Chia Pudding for Life

Hello Friends,

I don’t share as many recipes and food ideas as as I should. Partly because I don’t like taking food photos – I’m just not good at it and they look funny. But I do struggle with meal ideas, particularly breakfast, so I figured I’d get over myself and share.

To be completely honest, Wife brought the idea for chia pudding home. Not one of my originals but I have fully embraced it.

Here’s a brand from Costco you could try

The recipe that we use is easy to follow and multiply. The end result depends on your taste. I am sharing chia pudding because it is easy, versatile, and our girls eat it.

Start with three tablespoons of chia seed.

Looks a little funny, I know. And the girls thought so too, until they ate the final product. Next add one cup of soy milk.

And stir.

Cover that and throw that in the fridge overnight. The next morning you should have a thick mixture.

From here you thin with your choice of liquid. More soy milk is fine, we’ve used both plain and vanilla flavored. Pineapple juice is good too, and I imagine any juice would work. You are looking for a pudding-like consistency, but really thin to your liking.

Serve up you pudding into bowls and add whatever you like. Some of our fav ingredients are strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, honey, and coconut flakes. But add what you would like.

There is no way around the overnight wait, which is why we use chia pudding for breakfast. Its easy though, and your kids can make it how they like it.

There it is friends, our version of chia puddding. There are protein benefits here, and fiber too, but the girls are sold on the taste. I hope this helps with your breakfast menu. We’ll see you out there!

Advertisements

Program Interrupted

Hello Friends,

today’s fun adventures were interrupted by a necessity – both Sweetie and Cricket were due for their six month dental cleaning. I would not choose to spend a beautiful afternoon at the dentist, but if we have to go, you know we’re going to see Dr. Johnny Kuttab. I’ve written about his practice, Sprout Pediatric Dentistry before, so you all know how much we appreciate the office, the staff and his bedside manner, but it is so worth repeating! We actually showed up an hour early for our appointments. The staff moved the appointments “in the system” and the girls were seen immediately. I’ll be hitting up Yelp to star them up, read on.

Today was one more happy visit at Sprout. One of the oral hygienists informed me that the office celebrated it’s 2-year anniversary in May (how do I not know this?) That explains the new giant “Lite-Brite” on the wall!

Yeah, yeah, I know it has an actual brand name. The girls thought it was amazing, whatever you want to call it. And it shows that Sprout continues to explore ways to make the office great for their young patients.

As always, the girls were relaxed during their exams, from the time they sat in their chairs until we left. Of course, some of that was due to Shrek playing on the televisions above their chairs. I’m not sure the girls even knew they were getting their teeth cleaned. The only tears of the visit came when Cricket did not get the erasure prize she wanted from the coin machine. In swooped her oral hygienist with more coins until we got that doughnut. So be warned: Sprout will treat your kids with respect, they will do a great job with their dental care and they will probably spoil them a bit too.

I asked Dr. Johnny if he had any dental advice that I could share, you know, “dental tidbits”. Today he reminded me that when I look at the girls’ dental health I need to look at the big picture. Explaining that “dentist” is his job, while “Dad” is his reality, he conceded that his children sometimes miss a brushing, and they eat sugar. But he practices brushing for two minutes, twice daily, as often as possible. Dr. Johnny showed this parent-dentist balance the very first time Sweetie saw him, and it was the first aspect of his care that I appreciated. His point was that all parents, dentist parents included, need to focus on the bigger picture of good oral hygiene and not be discouraged by occasional slip-ups.

I write this after every visit post, but this is not a sponsored blog post. My girls walk out of that office all smiles, and that means everything to me. I am confident in the care they receive and the advice I collect. If you are looking for a dentist for your kids, or if you don’t love your child’s current dentist, I say check out Dr. Johnny over at Sprout Pediatric Dentistry.

Sprout Pediatric Dentistry is so cool!

To be clear, these posts are completely self-serving – I want Dr. Johnny and Sprout Pediatric Dentistry to stay open for a good, long time.

Accidental Craft Outing

Hello Friends,

The girls’ and I were out-and-about this past rainy Saturday afternoon and we stumbled into a great little activity. Not that I need more reasons to dig Home Depot, but they nave a monthly craft event for the kiddos. And before I launch into the story, you should know this is not a sponsored post (but it could be Home Depot-hint, hint).

So that green blob on the plate is actually a wooden humvee model. The girls had to assemble and secure, with nails, the top half and grille piece. Of course I didn’t snap a photo of that-I was too busy aligning nails, making sure my fingers didn’t get whacked, and cheering the girls. We pick up here at step two, the paint job. You could paint your humvee any color, as long as it was green. After the paint dried it was time to hammer the wheels into place! Last came the included sticker set, which I post-poned until we got home.

We lucked out, as you are supposed to register for the craft events. Thanks to the weather the attendance was low and we were able to join the fun. And burn up a half hour doing something (sitting in front of the television came later that afternoon!). The girls thought it was great and walked away with their humvees, a certificate of completion and a lapel pin. Thanks Addison and Kimball Home Depot!

