Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week 4: Project 366


Jan 22, 2012. Our 'pancake sunday' tradition has unfortunately fallen to the wayside since we moved in September. We tried to revive it this morning with a breakfast at Perkins. Little Max pretty much annihilated his chocolate chip pancakes. Atta boy!


Jan 23, 2012.  The lone yellow flower on the hibiscus plants that are overwintering in our dining room.  A bright pop of sunshine on this otherwise dreary day.



Jan 24, 2012 -- I was lucky enough to get to visit with my Grandma my first night in San Diego!  Had a great time at dinner with her and my Aunt Jacquie!


Jan 25, 2012 - visiting the bonobos at the San Diego Zoo -- the whole reason for being in San Diego in the first place!


Jan 26, 2012 - the air tram ride over lunch sounded like a good idea until we got lost in the zoo and were running to make it back before the meetings started again....



 Jan 27, 2012 - I was lucky to get to go out with family two of the nights I was in San Diego.  It was my Uncle Paul's birthday, and he was treated to this wonderful birthday balloon hat.


Jan 28, 2012 - we finally got free time on the last day to tour the San Diego zoo, which was very beautiful.  The elephants (Asian) were very photogenic.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Week 3: Project 366

Week 3 of Project 366!  I'm impressed I've stuck with it this long already.  There have been days where I haven't snapped a picture all day long and have to scramble at the end to capture something, but I've still managed to capture good snapshots of our life as it is happening...that will only get harder as the year goes on, I imagine...  But for now, enjoy!


Day 15:  Jan 15, 2012 -- my goals for the year are still going strong. Getting my workout in during the boys' naptime so we can enjoy our dinner tonight during our date night at Flemings.


Day 16:  Jan 16, 2012 -- I had the day off and the house to myself so I decided to paint the playroom. I love how the color looks in the sunshine with all the windows! (SW waterscape for those curious).


Day 17:  Jan 17, 2012:  a snowy commute into work this morning.  The roads were pretty slippery but the snow was still pretty as it came down...


Day 18:  Jan 18, 2012 -- many things in our household get repurposed, but none is more favored than this metal strainer.  It gets worn as a hat, or a mesh fencer face mask.  Don't worry, we do wash it before we actually need to use it!


Day 19:  Jan 19, 2012: brushing teeth after the nightly bath time. Sam's too short to use the step stool, so he gets to sit on the countertop.


 Day 20:  Jan 20, 2012 - the boys help shovel out the driveway after our 'snow storm' today.

Day 21:  Jan 21, 2012. Laundry day in our house -- quite the pile up!

You may notice that the past two weeks I have been posting weekly, Project 52 pictures.  This week I decided to stop doing that mainly because the pictures I ended up using for that project really weren't different from my Project 366 pictures -- and that is a lot more pictures to have to worry about or remember.  It's one picture a week, really, and if I keep with this picture a day thing, that will make me much happier in the end.  22 days and going strong!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pancake Sundays: lazy style


We've had a tradition of Pancake Sundays that has, unfortunately, fallen to the wayside since we moved. So, we decided that a trip to the local Perkins was in order to try to 'reinstate' this wonderful tradition. Max, of course, orders chocolate chip pancakes -- which he completely wolfed down this trip. I tend to share my breakfast with Sam -- and he pounds down his fair share of food as well. This morning he ate an entire pancake, some canadian bacon, my fruit bowl, and some of his daddy's omelet. He has quite the appetite.

video

Here's a little video of our morning adventure.  Gotta love the MusAC in the background.  Lovely.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tide Coldwater: Product Review

You may recall that one of my New Year's resolution was to go completely natural in my household cleansers.  I've made strides in a lot of areas of my house, but one spot that has been difficult for me to go 'green' with is with my laundry.

I have kids, a husband, a dog and a cat (and a fish, but he doesn't talk much so we forget about him a lot - actually surprised he is still alive as I can't remember the last time we fed him...).  Oh yeah, did I mention that my kids are BOYS?!?  So yes, we do have a LOT of dirty DIRTY laundry in our house.


