Friday, October 31, 2008

Power Granola Bars


Since having Luke, I have needed quick, on the go snacks and breakfasts. As you can tell from the pictures, he is growing bigger all the time, and I have to keep eating to feed him.

I like granola bars, but they rarely have enough protein to last very long, and are usually over-sweetened. I have bought some balance bars to get the protein content up, but they are expensive and also too sweet.

So, in an effort to save money and keep the sugar level down, I went on a quest to find a homemade nutrition bar recipe that met my needs. I searched Recipezaar (my favorite site), All Recipes, and the Food Network. I even googled nutrition/balance/power bar recipes. The best I could come up with was a recipe for granola bars from Alton Brown of the Food Network. His recipe had all the wholesome ingredients I was looking for. I modified it, adding some soy protein powder, and changing the amounts of some ingredients, etc... and came up with this:

8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, about 2 cups
1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, about 1/2 cup
3 ounces sliced almonds, about 1 cup
1/2 cup whole what pastry flour
1/2 cup soy protein powder
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2T unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins

Butter a 9-nch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, molasses, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the soy protein powder, flour and the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

It does end up being a but crumbly, so it is best to turn the bars out of the pan before they have completely cooled, wait for them to cool, and then cut. If it is still crumbly, it makes a nice granola snack.

Sideways

Luke seems to like the view from his side these days. I usually put him in his crib to watch his mobile, but lately he has not been as interested. When I put him down, he pulls his arms to his mouth and turns onto his side. He seems to prefer his right side, maybe because he can see the zebra on his crib bumper that way. :) Sometimes he gets stuck and needs me to flip him back onto his back.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

At the Pumpkin Patch




Today we visited the Pumpkin Patch at Tanaka Farms in Irvine with the playgroup. There was a petting zoo, wagon ride, corn maze, and pumpkin patch. The farm also grows strawberries, watermelons and other fun fruits and vegetables. We went on the wagon ride, but no petting zoo yet for him. Luke mostly hung out in the little carrier that I brought along.

Here are some pictures of us and of the farm's fall harvest. I love fall foods and especially fall produce. Lately I have been baking cranberry bread and lots of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are now one of my favorite foods. I just bake them in the toaster oven and add a little butter and salt. I used to put a little brown sugar on them, but then decided that the natural carmel flavor is sweet enough and so enjoyable that I didn't want the sugar.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Insurance Battle

Please pray for us. I am battling with the insurance still (2 months so far) to get reimbursed for part of the charges relating to Luke's birth.

Also, he was not showing as having been added to my insurance and the window expired a month ago. I added him online, but it looks like it did not go through or something. I was careful about it, but who knows what happened.

Ugh!

Oh, and he is feeling much better! Hopefully he will resume a nice sleeping pattern tonight.

Sad Baby

Luke woke up every 2 to 3 hours last night and his leg is swollen from the shot. He is pretty miserable. We are having an easy day today. Is there anything you can do to help with the pain? We did give him a little tylenol for babies which seemed to help.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Big Day

Today was a big day for our little guy.

It began with a trip to KPMG (my work) to see everyone. He got the royal treatment incldung an office tour and cuddling from many of my co-workers. They commented on his size and how cute he was. :) It was really fun and I wish that we could have stayed longer. Luke loved looking at all of the lights and then fell asleep when he got tired.

Next we went to a Doctor's appointment. It was our 2 month well-baby check-up. He measured 23 and 1/2 inches and 13lbs, 8oz. That puts him in the 70% category for height, and 90% for weight. He checked out well and the doctor commented that he was looking good.

Next came the awful part. Luke got 2 vaccinations today, one being a large shot. He was not happy about this, but really did not cry for long. As the nurse was giving the injection, his face went red and his mouth widened and we all waited for him to erupt. It was so sad! Poor baby! I put him in cozy jammies and we took a nap together on the couch this afternoon. I was going to put him in his crib, but he was holding on tightly to me as I was rocking him to sleep. Such a sweetie. Tonight he is doing ok, but his leg is swollen and he has wanted a bit more cuddling.

