type='text/javascript'/> A Latte Talk: 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Some help in getting out the door

For all of you who live in cold climates and who have small children, you KNOW that your time triples trying to get out the door when you go anywhere in the winter.

Put on child's coat.
Put on the gloves.
Put on the hat, while child takes the gloves off.
Put on the gloves.
Instruct child to leave gloves on.
Put on your own coat, while child takes the hat off.
Put on the hat.
Instruct child to leave hat on.
Put on your own mittens and scarf, while staypuff marshmallow man child has fallen on the floor and can't get up.
Get child up off the floor, and start to head out the door.
As you are walking out the door, you realize your child doesn't have shoes on.
Put down all of your things and put child's shoes on.
Head back out the door.
Child says, "Mommy, I'm poopy!"
Mommy has a meltdown.
The End.

Really, this is at times such a trying experience~ and can add SO much time to the morning!

So. I have a tip. I got it from my fabulous mom, which is kind of ironic because she raised her children in the US Virgin Islands and San Diego, CA, where I'm pretty sure she had no need for the tip.

The tip changed my life. (Relatively speaking...)

Teach your 2-year old to get his coat on by himself. You still have to zip it for him, unless he's a fine-motor skill developmental wonder...

First, put the coat out on the floor with the arms out and the front open a little.
Have your child stand on the hood side (this seems counter-intuitive, but trust me...)
Teach child to put his/her hands in the arm holes and flip the coat over the head.
Voila, the coat is on!


video

This might not seem like an important revelation, but think of all the things you can do while your child is getting on his own coat! And, it teaches self-discipline.

2-year olds LOVE to do things by themselves. Win-win, I say!

Hope it helps you!

Oh, and if you haven't already been able to tell, I'm ALL for kids doing things themselves as early as they can, which is why I was positively GLEEFUL to discover the coat thing.

This sometimes backfires on me, though:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Some recipe love

Fall in Minnesota. I love the 48 hours of fall we get here. This year especially, it seems like the leaves changed colors, and then 2 days later, a hefty wind came and whipped the leaves off in a matter of hours and now it's brown. The good news is the wind came and whipped the leaves out of my YARD, so it looks like there will be no yard work!

I woke up yesterday on pumpkin day and had a hankering for some pumpkin bread of some kind to munch on with my latte, and I was so pleased with the results, I'm going to share! Plenty more "pumkin-ish" days ahead to try this one out!


Pumpkin Scones (adapted from this recipe)


Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1T plus 1t baking powder
1 1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t ground ginger
3 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t ground cloves
1 t salt (decrease if you use salted butter)
1/2 cup butter, cold
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 c chopped nuts (I used candied walnuts, but plain wlanuts or pecans would be good too)
3 T white sugar
1 t ground cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and brown sugar.
Cut in butter using a pastry tool, until butter is pea size.
Mix in nuts.
In a small bowl, beat eggs and mix in pumpkin, then add them to the dry ingredients.
Just before the mixture is completely combined (should still be a little crumbly), plop it all onto a cutting board, pressing it to about a 9" circle.
Cut into wedges. Mix white sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top of scones.
Bake for 11-13 minutes until tops are golden brown.

Yummy. We had some left so I froze them, but I think I'm going to go get them out and eat them tomorrow!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Here's some video love

Speaking of boys, here's a video of Isaac this past summer on his favorite method of transportation around the neighborhood, the scooter.

I think I'm scared that he's doing this at 2.


video

Friday, October 23, 2009

Unexpected blessings

Surprises are the best, aren't they? For me, they're always so much better than experiencing something I've been anticipating, something I'm expecting to be amazing.

Such as, Grass is Always Greener on the OTHER Side Syndrome (Hereafter referred to as GAGOSS).

Before I had kids, I worked as a teacher in a local school district. I would leave at a little before 7:00am and drive a little way to work. I always saw cute moms with their cute little jogging strollers and their cute little athletic wear and their cute little bums running with their cute little babies.

At 7:00 in the morning.

And, in my cute little GAGOSS mind, I would think "Ohhhhhh, I just WISH I could be a mom so that I could jog with my baby!" And I would imagine that woman going home to her Pottery Barn house, taking a long sudsy shower with the scent of Clinique Happy bubbling all around her. (HARDEEHAR HAR!!!)

Oh, what a life that would be! And all I need... is a BABY!

GAGOSS.

Ask me if I EVER got up at 6:30 to take a baby on a jog? No, ma'am. I did jog occasionally with 2 kids in a double jogging stroller for a short stint during which I was training to run a half marathon.

But, y'all. It was not a pretty sight. I had no cute little athletic nothin'. I was wincing and sweating, huffing and puffing. Clinique Happy was nowhere to be found.

