Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Days : Dec. 2009

We got the twins first 'big snow' a few days before Christmas. Luckily we had bought them little snow suits, hats and mittens in hope that they would be ready to play in the snow if we actually had some - which hasn't happened in several years. Doug and the boys played outside pretty much everyday and they (that would be all the boys) seemed to really like it. I think Doug plans on having them both on skis next winter :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What happened to the last month!??!

I know, I know -- I am missing a complete month of posting! Well, life has been really busy and this got pushed to the side, and now that I look at my old posts, I feel bad about it! So I am going to go through my photos from the last few week (OK, months...) and try and recreate something of a time line.

Things to look forward to once I get it done:
Gabe is now walking
Grayson now has 8 (yes, 8!!) teeth
Little Gym is over
Babies have a new nanny (Ms. Patti) that they love
No more bottles, we are a sippy only family now
Pacifers are on the way out - they only live in the cribs now for naps and bed time.
Gabe is signing FAN and MORE
Grayson has mastered clap, clap, clap (so now we shake and clap!)
Both boys are loving their books and can point to pictures you ask about
and more that I will remember once I look through the pictures.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Gabe and Grayson

Well, it's official - the boys are now one. I wonder how much longer we are allowed to call them babies?? It is hard to believe that a year ago today they were calling me back to go to the hospital and have these guys at 37 weeks.

They were soooo tiny! Gabe was the "big" one at 6 pounds 4 oz. and Grayson was our little peanut at only 4 pounds 13 oz. The whole first few months were a blur - but especially the first few weeks. Grayson spent two weeks in the NICU and Gabe came home - but we had to shuffle back and forth between the house and the hospital - but only on of us could go back at a time because somebody had to stay with Gabe....what a nightmare!

Now here we are a year later - Gabe is walking, Grayson is only wearing his brace at night - they both have amazingly different personalities and are funny, funny, funny. We survived the first year with twins. There were times when we didn't think we were going to make it. Anyone who thinks they are tired with just one baby gets NO sympathy from this end. Zip, zero, NADA.

The babies were amazingly well behaved today - both ate cake (Grayson tried to shove the whole thing in his mouth at once!), played, took quick baths, opened presents and went up for a nap without fussing -- all while people were over. Amazing.

We got a few good pictures, but no video :( I wish we had gotten a picture with the two of them together, but all the pictures taken from a distance ended up with Carson in them stealing cake from their trays. I guess I will have to decide to be happy that at least we have some close up shots of just them.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Tonight we decided to try something new with the boys - corn on the cob! We made some corn and then I sliced the cob into 3-4 inch pieces. Once they cooled off we handed them over and sat back to watch what would happen...

As you can see, it was quite the success. They LOVED it and really enjoyed chewing away on them. We have been trying to get our meals under better control so we can all eat at the same time...the cobbettes helped with this so much that we might be having a lot of corn in their future.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Crazy Days

I have been really bad about posting the last few weeks, but that certainly doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it. In the past few weeks we have 1- returned from SC, 2- survived two babies with croup and 2 adults with subsequent head rot from being around said babies, 3- spent a week in Radford working on the ACS exam and ChemEd, 4- started moving things into my new classroom at my new school, 5- tried to pretend this is summer and I am not still crazy tired, stressed, and not feeling well rested at all.

Things of particular interest from the past few weeks - well, first of all I think it is that Gabe is standing up in the middle of the room, letting go, and taking 3..4..5+ steps before he gets so happy he falls over in his excitement.

I signed Doug up to take a 4 hour pyrotechnics course at chemed. He seemed really happy with it, so while it is not your 'typical' vacation activity, it went over well. He got a big book, a lesson on safety, and a lab opportunity...and lots of excited chatter from him afterward.

I decided to be the assistance VB coach at my new school. I really like the sport (and they don't have swimming), they make coaching easy (kids don't miss class, I don't miss class), and it is always kind of a nice way to start the year in a new school.

We are also working on planning a little get together for the boys first birthday. We aren't doing a big party like a lot of people on my twins board. I wish I had the time and energy to plan a cute themes party like they are, but the truth is that I can;t pull it off this year. Not with all that has happened this summer and my new school starting just a few days before their birthday. I feel like I have plenty of birthdays in the future to make grand gestures, so I hope others will understand why we aren't going all out.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Old Friends

One of life's little 'treasures' is hidden away in the friends ones makes in college. We were so lucky to be able to connect with a few old friends this week. Of course, we are talking with a lot of old friends again because of Face Book, but sitting down together while your kids play together - having met for the very first time but seeming like old friends themselves - is a treasure that cannot be replicated over the internet.

