - and that I'm usually right about things. Not when he's mad at me about something, but otherwise, this is the case. ;) Examples about foods he recently did not like and will now eat without complaining are....beans, rice, salad, a dish I make that mostly includes beef and lentils, broccoli, and some others I'm not remembering at the moment. He admits he can't really argue when I make him eat some of the foods he doesn't like since he knows what the outcome will eventually be (though he does try to argue anyway sometimes).

He's getting a bit of an attitude lately...the attitude where he thinks he can talk back or just not follow through and there shouldn't be a problem with that. The attitude where he knows something isn't allowed but we're not looking, so what's wrong with what he did? We've had to become zero-tolerance about this kind of thing, and I think that makes a difference. Give him an inch... Right? He needs that immediate consequence, we've learned. Thankfully it's not every day, and most of the time he is quite pleasant. But I'm sure my mother is thinking, Oh you just wait. Do you remember what you were like as a teenager? What goes around comes around, honey... Right, mom? (That does worry me. I'll be honest!)

Camden is soooo very excited about middle school. I don't think he's nervous at all! He knows there will be more work and less tolerating inappropriate behavior, but he also is excited about many of the other things he will get to do. He's signed up to be in band to play the clarinet. First choice was the sax, but his hands are too small for now, so he'll start with the clarinet. He's looking forward to trying out for the soccer team in 7th grade, and until then, he'll play baseball and soccer outside of school on other teams. He's also quite excited about having lockers at school; I think just about all of the 5th graders are! It seems to be a huge deal. The school is a brand new one that was just finished in the last couple months. It's right next to the elementary school (and high school) and is right next to our neighborhood, which is nice b/c he just walks. He just got a new bike for his birthday (thanks to all the grandparents that sent money to go toward it), so he's looking forward to riding his bike to school now. He's been in a year-round school for the past year, and the new middle school is also year-round. I think he likes that schedule (I know the rest of us do), especially having long breaks throughout the year instead of just one big one in the summer. He's always bored before it's time for school to start back with the long break, and a few weeks at a time seems to be just right.

We went to Camden's 5th grade graduation ceremony today. I always thought those were a little silly... They're not graduating really until they're graduating from high school! But now that we're here, it's not quite as silly as I always thought. I did tear up some, especially when they played Canon in D during the processional, and then the kids all sang "Heal the World." Seriously, I think they were TRYING to make the moms cry! My baby boy is growing up. Some days I just can't deny it. I'm a bit nervous about some aspects of middle school, too. I know what kind of stuff happens there - good and bad. Yikes. He's also getting at an age where it's time for me to let go more, let him make his own decisions (and mistakes), etc. Yikes again...mostly because it can be hard to do that when you know it will sometimes result in them making poor choices or getting hurt. One thing that helps, as I'm learning to back off and let go some, is that other trustworthy adults are entering into Camden's life as he is now in the middle school group at church. Another thing he is super excited about. And I'm thankful to know there will be other good influences in his life (even if they give them poptarts and other junk food sometimes) and another reason for him to be exited about going to church and learning about and growing in God.

I asked Camden what his favorite part of the last year was...his answer was simply the soccer tournament. That was pretty exciting for him! I think in comparison, the rest of the year just didn't match up! I think he's also just really looking forward to some of the things ABOUT to happen when he starts middle school in a few weeks!

Like I said, this has been an emotional birthday for me, mostly because it happens right as he's about to enter middle school and there are all these reminders that he is getting older and I'm having to let go more and more. But it's been a good birthday, nonetheless. We didn't get to go to Kentucky and have the big party we usually have (which is mostly just an excuse to get a bunch of our family and close friends together, since we see them so little), but it was also kind of nice to have a relaxed time (other than that wild birthday party night!!) and just be here together, just our little family.

And I'll leave with a little birthday picture. Since this has been a big year, where he's obviously growing up, I'm including his BIRTH day picture. Because no matter how old he is, he is always, always my baby.

My baby boy, Camden Lee. Born Monday June 28th, 1999 at 12:13pm, coming in at a whopping 11lbs, 21 1/2 inches - by far, the *biggest* blessing I've ever received. ;) The picture was taken in the hospital; Christening gown was made by my mother (and had to be altered b/c he was too big to button it on the arms or neck!). He was literally twice the size as the other babies in the hospital when he was born!

Happy 11th birthday!!

Go here for pics from the month, including birthday party pics, school presentation and school play pics, as well as pics from the 5th grade graduation.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Father's Day

Just now getting to post this b/c Father's Day was quite busy, and I haven't had the time since. Aiden just went down for his morning nap...later than usual meaning we don't get to meet our friends for a pool playdate that I was so looking forward to, but such is life. Guess I'll find something productive to do at home...

