• How to make a rainbow cake

    Posted on September 30th, 2009 Abby No comments

    It’s quite easy, really.

    Start with any white cake mix.  Prepare it according to the directions on the box.  The recipe I originally followed called for two boxes of cake mix and I thought, “Why two?  I’ve always just used one box for a 2-layer cake so that’s what I’ll do this time, too.”  Well, I should have used two boxes.  My cakes came out much thinner than usual, so yes, I should have used two boxes.  I’m guessing it has something to do with all the food coloring making the batter heavier or something.

    Next, divvy up the batter into 6 bowls.  I tried to make the amounts slightly different, so the color on the bottom (purple) had more and the color on the top (red) had less, but I don’t know if it made a big difference.

    If you want to make a rainbow effect, color each one a different color using food coloring or gel.  I used regular food coloring, and quite a bit of it to get the colors to be bright.

    Make sure your pans are greased and floured and pour in the batter.  Pour one color in first, then the next one right on top of it in the middle, and the bottom one will spread out all by itself.   In one pan, pour yellow, orange and red, and in the second pan, pour purple, blue and green.  Just imagine the cakes on top of each other and what order the colors should go in.  It’s pretty easy to figure it out.

    Bake according to the directions on the box, and voila!

    I was generous with the frosting because the layers came out so thin, but here’s the finished product!

  • A day in the life of my 2-year old: In pictures

    Posted on August 1st, 2009 Abby No comments

    6:30am  Time to wake up!

    7:45am  Breakfast time — usually yogurt, bagel,  and milk.  Sometimes cereal, french toast,  or eggs.

    8:45am  Playtime in her bedroom while Mommy takes a shower.

    9:15am  Time to brush those teeth!

    9:30am  Time to get dressed.

    9:40am  A few minutes of play time before we go!

    9:50am  Getting shoes on to go!

    9:55am  Getting in the car to go to play group!  Sometimes it’s story hour, play date, or the grocery store.

    11:00am  Fun at play group!

    12:15pm  Lunch time!

    12:45pm  Nap time!

    3:00  Activity of some sort.  Today we had some friends over from the Mom’s Club for an ice cream social.

    6:00pm  TV show or toys…that is the question.

    6:30pm  Dinner…mmm.

    7:00pm  Time to get those teeth squeaky clean!

    7:05pm  Fun in the bath tub!

    7:30pm  Pajamas!

    7:40pm  Bedtime stories.

    8:15pm  Snoozing…

  • “Do it, do it, DO IT!”

    Posted on April 19th, 2009 Abby No comments
    Samantha attempting to put her socks on all by herself.

    Samantha attempting to put her socks on all by herself.

    “Do it, do it, DO IT!”  This has been a very common phrase coming out of Samantha’s mouth for the past couple of weeks.  Translated, it means,”I’d like to give it a try, please.  I don’t want you to help me.”  It is usually followed by either frustrated squeals, or the phrase, “Yay, did it!”  Usually we hear it when she wants to put on her pants, shirt, or shoes.  Lately it has expanded to wanting to buckle herself into her car seat, wanting to be the one to open the door when Matt returns home from work, and just today it was turning on the light in the living room.

    I’m a big supporter of letting my toddler do things for herself…how else will she learn?  I’m thrilled that, as she gets older, she is able to do more things on her own.  However, when we’re getting in the van, already late for wherever we’re going, I don’t always have enough patience for her to climb into her seat, put her arms into the straps, find the buckle, find the little thingies that go into the buckle, attemp to put them into the buckle (which she isn’t strong enough to do, so I’m met with resistance when I help), and then buckle the chest buckle (which she has been doing successfully for a couple of months).  It takes me about 15 seconds to do all of these steps, whereas it takes Samantha at least a full minute.  In the long run, one minute probably isn’t that big of a deal, but when we’re in a hurry to get somewhere it feels like an eternity.

