Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goofy boy...

Everybody knows the boxes that the presents come in are more fun than the contents.  Apparently, this is also true when the container is a clear bucket.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

3 Going on 16...

Aside from the fact the boy is chewing on his fingers, I swear I looked over and saw him standing there and thought - when did this happen?  He isn't even 3.5 and he looks like he is going on 16!

Bumps and DermaBond

We had our first trip to the Urgent Care for stitches today.  Grayson tagged the radiator with his head just right and managed to slice his fore head open while not really hurting himself otherwise.

We unsuccessfully tried to stick a band-aide on it for the car ride, which he would have nothing to do with - so, by the time we got to the nearest Urgent Care, which is 20 minutes away, he had bled all down his face.

Then to make matters even worse, the UC people refused to see him!  They made Doug put him back in the car and drive him to the ER...for stitches, or derma-bond, as the case was.  Since the UC and the ER are all the same company -- and the ER couldn't understand why the UC wouldn't take care of him and they did nothing else for him, I think we have decided that we are only going to pay the UC fee.  The whole thing was ridiculous.

After getting his head glued it was off to Ashburn for his eye exam.  Poor little guy, he can't catch a break.

UPDATE: It took him all of 4 days to peel off the derma-bond.  The gash looks to be healed shut, so we are hoping that he won't hit it again and reopen it before it finishes healing.  Geez.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas Eve:
This was the first year of setting out stockings and Santa Goodies for all three boys.  Last year the boys really didn't know about Santa, so this was the first time they were excited about the idea of Santa coming.   Before we went to bed Doug and I set out the stockings, a few presents, a plate with half eaten cookies and a thank you note from Santa for them to find in the morning.
 Christmas Morning:

The boys blew past the cookie plate - didn't even see it!  Oh well.  Better luck next year.  They did see their stockings and made a bee-line for them.  They were all happy to see the stuffed Elmo and Cookie Monster dolls poking out of their stockings.  Once they pulled them out they started digging to see what was in them.  While we didn't go overboard by any means, the boys thought it was great.  Gabe kept saying, 'there's a lot of stuff in here!'  We included some little trucks, a roll of sweet tarts (the only candy), train whistles, and some other small items.  By far the biggest hit of the stocking was the four little notebooks in each with their names on them.  They immediately got them out and started wanting to look for clues and draw in them. 

Santa also brought them each a Mr Potato head and a tracing workbook.  They opened the one present each that was under the tree from Santa and the presents from Patti, Diane, and Sarah.  Reece got a wagon with blocks and the boys got a chopstick game that is great for practicing pincher grasp and patience! There were books, balls, and other fun odds and ends.

 After a morning as a happy little family - and really - there was no fighting and everyone was pleasant, we had some breakfast together and Doug's parent's arrived.

They went a little overboard - which we didn't see coming, so it was mayhem for a while.  It was too much at once and a few hissy fits tried to bubble up to the surface.  Once the boys opened one present they liked they really had no interest in opening any more.    They got balance bikes, which they were very excited about it.  We ended up having to put them together and go outside right then and there.  They also got some books and a train.  Reece got this little orange kitty that they all found funny.

Christmas Afternoon:

After Reece's nap it was off to the Blacklock's for brunch - or lunch for us since Reece had to nap first.  The boys were really good the whole time we were there.  They didn't get into things and there were no fights.  They even left the Christmas tree alone.  I don't think we could have been happier with how well behaved they were.  The only mischief was that Gabe found a plate of cookies and promptly ate almost the whole thing on the sly.

After a few hours Reece had had enough so we packed them all up and headed home.  It was a really big day and Grayson almost fell asleep in his dinner.  Given the craziness of the day, I would call it a pretty successful outcome.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Once a week bread

Easy Artisan Bread 
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 scant TB instant yeast 
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour  
  • 4-1/2 cups unbleached flour  

In my bread machine --
  1. Put the yeast, salt and add the water.
  2. Add all the flour at once and run the dough cycle.  (Mine over flowed a bit once it was done, but it seemed OK.)
  3. Remove from bread machine and transfer to a large bowl to go in the fridge.
Then -
  1. Put in the refrigerator for up to 14 days (FYI - This got big fast! - I had to actually use two containers.)
  2. When ready to bake, place a dutch oven, with lid, in a 450 degree oven. Dust the dough with flour, grab a quarter, third, or half (depending on the size loaf you want) and cut off piece with a serrated knife. Using well-floured hands, shape gently into a ball and place on a piece of parchment paper resting on a cookie sheet. Dust the top with more flour.
  3. Let sit on the counter 30 minutes. Then slash the top of the loaf with a serrated knife.
  4. Transfer the loaf to the hot dutch oven using the edges of the parchment, replace the lid, and cook for 15 to 17 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and continue to cook for another 15 to 17 minutes, or until loaf is a golden brown.
  6. Remove to a cooling rack for 30 to 60 minutes before cutting.
I made this on a pizza stone, too - and they both turned out great.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cookies for Santa

