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Friday, December 31, 2010

A pile of little boys...

Apparently it was a rough day. Just add this to the many, many photos we have of Doug being held down by the children in the house. (Only the twins actually fell asleep on him, but it seemed only fitting to add Reece to the pile!)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bad Hair Day


It appears it is time for a hair cut! Gabe woke up from his nap today and came down stairs with his hair looking a bit like a mad scientist. I grabbed the camera a snapped a few pictures before committing to cut his hair this weekend.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Grayon's One Twin Day Lunch Time

Today was a one twin day. We used to call it a "One Baby Day," but now with Reece here it has become a one twin day instead. Gabe had a Dr appt to check his ears again and Grayson had Speech Therapy scheduled from pretty much the same time - so it was a divide and conquer kind of day. Grayson and I had a great morning with his ST session - he is coming along really nicely. After the session was over we played and entertained Reece and before you knew it it was time for lunch. Since it was such a cold and windy day the kitchen was cold (no radiator), so we had lunch at the coffee table in the living room. Grayson enjoyed getting to eat at the table and using his new plate he got for Christmas. We had 'deconstructed' turkey sandwiches, apples, and goldfish.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Night


All the toddlers have on their new PJs and are ready to "sleep all night long" so Santa will bring presents. After much commotion they settled down and when I went to do a quick check on them before we went to bed, this is what we found. Two sweet little boys asleep on the same bed. It doesn't happen that often (Grayson has the night-night shoes that he swings around - so Gabe knows to give him plenty of space!), so we wanted to make sure we got a shot of it. So sweet :)

Reece is starting to talk to us!

video
After much discussion we are sure the twins never did this. We can't remember them every talking/cooing. We asked around to folks that would have been around them at a few months old and no one can remember them doing it - and I am sure we would have video of it if they did. Weird, right?

He really starts cooing about half way through...so stinking cute!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Some days naps just don't come easy...

this was one of those days. There has been a lot of excitement in our house the last few weeks and Gabe doesn't want to miss a second of the commotion. He swears he isn't tired and doesn't need a nap. So with Grayson already tucked in and getting his Z's, Doug sat down with Gabe for some quiet time:

And about 4 minutes later it was over -


video

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What are you looking at?


Reece, 1 month old after a bath with Daddy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yep, we have climbers...


Grayson at work with Daddy. I don't know he got up there. I don't ask - it would just freak me out.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reece is Here!!


Do I look peeved? Yeah, that is not your imagination. I was less than happy - I was happy that Reece was about to arrive, I was NOT happy that for 48 hours I was told I was NOT in labor and by the time someone actually checked my cervix for real I was 7 cm dilated and I had to hold still during contractions to have a spinal put in. This shot was taken after I went to hospital once with contractions 5 minutes apart and the Dr on call never even came to the room - instead she sent me home telling me to take Tylenol and drink water after giving me a shot to stop the contractions I was having. Then I went to see her the next day in her office and she told me the same thing again (umm..lady, contractions...I'm having them!) Later that night, after hours of laying in bed in pain and watching the clock realizing the contractions were getting stronger and closer and closer together, we woke up the boys, loaded the car, helped me get into the car (not an easy task), drove to Front Royal to the hospital (again), buzzed up to L&D who told me to walk on over...Yea, that isn't happening. Contractions 3-4 minutes apart people. I'm not walking anywhere!

Got some help with a wheelchair and made to the L&D floor. "OMG", says the nurse who checks me," you are 6-7 cm dilated! We needed to have you in the OR, like, an hour ago!"

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

My kiddos eat well. They actually request pancakes at least twice a week - so we have been working on new flavors all summer. Since fall is upon us, pumpkin seemed to be the obvious choice. We tried these out this morning and they are super yummy!

The batter was really think, so when I put a ladle of it in the pan I spread it out a bit with the back of the spoon. I cooked these at a lower temp than I would a regular pancake because of the whole wheat flour and the sugar in the pumpkin. They cooked up nice and fluffy and golden brown.


Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

  • 1 C. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 C. AP flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. ground ginger
  • 1/2 t. ground nutmeg - I used a scant 1/2 t.
  • 1 C. buttermilk - I keep the powdered buttermilk in the fridge and used that.
  • 1 C. canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T. oil
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 T. dark brown sugar
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the first eight ingredients (whole wheat flour through nutmeg). In a separate bowl, whisk together the last six ingredients (buttermilk through brown sugar).

2. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and blend together with a wooden spoon until just combined. Lumps are ok, just make sure all the flour on the bottom of the bowl is mixed in. If batter seems too thick to pour, you can gently stir in a little more buttermilk.

3. Drop pancakes by ladleful onto a medium-hot griddle. Pancakes are ready to turn when the edges start to look a little dry and you can see small bubbles forming on the surface.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Who's in charge here...

I believe the answer would be Daddy!  We got new tags for the "new gold car" as the kids call it.  While I was in the kitchen making dinner, Doug was playing with the kids in the living room.  At some point the boys come in to the kitchen with stickers all over their arms - clearly very excited and having a grand time.  I step around the corner to the living room to see what has transpired in the time it took me to get food ready and Gabe runs to show me his handy work:


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Have Potty, Will Travel...and other random things...

