the homepage of gregory and ann kline

Friday, May 30, 2008

Energy Conservation

Tomorrow I have a day packed full of activities from sunup until past midnight. At some point early in the morning (I don't remember when which could be a problem) our annual neighborhood yard sale begins. We have been busy trying to get lots of stuff ready for that. All week we have been de-cluttering our house of all those little things we have accumulated and really have no need for. Surprisingly, it isn't that much stuff. We were able to go through some of the stuff with the kids around. We were left to go through the majority of the stuff while they were sleeping. That didn't give us much time. It didn't help that this week in the evenings we were watching hockey and the season finale of Lost - both of which took precedence over getting ready for a yard sale. Today I have been trying to conserve most of my energy so I will be ready for tomorrow. This meant that I didn't take any time to do silly things like play with sidewalk chalk.

(I call this piece "Orbital Yoga". Can you guess why?)

So maybe it wasn't all work and no play around here lately. While the kids were napping this afternoon I got things ready for a little water fun. After nap we all got into swimsuits and headed out in the yard. At first Marcus and Will were just completely perplexed at the odd object in the yard.

I picked them up and put them in. They weren't sure what to do so they just stood there and looked at their feet.

Before long they tried to do some stomping. Then they got brave enough to put their hands in the water and use them to splash.

Will thought splashing in the water was the funniest thing EVER!! He would splash and pop back up, throw his head back, and let out a huge laugh.

Eventually one of the kids lost his balance and sat down. Then the other kid followed suit and the kicking with the legs began.

The pooch is usually the first to get in the water but even she thought the splashing was a bit too much.

Last summer we tried to convince Marcus that it would be really cool to slide down his sliding board into the pool. He did it once and completely freaked out. Today he wouldn't stop.

After lots of swimming, Marcus decided to play with the pooch. He is still building up his throwing arm so instead of throwing the dog toy really far, he just runs to the far side of the yard with it and then throws. The pooch finds this highly enjoyable.

All that playing sure is tiring though.

Throw it again please?


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Play Date

There was an unfortunate accident today while Marcus and Will's friend Lola was visiting. Lola fell on the patio and got a boo boo. Fear not. Brave Marcus stepped in to assess the situation.

After thinking through the problem, and having some juice, the diagnosis was that Lola needed a band-aid. And Marcus needed one too.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Boys will be Boys

There are some things that I knew would just come with raising two boys. Such as, I can always count on the fact that when we go outside to play, within two minutes, one or both of them will find some dirt and sit in it.

It is also pretty much a guarantee that rocks will be collected and played with, and even loaded into the "trunk" of their riding toy and transported around the yard.

But then there are times when boys do things and I am totally clueless what in the world is running through their little heads.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Will made a complete and total liar out of me. Yesterday we were picnicking with my family and I told them all about how he hates ice cream. The story was repeated yet again when my mom started handing out little ice cream cones. Marcus was eating one and Will was acting ever so jealous. In order to stop his insane jealousy over that which he did not have, a scooped a little bit onto the end of a plastic knife and braced myself for his cries when he realized what it was I was putting in his mouth. (Just to clarify, I was expecting him to cry about the ice cream, not about the knife I put in his mouth.) Thanks to his cheers over the fabulous ice cream, my family found every right to mock me.

I guess I made a bit of a gross overstatement when I said that Will hates ice cream. What I really meant was that he hates all gourmet ice cream that requires us to drive to the other side of the city to get and has an approximate cost of $5 per scoop. However, he totally adores store brand, low fat plain vanilla ice cream served on the tip of a plastic knife that comes with a price tag of roughly $2.99 per pint.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Scream for Ice Cream!

I scream! You scream! We all scream for ice cream!! We don't all do the screaming for the same reason though, apparently.

I decided to surprise Greg with a little outing tonight. I didn't tell him where we were going, just that our family was headed out and it was going to be fun for everyone. It ended up being fun for most of us. We headed out to The Waterfront (one of those spiffy, outdoor shopping areas with lots of atmosphere). I don't think Greg has been there since pre-kid days and a lot of the stores have changed. He had no idea that there was a Cold Stone Creamery there, which of course helped me surprise him. (FYI - The best thing to do after feeling great about losing 6 lbs is to go out for ice cream.)

