Friday, March 23, 2012

Two 4-year-olds

Bean and Roo celebrated the big 0-4 last week with a several days-long extravaganza that included a fun-filled visit from Nana and Grampy.

 60 pink and green sprinkle-laden egg-free, nut-free cake pops to share with their classmates.

Note Looly's tragic "why does everybody else get a birthday but me" look in the background.
An epic trip to the water park, and yes, Nana and Grampy went down the slides too!

Tons of presents including multiple princess dresses for you know who. And since I forgot the oil and our room had no mixing bowl or mixer, one decadently improvised-on-vacation egg-free, nut-free, candy-covered chocolate birthday cake.

Happy birthday, Bean and Roo! I am exhausted.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Three Ways

Riding the current from our Meyer lemon experiment and Grapefruit Three Ways challenge, we took on yet another sunshiny-hued edible this week - spaghetti squash.

Since Mufasa has a family history rife with Diabetes and has been deemed pre-Diabetic himself, I am constantly on the lookout for lower-carbohydrate substitutions in our everyday cooking.  With just 8 net grams of carbohydrates per one cup serving, compared to about 40 grams in a cup of cooked spaghetti pasta, spaghetti squash is a great option for our family. But you'll be surprised to hear, Looly, Bean, and Roo are not huge fans.    

My favorite way to eat spaghetti squash is cold, tossed with some Kalamata olives, feta cheese, garbanzo beans, grape tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, artichoke hearts, fresh oregano, and bit of red wine vinaigrette. Fortunately, Mufasa also enjoys this preparation. On such occasions, the kiddos prefer macaroni and cheese from a purple or blue box, exclusively.

For this challenge, I roasted two medium spaghetti squash, scraped out the "noodles" and prepared as follows:

1. Spaghetti squash topped with plenty of butter and Parmesan cheese - my safety net preparation for the 5 and under set
2. Spaghetti squash with Italian sausage, garlic, oregano, marinara, and a little mozzarella cheese
3. A desserty version tossed with maple syrup, butter, and brown sugar
No blue dress this time, but do note the bright orange hair ornament
Since I've attempted spaghetti squash before without much luck, my confidence was wavering on this one. So I made "regular" dinner too and served each child a spaghetti squash sampler plate on the side. I explained that no one had to eat the squash, but that in order to participate in The Family Vote, they must try one bite of each type. After tasting each variety, the kids were allowed to express their opinion in one of three ways: smily face, frown, or comically stoic glare indicating they neither loved nor detested it. Happily, everyone was eager to participate.

To complete the exercise we created a chart. Here are our somewhat surprising results.

The butter-Parmesan version was not the hit with the kids as I'd expected. Instead we were all in agreement that the Marinara-sausage version was the standout. And the maple syrup version? Not making that again. Ever. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Meyer Lemons

Inspired by the sunshiny springlike weather we've been having, I picked up a few Meyer lemons at the grocery store this week. Bean, Looly, and Roo always enjoy squeezing regular lemon over chicken, fish, broccoli, couscous, just about anything really, and we've made fresh lemonade many times. Bean in particular loves chomping on lemon wedges for a snack. Aside from the weakening tooth enamel, it's all good.  I did the same thing when I was her age. Maybe that's why I have so many fillings?

The munchkins hadn't tried Meyer lemons before. We took a few outside for a Sid the Science Kid-type investigation. My little scientists concluded that:

Meyer lemons are "oranger" than regular lemons.

 They are not quite as sour as regular lemons, but still make us pucker.

They are great for funny faces!

Overall the Meyer lemon experiment was a success. The Meyer Lemon Risotto I made for dinner, however, was not nearly as popular as the fresh fruit. Personally I thought it was fabulous, creamy, tangy, and satisfying. Somewhat surprisingly, Looly, who is typically my hardest sell, devoured hers, but Bean and Roo weren't having it. Mufasa humored me with a few bites before reheating some take-out chicken fried rice instead. In any event, here is the culmination of 45 minutes of stirring at the stove.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tai's Tags

Some time ago, after a particularly intense allergy appointment that involved administering a practice epi-pen into my own thigh repeatedly, followed by counseling on the myriad ways a stray pecan could bring about the demise of my only son, I ordered a medical alert bracelet for Roo.