This year the boys are all about Santa - Grayson in particular.  We aren't really sure where this fascination came from, but there is no denying it is happening.  This made me think back to something that I did as a child every year that was a great Christmas tradition I looked forward to.  We would always decorate sugar cookies at my Mimi's house.  She would make the cookies then set us up at a card table in front of the TV showing the holiday movie of the night and we would use frosting in red, green, and white and sprinkles and colored sugar, etc. to decorate cookies until our hearts were content.  I remember eating a lot of them and feeling pretty cruddy - but always loving the decorating.

So we decided to make sugar cookies and let the boys decorate some to leave for Santa.  This turned out to be great fun.  I really had thought Gabe would just eat his cookies, but I was totally wrong.  Grayson ate two before he actually decorated one.  They spread icing, sprinkled sugar, and had lots of fun.  We set them aside for Santa and they were really excited.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Visit to the Library

The twins absolutely love going to our local library.  Now that they are a little older, it is getting easier to take them to places - and the library is so convenient.  We can literally walk 3 blocks from the house and be there.  So that is what we did!  There is a lot for them to do, so I just sat back and enjoyed watching them cycle through all the cool stuff that is there for them to do. 

The first thing they did was pull out the big foam blocks and make "railroad tracks" across the room.  The Gabe found the bin with the dinosaur hand puppets.  He and Grayson both came over.  Grayson told me his dinosaur likes to eat crunchy letters.  That led to running back and forth to get his favorite letters to eat. 

Slight helicopter diversion.
After several trips back and forth they started to explore the other bins.  Gabe found lots of dinosaurs and Grayson found the feely bags.  Each one has items that start with the same letter in them and he ran back and forth putting the bag on the letter it matched on the big alphabet rug.  (See the little blue pillow in the picture?)  Then he started in on the puzzles.

Now back to the letter board!  OK, I did the message, but Grayson helped pick out the letters. 

We ended our time by reading books and pretending at the table.  I think we spent about 2 hours upstairs in the kids room.  I think they may have stayed longer, but it was getting to be time to have lunch and we had to head home.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Meal Planning Monday: Dec 19, 2011

This week is going to be crazy, I can already tell.  The boys are out on Christmas break, but I still have school through Wednesday - and the nanny needs Tuesday off.  Yikes.  So we are expecting a bit of craziness and are mostly hoping just to make it to Friday in one piece.

We have decided to try something new this year, as we are working on creating our own family traditions now that we have kids.  We are going to go with making Christmas Eve dinner Lasagna.  The plan is that we will make it and then have left overs for Christmas evening, when we are all worn out from having done Santa in the morning, lunch with family friends, and arriving home worn out and in need of something warm and not in the cookie family.

So in progress we have:

Monday: Korean Lettuce Bundles (we never managed to have last week)
Tuesday: Eat out - all the kids will be together :)
Wednesday: Stir Fry - chicken w/ black bean sauce and broccoli
Thursday: Cheddar Grits with Black Eyed Peas and Spinach
Friday: Pizza night.  Homemade, of course!

Christmas Eve: Lasagna w/ a green veggie (asparagus, I think), salad and homemade bread
Christmas Day: Lunch with friends, left overs from last night

Linking to OrgJunkie, where Meal Planning Monday lives.

We recently purchased our first ever bread machine, so if any of you have advice or recipes for a bread machine - please, leave a message!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Let me poke you... (Sunday afternoon)

On the way home from the band concert on Sunday Grayson just could not stay awake.  He was completely out cold.  Reece took this opportunity to stick his finger in Grayson's mouth and then, when admonished, he resorted to giving him gentle "pat-pats".

I wish there was a way I could get a picture of the entire back seat.  Reece is in the middle wide awake and his two big brothers are completely zonked on either side of him. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Dinner for School

Those are some scary eyes!
Once again, it is time for the annual holiday party/dinner at the twins school.  This year they decided to do at the swank George Washington Hotel.  While this may have seemed like a good idea -- a room with 100 kids under the age of 10 at tables set with 8 pieces of flat ware, no booster seats, and dinner served at 7 -- not a great idea.  After paying $20 a plate for food we didn't get because they were out when we finally got served - and the deserts that were cross contaminated so all the nut allergy kids got none -- I think we will pass next year!

