Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Count Down Continues

Two days a counting people. Or at least that was the update from the office Count Downers to Santa's arrival this morning. This has really been a fun year for us. The kids are at such a great age for this whole Santa thing (not being Christian the religious aspect of x-mas doesn't even come into play for me, lol!). And I can't even begin to explain how effective threats of landing on the naughty list have been (for the kids, too! ;) If you've never seen it before, consider buying the Elf on the Shelf and revel in this new way to blackmail your kids into behaving!

Besides baking the shit out of my kitchen, my one nod to Christmas tradition is to force my kids to watch Christmas movies every night in the lead up to Christmas Day. A is particularly enamored of the Grinch (cartoon, not live action) and begs for it nightly. J prefers Rudolph or Alvin and the Chipmunks (Hubs bought the Christmas DVD set, how 80s are we??!!). C likes to switch it up, but last night was my night to pick. So we watched my all time favorite Christmas movie, the Nightmare Before Christmas.

Hubs is back from LA. He got in late last night, so I haven't had too much time to talk with him since I had to work today (although I did come in late since I have to close tonight). But I don't have to talk to him to know that while he was out drinking and gallivanting with the drummer from Fleetwood Mac (really!), I was having equally exciting experiences like this one:

C leans over and farts on A's head.
Both laugh hysterically.
J: *indignantly* Ew! That is gross! Mom! Make her stop fawting!
C farts again.
A laughs so hard he knocks himself over.
J: *in a whiny yell* Stop fawwwwwwwwwting, C!!! *suddenly burps, looks surprised, then all three laugh hysterically*

Or,

Picture this: you're calmly shopping in CVS. Your children are distracted by a colorful makeup display, so you are free to quickly browse the aisle when suddenly your youngest son starts screaming bloody murder, screaming like someone has gravely injured him. You rush over to see what the matter is and notice a bright red substance on his mouth. You worry that it is blood, that he may have bitten his lip, when you suddenly notice the bottle in his hand.
He has eaten nail polish.
I repeat, your son has opened up a bottle of nail polish and decided to eat it and now has a tell tale nail polish mustache that incites all people within the relative vicinity to stare at you like you are the worst mother ever
...also, he is still screaming and has drooled nail polish onto your coat.
...He takes after his father.

In retaliation to life in general, I have decided to start following this creed. I hope you will all follow suit and not fall into the trap, as I did, of not giving a cunt suck.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

When It Rains...

So after Monday's insurance disappointment, I received in the mail yesterday a couple of medical bills from August! Apparently BC/BS just paid out their end. Awesome. To top that off, we made an emergency trip to the doctor for A yesterday only to find out that he has a bad staph infection on his tummy. That has to be the worst thing I've ever seen one of my kids go through (and that includes the staples in the head and the time C got stitches in her mouth). I had to hold him down while the doctor drained the damn thing. A doesn't have too many words, but he was in full command of "no, owwie, and 'op (stop)." And that look. The look of," Mommy, why are you doing this to me?" It sucked.

In other news, da Hubs leaves tomorrow for LA for about 5 days, so it will just be me and the kiddos for a while. Hubs gets back next Tuesday, he's home just over X-mas, and then off to Texas to visit the s-kids for a week. He gets back on the 1st and then a few days later I head out the door for Germany.

Also, I think I forgot to blog about C's first concert. C plays the flute in her school band (she begged me to do it last year, so I spent about $400 on that friggin flute and I'll be damned if she gives it up before she graduates from high school!). C was very nervous and attempted many ploys to avoid having to go through with it. But I have to say that on the day of, she was very excited and proud. The band was about as good as one might expect a group of 4th and 5th graders to be (lol). It was a wee bit painful. The concert only took about 20min, and when it was over I complemented her on how well she played and how difficult some of the songs were C replied, "Yeah, I know. I didn't even know half the notes on the last one, so I just made them up!" Ha!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Still Here

Well, work has been as crazy as I had predicted. Last week I left the house every day by 6am and didn't get home before 6pm even once :( To top it off, last weekend was my Reserve weekend, so I was into my 12th day of straight work with no break. Not fun! In slightly better work news, although I will continue to be so busy I hardly have time to breathe, I am going to be heading to Germany for a week in support of this project. I had hoped to be able to take a day or two additional so I could swing up to Amsterdam to see my lil' sis and fiance, but I think I'm going to have to bank on them possibly having time to come down to Frankfort to see me :(

