Friday, September 28, 2007

The Office



Well, last night wasn't one of the funniest episodes ever, and there were some painful moments, but there was one scene that brought pure satisfaction. As it aired, Chad didn't even look at me, he just said, "Stop it Dew!" because he knew that I was grinning from ear to ear.

Say Cheese!



The first time I made cheesecake, it was a pumpkin variety, with beautiful orange brown swirls skating over the perfectly smooth top. No cracks. I didn't even realize how incredible that was, but then I started reading recipes online, with a myriad of tips for preventing cracks, and I was astounded at my luck. Reading these tips cursed me. Every time I have made cheesecake since then, it has cracked. Sometimes I use the tips, sometimes I don't. Last fall I made the pumpkin cheesecake for Chad's co-workers, and I was so anxious about it's appearance, I tried every tip in the book (water bath, don't overmix, don't open the oven door while cooking, etc), and it when it was done it was split in about a dozen directions. I swear the vainer I get about my cheesecake, the deeper the cracks.


A couple of nights ago I made a new recipe from allrecipes.com that has an incredible reviews. I tried to ignore the tips given by all the reviewers, and instead followed the only one given my the original author. She said that after you bake it for an hour, turn the oven off and then leave it in the oven for 5-6 hours. Then refrigerate it. This allows it to cool slowly.


Did my cheesecake crack? Yes, it did. Only once though. I was making it for Enrichment, and the request was for all-white desserts because it was about the temple (isn't that such a Relief Societyish request?). I wanted to liven it up a little (I usually like toppings on cheesecake) but I didn't want to desecrate it's purity, so I came up with something white that also conveniently covered my crack (in the cheesecake). I took a Lindt, white chocolate with coconut bar, and used a potato peeler to shave the chocolate over the top. I was quite impressed with the effect.


Oh, and it tasted wonderful too! Here are my cousin-Olivia-like pictures of it, although I am not nearly as talented as she it.
And now you all know way more about my cheesecake making than you ever cared to.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

He gave me two babies, now he gets his....


Chad has never been a big spender (as most of you know.) However, there is a certain item he has had his eye on for quite awhile. He has really lusted after every nice TV he has seen over the last two years. Every time he saw a good price for one on http://slickdeals.net/ , he felt that was his obligation to mention it to his ever-patient and loving wife. Okay, honestly, my patience wore out, so I made a him a deal. I told him that after we moved into a new house, got a fence, and paid off the student loans, he could buy whatever TV he wanted (knowing that he would never ever be able to bring himself to buy one too outrageous). Well, we moved into a new house in June. Our fencing materials are in the garage, ready to be installed next week, and after we close the sale of our other house on Friday at 4 pm, we are paying off the student loans (hallelujah!). I let him getthe TV a little early because of the deal he found, with the stipulation that if any of the aforementioned tasks fall through, the TV goes back.
Chad found a deal that set the slickdeals world on fire (seriously the people who frequent that sight have a community all their own), and he couldn't pass it up. I won't go into specifics, but it involved getting a free Xbox 360 and then taking it back for a refund (thus lowering the total price of the TV), and it was supposed to be online only, but when they ran out of stock online, Chad went into the store and sweet-talked his way with the manager until he was given the same deal. That's my hubby for you. Cheap, cute, and willing to talk his way out of anything.
In all seriousness, I enjoy the TV as well, and we are getting satellite again next Monday, which I will love (probably too much, which was why we got rid of it six months ago). I will try not to DVR too much Food Network this time. Also, I am ticked off at Bear Grylls, so there goes most of my Discovery Channel obligations.
BTW, that is Prisonbreak playing on the TV - another one of Chad's guilty pleasures.
Chad is really going to be ticked that this picture doesn't do his baby justice.
Oh, and if any of you are interested, it is a 50 inch HD projection TV.

One difference in my boys' personalities



Notice that Colin, the four and a half year old, is in the baby swing. Colin has never ever liked the swings, and has just started to like it when I push him the the baby ones, as long as I don't push him too hard. Then there is Gabriel, who will be two next month. Gabe won't permit me to even put him in the baby swings, but begs me to lift him up and put him on the regular ones. It freaks me out a little bit. I don't really trust his toddler grip.
Colin tends to be cautious. He likes to take everything in, evaluate the situation, and then decide if he wants to participate. Most of the time he eventually does participate, but sometimes he decides that certain activities aren't for him (like Dumbo at Disney World). Gabe likes to jump into anything that looks fun.
I know that part of this difference is because Gabe is a second child and likes to do everything his big brother does, but as you can see, this isn't something his big brother does.
Personalities aside, notice their differing legs. It isn't just the difference in ages either. Colin has always had skinny legs. Even when he was a baby there wasn't a single roll on his thighs. And then there are Gabe's legs, which are nice and plump now and were far past plumpness when he was a baby.

A Day at the Playground











Well, I am feeling much better today, so we had a little picnic at our neighborhood playground. It was still somewhere around 90 degrees, with high humidity (of course!) so we didn't last long, but it was fun.



Gabe decided to take his lunch away from away from the group for some privacy in the shade. Right after taking that picture I noticed (and you can barely see it in the picture) that there was a cigarette butt right next to him, as well as a used tissue and (get this!) a handful of HAIR! How gross! I dragged him out of there pretty quickly. Seriously people, the playground is for kids!



Colin and Evan had a good time together. I am watching Evan three times a week now while Sabina works. He is a good kid and keeps Colin busy, so it's a nice situation.



Gabe loved playing inside the big red tunnel, and thought it was hilarious to throw his hat out at me. He also just learned today how to climb up the middle and then slide down. That was very exciting for him. He also enjoys throwing fits when he doesn't get enough of the swings.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

BLAH! Listen to me whine.

I have strep throat and it has just knocked me down. I swear I'm usually pretty tough when I am sick. I've had strep before, but it has never been like this. I can't remember feeling this bad since the last time I was pregnant, or right after I had Gabe and was recovering. Chad is helping all he can - he has Gabe, Colin, Santi and Evan with him right now at soccer practice (Bobby and Sabina had a parent conference) - but man this just SUCKS. Sorry mom, for the foul language. One thing that I really hate about being a mom is the absence of "sick days". A couple of weeks ago, Chad was talking about taking a sick day. Colin wanted us to explain, so we told them that when Daddies are sick, they can stay home from work. You know what he asked? "But what about our money?!"
I do try hard to teach Colin to be grateful for Chad's job, instead of whining when he leaves for work, by telling him that because of that job we have a house and a car and food. On this occasion we got to explain to Colin that Daddy sure is lucky because when he takes a sick day, he still gets paid.
My sick days are a little different. Don't get wrong -I'm no martyr. I don't go about my usual business. I laid around the house all day. I made the kids their food, got them dressed, tried unsuccessfully to get Gabe down for a nap and broke up fights, but other than that, I pretty much took the day off. So I took as much of a sick day as I possibly could. I still had to chase the kids around, and after I took them to the Dr. with me, I had to also take them to Target to fill my subscription. We had to walk around the store for 45 minutes while they filled it, and I honestly felt like I was going to pass out. That's a sick day for a mom. And even if I am feeling better tomorrow, I will have to clean up a lot of messes that were made today, and do a lot of laundry that wasn't done.
Chad really is a peach though, and I can't complain about him, because he came home from work, broke up the fights for me, made dinner, and clean and mopped the kitchen - all before he hauled 4 little boys off to soccer. Also, when I was feeling sick yesterday, he took a half day and took the kids with him on all his errands to get them out of my hair. So, you know, even though I am whining a lot right now, it really could be a lost worse, right?

But oooooooh, I really don't want to be pregnant ever again.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I am a soccer mom. Can you believe it?! ME!





Five minutes into Colin's first soccer game last weekend, he got the ball, dribbled it a bit, and kicked it right into the goal!!!!!!!!!!! His first game and his first goal! I was utterly shocked at the pure joy and excitement that flooded my heart. Honestly, it was like winning Best Overall Dance in the dance competition or hearing that I had gotten a part in "The Crucible, only even better. Purer, less self-absorbed. Really, joyful is the best word I can think of to describe the feeling. I know it sounds silly - it's just a little kid's game, and it's just a goal - but I was just so happy for him. The kid has been kicking a ball around since any of us can remember, brimming with enthusiasm for any sport, and ready to hit the field or court, or ANYTHING. My little little boy, scoring his first goal, and jumping up and down, and my eyes actually brimming with tears. I could see by the look on Chad's face that he felt exactly the same way. We probably talked about that moment nine or ten times the rest of the weekend, giggling with the remembrance of how thrilled and indescribably happy we were.

I only wish I had gotten a picture of it. He scored again a few minutes later but I still wasn't quick enough with the camera - especially since the screen is broken, so I have to guess at what I am even taking a picture of.

