Thursday, March 28, 2013

A new addiction - 365

I'm posting from my new phone.

A phone that, as the title might help you guess, has me addicted. The possibilities! So many games and apps! I resisted for as long as I could because I knew this could happen, but now that I've given in I might as well embrace it.

The app I love the most? No, not Angry Birds, curiously.

Instagram. (Yes, I know I am late to the party.)

I'm having a blast with it, and it has given me the tools to start (yet again) a 365 project (remember my 2013 goals? I hardly didn't!), this time with chances to finish. Do you want to see if I manage? I'm "oathsmom" there.

And now I should go back go playing with my new technologic toy!

PS: Happy Easter Holidays and Spring Break to everybody! I hope you are having an amazing time with your families... I know I am, with mine!

Oath's Mom

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Traveling alone with a baby: 10 things to make it easier

I'll be honest: traveling with a baby is harder than traveling without. When there's two (or more!) adults, things are bearable, but when there's only one? Then things get real. I can't imagine how it'd be to travel one adult with more than one baby... or a baby and a toddler. But that's not what I know about, so lets get back to the one adult-one baby traveling, shall we?

As you know, I am able to visit my family often (and they are coming to see Oath quite often, too, so I've seen them a lot this past year! This is strange, but nice). Oath is getting to know them despite living so far away, and I am really happy for it. I know I am blessed to be able to do it, though, as not every parent who lives far from home can, so I take every opportunity to go now. Nobody knows when things are going to change, right? 
Partner, on the other hand, can't come with us every time. Because, thankfully, he has a job to keep: a job that pays, and that pay feeds us. And food always goes first (well, not really, but you know what I mean).

This means that I and Oath travel alone. Since we cross the security check one one airport until we get out of the door of the other airport, we're on our own. One (petite and skinny) girl and her (stubborn and vocal) little boy.

I arrive exhausted, but I've been learning some tricks that make it easier for everyone (Oath, me, the other passengers...):

  1. Dress to walk, not to impress. This one is quite obvious, but I've seen some people at the airport that just make me wonder what they're there for. No stiletto heels, tight mini skirts, clothes too big they threaten to fall down... Tennis shoes, jeans and a polar fleece jacket (it can get chilly on the plane!) are my go-to clothes for traveling: simple and comfortable.
  2. Dress the baby in easy to change clothes, too. Chances are there won't be any messy accidents, but if there are you'll be glad you didn't dress her in that cute dress that's so hard to button, or those jeans that fit him so well that they do not come out easily.
  3. The less luggage, the better. Both checked-in and cabin. You'll probably have to carry a child most of the time, there's no need to burden yourself with even more weight!
  4. Backpacks are your friends. I put everything I'll need in a backpack, and this way my two hands are always free. Or they would be if I didn't have a baby!
  5. Put one change of clothing for the baby on the backpack... and one for you! There's no need to have some extra jeans in there, but a t-shirt is always welcome when that burp was a bit more than just a burp (it happens to the best of us, right?).
  6. Forget the pram, use a baby carrier. If possible, a wrap, because they have no metal in them and so you can pass through the control arc with your baby strapped on you. I wouldn't trust a ring sling or another kind of carrier to not set the alarms off, but I believe that it is much easier to navigate through an airport with as few things as possible... and a pram is a pretty big thing! (also, I know I wouldn't be able to fold it to pass it through the X-rays... and there's so many people there I can't trust there'll be a security guard to help me!)
  7. Bring some snacks for you and for baby if you are weaning. There's nothing that upset Oath more than having to wait in line at a cafe for me to get a sub or any other food, I don't know why. I try to bring some dry snacks (nuts, crackers, a sandwich...) and this way I can buy a bottle of water from vending machines (which Oath has nothing against).
  8. Bring one special toy. I have one that Oath only plays with while we're traveling. He loves it, and never gets bored of it because it's always new to him. Something small, that you can pop easily in your bag, it's best (ours is a rattle, and while I am sure some other passengers do not like me much because of it, I know they would like us less if Oath started his "I am bored, I want to go somewhere!" screaming!)
  9. Go with extra time, always. If you think you need one hour, plan for one and a half, and then add some. You'll end up waiting because you've been early, but that's much better than having to run because you are too late!
  10. And, last but not least, do not be ashamed to ask for help. This can be hard for some of us: if you are like me, you feel that if you have to ask for help you are a failure as a mom. But no, you are not. You just know your limits. Getting your backpack from the overhead storage can be tricky with a baby in your arms or in a carrier, and so can be many other things. If you need help, ask for it. There'll be many people glad to help you!
  11. And a bonus one: feed your baby at take-off and landing. It'll help with ear pain and, with a bit of luck, he'll fall asleep after and will sleep through part of the flight!
I have many more, but most of them might not work for other people: for instance, I always dress him with his cow socks, so when he kicks the bells in the cow heads jingle and he gets amused; or I let him have a pacifier, even though he does not use it, because he likes to chew it and play with it (it's like and extra special toy!) and it is hard to loose, what with being clasped to his clothes.