In other news, we had an update meeting with Early Steps today to talk about A's transition from the ES program (0-3 years) to FDLRS, which is FL's program from kids aged 3 and up. This was just a preliminary meeting to get the paperwork started, but I did find out that even if he does qualify for services (which I have no doubt he will) there will be a three month gap from the time he turns 3 in June until school starts in late August where he won't be covered by ES or FDLRS. My ES coordinator is going to try and help us secure some funding from other sources, but I have a bad feeling I make too much money to qualify for any special funding. So there's an extra 3mos of $$ we're going to have to sock away for A's therapy *le sigh* The good news is that FDLRS covers the cost of pre-K and transportation (yes, he will ride the short bus, lol!), so once school starts we won't have to worry as much. A is due for his 6-month eval in Jan, so we'll get a formal assessment then of how he's progressed since he started therapy in July.

In my personal opinion A has made huge strides, but he still has a long, long way to go. He started out with no words and is now up to about 20 or so recognizable words, even more if you count sounds (e.g. he says doo doo for train, ruff ruff for dog, mao mao for cat, teet teet for bird). He still has a very hard time imitating sounds. If I tell him something is yellow, he repeats ee-ooo. He also uses sounds that are easier for him to say to describe lots of things. He calls trains doodoos (he can't say choo choo) but he also calls Scooby Doo, doo doo. He calls everything a truck (guck because he can't say the tr sound) whether it's a car, truck, bus or train. On the positive side, he is definitely trying to use language and those of us that are around him a lot can understand what he needs based upon a combination of his sounds and other cues. For example, if he's standing in the kitchen or pointing at the fridge and says, "Anna mek," I know he's saying, "I want milk." He also uses some signs, although those are pretty infrequent. I plan to start using the Baby Signing Time DVDs again since he seems more open to them now.

Our GF diet has kind of fallen to the wayside recently. It was very hard to get Tim's Grandma (who watches him during the day) to comprehend the idea of the GF diet, and her mistakes made it kind of for naught. No matter how hard I try to keep him on the diet, if she accidentally gives him a cookie or some other "no" food, all that time, effort and money (going GF is expensive!) goes out the window and you start the timeline all over again. Our care plan may change starting next year, so we'll try again when we have a little more control!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Inadvertant Blog Hiatus

Sorry for abandoning my blogging duties so egregiously. I have a huge project ongoing at work that is threatening to eat up all my free time. I wish I could say that this makes me a littler happier (and, to be fair, it does a little since I can't stand being bored at work), but I fear we are being so obviously set up for failure that I work feverishly with the despair of knowing that our fabulous product will probably go nowhere thanks to the childish politics of the various government offices involved (e.g. My org should be leading this project, therefore I will sabatoge any effort you make in spite of that fact that we are fighting a war and people are dying. Who cares! It should be my project!!!!).

To tide you over in between my infrequest posts, here are some other stories of life in the Pu household:

C made some new friends with a few of the sixth grade girls at her school when she brought her copy of Twilight: New Moon to school to read at recess. I believe the coversation went something like this (as repeated to me by said child).

Random Sixth Grade Girl (RSGG): OMG! Is that, like, Twilight: New Moon??!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I looooove Twilight. Do you love Twilight, too??!!
C: OMG, yes! Twilight is, like, so totally awesome and cool. I love Edward. I am Team Edward all the way, whoo hoo!
RSG: OMG, me too! We should be BFF forever (hugs!!!)
C: Like, that would be so awesome! Twilight is so cool. I wish I had a vampire boyfriend like Edward.
RSGG: HE IS SO DREAMY!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
C: I KNOW!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
RSGG: I have already seen New Moon twice and I am going to go again!
C: NO WAY!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I haven't seen New Moon yet because my parents are so lame!!!!!
RSGG: No way! That sucks! You're parents are way lame!
C: I KNOW! What is wrong with them??!!
RSGG: You should tell that that you will just die if you don't see it!!!
C: I tried that!!!! My mom said that I was lucky to have the book! SO LAME!!!!
RSGG: LAME!!!!
C: I KNOW!!!!

And so on. Tween talk is very hard to interpret because of all the random squealing.