We have had a pretty busy weekend for people that had no plans for Labor Day. Saturday involved Doug being a pall bearer and taking the boys to the funeral - and since Doug was otherwise pretty much engaged, it required a good deal of one parent time. Not the easiest thing to pull of with 2 year old twins at 11:00am, prime lunch and nap time.

We made it through the service with only limited noise - luckily most folks felt it was 'cute.' (Not me, but really, not the kids fault. Timing is everything with little kids - and the timing was not ideal.) Grayson thought the organ music was pretty and he actually sat more still and quiet than Gabe, which may be the first time that has EVER happened! Gabe also made it through the entire day, including the car rides, the service, the reception afterward, etc. in his big boy pants and didn't have any accidents at all! He even went to the potty at the church on the big toilet. What was not great about the day? Well, getting home at almost 2:00 and the boys totally missing their entire afternoon nap.

Then Sunday we had a good morning - but again, the nap was all screwed up. They were both obviously very tired, but they didn't sleep at all! Instead they played (nicely, even) in their room together for 90 minutes -- but no sleep. Then we took a trip to Costco. Both of them were sound asleep in the car almost before we hit the interstate (that would be all of 2 miles away from the house!)
We tried to let them sleep as much as we could - Gabe got about 40 minutes before he woke up while I was sitting in the car with them both while Doug made the run into the Toys R Us on his own! Then we moved on to the Costco - Gabe was awake, but Grayson was still sleeping. So I took Gabe and we headed to the back of the car to take a 'potty break' before going into Costco. Gabe parked on the potty, but no luck. Doug finally had to wake up Grayson when he got him out of the car. He got almost an hour, but I think they both needed at least 2 to make up for the day before.

Once we were in the store I took Gabe to the bathroom one more time to see if he needed to go and show him there WAS a potty we could use if he needed to. Grayson was pretty unhappy the whole trip. He was unusually clingy and snuggy, so I think maybe he wasn't feeling so well. He us usually a really happy little kid, so this was out of character for him. We also got a 'potty break' before we left the parking lot. Gabe waved at all the people from his thrown as they walked by. Too cute.

There was some fun outside play when we got home - and both the boys realized they could reach through the wire cage around the tomato cage that is right around the back door. It has a wonderful heirloom cherry tomato called SunSweet (pretty little orange tomatoes that are super sweet.) They rounded the corner with tomatoes in both hands, squished tomato juice on their shirts and they were both grinning and saying "Mmmmm!" and "Yummy!" as they ate every single ripe tomato off the plant! (This after Grayson took a big red tomato off a plant in the garden yesterday and ate it like an apple!)

While the boys really are good kids for the most part, I am not loving trying to be an equally good mommy being this pregnant. If I carry them - I cramp and get dizzy. I can't bend over anymore, or pick them up easily. I think they are feeling a little neglected. It makes me sad that I am having to back down on what I can do for and with them - right when they need it the most. Things are changing so fast....they start preschool in a week and they will have a little brother in about 60 days. Time goes by way too fast!

(Photos of the boys at pre-school open house the week before school started)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Brown Sugar Chicken

Back to the crock-pot. I had Back to School night today/tonight and I wanted to make sure all the boys had something to eat. I have been trying recipes from my newest cookbook Make it Fast, Cook it Slow. I have to give credit to this book for what will certainly end up being many pounds of extra fat on my a$$, as it taught me how to make an outstanding Creme Brulee in the crock pot. But I digress - tonight was chicken...

Ingredients:

  • 6 boneless, skinless breast halves (could use 12 thighs instead if you wanted)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon-lime soda
  • 2/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves smashed and chopped garlic
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

The Directions:

Use a 4 quart crock-pot for this recipe.

Put your chicken into your crock-pot. Cover with the brown sugar, pepper, chopped garlic, and soy sauce. Add the vinegar, and pour in the soda. It will bubble!

Cover and cook on low for 6-9 hours, or on high for 4-5. The chicken is done when it is cooked through and has reached desired consistency. The longer you cook it, the more tender it will be.

Serve over a bowl of white rice with a ladle full of the broth.

The Verdict:

The kids love, loved, loved it. It was tender - you could shred it with a fork. I'll try to get a picture of it before everyone eats it all. It turned a pretty mahogany color.

I found it to be a bit too sweet for grown up tastes, but I am not a sweets kind of person. (I don't think anyone else in the house would agree with me!) I am sure we will make it again. I am thinking two new directions to go with this would be 1- serve with a stronger flavored veg, like sauteed bok choy to balance out the sweetness or 2- used the chicken and broth as a base to build a noodle bowl. Maybe cut the sweetness with a little more chicken broth and add udon noodles and some crunchy veg like you would expect in a typical noodle bowl.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Success! We think...

Well, it has been almost two weeks since Gabe's big potty announcement. It took about a week to go from starting, being naked, and then wearing big boy pants with little to know accidents. Gabe is doing all his business on the potty now and takes great pleasure in announcing that it is time to "dump the potty!", flush, and say bye-bye! to whatever we dumped. (Lovely, I know...)

Now Grayson is starting to be really interested in what Gabe is doing on the potty all the time. I don't know that he is ready, but he sure wants to think about trying. We are amazed at how few diapers only one little boy uses. It is like we are hardly doing diapers at all! (One baby is soooo easy!) Of course, we have #3 on the way - but it looks like we will not have all 3 in diapers at the same time, so that is a bonus we never dreamed would happen. Thanks to Mr. Gabe for deciding he wanted to be totally potty trained by his 2nd birthday.

