Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Breakfast Lineup - Trying Yogurt Pancakes

For years, we have been following a breakfast schedule during the week.

Monday - Muffins / Banana Bread (earlier in the year it was smoothies, but the kids led a full-fledged revolt so I switched it back to muffins for the winter)
Tuesday - Eggy Bread
Wednesday - Waffles
Thursday - Cinnamon Rolls
Friday - Pancakes
Saturday - Wildcard (cereal, eggs, veggie sausage, potatoes, donuts, beignets)
Sunday - Wildcard

Connor and Helen essentially know what's going to happen the rest of the day, based on what they ate for breakfast. It's very grounding.

All of these items were selected because Connor would eat them, not because they were the best nutritional choice. Sometimes, I feel a bit of guilt over some of them, and I try and boost the nutrition content in small ways, without making the item undesirable to Connor. Parents everywhere are rolling their eyes at this, wondering how it is possible that the pickiest eater gets to dictate breakfast each day.

Here's my new twist on pancakes.

Although I'm a fan of the Aunt Jemima box - it's simple - and consistent, I thought I might be able to boost the nutrition by making the pancakes from scratch and adding yogurt to the batter. I also made up a strawberry sauce to put in - and on - the pancakes.

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup Stonyfield nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 tablespoons whole milk
Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, add the wet and stir until the batter is the consistency you like. The batter was a bit thick until I added the strawberry sauce to it, which I did by just swirling it around the pancake after I had dropped the batter into the pan.

Strawberry Sauce
  • strawberries, pureed
  • small amount of lemon juice
  • add sugar if the sauce isn't sweet enough

I liked the pancakes with the strawberry sauce inside them. Connor and Helen gulped down the pancakes with the strawberry sauce on top.

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions are my own.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Snow Daze

When you live in the Mid-Atlantic, you have some years with no snow, a few years with a few days of snow, and the occasional freakishly large snowstorm. (Famous last words to my South African au pair - don't worry about the snow, it almost never snows here and when it does, it melts by the next day. That was the winter of 2009-2010 when we had a record breaking 56 inches of snow. I still feel badly about that, though we had a lot of fun and that winter is the reason Connor and Helen think we live in a snowy climate.)

Because our snow usually melts within a few days - sometimes, more quickly than that, we are trained to take advantage of the snow when we have it. This year, we had 3 decent snowfalls. And by decent, I mean there was snow on the ground for at least a few hours. It, along with extremely cold days, resulted in several days with no school and a couple of days with delayed school. Ed also scored a few days off from work and a few days a late arrival. Here's what we did.
  • Mud sledding! The first snow that resulted in a school closure and federal government closure was virtually gone by the afternoon. But we grabbed two more neighbor kids and headed to the sledding hill anyway. The mud most definitely did not bother Connor. But when I landed in a large mud puddle, I thought it was less than awesome. My washing machine got a lot of use that day.
  • Helen skied down the hill by our home. Our most recent snow was a good one. Before the plows came through, Helen took a few runs down the hill and came back reporting that there were moguls on the street and she successfully maneuvered through them. I'm sad not to have a photo of this, because it would be a great one to show her when she's older and wonders why she was so impressed with that hill.
  • Ed and I went cross-country skiing. Many years ago, Ed's parents gave us cross-country skis. We try and take them out anytime we can. Lucky for me, Ed is very smart and knows the snow will melt quickly and the plows will come, so he got me out early the day after our only really good snow. We got a few miles under our belt and I called it cross training for the day.
  • Connor and his friend went flying over a manhole cover on the sledding hill at the park behind his friend's house. How neither of them managed to break something is still beyond me. Ed tried the maneuver once and caught enough air that the sled was toast after that.
  • Purchased two new sleds. (Helen finally gave up the toddler sled and Ed broke our existing sled - see above.)
  • Made snow cream - just like in Little House in the Big Woods! This was a huge hit.
  • Built a snow sofa.

  • Practiced whacking snowballs.

  • Built tiny snowmen.

  • Built an upside down snowman which was quickly a snow pile. Gravity. It works.
  • Went skiing in Vermont with cousins, Wisp and Whitetail with friends, and Liberty with family. Total ski days for the kids this year are 10 - with hopes of getting another one in before the season ends. Connor can ski every trail at each of the local mountains, and has progressed to wanting to do moguls, jumps, and everything else daring. I've already asked Ed to handle the resulting ER visits this will surely cause. Helen is skiing both green and blue, and is a better skier than she gives herself credit for. We need to head out West next year to get her another week of lessons to build her confidence up a bit more.
  • Scored a make-up day at school because of all the lost instruction time. But guess what? I'm planning on letting Connor play hooky that day. It only seems right. Now I just need to get caught up at work so I can do this!
  • Ran in the snow - fun! and the ice - not fun!
  • Drank LOTS of hot cocoa (Helen and me).
  • Indoor swimming when we stayed at a hotel near Whitetail.
Things we failed to do:
  • Light a fire in our fireplace, which was decommissioned when we had birds, but since the birds are dead, we could start using it anytime.
Although Spring visited us this past week, we may get one last breath of winter with some snow on Wednesday this week. Maybe we'll get that fire lit after all.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pile the Miles - and Dressing for Success

