you at 19 months...

My sweet George,

It's been four months since I penned your last milestone letter.  You have grown and blossomed so much in that time, we can scarcely keep up!  Everyday now, rather than my baby, I see before me glimpses of the wonderful boy you are becoming. You keep us on your toes with your constant movement much of the time and bring us such joy with your cuddles and hugs during quiet times. Your quick smile and charm delight everyone you meet.

At 19 months you:

- weighed 26.9 pounds and measured 32.5 inches at your 18 months pediatric appointment on July 1st.
- will take us by the hand and lead us when you want to show us something.
- kiss the faces of your favorite trains in the morning, then bring them to Mama to kiss.
- are still climbing on everything - kitchen drawers, couches, chairs, ladders and climbing walls at the playground.  If it is in front of you, you will find a way to climb it.
- still enjoy Sesame Street but, also love Thomas and Friends, Super Why and Word World, all on PBS Kids.
- excitedly point to letters everywhere we go - on signs, license plates, the t.v.  Though we limit television, Super Why (along with lots of reading) is teaching you beginning reading skills by identifying letters. You correctly point to and say "O" whenever you see one.
- point to your mouth when hungry.
- are getting better and better at communicating. You call out "Mama" to get my attention, "more" when you would like more food or to continue an activity, "again" to repeat a favorite book, "ba" when you want milk (usually while standing at the fridge) and "bubble" for us to blow them for you.
- are wearing 18 month clothes and have moved into some 24 month.  You are quickly growing out of your size 6W sneakers, are wearing size 7 sandals and size 2T-3T socks.
- don't sleep well away from home.  You are definitely a toddler of habit when it comes to sleep and only like your own crib.
- love to see trucks and motorcycles pass by when out walking or in the car.
- have started dancing to music and think it is funny when we dance with you.
- are ticklish under your arms and your neck.
- nap once a day, averaging two hours.
- sleep about 10.5 hours a night, from 7:30 pm to 6:00 am.
- eat a LOT of fruit.  Your favorites are apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, strawberries and blueberries.
- are still a good eater and will generally eat whatever we are eating.
- have overcome your bath terror and again eagerly run to the bathroom when you hear the water being drawn in the tub.  You have also learned to love the pool and sprinkler park.
- are an excellent traveler.  You have now flown a total of four times (two round trips) to Greece and Buffalo, NY. 
- say, "No, no, no," shake your head and wag your finger when you do not want something.
- point to things you do want and point our fingers at words and pictures in books to follow along.
- have seven teeth, four on top and three on the bottom.
- are very sure on your feet, have excellent balance and body control.
- will take our hand when we ask you to or when you you need help.
- absolutely adore your Thomas trains.  They make up the largest part of your daily play time.
- will get your shoes and stand at the door when you want to go outside saying, "Go baby" or "Go, go, go."
- can dribble a soccer ball.
- like playing chase. A sure fire way to hear your belly laughs.
- are mimicking words more and more.  Last week as you stood in front of the fridge I asked, "Would you like dinner?"  You said back, "Dinn-o."
- can stack 3-4 blocks high but, still prefer knocking them down.
- cling to us for a long, cuddly hug when we come in to your room to say good morning, as if making up for the missed hours while you were sleeping. One of my very favorite times of the day.
Life with you is so incredibly happy.  Though there are trying moments as you begin to assert your independence and use repetition to learn, I am aware just how fleeting this toddlerhood will be and am holding fast to and delighting in every day I am blessed being your parent right now.

I love you to the moon and back, and again,


beating the heat: homemade frozen fruit pops

As in just about every other part of America, is has been hot here.  I'm talking Satan's playground type of heat.  Record breaking temps.  Sweltering humidity.  Horribly hot and unbearable. Got the picture?  We've been trying all sorts of things to keep cool but one in particular has become George's favorite. 

Ice pops.

When he was so sick with the coxackie virus for a few days back in June, I picked up some of those freezer pops in a tube to have on hand.  He wasn't eating or drinking enough and I was about to try anything.  Hating that they were pure sugar water with nasty food dyes, to boot, I was determined for this to be a short term solution and not a habit.  The pure sugar pops were quickly replaced by 100% apple juice pops, frozen in popsicle molds I had picked up on a whim during my last trip to Ikea. Though G doesn't drink juice, an occasional juice pop was an alternative I could live with.

Then, last weekend we took a road trip to visit some friends.  Having a son close to George's age, the mom had a similar pop issue in her house.  She had recently bought a juicer and her solution was to make popsicles for her son out of her juice creations.  Perfect!
We don't have a juicer but, the Magic Bullet?  Works just as well for this. I'm sure a blender would also work fine. The next day, I pulled the bullet out of the cabinet, grabbed a few ingredients and crafted my own batch of frozen fruit pops.  Batch #1 was made with a peeled and diced apple, a handful of frozen organic wild blueberries and a splash of 100% blueberry-pomegranate juice to thin the mix out enough for the bullet to work it's magic.  I emptied the puree into a measuring cup for easier pouring and quickly filled 5 of the 6 molds from one small batch.  Inexpensive, super simple, using on-hand ingredients and all natural.

