Monday, January 28, 2008

Haven't been up to blogging lately. Ethan caught a cold, and now I'm fighting it off... sore throat and achy muscles. Ugh.

Snow today and the kids went nuts. I attempted to drive out to my Mom's, but turned back about 1/3 of the way there. The roads were far more icy than I expected and my big ole' suburban fishtailed all over the place. When I saw the big hill I had to conquer ahead and cars sliding while trying to go up and coming down it was too risky for me.

So we played around outside for a bit here and then all vegged out. I felt bad about a mostly tv day, but Momma wasn't feeling up to anything more. While the kids were napping, I did pull it together enough to bake Ethan a "gingerbread cake" which he's been asking about for weeks. I'm not sure where he heard about gingerbread cake and how he knows he likes it, but we'll see :) I used this fantastic recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, "How to Be A Domestic Goddess". Then I started dinner for tomorrow. That's right... this recipe cooks for a full 24 hours. I've made it many times and each time it tastes a little different and each time its delish.

Slow-Roasted Aromatic Shoulder of Pork

I first got the idea of cooking a shoulder of pork over 24 hours like this from the second River Café Cookbook. My take on it is really a de-Italianized version. Any mixture of herbs or spices you want would do; this isn't a recipe so much as a suggestion.

  • 1 shoulder of pork (approximately 12-14 pounds), skin scored
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 inch length of fresh ginger
  • 2 fresh red chiles, or 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin)
  • 4 tablespoons sherry or rice vinegar

The pork takes 24 hours to cook, which is no cause for alarm because for about 23 hours and 55 minutes you are ignoring it absolutely. And it makes your house smell like a home should.

So, if you're planning to eat this for Sunday lunch, at about Saturday lunchtime, preheat your (clean) oven to the hottest it will go. Set the pork skin-side up on a rack over a roasting pan. I like to use a mortar and pestle to make my paste because it makes me feel good, but you could just grate the garlic and ginger (one of my beloved, and often mentioned, Microplane graters is the tool for the job) and stir in chile flakes, a tablespoonful of oil, and two of vinegar if you want. Otherwise, pound together the peeled chopped ginger and peeled cloves of garlic with the fresh chile, adding a tablespoonful of oil and two of vinegar when they're squished and paste-like.

Using your fingers, rub this paste over the scored skin, pushing bits into the cut lines of rind. Stagger across to the oven and put in the tray, leaving it for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, into the bowl in which you mixed the paste, pour the two remaining tablespoons each of oil and vinegar. When the pork's had its half an hour, remove it from the oven, turning it to 225°F as you do so. Now turn the pork over; I find it easiest to lift it by hand wearing oven mitts. It makes them dirty, okay, but there is the washing machine….

Pour the oil and vinegar over the underside (which is now uppermost on the rack) and put the pork back in the low oven, leaving it there for 23 hours. (Actually, you could leave it longer. One of the joys of this is that it cannot overcook.) Anyway, after 23 hours, or 30-40 minutes before you actually want to eat, turn the oven back to the highest it will go, remove the pork and turn it back, crackling side up. Put it back in the oven for 30 minutes, in which time it will get hot and crisp, though you can give it another 10 if you feel it needs it.

Remove, slice off the crackling in a horizontal swipe of the knife and break it into manageable pieces, then start carving or pulling at the tender meat.

Sunday we tried to go to the new Fred Meyer in Snohomish, but its expected opening of January 23 was obviously very optimistic. It looks like another good month at least. We did notice that a Kohls is going in there though, as well as what appears to be a Lowes or Home Depot. We'll never have to cross the trestle again... everything we need will be on "this" side!

We went down to the Silver Lake Fred Meyer instead and for the first time we left the kids in the Playland area. They LOVED it, and so did we. Quite handy. I was able to grab two sets of twin sheets on clearance for $13 each. That is a steal. We also picked up a very fancy looking espresso maker, but after running it multiple times, we decided its not for us. Overly complicated and the functions didn't work like we thought they should. So back it goes.

Oh! Today I created a star chart for Ethan and Gwen to help motivate them to stay in bed and not call us 1,000 times a night. I have to say that for the first time (nap today) it worked very well and they both got a star. Tonight will be the real test and I'm trying not to get overly hopeful, but I can't help but feel relief that this might just work :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

So we did end up going up to see J yesterday. We picked him up from work, then headed to the local McD's for lunch and playtime. The plan was for me to go to Costco while the children played, but Ethan doesn't really like fast food playgrounds. It ended up that Gwen and Jason stayed, while Ethan and I went to Costco.

