30 October 2012

Family Picture Preview

We had family pictures on Sunday. Although I have a hard time parting with the money, the results make it all worth it! Katy from Golden Paisley Photography has been photographing us for over two years - not that we get pictures taken a lot. As always, she didn't disappoint.

Golden Paisley Photography

Despite the chilly weather and Nate being sick, we look relatively well adjusted!

29 October 2012

The Great American Biscuit (with Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup)

My theory on baking and cooking: The easier, the better. I don't like wasting time with a lot of ingredients or additional steps. I've been looking for a decent biscuit recipe - one that doesn't require any cutting or whipping cream or a mixer. One thing that I've learned about biscuit recipes is that they almost all require cream of tartar. As a result, I have some on hand. I found this incredibly easy and incredibly good recipe online the other night. I made the biscuits for dinner when we had a chicken from the crock.

Dinner (or Breakfast) Biscuits


2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. white sugar
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup milk


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together. Mix butter and milk together. Combine all of the ingredients until just moistened. Drop batter on a greased cooking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

There were a few biscuits left today, so I rounded up all of the ingredients for chicken noodle soup, including homemade chicken broth. Homemade chicken broth is ridiculously easy. Simply place the chicken carcass back in the crock pot after making the Best. Damn. Chicken. Ever. Leave all of the grease and extra veggies in the pot and cover everything with water. Set the crock pot on low and let simmer over night. In the morning, drain the liquid and discard the carcass.

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup


1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups chopped chicken (or whatever is leftover from a crock pot chicken)
Handful wild rice
Handful noodles (I usually use egg noodles, but had farfalle on hand)
Salt and pepper
Fresh herbs


Sautee onion, garlic, carrots and celery in the olive oil until they are soft. Add the broth and water and bring to a boil. Add the rice and simmer for about 20 minutes then add the noodles and simmer for about 10 minutes. Season as needed.

28 October 2012

Oh, October

October is just about my favorite month. The heat from September is gone, but the bitter cold hasn't yet arrived. And the trees, the trees, the colorful trees!

It's been a busy month. And it won't slow down in the next three days. Halloween is near! Benny's costume is finished! The menu for the after-trick-or-treating party is set! Those pictures deserve their very own post, so here's a recap of October:

A wee babe in Canada and some quality time with my mom, brothers and sister-in-law. Crazy deadlines for work (no pictures of those, you're welcome!). Parties. Sickies. Lots of walks to the park. And a few more meals from the garden.

Oh, October, you could stick around forever!

25 October 2012

Batman: In the Beginning

Benny's Batman costume is coming together. I've acquired all of the required items to create a superhero costume for my little superhero. The items above must eventually assembled into something similar to this:

The yellow and black patch will be larger and the belt a wee bit smaller. But otherwise, Benny will be a spitting image of Adam West, with the attitude of Christian Bale. OK, maybe not quite so dark.

What I'm using:
  • Grey long underwear ($12)
  • Felt for Batman patch ($2)
  • Glue gun to attach everything ($7)
  • Batman mask ($6)
  • Light for belt ($4)

Total: $31 - about $10 more than I would have spent if I had just bought the costume. But, we'll use the long underwear for pajamas this year and the glue gun will be added to the pile of craft supplies I use once a year.

24 October 2012

Butternut Squash Bread

This year, our garden produced more than 25 butternut squash. It was the most prolific squash plant by far. We'll be enjoying three spaghetti squash and two pumpkins. Sadly, the squirrels attacked the acorn squash before we had a chance to bring it inside. I've roasted four butternut squash and we've given countless away. Still, it seems like they are multiplying.

Although squash breads don't really take much squash, they are a nice treat during the fall and winter months. I figured that if pumpkin puree makes a good bread ingredient, butternut squash should too. Turns out, I was right!

Butternut Squash Bread
(adapted from My Baking Addiction)


1 cup butternut squash puree
2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cut applesauce
1 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour one loaf pan. Combine puree, eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Stir liquid and dry ingredients together until just mixed. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes.

