Monday, April 30, 2012

Garden Gourmet Mac'n Cheese

Yesterday I went to the market to get some peaches to put in Joel's barley cereal. I try to go twice a month because the veggies are just so good there! My favorites are the sweet carrots, and Murad loves their giant green peppers. I also wanted to pick up some squash to make the dish I'm going to share below. Joely doesn't really eat baby food anymore, but we keep a few pouches on hand for quick lunches. The other day I was feeding him some baby food mac n' cheese. I was looking at the back of the pouch at the ingredients and thought, this would be good for adults to eat if it wasn't blended. His pouch listed squash, onions, cheddar cheese, heavy cream and macaroni as the ingredients. My mom had a recipe that had a yummy cheese sauce made of some of my favorite cheeses. So, I used that (and added canned chicken for my husband) to make the Garden Gourmet Mac n' Cheese! It was so yummy and filling. My husband loved it and asked for seconds. I'm so glad to have found Mac n' Cheese that is yummy and healthy. That means we won't have to rely on Kraft or Velveeta for Joel!

Garden Gourmet Mac n' Cheese
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/4 cup milk (I used plain Almond milk)
1 Tbsp instant minced onion
2 tsp dry mustard
1 lb mix of shredded cheddar cheese, fontina and feta
3 1/3 cups of cooked whole wheat macaroni
2 4.5 oz cans of organic chicken
1 cup of chopped sweet onion
1 1/2 cups of cubed, steamed yellow squash

Melt butter in skillet over low heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk. Add minced onion and mustard. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Add cheese and let melt.

Combine macaroni, cheese sauce, squash, onion, and chicken in 1 1/2 quart greased baking dish. Bake on 350 for 35 minutes.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mother Fears

Before having Joel, I didn't realize how scary being a mother would be day in and day out. In fact, I envisioned myself being this carefree mother who would let my baby fall down without worrying. I was determined to be the opposite of my mother.
That quickly changed when I was pregnant. First, I discovered that everything I did could possibly affect Joel. I was extremely careful about what I ate during those first twelve weeks. No turkey sandwiches, no weird cheeses, etc. Joel rarely let me eat my guilty pleasure...Chick-fil-A. Something about it (and most chicken) made him (me) nauseated. Unfortunately, my love for Chick-fil-A did not die after giving birth...
I was also so careful not to lift things. I just really wanted a healthy baby. I thought my worries would be gone after he was born. Boy, oh boy was I wrong. I remember crying in the closet for a week because I thought I was messing him up already. I find myself going through those panicky phases again.
The other day I watched a show on the ID channel. The ID channel is one of my guilty pleasures. I got hooked watching it in the wee hours of the night when nursing my son. Sometimes I would freak myself, but I still watched. Last night I watched an episode in which a mother sacrificed herself so that her kids could get to safety. She was kidnapped, raped and murdered. She did all the right things by leaving clues, calling 911 and screaming for help in public, but the 911 call center and police kind of dropped the ball.
I felt an extreme connection to this mother who I did not know. I would do anything to save Joel; however, I worry about what would happen if he did not have a mother? the woman's husband remarked that it was a blessing that their sons were too young to remember the ordeal, but also that it was a shame that they will not have any concrete memories of their mother. Things like that freak me out. I not only have to worry about his safety, but I also have to make sure I'm safe so that he has a mother.
That's one of the reasons why I'm so picky about what I feed Joel and my family. I know my friends don't understand how the queen of casseroles now prepares hearty, healthy meals. How the person who once bought one veggie once a month, now visits the farmer's market for fruit and veggies. How the person who used to live on Lean Cuisines, can no longer stand them. Yep. that's me. I I think it's great that my family is coming to see things the way I do, especially in regards to soy. Joel's pediatrician wanted us to switch him to soy formula, but we were reluctant. I've read so many bad things about soy and Murad and I have tried to exclude it as much as we can from our diet. I reluctantly put Joel on soy formula. It did not affect his spit-up as we thought. He grew out of the spit-up phase when he started crawling just as his dad did. We immediately put him back on regular formula and I'm so glad we did. It's one of those mother fears that I had and I wish I would've trusted my instincts instead of listening to what others thought was best. We love our pediatrician, so that is not to say that we don't trust her completely. I just think sometimes it's not all scientific.
Murad and I also try to avoid fast food. Of course, we have our weaknesses: Chipotle and Jimmy John's are the two we battle right now! I do not want us to become dependent on them. It makes me sad that fast food is so cheap and so many families have no choice but to rely on it. I feel like our nation does not do a good job of educating poor families on how to eat better.
Finally, GMO and GE foods are also on my list. I feel passionately that the government should provide labels for consumers. Many do not know which foods contain GMO and GE ingredients.
Why is this so important to me? Obviously, I want Joely to eat well, but it is also important for us to do the same. Remember how I said that I want Joel to have a mom (and dad)? This is why! We need to keep our bodies in tip-top condition. Food is one of those things that is easy to control. I want to lead a long, healthy life for myself and my family. I want Joel to know his mother.
My mom started reading The Ugly Truth by Robin O'Brien. I have not read it yet, but I follow her work closely. My mom was astonished by what she read. While we ate extremely healthy as children, my mom couldn't help but think that she made errors. She worries that the allergies we have may have been due to something we ate or that she ate while pregnant. While this may seem extreme, it's not. I've heard countless cases of children having ill effects due to eating McDonald's and soy.
As I learn more about the food industry, I'm sure I'll share more ramblings. Just know that my posts are out of love for my son and love for all children. I want to make all parents aware of food issues. I know I can't, but maybe some parent will stumble across this blog and learn something.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Joel One Year Photo Sneak "Pic"

