Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Freezer Cooking Success

Today I cooked my butt off again and made 13 meals plus proteins for 4 or 5 other meals.  I also made a February meal plan that involves us eating from the freezer pretty much every day that we'll be home.  I'm very proud of my efforts so far.

I have pictures of today's cooking day and want to blog all about it, but I am typing this from my phone because my laptop power cord fell victim to a 9-month-old who grabs everything! So I hope you  will all bear with me this week as my blogs will be on hold until my new cord arrives.

UPDATE: I've been stealing Chris' computer and using my work laptop to get on the internet a little bit.  Hopefully, Chris will loan me his laptop tonight so that I can post about the weekend.  And I also wanted to wish BoomMa a Happy Birthday from the whole Michel clan! :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More Freezer Cooking

As promised, Chris and I ate from the freezer this week.  It's been a pretty busy week, which makes it really nice to come home to a meal that is already on the table.  On Monday we had Quesadillas, which were really good, but I think I overcooked them in the oven.  We think they would be best with cheese on top of them.  But the mix inside was really tasty.  :)  Yesterday we ate the Crock Pot Beef, and it got RAVE reviews.  Excellent and EASY!   I was a little nervous about this recipe because I don't like roast beef, but the beef had an awesome flavor and the whole thing was really yummy.  Next time I make this, I will probably try to increase the amount of sauce in the bag.  Tonight we are scheduled to have Beef Manicotti.  Chris usually doesn't like manicotti, so we'll see how this one goes over.

I am preparing for another cooking session this weekend by making a list of recipes and we did our ingredient shopping yesterday.  Tonight I'm hoping to prep a little bit to make things go faster on Sunday.  Mostly, I will be doing new recipes (so that we can try some new things) but will be making Cactus Meatballs and Crock Pot Beef again, since we liked those recipes a lot.  My February cooking list is listed below.  You can find all of my recipes, here.  Many of these recipes were taken from other bloggers who have much more freezer cooking experience than I do.  If I have published your recipe, please let me know so that I can give you credit.

  • Bacon & Cheese Eggwich (12 individually wrapped)

  • Italian Chicken x 4 (Super easy entree version: Put frozen chicken in baggie with Italian dressing and freeze.  On serving day, empty contents into crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Serve over rice or pasta.)
  • Low-Fat Pepsi Chicken
  • Low-Fat Pizza Pasta (After looking at this recipe, I have no idea how it could be low fat!  But I found it on a blogsite where the family loved it)
  • Pasta Casserole
  • Spaghetti Pie
  • Hubby's Favorite Casserole (looks like a cheeseburger casserole)
  • Pepperoni Side-by-Side Calzones (these look like a lot of work, but I'm hoping they're good enough to be worth it)
  • Crispy Parmesan Chicken Breasts
  • Beef Fajitas
  • Cactus Meatballs
  • Crock Pot Beef

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mr. Independent

As most of you know, Ledger has been having some difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep during the night time.  Unfortunately, this has also affected his time at child care, resulting in a very tired, fussy baby that refuses to go to sleep at child care.  After spitballing a few ideas, his child care provider and I decided to TRY a day when I don't visit over my lunch hour to nurse.  Yesterday was the big day.  I was dreading a frantic phone call that would drag me out of surgery to drive across town and try to coax my baby to sleep.  That call never came.  Ledger had his best day EVER at child care.  He took a bottle well.  He slept easily.  He was happy and played well with the other babies.  So now Mommy will be going home to pump over lunch and leaving Ledger to have his fun at day care.  Without me.

In other Ledger news:
  • This week he has learned how to WAVE.  We are still perfecting this skill.
  • Ledger's 3rd tooth, his upper right incisor is finally through.  Phew!
  • He uses the sounds "da, da, da", "ma, ma, ma", and "ba, ba, ba" a lot.  We are pretty sure he doesn't know what he's talking about when he says "dada" or "mama" but we still really like to hear it!:)
 In the video below, you can hear Ledger using his "da, da, da" sounds and doing one of his favorite Daddy-time activities... climbing the "Daddy Mountain".

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

February Freezer Cooking -- Coming Soon

Part of my New Year's resolution was to commit to trying freezer cooking for 3 months.  So during this coming weekend, I'm going to spend Sunday cooking again.  Stay tuned for a list of recipes! :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Freezer Cooking - First Strike Out

This week we tried the Chicken Au Gratin and ended up throwing the whole thing away.  It was mushy and tasteless.  I will admit that there may have been some error on the chef's part -- it forced me to make my own chicken broth and I think that it was more watery than it was supposed to be.  And when we cooked it in the oven, we had to add 10 minutes to the directed cook time and it wouldn't crisp up the topping, so it ended up having a limp cream-of-wheat topping on it instead of the crisp bread crumb type topping.  So we probably won't be making this one in the future. ;)  If someone else has better luck with this recipe, please let me know.