So, we started the day off early, heading to church. Our wonderful church that I wish every single person in the world could attend. I didn't want to get up and going so early in the morning (we go to the early service b/c it's less packed than the others...though still very packed...and we have to drive close to 30 minutes to get there), but once I'm there, I am so thankful I am. Aiden is still adjusting to the nursery. After a two weeks of staying in there with one of us and then two weeks without us, we were out of town and last week they had to turn some kids away when a worker was ill, leaving them with not enough hands for all the kids that showed up...so he hadn't been for four weeks. Daddy always drops him off with Mommy out of sight, but Aiden still cried some. While it hurts to hear that, we know he does calm down and has fun (and they have instructions to call for us if he doesn't calm down within a short amount of time - we don't want to leave him crying for long!), and man...we can actually pay attention during the service when he's not there. When we picked him up, he was playing happily with an Elmo toy, not missing us at all, which was nice to see.

After church we took a trip to the Farmer's Market. We're hoping to make it our after-church routine, especially now that we have found some great vendors. We left with some yummy foods and quite pleased, not only about the food being yummy...but about the food being the kind healthy we were wanting. I'll post more about this later.

The afternoon consisted of me potting some herbs and plants I had purchased at the Farmer's Market while Aiden napped and Ryan and Camden tossed a baseball. When Aiden woke, I took him to the grocery store (because we can't get EVERYthing at the Farmer's Market), and Ryan and Camden headed to the park for some more time together. The plan was to go to the driving range, but Ryan said it was just too hot for that. Dinner consisted of some roasted tomatoes and grilled brats. Everyone loved the brats. Camden didn't want to try them at the Farmer's Market because he said the ones he had before were awful. When he tried these, he said it must just be that he doesn't like store-bought ones and that local ones really are better. ;) Whether that's true or not, at least he's totally on board with this buying local stuff and seeing some benefits. Even Aiden couldn't get enough of the brats, and he's not normally a huge fan of things like hot dogs. And then we had homemade ice cream with grilled pineapple for dessert. (And let me tell you, homemade ice cream is so incredibly easy and delicious! We made vanilla on Sunday, and I mixed up some coffee ice cream this morning that is now in the freezing stage...can't wait! To the person that gave us the ice cream attachment for our wedding: I am beyond sorry that I haven't used it until now! I feel so guilty, especially now that I know how easy it is! Every summer, I've said "This year, I will use that thing!" I finally have. And I will not stop.) Since we made the ice cream egg-free, Aiden was actually able to have some. Of course, he LOVED it.

I hope all the Daddy's out there had a great Father's Day. Although we were doing something all day long, it was actually a fairly relaxed day, which was not the norm and was quite nice. Here is the Father's Day pic of the boys and Ryan.

Happy Father's Day, baby!
You are such an incredible Daddy to our kids.
I am so very thankful we all have you in our lives,
and I look forward to seeing the kind of men you help our boys to one day become.

And also a picture of me and my Daddy. :)

And lastly, maybe the best part of the day... Aiden wore a shirt that says "My dad is a Super Hero." When getting him dressed for church (meaning before 8am), I told Aiden what the shirt said. After he woke from his nap in the afternoon (meaning after 4pm), he pointed to his shirt and said "Super!!!" Um...he was told once what the shirt said and totally remembered it so much later! We were very impressed. After that, he kept saying it. And then he started saying "Super Daddy!" and was saying that until he went to bed. I'm pretty sure that put a smile or two on Daddy's face. :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Meatless Meals: Stir-Fry

We've been trying to cut back on how much meat we use...for various reasons. One is the cost, but we won't really be saving any money the way we're going about this. We'll be buying better quality meat, which costs more, so using less will allow us to buy the better meat that we want and that is important to us (hormone-free, antibiotic-free, free-range, grass-fed) without it hurting our budget. Then there are health reasons. Less meat, more veggies, beans, etc, etc.

I recently asked on facebook for some meat-free meal ideas, and I got a few good suggestions and recipes from friends. I also decided to flip through my cookbooks to see what I could find. And I flipped through my recipe binders to see what meat-including recipes I could make and just exclude the meat. One of those recipes ended up being a simple stir-fry.

We've been making stir-fry a lot lately. I know it's supposed to be quick and easy, but the recipe I use isn't all that quick. Sure, the actual cooking part is, but I buy the veggies whole and make the sauces from scratch, so the prep work takes some time. But the results are sooooo worth it.

This came from my Food Network magazine. The "recipe" is actually a mix-and-match guide...and according to the magazine, you could come up with 11,375 different stir-fries. Pick one of several proteins, make a marinade for it, prep 3 cups of a mix of veggies, make one of the five sauces, and then off you go to actually stir frying. I've made it with shrimp and with chicken, with the clear sauce and the sweet and sour. This time, we went meatless, which also meant skipping some steps, cutting off a bit of the time. For our veggies, we just added more - carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms are our typical veggies, sometimes snap peas are thrown in. This time I had some spinach in the fridge that needed to be used up, so I tossed that in, as well. If you're interested, here is the recipe we used.

