Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Recipe Wednesday - A better day

This is a much needed recipe for myself.  Today was a rough day for me as a mother so I'm going to put this recipe up so I can come back here and look at it tomorrow.  And again and again as often as needed.

Ingredients Needed
2 Ears - to listen with
2 Eyes - to see the good
1 Mouth - to say positive things, not negative
2 arms - to give and receive hugs as needed
* May require the use of Mouth again to give smooches to little ones
1 Brain - to help keep you focused that the children are children for such a short period of time and you don't want to spoil this time by stressing out over the little things. 

I admit, this is a bit cheesy but don't we all need a bit of cheese now and then?  Nachos, anyone??

Do you have a good recipe for A Better Day to share?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fall = Leaves, Baking and Halloween!

Helping to make our favorite muffins (Zucchini/Carrot/Raisin)

Camera was on the wrong setting but I like the effect.

After going out Trick-or-Treating.  Alex had his costume off before I even made it in the door.  After pleading with him to put it back on for pictures, this is what we ended up with - put on backwards.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Aren: 6 months

Our youngest child turned 6 months old yesterday.  I gotta say, we really enjoy having Aren in our family.  The boys just adore him to pieces.  When Alex hears Aren waking from a nap he asks very eagerly if he can go in and visit him.  When Ajay gets home from school he comes up to Aren and starts talking in that high-pitched voice you use to talk to babies.  And Biju and I go all ga-ga over him, too.  I could just stare at him all day, with those dark brown, loving, sweet, innocent eyes.  Biju comes home from work, gets his afternoon tea and sits down for his turn at baby-cuddles and talks to him in Malayalam. 

Have I mentioned how much we love this little guy?

I'm really taking the time to enjoy the baby stage with Aren.  When Ajay was a baby I was so focused on what new developments were happening, what he would do next, and if he was doing them ahead of schedule.  When Alex was a baby he screamed and cried so much and slept so horribly that I wished (and cried) away the first three months.
Aren is a very happy-go-lucky baby.  I'm so glad he wasn't our first child because I would've been misled into thinking that all babies are this easy.   He is, for the most part, a wonderful sleeper.  He is extremely tolerant of the boys.  He takes it all in stride when Alex invades Aren's personal space.  ("Alex, everyone has an imaginary bubble that is their personal space.  You have to respect their space." "Alex, honey, please stop licking the baby."  "Alex, Aren's arms aren't supposed to bend that way.") 

Aren thinks his older brothers are hilarious.  A real riot.  He grins and giggles at them whenever they're around.  And believe me when I tell you the babe has an infectious grin.  It just warms your heart. 

He's been having some weight woes, however.  The little guy truly is a little guy.  He hasn't gained much.  I had him weighed earlier this week and he was only 12 pounds 1 ounce.  But the two lactation consultants I've met with and our pediatrician don't seem worried all that much.  He's meeting all of his developmental milestones (if you lay him on the floor expect him to be in a different position/location when you come back) and, as the pedi says "He doesn't look or act like a sick kid."  Plus there are smaller men in the gene pools on both sides of the family.  (Biju's father is shorter than I am and, if I remember correctly, it took my dad until his early teen years to even reach the 5-foot mark.)  So we're sticking to our regular routine of breastfeeding on demand with the occasional bottle of formula (if my sister babysits him, or if Biju wants to give him a bottle before bed).  He has his 6 mo. appointment at the end of the month so we'll see how he's doing then.  I think we'll try giving him some rice cereal today.  (We tried a month or so ago and he wasn't ready.)
So to round out my baby-brag-post I'll include a few pictures.  Because who wouldn't want to see more of those big brown eyes??

This one is his "official" 6 month photo taken w/ his buddy.  The onesie he is wearing is sized 3 mo. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Recipe Wednesday - Kettle Corn

I just made up a batch of kettle corn and I'm having a hard time keeping my hands out of the popcorn bowl long enough to type!  I found this recipe a couple of years back on  I've sorted through a few of the comments and figured out what seems helpful.