We enjoyed catching up with Carol and Chris and their beautiful children. (See Silas holding Grayson in the photo.) I think we quickly forget how enriched these connections make our lives.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sick Baby!

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. The positive take on it - we made it to 11 months old before we had any illnesses. On the negative side - it occurred right when we decided to take our first ever trip with the babies! On the way down to the lake we noticed little Snugs coughing a bit, but we didn't think too much about it because he is cutting 4 teeth right now and we figured he was drooling sooo much and trapped in a car seat that it was probably just that. Well...we were so wrong!

We decided to call his doctor first thing in the morning. She told us to take him to an urgent care place. So I packed him up and left Doug and Pumpkin at the lake house and figured I would get my Rx and be back in an hour or so. Instead, we ended up with two breathing treatments, chest x-rays, blood work, and a take home nebulizer! Then we were told to bring him back if he wasn't better in 2-3 days.

We were back the NEXT day. Snugs could not keep anything down, couldn't breath, and had become lethargic. More breathing treatments, an IV, more meds, and back to the lake house we go. Poor Snugs...he spent all but the last day of our vacation doing this:We never even got in the lake! And after packing all their suits and floaties, too.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Feeling a Bit Down...

I think we can chalk it up to some serious lack of sleep over the last 11 months (really more like 15-16 months, if you've ever been pregnant with twins you know how unpleasant it is to try and sleep!) or the changing of the hormone balance in my person as I I have dropped down to only 4 pumps a day (from 6+). I am feeling pretty down, in a diffuse sort of way.

I do have pictures of the boys to put up, but the camera won the battle during the pool visit this weekend, so 75% of the pictures I thought I was taking ended up not being on the camera. Which bites. I am going to load up pictures tomorrow when I can sit at the computer without little hands pulling at me the entire time.

So this coming week will be hectic - planning and packing for SC, going to the Little Gym, trying to take more 'stuff' to my new school, cleaning house, planning food, and who knows what else. I am sure this is only a tiny tip of the underlying iceberg. I'm just to out of sorts to focus on it right now. So rather than bring everyone else down, I am going to brush my teeth, pump, and go to bed!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The PeaPod arrived!

Today Gabe and Grayson stayed at home with mom so Doug could try and get some work done. Of course, it didn't help that Doug threw his back out this morning and spent the better part of an hour on the kitchen floor lamenting his back and his age.

We had a lot of fun today - especially when the boys PeaPod arrived. I am trying to figure out what we are going to do about sleeping at the lake - and people on my twins board suggested this little PeaPod portable sleep crib. It set up super easy - just open it and it pops up. I set it up in the foyer and let them have at it. I didn't get the camera fast enough to get a shot of both of them in it bouncing on the little air mattress - but I think it is obvious just how fun it is by the look in Grayson's face.

The other item that is worth mentioning is that Gabe only took one nap today. He slept from 11:30-almost 1:30 and then would not take an afternoon nap. He stayed up until almost his regular bedtime. Shocking! I think he was really enjoying his "one-baby" time when Grayson was sleeping this afternoon. He was really practicing standing up and balancing. I can't believe he is already do it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Big Day!

Today was a big day, which in retrospect seems odd, as we spent many, many hours of it in the car coming and going to Ashburn for Grayson's eye appointment. So the big things for today were:
  • Grayson's eye seems to be getting better. The doctor wants us to continue doing the patching 3-4 hours a day for another 2 months and then come back. This is GREAT news, as the first doctor we saw offered us no help except to tell us we needed to schedule surgery. We may be able to avoid the surgery all together - and if not, at least make it a much less drastic one. We are going to get that stupid patch on him if it kills us!

  • We had lunch at California Tortilla - with no baby seats, no car seats, and no baby food. Yep. We each held a baby on our laps up to the table and they split a cheese quesadilla right off the menu and Gabe decided he really like tomatoes and he ate a bunch of salsa. We survived it, made very little mess, and the boys seemed thrilled. Cool.

  • Once we were home we watched Gabe test his balance over and over again - standing up and letting go of his support. This went on for over an hour, then he started letting go and thinking he could just point himself towards whatever he wanted and go! Of course, he always fell as soon as he picked up a foot, but still - the boy is thinking about walking. I thought we had MONTHS before this was going to be an issue.

  • And lastly, Grayson has been drooling up a storm for several weeks and tonight I had him on the floor tickling him - so I got a big gummy grin from him. And what do I see in that big grin? I see a little white bump of his top left front tooth! He is cutting his top teeth!!! He will be so happy to be able to bite into things, I know.
So there you have it - no baby seats, table food, balancing and trying to walk, and cutting more teeth...and they aren't even 11 months old yet. Somehow we thought they would be little "babies"a lot longer than it appears is the reality. They are growing up too fast!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Just another day...

at the Bowen house! Today was our crazy Wednesday schedule where I try to pack in way too much in one day. We started with breakfast on the porch - I don't know what we are going to do when we can't feed the boys outside this winter!

After a quick breakfast we packed up into the car and headed for the Little Gym class. What really sucks is that I am now paying for a young lady to come with me to help me so both boys can enjoy the classes that I am paying through the nose for. The good thin is that they clearly had a good time - more fun than last time because they got to do more since there was one grown up per baby. Grayson has really taken to the "shake, shake, shake your bells" song. He LOVES to shake them and make lots of noise. They both have some Madi Gras beads I brought home from school that they will get going on the hardwood floors in out foyer and shake them until you can barely hear anything. They think it is riot.

Gabe really liked climbing the stairs (no shock here, it is new favorite thing to do) and hanging and bouncing on the rings. The class wipes them out and they fell asleep in the car before we were even out of the parking lot!

We had a nice lunch, outside again, and then CB got to the house and watched them for almost 3 hours so I could go to Talbot's (big sale + birthday discount - woo hoo!!) and the grocery store. This was nice - but again, it pains me that I pay someone to sit in my house while they sleep! Oh well... After she left I had another interview for help when school starts. I really liked the lady so I hope it works out. I know Doug needs to get some work done and I also know that we can't keep the kids at the store every day. They need to be playing, being played with, and learning new things. It would be a disservice to let them just stay in the office everyday.

We were already having dinner when Doug got home tonight. After the boys finished eating Doug played with them before they totally crashed. It was a jam packed day - but it was tons of fun for them - and that is what matters.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

First Steps (for the Mommy!)

Today I took the first steps to settling in to my new job at Skyline. It is bitter sweet, as I really did want my boys to go to WS, but they made me go out and look for a job - and I found several. Of course, they posted my job (which didn't exist when I needed to make a decision about what to do) late last week. I have to move forward, though.....

So today I went and got fingerprinted (for the 5th time!), got my TB test, and started moving boxes into my new classroom. Room 135. If I do what I do, it will soon simply be known as 'the chem lab' like it was at WS. I saw my class schedule - I have 1st block planning then 3 chem classes - 2 regular, one honors first semester. Then next semester my planning period shifts to 3rd block, but still 2 regular and 1 honors chem.

It looks like it is official. Paperwork is almost complete, boxes have started to move, and my name is up on "the big board" for scheduling.

Now I am off to my Twins club meeting. I am really hoping it gets MUCH better now that we have a new president. I was about to quit at the end of the spring - it really needs work. I'm going to give it a few more months to see a change.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another One Baby Day!

Today was a another "one baby" day. I had a nice day with Grayson today, but somehow I didn't manage to take any pictures! We went over to the red house to show it to some possible renters. Grayson had never been there - and the house was empty - so he had a great time shouting and babbling the entire time we were there because it was loud and echoed a bit. The family thought it was funny, too.

By the time we got home Doug and Gabe had already left for work. We played on the fllow a bunch and then had lunch. It was really nice to get to give all my attention to one baby - I always worry that one is feeling left out - so this was really nice. Grayson decided it was time for a nap after lunch. He was so sweet and snuggly. It was really hard to put him down. I wanted soooo much to just snug up with him in the bed and take a nap, too.

Grayson had PT in the afternoon - and he had a good time playing with Jen. He is coming along nicely and is always so happy to do whatever we want him to do. I feel so lucky that he is so good natured and happy almost all the time. What a sweet little boy.....

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Today was a big day for the babies. (How much longer do I get to call them babies? They will be a year old in only 5.5 weeks - oh my!) We spent the morning at home playing with the boys - they were all over the place! Now that they are cruising around any vertical surface they can use as a balance point, they are really moving. In fact, at one point the cat got cornered and ran for the stairs. When the boys saw it, they bee lined after her and in a matter of seconds Grayson was going up the stairs. So now we need a baby gate for the stairs.

