Hannah’s vocab – 20 months

This girl is talking so much! I thought about making a list of all the words she knows, but that would take too long and there are always new ones.

Lately she has been learning names and likes to introduce herself to new people as “Nana.” She has a few mysteries of pronunciation, however. Her M’s and B’s are randomly interchanged.  For example, Uncle Michael is “Batu” and our friend Meghan is “Bidden.” A banana is “manana” and Bingley is “Minny.” But sometimes she will use the correct sound, like Aunt Mindy is “Minny” and Aunt Melody is “Mennenny.” (Aunt Kristen comes out sounding something like her word for chicken.)

She has also started understanding possession. Thankfully, she has not entered the world of “mine!” yet, but she will point at things and say “Mommy’s” or “Daddy’s.” But the understanding of possession has made her less willing to share her toys, and we have had lots of reminders about taking turns.

It’s really nice that she can often ask for what she wants – a specific snack, a toy, an activity, a friend. Recent favorites, respectively, would be “fishies,” “tent,” “dudder” (color), and “Bidden.” 

She tells us to pray a lot during meals but will often offer a premature “Men!” before the person has actually stopped praying. 

Of course we hear a lot of the toddler staple “no,” but we also hear “yeah” a lot. It’s really cute. Now when can we teach her “y’all”?

The start of pool season

Yesterday was our first trip to the pool this year. We are fortunate to have a public pool very close to our house, and it is FREE during the summer. They have a large baby pool that is separated from the big pool by a fence, and there is a full-time lifeguard just for the baby pool area. Excellent set-up for toddlers.

Hannah loved it. She just walked around the baby pool and watched the other kids. During the “pool check” time, she thought it was fun to sit on the towel and eat snacks. There were some really fun fish murals next to our snack spot.

Looking at fish while eating fish.

I think we will be spending a lot of time here this summer. This morning, Hannah somehow found her swimsuit, brought it to me, and tried to put it on. Then she brought me her swim diaper. And finally her towel. Hint hint, mommy.

Dinner tonight – Torta pascualina

This is another “More-with-Less” recipe as I’m informally making my way through the cookbook – don’t get any ideas of a “Julie & Julia” kind of thing going on. It’s just nice to have a book of healthy and inexpensive recipes to try, especially with the variety of countries and flavors represented. “Torta pascualina” is translated in the book as “Argentine spinach pie.” I happen to know some people making their way to Argentina tomorrow, so the timing ended up being special.

Torta Pascualina 

Have ready
– 1 pie shell and crust for top, unbaked
Cook, drain, and chop finely
– 1 1/2 c. frozen or 2 qt. fresh spinach
Saute until tender
– 2 T. oil
– 1 onion, chopped
Combine
– spinach
– sauteed onion
– 1/4 t. nutmeg
– 1 t. oregano
– 1/2 t. salt
– 2 beaten eggs
– 1 c. grated Swiss cheese
Pour into pie shell. Arrange top crust and seal. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Serve hot in wedges.

This is so easy! I tried a new product – frozen chopped spinach that comes one of those steam-in-the-bag things. I’ve always used the frozen spinach bricks which are difficult to thaw, and then you have to wring out all the water to avoid your recipe getting soggy. I just threw the bag in the microwave for four minutes, and it was perfect. Just the right amount for the recipe and no wringing out excess green water. And it was only 20 cents more than the green brick, totally worth it. I also took the shortcut of refrigerated pie crust.

This got good reviews from Brett. Hannah threw it on the floor, but she also threw her banana on the floor – it was just one of those nights. The crust was flaky, and the filling was soft and cheesy. We enjoyed it with a Malbec – an Argentine wine – of course!

New treat

Hannah was digging around in a diaper bag and found a half-melted lollipop I had picked up for her at the last doctor visit. Brett found one in our candy stash, and they had a lollipop party.

When hers was gone, Hannah decided to go for Daddy’s and resorted to extreme methods to convince him to relinquish. It didn’t work.

Quick trip recap

Hannah and I are back home after a little trip up to Grand Prairie to visit Michael and Melody. It was a quick getaway and fun to be out of the routine for a couple days. I forgot to take pictures, but luckily Melody caught this one on her phone.

Hannah’s word for Uncle Michael was “Batu” and Aunt Melody was “Minny/Menny/Mennenney.” The dogs, Ella and Tatum, are always a big hit.

We went to the high school where Michael is an assistant band director, and Hannah was introduced to several new instruments. Drumline was a little overwhelming, but she seemed to enjoy the low brass sectional. I thought it was funny that kids were calling my little brother “Mr. Jordan.” A fun lunch stop up there in Carrollton was the Rainbow Grill. It was like a time warp – low prices, friendly staff and a high chair unlike anything I have seen. It was beyond vintage. I should have taken a picture, because I tried to do a search online to find a similar image to post, and I can’t find anything close.

So it was a fun little trip – thanks M&M!

Dinner tonight – Roasted eggplant pasta

Yesterday at the Farmers’ Market, we picked up cucumber, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, yellow squash and a huge bunch of basil. I have a small pot of basil growing in the backyard, but it looks very sad so I was happy to see a gorgeous bunch for only $2. Pesto time!

