Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tag Team

Back again, Wrecks n Effects, and let's begin...

Man I love old jams and there are certain songs like this one that I can link very specific memories to. But I digress.

This post is about my IRL tag team partner and amazing hubs, TG.

I am always thankful for him, but I don't always verbalize that gratitude. I've been working on letting him know how appreciative I am of his help as a husband and father.

At dinnertime tonight I became hyper aware of how thankful I am to have him by my side. While I was prepping plates, I looked behind me and he was filling sippys and getting us drinks. While I was delivering plates, he is right behind me with all the dinnertime necessities like napkins, condiments, and bibs. And right after we say grace he's ready with our music on demand. I feed Camden, he refills Riley's cup, I get a spoon off the floor, he wipes a nose.

Clean up was more of the same. As I was clearing the table he's wiping messy hands and faces. While I quickly washed dishes he vacuumed. Before I knew it all the work was done and we were ready to spend some time together outside enjoying the sprinkler with our two sweet babies. It was a delightful evening.

Of course it isn't always this seamless, but it makes me all the more thankful for when it is. So, thank you TG for being the ultimate tag team partner.

Whoomp, there it is.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

We had such a wonderful laid back weekend together as a family.

It made me ready for summer...like now. TG has three weeks left of school and I have that same amount of time with my little crew of 5. Believe me, I love those kids and we have great fun, but watching 5 age 3 and under is hard work! I'm exhausted by the end of the day. This weekend was just what I needed to recharge for the last bit of time.

We managed to go to the pool all three days of our weekend. We joined our community pool and it is only 3 minutes away from our home. It makes it very easy to throw some snacks and drinks in a bag and head down there.

Riley and Camden loved playing at the pool! Our sweet Riley is so determined to be able to swim this summer. She is not afraid to put her face in or even go under the water. Actually, today at our gym pool she was begging us to let her "gos under so I cans sink to the bottom wike a rock". TG and I worked with her a lot over the last three days and she's definitely showing improvement. She can make it a short distance between him and I or from us to the wall, but we really need to work on getting her to keep her face down in the water and only lift it to breathe! Riley told us yesterday, "I wills be able to swim by hmm, Saturday!"

My handsome TG and his mini me.

Watching his big sister swim laps in the pool with Daddy.
Look at that reach! She's a natural born swimmer just like her Mommy and her Tata.
He loved sitting poolside, splashing with his toys, and watching the action. For about 5 minutes.
The baby pool was closed, but NBD, we rock the big pool just fine.
You lookin at me? Mean muggin' his little octopus.
Three days of fun in the sun definitely caught up with our kiddos today! We had to wake them both up from their afternoon nap around 5:30 pm. Tonight we grilled steak, made Tutu's potato salad, and grilled veggies for dinner. It was the perfect end to a wonderful weekend.

I hope all of you were able to enjoy time with your families today. I have to take a moment to say thank you to all the men and women who serve our country in the Armed Forces. We don't take our freedom for granted and we know that is only made possible by the sacrifices of so many. I specifically want to say thank you to our family and dear friends who have served our country. We love you Gampy, Papa, Uncle P, and Uncle R!

ALOHA - Day 2

It took us several days to adjust to the 6 hour time change. The first morning we were there Camden was awake and hollering at 5:30 am. I managed to hold him off for 30 more minutes by feeding him and letting him sleep in our bed, but by 6 am Riley was awake too.

One of my favorite things about our trip was watching my kids get up every morning and go looking for their Gammy, Gampy and Tata in their adjoining room. My parents would sing "Good Morning" to them and give them hugs and kisses and generally let them run back and forth while we all got ready for our day.

I simply cannot say enough about how amazing my parents and sister were on this trip. This was their vacation as well, but they went out of their way to help with Riley and Camden as much as they possibly could. They were so insistent that TG and I be able to relax and destress while on this trip. Little things like holding Camden whenever they could, helping push the stroller, taking them to the pool, dressing them, bathing them; I could go on and on. I never had to ask for help, more often then not they were offering without me even saying a word. Hubs and I were able to spend so much time alone! We went shopping, laid out at the beach, paddle boarding, parasailing, visited happy hours and just enjoyed ourselves. Gammy, Gampy, and Tata if you are reading this, thank you so much. Your time, help and love for our children meant so much to us!

So that first morning we were up with the sun and headed out for a walk down Waikiki. We walked to the pier which was almost 2 miles away and by then the kids were melting down from a combo of hunger, jet lag, and the heat. We tried watching the fish to brighten Riley's mood, but she wasn't really having it.