Now we have to keep working on getting the toddler beds made and everyone settled in, getting the baby's crib and room ready, and keeping momma calm when she thinks about these sweet little boys starting preschool in a few weeks. (Ohhh...it makes me want to cry!)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Our first bull's eye!

After about 36 hours of Gabe wanting to 'pee pee in potty' and having no luck - it happened this evening! He kept running back to the potty and saying he needed to pee pee in potty - and then he did! There was much celebration.

Of course, he also peed on the floor and on a chair. So time to get the steam cleaner out and keep running back and forth to the potty. Maybe this is really going to happen???

So we went to the store and we bought pull ups and big boy underwear - which, for the record, are almost impossible to find for a skinny almost two year old.

Crossing our fingers :-)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Potty Training

It looks like the time is upon us. Gabe has decided that he wants to use the potty and not wear a diaper. This sounds great - but in practice it is not so easy! He wants to use the potty, but he has yet to actually manage to GO on the potty. He will hold it until the diaper is on him or he is running around!

We bought a second potty to put downstairs, so now we're potty ready up and down -- BUT we have hit an unexpected snag. Now Gabe as decided the potty is HIS potty and he freaks out when Grayson goes anywhere near it. I think we are very close to having to bit the bullet and go buy another potty (or two) so each one has their own potty on each floor of the house! Who knew this would be so logistically challenging??

So we are about to have to do the infamous calendar dance and pick a few days when we are both doing nothing but potty patrol. In theory (ha!) we should know if this is going to work in 3-4 days if we are fully committed to it.

I feel so out of my element! Kids should come with instructions!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Safety Day" at the Town Park

We had big plans for today - and they bombed. I am so thankful that the kiddos are at that age where almost anything is exciting, because today really ended up being lame. The highlight of the morning was the trip to the grocery store - which they actually like quite a bit because they get to drive the silly race car cart around the store. They are turning the steering wheels and beeping the horns like maniacs the whole time and cackling like made men. After this little adventure we came home and did some snacks and a nap.

The big adventure that was planned for the day was actually a trip to the park for Strasburg's "safety day." There has been a flashing highway sign, a flier in the water bill, and fliers around town. SOoooo...in seeing this much billed event and the promise of helicopters, K9 dogs, fire trucks, and more - I thought what the hell? I'll bite. I play local yokle and take the boys. (Never mind the weird fact that it is being held from 1-5 on a Tuesday.)

After the nap they get up and we have lunch (tuna noodle casserole, which they love! and broccoli, which they also love - we are so happy our kiddos eat real food :-) ) and start talking up this fun trip to the park. I change the diapers, pack the to go bag with spare dipes and juice, camera ready, everybody has on shoes, grab the single stroller because I know someone will want to be carried at some point and it just plain hurts now that my belly is so big, and load into the car.

We get to the park and there are several fire trucks (the ladder truck was clearly the winner of the afternoon as far as my guys are concerned) and a lot of Rescue Squad folks just standing around shooting the breeze with each other. No 'hello! how are 'ya?' - nothing. So we wander over to the police area. No dogs. No nothing. Just a whole bunch of cops sitting around shooting the breeze - again - no pleasantries. So I am looking, looking, looking....no helicopter(s).

BUT....there is a huge inflatable bounce house. Kiddos are only 2 - this will make it all OK, I think. Until we try to let them get on it and see there is no adult manning the thing and a small group of 5-6 preteen boys have taken over it and have pulled up the ladder and are being rather dangerous and totally clueless to the fact other smaller kids might want to actually get on the bounce, too.

We end up in the regular old playground, which thankfully makes the boys happy. As we are making our way to the playground I look over and see ALL the fire trucks leaving - but it is only 4:15 and this thing was billed as going until 5. Later, on the playground we see the police cars leaving, too! It is now about 4:45. Still not 5:00.

Really - how can a town advertise a "safety day" with all this stuff and a time frame and then simply not deliver on the vast majority of it? And leaving early? WTF? Doug and I have said we realized we were going to have to start doing some of this silly town stuff with the kids, but when you go through the trouble and they blow it...it is hard to feel like trying again. And they wonder why so many people never support anything in town....

So I am pissed at the town, but grateful that the kiddos are little enough that it didn't matter to them. This will be a small window, I know.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More adventures with the Crock Pot

So I have been trying to learn how to use my corck pot for things other than stews and big hunks 'o meat. While some of the things don't so much save me time in the sense that they aren't done faster - what they are is done EASIER. As in, put the stuff in, turn it on, walk away and don;t worry about the oven buzzer going off while you are bathing the kiddos or in the basement doing clothes and then come back to fine your food ruined.

A week or so ago I adapted an old recipe I have for a Mexican chicken that required making a yogurt sauce, marinating the meat in said sauce, removing from marinade, baking in oven, then topping with more marinade to work in the crock. Basically I threw in frozen solid chicken breasts and the dry spices, turned on the pot, and walked away. Four hours later, the chicken was cooked through so I turned down the pot then mixed in the yogurt sauce and let it heat/marinate for about 30 minutes (I decided to dice up the cooked chicken). Worked perfectly.