Don't believe me?


a week's worth of laundry in our house
I've been using Tide already, and I really enjoy it -- both the fragrance AND its performance.  And, even though I've already  been washing my clothes in cold water for the last few years, I am happy to see some detergents going on the market SPECIFICALLY for cold water washing.  Now, I wasn't exactly sure what the difference WAS for a cold water detergent vs a normal one...at first I thought maybe it was just a marketing ploy to get people like me who are already washing in cold water to buy it, or to entice those people curious about washing in cold water to buy it... But, it turns out that there are some differences, according to Tide: 

"How it Works

Like most Tide detergents, Tide Coldwater contains surfactants. Surfactant molecules have two parts. One is "water loving" and the other is "water hating." The water-loving (hydrophilic) part breaks the surface tension of water. The water-hating (hydrophobic) part is attracted to oil and grease in soils, loosening and removing them from fabrics.

Tide Coldwater is specially designed with an increased amount of surfactant chemistry (as compared to regular Tide) that allows it to penetrate easily into fabrics. Tide Coldwater is also specially formulated with an increased amount of polymer technology (as compared to regular Tide) to suspend dirt particles to help prevent them from redepositing on fabrics, helping keep both your colors bright and your whites white."

I was recently given the chance by P&G’s Future Friendly Program and Shespeaks to test the new Tide Coldwater detergent, and I wasn't disappointed.  In fact, I think the fragrance in this formula works better in the cold water than the 'normal' detergents do because my clothes and sheets and towels seem have more fragrance to them.  Speaking of fragrance, I LOVE the way Tide smells -- that is one reason that going green in my detergents is going to be hard.  I am drawn to aromas and scents a lot, and i don't like to compromise this...

 

Anyway, if you want more opinions on Tide beside mine, you can read here about what other people are saying.


I guess the bottom line question is, will I continue to buy it?  My answer is:  Maybe.  I am a deal seeking, coupon cutting mom.  Tide coupons are rarely above $0.25 -- even doubled that is only $.50.  I have, on occasion, found higher valued coupons and combined those with in store specials to get a great deal on Tide detergent.  And when those stars are all aligned, I will continue to buy Tide -- because, overall, it is my favorite detergent when all is said and done...

SheSpeaksbutton

Side note:  I really REALLY wanted to do some before/after pictures with this sample test to really prove to you that it DOES work great in cold water to get things out like spaghetti sauce, juice, ketchup, chocolate, etc.  I seriously fed my kids all kinds of messy foods this week:  sloppy joes, tomato soup, etc and for whatever reason they seriously were the neatest eaters they have EVER been.  I'm not even kidding -- how is that even possible?  I'll try to post some pictures later if I can get them to make a mess on their clothes -- I'd better be careful about what I'm wishing for, LOL.

**disclaimer:  I received a free full sized product and gift card from SheSpeaks for this product review, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.  Thanks to SheSpeaks and P&G Future Friendly for this awesome opportunity**

Friday, January 20, 2012

Foodie Friday: Edamame Guacamole

Photo credit

Do you love gaucamole but always end up eating too much and regretting it?  Then you NEED to try making this Edamame Guacamole.  It is super delicious, and GOOD for you!  An added bonus is that the edamame helps keep the avocado from turning brown quickly!  It's a WIN-WIN!

I found this recipe in the Journal Sentinel last year as a recipe suggestion for the Superbowl (go PACK...just not this year apparently).  Serve it with yellow bell pepper strips and you've got yourself a great green and gold party food!

Edamame Guacamole (serves 6)

1 cup shelled edamame (about 12 ounces unshelled)
½ cup skim milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro plus cilantro for garnish (divided)
2 minced garlic cloves
2 jalapeno peppers
1 large ripe avocado
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Finely chopped yellow bell pepper for garnish
Cook edamame in salted boiling water 5 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.

Combine edamame, soymilk or milk, the 2 tablespoons cilantro, garlic and chiles, if using, in bowl of food processor.

Process until mixture is very smooth, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Peel and pit avocado and place in medium mixing bowl. Add lime juice and mash with a fork, leaving small chunks.