We all ordered up our ice cream and were ready to dig in. Yummy! At least that was the general reaction. It was not, however, the unanimous reaction. Turns out Will doesn't like ice cream. I am sure it wasn't the flavor - we fed him three different ones - but more the coldness of it. As far as ice cream goes, it wasn't even that cold. He had Rita's Italian Ice before and didn't seem to mind that. For a kid who would chug an entire gallon of milk in one sitting if given the chance, I was quite surprised at his complete revulsion to ice cream. It was kinda funny seeing him flip out when it crossed his lips. Being the mean mom that I am, even though he didn't seem to like it I made him eat a couple more bites. I thought maybe once he realized that it was just cold, yet still quite wonderfully delicious, he would change his mine. Instead it was torture. The rest of us shoveled the stuff in. The only other bite he got was when he was jumping up and down in his stroller and not listening. I just might have happened to feed him one more bite for punishment. Forget timeout for misbehavior! We do ice cream in this house!


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Vying for Attention

I get it. People like attention. I LOVE attention. I don't even want to get into all the [now] mortifying times that I have done really stupid things to get people's attention. I even knew that I was being annoying most of the time, but now that the tables are turned, I realize how annoying vying for attention from someone can be to the person you are trying to get the attention from.

I knew that having two kids would result in some competition. There has been some level of competition since the beginning of this two kid era so there is nothing new in this situation. However, I did say that I was going to try to post more so this just happens to be the subject of today's post.

And to get things straight, it isn't just my kids that are hungry for being the center of my attention. The pooch is in on it too. I can't blame her. For the first seven years of her life she pretty much had all of my attention.

After I get the kids up in the morning, it is the pooch who tries to steer my attention in her direction first. I am trying to get two kids into their seats at the table and despite the fact that she was just outside to do her business, she stands by the back door, stares at me and screams, "HEY MOM!! I NEED TO GO OUT NOW!!" (Of course all of this is communicated telepathically and in dog language but I get it because I am telepathic and I speak dog.) Every single morning I tell her, "You will just have to wait to go outside because I am busy right now." (She knows English and totally gets what I am saying.) Sometime during the 20 seconds it takes me to get two kids strapped into their chairs she loses interest in wanting my attention... err... going outside... and sulks away and hides the majority of the rest of the morning in an attempt to punish me for not catering to her needs immediately.

Then I am pretty much left to deal with sibling rivalry among my human children the rest of the day.

Will brings me a book to read. Then Marcus insists that I read his book. I do my best to get two kids on my lap and alternately read one page from each of their books until I am done. Marcus gets very irritated at this because I should be reading HIS book and HIS book alone and spends most of the time trying to push Will off my lap while grunting and pointing at his book. Will decides reading a book really isn't worth all the trouble so he leaves to find something else to do. Marcus realizes that he can have all my attention to himself but really all he wanted anyway was for me not to have all my attention on his brother so he takes his book and finds something else to do.

I pick up one kid, the other one wants up.

I give one kid a drink, the other one wants one.

I show the slightest bit of interest in what Will is involved in. Marcus yells to me from across the room, "Help!!" while pointing around aimlessly for something that he might possibly need help with.

I show the slightest bit of interest in what Marcus is involved in. Will yells to me from across the room, "Away! Away!" while flashing a little piece of fuzz he found on the carpet to me and waits for me to encourage him to throw it away.

I tickle one kid, the other kid tackles his brother, drags him out of the way, and comes in for some tickles.

A grand total of once a week Greg and I try to watch a television show in the evening while the kids are playing. It is a show recorded on our DVR so there is always the option of rewinding and pausing or just stopping the thing if the kids really do need our attention. Like magic, as soon as my eyes are focused on that TV, over comes the kids waving books in my face chanting, "BOOK! BOOK! BOOK!" Due the high volume level produced by two small children, we usually keep the closed captioning on during our TV viewing so we don't have to attempt to drown out the kid volume with excessive TV volume. A few weeks ago I attempted to trick Marcus into thinking that I was reading his book by reading the closed captioning on the screen in hopes that I could still follow the storyline. Greg was amused. Marcus was mad. I guess I forgot that after reading the same book to Marcus approximately 800 times a week he probably knows what words I am supposed to be saying.

The good side of all this is for all of my friends and family. It doesn't look like I will be actively seeking out your attention and behaving in my irritating and suffocating fashion anytime soon. I am getting plenty of attention these days from a couple of cute kids and one big furry dog.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Remember when?

