Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Slow cooker Black Bean Soup

Clearly, I am on a major slow cooker kick. When I was planning out the meals for this week, which I rarely do, but find it really, really helpful when I do, I planned 3 slow cooker dinners, which made my life a lot easier this week (not that my life is hard otherwise). One of the dinners was black bean soup made from dried black beans that I'd had for a while and really needed to use. 

I soaked the beans the night before, just because I always do when I cook dried beans, but I probably didn't have to since they were cooking for 8 hours. But either way you should rinse them well anyways. In the morning I transferred the beans along with the rest of ingredients in the slow cooker, set the cooking time for 8 hours and went to work. At work I was nervous the whole time about the beans absorbing all the water and soup overflowing and getting on the counter and then the floor and my dog eating boiling hot soup off the floor and burning himself and the fire starting.... That was probably a silly concern to have, but still, the beans is what I thought about all day long... A weird thing to have on your mind, but I was very relieved not to have any firetrucks near our house when I got home.

Slow Cooker Black Bean soup

1 lbs dried black beans, rinsed well (soaking never hurts too)
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced
3 garlic cloves, diced
3 C chicken stock (may differ depending on the size of your slow cooker. You just want the beans and veggies covered)
1 Tbsp cumin
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

For serving:
chopped avocado, sour cream or plain greek yogurt and cilantro, if you like it. I used parsley, since  am not a fan of cilantro.

Place all the ingredients, except the vinegar, in a slow cooker. Set on 8 hours cooking time. You're done. 
When the soup is cooked, puree it with an immersion blender right in the slow cooker or do it in a regular blender in portions. Add the vinegar and stir well.

Serve with some sour cream and avocado on top (avocado really does make a difference. the most delicious bites are the ones that have a piece of fresh avocado).
I also made a quick little quesadilla on the side, it went great with the soup. Allie loved to dip the triangles of quesadila in the soup and eat it that way. Very kid-friendly meal.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Don't get sick.. But if you did - read below...

One day a couple weeks ago when I got home, MJ told me a story. We usually tell each other “stories” about work when we get home (you know, the usual: what happened that day, what made us laugh, what made us want to rip our hair out, etc…). So that day he was telling me this intriguing story that sounded like it was going to have a very interesting ending… The story was about how he was eating pelmeni, which is a Russian dish, kind of like ravioli, but with meat filling, and as he was eating it, the filling kept falling out, over and over and over again… and he kept trying to get it, but the meat just kept falling off his fork. MJ tried so hard, but that meat just wouldn’t give in, so… (ready for the culmination of the story??)..MJ  just ended up eating it with a spoon!
“Wow, that is a very exciting story!” I said
“Well, this is the most interesting thing that happened to me today…”  MJ said. And then he added “I actually don’t even know what’s real and what’s fiction anymore, I’ve been watching “Homeland” for the last 12 hours”…
Did I mention that he’d been sick with the flu and hadn't been able to leave the house or even get off the bed?

If you would like to avoid having 10 minute conversations about eating ravioli with a spoon instead of a fork, you better stay away from the flu, which we all know has been pretty bad this year.

Here are the things that everyone know they should do to avoid getting sick, but sometimes we all forget how important it is to actually follow those simple lessons:
-get a flu shot
-wash your hands with soap as frequently, as possible. Mine are actually turning a weird red color from all the washing… So a note to self, use moisturizing lotion as frequently as you wash hands…
-Lots of vitamin C (Vitamin C supplements, or get it from your fruit, juices, etc.)
-Stay away from people who seem “suspicious”. And when I say suspicious, I mean sick.
-If someone in your household didn’t escape the flu, sanitize all the surfaces that are being used frequently. Also, don’t use the same dishes.  Isolate them to a single 'sick room'.
-Get plenty of rest. Try to go to bed earlier than normally.
-Drink plenty of fluids. Make it a point to drink more water than you normally do.  

When I was growing up, I remember my mom tried to stay and keep my sister and me away from the medications, if possible. I don't even know why I just used the past tense,  it's still the case these days too. My mom knows all kinds of home remedies for the cold. I think most of them really work, so if you feel adventurous, try them out.