Any of you travel with babies often, too? What are your tips and tricks?

Oath's mom

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Spring is here!

A little, sleepy-looking, flower.
The other day we went to my in-law's and the weather was just gorgeous. The air was a crisp and clean, and a few lazy clouds were here and there. It was late afternoon, so the Sun was starting to get low and the sky was turning an amazing array of golden, orange and yellow hues. I tried to capture it but, as it always happens when I try to take wide, landscape shots, the camera did the world no justice. There's only one that captures mildly what it looked like:

Warm, peachy light.

But oh, was the light gorgeous for taking photos of any other thing! It was, indeed, the "golden hour", which it's seldom seen in winter around here (cloudy skies do not make for good golden hours). But it is spring now, so it should happen more often!
I took some pretty good shots of my nephew that will soon be printed and gifted to my brother in law and his wife. He's blond, and the few locks of hair you could see under the jacket hood turned out so shiny and golden! I would have loved to photograph Oath, too, but he was exhausted after a crawling marathon and was taking a nap. 
Instead, when the nephew got tired of me and my camera, I settled for taking photos of the dogs (who weren't keen on posing, either, so none turned out post-worthy, even if the colors and light were great) and plants.

Don't you love the little hearts?
Pity of the plant photobomb, because this green is the stuff Spring is made of!

I am in love with green, right now. I missed it so much that I was craving it, and now it's popping everywhere!

Happy Spring to you all, I hope you enjoy it as much as I will.

Oath's Mom

Monday, March 18, 2013

A gift for Partner

Today is Father's day around here. 

And, somehow, I remembered! (I have a foggy brain lately, but this I managed to not forget. Maybe I should thank my planner!)

It's scary, though, because I am not a good gifter. Sometimes I am just spot on and give the best gift in the world, and others... others it would have been better to just pretend I'd forgotten. It's that bad.
But as I had two bad gifting days this year (already!) towards Partner, I wanted to put a big effort in today's. It took lots of thinking, but I think that I found something that he'll like.

So, what have I prepared?

First, skipping his diet. I know it doesn't sound like a nice thing to do, but he needs some diet-free days (as everybody does), and what better that using them to celebrate something? Also, this way I can bake something for him (rainbow muffins!) and cook some of his favorite foods (homemade pizza!) before I forget how to do it. And I also promised a microwave mug-cake to him for breakfast. So there's my reason.

And then, this...:

Cthulhu f'thagn!
Look what it says!
(At first I was going to use this pattern from Cthulhu Crochet... but then I started changing it so much that I ended up not following it at all. But hey, I'm giving credit where credit is due, and it sparked my crafting, so there!)

...and this matching card, that Oath and I did together:

Oath played along with my crafty intentions until I pressed his hand onto the paper... I had to do the rest alone.
Ain't he a cute little fella?

The explanation? Partner likes Lovecraft, and Cthulhu is (in my opinion) quite a charming fellow. I've been crocheting Tiny Cthulhus for friends, and he asked for one some time ago... but I decided to go one step further and make a special (and not so tiny!) one for him.
I specially like the arcane symbol in place of the heart (on the amigurumi) and of the "A" in the word Father (on the card). That makes up for the words being completely off-center on both places.

Fingers crossed he'll like it too!

Oath's mom

March 18th Menu Plan + Baby Menu Plan

Another week is beginning, and we need a new menu plan. Last week I managed to follow it nearly every day, no scrambling without seemingly nothing to eat. I've had some tasty breakfasts, too! I never thought I would like to have breakfast (for many years, my body rejected any food that came my way the first three hours after waking up) but now it does not feel right to skip it. Everything changes, I guess.

What also changed is that we've borrowed a Babycook (today!) and now I feel the need to use it. Weaning Oath has been a difficult and emotional journey for me, but now that he does not shut his mouth tight at the first sight of a spoon and seems to be enjoying it, I think I should let go of the fear of him becoming less mine (does that make sense?) by eating solids. So, time to use the Babycook to make steaming and pureeing (if need be) easier. But I am short on ideas, so I'll add it to the menu plan. We'll see how that goes.

