Saturday, December 29, 2012

Name that Fruit!

Ok, so part of raising kids is introducing them to foods that they normally might not come into contact with on a regular basis. So when I was at the grocery store the other day I ran into a display of coconuts. I have to admit here that the only coconut I'm familiar with is shredded and comes in a bag. This was going to be a learning experience for me as well as the kids.

 So I plucked around the display until I found a nice heavy coconut that sloshed when I shook it. Since I knew nothing about opening a coconut I enlisted Google's help and found this very informational website. First off I had to drain the water. My initial thought was to use a power drill and small drill bit but Sean then informed me that he uses those drill bits on all sorts of questionable stuff out in the shop and it might not be a good idea to use them with food stuff. So I used a cork screw in one of the three coconut eyes. Worked great. I couldn't get the kids to touch the water but I tried it. It was....interesting. Supposedly very nutritious. So the next step was to crack that sucker open.

The website says to use the blunt end of a knife to just whack it open. Uhh no. Another option is to just smash it on something hard. So once it was emptied of its water (can you imagine the mess?) Sean went out on the concrete steps and smashed it (repeatedly) into the concrete. Let's just say it was not as easy a process as the website would have you think. The kids and I found this highly entertaining to watch from the warmth of house.

Ok, it's open! Now what? That coconut meat was firmly attached to the husk. One option was to pop the whole thing in the oven and cook it for 15 minutes to soften and separate the meat.

It softened it but it didn't separate it. It was still firmly attached to the husk. So I took a knife and pried it from the husk. I'd have to say in retrospect that it wasn't a good idea as I nearly took my finger off several times.

I have new respect for that bag of shredded coconut sold in the store. I must have worked on that blasted little coconut for at least half an hour. What I was left with was a bowl of coconut, ready to be shredded.

I shredded it in the same manner that I shred a block of cheese. It worked well and I got right at two cups of shredded coconut. Now what to do with the coconut? Well duh, the only acceptable thing you should ever do with coconut.....make macaroons! I had run across a freakishly simple recipe for macaroons only calling for three ingredients: coconut, egg whites and honey (although I did add vanilla). Here is the recipe in case you are interested.  I thought they were delicious.

 The kids lost interest after Sean opened the coconut, wouldn't try the coconut water and thought the macaroons were it was a fail with the kids but at least I tried. What will the next "Name that Fruit?" experiment be?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I'm about to go steam many pounds of snow crab for our cozy little Christmas dinner so I'm just going to share some cute pictures from the day. The kids were in awe that Santa had left them so many presents. They even managed to sleep in until 7:30 (unheard of I tell you). Christmas 2012 was a hit. Now to stuff our faces with snow crab and key lime pie. Hope everyone had a joyous Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Christopher

This was our first year with our elf Christopher (our version of Elf on a Shelf) and it's been fun for all of us. I'm kind of happy things are wrapping up for the season as we've officially run out of locations to stash Christopher. Next year we'll have to enlist help from Google for creative ideas. Each morning Wesley runs around looking for Christopher and informs us that "wouldn't it be so funny if Christopher was on a ceiling fan?" So we only thought it fair to put the elf on the fan for the last evening he's with us.

 I also found a cute idea to have Christopher write the kids a goodbye letter. Boy was it a hit. Here is the letter:

Dear Wesley and Greta,
I have had so much fun being a part of your family for the last month. You guys sure have a lot of fun around here.
Tonight when you go to sleep a little Christmas magic is going to happen. I will fly back to the North Pole for the last time this year. I will make my last report to Santa before he gets on his sleigh and heads around the world to spread Christmas cheer. When you wake up tomorrow morning I will be gone and presents will be under the tree. I know there will be presents, because I have told Santa all about what good children you are. I passed on all of your messages to the big guy and I know he will do his best to find the perfect presents for you.
Lucky for us Santa will lift my magic for just a few minutes after you are done reading this letter. In those few minutes it will be okay to touch me, hug me and kiss me goodbye. When you are finished with your goodbyes just put me back where you found me and I will find my way to the North Pole tonight. Can’t wait to see you next Christmas season!
Merry Christmas!

