Angry German

Last weekend we made our annual trip to the Houston Zoo Boo. You know who was there?

An angry German.

Ah James. My darling 15 month old pain in the….This is his standard face. He is angry all the time (I don’t know why either, Tim McGraw). We put him in the lederhosen purchased in Austria and sported by his brother here and here. He filled it out perfectly and looked adorable. But he might cut you if you get too close.
People would ask what he was and I would reply, “An angry German.”. They all shook their heads as if that made perfect sense. Being German myself I take no offense.
Spiderman was also in attendance, shooting his web and being too tired to walk.

This was the first year we actually decorated a mini-pumpkin. Usually we just pop in, take a photo and a pumpkin and leave. But Zach was into coloring the pumpkin with the paint pens they had for them. It is currently on his nighstand.

What is this?! A smile out of James? I know. I am as shocked as you. Alex snapped this in one hot minute of him not being angry and right before he threw that pumpkin at my head. It is serious over here people.

But then, look at this. Doesn’t he look just like a 60 year old German man?

I am pretty sure if he knew some German cuss words he would be yelling them at you right now though. Or any cuss words for that matter.

Totally Normal

If you had dogs prior to having babies did you wish you could just put said baby in a crate and go eat dinner?
No? Me either, that would be super scary.
Anywho, this is what has been going down in our house as of late:

I promise I did not put them in there, nor did I close the door. James started it due to his obsession love for Norman, but in true big brother fashion, he can’t have anything to himself. As soon as James was in there here comes trouble. Zach insists on crawling in there too. And squishing his brother.

Forcing him to leave.

So he can have it all to himself.

Luckily chubby baby does not mind and gets just as excited about looking out the window for the dog (he is not out there) and let’s his big brother play in the dirty crate. Which PS is really, really dirty. It makes me squirm to even think about them playing in there. But I am just too lazy to fight it some days. And by “lazy” I mean I don’t want to hear the shrill screams of James as he bangs on the door of the crate.

Sometimes when Norman is in there trying to get some peace and quiet. The look on Norman’s face is very reminiscent of mine at the end of a long weekend…you all know it.

Pinterest Made Me Do It

At the end of the summer I wanted to give something special to all the boys teachers to thank them for all they had done during the summer session. I especially wanted to thank James’ teacher who is such a loving and wonderful lady and made his transition to school pretty painless.

I spotted these cube sticky notes in bright colors at Randalls and thought I could build off that but one mysteriously disappeared before I could put it all together. It is somewhere with one Spiderman sock, a cowboy hat and multiple balls.

So I let Zach pick out Tervis tumblers for his teachers and put some lemonade and iced coffee packs in them along with a tag thanks to Pinterest. For for the baby teachers I could use the cubes and included some Advil, chocolate and yummy chapstick with a simple tag. They all got a kick out of the Advil.

This was the perfect example of how Pinterest made my life easier. I already was planning on doing this and I easily found tags for each, printed and cut them out. Pre-Pinterest (I shudder at the thought) I would have created something myself which would have taken much longer and not been nearly as cute.

Wednesday Night Dinner

I think I have mentioned here that each Wednesday Vince comes and takes Zach to swim lessons then either he or I pick up Liv and we all have dinner together. It is my running joke that had Liv told me we would be doing this back in 2005 I would have thought she was off her rocker. Now it is me that is confirming they are coming…because I need them to.

This is the dinner that I made as a freezer meal and every Wall liked it. Even the one that says he doesn’t like curry. Or garlic. Or onion.

Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice
Adapted from Martha Stewart
  • 1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces (I used 2 packs of drumsticks and a package of boneless skinless thighs)
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (even the boys ate it with this in)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger (from a 3-inch piece)
  • 1 shallot, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened light coconut milk
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lower third. Toss chicken with curry powder, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat 2 teaspoons oil over high. In batches, cook chicken until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes total. Transfer to a large plate.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add 1 teaspoon each salt and oil, garlic, ginger, and onion. Cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, until onion is translucent, 6 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 minute. Add rice, coconut milk, and 2 cups water; stir to combine and bring to a boil. [If Freezing: let rice cook for a 5 minutes or so, it does not get fully cooked if the meal is frozen]
  3. Arrange chicken in pot, skin side up, cover, and transfer to oven. Bake until chicken is cooked through and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.


