And together we learn

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Giraffe what??

I asked Calvin what he wants to be for Halloween. His answer is pretty much my favorite thing I heard all day long.

"A giraffe blocker."

Me: "??????"

Calvin: "One of dose guys wif a rope and dey fro de giraffes into the water."

I'm loving the possibilities of a giraffe blocker costume!!!

Campaign promises

Hazel informed me today that she will NOT be voting for Barack Obama. Her reason??

He plans to abolish YouTube, and she really likes Baby Jane sings and Charlie bit me. Since she is decidedly FOR YouTube, she is now anti-Barack.

Apparently she heard this from my sister Stephanie, who denies having discussed politics of any kind with my six year old.

One can only wonder about the evil plans McCain is cooking up. A take down of the Magic Kingdom, perhaps? Or maybe abolishing PBS morning cartoons? Darn politicians!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Beach babies

We just got back the other day from the last vacation of the summer. We went to Southern California to go to the wedding of my darling cousin Cameron. We went with my family--my brother and his family, and my two sisters. The whole trip was perfect from start to finish.

First of all, we had the perfect adult to child ratio of 6:6. Totally manageable. Andrea might beg to differ, since she did end up with 4 of the exhausted little people right after the wedding. Oh, the tantrums of the Calvin!! The screams reverberated through the lobby long after they went up in the elevator. Fortunately, moments like that were few and far between, and for the most part the kids were great.

All the little girls got to be flower girls. So much fun!! And isn't Katie an amazingly gorgeous bride?

The reception was in this fabulous house in Newport Beach. Oh, the backyard!! SO beautiful!

Sammy was, of course, absolutely perfect. I swear, that baby is almost too good. Not that I'm complaining! He smiles and gurgles and coos and bats at his toes, no matter where he is. Good thing, too, considering all the places we've hauled him to this summer.

We spent two blissful days on the beach. Usually when we go to California, we don't have time for the beach. The thought of Disneyland on a Saturday in August just didn't sound even a little bit fun to us, so we went for the beach instead. I know there are a whole lot of superlatives and exclamation marks in this post, but they're really truly deserved. The kids ran and laughed and dug in the sand and had such a picture perfect time. .

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Birthday suit

Calvin got his first suit for his birthday. He was so proud to be dressed up like his daddy!

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Poutine, anyone?

We didn't bring any shot glasses with maple leaves home from Canada. Nor moose hats, snow globes, or ashtrays. We figured nobody really wanted random cheap Canadian/Chinese junk, and we sure didn't want to inflict it on anyone. So, in lieu of a souvenir, we decided to cook a Canadian dinner for our nearest and dearest.

The dish we chose is a specialty of Montreal--Poutine! For the uninitiated, poutine is basically french fries with cheese curds and gravy. Not really as nasty as it sounds, it was actually pretty good. For dessert I made maple syrup pies. We had these at a restaurant in Quebec City housed in a building built in 1624. The dessert was fabulous there, so we thought we could recreate it here.

Turns out we have an awful lot of nearest and dearest. There was a lot of family from out of town, so we ended up with 33 people for poutine! My sisters Andrea and Emily made the oceans of fries, and I came through with quarts of gravy.

I made 6 maple syrup pies that were delicious, but tooth-achingly sweet. I suppose since the main ingredients were both sugar, that's to be expected. But with some whipped cream and raspberries, it was pretty good. Not pretty to look at, but it tasted good. We had one pie left over, and used it the next morning on top of oatmeal. Now that was fabulous!

Darling Emily is a magnet for the kids, and they smother her whenever she's around.

Poutine for 30 was one of our most random parties ever, but it was so much fun!

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Saturday, August 16, 2008


The essentials

I learned the absolute essentials for a birthday party today. Calvin turned 3, my sweet little guy, and I was trying to plan his party with him. I asked him what he wanted to do. Answer? Presents and cake.

Trying to flesh out the plan, I probed more. "Do you want a pinata?"



"Too scawwy."

"Sprinklers? Swimming? Games???"

"NO! Mom, pwesents and cake. JUST DOSE TWO!!!"

Really, those are the absolute essentials. Everything else is just a time filler to get you to the important part. He, at the tender age of three, apparently can sort out the extraneous from the necessary. Can't fault him for that!

So I obliged with the bare minimum party. Fortunately for Calvin, he is related to the wonderful and extremely talented Andrea, who made him this completely darling car cake.

I'm sure everyone wishes they had an Andrea to make every kids birthday perfection. Remember Chloe's party? Yeah, Andrea's amazing.

Here's my sweet Calvin boy. He is sunshiny, quirky, crazy, and all boy. He is so fun to have around, and those big brown eyes of his get me every time. I love this kid!!

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Another food post

We had yet another dinner with kids cleaning their plates and clamoring for more. Since this is a rarity for me--enthusiastic thumbs up from every member of the family-- I thought I post it so I'll at least remember to make it again.

Biggest plus? It was so fast, so easy, and very very yummy.

Mango Chicken Curry

* 1 chopped onion
* 1 medium sweet red pepper, julienned (I didn't have this, but it would have been great, I'm sure
* 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
* 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into thin strips (I used a leftover bit of rotisserie chicken and tossed it in at the end)
* 1 tablespoon curry powder
* 2 teaspoons minced fresh gingerroot
* 1 clove minced garlic
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (left this out. They're kids, after all)
* 1 cup chopped peeled mango (I used 2 mangos)
* 1 can coconut milk
* 2 tablespoons tomato paste
* Hot cooked rice


1. In a large skillet, saute onion and red pepper in oil for 2-4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add the chicken, curry, ginger, garlic, salt and cayenne. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Stir in the mango, coconut milk and tomato paste; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Serve with rice if desired.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic dreams

Watching Men's Gymnastics this morning, Calvin sat spellbound. After a fabulous pommel horse routine he gasped out, "How they DO THAT???"

Eggplant surprise

I just made a dinner tonight that every single one of my children had second and third helpings of. Pizza?? Chicken Nuggets?? No. It was....EGGPLANT!!!

Shocker to me, also. I made the recipe because I had an eggplant languishing in the fridge. It was leftover from Eggplant Sandwich Night.

I found a recipe for rigatoni with eggplant puree on my favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen. Pretty positive none of my kids would go for it, but that's why they invented peanut butter sandwiches. But surprise, surprise, they devoured it. I substituted basil for mint, and didn't use pine nuts, since I didn't have any.

Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree
Giada DeLaurentis, Food Network

I’ve made a few adjustments/suggestions to the original recipe. The eggplant is a total sponge and it seemed no matter how much pasta water I added, it was still lacking in sauciness. I think a higher proportion of tomatoes to the eggplant (which I have adjusted below) would have loosened up the sauce a bit, and perked up the flavor as well, as would a glug of vinegar or lemon juice at the end. Mixing it with ricotta was something many of the commenters on the Food Network site enjoyed, and I can’t imagine that would steer it in a bad direction.

1 small eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, whole
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 pound rigatoni pasta
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Glug of balsamic or red wine vinegar or freshly-squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Spread the vegetables out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the vegetables are tender and the eggplant is golden, about 35 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, place the pine nuts in a small baking dish. Place in the oven on the rack below the vegetables. Roast until golden, about 8 4 minutes (only do it for 8 if you want them nice and burnt, like mine). Remove from the oven and reserve.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and reserve (at least) 2 cups of the cooking liquid.

Transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor. Add the torn mint leaves and extra-virgin olive oil. Puree the vegetables.

Transfer the pureed vegetables to the bowl with the pasta and add the Parmesan. Stir to combine, adding the pasta cooking liquid 1/2 cup at a time until the pasta is saucy, as well as a glug of vinegar (optional). Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top and serve.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme--take your pick!

We went to a fabulous homeschool Olympic activity. Hazel and Chloe made friends with a new little girl, and her mom and I hit it off also. My girls played with her little Sage, and we made plans for a playdate.

In the car, Hazel sighed contentedly. "Mom, I'm so glad I met my new friend Chives."

Me, "Do you mean Sage?"

Hazel, nonchalantly, "Hmm, I knew she was some kind of herb!"

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Montreal quick recap

We got back from Montreal and Quebec City the other day. Oh, it was wonderful. So so beautiful and altogether perfect. It was hard to believe we were in North America--I've never seen such a European city outside of Europe.

Steve and I don't plan our itineraries around museums, adventurous activities, or popular sights. We plan it around the food. Montreal didn't disappoint even a little bit. Steve has a friend who sent him pages of restaurant recommendations, and I was armed with my guidebooks. We had some amazing stuff, folks. My favorite? Had to be the maple syrup pie with cream we ate a restaurant in Quebec city.

Quebec City is celebrating their 400 year anniversary this year. That's a whole lot of years for this side of the globe. The maple pie place--oh, it was built in 1624. Incredible.

I did something horrible to my camera--I'm not sure exactly what I did, but it deleted tons of my photos, so I only have a few from the trip. But here are a couple of them.

Governor's Mansion, then some random pretty street corner

Samuel was an absolute dream baby. So peaceful, content, and all around perfect. I love teeny babies. They're so portable!

A friend asked us to bring him home ketchup chips. Eeew. So we carried 6 bags of Ketchup flavored Lays onto the plane. Nasty!

I missed those kids of mine like crazy. It's so nice to get away, and it makes coming home to my sweet little people even better.