Monday, March 31, 2014

Menu Monday #47 with Menu Planner {free printable}

On Friday night, I was able to attend my first Girls Night Out since before Amos was born! I had a fantastic evening out with the girls. A delicious dinner at Cafe Lola (NY strip steak, asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes and chocolate soufflé for dessert!), and some fantastic company and conversation. Like I said before, I love going out with my guys, but I also love getting my dose of girl talk, too! :)


On Saturday morning, I made pancakes with a blackberry topping. We gobbled those up! For lunch, we visited The Bagel Exchange. Ethan has been requesting it daily since we ate there a couple weeks ago, while on spring break. I can't say that I blame him, as it is probably my favorite place for lunch, even though I always get a breakfast bagel sandwich! :) The boys love their blueberry bagels, topped with peanut butter and marshmallows! Yum! That evening, Josh was giving one of the new hires a tour of the area, so we met them for dinner at the Peerless Restaurant. We had to get the flaming cheese again. So fun, and delicious, too! We also tried the sashimi ahi tuna. It was great. For my entrée, I chose the rack of lamb with the sautéed sherry mushrooms. Yum! The boys did excellent through the long dinner - so well, that they were even complimented by some fellow diners! Awesome! I love when they are on their best behavior! :)

On Sunday morning, Josh made our usual egg sandwiches for breakfast. This time they were extra awesome because we had purchased some bagels the day before at the Bagel Exchange. They seriously put all other bagels to shame!! It's possible we may have also splurged on some white chocolate cranberry scones, too. They are seriously incredible!

I also need to make sure to add that the recipe I tried last week for stuffed chicken meatballs was seriously amazing. Unfortunately, they aren't the most diet-friendly (since we wanted to eat ALL of them because they were so good!), but I'm pretty sure I'll make them again regardless. ;) You must try them!! I halved the crushed red pepper, for the boys' benefit, but probably could have cut out even more. It was perfect for us, but still a bit spicy for them.

I've had a request for the menu planner I use each week when I plan my meals and shopping trip, so I've included a free copy of it at the end of this post. Some of the items are a bit specific to our shopping needs, but I've taken out our names at least. ;) I also only have spaces for Sun-Thurs for meals, because we normally eat out on the weekends. I'm hoping to redesign this list soon, so I'll be including spots for Sun-Sat when I do. For now, you can use this list if you'd like to plan meals and make your grocery list! Please feel free to give me your input on changes I can make for the next one based on what works or what doesn't work for you.

Sunday: Grilled chicken salad
After a heavy breakfast, we needed something lighter for dinner, so we had spinach and arugula salads topped with grilled chicken strips. I also put cilantro lime ranch dressing, sunflower seeds, Romano cheese croutons, and a little shredded mozzarella cheese on mine. Yum!

Monday: Almond-crusted tilapia, brown rice, oven roasted asparagus
We haven't had this fish dish in a few weeks, so it will be tasty. I love the combo of the Dijon mustard with the almonds. Delicious! I love my fish over rice, with asparagus. Nice and light!

Tuesday: Spiced turkey burgers with peanut sauce, baked sweet potato fries
I haven't made these burgers in a loooooong time, but we decided they sounded good for what should be a gorgeous day for grilling! The recipe actually calls for ground chicken, not turkey, but they didn't have any at the store this week, so I bought turkey instead. With the spices and sauce, it shouldn't really matter much. I bought the cucumber this time, too, so we'll see how that works with it. We all love sweet potato fries, and they are a great pairing with burgers, especially with the spicy ketchup recipe.

Wednesday: Grilled pork chops, roasted butternut squash, toasted pine nut couscous with cranberries
Yep, my favorite pork meal. Sorry for the lack of variety here, but I want to enjoy this one with the squash for as long as we can. It will be nice outside again, so we'll grill the pork!

Thursday: Grilled chicken breast, savory quinoa, oven roasted Brussels sprouts with Balsamic, Parmesan and pine nuts
I marinate the chicken breast all day in Kraft's Zesty Italian dressing. It gives it great flavor when grilled, and keeps it nice and moist as well. I'll make quinoa on the side, seasoning it and adding some diced onion, garlic and maybe sundried tomatoes. We also LOVED the roasted Brussels sprouts I made last week (who knew they could be so great?!?), so I'll make those again. I've found some awesome recipes, so this week I'm going to try this one.