First Cheetos

James is steadily wanting to do everything Zach does including eat what he eats. He only had 2 teeth in these photos but don’t think that stopped him from gnawing on Zach’s baked Cheetos. Which he took very, very seriously.

Isn’t Zach just the best brother? He said he would sit next to James so he wouldn’t fall off. That was without me asking. Some days he is just the sweetest thing around.

Riverwallk and the ‘stache

The other perk about visiting San Antonio is that we get to hang out with one of our favorite family’s, who have these two precious things, Jett and Rory.

It was my bright idea to go down to the Riverwalk and ride a boat to dinner. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

What? No, you don’t think it sounds lovely considering it was 100 degrees and I have a baby? You are too little, too late my friend.

We just didn’t have it planned correctly. I thought the boats ran all the time from the end of the line. Nope, every 30 minutes. You know what else? They only take cash. I won’t bore you with the details of us walking 1/3 of the way down the river walk, Alex going to a Valero store to get cash, me having to change yet another gross diaper after realizing the wipes were in the car, Stephanie getting wet paper towels from the lock operators or the meltdown three of us had at dinner becuase we were hot, tired and hungry.

Please just enjoy these lovely photo of a seemingly nice family with nice friends on the riverwalk.

James’ face is, as usual conveying the true emotion of the group.

Why am I here? Seriously, what is wrong with my family? 
I think I spot some normal people up on that bridge.

These people have kidnapped me and I want air-conditioning. 
I hate you all.

Guess who is like his dad and loved the adventure of it all? Of course it is easy to not be hot when you are wearing a tank top and playing with the boat provided umbrella.

What is this you ask? I am so glad we are having this conversation today. This is Alex’s facial hair growth after 4 days. And oh, did he love to show off the mustache. I had to keep taking pictures of it and sending it to him and his friends. For them to make fun of.

Family Favorite

Spinach and Lentil Soup with Cheese and Basil Recipe

Back in December of last year I pulled out a recipe for lentil soup with spinach and basil from Cooking Light. I had a bumper crop of basil and some left over lentils from a Martha Stewart recipe I made. Turns out this soup is now officially a family favorite. Everyone loves it – even the baby and the picky 3 year old.

I make a batch of it and freeze half before adding in the spinach, basil and cheese. Truth is, you really don’t have to have those things. They are a plus but the soup is just as good without it. It is some work (pureeing is involved). But take my word for it, totally worth it. And I will whip out the Cuisinart for anything that the entire family will and can eat happily. I had to share.

Spinach and Lentil Soup with Cheese and Basil
modified from Cooking Light

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped bacon (about 1 ounce)
1 small shallot chopped
¾ cup chopped celery
¾ cup chopped carrot
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup dried brown lentils
3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
½ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
½ cup Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1.     Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add bacon; cook 1 minute or until bacon begins to brown, stirring occasionally.
2.     Add shallot and next 4 ingredients (through bay leaf); cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
3.     Add lentils, broth, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until lentils are tender and mixture is slightly thickened.
4.     Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf.
5.     Place 2 cups lentil mixture in a blender (or food processor). Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape), and secure blender lid on blender.
6.      Return pureed lentil mixture to pan.  If freezing stop here, let cool and freeze.
7.     Add baby spinach, chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and black pepper; stir until spinach wilts. 

First Family Vacation Round 2

In early September we finally took our first family vacation now that James has joined us. I say “finally” because it was rescheduled quite a few times due to Alex’s work. We went to San Antonio to the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch. It was great; super kid friendly with two water slides, a playground and a lazy river. We booked a 2 room suite which was not that much more $$ and was totally worth it. I would like to say that the boys shared a room but that would be a lie. Zach stayed in the room and James had to sleep in his pack and play in the bathroom. That is right, the bathroom.

James is not what you would call a good traveler. I take that back, he is great in the car, doesn’t mind eating out, but the sleeping, that is where he gets very particualar. So he would wake up 2-4 times a night crying for no apparent reason. Luckily Zach is a heavy sleeper and that combined with the white noise I had pumping in his room he didn’t wake up to the shrill screams echoing from the bathroom.

While we were there we mainly hung around the hotel, swam a lot, rested/watched movies and ate. We had a full kitchen which I only used for the microwave and fridge. Which was 100% fine by me.