For me (and, sometimes, Partner):

  • Lunch: Chicken fajita mix
  • Dinner: Fish with caramelized onions.
Tuesday (Father's Day!)
  • Lunch: Baked potatoes with seafood, bacon and salad.
  • Dinner: Pizza.
  • Lunch: Spaghetti al pesto
  • Dinner: Hamburgers with salad
  • Lunch: Steamed broccoli and cauliflower, Caesar dressing and shrimps.
  • Dinner: Chicken strogonoff
  • Lunch: Rice "a la cubana"
  • Dinner: Puff-pastry roll
  • Lunch: Leftovers
  • Dinner: Ribs with chimichurri or Soup

Possible breakfasts in no particular order

  • Yoghurt with diced fruit
  • Chocolate milk with cookies
  • Puff pastry roll leftovers

For Oath (baby menu plan):

  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Chicken, onion, carrot and red and green pepper, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Steamed pear and apple, mashed.
  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Fish, peas and lettuce, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Mashed banana with orange juice.
  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Beef, potato and carrot, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Steamed apple and banana, mashed.
  • Mid-morning: Rice with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Chicken, broccoli and cauliflower, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Pear with breastmilk, pureed.
  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Beef, pumpkin, onion and carrot, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Banana, by pieces.
  • Mid-morning: Cereals with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Chicken, onion, carrot and red and green pepper, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Baked apple with orange juice, pureed.
  • Mid-morning: Rice with breastmilk
  • Lunch: Fish, peas and lettuce, pureed.
  • Mid-afternoon: Apple, by pieces.

Woah, planning such amount of things is hard on my poor brain! But it's over for a week now... whew!

Linking up at I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday and at Erin Branscom's Menu Monday!

Oath's Mom

Saturday, March 16, 2013

10 activities you can do with your baby

So, you are a motivated parent that want to help your baby learn... but you don't really know how. That little being is so little! There are many doubts that can come to your mind, but the most usual one is a literal "What can I do?". This is not a school aged kid that you can teach the science behind baking some muffins, nor a toddler who you can play ball with. No maths, no reading, no running or walking or even crawling (some rolling, maybe), no talking. What can you do, educationally talking, with a kid that age? There doesn't look like there's much, does it?

But the truth is that train of thought is wrong. 

You can do everything. With minds that young, everything is an educational experience. Breathing, eating, listening, watching... all those things they've never experienced before are things your baby learns from. It will never be so easy to plan an educative activity for your little one.

Want some ideas?

  1. Give her different foods to eat. Even something so simple as a sip of water can be mindblowing for a newborn and, lets be honest, we're probably talking more about 6 months olds than newborns here, so no need to stick only to water. Of course, follow always your doctor's advice, but some drops of clear, pure water (boiled or bottled, so there are no nasty bugs at all) won't do any harm.
  2. Help him smell flowers, herbs, a perfume... No need to go all fancy here either: when you are cooking pass the oregano close to his nose, let him smell a rose when you come close to one, wear a soft perfume while cuddling him... anything will do. If you want to plan it a bit more, search contrasting smells: minty, sweet, flowery, spicy, soft and strong, good and bad: you can let him smell a clove of garlic first and then a lavender sachet, and see if he reacts differently.
  3. Tickles! Soft feathery tickles for the younger ones, closer to a massage than anything else; giggle inducing tickles for an older baby. Kiss the palms of her hands, gently scratch the soles of his feet, pass a lock of your hair through her face. Oath loves it when I try to eat his chin!
  4. Sing songs, and not only nursery rhymes: your favorite song, some mindless humming, a childhood favorite... the more varied the better. Sing some loud and others whispering, some more monotonous and others in full tune. And do not be afraid to get it wrong! Your baby loves your voice and it's different inflections, and doesn't care if you miss a note or got the words wrong.
  5. While we're talking about music, we shouldn't forget dancing. Dance in front of your baby, so he can see you, and dance with your baby. Different tunes, so he gets to experience the simpler rhythm of a vals and the not so rhythmic bouncing around you do when you're just being silly.
  6. Show her some simple colorful figures or things. A red ball, a yellow flower, a striped jacket... look for bold colors in big blocks at first (red, black and white are a good starting point) and get her attention to subtler things when she's older. Extra points if you tell her out loud what she's looking at (lots of "Look! There's a lamplight down there, Oath, isn't it pretty? And the green of all those leaves makes you happy, doesn't it?" have been heard a lot around here while looking through the window)
  7. Sensory books are a whole world worth's experiencing. You get the whole package with many of them: colors, shapes, sounds, textures... even smells! And a book is a great toy to get your baby used to.
  8. Lap games, as in games you play with the baby sitting (or laying) on your lap. Bouncing him up and down are the most common ones, but there are many others, popular in different countries. The one Oath loves more is to grab my hands, lean close to my face and then throw himself back until he's upside down, giggling.
  9. And, of course, reading! We covered that in another post, already, so you can go here for more details.
  10. Last but not least, a complete sensory experience that many kids love: bathtime. The warm water, the trickling sounds, splashing, soap bubbles and soap smell... and all the cute toys you can toss in the bathtub to play with!