Veggie Stir-Fry

I used more than 3-cups. I never measure and think the more veggies, the better.
  • Sliced carrots
  • Sliced red, yellow, green bell peppers
  • Quartered mushrooms
  • Small handful of spinach (cut into small pieces b/c I don't like big chunks of cooked spinach)

Sweet & Sour Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth,
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch,
  • 1/4 cup ketchup,
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce,
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar,
  • 1/4 cup sugar,
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, and
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil

Heat wok over high heat, 1-2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons oil, then 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 tablespoons minced ginger (or 1 if you're not a huge fan - I discovered that I AM a fan when it's fresh ginger!), 2 minced scallions, and a pinch each of salt and sugar; stir-fry about 30 seconds.

I love how it looks when I'm cooking the ginger and garlic
(we sometimes leave the scallions out, if we don't have them
on hand - tastes fine with or without them!). So very pretty!
Add the vegetables, starting with the ones that take the longest to cook; stir-fry until crisp-tender.

Add sauce and stir until sauce is thick and the vegetables are cooked through (won't take long - couple minutes at most). Thin with chicken broth if needed (you shouldn't need to).

Serve over rice. We like to use brown basmati.

Ta-da! Yummy meatless, made-completely-from-scratch stir-fry.

Fresh pineapple is a great addition to this stir-fry!

My older child who doesn't like mushrooms or cooked carrots LOVES this meal, with or without the meat. My toddler eats it like nobody's business. The night I made this with no meat, nobody noticed or said anything about it. Everyone loved it just as much as when I added meat. I loved it more because it shaved off some prep time! My only complaint is that we never have left-overs with this meal! I like to cook large dishes so I can be lazy another night or two (or more!), though it never leads to me having downtime with all the other stuff we have going on. But this dish is always a one-nighter. Maybe I could make more, but even when I think I have enough...nope. I think we have gotten a small lunch for me and Aiden out of it before.

The other night I also made a mushroom stroganoff. Camden, who really claims to not like mushrooms, really liked it! Aiden...he could take it or leave it. Of course, part of the problem was he saw an orange and then just wanted that. Ryan and I really liked it. And again, did not miss the meat. I think it would be even better if we could use regular fettuccine noodles, instead of gluten-free ones (because of Aiden's egg allergy, we need to use gluten-free noodles).

Any favorite meat-less dishes you make? Please feel free to share (comment, email, etc - if you comment, others may find a new recipe to try, too!).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What We're Missing

So, tonight I had a nice dinner (breakfast for dinner) planned. Camden helped when we made the menu this week, and one request was breakfast one night. I thought I would try a new pancake recipe that looked good and healthy all at once. I also had to use an egg replacer, of course. Now that I think about it, I really haven't done much of that lately... I tried a gluten-free, egg-free pancake once, and it turned out to be pretty awful, but we mostly blamed that on the flours used in the mix. Anyway...this turned out to be a flop.

Out to dinner we went. It was already late, and we could have gotten something quick, but I felt bad and wanted to give Camden his breakfast for dinner, so...we went to IHOP about 15 or so minutes away, which meant it took at least a half an hour because we had to deal with diaper changes and packing some food in case there was nothing Aiden could/would eat, etc. Dinner was fine, but while there, I got a bit of a reminder of what we are missing being where we are...

Right next to our table sat a huge family, three tables pushed together to fit them (basically I was facing them...looking down the entire length of the tables). There were three generations - but more than just grandparents, parents, and kids...some aunts/uncles/cousins perhaps, too. I couldn't help but keep looking over at them. I noticed some of the older kids (teenagers) joking around a lot with the grandparents, and it really stuck out how close they must have been to be talking and laughing the way they were.

I'm not typically one to get "home-sick"...but man, it sure made me wish we were with our families back in KY and WV. It made me think, we could have that. We could live near our families and be able to go out to eat with them on a weeknight and laugh and carry on like that. It would be nice to see our families so much that it wasn't considered a special occasion. I guess it did make me a bit home-sick. And there we were, our little family of four, quietly eating our dinner.

And might I just add, on a sweeter note....our little Aiden is such a blessing when eating out! We've had a couple times lately where he wasn't his normal self when out (b/c of teething or being overtired when traveling), and while he wasn't terrible and probably nobody else thought he was bad at all, it was quite stressful for us. But he was back to his angelic self tonight. I never take that for granted and am always amazed at how well-behaved he is when eating out! Thank you, baby boy! At one point, I couldn't help but thinking (and I might just have said it out loud) that he was behaving better than the ten-year-old...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Another EcoMom Giveaway!!

So...as I mentioned in my last post, I get to do TWO giveaways for EcoMom! Which means you have two chances to win! :)

This time, instead of trying out some new yummy foods, I got some awesome lotion. I happened to already know this lotion was awesome, but a free bottle and opportunity to share a review with you...and then have a giveaway of some sort (you'll have to read on to find out what the giveaway is) makes it even better.

If you've been following my blog, you know that our littlest guy, Aiden, has some very sensitive skin. He's pretty much had issues since he was born almost two years ago. We've become very careful with what we put on his skin, and that means paying close attention to what lotion we use daily. For the longest time, we just used what the dermatologist recommended. It was a great lotion, and you know the saying...if it's not broken... But as I kept learning about all the chemicals put into lotions and other products, I kept wondering if we should look into using something else. While the cream we were using on Aiden might have worked really well, it was not the best in regards to being free of chemicals and fragrances.