The question of whether or not to vaccinate, or how to do it was something that Nathan and I researched before Luke was born. There are advocates on both sides of the issue that make strong arguments. In the end, we decided to give him most vaccinations on an alternative schedule to reduce the side effects. The book that we found most helpful was Dr. Sears' Vaccination Book. In general, we like the Dr. Sears suite of baby books and agree with his approach. The Vaccination book was particularly helpful because it broke down each of the vaccinations, their purpose, side effects, and information about the disease they were protecting against. This choice seemed to be a good middle-of-the-road alternative.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happiness is...

Happiness is waking up at 4am with the cutest little boy in the world and snuggling next to his soft cheek and smelling his milky aroma.

Happiness is watching your husband play with his little boy after a long day at work.

Happiness is having good friends over and just enjoying one another's company.

Happiness is finally getting things done that you have been needing to do for a long time and resting easier at night.

Happiness is homemade dinners and the smell that permeates the house. (Try this one- it is economical too!)

Happiness is watching you wee one grow each day- smile at you, roll onto his side, play with his mobile, coo while eating, and talk to you when he wakes up in the morning.

I realized this morning how happy I am right now.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In The Morning

video

Luke wakes up on his changing table. He is so sweet in the morning.

Friday, October 24, 2008

2 Months Old! and Snippets

So much has been happening this past week that I am overwhelmed with how to put it all in a blog entry. Here are some snippets:

1. Luke is now 2 months old. He is such a fun age- cuddly in the morning, sleeping better, talking more and more, able to go out and enjoy being out (though the car seat still presents a challenge). He is now about 24 inches long and 13lbs. 10 ounces. I think he is slowing his weight gain largely due to the amount of time he spends watching his mobile. He loves it! He kicks and smiles and flails his arms nearly the whole time. :)

2. On Wednesday, we went to a mommy's group that our friend Jen invited us to join. Everyone was so wonderful and welcoming. There is a 1,2,3,4, and 5 month old there in addition to several toddlers. I loved seeing the different ages and stages- one almost sitting up, one mostly sleeping (the 1 month old). It was so fun!

3. I am reading the best book right now called Let the Baby Drive. It is a bunch of stories about one mom's experience of motherhood. The great thing about it is how I can relate to so much of what she says and how she is opening my eyes to some important mommy lessons. I plan on posting more on that soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Enough About Me

Luke playing with his tongue and a video showcasing some of his current conversation.

video video

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mama Projects

Now that Luke is a bit more comfortable living in the outside world, I have decided to take on a couple of projects.

First of all, along with my Two Tunics project, I have been going through our massive piles of books and DVD's. I have been selling them on Amazon.com, and surprise! They are actually selling. So far, I have made enough money to cover almost all of our Christmas presents this year.

Speaking of Christmas, that is my second project. Luke and I spent yesterday afternoon writing down all the presents that we have, and planning what we still need to buy and/or make.

Sometime soon I want to take up studying for the CPA again, but I just can't quite stomach it yet. :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Mama Treat

My back has been hurting a bit lately due to a not-so-good baby carrier and my ambitious walking habits. On Friday, Luke and I walked in the nature preserve, and then to Trader Joe's and back with our friend Laurel. That was six miles in total! Anyways, when Luke was taking a nap that afternoon, I was lamenting the state of my back and remembered that I had not used the massage gift certificate that I got from Nathan for my birthday.

Today I went and enjoyed a one-hour swedish message. It was lovely. They had tea and chocolates out for us in a waiting area too. The only problem was that when I came home, I fed Luke right away and for the rest of the night, he smelled powerfully of Eucalyptus. I scrubbed him a bit more than usual during his night time bath.

Also, Luke is becoming quite the afternoon-evening baby. Today he was awake from 1:30-8:30 with only two 30 minute naps in between. Hopefully he will sleep well again tonight!