Disclaimer: this is going to be a total "Normal read" for my fellow Russians, but probably for the rest it will be "Weird treatments extravaganza". In any case, I hope if you read you will find it either helpful or find it a nice useful insight into the Russian culture :)

  • For sore throat: gargling with salted water (1 tsp salt for 1 glass of water). Keep gargling little by little till you run out of water in the glass. If I get a sore throat I do it in the morning and in the evening. I swear it works!
  • For sore throat and cough: in a bowl pour boiling water over some chamomile. Breath in and inhale the "chamomile steam" while holding your head over the bowl and keeping a towel over your head and the bowl to prevent the steam from escaping. **Additional benefit: you get a nice little facial!
  • For stuffed nose: (I think this one is MJ's favorite... MJ's favorite to laugh at when I do it): You hard boil 2 eggs, take them out of the water, wait a bit till they cool down a bit (but just a bit, you want them hot), and hold them to the both sides of the top of your nose. It feels nice and as it warms you up, it loosens everything up in your nose (probably shouldn't get too graphic) and "unstuffs" it nicely.
  • For fever: drink lots of tea or just hot water with raspberry preserves in it. The preserves are rich with vitamin C, that's why it works. Of course, drinking a lot in general does wonders for fever too. MJ jokes that raspberry preserves is my family's answer to every kind of sickness, but of course his answer to everything is ginger juice... So not too far from raspberry preserves.
  • For common cold: soak your feet in hot, hot water with some dry mustard in there (for even more heat). I love it. It's my favorite!
  • For cough (the kind that comes from your lungs): to warm up the lungs, you apply "mustard plasters" to the front and back of your body in the area of your lungs. I don't even know if anyone knows what "mustard plasters" is, but basically it's these paper squares that are covered in dry mustard. Before you apply them to your body, you moisten them in hot water and really burn as they're working.

That's all I can think of... 

Stay healthy and dress warm!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Almond-Orange-Chocolate Biscotti. A treat for parents.

Sometimes you just get sick of all the healthy stuff, like whole wheat oatmeal cookies and just want a real treat that includes lots of chocolate, white flour and sugar. Enter Almond-Orange-Chocolate Biscotti. Well, at least, they don't have any butter in them.

This is from a new cookbook of Jeffrey Saad's, one of the finalists of "Food Network Star" a couple seasons ago. I love that show! Always liked Jeffrey and was sad that he didn't win, but obviously that didn't matter 'cause he still came up with a TV show and a cookbook (which by the way is great!)

Almond-Orange-Chocolate Biscotti

2 3/4 C all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 2/3 C sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp anise seed (which I didn't have so my biscotti were missing this ingredient)
1 orange
3 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, shaved (I used chocolate chips instead)
6 oz sliced or slivered almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon pad and set aside.

Whisk together eggs, eggs yolks and vanilla.

In another bowl stir together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and anise, if using. 

Zest the orange into the mixture and stir to combine

Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix together

Add the chocolate and almonds, combine together

The dough should be sticky enough that it sticks to your hands but not so sticky that you can't get it off in a large lump. Dust a counter top with flour. Place the dough on the floured counter.

Separate the dough into 3 even piles. Roll each pile into the shape of a log. Placed the logs evenly spaced on the prepared baking sheet (leave some room around, the dough will expand while baking).

Bake until the logs form the shape of a half-moon and become golden with soft centers, about 20-25 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and move to  cooling rack to cool.

Turn down the oven to 300 degrees.
Once the logs are cool, use a bread knife to slice each log crosswise.

Lay the cookies on the parchment r silicon lined baking sheet and place in the oven. After 10 minutes rotate the sheet halfway to ensure even baking. Bake for 10 more minutes, or until the centers of he cookies give ever so slightly to you fingernail. 

Remove from the oven and let cool.

They are great for dipping in milk or tea. Enjoy and have a great rest of your weekend!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Slow cooked chicken drumsticks with vegetables

I love my slow cooker. Especially on cold days like today, when you just want to get back from work to a deliciously smelling home and not worry about cooking dinner. I've had enough worrying for today. I had kind of a hectic morning today with stuff going wrong and I wish I could say I was stressed out that's why weird stuff kept happening, but I wasn't, so it was just one of those days...

