food · slice of life

Little Green Smoothie Drinker

The opening of the freezer — to get a cupful of ice — beckons him.

The whir of the blender lures him toward me and makes him raise his arms and request “up.”

The power button — which I allow him to press — makes him smile.

The frostiness of the drink makes him sign and say “more.”


Ari taught himself how to suck from a straw a few months ago since he was highly motivated to have what I was drinking (i.e., a green smoothie). Over the past few months, Ari has become a BIG fan of green smoothies. The more complex the ingredients, the more he drinks! That’s right. The green ingredient of the smoothie can be kale or collard greens. Doesn’t matter. He loves it. (I’m completely baffled since many adults can’t handle more than spinach in their green smoothies!)

This morning, I mixed up a rather complex combination of ingredients for my breakfast smoothie.

Ari toddled over as soon as he heard me mix the spinach and water together in the first round of blending. He watched intently as I added kiwis, a pear, pomegranate powder, pumpkin seeds, and protein powder to the blender.

“Want to help me get the ice?” I asked.

Ari hurried towards the freezer door. He peered inside as I grabbed out the cubes. He shut the door once I had what I needed.

After I added the ice, it was time to blend. I capped the blender and set it atop the motor.

“Up!” he reliably requested.

We hit the power button together and watched magic happen as the ingredients were pulverized and liquified. Once the mixture was smooth and green, I positioned his pointer finger on the power button and helped him push it twice to stop the blender.

I set him down on the floor. “I’ll get the cup. You get your bib. Then, we’ll share at the table.”

Two minutes later, Ari was nestled on my lap, taking turns and sharing a green smoothie with me.

board books · consulting · food · motherhood · slice of life · weather · writing

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday was cold.

Today is snowy.

Yesterday I was busy: driving on back-country roads and working with teachers.

Today I am moving slowly: staying at home and playing with Ari.

Yesterday I ate in a hurry: turkey sandwich, yellow peppers, Sumo orange, and trail mix.

Today I had a leisurely meal: breakfast tacos made with spinach, eggs, queso fresco, and hot sauce.

Yesterday I debriefed classroom visits and talked about minilessons.

Today I’m reading board books again and again and again.

Yesterday was good.

Today is good.

food · slice of life

At Least Someone Appreciates My Food!

This is the third day in a row I’m writing about food. (Click here or here for my previous food-related posts.) I’m promising myself it will be my last food-related slice for awhile. However, I felt compelled to share something that happened today when I invited a friend and her daughter over for lunch.

As a full-time mom, part-time literacy consultant, part-time writer, and adjunct professor, I usually eat lunch at home by myself. (Often, I wolf it down while Ari plays.) I do this so as to maximize the time I have to get my work done since Ari will often fall asleep on car rides, which means he won’t nap for long stretches once we’re at home. (Nap Time = Work Time!) Every now and then I’ll meet a friend out for lunch or will get together for lunch. Today was one of those days. I hosted my friend Lara and her almost-four-year-old daughter for lunch. (Our older kids are in the same Kindergarten class.)

A day or two before we made plans, I encountered a Spiralized Sweet Potato Breafkast Tostada recipe that sounded scrumptious. Once she accepted my lunch invitation, I asked her if she’d be up for trying it and if her daughter would eat it. The answer was yes (to both)!  Isabelle would never eat this, I thought. But good for her kid if she will! I decided to make breakfast for lunch on the day they’d be over.

This afternoon, I prepared the recipe as Lara and I chatted in the kitchen. With each layer I added to the plate — sweet potato tostada, fried egg, baby spinach, refried beans, avocado, salsa, and cotija cheese — I thought there’s no way her three-year-old will eat this!

“I’m going to take a picture of this,” I told Lara as I finished plating our food. “If G. eats this, then I’m going to tell Isabelle about it when she gets home from school.”

And do you know what happened? Her daughter ate what I made. In fact, she said it was good!

At least there’s one child out there who appreciates my cooking.

(Click here for the Spiralized Sweet Potato Tostada recipe.)