J, on the other hand, has become an expert at interpreting A-speak:

A: Oh weee
J: A says he wants Halloween candy.

A: Ah guck!!! Ah guck!!
J: A wants his truck. You are sitting on it, and he wants it back before your butt eats it.

A: Mo geegah!
J: A wants to have more cookies.
Me: But you don't have any cookies.
J: Yes, that's why he wants more.

Post Turkey Day Ideas:

I always make way too much food for Thanksgiving (who doesn't), and I'm not crazy about having T-Day feast repeats over and over, so I have become pretty good at figuring out what to do with the leftovers. So far this year I have made Tom Kha Gai with turkey and a hybrid turkey pot pie (mashed potato crust, so sort of a turkey shepherd's pie, really). One of my favorite recipes for leftover turkey, however, is Turkey Tetrazini. It is really delicious and it is also super, super easy. Here is my version, which is very slightly adapted from an old Homes & Gardens Cookbook I have.

Pu's Tetrazini:

1 lb spaghetti, cooked
1/2-3/4lb chopped turkey
3- 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth (or turkey broth if you saved it)
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup sherry or white wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
6 tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 lg onion, chopped
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2 tbsp of the butter in a large pan on medium heat (large enough to hold all ingredients mentioned in the recipe) and cook the onion and mushrooms with a little salt and pepper and the lemon juice until cooked through (about 5-7min). Set veggies aside and melt the remaining butter in the pan. Add the flour and stir the roux until it is smooth and a nice caramel color. Slowly add the chiken or turkey broth and sherry until the mixture is a thick almost chowder like consistancy. Add the half and half and nutmeg and season to taste.Then add the saved veggies and chopped turkey and cook just until mxture is heated through. Spread the cooked spaghetti evenly in a large oven-safe pot or dutch oven. Pour the turkey mixture over top of the spaghetti and sprikle the cheese evenly on top. Bake at 350 for about 30min or until the cheese browns slightly. Let the dish cool for about 10-15 minutes and then slice into even pieces and serve (like lasagna). So delicious!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Boys Are Stinky and Girls Are Mean

Very uneventful weekend. On Saturday we held a birthday party for Tim’s Grandma (the one who watches A for us). We all pitched in and bought her a ticket back to Buffalo to visit her family back there. I found it humorous that we live in FL and bought her a ticket to go on vacation to Buffalo in January! We also went to the market on Saturday and got lots of produce. I tried to make a cauliflower soup with curry and cardamom, but it turned out to have way too much cardamom and no one would eat it :(

The temperature here has dipped a bit. It still gets into the high 70s/low 80s during the day but it’s down into the 50s at night (hey, after the summer weather, this feels like ice to me!). So in honor of the cooler weather, here’s my current recipe for Tom Kha Gai:

Pu’s Tom Kha Gai

2 cans Coconut Milk
2 cups Chicken broth
4-6 Tbsp Roasted Red Chili Paste
1 stalk lemongrass
1 6” piece of galangal
1 can straw mushrooms
½ lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
2-3 Tbsp lime juice
Kafir lime leaves
1 serrano or Thai bird’s eye chili seeded and sliced (big slices so you can fish them out) *optional
Salt & pepper to taste

Season the chicken and cook it in a skillet until cooked through. Set aside. In a pot, put the coconut milk and broth, peeled & sliced galangal, and lemongrass* and turn the heat to medium high. Add the chili paste, lime leaves (as much as you’d like to taste – I put in about 8-10), fish sauce, sugar, salt and pepper, and serrano chili**. Bring the soup to a boil and then turn down the heat to let it simmer. There is no prescribed cooking time for the broth. The true flavor of this soup comes from the galangal. You cannot substitute for it, and the flavor will be deeper the longer it cooks. So don’t be worried about overcooking it! Conversely, if the broth tastes good to you after 20-30 min of cooking, so be it! Once you’ve decided the broth is done, add the straw mushrooms, chicken, and lime juice (use this judiciously and taste as you add so you don’t accidently put in too much) and cook for another 10min or so.

*Prepare the lemon grass by chopping the stalk into 1 – 1 1/2” pieces and bruising them with the side of your knife.
**Depending on how spicy you like your food, this ingredient is totally optional. It is mainly for the heat and its omission won’t affect the flavor of the broth that much.