Let me just start by saying that the temperature dropped to 1F degree today (for my Celsius-thinking friends, we are talking -17). It was the day when a walk from the garage to the office was a drag. The 5 minute walk felt like an hour and I kept thinking why the office is so far from the garage??? (that thought had never occurred to me until today). But finally I made it to the warm office feeling like I've just been through a torture (referring to my 5 minute walk here), got myself a nice hot cup of coffee, settled into my colorful work space and started going through my e-mails... A couple minutes later my friend comes over to me and asks me all these suspicious questions about my car (color, make and model, presence of a car seat, etc) and finally gives a verdict that I left my lights on in the car... To say that I got upset is a big underestimation... So yeah, had to make a round trip to the garage in the freezing cold, calling myself names for not being more attentive... After I returned to work and was done with walks for the day I thought of it as a good thing, because it would've been much worse to come to my car with a dead battery at 5 pm...

Just when the things were looking up and I was trying to enjoy my not-so-hot by that point coffee again and reading my e-mails, my thoughts wandered to this morning at home, when Allie accidentally poked me in the eye. Pretty bad poking, that left my eye tearing for the longest time and turning super red, so after seeing my face in the mirror covered in a black mascara that escaped the eye and traveled all across my face, I took the make up off the eye,planning on reapplying it when the eye stops acting out. Anyway, so thinking of that little incident, checking my e-mail and thinking to myself:

"Did I end up putting make up on that eye?... I must've... Of course, I did... What, I left the house with the make up on just on 1 half of my face?..I've been to the office for about an hour now, someone would've said something" 

You know, having the conversation with myself. Then (just to be sure) I decide to look in the mirror... Yup! Only wearing make up on one eye... Great... So now I am walking around the office, my face being half & half, trying to see if anyone has a mascara... Luckily, found one, got my face taken care of...

So now I am sitting at my desk, being all paranoid what else is gonna go wrong now. This is when I remember that I loaded a slow cooker with chicken and veggies to cook us dinner. But the problem is that I don't remember turning it on... Now I am sitting and wondering if I am gonna come home to a stinking spoiled chicken... Uuurrrggghhhhh

A big pleasant surprise was to come home to find a deliciously smelling home, just as planned, and cooked chicken... So I guess I did remember to turn it on...

Wait... what was I saying? Oh yeah, that I love a slow cooker and here is a great recipe that always, always, always turns out great and takes about 5 minutes in the morning to prepare. The slowcooker does the rest of the work for you! I particularly like to make it with drumsticks, because Allie just loves eating a drumstick, like a big girl.

Slow cooked chicken drumsticks with vegetables

4 lbs chicken drumsticks
1 large onion, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Couldn't be easier to make. Pour about a teaspoon of olive oil into the slow cooker. Place the chicken on top . Season with some salt and pepper. Top with onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Pour the crushed tomatoes on top. Then fill the can with water, shake a bit to try to get all the tomato leftovers and pour the "tomato water" in the slow cooker. Set it on 8 hours low and go to work.

Come from work 8 hours later and make a little side dish to go with it. I made some brown rice with a teaspoon or turmeric to give it some nice bright yellow color and warm earthy flavor and enjoy!

Allie loves this dish as much as MJ and I do. 

Chicken turns out so tender and just falls off the bone. The leftovers taste great as well.

Bon appetit and here is to a less weird day tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Great article about bilingual kids

My very thoughtful mother-in-law found this great article that I wanted to share with those of you who is raising bilingual/multilingual child(ren). It’s long, so give yourself some time to read it. Long, but really worth the read. It explains how bilingual kids’ brain functions, talks about benefits of raising kids bilingual, showcases a few foreign language schools and shares experiences of raising multilingual kids from some families. Really interesting!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter activities for kids

Although sometimes in winter all you want to do is get cozy in your home: on a soft couch with a warm blanket, a cup of hot tea and an interesting book, winter still offers some great activities for kids that can only be done this time of year. We only have snow for so long, and while getting Allie dressed and all bundled up for cold weather is not my favorite thing to do, it's so rewarding to see her play and have fun in the snow and come home nice and tired and so ready for a nap (now it's time to get cozy with a book).

