Saturday, May 31, 2008

Indiana Jones

I finally saw the new Indiana Jones movie on Thursday night. I put Justin down to bed & was able to sneak out to the 10 pm showing while Matt stayed home with the bambinos (he had seen it on opening day). It was good. Definitely not Raiders good, but good, and worth seeing. I think Harrison Ford seemed a little rusty in the part, and it showed. I also think that Shia LaBeouf was decent as Mutt Williams, but a little stilted. I found myself analyzing the whole time - looking at the sets, thinking about the acting, comparing and contrasting with the previous films. It took away some of the enjoyment of the film, but I couldn't help myself. I was fixated on Shia. I had read a review of the film that called Shia a good actor, but "with absolutely no charisma"... and I have to agree. Harrison Ford - charisma. Will Smith - charisma. Edward Norton, Kevin Spacey, Tom Selleck, Tom Hanks, Nicholson, Pacino, DeNiro - Charisma (with a capital C). But I digress. I thought the plot was underdone, and the sets were terrible. You could tell that most of the locations were sets (I mean seriously, when they went to the catacombs/ underground burial chamber that was an AWFUL set), and I was so surprised that Spielberg would allow that, and that they wouldn't have maxed out the budget to make it look authentic. For those who haven't seen it yet, I don't want to reveal too much. Like I said, it was good, but I'm really not sure we'll be adding it to our DVD collection.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Down with Dixie

We've seriously cut back on TV time in our house, as Malaina was getting a little too caught up in her cartoon shows - sometimes watching for hours on end while I was distracted with work or Justin (don't judge - you know you've been there, too). We've all been enjoying the positive changes from less TV, but every once in a while the influence of TV still creeps in and takes me by surprise.

Malaina, Justin, and I were home last night while Matt was studying. We were getting ready for "movie night" (Little Mermaid), and had the TV on for few minutes while I got everyone ready to start to the show. Malaina turned to me and this is how the conversation went:
"Mom, can we have a Dixie day?"
"A what?"
"A Dixie day."
"I'm not sure what that is, sweetie."
"It's when you make dinner and then we eat it and then you throw away the plates."
"Well, no, we don't usually use paper plates, we eat off our nice dishes."
"How come? If we have a Dixie day, we can play more."
"Well, I prefer to use our regular dishes because I think using paper plates is bad for the environment. I think it's bad for the earth, and it kills trees when we use paper plates."
"Oh. But wouldn't it be fun to eat off those plates and then throw them out?"
"Well, I think it's nicer to eat off our real dishes. We still have plenty of time to play without having to use paper plates."
"Oh. Well, I think paper plates are fun".
I personally don't care for paper plates. We don't use paper plates or cups unless we are camping, or possibly when it's someones birthday. I think paper dishware creates more junk for the garbage dump, and as a home which uses disposable diapers, I believe we are already contributing more than our share to America's landfills. I realize I may not be the norm here, and I have been surprised more often than not to enter into someones home & realize that it's common for their families to eat 90% of their meals off paper plates, and use paper cups for all their beverages (for those homes with kids, I am not judging). Sure, I hate doing dishes, but there's something to be said for sitting down to a meal on nice plates, with substantial silverware and sparkling glasses. I feel it also teaches children that meals are meant to be appreciated - from the time and care that went into the cooking, to the company that you share the meal with. Not every meal at our house is an "event", but it's important to me to show my children that nice things are meant to be used. What's the point of registering for china when you get married if you keep it boxed up for 20 years? So down with Dixie and their insidious marketing campaign designed to make your children feel like they are being shoved aside in favor of doing the dishes.

On another note: Today was Matt's last day of school. 1 year down, 3 more to go! The end may not be in sight, but as long as we're making forward progress it's all good.

