Feeding My Family: Low Carb-Keto Diet Friendly Dinner

My husband and I often go into diet mode every once in awhile. We both feel really good about eating clean and feel like we have more energy. The Keto Diet is pretty hardcore; I’ve never been able to do it! I think simply eating low carb is hard enough, so it’s good enough for me. However, it’s been a challenge to cook for 1 person on Keto, 1 person on low carb and 1 toddler who is not a great eater. Plus,  I’d like to stay away from preservatives and fake sugar foods as much as possible.

Here’s one of my favorite dinners that actually works for us all!

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese: This is an insanely popular dish, even for people who aren’t on a diet! The key to the recipe is to make sure the cauliflower is 100% dry before you bake it in the dish. I bake it for way longer than 15 minutes – maybe 35-40 minutes total. I like the ends to brown up and get crispy. I also mash the cauliflower pretty hard so that it’s undetectable to the naked eye. The magic of cauliflower is that it can be transformed into a texture that is almost exactly like carbs! Anything smothered in heavy cream and topped off with cheese is destined to be delicious!

c mac & cheesehttps://www.ketoconnect.net/cauliflower-mac-cheese/

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9 month update


Zoe started crawling last month! Most of the time she looks like a beached whale flailing her legs aimlessly in the air. We aren’t sure where her forward momentum comes from, but she somehow manages to drag herself from one spot to another. This also means she has started reaching for Max’s toys, which he does not care for. A few days ago she figured out how to lift up her belly when she moves. She hasn’t mastered it but we love watching her figure out new things.

If there is one thing we can say about Zoe’s personality, it’s that she knows what she doesn’t like and expresses it without hesitation. And she does not like roomba. Max learned to crawl so he could catch roomba, Zoe learned to get away.


What can we say, we love our little sleeper! Down at 6:30 pm, wakes up for a bottle around 3 a.m., is up for the day between 5:30-6:30 a.m. Even though she wakes up in the middle of the night, there are no complaints here. She takes her bottle and goes right back to sleep. It still feels like a miracle to close the door and be met with silence. Clearly we are still traumatized from the pre-sleep training days with Max!

The first time Zoe sat up on her own was at night. I’ll always remember because it was the night she almost gave me a heart attack. On that night, I walked into her room, barely awake, to her quietly sitting up facing the door starring at me. After reviewing the nest cam footage, we learned she had sat herself up then quietly reveled in her accomplishment for 30 minutes before making a sound. Looks like it’s time to lower the crib.


In other sleep news – Zoe naps on the weekends. Last week after we went to the pool, she took a 3 hour nap!

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Summer Plans and Letting Go of the Ideal

M finished year one of kindergarten about a month ago and has been home with me and A for the summer. In the meantime I’ve picked up more work as a freelance writer from home, but not enough to justify childcare (and to be honest she’d probably be enraged at me if I stuck her in daycare at this point!).

It’s been… chaos. So much chaos. I’m not sure when I actually sleep anymore, because I’m up late working and then up early with the kids. I’ve been trying to get the house to a baseline of clean so we can actually like, go outside and stay there and not touch the house and make it messy again, but I clean one room and another falls apart. If I felt like I was casing my tail before, as a WAHM with a baby who used to be content playing by himself a bit and a kindergartener, I am running in even tighter, faster circles now that he’s in a big mama phase and she’s at home!

That idea that we only get 18 summers with our kids has been ringing in my ears, of course, as I wipe the table for the fourth time in an hour, wonder if I will ever weed my garden, and reluctantly hand over the tablet while A is napping so I can retreat to my office and attempt to write. I mark my summer days by the way my garden looks, and as of right now the thistles are starting to turn purple, the sage is spilling over its boundaries and the lupines have long gone to seed. My August garden is coming in; we’re going on vacation for three weeks in August, too, and I know when we come back that will feel like the end of the season.


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The Starfish Family is Moving!

I am writing with exciting news today – the Starfish family is moving! We are leaving the city life in Chicago and hoping for a slower pace in Lexington, Kentucky. I recently received and accepted a job offer in Lexington, and with Mr. Starfish already working remotely, now feels like the perfect time to pull up our long-standing Chicago roots and replant them in horse country!

I am feeling a swirl of emotions. I am first and foremost incredibly excited to be moving to Lexington. While we don’t have any family there, I have some friends there that I’m hoping can help me to build up our network. From our visits to Lexington, it feels like such a welcoming and friendly place, and I look forward to getting to know the people and families. I’m also thrilled by the job opportunity that is bringing us there, which is pretty much my dream job at the moment. And I am so excited by the reasonable cost of living there, as well as the milder winter weather, than we are accustomed to up here in Chicago.

But speaking of Chicago, I am also filled with sadness about leaving the Windy City. I have spent nearly my entire adult life in this city, and I love the culture and restaurants and activities. I also love having two major airports close by, with nonstop flights available to practically everywhere in the world. My career network, my childcare network, and many of my friends are in Chicago. I will miss quick lunches in the loop, drinks alongside the river, and just about everything about this city’s spectacular summers.