Here are some other pics I did manage to get. Colin is number four. Being the coach's son, he got his first pick. The uniform (I almost wrote "costume" on accident) is huge on him. In the last picture, we were at Chik-fil-A celebrating and he called Grandma Coleman to tell her about his goals.

Personality




I found this personality test from my cousin Olivia's blog and it was pretty cool. This little bar shows my personality.
If you scroll over it, it shows the different aspects of a "Considerate Creator" and how strongly I scored in each category.

Little boys


There is something that absolutely tickles me.

When Colin turned two, he received a three-wheeler for his birthday. It was love at first sight. Besides tearing around corners in our house at amazing speeds (even before he could reach the pedals), he loved to lift the seat and store things in the secret compartment there. It is delightful to see what a toddler values enough to carry with them. I would periodically lift it to find balls, pennies or pretty leaves. It was a little window to his world. And I can't tell you how many times we searched for our keys or the remote and then finally thought to check inside his car to see them sitting there. Hey, if mom and dad thought those things were so important, they must be worth stashing!

Gabriel has slowly been taking ownership of the little car. Well, with good reason. Don't think we are bad parents when I tell you why. One day, Colin was earning time-out after time-out and after his final offense, I finally took away his car as a punishment. To top it off, I decided that it while Colin wasn't allowed to play with it for the day, Gabe was. Wow, did Gabe catch on to that quickly. He smugly rode it all over that day, his chubby toddler legs barely touching the ground, let alone the pedals.

Well, the next day, when Colin was allowed to ride it again, Gabe still insisted it was his. His obstinate and resounding "noh!" rang through the house, and it took some coaxing and convincing to get Gabe, the new boss, to give Colin some turns. Since then, and with Colin's growing desire to get a big boy bike, the little car has been moving on to the almost-two-year-old.

So now when I peek under the seat, I get to see what Gabe treasures. There are some graham crackers and cars in there right now. Today I was on the computer when I heard him shuffle into the room on the car, then stop, open the lid, and "gulp gulp ahh." I turned around to see him put a regular cup(not a sippy), with water in it, back inside his car. Well, little boys do get thirsty while they are riding, don't they?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My cute hubby









We went back to the garden last Friday. On the way there, it just started pouring rain. We are in a drought here (only allowed to water the lawn twice a week), so we were laughing about how luck. We finally get out and about and it pours buckets! When we got to Garden, we stayed in the car for probably fifteen minutes to avoid the downpour, snacking on string cheese and crackers. The boys were highly entertained by their amusing daddy. He let Colin sit on his lap and hold the steering wheel while he backed in and out of our parking spot. Gabe gave it a try too, and decided he was, indeed, too young to drive.






Let me just mention that Colin is a very very cautious little boy, and I've never caught him trying to do something dangerous. He has a very healthy fear of cars and such, otherwise we would not be encouraging him to "drive."






The rain did let up after that, and we got to frolic in the garden. Everything was so nice and musky smelling, but the humidity had us sweating very quickly. Gabe and Colin decided to pour water on their heads to cool off.






Btw, doesn't Colin look just like Chad when you see their profiles? Couple of cuties.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Good reading.


I just read this book on Sunday and was surprised how wonderful it was. I can whole-heartedly recommend it (no swearing or sex even!).


It is called "Digging to America"by Anne Tyler. But don't take my word for it......


Monday, September 17, 2007

Roy and Ashley's visit

As I mentioned earlier, my sister Ashley came to visit with her two kids, Rae and Blaise, and her husband Roy. It was so nice to be able to just hang out with them and I feel like I was able to get to know the kiddos and Roy better. Well, especially Blaise, because the last time I saw him, he was a newborn, and now he is taking his first steps. Colin really misses his cousin Rae. Anyway, here are some pictures in a not-so-great slideshow. I really didn't want it to do the zooming in and cutting people's heads off thing, and it sure made the pics grainy, but enjoy anyway......
video

Every Mom needs a Tattle-Tell


Colin has started attending a little preschool with other kids from church twice a week. Before this, Gabe and I had been alone together probably less than ten times in his almost two years of his existence. I have always felt a little guilty that Gabe doesn't get as much alone time as Colin did when Colin was a toddler, and it is really nice now to have a chance to connect more with just him. Last week we walked slowly through the grocery store and I pointed various items out to Gabe, and he smiled sweetly, grunted his responses, and pulled me down by the neck for hugs and kisses.




