Thursday, February 25, 2010

Some random updates on our lives

earned enough good reports from preschool that he "won" a Wii bowling session with Daddy, which turned into a Wii bowling, golf, baseball, and tennis session. Good job, Buddy!

is borderline for needing glasses. He tested 20/30 at the pediatric opthamologist, and charmed the socks off everyone while we were there. I really wonder how he can be so darn charming sometimes and such T-R-O-U-B-L-E other times! But, given his young age, they are going to hold off for now on giving him glasses and retest him in 6 months. He will likely need glasses at some point in the next two years.

is no long afraid of toilets that we don't own. He has done his business at Grandma's, Best Buy, Kaiser, and KFC. Yay, Jack!

likes his new speech therapist and was uncharacteristically cooperative for her at their first meeting. He refuses to repeat some of the successes he had with her for me. Stubborn little cutie.

is signed up for a "getting ready for preschool" class, once per week for 6 weeks, starting in April. Apron strings are not being cut, but are perhaps stretching a bit.

occasionally sleeps in his own bed until as "late" as 5:30AM. Occasionally.

is growing and thriving perfectly. He is starting to measure about 2 weeks ahead of where an average-sized baby would be, which puts him right on track to compete with his brothers. His most likely delivery date at this point is April 13th, but we won't know until about a week beforehand.

Mommy... is growing, too. A little too much. People are beginning to seem surprised when they hear that my due date is not next week.

is a handsome and wonderful provider, husband, and father. He does it all, setting Jack up with juice and bagels when I send him down at 6:30AM so that I can laze in my bed for a while longer before getting up, spends all day at work, does dishes, trash, cleans up toys, plays with the boys, puts Alexander (and sometimes Jack) to bed, irons his clothes, packs his lunch, doesn't complain if I serve cereal for dinner (but refuses to eat fish), does grocery runs for Fritos, massages (okay, punches) the cramps out of my feet, and brings me Tums! Some days he could do ALL of those things in one day!

And how might YOU be doing?

Friday, February 19, 2010

The farmer did WHAT?!

Me (singing, probably off-key): The farmer takes a wife! The farmer takes a wife! Hi-ho...
Alexander: Mom, why does the farmer have to kidnap a wife?
Me: *laughing hysterically, unable to answer*
Alexander (singing boisterously): The farmer kidnaps a wife! The farmer kidnaps a wife!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Jack: Waaaaahhhh!
Alexander: I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to do it! I am SO sorry! It was an accident! I didn't mean to hurt you!
Me: Jack, where is your boo-boo?
Jack: Here (show me his back).
Me: *kisses boo-boo*
Jack: *cries*
Me: Do you want Xander to kiss your boo-boo, too?
Jack: Yeah.
Me: Alexander, come kiss Jack's boo-boo to make him feel better.
Alexander: *looks at red mark on Jack's back* Uh, I can't. It looks too spicy.

Monday, February 15, 2010

An Interesting Vocabulary

In order to keep tabs on Jack's progress with his speech, I thought it a good idea to see how large his vocabulary has gotten lately. I knew he was far above the 30 words he had when he started speech therapy 5 months ago. I figured he was nearing 100 words. Over the past three days or so I've been jotting down whatever words he uses, along with words that I simply know he's used before, counting only spontaneous utterances. I was surprised and pleased that his vocabulary is now well over 200 words, nearing 225. I did have to laugh at some of the words included in his 200 word vocabulary. He has a lot of the basic words you'd expect a two-year-old to know, like, "up, down, one, two, three, bye, Mama, Dada, eat..." Then he has some that are a little weird but not too shocking, like, "battery, Batman," and "knight." And then he has a few words that I wouldn't really expect from someone who only knows 200 words, like, "attack, shadow, Luigi, growing, Halloween," and "shoot." Really, should a kid who doesn't even say "hello," or "cat," or "bed," really know the word "attack?" Really???

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Not entirely true, but funny

Alexander: Daddy, you are the one who lets us do naughty stuff and Mommy is the one who says, "Aaaaah! My babies!"

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I just posted this on Facebook, but I just had to share for everyone. This is SO FREAKY to me. I just took this picture of my next-door-neighbor's house. The drifts are so high that you can only see a little bit of the top of her front door! She does have a back door, but her backyard is fenced in and the gate is almost completely buried also, so there is no way she would be able to open it. She is LITERALLY stuck in her house (apart from being able to go into her backyard or jumping out a window) until someone helps clear her out, which I've asked Justin to do. She lives alone and is in her 50s. Last snow, the whole neighborhood helped her out, including running out to pick up her prescriptions for her. We have a good neighborhood. :) I seriously cannot believe this. For contrast, I've also posted a picture of our house, which does have a large drift in front of the window. Thankfully, Justin cleared in front of the door once last night so ours didn't build up so much in front of the door.
ETA: I went a little farther away for a better shot. The house next to her's is in pretty deep, too. Ours is on the right end.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Recipe Share

Over our snowy weekend, I tried out two new recipes which turned out wonderfully! I'd like to share the recipes (which as usual are not original, just loved).

