type='text/javascript'/> A Latte Talk: August 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Next year, I'm starting in June

This past Monday morning, I sat down at my email, with my latte in hand. Little did I know I was about to open an email that would change our year. It for sure changed my week.

It was an email saying that Corene had been called off the waiting list (she started at #11) for a school that was our #1 choice of a charter school for her to attend. It's close by and a very good school. There was no way we could turn it down.

Hello, heartbeat. Hello, hyperventilation. Hello paper bag. It's 9 days before school begins and we're switching schools.

Our uniforms were already purchased (new school=different plaid, different colors)

Thankfully, the uniforms were returnable.

Our school supplies were already purchased (new teacher=different supplies)

*Note: How different would you think school supplies would be from school to school?? Answer: A LOT different. We had to return almost everything (thank goodness for Target's receipt look up with your credit card!!) and purchase completely different supplies.

But, let me just say that by August 28, 99% of the children of America had purchased their school supplies. And Target only stocks enough school supplies for 98% of the children in my area.

Which means instead of Crayola classic colored pencils, Corene is bringing NEON pencils.
Instead of PlayDoh, Corene is bringing Crayola dough.

We cheated and purchased RoseArt products where Crayola (the required brand) was out.

Kindergarten supply lists of 2008 look like the supply lists for the UofM's ART101 class. Paint and modeling clay and paint shirts and sketch pads. All with specific brands required.

After trips to Target. And Michael's. And Walgreens. And Rainbow Foods. The supply list is all crossed off. Corene was my little secretary, making sure each thing was inventoried, categorized and placed in it's proper receptacle.

I almost had her make me an Excel spreadsheet.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Kindergarten was NOT like this when we were kids.

It's intense.

And we can't. wait.

All of this craziness was 100% worth it.

I am so excited for her.

Dang it

Excuse my language. I took the most-est HI-larious video of Isaac today, from my cellphone, of course, it turned out perfectly, uploaded onto my computer fine, but none of the upload options give it good sound. It's so bad, actually, that all you can hear is the very loudest parts, and it sounds like banging. I can hear it fine on my computer. But Blogger video and YouTube both had the same problem. I even tried sending it directly from my phone to YouTube, and SAME. PROBLEM.


I wanted to post it. So. bad.

Blogging is a swirling vortex of terror in my head right now. I am going to post this ridiculous post right now and then sit down and write about something that matters.

See you in an hour or so.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We miss Nana

My August blog entries would be nowhere near complete without talking about Nana. We hosted a sweet Chinese High School student for a month while she attended summer school in St Paul. She worked her way into our hearts in a matter of minutes when she joined our family several weeks ago.

Now she's left us (sniff!), gone on to a boarding High School in a city about an hour and a half away, and our house feels so empty! We really miss her. We had so much fun talking with her and shopping with her. The girls couldn't get enough of her.

This is a picture of me, Nana, and Dawn at church:
Isn't she gorgeous?

It is absolutely amazing that in that month, I took not a single picture of Nana and my kids. Bad mama! Bad mama!! She was a natural at interacting with them, even after asserting to me that she had never been around kids before. She played with them, cuddled with them, and even joined our bedtime routine each night.

Nana, come back any time (although, I know I'm going to have to fight with Auntie Dawn over who gets you!).

The night before Nana's departure, we went out to a Chinese buffet and all of us pretty much embarrassed ourselves with the amount of food we consumed. My kids might have single-handedly caused the restaurant to rethink their 40 cents per year of age price for children at the buffet.

And is it not perfectly appropriate that Corene and Ava got these two fortunes in their fortune cookies (you figure out whose was whose):

To close, I will lavish upon you a tidbit of Chinese tradition trivia that I bet you didn't know.

One of the first nights Nana was with us, we had LeeAnn Chin for dinner (I was mortified that Nana might take one bite and declare the food completely inauthentic... to our surprise, she really liked it!).

At the end of the meal, we handed her a fortune cookie, and she said, "What's this?"

We said, "What?! It's a fortune cookie, you know, the Chinese tradition?"

"I've never heard of this. I've never seen anything like it. What's on the paper?"

"A fortune... You mean this ISN'T a Chinese tradition?"

Sure enough, it's not a Chinese tradition. They were first created in the United States about 100 years ago. Wiki asserts that"Throughout the western world, it is usually served with Chinese food in Chinese restaurants as a dessert. The cookies are little-known in mainland China or Taiwan."

Who knew.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Only so many hours...

Howdy! It's been a while since I wrote here. Time is whizzing by. I have found myself writing blog posts in my head, and have amassed so many different posts in there, I fear I will never catch up. Along with being behind on writing, I've been helplessly behind on reading the blogs I subscribe to. So if it's been eons since you received a comment from me, I'm trying to catch up. Really I am. Don't be offended.

