Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Loaded Nachoes

In Southern California, most of our activities are outside.  Which means, when it rains, everyone heads to the same few places.  Like our Children's Museum.

Our kids love it any time of year, and Thatkid had been asking for a return visit for a while.  So one wet and rainy morning, we decided to make him a very happy child.  We warned him that the outside area would be closed, but he wanted to go anyway.  It was very very busy, especially because the outside area was closed.  But the boys still managed to have a pretty good time.

Every few months they change things around, creating different areas of interest in the museum.  Currently the two "rotating exhibits" are the Southern Pacific area, capitalizing on the popularity of Moana, and the health care center.

There's a reception area to sign in, a nursery, doctor's office, and pharmacy to play in.  It was probably the most popular area of the museum.

The air tubes remained a favorite for the smaller set, and Thatbaby spent a lot of time making balls float.

Thatkid spent a lot of his time building and his brother joined him for a brief moment before building a tower, knocking it over, and losing interest.

The pirate ship is a perennial favorite.  They changed the layout a bit so the slide is now part of the "3 and under" area which Thatkid was not happy about.  But he still got the spend time climbing and steering the ship.

The lifejackets were obviously necessary.  He made sure both he and his brother were protected.

My boys never cease to crack me up.  They're very...interesting.  I was talking to Mrs. J this weekend about the nachos she made and how her children devoured them.  My kids love chips, but nachos? Not their thing.  They try to find the chips with nothing on them, or maybe a little bit of cheese.  They don't know what they're missing.  Nachos, decked with beans, cheese, and salsa, are one of my favorite guilty pleasures.   Although I probably shouldn't complain much, because the less my kids eat, the more there is for me!

Loaded Nachoes (From Cooking Light)
1 cup fat-free refried beans
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
3 oz multrigrain tortilla chips
1 1/2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese
3 Tbsp light sour cream
32 pickled jalapeno slices

  1.  Preheat oven to 375. Combine refried beans, 2 Tbsp cilantro and 2 Tbsp green onions in a saucepan.  Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for 4 minutes, or until heated through.
  2. Place chips on large jelly roll pan.  
  3. Place beans over chips.
  4. Top with cheese.    Bake for 4 minutes, or until cheese melts,  Remove from oven.
  5. Dollop on sour cream.
  6. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro, green onions, and jalapeno slices.  Serve with salsa.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Mommy Mondays: Extracurriculars

Like most other parents, I want my kids to be well rounded.  Involved in school, arts, and sports. Which means that they need to be enrolled in those categories.  School comes along naturally, and I think they're a little young for a lot of artistic endeavors.  So physical activity is the first thing on the list.

We started both boys off with swimming.

This was practical too, because it's a good skill to have for safety reasons.  But it's also a weekly physical activity.  Their first introduction to "sport."  It's also an easy pick because there aren't a lot of options for the under 1 set.  Soccer is pretty popular for this age group, but by us, soccer was just running around a field, which we didn't feel the need to pay money for.  We do lots of running around a field on our own.

Thatkid started baseball and soccer at 4.

We're still debating about whether we want to start Thatbaby with baseball at 3, or hold off a bit.  There's nothing cuter than a 3 year old on the field, but it's extra running around and schedule management for us.

Which brings me to my current wishful ideology.  I'm not sure how long it's going to work, but for as long as possible I want to be a "1 sport a season" family.  With two boys, each of whim are going to be involved on different teams, with different schedules, I'd like to minimize the running around town as much as I'm able.   And I want to be able to attend as many games as possible.

Right now, both kids are still pretty limited by age as to what they can do.  Which is helpful.  Baseball season is over, and both of them can participate in swim lessons.  Thatkid has lessons at 10:30, Thatbaby has lessons at 11:00.  Which means only one hour at the pool a week.  We're planning on continuing this through the summer until soccer season starts in the fall.  And since Thatbaby is still too young for "real" soccer, he'll be back to watching from the sidelines.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Runday: Race Wear

I'm not a person who is very into running clothes. Especially compared to my group of friends who have socks and shoes in every color.

