Sunday, April 26, 2009

One Constant

It doesn't matter where we are or what we are doing, at some point Bryan will end up throwing Evan up in the sky in some form or another. 

At least two times a day Evan will turn to Bryan and say, "Up sky, Daddy." For the sake of Bryan's back, I hope Evan out grows this before his next birthday! 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Muffin Top

When I got dressed this morning, I knew my jeans were a little too tight. I think they shrunk in the wash...or the dozen oatmeal raisin cookies I ate this week have caught up with me already. I like to think it was the wash. This afternoon I was driving Evan home from the park when I muttered to myself, "Boy, I have some muffin top going on in these jeans." I didn't think about my little parrot riding in the backseat, who repeated, "Mommy. Muffin top," for the next 15 minutes until we got home. There is a lesson in there somewhere. I don't know if it is laying off the cookies, taking my jeans out of the dryer while they are still damp or just being a little more careful when I'm talking to myself!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mommy Cougar

Do you know what a cougar is? Of course there are several definitions. The animal comes to mind, so does "thirty-something female on the prowl for younger men" (see urban dictionary if you need further explanation). It is also what Evan calls out when he wants me to play cars. There is a blue Mercury Cougar Hot Wheels car that is my designated vehicle when playing with him, so the term "mommy cougar" makes sense. I just hope he doesn't yell it out at preschool, the park or anywhere else that someone might take it out of context!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rock the Red

I've never been a sports fan. I've never even understood sports fans--until now. I think I have finally found my team and that has made all the difference in the world. The Washington Capitals are in the Stanley Cup playoffs and I am so excited! Taking Evan to watch the Caps practice for the past six months has paid off. I know the players, I know their numbers and I am rooting for each and every one. So is Evan, even though he doesn't really understand the difference between a playoff game and a casual morning skate. Not to mention that his way of showing support is asking if he can hug the players.

Evan loves watching the game, but he has started wanting to play it more and more. At home we spend a good three hours a day hitting hockey pucks back and forth. Now he likes me to play goalie and insists I fall to my knees to block his shots. Some days that is easier than others.
The last few times when we've gone to the practices, I'll borrow a pair of skates from the rental counter and let Evan walk around. He is getting pretty good, but he still isn't quite ready for the ice. Maybe one day soon...what do you think?

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Diet Coke Makes it Okay, Right?

There are some days I am convinced I have an eating disorder...and not the kind that makes you skinny. The kind that means I ate a whole sleeve of Thin Mints after lunch. The same kind that means after dinner tonight, I was inspired while flipping through a Pampered Chef catalog and decided to make french fries. Did you pick up on that AFTER DINNER part? As though my taco salad wasn't enough, I finished it off with fries. Then Bryan brought home some cookies, and I had two of those too. I do drink diet soda, so I guess it all works out, right? 

I keep telling myself I am going to eat healthier and switch out my Diet Cokes for water. It is my goal to eat healthier that made me want to polish off the Thin Mints. Once they're out of the house I won't be tempted by them, so it actually made sense to eat them all today. Logical, right? 

I am having a Pampered Chef catalog show and while I was looking through the catalog tonight, I noticed the apple corer/peeler/slicer, which I already have. I read that it "works great for potatoes." I thought, "I bet it does work great for potatoes. I've never tried that." So, I went downstairs, got it out, dusted it off and was frying potatoes in about 10 minutes. They were delicious. It doesn't really matter that I was already full. 

So, tomorrow is another day and, now that the Thin Mints and potatoes are gone, a chance for me to eat a little healthier. I did have an orange today, so that counts for something right? Maybe tomorrow I'll shoot for an apple AND an orange. My heart won't know what to think. 

And, if you want an apple corer/peeler/slicer or any other Pampered Chef product for yourself, you can order from my catalog show through Monday (April 20). Just visit and enter my name as the host. They have some fun new things for Spring, including plenty of things geared toward healthy cooking. Of course, I'm drawn to the things you use to make the not-so-healthy foods, like the trifle bowl that I COULD use for fruit, but probably would only use for trifle. 