Friday: Out to eat
We'll go somewhere! The weight loss has slowed since we started 3 months ago (18 pounds for me so far, and 16 for Josh!), as we've been slacking a bit with making the best food choices, so we're trying to be more strict this week. Not sure where we'll end up, but we'll probably be watching our plates a bit closer. :)

Saturday: TBD
We'll probably go out, unless I decide to make some pizza at home. We still haven't had a chance to watch Frozen yet, so we really need to do that!! A cozy night at home sounds nice.


What's on your menu this week?

Here is a free printable menu planner for weekly meal planning. You can print it to fit an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper. First, I plan out what meals we are going to have for the week, then I mark off everything I will need to buy for those (i.e., chicken breast or tenders, carrots (writing amounts in the parentheses), etc). Then, I mark off all of the other staples (i.e., fruit, cereal, baking goods, etc) I need for the week. I make one trip to the store, on Sunday afternoon, to get everything I will need for that week. I take this sheet with me to the store to do my shopping, and just cross items out as I put them in the cart. Another good tip is to print out a blank copy of this to hang on your refrigerator. As you run out of an item during the week, you can go ahead and mark it so that you don't forget to buy it the following week! :)

I've since redesigned my grocery list/menu planner, added room for each day of the week, and made it mobile-friendly! Check it out in my Etsy shop! :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Menu Monday #46

On Friday night, we decided to visit our favorite local seafood restaurant, Riverfront Seafood Company. We've never had anything bad to eat there, and this time was no exception. Josh and I both decided we wanted to try one of their newer dishes, pasta jambalaya. It had great flavor and we both really enjoyed it! I also really love their Caesar salad, too. The plate was huge, so we were both able to save leftovers for the next day. Had we known, we could have just split an order! For dessert, we indulged in their blackberry cake with cream cheese icing. It's delicious, and inspired me to make my blackberry cupcakes a couple years ago! :)



On Saturday morning, I made whole wheat pumpkin pancakes with cream cheese icing, per the boys' request. I escaped took off after that to get my hair done. ;) After much internal debate, I decided to go for it and get some bangs cut again. I've spent the last couple years without them, so I guess I decided it was time for a change again. I'm so glad I did, because I'm loving them!! :) For dinner, we went to one of our favorite pizza restaurants, Scratch. It had been ages since we'd been there and Josh had been bugging me for weeks to go. I love their pizza, just not their wait times, so with three little ones now, I was afraid it might be rough. The boys did really well though! We ordered the pesto cheesesticks for them (they can tear them up!), and a "full trust" pizza for us. This just means that we let them decide what they want to put on our pizza! :) This time I know we had red sauce, spinach, jalapeño peppers, mandarin oranges, tomatoes, peperone, another homemade meat, and feta cheese on it. I may have missed something? It tasted great, as it always does! After dinner, we finished up a beautiful night at Menchie's with some frozen yogurt, and actually enjoyed eating it outside!

To finish up a fantastic day, we finally got some movement on the potty training with Noah! Woo hoo! Unfortunately, he's only gone once since then, but we're hopeful, now that we've actually been able to get him to consider the idea! I'm doing his potty chart a bit differently than I did Ethan's. For Ethan, he put a star on the calendar every time he went, and also got a Hot Wheels or Matchbox car with each star. Yes, that quickly became expensive, but it worked! Haha! So, we quickly changed it to a car for every 5 stars, then 10, etc. He was trained in a very short time, so we were spoiled with him. For Noah, we're going to do bigger prizes, but he has to fill up an entire line on the chart before he gets it. Hopefully it will work well, too. Time will tell. If you are interested in downloading a copy of this chart to use for your training toddler, see the bottom of this post!

On Sunday morning, Josh made our usual egg sandwiches for breakfast. After church, we checked out the buffet at our local Indian restaurant, Sahib. We love their food, but they also make for a very long meal when we order from the menu. So, we thought that'd make for a win-win to enjoy some Indian food without the wait! It was also a great way to sample a lot of other dishes that we don't normally order. Everything was really good, but did lack a bit of the heat that we typically enjoy.