Bloggity blog blog blog

I love finding new blogs to read, especially when they concern one or more of my favorite things (food, shopping, reading, etc.). I finally tracked down the blog of the genius who is partly responsible for my awesome cinnamon roll recipe. Orangette is the name of this brilliant blog, and the woman who authors this delicious bit of food writing is Molly Wizenberg. I love her because she has a wonderful writing style - very sparse but eloquent, her pictures are so crisp that I want to reach through the computer and scoop up whatever bit of deliciousness is on her plate, and I also love her because she's in Seattle (I'm feeling a little nostalgic for the Pacific Northwest - it's the Iowa humidity that's making me yearn for grey skies and pine trees. It will pass). I eagerly read her monthly article in Bon Appetit called Cooking Life, and I always enjoy it. She isn't as snobby as some food writers can be - focusing on French cuisine, or exorbitantly expensive ingredients, or some other nonsense which only appeals to a total of 3 readers - and she expresses a true appreciation for the simple joys of uncomplicated, well prepared food. Reading her article on jam made me want to can my own and although I have a hankering for peach jam (smells like feet but tastes like summer), I understand that Iowa is not exactly a haven for peach trees. While I figure out if I will divert my jammy dreams or slog through it with substandard imported peaches, I will enjoy her outstanding blog and maybe sample a recipe or two from her extensive archive. I'm also looking forward to her book, which comes out in March of '09. Again with the buying of books. What is becoming of me in my advanced years??

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day

I just want to offer a brief "thank you" to those men and women who have served, or currently are serving in the Armed Forces. I appreciate your commitment to serving your country, and am grateful to live in a country which offers so many opportunities to its citizens - including the opportunity to live in a place which does not currently experience daily conflict, civil unrest, or violence. I am also grateful to my uncles and husband for their personal involvement in the Navy, and for the experiences and benefits garnered from their time in the military. If Matt had not had the experience of being a Corpsman for 5 years (and the benefits of the GI Bill) I am not sure our family would be on the road to graduating from DO school.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Stuff I Am Loving Right Now

  1. Space Bags! I changed out our Winter down comforter for our Spring quilt, and wasn't sure what to do with the comforter. I thought I'd give Space Bags a try, and they totally work! I jammed my comforter in one, and 10 sweaters in another, sucked the air out with the vacuum, and voila! Flat bags I can stuff under the bed! Love it!
  2. Method cleaning spray in Pink Grapefruit. I was a little behind on joining the Method bandwagon, but I LOVE the stuff now. I use the cleaning spray, the handwash (also Pink Grapefruit), the Go Naked laundry detergent and the Baby laundry detergent. Everything they make is non-toxic, and smells delicious. I'm sad that Target doesn't carry the entire line of Method, but excited to try the new Baby care line (mmmm... fuzzy peach).
  3. Iced Tea. It's that time of year again! Nothing says warm weather like a tall, cool glass of iced tea. It hasn't been hot enough for sun tea, so I've been making it with boiled water and Lipton's Decaf Iced Tea bags. I add a little honey while it's still warm. Tastes like summer. Diet Squirt is also tops on my summertime beverage list.
  4. That it's summer vacation time. No, we're not really going anywhere, but I got Malaina all psyched for her "summer bay-cation" from pre-school, and now that Matt only has 1 more day of school left, it's hard not to get excited about summer. I'm hoping for low-stress days with a mixture of pool time, naps, movies, the Play Place (at the Jordan Creek Mall) and lots of AC to combat the Iowa humidity.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Party Time

Malaina went to a Birthday Party today. It was so much fun! Robyn is so creative, and I was incredibly impressed that everything was in her chosen Garden theme, all activities were perfectly suited to the 3 and 4 year old crowd (planting flowers in pots decorated with stickers, bug hunting for foam bugs, pin-the-butterfly-on-the-flower, and bug parachute), and that she didn't spend a fortune to throw a super-fun party. I'll keep all this in mind when I plan Malaina's next birthday party - and I may be giving Robyn a call to pick her super-creative brain. You're an inspiration, Robyn! And Happy Birthday to Mariah!