So it seemed only appropriate to move on to new things...so I tried this:

Slow Cooker Peanut Butter Cup Cake

Yep, you read it right. A peanut butter and chocolate sauce cake that bakes happily away in your crock pot whilst you go about your business. Who knew this was even possible??

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar (divided. this is important, don't just start dumping, read on!)

1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup boiling water

Directions:

  • Use a 4-quart slow cooker coated well with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • In the microwave, melt peanut butter for about 30 seconds, and then add to the mix along with milk, oil, and vanilla. Stir really well to combine.
  • Spread this mixture into the bottom of your slow cooker.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together cocoa powder, the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1 cup boiling water (be careful!) Pour this evenly over the peanut butter batter in your cooker.
  • Cover and cook on high for 2-4 hours, or until the top has set and an inserted toothpick (into the cake--underneath the cake is molten chocolate) comes out clean. Let the cake sit uncovered in an unplugged crock pot for about 20 minutes, then serve warm in dessert bowls. (Mine took right at 2 hours.)
Verdict: Oh my....so yummy. Since this was my first attempt at baking in the crock I followed the directions exactly. It makes 4-5 nice bowls of cake/sauce. It was super easy and didn't require any special ingredients - just a bowl and a spoon! This is my kind of baking.

Now that I have, and it was very tasty (not all that pretty, but tasty) I am planning on doing it again but tweaking it to make it even better. I am thinking of adding a little cinnamon to the cake batter and then - and this is what I am excited about - replacing about half the water in sauce with a very strong coffee. (Because what is better than a chocolate sauce with coffee????)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pasta with Raw Sauce


It is so hot outside....so ridiculously hot. We knew we needed to eat something - but the idea of cooking and eating something even a degree above room temperature was less than thrilling. So we decided to look around the kitchen and see what we had that could count as dinner that would fast and require minimal effort and cooking. We decided to do a pasta (OK, we did have to cook the pasta) with a raw sauce. It was literally thrown together while the pasta cooked.

Pasta with Raw Sauce

Start your pasta (we used linguine because we had an open box, but use what ever you like).

Make the sauce: Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
1-2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
1/2-1 cup finely diced onion (I would use a nice sweet or red onion)
1/2-1 cup diced olives (we had a container of mixed greek olives in the fridge - so we used some of those)
a healthy scoop of capers, drained
a couple of basil leaves, chopped at the last minute
drizzle of olive oil
kosher salt
pepper

Optional (we had it, so we used it) : a big spoon (1/2 c maybe?) of ricotta cheese goes in the bottom of each serving bowl.

When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the sauce and toss well. Put the tossed pasta in each bowl on top of the ricotta cheese. Stir in the bowl or as you eat it.

Verdict: VERY tasty and very easy and fast. The measurements don't matter - just do what looks good to you. It hard to go wrong if you use good tomatoes and olives.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Good Sleeping...

Doug has had to take the boys to work all this week because our babysitter had a family emergency. It has been rough on all parties, no doubt. The last few morning both boys have totally zonked out on him on the way to work in the car - which is rough on the napping situation, to say the least. However, Grayson has clearly no problem sleeping in his car seat...

Doug wasn't sure what to do once he got to the store, so he sat in the car far an HOUR while the boys slept. That is some serious Daddy love. (Note Grayson's hand print on his face when he moved...he sleeps hard like his Dad!) I don't know many people that would sit patiently in the parking lot for an hour so his kids could take a nap.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Kiddie Pool = BIG HIT!

Yesterday the kiddos got their first taste of the kiddie pool Doug got for them. It has a little slide and everything. To say it was a hit would be an understatement. They spent almost three solid hours playing in it! Up the slide, down the slide, face first down the slide, back up the slide...then plash, splash, splash...now dump the bucket on your self, now dump it on your brother, now dump it down the slide....oh - slide! And it kept going, and going, and going, and going! They spent the entire day (with the exception of their nap) outside playing. All and all I think that counts as a really good day in little boy land. [I'll post pictures sometime this weekend when I have a chance to sit down with the computer and the camera and pull them over.]

These little guys were totally worn out. They went to bed almost an hour earlier than normal - and not a peep. Well, not until 5:45 this morning when Gabe decided he was ready to get up, followed closely behind by Grayson at about 6:00. I don't know how people get their kids to sleep to 8:00. Our boys are up before 7:00 pretty much every single day on their own. Lord knows we are not morning people, so where they got it from is a mystery to me.

Today is a day full of 'hardware store land' for the boys, so they will have fun there, too. I hope Doug got out the door early enough to keep them awake so they will take a good afternoon nap and be in a good mood for him today.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SOL Scores are Here!

Well, once again we took the chemistry SOL - after missing almost two and a half weeks of school due to snow and having our test moved FORWARD three days by the powers that be. Last semester we had 100% pass on the first try - this time I had one person fail, so only 97% pass. They will get another chance to take it over in a week or so - so it could go up to 100, but I am disappointed.

However, I have to give HUGE credit to all the kids this semester that worked so hard. Their overall average score was a 489, that is really good - only two questions away from a pass advance score as an average. They also had 38% of kids overall get a pass advance, which is way higher than has happened in the past.

