Building the Porsche

Sunday, January 29, 2012 No comments

Chloe & Matt have been working on putting together the Mega Block Porsche we received as a Christmas present.

The set is like Legos and had over 600 pieces. They worked on it in increments over several weeks.

Chloe's ability to pay attention to something so detailed was short. Really short. Let's just say the majority of the car was assembled by Matt.


Friday, January 27, 2012 No comments

We spent part of last evening in the ER with Oliver. He couldn't stop coughing and throwing up last night.

Matt took a car from the city to the hospital and when he arrived the staff knew exactly which toddler he was talking about. I believe they used descriptors like "he's a pistol" and "a handful" to describe Oliver. Let's just say it took a staff of 3 to restrain a 38 lb. toddler to administer a breathing treatment.

Oliver was given the compliment that he was extremely polite. He kept screaming "No Thanks!" as he screamed, kicked, spit, squirmed and put up a fight.

We're seeing the pediatrician later today to further evaluate his condition and we are giving breathing treatments every 4 hours.

Big sis is a trooper as always. She packed Ollie's favorites--the iPad and some cars-- and some items to entertain herself. She also helped me give Oliver his breathing treatment this morning.

Favorite Foods

I did the weekly grocery shopping for the family of my friend that passed away. Many friends and family have pooled together to help her husband with the three children. Making dinners and doing the weekly grocery shopping for staple food items is one. As I shopped from their family's staple items list it made me think about our weekly staples (and how I don't have a weekly shopping list of staples and I probably should). You could see the three kids in their family had food/brand/flavor preferences and opinions and I thought about Chloe & Oliver's food likes/dislikes and what items they would insist would be on their staples list.

You can see from the list below that the kids have a very different palate.
Chloe's staple food items--cheddar rice cakes, rice cakes with nuts, dried seaweed & frozen strawberry fruit bars (not pictured). She will come home from school and eat all three of these! She will usually eat 2 packs of the seaweed. She has to be going through a growth spurt! Today she came home from school and ate a frozen fruit bar, finished off a bag of the cheddar rice cakes, ate a regular nut rice cake and 2 packs of seaweed all within a matter of minutes. She then demanded, "When is dinner? I am starving!".

Oliver's palate is a little less refined. He's going through the "if it's green, I am not touching it" phase, and this from the kid whose favorite food as a baby was Ratatouille. His staple items are--Pi*rate's Booty, GoG*urt, cheese sticks, chewy peppermints (I have to move these daily after he goes to bed to a new hiding place--he's stealth and can sniff them out. He doesn't get one daily, but he makes a good attempt), strawberries,  Milano cookies (not pictured), doughnuts (not picutred and again not an everyday item though it is an everyday request) & chicken nuggets (not pictured). Oliver loved doughnuts and chicken nuggets so much he has combined them into one word, "Chicken doughnuts", which is an everyday lunch time request. And, NO, I have never served him chicken nuggets and doughnuts at the same time.

And our other staple, Nu*tella. Chloe has it on her waffles and an occassional sandwich. Neither kid is a peanut butter fan. They prefer Nutella. Who wouldn't? I know a lot of people freak about Nu*tella and go lecture on how it has so much sugar, etc., etc. One of Chloe's closest pals Mom shared her dislike of Nu*tella with me and how she would never serve it to her kids because "it's expensive junk food". I had to bite my lip because I know that her daughter brings a Ramune soda with her everyday at lunch--expensive and full of high fructose corn syrup and no nutritional content---but keep preaching against Nut*ella sister.

The Asian Grocers

Thursday, January 26, 2012 1 comment
The majority of the items are not in English though some are.

I had Recipe Club this week and our theme was "Chinese NewYear". I was assigned the entree and after some research I decided to make Char Siu, Chinese BBQ Pork. A few of the ingredients aren't readily found at my usual grocery store so I went to the Asian grocers. I forget how I love this place and I always wonder why I don't go there more often. I enjoy the feeling of being a bit out of my element and discovering new things. I love to roam the aisles and pick up foods and items that look interesting.

It made me realize one of the best things about living outside NYC--easy access to many cultures right in your own backyard.  I have to remind myself of these things sometimes, most often after I return from visiting Dallas and lament on giving up massive square footage to live in a 1/3 the space at over twice the price.
There are many, many Asian grocers in our area. We have an enormous Korean supermarket chain that is throughout our county but I prefer the smaller, Tawainese grocer only a few miles from my house. While it's set up like your typical grocery store, the items inside and the way they are displayed transports you. (I so wanted to take photos in the meat section & seafood section but I was purchasing items and didn't want to bust out the iPhone and snap some shots with the butcher).

I could have spent forever in the meat section. I bought pork butt for the Char Siu but couldn't keep my eyes off the pork uterus, pork tongue and ears. I also love to cruise by the seafood department and see the open display of  jellyfish.

