Monday, June 30, 2014

Turning the Car Seat Around

A couple weeks ago Harry went through a huge growth spurt. Like, one day a pair of pants fit, and the next they were an inch too short. He also seems a bit more substantial, as in, not a teeny tiny twig anymore. Aside from pants, this last growth spurt also caused Harry to outgrow his car seat- in the rear facing position.

We have a Graco MyRide 65 and the top of Harry's head was one inch below the top of the seat. Once you reach that height it's time to turn the seat around. We made it 31 months rear facing. I wish we could have made it longer, but it is what it is. There are newer seats on the market that can keep taller kids rear facing longer, but they're expensive and not in our budget.


He'll outgrow the MyRide when his shoulders are above the highest shoulder restraint holes. He's currently just below the second to the highest, so I'm guessing we have at least a year left in this seat. After that we'll get a harness to booster combo seat.

While I'm a bit disappointed that we had to switch Harry, keeping him rear facing for so long was no small feat. Here are a few things that helped us keep him that way so long.
  • Don't let your child think their seat is different. Just don't mention that their seat is backwards. Harry never new anything different than rear facing. He never questioned it and we never brought it up. Obviously this might be easier said than done if there are older siblings in the mix.
  • Set smaller goals for yourself so you don't get disappointed if you don't ERF as long as you'd initially like. My first goal was to two years old (the AAP recommends rear facing until at least a child's second birthday). After that I wanted to make it past the winter, and then it was to his half birthday, which was last month.
  • Don't let yourself think that turning the car seat around will be easier. I was surprised to find it's not! At least with my car. Getting Harry in and out is the same and I wasn't able to move the front passenger seat back as far as I would have liked.
Obviously I'm a huge proponent for extended rear facing. But, legally children can forward face on their first birthday if they also weigh 20 pounds or more. However you face your car seat, please make sure to strap them in correctly. There's only one way to do that!

Click here for more info about car seats. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Celebrating Daddy

I hope all the dad's out there had a great Father's Day! We had a nice weekend. Most of our celebrating was done on Friday, as that's the best day for us.

- Friday Ant chose to go to Joe's Crab Shack for dinner. He loves seafood and I hate it, so he doesn't get to eat it much. He loved his crab cake burger and Harry surprised us by eating his entire order of kid's popcorn shrimp. I ordered the chicken sandwich, which was fine. The star of my meal was the mason jar margarita- so yummy! I could have had 2 more, easily ;)
- After dinner we stopped at Menchie's for some fro-yo.
- Harry's gift to Ant for Father's Day? A candy bar. He came up with that idea all on his own. He gave him a Kit Kat. (we also got him a few other things)
- Sunday I made a batch of homemade salsa to can. Well, semi-homemade. I used the Ball Fiesta Salsa mix. It's okay. But I think next time I'll do it all from scratch.
- Father's Day dinner was such a bust. Very rarely do I screw up dinner, and felt so bad that I did it on Ant's special day. I attempted to make the Archer Farms tortellini from Target. It started falling apart halfway through cooking. And some of the pieces cooked too much and others didn't cook nearly enough. Ugh! I ended up throwing what was supposed to be my lunch today away. Definitely won't be buying that again.

Some pictures from Friday night.




And some from a Sunday afternoon game of catch.





Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Preserving Food by Canning

Canning is something I recently became interested in. I don't even remember how. But I started watching some YouTube videos and decided to give it a go.

I started by ordering this canning pot on Amazon. You can do water bath canning in a regular stock pot if you want (with some type of rack on the bottom), but I don't have one big enough. If you're also looking in to starting, know that water bath canning only works for certain foods. Mostly fruits. Things that have a lot of acid. To can things like vegetables and meats you'll need a pressure cooker to safely preserve them. I picked up a Ball canning kit and some mason jars at Target.

The first thing I canned was applesauce. I got 6 pounds of organic gala apples. I've made applesauce before, but I didn't use a food processor to puree the fruit (it was late and I didn't want to wake Harry up or dirty another appliance). Here's a quick breakdown of how I made it.
  • Peel and chop 6 pounds of gala apples. Soak chunks in water with a few splashes of lemon juice.
  • Rinse apples and add to a large stockpot. Turn heat on high and cook down to a sauce. Use a potato masher to help break up apples.
  • Add 1 tablespoon cinnamon. You could also add sugar if you like.
  • Cook down to desired texture and pour in to sterilized Ball jars. Wipe top of jars and secure lid and ring.
  • Place jars in hot water bath canner. Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes (adjust for your altitude).
  • After processing, turn off heat. Let the jars stand for a few minutes before removing from water. Then place jars on folded towel (to help prevent breakage). Leave them alone for 24 hours to completely cool and seal.
You'll know the jars sealed properly when the button on the lid gets sucked in. It should make a popping sound.  It'll keep on the shelf for about a year. Once opened, store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

The 6 pounds of apples turned into 4 pints of applesauce. Harry likes it okay. I think it's the chunks, so next time I'll put it in the blender to smooth it out.


