Tuesday, December 7

Is the Hallmark company on drugs?

Ok, so I know that it is a random question, but if you have seen the latest Hallmark commercial for Christmas, you know what I am talking about. For those of you who don't, let me paint a picture for you.......

A cute little girl, about 7 or 8 years old, is sitting next to the Christmas tree next to her dog Fluffy. She gazes at the tree adoringly and says "15 days, 22 hours, 10 minutes and 15 seconds until Christmas!"

Next scene....little girl is with parents in the mall somewhere wandering around..."7 days, 10 hours, 30 minutes and 22 seconds until Christmas"

The brat is then somewhere else doing who knows what and is saying "3 days, 4 hours, 24 minutes, and 2 seconds until Christmas.!!!!!

I just thank the sweet baby Jesus that my kids are too freakin young to understand this commercial because by jove, whomever thought of this is the DEVIL! Why yes, I think it would be a great idea, to have an ornament that counts down the days, hours, minutes, and YES, even seconds, until Christmas!!!!!! DO you have any kids????? Don't they do this anyway???!?!?!?!?!
Joe is only 3 years old and wakes up every day and asks "Is it Christmas today?" and he doesn't even really understand the whole thing except that it seems good and there may be presents! UGH. I have a new loathing for Hallmark and will boycott the store at least until Christmas is over!!!!!!

Monday, November 29

Deck the Halls

I love Christmas and everything about it! Since Ken was abandoning me for two weeks (also known as the EVIL Captain's Career Course), we decided to get the tree right after Thanksgiving! There aren't tree lots everywhere like we are used to, probably because this is the desert, however, Home Depot was able to provide us with a nice specimen. The boys ran around trying to pull trees down on themselves and generally be crazy people but we managed to get them all home (boys AND trees) in one piece. We decided to get little baby trees for the boys room too so their room could be festive as well. It also gave them something to decorate without Mommy's stamp of approval.These baby trees look nice!
Daddy presents the next potential Nelson tree for our appraisal
Why can't you just pick a tree, Mommy??

Thomas is getting so grown up!
Mommy sporting a new haircut

Tata helped put up the many ornaments that we have and despite their being no snow, it was just like being back in Maryland. There were a few mishaps and breaking of glass ornament balls, but nothing too disastrous. Now comes the job of decorating the rest of the house while Ken is gone. I will let you know how that goes......

Look at my tree!

Monday, November 8

A day in the life

I will admit that even on the best of days, I have never been the most TIMELY of gals, shall we say. Many of my beloved friends will even refer to me as being "late" many of the time. HOWEVER, this being said, nothing can make a person more late or crazier than trying to get herself, two toddlers and a baby out of the door in a timely manner every morning. Well, not without forgetting to do at least one thing or leaving something that you probably needed.

Here is a typical morning for us. Today started off earlier than usual so you would think that would help things move smoother. By earlier, I mean that William was up since 5 am and Tom since 4 am. Ken was up with Tom and then poked me awake to join in the fun at 5 am since he had to get ready for work.

Breakfast went better than normal. Only a little bit of crying and minimal oatmeal in Tom's hair. I had forgotten (too tired actually) to make lunches last night so I made lunches, fixed Will's bottles and packed everything up. So far, so good. On to getting dressed. A few discarded t-shirts and the demand for jeans satisfied, we then went to dress William. What a cute outfit! Oh no! Will threw up on it and me. Change the outfit and put on a new one. No time to shower now, so put on some clothes and make face look somewhat decent.

Now, time to try to herd the turtles (a phrase I have borrowed from a favorite website, "Rants from Mommyland"-- check it out, it is really funny!) to the car. This is really the most difficult part as there is much difficulty in achieving this advance to the minivan. Once strapped in, I check that everyone is in and then "we're off!"

