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Friday, August 28, 2009

Couple of Cute Things

I read a book to the kids today about best friends. I asked Marcus, "Is Will your best friend?" He said, "No, Mommy is!" Awww. I asked Will who his best friend was. Will responded, "Will." I say it is always important to be your own best friend.

Greg and I were goofing around with the kids last night. Being the complete lady and fabulous role model that I am, I burped really loud. Will yelled, "Yeah! High fives, Mommy!" and made me give him five for my impressive burp. Greg is so proud of his son. I am convinced Will is going to be in a frat in a few years.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Last weekend was the weekend of picnics and eating outside. We attended a cookout on Saturday that was just for families who have adopted from Guatemala. A blogging buddy of mine who I will not point fingers at (only links) secured an invitation for us and then she conveniently didn't show up. (Seriously though, I hope everything is okay with her since I haven't heard from her.) We didn't know the host except through Facebook and it turns out that most of the guests also just knew each other through Facebook as well. There were five families there with a total of seven children all adopted from Guatemala. It was incredible to see all those kids together. I felt like I was in this exclusive club: Guatemala Families Only! It was exciting and sad as well, to know that there are so many children just like ours that are still in Guatemala waiting for their adoptions to be finalized and so many more children who won't have the opportunity to be adopted due to politics. We had a great time at the picnic and ended up staying longer than I anticipated. We got to catch up with our friends Jennifer and Jason and their daughter Karla who I hadn't seen for a while.

Sunday we had a cookout at our house. It was an impromptu kind of thing that worked out nicely. My sister brought her puppy Ranger over to play with Maya. They had met on the Fourth of July but Ranger was still very small and when Maya tried to play with him, he got flattened. Ranger was still smaller than Maya but ready to hold his own. I spent most of the picnic watching the two pups play together.

And after that busy weekend, there was nothing more I wanted to do than kick back and relax with my girl.


Friday, August 21, 2009



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Medical Professionals

This week we added two new medical professionals to our list of... hmm... not sure what list that would be. But the point is, our family has two new doctors. This is something that I meant to do back about a year ago when we moved out of Pittsburgh but I never did. So instead, for this past year I have been driving myself and my kids way too far to see people in the medical profession when I could have been visiting very qualified individuals just a few miles away.

First up, Will was overdue for his 30 month checkup. (He is currently 32 months.) I shunned any recommendations and instead decided to go with the division of our previous pediatrician that was closest to us. The office has totally different doctors though so I really had no idea what I was getting into. All I can say is, what an awesome office and doctor. Every wall of the office was covered with fun kid friendly murals. They had separate waiting rooms for sick kids and well kids. I had heard that there were places like that but thought it was just a myth. The staff was all so friendly and just great. Typically taking Will to the doctor involves him screaming from the minute we get there until the minute we leave. He never even let out a whimper. Instead, his new doctor had him belly laughing. The doctor even stroked my ego by telling me how smart Will is when I was answering his developmental questions. Will did need to get a shot but the nurse had him so distracted that all he said was, "Ow ow!" Then he showed off his band-aid all day long.

Medically, Will is just fine. I think the word the doctor used was "perfect". He is 36.5 inches tall (50th percentile) and weighs 29 lbs (25th percentile). The doctor was quite amazed at how tall he is since typically Guatemalan kids come in closer to the 25th percentile for height. I was a bit concerned about his weight (up only 3 lbs in 8 months) and the fact that every single meal is a horrendous struggle. The doctor didn't seem too concerned but suggested that we add a Pediasure a day to his diet so at least we know he is getting the nutrients that he needs.

Today it was time to head off to a new dentist for me. I had no good leads since hardly any offices around here take the dental insurance that we have. I went out on a limb and picked an office blindly off our insurance company's website. I went in pretty skeptical. Until I was 23-ish, I went to the same dentist who was a family friend. Going to the dentist was actually fun. (I got out of school for some time and my mom usually treated us to Pizza Hut afterward!) He retired though. I started going to a dentist recommended by a (ex)friend in Pittsburgh. I didn't know it until my first visit, but that dentist frequently played golf with my previous dentist and instantly it was like the new dentist was a family friend as well. The drive was just silly to make for me, even biannually, particularly since I have never had any issues with my teeth.

So, off to a new dentist today. He was awesome. The dental hygienist and I chatted it up, as much as I could chat while she had her fingers in my mouth. The dentist took to my sense of humor right away. I ended up spending more time there than I had planned since one of my only two cavities that I have had gotten old and needed replaced. Normally he would have had me come back but he had an opening so I just stayed, he numbed me up, and 20 minutes later I was out the door.