Sunday: Grilled chicken salad
After a heavy lunch, we needed something lighter for dinner, so we had spinach salads topped with grilled chicken strips. I also put cilantro lime ranch dressing, sunflower seeds, basil pesto croutons, and a little shredded mozzarella cheese on mine. Yum!

Monday: Blackened cajun salmon, brown rice, oven roasted asparagus
We'll season our salmon filets with Josh's homemade cajun seasoning, grill them, and serve them over the rice. On the side, the asparagus. It's one of my favorite meals!

Tuesday: Melt in your mouth baked chicken, tricolor rotini, oven roasted brussels sprouts
We haven't had this one in awhile, so it will be good. I'm trying brussels sprouts for the first time, too! I'll let you know how that goes! ;) The recipe I linked to coats them in a mixture of EVOO and balsamic vinegar, then roasts them just like any other veggie. I've also found a few other recipes I'd like to try if we like how these taste. :)

Wednesday: Cajun pork chops, roasted sweet potatoes, vegetable quinoa
We'll either grill or sear the pork chops on the stovetop, depending on what the weather is doing. I'm changing up the sides a bit this time. We'll do sweet potatoes (so I can introduce them to Amos!!), and some quinoa on the side.

Thursday: Stuffed chicken meatballs with linguine and spaghetti sauce
I'm trying another new recipe this week. I saw it on one of the blogs I read and thought it sounded good! The boys love meatballs, and cheese, so I'm hoping this will be a hit! :)

Friday: Girls night out!
I'll be attending my first GNO since before I had Amos!! Can you tell I'm excited? Haha! I love going out with all of my guys, but sometimes it's nice to be able to chat with some ladies, too. ;)

Saturday: TBD
We'll probably go out, unless I decide to make some pizza at home. We purchased the movie Frozen (since I've heard nothing but good things about it!!) this past weekend, so we need to find sometime to watch it! So maybe we'll make it a movie night at home?


What's on your menu this week?


And here is a downloadable potty chart:

This should be printed as an 8.5" x 11" sheet. We're using the toilet graphic for #1 and the toilet paper graphic for #2. ;) I have little star stickers that he gets to put on the chart when he's successful! :) Once an entire row is filled, then a sticker is placed on the star and he'll get a big prize!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ethan's {Star Wars Themed} 5th Birthday Party

Shortly after Christmas, I asked Ethan what theme he wanted for his birthday party this year. He threw out several different ideas, but finally settled on Star Wars. He's watched all six of the movies with his Daddy, and he's very into all of the characters right now. Never having watched this series of movies myself (I know, I know. I'm just not interested!!), I did have to do a little research to prepare for the party this year. ;) Then, I started where I always do, with the invitations.




This year, we decided to have two separate parties to celebrate Ethan's birthday. One would be for his preschool friends, at Wallabies (a local bounce house), and one would be for family, at our house. Something about the possibility of twenty 4- and 5-year-olds running around at our house just wasn't too appealing. ;)

So, I made one invitation that could be easily mailed to family members, and another one for his preschool friends that included a glowstick "lightsaber," since those would be distributed by hand at school. I was so happy with how those turned out and Ethan loved them! All items you see here are available for customization and purchase through my business page, Kreations by Kristy, or my Etsy shop.





Darth Vader is his favorite, so of course he had to be the focus of the design. Next, I wanted to incorporate some purple, as that is currently his favorite color. I tried to give it an outer space feel with the dark, starry sky as well. I always like to include a picture of the birthday boy, too, so I added in one of those as well.

After the invitations were mailed and delivered, it was time to start designing the other elements of the party. I tried to get as much done as early as possible this year, as hubby had a couple out-of-town work trips planned the two weeks before the party. After long days solo with the boys, it's hard to find motivation to tackle party planning after I finally get them all tucked in to bed!

I did some brainstorming and a lot of Pinterest browsing (of course!) and here is what I came up with for party decorations and food.


To decorate the house, I bought some balloons at the local party supply store. They had a couple different Star Wars balloons, then I bought some plain black and colored ones to coordinate with those. I also made a custom banner that read "Happy 5th Birthday Ethan!" using one of the Darth pictures and colors from the invites. Below is a digital example of the flags. After printing them out, I pasted them onto a goldenrod-colored scrapbook paper, then trimmed them. I strung the flags all together with black yarn.