I get to school/daycare, unbuckle everyone and plant Joe and Tom on the sidewalk while I get Will out in his carseat along with the 2 bags full to the brim with backpacks/lunches/stuff that I seem to have to lug every day. I drag myself, baby and bags to the door of school with Joe and Tom straggling behind and *hope* that someone else makes it there first so they can hold the door open for the crazy lady with all the kids and bags. I must truly be a sight since most people seem to rush to the door and say "let me help you..." Anyhow...drop everyone off then realize I forgot the thermoses. AGAIN. Like for the third time in a row. UGH! I even have a checklist so I don't forget these things!

All of this happening of course while I have not even started officially working yet. I am only setting up my practice and doing all the legwork for that. Oh, and getting my house in order. Yeah, right. Somehow, 4 pm comes along and all I feel I have accomplished is

1. Pump 2x (on good days)
2. Start laundry
3. Make a few phone calls regarding job and fill out neverending paperwork
4. Check email
5. Eat lunch
6. Shower (sometimes)

That is not a very efficient use of time and it begs the question, "what in the heck am I going to do once I really start working???" Not a pretty thought but one that pops into my head a bit. Well, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now though, I have some time during the day to get at least SOME stuff accomplished for work without little dancing monkeys at my side.

Sunday, October 31

A Toy Story Halloween, Part 3, Final Chapter

Halloween day had arrived.

With the move and unpacking, we did not do our usual decorating of the house, but Ken put out a few tombstones on the lawn and a snake on our doorstep for a bit of Halloween spirit. We had asked Nonni (Ken's mom who along with Pap Pap, Ken's dad, was in town visiting us) to make her mom's famous spaghetti sauce for us. This meant that a lot of the afternoon was spent working on it since it required a lot of prep work. Dinner got pushed back further than I had anticipated so by 6 pm we were eating but saw that the trick or treating had begun.

ARRRRGGHH! Although I had bought all the pieces for Ken's "Bullseye" costume, I had only put together part of it! I had planned to make him ears to go along with the mane and tail I had cut from felt but in the end, the ears were pretty sorry looking. Nonni ended up pinning the ears to the brown skiing hood Ken had produced from God knows where (he sometimes just appears with things that I never knew we had despite this being the 3rd time we have moved and unpacked things together. Funny, isn't it?) The hood worked great in any case and after safety pinning the mane to the hood and the tail to the backside of the brown sweat pants, he was good to go.
Oh, no.........WAIT!! Joe found the plastic donkey mouth we had from last year's Eeyore costume and proclaimed that Bullseye just HAD to wear it. EGADS! As usual, Ken agreed and he was ready to go. Buzz Lightyear did not fare as well and was crying hysterically that he did not want to get dressed up. Not that it really mattered. I mean, did he really care that I had spent hours calling Halloween stores and scouring Walmarts and Targets in search for the elusive 2T size Buzz lightyear costume? In truth, it serves no purpose to fight a toddler if he doesn't want to wear a costume so he agreed to put on his jacket and we were ready to go.

Just imagine Thomas in a Buzz lightyear costume....

Bullseye and the boys. I think we should have made a big bullseye for his chest as I don't think anyone knew who Ken was portraying.

I read in another blog of parents that carry handy little "to-go" cups filled with tasty adult beverages while their kids make the neighborhood rounds. However, with 3 kids under the age of 4, I thought it borderline irresponsible to do that....hmmm, maybe next year when Joe is 4!

The boys in action....

We managed to keep Joe and Tom walking for our entire jaunt around the neighborhood (which was basically down to the end of the street then back up) but had to take turns carrying the quite heavy Rex. Interestingly, ALL the neighbors seemed to know who we were yet we had not met any of them. Hmmmmmmm. A bit strange...... Despite having no costume, Tom scored lots of candy and both boys had half-filled plastic pumpkins by the end. Of course this was when Joe piped up, "But we have to fill them all the way to the top!" Curse those Little Einsteins and their Halloween special. Those of you who are forced to watch these annoying little children ride around the world on "missions" know what I am talking about. And for those who don't, just call yourselves lucky. On a sidenote, I actually had to ban Mickey Mouse Clubhouse from being an available choice (they get to watch one show a day, usually in the morning while I am feeding Will) when I realized that I had seen the episodes more than once. While I will allow that repetition is good for kids to learn with things like reading "Fix it Duck" a hundred times in a row or doing puzzles, it is definitely not good with cartoons! At least not for the crazed mother who is watching the hot dog dance for the millionth time!

