Saturday, February 28, 2009

Recipe: Teryaki Peanut Sauce With Vegetables

This is one of my favorite quick meals. I combined a few sauce recipes, tweaked some things, and came up with this one day for dinner. I serve it over steamed rice.

Ingredients:

1TB oil
1/2 sweet onion (scallions are also yummy)
1/4 c. peanuts
1 can dole pinapple, juice reserved
1 large carrot chopped or julienne
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. ginger (or fresh grated is fabulous)

In a large skillet, heat oil on medium high. Add onion and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add peanuts and carrot, and cook for another five minutes. In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger and peanut butter--mix until sugar is dissolved. Turn heat to low, add the sugar mixture and drained pineapple, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add reserved pineapple juice as needed for the consistency you want. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Provident Living: Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers have come a long way since the bulky folds and pins and plastic covers our moms used on us. I had heard tell that this was so, but didn't have much reason to take interest until I was about ready to have my baby . . . and I started counting up the cost that this little munchkin was going to put us back. Totally worth it mind you, but when there is a huge addition to your finances, you start to rethink things a bit. So I did some investigating. Lucky for me I was on bed rest, so I had LOTS of time on my hands. I spent about a week reading blogs and websites and user reviews for different products, pricing each one, and comparing it to the disposable alternatives. I looked at Costco diapers and Walmart's prices . . . and gulped. Especially when I read how many diapers a baby went through per day. Yowza!!

I also didn't want to kill myself. This was my first baby, and if I was going to be in tears over folding a million diapers and pinning and washing etc, it just plain wasn't worth it. But I read a lot of good reviews on the BumGenius 3.0, and the price was right, so I decided to give it a shot.

It has gone really well for us. The diapers are really gentle on Wes' sensitive skin, and he doesn't have any problems with rash like he did with the disposables I tried (I was given a lot as gifts). Plus, they are so easy! They look pretty much like disposables, so Randy hasn't had any problems with them. They are easy to wash, and they are saving us by my estimate close to $600 this year alone. Next year, it will be close to $1000. The great feature to these is that they adjust for different sizes, from newborn to 25lbs, so you don't have to keep buying different sizes. You just snap or unsnap depending on the size. Great also if you have 2 kids in diapers at once.

I also switched over to cloth wipes, which is saving me tons as well. You can buy fancy flannel wipes online, but I just got out my rotary cutter and some extra flannel I had lying around, zigzagged the edges, and voila! Cloth wipes. There are a million recipes on the internet for wipe solution, but here is the one I use:

1 1/2 cups water
2TB baby oil
2TB baby wash

It does mean a little more laundry, but the trade off for me is well worth it. So far, we are really happy with our setup!

Here are the three sizes:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Book Reviews

These stretch back all the way to when I was on bed rest, and had lots more time for reading. Nowadays, I try to balance a book on the boppy while I nurse, but the going is a little slower :o)

The Squatter and the Don is one of the first novels written by a Mexican American woman. Her style reminds me a lot of George Elliot, especially per Daniel Deronda where the prose is interjected by this kind of meta-narrative of philosophy or history. In this case, I feel she doesn't do it quite as seamlessly as Elliot because the characters seem rather flat, and more puppets for the point she is trying to make. The novel from a purely historical interest perspective did more for me than from a literature perspective to be honest, although I have a hard time extricating the history from the literature and vice versa: nobody writes in a vacuum. I knew the rough outline of what happened when California was annexed into the US and the resultant cultural displacement of the Mexican people, but this novel filled in a lot of gaps and provided a different perspective which I appreciated. I think that she definitely deserves a place in the canon, because while this wasn't my favorite novel for character development or outstanding, imaginative prose, De Burton has significant things to say and she does so with intelligence and grace.

