Sunday, May 5, 2013

Road Trip

Mark's grandparents, who's farm we visited in October, breed baby goats once every year or so.  Some of the babies were born a few weeks ago and we decided to plan a road trip up to Sacramento so Becker (and me of course) could snuggle those babies.  Baby goats are one of my favorite things!  The planning was more like looking at our crazy schedule and seeing two empty days in a row where Mark was not scheduled to work so we jumped at the chance.  I switched a work day and we decided to leave after work on Thursday afternoon.  Last time we visited the farm we flew, but last minute plane tickets are hefty so we took the plunge on our first family road trip.  Becker had never been in the car longer than 2 hours at the very most so we had no idea what to expect, but also had very little time to worry or prepare for it, which was probably for the best.

Road Trip!

 The trip was supposed to be 7 hours, but ended up being 9 hours due to the wonderful afternoon traffic from Orange County to Van Nuys.  Two full hours of stop-and-go, very slow driving.  Becker had not really napped that day and we had expected him to crash as soon as we got on the road.  No such luck.  Amazingly though, he was quite content to talk about every truck, tree and airplane we saw.  I sat in the back with him through the traffic so he had someone to talk to and play with.  We stopped for some dinner just barely out of Los Angeles and headed toward the Grapevine.  Becker doesn't usually get to eat in the car so having a huge 6 inch tuna and spinach Subway sandwich on his lap was quite the treat.  I'll pack our own food next time because I'd rather him not eat garbage, but it was the best we could do at the time.

He liked wrapping it back up after each bite.  Next, out not potty trained toddler decided he needed to got to the bathroom, so we found a fast food spot in Gorman so he could do his business, which he did.  Go Becker!  At this point it was his "normal" bedtime so we changed him into jammies and hoped he would drift off quickly.

Well the sunset was just too exciting and the cow smell after the Grapevine was just too stinky so he didn't fall asleep until after 8pm, but that wasn't so bad.  Once it was dark, he was quiet and we forged onward realizing we still had several hours to go.  I considered flying myself back home rather than making the drive again.  I think the long car trip was actually harder on me than Becker since he did some sleeping and seemed pretty darn comfortable in his car seat.  Being pregnant made me fairly uncomfortable no matter how I sat it seemed.  Along the way, we got a text letting us know four new baby goats had just been born which sparked our excitement and helped make the long night drive bearable.

Becker wakes up if the car stops, so he was up at 10pm for a quick gas fill up, windshield de-bugging and stretch before the final push north.  We exited the freeway around midnight and arrived at the farm shortly there after.  Becker was pretty worked up and excited when he saw Grandpa, but we hurried to get everything inside and all climb into bed before his second wind hit.  A distant train whistle was very concerning, but we all settled to sleep after 1am, hoping Becker would sleep in after his fragmented sleep.
The sun came up and the rooster crowed; signs it was time to start our day.  Becker was bright eyed and bushy tailed just before 7am so we made some coffee and headed out to see the baby goats who had been born the day before in our pjs.  I love watching Becker with animals.  He is so gentle, so loving and oftentimes very serious in his expressions.  He will sit and hold one as long as it will stay in his lap.  So content to just pet it, look at it and give it kisses.

Grandpa had given Becker the task of helping to name the goats.  He chose Harry for one of the brown ones, Princess for the girl twin in that litter and we thought Oreo was a good name for the black and white one.  The mother goats were all very accepting of our picking up and holding their newborns.  Can't say I'd be so open to strangers man-handling my newborns!  The mother goats kept and eye on us and came over to smell their baby, but never protested our presence.  Becker got to see the babies nurse and the mothers cleaning and snuggling their babies just like people do.

Chickens were next and Becker helped gather the morning eggs from the coop.  He is still not fond of Sarge, the rooster, but says, "Sarge, stay back!" After a few too many loud "cock-a-doodle-doos"we decided to head inside for breakfast.  Becker showed his eggs off to Granny and we had a wonderful breakfast of farm fresh quiche and melon.

Back out to the baby goats we went and Becker and Mark did a lot of running around chasing the kid goats and young sheep who were now skittish around people.  It was a hot day, reaching 93 and you could see it in Becker's pink cheeks.  The sheep aren't as friendly as the goats, so it takes a long time to catch one, but Mark finally did and Becker got to feel it's soft wool.  I scooped that exhausted sheep up and held it since I had the chance.

In the afternoon we went to a small local lake to go fishing.  Grandpa wanted Becker to catch a fish.  It did not take too long and Mark was helping Becker reel in a small one.  Becker had said he wanted to catch a "little fish" and that he did.  After some photos and inspection we tossed it back, hoping it swam free.