You might be familiar with the EWG (Environmental Working Group) Cosmetic Database. If you're not...you really should be! Go here and learn more about it. They score products on a rating system of 0-10...0 being the best in regards to chemical-free and "safe" and 10 being the worst and pumped full of chemicals. This is based on scientific information, which I really appreciate. If you look up a product, you will get information about the score and why it rates that way, what ingredients are in the product, what each individual ingredient scores, what problems the ingredients are linked with, etc. There is also information about a data gap, b/c they cannot have all the information about every single product out there, so they realize that not every product will have a completely accurate score - and from that you can decide how much faith to put into that score. Check out the site for more information. Go on and type in some of your favorite products and see how they score (and then read why!). Anyway.....

CeraVe, the cream we were using, scored a 4. While this isn't the worst, it's also not the best. We like to keep things in the 0-2 "low hazard" range when we can. So, we started looking for another lotion to try, considering the score, availability, cost, etc. We tried one lotion and Aiden ended up with a rash on his body...I still think it's coincidence, but Ryan doesn't want to try the lotion again. I get it. We might be pretty hypervigilant about what we use on him, but we also have good reasons and feel more than justified, based on past experiences (and some current). So, we then tried one that I have often heard to be great. It scores a big fat ZERO on the database, which is excellent but hard to find. It has no toxic chemicals. Whoo-hoo! The downside is it isn't cheap. But....since we're using it on a person with a small body, it does last quite a while.

We tried it, and...we had a winner! Angel Baby Lotion, made by Earth Mama Angel Baby.

One thing that worried me before trying the lotion was the scent. It's all natural (and 95% organic), but I kept reading that it smelled kind of like an orange Creamsicle. I might be the only one out there...but I'm really not a fan of those. Blech! (Don't hate me.) The smell, though, turned out to be really light and hasn't bothered us at all. Ryan thought it was a little thin, but we are comparing it to a rather thick cream instead of regular lotions. This is just like any other lotion, not thinner. This lotion not only works well (great for eczema!) and is free of toxins, but it's also pthalate free (which you really want..yet many personal care products contain them!), free of parabens, artificial fragrances or dyes, is certified vegan, and is cruelty free. They left out all the bad stuff! :) I even sneak to use this lotion on my hands after diaper changes! It's really great stuff. And knowing I can use it worry-free on my little fella...definitely makes this stuff a winner.

So when EcoMom said they were sending me a bottle of this lotion (and I just happened to be nearing the end of the bottle we purchased), I was pretty thrilled. They sell this lotion, along with other Earth Mama Angel Baby products....on top of a ton of other products found on their website.

EcoMom has been generous enough to not only supply the products for the other giveaway I have going on, but they are also going to give away a $20 gift certificate to one of you. Entering the giveaway is easy. Details below.

If you recall from the other giveaway, EcoMom has a program called EcoPass. You can purchase a $99 annual membership that gives you 15% off of every order and free shipping with no minimum order. (Without the membership, you can only get free shipping once your order hits $75.) Pretty nice! On top of that, they are running a special. They are giving you a $50 gift certificate with your purchase of an EcoPass right now. I'm not sure how long this is going on, so you might want to jump on the opportunity. Or heck...win the gift certificate and apply it to the EcoPass (if that's allowed...I haven't actually checked, but I'm not sure why not!).

Here's how you enter the giveaway...

1. Mandatory entry: Go to EcoMom...look around and post which products you would want to purchase with your $20 gift certificate. Eco-friendly Baby Products - EcoMom. You must do this before you can do any of the extra entries.

Extra entries (one comment per entry):
2. Follow EcoMomCEO on Twitter
3. Like EcoMom on facebook. Leave a comment on the fan page that I sent you!
4. Sign up to receive EcoMom's newsletter
5. Blog/tweet/fb post about this giveaway, link to the giveaway in your post, and leave a comment here linking to your post
6. Email your friends a link to the giveaway (be sure to include me in the email so I can see it); comment here to get your entry.
7. Buy your EcoPass and get 5 extra entries! (Comment 5 times to get them all in.) Remember, they are currently giving you a $50 gift certificate with your purchase of an EcoPass. That's an awesome deal!

PS - If you're reading this on facebook...you need to click to go to the actual blog in order to comment and enter. Comments on facebook will not count toward the giveaway.

Please note, while I did receive products from EcoMom to review, I was not in any way compensated for reviewing the products, and my opinions are entirely my own.

Can't wait for the giveaway? Go on and order...and save 15%! Use this code: SBBL354. Offer good through June 30th, 2010.

Ok, get to it! :) Winner will be selected this Monday, the 21st at 3pm (because that's when I might just get a minute to myself due to one little boy's naptime...). I'll choose the winner randomly and will email to let you know you've won! (Be sure to include your email in each entry!)

