Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spring Fever!

We had such beautiful weather this weekend and couldn't get enough of playing outside.  We spent Saturday and Sunday at the park and the kids couldn't have been happier!

On Sunday, we headed out and met up with my in-laws so the girls could get in a little time with their Mimi and Papa. 

Sophia made a friend while we were there and Emma ran around so quickly, I could barely get a picture of her. 

Someone tuckered out and was ready for a nap by the end of our trip.
I keep hearing that this year's weather patterns are similar to a year where our city had a big blizzard in March.  While snow would be fun, I think these girls are ready for the sunshine!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mmm, Mmm Monday- Carnitas!

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth (although I sometimes feel like I have!).  This school year is kicking my rear end! With these new teacher evaluations, meetings, and a, shall we say, "spirited" class, I feel like I barely have time to breathe, let alone cook!

But yesterday, I actually found the time to feed my family, instead of letting them fend for themselves (I kid! Kind of.). I've been craving carnitas, but my backside was pleading with me to resist.  Carnitas are a Mexican pulled pork dish made from slow-roasted pork that practically melts in your mouth.  What makes it melt in your mouth, you may ask? Fat. The meat gets tender, the fat gets crispy and oh.my. It's a religious experience. 

Since we've been trying to eat healthy, I found this alternative to traditional carnitas that I made with a pork tenderloin.  Much healthier, and when combined with the proper toppings, completely satisfying and delicious.

Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)
recipe adapted from Skinnytaste

1.5 pounds pork tenderloin
3 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
dry Sazon Goya seasoning
garlic powder
3/4 cup 99% fat free chicken broth
2 bay leaves

Season the tenderloin with salt and pepper.  Brown the meat over medium-high heat on each side (about 10 minutes total). Don't skip this step! This helps keep the tenderloin moist and gives it a nice carmelization on the outside.

Allow the pork to cool or put on your big girl (or boy) panties and get right to work. Using a sharp knife, piece the meat and slide a sliver of garlic into the hole. Continue all around the pork.

Generously season the pork with the garlic powder, Goya seasoning, and cumin.  Rub in the seasonings (The seasoning I used is delicious, but it will turn your hands red.  It'll come right off though.). Pour the chicken broth into the crock pot and add the bay leaves. Place the pork on top.  You can do all of this the night before and turn it on the next morning if your mornings are hectic. I love easy! Cook on low for 8 hours.

When the pork is done, shred the meat with two forks, or use this handy method: Place the meat in your Kitchen Aid mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, turn the mixer on low (about a 2) and the meat will shred easily!

Voila! Perfectly shredded meat! This also works great for chicken. Add the meat back into the crock pot and stir to allow the meat to absorb the juices. Let it cook for another 15-30 minutes.

My favorite way to eat carnitas: in a warm corn tortilla with lots of pico de gallo and lime. Yum! This amount was perfect for our family and we even had enough for Andy to take for lunch the next day.  You can increase the size of the pork to suit your needs.  Just adjust the amount of garlic...everything else should work!
 Reviews from the Peanut Gallery
Me: 5 out of 5 stars.  While this was not as juicy as traditional carnitas, they were just as delicious.  They satisfied the craving and it was easy to put together for a wonderful meal. What more could you want?

Andy: 4.5 out 5 stars. The original recipe calls for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, which was left out of this recipe.  That is the only reason this isn't a 5.  Other than that, they are delicious and you can't even tell that they are low fat.

Emma: She loved them!  She ate all of her mini tacos without any prompting and even asked for more.

And making her Mmm, Mmm Monday debut:

Sophia: She tore this UP! We diced it up really small and we couldn't give it to her fast enough. She spent most of dinner with as many fingers in her mouth as possible.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Batter Up!

Emma and my mom made a deal several months ago that if Emma started using the potty, my mom would take her to the store to buy any toy she wanted.  Emma wasn't buying it and there was no bribe big enough to make her do something she was adamant against doing. 

Fast forward a couple of months when Emma finally decided to stop dragging her feet.  She's day and night trained now and today she was ready to cash in on her deal. 

My mom took her to Target to pick out her toy and this is what she chose: a bat and a ball.  She was so excited to show us her prize when we got home so we braved the cold temperatures and headed out to play some ball. 

Check out my little lefty! ;)
She was very serious about her game and insisted that we all wear our "baseball hats." Well, of course.  She got the hang of it pretty quickly and actually managed to hit the ball a few times.  We may have a softball star on our hands!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Party Time!

Baby girl turned one on Monday and today we celebrated her big day.  Emma has called Sophia "Sunshine" since she was born so I knew that I wanted to incorporate that into her birthday party.

Even though it was cold and snowy outside, our house was full of sunshine. 
The birthday girl!
Auntie Mimi made the adorable cupcakes and smash cake. Since the party was in the morning, our menu was brunch themed.

The girls were thrilled to have friends at the house and were wonderful hostesses.

Sophia did a great job opening her gifts with the help of big sister.  We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family that care so much about our girls.

Sophia loved her cake but didn't tear into it.  She was a very dainty eater.

Through the party fun, we found time for some family snuggles.
It was such a wonderful day to share with our friends and family. Happy birthday sweet Sophia!

Monday, February 6, 2012

One Year Old!

Sophia, you are ONE today!  I can't believe how quickly we've reached this milestone.  You are such an awesome little girl and you amaze me each and every day. 