The main thing that's been going on in my house that has been keeping me from blogging is the Olympics. I am exhausted. I drink far too much coffee these days. How many times have I mindlessly walked downstairs and sat on the couch at 9:00 and not gotten up until 11:00 or 11:30. Or 12:00. And, I can not blog and watch TV at the same time. As I have mentioned before, I am not a multitasker. One thing at a time, please.

In fact, I don't usually watch any TV at all. Often when I tell people I blog, the question I get is, "How do you have time to do that??"

My response? "I blog while everybody else in the world is watching TV."

So, it stands to reason that the Olympics would put a small halt to my blogging. Priorities. Humph.

The Olympics have affected the behavior of other people in my family, too.

We have had perpetual races going on. With pained looks on the scrunched up faces.

The floor routine:

And, she sticks it!!

The Olympics wouldn't be complete without some high bar:
This sequence got a little tricky. There ARE 2 arms and 2 legs in there:

And, we don't really know what to call this one, but it is a favorite. Ava's just a bit jealous she can't do it. "That one is so COOL!" she shouts as I'm taking this picture:

These Olympic sports occurred in an area of my house that was, until recently, non-existent. Well, it was there... as a basement with cement floor and cement block walls. Our basement now has... CARPET! And WALLS! And LIGHTS! And... centipedes. But let's not go there, shall we? Anybody know a good non-toxic way to kill centipedes without actually having to see them or touch them or scream at them?? If so, do tell.

Anyway, I digress. The Energizer bunny hubby of mine has been working on finishing our basement literally for a whole year. He took it from this:

to this:

to this!!

It's glorious and such a wonderful space for our family to relax.

Thanks for working so hard, Matt. I don't know how you do it.

OK. So the Olympics are officially over. I will be hereby re-entering the land-o-blog. See you soon.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Foody Friday - Baked yummies

Be brief, Sister Jenny, be brief.

The lowdown: leaving tomorrow (today?) to spend a day in Duluth and then a day at my college roomie's wedding in northern Minnesota.

I'm up waaaaaaaaay too late.

So, here's my lazy recipe for Blueberry Muffins from scratch.

It is SO SO very very good. I doubled it and made 12 muffins. Tasted like I bought them in a bakery.

(If I do say so myself).

Here's the link.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


The theme for this week's Foody Friday will be... Favorite Baked Goods.

Muffins, Breads, Cookies.

Come out, all of you Foody Friday Lurkers :)

Saturday, August 9, 2008


...of the greatest kind.

Yesterday morning, on the way to see the beloved Miss Jen (Corene's OT), I was trying to balance too many things. Taz, the diaper bag, a book, my purse, my coffee...

My coffee...

My coffee, that had been handed me by Mocha Man only moments before I walked out the door, that even had a wee bit of whipped cream on top. Oh, how excited I was to drink that coffee.

My coffee, that, in a terrible turn of events, slipped out of my hand and in slow motion, crashed explosively on the ground next to my car.

"Oooooooooooooohhhhh!" I exclaimed, as I stomped my foot. Giving my very best pouty face, I added the choice word, "POOP!" (That's Jennyese for swearing).

I looked up at Ava's face, poking out of the car door.

The girl's eyes were tearing up.

She looked... so. very. sad.

"Oh, Moooooommmmmmmy."

"Poop", she added, in the most pitiful, sweet, sad tone ever. Then she looked at me and matched my pouty lip.

I laughed so hard. That girl has such empathy. She was genuinely hurting for me.

She is surely the offspring of A Latte Talk, no?

And you know what? As my friend Jenna pointed out, a little empathy goes a long way. I giggled about her teary eyes all morning. I wasn't upset about the coffee at all.

I did make another latte when I got home, though.

Of course.

11 years. Unbelievable.

Eleven years ago today, we were married. I thought I knew him SO well.

I know him SO much better today.

I thought I could never love him more than I did that day.

I love him SO much better today.

I thought we had so much fun together.

We have SO much more fun together today.

11 years, baby.

So this is what it's like to be old married folk. I always thought it would be boring.

What a pleasant surprise.

Happy Anniversary, Honey!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Foody Friday - Crockpot recipes

Lasagna. Usually a time-intensive, chisel out 2 hours before dinner time to assemble and cook type meal (unless you do it ahead or freeze it).

Did you know Lasagna can be made in the crockpot? Any old recipe for lasagna works. It works best if you don't cook the noodles first, just break into pieces to fit in the crockpot.

I love this because it cooks for 4 hours, so I make it during naps/quiet time and then it's ready at dinner time.