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food · slice of life

Baking by Myself

Last week, I realized it had been a long time since I had baked with Isabelle. So when I saw Bob’s Red Mill was running a sale, I decided to order some gluten-free baking staples. Despite earning free shipping, the products arrived in two days. Therefore, I knew we’d be able to bake this weekend.

Isabelle and I used to bake with each other constantly. However, once Ari came along, we’ve only baked together twice. (I can’t blame it all on Ari. We have time to bake. The real problem is my lack of self-control. I’m trying to take off the baby weight I gained and the less sweets that are in the house, the better it is for my waistline!)

I announced to Isabelle that we were going to make bread from scratch. I was beyond excited. After all, bread was something I could eat without feeling the guilt, of say, a piece of pie or chocolate chip cookies. However, not long after I told Isabelle about my plan, she told me she didn’t want to bake bread with me.

Once I told her my feelings were hurt, she agreed to bake with me, but said, “I’m not going to eat it.”

This morning, once the yeast came home from the grocery store, I got to work making my own gluten-free flour and measuring the ingredients into the mixing bowl — by myself. That’s right. In the end, Isabelle decided she didn’t want to bake with me. The closest thing I got to a baking partner was Ari staring at me in the kitchen from his jumperoo.

The bread smelled good so, fortunately, Isabelle changed her tune. She asked to try a slice at dinnertime.

If you read yesterday’s slice of life story, then I have a feeling that you won’t be shocked when I tell you she didn’t like it. Her loss. I’m the only one in the house who cannot eat gluten, which means there’s more for me.

Sticky-sticky dough
I sprayed the ball of dough with water, which gave it a great crust.
The dough ball looked more like a matzoh ball to me than bread.
Just out of the oven.
Nicely browned bottom.
Digging into the loaf.
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food · slice of life

Let Me Count the Reasons

At least she drank her apple juice.

The four of us tried a new restaurant for dinner tonight. Isabelle had the choice of cheese pizza, grilled cheese, or bowtie pasta. She picked the pizza.

Her personal pizza arrived before our entrees. Marc cut a section into small bites while Isabelle and I finished playing Hangman. After two bites of pizza, Isabelle decided she didn’t like the pizza. Why? “There’s something on it,” she said. (It was an extra glob of cheese.) After a few stern looks from us, she ate the “globby piece” of pizza.

But then, we heard every excuse Isabelle could think of not to eat the pizza on her plate.

  • “The pieces are so big.” (I asked her to open her mouth wide. I speared a piece and held it near her mouth to show her it would fit inside with no problem.)
  • “It looks like meatballs.” (We reminded her there was no meat on the pizza.)
  • It doesn’t taste right. (Marc acknowledged the sauce was different than other pieces of pizza she likes, but it tasted fine.)
  • “I don’t like it.” (We reminded her this is what was for dinner.)
  • “It doesn’t taste good.” (Marc told her the pizza was perfectly fine since he sampled it.)

In the end, Isabelle dug in her heels and didn’t eat more than three bites of pizza. When we returned home, Marc gave her a PediaSure to drink so she’d get some nourishment. That was it. There was no alternate food provided for her to eat.

Next Saturday night, we won’t be going out with the kids. We’re going to go out — just the two of us. I’m looking forward to a meal with no complaints!


We have an eater!

We fed Ari oatmeal a little after he turned four months old. He was unimpressed. He didn’t even know what to do with the oatmeal when it was in his mouth.

We tried again — with oatmeal — a couple weeks later. Still no success.

Two more weeks passed and we gave puréed avocado to our five-month-old boy. He spit it out — again.

But Isabelle loved avocado. And she devoured food at four months. How can Ari dislike eating? I wondered. 

Different kids. Stop comparing them, I reminded myself.
We waited another week. More avocado went in… and got spit out.

Maybe we should try a different food.

Marc suggested carrots. Rather than roast and purée a batch of carrots, I took the easy route and bought jars of Earth’s Best carrots.

Tonight we tried the carrots. And, by golly, he liked them!

Ari liked the carrots so much that he grabbed the spoon every time it approached his mouth!
food · slice of life

Empowering a Kid

Last week, I encouraged Isabelle to fix herself an after school snack rather than relying on me to do it. While I’d still handle refrigerator items (eg, cheese, veggies, or fruit), she would be in charge of pantry items, like granola bars and crackers.