Add edamame mixture and stir just to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro and yellow peppers for a green and gold touch.  Serve with veggies (or tortilla chips if you are a rebel).

Nutrition per serving (serving size 1/6th of dip):
Calories: 124; Fat: 6.4g; Carbs: 11g; Protein: 7.9g; Cholesterol: 0.4mg

***This delicious take on guacamole is adapted from "Stop the Clock! Cooking" by Cheryl Forberg (Avery, 2003, $17.95).***

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sam - 20 months (yes, I know it's late)

Just in time for Sam's 21st month (yesterday), I bring you some 'all about Sam' at 20 months. The poor kid has fallen victim to 2nd child syndrome and I'm embarrassed that I can't even remember the last time I posted an update just on him.  I hope he doesn't hate me when he gets older... :)

So, I'll start with some stats:
At his 18 month appt (he was closer to 19 months at the time) Sam was:
height = 32.25" - 35%
weight = 23# 14.5 oz - 20%
head circ = 48 cm - 50%

He's a little lighter and a little shorter than his older brother at the same age, but has a bigger head.  LOL

In honor of his '20 months' I have compiled a list of 20 things about Sam I'd like to remember:

1.  Calls his big brother 'Mai' and uses his name quite frequently to ask us where Mai is, or to tattletale on Mai -- both of the boys are big tattle tails (although it is hard not to laugh at their tattle tailing at times  e.g. "Mom, Sam is looking at me...).  They do play together pretty well though, and Max is surprisingly tolerant of Sam.  They go on quite a few 'adventures' together which usually involve toys 'flying' around the house (like the house in UP) ...  Sam wants to do/have whatever big brother is doing or having -- so we do have to break up a few 'sharing' wars....

the boys on their 'puters' -- notice each has their own now....

2.  Sam is an AWESOME eater (Max was too at this age) and really enjoys digging into his foods.  He eats completely independently now -- with his own fork and spoon (doesn't like to accept help either).

3.  Is very good at asking please (PEAS!) and more -- and still signs along with these requests which melts my heart, especially when he starts frantically signing please over and over.  His 'tank u' is very sweet and spoken very softly.  LOVE it.  He likes eating food in 'cuppies' and will pull a 'cuppy' out of the cupboard and ask for 'cackers or sea-eral'

4.  LOVES all kinds of balls -- like obsessively LOVES them.  His favorite, by far, is the basketball and Max bought him a regulation size ball that I swear he would sleep with if I let him (which I do not).  He can play catch (and can actually catch the ball) and loves to kick his mini soccer ball around the house.

5.  We're working on his colors, and he knows them -- but not consistently.  Much like Max, his favorite colors at this age are yellow and blue.

6.  Calls all letters and numbers 'A' -- and likes to point out 'As' everywhere -- on shirts, on the TV, in books, in the bathtub, etc.  LOVES the ABC song and I hear him singing the tune of the song often with just the word 'Mom'....so sweet.....

7.  Is very adept at climbing onto things and is very fearless and brave and does it without thinking (we actually never had to worry about this with Max).  I just about freaked when I saw him standing on top of the coffee table one morning. He laughed at me.  Devil child.


8.  Sleeps GREAT.  Down without complaint around 7-7:30 each night and sleeps until 6-6:30 am (if he's not up already we have to wake him up by that time for school).  He takes one nap a day, in the afternoon for 2-3 hrs at a time.  Even if he wakes up earlier than we want to, he is generally very good about hanging out and playing in his crib for awhile.

9.  Is not shy AT ALL.  He loves to give hugs and kisses and is very trusting and obedient when I ask him to hug and kiss people.  Rarely has he balked at my request -- for example, on Xmas eve, we were over at a friend's house and he hugged and kissed most of the people there goodbye -- many of which he had never met before (and I caught him giving Grandma a big hug of the leg that night too when no one else was around!).  Love my little love bird.

10.  Gives me huge neck squeezes, open mouthed kisses, and nose kisses when I ask him to.  I ask him frequently.  Who wouldn't?