GAGOSS let me down. In a very big way.

Surprises are way better. When you think something will be a certain way, and it's so much better than you expected. Or if something just hits you as amazing that you never expected at all.

That's sweetness.

In no particular order, like...

Sweet sibling moments.

Timers on cameras

Big stairs. Little kids.

Rock skipping lessons

School Uniform cuteness. And little brother excitement. (Thinking he was actually going to stay at school that day! oops...)

"What??!! Snow in early October?!"

Yes, even the earliest snow in 24 years had its sweetness, too...

Faces


A homemade latte while camping.
Not in the least bit unexpected, and uber-anticipated, but oh-so-sweet!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Boys vs. Girls

I'll never forget something my friend Kimmy said to me as she watched me in the hallway at MOPS one morning - I was with my two (at the moment) demure, shy girls, probably around age 2 and 4. They were quietly holding my hands, waiting for me to finish my conversation with someone before we went to their classes.

Kimmy's son had just kareened down the hallway making racing sounds worthy of a NASCAR track, turned the corner and disappeared out of sight. We could just make out his distant screeching and crashing sounds when she said to me, "Jenny, miss mother of quiet, sweet girls, I just can't WAIT until you have a BOY!"

We all laughed and I knew she was right. A boy would totally rock my world.

But, I didn't know how MUCH a boy would rock my world. I knew he'd be different, I just didn't GET it, you know? I guess not until you live with it 24/7 can you fully understand the difference.

I get it now. OK?! OK, Kimmy? I GET IT.

As a toddler/preschooler, Corene was told something one time and she never repeated it. Sometimes all it took was a stern look and she would burst into tears, never to repeat the dreaded sin.

Ava was "fiestier", I had to tell her something at least 3 times, because she's just more of a tester.

"Do you REALLY mean it, Mom? Let's try it again and see what she does..." was what she did on a regular basis. But, then she'd usually figure out that I really meant it, and she knew what her expectations were.

Taz now. He's hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. He does some testing as well, of course, but that's not the heart of it. The thing with him is that he just DOESN'T GET IT. Here's how it goes:

Something looks fun.
(notice there's no step here about THINKING ABOUT IT)
Fun thing is implemented.
Mother is not happy.
Mother tells Taz if he does it again, there will be a consequence.
Taz acknowleges the instruction.

Something looks fun, and there is vague recollection that it was INDEED fun.
(thinking? nah...)
Fun thing is implemented.
Mother is NOT happy.
Consequence is implemented.
Taz says he won't do it again.

Something looks fun.
Fun thing is implemented.
etc.
etc.

He reminds me of Dory, from "Finding Nemo", the sweet blue fish who suffered from "short term memory loss". Oh mothers of boys, tell me these quotes don't ring a bell for you:

Dory: "Wait! Something tells me we should go through the trench, not over it."
Marlin: "Bad trench! Saaaay... hey look, Dory! Something shiny! I think it went up there, over the trench!"
Dory: "Oh, really? WHERE? LET'S GO!"

or this one:

Marlin: "Here are the rules, these are very important: You can bounce on the tops, but DON'T TOUCH the tentacles!"
Dory: "Okaaaay, something about tentacles! READY, SET, GO!!"

Have you ever heard about the testosterone wash that unborn baby boys receive at some point in their development that actually severs some of the connections between the right brain and the left brain? Here's a tidbit:
The corpus callosum is the largest structure connecting the right and left sides of brain. This pipeline of more than 300 million fibers functions like a powerful, lightening fast, monster cable that enables both sides of the brain to communicate with each other and process for each other.
The gush of testosterone actually causes sections of the corpus callosum to decrease
in size by dissolving portions of the connection or by decreasing the growth of the
nerves.

From His Brain, Her Brain by Walter Larimore, MD
I find this absolutely hilarious in parenting this "other sex", as well as, quite frankly, very helpful in my own understanding of him and how he ticks.

Now I understand why he just delves into something he's been told multiple times before not to do. He's "acting", not "processing".

Here's another amazing fact from Dr. Larimore's article:
Male brains contain about 6.5 times more gray matter — the “thinking matter”. Female brains have more than 9.5 times as much white matter — the “processing" matter.
I don't know why this surprises me, it's so obvious that men as a whole are very different than women as a whole... but it's just fascinating to hear part of why.

It's amazing, the way God made us. It causes me to be all the more in awe of our Sovereign creator who designed men and women, boys and girls, so different and so complementary.

And it makes me giggle.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Moving along...

So, now that I have officially fallen off the blog wagon, I have a dilemma. Do I try to do a quick recap of the past several months or do I just move on as if I've been blogging all along?