Score: 2 for 2 for medical professionals this week! Go team!

(I went to the fair again today shortly after my dentist appointment. I was eating lunch and somehow forgot that half my face was numb. All was well though. Then I took a drink of some orange pop (or orange soda for all of you who don't live in this part of the world). Still all was fine. Somehow when I went to swallow though the pressure in my mouth changed and my numbed lips just couldn't stay together. Orange pop when shooting out of my mouth, all over my lap, and all over the table. It was a proud moment.)


Monday, August 17, 2009

A Couple Things

Here's a couple things worth mentioning but not worthy of their own post:

- I made tomato sauce from some garden tomatoes. It is super yummy. I figured I would try to do some canning, something I have never done before. I didn't have a ton of sauce but gave it a try. I think I did it okay but I am really paranoid that I am going to kill my whole family.

- Maya attended her first concert. We took the whole family up to Hartwood Acres last week to see Son Volt. Greg knows the band's music. I do not. It was a fabulous evening to be hanging out with the family under the open sky.

- We missed out on making it to our pool one day last week so we got out our little wading pool. The kids had a blast riding the sliding board into the pool repeatedly. It was quite a hot day. Maya was more than happy to be watered. After swimming the kids took off their swimsuits and decided that before they got dressed, they needed to dry Maya off. It was quite a sight seeing those two pale bummed boys toweling off the pup.

- We've been using an electric collar to train Maya for about two weeks now. Really the only issue we have been having is that she is just too darn friendly. As soon as she sees our neighbors, she takes off to greet them. The majority of the neighbors are dog people and don't really care, but we care. The collar hasn't really fixed this situation yet but at least now she will go and get a little love from the neighbors and then come back instead of hanging out and making us drag her back. It is really quite amazing how far she has come in such a short time. She now comes immediately when called (unless she needs some neighbor love first), sits at lightening speed when commanded, and drops her stick immediately when bringing it to us to play fetch.

- I made CDs for my kids to listen to when they fall asleep that have some soft and slow songs by some of my favorite artists on them. The other day the TV was on and this was a little snippet about Dave Matthews and they showed him playing a couple measures of one of his songs live. Will ran and got his guitar. Marcus started yelling, "That Marcus's music!! That Marcus's music!!" It took me a minute to figure out what he was talking about but indeed, Marcus realized through just a few seconds that played of the song that the song is the first one on his CD.

- Greg and I had a hot date the other night... to the Washington County Fair. I have to say that was the first time I ever went on a date that included a hay ride and sheep. The Clarks were playing at the fair so we got a sitter and headed out to hear them play. We both had a great time. They mostly played things from their newest album, Restless Days. The set list was also heavy with songs from Let it Go and Fast Moving Cars. It was recently discovered that Scott Blasey, the lead singer, is married to a woman who grew up in my neighborhood. He and his family have been spotted swimming at the pool we belong to. I have yet to see him there though.

- Greg got Will up from his nap on Sunday and Greg was laughing really hard. I peeked in to see what was going on but couldn't really see much. Greg asked, "What happened to your shirt?" Will responded with lots of hand gestures in his most befuddled voice, "I don't know!" Will came out of his room thoroughly confused by how he could have gotten into this situation.

- The kids' new Power Wheels has been fixed. It now has power again. I think we are the only family in town that has a Power Wheels that gets 2 miles to the gallon.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Go Steelers

Last night was the first Steelers pre-season game. Greg wasn't all that excited about watching it but I knew that my boy Will was going to be over the moon about the game. I dressed him in his Steelers shirt yesterday. As he jumped up and down with excitement about the fact that the Steelers symbol was on his shirt, I told him I had some good news and some bad news. The good news was that last night the Steelers would be on TV. The bad news was that he would be in bed and miss it. I made sure the DVR was set up to record it though.

I wish I had had my camera out when I first fired up that game onto the television this afternoon. He was so excited that he just started screaming out all these gibberish sounds with the words "Steelers" and "football" mixed in there. Then he sat down to watch and I did get this little video which really doesn't do his enthusiasm justice.

P.S. Will is also quite a fan of Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. I am sure that has nothing to do with me obsessively listening to the band's music. I just got Will a CD player for his room and every night and naptime he asks me repeatedly to put the mixed CD I made for him on that has his favorite RCPM song on it - Green and Dumb. When Will isn't talking football, he is singing, "Baby, baby. I can call you baby." Will is awesome.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Out of Steam

Saturday we went with my parents to some sort of steam engine show where they had all kinds of tractors, old cars, old machinery, construction equipment, and steam engines. As I stood around and watched people demonstrate the construction equipment, I just kept thinking that I should be getting paid. (I worked for the Department of Transportation before becoming a Mom.) We ate some good chicken. The kids got to try their hands at some of the equipment too.