Fifth Business is a novel I actually started when I took a Canadian Lit course a few years ago (I was tricked into taking the class because the course was titled "ethnic literature" or something else misleading. It was a very disappointing class . . . both in material and instruction). True confession: never finished the book for the class but still got an A. Anyway, I picked up the book to give it another go because frankly I was too ill with the baby to make a trip to the library and I didn't have anything else to read. I must say that I did enjoy this novel better the second time around, although I still had a few issues with some of the author's characterizations. The feminist in me protested at the way he portrayed the women in his novel: there was too much angel/whore dichotomy in some (the narrator actually creates a "saint" out of one) and in general they are given very little autonomy or understanding. Davies does explore some interesting themes--such as the nature of our roles in this life (whether you are the main character of the "play" or merely fifth business-a kind of enabler role) as well as the nature of miracles and personal relationships. There are some charming characters as well as very imaginative ones . . . but the overall feel I got from this book was dissatisfaction. Perhaps I didn't appreciate this book fully because of my reading strategies: I have a hard time not reading from a feminist/Marxist perspective. If you read from either a Freudian or Jungian perspective, you may enjoy it more. Or if you read from just a readers response . . . you may have a better shot. If anyone out there disagrees with me, I would be interested to hear your perspective on the novel. Maybe I'm just missing something, and should give it yet another shot. Although I have a few other hundred novels in my queue I think I'd rather tackle first . . .

In this novel, I was not disappointed. Alice Walker does an outstanding job of creating complex, interesting, and sympathetic characters that grow and struggle . . . and sometimes overcome. This book had me thinking, and feeling, and I couldn't put it down. I guess this isn't such a big surprise since this was the genre I became most interested in while I was studying at University. There are psychological questions that come into play--from the many faceted ways the main character responds to the abuse she experienced, to the way Black masculinity is portrayed, to the nature of love and how we love. I felt that this book deserves the praise it has received . . . and transcends the movie that was made about it. Although Oprah was pretty funny for once. There is so much more that I could say about this book, but with the time and energy and mental capacity I have at this moment I couldn't do it justice (ask me again in a few months when my baby is sleeping through the night) so I will leave it at this-- Good Read.

While I was on bed rest, my mom let me borrow a copy of Left to Tell to pass some of the tedium on the couch. This was one case where I recommend skipping the forward and just reading the book. In my personal opinion the guru who wrote the forward was kind of weird and creepy . . . but maybe that was just the terbutaline talking. Anyway--Left to Tell is a non-fiction account of a survivor of the genocide that happened in Rwanda during the ethnic wars between the Hutus and the Tutsis. She is a woman of great faith who relies completely on her belief in God to get her through the terror she experienced and the subsequent loss. I had mixed feelings after reading the book. I wasn't as profoundly moved perhaps as many of the people I have heard praise the book. I do have deep admiration for her moral courage and her emotional strength, as well as the humanitarian work and goodwill she promotes. Spirituality is a difficult thing to convey in words, because it is such an intensely personal experience, so it can be difficult to translate--especially when not writing in your native language. Still, it was a good book, and I do recommend it.

Jonathan Rosen is one of my favorite authors--and guess what Randy, he's a white male! (My husband doesn't seem to think I can appreciate an author unless they are, as he puts it, "ethnically oppressed.") Rosen is a Jewish writer from New York, who really hasn't written as much as I would like :o). He does have a fairly new book out that is non-fiction about birdwatching, and if anyone could get me to read a book about birdwatching, it is Rosen. Joy Comes in the Morning is his first novel, and while I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Eve's Apple, I still think it is a very good work. Joy weaves together the experiences of an ailing man who is a holocaust survivor but attempts suicide to prevent living like a vegetable after a stroke, his son and a female rabbi. His characters are real, his prose is engaging, and I actually didn't resent the way he portrayed his female main character. What I think I appreciated most about this novel was the conversation about faith, and what it means to live "religiously" and still authentically. While I disagreed with some of the theological premises of some of the characters (particularly in the areas of premarital sex), I found the conversation itself worthwhile. This was another book I couldn't put down, and made me feel inspired in my own writing--which is far too sparse these days.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Bumper Pad and a Weird Dad

