Foodie Friday: Weeknight Apple Crumble

Weeknight apple crumble. A quick solution to fresh apple pie.

Our weeknight hours are very limited. We get home between 6:30 and 7:00 and bedtime is 8:30. I try to squeeze as much quality as I can out of that time. My twin 7-year-olds and I talk about our days, discussing academics, relationships, and the international news. If I’m lucky, the girls will have liked the dinner served at childcare and I can put off my own dinner until they’re in bed. Sometimes, though, they come home without having eaten and I have to scramble to feed them before bath time.

I have a number of weeknight quick meals in my repertoire: hummus, chips and fresh fruit; turkey and cheese sandwiches with baby carrots; whole grain mac and cheese with frozen sweet corn. I can’t plan for these meals since I never know when the girls will decide that dinner at the YMCA is yucky.

On occasion, the girls will ask for dessert, and our default is ice cream. Last night, however, we had fresh-baked apple crumble. While I make a fine apple-cranberry pie in the winter, there’s no way I could whip one up in during the evening rush. Instead, on weeknights, I make a super-quick version of apple crumble

This is no healthy dish. It’s loaded with sugar and butter. However, I believe that giving in to hedonism every now and then is a good thing. I’m teaching my girls to indulge in moderation. And, as J put it the first time she tasted my apple crumble, “This is so good! The ingredients say it should taste like apple and sugar, but it tastes like love.”

Usually, when I share recipes, I at least pretend that I measure my ingredients and give measurable quantities alongside my ingredient list. You won’t get that here. Part of the way I keep this reasonable for weeknights is to minimize dishes that require washing. No measuring spoons. One mixing bowl. I pop the crumbles in the oven when I pop the girls in the bath and we eat them once the children are dry and dressed.

With no more ado, here’s my recipe:

Apple Crumble

  • Frozen single-serving pastry shells
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple per 2 shells
  • Handful of brown sugar
  • 2 handfuls of all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Teensy touch of nutmeg
  • 1 handful of granulated sugar
  • Chunk of butter
  • (Optional) Handful of oats
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Place your pastry shells on a baking sheet. If you think they need extra support, a muffin tin should help.
  3. Peel and core the apples. Dice into small pieces. We like the pieces tiny, but feel free to do as much chopping as you have time for.
  4. Place apples, brown sugar, salt, nutmeg and one handful of flour in a bowl. Mix. The mixture should glisten. If it looks watery, throw in some more flour.
  5. Divide the apple mixture between the pastry shells. Not enough apple? Mix up some more… or just make some extra crumble topping to fill it up.
  6. Mix the remaining flour, sugar and oats (if you’re using them). I just use the apple bowl because I’m lazy like that. Rub the butter into the mixture until it looks like breadcrumbs or you run out of time, whichever comes first.
  7. Divide the crumb topping between the apple-fixed shells.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes. They’re done when you start to smell them. The apple mixture should be bubbling and the topping lightly browned.
  9. Remove children from bath and serve. Serve the crumbles to the children, that is, not the other way around.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Toddler Thursday: The Games We Play

One of the best things about parenting toddler twins is watching them play games together. Even though it was TOUGH parenting twin toddlers (ohhh, the double melt downs on the sidewalks were brutal!!), I always tried to find the virtues  they brought to each others lives.  I loved to just sit back and watch their creativity and playfulness develop with each other.   They are now 7, and I still see the virtue of their “twin-ness” help them to develop these creative outlets, through play. 

Here are some examples of games they played when my Deuce were almost 2 years old:

Spot Throwing: They each stood on a small round rug (ikea, $3) and they’d throw the ball back and forth to each other. If they got off the circle, they must get back on before throwing again. *This was a game they made up themselves!

Tickle-fest: They chased each other with a high pitch scream and tickling fingers. This often lead to tears however, because they were not quite sure how to tickle appropriately. For instance, eye sockets are not very ticklish.

1,2,3 Splash: I posted this video on our blog. It never gets old.

Whhheerrrre’s…(insert child’s name)? : This game is kind of like pee-ka-boo and hide and seek game put together. It involves a big loud celebration when the person is found.

Flashlight hide and seek: This game was so much fun to join in on! Turn off all the lights in the basement and run around like a mad man.