So I survived my first year at SHS and proved that I wasn't blowing smoke when I told them I can get your kids to pass - and pass well. It is nice to know that I am pretty effective - even when not appreciated (ummm....certain private school on the hill that would rather me use my talents to coach and run activities than to teach.....) This has been a good move for me and my family. It is certainly a lower stress place to work with the majority of people here being really positive and upbeat. There is also great respect for people's need to balance work and family - so I have been able to stay home with the boys when they are sick, go to their doctor's visits, etc. with out feeling guilty or having it held over my head. Oh - and my commute wsa cut in HALF. All and all I think I came out on top - and so did the kiddos.

UPDATE: My one retake did pass the second time around, so I actually ended up with 100% - but I don't think it counts like it would if they had all passed it the first time around.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Time Flies - Time to Update!

Life continues to be a crazy whirlwind in the Bowen house. In the last two weeks we have continued to work with Gabe on his transition to the big boy bed. He is doing much, much better with naps. Sometimes the evenings are still a challenge, but I think all in all it is going well.

Both boys are babbling and making new sounds like crazy. We think Gabe might actually be saying a few words, though you have to know he is trying to figure it out. He says (we think): shoes and juice. There are TONS of animal noises from them both. It is kind of weird to even think of them talking - we know they understand us just fine, we've just gotten used to the fact they don't talk back.

Grayson got a good report from Dr H last week and we don't have to go back to check his feet for 5 months, instead of the previous three. He has also now cut or is cutting all of his top and bottom eye teeth. Gabe is working on his now, which makes him grumpy.

We have been working on getting garden ready to plant and today we went and bought some of our favorite heirloom tomatoes from the greenhouse down the street. We got less than usual, but I think we will have better luck with less that can get more of our attention. We are hoping to just get tomatoes, cukes, squash, zucchini, and maybe some beans. Not nearly as much as we used to plant, but having two 2 year olds is harder than anyone that hasn;t had twins can imagine.

Monday, May 10, 2010

New Slide!


This Friday we got the boys a 'new' slide to have out in the backyard. I found it on CraigsList for $100 (new it is almost $300!) and just had to pick it up after work on my way home. To say the slide is a hit is an understatement. They LOVE, love, LOVE it!

It only took a few minutes for them both to be all over it - climbing and sliding. Grayson seems to prefer the face first slide when he thinks no one is looking. He'll slide on his butt if you ask him to, but apparently face first is much more fun. Gabe was a little more aprehensive about going down the slied at first and it too a few tries with us standing right there next to him, but after that he was all about doing it himself. He prefers going down on his behind. The only challenge is keeping them from pushing each other down the slide when one doesn't move fast eoungh to make the other one happy. But even that seems like it makesthem laugh.

I think you tell by the pictures they were prettythrilled all around. This might be "the" purchase of the summer.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Grayson is trying to walk WHILE wearing his braces!

Doug said he had seen it - but today I saw it for the first time. Grayson stood up in the middle of the kitchen wearing his granola bar and took two steps! Amazing!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gabe's moved to his big boy bed!

Well, it had to happen - I just didn't think it would happen so soon. Over the weekend Gabe discovered that he could easily climb out (and back in) of his crib - and he could climb out of his crib and into Grayson's - only to leave that one when he was finished playing with him.

After much debate, we decided we should just take the plunge Sunday night and convert his crib to a big boy bed. Crib tents just don't seem like a great idea for a very active, strong willed child. We stripped the room down (no more cute little room - now just beds and a dresser) and introduced him to his bed. He was very happy about being able to get in and out (and in and out and in and out and in and out....)

It has taken him the better part of 60-90 minutes to settle down the last two night, but once he does, he has stayed in his bed the entire night. What is not going so well is the concept of the afternoon nap. Gabe needs sleep more than Grayson, but he cannot seem to settle for his afternoon for anything and it is making him crazy cranky. Unfortunately, there is not too much that can be done to help it right now because he can climb out of anything you put him in. We are hoping that he will 'learn' to nap over the next week or so.

Grayson is less than thrilled that Gabe is keeping him up in the evening, but again - we are hoping it will continue to improve. We are only a few days in to this new adventure and we know it will take time for him to learn to adjust - so we are just staying easy going about it all and just redirecting him back to his bed as often.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dinosaur Land!

It had to happen. Gabe LOVES dinosaurs and we live only 15 minutes away from Dinosaur Land - so this weekend was it - we made our first ever (OK, first everyone in the family except Doug, who grew up here) trek to DinoLand to see what there is to see.

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical at first - it is rather campy from what you can see from the road, which isn't much. However, once we paid our admission and went in - it was pretty cool. I would say it is good for an hour of entertainment. There are 20 or so 'life size' replicas of various dinosaurs for the kids to see up close and personal. All are pretty much under the canopy of large trees, so it is pretty shady, which is nice. (But watch out for poison ivy!) There are a few benches to stop and take a rest, but no real place to sit and say, have a snack or picnic, which is what we were really hoping for. Grayson was tired during this outing - we think he is in the midst of a growth spurt, as all he seems to be doing is eating like a horse and sleeping way more than usual. He tolerated it all - the uneven ground with all the roots was hard for him to navigate - but he was a good sport through the whole thing. He did, however, require some carrying the last have of the walk through. He had fallen on his knees in the gravel one time too many and wanted nothing to do with it.

I think we will probably be going back periodically just for kicks. I think if you wait a while between visits it is probably good for at least a few more trips for the boys.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Playing Outside and Helping Daddy

This weekend was absolutely gorgeous and we pretty much spent all of it outside. After a rather uneventful Easter - which kills me - it was always a great family time with grandparents and eggs and yummy food and fun when I was little - we were trying to at least get the Spring kicked off right.

It was in the upper 80's all weekend so we broke out the new toy of the summer. A big sand and water table. It was a huge hit. Now if we can just keep them from eating the sand and drinking all the water (eewww.) There was lots of fun to be had. They spent a lot of time cycling between the swings, the slide, the water table, and under the maple tree digging in pots, waving around sticks, chasing bubbles, and tasting all shapes and sizes of mulch. Doug taught them how to blow the seed heads of dandelions, which cracks me up because never in a million years would I have thought he would be OK with spreading the seeds around the yard. He's been on dandelion extermination crusade the entire time we have lived in this house!

Our lawn mower has seen better days, but Doug is still hanging on to it in some hope it will magically start to work properly. (I can't even describe how bad it is!) Since the grass clearly was in need of being mowed, Doug got out the tool box and flipped it up on end to try and somehow perform some magical feats to make it work better. Gabe immediately slipped in right next to Daddy, picked up some tools from the tool box, and got under the mower with him. There was banging, turning, socketing, and more. It was too funny. He would grab one tool, "use it", put it back and then go in for another. This went on for over half an hour.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

SPRING!!!


Yeah! We are finally starting to see signs of spring in the yard. We were able to get outside this past week with the kiddos and play on the swing set, crunch up some old dried up leaves, and poke around in the garden. (Gabe and Grayson are both very good at finding little rocks and putting them in the bucket for Daddy.)

We lost LOTS of branches during the record snow over the last two months. It looks like over half of a huge cedar tree is gone and enough of our magnolias came down to make a pretty substantial third tree. We are pretty bummed about loosing so much off the big old magnolias. We would like to replace the cedar with something else, but it is so big and blocks a nice part of the yard from the parking lot - so we hesitate to take down what is left. I think we are going to have to finish cleaning it all up and survey the overall damage more so than we have thus far.

The boys are so happy to be able to go outside again. There are still a few spots with snow, but it has finally started to warm up enough that we can get outside with them. Unfortunately, they are calling for several inches of rain over the weekend, so we will be trapped inside again instead of getting to play outside with them, which is kind of bites.

We have been talking about fencing in a part of the yard as a play area so the boys can kind of 'run free' when I am with them this summer. They always want to go in two directions and it is pretty dangerous in our yard, given it is a 6+ foot drop off on all sides (we are an odd high island amongst the concrete.) We are thinking about fencing around a play set in the shade somewhere. I hope we manage to actually get it done. I they will really like the freedom of not having me chasing after them saying - stop, stop, stop!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

18 months! How did THAT happen??

The boys had their 18 month appointments yesterday. When did they grow up so much?

Random things happening in our house right now:

Grayson has decided he is going to walk. Gabe thinks he might be talking. Grayson has decided to sign. Both boys are stacking and making animal sounds. Both want to eat and drink out of the cat bowl on all fours. (Weird, I know.) Bath time is the best thing EVER right now :) Now if we can get that to 'stick' we'll be set! Gabe now tells us when he is wet or poopy and even brings us diapers on occasion to let us know to get with the program. Grayson holds his nose when he is poopy, then grabs his diaper and laughs. (Ahhhh....boys.)

When we are in the car the both like to take turns making raspberries and laughing hysterically at eat other. Sometimes said raspberries involve milk. It is very messy, but very entertaining. Grayson can do chin ups - literally. He can grab a book shelf and pull himself completely off the follow by his hands - legs dangling. Both boys are climbers. (I have no doubt this is due to Doug's DNA.)

They have over 100 signs they know. Watching the Wiggles turns into a signing/stand up/ sit down/stomp your feet/ sign-sign-sign/dance fest. It is MOST entertaining. Gabe loves monkeys and elephants. Grayson still loves to poke your eyes out. The more you say 'owie!' the more he likes to do it.

They love to eat Mexican food. Gabe had learned how to blow bubbles, but it makes him cross eyed when he does it. Grayson is cutting more teeth.

Stuff is happening so fast! How do you make it s--l--o--w--down?

The stats:

Grayson: 31.5 inches tall, 20 pounds, 2 oz.
Gabe: 33.5 inches tall, 24 pounds, 11 oz.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Saying good bye :(


OK, maybe that title is a little dramatic, but this has really has gotten me down. It is time to start thinning my "stash" of cloth diapers. Grayson has really gotten too long for the smalls, even though he is plenty thin enough to keep wearing them. I sold some to a friend, I sold some on Craig's List, and I have almost finished selling the stash on DiaperSwappers.

I felt like I should keep them in case we have another, but I know if they just sit around they will dry-rot and that would be even more sad! So I thought I would post a few pictures of the cute little diapers that have been covering our boys bums for the last 18 months.

Now we have started to rebuild the stash in medium sizes, and we are hoping the boys will be potty trained before w would need to go up another size. Of course, that means I have to have some sort of knowledge about how to potty train boys, and THAT is something I am not even remotely ready for!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Two sick babies, a week of snow days, and two tired parents!