Remember when I used to post about my kids and all the cute little things that they were doing mainly so I could go back and read it some day and remember myself? I really need to start doing that again. I don't get around to posting something and then something new happens and then I think I better post that but I'll have to allow extra time because I will have to talk about two things so I don't do it and then a third thing happens and I realize if I don't have time to write about that one along with the other two I am going to eventually have to post a giant run on sentence like this one to try to fit everything in.

Let us begin.

There are times when I just look at him now and realize that those days of being my little baby are long gone and it won't be that much longer before toddlerhood is behind us too. Two months ago I made a list of all the words that he knew out of curiosity. I couldn't even possibly make a list now because everyday he is saying more and more words and it is impossible to count them all. His mind is thinking so fast that his language frequently involves him just interrupting himself with words on top of words. If he doesn't know a word for something he says, "What's this?" Sure enough, next time he sees that object he knows what it is called.

He LOVES pointing at things and telling you who they belong to. I am sure this comes from us constantly saying, "You can't have that. It's Mommy's." Like the wise young man that he is, he pretty much realizes that everything around here is mine so there is lots of pointing and saying "Mommy" around here.

Last week we were visiting with my parents and my mom got out a whiffle ball bat and a ball. She and I decided to show Marcus how to use it. I helped Marcus hold the bat and my mom tossed the ball. We swung the bat and ball bounced off the bat and we all cheered. Marcus decided he didn't need our help anymore. He took the bat and held it at one end with one hand while the other end rested on the ground. With his free hand he threw the ball at the bat. And of course he cheered if the ball bounced off the bat. You show that kid something one time and he TOTALLY gets it!

Today we were playing with nesting blocks, something we haven't played with too often. It was great sitting there watching Marcus with them, figuring out exactly how to get all of them nested together. It was like watching him learn before my own eyes.

Marcus is totally into kisses. When Greg gets home from work he races Greg over to me to try to kiss me before Greg gets a chance. He has been handing out lots of random kisses too - to Greg, Will, the dog, the top of the gallon milk jug. While visiting my parents the other day, Marcus ran over to my dad and started making kissy faces at him. I told my dad that Marcus wanted to kiss him. After Marcus planted one on his cheek, my perpetually straight faced, dad who tries his best not to get emotional about anything was grinning from ear to ear.

He is 17 months now. How did that happen? I realized the other day that he has been home for 6 months now. I knew there was a reason that I could barely believe life without him in this house. From day 1, he has always been quite the babbler. He will go on and on in these animated monologues full of gibberish. All of a sudden all that gibberish has turned into words. I am not even sure I can count how many words he has now but I am thinking it won't be too long before he catches up with Marcus. These are his words off the top of my head.
Pay (for our dog)
Vroom (meaning car)
No (which is entirely overused in my opinion)
Excuse Me
(and the best word of all) Mommy
There are lots of other words that he will say if you say them first and he is repeating you. He does say daddy but usually only when I prompt him.

Will has been doing lots of playing with Marcus lately. Up until a few weeks ago there were some interactions that didn't just involve him stealing something from Marcus. Now they play together all the time. They chase each other and make each other laugh and wrestle (which I think is going to need to come to a stop soon) and hide from each other and find each other. Oh, and of course they still fight with each other but for the most part they do get along. Will does still have such a great laugh and spends a lot of time smiling.

The only downside right now is that Will is 17 months. Thankfully, only a few more months to go for him to stop driving me completely insane some days. There are lots of whining and temper tantrums. He flashed my sister one of those devilish grins the other day and she said that, oddly, he looked exactly like his rather mischievous Uncle Willie (my brother). One of Will's favorite past times is making sure that you are watching him while he smiles that ornery smile at you and does something he knows he is going to get in trouble for. (My brother is 33 and STILL does this so maybe the fact that Will is 17 months has nothing to do with this.) I do my best (although sometimes my best just plain sucks) to stay patient when he keeps repeating the same bad behavior over and over again despite my repeated attempts to get him to learn the rules. We started timeout for Marcus officially at 17 months so we are introducing Will to it now too. We have been putting him in the timeout chair sometimes over the past few weeks when he throws temper tantrums just so he isn't screaming in our faces or standing under our feet. Sometimes now he sits in the timeout chair on his own and pretends to cry which is just plain funny. Today I started to yell at him for doing something he had just been told not to do. He ran over and hugged me. Yeah, he already knows where my soft spot is.

The Pooch:
The pooch is finally beginning to rejoin our family. It isn't all the time yet but she has realized that just because there are two little kids running around and one of them (Will) loves her so much that he has to lay on her constantly, it doesn't mean that the only place for her to be is asleep on her bed.

He is busy at work as usual. He has also been pretty busy around the house. We are moving. We don't really know where to yet but it will likely be somewhere a little closer to my parents' and sister. Sometimes I am really excited but other times, not so much. Moving is just such a big deal and we have yet to find a house that really blows us away. Also, I really do love this house. The yard is great. The neighborhood is great. The schools are great. The proximity to everything (apart from our family) is great. I also know that although we could definitely stay in this house forever, a little more space would be a bonus for sure. I'm not sure really when our house will be on the market. Our real estate agent came over to talk to us today and suggest a few things that we might want to consider doing before it gets listed. Once that is all taken care of, I guess the big sign will go out in our front yard.

I have been getting up at 5:15 every morning to work out. You don't have to tell me how insane this is. I already know. You can tell me how fabulous I look though since I have lost 6 lbs. Sure, 5 of those pounds were ones that I have gained over the winter but you don't have to mention that part. These past few days, the only other thing I have been doing in my free time (yes, I really do have some) is watching Grey's Anatomy. I never watched this show. I started watching season 1 on Saturday. By Monday I was done with season 1 and an episode into season 2. I have no idea what the appeal is really but I must say, I certainly don't mind the scenes with Patrick Dempsey in them at all. (How did I miss how hot that guy is all this time??) In conclusion, I also am going to attempt to post more often in hopes to avoid these massively long posts. (And no Amanda, my keyboard didn't break as a result of my marathon blog entries.) For now, I am outta here. My kids are napping and I have some Grey's Anatomy to watch.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Then and Now

Last night we were all watching some old videos of Marcus. It was quite hilarious, just because I really can't believe that he was ever a baby. Did he ever just sit around with really no control of his arms and legs? Well, kinda. He never was and still never is one to just sit around but he most certainly had very little control of his limbs at one time. Some things never change. Like his love of jumping.

Marcus at 5 1/2 months, a few days after we first met him:

Marcus last week:


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Left, Left, Left Right Left

Now I have really gone and done it. I got this bright idea in my head that I should sign up for Pittsburgh Adventure Boot Camp. Bright and early this morning I got my name on the roster. Oddly, I am very excited about getting up five days a week to start working out at 5:30 in the morning. From what little I have heard, it is a really fun program. Every weekday for four weeks a different workout will take place for an hour. I'll be able to make it home just in time for Greg to leave for work. I don't quite know yet how I am going to get showered for the day but really, bathing is just a minor detail.

The Boot Camp doesn't start for a few more weeks but I am going to attempt to start my workout tomorrow. I need to get used to getting my heart pumping and get used to getting up before the sun again. My goal is to be feeling pretty good about the way I look by the time I hit the beach for summer vacation this year.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Neverending Adoption Stuff

Woohoo! My second Mother's Day! What a strange weekend it was for me. I was kind of emotionally weirded out. Last year, being my first Mother's Day and all, I was just all excited and thinking that finally I was a mom and got my day. This year I kept thinking about Marcus and Will's birthmoms. It is almost like I finally got the whole reasoning behind open adoptions. I look at my boys and see how amazing they are and think all the time how I hope their birthmoms know how much they are loved. The truth is though, they don't know. They never will know. They made the decision on a giant leap of faith that their children would have a better life than what they could provide for them but they will never know. That just breaks my heart.

We spent Mother's Day at home and invited over Greg's parents. We had a yummy dinner of tamales! (There are a mere 66 of them left!) It was just a great time getting to hang out. Greg's parents played a lot with the kids. Greg did the dishes. I got the job of making sure the couch didn't get cold.

Today it was back to life as usual. Things have been a bit stressed around here. Marcus is just insane. I am not really sure how else to put it. He is constantly running, jumping, talking, grunting, changing direction, up, down, spinning, throwing, waving, falling down, getting up, dancing, squatting, and stomping. Will, who is generally the one to just stand by and just watch this insanity, takes time out from his observance to whine and throw temper tantrums. I recall when Marcus was Will's age that he went through the same thing but that still doesn't really help me deal with it any better. This week I decided to be a bit firmer of a parent. I was going to stop with all the threats of time out and just put Marcus in time out. (Can "driving mommy crazy" be a reason to put a kid in time out?) I also decided that with both my kids, I was done getting mad. I was going to be calm, firm, and let them know that I was in control. All in all, the day went better than a few of the days last week. Marcus was still insane but he soon got the message - after sitting in time out - that if he didn't listen that there were going to be some real consequences. Will only threw one major temper tantrum and this one only involved crying for 10 minutes straight instead of that screaming until he loses his voice stuff.