I could do a highly caffeinated recap of the summer, all the birthdays, the homecoming of our niece Olivia (who's not really our niece, she's our cousin, but that's a whole 'nother story), our vacations, the start of school, etc.

I have had a resolution of sorts to begin blogging more regularly again now that school has started.

But, honestly, a recap overwhelms the pants off of me. So I think I'll just pretend y'all are caught up, and maybe I'll get around to talking about the summer sometime in the dead of winter when I have nothing to talk about.

SCHOOL! It is in full swing now. We love our school. Really, I couldn't be happier there, and my girls are thriving on the structure school provides. The structure that I have so failed at implementing in my home. I try, mind you... but, alas, I fail.

I am a free spirit... to me, the best days are those where you don't know what your schedule will be until after it's already done.

My Ava is similarly wired, I think. She NEVER asks what we're doing today, she NEVER needs a plan. When she's in her PJ's and I say, "Ava, let's go to the park!" She can jump up and be ready to go in a heartbeat.

Corene, as you might imagine is not wired that way. On Wednesday she asks "What are we doing on Saturday?" She's wired more like her father. "Mom, can I have a Google calendar, too? I want to write down everything I need to do so I can look at the month and know what I'm going to do."

"You're SEVEN! You do NOT need a Google calendar!!"

But she does need structure. She thrives on lists and charts. At any given time, you can find lists scattered about our house, on scraps of paper, of various things. Ideas for where to go on her date with Daddy. Possible games to play with the neighbors when they come home. Name ideas for her newest stuffed animal recently acquired from a garage sale.

OK, so school. Pictures to come. Is there anything so cute as kids in school uniforms?

If you want a sneak peek, check out this post of my friend Jenna's with some pics of Corene on her first day (the Kindergartners started 2 days later, so Ava's first day pics are coming)

Ta-ta!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

We LOVE Olivia

And, apparently, the feeling is mutual:


More later.

(Promise)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Summertime, Summertime, Sum, Sum, Summertime...

I heart summer. We only get like 2 weeks of it here in Minnesnowta, so we enjoy it thouroughly!

I'm joking, I'm joking. 2 months.

When I first moved here from San Diego, I remember a friend saying to me, "Wanna go to the beach?"

I thought she was kidding. "Yeah, which coast should we go to? West Coast or East? Ha HA!"

She was confused. "No I mean to Lake Johanna to swim!"

I laughed hysterically. "Whatever. THAT little sad stretch of fake sand is NOT a beach! That's a lake. " I laughed for days about the fact that poooooooor Minnesotans didn't even know what a beach was.

Fast forward to um, today.

Corene: We're going to the BEACH! The BEACH! I'm so excited we're going to the BEACH!!!"

Pride swallowed. My own children don't know what a REAL beach is. Ahem.

BUT, I've also learned how utterly AWESOME the not-real beach can be!

My friend Sarah and her little girl Elle joined us at the beach today.

The only real tragedy of the day was my own mommy gag reflex.

It involves the bathroom.

Obviously. Because we all know how clean and sanitary beach bathrooms are.

So, I'm holding the stall doors shut for the girls because *of course* all the locks are broken. They are in seperate, but adjacent stalls. I hear Corene say, "Cool! That's cool! You should show Mommy!"

I didn't stop to think about it. They stepped out and I stepped in.

As I'm using the restroom, I hear them talking. "Wow!" "It goes in and out!" "That's neat!" "Show Mommy!"

I still wasn't even the least bit curious.

Until I stepped out of the stall, when Ava ran up to me and pushed her new found treasure into my face.

A pretty, pink, shiny, tamp*n applicator. An empty one, to be exact.

3 gags, 4 gags, more and more gags. Mommy had twenty-four gags.

After I freaked right out of my skin and yelled at her to "DROP IT, DROP IT!", I promptly scrubbed her hands at that beach sink that HAD ACTUAL REAL SOAP, which I am completely certain was placed there by God just for me.

We had ourselves a nice little talk about touching things in bathrooms, even things that are pretty and pink and slide in and out.

Moving along.

We had a really fabulous time. Summer, friendship, water, good food, children, hand soap....

I've had some of those "time standing still" moments this summer, you know, the kind where you snap a picture in your mind and you just know you will some day (sooner than we think) think, "those were the days!"

I snapped some pictures in my mind of the kids playing in the sand and water together.

I mentally recorded the sounds of them laughing.

I dug my feet into the sand and willed myself to remember these precious days.










Sunday, June 21, 2009

I'm thinking about...

...how I CAN NOT believe it's been a month since I've updated this blog. A MONTH!!!

