Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Frisco Moms CAN DO Canned Food Drive

Hi, Frisco Moms! We are getting off our tushies and doing a food drive. I'm calling it the CAN DO food drive because as a mom of two pretty little kids, I feel like I "can't" do much to help, I "can't" get out and socialize, but you know what I CAN DO? I can go to a few neighbors' homes and give them a flyer this week, and then I can go back and pick up canned goods. Here's how it works:

1. Print out some flyers. There are 4 to a page. Let your kids color the back if you'd like.
2. Stick 'em on your neighbors' doors or mailboxes.
3. On Saturday, October 19, stop by their homes and check for canned goods. If you're really ballsy, knock on the door and bug them again.
4. Bring the canned goods to Nicole's house. Where's Nicole's house? Call or text her at 214-862-7430, or you can email her ahead of time at nikk133@hotmail.com for the details.
5. Feel AWESOME about helping needy families.

Easy peasey, huh? You can hand out the flyers with your kids walking beside you, or riding in the wagon or stroller. You can haul them along to pick up the cans. ALL OF US can accomplish this. If you get cans from 4 neighbors, great. If you plaster your whole block and the one next to it? Even better. Once all the cans are dropped off, a few of us will sort out the expired and damaged cans, take some pics for the Frisco Moms website, and take them to the Frisco Family Services food pantry. You CAN DO this, and I can, too.

Here's the link again for flyers: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6rKEQoLNuZOcUE1UHlDejYwZ1U/edit?usp=sharing

UPDATE: You can also ask Nicole for alternative drop-off locations, and buddy up with a mom friend to make one big drop-off. Be sure to follow Frisco Moms on Facebook! 




Friday, September 13, 2013

Butterface Soup

You remember that classy phrase from high school? A butterface is a girl with a hot body... everything looks good but-her-face. Ah, true wit. Anyway, I've been wanting a chickeny, beany soup and threw this together the other day.y husband claimed it looked like vomit. I won't disagree. However, every one of us ate it for lunch and/or dinner, two days in a row. Don't serve to guests, but it's perfect for lunch at home. 

Butterface Soup (photo intentionally left out)
Aromatics (onions, carrots, celery, garlic)
A big box of chicken broth
8 oz bag of lentils
1 can cannellini (white) beans 
1 can vacuum packed corn (it's crisper)
Seasonings of your choice (salt, pepper, parsley, and a big squirt of sriracha)

1. In a stock pot, cook the aromatics in a splash of olive oil on med-low until clear. I always add the garlic when the other stuff is almost done for fear of it browning. 
2. In another pot, cook your lentils most of the way (30 ish minutes) in water or add a little bullion for extra flavor. 
3. Dump your cooked lentils, canned veggies, and chicken broth into your aromatics. 

No kidding, this is an unattractive soup, especially when puréed for the kiddos. But the beans and lentils become creamy, it has the classic hearty chicken soup flavor, and it's full of fiber and protein to boot. I'm sure this will get another turn or two in my house this fall. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fastest Food (that's not fast food)

We all have staple foods that are maybe a little bit different than another mother's pantry. Condiment-wise, we always have sriracha and soy sauce, and recently we bought some sesame oil to bring Asian dishes to the next level of authenticity. There are always eggs in my fridge, and assorted steamed veggies in my freezer. And in my cabinet, Minute Rice's pre-cooked cups of brown rice have become an absolute necessity. 
http://www.minuterice.com/en-us/products/94/MINUTEReadytoServeBrownRice.aspx

Combine those things that are always in my kitchen, and  you've found my go-to "shit, I have to feed them again?" recipe. When everyone's face is melting off at 5:15, and I'm still two blocks from home, this is what I make. 