November is a special month as they have a second event coming up, an ornament craft I think. Check out the Home Depot website for details and registration information. Here’s to a monthly craft activity – hopefully your local store offers the same events!

Hey, can I tell people my girls are little makers now? Maybe makers-in-training!

St. Viator Elementary School Open House

The Cricket is two-and-a-half years old, so we are making enrollment plans for next fall. This process was new to me when we enrolled Sweetie, but now it is familiar. Wife and I were not interested in our local public school nor the lottery system, and we were looking for the intangible benefits of a Catholic School education like citizenship, stewardship and an active (even if questioning) faith. We have been pleased with Sweetie’s development over the past year and a half, and enjoy growing our place within the St. Viator community. If this sounds like a good fit to you, please check out the St. Viator Elementary School Open House this upcoming weekend. The school will be open for tours, with faculty, staff, and current parents available to answer questions about classes (PreK-3 through Eighth Grade), campus, and community.

openhouse2017

Brush ’em If You Got ’em: Sprout Pediatric Dentistry

This is not a paid endorsement of the girls’ dentist, I just wanted to share our positive experience. It is not easy to find good healthcare/dental care providers, but we have. So here’s one for the Toolbox.

We first met Dr. Johnny Kuttab, D.D.S., “Dr. Johnny”, two years ago when Sweetie’s Pediatrician told us it was time for her to see a dentist. Wife found him through a Google search, and that initial appointment was in his first office at BrightSmiles Pediatric Dentistry. We were immediately sold on his bedside manner and approach to pediatric dentistry. Now he has opened a new office on the north side of Chicago called Sprout Pediatric Dentistry.

Dr. Johnny

Let’s start with the office itself. Located at 6036 N. Northwest Highway, they are easy to reach from the expressway or the side streets. This location is technically farther from our house, but the surrounding area is less dense and much easier for us to reach. The space is pleasant and calming for children and their parents. It is fresh and clean, painted in soft neutral colors throughout.

Waiting area

Waiting area

 

 

 

 

 

20161229_092432

So calming

 

 

The exam area uses an open plan, with seats for three children. There are couches set behind the dental chairs so parents can stay close, but out of the way. Each station has it own television so the kids can watch a movie during their exam. If your kids are like my girls, they will be too busy watching to worry. And Dr. Johnny explained that’s the point. An older school of thought kept kids more attentive to the visit, but that also brought anxiety (anyone relate to that?). The environment is designed so kids are relaxed and have an easy experience. All the staff are warm and welcoming, from the front desk to the oral hygienists. Jeanette kept Cricket calm and Lupe was great with Sweetie.

Hello cartoons

Hello cartoons

Speaking of Dr. Johnny, let’s talk credentials (before I weigh in). He is a board certified pediatric dentist, as are the two other dentists at the practice. He completed his pediatric training through the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and remains active there, teaching pediatric dental residents. His focus in the clinic is behavior management so his demeanor is calm and professional while still connecting with the children. He is a proponent of preventative care practices. That description is kind of dry, but it is meant to be factual and unbiased. Now let’s dish.

20161229_085850

From the first visit I found Dr. Johnny to be engaging and pleasant without being chatty. He makes it a point to speak directly to the girls, and always takes time after the visit to explain his findings to Wife and I.He has never made us feel rushed. Dr Johnny has been a dentist for about 9 years, 7 of those as a pediatric dentist. So he is young, and the new office reflects the young, fresh energy he brings to his practice. Dr. Johnny does not do unnecessary services. At her first visit Sweetie presented with healthy teeth and gums (thankfully Cricket is following the same pattern) so Dr. Johnny told us he did not feel a need to take X-Rays. He told us he would take them if we wished, if we were concerned about anything, but he did not have cause for concern. She just took her first set in December, at four years old, without a problem. So no unnecessary radiating of children here.  Another nice thing is that when he talks prevention he frames it in real life. Example: He was speaking to us about how fruit snacks are bad for kids’ teeth, but admitted that all kids eat them. So he encouraged moderation and care, acknowledging that abstinence is a tall order for the little ones. Dr. Johnny’s extensive training is much of what makes him a good dentist, but I think that his most important attribute is that he is a father. He knows what it is like to navigate life, and oral hygiene, with a pre-schooler. For me that is a big plus.

I guess I should say something less than glowing about Sprout Pediatric Dentistry and Dr. Johnny to balance this review, but there’s not much to complain about. Early on they didn’t have a changing table in the bathroom, but they were apologetic and accommodating and allowed us to use a leather couch in a back office. They have since set up a great station though, an actual changing table with supplies. So that’s handled. I have had some challenges with parking, even though they are in a strip mall. But the street parking (which is free) is just steps from the front door, so no big gripe there either. Well, I guess this post will just weigh in favor of Dr. Johnny.