Giveaway is now closed.
Winner has been announced via email.
Thanks everyone!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Giveaway! Revolution Foods at EcoMom

I recently got a nice little box of goodies to try out for some product reviews. And while the products themselves were very nice, first I wanted to say something about the company...

I heard of EcoMom from some other eco-conscious pals of mine when I was searching for a new lotion for Aiden. EcoMom has a number of green and eco-friendly products on their website, hence the name "EcoMom"... (There are products for the EcoDads, too, of course.) Many items I would like to try myself, actually. I first saw that EcoMom was looking for people to do some reviews on facebook. It just showed up in my feed one day, so I emailed EcoMom and said I was interested in doing a review. Why not, right!? Well, the correspondence that followed was very impressive. First, they asked what I would be interested in reviewing. Then, they offered up some food items. When I mentioned Aiden's allergies, they took the time to speak with the makers of the food products themselves to make sure there would be no risks with the foods they might send - even making sure there were no eggs used in the facilities for other products! (The fact that they did more than simply look at the food label on the box meant a lot to a mom with a child with food allergies.) After that, we even had a number of emails just chatting about food allergies and gluten issues, as they were quite familiar with them, too. I felt that Jody, the person I was communicating with, really took the time to make sure I was happy with what I was receiving, took EXTRA time to make sure the items were safe for my child, and then took some time to just chat some! How nice!

Oh, and while emailing back and forth about some things, I mentioned a lotion they carry that we have bought for Aiden and like. Guess what? Not only did they send the food for the review...but they threw in a bottle of the lotion for an extra review! (And this ain't some cheap lotion, folks!) More about that soon...

Great customer service? CHECK.

Ok...so onto the first product review, which is actually more like two product reviews because they sent more than one type of food (and various flavors of each!).

In case you haven't figured out from knowing me or from previous posts about food...I'm a little picky on what food passes the lips of my growing toddler (or any of my family, for that matter). Almost everything is homemade, and as much as possible is organic. These days we make those things top priority when meal-planning. BUT I do like to have a few things on hand to just toss into the diaper bag for quick on-the-go snacks. And what Jody sent me was just perfect. They're the fruit "mash-ups" that come in small single-size squeezable containers. We've gotten some carrot-apple ones from Trader Joe's before, and Aiden really liked them. These were even yummier! I'll be completely honest...I tried all of the foods that Aiden was trying. Surely I can't just go by the fact that he sucked it out of the container as fast as he could and then immediately signed and said "more??" And not only did I try them, but even my ten-year-old tried them. Verdict? We would all be more than happy to try some more. Seriously, I would eat these things! Camden actually asked if he could have more each time he tried one.

These babies are made by Revolution Foods. They are organic and only consist of fruit. Nothing else added, which is a must in my book. I don't buy fruits that have extra sugar added. Seriously...so unnecessary. We were sent a few to try, and they have come in quite handy. We traveled some right after receiving the package, and it was nice to have these along in the diaper bag while out on the road or at a restaurant waiting for our food (especially with a non-napping-during-the-trip toddler). They might not take long to eat, but they certainly made him happy! To be honest, these aren't products I would have for him to eat every day. They're yummy enough, yes. I do like to give him whole fruits and homemade meals. But, as said before, it is so nice to have things like this to drop into the diaper bag for out and about. And nothing beats it being organic, pure fruit, and delicious. Well, that and the fact that he loves it. Besides, it's even more of a treat if he doesn't have it every day.

Then we also got some other goodies made by Revolution Foods called Grammy Sammy and Jammy Sammy - basically mini organic snack sandwiches. Aiden was not able to have these, but that's just because they had peanut butter in them. While we don't know of a peanut allergy, the allergist recommended we not give Aiden the other top allergenic foods he hadn't already had when tested for the egg allergy. We're at least waiting until our follow-up visit this fall, so we avoid things with nuts for now. Since he couldn't test these, Camden was more than happy to step up and take his place. I also tried a couple bites. These are also small single-serving sizes...perfect to toss in the diaper bag for an emergency snack. Camden really liked them, too! And the ones I tried were yummy. I'm sure if Aiden had his chance, he would happily gobble them down. And ask for more.

Now, before you run out to buy these... Yes, I will be doing a giveaway. You can win $20 worth of Revolution Foods and/or Plum products (EcoMom will cover shipping costs, as well). While I reviewed a couple Revolution Food products, this is a tiny sampling to what is available!!

One other thing about EcoMom and then you can move on to entering the giveaway. ;) They have this program called EcoPass. You can purchase a $99 annual membership that gives you 15% off of every order and free shipping with no minimum order. (Without the membership, you can only get free shipping once your order hits $75.) Pretty nice! On top of that, they are running a special. They are giving you a $50 gift certificate with your purchase of an EcoPass right now. So, if you think of it the way I would...the pass is kind of only costing you $50. (My husband wouldn't see it that way, but...to-may-to, to-mah-to...right?) ;)

Here's how you enter...

1. Mandatory entry: Go to EcoMom...look around and post which Revolution Foods and/or Plum products you would want to try. Eco-friendly Baby Products - EcoMom.

