Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Meal plan of the week

Instead of planning my meals on Monday I did a post about how I don't do the things I need to do and take on "fun" stuff instead. Anyway, planned out this week and its thrilling! Ugh. After the last month I've had I'm just worn out and tired and don't care. I'm going for as easy as possible.

Monday: Buffalo chicken sandwiches (chicken strips for the kids), sweet potato fries and fruit

Tuesday: Spiced chicken with couscous salad from last week that I never made

Wednesday: Chicken tacos in a crockpot

Thursday: Green and White chili in a crockpot with cornbread

Friday: Cheese ravioli and Caprese salad

Saturday: wedding reception for my brother-in-law (YEAH!)

And because no post is complete without a picture. Here's Colin's new favorite thing:

Monday, March 28, 2011

This is why I get nothing done

Well, one of the reasons anyway. You see, I'm restless stay at home mom. I need to do 'more' and it usually doesn't involve 'more' in the form of bathroom cleaning. Nope, its 'more' in the shape of outrageously huge projects that I take on in the spur of the moment.

Last year for Raph's birthday I decided that I would be a cake decorator. Three days before his party I came up with a plan to make a Leprechaun Hat Cake. Raph was excited and I was delusional. It didn't stop me and I produced a pretty cool cake.

The top layer was divine chocolate cake with Kahlua ganache and decorated with buttercream and chocolate coins

Naturally, Colin wanted a cake. I led him in the direction of a Fire Truck Cake. I even braved a box of rolled fondant for this one and it made me so mad. That cake just would not look the way I wanted it to look. Colin thought it was the coolest thing ever but I was unhappy with it. See, I'm restless and I just couldn't stop fiddling with it.

The front part was red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and the caboose was chocolate of some sort (I forget). It was decorated with buttercream, rolled fondant, gum drops, liquorice and chocolate donuts

Then came Heidi's birthday and she was diagnosed with multiple food allergies but by God I wasn't going to have my baby go without a cake on her first birthday. I searched and found a gluten free, vegan cake recipe...and it was good. She matched her Hippo Heidi Cake and it was adorable.

Bottom layer was Mexican chocolate with Kahlua ganache, middle layer was golden coconut with lemon frosting and the top layer was a layer of each. It was decorated with rolled fondant and the hippo's tutu was a fruit by the foot. All was gluten free and vegan.

January of this year rolls around and the boys start discussing their cake plans. We did google image searches and got ideas. They found a totally bad ass dragon cake they wanted me to make but I had to veto that cake. It was cool but I would surely need a straight jacket before I finished anything of that magnitude. Raph decided on a Phineas and Ferb Backyard Beach cake. I had to make this one for this bowling party and let me tell you what...it is not easy to transport a tiered cake! It weathered the drive to the party and all his friends thought it was awesome. There was a moment of fighting over the Perry the Platypus surfboard but I decided no one gets it and that's that.

Top layer was a domed Mexican chocolate cake with Kahlua ganache and the bottom layer was French Vanilla with buttercream. It was decorated with the buttercream, rolled fondant, brown sugar and Swedish fish. Top layer was gluten free and vegan.

Colin's request was simple and by simple I mean very very vague. He wanted a Blue Doggie Cake. Um, okaaaay. I thought about this one over and over and came up with a plan that involved moulded chocolate dog houses and dog bones. He loved it and it was a hot mess but that's OK.

I got tired of vanilla and chocolate so I changed things up. Top layer was coconut cake with vegan "butter"cream. Bottom layer was a S'mores cake (graham cracker cake, fluff filling that you can see dripping on the table and chocolate glaze). It was decorated with rolled fondant, "butter"cream, graham cracker dog bones and a moulded chocolate dog house.

Now...I have a few months to plan for Heidi's creation. Its expected at this point so I have to plan ahead. Its a huge time suck but the kids absolutely love it. Its far cooler to have Mommy make a cake *just* how you want it and in 3D than it is to pick one up from the bakery with those weird edible screen prints. Plus, I don't know of many gluten free and vegan bakeries so anything for Heidi must be homemade. That's OK, I don't mind the work all that much except when I'm cursing fondant. This is something I can give them that they will always remember. Isn't that the job of a restless stay at home mom? Making memories.