This is one of my favorite comfort meals. It is warm and spicy and soothing. I craved this soup daily when I was preggers with A. Hubs used to get it from his coworker who lived near a hole in the wall Thai place in Long Beach that made the absolute best version of this soup. I have never been able to equal their recipe, but this version is as close as I’ve ever gotten. One of the great things about Tom Kha Gai is that it is a very personal recipe. You can add or take away as much of any one ingredient as you like to make the broth fit your taste. Hope you like it!

Thing Heard Recently on Pu’s Corner:

J: My brain is telling me to eat your head.
Me: Hmm, well I would tell your brain that that is a very bad idea.
J: *very seriously* I know. I keep telling it that, but it doesn’t listen. Stupid brain.

Me: Your cousin, Y, is about to have a baby brother. What advice would you give her?
J: I would tell her not to have a brother. Boys are stinky and poop in their pants. She should have a sister.
Me: Like C?
J: No, not like C. She is mean and won’t let me play with her movies. Sometimes I can play with her cats but only when Daddy yells at her.
Me: But you would still tell her to have a sister?
J: *thoughtfully* No, she should just have a cat. Cats are soft and if you want their toy you can just take it and they don’t get mad.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Stuffs

So Halloween has come and gone (as evidenced by the pics in my last post), and now we have entered the true Holiday Season. That is, now we get to be inundated with commercials about how we need to spend, spend, spend for all the upcoming holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, C’s Birthday*). This year the Hubs and I have decided to keep our spending to a minimum. We are hell bent on getting ourselves out of debt, and I can’t think of much that we actually “need” (vs. want J ) We will be buying each child one large gift and stocking stuffers. Wish us luck in actually sticking to that, lol!
In other news, A’s therapy is progressing well. He has approximate sounds that he uses as words, which I am starting to figure out. For example, he says:
Jus – juice
Tada – Potato (as in, Mr. Potato Head or just to refer to potatoes in general)
Doodoo – Scooby Doo
Eeeoo-uu - IDK
In other news, I totally forgot that I have my reserve drill this weekend (1st one at my new base), so if I promised to Skype with you that's obvs not going to be an option. Sowwy!

*This one is considered optional for the population at large, but Amazon likes to remind me that it is coming up and I should buy, buy, buy to prepare!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Forgot to Mention the Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin patch was okay. Apparently the entire state of Florida decided to go the same day as us, so it was a wee bit crowded. Lines were long, there were pony rides (A refused to participate, but, surprisingly, J was very nonplussed by the whole situation, and even a mini-circus. It was all a bit overwhelming. Whatever happened to the good old days where there was, you know, a pumpkin patch. There were pumpkins, but they were in a cordoned area and already picked.So, it was alright, I guess. Next year I am hunting for an actual pumpkin patch where you can pick your own pumpkin and there might be perks like a cup of cider or a bale of hay to jump on. Pics are loaded to my new Facebook page, so I won't repost them here (mainly b/c I am lazy), but I will give you a taste:

Ha ha ha. This is my new favorite picture of A. He looks very Calvin to me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

All Around Update

So, I'm very conflicted about all these new kids movies coming out. On the one hand, I'm thrilled that the literary greats of my childhood (Where the Wild Things Are*, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) are getting their pop culture due. On the other hand, these are literary greats because of their indelible whimsy and, yes I'll say it, brevity. What is left to the imagination if it's all put out there in an hour to hour and a half movie? Granted I've not yet seen the movies, but, still, I feel vaguely betrayed.

In other movie news, da Hubs and I went all the way into Tampa to see Paranormal Activity, which is a new horror flick in the style of the Blair Witch Project. I'd heard about it on the radio where people were touting it as one of the scariest movies they'd ever seen, blah blah blah. Honestly, not that scary. Also, I figured out the ending before it occurred, so it was kind of a let down. Hubs, on the other hand, keeps telling me we have a demon in the house, so think of that what you will ;)

In other news totally unrelated to movies, I recently discovered Facebook. Okay, I didn't actually discover it, but I did create a profile and have been spending way too much time looking up people I don't really care about (and some that I do). We'll see how long this fancy lasts, but I am enjoying posting redonkulous updates about pooping (see our "in" list below).

Recipe

In the spirit of cooking easy, yummy food. Here's a quick recipe for those busy weeknights.