Party in the Wardrobe: I had emptied out an old wardrobe that we are planning on getting rid of. The kids came up with a game where they both go inside, shut the door, and scream and laugh as loud as they can. Then they step out quietly, look at each other, laugh, and go back in again for more. It never got old.

Dance Party: We’ve always had dance parties with the boys, but they decided to step up the party with removing the huge rug (by themselves!), insisting all their clothes come off, and spinning and jumping around like little crazy monkeys.

Cooking: They liked to pretend to cook while I’m cooking. They’d pull mixing bowls out, fill them with a few golf balls and stir them around, adding salt (pretend salt) every now and then.

Stump jumping: When they got tired of ‘cooking’ they would turn the bowls and pans over and arrange them so that they can jump from ‘stump’ to ‘stump’ with out touching the ground. It was pretty impressive to watch.

Butt scoot/ knee walk/ gallop: Basically they seemed to encourage each other to come up with different ways of getting from point “A” to point “B”. The butt scoot was hilarious to watch… it looked kind of like the crab walk, but with their butt dragging on the ground and they used their legs to pull them. The knee walk was cute, but got old when they were both doing it when you’re trying to walk across a busy parking lot. Not fun.

Bu-bye: They were really exploring their independence by saying “bu-bye” to us and then walking out of the room. They would come back and yell “hi!” and then seconds later they are saying “bu-bye” with a wave over their shoulders. They also often held each other hands as they waved “bu-bye” to us… like they were going off together to cause nothing but trouble.

Oh, don’t I know it :)

What games have your twin toddlers come up with to play together?

Toddler twins play the best games! Are your kids' favorites in the mix?

 

When to Keep the News from Kids

The first time their father saw my daughters in the real world, in life-after-NICU, it was just off Old Ironsides Ave. on Fort Hood. I drove the 40 miles from our house to welcome Daddy home from NTC, the generically named National Training Center in California, where he’d been in desert training with his Army unit in preparation for another Iraq deployment. It was June 2006 and the babies had been home from the hospital for a few weeks.

Twins home from the hospital

I breastfed my babies in the car, less nervous that usual as a brand new breast-feeder. I knew that the federal laws that held sway on base were clear about my right to breastfeed. Furthermore, any potentially objecting soldiers would back of the moment I waved the printout of the law I kept in my diaper bag at them. I’m delighted to report that I never had need to pull out that printout.

I have a love/hate relationship with Fort Hood. It is so very, well, military. It’s all squares and tan and straight lines. Vehicles with a primary purpose of combat are on display everywhere. Everyone obeys the speed limit. Everyone manages to be extraordinarily polite while swearing every third word. People called me Mrs. SGT Rod. I’ve always gone by Ms in the rest of the world and really prefer Sadia, but try telling soldiers that.

I haven’t been to Fort Hood since I got divorced. We still have a couple of friends who live in neighbouring towns, but plans to meet up have fallen through. Still, when I heard today’s news about the shooting on base, I felt that sick feeling I used to have when my now ex-husband was deployed and yet another casualty was reported on the radio. I’ve checked in with friends who work there, and everyone is accounted for.

Feeling close to workplace shootings isn’t new to me. For years, I worked on the 25th floor of the building in and from which Charles Whitman killed 14 people in 1966. A neighbor of mine was on base during the last Fort Hood shooting, although my husband at the time was nowhere near there, instead at a relatively cushy assignment in South Korea. Most recently, I was under lockdown myself during a student’s tragic breakdown. It never gets normal, though. It’s disturbing and surreal every single time.

I wonder, though, if we’re suffering from mass shooting saturation. My Facebook feed, usually on fire with thoughts, updates and prayers for whatever’s been in the news lately, was nearly silent about today’s shooting. The only people who even mentioned it were friends from the Army and friends otherwise associated with the military. When I asked on Facebook why everyone was silent on today’s tragedy, the response was that no one even knew it had happened.

I usually talk to my daughters about the news of the day. Their father has served in two wars. They’re not ignorant of the ugliness present in the world. They know in vague terms about what’s going on in Syria and Ukraine. J followed the search for Libya’s Gaddafi closely.

I think I’m going to keep the radio off or tuned to music for the next few days, at least when the children are in the car. Maybe, completely selfishly speaking, it’s a good thing that no one seems to want to talk about what happened today. I don’t know how to tell my girls about this crazed killing without frightening them. I have no answers, explanations, or comfort. I have no way to convince my daughters that Daddy is safe on his base or that I’ll be safe at work. I don’t know why or when to keep the news from kids, but I will this time.

