Thursday, August 30, 2012

Yellow sky at night

A few nights ago I looked out the window and noticed the sky looked a little different.  I called to the boys, who were getting ready for bed, so they could see, too.  They were in awe of the yellow hue.  I tried taking pictures.  The true color doesn't read well in the photo, but you can sorta get the idea. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Day of School!

School has begun - - for TWO of my boys!
Ajay started last Wednesday and Alex started this Wednesday.   Ajay wasn't so excited, Alex was excited.
Ajay, I guess, has a fairly strict teacher this year.  Last year he had a super bubbly teacher.  This year, the teacher makes you "owe" minutes from recess for things.  Example:  Ajay thought I hadn't signed a paper and sent it back Monday.  He didn't even look in his backpack and just told the teacher I didn't send it.  This meant he (and most of the class) had to miss out on 5 minutes of recess.  From what I gather, the whole class owes a whole recess to the teacher tomorrow because kids lined up on the wrong tile in the hallway during restroom break.  I spoke with another teacher and she said at first, she thought this teacher was too strict but then she realized that it helps to prepare the kids for 3rd grade.  I actually don't mind that Ajay's teacher is strict with the children!
Alex came out from his first day of class, took my hand, and started walking to the van (looking oh so cute in his glasses!).  As we walked, he looked up at me and announced that he likes school "because they got Nana and Papa's kind of cereal." - ooh, a sweet cereal? " The square, bendy kind." - must've been Golden Grahams.  Oh, AND they got milk!  Bonus!  I told him later in the day that I think they'll get different snacks each day.  Today when I picked him up, he took my hand, we started walking towards the van and he announced "You were right, we DO get different snacks each day!  Today we got cookies and juice!" 
Not surprising that on both days, the first thing Alex talked about was snack.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

August so far

A little of this and a little of that.

All three of our little monkeys.

Ajay helped wrap Aren up after his bath and said "He's so cute!!" so I took a picture of the two of them.

Biju changed our air filter and had a couple of helpers.

Finding toys in the big boys bedroom.

Playing a game with the cups from the dentists office.

That big dead tree across the street was FINALLY getting cut down!

It was quite a big deal!  (We even paused lunch to watch the main part of the tree come crashing down.)
I was lucky enough to be a tester for this pattern before the designer listed it on Ravlery.   I love it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Staying cool

We hadn't gone to the zoo all summer and we discovered they were holding their last "spray-down" day of the season the day after we went to the amusement park.  Since Biju had taken Thursday and Friday off from work, we took the boys out to a Chinese buffet and then headed over to the zoo.

We made them wear their trunks but didn't tell them where we were going or why they had to wear swimwear.  They were thrilled when they finally found out!

It was another hot day so we brought their umbrellas along for portable shade.  And also made great use of my sister's baby stroller we were borrowing!

Time to go get sprayed down by the fire department!

The "puddle" was more like a lake!  Ajay is showing how deep the water was out in the middle.

Aren got a little wet, too....then went and played near Daddy's feet.  In dirt and mulch. 

Having fun with the fire truck and their umbrellas.

Aren enjoying the turtles in the water.

Looking forward to cooler weather so we can spend a longer time looking at the animals.  

Monday, August 13, 2012


Alex is sporting a new look. 

Last week was filled with appointments.  Alex and Ajay got their teeth cleaned Tuesday, I got mine cleaned Wednesday, Alex and Ajay had eye doctor appointments on Thursday and Ajay went back to the dentist to have his sealants put in on Friday.  (Sealants are "painted" on their adult molars that have come in to fill in the cracks so food/germs don't get in there and cause cavities.  The hygienist explained it to the boys as a raincoat for their teeth.) Both boys made it into the "No Cavity Club" again - which is always good news!

As for eye health - we knew both Ajay and Alex have an astigmatism and would eventually need glasses.  I can only assume Aren will, too.  Every time we go in to the eye doctor we're told "Ajay is fine for now but he might need them next year."  We were told the same thing on Thursday, again.   The real shocker came when Alex wasn't able to tell the assistant what the graphics were on the screen far away. 

