Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ryan's Top 7 books for summer reading for his family and friends!

Hello Everyone!!

It's been a long time since I wrote on the blog. Well, since summer is getting closer, I'm sure everyone is excited. Pool Parties, Fourth of July, Summer movies, sleepovers, etc. But what are you going to do in your spare time? By the title, I'm positive you know.

As the reader of the family, I put together the Top 7 Books for Summer Reading. Three of these books might have a little bit of drama in them that I don't recommend them for 5 and under. the rest are fine...

Here they are, from worst to greatest, The Top 10 books for summer Reading!!!! ( they are all good books to read, I'm ordering them from my least favorites of the favorites, to my favorite of the favorites)

7. No talking by Andrew Clements
A very funny contest between boys and girls to see who can talk the least in 3 days.

6. Molly Moon (series) by Georgia Byng
About a girl who learns to hypnotize. Pretty good series.

5. The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson
5 kids are suddenly programed to go to Disney World when they go to sleep. They must stop Disney villains from taking over the world.

4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Funny. Super funny. Terribly funny. Supercalifragilisticxpialidociously funny.

3. The war between the Hatfords and the Malloys ( series ) by Phillis Reynolds Naylor
This series doesn't have a name, but they are good. First book is called, The Boys start the War.

2. The Percy Jackson & the Olympians ( series ) by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson finds out he's the son of a Greek god! Fantastic series!

And the number one book(s) you have to read is....

1.) The Island series by Gordon Korman!
6 kids are shipwrecked on an island in the middle of the Pacific. Series of 3. A HUGE thriller. Trust me.

That's it! I hope you have an awesome summer!!!!!!!!!
- Ryan

alternate ending

I was listening to Doug read Walt Disney's Tarzan to Jack the other night and heard this:

"...And then Tarzan and Jane got married and lived happily ever after together in the jungle and had lots of jungle babies. The End."

Funny, I don't remember that part from the movie.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


After we dropped Jack off at school today, Ainsley and I headed over to Harris Teeter to pick up a few grocery items that I had not been able to pick up at SuperTarget yesterday. Most importantly Jack's chocolate milk, because SuperTarget has not had it in stock for the past 9 days (SuperTarget...not so super!) So, we got home and I started putting the groceries away while Ainsley headed over to her "clubhouse" and proceeded to clear everything out, I can only imagine, in order to crawl inside. Except she got a little side-tracked and decided to crawl off into the dining room. I continued putting the groceries away until I realized that she was really quiet. Now, in my experience, Ainsley being quiet is not usually a good thing. And so I wondered if perhaps I forgot to put the gate up and she was working her way up the stairs. Or maybe she was getting into her favorite ficus since the gate that used to protect the ficus is now guarding the stairs. So I walked into the dining room, expecting to see her with a mouth full of dirt or halfway up the stairs. What I wasn't expecting was to see her sitting on the dining room floor, waving a snake in the air. Yes, you read that right. Ainsley had a snake in her hand. For a split second I thought, "Oh, it's a toy. Right? It has to be a toy." But then toys don't generally start wrapping their bodies around your daughter's wrist, do they?

It looked a little something like this...*

*Totally staged photo using a toy snake. Of course I would not let my infant daughter play with an actual snake while I went to go get my camera. But I would give her a toy snake to play with after the fact to use for effect in this blog entry. Shameless, I know.

Anyway, then I started to panic and I ran in and grabbed her arm and tried to get her to drop the snake. Which she wouldn't do. And then she started crying, either because I totally freaked her out or maybe because the snake was trying to bite her, because I could see it's jaws open...and after what seemed like an hour and a half, but was probably only 3 seconds, she did drop it and all (at least) 18 inches of it slowly slithered over into the corner behind that stupid ficus.

I called Doug and when he didn't answer, I called my neighbor, Wini, and begged her to come over and help me get the snake out of the house. Our conversation went a little something like this:

Me: Seriously, how do I tell if a snake is poisonous, because I think one just bit my daughter!

Wini: Uhh...what??

Me: Oh, and it's still in my house!

Wini: What??


Okay, that's probably not exactly how it went, but the details are a little hazy since I was seriously about to lose it. You get the idea though. And because she's a good friend, she came over and didn't even laugh at me when I met her at the door with an empty Cool Whip container, even though I know she was thinking, "Um, right...I'm sure we can catch this snake with a Cool Whip container!"

Wini called her husband, Terry, and described the snake to him. He said he was pretty sure that it was a harmless snake, but that if it wasn't and if it had bit Ainsley, she would be having a very severe reaction. Ainsley had a couple of little scrapes on her wrist, but no other reactions, so Terry told us we needed to just get the snake out of the house and keep it until he or Doug came home. Using some cookie sheets, cook books and cutting boards, we were able to sort of trap it and then with a really big stick, prodded it into a large stock pot lined with a trash bag. Once we got him in the trash bag, we put the trash bag into another bag, tied it up and put him on the front porch until the guys could get home. Doug let him out (way down the street) and I took this picture.

Doug sent the picture to someone at Davidson College that ID's snakes and he let us know it is a juvenile black rat snake. A harmless snake that eats lots of mice and rats, so let's hope he does just that and eats all the ones in the neighborhood, because I don't know what I would do if I found Ainsley playing with one of those!!

This girl is going to be the death of me...

Monday, April 21, 2008

because we aren't getting a puppy

Jack has named him "King Lizard." The kids think I don't want them to have a pet, but really, this little guy is fine. As long as he never, ever tries to get into the house.

better late than never

That seems to be my new motto for this year. I'm trying, but I just can't seem to make progress on any of the projects I want to get done. For example, I was really hoping to have Doug and Ryan go through their pictures from DC and add captions, but there just don't seem to be enough hours in the day for that to happen. So, I figured I'd go ahead and post them here. Enjoy!

Also, if you didn't receive your thank-you note from Christmas, it's because I have still have it sitting here on my desk. The big kids wrote their parts and their mother dropped the ball. I'm going to wrap those up this week too!

Oh, and remember that family cookbook I've been "working on?" Yep, I'm pulling that out again from the closet.

I. Will. Be. Productive.

But just when it is looking like we aren't really getting anything accomplished around here, check out what we were able to get done this weekend:

Any guesses?

One of the first steps of the beer-making process! Straining the wort! Yes, that's right! In just a couple of months we will have some more of Doug's fabulous homemade beer! Belgian Witbier to be exact. A nice, light, summer beer in the style of Blue Moon. Just let us know when you're coming to visit and we'll set a few bottles aside for you! Maybe...

Sunday, April 20, 2008


1 lb. hot Italian sausage
1 lb. jumbo shrimp
1 lb. ground turkey
cod fillets
5 vegetable egg rolls
2 pkgs. raspberries
1 pkg. mixed berries
4 boneless pork chops
homemade chicken stock
orange juice
Tony's 4 cheese pizza

No, not some bizarre recipe, just a list of everything that went bad when our garage refrigerator decided to stop working last week. And of course, by the time we discovered it, everything was not just thawed, but warm. Now the garage smells awful and trash day (Monday!) can't come soon enough.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

third time's a charm

It all started last Tuesday. John and Kate were scheduled to arrive Tuesday night and since John's birthday was last Monday, I thought I would make a cake so we could celebrate. Now, cakes are a little out of my comfort zone. I rock at the cookies and brownies, but really there are only 2 cakes I can make well from scratch...chocolate and carrot. I decided to go with the chocolate. I was almost to the last step, pouring in the boiling water, when I decided to taste the batter...which was a good thing because after I finished gagging, I realized I had forgotten to add the sugar. No harm done...I added the sugar and water, mixed the batter, poured it in the pan. And even now, I'm not sure how it happened, but as I was putting the first pan into the oven, the pan tipped and I ended up pouring almost the entire contents down the inside of my oven door. I immediately turned off the oven, and started to panic and closed the oven door, I guess hoping that it would contain the mess, but instead the batter started flowing out the bottom of the oven door and down the front of the bottom drawer. Emily thought it was cool because it looked like a chocolate waterfall. I, however, thought it was not so cool. I got the mess cleaned up and not really wanting to make another cake, decided I would bake what was left of the one pan to make a thin layer and then I would just cut the other layer in half for 3 thin layers. More frosting anyway, right? So it all worked out and we had scrumptious chocolate cake on Wednesday night when John and Kate were finally able to make it here (Thanks a lot, American Airlines!).

Fast forward a couple of days to Monday. I asked Doug what kind of cake he would like for his birthday and after a weekend of all-you-can-eat seafood, Krispy Kreme's, breakfast buffets and happy hour at Liberty, he thought that perhaps a cake would be more than he could handle. But, of course, I couldn't not make a I thought a nice light angel food cake with fresh berries would be just the ticket. And as I've never made an angel food cake from scratch and because I was also in the process of doing about 43 loads of laundry from our 4 day trip to the beach, I thought I'd make a box angel food cake. Just add water to the mix, beat for a couple of minutes, pour into the pan and bake...easy, right? Well, yes, that part was easy. But after it comes out of the oven, you're supposed to invert it over a bottle to problem. I just happened to have several bottles of wine left over from the weekend. And so, I took the cake out of the oven, turned it upside down over the bottle only to find that the top of the bottle was too large for the tube pan to fit over and then the cake started to slip and I almost knocked the bottle onto the floor. When I grabbed the bottle with one hand, I grabbed the cake with the other and ended up essentially punching a fist sized crater into the cake. Fabulous. I turned the cake upside down on a cooling rack for the rest of the afternoon, semi-hoping that gravity would fix the situation, but no such luck. Luckily, when the cake was on the plate, the crater was on the bottom and you couldn't really see it, so again, no real harm done. I sliced it and served it with strawberries, blackberries and Lite Cool Whip and it was just fine.

And so, given these two "unfortunate mishaps," I'm not sure what made me even want to attempt to make Jackson's birthday cake. After all, we had gone to SuperTarget and he had picked out a Thomas the Tank Engine cake out of the book. I was all prepared to pay the $20 and be done with it. Except I happened to look at the cakes they had for sale and one was the Thomas cake and it looked nothing like it did in the book. Instead of using the different colored icings, they had used one of those air brush painters and all the colors were sort of running together. And I just couldn't do it. So, I bought a box of Duncan Hines French Vanilla and then went to three different stores looking for something Thomas I could put on the cake. Nothing. Seriously! So I came up with Plan B which was to frost the cake, maybe pipe on a little lake and some grass to look like the Island of Sodor and then put one of Jack's Thomas engines on the cake. He thought that was a fine idea and so when we got home I asked if he could go and get one of his Thomas engines for me. He brought back one of his Thomas slippers. After I explained that wouldn't work because I needed to put Thomas on top of the cake and no one would want to eat a cake with a dirty slipper on it ("Oh, okay, I get it now!"), we got a small Thomas and short story long, I think it turned out well. Jack was really excited about it that he could hardly even eat his cake dinner. (The Jack Dictionary: Cake dinner - the dinner you have to eat before you can eat your birthday cake.)

cat nap

This was taken at 10:00 this morning...after a full night (9:00pm to 7:15 am) of uninterrupted sleep! Either her allergies are totally kicking her butt, or she's starting to apologize for not letting me sleep for the past 11 months.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

this is what four looks like


In honor of your 4th birthday, I'm going to tell you four things that I love about you.

1.) I love how much you love your siblings. I love how excited you always are to see them and how your face lights up any time Ryan, Emily and Ainsley come into the room.

2.) Even though I don't love the tattling, I do love how just before you come to find me and report what horrible, rotten thing has just happened ("Mom, Emily is being mean at me!"), you will shout, "I'm asking!" instead of "I'm telling!" I don't think I will ever correct you.

3.) I love your enthusiasm for everything and how if I were to write down everything you say, each sentence would be punctuated with an exclamation point!

4.) I love that you are all boy and you go non-stop from the time you get up from the time you go to bed, but mostly I love that in the rare moments you do need some quiet time, more often than not you choose to sit and snuggle with me.

Happy Birthday, Turtle Bean!


Monday, April 7, 2008

the joy of boys

In the bath tonight:

Jackson: Mom, did you hear that bubble fart?
Me: No, I didn't. Did you fart in the bathtub?
Jackson: No, the bubble did!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

well, they don't just eat carrots

I was reading Jack's preschool newsletter this afternoon and noticed that they are going to have a petting zoo at the school one day this month and that the children will have an opportunity to feed and pet the animals. As I told Jack this, he started jumping up and down.

Putting both arms up over his head, he asked, "Will the animals be this big?"

"Well, I don't think so. It doesn't say exactly what kind of animals will be there, but I'll bet they will be a little smaller. Like bunnies."

"Bunnies!!" And then he stopped jumping and, looking very serious, asked, "Will they poop?"