Here is our meal plan for this week:
Monday - Crock Pot Beef
Tuesday - financial class @ Heartland
Wednesday -Baked Chicken and Rice
Thursday - Manicotti
Friday - ???

I don't have to work Friday afternoon, so I am hoping to brown hamburger and cook some chicken to prep for my next OAMC day.  We are planning on going to Manhattan on Saturday to watch a bull-riding competition.  I am hoping to do another freezer cooking day on Sunday.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Playing Catch Up

So today I am playing blog catch up, since I haven't written a good blog post in a while.  Try to keep up! :)

     Ledger continues to grow and change every day.  He is proficient at crawling and pulling himself up on any semi-stable surface (including dogs).  He is even learning to let go and stand unsupported.  Last night he amazed us by standing and balancing by himself for about 5 seconds!  He has been teething again over the last few weeks -- the gums around his upper incisors are very swollen and the white teeth are visible beneath the gingiva.  This time around, the teething has been harder on him.  He cries more frequently and prefers to be constantly chewing on something.  We are all very anxious for that darn tooth to cut through so he will feel better!!  In the meantime, we have had even more difficulty with sleeping during the nights.  I would like to attribute it to the teething, but I feel like he is just developing a bad habit of needing Mommy to get to sleep.  Once his tooth cuts through, we are going to start sleep training again and maybe even give the "cry it out" method another shot.


     First, at the end 2009, I became a part owner of our veterinary clinic.  This was the first step in a 5 year plan to buy the practice from Dr. Ewy.  Yay!  For now, there really won't be any major changes in day-to-day operations around here... but it means that I am more involved in the decision making process around here and that over time I will be taking on more responsibility and Dr. Ewy will be phasing himself out of the workload.  The current plan is to keep him on as a part time doctor after we complete the buy-out... we are doing too much business for me to handle by myself!
     Chris has restarted school this semester and they are already revving up for the first round of state testing.  Testing time is a really stressful time for all of the teachers.  Each year, the "standard" continues to rise and it is becoming very hard for schools to meet these goals.  The teachers, principals, and schools are evaluated on the test scores -- making the scores even more important.  So the spring semester looks to be as busy as ever for Chris at work.
     For Christmas, we both upgraded our phones to the new Motorola Droid smart phones.  So far, we both really like the cool features that our new phones allow.  Chris really loves playing games on his and I am using mine to keep myself more organized and in touch.  Our emails go straight to our phones now, so if you need us, we are a little easier to get ahold of.  And, just for fun, my droid has a purple sequined cover -- very blingy.
     As I have already said, our whole family has been sick with the respiratory crap since just before Christmas.  Just to add a little fun to the mix, we picked up the stomach flu last weekend.  And today I had an optometrist appointment because I am having pain in my right eye... and I have a developing stye!  Geez!  We just can't catch a break.

     Since Grandpa Young passed away at the beginning of December, Grandma Young's health has deteriorated.  Pam and Steve have been spending a lot of time visiting Gma in the hospital at Lindsborg.  She is having a lot of abdominal pain that appears to be due to the narrowing of some of her intestinal arteries.  The doctors are recommending a risky surgical procedure to correct the problem... but we have run into a few obstacles and have not yet decided how things are going to proceed.  Please keep grandma in your prayers.  She is having a rough time right now.
     My sister, Brandy, has just found out that she lost a recent pregnancy.  They are grieving the loss, but rebounding well.  As always, I am wishing that we lived a little closer to the Guy family so that I could be more supportive during this time.
     My best friend Ann has just announced that she is 9 weeks pregnant with her second child.  I am looking forward to meeting the next Buchanan baby and seeing her son Brody become a big brother.

Phew!!  That was quite a post.  I promise I will try to be a better blogger in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bad Blogger

Forgive me family and friends... I have been a bad blogger.  But you're going to have to wait a little longer for a good blog post.  I am too tired to post tonight. :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Stomach Flu

This was supposed to be a nice relaxing weekend off of work... but I woke up Saturday feeling wierd and dizzy.  By Saturday afternoon, I had the full-on stomach bug that required me to stay within "dashing" distance to a bathroom.  Chris was great and took care of Ledger while I puked my guts out Saturday night.  And just to make matters MORE fun, Chris woke up in the middle of the night with cold sweats and the same stomach bug that I was suffering through.  So instead of a great weekend at home, we have been in sickie quarantine.  Boo!

