Monday, October 27, 2008

Hey! Look at my jugs!

Were you a little scared to continue reading after that title?
Its okay to admit it. Or to laugh.
Because if you know me in real life, it is pretty clear that you'd be lookin' reeeeeal hard for some jugs on this girl! Does anyone actually use that term anymore?
You can blame the husband. His first response after he saw the milk jugs on our front porch? "Babe, how do you think the other women in the neighborhood are going to feel about you showing off your jugs like that?" Gotta give it to him...the dude is funny.

Actually, I just had to post this Halloween craft idea that turned out really well. Something you should know about me: I am... shall we say... thrifty. Not to say that I won't break down and pay full price for things on occasion, but generally it takes me a while to come to terms with spending any amount of money.
So when I found inexpensive craft ideas on a family fun website, I was hooked. I began having visions of Hania and I doing our daily mother-daughter craft (after our scheduled 2 hour nap time, of course!), while snacking on organic apples from a local orchardand listening to music representative of a wide variety of cultures on NPR. Stop snickering. It could happen. Someday. Like after she learns how to hold a crayon.

Anyway... here are our adorable milk jug ghosts, made using everything that we already had in the house.

And a close up of the faces that I drew on. We were going for funny, not scary.

A big thanks to my neighbor, Jen, and my parents for saving their milk jugs!

Here are the instructions:
Wash out milk jugs. Remove labels and determine which side is going to be the front of the face.
On the back side, cut a 2 inch diameter hole on the lower half of the jug using an exacto knife.
Draw a face on the front using permanent marker.
Stuff Christmas lights into the back of each jug.
Plug them in and.... Viola! Halloween decor on the cheap!

I'm so happy with my jugs.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hania's 1st Birthday weekend

Just a warning: this post is a gazillion pictures, because the mommy in me simply will not allow me to edit them any further!

Hania turned ONE on October 11, 2008 and both sets of grandparents traveled to Louisville to celebrate.

First, we had the neighborhood party on Friday night. The OUTSIDE party, thankyouverymuch. The big hit of the party was the bubble machine that my parents brought. The kids enjoyed running around and playing after they got hyped up on sugar from the mega-size Costco cupcakes. Very informal... no games, no gift opening, no drama. Just a great excuse to hang out and try to thank everyone for their support during her first year in the 'hood!
All of the kids are gathered around our front door (hidden behind the balloons) because they were "hunting" for cats and the dog. Little boys weaponizing balloons and other various party favors.Oh wait, there was minor drama. I went to pick up the balloons that afternoon and wasn't thinking about fitting 17 balloons + a large car seat and baby into the spacious Plymouth Neon. Hania vetoed the idea of riding in the trunk.
Daddy had to make a quick trip to go back and pick them up.
What is it that he says all the time? A failure to plan is planning to fail.
Yep. I agree. But I sure gave the party store employees a laugh.
Hania is getting ready for her first taste of sugar!Smiling at her favorite friend, Miss Julie.
Apparently the chocolate is a big hit!On Saturday we had her family birthday party...
It isn't a real birthday celebration unless you wear a tutu AND sneakers...
She loved the ball pit from Mommy and Daddy...
And MORE cupcakes.
These were not homemade (I used box cake mix and icing) but we spent the afternoon decorating them.
Watch out Martha. Homegirl can decorate a mean cupcake.
This design idea came from the "Hello, Cupcake!" book, which I highly recommend
She thought that vanilla was just as good as chocolate...
Playing with Poohpa Byerly the next day...
Making silly faces with Poohma Byerly...
Hania got a rocking horse from the Byerly grands...
"because every Kentucky girl needs a horse." Holla!
On Sunday we went to the park to show the grands how we swing and slide.
The Schmonsees grands played with her there.

Birthdays are exhausting!
And now we're ready to celebrate Daddy's birthday and Halloween!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

We have a walker!

Hania's birthday pics are on the way, but here is a clip of our cutie in the meantime to time you over.
I don't believe we've posted any video of her walking yet, and she started taking off around her 11 month birthday. She was cautious initially, but now she can climb to the top of the stairs, chase down the dog to pat her (more like beat her!) and tries to ambush the kitties.

Please forgive the location. We are in a parking garage on the Univ of Louisville campus after a trip to the Speed Art Museum. There is an exhibit there that Johnny wanted to see for his birthday (34 TODAY! Hard to believe he was only 24 when I met him). It is a collection of American art on loan from Yale and includes paintings by John Trumbull, who specialized in documenting the Revolutionary War. Pretty cool.
I hoped that the exhibit would be empty because there was a college football game going on, so that if she wanted to talk or run a bit it would be okay. I'm thinking that art hung on walls is safe from a toddler's reach, right? Yes, it was empty, but I did NOT bargain for the historic pieces of furniture scattered throughout the exhibit. So when she took off running towards say, a large sideboard piece made in 1887, I figured out that she must be confined to stroller or arms. And the screaming began. We hightailed it to a more remote section of the display so Daddy could enjoy (read: drool over) the details of the prints.
All in all, a fun day. But she was ready to run by the time it was over!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

What's Cookin'?

See, I'm trying to at least follow through on my promise to let you know what we're eating each week!

I've decided that since this is such a busy week we are going to keep it simple. No difficult recipes, nothing new, just mix and match basics. Johnny often jokes that we never eat the same thing twice during a 6 month period.
Hania's birthday celebration (ie both sides of the fam coming in) is next weekend, and obviously I'm going to do some over the top cupcakes and an awesome meal for the family celebration because I'm an overachieving idiot like that. Plus, Johnny is in his MBA classes 2 nights each week, and lets not forget his study nights. Or the fact that 2 babies rolling around on the floor daily + 5 shedding pets = Missy vacuuming and mopping nightly. So...simple meals are where it's at this week.

Meats/main dish:
Chicken, black bean and cheese quesadillas w/ wheat tortillas
Maple mustard glazed salmon (I use a local syrup that we bought at the Sugarbush Festival, mixed with dijon mustard)
Spitfire shrimp (a g0-to recipe that you can make as spicy or mild as you'd like)
Chicken & mozzarella ravioli from Costco

Salad greens w/ red pepper slices
Asparagus roasted w/ a little balsamic vinegar
Acorn squash baked w/ a little brown sugar

Pillsbury whole wheat rolls that can be individually heated (to ensure that I don't wolf down 12 rolls in a setting - not that I'd do that, but I have a friend of a friend of a friend that has done that once or twice...)
Cheddar bread from our weekend jaunt to Huber Farm & Orchard
Sweet potatoes
Corn on the cob

Apples from our trip to Huber Farm & Orchard
Plums, bananas, kiwis, raspberries

Jalapeno cheese from our trip to Huber Farm & Orchard (with pita chips)
Cottage cheese
Low-fat yogurt

Seems healthy enough, but I think some dietary changes are coming our way. Johnny's migraines are coming more and more frequently, and I would like to start eliminating possible "trigger foods" to see if that helps.
Now if we can just stay away from any sweets this week... we'll have plenty of cupcakes next weekend!
Here's wishing everyone a healthy week!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Freak Flag Friday - What's the deal with chickens?

So can we just PRETEND this was done on Friday? (insert Sarah Palin-esque wink here) You betcha'!
I'm baaaaack! Never really went anywhere, per se, but a LOT has happened during the second half of September. Let's recap quickly, shall we?

Left job to be a stay-at-home-mom 9/19.
Continued to finish up work (although pay ended) through 9/26.
Immediately began watching another child that is close to my daughter's age.
Immediately acknowledged that this was, in fact, NOT necessarily a good idea for the sake of my sanity.
Acknowledged that my daughter might possibly be the easiest baby ever.
Made list of 10,000 projects that can now be accomplished since I'm at home.
Recognized the futility of this list while watching another child.
Was thrilled to see the progress that Hania has made since I've been able to focus on teaching her new skills.
Lost 5 lbs AND my mind from chasing around after small children for two weeks.
Recognized that we need in-home training from the Humane Society if Keira-the-no-no-bad-dog and I are going to coexist peacefully in the same home.
Continue to work on learning how to be still. And patient. Neither is a virtue that I currently possess, but I'll keep you updated on the progress!
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Has it only been two weeks? Really???

I owe you a Freak Flag Friday funny, don't I? These are 2 quick little stories, both chicken-related, that still crack me up. I can't quite muster the energy for one of my doozies tonight!