P.S. Scared of cutting a butternut squash (or any squash) for fear of severing off a limb? Simply poke a few holes in your squash of choice and roast it whole for 60 to 90 minutes at 400 degrees - longer for a smoother puree, shorter for firmer squash to make risotto and other cooked items. Let the squash cool and cut it open easily!

Just Vote, Yo

I rarely discuss politics on this blog. I'm not sure why because I feel very strongly about many things. I guess I've designated this space as a "family" space and I've reserved politics and work and religion (somewhat) to other areas of my life. But you know what? If this is a family space, I should be discussing politics here. Nate and I openly discuss our beliefs at the dinner table. And some day, I hope that our kids join in and challenge us.

If you know me (and even if you don't), you won't be surprised to know that I *early) voted for Barack Obama.

By posting why I chose to vote to Obama, I don't expect to change anyone's mind or convince anyone to vote for him. Rather, I'd like to explain why I voted for Obama. Although I can never imagine myself voting for a Republican, I don't vote along party lines. For me, it's the economy, stupid.*

There's a relatively easy way to explain why the government must provide programs like welfare, Medicaid, Medicare and other "drains" on the system: Income distribution. The income distribution in this country is far from equitable. Rather, wealth is concentrated to the top 1% of Americans (remember the Occupy Movement?). By collecting taxes, the government is able to provide a safety net for those who are less fortunate.

That's one reason I don't support Mitt Romney - he doesn't account for inequitable wealth distribution. If wealth was distributed more evenly (and I'm not even advocating for equally), many of these programs would disappear because they simply wouldn't be needed.

I also get nervous when politicians say they'll cut taxes. Taxes pay for social programs, sure, but they also ensure that we drink clean water, that our sewage doesn't run down the street, that our kids have access to education, that our roads are safe, that we can rely on emergency services. Simply put, taxes help us live relatively charmed lives. That's not to say that the system is perfect. But, damn, I'm glad I can turn on the faucet when I'm thirsty and that my son can attend a quality neighborhood school. Even in this country these things aren't guaranteed.

And, lest we forget, taxes pay for the military. I am a pacifist at heart, but if American politicians want to be the "protector" of the world, they should be prepared to pay the price tag. And so should the people who voted them into office. Unless we dramatically shift our priorities from "protector" of other countries to the "protector" of our fellow Americans, military spending isn't going to decrease any time soon.

This is not an argument to support higher taxes or an expanded military presence in the world. But I will support a candidate who is practical about these things. A candidate who understands that some Americans don't have it as good as the top 1% and is ready to support programs that assist the less fortunate. Does that mean that taxes might go up. Yep, it sure does.

No matter if you agree with me or not, I do think it's important that you VOTE. But don't just vote, yo. Think about why you support a particular candidate and then exercise that awesome power you have.

*OK, OK, it's not just the economy. I support things like gay marriage and women's right to choose as well.

23 October 2012

Loving Canadia

I have many reasons to love Canada: healthcare, year-long maternity leaves, Jasper and Banff National Parks, Canadian literature. My new nephew definitely ranks higher than all of those.

I'm not sure I can wait until Christmas to see him (and his great parents) again.

However, I'm not sure I could deal with the cold weather up north. It's been in the 70s all week here in Denver and a good reminder that Denver is absolutely at its best in the Fall.

We mostly snuggled, but managed to take a few walks, go out for dinner and high tea. Fun stuff.

22 October 2012

Potty Training Bloopers

As the days get shorter, the temperature gets brisker and the leaves slowly fall off the trees, the Potty Chronicles continue here in north Denver. Following Lila's impressive performance during the diaper-free weekend, we've had pretty consistent success with the potty. If she doesn't have pants on, she totally rocks the potty. And if she does, well, let's just say we've had some wet spots. Because of this issue, we typically put diapers on her when we leave the house. Except when we forget. Whoops.