So if you want to read a good blog, check out my shout out on Brandy's blog! :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bat Baby

 For my friends and family who don't believe in reading posts unless there are pictures -- I sincerely apologize for my lack of photos lately.  So here are a few pictures of THE LEDGE.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

So Far, So Good

Tonight we tried our first freezer meal, Cactus Meatballs.  They were excellent and it was SO easy!  I actually popped this meal into the crock pot at lunch and by the time we got home, the house smelled great.  I boiled up some egg noodles and I served the meatballs over the egg noodles and covered it in spaghetti sauce.  I was seriously impressed with how good, and filling, the meal was.  :)  So... so far, so good for my first attempt at freezer cooking!  Yay!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

January Freezer Cooking

One of my New Year's resolutions for 2010 is to try "Once A Month" cooking, or "freezer" cooking.  As I have never undertaken such a big project before, my January goal was to cook a few of the recipes from the "Frugal Mom's Guide to Once A Month Cooking" -- an e-book that can be purchased online.  Here are the 10 recipes that I made today:
  • Chicken Au Gratin
  • Baked Herb Chicken
  • Hash Brown Casserole
  • Thursday's Chicken
  • Cactus Meatballs
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Crock Pot Beef
  • Chicken Quesadillas
  • Chicken Tetrazinni
  • Beef Manicotti
I started cooking right at noon and finished cooking at 5pm.  4 straight hours of cooking!  It took me another 30 minutes to finish with clean-up and labeling all of the meals -- all-in-all... not bad.  Sure, I made a few mistakes and next time I do this, it will be a little bit easier.  A few little tips to keep in mind:
  1. Do everything that involves raw chicken FIRST and then wash my hands and all of the dishes that were in contact with the chicken.
  2. Since I don't have a cookbook holder, I used magnets to post the recipes on my oven hood.  That worked great!
  3. Do a better job of noting the ingredients.  For some reason, I seriously underestimated the amount of chicken I needed and so I had to scratch out two recipes because I hadn't thawed enough chicken.  Oops.
  4. Do a better job of noting which ingredients I have plenty of on hand and which ingredients I will have to buy.  I thought I had cream of mushroom soup and rotel on hand but didn't -- causing me to have to make on-the-fly substitutions.  I have also ended up with doubles of ingredients that I wasn't sure I had on hand.  Go figure.
  5. Wash dishes and clean up as I go -- that made a HUGE difference.
  6. Have someone else on "baby duty" so you can focus on cooking without distraction.  Chris watched Ledger today and that made my afternoon of cooking so much easier.
Next month, I'm hoping to find a cooking buddy (my mom or sister) that will either split recipes with me, or at least be cooking along at the same time. :)  I'm also going to add in some other freezer cooking recipes that I've picked up from some mom-bloggers.  Here is a picture of me at about 3 hours into my cooking exploits.  You can see that I'm looking a little haggard and my recipe sheets are posted on the oven hood.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Video Evidence

After posting Ledger's crawling video this week, I have received requests for more video posts.  So I took these this morning...

This video is proof that Ledger can pull himself up without any assistance.  He is just learning how to manipulate our soft ottoman to stand on it.  He is a pro on anything hard, like our end tables or his jumparoo.

Here is a video of Ledger clapping his hands, which he thinks is really funny.

Hope you've enjoyed the videos.  I will make sure I post a few more of them in the future.  Here is a funny picture of Ledger with his tongue out.  He's been doing this a lot lately, and Chris says he's "Michael Jordaning It".  :)

One more picture -- although this is a FAMILY blog, I don't think I've posted much about our furry kids.  Here is a cute picture of the dogs from this morning.  Jayce has her paw on top of Barkley (who is badly in need of a haircut!)

Wiping Noses is SO Much Worse than Wiping Butts

Earlier this week, I posted about our completely failed attempt to CRY IT OUT in order to get Ledger to sleep better at night.  I really appreciate all of you who commented with support or advice.  Unfortunately, the day following that disastrous night, Ledger was politely asked to leave child care because he couldn't be more than a few feet away from the babysitter without screaming his head off -- which is a problem when the other babies need occasional attention too or are trying to sleep.  Plus, that sort of behavior is really out of the ordinary for him, so she was worried he wasn't feeling well.  Anyways... that prompted us to go to the doctor the next morning to make sure he didn't have an ear infection or was teething or something.  But no.  He got a clean bill o health.

By that night, Ledger's nose was running all evening.  I didn't want to just lay him down and let him scream when he was already really congested, so he slept with me.  I woke up covered in snot.  Sexy.  School got canceled yesterday on account of the icy roads and wind chills of negative 15 degrees, so Chris stayed home with Ledger.  Ledger developed a cough and continued to be congested all day. 

Mommy and Daddy still aren't over their little colds either -- actually Mommy's cough seems to be getting worse.  So everyone in the house is sick.  Daddy is taking Dayquil or Nyquil to make him feel better, but Mommy is breastfeeding and can't take much medicine, and Ledger spits out anything we give him (even the bubblegum flavored benadryl and yummy grape tylenol!)

