My mom adventures in Fort Collins


Garden Fresh: Pico de Gallo
September 26, 2012, 9:09 pm
Filed under: Food | Tags: , , , , , , ,

As I reported earlier this week, I have a bucket-load of produce that I’m trying to use up. What to do? Put these goodies to good use, right?

Tomatoes, onions and limes–Oh, My! Tomatoes, onions and lime–Oh, My! (Can you tell we’re really into the Wizard of Oz at my house?)

One of the first concoctions that I made was a fave of ours–Pico de Gallo. I love easy, don’t you? And you don’t get a whole lot more bang for the buck than pico de gallo–great as a fresh alternative to salsa, as an accompaniment to tacos or fajitas, or even as a salad-topper. Seriously, make a pico de gallo-topped black bean burger, this stuff can’t be stopped.

This is what the delicious mix of freshness looks like!

Ingredients:

1 lb Fresh tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped white onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup Fresh cilantro

Optional–Fresh jalapeno (seeded and chopped)

Fresh lime juice (from one lime)

salt (to taste)
Mix ingredients together, Let flavors meld for a bit (30 minutes or so) and serve. And eat it up–this stuff doesn’t keep very well, maybe a day or so in the fridge.

Just a few thoughts:

  • This makes a great batch no matter what size you put together–so even if you only have a few tomatoes, try it! Just downsize the other ingredients.
  • Use a salad spinner to dry your bunch of cilantro–why didn’t I think of this sooner?
  • As I said, this stuff doesn’t keep all that well–If you need to use it up quick, throw it in some rice for a quick alternative to Spanish Rice or add it to your next batch of chili, chicken tortilla soup or spice up some tomato soup. If you’re really feeling brave, simmer it on your stove top with 1 tsp of cumin and 1 tsp tumeric and create a tomato chutney.


Local color: Miller Farms

The tractor says it all

Over a week ago, my two girls and I travelled to Miller Farms with several friends. Chances are, if you live in Northern Colorado, you have heard of Miller Farms. It’s located in Platteville. I had never been there before, but I had purchased plenty of Miller Farms produce at the local farmer’s markets over the past few years.

Does Ruby look like she’s rocking the farm girl look or what?

The premise of an excursion to Miller Farms goes something like this: It will be fun! There’s tons of stuff for the kids to do, and we get to pick our own veggies! What could be more fun than getting our hands dirty and digging up our own food?

Oh my word. Going to Miller Farms to pick a few vegetables is a little like expecting to take a little drink of water from a full-bore fire hydrant. Want veggies? Come prepared to pick your ass off. No lie. And I don’t use the word “ass”on a mommy-blog lightly. This is serious stuff. You pay $15 per person, and each person can pick 5 bags. Kids under 3 are free. So, essentially, I paid for 15 full-sized plastic bags of groceries for $30. I don’t even think I could have possibly picked them all. Especially when you consider who my hired hands were. I only wound up with 13 bags of produce. Note sarcastic tone of the word “only.”

Pickin’ some carrots (They look sort of “Grapes of Wrath” right here)

And the fun things to do? They literally have a haphazard junk yard full of ’57 Chevy’s, broken down fire trucks, an array of mock air planes, spaceships and jets, and the best part is that you follow a Yellow Brick Road to get to the tractor wagons that will then take you out into the fields of endless-seeming crops. When I was there on September 18th, we picked (or had the opportunity to pick): corn, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, beets, basil, eggplant, pumpkins, leeks, onions, celery, kohlrabi, butternut squash, a variety of gourds, and peppers.

Look at me, mom! I’m up on this great big hill. Of DIRT!

So, that brings me to my next round of posts (I hope): “What I did with the produce I picked at Miller Farms whilst my children were wandering the fields occasionally asking me for snacks and/or water”

Some advice for anyone who thinks they can hack it at Miller Farms: First and foremost, bring more water than you would think you could drink and lots of sunblock. You may even want to consider one of those fabulous floppy gardening hats. Secondly, dress your kids in shoes not sandals because it’s so much less fun to pick vegetables while you are endlessly emptying your sandals of dirt. And last, but not least, if you allow your kids to use the bouncing pillow, beware of sand briars. Those prickers were everywhere and there wasn’t a kid in our bunch who didn’t call for help at some point to remove one of those nasty things from the pasty soles of their feet. Poor kiddos!

Scout (who wore the headband like this the ENTIRE day, I might add) driving the John Deere riding lawnmower turned train engine

Now, go forth, and taste the land of plenty. Mmm. (Oh! And any of you foodies out there that have any ideas on what to do with all of this stuff–I’d love a good recipe for pumpkin and I still have an awful lot of carrots. )



Eating out with kids: Wahoo’s Fish Tacos

Do you know how much I love Wahoo’s Fish Tacos?