Those are only 10 of the many that have come to my mind today. I'm sure you can find many more that you are already doing with your little one! Remember, anything can be a learning experience for them, so do not be afraid to show them new things!

 Oath's mom

Friday, March 15, 2013

Snap! went the hook

Last Wednesday was a strange day, both good (very good!) and bad (ugh-worthy bad). So many things happened on both categories, that I don't know what to consider the day itself, as a whole. Was it a good day? Uhmm... A bad day? Ehhh... Crochet-wise, though, it was mostly a bad-bad day.


For some days, I had been working on a handful of granny squares (my first granny squares!) and I was pretty excited about them and, specially, what I was going to do with them. Here, have a look:

I grew rather fond of the curly corners.

Love the color combo, inspired by my daily planner bookmark.

Already in it's place... or not?

Every day before bed there was a bit of crochet, to unwind and relax. It was good. And I had gotten to the point where I could start joining them! The joy, the excitement! So, Wednesday morning, I did. They are meant to be two identical things, each made of 6 single granny squares, so I joined 6 of them into something... that turned out to be too big. Like twice as big as it should. Ugh. It would not work at all. Bad crochet, bad (or, rather, bad sizing skills, OM, bad!)

Even though can't really see it here...
...I could fit both feet in one!

Then we went out to do some errands (although the first, and probably only and last, snow of the season covered a good three inches everywhere. That was the best bit of the day!) and when we got back home I was so tired that I decided the cleaning should wait, and I might as well finish the granny squares and see what could be done to size the slippers down. I hadn't even finished one round when, suddenly, SNAP! My hook broke in half.

Snappity snap!

True, it wasn't a good hook (it was very cheap) but really? Hrrmf. Now I've been forced to continue working on the squares (because damn if I'll give up!) with the smallest part of the hook, because it doesn't want to be glued together again and I do not dare use a bigger hook in my efforts to size them down.


This probably means I should invest in better (colorful!) new hooks.

Have you ever had a hook broke on you in the middle of a project?

Oath's mom

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"A" is for...

...daily planner!

It doesn't make much sense, does it? I've always called my daily planner (when I had one, that is), my agenda. And, of course, the fact that my name starts with "A" (which is what actually makes sense, isn't it?) also matters. You'll soon see why.

This year I had bought a cheap, boring daily planner. I wasn't using it much, but I found the need to use it grew as the days passed:

 When is Oath's next doctor appointment? I know I called a few days ago to check but now I can't remember...

 Oh, so you told me you wouldn't me coming for dinner today? I must have forgotten...

 If I just had a planner! Wait... I do, don't I?

These (or a variation of them) happened once too much and I decided I needed to start using the cheap, boring, not-so-pretty daily planner. What could I do to make me want to use it more?


Does the "A" make sense now?
I loved this color combination, even though I thought I wouldn't.

Two bookmarks.

Now, the execution isn't perfect, nothing near the perfect idea I had. The rainbow seven-strand braid I wanted to do as a bookmark was too chunky and I had to make two bookmarks, a regular and a four-strand braid... and now I don't know what to use one of them for (woe is me!). I didn't sew it all that well and it does not lay as nicely as it could...

But I love it.

I smile every time I look at it, and it's not only because rainbow-y colors make me happy. It is because for the first time in a (way too) long time, I've done something for me. I have believed that the effort to make me happy (even with something so simple as turning a boring "agenda" into a pretty one) was worth it.

Now if I could only find what to use the second marker for...

Oath's mom

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My weight gain journey: How? A plan

Copyright (c)123RF Stock Photos

After pinpointing the need of doing something to gain weight, and analyzing why was I stuck in such a rut, came the moment I feared the most: how would I do it?