After the applesauce, I decided to try strawberry jam. Traditional jams call for equal parts fruit and sugar, bleh! Why even bother with the fruit at that point? I had no idea it was so sugary. All the sugar is needed to help the pectin set in to a jelly. Without it the jam would be very runny. Fortunately they make a low sugar pectin so you don't have to use so much. Here's how I made the jam.
  • Hull and mash 4 pounds of strawberries. This should yield approximately 8 cups of puree. 
  • Pour puree into a large stock pot. Add 2/3 cup water.
  • Gradually stir in 6 tablespoons of Ball's Real Fruit low-sugar pectin. Add 3/4 teaspoon butter (optional- but this helps minimize foam).
  • Bring strawberries to a full rolling boil. One that can't be stirred down (be careful- it will splatter!).
  • Add 1 cup of sugar. Bring back up to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, while constantly stirring. 
  • Remove from heat, skim off any foam and ladle jam into half pint jars. 
  • Place jars in hot water bath canner. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes (adjusting for altitude).
  • After processing, turn off heat. Let the jars stand for a few minutes before removing from water. Then place jars on folded towel (to help prevent breakage). Leave them alone for 24 hours to completely cool and seal. 
The 4 pounds of berries made 9 half pints of jam. One of the jams didn't seal properly, so I just threw it in the fridge to use first. We'll be set for a long time!


Next I'd like to make a batch of pickles. Maybe some tomato sauce. And Ant has requested some canned peaches. If I keep up with the canning eventually I'd like to get a pressure cooker so I can do green beans and other veggies. I love canned green beans!

Anyone else do canning? What kinds of things do you like to preserve?

Monday, June 9, 2014

When in Eataly...

We had a fun weekend!

Friday afternoon Harry and I took the train to Chicago and met up with Ant at the train station. It's been nearly a year since Harry last rode the Metra, and he was so excited to go again. We sat on the top level and he stayed in his seat the whole time. He loved looking out the window and pointed out every water tower we passed (there were a bunch).

When we got downtown we hopped on a bus to Eataly, Mario Batali's market/restaurant concept. I've been wanting to go ever since it opened last year.


It was really neat! A little different than I expected it to be, but very nice. We were under the impression that the restaurants were set up "food court" style, so we could try a variety of different foods, but that wasn't totally the case. The downstairs was kind of set up like that, but it was just desserts and paninis. Upstairs there are a few sit down restaurants to choose from. We decided to try La Pizza & La Pasta. I ordered the Pappardelle con Funghi and Ant had the Quadrati con Ricotta e Spinaci.




Both were delicious! Mine was pretty traditional, but Ant's was really unique. At least to me it was. The lemon butter sauce was very sweet and not something I would think to pair with pasta, but it worked. Harry didn't want to try either pasta. He had some bread with olive oil along with some raisins I brought with me. I fed him lunch at home so Eataly was an afternoon snack.


After paying the bill we walked around a little before going back downstairs for dessert. Ant ordered some gelato while Harry and I headed straight for the Nutella bar. That's right, Nutella bar. We shared a croissant and enjoyed every bite. It was heaven!



Once we were done at Eataly we made our way back to Ant's work, where our car was parked. We stopped in his office for a minute to grab his things before heading home for the day.


 Friday night I canned some homemade applesauce. It was my first time canning. I was nervous it wouldn't turn out right, but I think it did. We'll see when I give some to Harry for lunch today. I also started watching the newest season of Orange is the New Black (SOOO GOOD! I finished it all by Sunday night).

Saturday I packed up a bunch of stuff to take to Once Upon a Child. The store was having a one day clearance blowout and was insanely crowded when we got there. We dropped off the stuff to sell and went across the street to Nordstrom. I wanted to get a new eyeliner. To kill some time before going back to OUAC we got some TCBY- since when did they stop selling their white chocolate mousse?

OUAC took a lot of our stuff and paid us $40. We decided to use the money as store credit and even with everything we picked out, the store still gave us $9 cash to take all this out of the store. Sweet!


Saturday night I did some more canning. Strawberry jam. I hope to do a little post about canning soon, it's pretty cool!

Sunday we didn't do much until the late afternoon, when we went to get Harry's hair cut. He's been asking to get one for a couple weeks. He really doesn't like his hair long.