So we made tracks for our favorite breakfast spot...

DENNY'S! I'm a little embarassed to say how many times we had breakfast here, but their portuguese sausage, eggs and rice were so good! A dash of soy sauce and some hot sauce for Gammy and we were in heaven! Little man LOVED the portuguese sausage too. Riley preferred the baseball pancake breakfast.

After a nap for Cam, we went up to Punch Bowl to visit my Grandpa. It was my first time here. We said hello and left some beautiful red flowers for him.

After Punch Bowl we had to head back over to the airport so we could retrieve Riley's backpack that I left in the baggage area the day before. Luckily her bag and all her things had been picked up by the airline office. After that we went to Wal-Mart for some trip necessities.

It was Kid's Month at the hotel and they had all sorts of fun activities for them! When we got back from our errands we went to the Easter cookie decorating. They had a wonderful set up; tons of premade sugar cookies in cute Easter shapes, tons of icing bags, and decor galore! Riley had a great time. She made a cookie for herself and one for her brother.

Gammy and Gampy offered to stay with the babies while they napped so TG and I went down to Bibas happy hour. We relaxed on their patio and had a snack, some drinks and listened to the live music. When they woke up we all went down to the pool for a swim.

In the weeks leading up to the trip we told Riley that in Hawaii she could go swimming at the pool or beach everyday. We made sure that happened and she loved it!

Cam was such a trooper. I'm not sure if you can tell from these photos, but he really wasn't feeling well at all. At this point the double ear infection was still kicking his tush.

After the pool it was time for an early dinner and baby baths courtesy of Gammy before another 6 pm bedtime.

Weekly Menu

I missed posting last week's menu, but trust me you didn't miss much other than some grilled chicken and grilled cheese. It was a busy week, as the end of the school year weeks usually are and I'm TIRED. However, I'm trying to pull it together and march on for these last 3 weeks and planning is the key.

Monday: Grilled Rosemary Merlot Flank Steak with roasted veggies
Tuesday: Loose Meat Sandwiches (Crock pot meal)
Wednesday: Date night with Twinnie
Thursday: Spaghetti
Friday: Taco Bake
Saturday: Classic Italian Panini with Prosciutto and Fresh Mozzarella
Sunday: Grilled hot dogs and corn

This week's recipe comes from my Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009 cookbook. I decided to make this recipe when TG commented on how out of control my container herb garden basil is growing. You can't make this sandwich without the fresh stuff so if you don't have it, get to your grocery store and buy some!

Classic Italian Panini with Prosciutto and Fresh Mozzarella

1 (12 oz.) loaf French bread, cut in half horizontally (I use a baguette from Harris Teeter)
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 T chopped fresh basil
1 C (4 oz) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese, divided (you can use the packaged stuff but the fresh mozzi gives it the best flavor)
2 oz. very thin slices prosciutto (I've subbed bacon before and that is just as delicious)
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (It's tomato season!!!)
Cooking spray

1. Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving 1/2 inch thick shells; reserve torn bread for another use. Spread 2 T mayo over cut side of each bread half. Sprinkle basil and 1/2 C cheese on bottom half of loaf. Top evenly with prosciutto, tomato, and remaining 1/2 C cheese. Cover with top half of loaf. Cut filled loaf crosswise into 4 equal pieces.

2. Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray (I use EVOO in a Misto). Add sandwiches to pan. Place a cast-iron or other heavy skillet on top of sandwiches (I usually just use a small pan with two cans of food in it). Cook 3 minutes on each side or until bread is toasted (leave skillet on sandwiches while they cook).

It makes 4 servings of a tasty, easy and perfect summertime sandwich. We love this with grilled veggies or a romaine salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Home Is Where The Heart Is - Day 1 - Travel

Over a month ago, after a 6 year hiatus, we finally made it back home.

Home to our beloved Hawaii.

The last time we were in Hawaii, TG and I were still newly married and our children were only stars in the sky.

We've tried several times over the years to plan a trip back, but houses, jobs, babies and life just got in the way. So when the last minute opportunity to take our whole family came up we jumped on it.

We decided to break up the 12 hour travel time and stop in San Francisco overnight to give ourselves and our kids a break. That was the best decision we ever made.