Extra entries (one comment per entry):
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7. Buy your EcoPass and get 5 extra entries! (Comment 5 times to get them all in.) Remember, they are currently giving you a $50 gift certificate with your purchase of an EcoPass. That's an awesome deal!

Please note, while I did receive products from EcoMom to review, I was not in any way compensated for reviewing the products, and my opinions are entirely my own.

Can't wait for the giveaway? Go on and order...and save 15%! Use this code: SBBL354. Offer good through June 30th, 2010. (And just for kicks, while at Whole Foods the other day, I did check to see if they had these snacks. They did. And they charge more. WF charges $5.69 for a 4-pack of the Mashups, while EcoMom charges $4.99, that's without the 15% code I just gave you.)

Ok, get to it! :) Winner will be selected this Friday, the 18th at 3pm (because that's when I might just get a minute to myself due to naptime...). I'll choose the winner randomly and will email to let you know you've won! (Be sure to include your email in each entry!)

Second giveaway is up, now! Click HERE to enter to win that, too. :) Second giveaway ends Monday, June 21st.

This giveaway is now CLOSED.
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Thanks for entering!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Twenty-two months

What a busy month this has been! Lots of traveling, seeing new people (new to Aiden...or people he hadn't seen in a long time!) and places. And Aiden is growing by leaps and bounds! (Maybe not so much physically...but in all the other ways!) ;)

He looks like he's so over pictures...and this was the first one!

  • "Where'd go??" in the cutest voice ever. He says this about things he can't find, but he also likes to "hide" things (sometimes under his leg or a blanket or whatever is nearby) and then asking. Then he'll pull it back out and act surprised....THERE it is!
  • Taking his shirt off. And he may get mad if you keep putting it back on.
  • Foods - oranges, avocado, bread. If he hears the word "orange," you'd better deliver. We started Aiden back on gluten at the beginning of the month. So far so good, but we'll see. Oh, and mommy's salad dressing! He loves it. I'll put it on his salad or he'll even dip his apples in it. He just eats it up. (Here's the recipe. This is some good stuff!) And yes, he eats salad. It's mostly the fruit we have in our salad (apples, cranberries, etc), cheese, and then I cut up some lettuce or spinach into very small pieces - so it basically sticks to the fruit and he doesn't have big chunks of lettuce, which is a strange texture for him still. But he's eating more and more of the salad part these days - almost the same amount as the fruit, or close. Yay! He also likes stir fry. The other night we had some, and he loved it. I made a veggie version with (homemade) sweet & sour sauce, so I threw in some fresh pineapple. He was tearing it up...until Camden said "pineapple" out loud. Then he wouldn't eat anything more b/c he wanted pineapple by itself.

"I see you, Mommy!"
  • Any type of vehicle. Not sure this will change for a while.
  • Telling everyTHING "Hi!" Not only does he tell everyone we see, but he tells every little thing "hi" and "bye" these days. Bunny, his toys, various body parts, colors he sees, vehicles. He even says "Hi mommy's milk!" when nursing sometimes.
  • Showers. While traveling, we just put him in the shower with us. Sorry...not going to give him a BATH in a hotel tub. Blech. Since we've been home, he's ended up in there a couple more times, and apparently he is back in love with showers! Now, he'll even move up to stand in the water and get it all over him. I let him play some while I dry off when he's in with me, and he does not like getting out when his time is up. He does, however, say "Bye water!" when he does get out.
  • Spiderman. I think this is mostly b/c it's Camden's and kind of off-limits. He's pretty crazy about Camden's Spiderman figures, though. He calls them "Spiders!!" (though it sounds more like "piders!").
  • Sharing with Bunny. He pretty much tries to share everything with him. He kisses him all the time, puts him up to our faces for us to kiss him. When nursing, he'll unlatch and hold Bunny up so he can have some milk.... The other day he was caught trying to give Bunny some milk (well, he actually DID give Bunny some milk.) And while at a friend's canning party (yes, you can be jealous b/c it was tons of fun!), Aiden slipped Bunny some guacamole. I'm glad he's sharing with his best buddy (actually, when he says Bunny, it comes out "Buddy"), but sometimes it's a little too literal.
  • Song - "Rock-a-Bye Baby." I'm not sure how he decides he's changing favorite songs, but it seems like each month, it's a new one. He takes it so far that he pretty much won't allow another song. Even when he's awake and playing, if I try to sing something else, he might get really mad. Sometimes, if I start to sing another song, he'll actually get so upset he tears up! (No, I don't keep singing it - I'm not going to make him cry on purpose!) Whenever he wants me to sing this song, he says "Rock."
  • Mommy's water. He'll ask for water...you give him his water bottle. No. He wants "Mommy's water." Sometimes it's Daddy's, but mostly Mommy's.

Drinking Mommy's water. He looks sooo old in this picture, too!
  • Putting things where they don't really belong and then laughing about how silly he is for doing it. Mostly he'll do it with his cars. He'll either stack the cars, will put some other little toys on the cars, or will put something IN the larger cars that open up. After he does it, he bursts out laughing at himself for being so clever and humorous!