We went to FR in the afternoon to run errands and they were really good the whole time. We stopped by a little consignment shop and picked up another little table like the LeapFrog one we have at home. We took it to the store so they could have one to play with their when they go to work with their Daddy. We picked up some BBQ (OK, not great) and had ice cream, too :) Since it was time for their nap, we spent about an hour driving around town looking at some houses that we have been talking about maybe buying.

When we got home we made burgers for the grill and the IL came over. Doug and Lee took the babies into the pool. They LOVE the water. It was a little cool, so it was a short dip, but they kicked and laughed. After the swam they were worn out and went to bed and we all ate dinner. Doug then shot off his first attempt at home made fireworks and fountains.

It was a busy, busy day - but good.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Week in Still Life

I thought it would be nice to make Fridays a review day of sorts. So on Fridays I am going to try and make a quick little slide show of photos from the week. Sometimes all you need are a few good photos to make you smile :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Grassy Knwoll

It was a nice cool day (In July - how odd, I know!) and we spent some time outside in the back yard on 'the grassy knowll.'

We haven't spent much time outside this summer because it has been raining so much - so a nice dry day begged to be taken advantage of! The yard has several terraces and is quite steep in some places. It was fun to see Gabe try and navigate the terrain. He saw the kitty and got so excited he took off after her and rolled sideways. We thought it was funny, but he wasn't so sure. We didn't get any good closeups of Grayson. He doesn't like the bright light and was all squinty in every picture.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Little Gym and Tofu = Great Day!

Today I got to keep both boys with me all day - and not because one of them had a doctor's appointment or was sick. This is doesn't ever happen, so it was a pretty cool day for me. We started the day with our first ever attempt at a class at the Little Gym. All in all it went well. I will say, however, that despite them assuring me on the phone that they would have a helper for me so my boys would get to do everything everyone else got to do, that didn't happen. I felt very out of the loop when they did things that required spotters because only one of my kids would get to do it, which sucked. It is pretty pricey for twins, so I am torn about signing up for the rest of the summer given that they didn't help accommodate the boys. I'm still trying to figure it out. I have until next Wednesday, so I have some time.

Now, for the tofu part...I know it may seem like I am a bit obsessed with food these days, but you have to understand that Doug and I have eaten more gross frozen pizzas in the last 10 months than we had eaten in the previous 15 years. We have missed real food. We have missed cooking. We have missed eating like grownups. We are not the take-out type, we make most everything from scratch (hello -- cheaper and healthier!) including all our baby food, we compost, we recycle (even the toilet paper tubes), and yes, we use cloth diapers. We have missed being who we are!!! So yes, the fact that I had the time and energy to make one of our old 30 minutes or less standby dinners that required chopping and fed out compost pile makes me really, really, really happy.

Like I said, a great day :)

For those that care to try it:

For the sweet and sour sauce:
  • 1/2 c. catsup
  • 3 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • juice from 1 20 oz can of pineapple chunks (in natural juice, not syrup)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. soy sauce
Just mix it all together. Stir fry your favorite veggies and protein. (Tonight we used a zucchini, a red onion, two carrots, a head of broccoli, and a block of pressed tofu - because that was what was in our fridge.) Do the protein first, take it out of the pan - then do the veggies. When the veggies are ALMOST cooked like you want them, give the sauce a stir and pour it in along with the pineapple chunks. It will thicken pretty fast. Be warned - the sugar in the sauce and the pineapple almost always get screaming hot.

TIPS to make it all happen in <30 minutes:

  • Start a pot of rice before you do anything else.
  • While your protein sautes, chop your veggies. Separate your veggies into two piles, those that cook fast, and those that take longer.
  • For the veggies that take longer (like carrots and broccoli), put them in a microwave proof bowl with a little water and cover and cook for about 90 seconds to get them partially steamed. Then add them to the skillet.
  • Tuesday, June 30, 2009

    Homemade Fish Sticks!

    Today I once again ventured into the world of finger foods for babies with only two teeth. In an effort to give Pumpkin and Snugs some variety, I am still trying to come up with ways to give them foods I know they like but now refuse to eat off a spoon. We tried tuna last week and they really liked it, but it was very messy - as they are forever rubbing their nasty little hands all in their hair.

    So I decided to try and make the canned tuna (in oil) that they liked so much into little baby fish sticks and hope for the best. I carefully made up a recipe (ie: used what we had already in the fridge) and cooked up a batch of my first ever tuna sticks. The verdict....a hit! They really liked them.