The boys were as good as they could be given the circumstances.  Grayson happily sat wit hhis class while they sang their songs - but I am pretty sure he didn't sing.  Gabe was, as he is, overcome with shyness that required he sit glued to me and not with his class while they sang.  On the last song he got up the nerve to stand up and go stand close to them (with much coaching to scoot, scoot, scoot closer!)  Again, after listening to him sing the songs at home for weeks, he didn't sing a peep.  My kids are weird. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Flying Grayson and the Great Smurf Eater

Grayson is our early morning boy.  He is always up first and looking for a little one on one.  You can tell if he got enough sleep because if he did he is all smiles from the moment he gets up.

The other excitement of the morning came later, when Reece found a smurf hiding amongst the house plants and promptly ate him.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Meal Planning Monday : Dec 12

Another crazy, hectic week is on tap at our house.  We have Grayson's IEP meeting, I have allergy shots, we still need to secure a work crew for apartment rehab, I need to shop and mail my Secret Santa package, and oh - yeah - get ready for Christmas.  Whew~  I'm feeling a bit tired already! 

Monday: Grilled Tuna, Steamed Potatoes w/ lemon, olives, red onion, and a green veggie
Tuesday: Homemade Pizzas:  Black olive paste w/ artichokes  and sausage w/ onions
Wednesday: Bean and Cheese burritos
Thursday: Korean Lettuce Bundles (out of a really old Eating Well Magazine)
Friday: Loaded Baked Potatoes

Linking to OrgJunkie, where Meal Planning Monday lives.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Boxes are still fun

So as far as boxes go, they are still fun.  I wish there was a way I could record the boys without them knowing, because the box was really funny - but once they saw the camera they get goofy and start "performing" and wanting to see the video. 

This box has been lugged around all afternoon.  At one point Gabe took a screwdriver to it, thus all the holes.  They stood on it, danced on it, and then this game emerged.  The boys were sitting on it side by side kicking when it fell over the first time.  It obviously caught them by surprise and there was tons of loud cackling - followed by, "let's do it again!!" 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rainy Day at the Discovery Museum

Today was an exciting day for the boys, but a rather bitter sweet one for me.  Today we had their nanny take them to the Discovery Museum after morning preschool.  This had been something fun I did with them last summer and when on maternity leave in last fall.

So last night I spent lots of time talking it up (they were pretty excited), only to have them ask me if I was going with them :(  and there is the rub.  I had to say no.  They really didn't understand why.  So I packed their picnic lunch, the quarters for the meters, the membership card, and the someone else could watch them have fun while I work.

Now that they are getting older they are asking me everyday - are you going to stay home?  Don't go to work!  Stay home with us!  It breaks my heart, it really does.


The report is in - they had a blast.  No pictures were taken :( but they had tons of fun and behaved well enough that the offer to take them again was made.  Grayson told me all about going up, up, up the ladder to see the beehive.  He also informed me he drove the ambulance, made phone calls, and saw a snake eat a mouse.  Now Gabe wants to know if he can eat mice, too.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Where's your Mommy?

So Gabe almost made me cry tonight.  I had to work hard not to.  We were reading, of all things, The Belly Book.  There is a picture in it with a pregnant lady with short blonde hair like mine.  This always leads to the question - was I in your belly?  They know Reece was in my belly.

So we are reading and Gabe starts the usual questions -
  • was Reece in your belly?  (yes)
  • was I in your belly? (yes)
  • was Grayson in your belly? (yes)

and here is where it took a new turn...

  • was Daddy in your belly?  (no.  He was in MeMaw's belly)
  • who's belly were YOU in? (uh-oh...I can tell this is going to be unpleasant for me...I was in MY Mommy's belly.)
  • Oh.  Where's your Mommy? (Oh crap.  I feel tears.  She's far away.)
  • Really far?  Where? (I don't know, Gabe.  But it is really far.)
  • Is she going to come back? (ummm... I don't think so, honey.)
  • Why?...

At this point I think Doug realized I was upset so he diverted Gabe's attention.  So the question is - how/when do try and explain that my Mommy is dead?  Won't that make him worry I will be dead?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Meal Planning Monday : December 5

Oh my - how is it December already?!?  I am so not ready for the holidays this year.  Not even a little bit.   We did make it down to the parade on Saturday with all the little boys.  Gabe was thrilled to see the band, Grayson was rendered speechless by the presence of Santa, and Reece was just annoyed that he was being lugged out when he should be in the tub and then bed.  Then on Sunday we managed to get the tree up.  Mind you, it has nothing but lights on it because we have 3 yr old twins and a 1 yr old.  Hey, at least we managed to get a tree we have to figure out presents for the boys...