Pu's Hoisin Pork Chops:

1lb boneless pork chops, thin cut
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
3 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp rice vinegar or Shaoxing

Salt & pepper the chops to taste. Combine all other ingredients in a small bowl and then brush over the pork chops. Place in a shallow dish and broil for about 3min per side (baste again when you flip). Yum! I put these over an asian inspired noodle salad (rice noodles reconstituted combined with 2 tbsp Shaoxing, 1 tbsp Hoisin sauce, 1 tsp minced ginger, and 1 tsp minced garlic - toss all that with thinly sliced green & red peppers, purple onion, & cabbage).

Things Recently Heard on Pu's Corner:

Bringing an old feature back, we recently had a serious discussion on what is currently "in" in the Pu household. For your reading pleasure:

"In"
- Tinkerbell
- Miley Cyrus
- All Things Mr. Potato Head
- Punching People in the Butt
- Bubbles
- The Word "Poop"
- Hello Kitty Underwear
- Farting Noises
- The Color Pink

"Out"
- Dora the Explorer
- Carrots
- Playing Nicely With Your Brother
- Zombies
- Socks
- The Color Yellow


*btw, also authored by Maurice Sendak - see Chicken Soup post.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Yay for Fall Cooking

I have really been in to simple cooking lately for obvious reasons. I'm looking for delicious, flavorful dishes that can be made very quickly. None of this 30min meals bullshit where the 30min doesn't ever seem to include the actual prep time. I'm also excited for fall flavors. I love root veggies (if my Ode to a Sweet Potato hadn't tipped you off) and hearty soups and stews. So, in spite of the fact that it was 95 degrees here yesterday (!!), here is a great little fall recipe I made on Saturday.

Pu's Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Onions

2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ~1" pieces
1 lg sweet onion, chopped into pieces about the same size
1 sprig chopped fresh Rosemary
2-3 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Super simple. Toss the veggies in the oil with the spices and stick in the oven at about 400 degrees for about 30-40min (cooking time will depend on the size of your veggie slices). I served this with a lucious roasted chicken (nothing but kosher salt and an onion in its belly roasted at 400 degrees for abot 1 1/2 hours). Sooo easy!


Today I learned A has a new word. As I got dressed for the day, my beloved youngest son pranced around my room wearing nothing but a diaper and my push-up bra draped attractively over one shoulder. "ahhh, sssss!" he cried gleefully. To celebrate this complete nonsequitar, I bring you a new feature here at Pu's Corner:

Things You Never In a Million Years Imagined Would Come Out of Your Mouth During Normal, Daily Conversation:

"Did you just lick the shopping cart?"

"Yes, that is my son in aisle five on all fours meowing like a cat."

"Yes, cats fart, but that wasn't the cat."

"Don't shove that in your ear. You are not Mr. Potato Head."

"Please don't punch Mommy in the butt."

Today He Called Me Mama

And it was the sweetest sound I've ever heard.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Our Crappy Weekend



* I meant to post this earlier in the
week (obviously), but it has been an
incredibly busy week at work so,
sorry!

So here we are looking blissfully happy just before we got our asses handed to us by Miami (Miami! 0-3!!! Well, now 1-3, I guess *sigh*). To add insult to injury, Land Shark stadium is a truly crappy place to be (although the seats give you a pretty good view). It was so hot I was sweating from places I didn't even know were capable of producing sweat. Anyway, Miami itself was a fun little diversion. The game sucked, we had kind of a crappy time with the in-laws (FIL's wife is a piece of work!), Hubs, J and now C all have the flu, and I am the busiest I've ever been at work.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Musical Education

Lamest Football Weekend Eva!! (seriously, both my teams lost miserably and then I got my ass handed to me in fantasy -- where I have Drew Brees as my QB, so not only did we get trounced by NO, I also got no pts for Fantasy since he didn't throw for any TDs!)

In the awesome news pile, however, J came home on Friday and announced with much fan fare (and in a monotone yell-y voice):

In September for a while,
I will ride a crocodile,
Down that chick soup-y nile.
Paddle once, paddle twice
Paddle chicken soup with rice

I cannot express my joy! However, as much as I tried to implore J to sing other verses of the song, I soon learned that September was the only month she knew and the only one I could remember was February *le sigh* *

It was only after consulting with the Hubs that I realized not every child grows up with a musical-theater obsessed older sister, and therefore does not benefit from hearing the songs of Really Rosie over and over and over on cassette tape. I also realized that I had been neglecting my children's musical upbringing by playing them dumb shit like Mozart and Chopin. So I immediately went to Amazon and bought them a box set of Maurice Sendak stories as well as a DVD copy of Really Rosie (starring the Nutshell Kids, thank you very much!). Problem solved!