And the verdict?  Fruit pop love...


20 minute dinner: turkey stroganoff

I've been cooking this dish for a couple of years now.  It's gotten to the point where I always have the ingredients on hand and it is served at least twice a month.  It's not gourmet - far from it.  Just good, easy, family friendly, and fast comfort food.

Turkey Stroganoff

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey (that's the average weight of each package I pick up in the meat section)
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper
1/3 cup water
1 envelope beefy onion dry soup mix (I use Lipton, onion or french onion will do fine)
1 pound wide egg noodles (I use No Yolks)
1 16-ounce container light or fat-free sour cream
1 bag frozen peas and pearl onions (or other frozen veggie, to your preference)

1. Set water for the pasta to boil in stock pot. Brown the ground turkey in a skillet, seasoning with garlic, salt and pepper to taste. 

2. After the turkey is browned, drain off excess fat.  Over med-low heat, add soup packet and 1/3 cup water to turkey, stir until well mixed.  Remove from heat.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, heat veggies in the microwave until cooked through.

4. Drain pasta, return to pot.  Over low heat, add turkey and vegetables (drained).  Mix in sour cream until well combined.  Serve hot.

It really is that simple. The meal takes me 20 minutes total if I get the turkey browning and the pasta water started at the same time.


meal planning: there may just be an easier way...

Month after month I set a goal to meal plan.  There have been times where it has worked and others where, well, notsomuch.  Part of the wrench is my variable work schedule.  Weekdays, weekend, weeknights here there and everywhere.  It gets a little messy.  It works for our family but, meal planning within the norm/chaos of that schedule throws me off track at times.  Somehow though, dinner gets made without a lot of muss or fuss (thank you, thank you to my programmable slow cooker).  It helps that twice a week, on the days my in-law's care for G, we eat at their house.  Delicious, homemade Greek food..mmm...

But not in August or half of September.  The in-laws are headed to Greece.  I'm happy for them.  I'm sad for us.  As we made preparations for their upcoming trip, such as alternate child care plans, looking after their home, etc. another though dawned on me.  I will be cooking SEVEN nights a week while they are gone, rather than my usual five. I needed a plan.  A plan that would actually work and that I wouldn't have to spend hours developing.  There had to be a simpler answer.  So I turned to (where else) the internet and my fellow bloggers.  I reviewed several meal plan sites of varying costs and complexities.  None quite seemed to be the answer. 

Then, I happened upon a Facebook status update from Becky Higgins about the site makeover of the meal planning site she uses for her family.  I clicked through to the link read about the program and the reviews, saw the very low cost and decided to give it a go.  I joined E-Mealz within minutes, after a brief search for an online coupon yielded an extra discount (entering the code "Dave" at checkout gives you $2.50 off, bring the cost of a three month membership to only $12.50). 

Emealz - Easy Meals for Busy People!

I liked that the meals sounded EASY, very family friendly and included a complete shopping list.  I love lists. Ready-made lists for exactly what I need and organized by grocery department?  Even better. I'm printing out the menus and lists now, in advance of my in-laws departure, so that they are organized and at the ready with a lot of choices.  I'll absolutely post back with a review once I have a week or two in my belly under my belt.

{Feel like you might want to give it a look see?  Pretty, please click on the banner above or on the adlink on my sidebar so that I get the referral credit, which will go toward extending our membership...kisses!}

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with E-Mealz and have received no compensation for this post...just something I want to try out and pass along.  The end.


i couldn't make this stuff up if i tried...

I don't post a  whole lot about my job here because, well, there are too many reasons to count.  Though I like most of what I do, there are also definite, huge drawbacks.  The main office location is one of those many negatives. But, every once in a while something happens at work that bears sharing.  Episodes that are generally filed under: "You can't make this stuff up." 

Several weeks ago, as I was setting up for a CPR class, students started coming in one by one.  They would say hello, quietly choose a seat and settle in. One of the last students to arrive, blazed into the room in a manner all her own.  Her presentation was, um...confusing. Most students come to class dressed in business casual attire or dressed down in jeans and t-shirts, both completely appropriate for the training. 

Not this one.

She was dressed in denim hot pants, a plunging v-neck shirt that made an impressive display of her wares and a 4 inch high rhinestone tiara, complete with matching chandelier necklace. She loudly introduced herself and asked, "Are you a fun trainer or, should I plan to fall asleep?" Awesome. Later in the day, this same individual came back form the lunch break 20 minutes late explaining, "Well, I already know this stuff anyway."  That is when I noticed what I had somehow overlooked that morning.  She had a full set of upper and lower rhinestone grillz. Double awesome.

Fast forward to this morning. 

I work in one of the oldest buildings in the Bronx.  Old as in, not quite ready to be condemned but, it's time is coming. Things work when they want to around here.  Non-essential things like elevators, computer servers, plumbing and air conditioning. Thank you antiquated wiring and shoddy patch jobs.

Needing to use the facilities this morning, I approached the door of the only bathroom in our office (one stall, unisex, for over 50 employees).  The door was locked but, knocking revealed that it was not occupied.  I walked upstairs to our other floor of offices and inquired about a key. "Oh, there's no key.  The office manager has a special trick to open it with a credit card but, he's not in right now." That makes total sense.

