Cooking with Toddlers: Moose Muffins

We recently checked out from the library If You Give a Moose a Muffin, and The Toddler loves reading it (along with the OG¬†If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.) While I haven’t posted a recipe here in about 100 years, we just succeeded in a small baking experiment that works for killing some time, delighting a toddler, connecting literature to real life and prepping breakfast for the week, all in one.

Moose Muffins - inspired by the children's book
Moose muffins! Very little added sugar, no added oil, contains both fruit and vegetables, and best served with a good book ūüôā

If you’re anything like me, it also provides your young baker a lesson in flouting the specific measurements of any given baking recipe and enjoying or suffering the consequences. (Fortunately, this turned out pretty good!) I’ve never been one to closely follow a recipe, so consider this a basic roadmap from which you can detour depending on what’s in your pantry and what your family likes to eat.

The Toddler gobbled a few mini-muffins up as soon as they were cool enough to eat, and seemed pretty impressed that his pouring and mixing turned into food. He even helped clean up afterward!

I kept these pretty low-sugar so I wouldn’t feel guilty about serving them for breakfast and didn’t add any oil (though I use whole milk/yogurt in my muffin recipes and entire eggs.) I do find that the no-oil muffins I make tend to stick to the muffin cups/tins more than usual, so don’t be afraid to be a little liberal when greasing them.

Finally, thanks to The Husband for being a second set of hands during this activity; it’s doable with just one adult, but a nice weekend-morning family activity. (If you’re doing this solo, try to gather everything up before your little one is waiting anxiously to get started or you may run out of attention span.)

Moose Muffins - baking with toddlers (The Last Mommy Blog)

 

Moose Muffins

Makes 12 regular muffins and 12 mini muffins

Dry ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • pinch of salt

Wet ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of raisins (we used golden raisins)

Directions

  1. Read If You Give a Moose a Muffin with your toddler. Ask, “Would¬†you like to bake some muffins for a moose?!” If they respond enthusiastically, “Yes!!!!” proceed. If not, try again some other time.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  3. Strap your toddler in to a booster seat/high chair at the kitchen table so they can’t run amok with ingredients, and then pile everything up just out of their reach. Gather a wet ingredients bowl, dry ingredients bowl, a teaspoon, your measuring cups, muffin tins and muffin liners.
  4. Have your toddler line your muffin tins. (We don’t have mini muffin liners, so I swiped at the mini muffin tin with an oil-soaked paper towel.) See note above about these being sticky; feel free to grease the muffin liners themselves to avoid this.
  5. Put the dry bowl in front of the toddler and measure out each ingredient for him and let him dump the measuring cups into the bowl and stir in between. To make it even more educational, do lots of counting: “This is one cup of flour.” “We need two scoops of baking soda.”
  6. Do the same with the wet ingredients, cracking each egg into the measuring cup and letting him dump, etc.
  7. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet (or is it vice versa?Whatever muffin recipes usually say.) Try not to over-mix. Fold the raisins in last.
  8. You should probably do the scooping of the muffin batter into the papers/tins, but count while you do it.
  9. Bake muffins. The mini muffins were done in about 12 minutes, and the standard-sized in about 20-22 minutes, but your mileage may vary.
  10. Allow to cool, serve with blackberry jam! (Consume while re-reading If You Give a Moose a Muffin.)

Substitutions and variations:

  • Finely chopped walnuts would be really good in this (if your kid is of the age to eat such things.)
  • Swap out some or all of the applesauce for pumpkin puree; switch the shredded zucchini for shredded carrot. (I’d also probably switch to regular black raisins for this alternative.)
  • Don’t like raisins? Use frozen blueberries! Or chocolate chips! Or nothing!
  • Don’t have zucchini? Shred a fresh apple instead to make these extra-appley. I’d swap out the allspice for ground ginger in this case.
  • If we had any plain yogurt in the house while I was making these, I would have used that instead of milk.
Cooking with Toddlers: Moose Muffins

Toddler Updates: My perpetual motion machine learns to use the potty

This blog has been almost completely dedicated to pregnancy updates for the past few months, due mostly to my inability to muster the energy to write more than once a week. Despite this, my days are full to the brim with toddler stuff and farm stuff, and my bump (and even the heartburn) are more of an afterthought. Really, this space is the¬†only place pregnancy has taken a front seat. So it’s well past time I made some room for an update on all the other stuff! Today, I’m focusing on The Toddler, if for no other reason than to remind my future self what 21 months looks like.