*I do, however, remember all the words to A Alligators All Around, which I think speaks volumes about my childhood!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another Day, Another (potential) Diagnosis

A's SLP (I have included an acronym list at the bottom of this post..you may need to start referring to it for this and what looks to be many future posts) brought me some handouts on sensory integration (SID/SPD). She thinks A exhibits many proprioceptive behaviors (a lack of sensory input that causes the child to seek out stronger sensory input), which could be better addressed with OT.* Since we are switching our insurance from BC/BS (because they SUCK!) to Tricare, I called up the ES folks who are going to try and schedule an OT evaluation hopefully at some point in the next few months. As I am learning, I was actually fortunate to have forked over $1500 for A's speech and hearing evaluations through All Children's Hospital because they (being a private, for-profit organization) gave A thorough diagnostic testing and came up with an appropriate diagnosis fairly quickly. If you go through ES to being with, you will probably not be so lucky and may spend years waiting to get and appointment much less the proper diagnosis. Now that we are going to go through ES we already qualify for 2x/week speech therapy based on his initial diagnosis (which their independent evaluation confirmed); however, from this point forward we are back at square one for any other issues that might come up. If I were able to shell out the $$ for a private OT eval, we could probably get A in to see one in a fairly short time period, but since I can't afford any more medical bills we are going to have to put up with the system.

The good news is that A's ST is going well. He is very enamored with the word "no" and uses it almost constantly (I have never been more thrilled to hear a toddler say no!). His SLP gives us tons of information, tons of handouts and suggested therapy techniques. She has offered to start doing 1x/week with us at home and use the other session w/Hubs grandma, who is A's primary caregiver when I am at work and Hubs is in school. Although I would like to have all the sessions for us, I think she makes a good point that it is important for Grandma to be on the same page as us and using the same techniques to work on A's speech.

Various Acronyms for Your Reading Pleasure:
AOS - Apraxia of Speech
COS - Childhood Apraxia of Speech
SLP - Speech Language Pathologist
ST - Speech Therapist/Speech Therapy
OT - Occupational Therapist/Occupational Therapy
SID - Sensory Integration Disorder
SPD - Sensory Processing Disorder
ES - Early Steps (Florida's Early Intervention Program)
GF - gluten-free

Other Child News:

Wait, I have other children? You may not think so from reading this blog since I seem to be devoting much of my written time to A's journey, but I do in fact have a couple of other munchkins that I occasionally glance at from time to time ;) C & J have recently discovered computer games (I say recently only because I have only recently allowed C to start touching the home computer). So when Hubs settled down on the couch with his laptop last night it was no surprise that J immediately snuggled up to him and asked him to play a game with her.
"Sure," said Hubs," This game is called 'Help Daddy bet on the Dolphins.'"

*I may not want A to have any more issues than he already has, but this does explain a lot of his behavior, particularly his penchant for chewing on everything and his propensity to do every activity with the apparent intent of killing himself.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cuttin Out the Tasty

So, based on some good advice from my mom (I should really just consult her before I run off willy, nilly like I always do), we had A tested for food sensitivities and vitamin deficiencies and the like. Lo and behold he is most definitely sensitive to gluten, but casein - no problem. So, yay we get to keep butter (THANK GOD!) and various dairyliciousness; however, I am going to have to figure out how to cut out every bit of gluten-based product in our house. Or, as my Hubs said, everything that is yummy tasting. Sorry, Hubs. The thing with gluten is that apparently it is very easy to get cross contamination, so you really do have to make the house basically gluten-free. That means I have to get rid of every bit of flour (and scrub and possibly repaint the cupboard where it was stored) and anything that might have been touched by a utensil or finger that previously touched a gluten-filled product (breadcrumbs in the peanut butter, flour in the sugar jar, and ohmygod I may have to burn down the kitchen and start from scratch). This going gulten-free thing is not going to be easy, but if it will help A then how can I not do it? The really hard thing is going to be bread. According to the internets (and the gluten-free goddess, who also has a fantastic guide on how to go gluten-free without completely losing your mind...or at least without losing all of it), gluten is that wonderous thing that gives bread and baked goods just the right texture. Not being a fabulous baker to begin with, I quiver in fear at the thought of having to make a just right, gluten-free bread to appease the whole family. This is a true test of my will, people! Pray to the baking gods for me...hopefully they are kinder than the magical pony gods of travel and will take some pity on a poor, overworked mom!

In some good news, A is now saying "no" and "go" with great gusto (okay, so they come out sounding more like new and goo, but still, I know what he means!). He also says "up" and "guck" (he measns stuck...anything he can't open/close/get to is stuck in his mind). So we are making some serious progress here! C is excelling in school. She is getting A's in all her classes except religion (where she got a big fat F, hah! That's what you get for having a Jewish mom!). She also started back up with band, where I was able to dazzle her with my absolute lack of any musical knowledge when she asked for my help in perfecting her E Flat (I gave her may best "WTF is that?" face, which promptly encouraged her to go ask her dad instead). J is also enjoying school. They do color-themed weeks which culminate in color appropriate dress-up Fridays. This ensures that all week long J is excited about it being, for example, purple week and equally exciting Friday mornings where she decides that she wants to wear anything other than the purple outfit we already picked out and will have a terrible temper tantrum if we try to make her wear it (also we learned that she doesn't own any yellow clothing, how odd.).

Also, this is how I imagine J as a girl scout:

Appropriate, eh?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Constantly Amazed

by the creative ways the Bills are able to lose football games. It is really an art.

*sigh* Welcome to football season; looks like it's going to be a long one...again.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I Can Never Think of a Title for These Things

Back in Colorado; been here since Tuesday, so forgive the blog-io silence. UCI (big ole inspection) is underway and things are going better than I expected. Hubs is suffering accordingly at home alone with the kiddos and everyone's crazy schedules, so send him some lovin! I'll be home next Tuesday, and this is my last trip up to Colorado. I have filled out my paperwork to make it official, but I have joined another unit just 2 hrs from our home. This has been a long time coming, but I wanted to see the unit through our inspection and I'm glad I was able to that and see all of our hard work pay off.

In my spare time I have been doing more research on A's condition. Unfortunately, apraxia is kind of like autism. They are both neurological disorders (in fact many kids with autism also have apraxia) and very little is known about what causes them or how to cure them. Some parents of autistic and apraxic kids have had luck with a gluten-free, casein-free (dairy) diet (GFCF). It seems to improve their symptoms, particularly with language acquisition. So I've decided that it can't hurt us to try it. This will be quite an adjustment for the family (I think it will be easier to make the house GFCF rather than try to police just A's diet), so wish me luck in convincing the Hubs! I've also been in contact with some other moms in my area regarding an apraxia support group. I feel like I have to reach out as much as possible so I can start to understand this and help my son. So little information is known on this disorder, it just really makes you feel helpless.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Home Sick

Well, I could feel it coming on for days, but I finally came down with the non-swine flu that's been going around the office. My throat is sore, my sinuses are all stuffed up, and I have a raging headache. So I'm home ith A today (that should alleviate my headache, hah!). Fortunately this is the Friday before the long weekend, so I can console myself with the thought that no actual work was probably going to get done today anyway :)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Reflection

Getting together with the people you care about most just doesn't happen as often as you would like and life continues to keep pushin' on...

I always love taking a moment to read everyone's blogs and I try to do so each day. We all go through so many different things in our lives, good and sometimes challenging, it really is beautiful that people share these things.


What better way to celebrate blogs than with music..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGDQ85Dg-ss


Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Then


What can I say? All the girls in my family really knew how to rock the mustard yellow, "I Heart Fig Newtons" shirt.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Shengri Kuaile!

