Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bacon Cupcakes: No, Really, They're Good

Evan and I were shopping for Father's Day cards the other day and I became distracted in the store by the latest issue of Food Network Magazine. I started perusing its pages, and I came across the weirdest, most outlandish, yet most wonderful-sounding recipe I'd seen in a while. I'm a sucker for cupcakes, and these cupcakes I found were just too unique not to try. Maple French Toast and Bacon Cupcakes, for the record, are awesome! Yes, they are sweet little treats, and yes, they contain cooked, chopped bacon. It's delicious. I've always liked the maple syprup/bacon combo, and this recipe marries the two wonderfully. The cakes are great on their own (just ask Xander, he ate three mini cupcakes for breakfast), but when you add the frosting, it just takes these way over the top. That's right. These little lovelies have a maple cinnamon cream cheese frosting on them, too. The original recipe even garnished the cupcakes with more cooked, chopped bacon, but I held off on doing that. One, I was too lazy to cook more bacon, and two, I thought if we liked these and I made them again, maybe I'd be braver next time and add the extra bacon.

So the verdict is that everyone loved them. They made a great Father's Day treat for Andy, even though he ate too many and was then plagued with a cupcake coma for about an hour afterward. I ended up with 12 regular-size cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes, so I frosted the regular ones only so that Xander could have the mini, unfrosted ones all to himself. Either way, these are fantastic. The only problem with them is that you can't quite figure out if you should be eating them for breakfast or for dessert! They're definitely decadent enough to be a dessert, but they have all the flavors of breakfast, and are filling enough to be a breakfast. I think we'll probably solve this predicament by just eating them at both times of the day!

In other news, we bought Xander and Evan bunk beds. Obviously, with Evan being just 7 months old, it'll be awhile before they get to share the beds, but Xander's pretty excited about the whole thing. Andy got everything assembled yesterday, so Xander was able to sleep in his new bed for the first time last night. We were all a little disappointed initially to find out that the bed came with instructions stating that a child has to be 6 years old before he can sleep on the top bunk. However, once everything was put together and I actually saw the top bunk, I have to say I am a little bit relieved that I don't have to worry about him falling from a great height for at least another two years. Xander took the news better than I thought he would, too. I guess his brand new Transformers bedsheets softened the blow.

Now, his bedroom is his new favorite hangout. He was extremely eager to go to bed last night, and took great pleasure in tucking in all his stuffed animals and snuggling in himself. This morning, he played in his room, which is a rare occasion. Then, about two hours after he got up for the day, he actually - get this - requested to take a nap! All because he wanted to hang out in his new bed! It was hilarious. He actually stayed in his room for over an hour. We don't know if he actually fell asleep or not, but he at least entertained himself and got a little rest. Too funny. We should buy him a new bed more often. Just like I said in my last post, why spend money on toys when you can just invest in normal, everyday household objects?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Xander's Stuff

I don't know why we even bother to provide Xander with toys. Really, sometimes it seems like anything else is infinitely more interesting than the things he owns, that are his to play with and enjoy.

Right before (or maybe it was right after) Evan was born, I had mentioned to Andy that it might be nice for us to buy Xander a doll, a baby of some kind. I know, boys don't usually play with dolls, blah blah blah, but he's such a nurturing kind of kid, and he genuinely enjoys caring for his stuffed animals. I figured if he had a baby of his own, then he could take care of his while I took care of mine (Evan). He likes to role play just about everything Mommy and Daddy do, so I thought baby care would be no exception.

Well, as it turns out, we didn't buy him a doll. However, he does enjoy playing caretaker to a baby of his own. In his case, his baby is Fred, his favorite stuffed doggie. Nowadays, he follows along with just about everything I do with Evan. Is it time for Evan to take a nap? Well, it's time for Fred's nap, too! Where does Fred sleep? In a "crib" of his own, which is just a cardboard box that Xander nestles him in with a blanket. Where is that crib located? It used to be right next to Xander's bed, just like Evan's crib was right next to our bed. Last week, Evan moved into his own bedroom, so now Fred has moved into his own bedroom, too. When Fred is "sleeping," Xander becomes very concerned about how Fred is doing, so he'll get up out of bed a lot to check on him. Eventually, I think Fred ends up in Xander's room every night, anyway.