Making a snowman is a classic. I still love having that sticky kind of snow that lets you build a snowman so easily. The snowman we made on our walk the other day wasn't exactly an elaborated version with eyes, carrot-nose, mouth or even arms, but it was still fun to roll the snow into huge chunks, pile them on top of each other and pretend that he is real while talking to him. 

Also, let's not underestimate the fun of destroying the snowman you've just built by kicking him with your feet or just jumping on top of him and pretending that he's no longer real and doesn't have any feelings.

Also, we love feeding ducks that visit our neighborhood pond all the time. The pond does have a sign that says not to feed the ducks, but we didn't happen to pass it yesterday, so it was ok... Our ducks are very brave and grab the bread right out of your hands, so Allie had lots of laughs pulling her mittens out of ducks' beaks. 

I also read about a pretty cool sounding game in a magazine the other day, that suggested to freeze water with some food coloring or regular paint in used yogurt cups and then use the "colored bricks" for building a colored fort. I want to do that with Allie in our backyard one of these days. Just have to start collecting yogurt cups.

Another fun game is sled racing. One sled is for your child, the other is for you (or his/her sister/bother/friend). Sit a few stuffed animals in each sled and race from point A to point B. If you only have 1 sled, as most people do, you can "build" one out of a box and a string attached to it (don't you have a million boxes?)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dedicated to picky eaters

A significant discovery has happened tonight. Unintentionally, I cooked a meal that I think is a magic way to every picky eater's stomach. Fish tacos, or really, any kind of tacos or any kind of food that your child can "cook" for him/herself right at the dinner table. It's a fact that kids will more likely to eat a meal if they participated in cooking it, but it's hard to apply this trick with very young kids, because there isn't a whole lot that you can let them do in the kitchen yet... unless you make fish tacos, as we've discovered tonight. 

I remember when I was little, my best friend Yuliya and I used to cook all the time. We usually cooked desserts and we never had all the ingredients that a recipe called for, so our cooking usually went like this:

"Next goes in a teaspoon of vanilla." I'd read off the cookbook.

"We don't have any. Let's use sugar instead." Yuliya would say. (I know...)

"That sounds right!" I confirmed.


"We need a cup of heavy cream."

"Don't have any, but there is half a cup of milk left. Let's add half milk, half water instead."

"Sounds great!"

Or we'd use flour instead of milk powder, water instead of juice, apples instead of oranges, and so on. But every time we were done cooking and tasted the "final product", it was always delicious! Even if it wasn't, it still was, as weird as it sounds. I remember the ice cream we made one time. Lots of very creative substitutions happened and not only it wouldn't freeze, but it wouldn't even harden a bit, so it was just this sweet liquid tasting like sweet cream of wheat, but we both agreed that it was the most delicious ice-cream we've ever tried. So if you cook it yourself, it will taste excellent. Lesson learnt. 

Tonight, despite the fact that Allie didn't have her nap and was being very cranky in the evening and had a whole banana and a bunch of carrots before dinner, she had the best dinner of her life [I think]. She had never had as much fun with dinner as she had tonight!

For fish tacos, I just put out a bunch of small dishes filled with flaked baked fish, chopped tomatoes, avocado, cabbage (but feel free to use iceberg lettuce for something more traditional), and some flavored mayo (I did lime juice, lime zest and some cumin) and corn tortillas. Allie kept going from sitting with me to sitting with MJ (tonight was the only time we let her do it and not sit in her chair due to the mood that was a result of no nap), and kept helping us construct our tacos. She sat with me, helped me spread the sauce on the tortilla and then piled the rest of the ingredients on top, then we wrapped it and each took a couple bites. Then she went to do the same with MJ, then again with me, etc. It was amazing how much she ate, even the tomatoes that she NEVER eats! The picture below represents the end of the taco extravaganza, so really you're just seeing empty plates. That's really because I was not going to blog about it, that was not the original plan. But seeing how much fun she had and how great she ate, I just had to share, because I think it's a perfect thing to do for pikcy eaters.