11.  Loves to pick out his own diaper -- cloth diaper -- because he loves the colors and patterns.  His favorite is the giraffe diaper.  I don't blame him, it is my favorite too.  He'd wear cloth diapers all the time if we could let him -- but daycare won't let us use them there....

12.  Has started to give huge cheeser smiles when we take pictures -- which is much better than his expressions in pictures in the past where he just sat there staring blankly at the camera, LOL.

13.  Still fits into his 18 month clothes and most of the 24 month clothes are much too big in his waist and length for his legs.  I still have to roll up some of his 18 month stuff!  I finally gave in and packed up most of the 12 month clothes, but he still wears a lot of those shirts.

Sam and Connor in their matching jammies on xmas eve

14.  LOVES stuffed animals -- he sleeps with two ellies (elephants), pup pup, monkey, worm, bear and of course, ba-ba.

15.  LOVES 'boo-cks" (books) and has to read at least 3 each night -- he would keep reading them over and over if we let him.

16.  Has started to sing along (melody wise, not necessarily word wise) to many of the songs I sing to him.  Some nights, he lays back in my arms and looks up at my face and puts his finger on my mouth while I sing the songs.  He gets a kick out of watching my lips move and asks for more and more.  He really loves Mary had a Little Lamb right now and asks for the 'mary lamb' song.

17.  Loves to help around the house and vacuums, sets the table, cleans up toys (sometimes without being asked).

18.  Loves to slide down stairs on his belly and goes so fast sometimes that I worry about rug burn on his belly (especially now that he has a full set of stairs to go down between our second and first floors!)

I swear it was just a candy cane, Mom!

19. Loves having water poured over his head in the bathtub -- it takes his breath away and he struggles to catch it, but sometimes he asks for 'more' before he's even caught his breath!  It is hilarious -- especially considering his older brother screams 'my eyes! my eyes!' if even a drop of water gets near them.  I NEED to get a video of this.  He's been doing it for awhile, and I never get tired of it!

20.  His vocabulary is exploding and he is starting to use more multiple word sentences and phrases.  He speaks in a very soft whisper voice when I ask him a question, but has a much louder and DEMANDING voice that he can and does use frequently.  Those times are usually preceded by a loud "MAAMAA!"  It seems that most every sentence he uses starts with MAMA!  That's ok...I don't mind having Momma's boys....truly....

Seriously, how did I get so lucky with two such remarkable boys?  I love these kids...I love watching them grow and learn and become their own little people.  As much as they are alike, they have so many wonderful differences...and I love them for both the similarities and what they don't have in common.  What was I worried about when I cried right before Sam was born and said to myself that I wasn't sure if I had enough love in my heart for two babies?  I have PLENTY.  My heart just grew to carry it all.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Week 2: Project 366/52

Day 8:  Concentration.  Little Max focuses on the target as he plays with the 'shoot gun' at friend Jack's fourth birthday party.


Day 9:  Getting Comfortable.  Despite having a very comfortable dog bed, Mason insists on sleeping in the strangest places. I have no idea how this could even be remotely comfortable...


Day 10:  Get to Work.  My desk is deceivingly clean at the start of my work day.  And that is my pink stapler next to my tape dispenser :)


Day 11:  Healthy lunch.  This photo should look familiar as I used it when I posted the recipe for the Havana salad I made earlier this week.  Delicious salads like this help me stick to my diet -- and so far it has been working!  Down 1 lb!


Day 12:  Sick Baby.  Sam got sent home sick from school Wed afternoon and stayed home on Thursday with Daddy.  I can count on one hand the number of times EITHER child has fallen asleep on the couch, so you know he must've not been feeling well.  Such a sweet monkey...


Day 13:  Car Ride.  My favorite moment happened seconds after I snapped this picture with my cell phone.  The following conversation ensued:  Me: "Max, you are so cute!  How did you get to be so cute?"  Max: "Mom!  God made me like this!"  I love this boy.



Day 14:  The Ladies.  Two of my best friends hanging out at Payton's SEVENTH birthday party.  I can't believe how fast time flies!!  These amazing women have been in my life for almost TWENTY years. Love them!