We went to story time at the library today. We haven't been for a few weeks since the kids were sick for awhile. Marcus and Will tend to be complete angels when they are out in public which is certainly a blessing. (They save all their craziness up to use in the privacy of their own home.) We had a great time during story time. The library was having a book sale going on. I knew it was going to be a bad idea to attempt to go look for some books when I was outnumbered by toddlers but I went anyway. At a point in my life when I was thinking that I must be doing this parenting thing all wrong to have two kids behaving as they have been, I got a glimpse of a mom who was completely out of touch. As soon as we walked into the book sale area, a little girl probably about a year of so older than Marcus, came running at him with a book. She then proceeded to start hitting Marcus on the head with the book. Marcus ran away because, well, wouldn't you? Then the girl decided they were playing a chasing game and kept running after Marcus. Marcus was just trying to get away from her. I was yelling at Marcus to come over by mommy, getting all the attention of every other person who was in there looking at books, making them think I had an out of control kid. Where was this little girl's mom? I have no idea. While I tried to look at a few books, this little girl kept handing books to Marcus and then taking them back off of him. She went to the other side of the bookshelf and pushed the books on that side making a huge stack of books fall out onto the floor next to me. Then she started climbing on a table, fell off the table, and landed on some woman. Turns out the woman was her mom who said, "Where you on the table?" The little girl said no. Then the mom turned back around and the little girl got back on the table. I had to get out of there. As I was headed out with my grand total of 3 books towards the exit, Will decided he had had enough too and started whining. Then Marcus started making some weird sounds and I looked down at him to discover that he somehow managed to get one of his arms out of his shirt and was stuck, half-way clothed. I set Will down so I could fix Marcus's shirt which caused Will to start to throw a temper tantrum. I was so out of there. I practically ran to the elevator. Another lady got on the elevator with two kids. She looked at me. She looked at my kids. Then she said, "Oh! Are you watching these kids for someone?" I said, "No, you narrow-minded half wit! Why don't you start thinking out of the box and begin to realize that families are made in different ways!!" Okay, so I really didn't say that. I said, "No, they're mine," and maybe, just a little bit, had a bit of an insulted tone to my voice. Really, it probably wouldn't have even phased me the least bit if I wasn't stressed out already. (I just want to thank my BFF for suggesting that this woman probably only said that because I look like I am still a teenager and although not at all impossible, most teenagers don't have two little kids. I realize I look young but you don't have to rub it in! Jerk.)

One of the books I managed to get out of there with was a book on Guatemala. It is probably about a 4th or 5th grade reading level but Marcus took a break from his insanity when we got home to sit down with me to look at the pictures. On the first page was picture of a family. Marcus pointed to the man in the family and said, "Dada!" The man was Guatemalan and certainly didn't look anything like Greg. Being the fabulous adoptive parent that I am, I said, "Do you think that is what your birthfather looks like?" Marcus said, "Birthfather." We talked about the book and we turned several more pages. Then suddenly Marcus started jumping up and down and waving his arms in frantic excitement. Then he pointed to a picture of a little girl and started shouting, "Lola!! Lola!! Lola!!" Lola is Marcus's girlfriend that we have play dates with sometimes. Lola was adopted from Guatemala too. About the only thing that Lola has in common with the little girl in that book is the same hair color and ethnicity. I didn't even know that Marcus knew Lola's name.

Finally, we are taking the last step to finish all this adoption stuff. (The adoption stuff never really ends, but hopefully this will be the end of the paperwork part of it.) I called some sort of county office to get the forms that we need to register our adoptions. Marcus and Will are both US Citizens already so as far as I can tell, we don't have to go through the whole re-adoption process. Once everything is filled out and filed, we will be able to get US birth certificates for both kids and we will finally get their names changed. Things got so mixed up with Marcus's name that I am not even sure what his real name is at this point. Then we will just have to go through the process of getting their name changed on every other document we have of theirs. Yay!


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tamale Saturday

I decided to cancel some plans that we had made for today and give myself a treat - five hours in the kitchen while Greg took care of the kids. Sure, I probably could have come up with a better way to treat myself, a way the didn't result in sore feet, back, and neck, but the end result wouldn't have been so yummy. Nor would it have given me such a feeling of pride in the path that my life has taken.