A few pictures from our photo session with Novella Photography in Wichita, KS! Seriously in love with these photos!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Approaching one year

On Sunday, Joel turns eleven months. That means I will have one month left of babyhood with my bub. He's already showing signs of being a big boy. I find myself longing for the times when he was a sweet sleeping prince. In fact, last week Joel slept in our room while my mother-in-law and brother-in-law visited. We also bunked with him when we went to visit my parents for Easter. During both visits, Joel spent nights in our bed. Even though it was mighty uncomfortable, I was in heaven. He nestled his sweet, snuggly self in between his father and me. It brought me back to the summer when we first brought him in our bed. He wouldn't sleep well in his pack n' play. He'd stop breathing from time-to-time. In our bed, he found his rhythm. He was safe. Having him back here made me feel like he needed us again. He was no longer my independent big boy; he was my needy baby.
While those first few months were pure joy for me (besides the lack of sleep), they were torture for Murad. It took a bit of time for him to develop a strong bond with Joely. Now their bond is as strong as ever. So while I long for the days of infancy, Murad is enjoying this stage of rapid growth.
I find that as we approach one year, people are already asking if we're ready for another one. Even my level-headed dad asked when we were having number two (I think he just wants more grandchildren to spoil, and he knows he's not getting any out of my brother in the near future). The truth is, we don't know. I feel like with Joel we definitely knew we were ready for him. In fact, our desire to have Joel was so strong that we kind of jumped into it without considering all the factors. I wouldn't have it any other way though. I just wonder when that desire will come again. We go back in forth in our desire for another wee one. Three weeks ago we picked out prospective sibling names for Joel. We even discussed how we would make it work financially (something we never did when we decided to have Joel). Last week, we were convinced that we were one and done. We kind of go in cycles like that. Fortunately, our children-wanting cycles are the same. I also kind of feel like I'm being selfish for asking for another blessing. I don't think I fully grasped how wonderful Joel would be. I mean I had NO IDEA that he would be this awesome. I am so fascinated by him. I could sit for hours and watch him explore. I never knew what I was missing before he arrived. Do I deserve to experience another blessing? Am I just missing that new baby feeling? Why does Joel have to share? (I know. Who says that? Murad calls me a brat when I complain about having to share with my brother...and yes. I still complain!) I guess I'll never know. I think in this situation the answer won't be as clear as it was with Joel.
Even though it's not clear if Joel will have a younger sibling, I do know one thing: My little boy is growing up. It is bittersweet to watch him grow. I've never been more proud of his accomplishments and so heartbroken as well. I'll never get this year back. All I have are the thousands of photos and videos, millions of mental movies, and hundreds of tiny used clothes that let me know he was once a baby. Our living room is constantly covered in toys that Joel has thrown across the room. I remind myself that at one point, he could not throw. Each morning, he throws his food on the floor for the dogs; he could not do that before. I constantly look at his birth certificate to remind myself that a six pound baby did exist. As we approach one year, I remind myself that a baby once lived here.