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Feeding Our Families- Favorite Guilty Pleasures

Sometimes I just want to eat a giant bowl of ice cream, but, if I did this all the time, I would have some serious health problems. But I do believe in treating myself sometimes, and some of my favorite things are definitely not healthy. But they are delicious…

  1. Chloe’s Pops:  Ok, so these aren’t actually even that guilt inducing, but they are so delicious! They are only 60 calories and don’t have fake sugar added. I was craving a fudgecicle not too long ago and Mr. Cereal found these for me. I am hooked. There are a ton of different flavors and they are all really good!
  2. Jello Temptations Cups:  I have been hiding these in the back of my fridge for the past few months and they are awesome. I’ve mostly been sticking to the lemon meringue flavor, but the rest are great too. They are the perfect size to satisfy my craving, but they don’t cost me too many calories.
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Fostering Out of Birth Order

When Mr. Lion and I started talking about becoming a foster family, I began immersing myself in reading about the topic. There wasn’t a ton out there, but one recommendation that came up over and over was that families should really only foster or adopt children younger than any birth children in the home. Some feel this is necessary for the psychological benefit of children, so that they don’t lose their “place” in the family. Some feel this is necessary based on concerns for safety.

Mr. Lion and I considered these points, but knew that this would mean our foster journey would be years off. We had (have) a deep desire to help keep sibling groups together. It is the reason for our involvement in foster care. If we were to wait until our bio kids were old enough to foster sibling groups that are all younger than they are, it would be a very long time before we could be involved.

That’s a lot of years with an empty room, and a lot of kids that we would miss out on loving in the mean time.

So we decided not to blindly take that recommendation, but to consider what we could do to lessen any risk and still be involved while our children are young.

First, we considered whether or not having older children in our home would psychologically affect our bio kids. With them being so young (3 and 5) they haven’t spent a ton of time aware of their own birth order anyway, and they both really love older kids. While you can never really know how children will respond to a situation, we decided that the sooner we started foster care the better off our bio kids would be, because this would just be something that we do…something they have always known. Also, if you think about it, any time you add a child to a family you change the dynamic of the family. There is never really a way to predict how things will roll out. But being a foster family means being flexible, and we felt this was a worthwhile life skill for our bio children to develop.

More importantly, however, was safety. Our bio kids are young, and not quite old enough to verbalize if something is going wrong. Any time you are dealing with children who have experienced trauma, there is a risk of children working through that trauma through play with other children, or by taking out aggression on other children. While this is definitely the exception and not the norm, it was still something that it was important to me that we consider.

So we talked to everyone we could, trying to really assess the actual degree of risk. I talked to a woman I worked with who was an expert in child abuse prevention. We talked to our social workers. We read a lot about childhood trauma.

What we determined was that there were some safeguards we could establish to simultaneously protect our bio kids from potential harm, that would still allow us to care for children who are a bit older. In our state we are able to define what our capacity as a foster family includes, and at the recommendation of those we spoke with, these are the boundaries we set around our family for now, at least until we feel more confident that our bio kids are old enough to speak up for themselves and to have harder conversations with them about the life experiences of their foster siblings.

  1. Our bio kids would have their own bedrooms– It was recommended to us that foster children not share bedrooms with bio children who are younger than them. This might be different with older bio children, but because ours are so young, this is a firm boundary for now.
  2. We could not care for children who were coming into foster care due to physical or sexual abuse – While you can never fully know the extent of the experiences children have had, if there was a known history of these types of abuse we have decided that for now, this is not something we feel comfortable with. Most children come into care due to neglect/substance abuse, so we felt like we could still be open to helping many children even with this boundary in place.
  3. We will not take additional training to become a therapeutic home – Some children in foster care need a higher, more specialized, type of care due to severe trauma or very difficult behavior concerns. If it was just me and Mr. Lion, we would probably feel comfortable with this type of care, but with our littles we feel like it isn’t a good idea for now.
  4. We will enforce clothing/bathroom privacy – Before becoming a foster family our littles would often run through the house undressed to find us to help with clothes after using the potty, or would use the bathroom with the door open. Since becoming a foster family we have had a lot more discussions about privacy, about private parts, etc.
  5. Play will be supervised – While we let the kids go upstairs to the playroom alone for periods of time, they are never out of earshot. With the large age gap between our kiddos, it is important to us that we are able to hear conversations when they are all playing together. Through no fault of their own, many children in foster care have been exposed to more than they should have in their short lives, and we like to catch these types of things when they come out so we can help guide discussions about what is/is not appropriate to share with the little kids.

With these boundaries in place, we feel very comfortable taking older children into our home. Our experience so far has been wonderful, and I have never feared for our bio children’s safety. In fact, I think it has been a huge benefit to our children to have older “siblings” around. It gives me so much joy to watch the way they play together and take care of each other. The big kids can do some things that the little kids can’t do yet, and they love to help the littles. Mr. Lion and I have never questioned our decision to foster out of birth order.

Waiting for our muffins to bake

Waiting for our muffins to bake

Feeding Our Families: Easy Kid-Friendly Sushi Rolls

Last week I had gotten a wisdom tooth pulled and that made me even less motivated to cook. And when I am not motivated to spend much time in the kitchen, there is one thing I always resort to feeding the kids.  It’s the same when I go to visit some of my friends. If I go to a Korean friend’s house and there are kids that don’t seem interested in the meal, the host will often say, “Do your kids want rice and gim?”. It’s almost fail-proof and I always make sure I have a stock of them in my pantry at all times.

“Gim” (also seen written as keem or kim) is the Korean word for edible seaweed and just like sushi rolls, Koreans have a similar version called “gimbap” which is often filled with vegetables.  My kids love gimbap but it is a bit more involved to make.  The kind of rolls that I am mentioning in this post is incredibly easy to make and fun to eat for the kids.  I wouldn’t call it sushi rolls or gimbap rolls myself (I just say “rice and gim”), but for the sake of this post, I’ll  call it “easy kid-friendly sushi rolls”.


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