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...dads: What an incredible relationship a Father/child relationship is. How it absolutely shapes the outlook of the child. Both positively, negatively, and neutrally. And, how no matter WHAT that father daughter relationship looks like, our heavenly father is the one who truly shapes us. And how I want to be the potter's clay in my Heavenly Father's hands.

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...my dad. I'm thankful for the relationship we have today. I'm thankful for his love. He's a pretty cool dude. :)

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...the father of my children - how wonderful he is and how thankful I am for him. Could I pick a better dad for the kids we've been given? Not a chance.

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...something that happened to us this weekend:

On Friday I stopped by Walgreens to get something, and as we drove up, I said to Ava, "Let's get a movie from the RedBox! Wouldn't that be fun to have a movie night? It's only a dollar!".

30 seconds later, as we got out of the car, an older woman walked up to us and said, "Any chance you could spare a dollar? I'm having a bad day."

Ordinarily I don't give people money. Sometimes I buy food or whatever for them. But generally not just cash. But, you know, the timing of this was just impeccable given my previous comment "It's ONLY a dollar!". So I smiled and dug our RedBox dollar out of my wallet and gave it to the lady and said, "May God bless you, Ma'am." She said sincerely back to me, "THANK YOU. I pray you get that money back."

Now, I HAD other dollars in my wallet, but I just felt like THAT dollar was our RedBox dollar. So I told Ava that the lady needed the dollar more than we needed the movie, so we would just watch a movie that we already had at home.

I thought THAT was the end of the story.

Today, I got a kind of random email with a link to a RedBox survey. (I'm on so many junk mailing lists, you never know what might show up in my inbox). The instructions were that if you take a short (10 question) survey, you would get a promo code for a FREE Movie rental!

How cool is that?!!

I know, it's SO small. One little dollar. Silly almost.

But for me? I cried!

God cares about every. little. silly. thing. That woman said (and I QUOTE) "I will PRAY that you get that money BACK." She didn't know we were planning on getting a movie.

But God did!!

Teehee!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cheap, healthy, yummy,easy, fabulous meal. With a side of Taz.

I guess I'm getting back into cooking. Summertime - grilling, fresh produce, all of that just wakes up my tastebuds.

So, I'm sharing one of my "repeatable" meals that I am really excited about.

Step 1. Start with this refried bean recipe. It is WAY cheap AND easy AND healthy AND yummy. All of which are excellent reasons to make it.

Disclaimer: If you make the recipe, please do not put in 5 tsp of salt, as the recipe states. Then you will proclaim them a disaster and never come back to A Latte Talk for recipes again. I would say half that amount of salt would be plenty. Maybe 3 tsp.

Step 2. Make Bean Burritos from them. Doesn't get much more basic than that. Hardly even a recipe, really. Take a tortilla, glop some beans on, sprinkle with cheese, wrap up. Voila.

You can buy 2 pounds of pinto beans (2x as much as you need for the recipe) at Aldi for 1.29. Just one of these recipes stretches over several meals, even for a family. The beans also freeze great, OR my favorite thing to do is take the leftovers, make more burritos with them, and individually wrap each burrito in tinfoil (if you like to reheat in the oven) or saran-wrap (if you like to reheat in the microwave). Then you can take them out later and just reheat and serve!

The last time I made these, I made mango salsa to go with them. Here's my recipe:

1-2 mangos, diced
6 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
purple onion (to taste - I love it, so I put a lot), diced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional - we usually skip)
lots of cilantro
lime juice (about 1/4 of a lime)
salt to taste

As I was finishing up the burritos, Taz snuck in the kitchen and proclaimed the salsa to be edible.


BUSTED!!!


Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.........


Delicious!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

They got their referral! They got their referral!


She's gorgeous! She's beautiful! She's loved and adored! Matt's Aunt Dawn and Uncle Lee are the amazingly blessed PARENTS of little Olivia Xiu Di Shelton!!!! They will travel in 6-8 weeks to China to get her and bring her HOME.

I'm SO excited to be this little girl's Auntie Jenny!! (I know, I know, she's technically my cousin. But officially, I will be Aunt Jenny! WAAAAAHHHHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

YAAAAAAAAY! YIPPPPPPPEEEEEEEEEEEE!

I'm soooooooo excited. Can you tell? More than 3 years into a 6-8 month projected wait, they're (WE'RE) EXCIIIIIIIITED!

YEEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAAAW!!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Beware

Beware... if your recently* unsupervised very small child walks up to you and says,

"Mommy, I HELPED you!"

*Do not ignore this warning if you feel that the amount of unsupervised time was minimal. Many big things can happen in a very short period of time, especially when very small children are, well... unsupervised.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Undy 500


A new branch of the Flip Flop Fleet, the Skivvy Divvy, is sending underthings (tops and bottoms) to the poorest of countries. Think about it. Every woman has items in her drawers that have been barely worn, that don't fit right, whatever.