I spent 20 minutes on one aisle looking at soy sauce. I had no idea that there were different variations of soy sauce--Light, dark, aged, tamari. For someone who is well-traveled by American standards, I felt totally unworldy and unknowing. And when it came time to find the Xiao Hsing Cooking Wine I felt stupid not being able to find it and only locating a bottle that read "XiaoShing Cooking Wine". I suspected it was the same, spelled differently. Instead of asking, I "googled" it on my phone. Of course, I could have asked, should have asked. When I went to checkout, there was a friend from my days in the Newcomer's Club asking for help finding yellow rock sugar. She was also making a dish to celebrate Chinese New Year.
 I ended up buying things not on my ingredients list. I bought a mango pudding made with aloe vera cubes, Fragrant pears from China, Korean pears, rice cakes and dried seaweed. I could have definitely bought more, but held back when I passed through the pastries and sticky buns.
I told Matt that as I walked through the store and felt out of my element I thought that someday too, Chloe could be shopping in this grocery store and feel the same way as I do, despite her Chinese heritage. And it made me a little sad. But, then again, I remembered that one reason we moved where we did was because this influence existed. And, while it was only a grocery store, there was a myriad of cultural opportunities for Chloe & Oliver.

And, besides, now that I discovered that they have dried seaweed in abundance and better packaging  (and cheaper) than where I was buying it before, we will be back. Frequently.

A Style All His Own

Friday, January 20, 2012 No comments
Oliver is giving me a little pushback on potty training. He did however insist that he wear his Toy Story underwear. Like this....

Snow is coming! There is much excitement.


Thursday, January 19, 2012 No comments
I realized I didn't post of photos from Philadelphia. It turned out it was pretty cold that weekend and Oliver wasn't willing to keep his gloves on which led to lots of temper tantrums because someone was cold. We drove to Philly, saw the Liberty Bell, saw Constitution Hall and then left. On the way home we stopped at the go-kart place for some fun.

There is nothing like two kids fighting in front of a symbol of our nation's freedom.

Outside Constitution Hall.

Matt & Chloe--getting ready to race.

Oliver enjoyed playing on all the video games, especially this motorcycle race.

Of course, he cheated a little at some of the games. He got away with it. He's little & cute.

Chloe playing the motorcycle race game with her brother playing on the iPhone. That's cool.

Chloe on the track.

Matt on the track. Fastest time in the group.

Power Nap

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 No comments
Oliver and I attended Mommy & Me this morning like we do every Wednesday. Except today we left 30 minutes early. Seems we are in the "mine" stage and don't want to share. Oliver also thought he needed to push and kick to make his point. So, we left after time out in the hallway didn't deter the bad attitude. There were tears once we were at the car and he really knew we were leaving. We got home at 10:30 and after a quick snack I put him down for a nap to much protest. And then I went about my chores. Then I watched some HGTV. Then I caught up on some blog reading. I researched day trips for our upcoming vacation to Costa Rica. I played with the dogs in the yard. I wondered how long he was going to sleep.... Four hours later, I heard Oliver stir on the baby monitor. A FOUR hour nap! I went to his room and was greeted with, "Mom! I want to behave now!" Seriously, this child!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

I Thought it was Clever

Friday, January 13, 2012 No comments
January isn't my favorite month. After New Year's there isn't much else in the month except cold weather, and we haven't had much of that. I never know how to decorate the blank spaces left from the Holidays so I thought I would put out some Valentine's decorations. I saw a pic on Pin*terest of candles with conversation hearts and thought it was cute so I decided I put out the Valentine's decor.

It was festive and cheap. I thought it was cute and clever UNTIL Chloe discovered it was candy and then she clued her little brother in on it too.

I caught them red-handed this afternoon.
And Oliver, well he wasn't even trying to hide that he was eating the candy decorations. He had made himself a little pile!

When I saw this candy pile I said, "Hey! Where did you get that?" He was ever so gracious to show me the container of candy and to grab another handful at the same time. "No more!" I exclaimed, to which Chloe said, "Yea, he probably shouldn't have anymore, he's eaten like a thousand."

Well, it was a clever idea in theory.

Mind Dump

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 No comments
Complete randomness...

Its been really warm here, as it has in most of the country. Last year at this time, 2.5 feet of snow had already fallen. If you had told me during the freakish snow storm in October that we wouldn't have anymore snow through the middle of January I would have laughed. Now, I'm just complaining that there's no snow for skiing. It is supposed to get cold just in time for the three-day weekend. We're hoping to get a ski trip in and perhaps a day-trip to Philadelphia. It will be a weekend of fun no matter what the temperatures.

I have been really working on not putting too many expectations on the kids. I have a problem with stepping in and taking over when things don't look the way I want them to look. I'm working on letting the kids just be kids. I was pretty proud of myself this week when I didn't take over Oliver's snowman project at Mommy  Me. He got the general gist of the picture and art projects have never been his thing. He doesn't like to paint or color. They don't hold his attention. In fact, he flat out refuses to paint. He's pretty vocal that he doesn't like it. So, I sat back today and let him create this Picasso-esque snowman. I was quite chuffed that I didn't take over and quite proud that this is totally Oliver's creation.