Here's an interesting twist, which can be modified umpteen thousand ways to fit your tastes... It's delicious as is, and as well as fitting into my family's dietary requirements, it's very healthy.
This is a dairy-free version, but if I were cooking only for myself, I would use cottage cheese or ricotta, and regular mozzarella. And add parmesean. Generously. It contains a lot of spinach, so this recipe works as the entree AND the salad. :) I serve with bread and voila, it's an easy dinner.

Crockpot Spinach Lasagna

2 Tbsp. olive oil (or water)
1 onion, chopped
8oz mushrooms, *optional
2 cloves (or more) garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1 lb. spinach, fresh or frozen
1 lb. firm tofu, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 jar (26 oz) pasta sauce
1 bag (8oz) shredded soy mozzarella cheese
No boil or regular lasagna noodles

Saute onion, mushrooms*, garlic, basil, and oregano in olive oil until softened. Add frozen spinach. Simmer until mixture is heated through.

In food processor, combine tofu and parsley processing until consistency of cottage cheese.

When spinach mixture is heated through, drain excess liquid. Next, add tofu mixture to spinach mixture and stir well.

In a crock-pot, make 4-5 layers of the following:

Sauce (just enough to cover the bottom for the first layer)
Spinach/Tofu mixture
Soy Mozzarella Cheese

Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours.


Here's a link my friend Michelle sent me with some crockpot ideas. I've done the homemade yogurt recipe before, I'm inspired to do it again. Check it out...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


On the way home from a playdate yesterday, I made a trip to Trader Joe's. I bought much organic, healthy fruits, cereals, and meats. I bought sprouted grain bread. I bought mangoes and nuts and soy products.

Feeling healthy, and feeling like such a good mom who feeds her family well, I started perusing through my Blue Sky Guide, looking at coupons for the local co-ops with coupons off groceries. I looked at the coffee shops offering coupons for 50% off an organic coffee beverage.

Aahhh... I just love eating healthy.


Oops. I just dropped something on my organic coffee coupon, I better wipe it off.

What is it that I drop?

A glob of mayonnaise and ketchup.

From my McDonald's hamburger.


Do you think the frou-frou organic coffee shop will still take my coupon?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


The theme for Foody Friday this week is Crockpot meals.

See if we can be creative... We all know we can make a roast, or spaghetti sauce, or chili. But I want to hear some creative ways you use your crockpot.

Think outside the box, and join us this Friday!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

My Posse

Do you want to know one of my birthday party secrets?

Seriously, I will share the single reason that I enjoyed myself at my girls' birthday party.

Even when my husband was working all day, both the day before the party, as well as the day of.

Even when I did most of the prep, cleaned my house, shopped for the various supplies to make our crazy messy crafts, by myself.

Even when my kids were on a serious Birthday High, having had no less than 4 birthday cakes and 43 presents to open in the weeks previous.

My secret is my Posse.

Firstly, my mom. She is Captain-behind-the-scenes. She ran to Target no less than 3 times in the 24 hours before the party. She washed children's hands and feet, was cook and busser, as well as dishwasher. She was the see-what-needs-to-be-done-and-do-it Posse.

Then there was the overnight help. Auntie Dawn and Uncle Lee agreed to have the girls sleep over at their house the night before (and dealt with the sleepover blues in a certain 4-year old), took them to the beach the morning of the party, took them to lunch, played all afternoon, and delivered them home, precisely 30 minutes before the party started. When they arrived, they were clean, happy, and smiling.

And, their mother was clean (I got a shower!), happy (I had peacefully organized a party and made cakes without 2 girls with the energy of drugged puppies at my ankles all day), and smiling (I was SO glad to see them!).

And as if THAT wasn't enough, when she got to the party, she organized the painting crafts. Remember what I said about how much I don't like to plan crafts? Well, this one, I planned. I just didn't execute it. Dawn did.

Can we all just have a moment of silence for how incredibly fabulous this was.

Thank you.

And she took charge and took the messy shirts and rinsed them out and dryed them in the dryer while we were eating dinner. And... and... and...

You'll have to find your own Aunt Dawn, of course. You can't have her. She's mine.

And her husband is no slacker, either. He helped with at least 22 things as well.

Thanks so much, y'all. I don't know what I would have done without any of you. And I don't know if it would have been possible to have a better Posse.

I pretty much just bossed my Posse around all day.

Actually, that's not 100% true. Dawn did a fair amount of bossing me around, too... which I needed. She's good like that.

We'll call her Sargeant-worth-her-weight-in-gold.

After the party, as I was watching my mom finish cleaning the kitchen, turn on the dishwasher and wipe down the counter, I said, "How in the world do moms put together birthday parties like this without a Posse of people helping them?"

Dawn piped in, "They rent out a room at Chuck-E-Cheese. They do NOT do all of this."

So there's my birthday party tip of the year. If you're in the market to do a birthday party,

Git yerself a Posse.