You should have seen their eyes as I read the letter. Simply priceless.  They each got to hug and kiss the elf goodbye before putting him on the mantle until he leaves tonight. They are both very sad to see him go.

We've been keeping busy in the house making cookies. We don't make too many sweet treats around here since ol' mom can't seem to keep herself from inhaling them in one sitting. So it's an occasion to make a big batch of cookies. We set up a big decorating table and let the kids (and us of course) have a go at decorating sugar cookies. They turned out great and have been slowly disappearing over the past two days.

We can't wait for the big guy himself to come visit tonight.  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Busy week!

Boy it's been awhile since I last blogged! The week before Christmas has always been one of the most hectic of the year. The school Christmas parties, multiple birthdays, last minute shopping and shipping out of everything. It's exhausting, but it's over. Wesley only has a half day tomorrow and then we are all home until the new year.....and I can hardly wait. I know I've said it in the past but experiencing Christmas through a 5 and 3 year olds eyes is one of the greatest experiences in life. They get so excited about every little thing.

Wesley's Christmas party was today and I think all the kids had a fun time. My friend Jessica signed up as room mom so she is in charge of planning all the parties for the year. She then calls all the helpers and lets them know what to bring or buy for the party. I enjoy being a helper for the parties but I'm more than happy to just take directions, being a room mom isn't something I'd sign up for. Jessica does a smashing job of planning games and food to keep a room full of 5 and 6 year olds happy.

This year I wanted to give the kids in his class something and I decided to make some Angry Bird ornaments. What I didn't plan on was it taking so many hours! I didn't think 19 ornaments would take 7 hours to make. Perhaps I'll have Sean remind me of this next time I think up some hair brained idea. But really, my time isn't worth a whole lot so it's all good. They did turn out cute and Wesley was excited to give one to each kid....and that's all that matters.

I can't forget to mention Sean's birthday last week. Hubby turned 34 years old last Friday. My folks came over to celebrate and chow down some strawberry cake and ice cream. Yum. I'm sure lucky to be married to such a great guy. Happy Birthday Babe!

While my folks were here I received the strangest gift I might have ever gotten. My father was buying costumes off of Amazon for the kids (Greta is on love with princess dress up gowns) and he ran across an adult Angry Bird dress which he immediately thought would look awesome on my Mom. Now you must understand that my father has been doing this ever since I can remember. He buys stuff for my Mom to wear, she puts it on to appease him and then never wears it again. He thought this Angry Bird dress would be a hit with the grand kids, which it probably would have been had he persuaded her to put it on. Which she wouldn't. So, I got the dress. It is a shapeless black thing much resembling a black trash bag (with top notch headband no less!) but it got some laughs out of the kids......which is worth it in my book. Thanks Dad!

So of course Greta had to try it on. And that has been my week. Merry Christmas all!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Traditions

Now that Wesley is in Kindergarten and surrounded by fellow five and six year olds, I wonder how many more Christmas's we've got before he figures out (or is told) Santa isn't real. One more year? Maybe two? The thought actually makes me sad. It's been such a joy every year having these two little innocent people living in the house. Especially around the Holidays. This year we decided to include a new tradition, Elf on a Shelf. I'm sure, if you are a parent, that you've heard of this. It's a little elf that is sent from the North Pole to watch over your children and report back to Santa on whether they've been naughty or nice. Well, I got on Amazon to order one of these little elves and proceeded to read all the reviews, good and bad. Most people loved it, but then there were several that said the actual elf itself scared their children and they suggested looking at some of the other "knock off" elf on a shelf products that had happier, nicer looking elves. So I looked around and decided on Christopher Pop-In-Kins.

Christopher is a jolly little elf that has bendable arms and legs so he can be put pretty much anywhere. Every night Christopher magically leaves and reports back to Santa in the North Pole and then returns before the children wake up and finds a new place to perch and watch them. The kids are having fun with Christopher. Each morning they run around the house trying to find Christopher. They know they can't touch him or he'll lose his magic that Santa gave him (the magic that allows him to return to the North Pole each evening). They like to read the book that explains how Christopher came to our house. It's a great new tradition and I'm happy the kids aren't scared of him.

Christopher hung out on top of the tree yesterday. 