Week 2:  Lunching with Dinosaurs.  We don't eat meals alone often in this house...better watch out, that dinosaur looks hungry and might take a bite out of your sandwich!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Foodie Friday: Stef's Havana Salad



I made this delicious salad at the recommendation of my friend (who also happens to be a pretty awesome personal trainer) Heather, when she pinned it for a group of us mommies she is advising as we are currently trying to get healthy.

Of course, because I rarely follow a recipe EXACTLY, I made some alterations to it (which made it quite delicious in my opinion!  Check it out!


Stef's Havana Salad
(original recipe by Ashley Modlin on www.tastebook.com) 

Ingredients

  • 1 large avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 red onion diced finely
  • 1/4 cup leek dops finally chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh fennel tops, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 4 cups brown rice, cooked (you can substitue quinoa or rice pasta here also)
  • 15 ounces black beans, cooked, rinsed and drained
  • 8 ounces white northern beans, cooked, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the avocado, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, cumin and black pepper and toss until coated.
  2. In a small pot brown the minced garlic and add the beans and cook for 5 mins over medium-low heat.
  3. Add beans, rice, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, leek and fennel to avocado mixture and mix thoroughly.
  4. Let the salad chill in the refrigerator before serving.  (Serve on top of baby spinach and salad greens for an extra burst of healthiness!)

Notes

Calories: 298; Fat: 7g; Carbs: 51g; Protein: 11g; Cholesterol: 0 mg. (6 servings)
     
***The salad keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator.  I squeezed 1/4 lime on top of it the other day to give it an extra kick.  Delicious!  I will definitely be making this again -- and it got the thumbs up from the picky bean/salad eater in the family also (big Max).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Week 1 - Project 366/52

Here are the photos I took for my first week of Project 366 and Project 52

Day 1:  Kissing cousins.  Sam gives his cousin Lilly kisses to cheer her up during a recent visit. Jan 1, 2012

Day 2:  Fire Watching.  We lit a fire in our fireplace for the very first time since moving in.  Sam was so entranced by the fire he just sat watching it... Jan 2, 2012


Day 3:  Spoon Fighting.  Sam strikes a pose during dinner time.  Sam makes this face all the time whenever he gets excited - he doesn't make a sound when he does it, he just makes the face -- it cracks us up every time... Jan 3, 2012


Day 4:  Soccer Boy.  Sam is obsessed with all things ball.  Here he is holding his soccer ball that Daddy bought him in Denmark.  He is really good at kicking it around the house, throwing it and even catching it! Jan 4, 2012

Day 5.  High temps.  It actually got closer to 60 the next day, but this day it got in the middle-upper forties...in JANUARY!!  Jan 5, 2012

Day 6.  Potato Dumplings.  The kids won't eat mashed potatoes or potatoes in any form other than french fries, really.  So, I decided to try to fool them and made mashed potato dumplings.  They still wouldn't eat them....  Jan 6, 2012.

Day 7.  Basketball Sam.  One of my better pictures, if I must say so myself!  We played outside in the unseasonably *warm* January weather and I snapped this shot of Sam with the basketball in our driveway.  He is O.B.E.S.S.E.D. with the basketball and would sleep with it if we let him.  He is also in love with his new lion hat.... Jan 7, 2012.

Week 1 - Sunshine and Juniper berries.  I took this shot of the sunshine filtering through the Juniper bush in our backyard while we were outside adventuring, and really liked the way it looked, so I am using this one as my first weekly shot for Project 52.

Overall, I am dubbing the first week the 'week of Sam' because I couldn't get little Max to sit still long enough (or to wipe the sassy look off his face for long enough) to get a good shot of him.  I'm going to have to try harder next week, I guess!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

January Heat Wave

We've been having some unseasonably high temps over the past few days here in WI.  It was almost 60 on Friday and we thought today was going to turn out similarly.  But, the wind had us foiled.  We braved it anyways to get some outdoor time in.  Little Max had to pedal up and down the driveway once on his big wheel before I would even consider letting him go back inside (the child just gives up too easily!).  He did it, but then I managed to keep him outside a bit longer going on a 'treasure hunt' around the yard.  We found some pretty interesting things...

