Monday, June 27, 2011

What I Love About Me! - Tofu Edition

I was vegan for several years and the whole time I sucked at making tofu. In all of my recipes it always just tasted like, well, tofu.

I've been doing more of the dinner cooking since I've been home and in an effort to get some protein, yet cut back on our meat consumption, I decided to give tofu another shot.

So, this week I love that I learned to make good tofu.

Italian marinated tofu about to be added to a yummy pasta salad
The trick, if you're interested, is to buy refrigerated firm tofu then press it for a few hours before you marinate it. I usually do plate, paper towels, tofu, another plate, and then put a heavy dictionary on top...maybe osmosis will help my vocab too.

After that, I cube it and let it marinate (the longer the better - a few hours if you can) then sautee it slowly over a medium heat until the marinade cooks up and the tofu browns.

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

School's Out for Summer!

Yesterday was my first day of summer break! Hurray! We visited our friends Ashleigh and Jenn and their super-adorable little girls and then went to my cousin's graduation party. I am so happy that I'll be home with Jen and The Bean for the next NINE weeks! The Bean's at an age now where he's starting to interact a lot more and it will be amazing to be around to experience all of that. I'm sure the time will fly by.

We have quite a bit planned, but aren't too busy. We leave in a couple of days to go visit Jen's parents. Her brother, his wife and their two kids who all live in Mauritius will also be there. It's going to be a full house! I imagine we'll spend most of our time visiting with friends and family, hanging out in the backyard and splashing around in Jen's aunt's new pool. Sounds like the perfect start to summer! Maybe Jen and I will be able to go out on a date while Grandma and Grandpa watch The Bean. (That would be nice!) After our visit there we'll be home for a few weeks and then take The Bean on his first flight out to the east coast to visit my dad and his wife. It'll also be my and Jen's first time out to visit them. I'm a little more nervous about this trip --we'll have to put some thought into what we bring and what we'll do while we're there. If anyone has recommendations on flying with a baby and what to bring when traveling I'd love to hear them! After that trip we don't have any plans, although I've been thinking about things that would be fun to do.

Here's the list so far:
*swim at the saltwater pool near our house
*walk around the botanical gardens
*go to the zoo
*take photos
*see live music
*shop at farmer's markets
*pick berries
*bake
*get a massage
*do something with the empty wall space in The Bean's room
*play in parks
*splash in the lake
*visit different neighbourhoods
*ride my bike
*spend time with friends and family
*finish crocheting The Bean's blanket
*take a sewing class (my birthday present from Jen and The Bean!)
*read, read, read
*organize our storage space and closets

Jen says there is only one item on her list:
*sleep

LOL. That would be good too. Whatever we do I'm sure we'll have a great time and September will come much too quickly. Who wouldn't love spending the summer with this little guy:

video

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Non-Challenge Catch Up

So, I really fell off of the Non-Challenge wagon. I can always climb back on though, right? There has been one prompt I've been thinking a lot about and really wanted to comment on. Day 20– What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? Did you repay the kindness?

More-so than a single act, a single person comes to mind. I've posted about him on this blog before. He's a friend of mine from university and although we're not in touch often, I am so privileged to have him in my life.

I believe I met him in my third year of university. We had Educational Psychology together. At about 40, he was a continuing ed. student. It was obvious he wanted to be there. He was engaged and articulate. I also assumed that he was gay. He really stood out to me. I believe I approached him about a group project we had to do. We hit it off almost instantly. It helped that he was very outgoing and a good conversationalist. I will never forget coming out to him. I guess we had been sitting beside each other and chatting for a few weeks and a break was coming up. I said something about going to visit my girlfriend, emphasizing that I was talking about my GIRLFRIEND, and he was absolutely floored. He asked why I had shared that about myself with him, and I said that him being gay too helped. He was surprised that I knew he was gay, which I found amusing because it just seemed so obvious to me. Anyway, our friendship persisted and towards the end of the school year he asked about my summer plans. I said something about taking the Greyhound to go visit Jen. He asked what the difference in cost was between the 12 hour Greyhound trip and flying (a one hour trip)... I told him it was about double, or $100 more. At that point, $100 was A LOT for me. The next time I saw him he handed me $100 and told me I should fly to see Jen so that we could spend more time together. This time I was the one who was floored. I honestly could not believe that someone I had known for only a few short months was being so generous. I don't think I've ever told him, but rather than using the $100 for a flight I used it for a future trip to visit Jen, by Greyhound. LOL.

The following year, he let Jen and I stay at his place when she came to visit for a weekend, and he was away rather than us having to stay at my dad's place.

