Monday, March 31, 2008

classic

It's a Monday. It's raining. And if you know me at all, you know my feelings about rainy days and Mondays are right up there with Karen Carpenter's. I wouldn't have left the house at all, except we were in desperate need of groceries. Desperate. And it's not like we just needed groceries...it was one of those stock-up trips. Toiletries, cleaning supplies, the works. So I took the babes to Target and after about an hour and a half and absolutely no room left in the cart, I was actually feeling pretty good about everything. Imagine my luck...some of the things we needed were actually on sale! And I even had coupons for some of the things that were on sale! And the kids were good in the store. And we wouldn't need to go to the store for weeks because I. Stocked. Up. At least I thought I did.

Fast forward two hours...

The light bulb in the refrigerator burns out. Unfortunately, I didn't stock up in appliance light bulbs.

date night and other fun stuff

Doug and I went out on a date Saturday night. Very exciting for us. I finally got around to calling Hannah, a sweet girl that lives just down the street. She left her babysitting flyer in our mailbox in August and I'm kicking myself for not calling sooner because we just found out that she's leaving in June to go to Germany for the summer! Anyway, she came over to stay with the kids so Doug and I could have a meal in which we weren't interrupted by The Mommy Chorus 27 times. (Come on, you know the words...sing along! "Mom? Mommy? Mom? Mommy? Oh, Mom! Mommy!")

We decided to branch out a little and try new things and so we ended up at Liu Liu's in Baxter Village just across the border in Ft. Mill, SC. Very, very good. I would have been happy with just the Hot & Sour soup, but throw in the dumplings, Sa-Cha Style Shrimp & Vegetables and Orange Chicken and we were in heaven! After dinner, we decided to check out a few of the other shops in Baxter and next ended up at Grapevine Wine Bar. They have a wonderful selection of wine and beer and it was fun to look around, but we decided not to stay and have a glass since we had already polished off a bottle at dinner. Then we decided to hop next door to Chocolat Boutique. We shared a dark chocolate dipped strawberry and bought a few truffles to take home. Finally, we ended up at Starbucks and grabbed some comfy chairs in the corner for about an hour. The kids had a great night too...pizza and 101 Dalmatians. I guess we'll see if Hannah had a good night the next time I call and ask her to sit again!

A couple other items of note:

Emily's team lost their soccer game on Saturday, but only by 1 goal and they are starting to play better as a team. Also, Emily got moved up to a more challenging math class. She's pretty excited about it.

Ryan had a great time in Washington DC. His favorite thing was the Museum of Natural History and least favorite was the Holocaust Museum ("Not a fun museum, Mom. I don't think I'll go back!") He also came back with some great souvenirs for all of us as well as himself. He even called on the way home to tell me that he got, "an original copy of the Declaration of Independence!" He can't wait to hang it on his wall. He's mentioned he'd like to blog about the trip, so I'll let him do that after we get the pictures ready!

We should know this week the date of Ainsley's next (and hopefully last for a while) surgery so I'll pass it along as soon as I find out.

And last, but certainly not least...overheard:

Jackson: Ainsley, you are difficult...and a genius!

I couldn't agree more.

march photos



You can click here for the link to the March photos. I was able to take a few more than February, and looking back at them, I do realize that a more appropriate title for the album would be The Ainsley Show. But before you start to remind me that I do, in fact, have 3 other children, please remember that the amount of time I spend with Ainsley is exponentially higher than the amount of time I spend with the other 3, especially now that Jack has started school. And even with my SLR camera and it's incredibly fast shutter speed, it is still not always fast enough to keep up with Jackson! Of course, I could try to take a few more pictures of the big kids, but really, when you've seen one eye-roll, you've pretty much seen them all!

WARNING: Before you view the photos, I think it's only fair to alert you to the fact that here in the South we have been experiencing some spring-like weather, so some of these photos do contain green grass, blooming trees and children in shorts. I know most of you are suffering from a very bad case of "The Winter That Will Not End," and I don't want you to think we're rubbing it in or anything. (And if it makes you feel any better, the past 2 days have been rainy and in the 40s & 50s.)

Doug and Ryan took a little over 200 pictures on their trip to DC, so the link to those will be coming later this week, once we have a chance to edit and add captions.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

not always the sharpest knives in the drawer

If I tell you something, do you promise not to make fun of me?

Okay...

I just noticed that the colored concrete on the ground in front of the store is actually in the shape of a bulls eye, you know, for Target.

If I tell you something, do you promise not to make fun of me?

Okay...