Maybe it’s time for your two-year-old to see a dentist. Or maybe you are not happy with the care you receive from your current dentist. Learn more about Sprout Pediatric Dentistry on their website and decide if they are the practice for you.They serve the city and suburbs, the hours are listed on their page. I would say, “we’ll see you there,” but we don’t go back for another six months!

 

Celebrating 108 Years at Crosby’s Kitchen

Before I write on, let me explain that this post is purposely devoid of political opinions and commentary. I am still processing the election results, “getting my head right” as we used to say in the body shop. I don’t want to be one more voice on the internet ranting, so I will compose myself and compose my post for later this week. In the meantime, some pics of the Cricket…

Due to a busy end of the week and weekend, I didn’t get a chance to share Thursday’s lunch. The Cricket and I were out running errands after swim class and found ourselves travelling along Clark Street on Chicago’s northside. Of course, this is the same Clark Street that runs next to Wrigley Field, and we ran into all kinds of fans as we searched for lunch. We took Southport where it split off of Clark and settled on Crosby’s Kitchen at the corner of Southport and Cornelia.

20161103_120746

Crosby’s Kitchen came up in my Google search for kid-friendly restaurants in Lakeview, a happening part of town. They serve American Fare in a comfortable environment. Once I read the menu I realized they were known for their rotisserie chicken. Oh, this was a big hint too:

Mmm, chicken

Mmm, chicken

The kid’s menu is just smaller portions of their adult fare, so the kiddos can get some of the delicious chicken as well. Cricket opted for the grilled cheese and I also shared bites of my chicken dip sandwich. Think french dip, but with a hunk of chicken. The Cricket loved the two types of cheese on her sandwich, and the toasted bread was soft. The french bread for my sandwich was also nice and soft, with just enough crunch in the crust. The chicken was moist and flavorful, so I almost didn’t use the au jus on the side. Overall, it was a good spot to find(and they’re not even paying me to say that!).

Usually I don’t like televisions around when I eat because I become a TV zombie. Given that it was the day after the Cubs won the World Series, it was nice to have some screens on over the bar. The server brought over some crayons for Cricket first thing, so she had something to do. She and I were able to enjoy our lunch surrounded by adults with and without children, so I did not feel like we were ruining anyone’s lunch at any time. And we left with full, happy bellies. So I’ll throw this place in the “toolbox”, cause we’ll visit here again. I know some of you out there can compose poems about restaurants and food, but I can’t. I will say that I did leave humming Finger Lickin’ Good by the Beastie Boys. You can check out Crosby’s Kitchen at 3455 N Southport here in Chicago.

20161103_120733

“You clean my butt please, Papi”

These days it is not surprising to hear this around our house. And it is said, not asked (hence no question mark). It emanates from the bathroom, echoing out of the open door in our sweet, two-and-a-half year old’s voice. Ahhh, the beauty of toilet training.

Sweetie has been diaper free since the 4th of July. We hit a point around mid-November where she stopped having “accidents”, pretty surprising given the excitement of the holidays. With the onset of the new year she was holding her pee through the night, not needing to use the bathroom until she woke up at her normal time. And last month Wife and I started waking up to find that Sweetie had taken herself to the bathroom while we slept.

I would love to say Wife and I could take all of the credit for Sweetie’s potty training. I mean, we did put in the time and the work. But we also had a little help, some guidance from a book called oh crap. potty training by Jamie Glowacki. Glowacki is a long-time social worker and a mother who has spent a lot of time de-mystifying potty training. She wrote and continues to refine a straightforward guide to getting your child out of diapers.

OCPT

Wife and I found many little bits of wisdom in oh crap. Glowacki breaks down the training process into easy to understand ideas that are also easy to implement. She writes in a familiar manner so the information is accessible, no where does she use a patronizing tone. And that’s refreshing since so many people weigh in on childcare and sometimes they can get downright militant.

I don’t want to put Glowacki on a pedestal nor claim that her book is the only viable resource for parents looking for potty training advice. So here are a couple of downsides. First, Glowacki shares a bunch of anecdotes. While this is nice for connecting with her, it really bulks up the book. So Wife read through and edited it down to an outline. Second, she does not commit to a time frame for your potty training adventure. At first she recommends committing a weekend. Then she suggests cancelling social activities for a week. That is amended by talking about 7-10 days of preliminary work. On so on. As I mentioned, we started July 4th, 2014, and I claim January 4th as our “results” date. Six months. Done (sort of). Honestly, I am learning that you can not put a concrete time frame on potty training, so I get it. Plus, I am not trying to sell books and keep readers from being disappointed. The point is that while oh crap has a couple of imperfections, we found it to be a useful resource and a beneficial tool.

If you are approaching the potty training stage check out oh crap. potty training (buy your copy here). Wade through the stories and put together a plan for liberating your little one from diapers. This book left Wife and I feeling all “we got this” as opposed to “what is this?”. Yeah, potty training has been work and it has required a time investment. But with kids, what isn’t? Good luck, we know you can do it too.

20150113_170340