Here's a little something extra for the Grandmas. Mom--thanks so much for the cute bumper pad. Here is your video evidence of its supreme cute-factor. Also, hope you all enjoy the funny Daddy-son time I caught . . . I don't know where Randy gets it from. Darlene, do you have any ideas?
video video

Nuestra Canción de Cuna

Qué linda manita que tengo yo,

qué linda y blanquita que Dios me dio

Qué lindos ojitos que tengo yo,

qué lindos y negritos que Dios me dio

Qué linda boquita que tengo yo,

qué linda y rojita que Dios me dio

Qué lindas patitas que tengo yo,

qué lindas y gorditas que Dios me dio

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Critter Caps


While I was on bed rest, my dad came to visit. My AMAZING mom had been staying with us to help out, and the poor guy needed some TLC. Anyway one of the members of his audit team must have been trying to impress her boss, because she sent with him a gift for Wes--a "critter cap" she knitted. It was just so darn cute that my mom and I promptly got the directions, which are delightfully simple, and made some more. They make a really fun shower gift for winter babies, and look really cute on the little tykes. The one pictured above I made as a shower gift for a friend in my church. The flower detail I crocheted and then tied on--there are many fun variations: stars, balloons, just to name a few.

Here are the directions to make your own:

Materials:
worsted weight yarn, any color
US size 10 needles
yarn needle to sew up sides

Cast on 30 stitches, leaving a six inch tail of yarn to sew up the side. Continue in stockinette stitch for 13 inches. Bind off stitches, leaving another six inch tail on the opposite side. Fold in half, pearl sides together. Sew up the sides, and voila! A cap for a cute critter.

(These instructions make a hat that fit about a three month old . . . or at least my three month old. You can play around with a pattern this easy--add stitches, subtract stitches, use thinner or thicker yarn or different sized needles to fit different little heads. Have fun!)

People Will Say We're in Love

We celebrated our second wedding anniversary last month, and a few days later on Randy's birthday we celebrated the four year anniversary of when we started "officially" dating. The time that I have spent with Randy has been eventful, but he was my best friend long before we shared our first kiss, so it has been very worth it. If we had our way, every day would be date night. Unfortunately we have to be contributing members of society and do the whole "grown-up" gig, more especially now that we have Wes, so we rarely go on real dates. Who am I kidding? Even before we were married we rarely went on real dates. I guess we just aren't "event" kind of people. But we do like to date our way.

Date night for us consists of a deck or two of cards by the side of our bed that we pull out and play together for maybe a half hour before we go to sleep. It is a fun way to unwind and do something little together before ending our day. We can talk about school, and work, and family things while we do it, and it is fun. No matter what the day was really like, I believe that it should at least have some fun in it.

One game we play more often than not is Castles. Our friend Krystal turned us on to it soon after we were married, and we have played it ever since. For all you who like to play cards, here are the rules:

Shuffle the deck.
Deal one pile of four cards, then another pile of eight cards to each player. You may look at the eight; the pile of four is placed in a horizontal row in front of you (with no peeking). Place four of your best cards out of the eight in your hand face up on top of the four face down cards in front of you, leaving four cards in your hand. At this point I should explain the value of some of the cards. If playing with a standard deck, Ace is high--for those Rook card enthusiasts, 1 is high. A 2 will clear the discard pile, and a ten will reset the discard pile without clearing the pile. This leaves 3 as the low card. The person with the lowest card in their hand opens the round--in the event of a tie you may duke it out. Play proceeds clockwise, each player discarding one or more card (you may play doubles, triples--quadruples clear the pile) of the same number that is higher in numeric value than the card(s) played by the person to one's right. At the end of each turn you take from the draw pile the same number of cards played, thus always keeping four cards in your hand. When the draw pile runs out, you then use the cards in front of you--first the cards face up, then the ones underneath which remain hidden until played. In the event you canot play a card higher than the person to your right, you take the entire discard pile and add it to your hand. The object of the game is to be the first person to get rid of all their cards.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

One Little Duck Went Out To Play . . .