But for a moment, let’s speak more generally, human to human. Four people died today, not far from my home, at a place that once was, for better or worse, a big part of my life. Many many more are dying much uglier deaths in Syria. You can spare a thought for them. It costs you nothing.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Big Kid Steps: Self-Care Milestones

My daughters turn 8 next month. There is no question that they are big kids.

When they were infants and toddlers, I looked out for the milestones that would indicate their growing: rolling over, sitting, pulling up, walking, talking. I knew that they would do these things on their own schedule. I rejoiced for each one, even as it brought me closer to the day that my girls would leave to me embark on their own independent lives.

Now they are schoolchildren, it feels like the milestones M and J are reaching are externally scheduled. Sure, they’ve lost teeth at their bodies’ whim, but progressing from one grade to another, their increasingly complex dance recital performances, academic accomplishments… all these markers are scheduled on the calendar.

Now, when I discover something that shows me that one child or another is growing up, it’s unexpected and still as bittersweet as those early milestones.

Take bath time, for example. My daughters have been washing their own hair and bodies for a while now. They still need me to squeeze out the shampoo and bath soap, but they can take it from there. They like me out of the bathroom while they’re bathing so they can play a game titled Ocean Water Girls with their Barbies.

Earlier this week, I went into the bathroom to get my daughters out of the bath and discovered that M had gotten out by herself, dried herself off and put on her bathrobe. I didn’t make a big deal of it, just saying, “Nice job drying your [waist-length] hair.” She responded with, “I think I prefer this. Sometimes you dry me too rough and sometimes you dry me too gentle and leave me soggy.” There’s something about the idea of a soggy M, that most precise and perfectionist of children, that warms my soul.

Last night, I found her trying to cut her own fingernails. She hadn’t quite mastered it, so I took over with her blessing, but I thanked her for trying. “It feels more private,” she told me, “to do this stuff.” I told her I completely understood and that she should feel free to whatever self-care tasks she felt like handling.

J still wants me to dry her off after bath and cut her nails. She’s my physical touch love language speaker, after all. However, she does little things to show me that she’s growing up too. For example, she mentioned in passing that two friends had their birthday parties at the same time last weekend. She and M decided which one they wanted to go to and didn’t even bother me telling me about the one they’d miss. I let J know that she still needed to give me such invitations, since a “No” RSVP was at least as important as a “Yes.” She understood, but it struck me that not long ago, my daughters would have come to me for help in deciding between the parties or just handed the invitations over without recognizing the conflict.

J is no terrible hurry to grow up and is farther behind on her self-care milestones. As she told me last night before nodding off, “I’m glad I have a lot of years until I’m 17. I don’t know where I want to go to college yet.”

You have plenty of time, little one.

Big kids increasingly take care of their own needs and need mommy less.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Anna and Elsa Make Passions Run High

Like much of the rest of the world, my daughters and I love Disney’s latest animated blockbuster, Frozen. And when I say “love,” I mean “luuuurve” with swirly hearts and glitter suspended in the air.

In case you don’t know much about Frozen, allow me to give a short and sweet overview without any (truly movie-spoiling) spoilers. Maybe this happens to be your first stop on the internet after living in seclusion since November. I actually met someone at church on Sunday who didn’t know about the movie.

Frozen avoids my biggest pet peeve about princess movies. I’m tired of boy-saves-girl-and-they-look-into-each-other’s-eyes-and-get-married-the-end. That’s not the picture I want my children to have of marriage or femininity or life. Frozen doesn’t give you that. Yes, there’s a charming prince and a pining princess, but two different characters tell them that it is completely ridiculous to get engaged to someone you just met.

Yeah. I know. I got engaged to my ex-husband after knowing him for less than a week. We were together for 9 years and made some fantastic babies. I don’t believe it was our lightning bolt romance that led to the demise of our marriage. But we’re the exception, people! And even we were focused in those first days about what the hard work of marriage would mean, not just the butterflies of attraction.

The central love story in the film isn’t a romance. It’s the affection between two sisters. The first time we watched the movie, I looked over at my daughter J during a pivotal scene between the sisters Anna and Elsa. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. She looked at me and shrugged. “I just love Sissy so much,” she said.

But it’s not happily ever after at our house either.