I also made tags to label the food items that we served at the party. I found lots of ideas on Pinterest for Star Wars themed food items, then also made some of my own up. Here's what we feasted on...


Hamburgers (Han burgers) and hot dogs (Hutt dogs), on buns (Princess Leia, to be exact), make for easy party food. I always like to serve fruit, as the boys love it, so fruit kabobs (Obi-wan kabob-ies) were perfect! Pasta salad (Bow-ba Fett) made with bowtie pasta and Chewbacca's chips and dip were also tasty sides. Carrots (C-3PO) with ranch (R2-D2) dip, Carbonite jell-o and Ewok food rounded out the main course items. We served Echo Base ice cream (homemade, yum!!) for dessert, with the cake. To drink, I had planned Yoda Soda and Vader Ade, but with a last-minute reduced guest list, I decided to nix the latter. Food tents available for purchase here in my Etsy shop.

I made favor bags for his preschool friends to take home with them. Ethan helped me make the actual treat bags. I purchased plain black paper sacks from Michael's, then we splatter painted the bags with white paint and a toothbrush! Fun! This was a trick I learned in middle school, for creating what looks like a starry outer space! Perfect! I printed each child's name (in the Star Wars font, of course) on a label to put on the front. For inside the bag, I kept with the glowstick light saber theme (what kid doesn't love glow sticks? I've learned that my boys become quite agreeable if I give them one to play with! Haha!), and created a cute little card thanking his friends for coming to the party. I also pasted these onto the goldenrod scrapbook paper, too. I like to include fun treats for the kids to eat, too, so I packaged up little bags of the Ewok food (Goldfish crackers, pretzel sticks, and dried cranberries), too. I found the clear plastic, round treat bags at Michael's, and created the tags to print. I also included a Star Wars light saber sucker that actually lit up when you push a button (I got a fantastic deal on those at Toys 'R Us), some Star Wars fruit snacks (our local grocery's brand, Food Club, offers these), and a Star Wars character sticker.



Then there was the cake I made for the party at our house, and cupcakes for the party with his friends. Ethan requested a super star destroyer for his cake this year, so I googled some images and came up with one that looked like this. I bought some color flow icing to use, but this icing unfortunately ended up bleeding while it was hardening, and looked awful. So, I ended up free-handing the design onto the cake instead, and it turned out ok. Ethan liked it, so that was really all that mattered! :) I tried to make black icing (it turned out dark gray instead) for the outer space with silver sugar sprinkles for stars. I found the cute Darth Vader light saber candle at our local party store.


I made my favorite vanilla sheet cake and chocolate Texas sheet cake recipes for the cupcakes for the party at Wallabies. I used silver cupcake liners, and the same (almost) black icing with sugar sprinkles on the cupcakes themselves. Then, I created cupcake toppers to decorate them. I made "Happy Birthday," "5," "Ethan," and character ones. These were also pasted onto the goldenrod scrapbook paper with the 4" sticks glued between those pieces. Another fun treat for the party - light saber napkins! These each held a fork and spoon as well. Here is an awesome tutorial by the creator of this fun idea. I used her printable for the handles and printed them on a heavy card stock. They worked, and looked, great!




Finally, I created a coordinating thank you note to thank friends and family for the gifts they gave him. He's not quite up to writing the entire note himself yet, but at least he willingly signed them all for me. :)




And here are some pics of the birthday boy!! He had a fantastic time at the Wallabies party with his best buds and enjoyed all of the fun Star Wars themed items at the party at our house. I would say that both parties were a success! :)


Happy 5th Birthday to our big boy!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Menu Monday #45

On Friday night, we took advantage of an offer at our local Chick Fil A - buy it once, get it twice. So, anything we bought for dinner that night that was on our receipt, we can get for free on a later visit in April!! That's a nice little savings there! :) After dinner, we took the boys to get new tennis shoes. Noah had been complaining of his feet hurting, so we figured his shoes were too tight. Probably the case given that he was wearing a size 6.5, and now he's in an 8! Ethan was wearing an 11, but is now in a 12. Such big feet! Those sizes weren't any too big on them either, so I'm sure it won't be long before we need to get even bigger ones. Sigh.