I just noticed that the concrete was colored.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

a different perspective



This is a daily occurrence in our house. Well, actually, it's more like several times a day. She'll very methodically take each item out, drool a little on it and then throw it behind her onto the floor. As cute as it is, I have to admit that sometimes I walk by and think, "Ugh, if I have to pick this stuff up one more time, I think I'm going to scream!" And sometimes I actually do scream. But you know that every time she opens the door and sees everything neatly in it's place, she's thinking, "Lady, will you please stop putting all of your junk in my clubhouse!"

On a totally unrelated note, the next time you're at our house and you're thirsty, you might want want to use the glasses in the cupboard above the counter instead of the plastic cups we keep in this cabinet.

recipe of the week

In my never-ending quest to prepare meals that the entire family will eat, I have decided to make a new dish every week. But you know me...it will probably be more like once a month or every other week, at best. My goal, however, is once a week...starting next week since the big boys are gone this week.

Last week, I made a delightful Pasta Primavera from one of my new favorite sites, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. I even made it on the first day of Spring. (Eat your heart out, Martha!!) I didn't make too many changes, except I didn't have fresh basil or parsley, so I added a little Italian seasoning with the sauce. Also, my sauce didn't get as thick as it was supposed to, but I realized a few days later that I had actually purchased fat-free half & half, which is probably why. Still, it was a very tasty sauce and everyone, except Jack & Ainsley, ate it with no complaints...just helpful suggestions.

Emily: It's 0-k-a-y. I like the sauce. And the zucchini.
Ryan: It's pretty good. I'd eat it again. But I don't really like the red peppers. Or the cucumber things. (Um, those would be zucchini)
Doug: I really like it. But I think I would like it better if it had chicken in it.

Personally, I thought it was fabulous. But I'm not crazy about how artery-clogging the sauce is. So, I decided to play around with it and I made a sauce with white wine, vegetable broth and some Parmesan cheese. Also, I didn't have any more penne, so I just used thin spaghetti. Let's just say it wasn't received as well as the first version. Ryan ate it, but didn't really comment. Emily had this twisted up expression on her face and the way she poked at her dinner, you would have thought it was a barbecued rat or something equally vile. And Doug only had one small helping. He said he hadn't felt very well since after lunch, but that seemed a little suspect to me, especially given that he had 2 pieces of carrot cake right after dinner. I, again, thought it was great and when reheating the leftovers every day this week, I've also added a little goat cheese and crushed red pepper and it's been even better!!

The verdict: Everyone loved the first version. I would highly recommend clicking this link and scrolling down to see the recipe, because I love how The Pioneer Woman takes pictures of everything as she goes along, but in case you'd rather not, here is the recipe:

The Pioneer Woman's Pasta Primavera

Butter
Olive Oil
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets and stem pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias
2 zucchini, sliced on the bias
1 yellow squash, sliced on the bias
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 package white or brown button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup frozen peas

1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
1 cup half and half, plus a little more for thinning sauce
1 small wineglass of white wine
Low-sodium chicken broth as needed (I actually used vegetable broth)
6-8 fresh basil leaves
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Salt
Pepper
Penne pasta

In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Now begin sauteing the veggies in batches, cooking only 1 to 2 minutes (at most) each. To begin, add broccoli and carrots to onion and garlic. Cook only for a minute, then remove to separate plate. Add another tablespoon of butter to pan and add red pepper strips. Cook for one minute, then remove. Repeat with remaining veggies, being very careful not to overcook; veggies at this point should still be somewhat raw/crunchy. When all veggies have been removed and skillet is empty, pour 1/2 to 1 glass of dry white wine to pan. With whisk, begin to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen all the nice, flavorful bits from the bottom. Cooking over medium heat, add 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 cup whipping cream, and 1 cup half and half. Add 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Stir together and cook to thick, adding salt and pepper to taste. Taste sauce as you go; don't oversalt, but don't undersalt either! Chiffonade fresh basil leaves and stir into sauce. Now add all the veggies, including frozen peas, at once. Stir gently to combine; if sauce seems too thick, add equal parts half and half and chicken broth to thin. Cook over low heat until warm, just a couple of minutes. You don't want soggy veggies! Taste and check seasoning; add more salt & pepper if needed.

Enjoy!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

my first easter



I'm pretty sure I'm going to be dressing her in this outfit every day until it no longer fits.