I had her go a little shorter than we normally do. Should last until school starts in September. I have a love/hate relationship with getting Harry's hair cut. He looks so cute afterwards, but he also looks so much older!

I hope you all had a nice weekend!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

31 Months Old

I fully recognize how ridiculous it is to continue to age my 2.5 year old in months, but I'm all about keeping things consistent. If I still do these posts after his 3rd birthday I'll probably change the way I title them (OCD, much?).

6/7/14

(Harry woke up with his eye all puffy Saturday morning. Not sure how it happened, just hope it gets better soon!)
 
Lots of notes this month. He is at such a great age, I want to be sure to remember as much as possible!

  • He's really becoming a little boy. He's so much more independent now than even a few weeks ago. He has a very good understanding of the world around him and can carry on conversations with us. 
  • He loves putting on his flip flops by himself. He figured out which shoe goes on which foot really fast.
  • We switched Harry to size 6 overnight diapers. He was leaking through the size 5s pretty frequently, even though he goes potty pretty much every night before bed. The 6s are huge, but do the job. Size 5s are still fine during the day.
  • And on that note, a little update on potty training. He goes on the potty about 2 times a day. Before naps and before bedtime. Sometimes he'll agree to go more, but the past couple weeks  he's only gone the two times. And it's always just #1. Once he starts doing #2 in the potty we'll start getting more serious about ditching the diapers. I don't see a need to rush things if he isn't ready, so we're just taking it slow. He'll get there eventually!
  • We got rid of all our baby gates. We had 3. Two blocking off the kitchen and one blocking off the bedrooms and bathrooms. I love having them off and it hasn't been an issue.
  • Lately whenever we've asked to hold his hand (like in a parking lot or crowded area) he responds with, "No, hold Harry's hand!" So he holds his own hands, haha. It's so cute. And I'll usually grab his arm to keep him safe.
  • I've mentioned this before, but Harry sings nonstop! He knows all the Daniel Tiger songs, some Top 40 songs and a bunch of nursery rhymes.
  • Throwing has become an issue again. He'd been good about it for a long time, too! We usually give a warning the first time he throws something, and then he'll get a time out if he does it again.
  • Harry is obsessed with water towers. We've got a big one in our neighborhood and if he randomly thinks about it, he'll run to the window to make sure it's still there.
  • We've been taking little rides around the block a lot this spring. Harry has a push bike thing he loves to ride. We always have to stop to admire the water tower and wait for any trains to pass by.
  • He calls mustard "yellow ketchup."
  • Sleeping in his own room is still going really well. I'm still shocked at how easy the transition was! I've noticed with sleeping in his own room he naps longer and sleeps a little less at night. Getting up earlier has taken some getting used to.go
  • He thinks thunder and rain are really cool. 
  • Another thing he really loves is superheros. He runs around the living room yelling, "I'm Super Harry! To the rescue! Zoom! Zoom!"





Those "shorts" are really 0-3 month jeans! They're tight, but work in a pinch on laundry day



Monday, June 2, 2014

Rose Festival 2014

Friday night the annual Rose Festival rolled in to town. It's hard to believe this is our fourth year in a row going. (2011, 2012, 2013) We've always had a good time, but this was the funnest year yet!


We walked over around dinnertime and headed straight for the food. Harry and I split a chicken quesadilla and Ant opted for a slice o' pizza. I look forward to those quesadillas all year, they're the best! They sell them at the Taste of Roselle, so I'm now anxiously awaiting for August.


After we finished eating we walked around the carnival and tried to find a ride we thought Harry would like. We ended up running in to one of the families from preschool, and when Harry saw his friend on the car ride he knew he had to go on it too.



To say Harry loved his first carnival ride is a total understatement. He love love loved it. So much so he got to ride it twice. He loved steering the wheel and was yelling "beep beep!" the whole time. The giant Fun Slide also caught Harry's attention, so Ant took him down that. To round out the night Ant and I each took a turn on the tilt-a-whirl.




Ant also threw a couple darts at a wall of balloons to try and win Harry a prize. He missed big time on the first try, but walked away with a blue stuffed monkey on the second.


Sunday afternoon we went back over for a quick lunch. We ended up seeing the same family from our preschool again, how funny! Harry, his classmate and her little brother rode the car ride together.


After the ride we made our way over to the Bingo tent to play a quick game. Now, Ant and I have been going to our two local summer festivals for four years now. And we've played Bingo just about every time. Yesterday there were hardly any Bingo players so we had a good chance of breaking our loosing streak.

I did it! Woo! I won a $4 game, but another player called Bingo at the same time so we had to split the prize.


I spent my winnings on another round before we walked home just as it started to rain.

Hope your Monday's off to a great start!
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