But because I’m still pretty tired/lazy, I’m going to let my camera roll do most of the talking…

20170821_142422
Never look directly at a toddler’s chubby thigh; you may go blind. (Partial eclipse shadow cast onto The Toddler’s leg last month, during the nap strike. Not the little crescent of light.)

The Toddler is (Thank God!) back to napping pretty regularly after a very trying couple of weeks where he was flirting with the idea of quitting forever. Unfortunately, the solution to his nap reluctance has been rocking him to sleep in a soft-structured carrier. As my belly gets bigger, this becomes more and more difficult, so I’m going to have to find a new fix any day now. Setting him in his crib to fall asleep on his own, or even trying to get him to sit still while I rock him in a chair, are not feasible, as he just never stops moving.

20170822_094945
Putting the, “Oh…” in Cheerios. Thanks, kid.

It could be faulty memory, but I swear there was a period of time in the not too distant past I could keep the house within spitting distance of tidy at least a few days a week. That is absolutely not the case anymore. Whether he’s ransacking our closet to try on his dad’s shirts, dumping snacks everywhere he goes because he’s too busy to sit down and eat a meal, scattering a basket of clean laundry across the living room, or filling his dump truck with dried noodles and dumping them out on my bed, this kid is hell bent on destruction.

While he is sometimes willing to help with the clean-up, I often find it takes less energy for me to just wait until he’s asleep to deal with it myself than to try to battle with him/trick him/reason with him to help me clean up. The only thing that seems to get him excited is the prospect of vacuuming.

The kid has boundless energy these days. We’ve been spending a lot of time on the playground, where he’s either doing full-speed laps up the playground equipment to go down the twisty slide, or yelling, “High! High!” on the swings, tricking people into thinking he’s being friendly when really, he’s just bossing me around.

When we’re outside at home, he’s obsessed with dragging around heavy logs, dragging our garden wagon around, or digging in a dirt pile that happens to also be littered with goat poop. This means he’s been getting an exasperating number of midday showers. I’m hoping my Best Mom award hasn’t gotten lost in the mail, but I have not received it yet.

In other news, it’s been just over two weeks since we embarked on the potty training mission, and while we’re far from perfect at this stage, I thought I’d provide a brief overview of how it’s gone so far. We’re using the book Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki as our guide, which in very brief advises potty training in phases or “blocks”–from naked (and watched like a hawk), to commando (no underwear, but yes pants) at home, to commando out and about in the world, etc.

We’re still in Block 3, and while prompting and built in potty break times (immediately when he wakes up, before and after getting in his carseat–we take the potty chair with us, etc.) are still very necessary to success, we are going most days without accidents and he is even self-initiating a few times a day.

Our biggest hangup right now, which I think is pretty common for the under-2 crowd, is that he isn’t figuring out the mechanics (or the necessity) behind pushing his pants down before he sits on the potty. Sometimes he’ll just walk over and hover over/sit down on the potty, fully clothed, and let loose. So I need to be there to help him with that, but since I need to be around anyway to help with wiping and emptying the potty chair, it’s not a big deal for now. We’ll get there.

He seems to take a lot of pride in being able to use the potty, and I feel fine about the pace of our progress. My main goal is to have him completely out of diapers (he still wears them for naps/night) by the time Baby 2 arrives.

We went to a new pediatrician last month who scoffed at the idea of potty training at 21 months, telling us we needed to wait until he was 2 1/2 to 3, or we’d just be “training ourselves [his parents],” but all this did was make me want to prove her wrong.

Yes, I know there are possibly risks for potty training too early (though some of these claims seem pretty dubious), and yes, I have the luxury of being the primary person to help my son get to the potty when he needs to go and not needing to rely on day care to do so, but he was enthusiastic at the outset and seems to prefer using the potty to diapers (even going so far as to wake me up a few times in the middle of the night to pee on the potty because he’d prefer not to go in his diaper.) So now felt like the right time for us, and I’m glad we went for it.