The Skivvy Divvy is doing a drive to collect 500 Skivvies in 2 weeks, aptly named the Undy 500. Check it out here!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Evidences of the Funny Farm

It's true. The Latte Talk family is one kooky bunch.

Especially recently.


For instance,

Tonight, our dinner was:

-Hot chocolate
-Popcorn
-Scrambled eggs
-Carrot sticks
-String cheese

Well balanced, mostly healthy. Fun to eat. Just a little kooky. A winner in my book.

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One day, while I was buckling Isaac into his carseat, He started saying, "Mommy!" and laughing. "Moooommmmmmmmy!!!!!" And laughing some more. I finally looked in his face and he looked different. And then I looked at his body, and I realized...

..."he" was AVA.

I was buckling Ava into Isaac's car seat.

Aye de mi.

I did laugh, hard, for at LEAST 10 minutes straight. Like, snorting and all.

I must have needed the stress release.

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And, in no particular order, for your reading enjoyment, a smattering of kooky-funny-embarrassing quotes from the Latte children from recent days:

While I was watching a video of Matt Logelin, the girls came in the room.

Ava: Who is that man, Mommy?

Me: He is a man who has a blog.

Corene: I didn't know that mans could have blogs!

Ava: Yeah! I didn't think mans were allowed to have blogs!

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Corene: Isaac! You used to be in Mommy's tummy! Did you know that??!!

Isaac: Oooooooooh!!! Yeeeeeeaaaaaaah!! In Mommy's tummy! Like poopy!

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Daddy was out of town, and we'd been Skype-ing regularly...

Me: Where's Daddy right now, Isaac?

Isaac: In the computer!

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Prepare yourself. I almost didn't post this one.

(while helping me do laundry)

Corene: Mom, WHY do you have a sling-shot in your underwear drawer?

Ahem.

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Aaaaaaaaaand, CUT!

That's a wrap.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Marriage Tips #1 and #2

1a) Speak respectfully to him ALWAYS.
1b)Apologize for your sharp tongue when you don't. Even if you think he's in the wrong, and if the words you said with a sharp tongue were the truth.
Basic, very important Tip. Harder to implement than expected, especially sub-Tip 1b.
*This Tip applies to mothering as well. Ain't that handy.

2) Believe he is FOR you, not against you. Get that in your head. Whatever your selfish little mind is telling you about his intentions, they are wrong. He's FOR you.

It's easy to assume everyone's against you, especially when, well, you know, you have a little bit of hormonal turmoil going on approximately 25% of the time. Or more often.

Sometimes I just HATE the emotions that go along with being a woman. Even when they're ridiculous when you look at them from the outside. When you're in them, emotions can be everything.

And I'm coping. Right here. On this public blog page.

He (my amazing, patient, hard-working, massively handsome husband) is FOR me. And, vastly more important, HE (the Sovereign Creator of this here UNIVERSE) is FOR ME. So, who can be against me?

This has been a public service announcement. And a counseling session.

Thank you very much.

How much do I owe you?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

We Love You, Daddy, oh yes we do...

Have you heard that song? From the musical Bye Bye Birdie? Come on, theater junkies! Tell me you have heard it! Only it's Conrad they miss, not Daddy. Small but important change in the lyrics. -

...we love you Daddy, and we'll be true...
...when you're not near us, we're blue...
...oh, Daddy, we love you...

We've had some weeks this spring with Daddy away. They went something like this...

First week: Daddy Leaves, mommy skips happily to her list of to-do's, and starts to manically check them off one by one. Daddy comes home on day 7 and the house is spotless, the kids are happy.

Mommy thinks, "I can't wait for the next one!".

Daddy thinks "My wife is a ROCK star!"

OK, he probably didn't really think that. Maybe it was more cave-man like: "Yah. Me Wife she gooooooooood."

Second week away, approximately one month later: Mommy enters the week crabby, with a chip on her shoulder. Mommy has at least one episode of yelling each day that requires an apology to each and every child in her home, and goes to bed early every night to try and cope. She leaves the dishes in the sink and the dirt on the floor. Daddy comes home to a Mommy running out the door to him and sobbing on his shoulder like a crazy woman, and a home that looked like a frat house that had a party the night before.

Except they served white grape juice.

And PB & J sandwiches.

And cheerios.

And Mac n Cheese.

One month later. Third week away: The night before the exodus, the children are all sobbing. Mommy is thinking in her very astute mind that this may not be a good sign. Middle child cries self to sleep. Mommy is tempted to follow suit.