It's a crazy week with all the snow, and then more snow, and now we have two sick babies. Thankfully, Grayson seems to be on the mend after a pretty scary week of what looked a lot croup again. Of course, Gabe ended up sick, too - but not as bad as his brother. Another new twist to my life is the concept of 'snow days.' With the two big snow storms hitting back to back, we missed last Friday and now this ENTIRE week! Granted, the snow this time was a bit ridiculous, but over a week off? It is a shame the boys are sick, and the airports have all closed down due to the storms, or we would be quickly on our way to a sunny beach somewhere. You know our motto - Have passports, will travel!

Other updates to keep track of -

Grayson - He is now 'toddling' between people and furniture. He is so excited that he is doing it, too. You can see it on his face when he is just about to walk across a distance - you can see him thinking - I'm gonna do it! He is also really starting to sign, which is really great. A lot of his signs look the same, so it can be a guessing game on occasion, but he is really trying hard and doing it a lot.

On a not so great note, we have been breaking the big healthy sleep rule by bringing him into our bed in the middle of the night because he has been so sick. This means he now pitches a totally fit when he wakes up and wants to come in our room. Last night he cried for over two hours :( and I gave in...which I know means tonight may be worse. Bad mommy.

Gabe - Gabe is learning signs faster than we can keep up with him! He is stringing a few together in little sentences, which is very cool to see. He is also trying really hard to learn to use utensils. It is messy, but fun to watch. Of course, he is having a rough time with being sick, too. His nose is a complete faucet - and he has a pretty nasty cough. When he is sick he tends to be very clingy and cries - a lot. He just takes it harder, I guess.

At least I have the week off to baby them both.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Crockpot Gyros...who knew??

30+ inches of snow today meant it seemed like the time to break out the crock pot again. I read a recipe for gyros that could be made in the crock pot and I have been dying to try it. However, we live in Strasburg in the middle of nowhere - so finding ground lamb has proven to be very difficult. I did finally find lamb at the lovely (ugh) Food Lion, but they refused to grind it for me. (Yes, the 'full service' butcher's department refused to grind it because it would, and I quote, "contaminate our machines." What planet do I live in???) Anyway, the hunt continued and this time I found lamb in Martins in Stephen's City - but a price that was outrageous. So I once again left the store sans lamb. By this time over 2 months from my original quest had passed and I still had not managed to try the recipe.

And then....

I hit the Costco! They have lamb! And the BIG surprise, they have lamb in reasonably sized packages (like 5 pound roasts) at a great price, only $3.99 a pound. So today we tried the recipe. Here it is as we tried it, followed by our thoughts:
Crock Pot Gyros
For the meat:

1/2 pound ground lamb

1/2 pound ground turkey
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. paprika
1 medium sized onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
juice from 1 lemon

For the tzatziki sauce:

1 c. plain yogurt
1 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs mint (yeah, we have 3 feet of snow, we don;t have this. Oddly, dried dill works very well)
juice of 1 lemon

cumin - to taste
grated or small diced cucumber (we didn't have this either, but it is fine without)
salt to taste

Mix all sauce ingredients together and put in the fridge to marinate while the gyro meat cooks.

Directions:
  1. Mix the lamb and turkey with the paprika and oregano and make it into a meatloaf in the size and shape of your crock pot.
  2. Chop the onion and garlic and spread it on the bottom of the crock then lay the meatloaf on top of it.
  3. Squeeze the lemon over top of the meatloaf and cook on low for 3-4 hours or high for 2 hours. Test for doneness with thermometer (170 degrees)
Slice thinly and serve with sauce in pitas with your choice of toppings (we used lettuce, feta, tomatoes and slivered onions.)

The Verdict:

Not bad. It was not at all greasy like the gyros we get in the restaurants. When I sliced it I was surprised by the slight pink hue it had from the paprika. When I tasted it straight from the loaf it seemed a little dry, but once it was in the pitas with the sauce it didn't seem dry at all. I think it will be nice on a salad as left overs, too.

This was our first time ever making gyros of any sort so we stuck to the recipe - which I usually do the first time I try any new recipe. We enjoyed it but felt like it was a bit bland for our taste and a few small changes could make a big difference. When we make it again I am going to grate some onion into the meat mixture as well as add several cloves of minced/mashed garlic. It could also use a little salt and some super coarse black pepper added in, too.

I think this recipe was a really good starting point. I am going to a little more research on what is traditionally used to flavor gyros and I will be trying this again. It was certainly easy enough - and fast enough - to be a keeper.


Snow, Snow, and More Snow

I think maybe pictures are the best way to help you understand how ridiculous this weather is...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

For Michele...Grits, they aren't just for breakfast!

Here you go -- dinner in under 30 minutes with very little in the house! This is one of our 'go-to' meals because you can make it from the pantry and/or freezer.

Spinach and Black-eyed Peas over Cheese Grits.

Start the grits (please tell me you know how to do this...)