Mmm… delicious soft drinks!

Sure, they offer a multitude of delicious meals, a choice of meats, brown or white rice, black or white beans, but they also offer amazing kid meals. So, if you are in the mood for a big fat burrito and your kids are not, you can order them chicken nuggets and fries. We usually get our kids quesadillas and fries. And their fries are surprisingly good.

Loving the stickers on the wall, snowboards and surfboards as decor

Plus, if you’re one to indulge, they offer adult beverages, too! Woo-hoo! So, to re-cap–1) Yummy food, 2) Good kids food, 3) (Did I mention this?) Fast, but not “fast food”, and 4) They also serve mommy’s fun-juice (AKA Margaritas!).

There is one location in Fort Collins, located at 2310 East Harmony Road. They also have multiple locations along the Front Range in Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs.

Do you have a favorite spot to eat with your kids? What are some key points for you when eating out with your kids?



Superquickpost: Check out this photo

Full disclosure: I don’t read the blog Toni The Chic Momma. However, I saw a photo that she posted because it was “shared” and thus appeared in my Facebook newsfeed.

Here’s the exciting photo:

credit: Toni the Chic Momma

What do you think?

want to like this photo. In essence, I want to be the kind of person that can be inclusive. I want to celebrate diversity of all kinds, yet somehow something stinks in motherhoodland… and it ain’t the diapers.

Do I judge other parents? Sure, all the time. Do I say stuff aloud? Not often, unless it’s my husband that you’re talking to (then, yes, all the time). But here’s the thing: I respect your decision.

Get that? I respect your decision. This implies that you thought carefully of your varied options, and at the end of the day you came to a conclusion–your decision.

Now, if you circumcised your baby out of some naive notion that you’ll just do this because your husband is circumcised and your brother is circumcised, but you haven’t done one lick of research… well, that’s not really a decision, is it? That’s de facto cruelty. You don’t impose a medical procedure on a newborn without knowing exactly why you’re doing this. Choose what you want, sure, but don’t act like this is as simple as piercing your daughter’s ears.

It’s easy to pick on circumcision, but essentially, the same goes for the rest–breastfeeding, cosleeping, working outside the home. Add to the list: binky or no-binky, weaning timeframe, homeschooling or public education, music lessons or free time, allow your daughter to show her midriff or enforce her modesty, etc. There is no limit to the controversy.

In general, I try to be intentional as a parent. Lord knows I don’t always get it right, and I fail miserably at times, but I do try to think about our choices and make a decision. Maybe I change my mind hours, days or weeks later, but I do try to think about things. And I respect every parent who does the same–who makes a choice based on the best possible outcome for the child/him or herself/the family.

So, look at that photo and imagine that each of those women thought carefully and came to a conclusion. See? I LOVE IT! It’s such a magnificent photo! YAY FOR BEING INTENTIONAL!

Thoughts?



My life with a nursing toddler

A while ago, there was this buzz in the air about breast-feeding toddlers, partly due to the Time magazine cover about attachment parenting. I wrote a post about that cover, and in that post I outed myself as a mother who breastfeeds her toddler.

One of the few photos I have of me nursing–back when Ruby was about 6 months old

Let me say, I am the world’s most reluctant breastfeeding mother of a toddler. I never, ever, in a million years thought that I’d be in this position. Am I ashamed of this fact? Not really. I mean, one time I caught my daughter playing with a dog turd, and that made me feel ashamed. However, breastfeeding my 2 1/2 year-old doesn’t necessarily make me feel proud, either. I’m not a flag-waving member of La Leche League, and I don’t actually have strong opinions about breast-feeding for anyone other than myself–I made my choice, but I realize that many women make a different choice for very valid reasons. When I think about my daughter, her specific situation, and why I still breastfeed her, it makes me feel responsible. I say “responsible” because I am responding to her specific needs as an individual. I’m doing what most mothers do–I take a look at my child, her amazing personality and her monstrous needs, and I do the best I can to meet her where she is at.

My reflections on nursing a toddler are not romantic, nor are they lamentable. I have had the best experience nursing my two children. I have been truly blessed–I have always had “enough” milk, I have never had mastitis (knock on wood), and I have really had a relatively easy time compared to many people I know. I treasure many nights where my breasts provided the exact comfort those little bodies needed to be nourished and satisfied, and I feel close to my children for having had that experience. Now, that being said, there is a part of me that wants this over. After a collective 47 months of nursing (13 months with Scout and now nearly 34 months with Ruby), I would like my boobs back all to myself. I’ve done my duty, and my deflated tube socks and I want to rest for a while. There is the saying “All good things must come to an end” for a reason, after all.

Now, my baby is nearly three years old.

