Tuesday, May 12, 2015

3 years old!...and finallly talking

Remember when Clara was a baby and I blogged her progress each month?
I know people always say this---but it really feels like yesterday.
NOT over three years ago.

Of course when I look back at pics and see the other things that were going on in our life at the same time, I realize how much time has passed---
Lucy was once in Kindergarten (and still had all her baby teeth still--kids change so quickly when those front baby teeth are gone)
• There was another Celebrate the BOY series
• Casey learned to pickle beets,
•  Owen started school and played 3 seasons of baseball. 
• And we moved into our new home! and said goodbye to the old one.
Things have happened.
And somewhere in the middle of it all, Clara turned into a kid.
That's it!
I have no more babies.
Sorry.  Don't mean to be dramatic.  It's just fun to have documented her milestones these years---since I never did that with the other kids---and to see the girl she's turning into.

She's a girly little goofball.
She can rarely keep a straight face and is often looking at you out of the corner of her eye.
Or she completely closes her eyes with the old "if I can't see them, they can't see me" act.
She loves pink.  She wants to wear a dress every day of her life.
She like cats.  Correction: she loves cats.  And dogs.

She really makes me laugh!
And it's fun to look back at baby pictures---having a better idea of her personality now---because it's like I can see that same little person in her all along....through the serious moments and the needy ones, the sleepy faces, and the giggles.  

She's that same Clara, just a little bigger, and with so many wonderful things to learn.

Raising kids is really amazing!
How are we allowed to do this?
The biggest thing that's changed since my last update is that she talks!
If you follow me on instagram (@danamadeit) I've mentioned a few times that Clara doesn't say much, but I've never gone into the details of it all.
Maybe because there aren't any real details.
We don't know why she hasn't been talking, but she's about a year behind her peers.
When she was 2 years old I didn't worry too much about it, since the other two kids were late talkers.  But by 2 1/2 she still wasn't progressing.  So we went to see a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) and had her hearing checked as well.

The good news is that her comprehension was right on-par for her age, and her hearing checks out fine.  It's always amazing how much you can communicate with your child without words.  90% of the time I know exactly what she wants and needs and what's bugging her.  But I know there is so much more she wants to share with us.

So she mostly has a problem with her articulation and making the proper sounds.  Her language is behind as well, but mostly because she can't articulate what she wants to right now.
BUT.  She has made huge progress in the last 6 months since we started therapy!
I am amazed.
For the last year I watched her peers spouting off sentences with detailed words like "eagle" rather just "bird" and all I hoped was that one day Clara could simply say, "milk?"

It's silly to compare our kids to other kids, because each child has their own timeline.  It's the same battle we face as adults---the compare and contrast. 
Why do we do that to ourselves?
It seems extra ridiculous as I type this out.  
I guess we all want to fit in, and feel accepted....which ironically, is exactly how her school friends treat her!  When Clara walks in the room the girls yell "Clara!" and smother her with hugs.

So, we continue to see a Speech Pathologist once a week, and we work on words with her at home.
And just this week she said to me, "Mom. Watch a show?....turn it up please."
Um, no we're not watching a show right now....but a sentence!  A (mostly) full sentence!

She can now say all her colors, family names, and is making real efforts to try saying new words....which is a huge improvement. 

So that's our little Clara Cat in a three year nutshell. 
Such a blessing to our family, as our your kids in your lives.
Parenting is one of the hardest things most of us will ever do.  But it has rewards you can never gain anywhere else in life.
Enjoy those crazy kiddos.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

RECIPE: Fresh Pineapple Jam + Sauce

It's weird to think of a fruit as being "IN" right now.
Because I can't ever imagine it being "out".
But seriously, pineapple is everywhere!
So hot right now.
Like Hansel.

It's on fabric, being tossed around as pinatas, on t-shirts, in my tummy....

It's quite possibly one of my favorite fruits to eat.
And it's Yellow!
And it reminds me of being somewhere warm and happy.
And it's just so cute with it's crazy leafy head.

So the other day I got experimental and wondered....why aren't people eating more pineapple jam?
Maybe they are and I'm just not aware of it?
I guess it's often masked as "Pineapple Topping"---which is so amazingly fantastic, that I totally get it.  But if you've never had pineapple jam, then today is your day.  Let's make Pineapple Jam and Sauce!
Because this stuff is amazing on toast, pancakes, English muffins, and yes, on ice cream.

If you've ever made Freezer jam before, you know how easy it is.
And if you're a first-timer, you're gonna freak out over the simplicity!
Freezer jam is a little different than cooked jam because you don't have to be as strict with sterilizing the jars and equipment--so it's really fast and easy to make.  The downside is you can't keep the finished product on your shelf (as you can with cooked jams). Instead you need to preserve it in the freezer (for up to 1 year) or in the refrigerator (for 3 weeks).  So get some freezer space open!  Or you'll be in 65-jam-jar-bind, like me.

I've been experimenting with different flavors lately....citrus raspberry, strawberry + blackberry....and of course Classic Strawberry is always a favorite.   For this recipe I followed the instructions for "Mango jam" on the Sure Jell box and it turned out delicious.  It's a bit runnier than standard Strawberry and other jams.  But I decided that I kind of like that, because it works well as a jam AND a syrup AND an ice cream topping.

(Freezer Jam Recipe)
Makes about 6 cups of jam

3 cups mashed pineapple - I used one ripe pineapple or you can use canned pineapple
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
5 cups sugar
1 packet of Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin *
 * It's important when making jam that you follow the recipe listed on the pectin packet you're using.  Recipes may vary from brand to brand.  This recipe is for the yellow Sure Jell box (linked above).

• Slice a fresh pineapple into large chunks (you can also used canned pineapple but I highly recommend fresh.  The aroma will fill your room and make you all happy inside)

NOTE on picking a good pineapple:  I always smell the bottom of the pineapple at the store.  If it smells like a pineapple---even if it's just a hint of pineapple scent---then it usually ends up being a good one.  If you can't smell anything at all, no good. 
Slice the pineapple however you like.
Just make sure you get as many of those little knots out...and the seeds that are in those knots.
TRY to resist eating those luscious chunks.
And throw the remains in your compost pile---we just started one this year and I LOVE how minimal our trash flow is now.  
• Smash the fruit until you have 3 cups of smashed pineapple (a food processor or blender works best)
• Remove any stray seeds left behind.
• Squeeze 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice into the pineapple.  Everything will smell Ah-mazing at this point.  Be prepared.
• Mix 5 cups of sugar into the fruit, stir, and let it sit.
• Combine 1 packet of Sure Jell + 1 cup of water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Boil for one minute.  Remove from heat, pour into fruit mixture, and stir for one minute or until blended.

• Use a clean measuring cup or funnel to pour jam into clean jars (I love the Ball 8 oz Jelly Jars---or the 4 oz jars if I'm making a jam medley for gifts)

• Let the jam sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Store in the freezer for 1 year.  If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator before using.

NOTE: As my jam settled in the fridge, some of the liquid separated to the bottom of the jar.  But I simply stirred it together again and it's fine.

Now enjoy!
It's yummy on toast.
But truth be told, I've fallen victim to the "Topping" as well....

It's might be even yummier on vanilla ice cream with sugared pecans.
One of these days I'll make coconut ice cream to go along.
And the universe will be complete.

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