On the menu this week:

Monday: Potato and Cabbage Soup (Moosewood Daily Special) new recipe of the week
Tuesday: Chicken with barley and mushrooms (Eating by Color)
Wednesday:  Chili in the Crock pot (I have a meeting after work) and homemade cornbread (Grayson will be so happy! He loves cornbread - and any kind of beans)
Thursday: Tuna Noodle Casserole 
Friday: Taco Salad

Linking to OrgJunkie, where Meal Planning Monday lives.

Shameless plug for my students:  Donor's Choose  Please donate - even $5 helps.  Use Matching Code : SPARK and my kids get double your donation.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Morning - well, afternoon...

Getting ready to go outside.  Can you tell we have entered into the phase where Gabe wants to pick out his own clothes? 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Busy, busy...

We had a busy afternoon in our house today!  Since I had to leave work early for Grayson's IEP meeting I ended up home earlier than usual.  The boys were very excited to see me come in the door early.  It really does make you feel pretty loved :)      
After much running around the house - up the stairs, down the stairs - I really needed to start working on dinner.  I tried to set the boys up in the living room but they would have nothing to do with it.  They both insisted that they be in the kitchen since that is where I was.   So we got out the workbooks and did some "tracing work" first.  It involved lots of cute noises as they went zoooooppp! from one spot to the next.

When that got old we moved on to "magic coloring."  Not that I worry so much about the mess - I actually bought them for the car ride - but they wanted to use markers (instead of crayons) and since I was trying to make dinner at the same time I figured it was a better choice.  
Once dinner was ready we picked up all the coloring stuff and they had dinner.  I am feeling pretty crappy these days, so dinner ended up being pretty lame (bacon, grits, eggs, and toast.)  I felt bad it wasn't something better, but they gobbled it up and proclaimed it to be really good.  You have to love 3 year olds.

After dinner there was more play to be accomplished.  Gabe was very interesting in building a tower out of random things.  I wish I had gotten the camera sooner - at one point he had bridges, trucks, cars, a ladder, and a crayon weeble thing, and a little man all balanced.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Meal Planning Monday : November 29

We survived another 1000miles in 72 hours and we are ready to be back at home and in our our beds and our own kitchen!  I seem to have picked up a nasty cold, so dinners are a little uninspired this week.  We are in a rut, so I am looking to make some new dishes next week.

I'll work on posting recipes as soon as I have a free minute or two.

Monday: Stir Fry - Tofu and Veggies with Peanut Sauce
Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan (made with left over sauce from the weekend) on pasta
Wednesday: not sure...I think I am freezer diving today!
Thursday: Polenta with Mushrooms
Friday: Grilled Steak (on sale for $4.99 pound) w/ roasted potatoes and steamed veggies

Saturday: Chicken w/ sage dressing and sauteed brussel sprouts

Linking to OrgJunkie, where Meal Planning Monday lives.

Shameless plug for my students:  Donor's Choose

Saturday, November 26, 2011

That's BIG Ornange!!!

"That's a big ornange!"
 OK, well really it's a peach - but the boys are convinced it's an "ornange."  It has become the thing they associate the drive to with.  As we were pulling out onto I-81 in northern VA Gabe was SURE he could see it already - since we were, after all, on our way to SC. 

We stopped at the big peach  and let them run around both coming and going.  On the way down when we stopped we learned that they actually have picnic tables around the base of the Gaffney Peach - so we planned accordingly and packed a picnic lunch for our drive back up.

There was a downhill slope Reece just couldn't escape!

Setting out our picnic.
We had a really nice weather day on the drive back, so we let them play and run for about an hour.  While the food wasn't exactly great - we figured it was kind of cruel to keep them locked in car seats for 10 hours and the few times get out to ask them to sit quietly in a restaurant. 

Friday, November 25, 2011


What makes going to Granny's house so much fun?  

The monster sized piles of leaves that get raked up under the pecan trees!
Look!  I found one!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting Ready...

Is it even possible to "really" get ready for a 10 hour car trip with 3 year old twins and a 1 year old?  I mean, really?  I decided to try - so we will see if it was worth the effort.  Last night I hit the Target store and was on a search for car friendly things to help entertain the little ones as we chug down the road.  I ended up with MagnaDoodles, new books, dry erase boards, and little computer type letter games.  I also bought some activities books for once we hit SC - some tracing, stickering, crayon type of things.  After I bought them and was unpacking everything I came to the conclusion that I don't think they could handle the activity books while IN the car.  I envision things falling on the floor and not being able to retrieve them and screaming kids.