In general, I much prefer form over function.  I have a couple bottoms I'm comfortable in, and a couple tops I like, and I tend to just grab one of each when I go for a run.  They rarely match, and I am far from fashionable.

And this holds true for most races.  Except when I'm "racing for fun" - like all the holiday races I did last year.

Or the Disney races.

There's something fun about dressing a little silly to run a race.  I only have a couple real rules, which are similar to regular running clothing rules.  Like I never wear anything for the first time during a race.

I also stick with my whole form over function thing for racing, it's not worth it to wear something that's going to be uncomfortable after the first quarter mile.  Which means when I do get theme-y for a race, I'm still wearing running clothes.  Mostly I just pick colors that work with the race.  Like green, yellow, and purple for the Mardi-Gras run.  No props that I have to hold, and nothing that's going to fall off my head (I swear there are probably 100 bobby pins in that Leia hair).

Last night I was trying to figure out what to wear to the race I'm running today I realized that even without planning, I had enough running wear to piece together themed race wear.

Just had to put together my red sleeveless running tank, which I wear just about all the time:

With my Minnie Mouse skirt:

And I have a perfectly strawberry-fied outfit for the Strawberry Run!

Do you "dress up" for runs?  Races?  Or does that make you feel like you're not taking it seriously?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Over the weekend, we took a little family vacation to visit ToxicEsq.

Lucky for us, it's a pretty short plane trip away and the boys are good flyers.  Especially when they know that air travel means staying in hotels.  And they loooooooove hotels.

But as usual, the hotel was really just for sleeping.  While we were awake, we were out and exploring.  Smack dab between the hotel and ToxicEsq's house was a train park.  She had told us about it the last time we visited, but this time it became the highlight of the trip.  In addition to actual train engines and cars to oooohhh and ahhhh over, there's a little steam train that goes around the park.

  We started off on the train, which gave us a pretty good tour of the park, and a rundown of what the kids wanted to do while we were there.  When the ride ended, the boys made a bee-line to the playground.

We let them play for a while, until the mudpit that had been created by the misters proved a little too interesting, at which point we scurried them along to the carousel.

The rest of the time we were there was spent in the pool.  3 days of pool time!  The boys were in heaven.  Especially because ToxicEsq loaded them up with pool toys.

With that much time in the sun, we all came back a little redder than when we left.  And a little more tired.  And frankly, I'm even a little sore!

I always feel very successful when we get home from a trip.  I feel like it is an accomplishment to navigate travel with kids and have everyone come home.  Period.  Especially when there are moments where you debate leaving one or both children behind.

A reward is definitely in order.

A reward like fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies.  I don't know how you like your chocolate chip cookies, I know there's disagreement.  I like mine melty and chewy.  "Crisp" should only describe chips and pretzels.   I have to fight the urge to eat them straight from the oven, reminding myself that melty chocolate chips burn tongues which makes cookie eating less enjoyable.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (From Cooking Light)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp canola oil
5.6 oz all purpose flour
3.3 oz whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook 5 minutes or until browned.   Remove from heat.
  2. Add oil.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Combine flours, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Place butter mixture and sugars in an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until combined.
  5. Add vanilla and eggs and beat until combined.
  6. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined.
  7. Stir in chocolate chips.
  8. Use a tablespoon to drop dough 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat.  Bake for 12 minutes, or until bottoms of cookies begin to brown.  Cool slightly.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Garlic Fries

I hope you guys had a peaceful Mother's Day - whether you spent it with your mom, whether you're a mom yourself, or whether you spent the day avoiding all things "mother" because of the pain it causes.

We started the day by meeting Thatmom for breakfast.

Breakfast was great, and Thatbaby spent most of it on Thatmom's lap, eating her fruit, and ignoring his own breakfast until moments before we were about to leave.

After breakfast, we bid goodbye to Thatmom and headed out to do my mother's day request.  I had wanted to go blueberry picking for ages, but always seemed to miss blueberry season.   This year, when Thatboy asked what I wanted to do for Mother's Day I did a quick check and found that the Temecula Berry Farm opened the weekend before and requested we go.

Each boy got a bucket and Thatboy and I shared one, since I spent most of the time helping the boys fill theirs.  Although blueberry picking is perfect for little hands.

Thatkid requested the biggest bucket they had, and did a pretty good job of filling it.

But Thatkid is 5.5, I wasn't surprised he would do such a great job.  I was really surprised that Thatbaby did as well as he did.  The two main rules he followed were to only pick the blue blueberries, and to not eat as he picked.

We ended up picking 6 pints of blueberries.  And after we were done, we rinsed off a pint and ate it right then and there.  So we were down to 5 before we even left!

I noticed that the exit for the Temecula Berry Farm was also the exit for downtown Temecula.  Where my favorite brewery was located.  Typically our trips to Temecula are to visit the wineries, so we don't stop for beer.  But this seemed like the perfect day to make a request to stop.  The boys were more than happy to oblige.  Especially when they find out it involved pizza.

We came home and I played with the boys in the backyard while Thatboy cleaned the house and made dinner plans - a fancy French restaurant which was far from kid friendly.  The boys did okay, and the food was good, but I was relieved when dinner was over.  Places like that are so much more enjoyable without kids.  With kids, I'm much happier in a place that serves pizza.  Or burgers and fries.  Although, you don't have to go out to enjoy either.  Burgers and fries at home is a great way to go when you have small children.  Sometimes it's more relaxing to be in the comfort of your own home.  And you can elevate your fries by simply adding some cheese and garlic.  Because who needs a fancy French restaurant when you can have fancy French fries?

Garlic Fries (From Cooking Light)
4 tsp vegetable oil
3/4 tsp salt
3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick strips
cooking spray
2 Tbsp butter
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tsbp grated fresh Parmesan cheese

  1.  Preheat oven to 400.  Combine first oil, salt, and potatoes in a ziplock bag, tossing to coat.  Arrange on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Bake for 50 minutes, turning after 20.
  2.  Melt butter and garlic in a large, nonstick skillet over low heat.
  3.  Add potatoes, parsley, and cheese to pan, tossing to coat. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mommy Mondays: 23 Months

Weight: 30 lbs (+ 21 lbs, 12 oz) 
Height: 36" (+ 14") 
Head: 19" (from 18 months)

Sleep: Things started out so well this month!  Thatbaby started consistently sleeping through the night, or waking for moments and then going back to sleep.  And then things got REALLY bad.  Like waking up and screaming for 2 hours straight at night bad.  Like taking 2 hours to go to sleep at night, while screaming, bad.   We brought him into the doctor and discovered a double ear infection.  Which was probably the cause of the screaming.  And once he was on medication, the sleep went back to normal..for a week..before it started again.  Another trip to the doctor revealed that the ear infection had cleared up, and there was no good reason for the screaming at night, except maybe as a residual effect from the swollen and draining ear tubes.  And maybe bad dreams.  I was looking at the 23 month update from Thatkid (see - this blog is a really great resource...for me) and noticed we had a similar issue with him at the time, waking in the middle of the night crying and saying ow, having trouble getting back to sleep.   I thought he was having bad dreams back then too, because Thatkid is a sleep talker, and before he started crying he would usually yell out things like "stop" and "no wannie."  I'm hoping this is a short lived phase.

Eating: Thatbaby is still putting it away.  He developed a taste for mushrooms this month, which involves him running to the fridge yelling "sooms!" and looking for them.  He's also still a huge fan of fruit.

Best Moment: I was entertaining Thatbaby at baseball practice this month.  While the boys were playing in the outfield, we found a lonely tee sitting around, and Thatbaby decided to practice his swing.

Monthly Wisdom: I feel like this is my constant monthly wisdom, but you know your kid best.  You know what they need, and you know what is and isn't an appropriate way of dealing with them.  When Thatbaby first started the screaming at night, I was complaining to a friend who told me he was just doing it for attention, and we were giving him that attention.  I got really frustrated.  Because I knew this wasn't manipulation.  And while people are trying to help you with their unsolicited advice, they don't really know what your situation is without living it.  So if advice doesn't feel right, then don't take it.