We had a delicious dinner al fresco of salmon, basil ravioli, garden fresh squash and salad.  Becker and I wolfed it down and then it was time for him to head to bed.
Sarge, the rooster crowed bright and early again and Becker was ready to visit the goats and chickens.  "It's wake up time!" he announced after a brief groggy period of waking followed by "No, I don't want to leave Granny's house!" when he saw us begin to pack our belongings back into our bags.  We spent some time holding the babies, checking out the chickens and eating some almost ripe cherries from the fruit trees before it was time to pack up and head to town for breakfast before our long drive home.  The fruit trees will be serving up quite the bounty this season!

soon-to-be peach 
soon-to-be pluot

Becker was pretty overtired from a big couple of days on less sleep than he is accustomed so we thought he would crash the moment we got on the freeway.  Luckily we had a good 7 hours ahead of us so it didn't really matter when he fell asleep, it was bound to happen along the way.  About 30 minutes into the drive Becker needed another gas station stop to use the potty.  He cracks me up because the car is the only time he ever decides to be potty trained, but it's a welcome step in the right direction.  Two hours of chatting, singing and playing with a blanket and he finally fell silent and was asleep.  He took a good 2 hour nap and was ready for a peanut butter sandwich when he woke up.  I hung out in the back with him for most of the last 2 hours; reading books and catching the imaginary baby penguins who were flying all over the car.  We made it home an how before bedtime so Becker could play and have some dinner before bed.  And boy did he sleep well!  Not a peep out of him till morning, this little buddy had a big couple of days.

A little bit of this
A little bit of that

And then there was that

We are so proud of Becker and how well he did on this road trip.  We had no idea what to expect from him being strapped into his car seat for so long and honestly expected the worst.  The trip went really well and I was surprised at how little "entertainment" Becker wanted or needed for the drive.  I had brought a few board books, a small jet plane and some snacks.  That was it.  He spent a lot of time making up songs, talking and playing around with a swaddle blanket.  Hoping for the same luck on our trip to Italy at the end of the month!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Red, Ripe Strawberries

Growing up in San Diego, I've driven by the U-Pick Strawberry Farm in Carlsbad literally hundreds of times in my life.  It's right there off the freeway on your way to or from San Diego.  I always thought it would be fun to go, but never had that push I needed to actually do it.  Last year my friend's blog post on it made me really want to go, but being busy a busy family with one day together a week, it passed us by.  This year my friend blogged about it again and I wrote it on the calendar on our next free Monday.  I knew Becker was at an age where this would be something we would all really enjoy.  Heading into our second trimester with our newbie on the way I am actually feeling fairly decent as well which is a bonus after the past 12 weeks.  I wanted to check out the Carlsbad Flowers too as they look amazing, but alas one thing at a time.  We barely made it home for Becker's nap as it was.  When Becker does manage to fall asleep in the car it is often 10 minutes before we get home which leads to a wide awake little boy as soon as we park the car.  Anyway, onto our super fun morning.

It was quite cool and cloudy when we got to the strawberry farm, but the sun came out beautifully by the time we left.  Going early had a big perk of being some of the first people there.  We purchased a large bucket and headed down to some empty rows of berries to let Becker free.  This was the perfect place for him!  He could run, eat and explore and was contained within a small skinny barrier of strawberry rows.  He isn't tall enough to climb over them and was perfectly content inspecting each plant and snacking as we walked through along.  He kept exclaiming "Look at this big, red, ripe strawberry!" as he pulled them from the plants and stuffed them into his mouth.  He did more eating than collecting, but that's half the fun right?  I loved how the strawberry juice ran down his little face, staining his chin with each bite.  He was sporting proof of our appetite for strawberries.  We all enjoyed the fresh picked juicy fruit and farm scenery.  The tractors in the distance were a sight for Becker and we broke the news that they were just for the workers and we couldn't take a ride.  One of the rows had a few puddles of fresh mud and wouldn't you know it, I turned around to see Becker up to his ankels in mud splashing away.  Every bit a boy, this kiddo loves dirt!

When I couldn't fill the bucket anymore without berries toppling out, we decided to head back to the car.  Originally we thought we would eat lunch near the farm, but we all had bellies full of strawberries so there was no room for any more food.  We took our bounty home and those strawberries filled the largest bowl we have!  I know we will plow through them fresh from the counter pretty quick, but might also try to dry some in to oven for a tasty treat.  Here are some fun photos of our morning.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I is for Ice Pop

He knows a good thing when he tastes it.