He did SO good... the best I've ever seen him behave in a store. As a reward, I bought him one of those devilishly good churros that Costco sells. Stupidly, I didn't get one for myself, so I stole nibbles off the half that I was saving for Gwen. She didn't notice :)

After we got home, we unloaded our Costco wares, then I started on a simple outdoor clean up project. My goal was to prune down my roses. Well, as is typical with me, I started getting more and more into the pruning part (and not just the roses) and about 1 1/2 hours later, voila! My overgrown shrubs were laid bare, my front little garden patch decimated of all the dead plants and grass. Actually most of my roses remained untouched, as once I got started on the big stuff it was all I could focus on. I filled TWO yard waste bins.

As you can imagine, my plans for cleaning the inside of the house were summarily pushed aside. The only thing I wanted to do was put my feet up and shower!

It seems that there was something else I really wanted to blog about but just can't remember... there will be more later if I do recall :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

While the kids are watching Bob the Builder, I'll try to sneak in a quick post.

Good news on the sickness front. We appear to be clean! No illness since last Thursday! You have no idea how happy this makes us.

Saturday, Jenni and I went to a cake decorating class. It was strange. There were only two other people there besides us and the lady didn't seem to have any outline or plan. We learned some things, but could have learned so much more if she hadn't had her daughter and daughters boyfriend there taping the class. She constantly was interacting with them instead of us. In the end, I did learn some helpful techniques and most importantly, I got some information on where to obtain professional grade ingredients and tools very easily. This will be so helpful when I do Shelly's wedding cake (if I do... let us pray that I do not go over my due date).

Monday we met some people at the Spartan Gym for a playdate. April was there with Gibson and Grady, as was Alyssa and her two boys, AJ and Andrew. We also met a new person, Cindy. She lives in Lake Stevens too so April was trying to get us all to meet up as we're practically neighbors. Cindy has a little boy, Cayden and a wee babe of 8 weeks, Evan. Gwen was still the only girl! Looks like her sister will be her only female compatriot for awhile. We really enjoyed meeting Cindy and her boys and her Mom (though her name escapes me at the moment). Good people :)

Tuesday was pre-school and gymnastics. It was also the day that the Very Bad Mess(tm) happened. During nap actually. I won't go into descriptions of the Very Bad Mess(tm) as I don't want to ruin appetites and make my readers cringe. We'll just say its Very Bad and send best wishes for my carpet's full recovery.

Today we might go see Jason at the Arlington office and try to do a Costco visit. We also have to work on a special project for someone that I can't talk about as she reads here!

Oh, Michelle, call me back girl :)

Friday, January 18, 2008

We finally slept through the night last night. Woo! It was really nice.

At around 11, we went to a MOPS play date at the gym Gwen goes to for gymnastics. There were a lot of people there. Unfortunately, no one talked with me at all until the very end. I suppose its to be expected... I've had to miss the last three meetings and when you hardly know people, that is a lot to miss. Anyway, the kids had a good time.

I'm thinking I may drop out of MOPS this year. I've not felt any real connection to my table mates... not like last year. And it feels more like work than pleasure to go. It makes me sad because I really enjoyed it last year, but when you aren't feeling anything towards your table mates, it does take the fun out.

Both J and I woke up with slight headaches, low grade fever and aches, but thats as far as its gone. Hopefully that will be as far as it will go because tomorrow Jenni and I are doing a 6 hour cake decorating class that I do not want to miss.

Also, I'm really over the being sick thing. Totally.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

So Monday we just hung around the house because although Gwen didn't relapse after the one incident, Ethan got sick and threw up a few times Sunday night/Monday morning.

Grammy did stop by to watch the kids while I ran to a quick midwife appointment. Everything was fine. Heartbeat, blood pressure, etc. All good.

We were supposed to go to Mom's after the appointment and visit with my Aunt Daralyn and cousin Lindy, but due to illness, we passed.

Monday night we had a very strong windstorm and some snow. Our power went out for about 2 hours or so and we'd just tucked the kids into bed with us when everything came back on... of course!

Tuesday, Ethan was feeling chipper and wanted to do pre-school so I felt like it was ok. Unfortunately, due to the icy conditions pre-school had been closed, which really broke the boy's heart. We did go to Gwen's gymnastics and I was able to get Ethan in with her to play. He moped about the first 15 minutes (if you know Ethan, you know what I mean) but really enjoyed the last 15 minutes :)

After that, I called my Mom and asked if we could come over and visit and we got the a-ok. It was good to see my family!