I needed to add calories to my already calorie-laden days, but did not want to do it by eating junk food. What was point of trying to get to a healthier weight by eating unhealthy food? The solution has been to increase the number of meals: from three (lunch, dinner and late night snack) to five (breakfast, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner and late night snack). I have to admit that my breakfast is eaten late, more about the time of a mid-morning snack, or maybe an early lunch, because if I eat right as I get up I get sick, but it counts as a meal anyway.

This way, I can easily add around 800 calories more to my day. And surely 800 calories have to make a difference, right?

It's difficult, because I often forget to eat and revert to my old habits, but I'd say I'm doing well. Now I only have to wait and see what the scale says. Will something so easy work? Or will I need more help than that?

ETA: Also, I need to make sure I do not stop eating when I get angry/upset/too tired... as I'm known to do. This will be the most difficult thing, I know.

Oath's mom

Monday, March 11, 2013

March 11th Menu Plan

Meal planning is taking over my life: first dinners, then added in lunch, a few weeks ago breakfasts... and now I'm thinking about planning snacks and Oath's menu. If I don't stop soon I'll end up planning everything!

But hey, if it works...

Also, I wanted to share another recipe with you, but halfway through it I forgot to keep taking pictures, so I have no pictures of the finished dish. I nearly took one of our used plates but... uh... not so nice. So it will have to wait until next time!

  • Lunch: Penne with tuna.
  • Dinner: Scrambled eggs with shrimps and mushrooms.
  • Lunch: Steamed broccoli and cauliflower with cheese and cream.
  • Dinner: Fried rice.
  • Lunch: Peas with cured ham.
  • Dinner: Fish with caramelized onions
  • Lunch: Spaghetti with bacon, cheese and cream.
  • Dinner: Hamburgers and salad.
  • Lunch: Rice "a la cubana"
  • Dinner: Puff-pastry roll
  • Lunch: Leftovers. Or maybe lunch at my in-laws, it's not sure yet. (again, we're not sure when we're going to my in-law's anymore)
  • Dinner: Chicken strogonoff

Possible breakfasts in no particular order

Oath's Mom

Saturday, March 9, 2013

One about plants

I miss spring.

I miss it so much that I am willing to sacrifice a tiny bit of time and effort to bring it into my life. But how?

First, I thought I might buy fresh flowers every once in a while, but then I realized that I always feel sad for the poor flowers, so it kind of defeated the purpose. Pity, because that would have been an easy one.

And then, it dawned on me: I had those packets of herb seeds hidden in a drawer. My MIL gave them to me as a gift when I moved here (more than two years ago!), after she heard me say that I would love to have some herbs on the windowsill. Useful herbs, full of scent and flavor, that I could cook with. Parsley, mint, basil, thyme... and some lavender, that it's not that tasty but smells divine.

I loved the gift, but never got around to plant them. First, it wasn't the season. Then, I was pregnant and doctors around here want pregnant women to stay away from dirt and gardening. Then, Oath was born and I had other things on my mind: to prove it, I'll admit that the basil my mother bought me around that time died a sad death because I couldn't remember to water it for the life of me.

But now... now I have things a bit more under control, I'm starting to develop some routines (or so I hope!), so I was sure I'd remember to water them. And I've been dreaming of green for months, so it seemed the best moment to do it.
So I grabbed two pots (the one of the poor old basil and another one), prepared the dirt while Oath looked at me and babbled incessantly, and tore open two of the packets: parsley, because I've heard it's pretty indestructible, and basil, to redeem myself. Also, those were the two that the packs said could be planted earlier in the year.

The parsley. You can even make out some seeds if you look closely.

The new basil in the old basil's pot. Fingers crossed this one will make it!

Now they are basking in the late winter sun, next to their neighbor the aloe, the only plant I've managed not to kill since Oath's birth... 

...except for a Phalaenopsis that, amazingly, thrived in my not-so-good care! My mother bought it a few days after Oath was born, full of flowers (with the basil... the poor basil) and it's been a fighter. The flowers lasted a month, and then it started growing new leaves and an aerial root (or whatever that is). Look at it now, so green! It gives me hope that I can do it.

We'll see if the parsley and basil actually sprout and make me happy. For now, I'm trying not to drown them!

Any of you miss spring too? What are you doing to lure it closer?

Oath's mom

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My weight gain jouney: Why? A backstory.