I am not going to hide the fact that the post-dinner kitchen tonight is a total disaster. My clothes are a mess, MJ's clothes are a mess, the floor is covered with taco bits, but it was so worth it! It was so much fun and Allie felt so proud of herself when she cooked each individual taco!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Miss Green Alien" for dinner

Allie has been on a major "Miss" kick lately. If it was just Miss Teacher at the daycare before, now everything and everyone is a Miss. I am a Miss Mama. MJ is a Miss Dada. And this little Green Alien dish that I made last night that I named "Mr.Green Alien" was renamed into a "Miss Green Alien". So here is the Miss Green Alien - a fun little dish for the picky eaters out there! It's packed with good stuff, tastes delicious and makes for a fun presentation!

Miss Green Alien

1 lb ground turkey 
1 slice whole wheat bread
1/2 C milk
1 large carrot
1/2 onion
1/2 green bell pepper
2 cloves of garlic
1 C loosely packed spinach
3/4 C panko bread crumbs (or more if you like a bit tighter consistency)
1 egg
1 tsp salt
a sprinkle of ground black pepper
olive oil for cooking

Start by breaking up a slice of bread into smaller pieces and cover them with milk. Leave to soak.

In the meantime in a food processor, start by chopping up garlic.

In the same bowl, add carrots, peppers and onion and get them chopped too.

Next goes in spinach, once the other veggies are all chopped

Once spinach is incorporated, squeeze all the milk out of your soaking bread (and discard the milk), add it to your processed veggies an pulse a few more times.

Transfer the bread and veggie mixture into a separate bowl, add the ground turkey, salt, pepper and egg. Mix all together well with your hands.

Depending on how juicy the veggies are, you may need to add in the breadcrumbs to make the mixture easier to handle. I ended up adding 3/4 C of panko breadcrumbs. Out of the mixture, form patties of a desired size and place on a heated oiled pan.

Fry for about 4-5 minutes on  each side. When I flip them to the other size, I cover the pan with a lid to make sure the patties cook through well.

They taste delicious, very juicy, tender and so, so, so flavorful!

Make a fun presentation if you are serving a picky eater. I made some hair out of whole-wheat pasta and a raw carrot, a cucumber and 2 capers helped me build eyes, a nose, a mouth and ears.

What you're looking at became a totally empty plate in about 5 minutes. The 2 adults in our household loved it for dinner too (although Allie was the only one to get a special presentation).

Monday, January 14, 2013

Your healthier pizza or a Monday night dinner

On Monday nights I always cook something that's quick and simple. Oh wait... actually "quick and simple" describe the meals I make on Tuesdays too. As well as on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. And most Saturdays and Sundays. I like to cook stuff that's quick and simple.  But Monday night I go with extra simple. If you have some pizza dough in your fridge, pizza becomes the easiest thing to cook.

Sometimes I make my own dough, in which case I always make extra to freeze. For pizza dough I like to use the Pioneer Woman's recipe. Try it out! But frankly, most of the time I just buy it. I think it's just as good. As long as you have some defrosted dough, you can make pizza in as little as 20 minutes. Anything can go on pizza, that's why everyone loves it so much. I especially like it now that Allie eats what we eat for dinner, because you can put anything [healthy] you want on it, and Allie will eat it, as long as it's a pizza. Get some whole wheat dough to make it even healthier.

Tonight's version of pizza was

Whole-wheat spinach and mushroom pizza

10 oz whole wheat pizza dough
3/4 C tomato sauce
1 C loosely packed spinach
4-6 mushrooms (depending on the size), sliced
3/4 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
salt and olive oil
Basil (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Spread the dough out on an oiled baking sheet. I usually just stretch it with my hands  and then finish by stretching it with my fingers right on the baking sheet. It doesn't need to be a perfect rectangular or a circle. Imperfect shapes looks more rustic and taste more delicious, I think!  

Spread tomato sauce evenly on the crust and top with spinach and then mushrooms.  Sprinkle some salt over your spinach and mushrooms.Don't skip this step, it really makes a different and gives pizza more flavor.

Top with mozzarella. 

You may end up using smaller amounts of the ingredients than I did, depending on how thick or thin your crust is. The thing that I always need to remind myself is not to overload it. If the filling is too heavy, it won't be fun eating it and the crust will just become soggy.

Place the pizza in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the crush is golden and cheese is melted and a bit brown. I love to top it with lots of fresh basil, but Allie is not a fan, so the basil only goes on a half of pizza. MJ could care less if it has or doesn't have the basil. He cares about the meat (that was replaced by mushrooms in this case).