The goodbyes:


The rest of the story is about grace. Abundant grace. Grace in my anger. Grace in my sin. Grace in my children's longings. Grace in my child's awareness of her need for grace. Grace in beautiful laughter and tears. Grace in silly "picnic" meals on the living room floor. Grace in pizza. His grace is woven throughout my days.

What a difference it makes when I ask for grace at each breath. And then thank God for His grace at each exhale. If that doesn't cure you of a sour attitude, I don't know WHAT does.

Trust me. I have lots of experience with sour attitudes.

And God has lots of experience with all-sufficient grace.

Full story TBD. It's looking up.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Must. Share.

My new favorite recipe.

Grilled Thai Chicken with Peanutty Noodles (how's that for a title??)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup chicken broth or water
1 inch fresh ginger root, grated
3T peanut butter
1T honey
3T soy sauce
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 lb thin spagetti (another authentic asian noodle would probably be better, but I always use spaghetti)
2 large chicken breasts (marinated in soy sauce, olive oil, rice vinegar, and garlic powder)
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned
1 large red pepper, sliced thinly
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
2-4 green onions, cut on bias
1/2 cup peanuts


1)combine first 6 ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer until slightly thickened and peanut butter melts (will still look thin)
2)meanwhile, prep the veggies
3)grill marinated chicken breasts on preheated grill until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle; slice.
4)while chicken is cooking, cook noodles in boiling water until tender; drain and toss with peanut butter sauce.

Arrange peanutty noodles on large serving platter, top with chicken slices. Arrange cucumber, red pepper, cilantro, onions, and peanuts on top and serve!

It's beautiful and so very yummy.

Friday, April 3, 2009

You've come a long way, baby

Jumping in the pool can be a scary thing to do. Some of us prefer two feet planted firmly on solid ground, thankyouverymuch.

But a few days of spending more time in the water than we did on land produced some desired results.

Day 2 - "I want to jump in. I really do. Mommy said I'd get some candy if I did. I really really want that candy. Yes I do. I. want. to. jump. in.
but.
I. can't.
do. it."

a.k.a. "Torture"
video

Day 4 -

video

WOOHOO!!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cheapest Vacation EVER

We are currently enjoying the cheapest vacation ever. Seriously.

It's Spring Break for Corene. Hubs has a gig in Sioux Falls this whole week (nice timing, thank you Lord!), which pays for his hotel, a daily per diem for food, and even gas money/mileage for the trip. So we tagged along, pretty much for free.

I figure that if we were home, I'd be buying groceries, right? Breakfast is provided at the hotel. Since we have a fridge in our room, we decided to do one meal a day in our room(PB&J all the way...).

We are ALMOST staying within his per diem each day, even for a family of 5. Woohoo.

The thing that's putting us over the top of the budget is our occasional ok daily morning coffee shop splurge. We considered bringing our espresso machine with us but figured that would be a little bit much. Ahem.

The totally sweet part about having a symphony gig out of town is that the rehearsals are in the evening, the performances are in the evening, and the days are... free!! Woohoo.

You might be thinking: Sioux Falls is not exactly a huge vacation destination, and not even any warmer than home.

So, what are we doing? One word: swimming. A pool was my only requirement for hotel. So far, we have been the only people swimming the entire time we were in the pool area (which was, um, like, the whole day yesterday).

Other highlights: TV (we don't have cable at home, and don't watch much at all). We're getting our fill for the year while we're here!!

I am going to take a risk of looking like a total wierdo here, but how cool is the Antiques Road Show? I know it's like a PBS show, I know we get it on our TV at home, haha... no wisecracks, please! But how cool is it to watch someone bring in a family heirloom diamond necklace that was appraised for $10,000 and be told that it's conservatively worth $250,000??!!!! That's my kind of reality TV show.

I know. What a dork.

Moving right along...

Wrapping it up with the quote of the week, (so far) - probably the most complex sentence ever spoken by Isaac:

Are you ready for it?

"Isaac tooted in Sioux Falls yesterday"

That, Mr. Taz, is what we call TMI.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Anybody else?

Does anybody else get the major spring-cleaning bug when you're going out of town?

This used to cause serious consternation in Mocha Man. I can remember really kind of fighting about it back in our younger days...

"Why should we clean like crazy and stress ourselves out when we're LEAVING??"

I don't know why. I just know I HAVE to do it or else I will implode.

He doesn't ask anymore.

He actually even pretends that he understands!

And he HELPS!

Anybody else get the deep-cleaning bug before a vacation?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Unsupervised Children

Corene: (calling) MOOOOOOOOOMMMM! Where are you?

Me: In the basement!

Corene: (coming down the stairs) Isaac is... (pause) He got a stick.