Xander has gotten very creative in making sure that Fred has all the same necessities as Evan. This morning, his toy farm silo was sitting on our kitchen table, and I later found out it was because the silo was really Fred's baby monitor, and he was using it to listen for him while he slept. When we ate couscous for dinner the other night, Xander fed couscous to Fred, too. He threw Fred into a box (I guess that was his high chair or something) and tossed a bunch of loose change in there with him. The pennies and dimes were little grains of couscous. When we are playing with Evan on the floor, Fred will take the opportunity to use Evan's rocking chair. The list goes on. There are seemingly endless ways in which Xander will use what we already have in the house and turn it into something else, something that serves the purpose of this elaborate Fred-as-baby game we play. It is so funny to me that half the time Xander whines and begs us to come up with something for him to do, because he's bored. With an imagination like his, how could you ever be bored?

As I said in the beginning, we don't ever need to buy Xander toys, it seems. He either plays with things in the house that aren't really toys, like chair cushions or empty envelopes, or he plays with Evan's toys. This is particularly interesting to me, considering that Evan's toys are baby toys and should therefore be rendered useless by Xander. I was wrong to think that, I guess. Turns out Evan's toys are way more fascinating than just about anything else we own. Of course, you can guess what happens when the shoe's on the other foot and Evan touches Xander's toys! It's like the end of the world! I'm still figuring out how to entertain a boy with so much going on in his little head. One thing I do know for sure now, though, is that we could have saved so much money on toys these last few years. Oh, well, we've learned, and now we're better prepared for Evan to be three.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cookies and Changing Rooms

Well, I have been missing for a while now! It has definitely been too long since I have posted here. There has been a lot of change and adjustment going on in our household lately, and that has been part of the reason why I haven't been good about updating the blog.

First of all, we had Xander's last day of school last week, and then we've been transitioning him into his summer preschool class. So far he seems to be loving it. It is only for two days a week, though, so I'm getting used to having him around more. It's been a little challenging, coming up with new and exciting things for him to do, but we're working on it. I try to use this genius booklet that his teachers came up with and handed out at the end of school. In it, they list tons of things to do with your child, so that he/she doesn't forget or lose all that they've learned this past year. I figure if I use just one of the ideas every day that he is home with me, we'll get to do lots of different activities that are fun and educational for him, and it really helps to have the variety. He is also old enough now that taking him to the pool, even if I have Evan in one arm, should be much easier, though I have yet to attempt it. Maybe I'll be brave next week.

Evan has finally gotten his own bedroom! He has spent his first six months bunking with us, first in his little cradle and then in his crib at the foot of our bed. Now we have done a big room swap, converting what was an office next to our room into his nursery. Tonight will be his fourth night sleeping in there, and I have to say that so far I am happy with how things are going. He still has yet to sleep through the night, so it's a little rougher for me to get out of bed and head next door to his room for nighttime feedings. Plus, I am so paranoid that he's going to wake up and be upset, I tend to lie awake and listen to the baby monitor a little too much. However, Evan himself is doing just great! He is sleeping over four hour stretches, and this morning he woke up at 7 a.m. in the crib, just as happy as could be. I'm really proud of him; he's adjusting better than I thought he would. Now I just have to follow suit...

This past weekend I baked some cookies, which was fun to do alone. Originally it was going to be a project for Xander and I to do together, but let's just say things took an ugly turn with his behavior and I had to take away the baking party. Anyway, the cookie recipe was the first I made out of a cookbook I received for Christmas, Martha Stewart's Cookies. They were a fun, interesting twist on an oatmeal raisin cookie. I especially liked the fact that there was only a half a stick of butter in the whole recipe, which meant I could actually eat them! That's right, these were relatively healthy cookies! They were delicious, too. Here's the recipe, and some pictures of the finished product.