Helen's favorite part of nearly every athletic activity is selecting proper attire. She was delighted, a few weeks ago, to don her running shorts and head out for a 1 mile run with Moms Run This Town (with kids, this time!). Luckily, she realized that the cool temps meant she'd need a little more than her tiny running shorts, and added a few layers to go with them.

We are so ready to run this town - and drink hot chocolate afterwards!
After our run, we made our official house "Pile the Miles" chart. I'm aiming to run 1,000 miles this year, Helen is going for 20 and Connor is going for 40. We scaled each chart separately, so that the tops of each of our columns are aligned. We carefully colored in our progress to date - and made plans for our next miles.  It looks like we all have a long way to go! We'll see how they look on December 31!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Science Fair

Unlike many area elementary schools, prior to this year, our school had no science fair. But, a mom at the school who does a ton of work already, volunteered to start one up. The students had so  much fun visiting the various projects and creating their projects that the fair is already on the calendar for next year. Our school is really lucky to have this parent - and she has a child just 1 year old than Helen, so she's going to be around for many more years.

Connor worked with Ed to test the expansion of various substances when frozen to two different temperatures. Helen played a supporting role. The highlight of the experiment for Connor was when I intentionally dropped an egg that had been cooled to 20 degrees to confirm that it wasn't frozen.

Many liquids freeze at 20 degrees.

Eggs, do not freeze at 20 degrees.

But that is OK, because seeing your clean-obsessed mom intentionally drop an egg on the floor is hilarious. Trust me on this one. It even made it into the final display board, which Connor was extremely proud to have created.

At the Science Fair, I had three very proud scientists. I was the jerk mom who ran in to see her child's project, spoke to the Principal briefly, and then dashed out - probably to go running, but I'm not entirely sure about that. I had something else to do, I know.


Monday, February 17, 2014


Helen rarely throws anything away. In fact, quite the opposite. Whenever she notices me throwing something away, she takes a look just to make sure there's nothing she couldn't use. She then squirrels away the item (expired coupon book, paper clip, string, scraps of felt...) letting me know that she plans to use the item in "an invention".

I like the idea that she's trying to invent things. I'm not so thrilled about the piles of junk that accumulate.

Last night, I decided to start cleaning one of the three storage rooms in our basement. I wanted to vacuum and organize the area that surrounds my treadmill, because the untidiness of the area seems to add to the misery of running on a treadmill.

I came upon a metal box that looked like part of something mechanical, but I couldn't determine its provenance. I brought it to Ed and asked "trash or not trash", so I could determine if it could safely be thrown away. Ed decided that it was part of a heating system we replaced a few years ago, and deemed it trash.

At this point, my little hoarder piped up "It doesn't surprise me that you still have that useless piece of junk. You people never throw anything away."

Is she trying to say she comes by her hoarding habit naturally?


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

This year's pinewood derby featured mixed-age runs. Rather than running the cars by Boy Scout pack (which correlates to age), each car was randomly assigned a number. It wasn't until the end of the evening that everyone found out who won their pack.

This turned out to be a very cool thing for Connor.

Three of the top four cars were from Connor's pack. They raced in three different heats, so three of these boys got to win their heats, which is a pretty cool feeling. From the parental perspective, it was awesome to watch Connor's joy as he won each of his heats, and equally awesome that a different kid won for their age group, so we don't have to spend a Saturday at the regional meet. (The back story here is that in Connor's first year of pinewood racing, his car was much faster than everyone else's car in his pack. It looked like a bus, so it was purely a function of getting the best axles and weighting it reasonably correctly, not a function of designing the most aerodynamic car. When we got to the regional race, Connor was so outmatched by the cars that other boys dads had built that he lost every race which was not fun.)

Connor came away with the design award - which means in a voice vote, his car got the loudest cheers. Ed and I had left the event by the time the cheering happened, so I cannot take credit for tilting the vote in his directions. He wins some cool camping equipment - which he'll receive at the next meeting. I actually love that his pack leader puts the emphasis on winning design, rather than fastest car, because design is where the kids really show their stuff.

Below is Connor's car, which Ed worked on with him. When it raced, a minifig with R2D2, Chewbacca, and Luke rode along, as well as a few weapons.

Connor worked hard on the car - and is already thinking about next year's car! He wants to win for speed and looks - which is a difficult combination, I suspect.