1/4 cup oil (I use either canola or coconut)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup popcorn kernals

Use a large pan (like a dutch oven) with a lid.  You'll certainly want the lid so your popcorn doesn't fly all over, right?  Put the pan over medium heat and pour in the oil plus three kernals of popcorn.  Once the three kernals pop the oil is ready - add in the sugar and let it melt (you might need to stir it around a bit with a rubber spatula).  The melting should happen pretty quickly.  Pour in the kernals, replace the lid and swirl to coat the kernals in the sugar/oil.  Alternate 3 seconds on the heat and then shaking for three seconds.  This is to keep the sugar from burning.  Continue alternating until the popping has slowed.  Remove the lid and sprinkle in some salt (to your taste).  Pour into another bowl - have it ready and waiting.  If you keep the popcorn in the hot pan, or take too long to transfer it to another bowl, the sugar and popcorn on the bottom of the pan will burn.  Lightly brown (carmelized) is yum.  Burned black is not yum.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Pumpkin Patch

A few weeks back we were lucky enough to be invited to go to a pumpkin patch!  It was great fun.   
The kids first got to learn a bit about how pumpkins grow and the different kinds of pumpkins (and gords) there are.
Then we took a tractor and wagon ride out to the fields so all the kids could pick out a pumpkin. Here are a few of the kiddos discussing their finds.
Ajay in the air on the see-saw...

Alex in the air on the see-saw (although they weren't riding the see-saw together).

A little bouncing fun.  A big "pillow" filled with air.  Ajay tried to do a flip and landed wrong.  He was in pain for weeks afterwards.  I'm actually wondering if perhaps he cracked a rib!!??

Alex sitting on the ground.  (He had actually just come down a big slide
Here he is going back up the hill to slide back down - if that gives you any idea of how big the slide was.

We packed a lunch and enjoyed our meal in the fresh air.

The boys could.not.wait to decorate their pumpkins!  (I was the mean mommy who made them wait 'til the next day.)

The finished project on display on our porch.  Ajay's is on the left, Alex's on the right.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A new bed

I've been having some major back pain recently (starting about 4 months ago) and Biju and I thought perhaps we could blame it on our bed.  It wasn't an old bed as we bought it new about 6 years ago, but it was still pretty smooshy in the middle.  We decided to buy a new bed to see if that was the problem.  See, I had gone to a chiropractor 3x with no ease in the pain, and I recently finished up an 8 course treatment with a Physical Therapist with still no ease in pain.  We were wondering if maybe all the good I was doing for my back was being undone each night as I slept. 

Also, even though it isn't a nightly occurrence, we occasionally end up with small children sharing our bed space. 

So we upgraded to a king sized Tempurpedic.  It has taken some getting used to and in the beginning my back hurt more when I woke up than before.  But from what we read and what we were told while out shopping, these beds are made to get you/keep you aligned.  I'm hoping that the new pain is only temporary as my back lines itself up and stays that way.  (I must say it is already starting to feel better here in recent mornings.)

And yes, there is a lot more room for children now.  No more fear of rolling over and squishing a little one.  No longer will a parent cling to the edge of the bed hoping a stray foot doesn't send them tumbling to the floor.  (Although for the first time the other morning we ended up in the H position .... Biju on one side, me on the other and Alex laying perpendicular in the middle!)

Here are the boys breaking in the new bed.  We were actually told to let them bounce on the bed the day it was delivered to "break open those cell walls" so the bed wouldn't be too firm.

If you're inclined to believe such things you might wonder if there was "someone else" bouncing on the bed with the boys that day!!  (See the orb to the left of Alex?)
Now, as it turns out, I had a physical recently.  Since I had had no relief in my back pain my doctor decided to have some X-Rays done.  She (and the radiologist who looked at the x-rays) discovered that I had some fusing going on where there shouldn't've been.  Something about my vertebra and sacrum.  She said sometimes it doesn't bother people with this same "condition" and sometimes it does.  I guess in my case, it does.  I can either continue PT or have some sort of shot administered.  I guess I'll have to do some research and decide which is the best course of action!

We're still keepin' the bed, though.

And here is my favorite picture that I took of the boys that day:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Bug Lady - Part TWO!

As I mentioned in this post a couple of days back Ajay won a classroom visit from the Bug Lady.  Today was that day!  Ajay was out of school yesterday because he was ill. Sore throat, nasty cough, slight fever, so he stayed home to recoup.  We were both relieved when he awoke better this morning.  Still coughing, but better overall. 

He climbed into our bed this morning around 5:30am telling me he was worried the Bug Lady would forget she was supposed to come to do her presentation today.  And then he couldn't get back to sleep!  (He got kicked out of the bed around 6:30 because I was afraid he would wake Alex, who had come into our bed around 1am .... more on the bed situation coming up in a future post.) 

We got to school right on time and since Mrs. B had asked us to stay for the presentation we came prepared with our camera.  The bug-show was to begin 30 min. after the school bell rang so Ajay and his classmates sat down and drew on their dry erase boards while they waited.  Mrs. B even asked Alex if he'd like to draw, too, so he joined right in.  A trip to the bathroom and a drink was preceded by a firm yet gentle warning that anyone not behaving in the hallway or bathroom would not be able to see the Bug Lady.

When she arrived she had her dog with her.  What a sweet dog, he was, too!  However, some of the children (Alex included) freaked out when he came in.  Alex hid behind my elbow as I sat nursing Aren.  One little girl worked herself up into a right panic!  She actually chose to miss the whole presentation because of the pooch (who laid in the back of the room and slept through most of the show).

The kids were great.  I think they were very well behaved - it helped that the teachers stayed on top of things.  When the kids got to a level above a loud whisper they were asked to quiet back down again.  The bug lady also did a very good job of describing what the kids would be seeing, hearing and feeling.  And she demonstrated a sign to give if they didn't want to get close up with a creature (hand in front of their face).

Giving her introduction - which included how she got Henry, the dog, age 4.  Unfortunately, he was abused as a pup.  Fortunately, he was found and fixed up right and is now a "working dog" - he goes to schools with her and even has a job of his own - he works at a library at a school.  He wears a special vest and when children are done looking at books they put the books in his vest and he returns them to the front desk. 
All four 1st grade classes (over 80 students) were invited and there was also another special visitor - Daddy! He wasn't able to stay the whole time but since Ajay had asked him to come he took a little break from work.

The presentation we saw today was longer than the one we saw at the park last month.  There were other animals besides just bugs - such a great experience for all involved!

Ajay taking his turn to put his hand in the container full of big bugs.

Alex petting Sonic, the hedgehog.

One of the teachers wanted some baby cuddles.

Alex holding the parakeet.  Only one kid freaked out and yanked his hand back, causing the bird to jump to the ground and start walking around.  This kid was in the front row so the Bug Lady reassured the other children that the boy wasn't hurt, just tickled by the birds feathers. Almost everyone took the opportunity to hold this cute little lady.
We've enjoyed ourselves both times we've seen the Bug Lady.  If you're local and have the chance, be sure to check her out! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Recipe Wednesday - Apple Crisp

It's that time of year!  It is pretty easy to get your hands on some apples right about now so I thought I would throw out this Apple Crisp recipe.  I always have to search All Recipes for an apple crisp style that I like.  I finally wrote one down with the changes I wanted - I made this version over the weekend and it was met with rave reviews.

I used a pie plate for my crisp - that seemed about the right size.  I used the trace amount of butter left on the wrapper to coat the pie-plate. Or you could use a butter/oil spray.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Apple Mixture
1/2 c. sugar (I used white this time, but brown might go well?)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 c. water
3 apples (whatever your favorite kind is) - sliced, peeled

Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg then whisk in the water.  Toss the apples with this mixture and set aside.

1 c. oats
1c. flour
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 butter (one stick)

First, in a medium bowl, mix together all but the butter.  Then cut in the butter - use two forks to break the butter up and incorporate it with the oat mixture.  You should end up with pea-sized pieces. 
Take half of the oat mixture and pack it tightly into the bottom of your pan.  Add on your apples, then crumble on the rest of the oat mix. 

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes. 

Goes especially well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 
Just sayin'.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Bug Lady

As mentioned previously Alex is now in a class that is for three year olds, one night a week.  Biju and I take turns attending class with Alex while the other parent takes Ajay to a "Kwai Ton Do" class (although most of you would know it as Tae Kwan Do).  A few weeks back we were asked to go to one of the parks in town instead of going to our regular classroom. 

We were to meet....The Bug Lady!

The Bug Lady brought all sorts of bugs and creepy crawly things. It was nice, actually, seeing some of these things close up.  And it was really nice seeing some of the creatures close up while still in a container!  At least now I know what a Black Widow and a Brown Recluse look like!

A centipede
The underside of the ::shudder:: brown recluse.

Millie, the millipede. So big!
This container held a couple of butterflies.  The Bug Lady described how the butterflies have to flap their wings to get the blood flowing - and there was butterfly blood all over this net. 
Then all of the children were given nets to go explore the park and try to find bugs of their own.  They were also told that there were big plastic bugs hidden out there and if you found one you got a special surprise. 

 Ajay did find one, in fact, and his surprise was a free visit to his classroom by the Bug Lady.  How awesome is that??  He was so excited to give his teacher the news.  I do believe she has set up the visit for this coming Thursday. 