Anyway, I digress......after the trick or treating, there was much happiness with all the candy that was collected and eagerness to eat it all once we got home. They were each allowed to choose one piece before heading off to get a bath with Nonni and Pap Pap. Thomas chose a HUGE lollipop which horrified Nonni but we grinned and said 'BYE!' and raced out the door to catch a movie for Date Night (an almost forgotten ritual with us now that we have no free babysitters, aka grandparents or Aunt Ann, on a regular basis.)

We had fun during our movie date and came home to bliss.....three sleeping children and a clean kitchen. YES! What a nice end to a truly funny and chaotic Halloween. I can only imagine what Joe has in store for me for next year. Not to mention, by then, Thomas will be able to contribute to the madness as well! I am ready for whatever they throw my way! Hoo-wah!

Friday, October 29

A Toy Story Halloween, Part 2

The Halloween Parade.....
The preschool put on a parade today. It was a funny sight. They had an area roped off in the front of the building around which a huge crowd of parents converged. Surprisingly (ok,not so surprisingly) we were running late what with issues getting Woody's costume pieces together from every room in the house and Buzz refusing to wear his costume. I, of course, had been told that I needed to wear my Jessie costume, so obligingly I put it on for my dear son. This meant that in addition to being late, we had to duck under the rope and walk into the school in front of everyone. Did I mention that I was the only parent wearing a costume? Well, at least I had on something that made me look only partly ridiculous. PLUS, the teachers were all wearing costumes so that made it ok.....well, at least I fit right in! First sighting of Joe with his class...
That is one cute cowboy!
One of the teachers dressed up as Jessie too!

We got William into his costume once we got there since the Rex outfit was a bit too bulky for the carseat. He was good to go in his outfit and looked adorable.
Nonni and Pap Pap with a scary Rex!

Yeehaw! Jessie and Rex are ready for action!

A Toy Story Halloween, Part I

Well, it has been too long since I posted and I am sure all of you out there who occasionally drop by are wondering where the heck I have been. In a nutshell, I finished my manuscript for a medical journal and am busily working on setting up my practice.

In my spare time, I decided to become all "Martha Stewart-like" and make some of our costumes for Halloween. I mean, how hard could it be to make a Woody costume anyway??? (For those who don't know, he is the main character in the Disney movie, "Toy Story", which is Joe's current obsession). The costumes-to-go are not great and cost a pretty penny so I figured, why not??? Famous last words...

Joe had already made costume assignments (Joe -Woody, Thomas - Buzz Lightyear, Will -alternately assigned Rex, the dinosaur and Ham, the piggy bank, Mommy - Jessie the cowgirl, and Daddy - Bullseye. I am not sure why Ken always gets the shaft but well, he is a good sport and goes along with anything so we are pretty lucky!

Ok, so I start by surfing the internet to see if there are any ideas and lo and behold, I found an article on the ehow.com website where an industrious mother made a Woody costume for her son and a Jessie costume for herself. I look at and think, "I can do that!" and then rush off to Hobby Lobby (a Texas version of Michael's or A. C. Moore) to get supplies. I had already found a white dress shirt at Goodwill so I loaded up with the necessary cow print fabric, yellow fabric, some yellow dye, red fabric paint, a vest pattern, thread and other random stuff I think I need. Then I realize that you really should have a sewing machine if you want to sew something. And maybe the knowledge of how to sew would help......BUT NEVER FEAR! Type A personalities like me are never fazed by such details! We had to go to Walmart after we picked Ken and Thomas up from the airport since the airline had sent the luggage to Phoenix (including the car seat) and the car seat they loaned us was just DISGUSTING!!! While there, we picked up a sewing machine because after all, you can't sew a vest without one! Hahaha.