When Jen and I started talking about having kids he immediately offered to be a donor for us. We very seriously considered it, but ended up going the anonymous route. Nonetheless, his offer is probably the single kindest thing anyone has ever done for me. Other than knowing that he had helped two people who desperately wanted to have a child accomplish that, it would in no way have benefited him. I think that's the thing about all of the acts of kindness he has shown me. He has no obligation to me. He isn't going to benefit from them. He is kind and generous to a degree that I have rarely, if ever, come across in another person.

We traveled to BC a few years ago to visit him and was an AMAZING host... showing us around, cooking for us, and even planning a getaway for us while we were there.

Before The Bean was born he offered to use his AirMiles to cover the cost of one of our flights out west to visit him again. We didn't end up taking him up on his offer, but I hope that we may be able to in the future.

I don't feel like I've ever done anything to deserve any of this or to repay him. I don't know what I could do. I hope he recognizes my extreme gratitude and that that is enough.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What I Love About Me! Mondays

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Being Married to a teacher has its moments of jealousy. Those moments usually last from mid-June through the end of August every year when Allison is off and I'm still getting up and going to work. Summer is also the busy season at my job.

When I moved to Toronto in the summer of 2007 it was the first time that Allison and I got to spend more than 2 weeks of time off together. It was wonderful, but there was also some underlying stress about me having to find a job.

What I love about me this week, is that I'm off on maternity leave through the end of the year. What I love even more is that Allison finishes up at school this week! Pretty soon, we are both going to be able to spend several months of time off devoted to US. We will get to spend wonderful time together as a family and I can't wait!

It's even better knowing that I'm not going to have to chase down a job when it (unfortunately) comes to an end.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Today

I'm 31 today.

I really looked forward to my 30th year, and it definitely lived up to my expectations, but somehow 30 didn't feel that different from 29. 31 though, it feels different. Older. Not that I mind feeling older. I'm in a good place and quite enjoying life. Maybe it's just the lack of sleep. :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

::right now::






Right now I am...


::sitting in the early morning quiet.
::basking in the sun coming in the window.
::marveling at all I've done before most others around me seem to be awake.
::looking at the diapers out on the clothesline.
::listening to the water rumbling in the kettle.
::thinking about toothless baby smiles, and smiling myself.
::appreciating everything that my wife does to take care of our family and home.
::remembering how happy I was last year on my birthday, eagerly looking forward to the year to come.
::reflecting on this past year and all the wonderful things that have happened.
::planning our first unscheduled Saturday in I-don't-know-how-long.
::returning to some of the crochet projects I started before things got so busy.
::hoping to start some summer baking... something with the strawberries I picked earlier this week with my class, I think.
::loving life and all those who are dear to me.
::wishing everyone reading a beautiful day.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Five Months Old!

Today The Bean is five months old!


-The Bean has found his feet! and I tell you, they must be delicious... those piggies are in his mouth at almost every opportunity he gets. He seems to favour his left foot. Maybe he's more flexible on his left side?

-He is now a mobile little guy. He's been able to roll from his tummy to back and back to tummy for a while, but now seems to do so intentionally. We have an adorable video of him showing off this skill, but he's buck naked in it, so it's not going up on the net. He seems to get bored of sitting sometimes and once we put him on the ground he'll roll and roll and roll. He also seems to be in the beginning stages of figuring out how to crawl. He'll get on his tummy with his arms under his chest and push his bum way up into the air. Sometimes he manages to scooch forward a bit.

-He recently started playing in his Jumperoo. He seems to enjoy the spinny toy on it and the lights and sounds. I call it his over-stimulation centre. He seems to be into toys that squeak or make other sounds these days. I think he'll really like the Jumperoo when he can bounce on his own.

-He now enjoys facing forward in the Baby Bjorn when out and about. I still prefer the Ergo for my own comfort. Over the summer I think we'll end up switching back and forth depending on how long we're going out for.

-He is babbling all.of.the.time. He also makes really sweet soft noises when he's falling asleep or waking up.

-Pretty much since we decided we'd try to put him on a schedule he stopped sleeping through the night. We're thinking that he's going through both physical and mental growth, and that has something to do with it. But boy, do I miss sleeping more than two hours at a time.

-He's still doing good naps in the morning. He'll wake up (early) and play for about an hour or so, then go down for about an hour then repeat the same thing. Afternoon naps go well if he's at home, but are less consistent when he's out and about.

-He's also figured out how to roll when swaddled. This freaks Mommy out. We've tried unswaddling him for sleeping, but he just doesn't sleep then.

-He has become much fussier and more demanding. He's still a very well-behaved baby, but we sure know when he's not happy about something. Like being in the car. The next road trip (at the end of the month) may be interesting.

-He's also started "fake" crying when he's not happy about something. It's kinda' funny, but if we don't listen he really starts wailing.