Goals for the Upcoming Month:
- Work on Thatbaby's birthday party!
- Get the kids passports.  I keep saying we need to do this, but I keep not doing it.

Things Thatbaby is doing:
-  His current favorite phrase is "go away" (as in "go away mommmy!"  "go away snail!"  "go away napkin!")  He does it when he's mad at us, during those middle of the night screamfests, when he gets frustrated with something not going his way.
- He's still asking a million questions - "what's that?" "where going?"  "Where's dada?"  but once you answer him, he does the cutest, shortest "Oh."
- He's having real conversations with/about friends.  Conversations might not be the right word, but he's asking for them by name, telling them to do things like sit down, or come with him, etc.
- We've started doing yoga with him, and he follows really well!
- He sings along with songs on the radio.
- He demands to pick out his own clothes.  Mostly his tie-dye shirt.  He would wear that every day if he could.
- He started swim lessons again.  So far they're going better than last year.  Less crying at least.
- He's into the stacking toys and shape sorter.
- He's been playing pretend with anything that's cup shaped and calling it 'hot chocolate."  He blows on it and everything.  He will only share his hot chocolate with me.
- His favorite color is orange.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes with Mustard and Dill

Last Monday I realized it was May.  May sneaks up on you, doesn't it?  I also realized that Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May, happened to fall on a Friday this year.  Which seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.

I texted Thatboy - "What do you think about having people over for Cinco de Mayo Friday night?"   He thought it sounded like a great idea, so I texted some friends to see if they were available.  As luck would have it, the J's were available!  Well, 3/4 of the Js.  Since Mr. J was going to be out of town, Thatboy decided he should make himself scarce, so he didn't end up stuck in a house with 2 women and 4 boys.

On Friday, I threw up some flags for some festive, easy "decorations" and set the table.  One of the amazing things about me is that I have just about every color of paper plate and napkin there is.  Which I used to my advantage.  I also picked up some Cascaron - confetti filled eggs for the boys,

One of the perks of living in Southern California is that we have no shortage of amazing Mexican food.  I went easy and picked up tacos, rice and beans.  I threw together some guacamole and margaritas and we were good to go.

Our local bakery also was celebrating Cinco de Mayo with these colorful "pinata cupcakes."  In general, I hate the idea of the pinata - there's always the one kid who doesn't know how to do it and the other kids are pretty much stomping each other on the head to get at the candy.  But pinata cupcakes - filled with sprinkles, I can definitely get behind.  While the boys ate those, Mrs. J and I had churro cupcakes.

I'd love to blame the sugar in the cupcakes for the craziness that was going on in my house, but really, that's just what happens with four boys.  In an attempt to calm them down, we sat them down for some yoga in their pajamas.  While it worked NOT AT ALL, it did result in some pretty cute pictures.

Eventually the J's packed up and went home and I got my boys tucked into bed, right as Thatboy returned home from his night out.   The entire evening was a burst of color, from the flags, to the confetti - which covered my floor, to the sprinkle filled cupcakes.  The main meal, however, was a little lacking in color.  My fault.  It's easy enough to get vibrant color in food - if not in the main course, then in sides.

I don't know if it's a current trend, but I'm noticing vegetables come in a whole host of different colors than they did when I was a kid.  And I'm taking advantage of it!  Purple carrots, green cauliflower, purple potatoes - I love adding color to my meals.  If the idea of that sounds a little scary to you, lets talk about an entry level rainbow - the tomato.  Thatboy loves heirloom tomatoes, and I love that they come in so many colors - reds, oranges, yellows, greens... Toss them together and you have a vibrant and colorful salad that rivals anything that came out of those eggs.  Or cupcakes.

Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes with Mustard and Dill (From Cooking Light)
1 Tbsp chopped dill

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 lbs heirloom tomatoes cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

  1. Combine dill, mustard, lemon rind, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
  2.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add tomato slices, tossing gently to coat.  Let stand 15 minutes.