Last weekend I got the kids a gingerbread house kit (seriously who has the time to make that stuff from scratch?). They were super excited.....not so much to make it but rather to eat as much candy in the process. Alex was over and got to help too. The fun thing about this years gingerbread house was that we made it on Saturday and ate in on Monday. Usually we don't ever eat them, they just sit around as a decoration during the holiday season and then get chucked in the trash come New Year. Not this year! We gobbled that sucker down yesterday and it was delish! Might just have to be a new tradition.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


So I swore I already posted this but apparently I'm a complete ditz and forgot. Nearly three weeks ago my friend Jessica (whom I've been friends with since I was 11) gave birth to her third child. They decided to not find out the sex on the sonogram so it was a big surprise. She had some scary moments during labor when the baby changed positions and thus caused her to stop progression of labor. Baby's heartbeat became erratic and way too low and Jessica was rushed in to have an emergency C Section. Scary stuff. I got there while she was in having the surgery. She had a beautiful little girl and named her Evelyn Belle. Mom and baby girl are doing great. Jessica is healing quickly and is a trooper. Congratulations my friend!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Weekly Winners

 My goofy kids love hugging each other at this moment in their lives. That will change soon, so for now I take pictures

The dogs love it when the farrier comes. He always leaves chunks of hoof behind for them to chew on. 

Sean and his Precious. He's been tinkering on it nightly, changing spark plugs amongst other things.

The library had a nice toy train display set up last weekend.

Love those smiles!

Family picture time.

 So happy Greta went along with this. It could have easily been a scream fest. Such a trooper!

 Wesley had fun talking to Santa. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Just don't break the skin

I love my daughter. She's a doll. You know there is a "but" coming soon, right? Well, she's three years old and I've decided three year olds are lunatics. Sweet, cute little lunatics, but still lunatics that must be watched every moment of every day. Case in point, today I am talking with my friend Jessica on the phone and I hear Chance, our older little terrier, snap at something. Who am I kidding, not something....someone. I knew it was Greta without even thinking. Left to her own devices she will always gravitate toward the dog, which is really her only playmate (besides myself) since Wesley started school. So I head into the living room to find Greta crying, holding her cheek. The dog bit her cheek, not drawing blood (thank goodness) but leaving two fairly large red spots. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Are you ok? What happened?!?"

Greta: "Chancy bit me!!!"

Me: "What did you do to the dog to make him bite you?"

Greta: "......I tried to cut his eye with the scissors."

Me: speechless

You know, as a mother, I suppose I should be mad at the dog for biting. But I'm not. The dog needs to defend himself. Poor Chance looked so scared. I went and gave him a big rub on the belly and told him to bite her whenever she tries something like that again, just don't break the skin.

Oh and the scissors? They are gone. These kids are going to have to tear paper until Greta is old enough to stop pulling these shenanigans.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Glow

Isn't this picture absolutely adorable? I just love it. We went to the Santa's Workshop that was set up at the library on Sunday. It was such a wonderful free event that the Arts Council puts on and I'm so happy we decided to go. They had a wonderful Santa, meaning the guy had an actual beard and looked the part. There was no screaming and crying from my children (unlike the poor kid in front of us) and they rattled off the toys they wanted for Christmas. Have I mentioned how much I love this picture?

Now I must admit the picture didn't have this "warm, fuzzy feel" to it when I uploaded it this morning (thanks for taking the picture and sending it to me Dad). I spent a good twenty minutes with it in Photoshop to make it look like this. You see, occasionally I actually use my Bachelor of Arts degree. Today I thought I'd give you a quick Photoshop filter lesson in case you'd ever like to make your photo's "glow" like the one above.

Here is what the picture looked like directly from the camera. Before:

 Cute, but not perfect. Now first off you'll want to correct any Brightness/ Contrast issues the picture might have. I also changed the Color Balance to make it warmer rather than cooler. Oh and I made the tree bigger and blacked out the elf in the right hand corner.

Then all you do is:

1.Duplicate the photo layer.