In particular, here’s what I like about Oh Crap! Potty Training, for anyone who is looking for potty training resources:

  • The author recommends ages 20-30 months (with some markers–like retreating somewhere to poop, being able to ask for something to drink when they’re thirsty) as the best time to potty train. We were getting some signals that The Toddler was seeming ready, and this book basically says, “Go for it.” There’s no waffling about readiness within that window — you decide to do it (setting a date and getting ready) and go full steam ahead. This is the attitude I find most motivating in the rest of my life decisions (taking a new job, deciding to have kids, moving to the farm), so I knew this was the approach we needed for this particular project.
  • There’s no incentivizing/rewards system. After having pushed through a brief bribery period with getting The Toddler into his carseat that got out of hand very quickly and made me feel like I was very much losing a power struggle, I can see how treats/stickers/etc. would get with potty training, and am happy to avoid it.
  • Glowacki is staunchly anti Pull-Ups, which greatly appeals to my sense of righteous indignation at the commercial exploitation of every possible childhood milestone. It seems clear to me that the point of Pull-Ups is not to help get kids potty trained, but to make them reliant on diapers way longer than they need to be, so diaper companies can sell more diapers.
  • The book is realistic about the variations in timing that each kid will take to fully adapt to using the potty, and doesn’t make you feel like a failure based on a recommended time frame.

Well, there’s a way-too-long post about my SAHM-of-a-toddler life right now! Stay tuned for exciting updates about my ever-expanding belly.

Toddler Updates: My perpetual motion machine learns to use the potty

In the great green room…

there was a telephone, and a red balloon…

Goodnight Moon has become The Baby’s very favorite book. In fact, it was the first book he took any interest in beyond chewing. One day when he was about 4 or 5 months old, he was looking at it on the floor and we had to leave, and he cried as I put him in his car seat until I handed him back his book, and he babbled the whole way to the grocery store, reading to himself (I like to think.)

We ended up being given three copies as gifts before his arrival, and I’m glad we didn’t give any away because I can see we’re going to need them.

Somehow this most classic book wasn’t a part of my own childhood, and honestly the garish colors and lack of punctuation made me wonder what all the fuss was about. (not to mention the third painting on the wall — not the cow jumping over the moon, nor the three little bears sitting on chairs, but the rabbit fly fishing in a river for another rabbit… wth?)

But seeing The Baby’s delight all there is to look at, and hearing the words lilting like a prayer (“Please, God, let my baby go to sleep?”) have cemented this story in my brain for the rest of eternity.

We don’t read it every night. In fact, this is the book that marks that it’s time to go to sleep. But Goodnight Moon will always hold a place in my memories of The Baby’s early days.

Speaking of books, we are nearly, nearly there with fully babyproofing The Baby’s bedroom. (Though I think I’ll keep saying “nearly done babyproofing” until he’s got his learner’s permit… He seems to have a real knack for beating me to the punch in this particular battle.)

I will take pictures of the rest once I’ve tied up a few loose ends, but here is a sneak peak of a new reading corner. We ditched the regular old bookshelf for these book ledges I built, and The Baby loves being able to see (and pull down) all his books. (Yes, we also have two copies of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. One board book and one paperback for when The Baby decides to quit chomping on his books.)

DIY book ledge for baby's room
The Baby’s book nook… a great place to take in Goodnight Moon.

I was having a little writer’s block after a work-heavy week or two that kept me from blogging, so I decided to participate in the¬†Daily Prompt: Moon. Further proof that parents can take any word and turn it into a way to talk about their kids! ūüôā

Tune in tomorrow for some real, actual, interesting content… so excited to share some wisdom from a mom friend!

In the great green room…

A love letter to my library

summer reading
The summer reading saga continues!

What better way to rebound from a somewhat belligerent (though I would still argue justified) rant about a place that made me feel like crap as a mom than to talk about a place that makes me feel wonderful every time I set foot in it?

I am, of course, referring to my local library.

The library was one of the first places I ventured with The Baby during maternity leave. Ever since then, it has become a routine destination for my attempts to leave the house on a daily basis.

Of course, perk No. 1 of the library is that it’s free (or, really, really, cheap, if you tend to have overdue books here and there…) Now that I’m no longer in a super walkable neighborhood (frown), I can’t just throw the baby in a carrier and take a walk around the block to count as my outing. Generally, I have to run an errand, which almost always means going into a store of some sort and spending money.¬†And as a post-Great-Recession, one-and-some-change-income family, we don’t go shopping just to shop.

The Baby isn’t quite big enough that places specifically made for kids (children’s museum, playground) are a worthwhile trip. Right now he’s basically just psyched by anything that isn’t our house. But I know when he does start to get more interested in play and exploration, my library’s children’s section is a great place to spend some time!