He looks so serious when he's focused on putting things JUST where he wants them. Afterward he laughs and laughs (didn't get a picture of that, though).
  • Pinching/kicking someone else and then loudly squealing "OWWWW!" (and laughing about it). He hasn't really grasped the understanding that the "oww" means it HURTS. We think he just likes how it sounds and knows that the pinching will usually get it from Camden. Lately I've been trying to put the sound "oww" in there whenever he gets hurt himself and explain the meaning, so he can start to put the sound and feeling together and get what it really means. It's just like him thinking it's funny when you get angry and make angry sounds (or when you say "that's not funny"). He doesn't completely get it and thinks it IS funny.
  • Book - Are You My Mother is a new favorite for me to read; Cat in the Hat for Daddy.
  • He's getting particular about certain things, one being his blankets. Through the winter, we would put a light fleece blanket on him and then his quilt. He's gotten so used to that being what he uses that he insists on having them, even though it's quite warm now. I'll even try putting one to the side, maybe a bit of it over him near his chest...but he knows the difference and will move it all the way on top himself! No matter how hot it is in his room (and he has the warmest room in the summer, for some reason)!! He likes me to say which blanket I'm putting on, too (here's the soft blue one...and now the quilt that Mammaw made you). I think it's to make sure I'm doing it right. Hmmmm...
  • His attachment to Bunny is growing stronger and stronger. A couple nights recently, he's woken up in the middle of the night asking for Bunny. I've had to go in and put Bunny in his hands because it was too dark for him to find him. Then he goes right back to sleep. Bunny goes just about everywhere with him and gets to participate in all sorts of things these days! (And as I said before, Aiden tries to share everything with him, as well.)
  • Saying "see _____." This started after going to the zoo with some friends. See the zebra? See it? Since then, he's always pointing out things...See car. See this...see that. (You know, "see" is one of those words that looks totally wrong after you've written it so many times.)

His new silly face, making an "O" with his mouth open.
Least Favorites
  • Ocean. The kid is terrified of it. He did fine with the sand this year, but the ocean...each time we saw it, he hated it more than the time before. I think it's the sound and the fact that it seems endless...and moves toward you! Maybe next year?
  • Singing a song other than "Rock-a-Bye Baby" - Already explained above. He really doesn't like it.
  • Camden getting in his face or trying to make him do things his (Camden's) way. He may be crazy for his big brother, but he usually does want him to back off! He'll start with a grunt for a warning (or a gentle push when Camden gets in his space). When Camden ignores that, he screams. When Camden ignores that, he might pinch him. You would think he would learn to listen to the first warning... (Rolling my eyes. It's an everyday battle in regards to this.)
  • Meat that isn't IN something. I think this is more a texture and chewing issue. He knows what burgers are, what chicken is, etc. Put beef/chicken/fish IN something, and he eats it up! Put it by itself on a plate, even cut up...not a chance. He probably won't even try it and will most likely ignore it completely.
  • This is something *I* don't like... If Aiden poops in his diaper, he'll often put his finger in his diaper and then come to me, finger sticking out to show me (sometimes there is something on it, sometimes not - I just know what it means at this point and don't touch it!), saying "Poop. Yuck!"...and then, he'll say "uggghhhh!" because that's what Mommy says. Haha! But really, I could do without him putting his finger in his diaper. Yuck is right!