We've Arrived on Skype

For almost a year now I've been saying, "You know...we really should figure out that whole Skype thing." I thought it would be fun to have "video calls" with our friends and family, but it seemed just to overwhelming to tackle. I didn't know which Web cam to buy, how to download the software or any of the other things I figured I'd need to do.

Late last year I bought a laptop that came with a built-in Web cam, so step one was taken care of. On Sunday I FINALLY downloaded Skype and it was so darn easy. My parents even figured it out, too, and they had to buy and install a Web cam. If they can do it, anyone can do it! This morning Evan had his first video phone call with my mom. He was loving it. He would move in really close to the screen when showing my mom his trains or if he was trying to tell her something.

I can't believe it took us this long to do it! It is going to be so much fun. Are there any other Skype users out there? You'll have to give us a call!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thank You, Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny was nice enough to stop at our house this year and leave behind plenty of treats, including some eggs filled with M&M's. The Bunny foolishly put quite a few M&M's in each year he'll only put one per egg. He learned his lesson after about the sixth egg Evan found, opened and devoured on the spot. I had planned to make homemade donuts for breakfast, but changed my mind after I saw the sugar high Evan was already on. 
Luckily the Easter Bunny left behind some treats that didn't contain sugar--some Thomas trains, books and a new Capitals hat. 

I have to say, I love the Easter Bunny. So much so that I believed long after I should have. Seriously. My mom finally broke "the news" to me. You know it is bad when the parent finally initiates a conversation that starts with, "You know there is no such thing as..." I, of course, acted like I knew all along, but deep down, right until that very moment, I had held out hope. I think that is why I've always thought Linus on the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and I are kindred spirits. Even when everyone else has grown up, moved on and given up, we remained faithful. You feel a little silly when you realize the Great Pumpkin isn't coming after all. But it sure is fun believing. 

The best part of my day today wasn't when Evan went through his Easter basket. It was when he woke up and I asked him if he thought the Easter Bunny came. His eyes got bright and he said a very emphatic, "Yes!" I love that anticipation. The moment when you wake up and you think anything is possible and what could be is even bigger and better than what is. 

I am convinced that on the Easter's of my childhood, the sun was brighter, the grass was greener and chocolate tasted better than on any other day of the year. I hope that is always the case for Evan and that I can do whatever I can to make sure that happens. 

On the Run

Evan went on his first Easter Egg hunt on Friday. He loved it. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves: 

Friday, April 10, 2009

Color, Color Everywhere

I am not a neat freak. I never have been. I never will be. I believe a messy house is a sign that life is being lived and I think kids need to get dirty, dig in and have fun. That being said, coloring Easter eggs with Evan today definitely made my blood pressure rise. 

That Paas Easter Egg Dye was everywhere. I mean, how could it not be when Evan was moving eggs from color to color with his hands. Hands that he dunked deep into each mug, making colored vinegar water splash every which way. 

I cringed. I shuddered. I tried to reason with Evan. "Okay...gentle...slow down...use a spoon...let mommy help you...

It was pointless. He was so excited he couldn't help himself. I mean, these eggs were going in white and coming out a color! Have you ever seen such a thing? I finally gave up, backed off and let him have his fun. Dad stepped in and gave him a hand. 

Evan always helps me cook, so his first reaction when he sees and egg is that we need to break it open. Between that and the tossing of the eggs into the dyes, most of our Easter eggs look like this: 
Yum! But my little guy got the biggest kick out of the whole thing, so it is all well worth it! I can't help but think of how lucky I am to have Evan and to be able to share all of the excitement of Easter with him. Even if our hands are stained blue and our eggs are broken. 

Hello Sprouts!

The grass I planted last week is growing! I finally moved the eggs from the carton they've been in to the centerpiece on our dining room table, just in time for Easter! 

And since I can't seem to part with eggshells lately, I created this little vase. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easy Easter Treats

I made these quick treats today.

The ingredients--just three!

Melt the chips in the microwave--about a minute and a half.
Mix with the noodles.