Friday, October 17, 2008

8 hours

Yep, he slept 8 hours straight last night. 8:30-5:30. Hurray!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Peek-a-boo

I have been trying to play peek-a-boo with Luke the past few days to see what he will do. He doesn't do a whole lot, except try to lick the blanket, but after we play for a little while, I get a big smile out of him. I imagine that in a few months he would be saying, "Do it again, mommy, again!" It is a very cute video I must say. video

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Undecided"

Nathan here. After watching the last presidential debate tonight, I'd like to share a thought I had after seeing (on Fox News) a so-called focus group interviewed immediately following the debate. Everyone declared themselves undecided, and only five of the people "decided" tonight--all Obama. They gave paltry reasons, having to do with how well each candidate performed or specific issues relating to how they thought a candidate (Obama) was going to solve their personal financial issues.

But in this election, when the candidates are so categorically different, how can anyone be undecided? That's why so many people pick a party and vote the party line for most of their lives; each represent the opposite position in so many categories. When you vote for Obama, you vote for more abortions. When you vote for McCain, you vote for the possibility to one day repeal Roe vs. Wade (which is objectively a lousy judgement). Obama: loose constructionist; McCain: strict constructionist. Obama: more taxes for more government programs telling you what you must do and "spreading the wealth" for "the people behind you"; McCain: take a hatchet to government waste and reduce taxes on you and the people that pay your salary.

Bottom line: do you want more government or more personal responsibility? Do you want new "rights" so people can do whatever evil and immoral thing they want, or do you want the rights the Consitution actually confers so that the Judeo Christian values that made this country great will thrive? The sides really are really different! And it's easy to see which is which... either way you choose, I don't think there's any excuse for remaining undecided.

A Little Coordination

Luke has been spending time laying under his baby gym. In the past few days he has tried toreach out for and hold his toys. Here he is holding caterpillar rattle.
video

A New Toy



Luke enjoys looking at himself in his mirror.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Two Tunics

The recent economic woes have troubled me (and really, I think most people). The production department at Nathan's work laid off a dozen or so people last week.

Anyways, I posted the alloted scripture reading from last Sunday. The readings are always so timely and so ageless. Jesus was talking to his disciples about greed and making your life about the things that you have. It seems that in a time like this, the Church can really stand out. We can be calm and trust God, and even still generous with our possessions if we have the means to do so. It seems a time when people want to hoard everything they have. We can remove ourselves from the frantic worry of our nation and give.

Commentary by the Church Fathers about this passage is that the tunic that hangs in your closet is the tunic that belongs to the poor man. That is powerful. I have way too many tunics and way too many pairs of shoes. I went through my closet this week and paired it down (probably still not enough). If anyone needs medium maternity clothes or size 6-8 regular clothes, let me know. Also, I have two brand new pair of dress pants from Ann Taylor that are size 10. Otherwise, off to Salvation Army.

Luke also already has some clothes that he will not wear any more. Most charities around here want only new clothes, but I know that there is a pregnancy care house in Africa that accepts used clothing for babies and pregnant mothers. (I can give contact info to anyone who might want to help too).

The Fathers also commented that the arms of the poor that you help in this life will greet you in heaven. Now I am not sure how literal to take that, but what a beautiful picture!

Here is the parable:

15Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

16And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

18"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '

20"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

21"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

This Week in Numbers






On Wednesday, we had a follow up visit with the Midwifery. Luke weighed in at 13lbs. Pretty big for 6 and 1/2 weeks.

Wednesday afternoon, Luke and I traveled down to visit Grammy and Papa by train. It was very fun to see the California coastline and Luke slept the whole way. (Whew! Some people were looking at me with eyes that said, "Oh, no. We are riding with a baby. Hope he doesn't cry the whole time.") The midwifery and train ride was a lot for the little guy and so he slept 7 hours that night. We didn't sleep that much because we couldn't believe that he was still asleep.