Ok, now to make the costumes. Turns out dyeing the shirt was the easy part because painting the checker pattern onto the shirt took about 4 days (you have to let the lines dry on the front before you cross hatch them, then you have to do the same thing all over again on the back). The shirt looked pretty good after I was done except for some minor paint smudges.

I then began on the vest. I am pretty sure I can read English fairly well after 26 years of schooling however, even though I could read the words on the directions to make the vest, I was not sure what they said. Perhaps this was for people who ACTUALLY KNOW HOW TO SEW??????? ARGH! Too late now. A very optimistic Joe asked me every day, "Is my vest ready yet, Mommy?" Can't let the kid down now! Ok, back to deciphering the hieroglyphics on the pattern directions. I managed to get the pieces cut and somewhat put together. Oops, don't sew the armholes closed! Boy that seam ripper was a really good purchase! In the end, I had to wait until Ken's mom arrived and between the two of us, we put it together. An unfortunate mishap with the needle on the sewing machine (it bent into a weird angle and it was too late to buy a new one) forced us to hand-sew the double bias tape around the edges. I did not even know what double-bias tape was a week ago of course.

Anyway, I finished my costume at about 1 am while watching the final episode of Project Runway. I blame Tim Gunn for making me think that I could sew at all! Stay tuned....the Halloween parade at school and trick or treating to come soon!

Wednesday, October 6

Bombas de crema (Cream puffs)

Since I love to cook, I am going through my grandmother's recipe book that my mom gave me and making each recipe. These are Uruguayan recipes and were ones that my grandma and mom would make throughout my childhood. There are some I haven't had in years, this being one of them. I am translating them from Spanish so there may be some errors in translation but it is basically how I made the recipe. This one is a bit of work, but SO WORTH IT!! Yummers! The boys devoured the bombas with gusto!

Bombas de Crema (Cream puffs)

Masa (dough)
1 c. boiled water (allowed to cool a bit)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 c. all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
3 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder

Place boiled water and butter into a medium saucepan. Sift together flour and salt. Bring water and butter to a boil then add flour and salt. Stir rapidly to mix the ingredients well then remove from heat. Let mixture cool. Add eggs one at a time until mixture is creamy and ingredients are well combined. Add baking powder and mix well. Let dough rest for about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Form little balls, about 1 tbsp in size and place on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 then lower temperature to 400 and bake another 10-20 minutes until puffs are golden brown (time varies depending on your oven). Let cool then make a slit about ¾ of the way across the lower part of the puff. Fill with about a teaspoon of pudding or dulce de leche.

Crema pastelera (Pudding)
1 eggs
1 egg yolks
1 c. sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and flour in a medium saucepan. Add milk. Place over medium high heat and stir constantly under mixture thickens. DO NOT LET IT BURN! Remove from heat and cool a bit before adding vanilla.

Wednesday, September 8

William is 3 months old!

Hard to believe that this little guy is already 3 months old but he is! He had a good 2 month well baby check on August 3 and his stats then were 12 lbs 13.5 oz and he was 24.5 inches long! He is a big boy! He is cooing, smiling and even laughing! He is kissed constantly by his brothers and he loves all the attention. He is actually a very easy-going baby and is very pleasant. He only cries when he is hungry, tired or wants to be picked up. We are so happy to have him here! His other milestone is that he rolled over (front to back) while we were at the lake at the end of August! He did it once already here in Texas but not since then. I suspect he will be like Tom and be anxious to keep up with his brothers so we should see more rolling soon! He was also baptized at the end of August along with his cousins Ryleigh and Violet. Pictures of that event to be posted soon!

Loungin in my overalls

Already outgrowing one of my favorite outfits! Check out Oct 2007 archives to see Joe in this same outfit! Will is the 2010 version of the spooky little pumpkin!