    So for anyone that is interested, he is my version of fish sticks:

    1 can of undrained albacore tuna in oil
    big spoon (serving spoon size) of steamed peas
    big spoon of pureed carrots (mine had some green and yellow squash in it, too)
    1 egg yolk
    1/4 c. flour
    1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1 slice of what bread ground into crumbs

    Mix together every EXCEPT the bread crumbs. Add the bread crumbs slowly at the end little by little, stirring them in until you get a sticky consistency somewhat like cookie dough.

    Spoon into skillet on medium/medium low heat. As soon as you put them in the pan, shape them into little sticks using two spoons. Cook until lightly browned on one side, then flip.

    This made enough little sticks to serve my 10 month old twins two meals each.

    Monday, June 29, 2009

    Exciting Day and Busy Evening

    I found out today that a new member of my twins club had her babies today - 2 boys! Add that to my two boys, Tracey's two boys, Stephanie's triplet boys, and Melissa's two boys and we have enough little boys to field a team of almost any sport! How odd that we are a club of so many boys. I've been trying to call her for about 45 minutes to set up a time to take her lunch at the hospital, but I keep getting an 'all circuits are busy' message. Very odd.

    On the home front, we had a fun evening. Doug got the boys home before 6 and we all had dinner together. This is still a new and only moderately successful, but we are trying. The boys are getting more and more independent with their eating, so we can 'kind of' eat at the same time. The bonus to this is that it finds us an extra 45-60 minutes in the evening after they are in bed, because we usually make and eat dinner after they go to bed.

    Since we were all fed before 7:00, and it was warm out, we decided to end the night with a dip in the pool. So we all suited up and spent some time floating with the babies. We are going to the lake later this summer and really want them to like the water, so we are trying it out ahead of time. They seen to have a good time. We spent about 40 minutes playing and then they got all snuggled up in warm towels, back inside with warm PJs and a bottle.

    It was a great evening.

    Sunday, June 28, 2009

    Captian Crabby Strikes Again

    Today we had a lot planned. First, we were off to a birthday party of fraternal twin boys from our twin group (they turned 5 - hard to imagine we will make it that long!) The plan was to then go to the water park with all the little boys, but Grayson had other plans. This little boy refuses to sleep. This makes for one crabby little boy.

    He only slept 40 minutes this morning, so that set the tone for a melt down around 1:30. We could barely get him to eat anything and he ended up falling asleep in the car after almost 30 minutes of crying :( Only to wake up when we brought him in the house (ugh!) Poor little guy refused to go back to sleep and played up a storm. He did get to eat dinner, but again, fell asleep while eating it. The only time we can get him to hold still is in the high chair! And then he falls asleep.

    I hope he sleeps tonight, as we are just as tired as he must be.

    Captain Crabby strikes again. Luckily it doesn't happen all the often, but it does - watch out!

    Saturday, June 27, 2009

    Splashing on the Porch

    We finally had a nice sunny weekend day that wasn't too hot or humid. This meant the boys could have their bath time outside, which they really love. There was more splashing than you could ever imagine, but they had a great time - and that is what matters. What always amuses us is that Gabe hates to have water in his face, yet he is the one that splashes the most. Grayson laughs and laughs at his brother while chewing on his starfish.

    So we stripped them down to diapers, had a good and messy self-feeding lunch (of noodles, steamed peas, curried pancakes, yogurt, and meatballs), and then played on the porch. All in all, I would call it a really nice afternoon spent outside doing nothing but enjoying the boys.

    Friday, June 26, 2009

    Baby Wrestling....or As the Crow Flies

    I'm not sure if what is happening here is the singularly minded dogged determination to get from point A to point B that we see from Gabe on a regular basis, OR if he is just trying to wrestle his brother to the ground. What you don't see is the fact that little Grayson launched him right off of him about 20 seconds later.

    Thursday, June 25, 2009

    Strip Them Down and Feed Them Spaghetti-o's

    The boys are getting more and more independent and we knew we had to do it at some point...give them their own pasta and let them just have at it. We've been eating outside on the porch since this Spring, so we figured 'no time like the present!'

    Pumpkin here thought this was the most fun he had seen all day. He ate lots and lots of "O's" by stabbing his finger in the hole. Of course, as he got less and less hungry he got more and more entertained by the lovely red sauce...until it was all over his face.

    We finished the event by splashing in the little baby tub on the porch.