It's another Friday, and I am so glad that not only is the weekend almost here, but that there is an extra day off on Monday (thank you Memorial Day!). After a really nice weekend, it's been a struggle to get through each day this week. Wednesday was especially bad. I was extremely high strung all day, and EVERYTHING was getting on my nerves. Much of this goes back to my messy house, but it built to a head over Malaina's room. She has been refusing to clean it, so she's been losing toys & spending an unusually high amount of time in Time Out.... but it's still been a disaster zone. I finally started tackling it yesterday, and Matt and I agreed to put some of her toys away for a while, and do a purge of all the little junk that accumulates (McDonald's toys, random coloring sheets, dolls with no heads, etc.). I'm not done yet (seriously, I had to take it in stages or I would have just had a breakdown in the middle of the job), but it's already about 1000 times better. I hope to finish it today or tomorrow, and then move on to the rest of the house. My Dad is coming to visit in a few weeks, so I need to make sure the house is especially spic & span.

On a slightly kooky note: Matt and I spent 3 years in Louisiana, and enjoyed very little of our time there. One thing we did develop a fondness for is Red Beans & Rice. We ate this at least once a week when I was pregnant with Malaina, as it was low in fat and high in protein. Mixed with Turkey Polska Kielbasa and served with brown rice, it was one of our favorite meals. We were talking about it a few weeks ago, and I was toying with the idea of finding a good recipe to recreate. Instead, I did a google search, and was thrilled to find the brand of red beans we used to buy while in Lafayette. Based in Gonzales, Louisiana (outside of Baton Rouge), the Blue Runner company makes the BEST canned red beans I've ever had. And guess what? THEY DELIVER.

I am so excited to receive my shipment of 12 cans of Creole Cream Style Red Beans. Sadly, the shipping was as much as the beans themselves, so this will be a once-a-year treat. I hope the reality lives up to our memory of this delicious meal. I also miss Jamba Juice from Oregon, Alberto's Mexican Food from Phoenix, and In-n-Out Burger & Palermo's Italian Restaurant in L.A. Do you have any regional foods or restaurants you miss?

Friday, May 16, 2008

This may be the start of a slippery slope....

I had to go to Old Navy today to exchange a few things that didn't fit Malaina. While there, I saw that bathing suits were on sale. Given that she is part fish in the summer time and that she is signed up for swim lessons in July, I thought a new suit might be a good idea. I looked over their selection and chose a few for her to look at in the store. She decided she wanted a 2 piece and chose this one: I've never bought her a 2 piece before and hesitated to do so. But I went ahead and purchased it. I always tended to stay away from bikinis for kids, as many of them seem VERY skimpy, even for little ones. I realize there's few things in life that are cuter than a little girl in a bathing suit and I think that bodies - all bodies - are beautiful and amazing. But I think that modesty needs to be encouraged, especially with the overwhelming trend to show some skin in magazines, movies, and TV. I bought the suit because it's a longer style and actually covers her tummy completely. I also bought it because many of the other styles didn't seem conducive to swim lessons & comfort - with halter necklines or beads on the straps, etc. So, I'd like to hear your opinion on the subject (even you lurkers that are out there)- either by taking the poll in the upper right corner, or posting a comment. Do you think it's OK for a 4 year old to wear a 2 piece swimsuit? Why, or why not? FYI - I'm not generally swayed by popular opinion, so don't be afraid to be totally honest.

PS - did you see The Office last night?? It was the funniest episode I have seen in months. I really hope this means they are back on top of their game for the Fall '08 season.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Look at the size of that boy's head"

Tony Giardino: Shhh!
Stuart Mackenzie: I'm not kidding, it's like an orange on a toothpick.
Tony Giardino: Shhh, you're going to give the boy a complex.
Stuart Mackenzie: Well, that's a huge noggin. That's a virtual planetoid.
Stuart Mackenzie: Has it's own weather system.
Tony Giardino: Sh, sh, shh.
Stuart Mackenzie: HEAD! MOVE! Spherical, but quite pointy in parts.
(name that movie)

Justin had his 2 month doctor's visit today, here are his stats:

Height: 22 3/4 inches - 50th percentile
Weight: 12 lbs. 10 oz - 75th percentile
Head circumference: 16 3/4 - 97th percentile

Let's hope that big head = big brain.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Twilight Saga