While those cook work on the rest. You need:

10 0z bag of spinach (fresh is great, but frozen is good, too. We use frozen.)
2 cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed if too 'saucy'
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbs oil
pinch red pepper flakes (or cayenne or even hot sauce)
ground black pepper
sharp cheddar cheese

1. Saute the onion in the oil. Add the fresh spinach to the pan and cook just until it wilts. (If using frozen, cook according to package, the drain and add to the onion.)
2. Put peas, pepper flakes, and pepper into the spinach and onions. Stir to heat it through and salt to taste.

This part is now finished.

3. Grate cheddar cheese and stir into your grits until as cheesy as you like.

Now assemble. Put a big pile of grits in a bowl and top with spinach mixture. I like to also put a little hot sauce on top.

Yes - it sounds weird. However, it is really, really good comfort food. Trust me. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The First Day of School....again

Today I had my second first day of school for the 2009-2010 school year. Weird. I can't say I so much like having to do the first day stuff twice in one year - it is boring and yuck. And I am so bad at learning names - so, so bad. I want to be one of those people who can hear a name once and just remember it (and the matching face, of course), but I can't. And to be in a job where you have to learn 100+ new kid names every year. Yikes. It gives me a complex.

I am trying things a little differently this semester compared to last - so I hope it works. I was thrilled at the 100% pass rate, but that is a double edged sword because now the only way for my performance to go is down! Maybe I should have thought this through a little more before I got all super-teacher on them first semester. Should have paced myself. Crud.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Grayson's 1st Haircut!

I gave Grayson his first haircut today. He is 17 months, 1.5 weeks old. It has taken him so long to grow hair, it was kind of sad to have to cut it. There was actually not that much to cut - he just needed a few places in the back trimmed up where he had a few rouge curls. He was so good. He sat on his little chair and held pretty still and let me clip away. He's such a sweet little boy. There, I said it. Little Boy.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Pork - in under 30 minutes

I am a little obsessed with food again. I think we got off track with making decent food because we were overwhelmed (shocking, I know) and we started to resort to pretty bland and boring food. Like I said in an earlier post, we are looking for things that are easy - but better than "cooking" a frozen pizza. So for tonight we tried this...

Sweet and Spicy Pork
adapted from Cooking Light, June 2005

This comes together VERY fast.

Ingredients:
  • 1# boneless pork tenderloin, sliced into thin chops (we made 6 slices)
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp EACH minced garlic and ginger
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2/3 cup of salsa
  • 2-3 Tbs of chutney or preserves (we used a combo of hot mango chutney and strawberry preserves)
  • cilantro to garnish
Method:
  1. Heat the oil in the pan on med/med-high and mix the soy, ginger, and garlic together in a small bowl.
  2. Put the pork in the pan and immediately spoon they garlic mixture evenly over the chops.
  3. Turn pork over when it starts to get a little golden brown.
  4. When cooked to your preference (don't over cook, there is always carryover) remove from pan and cover with foil while you make the sauce.
  5. For the sauce - put the salsa and chutney in the same pan you cooked the pork - stir until well blended and heated through.
  6. Serve pork slices with sauce on top.
The Stats: If serving 4 (again, we made it serve 2 with a lunch leftover) - the entree is 169 calories, 5.1 g fat, 24.4 g protein.

VERDICT: OMG - this was so easy it was crazy. It took my 25 minutes from start to finish, INCLUDING the time it took me to wash three potatoes, wrap them and toss them in the microwave, find the pole beans in the freezer and get a pot of them going, find all the ingredients and chop everything and slice the pork. You can't even preheat the oven and cook a frozen pizza in that time. Oh, and before you gasp at the massive pile of white stuff on my potato - it's yogurt :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dinner: 5 ingredients in under 30 minutes -- Green Chicken Curry

Super fast and pretty tasty...start the rice first and the rest will be ready right as the rice is finished cooking.

Green Curry Chicken
(Cooking Light 2009-October)

Ingredients:
  • one pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1" cubes and sprinkled with salt
  • 2 bell peppers (your choice of colors), diced
  • 1 14 oz can of lite coconut milk
  • green curry sauce (1-4 Tbs depending on the heat - add 1 at a time and taste!)
  • 1 cup long grain or basmati rice
  • fresh cilantro to garnish (optional, but nice)
Directions:
  1. Start the rice first, omit the fat - otherwise follow package directions
  2. Spray a nonstick pan with cooking oil and then lightly brown the chicken.
  3. Add 1 Tbs of curry sauce and cook for 1 minute. (Taste and add more, if needed)
  4. Add 1 cup of the coconut milk, bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer until the chicken is almost cooked through.
  5. Add the bell peppers, the remaining coconut milk, and 1/4 tsp. of salt. Simmer 5-6 more minutes or until bell peppers are cooked to your liking.
Serve the curry over rice and garnish with cilantro.

The Stats: 282 calories, 6.8 g fat, 29.7 g protein

VERDICT: Very, very easy. A bit mild for us, but I think it was our curry sauce. I think one of the really nice things about this dish is the coconut milk makes it have a great texture, but the calories and fat are still really low. The recipe says it serves 4, but I think if this is a dinner entree with no appreciable sides is really serves 3 with a small amount left for a lunch. The stats above are quoted as if you make four servings - but still - even with three servings it has less calories than one of those nasty microwave 'diet' meals and is way more satisfying and filling.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Day in the Life...

Sometimes dinner is really entertaining and high fives are in order...















And sometimes they work together and things get a little crazy.