Category Archives: Mommy-ing

The power of Veggies

We are a cooking family. We love to take raw ingredients and make them into something wonderful and delicious. It’s an art form really. But even more than turning nothing into something, cooking is a way to get my kids to eat food that is good for them.
We used to eat out a lot. I mean, sometimes twice a day. Not only was that a drain on our wallet, but it was full of unhealthy, fried, and fatty foods. Oh sure, they tasted delicious, but they were wreaking havoc on our bodies and we didn’t care.
As I said in my last post, the kids and I moved last year. And with us came my parents. My parents are used to cooking at home. My dad is a chef turned computer software engineer. But here’s the key part of that sentence: chef. My dad cooks most of the meals in our house, mostly because he enjoys it. But the things he makes… lamb burger sliders, potato meal pancakes, homemade enchiladas … anything that has flavor and wonderfulness. And my darling children, used to fast, fried foods, wouldn’t touch it. We tried every bribe we could think of. Finally, my dad gave up on cooking the “fancy” stuff and made chicken pieces with garlic and salt. They were delicious. The kids loved them. And then the next day, Selina asked if she could help him make them. So we had chicken again the next night, but this time, they were lovingly prepared by Selina, with the help of my dad and the “special ingredient” (garlic).
And soon, as we weaned off of the fast food lifestyle, we began to notice that the kids were interested in more and more food items. And the key to that change: having the kids help make dinner. Their favorite thing to make is salad.
It seems simple enough, but when they are a part of actually making what goes on the table, they seem to be more interested in actually eating it. They are proud of what they are accomplishing.
Now, Selina is 5 and has been cooking for almost a year. Evin is 20 months and has been cooking for the past 2 months. Who would have thought that they would be so interested in something as simple as making a salad.
making salad salad made

Look at those happy little faces. How on earth could I say “no, I’m going to make the salad myself” to those big eyes and wide smiles?
It may take us longer to make dinner, but, I tell you the truth, it’s TOTALLY worth every extra minute.

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Why I Bother with Babywearing

I have two children. They are three and a half years apart. Obviously I’ve done a lot of things differently with Little E than I did with his sissy.  One of the biggest changes is that I wear E quite a lot.


Now please understand that I know babywearing is not for everyone and I am not here to tell you that you should, however I feel that everyone should at least try it.  Trying it may change your life.

The main reason I wear E is out of convenience.   When Selina was little, the house was always a mess.  I just thought “Oh well, that’s how life is when you have small children.”  Never did I think, “Oh! If I just wear her, I could do the dishes.”  For some reason, when Evin was just a few weeks old, I went out (spur of the moment) and bought a wrap.  I read the directions and wore him around the house that day.  Do you know how well he slept?  And do you know how much I got done that day?  My living room AND kitchen were sparkling clean for the first time in WEEKS. Then, a friend showed me a better way to wrap him and life was good.  For a while.

Then E started growing.  Six months later, he doesn’t really care for being carried in the front.  He wants to see everything.  So I desperately facebooked my friend who had showed me how to wrap him.  “I need a new carrier.  Please help me.  My house is falling apart without one.”  “Come right over” she said.  She pulled out all of her carriers and we found the perfect one for us.

Not only did my friend drop everything for me, but she even called a local little store to see if they had any in and the cost.  They sure did.  And they were on MEGA sale.  She then took me down to the store (which I would have NEVER found by myself) and I bought E his Christmas present.

We tried it out for the first time today and holy cow.  I made coffee and bread.  I put away all of the clean dishes and washed up the ones that were used last night.  I then made our bed and bagged up the bathroom trash.  I then wandered into the kitchen to start the crockpot for dinner and I glanced at the clock.  Was that REALLY the time?  How on earth was I 45 minutes ahead of schedule?!?!?  Oh, that’s right.  Because I wasn’t tending to a crying baby every 5 minutes.  My word, this carrier is wonderful.

So, if you have a small child and still need to get things done, I suggest finding a carrier that works well for you and your kid.

Either that, or get a child-rearing robot that holds that baby for you when you have to wash the dishes….

Actually, get a robot that does the dishes instead.


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A Typical Thanksgiving Blog

Once upon a time, pilgrims came to North America, killed all the natives and took control of the “new” world.  And our forefathers decided to celebrate this!  Hurrah! Feasts! Family! Black Friday!


That concept is so clearly wrong.  So instead of the pilgrim story this year, my family has written our own story.  Why we are thankful this year.  Here it is:


Unknown to us, the Cortez family started 5 and a half years ago when Matt and I first went on our first date.  We went to see Pan’s Labyrinth.  And then we ate Del Taco.  Typical college date.  A year later, after much drama, we welcomed a beautiful little girl into our little piece of the world.  Simply said, we loved her.  She was the light of our lives.  I am thankful for her health, her attitude and her ability to go with the flow.  She brings so much stability to our lives.  Without her, my heart would be broken.  Several years later, Matt and I were married.  I am thankful for the promises we made and the sense of responsibility we feel towards each other.  I am thankful for his hard work and his loving gazes he gives his children.  Several years later, we bought a house together.  I am so grateful for a stable place we can call our own and raise our children.  We are able to do what we like with what we have.  We have the ability to make the most of our lives in a warm and comfortable environment. How many people can say that this year?  I know we are fortunate to have 2 jobs that pay enough to give us everything we need.  Then, 6 months ago, we welcomed a bouncy and giggly baby boy into our hearts.  I am thankful for Selina’s innate ability to love her little brother.  I am thankful for his developmental strides as he learns so quickly.


And lastly, I am thankful for my marriage.  While we have our ups and downs, just like any couple, I am thankful that we have always been able to get it straight again.  I am grateful that we will be able to that, no matter what. Literally.  No matter what.


And now for something much more entertaining!


Selina, bless her soul, wanted to play doctor with her brother yesterday morning.  We were on our way out the door to meet Papa for breakfast so I said “You can play doctor when we get home.”  When we got home, Evin was asleep.  I decided to take that opportunity and hop in the shower.  Selina’s task was to “watch” her brother while he slept, AKA “stay in the same room and go get mom if he starts crying.”  We’ve done this many, many times before (how else do you thing I shower?).   I’m almost done when Selina walks in the bathroom with a horrified look on her face.  She proceeds to tell me “Brother woke up when I gave him a shot.”  Wait, what?!?!?  She couldn’t wait to play doctor with him and decided to play with him while he was sleeping, effectively waking him up.  Good job Pookie.  I guess I should have been much clearer when I first told her “later.”


And on a side note, Thanksgiving style,  Ben Franklin enjoyed eating turkey just as much as the next person and did not want it to be our national bird.  Look  here’s proof.


Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I hope you spend a wonderful day with your families, writing your own thankful story.

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Having a Home Where Small Children Live, AKA “Holy Cow my house is a mess”

Late last night, my husband says “I’m having a few friends come over tomorrow night. Around 6. OK?”

“Sure” I say.  “I’ll clean up the living room and kitchen at the very least.  Hmmm… Selina’s got a doctor check up in the morning.  And I need to pick up our nephew from school.  And we’ve got to stop by the alterations place.  And grocery shopping. And birthday present. And baths. And meals. I’m sure I can get everything done.”  I look over at my husband… he’s fast asleep. Oh well.


As soon as we get up in the morning, reality sets in.  I must have had a momentary lapse of judgement where I thought I was 21 and childless again. There is no way on God’s green earth this will all get done.  I must pick and choose. The rest of it was going to take a back seat and we’ll see if we even get near there…

To my credit, I got everything done, except for baths.  To my husband’s credit, he cleaned the living room when he got home from work and he saw that nothing had changed. Hey, it was his friends who were on their way.


As I was rushing through my day, I came to the realization that, with two small children and a full-time job, my house will never be actually clean.  In fact, I can’t even pretend it’s somewhat under control.  I’m barely treading water.  Actually, it’s worse than that.  I’ve got only my nose above the water.  I can barely breath and I’m frantically trying to get my eyeballs out as well. But at the end of the day, as long as I can say I’ve used my time well, then I can go to sleep happy.  And today, I used my time extremely well.

Also today, I implemented a routine that I’ve been using the past week.  I call it “Power Hour.”  I have a very large problem getting Selina to do her chores without hysterically breaking down like it’s the end of the world.  So every morning, we’ve been sitting down with a color crayon in hand and a very colorful piece of paper before us.  I write down the chore and she “draws” a corresponding picture.  Please keep in mind that she’s 4.  So her drawing skills are more like stick figures, but she knows exactly what she means.  Then we set the timer for one hour, I strap Evin on, and we start on our lists.  Today, her list consisted of scrubbing the toilets (for the 3rd time this week), washing the bathroom mirror, sweeping the kitchen, picking up all of her toys in the living room, and washing the kitchen table.  Once she has finished her chores, she may go play in her room quietly for the remainder of the hour while I keep working on my chore list.  And there is almost no whining about it.  It’s fantastic.  However, there are some rules if you’re going to use this idea:

1. Do not make this list more than 5 things long for young children.  It’s too daunting and then nothing will get done.

2. Take the time to actually show them how to do the job.  Work with the child several times before letting them go on their own.