Another cool trick is to drizzle it with some really good olive oil.  I have this amazing white truffle oil that I bought years ago and use it for occasions just like that.


P.S. Allie could not get enough of this pizza!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How to transition into a crib

TC brought up a very good question after my last post: "How do we manage Allie to sleep separately in her room?" I know a few couples who struggle to move their kids out into their own bedrooms, so I am sure this topic is very popular. I am calling it "a topic", not "a problem", as I also know some people who don't mind it at all, and even enjoy having their kids sleep with them, until the child decides to get some independence on her/his own.

I guess we got pretty lucky. We actually moved Allie into her own crib in her room when she was about a month old. I am so happy that we did it then, because at that point she wasn't realizing much about what was happening and probably didn't really find much difference between sleeping right next to our bed or sleeping in a whole separate room, since we were there with her the moment she started crying, either way. That being said, of course she still spent A LOT of time in our bed. I remember those early morning feedings when I  would bring her to our bed for "a nursing session"  and just didn't have any energy to get up and take her back. But still she was starting to get used to her new room pretty early and knew that it was the place where she falls asleep.

You may say "Well, that was not helpful at all, because my child is way passed the age of 1 month and that approach won't work". So I'll try to address the question how to make this move with an older baby.

I think the most important thing in making the big transition is to create a new routine around going to bed (the bed that you want your child to go to).Every book will tell you that a routine is so extremely important for kids, so this transition needs to happen very smoothly and probably slowly, no need to rush it.

1. Have as much as possible of the bedtime routine in her room. Change her into her PJs there, give her some milk there, read books, tell stories, rock her in a chair. Being in Allie's room in the evening before she goes to bed is always one of the highlights of my day. Sometimes I'll put her down, sometimes MJ will, but my favorite is when we do it together. One of us will sit in a rocking chair and the other will lie on a bean bag with Allie while reading books to her. It's always so cozy!

2. Reading is a really big deal. Don't rush and enjoy your reading time with your little one, create these great bonding memories associated with her room. We typically read for at least 30 minutes before bed. 

3. I think I am making the right assumption about a lot of kids being very attached to their blankys. Pretty often I see kids at a store carrying around their blankys with them. While reading your child a book or rocking her in a chair, use it not only to keep her warm, but also leave your smell on it, so make sure it touches you too. Also, if it takes more than 1 blanky to make her feel cozy in the crib, I let Allie have as many as she wants, which is usually 4 (a soft blanky, a blue blanky, "that" blanky and "Christmas" blanky). Of course, you should't even use ANY blankets if the child is too young and there is a risk of suffocating. The typical guideline is to wait until at least 12 months to leave a blanky in a crib.

4. Let her bring a favorite toy to bed with her. Maybe even put the toy to bed first, tuck her in and then have your child join the toy. She won't feel as lonely then.

5. Add more "rituals" to her routine during the bedtime in her room. For example, Allie always says "Night-night" and kisses the little hedgehock pained right over her crib.

6. Be prepared to stay in the room with her for a while after the lights are off. I even have to do it now from time to time, when Allie has a hard time going to sleep. I'll sing to her, I'll listen to her sing to me, I'll tickle her hands as she always asks me to do, I'll listen to what she has to say. I have to say though, that sometimes it's so hard to keep a straight face after the things she says and if I start laughing, that puts her out of the sleeping mode... 

7. We also have this really cool ladybug nightlight that projects the light on the ceiling and makes it looks like the ceilings is covered by the stars. Try it, it may keep her distracted from sleeping away from you. It's called a Twilight Ladybug.

8. Some doctors  actually suggest to make an adjustment to the crib in your room, and once she's used to sleep in a crib, you can move the crib into he bedroom.

9. And finally a piece of advice that's really hard to follow is to be persistent about the transition. When she wakes up at night, comfort her in her crib by rubbing her back or even take her out if you need to, but stay in her room. We went through that and so many times all you want to do is just take her with you to her bed and many times that's what we did, but the clearer you are on the subject, the quicker she'll get used to her new bed.

***Do not put her to her bed with a milk bottle, that is bad for her dental health.

I hope you'll find this helpful, and if anyone has any other suggestions, please share them i the comments section.