Chewing on Daddy...I want some food!

Will and Thomas in their jammies

Yummy Treat

We received a yummy treat from Mamama and Pop today! What a lovely welcome gift to get! The boys went crazy when they saw it and you can see how much they loved the treat from the pictures. Even Will tried to get in on the action!

The boys enjoying the fruit basket



Let me have some, Daddy! (I don't think babies are allowed pineapple at 3 months!)

Tuesday, September 7

Labor Day weekend

Finally, a weekend where we were not packing, driving, moving in, flying or otherwise doing ANYTHING in particular! NICE! If you did not guess already, we had a very leisurely weekend filled with playing with the boys, swimming in our new pool and generally being lazy. Work and school begin again tomorrow, but for this weekend at least, we decided to put aside unpacking and have fun. On Saturday, we had a yummy breakfast of banana pancakes, sausage and lemon-poppy muffins. I will post the recipe for the muffins later as they are truly delicious! We spent the afternoon swimming in the pool and playing in the yard. On Sunday, we found a new church to try out, St. Luke's Catholic Church. We stayed in the back of the church in the family booth but found out that we had the 3 most well behaved kids in the fishbowl. We are going to try the church again since neither Ken nor I could really hear the priest over the din of loud children. After that we came home, had lunch and everyone (except Ken) took some very needed naps. The boys are all still adjusting to the time change, new sleeping arrangments and not having been with us for a few weeks so there are frequent awakenings at night. Will, of course, still needs to nurse at night but even he wakes up more than he had prior to moving out here. Ken and I are a bit bleary eyed these days from the night owls living in our house. Today was another pretty lazy day. We zipped up I-10 to the El Paso Outlet Mall to buy some running shoes and then to Sam's club where I bought some lovely red, yellow and orange peppers and thought I should use them in a dish tonight. I decided to make today "Bean night" and created a new vegetarian dish that you should try. Joe tried it and liked it too (Tom looked at but made no attempt to try it.) Here is the recipe (I did not measure everything so taste it and season to your liking)

Sunshine Stuffed Bell Peppers (makes 4 servings)

4 red, yellow or orange peppers (I used a mix of these)
1 cup cooked cous cous (leftovers from the other day)
3/4 c. diced tomatos (from the can)
1 cup northern white beans
6 oz mozzarella cheese
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
bread crumbs
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a pan over medium heat and add about 1 tbsp olive oil. Chop up onions and garlic. Saute onions for a couple of minutes until they soften then add garlic. I tend to burn garlic if I don't add it in later, but you can add them together if you want. Place onion and garlic into food processor along with beans. Pulse until the beans are broken up and everything is mixed well. Place mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add cous cous, cheese, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut tops off of the peppers and scoop out seeds and ribs. Spoon filling into peppers. Sprinkle top of peppers lightly with bread crumbs and drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until brown on top. Enjoy!

Tom zipping around with Dad
Is there a dinosaur in the backyard?

Will is loungin on the deck

Ken got the fountain in front of the house working--a big hit with the boys!
Will taking another nap

Thursday, August 12

Joe's 3rd birthday

So, I can't post any more about our saga with the move and such without taking some time to comment on Joseph's birthday. First of all, I cannot believe that our little boy turned 3 this year. I feel like it was just the other day that we had moved into our house in Olney, MD and a few days later, we were driving up 95 North to Christiana hospital and little Joe was born at about 9 am on August 3, 2007! A whole lot has happened since then, including 2 moves to 2 different states and 2 more little boys! What a whirlwind! What a blessing he has been to our lives! He is getting to be such a little man and loves to help his Daddy fix things and of course, always loves to be my sous chef in the kitchen. He speaks very well for his age and is always asking "what is that word?" as in "what does that word mean?" It is pretty cute. We are also entering a bit of a whiny stage as well which we did not have before. Constant reminders for 'No whining' can be heard throughout the day. Ugh. It gets tiring sometimes.