Friday, March 25, 2011


I don't know if you have seen the news from Florida, but there is a little girl who is 6 with a severe peanut allergy. The school has the children wash their hands and rinse their mouths when they get to school and after lunch. They are not allowed to have food in the classroom. Parents are upset by these restrictions and are protesting outside the school with signs and chants. They are demanding the restrictions be lifted and/or this child be home schooled.

That just breaks my heart.

I just cannot fathom what it must be like for that little girl and her family. To be vilified for a medical condition. How can people be so cruel?

I think there is so much misinformation about food allergies and surprisingly little tolerance for those who are different from the masses. I suppose it shouldn't really surprise me because there is so much hate and knee jerk reactions...especially when it comes to children. Our children are precious but your little darling is no more precious than mine. Your child's snack might kill mine.

Just ponder that for a moment.

This school was not peanut free and people are mad about hygiene. They are upset that their kids can't have dirty hands and cupcakes...not that this little girl walks in fear and with an outcast because of things beyond her control. Never mind the fact that she has a RIGHT to be educated. People throw around "right" far too often these days but in this instance it is legitimate. The school must make accommodations for her. There is no right to PB&J...which they did not take away, they just ask that you clean up afterwards.

Food allergies are on the rise. She will not be the last nut allergic kid to attend that school. People need to educate themselves about food allergies and intolerances. Just because your child doesn't suffer from allergies doesn't mean his/her best friend isn't highly allergic to your favorite snack. I bet if you ask your grade school aged child they will tell you all about food allergies. Who is allergic to what and what they do at school. Kids are fast learners and want to help and protect their friends. They don't want to banish them. They are accepting, understanding and compassionate. They *get* it, where as most adults do not. Adults should learn from the young...you never know everything and sometimes you need a little wake up call to what is really important in life. I'm pretty sure cupcakes and dirty hands aren't highest on the list.

I have family members say, "Oh just a little bit won't hurt" or leave a bowl of nuts out on the counter. I've seen people offer food to Raph and he says, "No I'm allergic to that" or to Heidi and one of the boys reminds them that Heidi is allergic. These are FAMILY members who don't take the time to educate themselves or simply don't care because it doesn't effect their kids or their lives.

I think, as with most things in life, people must step back from the moment. Put aside what they are feeling and look at the bigger picture. Our life goes beyond our living room. Relationships should not be ruined because we cannot see past our own noses. Our community relies on mutual respect and educating the masses about pertinent issues. What are you teaching your children by protesting and demanding a little girl leave because she has a medical condition? Would you want me to raise a sign outside your school demanding your child leave because she has diabetes or some other disease? Your child makes me uncomfortable therefore you should just leave. If you are allergic to dogs would you want me to rub my dander covered clothes on your face? Its your problem after all, not mine.

Ignorance is rampant. Clearly these protesting parents are ignorant of what a life with allergies is like...that or they are simply callous. I'm hoping they are ignorant and in that case the school failed because they should have educated those families. Before Raph has started a new school year a note goes home to all the parents. His new school was more thorough and explained food allergies, ways to prevent exposure and the consequences of an accidental exposure. The flier also listed additional resources for further reading and the nurse's phone number if they had any questions. We should not embrace ignorance, we should rise above it. Learn something today. It doesn't have to be about food allergies or intolerances (though I highly recommend it) but something you don't know. There is something floating around in your life that you do not understand...understand it. You will be better for it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm back! (to meal planning that is)

Its been a rude awakening to come back to a disaster zone of a house and actually have to COOK meals. Vacation is good but it sucks when you come home. The whole reality factor just back hands you across the face.

I was dreading meal planning yesterday. DREAD. Then I read in Real Simple about procrastination...fitting, no? My take home message from that article was to do that thing you dread the most before you do anything else. It will loom over you, nag at you, judge you and make you miserable until you sit down and do it. Even if it is something really small its better just to DO IT already. Kind of like the 30 seconds or less rule. Mental clutter is just as bad as physical clutter. At least with physical clutter you can escape it by leaving the room...mental clutter just follows you around. The article was right. I sat down, did a meal plan and I was done in about 10 minutes. The whole rest of the day was cake after that. I was finished with that one thing and I had a spring in my step. I had such a feeling of accomplishment. Its silly though isn't it? I didn't actually DO anything but I felt better so who cares.