Thank you!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

a SPECIAL post

This is a picture of my “special morning at work”. What makes it special? That’s a cranberry walnut scone that I get as a treat sometimes from the bakery next to my office,called Standard Baking Co., which by the way I was so excited to see featured on Joy The Baker blog! The bakery is fantastic! And so is the scone.  What makes it extra special is the layer of the coarse sugar coating it. And the pieces of walnuts. And the dried cranberries. It’s amazing. And to have it with a hot cup of coffee with some cream (or as some people refer to my coffee, cream with coffee, 'cause of the amount of cream I use) is just such a nice start to a work day!

Recently I’ve discovered another dimension of the word “special”. The word is magical in our family. It’s amazing what Allie will agree to do if you mention the word “special”.
“Will you have some soup for dinner?” I ask
“No! No soup! I don’t soup!” Whenever she says “I don’t” something, it means “I don’t want” something.
“Ok. How about some SPECIAL soup?” I try again.
“Special soup?” Allie gets all interested.
“Yeah! I want special soup!”
I gave her a bowl of soup with “a flower” on top, made out of a leaf of parsley and a little piece of lemon.
It’s just amazing how it works every time! But it’s hard not to overuse it, ‘cause it’s such a great trick. I am a little nervous that the novelty of that will wear off eventually. But hey, for now it works. So may as well use it.
The other night she woke up in the middle of the night, which almost never happens, she wouldn’t go back to bed. She kept asking for “toys!” which I wasn’t exactly excited about at 4 a.m. So I just kept talking her into going back to bed for a while (which seemed soo long because of how tired I was). Finally a light bulb went off in my head! Special!!  So I said:
“Will you go to bed if I give you your ‘SPECIAL’ blanky?”
“Special blanky?”
Problem was solved! I mean, of course, if I promise something special and provide something that in no way is special , it will not work, I'm guessing. So I had to pull out an old blanket that we hadn’t been using any longer since it’s too small now. Well, it doubled as a special blanky nicely!
I covered Allie with the blanky and left the room (keeping my fingers crossed).
Works like a charm! Try it!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Wonderful TWOs

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about why I think it’s important to keep a diary or journal. Now when Allie is 2 and she is talking more and more, I find it even more necessary to keep a journal for her. I don’t want to forget the funny and cute things that she does and says. Sometimes she’ll do something so cute and I think to myself “I need to tell that to MJ and I need to write it in her journal tonight”, but more often than not all I remember “by tonight” is that she did something funny and I wanted to remember it…
So one of my resolutions for 2013 is to make more notes in Allie’s diary about her.

I never want to forget how the other night as we were sitting down to dinner and had some Pop Dance Pandora station playing from when I was cooking, MJ said

"This doesn’t sounds very fitting for dinner… Let’s change the station. How about some “Relaxation”?” 

and Allie immediately responded 

“How about Elmo?”  (which is her favorite Pandora station). That was just hilarious!
Or the other night… well, let me actually just back up a bit and say that I’ve been singing the same lullaby to Allie from the first day she was born. My Russian readers will recognize it surely, it’s called "Спи моя радость усни", but if I have to transcribe it into English letters, it’s something like “Spi maya radast usni…” , which means “Sleep, my joy, fall asleep…”(And as I am writing this, I am realizing that this may ONLY be funny for the Russian speakers… but anyway). MJ was putting Allie to bed the other night and she kept requesting that song, but what she called it was just too funny. She kept saying 

“I want ‘Peanut butter usni’!” 

I love these little statements that she makes sometimes from confusing the 2 languages… By the way, MJ’s answer to that was, as it often is, some Bob Marley songs. He doesn’t know “Peanut butter usni”, but that’s ok, “Don’t worry about a thing” with a Jamaican accent is just as great of a lullaby!

Or the thing that just has happened tonight. Al of a sudden Allie started saying

"I want some more trouble"

That came out of nowhere and had me a bit confused until I finally realized what she meant... I've been obsessively listening to Taylor's Swift's "I knew you were trouble" song lately and the word "trouble" does come up a lot... So Allie just wanted to listen to the song :).

Ok, I am off to write these stories in Allie's journal now...