Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday zzzzz's

Well, I didn't think we had much of an exciting Saturday. Ty and I went to the library and the grocery store...
I was busy making pretzels and pretzel covered hot dogs for supper (OK, not the healthiest, but yummy)

But when I called the boys for supper, I discovered that Tyler had fallen asleep. I tried unsuccessfully to wake him, then moved him to the couch thinking the commotion would wake him. Instead, he appeared to make himself comfortable (I guess) on the couch.

Recipe for pretzels, for anyone who is interested...

1 ½ cup warm water
1 1/8 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup shortening, melted
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk for glaze
¼ cup butter, melted

Mix yeast, water and 1 teaspoon sugar, stir to dissolve. Mix brown sugar, salt and melted shortening. Add yeast water. Add flours and knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Let rise at least ½ hour. Punch down and allow to rise again.

While dough is rising, heat a saucepan of salted water to a bare simmer.

After dough has risen, pinch off bits of dough and roll to a long rope (1/2 inch thick or less - should be very, very thin) and shape. Let rest for 10 minutes. Drop into simmering salt water and remove after it floats to drain and move onto a dish towel. Place onto a greased baking sheet.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt.

Bake in 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until golden. Remove and brush with melted butter.

Option: Instead of using the poaching and egg wash, you can simply dip in 2 cups warm water mixed with 2 tablespoons of baking soda.
Option: Mix cinnamon and sugar and dip pretzel in butter then cinnamon mixture.
Option: Wrap hot dogs with pretzel. Allow to rise. Follow above instructions. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown.

Honey Mustard Sauce
Mix mayonnaise, honey and mustard to desired taste.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Birthday tree

Here is the mimosa tree as we planted it for Tyler's birthday last October...

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sad tree

Here is the "tree" (a.k.a. twig) now...

We had a man from the nursery to come out to make sure it was still alive. He said that the tree is alive and well. He said the buds are swelling. Barring a hard freeze, it is fine. Wayne and I have both checked out the "swelling buds" and don't get it, so it's a good thing the guy came out. Beeaahutiful!
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Monday, March 24, 2008

Land Shark

We recently found a Land Shark beverage which reminded us of the old SNL skit...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Take two - tired counting

ABCs and 123s

I asked Tyler if he wanted to count to 20 for me (though he always leaves out 13). But, instead he started with the ABC's and by the time he got to counting, he was in goofy mode. Tyler woke up this morning with a barky cough, and you can hear it in his voice.
Sorry, I am technology impaired and couldn't figure out how to make the video rotate. :(

I'll see if I can get him to do it again...

Getting Duped

I was reading Scientific American MIND and ran across this article that I found interesting and I was able to find it online:

However, I could not find the sidebar article online, which I thought included very interesting statistics. I will just retype it...

"Popular Delusions
According to polls conducted in 2003 and 2007, Americans held several misperceptions about the war in Iraq. For example:

* In March 2003, only 35 percent of Americans correctly perceived that most people in the world at large were opposed to the decision to go to war with Iraq.
* In May 2003, 22 percent of Americans said that Iraq had actually used chemical or biological weapons against US troops.
* In September 2003, 24 percent of Americans believed that the U.S. had found evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
* In 2007, 33 percent of Americans still believed Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks.

The prevalence of such misconceptions varied according to respondents' favored news source, even among people who shared demographic traits such as education level and party identification. Among those who used Fox News as their primary news source, 80 percent held at least one such erroneous notion about the Iraq War. By comparison, 55 percent of CNN watchers, 47 percent of print newshounds and only 23 percent of the PBS-NPR audience believed in at least one such myth. We believe this shows that Fox News is relatively biased, creating false impressions about facts, and that PBS-NPR is less so, perhaps in part because of a difference in the prevalence of straw man and weak man arguments [see main article], although further research is needed to bear this out. -Y.R. and R.T. "

Heart eyes

Tyler has been commenting lately that his "eyes turned into hearts." I was confused. Today, I said that I was going to make honey mustard sauce for our pretzels and he said it yet again. He agreed that this is a sign of approval. :)

The other day, he told me that "the old, mean lady died. Then she peed. She peed in the play place. She was mean." I asked him what she did that was mean. "Nuffin." He has repeated it several times when I ask him about it. (However, now, he says that she peed first, then the play place).
He said it was a dream. Is it just me, or is this a strange dream for a 3 year old?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Good morning

This morning, Tyler asked for pancakes for breakfast. I obliged, and told Tyler to ask Wayne whether he wanted pancakes and eggs too. Tyler went and returned, reporting that Wayne did want pancakes. I asked whether he wanted eggs and Tyler stopped, looked at me and said, "Stop begging me, Mommy. Stop begging me."

Later, I gave him his strawberry milk, which he loves, and he said, "strawberry milk is pink ink ink, Mommy. It's pink ink." (We read The Cat in the Hat Comes Back last night). :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Break!

Can I just say that working in a school rocks! I get Spring Break too!! I love it! As I expected, the week has flown by. Okay, I'll try to calm down now.