During the diaper-free weekend, Lila and I visited a great new consignment store near our house. Lila had peed before we left for a trip for Target and then a quick stop to the consignment store. I tried to have her pee at Target as well, but she's a bit shy when it comes to big toilets. I figured I had a little more time and stopped in the store. And then I completely forgot that she was diaper free. She went to sit down on some kids chairs situated in a corner. Pretty soon, she said, "Mommy, I need to potty." And by need to potty, she meant that the pee was already running down her leg and pooling at her feet. Without anything to clean the mess up, I alerted the staff and promptly left the store. They were very understanding. The floor was concrete after all. Point made, Lila: No excursions without diapers.

We continued with that philosophy until last weekend when we went grocery shopping armed with an extra set of clothes. Nate was convinced that we just say no more diapers and deal with the consequences. Lila didn't even make it to the grocery store without having an accident. She peed in her seat. I changed her and figured we had an hour or two before we would be in trouble again. I tried to have her pee in the store bathroom, but the big toilet was a no go.

Since Crate and Barrel is on the way home from the grocery store, we decided to go check some rugs out. We've lived in our house for four years without a rug in the living room. It was high time to bite the bullet. Nate took Lila to the bathroom to see if he could have any luck. Just as we were about to ask for some rug samples, Lila climbed into a leather chair and said, "Mommy, I need to potty." She COVERED that chair with pee. This time the staff was not as understanding and rushed to the back to grab some leather cleaner. Although I understand that we probably shouldn't allow our children to climb on nice furniture with or without diapers, I thought the scene was rather funny. The kids and I slunk out of the store while Nate finished up.

Today Lila and I were out of the house for most of the day (it was 75 degrees here!). But whenever I asked her to use the potty, she happily obliged. She is definitely successful about four or five times a day. Then I forgot that she was just in pants. She and Benny were building forts in the living room and she was jumping on the couch. Suddenly, "Mommy, I need to potty." Karma! Luckily all of the cushions were on the floor for the fort!

20 October 2012


Our trip to Canada has been relatively low-key. That's what happens with a baby who needs to eat every three hours and with parents who are exhausted. I am soaking up the slower pace and thoroughly enjoying the snuggle time with Jas Paul. Oh my, he's a cutie.

Yesterday we did manage to get out for high tea at the Rutherford House on the campus of the University of Alberta. It was quite a civilized affair. Jas slept through the tea and small bites - until the very end when he let out a rather loud grunt and pooped. Civilized indeed!

It's been a treat to hang out with my mom, my two brothers (another brother is visiting from Calgary) and my sister-in-law. And it's always fun to see my sister-in-law's family. Tonight we're going out for Chinese. Woot!

Tomorrow it's home again, home again to snuggle with my own babes and get caught up from the longgg weekend away.

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Whoa, take me back to 2008/2009 when this book was all the rage in the States. Since that time it has been made into a motion picture in both Sweden and in America. I'm a wee bit slow. But, when it came to picking out a book at the library for my weekend in Canada, I had little time. I was running errands and had little time to peruse my options.

I tend to stay away from popular series. There's no real reason, but I figure if they're popular enough to catch the attention of millions, they are probably not superbly well written. This makes me sound like a snob. I know.

My theory holds true for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. However, man, this was a page turner. I finished the nearly 600 page book in less than three days. That's what happens when you hang out with a six-week old baby: Lots of snuggle time with books. It's been heavenly!

All in all, I liked the book. It's grizzly and gruesome, but captivating and suspenseful. Even in my horror of what what happening, I couldn't put the book down. I've been advised not to see the movie as it's just as grizzly and gruesome as the book. I do think I'll watch it though. Although nearly all of the female characters end up as victims in this book, there are two strong female characters. And now I'm hooked. I'll return this book to the library this week and pick up the next book in the series to consume my free time.