Friday, March 21, 2008

spring flower


america's next top model

I was reading a website the other day of a woman who takes breathtakingly beautiful pictures and she wrote that she absolutely never uses the flash because it washes out the colors and the shadows that can make a really great picture so interesting. If she doesn't have enough light, she doesn't take the picture, period. And that started me thinking about all the great pictures I thought I was taking, but then after looking at them, I was really disappointed because they just didn't look as fabulous as I thought they were going to. And I have a really great camera. There's absolutely no reason I shouldn't be taking more amazing pictures. Except I haven't read the manual. Which is kind of unlike me. Because I'm usually a "read and follow directions" kind of person...except when I cook. Then it's more like "read and mostly follow directions if they sound okay, but add a little more of this and a little less of that." Anyway, I could say that I've been too busy to read the manual, but I really hate saying things like that because really...who isn't busy? Do you know of anyone who just wakes up and says, "Wow...I have absolutely nothing to do today!" Jeez, even Ainsley is busy...there are always cabinets to get into, plants to destroy, bugs to eat...And so I've come to the conclusion that I must have picked up this particular habit from my husband, who never reads the directions to anything! He's never read the camera manual either and he's the one who's taken the great fireworks photos and the lunar eclipse photos and the cool ones of our Christmas tree and ornaments. It's rather infuriating, actually. Because it usually ends up working out for him...kind of like that kid in school that never studied but still got good grades. (Hush Jenny! I studied...just usually at the last minute!) So, my point...Ainsley and I were playing in the office the other morning while Jack was at school and she just laid down on the floor and started rolling around and making funny faces and playing peek-a-boo around the coffee table, so I thought I would grab my camera, figuring that just as I got it and got it ready, she'd be done and will have moved on to the next activity (busy, busy, busy). I got my camera and took the first shot and it should have been cute, but it was a little washed out (Darn flash!). So I quickly started trying different buttons, seeing if I could get the flash to stop popping up, and then I finally figured it out. It was embarrassingly easy. There's a dial and you just turn it to the little symbol of the flash with the line through it. And I would have already known this had I read the instructions 10 months ago. But this time it ended up working out for me and here is our photo shoot. I know they are a little dark and shadowy, but it was kind of a dark, going-to-rain kind of day so, I like them like that. A little experimenting and I'll get better. I may even read the manual!









Saturday, March 15, 2008

the jack dictionary

tortillas = taco buns

a sign that we might be frequenting the starbucks counter at supertarget too often

Jack and I stepped in for our usual "vanilla" (which is a Horizon Organic Vanilla Milk box) and noticing that there was no one behind the counter, he said, "Hey, where are the friends?"

Friday, March 14, 2008

long day




This was taken at about 6:30 pm last evening. I think three days of no afternoon naps finally caught up with her.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

cake wars

I've been wanting to put some video on here for awhile, and came across this little gem while looking for one to post. Hopefully we can do something just as good for Ainsley's first birthday! Some of you have probably already seen this, but it's definitely worth another look! It's so cute, and I've almost forgotten that it took a little over an hour to clean all the frosting out of the carpet!


video

ladykiller

At dinner last night:

Me: Jack, what did you do at school today?
Jack: I played with my friends named Taylor and Carson!
Doug: Are Taylor and Carson girls or boys?
Jack: Girls!
Doug: Oh, are they cute?
Jack: No. (pause) But they look wonderful!

Monday, March 10, 2008

february photos

I've decided to send a link to photos for each month and so if you click here you can see the ones from February. Most are of Ainsley and a few have already been posted in this blog, but I think I managed to get at least one of all the kids. February was a rough month...not a lot of pictures taken, but hopefully March will be better. Sorry I didn't have a chance to put captions on any of them, but you know, I did lose an hour yesterday...

how i feel this morning

Okay, I'm just going to put this out there...I'm not a fan of Daylight Savings Time. Especially when it means I have to lose an hour in the spring. It's kind of like some sort of cruel, cosmic joke to people who already have too much to do and too little time to do it. And I don't know why, but it always takes me several days to adjust, which is weird because it's just an hour, right? But it's a whole hour! O, the things I could do in an hour! I'm sure that in a few weeks I'll be fine. I may even be grateful for the extra sunlight at the end of the day. But today? It's as though Father Time himself has picked me up and drop kicked me so hard that I flew ahead a whole hour. And landed flat on my face.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

first day of school


Can't you just see joy and happiness illuminating his precious face? I cannot tell you how utterly thrilled he was to be going to school this morning. He got to bring his backpack! And pack his lunch! And wear his new school shoes! And I'm happy to report that his day lived up to the hype. He had a blast! The teachers were impressed at how well he did for his first day. Apparently there was a bit of a scuffle on the playground over a hula hoop that resulted in tears, but other than that, a great first day and he can't wait to go back tomorrow!

Monday, March 3, 2008

handy household tips

I'm sure you've heard the secret to streak-free windows...vinegar and newspaper! And to remove those little carpet "dents" after you rearrange furniture? Put an ice cube in the dent, let it melt and then fluff up the carpet! I even heard the other day that if you put a package of Lemonade Kool Aid into the dishwasher and run it (empty), the inside of your dishwasher will be sparkling clean! But what do you do if your infant daughter knocks over a can of blue paint (that the lid wasn't very tightly on because you were going to be doing some more painting) and spills about 3/4 of a gallon on your off-white berber carpet?? Frantically search for your insurance agent's phone number to make a claim on your homeowner's policy?? Nah! I can tell you how to fix this little problem in a way that doesn't involve you shelling out $$ for new carpet!! Sit back and enjoy!

First of all, these types of accidents usually happen at the most inopportune times. For example, you could be in the shower when you hear your husband yelling obscenities at the top of his lungs, while requesting your help. If this happens, just hop right out and throw on a robe because you'll be working on a clock here...no time to dry off! Now, you might be tempted to have a conversation about whose fault this is, but I can tell you that this is not the time. It really doesn't matter if he didn't move her when she started crawling on the can, just as it doesn't matter that you're the one who left it, not closed very tightly, on the floor in the first place. All that really matters at this point is you have an infant sitting in a pool of paint that is slowly seeping into your bedroom carpet! If you feel you must have this conversation, I urge you to wait until much later, but I don't think that you will even want to have this conversation...you'll be so overjoyed at the outcome of the situation, you won't even want to bring it up!

Okay, well, time is of the essence here, so let's get started:

Step One: Divide and Conquer!

The first thing you need to do is get the infant out of danger. Most infants at this age like to put everything in their mouths, so you need to first make sure that your darling baby's chubby, little, paint-covered hands haven't made it to her mouth. (Amazingly, ours didn't!) So, scoop her up to the nearest sink to get her cleaned off. While you're doing this, your husband can be scraping up as much paint as possible and putting it back in the can. It would also be very helpful at this point if you have older children that can help you out. Since we had no idea what we should be doing, we sent one down to Google "How to get paint out of carpet," and one to watch the infant! Now, you will need to be very careful at this point if you happen to have, say, a curious preschooler who would love to help. Your preschooler may be so eager to help that he doesn't really pay attention to where he is stepping and may end up stepping in paint and tracking it all over your hallway. If this happens, just wipe off the bottoms of his feet and send him off to his room to play with the other children. Then, take a wet rag and scrub the spots in the hallway...as long as the paint is still wet, it should come up easily.

Step Two: Gather your materials!

Here is all you really need: Some rags or old towels, buckets of hot water, a scrub brush, a little Dawn dishwasing liquid and a shop vac.

Now, if you have a carpet steam cleaner, you might be tempted to use it. This is a very bad idea. Not only will you get paint residue all over the inside of the machine, the wheels will roll through the paint and you'll end up with a bigger mess than you started with, if you can even imagine. For the first pass, pour some water over the paint and then suck as much as you can with the shop vac. Otherwise, when you start to use the scrub brush, there will be so much paint in the carpet that it will splatter everywhere, like on your baseboards or other furniture or even your favorite robe. After the first pass, then put a little of the Dawn on the spot and start scrubbing with the brush. Pour another bucket of hot water over the area and suck it up again with the shop vac. Repeat as necessary. It's also a good idea to have one of the big kids refill the bucket with hot water when you need it, so you can concentrate on scrubbing and your husband can work the shop vac. You also might want to pay close attention to the shop vac. It is possible that instead of just spraying air out of the nozzle in the back, it will shoot out a very fine mist of paint and water that, if positioned just the right way, will spray all over your comforter and bedskirt. Just saying...it could happen.

And that's really it...after an hour or so, your carpet should be as good as new. There might be a faint blue tint to it, but you'll probably convince yourself that it's good enough, especially since once you finish getting the paint on the walls, it will cast a bluish shadow on the carpet anyway so what the hell! Onward and upward!

Now keep in mind that this method really only works while the paint is still wet. Also, it hasn't yet been proven on a darker color of paint. So, I guess if it doesn't work you could just get a rug or something. However, you might just want to remember this...An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don't paint while you have an infant in the house!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

full circle

James Taylor's One Man Band was on PBS tonight while I was giving Ainsley her bottle and when she was finished, I stood up and started rocking her to sleep. She fell asleep listening to You've Got A Friend. Quite sure my mom remembers nights like this.

i don't even know what to title this one...

At Dick's Sporting Goods tonight, Jack walks past a headless, female mannequin wearing a pair of running shorts and a tank top and says, "Oohh, she's pretty!"