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Thursday, September 30, 2010

I need some of those magic happy wings

Once upon a time there were two little girls who kept sneaking into the hallway closet and getting out their Halloween fairy wings, even though it wasn’t even October yet and their mama kept trying to hide them. They wore those wings every single day for two months. And every time they put on the wings, they smiled, and giggled, and belly laughed.DSC_9163LR2 DSC_9164LR2-3DSC_9190LR2-3 DSC_9207LR2-3 DSC_9214LR2 DSC_9225LR2-3 DSC_9241LR2-3

I need some mama-sized versions of those magic happy wings!

Photo stuff:

Nikon D300, lens 35mm f/1.8, manual exposure, 1/320 at f4.5, ISO 400, photos tweaked in Lightroom with various setting adjustments, including using NV Pop preset.

I posted the big versions of these pics over at the We Picture {this} mamarazzi site, so click over there if you’d like to see them in giganta size or if you’d like to see the other photographers’ great We Picture {laughter} entries – they are all so fun!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Help, I can’t stop sneaking these cookies!

One of my fave “healthy food your kids will actually eat” chefs -- Catherine at Weelicious -- just posted a new no-sugar no-butter recipe for Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies and it is delish. Really!

It was too freakin’ hot to go to the park today (at least for wussy old me), so instead I promised the girls we could bake something when they came home from school. And (oh so fortuitously) this recipe popped up on my RSS reader right before I pointed the van at the Kindergarten pickup line. So I printed it out, stopped at the store and grabbed two items that weren’t already lurking in the pantry, and our eager twin chefs set to work.

So we pulled up the Weelicious recipe (go there for the exact directions – she also has nifty printable recipe pages on her site, which is handy) and rolled up our sleeves.

This was right up our alley. We gathered the ingredients below (Ree arranged them for me, saying “Here mama, take a picture for the blog.” Ha!):



She also drew me a picture of the ingredients, in case I wasn’t quite clear. From top to bottom, those are banana pieces, dates, a big blob of oil, chocolate chips, and a firm reminder about the oven temperature. Not sure what the green blob is in the upper right corner... Any guesses?

A few notes: we used Quaker Oaks because I kind of suck at reading recipes beforehand and the cookies turned out just fine. Our dried dates were pre-pitted and pre-chopped, but the pieces still seemed too big so I cut them up even smaller. And given the choice of Chocolate Chips, Walnuts or Raisins, you KNOW we used chocolate chips, right? The semi-sweet mini morsels.

Then we got to mashing, measuring, and mixing. Ro and Ree insist on doing everything themselves when they’re baking, so quality control in our kitchen is extremely variable. You’ll notice that my NASA-engineer dad was attempting to inject some QA. And I’m thinking (judging by the number of stirring implements Ro and Ree kept grabbing and tossing into the mix), that he had his hands full. Heh.DSC_9049LR

I don’t have any more pictures of the mixing process, because stuff was getting flung all over and I was a little busy running here and there, grabbing pans, and trying to keep their hands and tongues out of the bowl. Anyhow, we dropped spoonfuls onto 3 pans and popped them all in our convection oven at once. And looky what came out!!DSC_9098LR

Hooboy, these are good!!!

Now don’t be hating on that lack-of-butter-and-sugar thing. I was skeptical too at first. Thought the girls would at least have fun making them, and if they didn’t taste good, well honestly no one would care. Oh I was SO WRONG. These mostly-guilt-free cookies taste like warm little chocolate-chip banana-bread bites. Yum!!!!

After the enthusiastic sampling, I tried to get a pic of the girls holding another set of cookies and smiling, but Ree couldn’t resist sneaking hers towards her nose and sniffing deeply.DSC_9068LR

“Oh mama, it just smells soooooo good!”DSC_9071LR

Then Ro had to get another whiff. Ree’s blissful face here cracks me up:DSC_9084LR

Happy girls. Happy mama. We ate I’ll-never-tell-how-many tonight, and Ro and Ree will find one of these in their school snack bentos tomorrow (if I can show a little willpower and restrain myself from eating them all).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ooooo, I found the niftiest little sandwich maker

Ro and Ree have only recently started eating sandwiches, but they are already huge crust snobs. If even a hint of darker brown edging remains, the sandwich is heartlessly rejected. Whatever... can’t really say I blame them because (shhhh, don’t tell) I don’t like the crusts either.

So when I found this funky little KrustBuster Sandwich Maker, I HAD to order it immediately. And now that I’ve tested it out on our extremely discriminating four-year-old foodies, I’m happy to report that it got four thumbs up (six, if you count mine).