But here’s the thing: I’m not done. And chances are, I won’t be done for a while. When I made the decision to continue nursing Ruby past the point of easy weaning (I weaned Scout at 13 months without any problems), I also essentially made the decision that I would be allowing Ruby to self-wean. Presently, Ruby is in charge of our nursing schedule. I haven’t “offered” her the opportunity to nurse in nearly a year–instead, she comes to me and asks to nurse. Except for a brief period of time when she called it “nooking,” she has always called it “nursing.” Since she was around a year or year and a half, we stopped nursing in public and nearly exclusively nurse at home before or after sleeping. In essence, we are somewhat clandestine, and I am okay with that. When the time comes that Ruby decides she is done nursing, I will accept her resignation willingly.

If anyone else I know ever runs into a similar situation with a high-needs toddler, I don’t think I’d necessarily dispense any advice. Everyone needs to do what they need to do for their child. I am glad that I listened to what Ruby needed at that time, and if as a result of those needs I am still nursing a two-and-a-half-year-old then so be it. In the big scheme of things, this is one small thing that I can do for her. I never in a million years thought I’d be here–in fact, I used to judge the cute little hippy mommies that did this! But I’m glad I’m here in this spot, a new somewhat-uncomfortable-place for me to be considering no one on either side of our families was anything other than bottle-fed.

The American culture doesn’t offer much support for women nursing toddlers, although there are plenty of women who choose this willingly. For the wider world out there, it is actually very normal to nurse your toddler. For anyone interested in learning more about this topic, or child-led weaning, there are many resources out there. Check out this article from a while back that appeared in Mothering magazine, thoughts for those considering nursing a toddler, a link to weaning suggestions (if you’d like more info on that route) and here is a Mommy blog  on gentle discipline and breastfeeding. If I can offer no other words of wisdom, I would say, “Please don’t judge the mom nursing her toddler… she may just be a mommy wanting to do her best by her needy kiddo.” And if anyone reading this is nursing a toddler, I’d say that you may have mixed feelings and that’s okay, but just know that in all likelihood you are doing right by your kiddo.

As always, we’re all just doing the best we can do at any given time.



Mommy vocab lesson

The self-portrait (post-bath for Ruby)

Even though every day of my life is probably non-stop belly laughs by someone else’s perspective, some days it’s difficult to be light-hearted about it all. The hard work of being a mom can be a laugh-killer. That’s why days like today–when I spent my morning in the classroom at Scout’s co-op preschool–are fun. Being around a classroom of preschool-age kids is heartwarming. Sadly, sometimes it takes seeing kids other than my own for me to soften around the edges a bit and see what a gift I have at my fingertips every day. A special highlight for today was working alongside another parent who has an accent–I didn’t ask, but I’d guess it was British or maybe South African. One of the kids in class looked at me with a smirk and said, “Why is she talking like that?” It cracked me up.

Aren’t we always looking for a laugh? Sometimes it’s a funny remark, sometimes it’s physical comedy–like when my two-year-old danced around tonight wearing nothing but her panties and a fetching pair of dangly clip-on earrings. I am sure the following is nothing new (and most certainly every parent out there could add a few), but these are a few of the things that make me laugh when I think about my “job.”

Mom Salve–The saliva from a mom’s mouth, often used in instances of last minute chocolate smudge removal from a child’s face, and also helpful in emergency binky cleaning.

Shudder statements–The words that come out of your mouth that you would have never imagined ever coming out of your mouth, or even being formulated in your brain; phrases like, “No, we don’t lick the floor,” or “There is a new rule that you must wear panties if you want me give you a horsey ride, no riding mommy bareback.”

The Law of Orange Juice–The likelihood that orange juice will be spilled on your kitchen floor is directly related to how recently the floor has been painstakingly cleaned on your hands and knees.

Laundry dregs–The leftovers at the bottom of your basket, the unmatched socks, the bottoms to the pajamas but not the top, and the bloomers that go to a dress that is still hanging in your little one’s closet, etc.

Boob fatigue–This one is fairly obvious, and will almost certainly affect nearly every nursing mother.

Snack grit–The goldfish crackers and months-old french fry that is discovered upon removal of the car seats.

Color coercion–The negotiating that ensues when you begin preparing food for your child, whereby your child shouts out a request for the “pink bowl” or the “green cup.” Try as you might to fight this phenomenon with phrases like, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit,” there will be times when you relent to color coercion.

Regressive desires–The way that your child will have abandoned boatloads of toys as they grow older, but when you put a box together for Goodwill filled with their “old” toys, these items suddenly become the most coveted toys in the whole house.

Dandelion compulsion–The term for a toddler’s obsessive desire to pick  dandelions, reaching the point where they are unable to even walk past a dandelion without picking it. This situation likely ensues once they discover that dandelions are the only flower that are permissible to pick.