So, I walked through the office to the one bathroom on that floor (again, one stall, unisex, for over 50 employees).  It was unoccupied but, after flipping the light switch several times, the light would not come on.  Which would be fine except for the fact that there is no other light source in the bathroom and trying to navigate the plumbing in the complete, pitch black darkness was not happening.  A co-worker walked past and I asked her advice, "Yeah, that light is temperamental.  Stand on your tip toes and jiggle the light bulb.  That works sometimes.  Or, you know, there is always the public bathroom in the hallway." Referring to the bathroom that is used for the mandated drug testing office down the hall. Thankfully the light jiggling trick worked.

Hi ho, hi ho, back to work I go...



photos in buffalo...

An overcast morning at the zoo, fantastic buildings and two willing subjects made for some fun photo play while I was visiting my sister and nephew in Buffalo last weekend.  I haven't taken portraits in a long time and was happy for the practice.

My cheeky nephew:
My beautiful and {newly ENGAGED} sister:
The adorable two of them:
And because blogger notoriously likes to make my photos look a bit blurry, please do click on any of the shots to get a clearer (read: better) image.


(not nearly) wordless wednesday: independence day and ice cream...

Monday, July 4th.  Independence Day.

We had no grand plans.  Mr. Boom had spent the weekend sick on the couch while G and I grocery shopped, played in the a/c and took a few trips to the park.  For the actual holiday, we had decided to stay close to home and have a barbeque at my in-law's for dinner.  At around 6:00 am, I heard George start to make his waking noises over the monitor.  Since he usually plays quietly in his crib for another 20 minutes or so, I snuggled back into my pillows and drifted off.  Not for long.  Suddenly, his babbling sounded much closer than it should.  Mr. Boom woke with a start and said, "Were those footsteps?" 

You can guess where this is going, right?

I bolted out of bed and slowly opened G's door only to find him standing right inside his room, feet on the floor, grinning up at me. 

Independence Day indeed, the day that our barely 18 month old toddler decided he would climb out of his crib for the first time. 

On July 5th, he decided to continue the trend, with a twist.  When I went into his room yesterday morning, I found him sitting cross-legged on the changing pad on his dresser, happily smearing diaper cream on himself.  Clearly we need to remedy the bed situation immediately, if not sooner.  Of course, we waited too long to order the toddler bed conversion kit for his crib and it is now discontinued.  If anyone has a brilliant idea to remedy this minor issue, I'm taking suggestions!

George should be spelled: M.i.s.c.h.i.e.f.

Though he is mischief personified, he is also the sweetest, funniest kid I which brings me to the ice cream portion of this post.  Messily enjoying a cone at the end of our 4th of July cookout...

Lapping up every last drop...can you stand it?!?!?


recipe: slow cooker black bean enchiladas

It's been far too long since I have tried or posted a new recipe.  Summer has a way of doing that to me...quicker meals, salads, last-minute throw togethers from pantry or freezer and nothing super inspired.  Without central air at home, using the stove or oven is just not appealing most nights.  So, when I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to give it a try.  Easy? Check. No stove or oven? Check. Ingredients all of us love? Check. Budget friendly? Check.

This isn't exactly your traditional slow cooker recipe as the total cooking time is far less than most - just 2-4 hours.  Since I don't work on Fridays, it was easy enough to put this together mid-afternoon to have it ready for dinner.  Don't let the assembly scare you away from trying this one.  It came together very quickly, was a BIG hit with all three of us, made a ton of food and the leftovers are perfection. Here is the recipe with my adaptations (in italics)...

Slow Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas
Source: The Kitchn
Serves 4-6

1/2 yellow onion, diced small
1 bell pepper, diced small (any color)
1 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cup frozen corn
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded and divided - monterey jack or mexican blend
2 16-ounce jars of your favorite salsa
12 6”-8” tortillas, flour or corn
Optional: 1 cup leftover meat - chicken, pork, hamburger, or shredded beef

1. In a medium bowl, mix together the onion, pepper, black beans, corn, spices, meat (if using), and just 1/2 cup of the cheese. Pour about a cup of salsa (half a jar) into the bottom of the slow cooker and spread it around evenly.

2. Scoop about 1/3 cup into one of the tortillas, roll it up, and nestle it into the bottom of the crock pot. Repeat with the half of the remaining filling, rolling tortillas until the entire bottom of of the crock pot is filled. Spread another cup of salsa over this layer and sprinkle it with another 1/2 cup of cheese.

3. Continue with the remaining filling and tortillas to create a second layer. Top with another cup of salsa, but reserve the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese for later. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 2-4 hours. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle the leftover cheese over the top and let it melt.

5. Serve the enchiladas with the remaining salsa. Leftovers will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

---> Warm your tortillas in the microwave between two damp paper towels for 10-20 seconds before assembling.  They are much easier to work with when warm and pliable.
---> I used a heaping 1/3 cup measure for the filling and had exactly enough to fill {14} 8" tortillas.
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