An update on the range hood. It's toast. Though I did put forth my best effort, it looked pretty sad when the paint dried. We found a pretty cheap replacement online...that will be here next week. So, in the meantime, cooking without my bright light and without a vent isn't ideal, but it really isn't that bad either.

This week, I'm trying out painting again, only this time, the walls. I'm nearly finished with painting our living room/kitchen. It was white (but poorly painted by the previous owners) and is now "classic taupe." It seems warmer, but I like that it is also evenly painted. Really, the only difficulty has been the peaks of the vaulted ceiling. (And taking care of all the other things that need to be taken care of while a mommy tries to get something done).

The other day, Tyler and I were reading books before bed. He piped up, "mommy I want a baby sister. I want a baby brother. I don't want to be the only one." I explained that it's not just up to Mommy, but Daddy too. He said, "tell Daddy I want a baby brother. Tell him loud!" I asked why I would tell him "loud." He said, "so he hears you." I thought it was precious. I wish we could have another baby, but we just can't right now. Hopefully someday... Those little moments make me melt.

Today, he was asking for a car, Junior, (from Cars). I explained that we'll need to wait for it to be sold individually because it's too expensive in the big pack it's in. He said, "I can get lots of money. I can get thousands of money. I can hold lot of lot of money. That pack needs a bazillion of money. I can hold bazillion. Give me thousands of money. Give me that" Ha ha ha. :)

Last weekend, we left Tyler overnight for the first time. He was very excited to spend time with his Grandma and Grandpa. From what they said, he did really well and he seemed to really enjoy himself. Wayne and I really had a great time too. It was really nice to have time together as a couple again. We shopped (and mostly bought little gifts for Tyler). We had a yummy lunch at Indian Palace for lunch and enjoyed eating a late supper (around 9 pm) at Free State Brewery. We had a leisurely Sunday morning (well, kind of as we were exercising) and ate lunch before heading home.

Here we are, in a little shop where we bought yummy Milka chocolate... (I'm wearing my first and only knitted scarf).

...and saw chocolate bacon.

Here we are with Matt and Michelle in the hotel.

Wayne shaved his beard over the weekend.

Matt and Michelle, during a shopping outing (it was cold last weekend).

I crocheted my first scarf this weekend. It was so much fun. It goes much quicker than knitting. I hope to get lots more practice in both.

Tyler really enjoys wearing his new scarf.

He is holding his elephants that have become favorite lovies of his. The mini dragon was doing something strange to the elephant's trunk.

Tyler and I dyed eggs this week.

He's painting a picture while I'm painting the walls. He told me that this was a picture of me when I was a princess.

When Ty woke up Wednesday morning, he came down wearing his tiger mask. He had morning breath and puffy eyes and was absolutely adorable, if I do say so myself.

Yesterday, the weather warmed up a bit and we went to the zoo. Ty is standing with his friend Abe, and Abe's friend, Max looking at the hippos.

Here they are being goofy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Big man

Well, we'll see what happens, but I have been working on refinishing my range hood. All of our other appliances are black or black/silver. The range hood, which is apparently a cheap one, was cream colored and rusting. Since I don't really want to put money into replacing it, I had the (maybe not so) bright idea to clean it up really well, sand down the rust, and spray paint it. Well, last Saturday and Sunday I gave that an effort. However, it was a big mess. I cleaned it up, which took awhile. I primed it, then read on the appliance spray paint that priming is not recommended. I put one coat on, then after church the next day applied the second coat and it immediately bubbled up. So, I waited a few hours and sanded it down and applied another coat.... and it looked horrible. Arrrghhh! Then, I read more closely (see, Melody, slow down) that I needed to apply additional coats within 1/2 hour or after 1 week.
I ended Sunday very irritable and frustrated with the whole thing. Last night, I stripped it, and gave myself minor chemical burns. Then, applied 2 nice coats of black. I think it's as good as it's going to get. It is MUCH better than it was on Sunday. Wayne and I will have to decide whether it looks too nasty to put back up. I sure hope after all that I don't have to buy a new one. Oh well, could be worse.

On to more pleasant things, Tyler loves to give us his "strong hugs" and "strong kisses." I must admit that Wayne and I really love them too. He is basically giving you a 3 year old version of a bear hug and puckers up really big for a nice smack on the lips. Gives good feelings all around.

Monday, we went swimming at the Y. Tyler was having a grand time. He was enjoying jumping to us, and making an attempt at swimming a few strokes with his head underwater. In the past, he would have hated this, so we were happy to see him more confident in the water. Needless to say, he was very sad when it was time to go home. In the car, he was still talking about not being ready to go. He said, "I hate swimming. I did not have fun." Wayne said, "so you never ever want to swim again." There was a long pause... then, "Wait!! I do love to swim. I do want to swim again!."