The first was unplanned. I should have thought ahead and gotten apple pie makings at the grocery store to reward Justin for his shoveling, but I didn't think of it in time. So I searched for an apple-cinnamony recipe using ingredients I had on hand. I came across this recipe for Apple Squares, which turned out absolutely delicious. Seriously, go ahead and make a double recipe. They will get eaten, I promise!

The second recipe was planned. I've been wanting a good quiche recipe, so last week I found this recipe and made sure had everything I needed. I made this last night and it was soooo good. (Unless you're a vegetarian) It has everything you'd want in a quiche: ham, bacon, spinach, and lots of cheese. In this case, I did the opposite of above and made half a recipe, because the original recipe is for two pies. It does say that it freezes well, but I wanted to make sure it was really good before I ended up with two of them! Do make sure to buy a deep dish pie crust (the kind from the frozen section), and be careful with your measurements only because the crust will be quite full. There's not much room for, "Oh, I just have a little extra ham; I'll throw it in," with this one. This is a great, hearty quiche good enough to eat for dinner on a cold, snowy day.

I'd post pictures if I'd thought of taking some before we devoured all the food.

Good eatin', y'all.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snowmageddon (Snowpocolypse II)

It started Friday around 11AM. Another record breaking snow. If you thought (and I did) that the December "Snowpocolypse" 22 inches was something to talk about, then I hope you were around to experience this one!

The snow started Friday morning and we drove home from the doctor's office through flurries. It continued through late Saturday afternoon and left us with around 30 inches of snow. According to the news report, it was the 4th biggest snow on record, and the biggest since the month and year I was born: February 1979! So I can safely say that this is the biggest snowstorm I have ever seen.
Saturday morning the snow was above our back windows and drifted halfway up our back door, which is not even level with the ground... there are three steps up to it. That drift was about 5 feet off the ground!

We weathered the storm quite well, I must say. We never lost power or had any damage to life, limb, or property (well, a few bushes aren't looking so hot and I think Justin's muscles might claim injury as well). Alexander has been out to play twice, I've been out to play once, and Justin has been out to shovel three times.
Dude, where's my car?
The weird thing about our backyard is that it creates this ultra-blizzard effect. Justin did not shovel the backyard. The snow just swirled and swirled so that in the center you could actually still see the patio and blades of grass sticking up. Around the edges, it drifted probably up to six feet at a few points! It was perfect for Alexander to play in because he could still walk easily around the middle, and then climb up the "mountains."

We did have a plow arrive around 7:30AM this morning, but it got stuck at the mouth of our court. After spinning its wheels for 5 minutes or so, it finally got loose and left us. With a five foot wall between us and clear road. Another plow arrived to the cheers of our neighbors around 3PM, but also failed to excavate our section of the road. Three households were left snowed in, ourselves in the middle. Finally the city was called and they promised to send out "something bigger, better, and faster." Around 6PM a bulldozer showed up. Yeah, baby. That truck did the job right and we're free! Of course... we don't actually plan to go anywhere tomorrow, but it's nice to know we could.

So, what are we expecting Tuesday night? I've heard another 6-12 inches of snow. Well, after 30 inches, 12 is nothing! Bring it on (says the woman who sits inside eating snacks while her husband does all the hard labor)!

Alexander turns 5!

I guess this is posted out of order, but I forgot to post pictures and a recap of Alexander's actual birthday.
A conversation from Alexander's birthday:

Me: Alexander, it's your birthday! You get to choose what we do! Do you want to go back to Chuck E Cheese? Or go to Toys R Us to get a new toy with your gift card? Or maybe the mall play area?

Alexander: No, I just want to stay home and play.

Me: Oh.... Are you sure you don't want to go to Toys R Us and pick out a new toy?

Alexander: No, I have enough toys.

Silly boy. Eventually he did decide that he would like to go to Chuck E Cheese, so we went and had a great time with it being much less crowded than it had been over the weekend.

Alexander was a lucky boy because Daddy came home early to spend some time with his birthday boy! We gave him some Star Wars figurines for his birthday, plus the Mario shirt he is wearing in the pictures.

Then Grandma and Grandpa arrived with some more cool toys and clothes and we all went to dinner at Alexander's pick: IHOP. Happy Birthday, my sweet, funny boy. There isn't a day that goes by that you don't make me smile, laugh, and want to snatch you up and give you a bear hug. Love, love, LOVE that boy!