On Saturday morning, I made pumpkin waffles, per the boys' request. They really love pumpkin! Then, after a very sleepy Amos decided to wake up at close to noon
(wow!), we enjoyed a nice long walk outside in the sunshine. It was a perfect day here! Later that evening, we went downtown for dinner, to the Main Street Pizza Company. It was so tasty a couple weeks ago, we wanted to check out more of their menu items. They did not disappoint! We started with their parmesan crisps. They were so good and something I'd love to recreate at home. The parmesan cheese is baked into a crispy wafer-like chip, then topped with chicken that's coated in a basil pesto mixture, with sundried tomatoes on top. For my entrée, I created my own stromboli, using Alfredo sauce, chicken, roasted red peppers, and sriracha sauce. Delicious!!


On Sunday morning, Josh made our usual egg sandwiches for breakfast, but made them green for the boys for the upcoming holiday. :) We finally made it back to church after a few weeks off for traveling, sick kiddos, and out-of-town guests!

We celebrated St. Patrick's Day this morning with some green 4-leaf clover pancakes! :) They weren't the prettiest, but they tasted good! Haha!



Sunday: Cracker Barrel chicken tenders (see recipe below), sweet potato gnocchi with butter and sage, sweet corn
Have you ever had Cracker Barrel's grilled chicken tenderloin? I love them. They have great flavor and they're one of the only "healthier" choices on their menu. I found a recipe for them a couple years ago and it's amazing how closely they replicate it! Awesome, and so easy! I tried a packaged gnocchi, but it didn't go over well, so I probably won't make it again.

MondayCrispy shrimp pasta, oven roasted broccoli
This has quickly become a family favorite and it's easy to see why! It's delicious! I thought about trying an Irish dish tonight, but nothing really sounded appealing to me. :/ So, I'm just coloring everything green today instead! ;)

Tuesday: Chicken capri over brown rice, sautéed green beans
This is actually a South Beach diet recipe (minus the rice). It's pretty simple and it tastes great with the mixture of ricotta, spices, crushed tomatoes, and provolone that is topping the chicken!

Wednesday: Crockpot tortellini
This is a new recipe I'll be trying. It calls for frozen tortellini, Italian-style diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, spinach and cream cheese. It sounds yummy, so I hope it's great!

Thursday: Cajun pork chops, roasted butternut squash, toasted pine nut couscous with dried cranberries
Yep, our favorite pork meal again. I'm trying to keep things pretty quick and simple this week, as Josh has midterm papers to complete for grad school.

Friday: Out to eat
Not sure what we'll be in the mood for, but we'll go out somewhere.

Saturday: TBD
We'll probably go out again, unless I decide to make some pizza.


What's on your menu this week?

Here is a recipe you don't want to miss!! I discovered it a couple of years ago via Pinterest and have been making it ever since. Now it's time I shared this gem! I love Cracker Barrel's grilled chicken tenderloin (just ask my hubby - if I don't order breakfast, this is what I order every single time I'm there!!) and I can assure you that this recipe tastes nearly identical to theirs. The flavors are perfect together and the chicken stays moist by cooking it in the liquid. It's super quick and easy, and versatile, too. You can eat it by itself with sides, or make it into a sandwich (I normally do this at the restaurant using a couple of pieces of toasted sourdough bread). I found the original recipe on "A Hen's Nest" blog. She uses just a pound of chicken, but for my hungry, growing boys, we need at least 1 1/2 pounds. ;)






Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenders
(serves 3-4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders
  • 3/4 cup Zesty Italian dressing (I use Kraft's)
  • 1 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp honey

Directions:
Mix the Italian dressing, lime juice, and honey in a large resealable bag or container. Add the chicken tenders. Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes in refrigerator. Heat a large, non-stick skillet, to medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add the entire mixture with the chicken to the pan. Braise the chicken on all sides until golden, but not dry. I cook the chicken until most of the liquid has evaporated - about 15-20 minutes. This will give it the nice dark color as the honey caramelizes.


It's so simple!! I hope you love it as much as we do. :)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Menu Monday #44

We had a busy weekend celebrating Ethan's 5th birthday! Friday night's party at Wallabies was a success. The kids had a great time and loved running around playing together. It was a great party venue and they were very easy to work with that evening!

