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    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    A Look Back.



One More One Year Old.

As I sit down to write this, I have a warm lunch and a cool kombucha next to me.  It’s drizzly and cool and perfectly Seattle outside, and the house is totally silent other than the whir of the dishwasher in the other room, and the flicker of white noise on the desk beside me.  This can only mean one thing – nap time. 

Both boys are down for the (hopefully long) afternoon nap, and I am soaking up the return of the afternoon quiet, as we are just settling into this amazing phenomenon known as two kids napping at the same time (sure to change before I know it!). 

You know what else this means?  There are no babies left in my house.  No more bouncing and shushing, no more naps on my chest.  No more thirty minute race to inhale my lunch before the catnap is over.  No more soft fuzzy booties in the laundry, and no more ice cubes of sweet potatoes in my freezer.  No more soft little rattles or squeaky giraffes. 

Now there is noise, so much noise.  Clunky tiny shoes and impossibly adorable rain boots lining the front hallway.  Little hats and hooded coats hung inside the closet door.  Stacking cups, shape sorters, train tracks, and a mini shopping cart sitting in the middle of the playroom.  One big nap in the afternoon where mom takes a big exhale. 

Somehow, in the blur of schedules and breastfeeding and swaddling and don’t push your brother and all the rest of it – my sweet little Graham turned ONE. 

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And while I ended my formal monthly updates on here a long time ago, I can’t help but tell you all about the wonderful little one year old he has become in that time. 

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He is the goofiest little character I’ve ever known, and he makes all of us laugh every day.  He knows exactly how to get his big brother going – whether it’s making him belly laugh before bedtime, or making him furious by tossing his puzzle pieces into the air.  He is pure trouble and keeps me on my toes all day long. 

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Now that he’s walking and toddling all over our house, his favorite activities include: climbing the stairs, exploring the kitchen cabinets, carrying around things like measuring cups and strainers, sticking his hands in the potty seats, climbing the bathroom step stools, and feeding the dogs all the food off his high chair.

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He also loves stacking cups, building towers, anything in the play kitchen, pushing carts, taking things in and out of something, banging, drumming, dancing, and being around people.  This kid LOVES people!  Maybe it’s because he’s been out and about around lots of different faces from the very beginning, or maybe it’s just his natural personality – but he is so easy going and good natured, and people ask me all the time if he is “always this happy.” 

And the answer is, yes – he really is. 

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Unless of course, you pull him off the stairs, or take a shoe of out his mouth, or wipe his nose.  But otherwise, he’s pretty happy.  He also thinks he is a three year old. 

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That, of course, doesn’t mean that it’s been a whole year of sunshine.  I’m planning on writing a separate post reflecting on the first year with two kids, but we’ve certainly had our fair share of ups and down.  But having made it to the other side of one year, we’re ending in a sweet spot that I hope we can ride out for a little while. 

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He loves to eat pasta, scrambled eggs, toast with almond butter, Field Roast veggie dogs and sausages, tomatoes, tofu, pears, lentils, green beans, grapes, peas, cucumbers, and carrots.  He hates blueberries, hummus, squash, and beans.  He also loves grass, sand, mulch, and sticks!

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He’s still breastfeeding and we’re down to four times a day now – usually around 5am, 9am, 12pm, and 7pm.  I was finished breastfeeding Cullen around fourteen months, and I remember after we hit that year mark feeling sort of panicked to start weaning him.  I knew we wanted another baby and I think I was worried I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed and be pregnant at the same time.  This time around, I don’t feel rushed to wean so quickly, and I feel much more relaxed (and honestly, lazy) about it.  I’ll just follow his cues and – like most things – figure it out as we go.  But given our initial challenges and a rocky start, I’m really proud we have made it to one year! 

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Part of me feels those pangs of sadness that my baby is so big and independent and looks so much like a tiny toddler these days.  This feels harder the second time because I don’t know if there will be more babies to come.  And even though I have sweet nostalgia for babywearing and his wrinkly newborn forehead, every day he gets more fun, sleeps better, and shows more personality.  I must kiss him a thousand times each day.

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Since both boys have birthdays just ten days apart, I considered combining them into one big birthday bash with all our friends.  And while that’s probably what we’ll do going forward, for this year we decided to have one big first birthday party that was all just for Graham. 

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Casey was out of town the week leading up to the party, which left me far too much free time in the evenings to burn myself with the glue gun and reminisce all about his birth and newborn days. 

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We had a simple, but nice party at our house with all of Graham’s friends – big and small!  We had a light spread of snack food since it was between lunch and dinner…

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And I set out some small decorations and things that were tributes to Graham’s first year.  I finally made a shadowbox with all his newborn mementos – hospital bracelets, birth announcement, his very first hat, the gender reveal card where we learned he was a boy, and an extra pack of Graham crackers they gave me in the hospital right after he was born. 