This little thing rocks! It cuts off the crusts and seals the edges, turning out something similar to Smucker’s Uncrustables:DSC_9005LR

Just put in your bottom slice of bread (the gummier the better, so something like Wonder Bread works perfectly). Add your toppings like PBJ or salami and cheese or whatever (I center the stuff and kind of leave the edges clean). Then add your top piece of bread and squeeze. (Ro and Ree love this part and fight for squeezing rights).

Peel the crusts off over the trash can (or birdfeeder or dog’s mouth):DSC_9033LR

And voila, you have a perfect little packet o’ sandwich with crust-free, sealed-up edges:DSC_9030LR

If you feel like decorating it, the kit also comes with cute suction cup shapes. Just pick one out and stick it to the inside top before closing the KrustBuster.DSC_9047LR

The girls had salami and provolone sandwiches today along with Japanese rice crackers and mini heirloom tomatoes on picks. They ate every crumb.DSC_9038LRPSLR


PS: TubaDad says he has fixed my email problems, so the rogue spammer/virus will no longer be able to use my account to send links for Canadian pharmacies and male drugs and whatnot. Let’s hope!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Life in the quarantine zone

Picked up a nasty computer virus (I think) that is sending spam email to everyone in my address book. Ugh. So TubaDad is disconnecting me from the network and I can't blog or do anything else that requires internet access until he figures out how to fix it. If you got an empty email from me today that just had a link, please delete it. Sorry! Will (hopefully) be back soon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hereditary Blindness: Together We Can Bring Light Into People's Lives

A dear friend of mine, Lori, has just discovered that her daughter Katie Starr has Cone-Rod Dystrophy, a disease which will eventually rob her of her sight. To receive this diagnosis for your child is unimaginably heart-wrenching. My heart goes out to sweet Katie Starr and to the whole family, and I’m hoping to raise awareness and generate as much help as possible by posting an excerpt of Lori’s message here:


Katie StarrI am a mother like many of you; a mother to three amazing children. Our Katie Starr was diagnosed last week with Cone-Rod Dystrophy; a hereditary retinal disorder that will rob her of her sight and leave her in darkness. First the cones in her eyes will be destroyed and thus her light and color perception and then the rods will follow which are for night and peripheral vision. We do not have a time line but we understand that the earlier you are diagnosed then the chances are the earlier the sight will ebb away. It is a rare disease; one of many such retinal disorders that remain without a cure.

The Foundation Fighting Blindness has a way for me and for my friends far and wide to not only help Katie Starr but any person who may be left totally in the dark due to a hereditary eye disease. The foundation holds 5K walks all over the country on different dates and the South Florida walk is October 23rd at 10:00 am in Fort Lauderdale. I have put together a team and in five days we have a team of people joining us to walk in solidarity but also over $4,000.00 in donations.

You can make a donation of ANY amount at the following link or join us for the walk: TEAM KATIE STARR

Thank you so much for reading this and sharing it with others. You never know who may read it and how it can alter the course of one little girl’s life and many others in her shoes.  As cliche as it sounds, together we can make a change and bring light into people's lives.

Lori Weinstock / Our family website is Stress Is the New Black

Friday, September 17, 2010

Is it friday already? Kind of snuck up on me.

Ok, first things first. I made the girls a gorgeous bento for snacktime at school today, BUT forgot to put their weekly homework packets in the car. Fourth week of school and I have already gotten them to school late one day AND caused them to miss one weekly homework assignment. Nice... I guess the only thing left for me to forget is to pick them up some day. Gah.

Anyhow, here are Ro and Ree in their outfits of choice for this week’s Fashion Friday. Of course as soon as I wrote last Friday that they don’t care about clothes and want me to pick them all out, they flip flop and won’t let me anywhere near the sacred closet. So this whole week they picked their own outfits. My fave (not pictured) was when it was 80+ degrees and Ree was wearing a heavy top, skirt with built-in shorts, and full-length leggings and I said “Babe, don’t you want to run in the bathroom and ditch those hot leggings?” and she replied “No way, mama, the white leggings match my top perfectly and besides it all looks SO CUTE!” And then she skipped off to class in the sweltering heat, while I just about died laughing thinking “Awwww, her very first instance of suffering for beauty...”