2. Use the filter "Gaussian Blur".  Make it 5 pixels, or around that.

3. Then in your "Layers" window, pull down to "Multiply".

4. Brighten it up with either "Brightness/Contrast" or my favorite "Curves".

End result:

Doesn't it just glow? Gotta love those filters.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

-We had a family trip to the dentist yesterday. Usually we all have different dates and times but this time we just scheduled them all together and got in and out quickly. This was Greta's first trip to the dentist and she did awesome! I think it helps to have a big bro that explains the whole procedure to her. He even demonstrated how to lie in the chair with his mouth wide open. I was more than a little worried about what the dentist would say about her under bite. Her jaw sticks out so that her bottom teeth completely cover her top teeth when she smiles. Apparently it has a tendency to correct itself by the time the kid is 7 or 8 years old. If it doesn't then she gets to wear a retainer to help fix the under bite. At least we don't have to worry about it right now.

-I got the opportunity to take our black lab Cody to the veterinarian this morning. He's been walking around with his head bent to the side for a day now. I went to investigate last night only to find his ear swollen, oozing stinky stuff and the color of ground beef. Yuck! The vet says his ear canal looks fine which would indicate an infection on his actual ear. So he's on antibiotics and I get the pleasure of spraying his ear three times a day with betadine which stings like crazy. He already runs when he sees me coming. Poor dog. That dog seems to go to the vet more than all of the other animals combined.  

-It's been a week since Thanksgiving and my fingers still smell like garlic. I've never chopped so much garlic in my life. I hope the smell eventually will wash off.

-I think I can consider myself a tea junkie. My love of coffee was short lived, the caffeine just didn't work well with me (jitters!). Once I stopped my habit I got these headaches every day at 11. That lasted two weeks and I found was common among people who stopped drinking coffee (something about the blood vessels constricting). So anyways, I switched to tea.  I absolutely love chai green tea. I drink about three cups a day and I've decided to venture out into the world of loose leaf tea. I just ordered a nice little variety of loose leaf green teas from Teavana. I'm really excited to try the Youthberry Wild Orange Blossom tea, heard good things about it. Yum!

-We been experiencing our first real cold snap of the season this week. When I take Wesley to school in the mornings it's in the mid 20's and the car is not liking it one bit. The Volt will start up in electric mode and we'll get about a mile from the house then the gas engine takes over and a little alert on the dash tells me "Gasoline engine in use due to cold temperatures." So for about half the trip to school and back it runs in gas mode to provide enough heat for the battery when the temps are well below freezing. Bummer. There goes my sensational mpg's. I'm thinking this car in northern climates might not be a great idea.

-I got the blog all decorated for Christmas if you didn't notice. Now the only thing to do is to somehow get rid of the flying birds at the top right side of the screen. Why are there flying birds up there?! Grrr.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

I hope everyone had a nice and relaxing Thanksgiving. This year we were fortunate enough to have family gather at our house. Usually we do the traveling and meet at the in-laws house in New Mexico but this year our animal sitter (my friend Jessica) was due to have a baby right near Thanksgiving (which she did! Baby girl..more on that later). When you have as many animals as we do you have to plan vacations carefully so that there is someone to watch them. So, unfortunately, we were staying home this year. Then we all decided to just have it at our house. Sean's parent's showed up Monday and Sean's brother Nate and family showed up Tuesday. Their little girl Berkley is just a few months older than Greta so those two played wonderfully. It was great seeing the cousin's together. They flew in from Washington and brought some crab with them on the plane. It was so surprising seeing them lug in a giant styrofoam cooler full of fresh seafood. In the midwest we don't get to enjoy fresh seafood so this was a treat. Thank you so much Nate and Stacy, that was sure memorable.

It was freakishly warm last week with temperatures in the low 70's. We took advantage of it and lugged the kids to the park to soak up some sun. Boy did they have fun! Granny Randi was a trooper letting them crawl all over her.

We got the Christmas tree up and Thanksgiving morning all the kids decorated it while Sean made waffles. That might have to be a new tradition around here. Have I mentioned how much I like it when Sean cooks? Boy it's a treat.

I got to make all the food for Thanksgiving which was harder than I thought it would be. Maybe not "harder" just more stressful. I think it turned out well. I tried a brined turkey this year and it turned out juicy and yummy. I'm not a huge fan of turkey but it was pretty good. It was lovely having almost everyone around the table (you were missed this year Jeremy, Becca and Sasha).