Things were going along fine until 45 minutes before dinner this evening. She’d showered after returning from the pool. She beat us downstairs. As Marc and I walked downstairs — talking about what was for dinner — Isabelle’s voice called out, “I’m having a snack!”

Whaaaat? No way.

She spoke up again, “I made myself a snack… of Bunnies.” 

I glanced at Marc. We snickered & giggled. 

Look what I’ve done!

We walked into the kitchen, just 45 minutes before dinnertime, and found Isabelle snacking on not only Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies but on tortilla chips too! Nice pre-dinner snack, eh?

At least she found a paper cup to put the Bunnies in rather than spreading them all over the table. 

food · friends · slice of life

Dinner Delivery

Today was the kind of day where I felt like I was running-running-running. In fact, this (8:45 p.m.) is the first “down time” since I rolled out of bed this morning. At one point, I doubted I was going to get everything accomplished today. You know why? I needed to make dinner in the middle of the afternoon.

That’s right. I stopped working on the study guide I’m writing for Craft Moves at 1:30 p.m. so I could make dinner.

But why? you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you. Lauren, one of my closest friends here in PA, had her third child earlier this month. Her husband went back to work today and she was home alone with her three boys for the first time today. Therefore, I wanted to deliver dinner to her doorstep so she wouldn’t have to cook tonight.

Even though I was making great progress on the study guide, I stepped away from the computer and headed into the kitchen at 1:30, which I thought would give me plenty of time to make the salad and to adapt and cook the black bean spinach enchiladas recipe.

I thought wrong. By 2:00 p.m., my kitchen looked like this:

What a mess!

By 2:30 p.m., I had Lauren’s family’s enchiladas in the oven, but hadn’t prepped ours yet. (Ours had to be made without corn in the filling.) At that same time, I realized I hadn’t eaten lunch yet!

I wolfed down some leftover pasta while I made our family’s enchiladas for supper. The plus side: I didn’t have to make dinner at 5:30 p.m.

By 2:45 p.m., I was supposed to be out the door. However, I realized I hadn’t wrapped the baby’s gift yet. I ran to the closet, found some baby paper, and wrapped it quickly. Five minutes later, everything was ready to go.

Disposable Containers: Because no new mom really wants to do dishes!

I was out the door by 2:54 p.m., which was nine minutes later than I wanted to be out the door.

While that doesn’t sound like a big deal, I had to drive to the West Shore of Harrisburg. While that isn’t a huge distance mileage wise, it would require me to get onto I-83, which tends to start getting clogged up at 3:00 p.m. Today was no different.

I made it to Lauren’s house ten minutes later than expected. While my lateness wasn’t a big deal to her, it was to me, since I had to go back in the other direction to pick Isabelle up from school by 3:45 p.m.

I took a back route to Isabelle’s school, but the back route meant I kept hitting 15 MPH school zones. By the grace of G-d, I made it to Isabelle’s school with three minutes to spare!

Dashboard Clock

Of course, we had another appointment, ten miles away at 4:00 p.m. Somehow, I made it there with two minutes to spare.

All that being said, now that I’m reflecting on my hectic afternoon, I think I should’ve walked away from the study guide a little earlier.

* * * * *

A few notes:

  • If you like the enchilada recipe I linked to above, I adapted it so it was gluten-free. Here’s what I did: I used Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose GF Flour and corn tortillas.
  • I received a thank you note from Lauren. Here’s an excerpt from her email to me, which includes her son Jack‘s reaction to dinner:

Lauren:”Ms. Stacey made us dinner.”
Jack: “Isabelle’s mom or Lily’s mom?”
Lauren: “Isabelle’s mom.”
Jack: “Yum! She is a really good cook.”