Copyright (c)123RF Stock Photos

I have mentioned a few times I am on a diet to gain weight, but haven't explained much more about it. Now that I'm a bit more confident about the way I am walking this path I think it's time to share it with all of you. Because, maybe, it'll turn out I am not alone and that some of you can relate.

Before continuing, I feel the need to say that no, I do not have any eating disorder. Many people assume I do because I am skinny, but the truth is that, simply, I am skinny. I have always been. My sisters are skinny too, and my dad, and his grandfather before him, and probably a whole host of our ancestors. It is genetics, I know it, but that doesn't make it much easier.
What I do have, though, is a rather odd relationship with food.

I don't like eating, you see. There's food I love (Nutella, the Taiwanese sauce, Oreos, pesto sauce...) but eating itself... no. I'd rather be sleeping, or having a hot shower, or reading a book, than eating. It feels like a hassle, unless it's one of the foods I crave. So I guess that this is one of the reasons why I am on this journey. Because, when you don't enjoy something, you forget about it more often than if you do, don't you? Menu planning has helped me a lot, because when I didn't I would stare blankly at the fridge because nothing appealed to me, but it hasn't been enough.

The truth is I didn't mind. I didn't mind being skinny, I didn't mind having to plan a menu to know what to eat, I didn't mind not liking most of foods. I've been like this all my life, so it's my normal. I ate, maintained my weight, and was healthy, so why worry?
The problem came with the kid. I gained steadily during my pregnancy, and the doctors never worried. Most clothes kept on fitting me, and I had to buy less than 10 pieces of clothing during all my pregnancy. Then I had Oath, and started breastfeeding, and the 33 pounds I gained went slowly away.

And when I was not looking 11 pounds more were gone, too.


I started being more aware of what I was eating, but I kept loosing weight. I started worrying, because I felt I was eating a lot. And, to prove it, I spend 10 days counting calories. The result? I was eating an average of more than 2500kCals a day (some days as many as 3600!) when, according to all the calorie calculators, 1800 should be enough to maintain my weight while breastfeeding. No wonder I felt like I was eating enough! But, still, my weight was not budging. I stopped loosing (and it was high time!), but that was all I managed to achieve.

It's a hard journey, I guess like the one to loose weight. I might be facing health issues if I do not find a way to make this work. So, I need to gain weight. And, while I am at it, I need to learn to enjoy eating.

Oath's mom

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

10 things you can do to teach your baby to read

What do you say? That babies do not read?

Well, then. You are right. Not even the most intelligent babies can read, just the same as they can't perfectly understand cultural customs or follow pedestrian laws.

But babies can learn to want to read. And that, my friends, is the biggest step towards learning to read. But how do you make a baby want to read? With older kids and toddlers, it seems difficult (even though it doesn't have to be), but doable. But a baby? Isn't it too soon to try to teach them.

The answer is yes (it's an age to learn, not to be taught) and no (but babies learn through imitation, and it is never too soon to introduce them to good behaviors, like reading). You can kindle your kid's curiosity towards reading as soon as he starts getting interested in things. How? Try these:

  1. Read. Who does your baby look up to to learn new things? He learns to smile when you react to his smile smiling back; she learns to talk when you respond to his babble. The things you eat, he wants to try... the books you read, she wants to read too. Let your baby see you read: maybe a novel, a magazine, a letter... Let it become part of what he usually sees you doing, and soon he'll want to do it too.
  2. Read to him/her. Even when she doesn't show much interest, read her aloud one short baby book, some fragment of what you are reading, some verses of the Bible/Quran/your religious book of choice (if you are religious). Maybe just sit with a picture book and explain her what she can see on every page. It doesn't need to be for long.
  3. Have books on display. While it isn't as important as #1 or #2, seeing books around will help your kid see them as something normal, usual, a part of daily life.
  4. Let her/him play with books. Of course, keep the most fragile ones, the ones you want to keep perfect away from his grasp, but let him play with the others. He will bite them, try to tear the pages, drool all over the covers... Gently stop him breaking them, show him how to turn the pages (even if he won't learn for a long time), how to treat with respect the written words. And do not worry if he keeps trying to eat them: it's his way to show he's interested!
  5. Set a book-reading time. With Oath, we read before bedtime. After the bath, I put him in his crib and sit on the bed by his side. I give him one or two of his baby books for him to explore and I grab a book for me (a novel, or one of my university text books if an exam is coming up). I read while he plays, and every once in a while I help him turn a page, read a bit to him or show him the colorful pictures. When it's clear he's tired of it, he nurses and goes to sleep, but every day we have our reading time together, and he seems to like it more and more every time.
  6. Go to the library or the bookstore, let her "choose" some books to read. At first she will be drawn only to the colors, but as she grows older your baby will learn new ways to choose: big books or small ones, books with animals on the cover or books with real photos... Also, she will get used to going there, and you can forge a habit that will last for life.
  7. Change things up in his baby library. Have different kinds of books (albums, photo books, plastic inflatable ones for the bathtub, cloth ones...) and rotate from the beginning, so your baby does not get tired of always seeing the same, or overwhelmed because he has too many to choose from. Bringing back an old favorite, or adding a new one, can spark his curiosity again.
  8. Show him older siblings/cousins/friends reading. Kids like to copy other kids, so if there's an older sibling reading the baby is more likely to want to try it.
  9. Read some more. Because you can never read too much around a child and it's the way of sparkling their interest. And it's also good for you!
  10. Never force reading, or a book, on him/her. Does that one need explaining? Babies are stubborn, and they change their minds a lot. What they love today, they won't want to have anything to do with tomorrow, so breathe deep and go with the flow.

