Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Caring for a sick toddler.

There’s been a nasty stomach bug going around our daycare the past few weeks and it finally made its way into our house a few days ago. I just hate having a sick little boy. I’m lucky enough to have a job that allows me the flexibility to work from home when Slade is sick so we spent the day at home together. Here are my tips for caring for a little one with a stomach bug based on my experiences with Slade:
Fluids. A stomach bug puts these little guys at such a risk for dehydration so ensuring that he is getting enough fluids is very important. At our house, we only drink milk and water and limit juice for special treats. So when he has a stomach bug he usually gets to drink strawberry pedialyte and/or juice. And because it’s something he doesn’t get on a daily basis, I usually have no problem getting him to drink it. But if I do, I will try to make it fun by putting his drink in a “special” cup.
TLC. I knew something was wrong when he walked into my room the other morning after he woke up and rather than running and climbing up onto my bed he said “mommy, hold me.” My boy only wants to be held when he’s sick, wants to see what I’m cooking in the kitchen or if he’s being bashful. It’s funny how he instantly turns into a super clingy boy when he doesn’t feel good- to the point of having to constantly sit in my lap or even lay on top of me. When he’s sick, I take advantage of his desire to be right next to me and give him all the snuggles, hugs and kisses that I can. We curl up on the couch and read books together or climb into my bed and watch Sesame Street. It’s hard to give non-stop attention, especially when I’m supposed to be working from home, but I try to make it a priority. I remind myself that chances are in a few short years, he won’t want to snuggle up with me when he doesn’t feel well so I should cherish the opportunity now. I can always do my work while he naps or after he’s in bed.
Food. I always struggle with what to feed my little man when he has a stomach bug. He usually has little desire to eat when he’s sick. While it’s important that he eat, it’s also important to take it slow with solids while his tummy is recuperating. I try to stick with bland foods until I know the bug is gone. Slade usually enjoys crackers, pancakes, oatmeal and applesauce when he doesn’t feel well. I will offer food and snacks at the times he would normally have meals and snacks but I never force it on him. If he’s hungry and feels like eating, he will. Sometimes he will find one thing that he likes and will stick with it. This time around he was stuck on applesauce. Luckily I had just stocked up on it because he ate every bit we had in the house!
Rest. Getting enough sleep is so important for little guys and can make or break a day. When they are sick, being well rested is even more important. When Slade’s sick, he will take longer than normal naps and will sleep later in the mornings. I also try to get him into bed a little bit earlier when he doesn’t feel well to ensure that he will get enough sleep at night.
Play. Let the toddler be the guide for what they feel like doing. Slade is always on the go but when he doesn’t feel well, he can be surprisingly still. Normally, we limit the amount of television he gets to watch to usually just 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday and none during the week. But when he’s sick and doesn’t feel like playing, we will have extra special television time together. We also read lots of books. I don’t worry about all this down time because I know that it’s important that he gets plenty of rest. Plus, as soon as he starts to feel better, he will right be back up and playing.
If your toddler isn’t better after a few days, you should consult your pediatrician.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Simple side: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts usually don’t make it on the list of people’s favorite vegetables but I find them to be delicious. It’s only within the past few years that I have tried brussels sprouts. Not for any reason other than brussels sprouts just weren’t in the rotation of foods that my Mom and Grandma J prepared and I don’t recall ever even seeing them as a child. A few years ago, I watched Racheal Ray make brussels sprouts on an episode of 30-Minute Meals and I decided that I wanted to try them. It was only then that I learned that my husband is a huge fan. Ever since, brussels sprouts have been a part of our side dish rotation.
Roasting brussels sprouts is a easy and delicious way to prepare brussels sprouts. Roasting brings out a new level of flavor to vegetables that I just can’t resist.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 pound brussels sprouts
1 ½ - 2 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the brussels sprouts in half. In a bowl (or zip top bag), toss the brussels sprouts with the olive oil and salt. Cover a sheet pan with a piece of foil (for easy clean up) and pour the brussel sprouts onto the pan. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on desired level of roasting. I prefer for the brussels sprouts to be brown on the outside and still tender on the outside. During roasting, shake the pan one to two times to ensure the brussels sprouts brown evenly.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Adventures in Broiling.

After many attempts, I finally successfully broiled a piece of salmon! Woohoo! 
Broiling really is pretty great. You can just pop the salmon under the broiler and within a few minutes you have perfectly cooked fish. Through my trial and error, I learned that I prefer to have my salmon cut into the desired serving size before broiling, rather than broiling a larger piece. This cuts down on the cooking time and adds to the crispiness of each piece of salmon. I’m a huge fan of the crispiness I can get on the edges of the salmon when it’s broiled. I have also learned to brush a small amount of oil onto the fish rather than just drizzling some on. Too much oil so close to the burner in the oven equals a hot, popping mess.
The cooking time for the salmon will vary depending on these size and thickness. These pieces of salmon were pretty thick, so I broiled them for 10 minutes. When the salmon is done, the salmon should look opaque and it should flake easily.
While I may have finally broiled a great piece of salmon, I still find broiling to be a bit challenging. First, broiling makes my house smell smoky. This is likely to be user error and, so far, the smokiness has improved with each time I’ve broiled salmon. And second, this is less of a challenge with broiling and more of a need for better planning on my part, if I am planning to broil salmon, I need to plan the side dishes accordingly. I have one oven so choosing to make sides like roasted brussels sprouts with broiled salmon means that I have to take the brussels sprouts out of the oven before the broiling. That means that I either have to put the brussels sprouts back in the oven after the salmon is broiled or we have lukewarm brussels sprouts. I like sides that i I can just pop into the oven while I get everything else ready. So hopefully I will remember this the next time I broil.