Here’s Ro in her favorite Justin Roberts Willy Was a Whale tee. Notice that Ree is once again standing (or scootering, I guess) on her toes:DSC_8893LR

And here the girls decided to don matching headbands, Mickey Mouse tees, shorts, and heavy ribbed tights.  Aye yi yi. (By the way, is it just me or are the girls looking HUGELY different lately? Check out this photo and the one below: Their faces have really changed so that Ree’s is noticeably wider in the cheek area, her eyebrows are much much pointer than Ro’s, Ro’s left dimple is more pronounced, and Ro is always crinkling her eyes up when she smiles.)DSC_8932LR

This was today’s outfit. Ro picked her fave Wela Wear dress and Ree chose a fun Hello Kitty tee that actually looked really cute with her Crazy8 tie-dyed skirt. Their school has a “no open-toed shoes” policy, in case you’re wondering why those sweet pedicured piggies are always covered lately.DSC_8976LR

Hope you all have fun weekends planned. We have to be out of the house for a few hours each day because our agent is holding open houses. Think good thoughts!

PS: You’ve probably all heard by now that Bloglines is closing soon – sob! I’ve reluctantly transferred everything to Google Reader, but just don’t love it. Does anyone have any other great solutions?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Do your eyes fall off in transit?

Ok, probably not something you get asked every day. But (when time permits*) I’ve been making fun bento snacks for the girls, with groovy animal and flower shapes and sugar eyes (my friend Shannon turned me onto those adorable ocular gizmos). And those little bentos boxes endure some serious abuse before they get cracked open at Kindergarten. They’re tossed, swung, used as twin weapons, accidentally dropped out of the car, and stood upon (and that’s only the stuff I’ve personally witnessed). So what are the odds that my sweet, lovingly prepared bentos (like these two):DSC_8958LRPSLR2 make it to snack time in anywhere near the shape they start in? Low, eh? These are the ones I sent today, so I’ll ask the girls how things looked on the other end. But I’m picturing complete and utter chaos. In case anyone’s wondering what the heck is in those boxes, each snack today had small flower-shaped tortilla pieces, a dried apricot, an animal-shaped animal-shaped hardboiled egg with 1/4" sugar eyes and tiny salt and pepper packets, and an animal-shaped slice of provolone cheese with sugar eyes. Ro and Ree usually eat about 3/4 of the snack at Kindergarten and then devour any remaining bits in the car on the way home. And since cheese starts to get droopy and sweaty when it’s warm, I put an icepack in the bottom of each lunchbag today.

Anyhow, does anyone have any twin-proof lunch packing tips? And while we’re at it, how the heck do you peel hardboiled eggs without breaking off unsightly chunks and making it look like your cute bunny or bear eggs have mange?


* With all that’s going on around here, there are PLENTY of times when I grab a granola bar and apple or whatever happens to be in the pantry, throw it in the lunchbag, and call it good enough. Hey, at least I haven’t completely forgotten to send them with a snack. Yet.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The easiest baked fish ever

I make this stuff at least once a week. Ro and Ree adore it, and now ask me suspiciously if I made enough this time, because they eat an entire fillet each and then eye my plate. They never get mine (I’m just not good at sharing) but they eye it just the same. (Printable recipe page here)

Anyhow, here’s what we do (this one’s so easy that the girls are usually in charge of making it). Get some thin mild white fish fillets (I use a package of frozen White Ruffy fillets from Trader Joe’s because they defrost so quickly and we all like the taste. You can also find this fish labeled pangasius or catfish. We never use tilapia because our whole family dislikes it.). Preheat your oven to 375. Brush the bottom of a pan with olive oil. Place your defrosted fillets in the pan and brush them with olive oil too. Then season them with fresh-cracked salt and pepper along with some dill. (Ro doesn’t like dill, so her fillet only gets salt and pepper, it’s the naked-looking one in the middle there.)

DSC_8937LR DSC_8942LR

Bake for 24 minutes or until fish becomes solid white instead of translucent. (I learned this doneness trick from the fish gods at Legal Sea Foods, and it works with any fish. That old “cook it ‘till it flakes with a fork” is a good way to have nasty overcooked fish. I used to be scared to death to cook fish until I learned this tip, and it really is foolproof.)

Here is the printable recipe page.

Yummmmmm! Melts in your mouth like butter. I made this fish for Catherine on her last visit, and she can attest to the meltiness.DSC_8944LR

Dig in! (and don’t get between the kids and their food):DSC_8950LR

My pics aren’t sharp enough because I had the wrong settings on my camera darn it. And the food didn’t last long enough for me to get retakes...DSC_8952LR

DSC_8953LRRo also REALLY enjoys this bread I get at Trader Joe’s. It’s called “Mom’s White Bread” and I swear she practically stuffs it in her nose before eating because she likes the smell that much. (This picture is small because her fingernails are so dirty and disreputable that I was ashamed...).