Monday: Thai beef salad with fresh herbs

Tuesday: Spicy Asian noodles with chicken

Wednesday: Mushroom and Sausage Ragu with Polenta

Thursday: Spiced Chicken with Couscous Salad

Friday: Linguine with Spicy Shrimp

I should note that this is what Mike and I will eat. The kids usually eat a variation or something entirely different. I know its bad but whatever. You try feeding a family of five and avoid milk, egg, wheat, peanut and pineapples. And have it be something everyone likes. I dare you!

I published without a picture! The horrors! I'm pretty sure he's not going to hit anything shooting like that ::snicker::

Friday, March 18, 2011


I've had not one but two people tell me this week how they are amazed that I have everything so together. Um, whaaaaa? I feel like my life is in a constant state of near chaos. If it were total chaos I'd probably just give up and end up on an episode of "Cops". I am having one of those months where I feel like I'm getting only the bare minimum done. My house is in disarray, we have odd meals based on left overs and random things in the freezer. My kids some how end up getting to do cool stuff like go to the park daily (thank you mother nature for actually getting spring going) and have birthday parties. Its Spring Break this week so naturally I can really get NOTHING done because I have all three kids home all day.

Part of the reason my life is the way it is currently is because I was doing this for a week with Mike. Now we are both paying dearly for that serene bliss...

Yesterday I was ambitious and planned ahead and thought I would take the kids to the zoo after Colin's gymnastics class. I have the car loaded with snacks and we leave right after his class. Then I get stuck in traffic. Then I notice everyone around me is wearing green hats and beads. I knew it was St. Patrick's Day I just didn't remember that the biggest parade is ON St Patrick's Day and its in the neighborhood next to the zoo. Silly me, I still attempted to make it into the park. I get in this maddening traffic jam filled with rude people. Colin starts whining. When he does this particular whine he's not talking but making noises that sound like someones inflicting great pain and he just moans. It might possibly be the most annoying sound in the world.

After we'd been in the car for almost an hour (trip shouldn't have taken more than 15 min to get to the zoo, park and unload) I abandon the idea of the zoo and turn around to go to a park. Enter the screaming Colin. He screamed until he fell asleep...20 minutes. I get to the park and find there are men using heavy machinery to distribute stinking mulch/compost around the perimeter. We go to the next park and its jam packed with feral children and mommys who ignore them. And one little girl told me I needed to clip my fingernails. At that point I nearly started crying. Then my kids start complaining because they are starving. ::beats head against the wall::

After the park we come home and make lunch. I get the little ones in bed. Colin slept for about 20 minutes and Heidi never fell asleep since she slept through the traffic jam. Lovely.

I'm not really sure what they were doing but my neighbor across the street was laughing at them as he loaded his truck.

During "nap time" I remembered that Raph has not read a single book since probably last Wednesday. He's supposed to read daily and keep a log of his books...yeah, his is empty. I feel delinquent this week. I had the idea that I would take the kids to the zoo today even though its not going to be particularly awesome weather. That was until I was up in the middle of the night for over an hour with a hideous allergy attack. I looked on weather.com and they had a huge banner that was a blinking alert: VERY HIGH levels of Juniper tomorrow. Scratch the zoo we are staying INSIDE and I'm doing laundry. I already want to tear my face off, I'm not subjecting myself to a day of torture outside. Plus we have to go to the ENT in the afternoon...with all three keeps during arsenic hours. Pray for me!

Heidi attempted to follow in their footsteps but didn't quite know what they were doing. I kind of feel the way she looks in this picture.

Oh and one more gem for the day. Raph had Taekwondo and before class the kids all run around like maniacs. Colin always joins in the game and last night Heidi did too. It was so cute to see her little stubby legs running as fast as they could take her and try and keep up with the big kids. At some point Colin and Raph knocked her over. She was fine and this happens about 27 times a day. After the teacher had the kids all line up she gave them a lecture about watching out for little kids and how she was disappointed in them. ::hangs head in shame:: I got a group of little kids in trouble b/c my kids are maniacs. Sorry guys!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sun Flare

I do love a perfectly captured sun flare in pictures. I try to get them every now and then but usually the best flares are captured by accident...at least for me anyway because I have no clue what I'm doing.

This week's challenge on I ♥ Faces is all about sun flares. I can't wait to check out all the other fabulous entries!

I'm not sure what it is about this picture. I have a whole series of sun flare filled swing pictures of Heidi from this afternoon. I like this one b/c it shows her fat baby fingers and toes. Little snausages and her peeking over the top of the swing.