We left here on a Wednesday night (after missing our 4:00 flight) on Virgin America. I simply can't say enough about this airline. From the staff in the airport who went out of their way to help us get on another flight, to the pilot who after a 6 hour flight went out of his way to locate our stroller - their customer service was unmatched by any airline we've ever been on. Add to that the seriously beautiful and spacious airplane with cable tv on demand and courteous flight attendant service and you've got the ideal cross country flight with two small children. If you haven't flown Virgin, you are missing out.

After a much needed night of sleep we woke up early West Coast time and majorly excited for our flight to Honolulu. Now, can we talk airports? In my opinion, Dulles is one of the worst airports to fly out of. It's busy, understaffed, and sprawling. The majority of the reason we missed our flight was simply our fault for cutting it too close, but that combined with the ridiculous security line at Dulles sealed our fate.

Not wanting to make the same mistake that we did in DC we arrived 2.5 hours early at SFO for our Honolulu flight, but much to our surprise that amount of time was unnecessary because San Fran has a security line just for families. We breezed right through, had a delicious breakfast and had 2 hours to spare. 2 hours that were happily spent playing in the Kids Science Area. SFO is seriously family friendly, hello Dulles can you get on that train already?

Our flight to Honolulu was okay, mostly because we knew at the end we would be in Hawaii. Camden slept almost the whole way with a raging fever due to an ear infection we were battling right up to the day we left (with a last minute morning trip to urgent care to get yet another antibiotic). Riley happily played the iPad for most of the trip while TG tried to relax. I missed winning the halfway point game by a mere 2 minutes and TG and I enjoyed a yummy cheese and wine tray as our lunch.

My heart swelled with joy when we caught our first breath of island air and Riley grasped my hand and solemnly said, "Mom, this is my faber-it place in the whoa-el werr-ld." I couldn't have said it better myself.

After we grabbed our bags, we hopped on our Roberts Hawaii bus to the hotel where we immediately dropped our bags off at the bell hop and ran down to the beach to put our toes in the water. Riley soaked herself and her dress while Camden squealed with excitement at the waves lapping over his little feet.

I might have shed a tear of at that moment watching my two babies so happy in a place that brings me so much joy.

Then we sprawled on the grass, played with shoes, and ran off some pent up energy while we waited for Gammy and Gampy to arrive.

We wrapped up our first afternoon there with dinner at Bibas and an early 6:00 pm bedtime for all.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Seen and Heard


Spending the beautiful spring days playing at the park with our friends.

Playing with brother's little red wagon. Everyone loves the wagon.

On the iPad. She asks multiple times a day, "Mom, I play the iPad?". If TG or I are using it she sits by us and audibly sighs until it's her turn.


Watching Bieber's baby video, right before the Ludacris interlude
Riley: WOOOO-DA!

Laying in our bed before bedtime watching Spiderman, TG comes in from the shower in his towel to get his clothes.
Riley: Daaaaaaad, you nakey like a jaybird! Put some ca-whoas on man!
Riley: But I like you shiny tushy (disclaimer she did not see his tushy so we're not sure why she said that but we cracked up anyway)

Whenever I leave to go somewhere without her..

Riley: On my weddins day, I'ma mar-wee Air-wee-el! A-cause I wants to be a mermaid, that be my dream come trues Mom.

In the car, at home, in stores, just about anywhere she hears our "dams" - ie jams as I call them.
Riley: Moms, let's ROCK OUT!!!

Riley found a feather outside and wanted to keep it but I told her she had to throw it away.
Riley: Oh, sigh, I wish I could keeps it, but I unnerstans, I'll throws it in da trash myself.

As he points to everything for which he has no words yet...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Wake Up Dad!

One of Riley's favorite games as a baby (and to this day) was playing wake up Dad. TG pretends to sleep and she wakes him up either loudly or forcefully. Camden is a big fan too. They love playtime with TG.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Life With A 1 Year Old Boy

Is wonderful, crazy and oh so different than life with a one year old girl.

I think twinnie described it best when she said "Boys are just more aggressive towards life" because he totally is. Give Riley a play oven and rolling pin at age 1 and she would be opening the oven and putting things inside, pseudo baking. Give Camden the same toys and the first thing he does is start banging on it...hard.

Camden LOVES his trucks, cars and construction equipment toys. He pushes them all around the house on his hands and knees making "vroom and grrr" noises.

TG has gotten back into playing his guitar lately and loves playing for and with the kids. Cam loves music. His favorite song is Justin Bieber's Baby. It doesn't matter what he's doing and if he's fussing he will immediately stop and give all attention to the video when we turn it on Music OnDemand.