Me: (getting up) And?

Corene: He put it in the peanut butter, and was licking it off.

Me: Where did he get the peanut butter? Who took it out?

Corene: You left it out on the table.

Me: (oops)

Me: (calling) Isaac!

Isaac: ... Whught?

(mouth full of peanut butter, hands full of peanut butter, face FULL of peanut butter, table full of peanut butter... why didn't I get a picture- FULL of peanut butter? Sorry to all the peanut moms out there... I know you are probably breaking out in a cold sweat right about now!)

Me: Where did you get the stick?

Isaac: Outside-in-ot-a-tick. (Outside and got a stick)

_____________________________________________________________________

Nice.

Without me knowing, my silent-while-destructive son went OUTSIDE, got a stick, brought it inside, and was using it as a utensil to devour a tub of peanut butter.

Excuse me, I need to go pluck a few gray hairs.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Lottery

I have roughly 11,000 posts swirling in my head these days, with seemingly only 30 seconds of energy to ever devote to this poor neglected blog.

Confession: I've realized that I have kind of a perfectionism in my writing which keeps me from posting anything unless I can "craft" it to be good writing (Nothing like a trained writer, of course, ha ha, but at least thoughtfully written). And, though I have the time to sit and jot short notes down, I just never hit "Publish Post" because I've not read and reread my words enough to change it into something that I would consider "well-written".

So, the blog goes un-updated. Sigh. I really do miss it. I miss writing.

Anyhow, I'm not letting this hurried post stop me from hitting "Publish Post" to share with you this little gem of a Bible verse.

Many of my friends have been waiting in Charter School lotteries... If you're not familiar with the process, your child's name goes into a hat with 300 other applicants who want to go to that school, and the names are drawn randomly for the 22 slots available. Then they draw each name in order for the waiting list. You wait for months to get "that letter" that says what number your child's name was drawn as. You pray that it NOT be #300. This month has been the month most schools have sent out their lottery results.

It's totally random.

Right?

Proverbs 16:33 - The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.


Maybe not so random, after all... Muwahahaha.

Somebody is behind it all. And He loves you and knows what you need. (Luke 12:22-34)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Priceless

Scene: In my Ebay work room, while I'm photographing a tank and shirt that might just win the "most hideous" award for something we've sold (and, let me tell you, that's sayin' something! Cuteness is NOT a requirement for what I sell on Ebay).

Ava: Ooooooooooooooh. Mooooooooommmmmmmmy. That shirt is SOOOOOOO beautiful! Can I touch it?

Me: Sure, you can touch it, careful!

(Ava touches material)

Ava: OOOOOOOOOOHHHH! It's sooooo soft, and the flowers on it look like raindrops! Oh, mommy, I wish I had a shirt like that!

Me: Do, you, really?

Ava: But YOU could wear it, mommy! Oh, mommy, you should wear it!!

Me: (laughing) It's not my size. It's way too big for me!

Ava: That's ok, you could wear it like a short little dress, with tight pants, like tights that are pants, you know? It would be sooo fancy!

Me: Yeah, I know what you mean. I don't think that would look very good, though.

Ava: WHY NOT???? (Donning her Fancy Nancy pose, head cocked, hip out, fingers splayed)
I think it would look lovely!

Me: (Laughing)

Props: Shirt pictured below, best described as part house coat, part bowling shirt, best suited to be worn by a woman in curlers sporting a ciggy.



Sometimes I can not even believe these things sell on Ebay in 2009.

Cost to buy ugly shirt: $3.oo

Sold on ebay for : $24.10

Chance to have above conversations and laughter that ensued:

Priceless



Thursday, February 26, 2009

5 random things I learned today...

*If you take out a container of breadcrumbs to make meatballs, and think "I've had these for a long time", and if you look on the bottom and notice the expiration date is April '07, then you should NOT open the container and look in it. Don't do it. Trust me on this one.

*You can make violins and guitars out of legos.

Yes, that is a pair of tights on her head. Haven't you heard? It's the newest rage.

*Chiropractors are my friend.

*Homemade spaghetti and meatballs (minus the breadcrumbs) taste really good with hot cocoa, especially when it's a winter wonderland outside.


*Having a fire in the fireplace and a postcard-worthy picture out my window makes me a very unproductive homemaker, but a productive blogger.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pretty Spicy

Goodbye ugly spices, hello pretty spices.

It was so simple, I can't believe I didn't do it sooner. My IKEA love friend, Charlene (who has no blog to hyperlink to...yet...) told me of a simple Target item (sorry, IKEA) that helped me organize those spices.