Contrast that with my trip to Super Walmart today with both of them. They were yelling and hitting each other just twenty minutes into it, Gabe looked like he was ready to bite (yes, I have a biting toddler), both of them kept climbing out, and Colin had picked up a pair of handcuffs that he wanted me to buy for him. After telling him no and giving him every rational reason I could - I don't just buy him toys any ol' day, he has already broken three pairs of handcuffs, and he does naughty things with handcuffs (before your dirty mind strays, let me explain that he will handcuff two doors together and then drive his bike through them) - he was still pleading his case and I just gave the mom-favored standby -"because I said so." Then Colin started dropping them on the floor so I would pick them up. The second time he did this and I bent down to get them, I got my raspy, trying-to-hold-in-the-rage-voice and as I came up I barked, "Colin! I am so sick of this! Quit it!", only to catch the eyes of a kind and shocked looking elderly man who was coming around the corner and trying to move around my massive two-seats-in-front cart.




Sooooooo, you can see why it is nice to be able to enjoy my boys on their own sometimes. I have found once drawback though.




After my trip to Aldi last week with just Gabe , I took him home and as I was putting everything away and was distracted, he grabbed some blueberry yogurt that was sitting out from breakfast. It was bad enough that he ate gross, warm yogurt, but he actually took it and dumped it on himself. I didn't even attempt to wipe up the gooey purple mess. His clothes came right off and went straight into the washer. As I wiped his face and dressed him in clean clothes, I started thinking about how weird it was that he did that. Gabe really isn't the type to get into messes. Then I realized that Gabe really is that type. Most toddlers are. Gabe just usually has a four year old brother around who likes to inform Gabe of what is and what isn't allowed. If Gabe doesn't listen to Colin when this informtion is bossily presented, Colin is quick to let me know that Gabe is up to s0mething. Have you noticed that a lot of oldest siblings are bossy (sorry Christie)? Well, I betcha that their parents were darn thankful for it on many occasions.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Colin the Soccer Star



Well, it's very exciting. Colin has started his first organized sport. He plays soccer with other 4-6 yr olds, and it tickles me to see him out on the field, learning new things and trying to focus on the coach. I say "trying" because he does tend to space-out every once in awhile. Once a week, all the kids in his age group get together with a skills coach and he teaches them things like the "ping-pong" and the "prep kick." I think that it is really neat that four year olds aren't just practicing kicking the ball into a goal (which is what I remember doing at all my soccer practices when I was a kid), but are actually learning techniques that they can carry with them. The coach is really good at making sure they are having a good time as well.




Like I said, Colin tries really hard to pay attention, and I often hear him yelling out the right answers when the coach quizes them. His downfall (if a four year old soccer player can have a downfall) is that he loves to watch the other kids and sometimes gets caught up in their antics. Yesterday, when the coach was teaching them the next drill, I saw him laughing appreciatively as two older boys goofed around with each other. He was a little lost for a few minutes because of it, but I love that he is getting some good "boy" time.




The first few weeks, I was a little torn, sitting on the sidelines. I really wanted to stand up beside and repeat the coaches words to help him focus. I decided however, to keep my behind on the ground and made a vow to offer only words of encouragement during those practices. If we practice together at home I might allow myself to "coach" him more, but I think he needs some time away from me, where he is looking to and listening to another adult for a change. He hears me jawing at him all day, every day. I can just be his cheerleader for a change.




In addition to the skills practice once a week, they have a team practice. Chad is his team coach, with my brother Bobby (or "Robert," as he is known to most now). Once again, I have to plant myself on the sidelines, and make sure I keep my words of wisdom to myself, but in this instance it's so that I don't try and boss Chad. What is it about being a mom that brings out my inner nag?

The Garden


We moved into a new house in June, and I had to leave my garden behind. I have driven past it a few times since, and it is weedy, with certain plants taking over and other plants dying out. I worked that earth with a shovel, set out every one of the hundreds of plants and bulbs, and now it is no longer mine to love and nurture.

I have a new consolation. The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. It is near our house and we received a free year long membership as a gift with the purchase of our new house (everyone in the subdivision gets one). I would venture to guess that I there isn't a single person in our neighborhood who appreciates that little pass as much as I do.

I went for the first time with my sister Ashley, her husband Roy, and their daughter and son, Rae and Blaise. They journeyed out for a week from California to visit us, and my sister-in-law Sabina joined us with their son Evan. Not everyone gets their kicks off of perennials and flowering shurbs, so I tried not too ohh and ahh for too long over anything. They enjoyed the many butterflies, fountains, and spiders that graced the garden. It isn't very large, but it gave a wonderful display of what flowers work well in the Carolinas, which I haven't completely figured out in the two years I have been living here.

I hope to return soon and often.