He'd rattled off the shapes (cake, horse, phone) when they were close up to him but he had a hard time figuring things out when they were on the wall further away.  I saw him pause, widen his eyes a bit to try to bring the picture into focus, and then take a wild guess as to what it was.  He'd then look to the assistant with a questioning look, as if to ask "Did I guess right?"

His right eye is 20/30 while his left eye is still (thankfully) at 20/20.  We were told that we could wait 6 months and come back in to see how things were progressing.  There was the risk that his good eye would compensate too much for the bad eye and the bad eye would stop trying.  If that happened, we would have to put a patch over the good eye and help the bad eye re-strengthen.  We also were told that while we could put it off for awhile longer, glasses were inevitable.  We decided to go ahead and fill his prescription so he could start wearing them before he starts Pre-K next week.  I figure it's better for his classmates to get to know him with glasses right off the bat, than to meet him without. 

He doesn't need them full time, just enough each day to help the bad eye.  We don't want it giving up on us :)  So he'll likely wear them for Pre-K  (9-noon) and whenever he watches t.v.  Other than that, he can go without.  

When we went to pick out the frames on Saturday we were faced with quite a few decisions.  Hard plastic frames?  Metal frames?  Will the glasses slide down his nose too easily?  What if his choice in frames doesn't line up with his parents choice in frames??  Luckily, we all liked the same pair.  I think it's because they just look so good on him that even he noticed.  At one point, after we'd chosen the frames, he was walking around looking in all of the different  mirrors in the store.  He was taking the frames off, putting them on, taking them off, putting them on.  He took them off and said "I don't look regular anymore."  Which was great that he was already getting used to the look of them on his face.

An hour or so later, after we'd picked them up, I asked if they helped him see and he said they did.  I then asked "Can you see better?  Or worse?"  and he said "They work."  (I guess his hearing needs some help, too, since he thought I asked if they were better or worked.)  He also made comments about the way he could see while we were driving home. 

We've been working with him on the best way to handle his glasses.  We've told him to only touch the wires, not the lenses.  And our most used phrase is "If they're not on your face, they're in the case."  Yesterday I found them on the back of the toilet, so that lesson is still in-progress. 

This morning he came out, got his glasses, and told me "Hey, Mom, I'm kinda interested in these!" while tapping his frames.  Very good, Alex, very good. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The drive back home

Once we finished up riding the rides and decided it was almost time to go home, we had one last stop to make.  We splurged on Dippin' Dots.  A first for everyone!

Ajay chose vanilla.

Alex chose Banana Split.  Biju and I got a large vanilla to share.  Alex, however, didn't like the banana split flavor, so he shared the vanilla with Daddy and I shared the banana split with Aren.


Close up of the (melting) dots.
Then we headed out to the parking lot and started our drive home.  We put on a video to watch, but Alex and Aren slept through quite a bit of the drive back.

Not sleeping, yet getting his own form of rest. 

Good thing babies/toddlers are flexible!

We enjoyed our day at the amusement park.  Every once in awhile, Biju asks who wants to go back to that place and Ajay and Alex jump up and yell "ME!!!"  I'm sure we'll have to plan another trip for next summer. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Recipe Wednesday - Spaghetti Squash Indian Style

Do you have a lot of spaghetti squash growing in your garden and you need some new ideas on how to cook it?  My mom shared 4 squash with us last time we went up for a visit.  2 were for our family, 2 were for my sisters family.  However, when I told my sister that Mom had sent spaghetti squash home for her, she said "no thank you."  So that left me with a lot of squash to use and no idea what to do with them.  (My family isn't big on spaghetti, really.)

I know Indian food is very forgiving.  Once you have all the different spices in your cabinet, you can cook just about anything you want Indian Style.   I did a practice run, of course, to be sure I liked it before I cooked it all like that.