This seems like such a BASIC place to organize, like most people have already figured out how to organize their spices. I had them in little trays that I would slide out and look through... but my spice collection grew to overflowing, and that method didn't work anymore. Look at the ridiculous amount of spices here:

I did a little bit of purging, a little bit of consolidation (I had 3 garlic salts, 2 basils, 2 oreganos - disorganization is a money waster, too...), add an ingenous stairstep spice organizer, and voila!

Pretty Spices!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pee your pants funny...

I'm afraid to say that any one of these could have been ME!! :oP Except for the gas gal. That's just missing some common sense, y'all.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It's warm! It's warm! Oh wait. It WAS warm.

I don't even know how warm it was yesterday and today. Somewheres around 45 degrees. Warm enough to shed the jackets, and even shed the sweaters for a moment. There is but one word to describe such a condition:

Glorious.

Part of it is just breathing air that isn't either:

a)outside air that freezes the lining of your nostrils, or

b)recycled inside air that you have been exhaling and then breathing in for approximately 3 months.

Part of it is taking a walk and letting the kids splash in puddles and run around. Yes, running full speed on the melting ice, which happens to include slipping and doing full-blown belly flops or butt-plops on the ice... multiple times. (That's what we call deep sensory input, baby. It's all good)

It's all-around a God-ordained, beautiful, needed, right-about-when-I-thought-I-would-die-from-the-cold, breath of fresh air.

But.

This afternoon, Ava sang on the way to the car, "It's SPRIIIING!!!"

It's February 1. Tomorrow it's cold again. Not Spring.

Not. Spring.

And herein lies the Minnesota conundrum. We love days like this, but it makes us want things that are, um... like...

4 months away.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

So. Inspired.

I love to be organized.

Stop laughing.

If you saw my house at the present moment, and I mean REALLY see my house, like looking in closets and drawers and storage rooms, you would have a very different opinion about my organization. I'm well below average in behind-closed-doors-home-organization.

The mantra "everything in its place" doesn't exactly work when, um, there isn't a place for everything.

A few years back, for our anniversary, Matt and I had a little bit of discretionary money to spend and a grandma to take our kids for the weekend. We had 2 choices of how to spend it: a night away at a B&B, a nice dinner, maybe a show or concert. OR, a trip to IKEA, dinner in the IKEA cafeteria (oooh, so romantic!), a host of organizational supplies, and a WHOLE DAY to ourselves, organizing our house.

Which did we choose? IKEA, of course. It was SO awesome, we had a ball, really, it was super fun, and my inner nesting need was satisfied. An added bonus? My house was 400% cleaner day-to-day after that weekend of organizing.

So it might sound like I have a nicely organized house after that IKEA trip, right?? Well, except that... we moved. We live in a new house, and I have many many areas in my house that are in need of some IKEA love.

I went to IKEA on Friday with a friend. You just never know what a whim trip to IKEA may do. In my quick tour of the first floor of IKEA, I got majorly inspired. I decided I am going to organize my:

pantry
spices
linen closet
music studio space
girls' closet/playroom/toys (read: PURGE)
my desk
storage closet (out of season clothes)
snacks (I'll explain later)

So my first organizing adventure was to mount a coat rack on the wall at child level in our entry room. This way, when I say "please put your coat away", there is actually a PLACE to put it that they can reach.

Here's a picture of the space:

We need to get some seating for out here, it's too cold in the winter to really enjoy, but it's an awesome morning coffee room in the spring/summer/fall.

Will you join me for an IKEA adventure through my home this spring? It will probably take me all spring, but I'm determined to tackle my trouble spots one at a time.

Friday, January 9, 2009

I AM SO MAD I COULD SPIT

**Edited to add: A fabulous commenter, Janelle, left me this link to clarify the new rules. Thanks, Janelle! Makes me chuckle that they "clarify" it now that everyone's mad, but didn't clarify to the LA Times and all the AP reporters who reported it before... maybe they are "clari-change-ifying" it. Haha. But I'm leaving the post up so everyone's informed. :) Here's the original post:

I'll try not to spit AT you sweet readers.

Have you heard about THIS?

Go read it first and then come back here.

Part of me wants to rant on and on about it, but I'll spare you.

Here's my cliff notes rant:

I'm MAD.
I think the government needs to get out of my business.
I cringe to think about how this is going to affect our planet (think about the landfills of used children's items that are *gasp* HAZARDOUS), our economy in the macro sense, as well as my little micro slice of the economy (to which this regulation is devastating).
I'm MAD.

I hope someone smacks some sense into these people before the regulations go into effect next month.

Go forth and be mad, ye fellow thrifters and crafters.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

She's a music video star

Corene has a penchant for taking pictures. And apparently, videos. She confiscated Aunt Dawn's camera on New Year's Eve and produced this gem.