This Little Ducky says . . .

Thanks Grandma for my cool outfit.

And my new furniture.

I love to snuggle with my monkey

And chill with my friends
(especially my cool cousin JB--we're great-grandma/pa's little guys)

But this little bandit is always mischievous. That's 'cause I like to keep Mom on her toes.

That's all for now. Bye!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Three Months Cute

This is our grown up, three-month old boy enjoying life from his new crib. He has been in a cradle in our bedroom up till now, which has worked out really well since he needed fed so frequently. But now that things are under control, it really was time to establish more firm sleep routines and get him in his own room where the lights could go off earlier than when we go to bed. So crib shopping we went, and I even assembled it all by my handy self! (Thank you Joy and Matt for letting us borrow your truck to transport the box . . . my spacial reasoning isn't very good apparently, because I thought originally that we could fit it in our Malibu . . . )
Here is Wes' "bigger-boy" bed, with the cutest dust-ruffle that my mom made while she was here. There will be a quilt coming . . . after I finish a few priority projects that I am embarrassingly behind on. Like we're talking embarrassing to the point of humiliation--and the sad realization that I have not yet mastered the art of juggling a demanding baby and the rest of my life with the seeming grace of my many-talented sisters in-law. But that is a different story. Anyway, the fabric from the dust ruffle will eventually be the backing of the said quilt.

Another view of the crib. So the first night it was up, Wes decided that he did NOT want to be left in that strange room by himself. But for the last two nights he has had five hour stretches in his crib! This has provided four to five hour stretches for his mom to sleep without waking up every time baby makes a grunt. And every time baby makes a grunt, mommy has a tendency to hop out of bed to check on baby. Thus, Zombie Alicia has been up and around for the past three months, which hopefully will change soon.

This is Randy's latest brag pic on his phone. We love those sweet little eyes.

Three month stats:
Weight: 10.08 lbs. (2.16 %tile)
Height: 22.2 in. (2.68 %tile)
Head:16 in. (35.15 %tile)

According to his head measurement, he definitely is a Johnson. We are happy that our little guy is back on the charts. He was about the third %tile when he was born, so he is about where he started. The pediatrician is happy with his progress, and so are we.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What a Happy Boy

Our little guy is just full of fun lately. He smiles and interacts more, and is just so darn fun that his dad and I don't get much done :o). Thanks to Randy who has helped me get a few more naps in, I have caught up a little on my sleep, although I'm still kind of in a fog. Seasoned parents tell me that it never fully goes away . . . but I can always hope. When other parents of children this age say that their child is sleeping through the night, I'm not exactly sure what that means. Is that eight hours? Seven, six? Right now we are getting about five hours, between midnight and 5 a.m. For that stretch he will stay in his cradle, but usually by the time the sun is up at 6:30 or seven, he doesn't want to be in his bed anymore. Wes is such a cuddly little guy, and will always take naps with me. His weight isn't concerning me much anymore, and he rarely if ever needs a supplemental bottle. I think the big difference is that he isn't spitting up like he used to. He has officially grown into his three month clothes--I measured him the other day and he was a little over 22 inches long. He has scooted himself over from his tummy to his back a few times, but he really isn't a fan of tummy time. He has somehow learned to scoot himself around on his back while he's in his cradle--I put him down to sleep in one place and I find him a few hours later in another. I don't really know how the kid does it :o). We are working on transitioning him to his own room to hopefully get his sleep schedule more down pat (as in sleeping in his bed from 9 pm to midnight, instead of in his swing or on mommy's lap) so we have been buying the rest of the furniture we put off purchasing while I was on bed rest and couldn't shop, since we knew we wouldn't need it anyway for a few months. I'll post pictures when everything is set up.

A little Daddy time

Cute little critter

Happy and ready to take Daddy to school this morning