1. Microwave your frozen veggies (corn, peas, carrots, green beans, broccoli florets... I usually have a bag of mixed veg, or even those mini-bags). Then microwave your rice. 
2. While your microwave is going, heat a couple tablespoons of butter or olive oil. I try to kind of make two wells of oil on opposite sides of a big skillet. Then I can throw my egg(s) on one side and scramble them one well, and make my sauce on the other side. It's okay if they mingle. Go ahead and throw your egg in, and on the other side, stir in a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce, a few drops of sesame oil if you have it, and as much sriracha as the weeniest person in your family can stand. (Optional- a pinch of brown sugar but I usually don't). 
3. When your egg is cooked, dump in the rice and a cup or so of veggies, and stir it allll together. You're done! 
If you are making this on purpose (not because you forgot to make anything else), it's nice to add cubed meat or little shrimp, chopped green onion, red pepper flakes, onions and minced garlic... whatever sounds good. I'm a huge fan of quick-and-easy, and both kids scarf this down.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Truth in Alphabetizing

Ch was just asking me to name the animals and letters on this poster from one of our old Citrus Lane boxes. I thought it was cute when she noted that "Mr. Nibbles [our yard bunny] and a yak both eat grass!" But things quickly went off the rails when she asked what vultures eat. 
"Uh, they eat leftover dead things. Like when there's a dead squirrel in the street, a vulture will come eat it up."
"But this squirrel is eating an acorn. Is he not dead?" 
"No, he's alive. He's fine. The vulture doesn't want him." 
Then she pointed at each animal on the page and asked if it were dead or not. Yeesh. Next time, I'll just tell her they all eat peanut butter sandwiches. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Gift of a Gift Card

I was raised to believe that you never give cash as a gift, because it meant you didn't put the time and effort into thinking about what the recipient would want. People were also discouraged from giving my brothers and I money as gifts. As an adult, however, I strongly disagree with this policy.
Today I went shopping at a department store with a $70 gift card. I spent almost an hour carefully choosing clothing for Hunks and Chunks, calculating what I could get with my 15% off coupon and my credit. Shorts, pajamas, swim suits, and shirts were all carefully considered, examined, replaced or hung on the stroller. A stroll through the toddler shoe department. A wistful glance at the layettes. At the cash register, an older man with whom I had chatted about babies, empty nests, and his wish for grandchildren while he and Hunks flirted from the stroller, scooted up behind me and handed me an even better coupon and a pat on the arm.
The gift of the gift card is the time spent choosing things I wouldn't normally be able to afford, the thrill of the bargain hunt, taking time to connect with another person over baby smiles, another day between laundry trips, and the superficial joy it gives me to put my little peanuts in the clothing I picked out before they suddenly have Big Opinions about how they look. That's a pretty sweet gift.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

First Birthday Gift Recommendations

Tap, tap... is this thing on? I took a 16 month hiatus from the blog, but I'm trying to bring it back, baby! Turns out, raising two children is more labor intensive than one. UB is 10 months old, Schubert is 27 months, I'm preparing to move from FL to TX, and getting excited about helping my best friend plan her wedding. Today, however, I want to respond to a friend who asked about great birthday gifts for a one year old.

My first instinct when asked about what a one year old needs to play with is to chuckle. One year olds are easy! They need almost NOTHING to entertain themselves. An empty box, a stack of clean rags, a wooden spoon and a bowl. Seriously, both of my kids will play with this silicone skillet handle cover for 20 minutes at a time. They just pass it back and forth, all slobbery and covered in dog hair.
http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-569475/?affsrcid=Aff0001&mr:trackingCode=82487685-471B-E011-B690-001517384909&mr:referralID=NA&mr:adType=pla&mr:ad=30153266381&mr:keyword=&mr:match=&mr:filter=24156051701&origin=pla

Grandparents, on the other hand, feel some kind of primal urge to spend way to much money on gigantic, eyesore gifts that make you want to scream when you see them. They have two volume settings (loud, and ear-splitting), are garishly colored ("The theme is neon transsexual Brazilian carnival!"), and/or have 25,000 pieces. Grandfathers tend towards the developmentally inappropriate ("He'll grow into the marble run/chainsaw/napalm kit!")
Who doesn't want a 900 piece acid trip scattered across their floor for Baby to aspirate?

To nip these atrocities in the bud, my friend is smart to have a list ready and available for the well-meaning (I hope) grandparent, aunt, uncle, college friend, or random vagrant whom she has invited to celebrate her child's birthday. Here are some tried-and-true toys, books, and gear.