I took the day off to be home with you today but it wasn't all fun and games.  I had to take you to the doctor for your one year wellness check.  You passed all of you developmental stuff with flying colors.  You charmed the nurses and doctors by giving them toys and babbling your sweet baby talk.  Here's the lowdown of your stats:
Birth: 8 pounds 5 ounces
1 month: 9 pounds 3 ounces
 2 months: 11 pounds
3 months: 11 pounds 8 ounces
4 months: 13 pounds 13 ounces
5 months: 15 pounds 4 ounces
6 months: 16 pounds
7 months: 17 pounds
8 months: 18 pounds 6 ounces 
9 months: 19 pounds 9 ounces
10 months: 20 pounds 6 ounces 
11 months: 20 pounds 6 ounces 
12 months!!!: 20 pounds 13 ounces
Birth: 19 inches
1 month: 20 1/2 inches
2 months: 22 3/8 inches
3 months: 23 1/2 inches
4 months: 23 1/2 inches
5 months: 25 inches
6 months: 25 1/2 inches
7 months: 27 inches
8 months: 27 1/4 inches 
9 months:  27 1/2 inches
10 months: 28 1/4 inches
11 months: 28 1/2 inches
12 months: 28 1/2 inches

You've definitely plateaued on both height and weight, which is normal.  You are wearing mostly 12 month clothing now but can still "squeeze" into some of your 9 months clothes. You wear a size 3 shoe, but getting you to actually keep them on your feet is a challenge. 

You are really getting the hang of feeding yourself, but still like to be fed occasionally.  You like to hold our hands when we feed you.  Your favorites right now are Cheerios, cantaloupe, strawberries (which you just tried today!), pancakes, oatmeal, black beans, cheese, and toast.  We give you a little of everything we have to get you used to new tastes and textures, but you're not an adventurous eater. 

Last month, you had just gotten your second tooth.  This month, you have six teeth; four on top, two on the bottom.  Yeah...it's been a rough month in the teething department.

You are a walking and talking machine!  You are into everything.  We have had to baby proof a lot more with you than we did your sister.  You're fearless, little girl. 

You love to read and will entertain yourself for a good, long while just flipping through a book.  You have a hard time sitting still listening to a story though.  You want to turn the pages faster than I can read them so I have to choose books with few words per page.
* * * * * * * * *
We had such an awesome day today (minus the shots).  I loved being home with you to celebrate your special day.  

In between the clouds, we had a relatively nice day so we managed to get outside and play. 

We had a special family dinner tonight (your favorite: pancakes) and of course, celebrated with cupcakes.  You were a little unsure but once you got your first taste of sugar, your life was changed!

I hope you enjoyed your first birthday, baby girl!  We love you SO much!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Good Night, My Angel


I put you to bed tonight and I stayed a little longer than usual, just watching you sleep.  As I listened to you breathing while you dreamed sweet baby dreams, I thought about how this would be the last time I would put my "baby" to bed.  Tomorrow you will be one and we will start a brand new chapter of our lives.

I cannot even begin to describe how one year has changed my life.  I didn't know it was possible to be capable of this much love.  I think any parent of more than one child worries that it will be impossible to love another child as much as your first. You, my dear, would not have allowed such a thing to happen. It would be impossible to love you less.

I should have known from the start that you would shake up our whole world.  You were born to be a rule breaker; someone who veers off the beaten path and blazes through life to make your own path.  At one year old, you have more personality in your itty-bitty baby finger than many people have in their entire being.

My sweet Sophia is a lover, a hugger, a grab-your-face-and-give-me-kiss cuddler.  I live for your sweetness.  It feeds my soul.  When you seek me out in a crowded room and lift up your arms in your pick me up NOW way, it makes my mommy heart full and complete. Please don't ever stop loving. Love as much as you can and with all that you have.

My sassy Sophia does not want to listen, do what I ask, and Mom, DO NOT even think about stopping me from doing what I want.  This is the Sophia that I will battle with.  I get a kick out you when you get mad.  I will have to remind myself of that when you are older and this Sophia shows up more often.  I will also have to remember that even though I will be frustrated, deep down, I will be fiercely proud of you, because I know that you won't be anyone's fool. Use this passion.  Fight for what is right and speak for those that cannot.  Don't be afraid to be heard if you are speaking from your heart.

I always wonder if I'm living right and in a way that pleases God.  Then I look at you and your sister and I know that I am. He thought I was worthy of YOU and made me your mom. How lucky I am, little one.  You have blessed my life so extraordinarily in one short year,  and I can't wait to see what you do with the rest of your life.

Thank you, baby girl.  Thank you for loving me, for being who you are, and for being mine. I am so proud of you and love you so much more than you will ever know.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Here Comes the Sun

Well, the groundhog may have predicted six more weeks of winter weather, but it sure didn't rear its ugly head today.

With sickness making its way through every member of our household and not-so-great weather most of the time, the poor girls have been cooped up in the house for far too long.  Today was beautiful, with blue skies and warm temperatures.  As soon as Andy got home, we took advantage and headed straight to the park.

Emma was thrilled when we told her of our plans and she had such a great time.  She's so independent and I'm really trying my best to let her do as much as she can on her own, but I still worry about her.  She sees the big kids at the park doing things and she wants to try it all without any help.  She doesn't realize that's she's not big enough for certain things, and momma needs to realize that she is big enough for so much more.

Sweet Sophia kept herself occupied by picking up every stray leaf, rock, piece of mulch, etc. on the playground.  When she wasn't cleaning up, she was having a blast on the swings and following her big sister around. 

Before we left, we let the girls run in the soccer field to get good and tired.  Poor Sophia tried so hard to keep up with Emma, but she's got a while until she can.  So she settled for her favorite pastime: pointing at everything.

Wait for me!

I'm looking forward to more days like this that let us get out and get some fresh air. Dare I say that I'm ready for Spring?