But first, I have to include this sweet picture of Sam.  It is one of the photos I am using for my Project 366, so you'll see it again during that post.  But, I had to post it again here because I just think he is too cute for words here.  Look at those eyes!  Those lips!  This child is going to be a heart breaker in his own way!  And that basketball that he is clutching for dear life?  He is O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D with it.  Like, he would sleep with it if we let him.  EVERY time we go into the garage he tries to get it.  He is always calling out 'baskeeetball!!  MOM!  BASkeeetBALL!"  LOL.  I can't imagine with the height genes we gave him that he is going to be future baskEETball star...but you never know...


Sam and daddy stayed on the black top and shot a few hoops while Max and I adventured.  First we decided to collect sticks and store them in the play house in case we later needed to make a fire to warm up.


After that, we spied some berries on the juniper bush and decided to pick some in case we needed food later...



***of course I explained to him that we don't EAT juniper berries...this was just pretend***

Then, Max spied a WOLF print!!  We looked around for others, but this was the only one... 


We made it around to the front of the house, and I took this picture just for the heck of it.  I can't wait to replace this front door.


Mason was waiting for us in the front yard, and we thought our shadows looked pretty cool so we decided to take a picture.


Mason asked me to take another picture because he is really proud of his doggie bandanna that he got at the groomers last week.


Back up front, we spied Sam and Daddy from a distance and took an undercover picture of them playing.  Sam looks like he can ALMOST make it! 


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 Goal 1: Participate in Project 52

I posted my 2012 goals earlier in the week.  My first goal for the year is to participate in a photography project, more specifically Project 52.  You might be wondering why a non-photographer such as myself chose a photography challenge...and honestly, I might be too!  I figure at the very least, it will get me more comfortable with my camera and get me to step out of my comfortability area a bit more...  Plus, there are participants in this project from all walks of photography -- some are doing the project completely on their phones!  No pressure!!



 My friend, Tiffany Dahle over at Peanut Blossom started a new initiative called Develop.  Through Develop (and in collaboration with some friends of hers) she is leading a Group called Project 2012 on Flickr.  I had followed along with Tiffany last year as she participated in a similar project, so when she started recruiting participants I thought, why not?

Why not indeed?  Well, for one thing, many people are intimidated by year long projects (me included).  But Tiffany made me feel super confident that I would be able to play along -- and at my OWN PACE (that was key).  Project 52 simply means that I will **commit** to taking one picture a week for the 52 weeks in 2012.  I say commit lightly because it's not like I am being graded or judged, or that anyone is going to come and knock down my door if I DON'T post a picture.  For realz.

After thinking it through, I decided I could do it.  And you know what?  After taking my first picture on Sunday, Jan 1, 2012 -- I realized that **gasp** maybe 52 pictures wasn't going to be enough??  I mean, with only 52 pictures I'd be missing out on the other 314 days of the year!  Why would I do that to myself?



Luckily, JUST as I was having this epiphany, Tiffany reminded me about how last year she blogged THIS POST, which reminded me that this project is WHATEVER YOU MAKE OF IT.  It is YOUR project to own -- no one else's.  It was at that precise moment that I decided I would *try* to take a picture a day for the entire year -- but if I wasn't able to do it for whatever reason -- no sweat. I even recruited the Mister to help out -- and he accepted (so you might get a few cameos of his pictures soon!).  What started out as a simple Project 52 goal for me has already morphed into something more....which shouldn't be surprising for anyone that knows me well....

I've been having a lot of fun so far this week taking pictures (I know, we're only on day 4) -- I've been uploading them to the Group Flickr site but also to my photostream and to my Facebook page, so feel free to come over to any of those places and check them out.  I'll also be posting them weekly to the blog for my click-cautious followers.  I'm super excited to be participating in this project this year!!!

So, are you on the fence about participating??  Just do it!  You can start whenever you want to, so don't feel like you missed out on anything already!  I'd love to see what your day to day is like thorugh your pictures too! Click here for more FAQs.  And please leave me a comment to let me know if you ARE already or plan to participate so I can make sure I keep my eyes out for your additions!!

Happy snapping!