On Saturday morning, I made whole wheat pumpkin pancakes with cream cheese icing, per the boys' request, for us and my parents. Then it was party prep time! Unfortunately, the guest list dropped from 11 to 4 the day before, so I was glad I waited to shop for food! I still made everything I was planning on making, but scaled it back to much smaller amounts. More about all of the party details coming soon!!

On Sunday morning, Josh made our usual egg sandwiches for breakfast, along with hash browns, and I put together a fruit salad. Both sets of grandparents were there for breakfast before leaving for Ohio later that day. The boys loved getting to spend time with all of them for a couple days!

So our diet definitely took a hit this weekend with all of the festivities, but we're both still doing great overall. I'm down 17 pounds now and Josh is down 14! We'll ease back into things this week, and I'll try to make things stricter again next week. :)

Sunday: Blackened salmon, brown rice, roasted asparagus
It was a gorgeous day, so we broke out the new grill for one of our favorite meals. We used Josh's homemade cajun seasoning on the salmon.

Monday: Grilled chicken breast, roasted red potatoes, steamed corn
Another warm, sunny day = more grilling! I marinated the chicken in Kraft's Zesty Italian dressing all day. For the potatoes, I dice them into 1/2" cubes, drizzle with EVOO, freshly ground pepper and sea salt, Mrs. Dash's garlic & herb seasoning, and a little grated parmesan. It's not corn on the cob season yet, so I steamed some frozen corn instead.

Tuesday: Grilled pork chops, mac 'n cheese, baked beans
One more gorgeous day, so one more grilled meal. The boys are always begging for mac 'n cheese, so  I know they'll appreciate that and the baked beans.

Wednesday: Brown butter chicken and crispy sage, roasted squash risotto, roasted balsamic green beans and mushrooms
I think this chicken will go well with risotto, so I hope it's tasty!

ThursdayTomato basil pasta
As the cold weather comes back, this yummy pasta meal will heat things up inside!

Friday: Out to eat
Not sure what I'll be in the mood for, but we'll go out somewhere.

Saturday: TBD
We'll probably go out again, unless I decide to make some pizza.


What's on your menu this week?

Amos's Six-Month Check-Up


Age of Baby: 6 months

Size of Baby:
  • Weight: 14 lbs 13 oz (down to the 8th percentile), +10 oz from last month
  • Length: 26.75 inches (up to the 63rd percentile), +1.25 inches from last month
  • Head circumference: 17 inches (down to the 34th percentile), +0.5 inches from his 4-month appt
  • Height-to-Weight ratio: down to the 3rd percentile
Amos fits pretty well in a size 2 diaper and is still currently wearing 3-6 month clothes. With the big jump in length this past month, it's easy to see why none of his 0-3 month clothes fit anymore! He is starting to wear some 6-9 month clothes, and he wears a size 2 shoe.

Vaccinations:
  • DTaP (diptheria, tetanus, pertussis)
  • Hib
  • Hepatitis B
  • PCV13
  • Polio
  • Rotavirus
  • Influenza
Doctor's Visit Summary:

Amos's visit went very well today. He is still right on par developmentally. His weight is still going down a bit on the curve, but his doctor wasn't concerned. He still looks very healthy visually. He has continued to take his Nexium once a day, but we're going to try to wean off of it now to see if he does ok without it. We'll go back in a month for an influenza booster shot, then again another two months after that for his 9-month check-up.

Picture of Baby:

Here is Amos's 6-month picture in the 12-month onesie. You can't tell in this picture, but his eyes are starting to turn brown! His hair is starting to come in, though he still looks pretty much like a baldy, like his Daddy. ;) But, the hair that is coming in is much darker than what Ethan's and Noah's was at this age. They both had white blond hair, and Amos's is either very dark blonde, or light brown!


Here is a comparison of all three of the boys at six months, just for fun. Ethan and Noah were still significantly bigger at this point (Ethan was 27.75 inches long and weighed 16 lbs 6 oz and Noah was 27 inches long and weighed a whopping 17 lbs 1 oz). I see both boys in him now. He's so expressive like his biggest brother Ethan, but a lot of his facial features still resemble Noah's pretty closely. He is always smiling, and we've decided is probably the happiest baby of the three!