I know it's winter, but ice pops are Becker's absolute favorite thing.  If you can make a healthy snack taste like a treat then go for it right?  Well last spring and summer when Becker was getting the bulk of his teeth he was in need of something to gnaw on that was cold and could reach to the back of his mouth.  I didn't think his love of chomping ice cubes was all that safe.  I ordered these ice pop molds on Amazon.  These pop molds have easy to peel off covers, comfortable handles for little hands, are a good size, and have a drip guard.  They rock.  The ONLY downside to these pop molds is that there are only 4.  You will see that 4 just doesn't cut when you make something so good.  When I was little my mom would freeze apple juice in little Tupperware pop molds.  We would suck out the juice and be left with an ice cube on a stick.  I remember wanting more of a creamy texture, or some way to make them easier to bite.  Browsing recipes on Pinterest led me to a recipe that used yogurt.  Genius!  Basically you make a fruit smoothie and freeze it.  No sugar, no colors, none of the bad stuff that is in commercial popsicles.  I've mixed different fruits and tried coconut yogurt over the year.  I even took the left over fruit salad from Becker's birthday party and blended it up with some yogurt to make some pops and a smoothie.  We don't waste food around here!  I don't really measure anything, but I always have enough for the pops and some extra for eating right away.  Our favorite combination is as follows:

  1. Around 1/4 Cup of Plain Greek Yogurt (Organic is best, I have a hard time finding organic full fat Greek yogurt)
  2. Frozen mango chunks
  3. 1 banana
  4. 1 dash of OJ
  5. 1 Tsp of Real Vanilla Extract

Our Vita-Mix is a real workhorse and purees things so well there are no chunks or granuals whatsoever.  I toss everything into the machine with the mangos on the bottom and let her whirl.  I add a bit of OJ to thin it out as needed.  The Vita-Mix is VERY loud, so Becker does not like to be in the kitchen while it is on.  Look at that beauty!

Pour the delicious smoothie mixture into ice pop molds and tap them lightly to release any air bubbles. Then pop them in the freezer and wait a few hours for them to harden.  Try not to eat them all in one day.

The banana and yogurt give these pops the smoothest texture and they are pretty sweet as well.  Blueberries, pineapple, strawberries and grapes all work well too.  I haven't added kale for a green ice pop yet, but I am feeling daring so that might be next.  I always have a little left over smoothie and
Becker devours it with a straw.

When we have pops, I let Becker have one a day, usually after his afternoon nap.  Lately, he wakes up in the morning and starts asking for an ice pop right away.  When I tell him he can have it later, after his nap, he says "Becker nap now." and heads upstairs.  He thinks he's got it all figured out!  That's how good they are.  Good enough for a toddler who just woke up to want to go back to sleep in order to have one.  I am probably going to pick up a second set of pop molds becuase 4 pops go way too fast in this household.  A set of 6 would have been nice, but I'll have 8 soon enough.

Make these.  They are delicious even if you are not teething.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Trim

I had the full intention of never cutting Becker's hair.  Ok, not never, but not anytime soon.  I loved his curls and the whispy, pureness of his baby hair.  It seemed to take so long for him to really grow a substantial amount of hair.  I wanted to see how long it would grow.  Yes, he was often referred to as a girl at the grocery store or park.  Even in very mascuiline clothes people would often comment about how cute or verbal "she" was.  I'm sure his amber necklace confirmed their word choice.  Depending on my mood I would correct them.  I was proud of his curls and called it "surfer chic."  Then, the week after he turned 2, Becker became a little boy with a very clear wish.  He wanted a hair cut.  From the back seat I heard him scolding his hair, "don't get in Becker's eyes HAIR!" he yelled in frustration, tearing out strands hear and there and handing them to me.  I couldn't see him as he faces backwards, but I could hear him slapping at his face and hair.  I told him how to brush his bangs to the side, but this was not a permanent solution and just would not do.  I asked him if he wanted me to get it cut and was greeted with an enthusiastic YES.  I explained that I couldn't cut it that day, but I would call someone who could.  I asked my hair stylist if she had done children and if she would be willing to give Becker his first trim.  The appointment was set for a couple of days later, and Becker was looking forward to the trim. 