To Start, prep your squash:
Set your oven to 350deg. F
Slice your squash down the middle and scoop out the "guts" - I've read the seeds can be saved and baked up like pumpkin seeds.
Place your de-seeded squash "meat" side down on a baking sheet
Bake for about 45 min. or so - the time will depend on how many squash you have in the oven.  I had 4 so it took awhile.  Once you're able to pierce the flesh easily with a fork, it is done.
(Remove from oven, shut the oven off)
After the squash has cooled a bit, scoop out the flesh.  This should come out very easily!

If I remember correctly, this was all 4 squash scraped into the bowl.
At this point you can cook it right away with whatever spice/sauce you want, or you can put it in the fridge/freezer for later use.  Since I did a practice run, I took a little bit of squash but put the rest into the fridge.  (As you can guess, we enjoyed the practice bit and used up the rest of the squash in the same manner.)

(As I mentioned earlier, Indian food is very forgiving.  Just season it however you want it, with as much/little of each spice that you want.) 

Spaghetti Squash - Indian Style
1-2 Tbs. Oil
1-2 tsp. mustard seed
1/2 - 1 onion - chopped
1-2 tsp. Turmeric
1-2 tsp. Coriander powder
1-2 tsp. Ground Cumin
1-3 tsp. Garam Masala (Store bought Garam Masala can be quite spicy, so start small and build once you know the level of spice your mix is.  My mother-in-law makes ours for us and is careful to make the mix flavorful but not spicy, for me and the kids.)
Salt (a couple of shakes)
Prepared Spaghetti Squash

In a dutch oven, heat the oil over medium/med-high heat.  Add seeds, once they pop add in onion.  Cook for a few minutes, then add in your spices.  You want to be sure to cook your spices for a minute or two so they release all of their flavor (and so they don't taste raw).  Add in your squash and stir until coated in the spices.  This could take up to a full minute of stirring to be sure everything is distributed.

During my practice run, I tried this by itself and decided it did taste better with rice.  Then I stirred in a dollop of yogurt and it was YUM.  The yogurt really made all the difference.  I think it helped bring out the flavors. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Amusement Park

We hadn't specifically told the boys where we were going for the day.  They knew we'd borrowed my sisters stroller for this event (instead of pushing Aren around in our umbrella stroller), we'd packed a whole case of bottled water, and we needed tickets to get in.  Just that morning we'd also told them the name of the place we were going but the name didn't mean anything since they'd never heard of it. 

We arrived, walked in, grabbed a map and tried to figure out what to do.  The kids found a log ride and decided they wanted to go down that first, so after grabbing a bite to eat, that's what they did.  Aren and I hung out in the shade.  I kept pouring water on him and I poured a little onto his tray for him to splash around in. 

Splashy splashy!

We also borrowed a wagon from my sister to help lug around the things we'd need for the day (a cooler with water, the boys' umbrellas for shade, the diaper bag, etc.).

Biju rode this one by himself - it went completely upside down.  The boys wanted to ride this but were too short.  After Biju got done, Ajay had decided he didn't want to ride it anymore, but Alex was still begging to go!

Biju rode this ride with Ajay, since he was tall enough for this - it was the kind where you sit and let your feet dangle.  It was a long-ish line.  Can you see them waiting over there through the bars?After watching them go, I thought maybe I could have even ridden it.  (In case you're wondering, I'm not a big fan of fast, upside down or whirly-spinny rides.)

While we waited for Daddy and Brother to ride that ride, I kept pouring water on the other two.  Alex decided to form Alex's hair into a little "mo-hawk."
Spiky hair.

After awhile we found the area with rides geared more towards children.  And the boys busted out their umbrella's to help stay cool.  It was around 110deg. F.  (about 43deg. C.)

Aren fell asleep - whew!  It was only about a half hour nap, but at least it was a nap.

Canoeing, canoeing, la-la-la-la-la!!