-Finally, in the past few days we've started him on solids. The main reason is that his blood test results showed that he has low iron and we want to try a two-pronged approach to treating that --food in combination with a supplement. We're also hoping that it helps with his sleep overnight.

-His weighed in at 11 lbs. 9 oz. at his doctor's appointment earlier this week.

-He is now out of almost all of his 0-3 month clothing and into his 3-6 month stuff.

It continues to amaze me how much he's changing. A co-worker brought in her one month old to work earlier this week and she seemed so tiny and new. Who would've thought five month olds wouldn't seem tiny or new?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Non-Challenge Day 10

Day 10 – Share your favorite recipe (or two)


ALLISON'S SESAME SALMON


Ingredients:
1 salmon filet
1/8 c sesame oil
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp minced garlic

Directions:
-mix ingredients
-pour over salmon
-put under broiler for 10 minutes

So simple and so good!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Speaking of trying new things...

The Bean has started solids. Here are the results:



We got back blood test results from the other week and, as suspected, The Bean's iron levels are low. We talked about ways to try to resolve the issue with our pediatrician for quite a while. He suggested a supplement. We said we were agreeable to a supplement, but would also like to try introducing some foods, as the supplements can be quite harsh. The doc said he didn't really like cereals because he felt they were over processed and the iron is added rather than naturally occurring, and potentially not as easily digested if that was a concern of ours, so we talked about some other foods and decided we'd start some meats (as well as some veggies and fruits) in addition to a partial dose of a supplement. We're also going to go to our naturopath and see if she can suggest a less harsh supplement.

So far The Bean has had some peeled and mushed blueberries, as well as pureed chicken and apricot and seemed to enjoy all three! Maybe this will also help him start sleeping better at nights! (One can hope.)

For those with babies who are eating, what were the first foods you tried out (particularly the iron-rich ones)?

Non-Challenge Days 6, 8 and 9!

Okay, so I'm a little all over the place here, but I'm playing catch up from yesterday and I actually just thought of a response for Day 6, so bear with me...

Day 6 – When was the last time you tried something new? What was it and what was the result?

I had a really hard time with this one... that's the main reason for the delayed response. I did come up with something that's relatively new for me though: Driving. I know many of you probably can't imagine not driving or knowing how to drive. Jen is the same. She learned when she was 15 and got her permit the day she turned 16. She's been driving more than half her life. While I did go and get my permit as a teen, we didn't have a car and I never did my test to get my level 1 license (we have a weird graduated licensing system here). Anyway, when Jen was pregnant we talked about it and decided I should go back and get it. It wasn't hard to get the permit, and over the course of the year I did all the classes and whatnot and got my license in November, about two months before The Bean was born. I still don't drive a lot and I've only driven on the highway once, but it's a start.

Day 8 – If you had to teach something, what would you teach? (If you DO teach, when did you discover your love for teaching/the subject?)

Like a number of other bloggers that seem to be participating in this non-challenge, I DO teach. I'm a Senior Kindergarten teacher at an independent school. I've taught SK for four years now, and for two years prior to that I taught Pre-Kindergarten. I love what I do. I always did a lot of work with children and decided towards the end of my high school career that I wanted to go into teaching. I got accepted into a great Ed. program. I spent two years following my graduation trying my darnedest to get a teaching job and found it next to impossible. I subbed and tutored and nannied and did pretty much all other related jobs that I could and FINALLY got hired by the school I still currently work for.

Day 9 – What is the most important lesson you learned from your own mother (or other primary caretaker)?

My mom has taught me a lot of things. The most important thing she taught me is hard to articulate. I guess in a nutshell it was to be independent.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Non-Challenge Day 7 - Meals

Day 7 – What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner? If you have children, what are their favorites?

Breakfast -I love crepes with fresh berries, but we never make them! Most days I have a bowl of cereal with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Lunch -In cold weather I really like a creamy soup like butternut squash with some fresh bread. In warmer weather, a big spinach salad with dried cranberries, slivered almonds, maybe some chicken and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Dinner -Three words: Maple glazed salmon. I have a fantastic recipe that I will share later this month. I love vegetables and think this goes well with green beans and some kind of rice or couscous.

The Bean is still having milk for all his meals. Although, he did try some mushy blueberries (without their peels) this afternoon and they were a hit! I have a feeling early solids are in his near future.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Non-Challege Day 5 - Birthdays

Day 5 What do you prefer to do on your birthday? If you have children, what do you prefer to do for their birthday?

I’m going to just jump in here on Day 5.  That’s what’s great about two people blogging, we can totally steal each other’s ideas!  (Sometimes I also steal Allison’s t-shirts, but that’s a story for another day.)

Thinking about this question made the few neurons who are straggling to stay awake in my brain do a little happy dance.  I never really thought about it before, I’m not really into big celebrations on by birthday, but I do love to celebrate with treats.  And, not just any treats, but chocolate filled doughnut treats.  