I really don't have much chance to teach my kids about culture in Guatemala. No matter how hard I try, they are going to be Americans. I do want to at least try a little though. Tamales are a traditional food in Guatemala and I figured I would attempt to make them. I used a recipe that I found online and used another website to figure out how to roll up the tamales. (Apparently there are lots of ways to roll a tamale.)

The process didn't start out so well. I was actually planning on making them last week but then had a meat mishap. I tried again yesterday. Although my meat didn't quite shred as nicely as I wished that it would have, I was not about to try yet another time so I pressed on.

The tamale making started yesterday afternoon. I put about 4 lbs of chuck roast into my awesome slow cooker. I added 4 cloves of garlic, some salt, black pepper, 2 Tbsp olive oil, a little chili powder, some ground cayenne pepper, and a few ounces of hot sauce. Then I added enough water to completely cover the meat. I let my slow cooker get to work.

I stored the meat in the fridge and saved all the liquid from the pot. The plan was to start cooking first thing this morning. I discovered this morning that I had to revise my plan. My new plan was to clean up the kitchen that somehow didn't get cleaned up last night so I would have room to start cooking. It was about 8:30 when the tamale making officially began.

I was able to find just about every ingredient that was needed at our local grocery store. The only thing I couldn't find was the corn husks. I ordered those online through amazon.com. I ordered six 4 oz packages of corn husks because that is what the recipe said I would need. I opened two packages and started soaking them in water so they wouldn't be quite so crisp. While they soaked, I got to work on the meat mixture.

I toasted 4 dried ancho chiles in a skillet.

They smelled funny. I let them cool for a couple minutes and then got rid of the stems and seeds. They had a lot of seeds.

I had bought a coffee bean grinder for Greg the other day. I was planning on getting him one for Christmas this coming year but since I needed a way to grind up the chiles, he got a very early present. It works great and within seconds the chiles were pulverized.

In a large skillet I put 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil and 2 Tbsp of flour and let that brown. Then I added in the ancho chile dust. I poured in 1 cup of the beef broth I had saved from the slow cooker and mixed it all together into a paste. Then I put in 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp ground cumin, 2 cloves of minced garlic, some oregano, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp vinegar, and a few shakes of salt and pepper. At last I added the meat. I ended up putting in more beef broth with that because the meat had to simmer for 45 minutes and I didn't want it to dry out.

I thought at first that I might take a little break while that simmered before I started the dough. Glad I didn't. Just as I was finishing up the dough, the meat had simmered to perfection.

The recipe I was following called for lard but I used 3 cups of shortening instead. Using an electric mixer, I whipped that up with 1 Tbsp of salt until it was all nice and fluffy. Then I added in 9 cups of masa harina.

Masa harina is a corn flour. I was able to find this in the authentic foods aisle of our grocery store. (That is the same aisle where I found the dried ancho chiles.) I started to slowly add the reserved beef broth like my recipe told me to, until the dough was the consistency of soft cookie dough. The recipe says to reserve 5 cups of broth, 1 cup of which will be used in the meat mixture. I decided to save all the broth from the slow cooker and I am glad I did. I used every bit of it, way more than the 5 cups that was suggested, between the meat and the dough. The dough took a lot of work to whip up. I don't have much use for a mixer around here so the only mixer I have is a little hand held one. I was a little worried that it wasn't going to quite make it. I also didn't anticipate just how much dough I would end up with and had to upgrade my mixing bowl to this super massive one that is so big I don't even keep it in my kitchen because it takes up so much room. At last, just as the timer for the meat simmering beeped, the dough was complete.

Time for assembly. I drained the water from one group of the corn husks

and tried to figure out what in the world I was doing. It took me a few minutes but finally, I had assembled my first tamale.

The recipe said to use butcher's twine to tie it together but instead I just shredded some of the corn husks and used those. I feel it made my tamales look more authentic. So how do you roll up a tamale? I don't know really. But here is how I did it.

First I laid the corn husk down flat, with the wide end farthest from me. Using a knife I spread some dough down the middle starting at the top, about 2/3 of the way down. I think I probably should have been using a little more dough than what I was at first.

Then I added a little of the meat mixture. This picture shows a lot of meat mixture. After the first couple of tamales, I really cut back on the meat I put in each one. (In the end I still ended up with a lot of dough by the time I ran out of meat.)

Then I folded one long side of the corn husk about 2/3 of the way across.

Then I folded the other long side across the tamale, overlapping the two sides.

After that, I folded up the bottom part of the tamale.