There were lots of crafts for sale as well as random stuff. Although we weren't looking to buy anything, we spotted a Power Wheels truck that was only $5. The man selling it said it didn't work, that maybe it would work with a new battery but he didn't know. We figured for $5, it really didn't matter if it worked or not.

Turns out it worked just fine. Both kids loved riding it down the hill in the yard.

Getting it to go uphill was a little harder. Luckily we had a mule around to do the job.

Really, who needs battery power when you have toddler power?

I have a feeling the kids are going to show these pictures to their kids and say things like, "You kids have it so good with your flying cars. We didn't have such fancy things when we were little. When we were kids we were so poor we couldn't even afford a battery for our Power Wheels. We had to use our legs to make it move!"


Friday, August 07, 2009

Zoo times Deux

(I'm not going to consider this entry overdue even though the events contained within this entry occurred on Tuesday, but that was still this week so I think that counts as being in due time.)

On Tuesday this week, we spent the day at the zoo. Two zoos actually. First up was Olgebay Good Zoo in Wheeling. We were there earlier this summer and didn't get to hit up the whole thing. So we went back for round two. I still don't think that we hit up the whole thing. It isn't a very big zoo but there are lots of distractions... like train layouts and hungry stomachs and a train ride. The kids and I went to the zoo with my mom, niece, and nephew.

We got to see an ostrich scare away a groundhog that was eating her food

and I got to have a lorikeet sit on my arm.

We came home and the kids took a nap. We had some dinner then went to pick Greg up at work so we could head to the zoo member night at The Pittsburgh Zoo. We decided to try to avoid the crowd by walking the zoo backwards. It worked out great but we still ran out of time to ride the train. Will had a meltdown about halfway through which was likely a result of too much fun in one day and not eating his dinner. A little bit of popcorn and a ride in the stroller, ten minutes later he was ready to smile with the gorillas.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Garden Lasagna - Overdue Post Part 4

I have way more zucchini than I know what to do with. I currently have 7 of them on my counter. We have eaten at least 6 others. We ate one tonight and used this recipe. I highly recommend it. We have had lots of grilled zucchini recently and it is looking like I will have to find even more ways to slip zucchini into meals over the next couple weeks. Cara made a delicious looking zucchini lasagna as shown here and I decided to adapt that recipe to make my own Garden Lasagna... which I did at some point last week and I just got around to posting about it now.

First I gathered all the ingredients. I ended up making two big lasagnas and freezing one so not quite all the ingredients are shown here.

For each lasagna I used 2 (garden) tomatoes, 1 can of tomato paste, several (garden) sweet onions, 2 cloves garlic, lots of Italian spices that I neither measured out or photographed, a large container of cottage cheese, a whole bunch of mozzarella cheese, 6 oven-ready lasagna noodles, a bit of olive oil, and a fairly decent amount of (garden) spinach.

I had harvested the spinach a couple weeks ago, cooked that up, and froze it so it would be ready for this recipe. Step one, defrost spinach.

Then I started the sauce. I roughly chopped up the yummy tomatoes and sliced the onions. I stuck that in a pot with the tomato paste, the garlic, the seasonings, and a little olive oil. I let that simmer for a bit while I got to work on the cheese.

The block of mozzarella cheese was shredded and put aside. I put the cottage cheese in my food processor along with the defrosted spinach and whipped it up so it looked like this.

Greg hates spinach and cottage cheese too but I never even mentioned it and he didn't suspect what was in there. You couldn't really taste the spinach it which I am sure Greg enjoyed but it packed some more veggie/healthy goodness into the meal.

The sauce was cooking up nicely by this time.

I sliced my zucchini lengthwise to make them into "noodles". I put a little of the sauce down in the bottom of my dish. Then a layer of zucchini. My zucchini was a bit curved so I couldn't just make neat little rows.

It was about this time that I realized I was planning to put ground turkey in my sauce but I had completely forgot to even pull any out of the freezer and I was getting pretty tired of chopping and mixing and assembling so I wasn't about to go to the trouble of making non-vegetarian lasagna. Instead, I kept going and I layered on some of the cottage cheese and spinach mixture.