Before we’d even left the movie theatre after that first show, my daughters split up the main characters. J was Elsa; M was Anna. M even saved up to buy J an Elsa doll for Christmas. When singing their duets, my daughters’ voices fit together just right and they always know which part is whose. Over the past few months, their character assignment has meant that they aren’t allowed to sing each other’s solos.

This morning, we were playing the soundtrack, J singing along with the first verse or so of “Let It Go” and then losing interest.

M picked up where J left off, only to be stared down by her sister. M had had enough. She planted both her feet, glared at J and lashed out at her.

“I’m sick of you telling me what to sing. Sick, sick, sick of it! You aren’t even singing! Why can’t I sing Elsa’s song? Stop telling me what to do!”

I happened to be holding my iPad at the time and captured my reaction.

Mom's reaction to her 7-year-old vehement self-defense.

I was covering my mouth because I didn’t want her to see my smile. Her righteous vehemence was just so cute!

J was just as taken aback as I. She hadn’t realized how much self control it had taken for M to hold in all those spectacular high notes she has. She relented and allowed M to finish out the song.

I wonder whether loosening up the controls on who sings what will lead to arguments during duet time now.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Twinfant Tuesday: Finger Foods For Infants

As much as I would love more than anything to remember the infant years of my twins, they have become a complete blue to me.  With a husband who works 80-90 hours a week, I was pretty much left to raise them on my own.  I was completely sleep deprived.  I would even go as far as saying that I ran on 3 non-consecutive hours of sleep a night, at the most, for the first 3 months (I hated that saying “sleep when the babies sleeps”).  But what I do remember is when my twins started finger foods around 8-9 months.

I can still remember the first time I decided to try out finger foods with my boys. As a nutritionist and foodie, I had been looking forward to this stage forever. I remember watching other parents in restaurants giving their toddlers pieces of food they could hold and eat on their own, allowing mommy and daddy to eat their meal. I was so envious as I fed my boys their pureed food and asked for my meal to go. In my brain I sincerely thought the day when my kids started finger foods would be magical. A few months later that day came…and it was NOT so magical. I was all alone and after making and offering many types of fingers foods, all of which were treated like a baseball, the three of us were covered head to toe in food. Since my kids were hungry, but didn’t actually eat any of the food I worked so hard to make, I had 2 screaming toddlers on my hands to boot. What did I do? I cried!!! That’s what I always do when I don’t know what to do next. And I have no shame in admitting it to anyone.  From that day on I developed a fear of giving my kids finger foods. But I did persevere and got through that messy eating phase just like all of you who have and who will.

It can be an extremely messy stage, especially with twins, but it is fantastic for your toddlers’ development and it builds self-esteem.  It also frees up some of your time so you can eat while they are eating (or pick up most of the food your toddler has decided to throw off his or her tray rather than eat, like I do – less cleanup later on always makes my day).

Like I said, extremely messy!!!

Little Fufu has always eaten whatever I put in front of him (and whatever I put in front of his brother).  He’s very pro-food and gets very excited about the thought of eating.  Nibbles, on the other hand, well that’s where he got his nickname.  He doesn’t really like the idea of food and eating too much, although I can’t complain as he is getting much better.  He likes to take his little fingers and tear of teensy weensy pieces of food (almost crumb-size) and veeeeerrrrrry sloooowwwwly put them in his mouth.  So I do know firsthand the frustration of dealing with a picky eater and not being able to come up with ideas to feed him or her can make it even more stressful.

It’s pretty clear from this picture which one Fufu is.  He loves birthday cake just like his mommy.

As a nutritionist and a mom, I was constantly asked what types of finger foods I gave my kids.

Here are some ideas for infants aged 9 months and up:

Dairy:

  • Mild cheeses, cubed or grated (ie: marble, mozzarella)
  • Ceam cheese, goat cheese or ricotta (on bread, crackers or rice cakes or as a dip for steamed veggies)
  • Yogurt (if using a spoon)
  • Cottage cheese, with or without fruit (if using a spoon)
  • Cottage cheese muffins or pancakes
  • Homemade yogurt popsicles

 Grains:

  • Cheerios or other low sugar cereal (ie: Bran Flakes, Rice Crispies, Puffed Corn)
  • Rice cakes
  • Crackers (preferably whole grain)
  • Pita triangles (with or with a dip)
  • Mini muffins (ie: carrot, zucchini, banana, apple, sweet potato, bran)
  • Mini pancakes (ie: pumpkin, blueberry)
  • Waffle strips
  • Well-cooked whole wheat pasta with homemade cheese sauce, tomato sauce or butter and parmesan cheese
  • Ravioli or tortellini, cut into pieces
  • Well cooked noodles (ie: soba, rice, vegetable)
  • Toast, cut into strips (with or without a topping)
  • Rice (squish into small globs to make it easier to pick up)
  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal (if using a spoon)
  • Corn muffins
  • Homemade rice pudding (if using a spoon)
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • Polenta cakes
  • Naan bread
  • French toast fingers
  • Sandwiches without curst cut into strips or small pieces (fill with egg salad, tuna salad, peanut butter, hummus, cream cheese, mashed avocado)
  • Grilled cheese (you can add finely chopped veggies)
  • Homemade pizza, cut into strips or pieces
  • Homemade cheese quesadillas, cut into strips or pieces (can also add veggies and/or beans)
  • Baby Mum Mums
  • Cookies (preferable whole grain and low in sugar)
  • Homemade fruit and oat bars

 Vegetables:

  • Sweet potato, cooked and cubed or cut into French fry shape (season with cinnamon or chili powder)
  • Sweet potato and black bean patties
  • Roasted vegetables, cut up
  • Mini carrots, cooked
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Asparagus tips, cooked
  • Green beans, cooked and cut up
  • Butternut squash, cooked and cubed
  • Broccoli and cauliflower pieces, cooked (can add butter or parmesan)
  • Tomato, cubed
  • Grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • Beets, cooked and cubed
  • Zucchini, cooked, peeled and cubed or sliced
  • Potatoes, cooked and cubed (can add butter and season with parsley, garlic and/or paprika)
  • Cucumber, peeled and cubed or sliced
  • Pickles, chopped
  • Potato pancakes
  • Roasted sweet peppers, chopped
  • Pureed vegetable soup (if using a spoon)
  • Vegetable stir-fry
  • Veggie and cheese patties or muffins

Fruit:

  • Bananas, cubed or sliced
  • Banana slices coated in pancake batter and cooked in frying pan
  • Avocado, cubed (or mashed and used as a spread on bread/crackers or a dip for vegetables)
  • Apples, cooked and cubed (or cut into French fry shape and cooked/softened in microwave for 2 min, sprinkled with cinnamon)
  • Cherries, halved and pitted
  • Peaches and pears, sliced
  • Mango, cubed or sliced
  • Melon, cubed
  • Kiwi, cubed
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries and blackberries, halved
  • Strawberries, sliced
  • Mandarins and clementines cut into small pieces (can use canned mandarins, drained and rinsed)
  • Plums, peeled and sliced
  • Applesauce with cinnamon (if using a spoon)
  • Grapes, halved or quartered
  • Olives, chopped
  • Raisins (softened in boiling water)
  • Freeze-dried fruit (no sugar added)
  • Homemade fruit popsicles

Meat and Alternatives:

  • Tofu, cubed (marinate to add flavor)
  • Meatballs, cubed
  • Pork, cubed
  • Turkey, cubed
  • Beef, cubed
  • Chicken, cubed
  • Chicken nuggets (preferably homemade)
  • Chicken/turkey/meat loaf
  • Salmon or salmon/potato loaf/patties
  • Tuna patties
  • Fish sticks
  • Cooked fish such as salmon, sole, tilapia, halibut or haddock, flaked (you can use pureed vegetables as a sauce or just some butter)
  • Hard boiled eggs cut into pieces
  • Frittata or omelet with veggies and/or cheese, cubed
  • Egg muffins
  • Homemade turkey and apple breakfast sausage
  • Nut butters (on bread, crackers or rice cakes)
  • Beans (larger ones should be cut in half)
  • Baked beans
  • Lentils
  • Edamame, shelled
  • Falafel balls, cut into small pieces
  • Chickpeas
  • Hummus (spread on bread, crackers or rice cakes or used as a dip for steamed vegetables)

Unsafe finger foods:

  • Nuts
  • Raisins
  • Gum
  • Whole grapes, grape/cherry tomatoes and olives
  • Popcorn
  • Candy
  • Raw vegetables
  • Fruit that isn’t very ripe
  • Thick globs of nut butters
  • Hotdogs and sausages
  • Fish with bones
  • Stringy foods like asparagus or celery or stringy meat

Fufu is so happy with his plate of food, as usual.