19 October 2012

Oh Canada

My mom and I flew to Edmonton on Wednesday to meet my new nephew (and Mom's new grandson). He is just the cutest, gassy-est nephew! Such a little peanut who likes to sleep while being held and lay on his play mat. Holding him makes me a little nostalgic for my own babies who are hanging out in Denver with Nate over the long weekend.

I have to admit, however, that I don't really miss the newborn phase. Boy babies are cute, but damn is is this phase tiring!

16 October 2012

School Days

Over one month in, and I think we're all getting used to this school thing. I haven't been in such a rush to get the kids out the door since I quit working in an office - and even then I allowed for some slack time. But, the bell at school rings at 7:55. And the kids best be in line! By 8, the doors are shut and parents must bring their tardy students to the office to check in. For someone who has "get there on time" anxiety, that's enough motivation to get to the school yard at least five minutes early.

As a result, I run a pretty tight ship in the morning. Kids up by 6:50. Benny dresses himself while I dress Lila. Make beds. Make breakfast and scarf it down. Then Benny must brush his teeth and put on his shoes while I gather all of the lunches, jackets, helmets, and bags. Somewhere in there I get dressed and pull up my hair. On the best of days, we're out the door by 7:30. Phew! On the not-so-best-of-days (aka the days when Lila throws all of her food on the floor or Benny shuts himself in the bathroom for 10 minutes), we rush rush rush to leave by 7:45.

Luckily, it's still nice enough that we can ride our bikes to school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I can't quite figure out how to ride bikes on Tuesday and Thursday since Lila's daycare is a bit too far for Benny on the bike, but I need to drop her off otherwise I wouldn't get home and to work until well after 8:45.

I have to say, the ride to school is one of the best parts of my day. Benny is still excited, if not a little anxious, to get to school and we talk through random topics. Lila rides in the bike trailer and chimes in every now and then.

P.S. Benny is a natural student. He seems to really enjoy his teachers and all of the things they're doing at school. Oh, and his reading has totally taken off. It's so cool to see him memorize and sound out words!

13 October 2012

The Versatile PhD

Amid the cooking and cleaning and child rearing, I rarely think about my PhD any more. Graduate school seems like such a lifetime ago - especially considering that, for most of it, I was newly married without children.

When I finished my dissertation, I had all but written off a life in academia. I was sick of the research and writing and endless periods of solitude. Plus, I had applied for several applicable positions at universities in the Denver metro area without any luck. I was quite happy to forego a job at a university. Turns out I entering the job force at the worst possible time - at the beginning of 2009, right after the economic collapse of 2008.

At that time I mostly saw my PhD as a liability. Who would hire me at an entry-level position or a little higher with that kind of degree? But after working in academia for nearly four years, I wasn't qualified for much more. particularly in a new city and in the nonprofit sector. And I was ready to work. When a grant writing position opened at an organization where I had volunteered, I figured it was a good place to start - and they were interested in hiring me.

Turns out that it was a key decision in my professional life. Sure, the pay wasn't great and I wasn't using my PhD. But, I met some amazing people. Like my team:

Tribute 2011, what would be our final event together (minus Mar).
Tribute 2012 ... reunited and all working for different organizations.
And it's not only the people I worked with at Mental Health America of Colorado, but the people I met. By working there, I increased my network in a way that is definitely paying off now. I met many members of the funding community, which has proved helpful for new clients. I also learned about an important issue: mental health.

I started Struckman Consulting mostly because I needed more flexibility in my schedule. When I was offered an adjunct position at the University of Denver last winter I couldn't refuse it. Being able to teach has validated why I got my PhD in the first place. It's wonderful to be a part of a community of learning again - even if it's only part-time. And I feel like I'm actually using my degree ... to a degree.

And you know what, my PhD is no longer a liability. Now it's an asset. When I started working at MHAC, I asked that my degree be omitted from my business cards. My Struckman Consulting cards proudly display those letters - and they do make a difference with new people I meet.