He is a legit walker now. When we were in Hawaii he learned how to stand back up on his own. He morphed from a Captain Morgan one knee stance to the tripod push back. Now that's mastered we can't stop him from toddling all over. Luckily for now he still listens to me pretty well and comes back when I call him.

Camden's favorite toy of the moment is this ball and hammer toy. It was my best consignment sale purchase of the year for $1. He loves it and is fiercely protective of it. God forbid you should try to take it from him because he's wielding a hammer.

His personality is slowly developing and he has a very slapstick sense of humor. Cam loves things that are just silly, like wearing a teapot lid on your head.

Or a play kitchen skillet, like Johnny Appleseed.

Cam's got a full mouth of teeth, as his eye teeth are FINALLY (thank the Lord) popping through. He's got tiny fangs at the moment, it's pretty cute.

Cam's loud. He's rough. He's definitely tough and he's becoming more and more independent everyday. There's never a dull moment in this life with a 1 year old boy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Weekly Menu

I'm slacking again.

Truth is I'm cheating on my blog.

With my scrapbook. I used to scrapbook when I was a newlywed, but I never finished it. Twinnie is a hard core scrapbooker and I've jumped back on board. As I type this we're sitting at Panera, I'm using their free wifi, she's scrapping and I'm giving the blog some much needed attention.

Oh wait, you were here just for the meal plan and weekly recipe?

Monday: Crockpot chili with five cheese bread
Tuesday: American Flatbread to support All for Aidan and JDRF
Wednesday: Date night with Twinnie
Thursday: Grilled steak and parmesan cheese pasta salad
Friday: Grilled hot dogs with grilled corn on the cob
Saturday: Pulled beef BBQ sandwiches with baked beans
Sunday: Grilled chicken with grilled veggies (squash and zucchini)

Obviously we're obsessed with our new grill. And I'm so involved with scrapping again that I attended my second scrapbooking crop this past weekend. The hostess served this absolutely delicious pulled beef BBQ with a homemade cole slaw. My mouth is watering just typing it again. She inspired me to make that for my own family this week.

Once again I default to FramedCooks. She came up with a pulled pork recipe inspired by Taste Of The South. I'm changing it up myself so it's my version of Framed's version of Taste's version. Got that, doesn't really matter just prepare yourself for some tasty BBQ.

Shredded Beef BBQ Sandwiches
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
2 cloves garlic, smashed (she used 4, but hubs isn't a huge garlic fan so I halved it)
1 medium onion, finely diced (I changed this to a smaller dice and from 2 large to 1 medium)
1 3 lb beef brisket (she used a 5 lb pork roast)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Hamburger rolls
Your favorite coleslaw
Your favorite barbecue sauce, warmed - KC Masterpiece, duh

1. Combine salt, paprika and pepper in a small bowl. Rub brisket with oil, and then rub spice mixture on, coating it all over.
2. Place roast in a slow cooker with garlic and onions. Add enough water to come three-quarters up the side of the beef.
3. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours. Save about a cup of the liquid and take out the beef. Remove any fat and bones, and then use two forks to shred it.
4. Mix sandwich-size portions with warmed bbq sauce and place on hamburger buns. Top with coleslaw and serve.

Framed says you can freeze the leftover BBQ and warm it whenever you want more - which in my house would probably be the next day. :) Happy eating friends!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Camden's Barnyard Bash

Cam's birthday party trifecta came to an end on Saturday with a barnyard bash at GCF. With friends and family in tow we headed for the country to spread out and enjoy all the fun at the farm.

We were led to the corn crib by our party hostess.

Where she helped me set up plates and napkins while I busied myself with the decorations I made the night before. Like his cupcake tower.

The 12 months banner with a picture of him from birth and every month until the 12th month.

The gift table with a framed photo of him 8 days old and a photo of him 8 days away from 1 year old.

The place setting complete with bubble favors.

The guest of honor arrived in his new red wagon, a gift from Gigi and Papa.

He snacked on some cheese puffs while he waited for his guests to arrive.

After his third round of "Happy Birthday Dear Camden" and some eating, we all headed over to meet Farmer Bob for our hayride tour of the farm.

We exited the hayride and then it was on to the cow train! MOOOOOOO!

Even Uncle J got a ride.

After that everyone was free to head out on the farm and bounce, feed the animals or play at the playgrounds they have. We all met up at the end in the corn bin. The mama's stretched out in chairs, the Daddy's chatted or corralled children and the kiddos played happily.

It was the perfect end to the perfect day.