But, then I faced a bigger challenge in the afternoon. Chloe came home with a field trip form and needed $29 to pay for the field trip. I handed over the money. She put it beside her backpack and I found it like this---
Many people will look at the money and say, "Yea, so?" but I look at it and go into complete fit. I'm not anal, just anal about bank-facing money and putting it in descending order. In a matter of 10 feet--the distance from my wallet to her backpack, the money is in disaray! Two black eyes below a nose and on a snowman's stomach I could take. Money out of order, I couldn't. I told Chloe it would be safer in an envelope (i.e. safer in an envelope neatly folded and put in descending monetary value and the presidents all facing the same way). I guess I'm still battling with the not stepping in and taking over thing....

Forever Family Day--2 Years Later

Monday, January 09, 2012 1 comment
It was on this day, two years ago, that our plane landed at JFK and we officially became a family of four.

We first met Oliver in Ethiopia on January 3rd.

I love to re-read the blog entries and read how we thought him to be the most calm, even-tempered baby. Oh, how things would change. Today, two years later, he's a two and a half year old full of energy, opinions and personality. We love our little man!

Ye Ganna Bal

Saturday, January 07, 2012 No comments
Today is Ganna, or the day Ethiopians celebrate Christmas. We were in Ethiopia in 2010 and got to celebrate the holiday and attend church wearing the traditional Shamma, a memory I will always keep and cherish.

You can see video of our church visit and our Ethiopian Christmas story here.

The Holidays--Christmas & New Year

Tuesday, January 03, 2012 No comments
Chloe (looking the part) and Oliver in Texas.
Happy New Year!! We rang in the New Year with our friends, Bryan and Sue, just across the Hudson in Jersey City. Chloe got to see the NYC fireworks and stay up late. She thought she was so BIG.

We returned from Dallas on Saturday afternoon, celebrated NYE and relaxed on Sunday. We took down all the decorations, washed clothes and played with all the new toys. Matt and I attended the Giants vs. Cowboys game at the Meadowlands on Sunday evening in the rain. We cheered for the Cowboys though it didn’t seem to help.

Matt at the football game---in the rain.

Monday was our last day of the holiday break and it led to the discovery that we needed a new dryer. The heating element seems to be shot on our old one and it doesn’t make any sense to spend hundreds of dollars on fixing it so our new one arrives on Wednesday. The delivery guys are just going to love removing the old dryer and installing the new one in the basement. It’s a tight fit.

We had a nice 10-day break in Dallas and the kids had lots of fun. Matt and I got to spend some time alone, dining out and going to the movies. We also got to spend time on Christmas with Matt’s brother, Rob, our sister-in-law, Ashley, and our two nieces and nephew.
Oliver and his cousin, Harrison, in Harrison's police car.

Chloe having fun with her two cousins.

The kids visited Santa on Christmas Eve. Oliver did well until he saw Santa and then he tried to kick him. Luckily Santa didn’t put him on the “Naughty List” but let him have a pass at sitting on his lap. Chloe had her photo made with the Big Guy. He was a pretty authentic looking Santa and even cynical Chloe who informed me that morning that “Santas at shopping malls aren’t the real Santa. How could one guy be at stores all over the country? He doesn’t have time for that.” was almost convinced he was the real deal.

Chloe also got to go go-karting with Matt, Deanna and John. I think all four kids had fun.
Chloe heading out onto the track.

Matt on the kart track.

Both Chloe and Oliver enjoyed seeing Shakey again. Thankfully, Oliver has learned that Shakey is Aunt Deanna & Uncle John’s dog and this time we don’t get asked 14 times a day, “Where’d Shakey go?”.

When in Dallas, you do as most Dallasites do…you shop and dine out. Matt and I ate at the restaurant where we had our first date, we also ate BBQ, Ethiopian food, and frequented the many eateries that we miss not having in the northeast. Dallas may not have the gourmet line-up like NYC, but it does have the family-friendly variety in abundance.
John, enjoying a rib at Rudy's BBQ.

We also visited the myriad of shopping malls and stores Dallas boasts. Yes, we have lots of shopping in our area, but there are a few stores that we don’t have in our area and some that we do but we had to visit because of the after-Christmas sales.

The weather in Dallas was cool but it warmed up as we left and Chloe was convinced it was short-wearing weather. Problem was, she didn’t have any shorts. In stepped BeBe to resolve the problem. Of course, once she had her new basketball shorts, she needed new hightops too.

We also visited PaPaw's farm and the kids got to spend lots of time outdoors.

Chloe with her walking poles, a gift from Aunt Deanna & Uncle John.

John & Chloe.

Visiting the horses behind Mom & Dad's house. And, yes, I now this feeds the stereotype that everyone in Texas has a horse.

Chloe with flat Santa and the flat snowman at The Heard dinosaur walk.

Chloe getting eaten!

Oliver plays soccer.

Oliver attempting to feed and round up the chickens all at one time.

On a tractor ride at PaPaw's farm.
Here's to a great 2012.