I was a big reader growing up, and it's still a favorite hobby of mine. I don't read as much as I'd like to anymore, and most of my casual reading in the last few years has been limited to books purchased just prior to a business trip (I hate working on planes, as I just don't ever have the elbow room I need to type). I also don't usually buy books, unless they are really cheap or really good. I read extremely quickly, and can't stand paying $14 for a book I will blow through in a 5 hour flight. Anyway.... when my in-laws were here last month, Matt's mom left me her copy of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I like some fantasy novels, and it sounded similar to Anne Rice's work, so after a week or so, I picked it up. After a few chapters (mostly spent wondering why my mother-in-law was reading a book on the misadventures of a high school junior) I was hooked! It was a great, simple read, but done in a compelling way. I like that it focused on the emotional relationship, and not so much on the physical. I shocked myself by liking it enough that I bought the next two (in hardback!) on Amazon. They came today and I am so excited. It's almost a good thing that I have a very limited amount of personal time, as it will force me to pace my reading and enjoy these books. I was impressed to see the author featured in Time magazine 2 weeks in a row - first in a 3 page article on her books, comparing her to J.K. Rowling (and I love the description of her at home with her 3 boys, typing one handed while holding a baby in the other - I can relate). Then a second article featured her as one of Time's 100 Most Influential People,28804,1733748_1733752_1736282,00.html. I harbor a secret dream to be an author myself, and so it always comforts and inspires me when I stumble upon a writer who lives a life even slightly similar to mine (wife, mom, member). Book 4 in the series, Breaking Dawn, will be released August 2, just in time for my birthday - HINT HINT. I'm sure I'll have it in my possession shortly after it drops.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

One more thing.....

Matt scared Justin on Saturday night, and I have to blog about it because it was sort of funny (in a damaging, slightly mentally scarring kind of way). We were eating dinner, and to keep him happy & make him feel like he was a part of dinner, Justin was in his bouncer next to the table. Matt was bouncing him in the bouncer, and play tickling him a little. Then he did something he often does with Malaina - he curled his hands into claws and said "Rawr" in a deep, semi-scary voice. Justin was TERRIFIED, and immediately started crying in that super-scared, inconsolable baby way. I know, it doesn't sound too terrible, but I was horrified (at Justin's reaction, not that Matt did that), and I think Matt felt awful about it. Justin is so easy-going that it's always surprising when he cries about much of anything. Lesson learned.

Happy Mother's Day!

I had a really good day, and actually a good weekend overall. After a stressful week at work I decided to do a little shopping on Friday, as Malaina is in desperate need of summer clothes. I headed to the mall, and was able to both shop and get a little exercise - packing up Justin in the jogging stroller and walking from Old Navy to the mall and back (I know, it's not that far, but I have to hope that every little bit counts). On Saturday I had my hair done, and then came home and gave Malaina and myself manicures, and she got a little pedicure too. She requested red on her toenails, and pink on her fingernails. How very grown up! My Dad and Jan sent flowers for Mother's Day, so I also arrived home to the treat of some beautiful lillies waiting for me. What a wonderful surprise!

Today was really really nice. Malaina wanted me to have my Mother's Day present right away, so as soon as we were all up, she and Daddy brought it in. It was Guitar Hero! I know, super geeky of me, but I've had this weird fascination with it. It's not as easy as it looks, but it really is fun. Then Matt made breakfast for us (a very rare treat), and Malaina, Justin and I actually got to church on time. After church my visiting teachers stopped by, and shortly after Matt came home from studying, we went out for Thai food (Cool Basil - very good, but watch the spiciness!). We all played Guitar Hero for a while, then we even got ice cream treats for dessert! I'm so thankful for my sweet family, and am so proud of Matt, Malaina, and Justin. I couldn't ask for a more wonderful husband and children.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies out there!

Friday, May 9, 2008

2 months old!