Luke slept on his tummy for the first time this week. Until this point, in order to get him to sleep at naptime and during the night, he was swaddled, rocked and put into his swing or bouncy chair. This was quite a production. Once I realized that he just wanted to be on his tummy, naptimes have been much easier. A little bouncing and then put him down. Sometimes he was not even all the way asleep before he went down. (Note: Doctors don't recommend putting babies on their tummy, but Luke is very strong and we don't put any soft blankets around him or under him that might make it difficult for him to breathe. Also, we are testing this with naptimes only right now, so that I can check on him and hear him if he is in any distress.) He has had about 8 naps this way and is doing well.

Also, here are 5 cute pictures, just because.

Monday, October 6, 2008

6 Weeks

videoA short post (nap time is over). This week, Luke has continued to grow in size and ability. I will update his measurements when we visit the doctor this Wednesday, but I am sure he is well over 12 lbs. He is adding a lot of chubbiness to his arms and legs and is fitting perfectly into 3 month clothes. He has begun to reach out for toys on occasion.

Yesterday he went to church for the first time. It was fun to see everyone and many people commented on how healthy he looks. :)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

One Month Pictures





Here are some of the pictures that we took on Luke's one month birthday as promised.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Birthday Outing

My dad came down for a few days this week to see Luke and to help out as a birthday present. Today Nathan and I got to go out for lunch and a bit of shopping. We had a great lunch at our favorite Seal Beach restaurant, O'Malley's, and I got a nice pair of jeans and some fresh fruits and veggies (oh, and ice cream bars as a birthday treat). :) We were gone for 3+ hours, the most that I have been away from the little one since he was born.

It was nice to spend time just with Nathan and clear my head a bit. It is amazing how much you can see in a situation when you are not smack in the middle of it. I realized through our lunch that I have been a little too obsessive about keeping Luke on a schedule. Sometimes I fail to take his cues about when he is tired or not tired in order to keep to a schedule. This makes both of us frustrated. I can't get him to sleep and he cries when he is overtired. I have also been driving Nathan a bit mad trying to keep him to the schedule and by being more stressed than I need to by the time Nathan comes home.

So, I still believe in the schedule, but I need to relax it a bit. I waste too much energy fighting his natural schedule and need to shape it more to the times that he gets tired.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mothering and Sleep

I have had two good conversations about babies and sleeping through the night. First, a dear relative of mine who has done plenty of mothering wrote to me, relating her experience:

"Looking back, I think I was measuring my success as a new mother on how much he (her little boy) slept while it was dark. It was very stressful and I felt like I was failing because he was not a good sleeper and my friends all had sleeping babies."

This made me think. I have been placing a lot of weight on how much Luke will sleep at night. If he wakes up earlier than usual, I wonder, did I swaddle him tight enough? Did he have enough awake time before bed? Did he get too much stimulation during the day, or not enough? Were his naps too long? etc..... Lots of seconds guessing.

The truth is that he will do what he will do. We try to set him up for a good night sleep, but sometimes that doesn't happen. Sometimes he has a poo that is bothering him, sometimes its gas, sometimes something startles him (like our neighborhood two-year-old crying, or the barking dog next door). I cannot control all of the variables, so why put so much into it. We will just keep trying for good nights. I won't use his sleeping pattern as a measure of mothering success. Maybe I should measure it by is ever-increasing chub. :)

Also, talking with Grammy helped me have more compassion for him during his nightwakings. If he wakes up, he needs something. Maybe he is struggling with a poo and wans some comfort. Maybe his tummy is empty and is hurting him. Maybe he just needs a cuddle from mama. I can't get upset at that. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fun with Grandpa

My dad came down to visit this week. Here he is playing with Luke before bedtime. Thanks for helping us keep him awake Dad!
video

Hot

It is hot today. It was hot yesterday. Usually living in Huntington Beach, you do not experience much hot. Therefore homes are built without air conditioning. Poor little baby has heat rash on his cheeks. Luke has napped with the fan on him today, but it was still 83 degrees inside. I also put a cool wet washcloth on his head. Tomorrow promises to be better.