Not a great picture of me by any means, but here I am - arm sleeves rolled up, water poured all over me, ball cap, red face.  (Have I mentioned it was hot?)
The boys went on a swing ride.  We were afraid maybe it would go up too high for Ajay's liking, but it wasn't too bad.  Ajay likes the rides, but Alex seems to be our little dare-devil.

The boys didn't want to stop riding rides, but we were able to lead them into an air-conditioned building for a bathroom break and discovered we were about right on time for a magic show.  That was great fun for the boys to see and it gave me a cool, dark place to nurse Aren.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Take a little trip

Biju took a couple of days off from work this week and we did a couple of family centered activities.  As one would imagine, I have tons of photos and video clips so I will try to narrow it all down to a select few.  I will also split things up so I'm not photo-bombing you again like I did with our Independence Day post.

Biju is able to get discount tickets to a few fun places through his employee club.  He bought some tickets to an amusement park a little over 2 hours away.  The kids and I hit the library on Wednesday and we picked up a couple of videos to watch on the drive. 

However, I didn't want them zoning out on the movies the whole way there so I packed each kid an activity bag.  The night before we went I set out everything I thought the boys might need/want.

Aren had some fun toys, a Buddy, some food.  The other two had some crayons (in that purple tube thing - we got these in India, it was a container full of candy - perfect for holding crayons.  And glad we used this because it was so hot the crayons melted while we were inside the park!), coloring books, snacks, the neck pillows I made a couple of years ago, and a lapboard with activities clipped on - Travel Bingo, and Ajay had a couple of Sudoku puzzles. And a few other things.

All shoved inside these bags, ready to travel!

Alex working on his travel bingo.

Ajay also working on bingo.

Aren hanging out just before conking out for most of the drive.  Yay for naps!
They stayed occupied pretty well and only asked for a video late in the drive.  I took along my latest crochet project and did a few rows on it.  (It is going to be a time consuming project so I'll be working on it for awhile!)  Biju, of course, drove.  It was an easy drive and the kids stayed happy.  Nice! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Just a'swangin'

Anyone singing that song now? 
"Lil' Charlotte she's as pretty as the angels when they sing....."
ANYhoo...I digress. 

A pic I took of the boys this week with their cousin Paige, whom we got to play with for a few days:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Recipe Wednesday - Gelatin Ideas

Quick and cool treats are popular around this time of year.  Here are two ways we've fixed our gelatin this summer:

Lime Jell-O with watermelon juice!
Boil the recommended amount of hot water and mix with the gelatin powder.  When it is time to add the cold water, replace that with (equal amounts of) the juice you're always left with after you cut up a watermelon.  Let set.

Pineapple Jell-O with Mandarin Oranges
Make the pineapple flavored gelatin as directed on the box.  Let chill for about 2 hours, until it starts to get gloppy.  Plunk in some mandarin oranges (I used them from a can, drained).  Let set.

Nice and refreshing.  And don't forget gelatin always tastes better with whipped cream!

 Oh, and Monday we used a box of Peach gelatin to make up a fresh batch of play dough.  I did add a bit of orange food coloring because the peach jello seemed a bit too pale.  Smells great, though!

Here are the kids playing with it again on Tuesday:

We found this recipe on the web (on three different sites).  One website estimated the making time to be about 8 minutes.

1 c. flour
1/2 c. salt
2 Tbs. cream of tartar
2 Tbs. oil (we used canola)
1 c. warm water
1 (3oz) box gelatin (whatever flavor you want for color and scent)

Mix all together in a medium-sized sauce pan.  Heat over medium-low heat.  Stir until it's thickened and and forms a ball.  Dump out onto table and knead until smooth.  (I've seen some recipes say to store this in the fridge but I never have....we just keep it in a baggie with the air squeezed out.  The kids play with that batch until I figure it is getting too old to play with.  I decide it is too old when it either gets too sticky OR gets too dried out.)