    I know that as Samantha continues to grow and become more independent, there will be many more times when we will just have to stop and let her try things on her own.  We do, however, look forward to her learning a more polite way of telling us to back off.  :)

  • “Fishie” the Goldfish

    Posted on March 12th, 2009 Abby No comments
    Fishie in his new home.

    Fishie in his new home.

    When Samantha was born in May of 2007, we had two cats.  One, Ducky, left home never to return three days after we came home from the hospital with Sam.  The other, Scout, left home never to return again three months after that.  We figured that Ducky was just too freaked out by the baby to stick around, and that Scout was just plain old so she went off to find her final resting place.  So, we have remained pet less until now…

    Samantha has always been interested in animals…in books, on TV, or in person.  I have noticed that she is especially interested in fish.  I don’t know why…she has just always pointed out the fish she sees.  I recently took her to our local pet store as a little field trip and she ran around to all the different fish tanks exclaiming, “bish!”  (She only recently started pronouncing the “f.”)  While we were there, I glanced through their collection of small fish tanks and made some mental notes.

    On a recent trip to Wal-Mart, Samantha asked to go look at the fish as soon as we entered the store.  We weren’t in a hurry, so I said sure.  As she was checking out the bish, I glanced at the fish tanks for sale .  My eye caught a cute 1-gallon tank, that I quickly noticed was $9.99.  I picked it up immediately and checked it out.  After unsuccessfully finding someone knowlegable about fish there, I purchased the tank and went to the pet store the next day with Matt and Sam.  While Sam showed Daddy around the fish tanks, I spoke to a girl there about fish related things.  In the past, I have had a beta fish in a bowl, but I’ve never been in charge of a tank with an air pump before.  We ended up deciding to buy a goldfish the next day, once we got the water in the tank treated and got it all ready.  On the way home, Samantha finally said, “fish,” instead of, “bish.”  Since then, she has made a big deal of pronouncing the “f.”

    So the next day I took Samantha to the pet store and we chose a goldfish.  Once we got it home, we couldn’t put it in the tank right away because we had to get it accustomed to the temperature of the water and things like that.  As it turned out, Matt got home just in time for the fish to go into the tank.  Samantha was very excited when the little guy was finally in his new home (I don’t know if it’s a girl or guy fish, but we already have two females in the house, so I wanted to balance things out).



    We wanted Samantha to name the fish (or at least attempt to).  We quickly realized that she doesn’t quite understand the concept of naming things.  She just kept calling it “fish.”  The next day she called it, “fishie,” a couple of times, so we decided that’s what its name should be.  It’s easy for her to say and it makes sense to her.

    So there you have it…Samantha’s first pet (that she remembers, anyway)!

  • Is it safe to eat deli meats and hot dogs during pregnancy?

    Posted on March 2nd, 2009 Abby No comments

    I had always heard that pregnant women should avoid deli meats, hot dogs, and other pre-cooked meats. I never really knew why until recently.

    In general, I know to avoid certain things during pregnancy…smoking, alcohol, and certain foods. Not smoking is an easy one for me, because I never have and never will smoke. Alcohol is also easy, because I rarely have any in the first place. I’ll have an occasional glass of wine on a special occasion or with the ladies from my local Mom’s Club. As for food…

    I know to avoid foods that contain nitrates, nitrites, or sodium nitrates. Foods that usually contain these are hot dogs, salami, luncheon meats, and smoked fish and meats. They are used as a preservative in these foods. I recently found out that nitrates in food can be converted to nitrites, which can react in your stomach to form nitrosamines, potent cancer-causing agents. As I would NOT like to risk getting cancer from what I eat, I will avoid these foods, especially while I’m pregnant. I am unable to find more thorough information about nitrates, etc. related specifically to pregnancy, although this page on iVillage, talks about nitrites in well water causing miscarriage.

    The other big thing related to food I just found out about is Listeriosis, and I must say what I read shocked me.

    Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating foods contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. About one-third of listeriosis cases happen during pregnancy.