The final step was to tie my little tamale package up to keep all the yummies inside. Then I put each one in the steamer basket.

I had to make sure that they were all standing up so nothing fell out of the ends. They also needed to only be put in one layer, so no stacking tamales on top of tamales. Assembling the tamales seemed to go a lot faster after I got the hang of it and stopped taking so many pictures!

I have a rather large steamer pot. It took me about an hour to roll up enough tamales to fill it up. There were 41 tamales in my first group.

The tamales needed to steam for an hour. While they cooked I took a little break to eat lunch and make lunch for my kids. Then it was back to rolling tamales. The first group was done and I took those out of the pot and let them cool for a little bit on dishes on the dining room table. While they cooled I filled up the steamer for the second round of tamales. I didn't plan it but there ended up being 41 tamales in that pot too, for a grand total of 82 tamales. When the last batch of tamales was steamed to perfection, the clock read 2:30. Not bad! Only 6 hours of cooking today, and I don't even have anything prepared for dinner tonight! I had a lot of dough leftover. I wish I would have had a clue what to do with it because I hate to waste food but ended up throwing it out. I only ended up using about 2.5 packages of the corn husks. Unfortunately I had soaked 4 of the packages and didn't know what the proper way to dry them out again would be so I threw away the extras.

I had a lot of time to think while I was making the tamales. Mostly I wondered when women in Guatemala make tamales, if they listened to Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones like I was doing. As far as I know, making tamales is a family affair. I showed Marcus what I was up to but Will said he didn't want to see. (Remember, he says no to just about any question.) Maybe next time I make them I will somehow find a way that Marcus and Will could at least think they are helping. I didn't want to do all the work myself so I told Greg that if he wanted to help, I had just the job for him.

By the way, the tamales are really yummy! We are down to a mere 80 tamales now because Greg and I thought we better sample them. I think I have only had tamales twice, once at a Mexican restaurant and once in Guatemala. Despite all the time and effort I was willing to put into them, I didn't really enjoy the tamales I ate before all that much. Maybe it was just because I actually made them myself, but these tamales are great! It is fortunate too since it looks like we will be eating nothing but tamales for the next few weeks unless I clear out some space in my freezer.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Conversation with a Two Year Old

One might think that just because Marcus's language is limited to less than 200 words and what he does have to say comes out in one or two word combinations, that there really wouldn't be too much that he could communicate. However, I had this whole conversation with him today.

Marcus: Potty.
Me: You have to go potty?
Marcus: No. Potty.
Me: You already went potty?
Marcus: [points to the back of his pants] Potty.
Me: Did you go potty in your pants?
Marcus: No. Cracker.

Hey, I never said what we talk about makes any sense!


Fat and Rich

This morning we were headed off to the doctor so Will could get a recheck. During his last appointment, our doctor was concerned with his lack of weight gain. The main issue being that my kid just doesn't eat. Drinking milk - he LOVES that. Eating is like an annoying thing that we try to get him to do. Not much has changed in that aspect but there have certainly been some changes in what he consumes. Our doctor suggested giving him no more than 20 oz of milk a day and not allowing him to drink during meals. I kept waiting and waiting for him to adjust to the realization that his sippy cup was not bottomless. It has been 6 weeks on this new diet and still he hasn't figured out that once his cup is empty, he doesn't get any more. As far as his consumption of food, that really didn't increase either at first. Then he got a cold and didn't eat for about two weeks. (I really wish I could survive on eating a single cracker during the course of a day.) About two weeks ago he must have been feeling better because he turned into an eating machine. When he got on the scale today, his weight was up 18 oz from what it was 6 months ago. The doctor was satisfied.

There have been a lot of cranky people in this house the past couple of days. The rainy weather was keeping us from the great outdoors. The kids were crazy, not listening, picking on each other, bending every rule, and just generally making me insane. After the doctor appointment, I was not looking forward to coming back to our house for more of the same. I thought I would stop by the office where a ex-coworker of mine worked. He wasn't there. I was really looking forward to talking to an adult and hearing the latest gossip around the business so I headed to another office run by my old company. There was only one guy there. I was able to get the rundown about what has been going on while the kids played with rocks and dirt in the empty parking lot. Interviews took place yesterday to hopefully fill my old position. I am curious to see who gets the job. Then it was time for the real gossip to be disclosed. Apparently the talk around the office these days is me. No idea even how this rumor came about, but the word on the street is that Greg is super successful, pulling in an income that is well above reality. Talk about random! In general, I find gossip about me incredibly amusing. (Well, not that time in high school there was a rumor about me making out with some loser guy behind a fire hall at a party which was certainly not the least bit true!) I must say, this rumor did not disappoint. I just feel so special that people are talking about my husband and his massive amounts of success. I told my ex-coworker that I would appreciate it if he would help inflate Greg's income even more.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Are they brothers?