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And of course, I had to make a banner of all the monthly pictures as he’s grown…

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As a party favor, I made little stacks of homemade graham crackers for guests to take and enjoy.  I had never made them before and it was a labor of love that baked long into the night before the party, but was so worth it. 

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They were buttery and tasty and I think they added a really fun touch to the party.  And now I know how to make homemade Graham crackers for next time!

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I made a little cake just for him, and cupcakes for everyone else.  I used the same pumpkin spice cake recipe that I made for Cullen’s first birthday, because it was delicious and tasty and it never hurts to eat that twice. 

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For the toddlers, we had pumpkins to decorate with stickers, foamy Halloween shapes, and markers.  I said a prayer that my house wasn’t covered in marker by 5pm. 

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My little one year old woke up from his afternoon nap right on time, and was ready to party with all his buddies. 

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And we were ready to celebrate!  How did I get so lucky?

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My mom even flew in for the weekend!  I think Graham felt very loved and very celebrated.

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Before Graham came along, I had no idea that there was room in my heart for anyone else.  And then he charged into our lives on a cool Friday morning in October, and life has never been the same.  He is the breath of fresh air I need when the rest of the day is pure chaos.  He slows me down and reminds me to pay attention, as I know all too well this time that the days are long but the years are so damn short. 

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Happy, happy birthday to Graham.  The baby days might be behind us, but there is so much fun to look forward to just ahead. 

Many, many thanks to my talented friend Pamela of People By Pamela for the gorgeous pictures of Graham’s birthday party!  Seattle friends – check her out for family and lifestyle photography!



Foodie Baby: The Toddler Years.

I have had this post half-written for a week now, and for some reason it doesn’t seem to be finishing itself!  As promised a long time ago, let’s talk about feeding toddlers!  I originally thought I’d post some toddler/pre-school lunch ideas, but as I thought more about it, it made more sense to just give an overall picture of daily meals – the full picture!

I really wanted this post to be filled with pinteresty images and word bubbles and all the rest, but if I try to make that happen it will take me even longer.  And honestly, that stuff annoys me.  So here goes – a look at what my almost-three year old is eating (and not eating!) these days.

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Breakfast

Our best meal of the day!  Breakfast is by far the favorite time to eat in our house, no matter what is being served.  For some reason, Cullen’s appetite is absolutely enormous in the morning (probably because he refused to eat dinner the night before, hmmmm…).  I give him as much food as he asks for – the more the better!

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We tend to be kind of boring and eat the same things over and over again.  I try not to make the same breakfast four days in a row (despite Cullen’s urging), but we rotate through these general meals:

On the weekends, we usually go out to breakfast and treat ourselves to thinks like pancakes or the occasional donut.  I really love breakfast too, and sitting at the table each morning with a hot cup of coffee and two happy kiddos is my absolute favorite time of day.

Lunch

Where we excel at breakfast, we struggle at lunch.  In the mornings we tend to be out and about, so I have to really plan depending on what we are doing.  We have two types of lunch – packed on the go, or thrown together very quickly at home.  First up, the packed lunch!

If I know we are doing something where we won’t be home until 12 or 12:30 and we’ll be cruising straight into nap time, I always try to have lunched packed up to take with us.  We always pack lunch for our weekly playgroup, as well as a few days each week when Cullen has preschool.

Most lunches look like a variation of this:

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We use the Boon Trunk Snack Box every single day – can’t say enough good things about it!  It holds plenty of food, is really sturdy with no leaking, and Cullen loves that it looks like an elephant (with the lid on). 

With the four compartments of the lunch box, I usually aim for one filling/protein component, one fruit, one vegetable, and one thing I know he will love no matter what (like the above dried apricots). Here is another lunch – sunbutter and banana sandwich, sliced carrots, a few slices of cheese, and grapes. 

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Nothing groundbreaking or fancy, which is exactly what my toddler wants.  I try to always keep finger fruits and veggies on hand for quickly tossing into lunches and onto dinner plates.  I do try to include a good variety, and some things that are seasonal and maybe unexpected (like fresh sliced figs, pomegranate seeds, roasted squash, etc.). 

If we are at home for lunch, I usually serve some sort of leftovers, or dig into the pantry or freezer.  Here are a few of my favorite prepared items for when we’re in a hurry or low on fresh produce…

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I find that Cullen is much more willing to try things in soup than he would otherwise.  If I put green beans, carrots, potatoes, and lentils on a plate he probably wouldn’t touch it.  But he will eat almost an entire can of this soup!

Recently if Casey has been traveling or it’s just been a chaotic day and I don’t have dinner prepped in time for my early birds to eat, I’ve been supplementing meals from the freezer.  Trader Joe’s has a few really good grain and protein medleys right now that both the boys are usually willing to eat.

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This blend of beans and lentils is my personal favorite, and I often eat this for lunch too after the boys go down for naps. 

