Sunday, December 20, 2009

Potty Training for DumMommies

Fast Track: Results in 3 - 7 days
Not-so-fast Track: Results in 365 days

I have mastered both tracks, having one twin who trained in a week and another who trained over the course of year.

This Christmas break one year ago is when I attempted the whole potty training gig with the girls for the first time. It was a little early (they were 2yrs 2mos.), but with three kids in diapers, I was highly motivated.

I thought it would be Lobaby who would catch on quickly. The truth was they both did. Our first "outing" in big girl panties was all dressed up to the Christmas Eve service at Northview. I was a nervous wreck.

"Please don't potty on your pretty dresses!"

"Do you need to go potty?!"

"Be sure and tell mommy if you feel the potties coming out!"

I whispered in their little ears. And we were successful! I was a potty training rock star! Or so I thought.

About one month in, Lo started to revert. I was so resistant to it. In denial about it. But, I was finally at my wit's and patience' end, and back to diapers she went.

Over the next few months we tried again. I tried my old methods. I tried new methods. But the truth of the matter was, she could care less about big girl panties.

For the months after that, I was mad about it. "She knows what to do! Why won't she do it??" I thought.

It was a battle. And she was beating me. And I hate to lose.

I finally accepted that it had to be her decision. She was going to have to want to do it. To care that her friends weren't in diapers. To care about being a "big girl."

Meanwhile, Jilligirl trained like a champion. Seriously, almost too good to be true. I told her that this is what big girls do and she bought it. I offered her stickers and marshmallows and she ate it up. At 2yrs and 2 mos, she had less than a handful of accidents and has been in her sweet little pink roos ever since.

So, this is yet another example of how my precious twin girls could not be any more opposite.

Around their 3rd birthday, I thought we'd give it another go. No success. But, I did realize something really important. A positive to all my potty-training failures.

At every attempt, I learned something new about my precious Lo. Every time we would try and fail, I would get insight into her personality.

Jilli is just like me. I get her. She is competitive and easily motivated. She embraces change and jumps into new things without fear.

Lo is very different than me. She isn't competitive. She's hard to motivate. She likes to do her own thing and she doesn't usually care what the other kids are doing. She's so quirky and funny. And it makes me nuts and I love it!

The upside to potty training over 12 months, is that I see her differently now and have a better appreciation for her quirks.

I realize this is just the beginning of my tough lessons in mothering, I just hope that they don't all take 365 days to learn.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Baked Manicotti with Meat Sauce

So I'm home full-time now and I find myself with a new energy and excitement in the kitchen. I love to cook and try new recipes, but haven't had the patience (or kids with patience) to bust out a meal like this in some time.

I made my grocery list this week and on it were the ingredients for 3 new recipes from my favorite cooking resource, Cook's Country. I've never made a recipe out of these magazines that wasn't divine.

First on the list was manicotti, made with a few ingredients that made my taste buds happy before I even opened my mouth. With the big girls as helpers and Little Toothache in her high chair with a snack, we tackled this recipe with delicious results.

I hope you enjoy and devour this recipe as happily as my family did.

Baked Manicotti with Meat Sauce

Meat Sauce
1 onion, chopped
6 oz sliced deli pepperoni
1 lb 85% lean ground beef
1 Tbs tomato paste
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 (28oz) cans crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper

3 c ricotta cheese
2 1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 c shredded provolone cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
16 no-boil lasagna noodles (see note)

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. pulse onion and pepperoni in food processor until coarsely ground. Add beef and pulse until thoroughly combined.

Transfer beef mixture to large saucepan and cook over medium heat, until no longer pink (about 5 min). Using slotted spoon, transfer 1 cup beef mixture to paper towel-lined plate and reserve. Add tomato paste garlic and pepper flakes to pot w/ remaining meat mixture and cook until fragrant (about 1 min). Stir in tomatoes and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened (about 20 min). Season with salt and pepper.

Combine ricotta, 2 c mozzarella, 1 c provolone, egg, salt, pepper, basil and reserved meat mixture in large bowl. Pour 2 quarts boiling water into 13 x 9-in baking dish. Soak noodles until pliable (about 5 min). Drain noodles on kitchen towel, pour of water and dry baking dish.

Spread half of meat sauce over bottom of baking dish. Top each soaked noodle with 1/4 cup cheese filling, roll and arrange, seam-side down, over sauce in baking dish. Spread remaining sauce over manicotti. Cover with foil and bake until bubbling around edges, about 40 min. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and provolone. Bake until cheese is melted, about 5 min. Let cool 15 minutes. Serve.

Note: You need 16 no-boil lasagna noodles. Get the Barilla brand (comes 16 to a box, other brands only have 12). I found these in the dry pasta aisle, even though I started looking for them with the refrigerated and frozen noodles.

My notes: 1) I skipped the red pepper flakes, even though it was just a smidge. I didn't want to risk the heat turning off the little palettes in the house 2) I only have a small food processor, so I only did the onion and pepperoni in the food processor and then mashed it in with the beef by hand.