Today I am packing finger sized snacks, drinks, and blankets.  The plan is to stop for meals at parks or the like so they can get out and run around.  

Wish us luck!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Meal Planning Monday : Nov 21

It is going to be a crazy week - half a week of school for the me and the boys, then another 500 mile drive to SC - and back - with 3 year old twins and a 1 year old.  Maybe I'll pack some wine in my water bottle...

Because we are going to SC for the holiday I actually don't have to cook this Thanksgiving - but I think I would rather cook a turkey than spend almost 24 hours in the car over the next week!

So our short week looks like this:

Monday: Cuban Black Bean Soup (made in crock pot overnight)
Tuesday: Tuna Noodle Casserole
Wednesday: Clean out the fridge night.
Thursday: Travel day - we'll be in the car all day
Friday:  Delayed Turkey Day in SC.
Saturday: Minimal cooking in SC...Probably a quick pasta
Sunday: Travel day - trekking back to VA

Linking to OrgJunkie, where Meal Planning Monday lives.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Morning : Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

This Sunday I decided to do a little baking (not like me) so we would have some quick easy snacks this week as we start planning to make that 10 hour drive to SC again.  After much internet searching, I had some ideas and some starting points.  I was trying to make these not too sweet and without a stick of butter - which apparently makes me the odd man out - because that seemed to be the theme of most of the recipes I found! 

It took three batches before I was completely happy with the results, but these are pretty darn good - and I don't feel guilty eating them. 

1 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
1 cup wholewheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1 cup canned, solid pack pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water / juice -- see instructions
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup dried cranberries
a juicy orange

Some raw sugar from sprinkling the tops.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and give them a little spray of oil.

Put the dried cranberries in a small bowl and zest the orange into the bowl with them (I used a microplane to keep it really fine), then squeeze the juice of the orange over the cranberries. Let sit while you do everything else.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Put aside.

Mix together the pumpkin, sugar, eggs and oil until smooth.

Now back to the cranberries - drain the cranberries over a measuring cup and keep 1/4 c of the juice.  If you don't have 1/4 cup - just top it off with water.  Stir this liquid into the pumpkin liquid.  Any extra juice should be discarded.

Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir until the batter is just combined, then stir in the drained cranberries.
Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each one almost to the top. Sprinkle the top of each with some raw sugar and bake on the center rack of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Set to cool on a wire rack.

This made 12 regular muffins and about 9 mini muffins.  My muffin tins are over 30 years old, so they are a bit smaller than the monster size muffins you get now - but I think if you had the newer/bigger size tins it would make a dozen.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mmmm...toasted marshmallows!

Today the boys toasted marshmallows on a fire for the first time.  Clearly there was gooey, sugary happiness all around.

I'm not tired...

I just want to sit in your lap a little bit, Mommy...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meal Planning Monday (or Tuesday, as the case may be)

So I am a day behind on the meal planning because I didn't make it to the grocery store this weekend like I needed to.  It was just too pretty outside to pass up - and with winter slowly creeping up on us, the boys needed to run and play, not putter through the store.  So - now that I have gone to the store Monday after work and loaded up on sale items, I am ready to plan.

Monday: Gyoza with dipping sauce
Tuesday: Baked Ham w/ Mac and Cheese (this never happened before bcs the ham I was certain was in the freezer was actually a turkey breast) and a simple winter salad
Wednesday: Some kind of chicken and polenta - I know I have a recipe somewhere I like for this sort of dish - I just have to find it
Thursday: Crock Pot Lima Bean Soup with corn bread
Friday: Roasted Potatoes, grilled strip steak, and veggies 

Linking to OrgJunkie, where Meal Planning Monday lives.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Trampoline Time

It was such a nice weekend!  After having snow a few weeks ago, this weekend was sunny and near 70! So we tossed out all plans for anything productive on Saturday and spent the day playing outside with the boys.

I was hoping to get a few shots of them with the maple tree as a background - but they were too drawn to the trampoline to even begin to consider holding still for me.  They were pulling off their shoes and climbing in as fast as they could go.

It was covered with leaves, which made it extra fun.  They immediately started bouncing around in them, running and sliding in them, and throwing them up in the air.

Gabe has figured out if he tosses the ball straight up in the air he can sometimes get it to bounce off his head - which makes him cackle, which is entertaining all on its' own.  Grayson was seen making "leaf angels," right before Gabe scooped up and piled leaves on him. 

Of course, when this was over everyone had leaves in their hair, all over their clothes, IN their clothes, and stuck to their socks.  This meant that soon there after my house was full of crunched up leave debris.  Messy - yes, but worth it it? Absolutely.