Nibbles just poking at his.

How do you do it? Parenting Link Up #18

Skip to this week’s links | Skip to featured posts | Skip to linkup rules

Welcome to the How Do You Do It? parenting link up party where you have an opportunity to share your posts with other parent bloggers and the followers of How Do You Do It? and What’s up Fagans?.

How do you do it? is a community of mothers of multiples that believes in supporting each other, in sharing our experiences and questions, in friendship, and in encouragement. The link up is open to all of our readers, whether you have multiples or not, where you can share your wisdom, your favorite posts, your insights, with our online community here at HDYDI and What’s up Fagans?.

Each week, we pick some of our favorite posts and feature them the following week on our site! Plus, we pin them on Pinterest, tweet them on Twitter, and share them on Google+ and Facebook! Get some more exposure for your great content, and don’t forget to check out the featured posts from last week’s link up!

Plus, ldskatelyn of What’s up Fagans? is co-hosting our link party on her blog as well. One party on two blogs means double the exposure and community.

Each HDYDI parenting link up party accepts new links from Monday morning through Friday at noon.

So tell us: how do you handle pregnancy, prematurity, birth, and postpartum recovery? How do you handle tantrums, diapering bills, stress, and potty training? How do you handle education and special needs? How do you balance the needs of several children with a marriage? How do you manage being a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or a single parent? And how do you find time for yourself?

How do you do it?!


This week’s featured posts:

We had so many great posts this last week! It really makes it hard for me to pick just three! Just an FYI, I try to pick posts that I feel are the most helpful to the largest group of people, which also share a great idea. I also try to spread the love and not feature the same bloggers week after week (although it’s hard not to sometimes as they are featured for a reason!). I love all the posts linked up, and I sincerely try to get to everyone and read them. Thank you for all the great stories of births, pregnancies, mishaps, and other life experiences. Keep them coming!

Our most clicked post from last week was from Alison of Thinking of Starting a Blog where she talks about her epic FAIL day out. Thankfully, she can find the humor now, despite the trauma of it at the time!

Turn your toddler's television show into a workoutI loved Jennifer of Hint Mama’s tip for exercising while your kids are watching TV! And to think we all thought we didn’t have time to exercise? Jennifer recommends shows that encourage movement anyway, like Yo Gabba Gabba or Barney. Do you get up and exercise with your kids?mom-essentials-kitBarb from A Life in Balance really does seem to have it in balance, thanks to her Mom Essentials Kit. As an introvert with 5 kids, these tools help her get through life. Plus, there is a link up at the bottom to check out what other Moms have in their essentials kit! Plus, she also shares how (going with the first feature) she has found time to exercise and find time for herself in THIS post from last week as well.Only Child to Full HouseKaty of Chaos and Kiddos shares this great post on how she helped her 10-year old adjust to life as a sister, and as a sister of twins! Given that her oldest was entering the fun preteens years and hormones, it was certainly a hard transition from only child to a full house!

If you were featured above make sure to grab our featured button and sport it on your blog! How Do You Do It? Featured Post


Parenting Link Up Party

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  3. Link up to 3 great parenting posts below! Please, no recipes posts! Of course, link directly to a post, not your main page. Also, under “name” put the title of your post.
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Foodie Friday: Getting Dinner on the Table

Getting on the table can be such a challenge! Some tips for getting it simple and healthy

Recently my long-time friends and I were sharing an email thread describing our shortcoming when it comes to getting a healthy dinner on the table during the work week. We are three intelligent ladies living in different areas of the US, each with different daytime duties and schedules and yet we all have one thing in common: we feel like we are failing when it comes to seamlessly feeding our kids at the end of a long day. I’m no expert, but I did come up with a list of ideas that have made my weekdays easier. Maybe some of these ideas will help make your dinners easier too:

  1. Instead of trying to plan out five meals to cook during the week, pick three.  I have found that five is too many to put together and you can usually float two meals between leftovers and schedule changes that come up as the week goes on.
  2. Make (at least) three of the same things every week.  You can switch up little things like the starch and/or the veggie side dishes (and you can change your three meals monthly if you fear you will get board) but making the same basic things during the week will save time and will help you get into a groove.
  3. Don’t make elaborate dishes.  I’m not sure about your kids, but mine really like individual foods.  Chicken legs, broccoli, avocado, rice.  Done.  Hamburgers (no bun because they really don’t eat constructed sandwiches at this age), sweet potatoes fries, veggie.  Done.  Red meat sauce and pasta, side veggie, yogurt.  Done.  Rice, lightly seasoned black beans, avocado, pork, done.  Pizza with whatever topping we have left in the fridge.  No chicken pot pies, no stews, no chili, limited soups.  I love the thought of them, but my children don’t eat them as well as individual foods, and they take too much time and effort for little return on investment.
  4. Prep SOME things on the weekend.  I have been cutting up a batch of onions, sweet potatoes, washing greens and cutting up broccoli on Sundays.  Then I just grab and go from there depending on what meal I am constructing.
  5. Make some grains on the weekends.  Make a batch of rice and cook some noodles or quinoa to have ready to go with any meal.  You can construct a lot of meals under pressure if you have these things cooked and in the fridge ready to use.  Refill your stock of one grain on Wed.
  6. Make ONE of your weekly meals on Sunday (the one that takes the longest to cook).  Roast a chicken, cook a giant package of chicken legs, cook a pork shoulder (I cook my pork shoulder completely plain then season it for other meals later e.g.  pulled pork (add bbq sauce) or tacos (pan cook it with taco spices), burrito bowls (reheat the meat with Mexican spices add it to a bowl of roasted veggies plus rice and avocado, cilantro, fresh tomato).  Cook this beef, chicken, pork, item relatively plain then add spices later to make it work for whatever you are doing.
  7. Anything you make a batch of (e.g. chili, soup, red sauce), freeze half immediately to be used for another meal.  I found that we get board of leftovers and I was consistently throwing some foods away. Having one meal in the freezer from a previous cooking adventure can be more helpful in the future.
  8. Frozen peas can be added to any meal to round it out :)

Those are my helpful tips and how I have managed to keep meal time somewhat sane.  Feel free to add any insights that have helped to get healthy meals onto your table.

Toddler Thursday: Dealing with a Toddler and Bed Rest

One year ago today I got hospitalized for one week because I went into pre-term labor with my twin boys. Things worked out really well and I was fortunate enough to go home for the remainder of my pregnancy, but on strict bed rest.

One of my biggest worries with the sudden change of events was my toddler, who was just a few months shy of 2 at the time. Most of my stress was put at ease by my amazing mother-in-law who was able to put her life on hold for a month so that she could come stay with us and help out, but I still felt badly that I couldn’t take care of my own son.

I felt like I couldn’t do some of the things that I had hoped to do with Cameron before the babies came. I really wanted to make him feel special, because I knew having two new babies in the house would be a radical change for him and I suddenly felt like I couldn’t have that bonding time with him.

Thankfully I was able to move past that idea and I realized there was still a lot that I could do from where I was sitting. I was still able to have that special time with him and you can too if this is something that you’re dealing with in some form or another. Injury, morning sickness, fatigue, or just a down right bad head cold.

Some great ideas for spending time with your toddler while you're on bed rest

Here are just a few suggestions of things you can do with your toddler(s) with very minimal physical effort:

  • Read books. Kind of no-brainer, right? My son loves books. You can make them more interactive by pointing out colors, animals, emotions, etc. Ask them to find things, ask them what sounds the animals in the illustrations make, ask them to imitate scenes, help them fall in love with a series. Books can go a long way.
  • Coloring. Markers, colored pencils, crayons, Do-A-Dot, dry erase markers on white boards or pictures in page protectors, Color Wonder markers if you’re nervous about them getting marker on the couch/bed.
  • Camp out by the bath tub and let them have at it with shaving cream or water colors all over the tub and tile.
  • Cameron loved stickers, so letting him go through his sticker book and putting stickers all over papers was a hit.
  • Let them play trains or cars gently on your tummy. You could put tape on your belly to create lanes.
  • See if they’re interested in interacting with the baby/babies in mom’s tummy. Can they feel them move? Can they hear them? What would they like to say to them?
  • Let them snuggle up to you and watch a movie or video clips on YouTube. I pulled out a lap top and watched some of my sons favorite animal clips all the time.
  • Have your child put on a show for you. They can put on some dress up outfits and you can turn on some music from your phone for them to dance around to.
  • Pretend that your child is a doctor and you are their patient. They can check your vitals while you lay down.
  • They can “write” a letter to Grandma/Grandpa. Have them write alphabet letters on a piece of paper as if their writing words. If they aren’t old enough to actually write alphabet letters, maybe have them type on a lap top or computer keyboard. You can make the font really big so they can see it better and they can just type away.