Melt Factor–Depending on an individual’s personal preference the Melt Factor may vary, but it is the very thing that will permeate your heart and destroy any chance at disciplining your child in a stern manner.

How can you not laugh around these turkeys?



I’m so predictable: A mom talks of sleep

About seven years ago, at my brother’s wedding, I remember talking to an old family friend named Todd. He and his wife (and his brother, sister, their spouses, their mom and dad) were at the wedding having a very fun time. We all were. It was a fabulous party! Somewhere, Todd mentioned that he and his wife were done having kids, and he looked at me and Cory and said something like, “You know, you just never sleep.” Chalk it up to me being drunk (I was) or me assuming he was drunk (and thus, blabbering incoherently), but at the time I never gave much thought to his comment.

Now, of course, I realize that Todd was a sage.

I’ve read so many posts on WordPress about parents, kids and sleep. Some informative. Some comical. Some controversial. Some that elicit sympathy and others that elicit envy. Some painfully real and relatable. Some of them, my own. Most of them anecdotal. Many of them, I’ve probably forgotten because I’ve never achieved the REM sleep necessary to commit them to memory.

Here’s the thing, though: The human race has survived. In fact, the survival of the human race depends on our sleeplessness not impacting our health and procreative abilities. Through this period of time where we go through pregnancy (horrible for sleep), nurse an infant (terrible for sleep), comfort a teething infant (awful), and occasionally care for a sick child (what sleep), we must keep calm and carry on (and if we’re lucky we get to do this for more than one child). No wonder there are baby-training books on how to get your infant to sleep through the night at 7-weeks-old. As parents, we are desperate for sleep.

Sleep restores us. Sleep impacts our immune system. Sleep grants us the proper hormones so that our metabolism works right. Occasionally, sleep gives us a steamy dream with noted fashion photographer Nigel Barker from “America’s Next Top Model.”  Sleep, for me at least, has a great influence on my mood.

So, what’s a parent to do when sleep is not to be had? (Besides amphetamines.)

Confront this energy deficit on both ends, I say. Work on sleep (that of my own and my kids), but also work on keeping energetic throughout the day.

Here’s some tips, as compiled from my illustrious sources at webmd and my own noggen.

Your own sleep:

Dim your lights at night. Create a sleep space that is dedicated to sleeping. Get rid of the TV and radio in your room. Invest in curtains or blinds which block the light. Adjust your thermostat, since most people sleep better when it’s cool. Create a bedtime routine. Don’t exercise within three hours of bedtime. Enjoy a cup of herbal tea at bedtime. If you find yourself regularly waking up due to noise, get a “white noise” machine or earplugs. If your bladder wakes you up, limit liquids at night. If you find yourself sensitive to caffeine, limit your intake.

Your kiddo’s sleep:

Create a bedtime routine. Go to bed at the same time every night. Try a soothing bath or shower before bed. Limit caffeine and sugar intake throughout the day (innocent as M & Ms and cola may be, they have caffeine in them). Limit artificial colors (several, including Red 40 Lake–which Ruby has had problems with–can cause symptoms like hyperactivity). Make sure your children get exercise and/or outside time during the day (exposure to sunlight during daytime hours helps keep a natural circadian rhythm). Limit TV and screen time, as these lights can affect the body the same way any artificial light can and sometimes storylines–especially scary or suspenseful ones–can stimulate energy. Make your child’s room and bed a comfortable place for sleep, and be mindful of the temperature. Watch out for naps–great as they can be, late afternoon naps can sometimes mess with bedtime. Be consistent and stay strong: We all know how hard it is not to give in to the last request for “one more book” or “just a little drink of water,” but delaying bedtime (my husband I call them “stall tactics”) is not going to do anyone any good.

I think Mighty Mouse can serve as an Energy Mentor for all of us, don’t you?

To improve your energy:

Keep a balanced diet. Magnesium especially helps with energy, so eat some almonds, cashews or hazelnuts. Exercise regularly. Take a power walk outside. Take a power nap in your bed. Don’t skip meals. Address your anger and other feelings, which can be draining to you physically as well as emotionally. Reduce your stress level. Make sure you’re not suffering from obvious energy-drainers, like hypothyroidism or anemia. Drink more water. Drink less alcohol. Eat less sugar and more whole grains. Eat a power snack packed with protein. Drink something caffeinated, like a delicious coffee or tea. And give yourself permission to do something fun and uplifting, rather than having a conversation with your frenemy that will only be exhausting.

This post is mostly to remind myself of the work I personally need to do in promoting sleep for myself and my family. I would love to hear how others fair on this front. Let me know if you have tips!

(Images from josiahblacksblog.wordpress.com, photobucket.com, and arstechnica.com)