So Ledger is in quarantine.  I feel helpless because he won't take the medicine but it is obvious he continues to feel pretty terrible.  He's not running a fever, but with snot dripping down his nose and the deep, wet cough he has, I don't think he's going to child care today either.  He's been sleeping with me to make him feel more comfortable -- so that has probably put us 5 steps backwards in his sleep training.  Overall, this whole "sick" thing really sucks.

Here are some cute pictures of Ledger, to make up for this long boring post.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

8 Months Old

I can hardly believe that Ledger is finally 8 months old.  Typically I post his 8 month pictures and update ON his actual birth-anniversary, but I thought him finally learning to crawl deserved a post all by itself.

This month, Ledger...

  • ...weighs 18.9 pounds... just barely under 19!
  • ...has learned to clap, hammer, sit up from laying down, pull himself up to a standing position, and, CRAWL! :)
  • ...has started vocalizing more and using consonant sounds such as "ba" and "ma"
  • sick for the first time (pink eye and a little cold)
  • ...attended his first dance party (Oma and Papa Hensley's 20th Anniversary Bash) and celebrated his first Christmas and New Year
  • wearing 9 month clothing and anything that says 6-9 months is pretty much too small
  • eating more and more foods on his own, but still refuses to take food from a spoon!
  • ...still is not sleeping through the night (*sigh*) but we are currently working on a few theories to remedy this problem
Thank you to our family and friends who continue to check our blog and comment regularly.  We hope you are continuing to enjoy watching Ledger's progress!

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    Ledger is CRAWLING

    For the last few weeks, Ledger has been doing great at getting himself around his OWN way.  He pulls himself up on a piece of furniture, then falls and rolls and then stretches out and then repeats if necessary to get to the item he desires.  Since he seemed to go straight from sitting up to pulling himself up into a standing position, we thought he might just skip the whole crawling phase all together.  But we were wrong!  This morning, I caught my little man crawling all by himself, and I caught it on video for you all to watch too!

    Cry It Out?

    As you know, Ledger has still not been able to sleep through the night.  Not even close really.  He typically wakes up about every 2 hours wanting to nurse.  Although we had dabbled in the "sleep training" methods, nothing really worked for us.  I decided that after the holidays, we would give the "cry it out" method a real concentrated effort.  So Ledger was put to sleep at 8pm last night.  He woke up crying about 8:20pm and Chris then held him to try to get him to sleep.  By 9pm, Ledger still wasn't asleep, so I nursed him and he fell asleep.  He slept from 9:15pm to 10:30pm.  At that point, he woke up screaming.  We tried to comfort him, but couldn't seem to calm him down.  So I caved and nursed him again at 10:50.  Again, he fell asleep and I laid him down in his crib at 11:15pm.  As soon as he hit the crib, he woke up screaming.  I tried patting his back and putting his pacifier in, but he wouldn't have any part of it.  I told him that it was time for "night, night" and then closed the door to his bedroom.  Chris and I stayed up to listen to him on the baby monitor.  HE CRIED UNTIL 12:30am.  At that point, I completely caved in.  I picked him up out of bed and he immediately fell asleep in my arms.  I rocked him for 15 minutes or so and then laid him down again.  As soon as he hit the crib mattress, he started screaming.  So I picked him up and held him for a while.  I used my laptop to search for information about how to get a baby to sleep -- and of course, all of the views are conflicting.  Anyway, I laid him down to sleep at 2am.  He slept for an hour and woke up at 3am screaming again.  I nursed him and FINALLY got him to lay in his crib and take a paci.  He slept from 3:30am to 7am.   So we are running very low on sleep and very high on frustration today.  I know that there is no "right" answer when it comes to getting your kids to sleep... but I need help!  Ledger is 8 months old today, which means that I haven't had a full night of sleep in EIGHT MONTHS.

    Friday, January 1, 2010

    New Year's Resolutions

    So I wrote a big, long blog about my 6 New Year's resolutions and scheduled it to be posted on January 2nd.  Somehow, it has completely disappeared from my blog list -- go figure!  So instead of trying to recreate my wonderful, articulate original blog post, I'm going to summarize.

    1. I would like to be more consistent in Ledger's daily routine and establish a more FIRM bed time.
    2. I would like to try once-a-month cooking for a few months in a row.
    3. I would like to start walking more often and am hoping to RUN the River Fest 2 mile run in June.
    4. I would like to improve my time management -- since we've had a baby, I feel like we're late everywhere.

    OK, so that's my crappy summarized version of my New Year's goals.  Anyone else still trying to make their New Year's resolutions?