Place little spoonfuls on a cookie sheet and top with jelly beans.

Now you have bird nest treats (about 30) in less than 20 minutes.

Which leaves plenty of time to practice for tomorrow's big Easter egg hunt.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Peanut Butter Bliss

If you don't already know, I am a carb junkie. You could pretty much mix anything with some flour, sugar and butter and I would eat it. I've been doing quite a bit of baking lately of my tried-and-true favorites, so I thought I'd share another recipe. These are just basic peanut butter cookies, but they are easy and they are so good when they are warm. you go...

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter (I like the chunky)
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream shortening, peanut butter and sugars in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in dry ingredients. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten with a fork (I use a potato masher). Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

At Least It Wasn't 911

Evan loves the phone. He loves to talk on it, he likes to play with it and he loves to push the buttons on it. Tonight as I was cooking dinner, I heard him pushing buttons on the phone in my bedroom. A few seconds later he was coming down the hall as I was heading into the bedroom to make sure he hadn't actually called anyone. I picked him up, at which point, he hit me. My sweet little boy hit me. Then he hit me again.

As I was marching him into his room, I let out a long string of "Why did you do that...we don't sit here until you can apologize." He came out once before he was ready to apologize, so I marched him back in. My stern mommy voice was in full force. The lecture continued.

About five minutes later, I hear a busy signal from the phone. THE PHONE! I forgot about the phone. I picked it up. The name of one of my clients was up on the screen. Oh no! Right before the "incident," Evan had scrolled through caller ID, turned the phone on and called the number. I knew it wasn't the direct line for the person I work with, and I was hoping it was one of those lines that doesn't actually have a voicemail associated with it. It was well after 5:00, so I dialed the number. Voicemail answered. Of course.

That means tomorrow, the receptionist at my client will get a voicemail (which from my best guess is approximately seven minutes long) with my mommy lecture. I replayed my lecture in my mind, trying to remember if I used Evan's name or not. I am sure I did because any mommy lecture like that has to include the child's first and last name, so there is no chance I can remain anonymous. How embarrassing! All I can think is at least it wasn't 911!

Cinnamon Rolls Beat Cheerios Every Time

For weeks Bryan has been begging me to make cinnamon rolls, so I finally relented this week and whipped up a batch. They are actually one of the easier things I make! So, as long as I was baking, I thought I would snap a few pictures and share the recipe.

There are three parts to the recipe...the dough itself, the ooey-gooey goodness that goes in the bottom of the pan (which you flip after baking so that goodness drips down over the rolls) and the cream cheese icing.

The Ooey-Gooey Carmel Goodness:

1 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons butter, melted

Mix syrup ingredients and spread in the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan.

The Dough:

1 package yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon salt
6-7 cups flour

In a saucepan scald milk. Stir in butter and let cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, mix yeast, warm water and a pinch of sugar. Let sit for a few minutes until yeast starts to bubble. Add 1/4 cup flour to yeast mixture. Add sugar and eggs. Add cooled milk and salt. Mix in flour, a little at a time until all is incorporated. Knead for five minutes. Roll into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle--here is a picture of mine:

Now, melt some more butter--about 1/4 of a cup. In a separate bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 Tablespoon cinnamon. Spread butter on dough, then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Roll up starting with the short side.

Cut into 12 pieces, about one inch thick.

Place in the pan on top of the syrup.

Let raise until doubled or, do what I do, make them the night before and let them raise in the refrigerator overnight. Then take them out as your oven preheats. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. When they're done, turn pan upside down onto a platter. That way all that syrup drips down.

Let cool slightly and frost. Oh yeah--the frosting recipe:

8 ounces cream cheese
4 Tablespoons butter
2 cups of powdered sugar

Mix ingredients until smooth.

Ta da...the finished cinnamon roll.

These high-cal sweets are best enjoyed with an ice cold diet help offset the butter in the recipe. I have eaten four this way. I'm also planning to make them again for Easter.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Little Light Reading

In case any of you ever wanted to read one of my has just gone up online. It is on the price of fuel: