31 August 2011

What I'm Reading Currently

While I am reading Raising Your Spirited Child for very obvious reasons (to save the dear little boy's life) I also have a couple of books checked out in an effort to glean some vegan and raw recipes, techniques and tips.  Looking for new inspiration and new healthy ingredients to add into our repertoire.

The first book I scanned for recipes/tips was Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet.  This book was focused mainly on macrobiotics, which is fine. Back in 2004 we did the mostly macrobiotic diet to become healthier and I shed 13 pounds I did not know that I had to lose. Bonus! I already have the Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics from way back when so I didn't feel compelled to check out a lot of her recipes but a few things went on my list of things to try: Fried Udon Noodles,  Pecan Crusted Seitan, Pan Fried Mochi, and Moroccan Couscous with Saffron.

As a result of the quick afternoon of perusing her book I finally made a meal with tempeh. It was wolfed down by the whole family so we'll definitely incorporate tempeh into the mix. Now that I think about it, it might not have been a result of reading her book. I got the tempeh before I had her book but I was inspired to cook with it after I returned her book so I will give Alicia the credit.

Vegetarian Stir Fry
Tempeh Stir Fry - yum!
I also purchased some mochi from the new store in town and we'll be trying it out this weekend. Not the pan fried version but the cashew/date baked version. We are already brown rice converts (organic short grain); a carryover from the mostly macrobiotic days.

The second book I've been scanning for recipes/tips is Ani's Raw Food Essentials - this book was listed on Gena's recommended reading list for the newly raw-curious. So far I've gotten some good recipes to try and I am inspired to make my own vanilla extract and kimchi very soon.  I have also wanted to try raw cheeze to see if it's something that is actually palatable so I jotted down the Basic Cheeze and Chipotle Cheeze recipes.  Ani has a wonderful sounding Mexican Lime Soup that I may un-cook this week and the other recipes on the list to try are her Pad Thai with Kelp Noodles, Sesame Noodles and Tamari Almonds.

The last book in my queue is Skinny Bitch, Ultimate Everyday Cookbook .... it looks promising...and I hope to have some time this week to glean some good stuff from it.

30 August 2011

My House Smells Like A Chinese Take Out Place

But it was sooooo worth the lingering fragrance tonight. While trying to figure out what we were going to have for dinner, I came across an appetizing recipe on PW's website and went with it. The recipe was for General Tso's Chicken. I had everything on hand except for the chicken thighs. I didn't get any pictures but judging by everyone getting seconds, I believe it's a keeper. Thank God for recipe sharing and the internet.

P.S. I may need to buy bigger pants!

Boing! Boing!

Typical David

Typical David

I recently learned that not only do I have a spirited little boy (see him hovering in mid-air up there?) but I am also "spirited". Yea me! Not as spirited as David, but still spirited. In retrospect, I knew this. That is why David and I (and David and my sister) butt heads so often.

However, an area in which we are very different and causes the biggest conflict is in the psychological type. I am a very social INTROvert and David is a very social EXTROvert. Meaning, we both love a good party but afterwards when I am drained and need a nap or to be alone, David is wired and ready for more. While I like to be in social situations, I need to be alone to recharge. This explains a lot about my family gathering, conference and camping habits. At conferences when I've been around people in sessions for a while, I tend to want to go back to my room to retreat and eat my meals. It DRAINS my energy to socialize even though I enjoy it.

Whereas little David is like a vampire and gets his energy FROM people.

You see where this is going, don't you?

David likes to get up at the butt crack of dawn. And I like to get up early to relish in the peace and enjoy a cup of coffee while I water the lawn or wash the dishes, update my blog, feed the pets... On the weekends I get up before the rest of the family typically so I can have my "me" time. Lately, little David has been trying to intrude on this time of mine (getting up an hour earlier to do so!). He has gotten very crafty inventing reasons to "check in" with me while I am in my sanctuary (aka, the kitchen).

5am I got up early to wash dishes, do laundry, etc uninterrupted.  David got up seconds later to pee and then I sent him back to bed telling him it was too early to get up.
5:40 He's back up because he has to poop now.  Okee. I take off my dish gloves to help him complete this task (we are teaching him to wipe independently but still) then I shuffle him back to bed. I remind him not to wake up little sister and that I will come get him when it's time to wake up.
6:10 He traipses into kitchen. I am livid but concerned that maybe it's something legit like a belly ache or a badger trapped in his bedroom. What's up? "Um, Mom, I'm skinny." What?  "I'm skinny!" {Are you serious? Get back in bed!!}  [Side note: Maybe the author of Go the F**k to Sleep is the father of a spirited child?]

Same exact deal 5am up early to pee, up a little later to poop, then up to tell me that "This nap is BO-ring!" I had to ask him to repeat what he said because I could not believe my ears. "This nap is boring!" repeated with a little grimace on his face. {WTF? Get back in bed!}

SUNDAY NIGHT - Daddy has a firm talking to David and lets him know that the morning shenanigans will stop.

MONDAY  - No wakey and no BS. Of course, I stayed in bed until after 6am opting not to get up to TCB so who knows if that was a factor or not. Maybe the shenanigans have worn the boy out?

And in the evening when I get home from work, the LAST thing I want most days is social interaction (unless it involves friends and Swirls). I want peace and to unwind and get dinner on the table.

Sometimes I can barely get started in the kitchen when David comes booming in to asking what we're having for dinner. Sometimes I don't know yet or I'm in the middle of prepping or cleaning and I don't like to be taken off task. I shoo him away to play in his room or the sun room and he's usually not alone but he keeps popping back up into the kitchen with seemingly made up excuses to interrupt me talking to Daddy or stop me from cooking dinner to (drain me of my energy as I'm learning) "check in" and get that energy boost from me! Often he'll try to stick around to "help" me by backseat driving in the kitchen. Oy!

And to keep his energy level high, he needs feedback, loves feedback and can't get enough feedback. Don't I know this! This is what I was referring to when I said I couldn't fill his bucket.

There is no way one parent, especially an introverted parent, can keep up with the interaction needs of an extroverted spirited child. Amen.

I know for sanity's sake I need to have a strategy in place for these near constant interruptions. Or maybe I need to heave some chores on the boy. We'll see. His only real chore outside of fixing his bed and putting toys away is to feed the cats.

Maybe I should train him to wash dishes until we get the dishwasher replaced?

29 August 2011

The Burning Bush

Saturday morning I spent a little time weeding and pruning dead branches and plants from the front and side yard beds. We have a little sliver of land to our East (which is more than made up for with the big yard we have to the West) and we have some azaleas and other shrubs to either side of the poor azaleas.

Poor Dead/Dying Shrubs
Those are not our leaves but I did rake them up... ;.(

28 August 2011

THE Dress

I was looking through my Nanny's cedar chest (now mine) for my wedding invitation from so many years ago (almost 15!) and while I didn't find the invite, I did find lots of other wedding goodies including a magazine page that was the inspiration for my dress.  We were living in Dallas at the time and I had access to lots of bridal stores but I was less than pleased with the dresses on the rack. I was even less impressed with the pressures of the sales ladies telling me I needed to purchase their dress that day. None of the places had a simple sheath like I wanted and so I decided to have my dress made for me based on the dress below.

Such a timeless and classic dress and veil

Blushing Bride
Loved my dress and my simple daisy bouquet
I sought out Fran Milito in Plano, TX and she was confident that she could make me what I wanted, which was exactly like the dress in the magazine plus some crocheted daisy detailing on the empire waistline and on my headpiece for my veil. The crocheted daisies were a nod to my mom who has crocheted many things over the years. I have a bedspread that she crocheted while she was pregnant with me.

So Classy Holding a Cigar
Looking classy there holding that cigar, Mrs. Morgan
I went with silk which sent the cost up a little but it was nowhere near the $3,000 price tag that was listed in the bridal magazine. Fran mocked up a pattern during our first visit or two and then she made the dress from the pattern. For the dress and the veil, the total was $820. I thought it was very good back in 1996. After the wedding I thought maybe I should have gone with satin because no one but me would have known the difference but I was very happy with the way my wedding dress turned out.

Cutting the Groom's Cake
Scott's groom's cake was delish! {yes, I know he looks wasted in this picture}
Emi won't be able to wear my wedding dress but Aubri might. We'll see. I don't even want to think about their wedding days yet...maybe I should just make some silk pillows?

26 August 2011


When I'm away from home my mind settles and I can focus on some things that I want to do vice the things that I need to do. I want to open up our rooms by either removing clutter or rearranging furniture to flow better. I also want to work on energy management projects (i.e. hang the south window curtain rod in the sunroom and transfer the drapes from the Gathering Room to the sunroom) and wall hangings for most of the rooms in the house.

I have ideas (so many ideas) for David's and Aubri's room. Scott hung their coat/backpack hooks (Bach Garment Holders, actually) last weekend (thank you, babes). These nifty hooks (which were spotlighted on Apartment Therapy years ago) have been in the basement waiting to be used. We have a couple hung by the front door already - I loved the design so much that I bought extra.

I plan to hang 2 Lil Davinci Art Cabinets above the hooks for the kiddos' keepsake masterpieces.  These frames hold up to 100 pieces of art while displaying the current masterpiece.  Emi has one and we have collected her artwork through the years. It's a great way to keep the really special pieces of art in one place (although we do still have an acid-free binder or 2 with other art pieces of Emi's).

I also plan to create a baseball themed alphabet painting and a distressed wood sign with the words from "You Are My Sunshine". (That's a favorite song to sing at bedtime.)

We painted the walls of the Gathering Room many years ago after texturizing the walls and we were so pleased with the outcome, we haven't hung much up on the walls since. I have 2 pieces of filipino art that my mom gave me on one wall.

More Filipino Art

And a wrought iron book shelf above the digital piano on the opposite wall...

Wrought Iron

25 August 2011

On Spiritedness

Spirited kids are really, really, really persistent, like a dog with a bone. Tuesday we had a good example of this behavior. Aubri had accidentally wet her pants waiting too long to get to the toilet that morning. I had to take her sheets off her bed because I mistakenly told her to go to her bedroom vice the bathroom and she inadvertently sat on her bed. After school Daddy was asking her what happened to her bedsheets and Aubri was trying to answer the question while also dancing around the fact that she had an accident. David could hardly contain himself and kept interrupting her trying to tell Daddy what really happened. Daddy told David that he wanted Aubri to tell what happened. After that discussion was over and they were playing, David kept coming to Daddy and trying to tell him about Aubri peeing her pants and each time Daddy shushed him and told him to go play - that the discussion was over and none of his business. He told David that unless he had a question about something, not to talk about Aubri's accident. This happened 2 or 3 times. The last time he came into talk to Daddy, he said "Daddy, um, why did Aubri pee in her bed?" Persistence for $400, Alex!

No Likey the Hat
Not sure about the elephant hat

So Sad...
Someone didn't get his way...

24 August 2011

BS (Back to School)

So Emi started the FOURTH GRADE today! And the day started off a little rocky (of course).  David and Emi both woke up on the wrong side of the bed... and my efforts at preparing a hearty and healthy breakfast which consisted of a wonderful Kale and Feta Breakfast Casserole didn't seem much appreciated (initially). I used Red Russian Kale and maybe that didn't seem too eye appealing to them. After being forced to taste the casserole first before deciding, everyone but the oldest seemed to like it (or at least the complaining ceased). That's good because we are having it for breakfast tomorrow too. Along with some corned beef hash to mix things up a bit.

Kale and Feta Casserole

We escorted Emi to her new classroom this morning (loaded down with supplies) and then to the noisy gym where the masses were. As we walked the halls, David's little mind was blown away by the dinosaurs in the library and all of the kiddos at the school. In fact, I got a good picture of my little trio outside and David looks like he was hovering above the ground with excitement (and it wasn't even HIS first day of school....love that boy!).

After we left her school David talked a bit about when he starts going to her school and I told him that by then, Emi would be moving up to the next school...and Aubri would be left at their current school. And we'll have 3 schools for 3 kids. Made me a little teary eyed thinking about my baby girl going into the 4th grade.

First Day of SchoolFirst Day of School

23 August 2011

Lovely Clouds

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Contrary vs. Dodgy vs. Spirited

Since becoming a parent 9 years ago I've read many parenting books/blogs/articles with a particular emphasis on parenting adopted children to be sure we're sensitive to what the kids are going through. But none of the parenting books I've read thusfar address the issues we've run across with David.  [Note: While we want to be sensitive to our children and their needs, we don't want them living with us when they are 30. Amirite?]

He's the king of manipulation and the main reason why I refer to the Little Ones as "hobos" now and again. It's like he's spent his entire life panhandling for food and toys [Note: For all I know he was a panhandler in his previous life] and judging by the way he goes into "hobo" mode the second he enters a crowd - whether it be on the soccer field or at a gathering at our home or a concert in the park - he seems very comfortable with this behavior. Asking total strangers for popcorn or candy or a balloon is okay by him*.

And he absolutely must be the center of attention or all is not right with the world. This is more than just the average child wanting attention...more than just sibling rivalry...just MORE period. He comes unglued when the spotlight goes on one of his sisters. He adjusts his actions up or down in maturity depending on which sister is getting attention at the time.

Then there are the mood swings. His demeanor can change in a heartbeat. If he's told "no" or if a behavior is corrected (even just a tee-tiny reminder to do something), he pouts and says "I'll never do x right" or "I'm just a bad boy" NOTE: He has never been told that he's a "bad boy". We always emphasize that we don't like the behavior that he chose to use when he gets "in trouble". i.e. "It's a real bummer that you can't ride your bike now because you chose to throw that toy."

I used to think he'd outgrow some of his "insecurities" as he bonded with us and accomplished so much, but then I started thinking about how this kid's bucket can never be filled. How frustrating it is trying to figure out why he spends so much time trying to be contrary. Is he doing this crap on purpose? Yes and no. I am sure now that he doesn't spend all night devising ways to mess with us ...although it certainly seemed that way for a while. He's not evil, but he IS manipulative (to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one's own advantage). Some days it seems that maybe he just sees us as means to an end. Sociopath? Narcissistic Personality Disorder**?

Examples of some of the behaviors:
  • When potty training at home he would pee perfectly into the toilet. When potty training at my sister's he'd sometimes let the pee fly wherever. When he was made to sit to pee, it was worse. This happened if she left him to pee on his own so she stopped allowing him to pee independently. I thought he was just pushing her buttons but this is more than that. He was definitely pushing buttons, but why? There are many other pee incidents that kept them from going to the park or ended a park outing prematurely, all in the name of him getting his way or trying to control the situation, but I'll refrain from posting them all.
  • He's also used poop to manipulate. Who hasn't, right? Doling out a little tiny pebble of poop several times over the course of a day in an effort to control things. I know, that's where "anal-retentiveness" came from...I know! Our boy is strong-willed, OCD*** and anal-retentive...oh joy! We'd all sit down to a meal and all of a sudden David would have "to poop". We don't take chances with a biological need like this so we'd go and he'd squeeze out a little nugget, so technically he "had" to poop, right? Wrong! Now at dinner (or other transition times), we make him wait (and he's good about signing "wait" too).  I spend a lot of time calling "Bullshit!" (Not out loud though. Gah!)

  • Another cute little dinner trick is that while he's waiting for all of us to sit down, he will pound down his water and as soon as we sit down to eat, he will ask for "more water, please". Yes, he's using his manners but he's also messing with us. He now knows that he is welcome to pound down his drink but he has to wait until we are finished eating for more water if he pulls that stunt.
  • His grandma came over recently with a some furry boots for his little sister - she'd picked them up from a garage sale and wanted to make sure they fit. As soon as he realized he didn't have a pair of boots too, he stormed off saying "Aw man, this isn't supposed to happen." (Like this isn't the way things had played out in his head? Maybe he's almost psychic?) 9 times out of 10, friends who have sons have old/extra toys for David so it's not like the reverse of this situation doesn't happen. Most of the time David gets the gifts and clothes and no one freaks out about that.
  • Recently when we were leaving a crowded hotel in NOLA we reminded our children about not speaking to strangers as we meandered through the lobby. As we were loading onto the elevator, David looked up at a complete stranger getting onto the elevator with us and said "Hi, my name's 'David'". Really? Contrary much? He definitely got a stern talking to in the parking garage after the stranger was out of earshot. I don't think this instance was innocent at all. It was a challenge to see if we meant what we said or to see if there were any loopholes...
  • He's a bit of a back-seat driver...at 3!!! Think of how annoying this must be when Scott is driving and I am assisting with navigation and our little backseat driver chimes in too...
  • On that note, one time I was driving to my sister's house and needed to stop for gas. I took an alternate route to go into her neighborhood and he lost it saying it wasn't the right way. Just completely went bonkers because I went a different way. Of course after that we decided that we had to mix things up as often as possible to learn the boy some flexibility.
  • And he is always in constant motion. I joke about this a lot but it's so true. From the second he wakes up he is hopping around ready to go and not only that, he thinks everyone should be up at at 'em.
There are LOTS of power struggles and I think he's tried to up his game since none of his old tricks work any more. Whereas someone who's just met him will think, What a charming little boy! I'm thinking He's working you OVER!

People have said "He's ALL BOY!" or "He's sensitive" or "He's okay" or "He's just excited." And occasionally, they are right. But this doesn't fit all of the time or even most of the time. He is very, very smart, strong, talented, but he can be contrary . Just out of the blue. Last week we were all playing happily when he decided to rake his nail across his sister's back for no reason....meaning she didn't do something to provoke it. I imagine the reason was because he was frustrated about something (God knows what) and couldn't use his words but knew that this would get some attention.

Luckily for us, he sleeps through the night (except for that brief period where he would wake ME up during the Unholy Hour) and is not a picky eater.

So, I could spend a week documenting WHY I think that our little boy is difficult spirited but I won't. He is more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent and energetic.

And knowing that we won't be needing holy water in our efforts to raise him is a big relief. I am just starting to read Raising Your Spirited Child and I am already grateful for the label conversion table right off the bat. I don't want David to get the angry face from me all the time and it helps to change the negative labels into positive labels. [Note: These probably would work in creatively writing a resume or reference letter.]

demanding ->  holds high standards; loud -> enthusiastic and zestful; nosy -> curious; picky -> selective; wild -> energetic; argumentative -> opinionated

So, basically, what I'm trying to say is that our enthusiastic, energetic son is very selective, opinionated and holds high standards. He's not dodgy (all the time anyway).

*Asking for treats from strangers is NOT okay with us and we actively work with our children in understanding the need to be wary of strangers unless/until mom/dad give the okay.

**Okay I re-read the definition of NPD and he MIGHT have this disorder. We will have to fix that!

*** It's not true that he's OCD. I don't think he has any disorders, actually. Last year when he used to line up all of his cars, I had a brief moment where I thought maybe because he also didn't like his routine to be jacked with, but when he told where WHERE the cars were going, we moved on...and so did his commuters.

22 August 2011

Mom of the Year (not so much)

I definitely won't be nominating myself for that award based on the happenings of last Friday. In my defense, Aubri woke me up from a sound sleep during the Unholy Hour and since I couldn't immediately go back to sleep, I replied to a comment on my blog and clarified some ingredients for Marinated Cheese to Scott's sister via e-mail. I am sure that little hiccup in my sleep pattern is what rendered me incompetent for parts of the rest of the day.

To wit:

Typically after breakfast, once the kiddos are all ready to walk out the door, IF we have time, the Little Ones can watch a DVR'd episode of SuperWhy while I finish getting ready. Friday morning, I selected their show, put the dogs up and gathered up my stuff when I heard David say "Oh my gosh!".  When I got to the Living Room, I saw that my precious little kiddos were watching Hell's Kitchen which is a complete departure from the educational show they were supposed to be watching. At this time, the winning chef team was oohing and ahhing (and no doubt bleeping and smoking) over their reward (which I haven't seen yet). I immediately snapped off the TV and told the children to let me know if one of mommy's shows is playing instead of their shows so I can fix it. Fat chance that they will; I will probably have to record my saucy shows in my bedroom from now on....lesson learned.

So, on the heels of all the negativity that might have filled their ears and eyes, I got the kids loaded into the car and headed off to school. About 5 blocks down the road while I was making a left turn, Aubri let me know that she was not buckled. Luckily we were only a few more blocks away from the school. {Sorry, baby girlie}

After we got David safely to his class, Aubri and I headed to the Urgent Care center where the kind doctor verified that she did have an ear infection. While we were filling her prescription, I let her eat an entire bag of gummy bears. Actually, that's not true - she shared a couple with me and she didn't actually finish the bag until we got to my office.


So anyway, the rest of the weekend was nice and productive. We were so very happy to not have anything planned that was geared towards "Back to School". Friday night Emi's summer camp did their annual program and they did a great job. I am soooo glad she is not like me in that she's completely cool with being on stage, projecting herself and making eye contact.  To this day if, I was up there on stage and made eye contact with someone I knew, I'd probably immediately start projectile vomiting. After the program, there was pizza, so dinner took care of itself that night. All we had to do was put the 2 kids we left with (Emi had a sleepover) into their prospective beds and then it was Dexter: Season 5 {Thank you, Amazon!} for the rest of the night. Well, just 2 episodes, actually.

Saturday was about catching up on laundry (like that's possible), purging Emi's room of her hoards of crap (and organizing her locker and shelves so she can handle Putting Things Away), finding school supplies out of the hidden caches of supplies from years past, and zipping outside here and there to try to maintain some semblance of the opposite of neglect. Later, I went from pajamas to my swim suit after Emi got home, and we took a nice dip in the pool with her friends. After a very late lunch, the whole family packed up to get Emi some new soccer cleats and then grocery shopping at Target. I know, big time fun! It was too late for a full meal when we got home, but because it is still technically summer AND it was Saturday night, we celebrated with fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookies and milk. Then we shuttled everyone off to bed so we could watch Seven Pounds. Whoa...this movie was a good one! I would totally recommend you add it to your Netflix list.

Sunday, we went to our bible study for the second time and I have to say, I am really enjoying that class. The people are nice and it really, really, really helps to discuss what we read so as to have a deeper understanding of the lessons involved. Some stories in the bible are hard to digest without discussion. Something that really hit home this time were the effects that decisions of earlier generations of people have on the generations that follow. ... the sins of our fathers.  Very thought-provoking stuff indeed. It's been a long while since we've been a part of a bible study group and this has been nice.

After a short nap, Emi and I went shopping to update her clothing options for school and pick up the remaining school supplies needed. We were on a tight budget so it was a challenge but we made it. Our budget was $125.00 but we could have gone up to $200 if needed. Emi needed some new shoes and some other pieces to go with what she already has in her wardrobe. We went to Kohl's and scored some sneakers, "toning" flip flops and cute turquoise slip ons; 3 skorts (1 for me); 3 camis; and 2 tees for $100.18.  It would have been $118 but we applied for the store credit card (which would have been a 20% discount had we been approved but because I have a freeze on my credit, ended up being a 15% discount instead). We went immediately to the Dollar Tree to retrieve the remaining school supplies plus other sundries and ended up spending $22.50 there. So, things were solidly under budget. The weekend was packed with good lessons for Emi in budgeting her money. She wanted the magenta soccer cleats which were $5 more than we were willing to spend so she had to cough up that extra money. I owed her $10 for past allowances so I gave her a 5 spot and the transaction was complete. Now, for the Little Ones who were quietly observing the deal, they learned that if you whine a lot about wanting the more expensive shoes, mom and dad will eventually give in and also give you money.... oy!

Sunday dinner was a nice home cooked meal of Chicken Curry and Spinach Sauteed with Olive Oil and Garlic to round out the weekend. After the Little Ones were tucked away in bed I had some time to comb through some of Emi's hair. I'm hoping that tonight the rest will be combed out and she will have a new style for a while. If we could get a few more days like the 3 we just had (minus the doctor visit) we could catch up a little more life...

19 August 2011

Poor Baby Girl

My littlest one has an ear infection. ;.( She's had a summer cold and been teething and not complaining at all until last night during dinner when her ear suddenly started hurting. She cried on Daddy the entire 15-20 minutes it took us to retrieve some pain reliever and ear drops from the drug store. She woke me up at 3:23 am (I know, the Unholy Hour) in extreme pain and Mama was able to make the pain go away again (Motrin and homeopathic ear drops) but we still had to visit Urgent Care this morning to see if there was an infection (there was).  She's my sweet little sunshine and cheerleader so we want her to feel better soon.

18 August 2011

Summertime Pho and Naked Ladies

After drooling over the pictures of the pho in Aura's last post and finding myself with some leftover pork roast, an abundance of cilantro, basil and limes, I decided to make pho for my family last night. All of the kiddos have had some sinusy thing going on (summer colds?) and I thought a nice broth with fresh herbs and alkalizing limes would help them to kick this sinus junk.

Into my organic chicken broth I put thinly sliced leftover pork and half moon onions. I let that simmer for a bit with some cinnamon and fish sauce then I added some fresh ginger and cilantro. I cooked the rice noodles in the soup so as not to heat up my kitchen unnecessarily with another pot of water (this is not preferred as the rice noodles will have absorbed the wonderful broth when you go back for your second bowl of pho).

Summertime Pho
I wish you could smell this...heaven in a bowl.
I love that my kids love my cooking as we tend to have quite a variety of dishes served in our home. They all ate healthy amounts of the fresh herbs and broth but stayed clear of the jalapeno and Srirachi sauce...no premature enlightenment for them.

Earlier when I went out to snip the basil I saw some unexpected blooms in my back yard:

Naked Ladies
Naked Lady Lilies
It was a very satisfying dinner with my family and I feel blessed that we can all be together for a home cooked meal.

Happy Friday Eve, friends!

17 August 2011

Double Rainbow

Double Rainbow (if you squint and use your imagination)
Under the Rainbow
This morning we saw a rainbow at home and when we dropped off the Little Ones, we saw a DOUBLE RAINBOW! Whoa!

My children were straining to see the South side of the rainbow so it wasn't quite as fantastic as this guy's double rainbow but it was still a sight to behold.

My timing and my BlackBerry were not much help in capturing the miracle this morning but it was beautiful for a moment.

16 August 2011

Miso Hungry

During my first trip to the new Natural Grocers I picked up a bottle of something I thought looked interesting: Miso Mayo. I like miso. I like mayo...why not?

"MISO MAYO is made with miso from Hawaii, and is hand-packed in small batches to ensure quality and freshness. The full-bodied umami flavor of MISO MAYO enhances and completes many different foods..."

Umami, indeed.

During an evening when I had nothing planned for dinner and the natives were getting restless, I inventoried the kitchen and found tortillas at the ready, fish sticks in the freezer, mixed herb salad in the crisper and Miso Mayo, ready to try. I baked up the fish sticks and made Fish Tacos for the family and they were a hit. I can't recall if I took photos of the finished dish or the process but it was really easy and certainly not the worst thing we could have eaten health-wise.

I squirted some Miso Mayo on a tortilla, placed 4 or so fish sticks on top of that and then added in a handful of herb salad and a squeeze of lime. Et voila! As I recall, the whole family gave this dish a "thumbs up".  We also used a little chipotle sour cream to kick it up a notch. Yum!  

14 August 2011

Tavern Sandwiches and a Little Notoriety

Today when we got home from church our neighbor came over to ask me if I knew that I was in the paper. It would not be the first time I was in the paper (see also 20 year reunion) but I was not aware of any reason I would be in the paper lately. I tensed up a little as she handed me the article (much like I tense up when an old friend tags me in a photo on FaceBook).

I'm Famous!
Not to worry. It was just a mention in the Pop section regarding the results of a FaceBook survey conducted last week. I happened to be logged into FB at the time and cheerfully submitted my favorite frozen drink  (and saw another I need to try next time I find myself at The Mont).

We celebrated our nephew Anthony's 16th birthday today in the back yard. The kids (and Grandaddy-O) swam while the adults sought shade in between the Magnolia and Pecan trees. We ate Tavern Sandwiches like my Nanny used to make for us when we were kids except she called them Sloppy Joes. They are a nice alternative to burgers. These are loose meat sandwiches (ground beef, onion, salt and flour) and are traditionally served with white sandwich bread and washed down with Sweet Tea or an RC.(Note: This is the only time we get Wonder bread.).

Tavern Sandwiches
Tavern (aka Loosemeat) Sandwiches

Aubrianna in Her Goggles
Goggle Girl

Trever Sliding

What IS that?
Me and My Goofy Husband
It was a nice way to end the weekend. Well, technically we ended the weekend forcing the kids to watch Ghostbusters II with us. You know, so they can develop an appreciation of the modern day special effects and maybe get that song stuck in their heads like we did way back when...

13 August 2011

A Good Day

Today Scott and I were on a Transracial Adoption Seminar panel to discuss our experiences with transracial adoption. A big topic, of course, was hair and the best way to take care of and manage African American hair. We've had plenty of lessons learned in that area, so we had a lot to share. We also discussed our experiences with people being curious, ignorant or just plain rude about our conspicuous family. We like to think that people are not mean, they just don't know how to react to our blended family and it's an opportunity to educate them about how transracial open adoption works. We were a bit surprised to learn that of the 6 or 8 families involved in this seminar, we were the only ones who practiced open adoption. ;.(

I hope that after this seminar that the other families are able to open up their adoptions a little more to understand more about how this process can bless so many people affected....

After the panel was over we headed out to meet up with the Little Ones' birth mom for her birthday. We also visited with Papa Dave and Shawna. It was a nice visit, even though we didn't get to stay for long.

Mama Bri and Aubri
Mama Bri and Aubri

Taz and David
David and Taz

Shawna and Emi
Shawna and Emi

12 August 2011

Lather, Rinse, Repeat (last Friday's lunch hour)

Well, almost. I was going to go to Natural Grocers yesterday to pick up a free Giovanni shampoo or conditioner (NG sent me a coupon in the mail!) and some lunch but I was sidetracked by all of the gorgeous rain and ended up going home to revel in the rain (and document that it really happened). So today at lunch I ran by and picked out a conditioner, grabbed some apples and yogurt and when I went by to grab my beloved chicken curry naanwich, I found there were none left. *sad face* There were some naanwiches of the chicken kebab variety so I grabbed one of those and hightailed it back to work. Oh, friends - this naanwich might even be better than last week's! When I see "kebab" I think of bamboo skewers of grilled meat and veggies, but this sandwich is comprised of a chicken patty and is very yummy....and spicy. I love spice! So I'm thinking we will be having an "Indian Night" at our house soon and serve homemade naanwiches and hummus...  Maybe we can eat our dinner sitting on pillows in the living room and watch an encore presentation of Like Stars on Earth (Ishan!)

In other news, I recently took an online Defensive Driving Course to renew my DDC discount on my auto insurance and learned a new term that I should have known about and somehow never heard before now. How is that possible at 42? Microsleep. [This term was brought up in the sections on impaired driving.] "Microsleeps are brief, unintended episodes of loss of attention associated with events such as blank stare, head snapping, and prolonged eye closure which may occur when a person is fatigued but trying to stay awake to perform a monotonous task like driving a car or watching a computer screen."

I have lived off of microsleeps for the past 25 years! During college I worked at our local psych hospital data center and one semester of my career there involved weekend graveyard shifts. I would get off work at 7:30am Monday, shower and zip into History of Economics at 8:30am, listen to lecture, take notes, microsleep, take notes, zzzz. It was not so easy trying to decipher my notes that semester. You'd think that "macrosleep" would be the opposite - "long, much intended, much needed episodes of total unconsciousness" but I only found programming in Excel links when Googling (or Binging) that term.  Hoping that this weekend brings me some much needed macrosleep!

One last thing, if you haven't heard of Zee Avi (I first heard of her last Christmas from Sundry's Christmas music mix - No Christmas for Me) go to Spinner's Free MP3 of the day and get her Dwell Window for free.

Happy Weekend, All!

11 August 2011

Rain Dance

We were blessed with a gorgeous amount of rain today!  It's 69 degrees and no sign of dust in the air....amazing what cooler temps and a little rain will do for one's mood.







10 August 2011

Raining ... Pouring... Crowing

Well, it was raining...at 2:30am. I woke up again to rainfall. I peered out the window and saw rain gushing down the street. And later this morning when we were all rushing about to get ready for work and school I opened our bedroom windows and let the cool air inside... Two days in a row of rain! Keep it coming.

At breakfast, we stepped out back to check for wind damage (none - well, downed leaves) and on the tadpoles (lots) and Ozzie crowed at us. It sounded awkward like he wasn't sure if this was the right way to do it. All these weeks he's been one of the girls (and NOT one of the dominant ones, mind you) so he's probably not sure about his masculinity just yet.  We imagined that while he was looking at us and stretching his wings he was asking the ladies "Should I? You think it's ok?" and then he let out an unsure "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" which sounded more like "Er-er-er-er-ooo?" He is not very vociferous (yet) and I hope he continues to be courteous.

09 August 2011

In My Yard

Obvious Ozzie
We once called "her" "Happy Feet". He now goes by "Ozzie"...it's so obvious NOW but it really wasn't before...

My Butterfly Ginger is coming up...

Another view of the emerging plant

The moon looked strange around 8:30

And the skies looked ready to rain down on us...
We got that rain around 10 pm, big fat raindrops for about 17 seconds (just enough time for me to update my FaceBook status!) followed by lots of loud thunder and flashes of lightning. It was music to my ears. I fell asleep listening to the "symphony" and then I woke up a short while later to the gentle rain. I was tired but I made myself get up to see if it really was raining. Beautiful! Thank you God for the much needed rain!

08 August 2011

Acting Half My Age

Saturday night we secured our first official babysitter (as in someone not related to us) to watch the kids while we went out to celebrate Shawna's b-day. We started out at The Mont for swirls and the first free birthday t-shirt. It was a perfect start to the evening with a nice breeze courtesy of the outer edges of a nearby storm. The cloud cover and misters cooled things down a bit for us. Also, the students hadn't clustered back into town just yet so we didn't have to wait to get a parking space or a table. Nice! We hung out for a few swirls (3's my limit!) and some queso and then we started talking about our Irish. Shawna's almost 100% Irish so we decided we HAD to go to O'Connell's for more birthday fun! [The original O'Connell's was demolished a few months ago but the Campus Corner location is still going good.]

Our Dainty Dudes
At O'Connell's we picked up another free tee for the Birthday Girl (and some nasty shots) before we decided to hit just one more place for birthday fun, an old college haunt of mine called Brothers. I haven't been there in a long time but the party pics of me and one of my besties still hang on the Wall of Shame. It was fun to go searching for these pics after we got Shawna the traditional Yard. [Side note: she had to help in finishing that HUGE beer!] We got home late with bar t-shirts and cups and all was well with the kiddos.

Tackling a Full Yard for Her Birthday

Contrast that big Yard with the petite half yards we had back in the day:
Half Yards at Brothers back in 1991 (?)
After our pub crawl, we returned home to take a nice refreshing dip in the pool after we checked in on the kids. [The babysitter said the kids were fine and the house was not trashed so we hope she will come back another time.] I decided to pound down some water and get into bed so that I wouldn't be feeling so puny in the morning....and it almost worked! Shortly after I hopped into bed I woke up to whimpering. I thought it was Emi having a nightmare and got up twice to check on her before I realized it was Shawna's poor puppy crying for her mommy. Everyone had forgotten that she was in her little crate all alone in the living room.

I tried to get more shut eye before the sun rose, but I decided I needed to get up before the kids were clamoring for things. I got up and showered and then stepped outside to a really nice cool morning. The coolest we've had in some time.  I watered the lawns and fed the animals and soon enough the Little Ones were up. I laid on the couch with them while they watched cartoons and that was nice; something I hardly get a chance to do.

We had cinnamon chip scones, watermelon and leftover pizza for breakfast. Just like in college except for the scones and watermelon. ;.) Somehow the whole household got up and went to church and then out to my parents' place for lunch. After lunch, Papa Dave and Shawna hit the road (and hopefully started feeling less puny) and my little brood and I took a fat nap. Late Sunday afternoon Emi and I took a bike ride to check out the construction at her school and then we biked through campus. It was so good to be on my bicycle again. I feel like my old Ocelot (Bianchi) has been caged up for a while. I remember walking past her many times at Buchanan Bikes before I decided that I had to have that red mountain bike in 1989! (I know, I'm old).  Sunday was the first day in 2 months that it's actually been cool enough to even think about biking. Yea! Looking forward to more days like that this year...

05 August 2011

Looking Forward

This morning after we had a good laugh about Ozzie, I continued watering my plants and when I watered my Butterfly Ginger roots I noticed some green shoots coming up!!! (yay!) Of the 6 or 8 bare roots that I brought back from Florida, only 1 had actual leaves on it and it's not very tall. The ones I planted in the bed with the bananas may well have died in this heat, but I am hoping not. I gave one to a co-worker and I hope that it makes it because it's such a wonderful plant to share! (My forsythia and vitex cuttings looked dried out - I hope it's a different story down there in the root area.) Also, my gardenia - that fried in its pot when we were on vacation - is coming back! I pruned it down to the soil a couple of weeks ago and this week I'm seeing some green down there! Way to go, favorite flower!

Earlier this week when I got a tip from Peaceful Daily on the best plants to have indoors I asked some co-workers about these plants (of the 4 Iisted I only have the English Ivy and it's not indoors). Well, one of my co-workers was kind enough to bring me a cutting from her Hoya Carnosa (aka Wax Plant, Porcelain Plant)! I read that the Wax Plant blooms smell like chocolate! Of the 5 plants that I have in my cube, 3 are from cuttings from friends. And the Passion Flowers that we've passed around the office and yards started with some cuttings that my friend and I got from her aunt years ago in Plano, TX. Those have come a long way.

Another friend brought in some Cosmos sulphureus (Orange Cosmo) seeds for me from her plants at home. She received some of these seeds from her daughter in law back East some time back and said that she plants the seeds twice a year and gets orange blooms in the spring and fall.  I love plants with a history the most! I am looking forward to what the future brings our yardens.

At lunch today I ran by the new Natural Grocers to pick up a recommended shampoo for Emi and I was pleasantly surprised to see my old cashier from my default grocery store ringing up groceries in this shiny new store (which, btw, doesn't have a Beer Cave like my default store does). Anyway, I bee lined to the hair products and ended up getting a few products for my kids. I forced myself to break away from the personal care area and the vast array of coconutty products in an effort to get some artichokes, salad, watermelon, yogurt and apples and check out the rest of the goods quickly. The store is bigger than I remembered Ace Hardware being so my quick 5 minute trip turned into a few more. Side note: I had pounded down a lot of water beforehand and I am happy to report that their bathrooms are very clean!
I grabbed a chicken curry naanwich to take back to work and my tastebuds were pleased when I finally sank my teeth into this sandwich. (yum!) I will have to replicate this dish at home! For dessert I had a Pina Colada (drinkable yogurt) and was very pleased with that too. Perfect size for my kiddos' lunch bags (and mine). 

I am looking forward to the routine of school and the cooler temps that will no doubt come with the new school year...I am also looking forward to the weekend with family and friends and the pool and some swirls... I hope you are keeping cool and discovering happiness in big and small ways as well!

Humpty and Ozzie

So we found out this morning that one of our hens is actually a rooster. We'd suspected for a while but he never has shown any dominance. Still hasn't. This morning as I was watering the front yard and talking to my neighbor I thought I heard the hens. I thought they must be very close to the front yard because they were a little loud. I stood in the alley to be sure of what I was hearing and then I heard it, the unmistakeable crow of a rooster. Emi dubbed him "Ozzie".

In other news, Aubri entertained us at dinner last night with her version of Humpty Dumpty:

Aubri on Humpty from Nolita Morgan on Vimeo.

03 August 2011

Hot! Hot! Hot!

My sweet baby girl wore her swim suit to school (she pronounces it "cool") today for some water play. Good for her too because today is the hottest day so far this year and it's been really, really hot here lately. This suit is from last summer and I don't think the bottoms ever recovered from her Extreme Diaper Wearing in Lake Thunderbird.  Doesn't she look so sweet?

Today I met my husband for lunch at the Grand Opening of Cajun King.  They were serving free food all day long and the parking lot was full when I got there. People were leaving because there were no seats left but they were still letting people get plates of food from the buffet. I was worried that we'd be standing outside in the heat eating (and we would because it's that good) but then I spotted a good friend of mine and his wife seated in a booth! This friend is the one who supplies me with his home made wine for the Lake Party Sangria! Lucky for us they had just enough space for us to join them. My favorite part of the meal (besides the company) was the freshly fried catfish that the servers brought to the table (along with beignets and sweet tea, oh my!). The catfish was so yummy with a sort of cinnamon/coconut taste and the gravy that came with was so good too. Will definitely have to go back to do more research!

02 August 2011

Little Things I'm Thankful for Today *

1) Hollywood Tape. I love my thin linen baby aqua top from Harold's but I don't love flashing co-workers or the director of the Little Ones' new school (sorry!). And it's too hot outside to even wear a camisole underneath. Two small pieces of Hollywood tape and I am good to go. Not even my crossbody bag can undo the hold of this double sided tape.

No More Gaping
2) Dark Sweet Cherries. I have been gorging myself on them for the past 24 hours. They are a taste of summer. But not my summer because mine is dried up and dusty.

3) Leftovers. Gnocchi pasta with turkey, mushroom, grape tomatoes and feta cheese leftover from Sunday dinner allowed us to get into the pool tout de suite last night after dinner. Spinach Artichoke dip made for snacking this weekend allowed me to avoid grabbing my lunch from the employee break room today.

4) My $1 J.Jill cable knit cardigan. While it's hot as blazes outside, it's still cold and drafty in my office and this cardi that I snagged at a garage sale earlier this summer has been as welcomed as an old friend these days.

*The Big Things are, of course, God, my husband and my family and friends (and our pool).

01 August 2011

Time Out

This past weekend I was supposed to go on a family trip to visit Scott's grandparents but at the last minute, I decided to stay home and take a personal time out. I was stressed about the backlog of projects/chores around the house and I was growing annoyed with my lack of progress due to the almost constant interruptions from the kids and I occasionally need some solitude to recharge my batteries (or to keep me from going totally crazy). I missed my family the second they left and I thought about calling them to come back to get me, but I know I needed this time. It was just an overnight trip so I had about 34 hours to myself. I thought I'd catch up on some sleep but could only manage a brief nap on the couch before I got busy taking care of projects uninterrupted! Whee! I spent my time vacillating between a loafing teenager and Martha Stewart.

Some Productive Things I Did:
  • Shampooed the carpets. This was long overdue after all of the gatherings we have had this summer. I was disgusted at the amount of dirt and dog hair that I removed from the floors...  After moving things around in the living room I decided to put the bamboo mat away for now (the dogs like to click around on this mat no matter that we are trying to hear the TV or sleep) and I also finally decided to get rid of my lovely overstuffed RED cottage rocker. I got this fabulously comfy chair 9 years ago when Emi was a baby. When we filled our living room with the red sectional pieces a couple of years ago, the red rocker was relegated to the library, but it never quite fit there. And it got more use as a catchall instead of seating. I moved it to the entry when shampooing the carpets and after seeing all of that space, decided it had to go (before I changed my mind). Scott's mom is coming to get it tonight so it won't be far and it will be loved. I plan to finally, finally get some big floor pillows for the library and hopefully add a nice hanging light in that area this fall...
  • Laundered the couch pillow covers. (and almost ordered 3 more!) (I still might!). These faux-sheepskin pillow covers are the ones we have!  Soft, sturdy and washable.
  • Washed bed linens and remade beds without the pressure of having to remake the beds in time for nap time...
  • Mowed front lawn with REEL lawn mower.  This led me to dig up about 75% of the crab grass that was invading our front lawn (hard to mow crab grass with REEL mower).  Now our front lawn looks like it was attacked by moles when in fact it was attacked by Nols...
  • Mowed 1/2 of the big back yard with REEL mower.  The chickens seemed to appreciate this quiet, gentle mowing...
  • Began propagating (hopefully) forsythia and chaste berry plants.  Basically clipped some shoots off of each plant, dipped them into the rooting hormone, shoved them into planters and watered well. They are in a partial shaded area that is very close to the hose. I didn't cover them with plastic like I've heard is recommended but I've gotten lucky with this method in the past. *fingers crossed*
  • Dehydrated my first pineapple (I prefer the hydrated version but I'd like to preserve some healthy snacks for my family when the cold, cold winter comes along). I dried out chunks of about half a pineapple and the yield was small. Might do pineapple rings in the near future. On the plus side, my sun room still smells like sweet, sweet pineapple...
  • Cleaned the kitchen completely and laundered the tablecloth. This might not seem like a big deal but our dishwasher is on the fritz and with 3 kids, there are always dishes in the sink. I would wash a batch of dishes then go outside and play (mow, swim, rake, weed, move the sprinkler) and then repeat the process.
  • Performed minor surgery on Emi's Rabbit Doll (she's been waiting patiently for months to have the hole in her back sewn up)
  • Started work on a photo book of pictures from our recent visit. I got the photos uploaded to shutterfly, took the default book created and began editing it.
  • Folded and put away 4 loads of laundry...uninterrupted...

Not So Productive Things I Did:
  • Ate peach ice cream while watching parts of Marley & Me and Shawshank Redemption (I HAD to take frequent breaks from the work outside because it was once again 100+ degrees) and all of The Men Who Stare at Goats.
  • Took a couple of dips in the pool (followed by a catnap on the floating lounger). I can report that my pool and backyard were thoroughly enjoyed this weekend. It was soooo quiet and peaceful...ahhhh! And my backyard sounds like a jungle or rain forest when there are no small children running around like banshees.
  • Made the mistake of checking out an episode of Jersey Shore while folding laundry...I could not turn away. It was like a train wreck and I wish I could unknow the stuff I know about "Snooki" and "The Situation".
  • Did not take pictures. Right after the family left I found myself in the back yard with so many things to photograph but Scott had the camera with him. I had to just enjoy what I saw: a mama bullfrog watching over her tadpole babies; an orange dragonfly flying over the pond of matching goldfish;  Chicken Run (the ladies kept walking towards the front gate to check on me while I was in the front yard or in the house); birds gathering around the sprinkler; sunset; sunrise...
  • Thought about locating my mandolin...DID locate the mando-learning DVD and quickly put it away before it harshed my mellow.
Do I have any regrets? Not really except I wish I'd gotten a good solid nap in on Sunday. The catnap in the pool wasn't enough so I fell asleep during Breaking Bad.

Friends, this week is supposed to be the hottest so far!  Going to have to make salads and sandwiches and hang out in the pool until we get pruny in order to survive. I hope your week is filled with lots of cool things!