The long and short purpose of this rant is that I'm using this versatile PhD to carve out my own professional track. I won't be that professor who flies all over the world to conduct research or wins awards or publishes a book (yet). But, I am that professor who has a viable career outside of academia that allows me to explore my identity as a professional, as a professor and a mother without feeling guilty that I'm neglecting specific portions of my life.

Plus, but it's pretty amazing to get letters addressed to Dr. Struckman!

12 October 2012

For A Good Cause

F is for Fall and Fundraisers! I could probably go to a fundraiser every week and not hit all of them. Not even close. But, I was able to attend Mental Health America of Colorado's Tribute event last night and reunited with my old team.

It was a nice reason to dress up (in a new-to-me dress from my good friend, Pretty Girl!). It was also nice to reconnect, if only briefly, with a lot of people.

(Jacy, sorry for the wonky eye! I was able to correct all of the other red eyes, but your left eye just would't correct!)

08 October 2012

The Potty Chronicles Continue

Well, after four days of a semi-diaper-free experiment, the results are mixed. Lila does a great job when I remind and bribe her to go to the bathroom (she is now very adept at watching short videos on my iPhone). Leaving the house over the past four days was the biggest challenge. Most of the time, I put Lila in a diaper because it was cold this weekend and I didn't want to deal with a change of clothes at most of the locations we visited, particularly today.

Today was fairly successful. Lila peed on command and didn't have any accidents - until tonight. We enjoyed a scooter ride around the block. I had Lila go to pee before we left. But, if anyone has seen a toddler ride a scooter, you know that it's not particularly fast. Then we ran into a friend and visited for awhile. Lila stayed dry until we got home. Just as I was asking her to come inside to go pee, she sat down on the patio and went there. Oh well. And then we forgot to ask her to pee before a bike ride tonight. She peed in the trailer - no surprise.

So, the potty chronicles continue. However, I do feel like we're well on our way to a diaper-free life in the near(ish) future.

Here are my recommendations for a successful(ish) diaper-free experience - for what they're worth!
  1. Stick to the plan! I can't tell you how many times I started making plans to do something throughout the days this weekend, only to remember that we needed to stay home and see this experiment through.
  2. Have a dedicated partner. I ran several errands this weekend while Nate watched Lila. He did a pretty good job of watching her and making sure she sat on the potty frequently, but he forgot too. I was certainly the driver, which can be a bit exhausting.
  3. Feed your potty trainer lots of salty foods and offer them lots of drinks. We don't drink much juice around here, but I bought lemonade and watered it down for Lila all weekend. She was definitely much more likely to tell me she had to go when she really had to go.
  4. Bribes work. I don't like to give the kids candy on a regular basis and I don't like to plop them in front of a video. However, in this case, I was willing to do whatever it took to get Lila to sit on the potty (because sometimes she was pretty resistant). 
  5. Don't be disappointed if the diaper-free weekend doesn't work on the first try. I have a hard time believing that any kid potty trains fully after one diaper-free weekend. In fact, experts say that kids need to remain pant-less at home for at least three months after the weekend before you should start using underwear. So, it's really misleading. It should be called a diaper-free quarter. I will say that this type of training does at least introduce the concept to kids who are ready. Lila will spend many periods diaper-free at home, but we'll certainly put her in diapers when she goes to daycare and when she's out and about.
If you have any advice on how to potty train a toddler, feel free to send it my way! On the other hand, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section. I'm not a pro, but I'm well on my way (I hope!) to having two potty trained kids.

07 October 2012

Diaper-Free, Day Three

Quick update: Our diaper-free weekend has shown progression and regression. Two steps forward, one step back. We're trending up though, so that's encouraging. Day one saw Lila pee in the potty three times and poop in the potty once. We had a last minute babysitting opportunity in the evening on Friday, so Nate and I took advantage of having some time to ourselves. We sent Lila to our neighbors' house without a diaper on, but she refused to sit on the toilet and went pee in her pants twice

Day two was mostly successful, with two accidents and lots of sitting on the to the potty. Several times she even told me that she needed to go to the bathroom and went into the bathroom by herself. We did have dinner plans last night, so I put Lila in diaper for most of the night. She didn't ask to use the bathroom and I didn't push it.

We've only just begun day three. So far, we've had two successful potty attempts and one accident while Lila was sitting in her booster.

The take away from this fairly detailed account of Lila's bathroom experiences is that the diaper-free portion is definitely working - it's when she has something, anything on her butt that she has problems. Hopefully more progress in the second half of the day and through tomorrow!

05 October 2012

Diaper-Free, Day 1

We hit a bit of a snag on the inaugural day of Lila's first (and hopefully last) diaper-free weekend. First, we had to take Benny to school. It snowed, so we had to bundle up and couldn't ride our bikes. So, we drove, dropped Benny off and then headed to the grocery store for weekly shopping. During the first day of a diaper-free weekend, you aren't supposed to leave the house. Whoops. Then, we ran into a neighbor whose son is in Benny's class and got invited to a short play date. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to hang out at someone else's house on this dreary day. All told, we were gone from 7:45 - 11. Whoops indeed.

But, as soon as we walked through the door, I stripped Lila down below the waist. Within a half an hour, she had peed in the potty. I could also tell that she needed to work out a number two, but didn't seem very comfortable on the potty.

She went about her business for another hour or so and then said she had to go potty. Back in the bathroom we went. This time she peed and pooped on the potty! A first for sure!

So, although I haven't been following the rules, I'm feeling good about this diaper-free day! I hope there are lots more bathroom incidents just like this the rest of the weekend.

04 October 2012

Making Batman

It's that time of year! The one time every year that I use up a year's worth of  my crafty brain cells on one holiday: Halloween. I feel strongly about making homemade costumes or re-using costumes. I refuse to buy store-bought costumes - mostly out of principle. Prior to last year, I always used hand-me-down costumes. Benny has been a bee, Dumbo and dinosaur. Last year, Lila was a frog. All four costumes came from generous friends.

Last year, Benny decided he wanted to be an astronaut. We worked on that costume for over a month!

This year Benny requested a Batman costume. Ugh. I can get a bit creative on some things, but superheros - especially an all-black superhero - are not my strong suit. So, I've decided to go old school on it - grey long underwear with bright yellow and black accents. Something a little like this...

I will be using a glue stick this year! The good news is that Benny can wear the long underwear as pjs this winter. It gets pretty COLD in our house, so we'll need some new long johns anyway.

A favor - does anyone have a black cape I could borrow? If you're out of town, I'm happy to pay for shipping.

Don't worry, I'll keep you all updated every painful step of the way!

03 October 2012


For the past few days, I have let Lila run around the house sans pants after changing her diaper. It's not a full-on diaper-free experiment. I'm conditioning her for what is to come on Friday: I will be packing up all of the diapers (save for a few that we'll need while running errands and naps) and she will be naked full-time for four days. It's the diaper-free method of potty training that I've mentioned in the past.

Here's the quick run down: If you want to train your toddler quickly, allow her to run around naked for three days. That's right, don't put anything on her bottom - because even underwear gives her the sensation that her pee and poop is absorbed somewhere. Give her lots of juice and salty snacks to encourage drinking. Then encourage her to sit on the potty frequently. 

I tried this method with Benny THREE times without much success. If it doesn't work the first time, experts recommend waiting a month or two to try again. I'm willing to try the method again with Lila because she seems ready. Today, for example, while she was naked, she asked for a diaper. I could tell she needed to go to the bathroom because she was dancing around a bit. I encouraged her to sit on the potty. When she wouldn't, I tempted her with the promise of looking at photos on my phone. Last week the motivation was having Benny read to her. She's very fickle, this potty trainer. But today, she peed in the potty twice.

Although I know that I'm jinxing myself, I think we may have a breakthrough here. 

02 October 2012


When it comes to anything medical, I'm a pretty good patient. I've been through enough "stuff" to handle needles and a fair amount of pain (including medication-free births). But, when it comes to the dentist, I'm a bit of a wuss. This probably stems back to the vast amount of dental work I had as a kid: countless cavities, a mouth full of too many teeth, braces. I've even have a crown. It's not for lack of brushing and flossing either. Apparently I have bad gums, bad enamel, bad everything.

After I had Benny, I may or may not have skipped seeing the dentist for two years. I don't have any good excuses other than my life got busy and the months slipped away. I finally decided to bite the bullet and scheduled an appointment with a dentist located not too far from my office. Turns out that those two years off were pretty detrimental to my overall dental health. I ended up having two gum grafts and the threat of having two more crowns.

Now, the gum grafts were totally justifiable (although incredibly expensive), but I wasn't sold on the crowns. So, after sitting on the prognosis for a year, I decided to seek a second opinion. For the most part, I felt like the dentist was pushing procedures on me that I just don't need - at least not yet

I'm happy to report that I think I found the perfect dentist. He's located a half mile from my house and he's very no muss, no fuss. Plus, he doesn't push procedures on his patients. Dare I say that I may actually like going to the dentist now? No, probably not. But I won't dread it either.

Oh, and he's pretty amazing with kids too. Benny visited him a few weeks ago and had a great experience!

If you're in the central Denver area and need a new dentist, I highly recommend Dr. Tom Croghan and his team! Because, you know, they came to this country like everybody else in search of a dream.

01 October 2012

The Potty Chronicles

Here we go again! Anyone remember my series of posts about Benny's potty training experience? Thanks to some overzealous parents, it lasted about 18 months - or about 17 months too long. Benny expressed interest in peeing on the potty at around 18 months, so we rushed out to buy him new underwear and a toddler toilet. New parent mistake. Apparently expressing interest does not equate to actually being ready to go diaper-free. Benny was stubborn. We endured countless diaper-free weekends when we let him drink gallons of juice boxes and sit in front of movies all day - all in the hopes that he would learn to pee in the potty.

Well, we did everything we were supposed to do to have an early potty trainer: cloth diapers and lots of diaper-free periods. Alas, Benny potty trained when Benny was ready to potty train - just before he turned 3. As a result, we've been much more "chill" about Lila's experience.

However, I find myself increasingly frustrated with my daughter's obstinance. She is happy to pee in the potty when it's her idea. For example, we often let her run around naked in the evening right before jams. In those moments, she toddles right into the bathroom and pees in her toilet. She's done that 5 or 6 times. No cajoling, no pleading. If we ask her to pee in the potty, she refuses. When she has to pee, she simply asks for a diaper. See??? She totally knows when she has to pee, which is the first and, from what I understand, hardest step.

Oh, and one of the only ways Lila will actually sit on the potty when it's not her idea is to have Benny read to her. He feels pretty special.

So, I suppose I'm going to have to work harder with some diaper-free weekends. Let the games begin.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I truly beg to differ that the winter holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. Nope, in Colorado, it's the end of September - Thanksgiving. Definitely the most wonderful time of the year. The leaves, my friends, are changing!

Lila and I have been spending our mornings at the park. The weather is now perfect for exploring more "technical" aspects of the play structure.

And while the produce from the garden has decreased dramatically, I'm still managing to include at least one thing from the garden in each of our dinner time meals (mostly tomatoes). The fresh sage, thyme, rosemary and oregano will make tonight's chicken over the top!

What's not to love about fall? Layering clothes, Halloween, cooler nights, beautiful sunlight, red wine, school days, crunchy colorful leaves, hot cocoa weather, Indian summer, boots and scarves, baking, pumpkins. I could go on ... but I won't! Happy Fall!