    [Snugs seems to be teething and wasn't really "in" to dinner tonight. He opted for a bottle and went to bed early. We'll try again this weekend with him.]

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009

    Creative Cooking...for 10 month olds

    I have always fancied myself as quite the cook. Since having the twins, our overall culinary experience has declined. I must admit, we have eaten more frozen pizza than we had in the previous 15 years of our married life. The focus shifted to the babies. We have avoided that scary jarred food and made all our own. Our boys have eaten every vegetable we can get our hands on. They have enjoyed a wide range of herbs and spices. Alas, we have hit a wall...the boys have decided that they have no interest in anything that comes off a spoon. They MUST, MUST, MUST feed themselves.

    So this has lead to efforts to get them to eat things other than toast and cherrios and little pieces of diced up fruit. Today we tried something new - vegetable pancakes!

    They were easy to make (bonus!), easy to travel (double bonus!), and the hat trick...they like them.

    So the recipe:
    • 1/2 cup flour (AP or half and half AP/whole wheat)
    • 1 tsp. oil
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • pinch of salt
    • 1/4-1/2 c. of water
    • 1/2 c. veggies (pureed, grated, etc.)
    Mix together with the lesser amount of water. Add a bit more water to get the dough more like a thick pancake batter. Cook on griddle at a temp. a little lower than you would normally use.

    The pancakes will be moist and it takes a little longer than a 'regular' pancake.

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    Why twins are great. [A list of musings to remind me about the good things at 3:00am when they are both screaming...]

    Having twins is hard. Really, really, REALLY hard. Who knew? Well, apparently everyone in my twins group, that's who. But there a few things that are made easier or better by having here you go:

    1- potty training only happens once (of course, we are very far from this lofty goal)

    2- the babies never get our undivided attention, so if we decide to have more, they won't be upset by it like a singleton is

    3-you have a ready point of reference. As in, do all babies spit their food out and laugh when it nails you in the forehead? Hmm....answers Only the evil twin thinks it is funny.

    4-there is always a baby willing to finish off the last of the bottle/baby food/crumbs on the high chair tray. [Here you go Pumpkin....Snugs is full.]

    5- you can always try and pick the 'easy twin' when dividing up duties. Of course, that changes on a daily basis, so pick at your own risk.

    6- clothes last twice as long. In our house when PumpkinHead out grows it, SnuggleButt is just about to grow into it.

    7- it helps keep the backseat of your car free of clutter, as there is only room for the carseats back there. You don't even try to get anything else in the back.

    8- you always have a baby to hold.

    Thursday, January 1, 2009

    Polenta with Mushrooms

    In theory, this serves 8.  In my house it serves 5 as a dinner dish (not a side dish)

    First, start the polenta.   

    1.5 cups polenta
    6-7 cups liquid  (I use about 4c water and then add milk)
    2 tsp salt
    2 Tbs butter

    Bring the water to a boil, then add the salt.  Carefully whisk in the polenta.  If you are using a mix of water and milk you don't want to boil the milk - so slowly stir it in after the polenta - make sure you incorporate it well.

    Reduce the heat and let it barely bubble for about 20-30 minutes.  Add more liquid, if needed.  You want to cook it until it has a creamy texture and no bite to the grains.

    When it is a texture you like, stir in the butter.

    This can be used as is (serve in shallow bowl) or put into molds (like a ramkin) to cool and be used later in a more structured way.  (I like the rustic-in-a-bowl way.)

    As the polenta bubbles on your back burner, make the mushrooms.

    1/4 c. olive oil
    1 Tbs butter
    2 pounds mushrooms (any will do, but try and make it interesting), sliced
    1/4 c. diced shallots  (or red onion and garlic)
    3-4 sprigs thyme (or 1-2 Tbs dried)
    1 c. chicken broth
    1 c. white wine
    1 Tbs finishing butter

    Heat the oil and butter in a big, heavy pan.  Dump in the mushrooms and saute until almost cooked through (5-7 minutes).  Now add the shallots and thyme and cook another 2 minutes or so.  Add the liquids.

    Simmer on medium-med high until the liquid is reduced by half (about 20 minutes)

    Give the pan a good shake, remove the thyme springs, and then swirl in the butter to finish the sauce.

    I serve the mushrooms over the soft polenta in a bowl and grate some parm on top.  If you are feeling fancy you could make the polenta ahead and cool it and then fry it in olive oil to make crispy polenta cakes to serve it on.