Have I missed something? What would you do to encourage your baby to love books?

Oath's mom

Monday, March 4, 2013

March 4th Menu Plan + Fried bananas recipe

Monday is here again, and we're back to being only three. So, this week I've had no help menu planning, so it's been back to my old and trusted recipes. I loved having G. around last week, and I so wish she could have stayed longer, but what can't be can't be, and I have to accept it.
Pity, because she was such a help!

I've decided to keep the "possible breakfasts" list, as I did last week, because it helped me a lot to actually eat breakfast! Also, I grabbed some dinner and snack ideas from there, so even when we felt like not following the plan, we had something loosely planned and did not have to run to the store for extras.

  • Lunch: Maccarroni with beef fajita's leftover sauce.
  • Dinner: Pork loin with salad.
  • Lunch: Strogonoff chicken
  • Dinner: Fish with seafood and caramelized onions.
  • Lunch: Fried rice.
  • Dinner: Mixed sandwiches (ham&cheese, Nutella)
  • Lunch: Spaghetti with bacon, cheese and cream.
  • Dinner: Puff pastry roll.
  • Lunch: Onion soup baked chicken drums.
  • Dinner: Scrambled eggs with whatever I have on hand.
  • Lunch: Leftovers. Or maybe lunch at my in-laws, it's not sure yet.
  • Dinner: Soup

Possible breakfasts in no particular order
  • 3 minute chocolate cake-in-a-cup
  • Fried banana with chocolate ice-cream and drizzled raw honey
  • Mixed berries and strawberry yoghurt smoothie.
  • Eggs and bacon (this is so rare around here that we're not sure we'll dare!)
  • Oreo and chocolate milkshake.
  • Chocolate milk and biscuits.
  • Homemade lemon sponge-cake.
  • Mixed berry muffins.
  • "P ão de queixo" (I have the packet there, the just add water and egg kind, and I need to use it soon)

And today, as an extra and because I've been asked about it a few times, my decandent calorie-laden fried banana recipe:

For two servings (or a generous one!), you need:
  • Two bananas
  • 4 tsp honey
  • 2 scoops ice cream (I prefer chocolate or, in second place, stracciatella, but others should work too)
  • Oil to fry. I use olive oil, but any oil should work. The healthier the better, though!
Cut the bananas in half and then in half lengthwise. In a pan, heat enough oil to nearly cover each banana portion (in the photos you can see better how much; maybe a cm deep) and when it's hot, put the bananas. 

Lower to medium heat and fry for 2-3 minutes, then flip them and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes more. 
One side done, golden and crispy.

The less you cook it, the less sugar will be released; the more, the more sugar will get caramelized, so the bananas will get crispier. If you overcook them, though, they'll get soft instead of crunchy: not that they are bad this way, just harder to get out of the pan.
Chocolate and bananas go so well together.
While they are cooking, put one scoop of ice cream in a bowl. Top it with the fried bananas and drizzle a bit of honey on top. If you, like us, have raw honey that crystallizes in winter, put 4tsp or so in a microwave safe container and microwave it for 10 seconds. That should be enough.
Doesn't this honey look yummy?
 Eat fast so you can enjoy the cold and hot extra-sweet goodness.

Excuse the mediocre photo, I could barely wait to eat it.