Wednesday morning, Ethan came to me and asked if we could go to the "moooseum" and play in the kitchen and could I check the "puter" to see if it was open? Well, with that type of request, how could I say no?

I don't think we've ever gone to the children's museum by ourselves. We've always had at least another adult so this was a little nerve racking for me. Kids did pretty well though.

Typing in his order into the computer

Gwen, after I told her she put red pepper flakes on her meal

Cleaning up means putting everything in the sink. This is what it means at home too :)

Ethan performing some serious procedure on an eagle

"Mommy, I see the moon and stars!" (actually it was a honeycomb)

Ethan lining up milk bottles in the "farm"

Sheep-back riding. All the rage in the toddler set

Apparently cows need milk as part of a healthy diet too

The water room

The theater...

and the bank...

We had to make a quick stop back into the cafe for a kitchen fix. This time they wanted the whole ensemble on.

Last night didn't go well though. Ethan started puking again and came into our bed (Jason went downstairs). He was restless all night, and around 3am really was uncomfortable. His tummy was churning so loudly that I could clearly hear it, poor thing. From 3am to 5:30am I rubbed his back and tummy and head and sang songs. If I stopped, he would start feeling the pain again, so I kept it up. Finally at 5:30am he fell asleep. Gwen woke up at 6:30, but i talked her into staying in bed for another hour so E and I could get some sleep. Two hours, give or take, isn't so bad for a night is it? Its beginning to seem downright typical around here.
I'm going to do a couple of posts here, so bear with me.

The Sunday that Gwennie left chunkies all over the car we had gone to the park and then ran some errands. We brought Toby with us, which we don't do often since he can get really wound up. He did well this time and we enjoyed having him there.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Quick update to the update:

Gwen puked on the way home from errands today. We'd eaten at McDonalds and perhaps the grease was too much on a recovering stomach, though the Korean BBQ beef we had two nights ago went down without issue. Still no fever or other signs of sickness. Just the vomiting. So far only one episode, so we don't think its more of what we had on Thursday, but a random event.

In any case, I have bunches of laundry to do now! Oh, and now I'm feeling sick, though I suspect its from the cleaning of the chunkies from hair and body and carseat, etc. *shudder*
Quick update:

Gwen is much better. In fact, after her 7:30 throw up, she was fine the rest of the day and ate like crazy. None of us have gotten sick, so it was just a weird thing she had going on.

Last night we went to an anniversary party for Jason's work at Teatro ZinZanni. His company took up about half the seats. We went by ourselves back around my birthday, but they had a different show this time. It was hilarious. Especially since Jason's closest co-worker friend got pulled up on stage and had to participate in a "love" scene with the main performer... a very large, voluptuous woman dressed in ridiculous outfits. He was a really good sport and played along and the lady even called out our table at the end for being "extra fun" that night. The show is long... 3 hours, and you are served a 5 course meal during the show. By the end, I was so tired and Jason and I were practically the only sober people in the house.

We got home at around 11, then asleep by 12. Kids up at 1 (Gwen actually came into our room and was just standing next to me staring when I woke up. Freaky). Kids up at 2. Kids up at 4. Kids up at 6. Gwen asleep with us for an hour while Ethan wandered and sulked around the upstairs. We NEVER get sleep when we really want it. We are dragging a bit this morning!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gwen is very sick.

She started throwing up at 8 last night and we were up at least every hour with her, all night. Poor thing was so weary, so tired, that she stopped sitting up to heave, but just layed there, eyes closed, limp, and let her body do it. Horrible.

We had a quiet spell after 4am or so, but as soon as we got out of bed and came downstairs, the little sips of water we'd given her came up. She's nibbling on Cheerios right now. The child was so hungry and thirsty that she'd wake us up between vomit episodes begging for water and food.

Long, long, long night. Jason and I could not be more tired.

I just noticed that I lost a day on my baby ticker too. I so do not need this pregnancy to last longer than needed! I think perhaps someone pushed out a bug fix for a leap year and that pushed me back a day :)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I'm a super crabby wench today. Actually, I've been a crabby wench for a couple of days. Don't know what's up with that, but it sucks for everyone.

Didja see I'm 20 weeks today? Woo hoo! Longest 20 weeks of my life they feel like. I hope the next 20 fly by.