I think the most played with toy in my home, by hours, goes to the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Learning Play Home. 
I purchased this gigantic plastic creation from a consignment store when my daughter was 15 months old, thinking that she was on the outer edge of being interested in it. WRONG! She loves the music and learning settings (when you open/close things, you can choose for songs to play or a narration (eg, "How Much is that Doggy in the Window" or a sing-song voice declaring "Uuuuup! Doooooown!" when you slide the window shade). She has played with this house literally every single day since we've owned it. 
As a parent, you will go through three distinct stages of emotion regarding this house. First, delight at its novelty and admiration because your child is enamored with it, spending 15 or 20 sweet-ass minutes playing independently. "Oh, yes, the Itsy Bitsy Spider! I remember that song!". 
Next, the self-loathing stage. "Why would I buy such large, ugly, plastic toy? AND THERE'S ALWAYS TRAFFIC COMING OVER THE RAINBOW BRIDGE! SHUT UP! DAMN YOOOOOU!"
And finally, the acceptance stage. This might actually be the result of your Mommy Brain losing the fight and turning to mush, but you start to sing along, "It's the sun, it's the sun, it's the beautiful sun!" like it's a Beatles hit. Your kids still love it. Win-win, I guess?
A note about this toy: I got mine for $45 at a consignment store, missing all of the accessories, and my kids love it. There are discontinued versions (a farm and a kitchen) which also look amazing. The kitchen one, in fact, was encountered at a friend's house and Shubert loved it so much that I started looking around for one. These are frequently resold at secondhand stores, garage sales, consignment sales, and message boards. Don't pay full price; at least get a 20% off coupon!


The toy that gets the most excited squeals and requests for use is the "FWIIIIIDE!"

We keep this on our balcony, although it did live in Schubey's room for a few weeks. It has it all! A steering wheel, steps, a tunnel, and a slide. For some reason, she's really scared of swings, but loves to go up and down the steps at the playground (my paraspinal muscles rejoice). I field requests to use this at least 3 times/day; the only caveats are that it's large for an indoor toy, and if you keep it outside, it gets dirty and you have to go through the shoes-and-socks routine. Anyone with a covered patio or screened porch should be golden. It's also lightweight enough to move around easily. This structure also looks fun for smaller kids. 


And one item I don't actually own, but would love to have if we weren't so short on space, is a smart trike, wagon, or pushable car. 

These seem awesome for play dates or family trips to the park and playground. They include drink holders and compartments for keys and phones, seat belts, and handles to push your child easily, as well as storage space for toys, towels, snacks, etcetera. It's a different experience than a stroller ride for the kiddos. Smart Trikes actually convert into a kid-powered toy when your baby is ready. The wagons seem like they'd be useful for years (when your kids are too big to ride, throw the cooler and toys in there!). 

Runners up and smaller-ticket items: a huge bag of balls for a ball pit (throw them in the pack-n-play and let the kid go nuts scooping into a bucket, kicking, throwing, diving, etcetera). They also work well in a small inflatable pool. Bubbles, bubble machines, and bubble wands. Wooden puzzles (Melissa and Doug are great). Play food/play kitchen. BOOKS! Stearns puddle jumper life jacket. 

Of course, new toddlers also love Amazon gift cards and spa trips. Or so I hear. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

First Birthday Party - How Much is Too Much?

Shubu turns one next week, and we are having a small birthday party this weekend. At least, I thought it was going to be small. As of now, about 15 adults and 5 babies will be there. I think that blow-out parties for people who can't even walk is a little silly. However, the more people that RSVP "yes", the stronger the pressure to have A Real Party.

The plan for now is to meet at a local park (well, local to ME) for snacks and cupcakes. For the babies, we will have mylar balloons (floating! shiny! bouncy!), a little bubble machine, and sippy cups. For the adults, I'm thinking cupcakes, fruit salad, cheese and crackers, and chips and salsa. It's a public park and playground (situated in an amazing spot) so I don't want to be too obtrusive or obnoxious to other patrons. I'll be bringing a couple of blankets and tablecloths so that we can sprawl on the lawn.

The thing is, that seems kind of boring for the childless adult guests. The last first-birthday party I attended was a-ma-zing. The theme was "Romero Britto", complete with 8 foot tall, Britto-inspired sculpture of the birthday girl's name. There were probably 50 people there, and at least half were related to the birthday girl. They grilled, had tons of drinks, and the mama baked 250 cupcakes! Kids played on the playground, bounce house, and attacked a piñata. It was perfectly suited for that family; yet our family is much more low-key. Will people be disappointed by just hanging out in the park, watching babies do their thing? I guess we will see. And if it's a bust, we get another first birthday next year!