We arrived on a Sunday and that Tuesday we realized that Sea World was closing for the year that day. Oh they are open year round, but not during the week. We had planned to go first thing in the morning when it was cool and the boys could explore. Not going to happen. So we threw the boys in the car at 4:00 and raced across the freeway for 1.5 hours at Sea World. I am not even going to discuss how much that cost us.

My boys in one of the few air conditioned areas watching the penguins. What you can’t tell is that James is currently screaming his head off and I had to go find a restroom to change a disgusting diaper (my last one, natch) right after I took this photo.

Can you tell how hot it was? So, so hot, I sat in the splash zone and willed Shamu to splash me. James was nonplussed with the entire thing. Though he did enjoy waving at the whales and clapping to the music. But his face said, “I will cut you.”

We spent the majority of our time in the lazy river and pool. The river had a very gradual entrance where James liked to sit and splash. And try to drown himself. I am not kidding. He would routinely crawl directly into the water until it covered his nose then be VERY mad at me for pulling him back. He did this constantly.

Don’t let that sweet face fool you. I had to throw my camera down 30 seconds later to rescue him. Again.

Zach is too small for this slide. You are supposed to be 4 foot or something. Don’t think that discouraged Alex. He just put him on his lap and down they went. They both loved it. And lucky (?) for us there were hardly any other people there so we didn’t get caught. Because I would have died of embarrassment.

Don’t adjust your screen, we really are this white.

All in the Details

When I laid the track for the new train board, I told Zachary I also wanted to create a construction site in the middle and a pond on the side for the people in the house. He got very exited and said we could do a park at the end and a garden near the house. Oh and the pool. That boy is dying for a pool (that is a diving board PS). I love it! Such creativity! Maybe he does like art after all!

He also wanted to help.

Hmmmmmmm. I really like to have full control over my crafts. Really like it. But I do really like being a good mom as well. I was so torn.

So I summoned up my good mom-ness and said of course he could help. He should help! It is his table after all. I even made Alex take us all to Michael’s on the way to dinner to get paint. Alex has never been in a Michael’s and claims they depress him. I offered him some Lexapro and told him to put the baby in the basket and get a move on.

Back home Zach and I started with the brown for the construction site. That was great. My little man and I working together, doing art, I wanted to swoon. I had already painted the pool and pond the night before (I could not help myself) so I started painting the fish while he finished the site. But of course he wanted to paint fish too. I held my breath and gave him a red paint brush. The first couple of strokes I had to take some deep breathes and tell myself  “this is his table, this is his table, that is totally fine, don’t crush his spirit”. But soon it was evident he was going to try to paint the entire pond red as he kept spreading his red “fish” bigger and bigger, saying it was oil (where did he get that??) until finally I snapped. I had to tell him to “stop, stop you are going to ruin it!”.

And cue terrible mom feeling. Seriously? I just told my baby that he was going to ruin some piece of particle board painted with cheap acrylic paint.

But he was.

Thank the good sweet Lord Zach is much more like Alex than me and he was not the least bit concerned about my comment. I, of course. felt terrible and told him that he was an excellent artist but Mommy really, really wanted to paint the fish herself. He just shrugged and asked if he could paint the park.

 Go for it baby, but do stay in the lines.

Cars over Trains

The Christmas after Zach turned two Santa brought him a train table complete with huge rail lines inter crossing and weaving all over a table. You can see his excitement in this video. However, that excitement quickly waned. And I mean within 1 month or so. Sure, every time a friend would come over he would get all excited again, but he really never took to the whole driving the train on the track thing, had zero patience for putting the rails together and mainly wanted to smash it apart.

I finally got fed up and took all the pieces off the table last Christmas replacing it with his PlayMobil house that his Auntie Tami and Uncle Dave got him and some random Little People accessories. He liked it better but the table would still become a junk station for everything in his room.

Cut to this year when James has really started it like cars and trucks. He makes the “uhhhhh-huuuhhh” driving sound and drives them (usually on himself) but often on the floor. I decided to flip the train table top over and make a road so the boys could drive their cars on it. I wanted to paint a track on there then, while searching on Pinterest, I noticed they had track tape and wondered, if they had track tape, could I just find a track already created for me? Thanks to Etsy (my second best friend behind Pinterest) sure enough people make vinyl tracks. Technically they are for wall decorations, but I emailed the designer and asked her to remove the trucks and scale it for my table.

In a word – perfect.

I could not love it more and the second I popped it on the table both boys started driving all over it.

Finally! A use for that table. It only took 2 years.