Ethan, Noah, and Amos (each at 6 months)

Accomplishments this Month:
  • Rolling over from back to tummy all the time
  • Pushing himself up on his hands, tummy off the ground
  • Recognizes and responds to his name
  • Big, hearty laughs
  • Took his first antibiotic :(
Shortly after passing the 5-month mark, Amos really figured out the rolling thing and you can't stop him now! You can actually see his little eyes spot something across the room, and he'll just start rolling over and over to get to it - all the way across the room in a matter of seconds!! Haha! So, I really need to be careful where I lay him down now!

He loves music like his big brother, Noah!
He has also started pushing his upper body up off the ground, on his hands. He has started to kind of scoot his body forward a little bit, so it probably won't be long before he can do that pretty quickly, then on to crawling! Yikes! He doesn't quite have the balance to sit up yet, but I don't think it will be long. He will sit up pretty well (in a bit of a reclined position) in both his highchair and in his stroller now, too! :)

He now recognizes his name and will acknowledge me if I call him by it while he is playing on the floor. He still really loves attention, especially if it's from his big brothers. He could (and normally does) watch them all day long and just laughs and laughs at them!

Sadly, Amos has had his first antibiotic now (amoxicillin). He had been really stuffy for a several weeks and really sounded like he was having trouble breathing. When he woke up one morning and his one eye was crusty and he started in with a runny nose, too, I decided to take him to the doctor to see what could be up. He thought that he probably managed to get a sinus infection from the cold hanging around so long, so he thought a round of antibiotics would help get him cleared up. He just finished it up and he does appear to sound much better than he did, but not completely 100% yet. Hopefully it'll work itself out soon!

New Foods tried this Month:
Getting his first taste of rice cereal!

  • Rice cereal (February 5th)
  • Sweet peas (February 17th)
  • Squash (March 4th)
On the day he turned 5 months old, we let him try rice cereal (his first solid food) for the first time. He loved it! It probably helped that it was mixed with a large proportion of breastmilk. ;) We ended up giving him 2 bowls the 2nd night because he wanted more! Unfortunately, the following week, we noticed a large dry patch of skin on his forehead. Aquaphor helped some, but wasn't completely getting rid of it. My chiropractor thinks it was a reaction to the cereal. So, we decided to stop the cereal and try sweet peas instead. The patch went away, and he loved the peas, too! At this point, we're opting to skip the cereal for now, and just try veggies, then fruits. Noah never really ate cereal either, so I figure it isn't a big deal at this point. For his next food, we tried squash last week. This one was also a hit! I made the sweet peas in my Baby Brezza machine, but roasted the squash (we had it for dinner, and he got the rest!) and put it through the food mill to be sure it was nice and smooth for him. I love the Brezza because I can just throw the peas in, set the timer and that's it! It steams the veggies first, then blends/purées them when it's done. So easy! I would do the same for the squash, but I think the flavor of the squash is better when roasted instead of steamed, so that's why I did it differently. I'm going to continue with carrots, then green beans, then probably move to some fruits. Right now, he's eating his veggies at dinner, but when I add fruit, I'll probably give those at breakfast, and continue a veggie for dinner. I loved making Noah's baby food for him, and so far, I'm loving making Amos's, too! :) I've also continued to nurse him every 2-4 hours during the day for 10-20 minutes.

Beautiful boy catching a cat nap while we're out!
Amos has had a much better month for sleeping. He is averaging around 13-14 hours of sleep a day (10-11 hours at night, including a record 11.5-hr stretch!, and 3 hours during the day). He normally goes to bed around 9:30 or 10 pm, then sleeps straight through until around 8 am. Oddly, he has given up a normal morning nap now, but is still taking a nice long afternoon nap. He usually ends up falling asleep in the car when we're out shuttling the big boys to and fro, or running errands, so then he doesn't want to sleep when we get home. But, I'm normally able to get him down around 3 or 3:30 pm, then he usually sleeps for 3 hours. So, it gives me a nice break in the afternoons, especially if both Ethan and Noah are still sleeping, too! :)

It's been a good month and we're excited to see what he'll be up to this next month!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Ethan is F-I-V-E

I can hardly believe Ethan is five now! We'll celebrate his birthday tonight with a party at Wallabies for his preschool friends and a Star Wars-themed party tomorrow with the family. We also had a small celebration at home on his birthday on Monday. I made birthday cake pancakes for breakfast, his favorite dinner (homemade flour tortilla tacos) and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Then he got to open presents (after Daddy sent him on a fun scavenger hunt to find them, which he loved!). Hmm, I guess I shouldn't wonder why he thinks it's his birthday week, huh? ;)


Here's a fun look back at the birthday boy each year...



