muffin monday: spinach cake muffins

Last week’s muffin recipe came out of Weelicious Lunches – and before you judge me on making deluxe lunches for my precious snowflakes, I basically bought the book for myself. Well, first I checked it out of the library, but realized I would end up making copies of half the book, so I spent some of an amazon gift card on the real deal. Now, I wish that my culinary interests were more useful – say, actual dinner recipes that would feed my family. But no, what catches my attention is a recipe for roasted honey cinnamon chickpeas or chocolate graham crackers. So yeah.

Back to muffins. My kids both loved the green muffins I made last St. Patrick’s Day, so I thought I’d give this recipe a whirl.

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I didn’t make any alterations to the recipe, but next time I’ll add some cinnamon or something – they were a little bland for my taste, but the kids gobbled them up. And they still don’t know that it’s spinach that makes them green.

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muffin monday: pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

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I am so pleased that we pulled off Muffin Monday last week – we returned from our church retreat on Sunday afternoon, and all of us were in some stage of fighting a cold. I managed to print off this pumpkin chocolate chip muffin recipe (recommended by a friend) before bed on Sunday night. I was in the mood for some pumpkin, and I knew we had all of the ingredients on hand.

I had an excellent helper on Monday morning, and these muffins turned out super yummy. I think I added extra chocolate chips, and I probably reduced the sugar, because I almost always do. It’s all kind of foggy now.

Also, I forgot to mention last week that I tried out my new silicone mini muffin liners, and they are awesome! I hate cleaning the mini muffin tin, but when the liners arrived in the mail, I panicked a little – what had I done?! Did I really want to clean 24 little liners?! I’m happy to report that they clean up like a breeze, and the muffins come out of them easily. I’m very happy with them.

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Anyways, these pumpkin muffins were enjoyed by everyone in our family, and we’ll be keeping the recipe around.

muffin monday: jen’s blueberry muffins

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Last Monday was Luke’s first day of kindergarten (!!!), so I let him choose what kind of muffins we would have. He chose one of his favorites, blueberry. When I had asked on Facebook for favorite recipes, my friend Jen posted a photo of her tried and true blueberry muffin recipe, handwritten on a notecard. Handwritten recipes seem pretty trustworthy, so I decided to give it a try. And the resulting muffins were delicious, so I now have my own handwritten recipe to keep on hand.

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After enjoying the blueberry goodness, we sent our babies off to kindergarten and preschool. How does life move so fast sometimes?

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muffin monday: carrot cake muffins

One of my new “things” this fall is “Muffin Monday” – every Monday morning, I’m hoping to make a batch of muffins to have with our family breakfast. I’m also going to attempt to chronicle this muffin journey here, so that I can reference back to different recipes I’ve used.

Last Monday was our first Muffin Monday, and since it was Ian’s birthday week (40!!), I asked him to choose our selection for the week. He ended up choosing carrot cake muffins (aka cupcakes for breakfast). I used this recipe, and they came out great. The only modification I made was using a little less sugar, and I’d probably use about 1/2 cup next time, because they were plenty sweet. Oh, and Ian went with pecans over walnuts for the topping.

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The cream cheese frosting definitely made these a fun birthday week cupcake, though I hope the kids won’t expect frosted muffins for every Muffin Monday. I frosted about half of them, and the unfrosted ones were just as well received.

These muffins were a huge hit, and all 24 mini muffins were completely gone by lunch time on Wednesday. Because they are a sweet treat, I’m not sure the next time I’ll make them, but the recipe is definitely a keeper.

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The look Luke had when he realized he was about to enjoy a muffin that is basically a cupcake.

the gift of occupational therapy

Today was my boy’s last day of occupational therapy. We have spent an hour of almost every Thursday for the last year and a half with our beloved occupational therapist, Eileen. Some days Luke skipped out of there, happy as a clam after getting to play so many fun games. Other days the reality of the hard work of OT was more apparent, and I carried him to the car as he thrashed and kicked and tried to bite me. But no matter how it ended, every session was a gift.

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Luke was pretty young when I had my first hunch that something was a little off in his development. But the toddler years are crazy for every kid, in one way or another, so I pushed it to the back of my mind as much as I could. I read and re-read Raising Your Spirited Child, because that book described him so perfectly, and it was so helpful in understanding him and being able to empathize with the way his mind and body work.

Yet, at his 3-year old well check, I brought up my concerns – he had no interest in using any sort of ride-on toys/tricycles/etc, couldn’t dress himself, had no interest in using crayons, would run endlessly, was easily overstimulated, and any sort of transition was clearly the end of the world for him. Our doctor (who we loved) was very much in the camp of “there is a wide spectrum of typical development” – and so he was not concerned. And when I read over this list (of the things I actually remember, I’m sure there was more) – I agree that so much of it is all over the map for typical 3-year olds. Luke has always been extremely verbal and social, so by all appearances in that doctor’s office, he was flourishing. But it was that mama’s hunch that kept me concerned.

We took him to a free developmental screening that fall. He charmed the volunteers and just slipped through each test. We walked away with a referral for 9-month old Gracie’s speech, which I (rightfully) discarded. I was completely discouraged.

If he had been my second child so I had more of a developmental frame of reference, or maybe if I wasn’t sleep-deprived at the time, I would have pursued answers. But I tend to be pretty submissive to those I perceive as experts or authorities, and they all said he was fine. If he had gotten a full occupational evaluation, I’m positive he would have qualified for services. But we went on, and it was probably the lowest time in my parenting experience.

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At his 4-year old well check, I walked in with a complete written list of all my concerns, which had grown. They included things like not being able to ride a tricycle, still scribbling, and not able to completely dress himself. Our doctor didn’t even get through all of them before he quickly agreed that further evaluation was needed. Apparently he had fallen off the typical spectrum enough to warrant a second look. I felt a glimmer of hope, which was enough to sustain me through the next 6 months that it took to get the referral and move through the waiting list for an evaluation with a pediatric occupational therapist.

I almost cried with relief (maybe I did?) when I got the phone call in the parking lot of Fred Meyer the same day of his eval. He scored very low in visual motor integration and fine motor skills (7th and 9th percentiles, I think) along with concerns about sensory processing and proprioception. It meant that we qualified for a spot in therapy, as soon as one opened up. I was relieved that we would be getting some guidance in helping him. And I was relieved that I wasn’t crazy, and wasn’t an entirely inept parent.

Our weekly visits with Eileen have varied in content, but they’ve always been jam-packed with activities that have helped Luke build his skills, and grow more comfortable with how his body works. As a result, his skills at school have improved, he’s become more comfortable in play, and do things like completely dress himself. I am so happy that we were able to get into therapy when we did – just at the end of last year he told me, “I can zip my coat up, and Gracie [2 years old at the time] can’t do that. But she can put her socks on, and I can’t do that.” I knew he was becoming more aware of some of his challenges, so I’m glad that he’s made so much progress before entering kindergarten. And yes, he can even put on his socks now – with fine motor + sensory issues, that a big accomplishment!

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I am so, so proud of this kid. His confidence is definitely blossoming in areas it hasn’t before, and he is much more willing to practice things that are challenging. Two years ago I just felt so unsure about so many things, and now, I’m just hopeful for what is ahead. And I will be forever grateful for the gift that OT was for our family.