Tomorrow is MOPS and I don't want to go. I just SO don't feel up to it... but I know the kids would really like it and our table is planning an event for February and I have to participate in some way so I'll go anyway.

Funny story about Gwen. Today she was wearing this dress made out of sweatshirt material with a rhinestone crown on the front (its way cute actually). I had her hair in braids and put her in tights. We were dropping Ethan off at pre-school and she saw her reflection in the door, stopped, and preened for like 5 minutes. I just watched. "Look at me... I so pretty. A princess!", twirls and fluffs her hair, "So pretty, my hair is in braids today. Mommy did it". So on and so forth. I was in awe... just couldn't believe she was doing this!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I've been pondering over this idea for awhile and am hoping to try it (maybe) this year.

Square Foot Gardening

The concept is simple, you create a box (the most common seems to be a 4x4), add soil, add a grid that divides it into 1 foot squares. You plant your items in those little grids. No weeding, very little tending, and takes up little space. I think it would be a fun option for the kids.

The one problem is that there is no spot other than my front yard that gets enough sunlight.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Gotta share this yummy dish that we had tonight, courtesy of my favorite Food Network show, Good Eats. I did post some of my minor changes, so if you want to see what I did, check out the reviews :)

Swedish Meatballs
2 slices fresh white bread
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons clarified butter, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
A pinch plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 pound ground chuck
3/4 pound ground pork
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups beef broth
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Tear the bread into pieces and place in a small mixing bowl along with the milk. Set aside.

In a 12-inch straight sided saute pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat until the onions are soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the bread and milk mixture, ground chuck, pork, egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and onions. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes.

Using a scale, weigh meatballs into 1-ounce portions and place on a sheet pan. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds.

Heat the remaining butter in the saute pan over medium-low heat, or in an electric skillet set to 250 degrees F. Add the meatballs and saute until golden brown on all sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs to an ovenproof dish using a slotted spoon and place in the warmed oven.

Once all of the meatballs are cooked, decrease the heat to low and add the flour to the pan or skillet. Whisk until lightly browned, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the beef stock and whisk until sauce begins to thicken. Add the cream and continue to cook until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Remove the meatballs from the oven, cover with the gravy and serve.

Here are the pics of the kid's rooms. They're still pretty plain and not everything has been put back in place, but you get the general idea.

Ethan's room (my former sewing room).

He has a beautiful vaulted ceiling and window, but tricky for window coverings. We'll get a half circle cellular shade by spring time as this window west and gets very hot in the summer.

Gwen's awkward room. I haven't put up her curtains yet, so she still has the scruffy roller blind.

This is what's making it so awkward... the crib. If we take that down, everything fits nicely.

Today was Gwen's first day of gymnastics class. She posed ever so nicely before starting class, yelling "CHEESE" loudly and making everyone laugh :)

She is the only "new" kid (the other kids have been going for a few sessions already) so the teacher introduced herself and Gwen hugged her. Miss Jean loved that!

I couldn't take pictures of the class because I couldn't see. They do have tv cameras set up though so you can watch them from the waiting room.

At one point, the class walked from one gym to the other and passed the waiting room. The teacher asked me if Gwen had ever taken a gym class before. I replied that she hadn't and the teacher was very surprised! She said Gwen was very athletic and coordinated. She also said she was very good at following directions. Well, my chest puffed up just a little bit :)

After class Gwen got a stamp on her hand and a coloring page. She ran out to me and immediately said, "I want to do it again!" and pointed to the gym.

While we were paying, the lady asked if Gwen was in pre-school and I said no... she commented that Gwen was very social and responsive and she was really impressed. I puffed up some more. That's my girl!

I did decide that once she's old enough, and if we decide to keep attending this gym, I'll move her immediately into a longer and more advanced class. It was obvious that what they were doing was too easy for her and she was just getting in the groove after 30 minutes, and then it ended. They have a trampoline and tumbling class for 3 year olds and I think this is more her speed.

On a totally unrelated note, the kids are in a super affectionate stage towards each other. They cuddle on the couch, hug each other when they part (like for school) and when they meet up again afterwards. They often say "I love you". So sweet. Of course, when they fight, they FIGHT. But at least when they're sweet, they're really sweet :)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Confessions Of A CF Husband: Prayer

If you have a moment, please visit the site below and read about the sister of an online friend of mine. She is in the hospital right now, fighting for her life and the life of her baby. Tricia had been preparing for a double lung transplant when she found out she was pregnant. She's now 24 weeks along and trying desperately to reach 26.