Joe loves to roar like a dinosaur!

Back to the party.....so, since we were going to be in the middle of a move and would not be able to have a family party, we decided to have a party during 'The Gathering' which is a long weekend vacation that a bunch of families do every other year together. Since we were the organizers this year, we figured it would be ok. Dinosaurs are quite popular right now and Joe agreed that it would be a good theme so I started looking for ideas. I ordered some cute dinosaur masks from OTC (Oriental Trading Co.) and bought a bunch of stuff from Michael's too. We started off with a dinosaur egg hunt outside, then Jeremy found a basin to put the eggs in so they could hatch. After that, the kids decorated their goody bags with dinosaur foam stickers and dinosaur stamps and they got their masks. After lunch of bronto-burgers and sweet potato fries, we had the main event! Yummy chocolate cupcakes! I actually made vegan cupcakes since one of the little girls is allergic to dairy and the kids never even noticed. They gobbled up the treats like crazy. I think the most fun was seeing Joe when he saw the huge blow up dinosaur we had for them to play with. After the party, we spent the afternoon at a Minor League baseball game. At the end, the kids got to run around the bases and they had a blast. All in all, it was a fun day I think.

Joe found his hidden dinosaur egg!
Tom is a little unsure what to do with his egg....
Did it hatch yet?

Eating bronto burgers at lunch

Watch out for T Rex!!

Running around the bases at the ball game

Wednesday, August 11

The Cross Country Journey

For organizing purposes and because I happen to think it is really funny (Ken just thinks I am weird), I divided the family into teams based on Army jargon. Alpha team consists of Joe and Tom, Bravo team was William and myself, and Charlie Team was Ken and Chris (his brother). While Alpha team whooped it up at Deep Creek Lake, Bravo team stayed in Olney with Mamama. Charlie team headed down to Charlotte after dropping us off so they could rest, pack up the minivan and Porsche and hook up the trailer. Charlie team had some difficulty with the "Conostoga wagon" that Ken and his dad had rigged up and had to make some repairs early on, right outside of Charlotte. Once repaired, the boys and the wagon made it to Meridian, MS which took about 10 hours. The following day was the worst--11 hours driving time and 670 miles through the rest of Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Lots of dead armadillos, flat land and oil rigs were the main scenery along the drive. By the time they reached Abilene, they were both sick of driving through Texas and ready to be done. The final day took about 8 or 9 hours and they made it to El Paso with the Conostoga wagon in pieces but everything it was carrying was (mostly) alive and protected. Don't worry, Navi (the cat) rode in the front seat of the minivan with Ken next to the turtles who were in a bucket. Navi was a little worse for the wear by the end of the trip but she too made it ok. The plants on the trailer,however, did not fare so well and many had all their leaves ripped off and the tomato totally succumbed. The boys were able to get our key from the realtor and unloaded all the stuff into our NEW HOUSE!! All I can say is, Thank Goodness neither the kids or I were on that trip!!!! Here are some pix that Ken sent me on the drive.

Somewhere in East Texas

First view of the Mountains in West Texas, about 3 hrs from El Paso

Saturday, August 7

The move continues..next stop Ocean City for Jeri's wedding

We finally reached Ocean City, showered got dressed and made it to Jeri and Ronnie's reception (2 hours late....pretty bad, even for me!) I blame the traffic this time, not my "Uruguayan time" usual culprit. The reception was awesome and we saw a bunch of the old swim crowd there. Ken entertained Jesse and everyone with his old favorite, "the Corona bottle story." If you don't know it, just ask Ken the next time you see him. Next morning, we had breakfast with Jessica and Matt then headed back to Olney. Once we reached Olney, Ken and Chris loaded up the minivan and started the next leg of the trip---Charlotte, NC! William and I stayed in Olney and would meet them there in a few days.
Jeri and Ronnie

We finally made it!! An evening alone...what a new concept!

the swimming gang out on the balcony