Tonight I roasted the eggplant, tossed it with some leftover tomatoes from the recipe yesterday, threw it on some whole wheat spaghetti and topped it with the fresh pesto. Eating local is easy and tasty!

Dinner tonight – Soybean loaf

Anyone’s mouth watering at the thought of “soybean loaf”? Mine certainly wasn’t.

I recently got “More-with-Less” – a well-known Mennonite cookbook that emphasizes nutritional balance, “whole” foods and making meal choices that reflect a concern for global poverty and sustainability. The foreword of my 25th anniversary edition states:

North Americans are encouraged to consume. We’ve seen an explosion of new artificial fats and sweeteners and products made with them, yet we suffer from obesity. The nutritional supplement industry encourages us to take vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements to be healthy and happy. We no longer see food as good, providing nutrients and needed fuel. It is either a splurge or a scourge. (This cookbook) can help recapture the joy of preparing and eating adequate and appropriate food.

My mom used “More-with-Less” often as we were growing up, so I have eaten many recipes from it. But now with my own copy, I’ve decided to try some new ones. I was intrigued by the many soybean recipes included in the book. Growing up in Kansas, I have seen countless soybean fields but have not seen a lot of recipes featuring soybeans. A particular recipe that grabbed my attention was the following:

Soybean Loaf 

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine in large bowl:
2 1/2 c. soybeans, cooked and mashed
1/2 c. cottage cheese
1/2 c. fresh or cooked tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 eggs
2 T. oil
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. bread crumbs
Mix well. Form into loaf and place on greased baking pan.
Pour sauce (a homemade tomato sauce) on top.
Bake 1 hour.

This was undoubtably the weirdest thing I have ever cooked. The ingredients were not expensive or hard to find, and making it was not difficult. I was afraid of it being bland, so I added some garlic powder, fresh ground pepper and dried italian herbs. I also sprinkled some grated parmesan cheese on top. It smelled really good while baking. But really – soybeans, cottage cheese and tomatoes? We had the back-up plan of running to Chick-fil-A if things got bad.

I made mashed potatoes, figuring that was the traditional side dish for meatloaf, and I wanted to have some illusion of normality for this meal.

A nice slice of soybean loaf with mashed potatoes

We were surprised – in a positive way. I really only made this recipe because it sounded so strange, but it ended up being a not-so-bad meal. The texture was similar to meatloaf, and it was surprisingly flavorful (probably due to my recipe rogue additions). Brett’s take: “It’s different.” But he did clean his plate. Hannah had already gone to bed when we ate, so we’ll have to get her review tomorrow.

Would I make this again? No. But I’m glad I tried it. Being open-minded about new recipes may not always result in deliciousness, but the experience was worth it. Expect many more “More-with-Less” recipes to be featured in the future.

Austin Day – 6th anniversary

Six years ago, we drove a moving van into Austin, the start of our Texas experience. We were (and are) so thankful to be here that we designated June 3rd as the family holiday of Austin Day. Traditionally, we try to do something Austin-y on that day and also eat at Whataburger, where we ate our first night as Austin residents.

We had planned a surprise excursion with some friends for today, but it fell through. Brett had taken a half-day off work, so we needed to come up with something fun. It was supposed to get up to 100 degrees, so we decided something with water would be good. A famous Austin place is Barton Springs Pool, and we have never been, so we loaded up and headed that way. Nearing the entrance, we could see a line of about 40 standing outside. We could only imagine how many people were already inside if they were making people wait like that. Not a good option with a 1-year-old who is already begging “water! water!”. So we drove back down to the public pool near our house, not very exciting but no lines expected. Well, there were no lines because it was closed!

By this time, Hannah was in meltdown mode. She was ready for water and was now chanting “sad, sad, sad” from the back seat. We hurried home to make our own water fun. I recently got a “water table” which we pulled out along with the kiddie pool.

The water was cold, but this kept her happy for almost an hour (an eternity given the toddler attention span). After getting dried off and cleaned up, we headed to Whataburger. Hannah recently learned how to dip, and tonight she discovered the two-handed dip.

Usually, during our Austin Day dinners, we recall our first night here and talk about all the Austin things that we love. It seems like much less talking happens when you have a toddler at the table, so we didn’t have a very deep discussion this year.

For another summer treat, we tried out a snow cone place near our house for dessert. I got raspberry lemonade, and Brett tried cafe latte. Hannah got some of mine; maybe I shouldn’t have picked something red.

We should have taken an “after” picture; let’s just say it required a bath and some serious scrubbing to get off all the sticky red coverage.

So Austin Day 2011 was a success and we look forward to many more!

Donut Day

Apparently today is National Donut Day. I’ve heard that Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts have some free stuff to celebrate, but we don’t have either of those close to us. Down the road is Shipley Donuts, and I got a text this morning from Meghan to meet there and celebrate the holiday. They weren’t giving anything away, but it was fun to meet and eat anyway.

Everyone is absorbed in their breakfast. The kolaches are also delicious. Hannah enjoyed a plain cake donut. A noticeable feature among the donut crumbs is the fat lip she got last night when she pulled herself over while in her high chair. And yes, she’s still in her pajamas; it seemed like a festive wardrobe choice for the occasion.

So Happy Donut Day!