Lining his cars up on the arm of the chair. He is so focused!
New Developments
  • He climbed onto the ottoman (he can also get on the couch and bed sometimes, too). He was pretty proud of himself the first time...and most times still.
  • 2 Naps still. We're pretty much not having any social life lately, but he needs the sleep! I put him down as soon as Camden leaves for school, and he's out sometime between 9 and 9:20. He can sleep anywhere from an hour to two, and he still takes an afternoon nap. Some days it seems like he's only up around lunchtime! We don't get out much these days, but...his needs come first.
  • Time-Out. He's learning there are consequences when you knowingly break the rules. At first, he thought it was funny. And sometimes when you ask, "Do you need to go to time-out?" he still says "Yes" and smiles. But he doesn't always love sitting through that minute. (I keep warning him, he's about to turn two..which means two minutes!) After time out, he has to say he's sorry, show "gentle hands" (he nicely touches your face to show he can be gentle and says "nice" while he does it), and then he'll give me a kiss (just b/c he's sweet!). Sometimes he goes right back to doing what he did that landed him in time-out (which means time-out again!), but he's learning!
  • Saying two words together (sometimes three). Not sure if I said this last month, but he did start this around then. It's so wonderful hearing his vocabulary grow!
  • Possession (actually was last month). I know I forgot to put this last month. He's not only picked up that certain things belong to certain people, but he talks about it. He'll point to our milks at dinner and name everyone's "Daddy's milk. Camden's milk. Mommy's milk. Aiden's milk." He does it with body parts, food/drinks, everything.
  • Changing his voice on purpose. He'll do this when saying "Hi." He'll be sitting there and will start out with his normal cute voice and will gradually deepen his "Hi"s until it's as low as he can go. Very funny.
  • Saying "Yes." I wish I could explain how cute his "yes" really is. I love hearing it. I'll sometimes ask him something just to hear him say it. It's very properly pronounced, if such a small word can be. The "e" almost sounds like an "a" in a way (like the a in "cat") but not quite so much. More like a cross between that and the way the "e" should sound in "yes." Not sure if that makes sense... But it is beyond adorable. And I'm really hoping to avoid him saying "yeah" for quite a while. Camden wasn't allowed to say "yeah"...until he started school and heard everyone else saying it (that was frustrating!). Hopefully we can keep up the "yes"es and avoid "yeah"s for a while with Aiden, as well. Nothing better than a child who speaks properly. (Well, there are many things better, but that's also a very nice thing.) :)
  • Speaking of manners...Remember last time I mentioned he was into pushing people out of his way? He's getting it. The other day, he wanted Ryan to move, and I overheard him say, "Move, please." Usually he'll say "move," you say "what do you say?"...and he'll say "please." But this time, he totally got the whole thing himself. I was mighty proud. We're also working on saying "excuse me" when he burps. He'll even say "burp" and when we do the "what do you say?" routine, he'll often say something that is supposed to resemble "excuse me."
  • Movin' on up... Aiden is finally moving up to size large in his gdiapers. He has the tiniest waist, so he can still fit the mediums just fine in that regard. We don't have to tighten them hardly at all. But his rise is finally at a place that puts him starting to fit into the larges. So, we'll be doing some diaper shopping soon!
  • Colors - he rarely, if ever, misses and says the wrong one. :)
  • We're working on those two-year molars big time right now. You can feel them under the gums. There have been a number of days over the last week where Aiden wanted nobody but Mommy touching him.

Aannndd...picture time is over.

LOVE this guy.

Ok, I think that's enough for now, right? ;)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Back from Vacation...AGAIN.

Yes, we've already taken vacation #2... Do I recommend taking two vacations with two children (one under two years old) within two weeks, both multiple states away?? Hmmmm...not so much. But the dates couldn't be helped, and we had a blast on both trips. The driving has definitely worn on us, we have been reminded why it is a pretty good idea to drive through the night, and we are for sure beyond exhausted. BUT a good time was had by all. And we are happy to be staying put for a while now.

This trip was to KY to meet up with some of Ryan's college buddies, one of which he hadn't seen since our wedding back in 2006! When Ryan planned the trip, he made reservations for a cabin in a state park....which just so happened (totally coincidental!) to be at a park that I have visited many, many times for family get-togethers...because it just so happens to be less than 15 miles from much of my family on my dad's side. How perfect! The guys could have their guy-time, and I could spend a couple days visiting family that I normally only see for a couple hours at Christmas.

Well, things didn't quite go that way (do they ever?), but it was still nice.

My great-grandmother's older brother passed away over the weekend, so the get-together my grandmother had planned for us all had to be canceled (understandably). We did spend one afternoon with my dad, step-mom, sister, and my older brother and his two kids. We even made it to dinner at Hometown...home of the best white chicken pizza ever! And the next day, my brother and kids even made it back to spend some time at the pool with us. While there, my grandmother and great-grandmother came to the lodge for lunch, so I did manage to see them for a bit, which was a great treat!

While on the trip, Ryan also had another reaction to medicine he had finished taking a week before... If you remember, he had a bad reaction while in Florida, keeping us out of the sun for much of the trip. (He finished the medicine on Saturday, mowed the lawn Wednesday evening, and the reaction appeared the first day of our trip...a little worse in some areas this time. He has been told this is not a typical reaction, so this definitely will go on his list of "never take again.") So, that kept him from playing golf and enjoying the pool. But I feel confident in saying that he and the other guys still thoroughly enjoyed their time together.

The little guys had a blast, too. Aiden napped...once the whole trip (last day, after a great deal of time at the pool - poor guy was exhausted and just couldn't fight it any longer!), but the cabin was small and not conducive to napping really - and he was relatively well-behaved for a child waking before 6am and not napping. Both boys just loved playing around with the other guys on the trip, Tom and Darryl. Neither Tom's girlfriend or Darryl's wife were able to come as originally planned (but after seeing the cabin, I can't help but wonder...would there have been room? It was much smaller than expected.) Overall, the trip was a great success - at least for what it was intended, and that's what matters most. :)

Our drive home took 17 hours instead of 9, and we drove in the daytime b/c we needed to make a few stops on the way home...but we got to see some loved ones (even if for very short visits that nicely included food! Thanks, guys!!), and we made it back safely. And just in time for Camden's end-of-grade testing that started the next day. (Seriously...what school schedules EOGs right after a holiday/long weekend?? And how does that make sense?)

Here are some pics from the trip. And yes...they really did wear those.
2010 May, KY Trip to see the guys!

PS - If you know Darryl, you'll notice he's changed a bit. Congrats to him on the weight loss. :) Lookin' great, D!