Can I get an “Mmmmmmmmm?”

“Gee, Jen, why do you like to celebrate with donuts?”  

Well, dear reader, let me tell you.  It all goes back to my childhood.

My birthday is in September, so when I was in elementary school I was always one of the first kids to bring treats for the class.  I’m not positive how the donut thing started; my guess is that with both of my parent’s working, my mom didn’t have time to undertake all of her usual motherly duties, plus bake a cake for my at home birthday bash, plus get my present ready, PLUS make a treat for me to take into school.  Enter her solution, order a couple dozen donuts from our local Dunkin’ Donuts.  

I was always psyched to bring donuts in because they’re BIG and that must mean they’re better, right?  Plus, it was awesome getting to walk down the aisles of my classroom every year and give my friends the option to choose which kind of donut they wanted.  We’re not talking about everyone getting the same old treat on my birthday, no ma’am.  

I always snagged a chocolate filled one and to this day still prefer donuts to cake on my birthday.

January is pretty far away still, so we haven’t chatted about what we’ll do for The Bean’s first birthday.  I know smash cakes are big in the U.S., but I don’t think they really even exist in Canada.  Plus, when my nephew turned one and was presented with his smash cake, he got kinda freaked out.  Parents spend so much time trying to get their kids NOT to play with their food, then we give them this cake who’s only purpose is to be played with.  Hello mixed message!

Whatever traditions are established for The Bean, I want him to look forward to his birthdays and when he’s an adult, to be able to look back on them fondly.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Non-Challenge Day 4

Day 4 What has most surprised you about parenthood?

There have surely been many things that I didn't expect from parenthood, but I'd say the top three are:
1) How fast time passes. I feel like The Bean's baby-hood is going by so quickly and any moment his toddler days will be upon us. I'm trying to enjoy the moment, realizing they don't last.
2) How it takes at least twice as long to get ANYTHING done.
3) How I think our baby is the most amazing baby ever. I think babies and kids in general are pretty awesome, but our little guy seems just that much more awesome. (Except for at 5:00am on a Saturday when he decides it's time to start the day. Yawn!)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Non-Challenge Days 1, 2 and 3!

Catching up from the past few days...

DAY 1 Provide a picture of the space where you normally blog.

I used to have a lovely large desk with a hutch, but it was Craigslisted to make room for the little one. Now I mostly blog from the sofa.



DAY 2 Describe your high school self. What extracurricular activities, if any, did you participate in during high school?

High school... neither the best nor the worst years of my life. In some ways I've changed dramatically, in others, not at all.

I was introverted but friendly, with a small group of close friends that I was comfortable opening up around. I took school seriously. I studied hard and got good grades. Most days I arrived at school early and sat in the hall or classroom reading. I'm quite certain I had my nose in a book during about 90% of my "free" time. I was involved in a few extra-curriculars, Art Club and French Club come to mind, but I also had a lot going on outside of school.

I was a competitive gymnast, and trained a few nights a week after school. I had been quite good in my younger years, but had to stop because of an injury. I went back probably around age 15 and started training again. I was able to compete, but it was never quite the same.

I was also very involved in my church... a Korean Presbyterian church, though I am not Korean. I started going in my early teens because my best friend was a member and ended up really loving it. I was super-involved there. I went to Youth Group on Friday nights and service on Sundays. I was in the choir, taught Sunday school, played on their sports teams like softball (I was awful) and dragonboat (I was good), served as an usher, was in the church praise band (bass and vocals), was the VP of the youth group for one year, etc. I had a lot of very close friends there, including my best friend who was like a sister to me. Eventually I became disillusioned and left the church, but that came later...

I also babysat A LOT. My sister and I pretty much watched every child in the neighbourhood under age 10. I also worked for a company that hosted kids' birthday parties in my later teen years. I think all the time I spent with kids then definitely influenced my decision to become a teacher.

I liked spending time with my friends, but never had a boyfriend (or a girlfriend). I didn't really think about that much, to be honest.

I think I was a pretty good teenager. I fought a lot with my sister, but that was probably the worst of it. I don't think my mom ever worried too much about me. We were pretty close and she was fairly relaxed in her parenting style with me... no curfew, no real "rules" other than letting her know where I was. I was probably harder on myself than she was on me. My "rebellious" phase came later.

DAY 3 What are your guilty pleasures?

I really don't think I have too many guilty pleasures. I buy a fair number of books, but I read them. I watch TV (including some crappy reality TV), but usually only about an hour a night. I love ice cream and baked goods, but wouldn't say that I over-indulge. I probably spend too much time browsing Etsy and the past four and half months I have overindulged in the taking of baby photos. Does that count?