Another great thing about the library is the great sense of possibility I feel every time I step inside. Thinking about raising goats? Pick up a how-to book. Itching for a good conspiracy? Read about the JFK assassination. Etc. ad nauseam. While the Internet is a vast resource to learn about anything I could possibly imagine,¬†you can’t beat the feeling of wandering the aisles and coming across something you weren’t looking for that piques your interest.

I find myself unintentionally choosing books around a theme almost every trip.¬†My last library haul centered around ghost stories and, more practically speaking, raising goats. (That’s still in the works, though slow-going.) In the ghost story genre, I read The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce and I Remember You by¬†Yrsa Sigur√įard√≥ttir. I love a good ghost story, and while neither of these was life-changingly good, they satisfied the part of me that gets a thrill from a few chills down my spine.

(For those of you following along, I haven’t finished Cannery Row yet. I returned Doubter’s Almanac unfinished because I always read too many books at once, it was due back at the library and it didn’t hook me in the first three¬†chapters.)

I’ll spare you the review on the goat raising book.

Today’s haul was exclusively nonfiction. (I have another randomly chosen novel I renewed from the last trip, resting unread under by bed still.) Anyway, I picked up two books on writing fiction, something I did obsessively as a child and teenager but haven’t touched since then but have been daydreaming about. I’m hoping that reading about writing will give me the little nudge to try it out again (though I will keep those exercises to myself and stick with the real-life navel gazing for this particular outlet.)

I also got¬†Baby Knows Best, a parenting book about the “RIE way,” which I’ve never heard of. But I like reading about child development and don’t know that much about it, so it’s always interesting to broaden my horizons on that front. I’ll either learn some knew ways to help The Baby grow into an awesome Kid and Adult, or I’ll find something else to call bullshit on and get sanctimonious about. Win-win.

Finally, I got¬†On the Move, A Life by Oliver Sacks, whom you’ll recognize if you’re a Radiolab fan, as he was a beloved neuroscientist who explored some amazing facets of the human brain and struggled with his identity and love and human mortality and who was a beautiful storyteller on top of being a brilliant scientist. He died not too long ago and Radiolab gave him a beautiful tribute, and I can’t wait to read this book.

So there’s an update on what’s on my nightstand, and a reminder to my fellow new moms to go feed your soul at the library!

One more parting tip:¬†Libraries usually have a shelf of used books for sale for CHEAP (a “Friends of the Library” fundraiser type deal), and it’s a great place to pick up children’s books, especially board books because you can clean off the pages before you hand them over to your baby. I picked up a few gems today for a buck!

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A love letter to my library

A New Mom’s Summer Reading List

summer reading

I was one of those kids who wiled away a lot of my summers at the library or with my nose in a book in any number of beautiful summer settings – treehouses, porches, tents. (To be perfectly honest, I also squandered much of my summer days in front of the TV. I grew up in the ’90s, after all.)

Anyway, one positive change I’ve been able to adopt somehow during the process of moving to a jungle-like old farm with a baby is reading more. I credit most of this to the fact that The Baby is still sleeping in our bed at night (shut. up.) and I can get about two 40 minute stretches of staying awake time before he really can’t go back to sleep without me. With daylight pressing through the curtains at 9 p.m., I’ve got some time to kill before I can fall asleep, and reading feels more soul-nourishing than endlessly scrolling through my phone. Plus, writing more (blogging) makes me want to read more, and reading motivates me to write more.

While I love reading, I’ve never been very good at keeping track of what I’ve read, the authors I I like, or what I want to read next. So to propel me to a more successful next library trip, I thought I’d do a rundown of what I’ve read over the past few months.

Before I get to the list, a small item of blogkeeping: I made a Facebook page for TLMB! I figure there’s no quicker way to lose Facebook friends (especially the dude variety) than incessant posting about things like childbirth and baby poop. So instead, people who¬†like reading about childbirth and baby poop (ya weirdos) can follow me here. If you’re a regular reader and on Facebook, won’t you do me a solid and like my page? Leave me a comment below if you are a fellow mommy blogger with a Facebook page and I’ll happily return the favor. Thanks, friend.

Okay, onto the book list.

TLMB Moms Summer Reading List

What I’ve loved, and what to skip

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

This was my first foray back into reading after the birth of The Baby. Nothing like reading about post-apocalyptic, gut-wrenching loneliness to cure the baby blues, am I right? Really, though, I loved this book, and if one can find hope after the apocalypse, can’t one find hope that breastfeeding will eventually stop feeling like nursing a baby crocodile? The writing was beautiful, and while I did wake up The Husband because I was sobbing during one particularly sad scene, I woke him up because I was reading¬†really late into the night because I could not put it down.

5 stars.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Have you heard of this book? Of course you have. No, I haven’t seen the movie yet. Yes, I know I am way behind on Oprah’s book list. Honestly I finally decided to read this book because I binge-listened to Cheryl’s podcast (along with Steve Almond, whom I’ve also never read) Dear Sugar, and while it is¬†way more earnest, almost uncomfortably so, than any other podcast I listen to, they do have a seductive way with words and I decided I finally needed to read for myself about Cheryl’s heroin binge. This is another tearjerker, and while sometimes I find myself resisting the urge to eyeroll when Cheryl describes how she got a tattoo with her ex-husband to commemorate their marriage/divorce or how she chooses her new last name (come¬†on), the earnestness I caught on her podcast is the same earnestness and committed jumping-in-head-first approach to life that makes her story so compelling. If you’re like me and haven’t read this yet, it’s worth crawling out from under your rock to check it out.

4 stars.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Okay. I’m starting to sense a pattern I didn’t notice before. I have been bellying up to books that are seemingly way too sad. Books I actively avoided because of their obvious ties to loss. After my pregnancy loss and throughout my pregnancy I couldn’t think about sad things because I didn’t think I was strong enough to handle them, and I didn’t want to even acknowledge that sad things happen. I guess I’m stronger now. Anyway, this has been my¬†favorite book of the summer so far, in spite of the fact that the shortest description I can offer you is, “Kid’s dad died in 9/11. His grandma was a¬†survivor¬†of the WWII Dresden fire bombing. Adventure!” I really loved this book, though. And I only cried a little.

5 stars.

Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch

I love Rachel Dratch. Most recently I’ve loved her small part in Broad City. And yes, like the rest of America, I wondered with some chagrin at what happened to her after SNL. The beginning parts of this book felt very similar to Amy Poehler’s¬†Yes, Please!¬†(which I am just now remembering I also read… I love Amy, but this book didn’t hold a candle to¬†Bossypants and is best reserved for an easy beach read… uh, 3 stars). Anyway, lots of “this is how my early comedy career went down” stuff, but when she gets into trying to date in her late 30s, the book gets better. I’m really glad I didn’t do any research on her or this book before I picked it up, because it was a really fun surprise (sorry, spoiler, but it’s in the GoodReads synopsis) that she became unexpectedly pregnant and had a baby! Yay, surprise mom book! Anyway, Rachel and Amy both fall short of Tina in their ability to move me or feel particularly insightful, but they are funny and charming and I will always root for them.

3.5 stars

It Sucked and then I Cried by Heather Armstrong

I picked this book up at the library because it sounded familiar, then I remembered I have been a sporadic reader of Heather’s blog, dooce.com, for awhile. I decided to read it with the embarrassingly aspirational perspective of a new and not particularly successful blogger who (though I will deny it to my ever-encouraging mother) will not die happy unless I publish a book. I like Heather’s blog. I think she’s really funny. Her book felt…like a bunch of blog posts. Like it could have used a lot more tightening up and thoughtful editing. Um, I didn’t even bother finishing it. I’m not trying to be a jerk, and yes, she’s the published blogger, but it made me feel reassured that I could write a book someday if she pulled it off. God, I’m a jerk. But meh.

2.5 stars

On that sour-grapesy sounding note, I will close for now. But I plan to do this every few weeks so you can keep up with my literary escapades. On my nightstand now:¬†Baby Led Weaning¬†(of course),¬†The No-Cry Sleep Solution (also of course),¬†Cannery Row (took a stack of my high school summer reading books from my childhood bedroom) and¬†A Doubter’s Almanac, another random library pick-up that sounded pretty good.

What are you reading this summer? Anything I should pick up during my next library trip? (Parenting books, really sad novels (I guess), memoirs and classics I likely never picked up are all welcome suggestions.)

One last quick reminder to find me on Facebook and click the little pink picture below if you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

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A New Mom’s Summer Reading List