I sprinkled on some mozzarella, placed 3 of the noodles on top of that, and started over with the layers beginning with the sauce. I finished up with some more sauce and mozzarella. I cooked it at 350 for some amount of time I don't remember now. I should have cooked it longer than whatever that time was though because the zucchini was a bit more firm than I wanted it to be. However, the Garden Lasagna was a great success and very yummy! Just writing this all up and looking at the pictures again is getting me excited about pulling that second lasagna out of the freezer for another dinner soon.

Next up: trying to figure out what in the world I am going to do with the dozen or so jalapeno peppers I have growing on my deck.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

My Husband is Awesome - Overdue Post Part 3

I have an awesome husband. Sure, his romantic side has dwindled a bit since those early days in our relationship and he still doesn't always remember how to get his socks from his feet to the laundry basket. Those little things can easily be overlooked when he does big awesome things.

He was off work last week and one of the main reasons he decided to take last week off was so I could go off and do fun stuff without him and he could watch the kids. Really, what other man does that? And then, to just rub in his awesomeness, he let me sleep all day and bought me a really nice present. That is the epitome of awesomeness.

Last Wednesday I was headed off to a concert nea Cleveland, at Blossom Music Center. Greg watched the kids all morning while I got my stuff together, showered, and made last minute plans. I was planning on driving his car but then decided just minutes before I left to take mine and without complaint, that stellar guy of mine switched up car seats so I could switch up cars. Then I was off to pick up Brian (a.k.a. my concertBFF) so he and I could head to Cleveland to see Dave Matthews Band. (Below are details of the concert if you care about the band or just want to read about it.) I was afraid the weather for the outdoor concert wasn't going to be too great but it turned out fine. It was quite a late night though driving there and back and I didn't get home until almost 4 am on Thursday.

My totally awesome husband's alarm went off shortly after 7 am Thursday so he could get up and get the kids up and their breakfast made. Our bedroom is right off the family room and yet I never once heard the kids or Greg and had a joyous time sleeping late. By the time I woke up, around 10 am, everyone was outside playing.

After lunch, my totally awesome husband took me out to get an iPhone, just because he is totally awesome like that. And he did all this stuff for me out of the kindness of his heart, not because he was trying to make up for something that he did wrong. Although he said later that he should have held out on the iPhone until after he did something wrong and he needed to make it up to me. Did I mention he is awesome? Almost as awesome as my iPhone. When I got home from the store, I took a nap because I was still tired and Greg is awesome.

The Concert
That was my 10th Dave Matthews Concert, not that I am counting. I had a blast at the concert. The drive out wasn't so great with the rain pouring down on us like it was. Last year when concertBFF and I went to the Cleveland DMB show, we must have had some sort of prime parking luck. Last year we were really close to the entrance and a bunch of porta potties. This year, we were about a mile from the entrance and we were told the closest place to pee was the woods and the next closest place was the porta potties by the entrance gate. Note that the entrance gate was about a mile away. Thankfully I did find one porta potty a little closer. Unfortunately, that porta potty pretty much served 90% of the parking area and there was quite a long line.

Tailgating was okay. It was still raining for a bit when we got there so most people were just sitting in their vehicles which was a bit odd. The rain stopped and people came out. ConcertBFF and I made fun of them.

The opener was Old Crowe Medicine Show. Greg has a couple of their albums but I had never listened. I will listen now. They were really great. By the time we got in and used the non-porta potty potties and got to our seat, we had missed a lot of their set. I would have liked to have seen more.

Our seats were merely okay. We purchased seats under the pavilion. They were in the farthest section to the left of the stage and only a few seats from the very end of the row. It made for a pretty difficult angle on the stage as well as the two big screens they had up. We couldn't even see the backdrop of the stage. Plus, we were mostly surrounded by old people and a group of youngish people in front of us who held some very important conversations (that was sarcasm) during the show. I snapped a picture with my phone (this was my old phone, not my iPhone) just to get an idea of what things looked like from our point of view.

DMB was really great. The show I saw in Pittsburgh a couple months ago was epic and this concert was incredible but not epic. They played all really great songs but there was nothing in the set list that blew me away. I continue to be amazed at the talent of everyone in the band and how the band is about everyone and showcases everyone where a lot of bands just concentrate on one person to carry them. Jeff Coffin on the sax was amazing. I didn't even know it was possible to play two saxophones (an alto and a tenor) at once but he showed me what could be done. The part that sucked was when they stopped playing. Sure, they had to end at some point but they just suddenly stopped. They came out for the encore, Dave played Rye Whiskey (a seriously killer cover that makes me want to cry, he played it at the Pittsburgh show too) and then they went into a version of Shake Me Like a Monkey that was basically like what is on the album. I thought they were really building up to something crazy. Then they stopped, said goodnight, walked off stage. Cue house lights. What was that?? The most I could figure out was that it was 2 minutes until 11:00 and perhaps they had to stop playing by 11. I'm thinking they should have cut one long song out of the main set and played a long song to tie up the encore/show. But, they didn't ask for my opinion.

I almost passed out again at this show. I almost passed out at the Pittsburgh one too. It was really humid after the rain stopped and that probably did me in. I made a huge effort to keep hydrated and mostly drank Gatorade prior to the show. Poor concertBFF had to miss out on them playing one of his favorite songs so he could get me more Gatorade. Once I got a few sips of that in me, I was fine again.

ConcertBFF and I sat in the parking lot and had some snacks before heading home so that we wouldn't have to just sit in traffic. The ride home was a bit difficult because it was incredibly foggy but at least concentrating on the road kept me awake. ConcertBFF and I already have plans to do it all again next year.

Random fact, according to Ants Marching, the rarest song that was played at my first ever Dave Matthews Band concert (back in 1996 when tickets were much more reasonably priced and I was really young) was the same as the rarest song played at this concert - Best of What's Around.

And the set list:
Funny the Way it Is
Best of What's Around
Grey Street
Jimi Thing
Lying in the Hands of God
Lousiana Bayou
Why I Am
Ryme and Reason
Dancing Nancies
You and Me
Two Step
Rye Whiskey
Shake Me Like a Monkey


Monday, August 03, 2009

Kennywood - Overdue Post Part 2

Last Tuesday we headed off to Kennywood, Pittsburgh's amusement park. We decided to just go for the evening since the kids probably wouldn't ride much and the prices were cheaper. My parents went along for a little bit too. First ride was the Turnpike where Marcus took Grammy for a ride

and Will took Pap-pap for a ride.

Everyone came off the ride smiling, despite their whiplashes.

Then it was off to introduce the kids to the wonderful world of Potato Patch french fries. You just can't go to Kennywood without getting Potato Patch fries. The fries got the approval of my kids.

A couple other highlights of the evening included (1) my mom and I thinking we might throw up while riding a ride in Kiddieland and (2) scaring the kids half to death on the Log Jammer.


Carrots - Overdue Post Part 1

Since Greg was home from work last week and I had a little extra time, I decided to make some chicken noodle soup. You know, because when you think of summer you think of soup. The recipe didn't call for carrots but while I was assembling the soup, I thought just maybe there were some carrots in my garden. (I used the alphabet soup recipe from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.) I have had several people tell me that they never had much luck with carrots in their gardens in this area. I accidentally picked a carrot while weeding a few weeks ago that was about an inch long so I wasn't expecting much. I was really surprised!

Most of the carrots were on the smallish size but the tastiest carrots I have ever had in my life. Not sure if I am going to grow carrots again though because those things are near impossible to get out of the ground. I broke the biggest carrot trying to pull it out. I still have a lot more carrots in the garden but just haven't found the energy to try to dig them out.

And the result... Some really incredible soup. (I used whole wheat pasta in the shape of characters from the movie "Cars".)


Saturday, August 01, 2009


Been a really busy week. Greg was off work which resulted in lots of blog-worthy stuff but little time to actually blog. I'll get caught up eventually. In the meantime...

Marcus is now wearing underwear full time, including at night. He has been waking up dry in the morning for probably two months now. I asked him a couple times if he wanted to wear underwear to bed but he insisted on pull-ups. So I just didn't ask him one night and put on underwear. He has been wearing underwear at night since. Yesterday Greg started teaching him how to "pee like a big boy" (a.k.a. pee standing up). We were waiting until he was tall enough to reach without a step stool. He's a pretty short kid. I had no idea what was going on in the bathroom during these instruction times since I have no experience in peeing standing up. Today I overheared Marcus tell Greg, "Have to put the seat up Daddy so the girls don't get mad." Glad to know Greg included this important step in his teachings.

Not too much new with Will. Ever since I relaxed with him using the potty, we have had no accidents. He is still quite the football obsessed child. He started asking recently to watch Steelers on TV. Greg took Marcus out with him to do some errands the other day and I knew Will wouldn't be too happy to not be included. I found Greg's Steelers Championship 2005 Season DVD and suggested Will and I watch some Steelers while they were gone. I figured we would watch for about 5 minutes so he wouldn't be so upset about missing out on running errands and then he would be running around playing and not paying any attention after that. That is what usually happens when he asks to watch TV. Not this time. He sat on the couch holding his football and Terrible Towel for over an hour watching highlights of the season. The only time he moved was to wave his towel.