    Listeria monocytogenes

    Listeria monocytogenes

    You get listeriosis by eating food contaminated with Listeria. Babies can be born with listeriosis if their mothers eat contaminated food during pregnancy. The bacterium has been found in a variety of raw foods, such as uncooked meats and vegetables, as well as in processed foods that become contaminated after processing, such as soft cheeses and cold cuts at the deli counter. Unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk may contain the bacterium.

    Listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking; however, in certain ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs and deli meats, contamination may occur after cooking but before packaging.

    A person with listeriosis has fever, muscle aches, and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. If the infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur.

    Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection of the newborn. When infection occurs during pregnancy, antibiotics given promptly to the pregnant woman can often prevent infection of the fetus or newborn. Even with prompt treatment, some infections result in death.

    All of the information above on listeriosis came from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. There is also some information and interesting (and scary) comments on Baby Center.

    I knew to avoid soft cheeses (feta is the only one I really like), unpasteurized foods, and cold cuts without ever really looking into why. I can’t believe I went through an entire pregnancy and I’m now almost halfway through my second and have only just now found out this information.

    Part of the reason I wrote this post was to hopefully inform other pregnant women who are searching for information on this subject. I don’t mean for it to scare anyone or to add more foods to the “unsafe during pregnancy” list, but really wanted to share what I learned.

    As a mother of one and soon-to-be two, I feel it’s my job to protect my children and do whatever I can to keep them safe. That begins with being safe and healthy during pregnancy and doing my best to avoid anything that could be bad for my developing baby. I feel better about avoiding these foods now that I know the reasons behind why I should avoid them.

  • Big girl!!

    Posted on February 23rd, 2009 Abby 1 comment

    Many parents worry about when and how their toddlers will transition from a crib to a bed. I was one of those parents until just a few days ago.

    We spent two weeks transforming our third bedroom from a spare room to a “big girl” room for our daughter, Samantha. She will be 21 months old soon, and we are expecting our second child in August. After we decided that Sam would be switching bedrooms, I wanted that to happen asap. There will be many changes in her life before and especially after the new baby is born, and I want those changes to be as spread out as possible so she doesn’t freak out or feel like this new person is taking her place.

    In her new room, we painted the walls green, repainted the doors and a family toddler bed purple, painted the floor brown, purchased some cute bedding and accessories, and finally moved her in over the weekend.

    We got all of her toys and furniture set up, and also moved her crib. We felt that two big changes at once (new room and new bed) might be too much at once for Sam. I wanted her to be able to get used to her new room while still sleeping in her familiar crib. However, she had a different idea. We moved her into the room in the morning, and she decided to take her nap in her toddler bed! She has slept there just fine with no problems…until this evening.

    Me reading Samantha a bedtime story on her first night in her big girl room!

    Me reading Samantha a bedtime story on her first night in her big girl room!

    About 30 minutes after I put Samantha to bed, I heard her talking to herself for a few seconds. Then about 15 minutes after that, I heard the pitter-patter of tiny footsteps. I went up to her room to see what was going on. She had been up out of bed, peeling the butterfly and flower wall stickers off the wall and putting them up on the wall by her bed. While it was incredibly cute and funny, I had to tell her to lay down and go to sleep. As soon as I closed the door, she got right out of bed and continued rearranging the stickers. I went right back in, and this time removed the stickers that were near her bed and put them up out of her reach. I said, “Ok, time to stay in bed and go to sleep now.” She said, “K, na-night.” After about 10 minutes, I heard her moving around yet again. This time, as soon as I opened the door, she looked at me from her bed and said, “Na-night!” I noticed she had gotten up and put her giant Elmo doll in bed with her. After that she stayed in bed and went to sleep.

    I guess I should have expected something like this. Thing is, Samantha has always been a champion sleeper. She has been sleeping through the night since she was three months old and we have almost never had a problem putting her down for a nap or to bed. We do our routine, and she just lays down and goes to sleep. Needless to say I was surprised to hear her out of bed, let along causing mischief! I’m hoping this is just a one-time or a once-in-a-while thing!