I took Ethan to his pediatrician yesterday for his 5-year well-check. Everything went great and he appears to be right on track with his peers. He actually completed all of the tasks on the developmental milestones checklist which goes through age 6, so that's good! He gained an incredible 7.5 pounds over the past year to weigh in at 41.5 pounds (fully clothed, with shoes), and grew almost 2 inches to measure up at 43.5 inches (without shoes). This puts him in the 63rd percentile for height and 57th percentile for weight. Looking at both figures, he's right on the 50th percentile for height-to-weight ratio, with a BMI of 15.4. He had to get three shots (Polio, MMRV - measles, mumps, rubella & varicella, and DTaP - diphtheria, tetanus & pertussis), so now he is ready for kindergarten in the fall! He passed his vision and hearing screens with no problem as well. Let's hope he gets Daddy's perfect vision, and not Mommy's horrible vision!

Ethan has grown so much (not just physically) in the past year. He is quite independent, very strong-headed (no idea where he'd get that from! haha!), intelligent, hilarious, empathetic, and kind. With the start of his 2nd year of preschool in August, he started getting dressed all by himself ("tags go in the back!") from his shirt and shorts/pants to his socks, shoes, and coat. He also brushes his teeth on his own and gets his own snacks when he wakes up from his naps (so much for those childproof doorknob covers!). He orders his dinner when we go out (he does NOT like us ordering his drink for him - he wants to choose something besides water! Haha!). He helps out by doing small chores around the house, like filling Daisy's food bowl, helping to set and clear the table, and picking up toys. He is able to walk Daisy, or push Amos's stroller when we take family walks. He is an incredible helper and is the best big brother that Noah and Amos could have. He's always looking out for them, and shares everything from food to toys with them, without any intervention from us! If he gets to pick a prize/small toy somewhere, he always gets one for Noah, too. If he thinks there is only one of a food item left, he'll save it for Noah, instead of eating it himself. He even let Noah help him open his birthday presents this year, and he has been sharing them with him, too! He's unbelievably sweet and caring. When someone doesn't feel good, he's the first to comfort them, and wants to do anything he can to make them feel better. He's also very thoughtful. Sometimes, he'll ask me to break apart small Legos for him. If he sees me struggling to get them, he'll tell me to stop, so I don't "ruin my pretty nails." Hahahaha! He does a great job if you give him tasks to complete. On the other hand though, with less structure, he can get whiny and is bad about talking back. :/ I suppose it goes with the age At least I keep telling myself that anyway. Overall, he's a pretty fantastic little guy and I consider myself lucky to be his mama. :)



I started asking this list of questions to Ethan last year, to see how they change over the years. Here are this year's questions and answers (if you can't read them in the pic):
  1. What is your favorite color? purple
  2. What is your favorite toy? my double light saber
  3. What is your favorite fruit? pears and grapes
  4. What is your favorite TV show/movie? Star Wars and Tom & Jerry
  5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? vanilla pudding and cheesesticks
  6. What is your favorite outfit? comfy pants and motorcycle shirt
  7. What is your favorite game? Candyland
  8. What is your favorite snack? fruit snacks
  9. What is your favorite animal? dogs and cats
  10. What is your favorite song? Star Wars song
  11. What is your favorite book? Star Wars book
  12. Who is your best friend? Gus
  13. What is your favorite cereal? Cheerios
  14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? drive my dune buggy
  15. What is your favorite drink? root beer
  16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
  17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? my doggies
  18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? pumpkin pancakes
  19. What is your favorite dinner? tacos and mac 'n cheese
  20. What do you want to be when you grow up? engineer like Daddy

As our firstborn, Ethan still continues to keep us on our toes, teach us about kids and how to be parents. He amazes us daily with the things that he says and does and we look forward to what this year will bring with it. Happy 5th birthday, Ethan. We love you!