A dollop of whipped cream on top would make it even better, but I opt to skip it so I can pretend it's a healthier dessert. What do you think? Want to try it? If you do, let me know!

Oath's Mom

Saturday, March 2, 2013

March plan

Today is already March 2, so I am a bit late for the next installment of my Ready, steady, clean! 2013 plan. But better late than never, right?

This is going to be the living room month, and -I must admit it- it scares me. Quite a lot, in fact. Our living room is also our dining room, and so it turns into the most used space of the house. We spend all our awake time here, except potty and cooking breaks (and some cleaning that has to be spent elsewhere, of course), so there's always something going on. It might be me with a crochet project (I still haven't learned to put them away between each crocheting session), Partner working on his computer, Oath playing on the mat we have specially for him (so he doesn't bump his head too hard when he, inevitably, tries to stand unassisted and falls), TV watching... or everything at the same time! I know it is difficult to clean something we're using, and let's not talk about organizing.

But it must be done, and this is the month. Wish me luck! (I'll need it!)

The facts:
  • The living room is a mess because it is the most used room and there's always someone there, except while we sleep (and, sometimes, even then!)
  • It is, also, where we settle when we have guests, so it is the room other people see most... and they judge our house for it.
  • There are way too many things there, but since they're not mine, I can't purge them. Organization it must be, then.
  • I do not like the TV stand/cabinet/thingie, but it must stay. I hope to like it a bit more if it stays organized. (I do not have high hopes, though.)

The plan:
  • Organize the cabinet.
  • Organize the table end where our printer, modem and some office supplies live.
  • Get rid of the random stuff behind the big couch, so the mat can be properly stored there when not in use.
  • Organize the small shelves and my university items (bags, books, odds and ends) corner.
  • Move the small sofa and rescue all the toys that rolled beneath it. I'm sure there will be a handful waiting patiently to be found!
  • Turn the wine shelves into toy shelves. Move the wine into the bar-cabinet or down into the storage room. We don't drink wine, anyway, so we do not need it here.
  • Organize the TV thingie, being careful not to leave anything dangerous within Oath's reach.
  • Empty the chair corner and put the chair back on its spot by the table.
    • Then, buy the extra chairs we need and move the mismatched ones to the storage room.
  • Baby-proof everything! Drawers, corners, sockets... We've already started on this one, so I am one step ahead. Yay!
  • Take care of the plants. Get rid of the dead ones, replant some, clean the ledge...
  • Review the plans, see what worked and what didn't. Post. 

I think all of this will be too much, but all that gets done will take me a step closer to having a living room I can like... and a living room I like is something I need in this period of life I am in.

What about you? Is there any room that you could like a bit more in your home?

Oath's mom

Friday, March 1, 2013

February evaluation

 This "kid's room" month has been, in my opinion, a success. If you take a glimpse at the list it doesn't look much like it, but honestly, the things I haven't done are the small ones. I might have not gotten rid of the desk, but I have tidied it up and it looks like a desk again. I haven't even looked at "our" side of the closet, so the shoes and coats are still a mess, but Oath's side is all nice and pretty. At least, as nice and pretty as it gets around here! And my sister G. had a clear bed to sleep on, which was the ultimate point of this month's plan.

  • Store the kid's clothes and bring them to the storage room, or to my in-laws, or somewhere they do not add to the mess in this room. Partly done.
  • While I'm at it, organize the clothes that still fit him and the next size, so the closet stops trying to spill its guts onto the room's floor. Done!
  • Organize the other side of the closet, with all the shoes and suitcases and coats.
  • Get rid of the desk and all the things on it. At least, of the things on it.
  • Keep the laundry routine going, closing the clothes' rack if the clothes are dry and the next load is not ready. It does not solve the problem, but at least some days it will look like the problem does not exist. Done!
  • Clean! Sweep, vacuum, mop, dust. While I am at it, clean the window too. Partly done.
  • Change the bed sheets, and make the beds. Done!
  • Review the plans, see what worked and what didn't. Post. Doing it!
Give myself an 8.5/10, because the big things got done and, even though it's not perfect, now I smile every time I enter the room. Ah, the joys of clear floor space! I have even started gathering ideas on Pinterest to slowly turn Oath's room into something I love... before he gets a say and I have to give in to his preferences. I shiver to think what will he become obsessed with (Pocoyo? Lightning McQueen? Who knows!), but there's no way to know yet. I'm sure I'll be notified, eventually, don't you think?

What about you? What have you done this month?

Oath's Mom
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