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Dinner

Dinner is honestly not all that different from lunch.  Depending on when Casey gets home from work, half of the week we all eat together, and the other half we tend to feed the boys earlier and then Casey and I eat after bedtime (usually a Blue Apron meal for us those nights). 

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Nights where we all eat together, here are some sample meals we might have:

  • Glazed tempeh, roasted sweet potatoes, and baked kale (kids also get applesauce)
  • Bean chili with homemade cornbread
  • Jovial (einkorn) pasta with cherry tomatoes, roasted broccoli, and kalamata olives in an olive oil dressing
  • Field roast sausages, roasted potatoes, and a saute of zucchini and mushrooms
  • Salsa bowls or burritos – rice, onions, mushrooms, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, cheese, Greek yogurt, and salsa

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And on nights when I throw together dinner for just the kids, it is similar to what I make for lunch.  Dinner is the worst meal of the day, and both kids leave most of their food on their plates (or in Graham’s case, he throws it all on the floor or rubs it into his hair).

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Snacks

What is it about snacks?  Cullen likes to tell me that he “doesn’t want to EAT, he wants a SNACK!”  Okay, kid.  When we are out on the go in the morning or in the stroller, snacks tend to be things like dried fruit bars, pretzels, fresh fruit (apples, grapes, and other things that travel well in a diaper bag), and trail mixes with nuts.  Pretty predictable stuff.

The one thing I discovered this summer that wins for snack any day, any time is the beloved POPSICLE

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Cullen loves smoothies, and I realized pretty early into summer that I could just pour the same smoothie base into popsicle molds and freeze them into tasty treats.  I bought two sets of popsicle molds – rocket ships (seen above) and ice cream cones – and we still use them daily even now that it’s fall.  It is also his preferred method of recovery from “ouchies.”

He doesn’t seem to care what the flavor is as long as it’s cold and in a fun shape!  Our standard smoothie/popsicle mix is – bananas, carrots, several handfuls of spinach, strawberries, figs, almond milk, and flax oil.  It’s actually pretty delicious, and it’s a really easy way to get extra veggies and fats into the kids that otherwise would be a huge battle. 

Graham hasn’t quite figured out the whole popsicle thing, but he loves smoothies, and will happily slurp down a whole cup. 

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A few weeks ago, I pulled our trusty juicer back onto the counter, and I’ve been challenging myself to make one big pitcher of juice for the family each morning.  I know I’ve gotten lazy with my own eating as the pace of life has picked up and time just feels non-existent these days.  So in an effort to get a better variety of veggies and nutrients into all of us, we’re adding a daily glass of juice to the menu. 

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Today’s juice pitcher was made from one pound of carrots, three small beets, one head of romaine lettuce, one large cucumber, one small granny smith apple, and small piece of fresh ginger.  I try to keep the fruit to the bare minimum – just enough to sweeten the veggies enough to make them palatable (especially to a toddler).  We get plenty of fruit throughout the day, so no need for extra fruit juice. 

Cullen thinks it’s super cool to get a straw in his cup on juice days!

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And last but not least…

Milk

A million years ago, I wrote a whole post on choosing a milk for Cullen as we transitioned away from breastfeeding.  After he turned one, we started giving him hemp milk (as an alternative to cows’ milk), and he drank that for around a year.  Somewhere around his second birthday, we decided to switch to almond milk for several reasons.

First and foremost, the hemp milk was really expensive!  Also, usually doctors who recommend cows’ milk suggest switching from whole milk to 2% milk around age 2 – as the critical fat needs of a developing toddler change as they get older.  While almond milk didn’t have as much fat and protein as we were looking for at age one, we felt it was sufficient by age two – especially as his appetite and whole foods have increased. 

Now that Graham is one (WHAT? – that update coming up next!), we’ll be stocking up our pantry with hemp milk once again.  And the good news there is that the hemp milk brand we use – Tempt – has changed their formula so that it no longer has carrageenan in it (which was the only other thing that sort of bothered me about it).  We started giving him one small cup a day last week, but he’s not so sure about it yet…

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Other than milk and homemade juice, the boys don’t really drink anything other than water.  We don’t do juice boxes or anything like that, because honestly they don’t seem to really know those things exist, and I just see it as unnecessary added sugar. 

So that’s that – how we’re feeding our kids these days.  I would consider them both to be pretty picky eaters.  Cullen would happily live on fresh berries and oatmeal all day if I’d let him, and Graham thinks throwing food is a lot more fun than eating it.  But meal after meal, I take deep breaths, and I just keep on trying.

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Gosh, this was fun to write.  I feel like I haven’t written a post like this in ages, and I sure did miss it.  I am sure I glossed over or left out a lot, as I know how to feed kids is a big topic and remains one of the great mysteries (and one I continue to try to solve myself).  Please feel free to ask more questions or specifics in the comments, and I’ll check back!

For previous posts in the Foodie Baby series, check out:

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