I agree 🙂

..big hit here 🙂

Thanks again for taking such good care of us! It was delicious!

body image · food · OBSERVATIONS · slice of life

Different Stats

I found it hard to focus on the Jennifer Weiner novel I was reading while Isabelle was in dance class yesterday. Three other moms were gabbing while our daughters were dancing. Their conversation was almost identical to the one they’ve had the past few weeks. It focused on their weight. All three were dieting (perhaps as a New Year’s resolution). All three were, admittedly, depriving themselves of food they love in an effort to shed pounds. All three were craving food. All three have been on my mind since last night since I know how hard it is to diet when you feel hangry.
One mom, who talked about using different and smaller bowls and plates so she could eat less, said her daughter was curious about her dinnerware changes. She swore to the other women she doesn’t talk about her weight in front of her daughter. While I was thankful for that, I did notice she was conversing about her weight in front of her young son. (And we wonder why some men in society contribute to some women having negative body images. I believe we have to be just as mindful of the things we say around boys as we are with girls. But that’s a topic for another blog post.)
I weigh a lot more now than I did when I got married in 2007. Maybe it is because my metabolism slowed down once I turned 30. Who knows? I am a mindful eater who tries to eat healthy foods. For instance, I drink a green smoothie every morning. I have been gluten-free for over a year. However, I don’t count calories or obsess about everything I put in my mouth because doing so makes me miserable.
The only way I’ve found to counteract my love of cooking and baking is to exercise regularly. When my daughter asks why I’m exercising, I explain doing so helps me feel strong; it gives me more energy. I edit my desire to shed pounds from my rationale. I’d much rather Isabelle understand I exercise to feel good about myself rather than doing it because I don’t like the way I look.
Doing "the mermaid" on my reformer.
Doing “the mermaid” on my reformer.

I’ve accepted — although I don’t love — that my arms, tummy, and thighs are not as taut as they were in my 20’s. They may never be “perfect” again since plastic surgery frightens me. Therefore, instead of paying attention to calorie counts, I prefer to look at my exercise stats from the month that’s passed with pride rather than regret.

Yes, I keep stats — the old-fashioned way, not with a FitBit — last month. (I have considered getting a FitBit. If you have one, please convince me why I need one.) Here’s what I accomplished in January:
  • Elliptical: 9 sessions for a total of 366 minutes.
  • Pilates: 7 sessions for a total of 305 minutes.
  • Swimming: 7 sessions for a total of 2 miles.
I’m not the first, nor will I be the last, person to write about body image. I wonder what would happen if everyone reframed the conversation for themselves. Instead of berating ourselves for overeating, what if we were more mindful about the food choices we made? What if we indulged and were thankful for treating ourselves rather than guilting ourselves into an extra 30 minutes of cardio. And, what if we exercised for the sake of living a longer life and having better internal numbers (e.g., blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) rather than worrying about the number on the scale?
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food · poetry · preschool

Lunchbox Poems for National Poetry Month

I’m one of those moms who puts a note in my child’s lunchbox every day.  This month, I decided Isabelle was not going to get regular notes. Instead, she’d get a poem every day of the month, in honor of National Poetry Month, that she brings lunch to school.

I pulled out a variety of poetry books and combed the web for cute kids’ poems.  Next, I opened up the Vanilla Pen app and got to work.  Here’s a look at what I created (some are prettier than others):

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENLARGE.  My personal favorite is located on the bottom right.  It's includes a reminder that she has to leave early from school for a dental appointment. Ha!
CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENLARGE. My personal favorite is located on the bottom right. It’s includes a reminder that she has to leave early from school for a dental appointment. Ha!

In honor of the first day of National Poetry Month AND the lunchbox poem series I’m hosting for Isabelle, here’s a peek at a favorite Eve Merriam poem that seemed perfect for Isabelle’s lunch today:

IMG_0651 (1)
Click on the image to enlarge.


I’m not sure what Isabelle will think of her month of poems. I hope her teachers won’t mind reading something a bit longer than my usual notes every day this month.

I’ve long had the idea of putting together a book (I envision it as the kind of book a publisher like Workman would take on.) of 180 Lunchbox Poems (for every day of the school year).  I’m not sure if a publisher would ever want to produce a book like this, which would include kid-friendly poems on sheets that parents could tare-out on a perforation and easily stick in their child’s lunch.  All I know is that the permissions process would be enormous!  For now, I’ll just stick with lunchbox poems for my own child.