Justin is 2 months old today! It seems like he's always been a part of our family, but it's only been 8 short weeks since he joined us. He's growing and changing so much that it's hard to keep up with him. His head control is very good, and he is always moving some part of his body (and usually bonking himself on the head). He smiles most of the time and Matt even got a little chuckle out of him a few days ago! He enjoys time in his car seat, stroller, and bathtub, and is fascinated by peek-a-boo. His personality is very different from Malaina. He's quite laid back, and not much bothers him, not even a dirty diaper. He gets upset when it's time to go to bed at night, and when he needs to be burped - and that's about it. He's a very solid little boy & I can't wait to find out how much he weighs (I'm guessing 12 lbs.). Justin, we love you and are so glad you've joined our family! In other news: went to the Valley Junction Farmer's Market with our friend the Mons' family. This time of year, it was less a farmer's market and more of an open air food & craft fest. Very cute, and TONS of yummy looking food. It would be a great place for a date night (I can't wait to go back and try the Greek food).

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


We're (translation: I am) planning a family trip to Chicago in June. It will only be a long weekend, but I am so excited about this. First, I heart Chicago. It's a super fun city with generally friendly people. There's a ton to do, and of course, the food is great. The last few trips I've made to Chicago were for business, so I was limited to the hotel, the convention center, and the occasional dinner out. Now that I'm going for pleasure, I'm not sure what to do! With a 4 year old, a 3 month old, and a husband who doesn't like to contribute to the planning process (but who will pout like nobody's business if he doesn't like what's going on), I'm a little overwhelmed at trying to plan for 2 1/2 days in Chi-town. I'm thinking Lincoln Park Zoo, Navy Pier (ferris wheel, Children's Museum), maybe American Girl Place, a visit to H & M if I can sneak it in ..... and I'm a little stumped at what else. Any suggestions? I don't need to have every minute planned out, but a general idea & a few options are always good to have in one's pocket. (oh, and of course I have a cupcake shop on my list: Molly's Cupcakes, as found on the "No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner: blog). What do YOU like to do in Chicago?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Tulip Time in Pella

I loaded up the Jetta on Saturday and took the kids to Pella for the Tulip Festival. Pella is the home of - you guessed it - Pella Windows & Doors. It was founded by Dutch immigrants about 150 years ago, and there is a strong connection to Dutch heritage there. Being 1/4 Dutch myself, I decided it was time to get in touch with my roots & see what it was all about. I sort of expected there to be fields of tulips near or in the town itself, but the tulips seemed to be limited to beautiful displays planted throughout the town square. Many of the businesses on the main streets had a Dutch flavor to them, selling costumes, baked goods, craftware, etc. Fun fact: The town also has the largest working windmill in the U.S., which still grinds flour using only wind power. Although it was fun to see, most of the activity seemed centered around the parades that occur twice a day. With two little ones, I wasn't going to try and hang around until the afternoon parade - not to mention that we were not one of the people who decided to stake out a place on the sidewalk 9 hours in advance. There was some good street food, and I discovered that Malaina truly is her father's daughter, as she does not like funnel cake. I wasn't surprised by much of the food. After going to the Iowa State Fair this summer, I expected the dutch letters, giant turkey legs, pork chop on a stick, brats, pulled pork sandwiches, etc. I WAS surprised by a Pella specialty: the Dutch Taco. Consisting of a flour tortilla, lettuce, cheese, hot sauce, and BOLOGNA. Now, I know that Oscar Meyer has a way with b-o-l-o-g-n-a, but apparently so does Pella. People were lining up for these bad boys, and they seemed to be a special favorite of the Asian tourists who were out in full force. I have to admit that I didn't try this special little torture, as I have been missing West Coast Mexican food, and the thought of a bologna taco just seemed like an abomination. Malaina had a good time looking at all the flowers, but was disappointed that she couldn't pick them. She also fixated on the windmill, and told Matt that she wanted to take her Grandma & Grandpa back there so they could go up to the top, but Justin, Mama and Daddy would have to wait at the bottom.

Picture of Justin on Saturday after we got up from our nap. Look at those cheeks! We've had to retire some of his pj's already, as he's bursting out of them. I can't wait for more consistently warm weather so we can use some of the 3-6 months size short outfits for him. He's almost ready for the larger size!