PS: We had another girls’ night dinner last night, by the way, which was gnocchi. The only reason I mention it is because Ro and Ree kept calling it Pinochi. Bwah ha!! You can’t even imagine how many times I asked various cleverly worded questions to get them to repeat that word. Just love it. Oh, and we have this when TubaDad’s gone because he turns up his nose at artichoke (which the girls and I madly love), saying it’s “too much work for too little food.”


PSPS: Ree’s arm is going to be just fine, thank goodness. We went to the doctor’s appointment on Monday for our second opinion, and he took new x-rays and then said the exact same thing her first doctor said “She is going to be absolutely fine, that bone looks bad to you right now but it will fill in and you won’t even be able to tell it was broken a year from now, she does not need surgery to reset it.” Huge massive sigh of relief. And worth every penny (and hour) spent for that peace of mind. She gets the new short neon yellow cast off on the 1st.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Oh shoot, that reminds me, there are piles of wet clothes in the car

We had to be out of the house for a few hours this afternoon while our agent held an open house, so we ran over to fix a problem with the sprinklers at the new place. In the process, the girls got drenched. Hmmmm, “got” isn’t really the right word, it kind of implies that something happened *to* them, and that is not at all the case. They were the ones who ran screaming through the sprinklers, rolled on the lawn yelling that it was raining, chased each other through the puddles and slid down the slippery wet slide (over and over). Yeah. They looked like drowned rats.

Since we couldn’t go home to change after the drenching, TubaDad went to get a haircut (I swear he gets those few little hairs cut about every two weeks) and I took Ro and Ree to Target to buy some new dry outfits. (You just know my arm had to be twisted to go buy little girl clothes at Target, heh heh.) Anyhow, we changed in the back of the van, and then, newly garbed in what were really cute little printed tops and grey leggings, we looked around for what else could kill an hour. And toe-painting won by a mile. Trotted over to a local nail place, ordered a pedi for me and two “kid specials” for the girls (for $5 they get filing, color, and a decoration).

They adored it. First professional nail painting at 4 and 3/4. Hee! I’m pretty sure I was in my thirties before I had a professional pedi.


TubaDad wandered in at one point and looked a little lost surrounded by the sea of estrogen so I tossed him the purse cam and said “Here, take a picture or two, then you can escape outside and get a diet coke or something.”



Once Ro and Ree were all fancied up, the tiny stylist chairs were the perfect perch to watch a little iPad movie and wait for mama to get beautiful. Please excuse the aforementioned drowned-rat hair. I didn’t have a comb in the car, so they got finger-scraped-back tails.IMG_3408LR2

Sweet babes enjoyed the experience very much, and I really appreciated that this salon offers an affordable fun option for mini babes. Ro chose hot pink with flowers and Ree chose electric blue with flowers. Oh, and I have cherry red with flowers.  DSC_8878LR

Little cuties!DSC_8884LR

Hope you had a wonderful weekend and your week is looking pretty dang good too!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fashion Friday (now with even more neon yellow)

Got a new, shorter (and even brighter) cast for little Ree yesterday. She picked yellow and then was pretty happy that she happened to be wearing a complementary yellow outfit. I saved the old cast, even though it is perhaps the smelliest thing I have ever touched. It’s just that Ro and
Ree, the 6 Texas cousins, and the 3 California cousins all signed it, and that makes it utterly precious. The doc said I could cut off all the white part (to get rid of the stink) and then glue it back together so we could have it forever. Heh. I guess I’m not the only nut he’s seen.IMG_3400LRsmall

Anyhow, here are the girls in the Fashion Friday outfits that they picked out today. They wanted to match, which involved some scuffling and pushing in the closet, but eventually they settled on the cute flowered green and orange dresses. As an aside, these outfits look kind of normal to me, not as crazy as Ro and Ree usually look, dontcha think? Ro was funny, after they plopped down for a pic she said “Mama, there are two things different, can you see them? I have legwarmers and Ree has a cast.” Funny girls.DSC_8748LRsmall

Oh, and I took a few pics of them all smiley, but this one is my fave because Ro was teasing Ree and she was looking at me kind of exasperated saying “Mommmmmmm!”

Does anyone else have any fun Fashion Friday outfits that your kiddo(s) assembled? If so, please share!