Friday, February 5, 2010

My big guys

In "honor" of Alexander's birthday, he had his five-year well visit with his new pediatrician today. She was a great doctor and she and Alexander got along very well. He was quite talkative and charming, as he sometimes can be. He really entertained her with stories of preschool, his birthday and birthday party, and what he likes about snow, among other things. I was not surprised to find that he is developmentally on track, healthy, and growing properly. He continues to be above the 97th percentile for height and was at about the 80th percentile for weight, which is great. They also now share the Body Mass Index, and his was at the 60th percentile which is also just fine. At last year's four-year well visit, Alexander's vision and hearing tests were inconclusive because I believe he was a little confused about what we were asking of him. Today they repeated the vision test and referred us to an eye doctor. He only tested at 20/40 with both eyes open, so probably needs glasses. No surprise there, although he's a little younger than I would have expected. We'll see what the eye doctor says.

As Alexander was attempting to do the eye exam with one eye covered, Jack randomly lost his balance and fell into the corner of a wall. Given his obvious cold symptoms and apparent loss of equilibrium, the nurse's assistant became concerned that he may have an ear infection, so she swiftly made us an appointment with an available doctor who confirmed that he has a double ear infection, so we were off to the pharmacy to pick up an antibiotic. We abandoned Alexander's vision test since he had already "failed" with both eyes open. Closing one would only make it worse. Jack doesn't seem miserable and hadn't complained about his ears, so it's not too big of a deal, but we did end up at the Kaiser medical center for over an hour and a half. Thankfully the kids were wearing their pleasant pants and did not cause me too much trouble. They were rewarded with Happy Meals. :)

On an unrelated note, a woman in the waiting room of the pharmacy struck up a conversation with me, asking me if I was expecting a third boy or a girl. I answered that we would soon have another boy, and she said, "I have three boys, too. I know what that is like!" I looked at her twin daughters in confusion. She expanded, "I had three boys and was done, until I was surprised by these girls. Are you planning to have any more?" Uh... I wasn't planning on it, but you've scared me now, Lady!!

Aaaand, on another unrelated note, we are in the midst of Snowpocolypse II and are expecting 20-30" of snow by tomorrow night. Please, don't expect pictures this time. I plan to stay warm and cozy in my house. I am not sure how I will reward my husband for his shoveling efforts, but it may involve something cooked with bacon and cheese, or perhaps something apple-cinnamony.

Happy Snow, everyone!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cooking formula

It's no secret that I am still a chef-in-training. I can follow a recipe as long as it doesn't use fancy words or techniques and not explain them. My measure of a true chef is someone who can walk into any kitchen and whip something up using the knowledge they already have and the ingredients on hand. It also helps if they know the purposes of things, like baking soda or baking powder (I blindly add these things to my baking without ever knowing exactly what they're doing in there).

I do believe that one way to become a better cook is to simply follow recipes, trying many new ones. Eventually you will learn from them. I am at least at the point where I can alter and combine existing recipes. I do keep my family fed with a basically healthy and balanced diet. More and more, the dinners I make are coming from "whole" ingredients as opposed to boxes (although we definitely still use our fair share of Stauffer's, Lipton side dishes, Kraft mac-n-cheese, etc.) My pantry is better stocked with ingredients and seasonings so that, in order to make a new recipe, I actually don't have to buy the entire ingredient list at the grocery store. I remember a time, soon after Alexander was born, that my brother and his partner visited and decided to make dinner for us at our place. I had to tell them that the only spices we had were salt, pepper, and Italian Seasoning. Now, a spice rack is becoming a necessity as I am constantly annoyed while trying to sort my way through myriad seasonings to find the one I am looking for.

Over the past five years I've also found that "formulas" can be pretty helpful. For example, my dad and brother came up with this one "Protein+ carb+ veggie+ cream of something soup=casserole." So, for example, Tuna+ noodles+ peas+ cream of mushroom soup= Tuna Noodle Casserole. Or, Chicken+ Rice+ broccoli+ Cream of Broccoli Soup= "Fluffy Chicken and Rice." The possibilities are endless.

The formula that I've been using a lot lately is "Chicken breasts+ something wet+ something crunchy= good baked chicken" I thaw out some chicken breasts, dip them in something wet (milk, egg, garlic-infused olive oil, ranch dressing, cream of chicken soup) and then dip in something crunchy (Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs, crushed BBQ chips, crushed cheese crackers, crushed French's onions) and bake. So easy, so good. The kids have eaten every one of these combinations eagerly, especially when given something to dip the chicken in.

So, here is my challenge for you. No reward; it's not a contest. Just help me out, here. Share your knowledge. Do you have a great "formula" like the ones above? Or some great cooking "rule?" I'd love to benefit from your experience! THANKS!