It has an indestructible canvas band peppered with cheery zoo animals. It features a large oval disc of metal engraved with a list of Roo's allergies, medical conditions, and the phone number to MedicAlert's hotline. It's pretty snazzy. 

The thing is, Roo won't wear it. The wristband is a little wide for his tiny arm. It gets caught on stuff and hinders his wrist motion, not a good thing when learning to write your ABC's. It gets wet every time he washes his hands, takes hours to dry and chafes his sensitive skin.

Then there's me.  I have a hard enough time keeping track of the specialists, therapists, appointments, and prescriptions. The prospect of keeping yet another database up to date with Roo's ever-evolving medical dossier is both unappealing and unlikely. Then, I just can't help thinking that in the heat of the moment, with Roo in the throws of anaphylaxis, do I really want the paramedics to call the 1-800 number on his bracelet to check in on his eosinophil count? Actually, I think I'd rather have them call me. So, no more MedicAlert for us.

Still, I want Roo to have a plan in place when someone offers him food. He is not the most verbal child in the world and tends to flat out refuse any and all food from strangers rather than attempt to explain his allergies. And while I'd much rather him err on the side of caution, it has led to several unfortunate experiences of being excluded from food filled celebrations when the food was in fact safe for him.  So, here's my solution!

Roo will be receiving this necklace for his birthday in a couple of weeks. Bracelets aren't his thing but he loves necklaces. This one was custom engraved by Tai's Tags, a top-notch seller I discovered on It has his name and a cute graphic on one tag (not shown) and a complete list of his allergies on the other, but I could have chosen anything...our phone number, blood type, whatever. 

There's no itchy band. No 1-800 number. No link to a medical database. But, Roo will be able to show to his teachers, friends, babysitters, or anyone else who offers him a treat a clear, concise list of his allergies. It saves him the daunting task of trying to explain his condition to adults and gives him an excuse to flaunt his cool, personalized dog tag necklace.  He's going to love it!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Here in Whoville

We had such a good time tonight celebrating Read Across America Day. I thought I'd share a few photos from our Seuss extravaganza.

First we gathered and conquered our entire Dr. Seuss collection, with the exception of Dr. Seuss's ABC which has mysteriously gone by the wayside.  Here's what we did read.

While we read we enjoyed an afternoon snack of Cat in the Hat cheese and fruit leather hats. Salami would have worked as well as fruit leather and might have made for a tastier combination, but I didn't have any on hand. 

Aren't they cute?! I traced the hat from the cover of one of our books and used the template to cut out cheese and fruit leather. The kids loved them!

And of course we needed One Fish Two Fish Red Fish...but sadly no blue fish.

And for dinner, the much anticipated Green Eggs and Ham!

Since Roo is allergic to eggs, he enjoyed green ham and peas instead :)

Kind of terrifying but he liked it.  Last but not least, we topped off the night with this awesome idea for Thing 1 and Thing 2 cupcakes that I discovered on another amazing all Seuss all the time blog: Looly, Bean, and Roo had a blast piling on the cotton candy. 

 I believe we have a new tradition!

Green Eggs and Ham

Happy 110th birthday, Dr. Seuss! And Happy Read Across America Day!

We'll be celebrating tonight by reading a few of our most beloved Dr. Seuss stories including Too Many Daves from The Sneeches and Other Stories, Steak for Supper, and Bean and Roo's favorite, Tadd and Todd, both from The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories, all by Dr. Seuss.

And for dinner, you guessed it, green eggs and ham. Make that green peas and ham for Roo, but you get the idea.

Children's books provide such great inspiration for getting into the kitchen and creating something silly or spectacular together. Here are just a few of our favorite food-inspired reads.

Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli
Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman
Today is Monday by Eric Carle
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia
Good Enough to Eat by Lizzy Rockwell
How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
Stone Soup by Ann McGovern
Cookie Count: A Tasty Pop-up by Robert Sobuda
Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
Delicious by Helen Cooper
Let's Eat: What Children Eat Around the World by Beatrice Hollyer
Fanny at Chez Panisse: A Child's Restaurant Adventure with 46 Recipes by Alice L. Waters

Now get reading. And get eating!