Life throws us lots of curve balls, so save this list for a rainy day. No need to feel guilty about not being able to invest your normal amount of effort each day when you are under the weather. Your children can still feel your love for them and appreciate spending time with you all the same.

Rest on, Mom.

What Is “Adjusted Age” or “Corrected Age”?

I recently witnessed an extremely heated and sometimes mean-spirited discussion of the term “adjusted age.” One side felt that the term was derogatory to preemies, while the other side felt that their families’ experiences with prematurity were being flippantly dismissed.

Of course, it all boiled down to a misunderstanding of what “adjusted age” (or the synonymous “corrected age”) means. I’d like to set the record straight.

Defining Adjusted Age

A premature baby’s adjusted (or corrected) age is medical shorthand for how old that baby would be if he or she were born at full-term at 40 weeks gestational age. What’s gestational age? The time since mom’s last period. Why since her last period? Because until relatively recently, that was the best indicator we had of when pregnancies began and it’s become a cultural norm.

Why Use Adjusted Age?

When a baby is born full-term, we don’t pay particular attention to the predicted due date. After all, 95% of babies don’t show up on the due date. The full-term birth window is two weeks on either side of that date. There’s nearly a month of wiggle room in there! I’ve seen due dates wonderfully referred to as guess dates.

So why would anyone care about a premature child’s gestational age? It comes down to development.

As any parent knows, every kid is on his or her own schedule. Still, there’s a general order of operations when it comes to human development. We start out as one cell and end up becoming neurotic adults. All that happens in between is pretty well understood by the medical and scientific establishment. Exiting the womb ahead of schedule doesn’t much impact that developmental schedule beyond putting pressure on immature systems to perform maturely.

Human babies develop in a predictable fashion, regardless of when they exit mom's womb.

Take my daughters, J and M, for instance. They were born at 33 weeks gestational age. They were born with spectacular heads of black black hair. They also had furry ears, foreheads and shoulders. The lanugo, or fetal body hair, that babies have in utero had yet to fall out. It didn’t get the memo that they’d been born. It was just doing it’s regular 33-week thing. This is J at 1 day old. Or should I say “-7 weeks adjusted”? She’s adorable, teeny tiny, and rather furry.

J is 1 day old here, born at 33 weeks gestation. She still sported lanugo on her ears and shoulders. Adjusted age: -7 weeks.

And this is her now. Just trust me when I tell you that she’s not furry. (I had to use this photo again. She was so adorably excited to learn how to sew.)

33-week preemie at age 7.

Adjusted age. That’s what we were talking about.

Let’s put prematurity aside for a moment. Imagine a 1-month-old. This baby can grasp something placed in his hand, but forget about him picking something up of his own volition. He’s probably rather bobble-headed, thanks to brand new neck muscles. Now, compare him to a 3-month-old. She’s not quite so bobble-headed, can get her hands in her mouth with ease, and swipes at toys and Mommy’s phone with gusto. Two months makes a huge development difference in that first year.

Now imagine my 33-week preemies. At 3 months old, they’re still as bobble-headed as the 1-month-old, because as far as their physical development goes, they’ve had as much time to develop from that single first cell as a 1-month-old. When it comes to predicting how much they should weigh and what they should be capable of doing, the pediatrician and I strike a balance between their birth age and their developmental (adjusted) age.

The adjusted age for a child born prematurely is measured from conception and takes into account that they’ve had less time than their birth-age peers to get up to speed. That’s all there is to it.

By age 2, there’s really no reason to use adjusted age any more. There’s not much that distinguishes a 24-month-old from a 26-month-old. By age 2, preemies are caught up, developmentally, to their birth-age peers, barring complications.

A premature child's adjusted age is a way to gauge where she is developmentally.

 As with the term “identical” twin, the non-technical meaning of the word “corrected” in “corrected age” (which is the term my kids’ doctors all use) leaves the concept prey to misunderstanding. So let’s all hug and make up.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.