We have been spending just about every available minute outside these past few days - or at least that is Marcus's intention. From the moment he gets out of bed until the moment he goes back to bed, if he is not outside he is pointing outside and saying, "Outside!"

On Sunday we headed to a double birthday party. Our friend Melissa's son Grant was turning 2 and Sophia was turning 1. Sophia just came home from Guatemala around Easter and we hadn't got a chance to meet her yet. What a little cutie! We had a great time eating cookies and cupcakes and watching Marcus run in circles. While Marcus did laps, I watched while chatting with a friend of mine for quite a bit. Will was sitting on a riding toy beside me, just hanging out like usual. He is so laidback sometimes that I am afraid I am going to forget about him!

Monday we headed off to a nearby park in the morning. The playground equipment there is made for much bigger kids. We took a couple balls with us though and the kids ran around the basketball courts playing. After their afternoon nap we headed out to the backyard as was demanded by Marcus.

Yesterday we went to visit my parents during the day. My dad headed off to the dentist and my mom, the kids, and I went to a park not to far from their house. There was lots of room there to run and lots of swings and slides. Marcus has currently decided that he is terrified of swings so he was having none of that. Will got on the swings and just laughed and laughed. Will even went down a slide all by himself! We were the only ones in the park for a little bit but then another grandmother showed up with her grandson. Her grandson was only about 2 months younger than Marcus. She and I started talking and it was then that I finally got the question that all the adoption articles said that I would get. "Are they brothers?" So I gave her the only answer that made sense. "Yes." Who knows if her reason to ask had anything to do with the kids being so close in age and not looking anything alike, but it didn't really matter why she was asking. The answer would have been the same. Marcus and Will have the same parents so that makes them brothers. The woman and I continued talking and I soon discovered that her daughter (who was the mother of the boy she was at the park with) was a friend of mine in high school! We were decently good friends, roomed on a band trip once and used to go bowling with some other people all the time. She graduated a year ahead of me and I haven't heard from her since, but there I was hanging out with her mom and son.

After we left the park, we went back to my parents for lunch. Then we played in the yard before taking a little walk. When we got back to our house we had dinner and then were back outside again. As much as I love the great outdoors, I was happy to sit on the couch INSIDE for a bit last night after the kids were in bed.

The language skills of my kids has been cracking me up. I am continually amazed at how much Marcus is able to communicate with his limited vocabulary. Will's favorite thing (apart from repeating "oh no" over and over and over and saying "hi" and "bye-bye" to everyone) is answering yes and no questions. He almost always answers them with answer that is opposite from what I would expect. This is a typical conversation with him.

Me: Did you have fun at the party yesterday?
Will: No.
Me: Did you have fun at the park?
Will: No.
Me: Do you want to go there again sometime?
Will: No.
Me: Do you want to go to timeout?
Will: Yes.
Me: You are sure you want to sit in timeout?
Will: Yes.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Truth

Well, no arguing that!


Friday, May 02, 2008


We have been busy around here! Today was the first day this week we didn't have anything planned, unless you count cleaning the house and doing laundry as plans. We had our friends Amanda and Kevin over for dinner last weekend and they brought their little girl Eleni. My mom visited on Tuesday. Then we had a playdate on Wednesday with Cara, Max, and Andy. Then yesterday we were off to visit with Carey and her daughter Lola. Seriously I could just eat Lola up she is so darn cute!

Apparently I am not the only one that thinks Lola is adorable. Marcus is rather smitten with her too. It is totally obvious Lola and Marcus have a crush on each other. Lola steals toys from Marcus and Marcus pushes Lola. What clearer sign of true love could there be? Well, maybe this:

(Where the two lovebirds heard that you are supposed to close your eyes when you kiss is beyond me.)

Yesterday afternoon, after we returned from our playdate, Marcus and Will got busy doing what the do almost every day. Since they both tend to get in trouble for throwing books off the shelf, they have devised this evil plan to get all the books onto the floor and be commended on being nice in the process. Marcus takes the books off the shelf one by one and "shares" them with Will.

The end result looks like this:

We finished off our fun Thursday with some family hat time.