  • Top 10 #10: Portable Seat

    Posted on August 13th, 2008 Abby No comments

    This is the tenth thing in my Top 10 Things I Could Not Have Lived Without During My Baby’s First Year post.
    It is very helpful to have a portable seat for your child. I found this most useful when I needed to use the bathroom, hang out outside, etc.
    We have a Fisher Price Infant-To-Toddler Rocker and love it! It’s a 3-stage item (again, to get the most bang for your buck). When Samantha was a newborn, we would put the stabilizer bar up so she could look at the colorful toys danging above her head.

    When she was older, she could sit in a more upright position and bat her hands at the toys.

    Now that Samantha is a toddler, she can sit in it and use it like a rocking chair (the toy bar is detachable). IMG_5649

  • Top 10 #9: Vehicle Mirror

    Posted on August 10th, 2008 Abby No comments

    This is ninth thing in my Top 10 Things I Could Not Have Lived Without During My Baby’s First Year post.
    We have a rear view mirror in each of our vehicles and I would highly recommend one! Samantha is still rear-facing and with a mirror, we can see her, what she’s doing, if she’s sleeping, etc. We have a Blue Ridge SafeFit Baby In Sight mirror.
    I read that some people actually recommended NOT having one of these mirrors, because of the risk of injury from the mirror during a car crash. I decided to take the risk, because it gives me great peace of mind to be able to see Samantha and for her to be able to see who was in the front seat, to a point.


  • Top 10 #8: Bath Tub/Seat

    Posted on August 6th, 2008 Abby 3 comments

    This is the eighth item in my Top 10 Things I Could Not Have Lived Without During My Baby’s First Year post.
    We used a baby bath tub for the first nine or so months of Samantha’s life. We put it in our kitchen sink and washed her there. We used a Safety 1st Comfy Duck Bath Center and loved it! It fit perfectly in our standard-size sink, had a drain hole for the water, a temperature strip, two recessed holes for shampoo or toys, the foam part the baby lays on is slip-proof, and it came with a rinse cup and a sling for a newborn. We never used the sling because it basically suspended the baby over the water, instead of having her lay in it (not enough slack in the design of the sling).
    My only complaint about this tub was that it was difficult to rinse the shampoo out of Samantha’s hair (what little she had!). The tub was inclined enough that, if we poured water on her head, it would go in her face. We ended up turning her whole body around and holding her over the end of the tub/sink with one arm, and rinsing with the other. It was a bit of a pain with a crying, wriggling newborn, but not too bad with an older baby who was accustomed to the process.

    When Samantha was sitting up well and outgrew her baby bath tub, we bought a bath seat. We purchased an Aquababy Bath Ring. We’re very pleased with it. Even though Sam is sitting up just fine on her own, I still wouldn’t trust her to sit still in a tub for a bath. I’m sure she would squirm around, try to stand up, etc. With the seat she sits still, except when she can’t reach a toy floating in the water.


  • Top 10 #7: Exersaucer

    Posted on August 3rd, 2008 Abby No comments

    This is the seventh item in my Top 10 Things I Could Not Have Lived Without During My Baby’s First Year post.
    We absolutely loved having an exersaucer! We got an Evenflo ExerSaucer Delux – Wild Thing when Samantha was about five months old. She loved the attached toys and they kept her busy! This particular model was nice because the legs were spring-loaded, and Sam loved to bounce up and down in it!
    I did all the research about exersaucers versus walkers and based my decision on the goal we wanted to accomplish: keep the baby in one place and entertained so I could do things like make lunch, go to the bathroom (very important), etc.
    For the first few months we had the exersaucer in the living room, where we spent most of our time. We were careful not to over-use it and didn’t put Sam in it too long or too often. Then for a couple of more months, we put it in our bathroom, so Samantha could play in it while we each took a shower. It worked out very well in that setting, especially because our bathroom was big enough.