Have you seen any awesome bugs lately? 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Camping Out

Last spring as I was meandering around our neighbors yard sale I noticed there was a tent for sale.  It was bundled up in a package but it looked like it could be pretty big.  I asked W how much it would cost.  He looked at his wife and they shrugged at each other.  He then turned to me and said "$20?" to which his wife exclaimed "Twenty??"  So W quickly revised his answer to "$10?" I said "Hmm.  Is it in good condition?"  and he said it was, it was just missing the cap that goes over the top to keep the rain out.  I figured surely we could get by without that.  Afterall, we were only planning on using it in our backyard.  If it rained, they could just come back in the house.  Sold.

W carried it across the street for me (keep in mind this was last spring when Aren was still a bulge in my belly).  I showed the package to Biju when he got home and then we put it away. 

And away it stayed for the whole blistering summer. 

Finally, with Fall knocking on our doorstep, we figured it was a good time to set up the tent and give the boys a tamed-down camping experience.

Biju went out and bought the needed groceries.   Hot dogs, buns, graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate.   Then we tried to set up the tent.   There were no instructions. Biju had never been camping before and I was just trying to remember how we set up tents in our yard when I was growing up.  I'm sure if you could've peeked over our fence you would've giggled at our attempts.

As you can see, we did get it put up.  There was even a topper - it certainly looks like something to keep the rain out.  Too bad we never figured out how to get it all put together the right way.

It ain't pretty, but it was sturdy enough to get into.  And to keep the wind off - the wind that wrapped the sheets around the line there in the background!

With sleeping arrangements in place (Biju would sleep in the tent with Ajay and Alex while I slept in the house in my comfy bed and Aren would sleep in his crib.) we headed to the garage to turn on our gas grill.  Time for s'mores.  (That's right, we were really roughing it!)

Ajay loved his S'more.  Alex didn't care as much for his. He ate a bite or two, got some on his PJs and gave me the rest.  After changing jammies, we got some paper, books and flashlights to go inside the tent.  We read a couple books, played shadow puppets and made some paper crafts - like this hat that Ajay made.

And Daddy made some airplanes for the boys to toss around.

Then it was time for bed.  The true test.  Would the boys actually sleep outside?  Could Mommy and Daddy keep their patience as the boys waffled between if they were brave enough or if they wanted to be inside.  Alex chose to stay in the tent, Ajay decided he wanted to sleep inside.  Then Ajay decided he wanted to go ahead and try sleeping outside.  Then Ajay and Alex both decided they were afraid of the wind and nighttime noises and they wanted to come in. 

So we set up an indoor tent.

But for some reason even this just wasn't right.  I'm thinking Ajay thought there wasn't enough room for both him and his brother. 

In the end everyone slept in their beds like any other night.  But at least we had fun while it all lasted and we can now say we tried our hand at camping. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Playing catch up

I've been really  bad about posting recently.  I don't think I've put much of anything up here except for recipes.

When I started this post, I thought I would just chuck all of the photos from October in here and call it a day.  However, that just won't do.  There are too many and I would lose over half of your by time you got to the 15th picture, I'm guessing.  So I'm going to try to line up some posts and toss in some (hopefully) witty commentary to go with the photos.

I'll start with a few things from September.

My good friend, Tonya, and her husband, Brian, welcomed baby Jazmine Sage. 

A close up of the baby blanket I crocheted for her.

When she was around 3 weeks (??) her mommy brought her by for a visit.
Alex started his First Things First class - for three year olds only.  They have a two hour class once a week with a parent (or other important adult in their life). 

I finished crocheting a 2nd wool cover for Aren.

Now I'll work on getting October taken care of.  Maybe I'll even get some November posts done IN NOVEMBER!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Recipe Wednesday - Tomato Garlic Ginger Rice

1 Tbs. oil (we use canola)
1/2 Tbs. mustard seed (I'm sure you can omit this if you don't have it on hand)
1 red onion, chopped into big bite-sized pieces
1 head of garlic, chopped
1 finger worth of ginger (index finger length) - peeled, chopped
7-8 Roma sized tomatoes, chopped into big pieces
2-3 c. cooked rice (to your preference)
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add mustard seeds.  Once they pop, add onion and cook until almost tender.  Add in garlic and ginger and continue cooking until onions are tender.  Add tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes.  Mix in the rice, heat through. 

As you can guess, this is strong on garlic and ginger but that's what gives it the flavor.  I really enjoyed this when Biju made it up.