Say a prayer for them.

Confessions Of A CF Husband
Another exhausting day. One of these days I'll be able to blog that I was bored and did absolutely nothing and I'll really enjoy that :)

Last night Ethan did surprisingly well in his new room. We put him down at about 8:30, and I was in there about 4 times for various things before I fell asleep at 10. But it was calm, and he wasn't scared or anything... just testing boundaries I think. He was up twice during the night, once because he was cold and the other time... I don't know. Jason handled that one. Overall though, it was much easier than I thought it would be. This morning however, Jason woke up because Ethan was standing in our doorway. We are trying to enforce the idea of staying in your rooms until Mommy or Daddy gets up. I reeeeeaaaallly do not want them downstairs or something while we snore away.

I was sluggish all morning, as was Jason. I took my blood pressure and my diastolic was actually pretty low, around 60. I wonder if that had anything to do with my foggy brain and snail-like speed. I did manage to clean the carpet in Gwen's room, and the hallway. Its strange, but cleaning carpets always reminds me of my Grandpa :)

Around noon we all left the house... I dropped the kids and J at Burger King for lunch and play time while I went to the library to return and pick up some books. When I got back, around 45 minutes later, they were just sitting down to eat! It turns out that there was some major catastrophe in the kitchen and it took them 30 minutes to get food out. I guess some people were very unhappy and yelled and stuff. I don't get that... its fast food. It cost you like $5. Walk out the door and buy it somewhere else, complain to the manager even, but don't act like a child.

Anyway, we hung out there for awhile, then headed home. I vacuumed the stuff I'd cleaned (crosshatch pattern too just like Grandpa taught me), then we spent a good 30 min arranging/re-arranging/arranging/re-arranging Gwen's bedroom. Its still not how I'd like it. Too many thing in a small room. I may just take down the crib for now, or I'll have to accept an arrangement that seems weird. I don't know. Anyway, kids are down and QUIET for nap (hurray!) so I'm going to pick up the house that was clean yesterday thanks to Mom but is now trashed and start dinner in an hour and *sigh* maybe take a rest.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

My Mum is the BEST. She came over here at 9am and helped Jason clean our garage. They did it really fast too. We didn't even ask her to help, she offered. Jenni came too to babysit the kids, and I ran out and got curtain rods and other things to finish up the rooms. We got the curtains up (that was a headache in and of itself which I won't relive by telling it here. My Mom knows though!) and my Mom put away all the clothes and her and J moved Ethan's bed and I freecycled like 5 things and whew. Seriously, I felt like I was running all over and stressing like crazy. My Dad is here now, watching the Seahawks game with Jason.

The kids both had a little problem going to nap in their new rooms, but that is expected. I think tonight will probably be difficult, but I know they eventually will accustom. Lord grant me patience.

We had a wicked windstorm last night, but amazingly retained power. I thought for sure we'd lose a tree or something, but nope.

I've signed Gwen up for a class at Northwest Aerials in Snohomish. Its really expensive. In fact, WAY more expensive than Ethan's preschool when you figure it to a per hour cost, but its only for 8 classes and we'll see how it works for Gwen. The class fits perfectly during Ethan's preschool time, so for that alone its worth the extra cost. Gwen is so active, always dancing and flipping and twirling and she can almost do the splits (she showed us out of the blue the other day). I think she will LOVE this gymnastics/dance class.

Off to chill for 15 minutes before thinking about starting dinner.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Here are some various pictures from the last few days.

On Wednesday we went to "bouncy house" (I use the name the kids do because I'm spacing on the real name) with April, her sons Grady and Gibson, Alyssa and her sons AJ and Andrew.

For whatever reason, the air hockey table is always the big draw. Gibson is really good!

Ethan and AJ taking their turn.

Gwen enjoying the slide (something about the lighting in this place gives everyone irreparable red-eye in pictures)

I like this one because it showed the three oldest boys. That's Gibson in the back, Ethan and AJ.

Gwen loves to hang out with baby Grady

The kids recieved their comforters that I'd ordered for them a few days ago. After they got up from naps, they wanted to be wrapped up, so I did. They then decided that these were their "shells" and "homes" and they sat there for a long time, eating cheese sticks and occasionally poking their heads out to watch TV.

and.... a picture of my tummy. I've never posted one before and I'm not particularly pleased to post this one, but people are asking so I feel rather obligated. I'm not great at self-portraiture. The camera was propped up on a roll of toilet paper :)