We are preparing to spend Saturday and Sunday in Lawrence with friends, Matt and Michelle. This will be the first time I'll have left Tyler overnight. I think other than maybe once or twice, I've put him to bed every night since he was born. I think my anxiety is much higher than Tyler's (or Wayne's, for that matter). I told Tyler what we have planned while we were running errands last evening. He asked a few questions, then said he wanted to bake cookies with Grandma and bring some home. (Last time we were at their house he baked cookies and Sue sent some home with him). He later asked to go to Target, and I suggested that he ask Grandma about doing that. He thought that was a great idea.

I think my own memories of the anxiety I felt when mom and dad left (even into middle school) have been making it hard for me to relax about it. However, I am also excited to have more time with Wayne and friends, Matt and Michelle. We are dreaming about eating out, shopping, and relaxing. While bedtime is when I'll probably worry the most about Tyler, and miss him the most, I am also excited to be able to have a night off from routine.

Last night, I was reading Tyler a Berenstain Bear book about spending a week at Grandma's because Mama and Papa were going on a second honeymoon. He had lots of questions about what a honeymoon was, and then said, "I'm married." I told him that he wasn't married. He asked what it meant to be married. I explained a little about it and he said, "oh, I'm not married. But I'm growing and I'm a big man, right mommy?"
I said, "yes, you're my little man."
"No, I'm a BIG man, Mommy!"
"Yes, you're my big man, Tyler. Mommy loves you."
And he snuggled in tight, with his head under my chin and his legs tucked in while we finished reading our books. He fell asleep with his stuffed elephant and elephant baby under his arm. Sweet little boy.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Gyros and CousCous with Marinated Artichoke Hearts

Thursday and Friday of this week was our staff training in the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention program. I was one of 6 trainers, and for all but one of us, it was the first training we had performed. I had fun doing it, but it was also very tiring. We trained nearly 60 staff members. Having such a large group makes it harder to make sure everyone "gets it" and I think it changes the comfort level for everyone. I'm happy that from here on out, we'll have smaller trainings with only me and the school psychologist.

Tyler had another cold this week, but by the end of the week was feeling better. On Thursday, he and Wayne met up with Michelle, Patty and their children at the zoo.

Here's Tyler with Julian and Abe.

Here is Tyler with Leo

On Saturday morning, Tyler woke up and was saying so many funny little things, but I couldn't them remember except for one. I was asking him whether he needed to potty before we got going with his morning routine.
"I didn't like to poop when I was a little boy." Why?
"I don't know... I do know." Why didn't you like to poop?
"I can't tell you. It's not a good idea."

Here he is, being is usual silly self.

Today is Wayne's 32nd birthday. Last evening we celebrated with friends, Matt and Michelle over a Greek/Mediterranean meal. We all ate too much then enjoyed a game of Trivial Pursuit followed by watching the KU, K-State game. Man we're so crazy.

We tried making Gyro sandwiches with Tzatziki sauce for the first time. We also had one of Wayne's favorite salads, CousCous with Marinated Artichoke Hearts. Michelle brought Hummus and flat bread. Our dessert was Mini Strawberry Napoleans. (Using the recipe from the Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry box). Yum. Here are some recipes. If you like Gyros, give this recipe a try. They're so easy and yummy. I accidentally doubled the amount of meat in the gyro but not the spices. I guess that was because most of the recipes I checked out called for 2 pounds of meat and perhaps had something to do with the fact that the recipe was printed in something like size 6 font. It was still very good, but I'm excited to try it the right way next time. I halved the Tzatziki and CousCous recipes because they make such a big batch.

Gyro Meat

2 lb ground lamb meat (I used 1/2 ground chuck and 1/2 buffalo meat).
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1. Combine ingredients and shape into 1/2 inch-thick patties.
(For better texture, mix in food processor or stand mixer with paddle attachment).

2. Broil for 8-10 minutes or until no longer pink.
I turned them halfway through cooking.

3. Remove from oven and let rest at least 5 minutes. Slice thinly.

Serve with pita bread/flat bread, sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, crumbled feta cheese and cucumber yogurt sauce (tzatziki). Low carb option - Serve over lettuce instead of on bread.

I made the meat ahead of time and just reheated in the microwave with a little water in the bowl right before serving.

Tzatziki Sauce
1 c Greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled, grated, salted lightly for 5 minutes and squeezed between hands to remove excess moisture.
1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 T (1 1/2 t) red wine vinegar
1/2 T minced fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried (optional)
Salt, to taste

1. Mix everything together.
2. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours before eating.

CousCous with Marinated Artichoke Hearts
1 3/4 cups couscous
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup minced green onions
1/2 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill (1 t dried)
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts *
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1. Place couscous in large bowl; cover with 2 cups boiling water. Stir; let stand 10 minutes or until water is absorbed. Stir in oil, salt and pepper.

2. Stir in artichoke hearts, green onions, parsley, dill, lemon juice and garlic. Transfer to serving bowl. Cover. Let stand at least 30 minutes. (Salad can be made to this point up to 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving). Just before serving, sprinkle with walnuts and cheese.

* To toast walnuts, spread on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 7-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.

16 (1/2 cup) servings