The whole thing was harder on me than him.  It was like watching him transform into a boy.  Kenna came over after his nap and Becker told her how his hair was in his eyes and he did not like that.  She said after the trim his hair will grow in fuller and less like a mullet.  Ok, I can live with that.  He sat on Mark's lap and watched as skillful hands moved about his head, snipping here and there.  He did not have to sit perfectly still, he did not have to look a certain way, she just worked around his movements fluidly as we chatted and I took too many pictures.  At one point we gave him a piece of his hair to hold and he looked at it proudly.  Mark commented on how he looked older immidiately.  We saved a curl from the back for his baby book and he helped vacuum the hair from the kitchen floor afterward.  He was so happy to be getting his hair cut.  Even though I had hoped to wait longer, I was thrilled to see him enjoy the process since it was his idea.

the finished product

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Birthday Bash

After throwing a big family party at our house last year for Becker's 1st birthday I wasn't sure if I wanted to do the whole thing again this year. It's a lot of work you know! I knew I didn't want to have it at our small house if we did have a party and after lots of back and forth, I decided that yes we would do a party and it would be at a petting zoo. The petting zoo is the obvious choice for this little animal lover. The party planning got rolling and several trips to various stores and online orders later, the party was coming together. The petting zoo itself has a lot of ambiance so the barnyard theme was pretty easy to flow with. Gingham table cloths, mason jars for drinks, bandanas and pails for the kids, a barn pinata filled with plastic animals, play-doh and crayons. It all came together really well and Becker, his friends and extended family had a blast at the party. Who doesn't love lots of cuddly guinea pigs and goats to feed, a train and a pony ride?

We had some great feedback on the decor so I thought I'd post it here. First off each child got a pail with a bandana, quarter for goat food and tickets for a basket of animal veggies as well as tickets to ride the ponies and the train. The pails would later be used to collect items from the pinata. Here are the pails all set up:

Since these are 2 year olds, I knew I had to provide toddler friendly drinks. I am not big on box drinks and all those "kid" things.  Becker drinks water 99% of the time. Since water is our household's main beverage, I bought a few cases of mini waters from good old Trader Joe's and replaced their labels with colored duct tape. Easy peasy, party ready.

We also decided to offer lemonade and iced tea to our party guests.  Mason jars are all the rage for parties and the barnyard theme was begging for some jars with little name tags for the drinks. Not only is it eco friendly, but it's totally cute. Something about drinking from a mason jar is just fun. I bought pint sized jars for adults and smaller, 8 ounce jars for the kids. We found some great paper straws on Etsy here.  Mark drilled holes the size of the straws into the tops of the smaller jars to make spill proof cups for the kiddos. *Tip: Place each center circle for the lids on the same jar when drilling so you only have to clean metal shavings out of one jar.  I used a chopstick to smooth out the edges after the holes were drilled.  Also leave lids on all of the jars until the party starts so the insides stay clean.* They turned out really cute and the kids liked their personalized glasses.

Larger jars for the adults, straws and markers to write names.

The birthday boy himself drinking water from our homemade mason jar straw cups

The party was from 9-12 so we went with light, kid friendly food. Fruit salad, pasta salad, hummus & pita chips along with metal pails of Annie's Snack mix, and dried fruit and nuts lining the center of the tables.  I wrapped up the silverware in napkins and tied each bundle with twine and found a cute chicken wire basket to display them in at World Market. The little wooden farm is from Melissa & Doug.  Becker received it as a gift for Christmas and since it happened to fit our theme perfectly, I set it aside until now. 

Becker requested cupcakes for his birthday party. When researching cupcake recipes I debated between a quinoa cupcake and "The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake"......Can you guess which I chose? Special vanilla paste was ordered and I chose these cupcake toppers from Etsy to adorn the homemade goodness. I needed triple the recipe so instead of risking messing the whole thing up by tripling it, I made the whole recipe three times. This took the better part of the day before the party with Becker's help. I spiraled the frosting with a ziplock bag the night before and added the cupcake toppers once we set up at the venue.

Mark really wanted to have a pinata. I was a little iffy on this one as we were at a petting zoo and I didn't want to send the wrong message of having the kids whack a paper animal just moments after petting and feeding one. Perfection: I found a barn pinata with pull ribbons. Instead of smacking the pinata, each child pulls a ribbon and one of the ribbons opens the bottom of the pinata, releasing the goods. I filled the pinata with items from Target; mini play dough tubs, markers, crayons, plastic barn animals, stickers and organic fruit leather.  The final string was really hard to pull so everyone had at least one turn, even when the boys pulled a handful of the ribbons.

The boys taking turns pulling a ribbon.
I think they enjoyed it!

Happy Birthday Baby! We all had a blast celebrating YOU!