My first job in Georgia was as a school-based emergency services counselor, who responded to crisis calls from the public schools. On occasion I was asked to go to a home and follow up to ensure the family was using the mental health resources available. Weird job, grant funded, not well organized and very slow paced, which drove me nuts. On this particular visit I can't even recall why I'd gone to the home, but the exit is what truly stands out in my mind. As I'm walking out of the small rural home a chicken streaks out the door past me. I can't say exactly where this chicken came from, but apparently he'd been inside the home the entire time. He ran up onto the hood of my car, which made for a pretty funny sight. Yes, funny funny stuff, up until the point that I try to enter my vehicle and it flies straight into my face! I managed to stay upright and threw my hands up in time to avoid being mauled by a bird, but apparently this was no ordinary bird. Oh, no. He continued to strut around on the hood of car, pooping no less, and gave me a look at that said "Oh yeah, lady? You wanna piece of this? Bring it, fool!" To which I replied "Oh it's already been BROUGHTEN!" (Did anyone else see that dumb cheerleader movie "Bring It On" to find that quote funny? Or am I the only one laughing?) Swatting at him with my planner didn't do a thing, aside from provide him with some agility training. Then he did speed drills from the trunk, over the body of the car to the hood, and back again. Each time I attempt to enter the car he flies at me, flapping his wings, screeching, and I can't help but scream like a girl. Little did I know that every time he screeched, he was calling his little friends. Chickens are literally coming out of nowhere. From under the car, around the corner of the house, across the gravel road... as if they were lurking around, like the bad guys in a movie, ready to gang up and take down this citified female human that invaded their property. Apparently he was a chicken mob boss. The Godfeather, if you will.
I then realize that maybe the family who lives there could help me, and I turn around to see them gathered on the porch watching the spectacle. As in, studying the scene, chin on hands, watching like it is reality tv. I yell back and ask if they have any suggestions, and the father informs me that yes, this has indeed been a problem in the past, and no, he only does it with strangers so they don't know what to do about it. Thanks, buddy.
Finally I noticed a window of opportunity when Mob Boss Chicken was on the hood, and I made a break for it - dove for the rear door and leaped into the back seat of the car before climbing into the front and peeling off.
My conclusion: I am chicken s$#t when it comes to aggressive fowl. And apparently that chicken needs anger management, for which I can provide some excellent referrals.

The second story also occurs in Georgia, when I'm working in foster care. My job required me to visit each of the foster homes each quarter to ensure that they met safety requirements and were following agency policies. You tend to grow close quickly to the families because in completing the home study required to foster there are many personal questions that they are required to disclose, including their beliefs on a number of hot topics, details of their background, and parenting philosophies. I loved visiting most of my families, but one couple in particular had been my favorites since I'd met them - a Jamaican couple in their late 50's who were raising their grandchildren, and were ready to open their home to foster children. Their home always seemed quite warm and inviting, and the mother consistently had a Jamaican dish bubbling on the stove and always asked if I'd like to stay for dinner. I usually had just a little taste, and although it was delightful I had other appointments waiting and never stayed to eat.
Well this time she called me in advance to ask me to stay and eat to celebrate her husband's birthday. She had made his absolute favorite meal, a Jamaican delicacy that they only made on special occasions and she was so proud to share it. I have to admit, I was psyched. I loooove Jamaican food... name it. What could it be? Seriously, my mouth was watering all day. I even picked up a little red velvet cake from Publix for the birthday celebration.
When I arrived the house smelled incredible, the kids were running around having fun, it was a nice scene and a much needed break after a horrid day. They were so happy I could attend and the mother called me over to the stove, pulled the lid off the pot with a flourish, and there I saw... (this is coming across like a Halloween after school special)... CURRIED CHICKEN FEET. Bwahaaahaaahaa! I'm not kidding. Actual little chicken feet (claws intact, mind you!) filling up the pot, simmering in a yellow curry broth. Oh. My. Goodness. I vaguely hear the mother exclaiming about what a delicacy it is, and how much her husband adores them, and how difficult it is to find them in that part of Atlanta, etc etc. But I'm busy thinking about how I plan to choke them down, and instead hear Charlie Brown's teacher's voice: Wah wah wah, wahwah wah wah.
At dinner the mother served up the pot, ya know, so each of us could have equal amounts of the hearty chicken foot goodness. Naturally. You know, they really didn't taste bad but the texture was just awful. It certainly conjured up images of Fear Factor while I was gnawing on the talons. Don't you know that I thought back to that dang chicken that held me hostage at my car? Not that it made them taste better, but it was mildly amusing to pass the time while I chewed vigorously. I just continued to chew-swallow-repeat, all the while eyeing the Publix red velvet cake on the counter!

Apparently chickens were the only ones flying the freak flag in this installment!


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