3. Check their progress often.

4. Use compliments as compliments.  No “buts.” And be specific about the compliment.   For example,  Don’t say a general “Great job”.  Say “Great job lining up your shoes in the closet.”  And “Great job picking up your clothes”  should end there.  Don’t add a “but you forgot a sock.”  Let your child know that you see that they are trying and, for the most part, succeeding.

5. Do not go back over what your child has done in order to correct it.  They will see you do that and understand that they did not do a good enough job.  My toilets get cleaned every couple of days for a reason.  I know that Selina is 4 and does not clean the toilet very well in one go.  But if she does it 3 or 4 times per week, then the chances of it actually getting cleaned like if I were doing it, are much greater.

6. Use bribery.  Selina has 2 little fishbowls with popsicle sticks.  Sticks go in the reward bowl if she doesn’t whine about chores, but get taken out if she does.  Once she gets all 20 sticks in the reward bowl, she gets a special treat.  Right now she’s working towards a special Snow White doll and house.


Follow the simple rules and you will be well on your way to children who not only do their chores and help you out, but are learning to do it with a glad heart.  And that’s what child rearing is all about: the state of your child’s heart.

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How to Survive One of Those Days

5:15 am. I heard a little voice next to my ear.

“Mommy, can you put Brother in his crib so I can sleep with you?”

Simple enough request.  But you must understand that we have been co-sleeping with Evin for 5 months now and if I move him away from human contact, he wakes up immediately and refuses to go back to sleep.  (OK, I haven’t really tried to break him of this too hard.   I enjoy cuddling too much.)  So we all shift around and get her into the bed too.  After 30 minutes of laying here, singing quietly to herself,  Selina finally asks me lay with her in her bed.  Fine, I say.  Anything to get another hour of sleep.

Then 8:30 rolls around and my husband peeks his head in the doorway and says “Don’t you have to be somewhere?”  Oh yeah, the pumpkin patch with Selina’s class.  I should have started getting ready to go a half hour ago.

The next two hours goes something like this “Whine, whine, whine, fake cry, real cry and some more whining.”  I threaten not going to the field trip.  This, unfortunately, does not make things better, only worse.  How do I get it to stop?

Then it hit me.  (This is where you want to start taking notes.)  We’re going to have a Quiet Day.  Everything we do has to be quiet, calm and not hurried.  Of course, Selina sees this as a game and has to tattle on Evin every time he starts to cry.  So far today, we’ve had a leasurly stroll through a corn maze, made bread and hot coco and ate lunch as a family (with Daddy at his work!). The plan for after nap is to make dinner, scrub toilets and play dolls on the floor.

Whenever my kids get cranky, whiny or all out grouchy, I have to remind myself that they’re not being upset just to be upset, something is wrong with them.  They are either hungry, tired, sick or they need some Mommy time away from everyone else.  Today, when Selina asked me to climb in bed with her, it gave me a clue.  She needs me.  And she needs all of my eyes, ears, mind and heart.  She knows that she has to share me with Brother,  but today was a day that I needed to be with her and not rush her to do anything.

Here are some good Quiet Day activities that we love:

Make cookies.

Make bread.

Make dinner.

Make hot coco, then sip it slowly while reading a bunch of books.

Make a pillow and blanket fort.  Grab a flashlight and some books.  Read aloud.


Take a pan.  Put a bunch of baking soda in it. (We used the whole box.)  Take vinegar and put it into little bowls.  Add food coloring to the vinegar.  Use a dropper or syringe to drop the colors on the white baking soda.  Watch reaction.  Enjoy quiet for at least 30 minutes.

Anything arts and crafty.


Quiet Day is something that you really have to commit to.  Kids know when you’re bored and they’re going to start acting up again.  This is a solution that works for my family.  Maybe it will work for yours.

Also, for those who are keeping track, no fast food has been consumed in 1 whole week.  I am so proud of us.

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