PS: I know this is a long shot, but are there any orthopedic specialists reading this? We have an appointment to get a second opinion on Monday, but in the meantime I’d love to hear another professional assessment of Ree’s most recent xrays (I can email them to you). TubaDad and I don’t have any experience reading these things, so maybe everything is perfectly on track like our ortho doc said yesterday and will be fine with time, but the radius looks troubling to me. No big deal, and we’ll hear more on Monday, but if anyone feels like looking at them this weekend, just give a holler.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Oh my word you would have thought I was giving them icecream with candy on top or something

The girls had their very first Kindergarten homework yesterday and apparently it was THRILLING. Seriously, they squealed, lined up their new pencils and crayons, and couldn’t even wait for their beloved after-school snack before diving in.IMG_3375LR IMG_3380LR

From now until the end of the school year, they have a daily schedule of workbook pages to complete each night. Don’t laugh, but I naively assumed we’d need about 10 minutes to fly through the assignments each day. Um, not so much. Ro and Ree spent about an hour doing homework last night and the same amount of time tonight. Oops. To be fair, I don’t think the teacher expects full-page coverage with twenty different colors when she says to “complete the worksheet, then color in the pictures.” But that’s what they want to do for the time being, so we’re tackling homework earlier in the day now so the little darlings don’t get rushed.

By the way, I had the worst time figuring out what they were supposed to do on the below worksheet. The instructions are at the bottom, and I swear I read the freaking thing ten times before finally saying, “Well, um, OH! I think there are four possible shapes and each row is missing one of the shapes.” Argh!!!! Can you even imagine how much trouble I’m going to have helping them with their high-school homework?


So, how are your kiddos doing with homework so far? Do they love it, hate it, fly through it, agonize over making everything look perfect?

PS: Ro and Ree were telling about their day at school (with much coercion from me) and Ree said quite soberly “One of the kids in our class had to go to the princess’s office today.” Bwah ha!!!

PSPS: I have a million cute pics from Avila Beach this weekend that I will just have to post at a later date (sorry, mom!). My fave pic was this one of Ro and Ree watching their daddy play the tuba in an outdoor concert. It’s a framer for sure.IMG_3332LR

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fashion Friday and a cast-cover review


Just a quick post to document what the girls picked out to wear for Fashion Friday today. It still amuses me how different they are in their styling. Wonder what Rachel Zoe would make of their choices? Heh.

Ree went for an orange-on-orange look with a black belt and black patent leather shoes for some pop (actually her words were “I want a belt to make everything look pretty, mama"). And Ro is clearly wishing it would cool off already. She loves the layered looks that she gets to put together in winter, and today went for a pink paisley top, hot pink ruffled skirt, multistripe leggings, disney socks, and her old pink shoes which are seriously getting too small but she won’t let me throw away. Oh, and she wanted legwarmers on her arms. Never mind that it’ll probably hit 90-degrees today...

For the most part, by the way, the girls haven’t felt like picking out their outfits for school. They’d rather play in PJs until the absolute last minute and then just tell me what colors they want. So I’ve been putting out clothes, and they happily put them on. But they’ve decided that they definitely want to pick their own outfits on Friday (I think they just enjoy singing the words “Fashion Friday” as they get dressed), so hopefully we’ll have fun/zany/twinado outfits to post each week.

We’re heading out for the long weekend at the beach, and I’m not packing the laptop. Hope everyone has fun! Oh, and that reminds me of the little war we’ll be fighting against sand this weekend. In prep, we’re bringing the cast cover we got from XeroSox, a rubber kitchen glove, and some trashbags and painter’s tape. Why so many things? Well they all kind of work in different situations. The XeroSox cast cover (Ree is wearing it below) is awesome for swimming or any total immersion activity (it comes with a little ball to pump the air out and make a vacuum seal). But, the tight top makes it a pain in the butt to get on, so it’s only really worth the hassle if I know Ree will be submerged in the water. By the way, this thing really should have been designed a little differently – there’s no need for the enormous cartoonish mitten/thumb part at the end, Ree’s hand doesn’t even come close to that part, and it just hangs there and looks silly. I’d like it better if they had just rounded the top off.DSC_8619LR

For bathtime, I’ve found that the easiest thing is to trim a plastic garbage bag down to size and tape around the top with painter’s tape (so the tape is partially on her arm and partially on the bag). The tape won’t hold if it gets submerged, but Ree is great at keeping her bagged arm on the edge of the tub. And it’s easy to put on and remove. I’ll probably use that same thing at the beach, but am also packing a kitchen rubber glove just in case. The rubber glove easily fits over her hand and some of her arm, so if Ree can keep the sand out of the top of the cast then we’ll probably just go with that since it’s reusable and we don’t need to bring any tape down to the beach.