Today was my birthday. Hubs and childrens made me a delicious meal of his special lasagna served with salad and fresh bread and a lucious cheesecake for desert. The kids got me tanning oil and aloe, and C gave me a crocheted basket she has been working on for several months. I was instructed to put sugar packets in said basket (it is a small basket) that way I can carry them around and have sugar whenever I want. Such a thoughtful girl, my C! Hubs got me a Marshawn Lynch tee shirt. It was a very satisfying way to turn 23 ;)

Workout:

So, as you all know, I have been diligently working at sticking to my Insanity routine. I am really, really loving this program. It satisfies my deep need to be dripping ball of sweat barely able to lift myself off the floor. Anyway, here's my stats 3 weeks later:

Switch Kicks - 72
Power Jacks - 54
High Knees (L) - 92
High Knees (R) - 96
Power Jumps - 30
Globe Jumps - 12
Suicide Jumps - 17
Push-up Jacks - 20
Plank Knees - 64

Not too shabby, eh? The only thing I didn't improve on was the suicide jumps, so that will be my goal for next time.

Kid Bits:

In other exciting news, the Hubs and female chil'ens decided to go boogie boarding on Sunday since the hurricane weather has had the positive effect of giving us lots of waves. As he and the girls we were wading out into the suspiciously empty waters someone from the shore yelled out, "Shark!" Hubs then noticed not one but two shark fins a ways out from the shore. Needless to say, it was a short beach trip.

C is very nervous to start school this year. She's started many a school (this will be her 5th elementary school), but for some reason she seems more anxious this time around. I think it might be the age she's at, but she insists it's because of the "butt ugly uniforms." J, on the other hand, is ecstatic about going to C's school. Yesterday she sang me a song about it whilst strumming loudly on her guitar. It went something like this: "School, school., schooly school school. I am goooooing to school. And I get to wear a ugly uuuuuuniform. And it is C's school. And it is my school. And there will be bears there. And maybe cats. Schooooooool! *pause* Mama! Stop dancing, I can't think when you dance!"

Today, however, J informed me that she was unable to sing because A was bothering her with his loud screeching. "It hurts my eyes," she informed me in a very serious tone, "and my hair."

Friday, August 14, 2009

In Defense of My Ranting :)

I started this as a response to my sister’s comment on my last post, but it got a little long *blush* This is definitely a topic that is a hot button issue with me for many reasons, but I think it’s mainly because fitness is such a part of my life that when I see something that gives credence to the idea that exercise isn’t important, it really makes me angry. Well known fitness guru Tom Venuto wrote a great article in response, as did Kathy Smith, but here's my off-the-cuff response for your enjoyment, lol :

The first fallacy is the title of the article, which is “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” not “Why Intense, Heart-Stopping Cardio Won’t Make You Thin.” MR is right that the author brings up the point that exercise has other benefits, but then he disparages those benefits and goes on to claim that we’re just going to eat more food to compensate for the exercise anyway. Plus, his journalistic evidence is pretty thin. First of all, he only refers to one major study in adults. That’s not exactly a scientific slam dunk in terms of making a huge assumption like that. Additionally he mentions the study hinged on the idea that the obese women participants were asked to exercise or not exercise and not change their eating habits (which he uses to justify his overall thesis that exercise does not affect weight loss). Yet in the same part of the article, he states that the women who increased their exercise regime also increased their food intake, which directly contradicts the conclusion. Also, in the study on obese children and their energy expenditure, he makes no mention of the role parents play in determining what and how much their children eat. If the children in the study are getting the same benefit from either short bursts of activity or longer, sustained periods of activity then what is separating them from their thinner peers?
The author also relates pushing people to exercise with a potential increase in the obesity epidemic. Really?? Making the excuse that we are psychologically unable to resist that bag of chips we want after a workout is like saying a person with anger management issues couldn’t help themselves when they committed murder. I doubt it would hold up in any court. And then he goes on to relate exercise to “stressing our bodies in a gym.” Well, I don’t know about all of you, but I don’t go to a gym, and I would never do an activity that didn’t feel good to my body. Exercise does not equal body-punishing activity, and it is that stereotype that really ticks me off. I guess what it comes down to is that I just fundamentally disagree with the statement, “Could exercise actually be keeping me from losing weight?” and respond to it with a resounding, “No, dumbass, you are keeping you from losing weight with your poor dietary choices.”*
I am also really sick and tired of people telling me they don’t have time to exercise, and that I’m so lucky to be naturally thin. There’s nothing natural about it! I have 5 kids and 2 jobs, and I still manage to exercise most days a week because I enjoy the benefits of it. I also try to eat healthfully and proportionally (those 100cal packs will do you no good if you eat 3 in a row). I was not blessed with a natural thin gene, and I don’t even think I’m that thin…it’s just that our perceptions have changed as the average American’s weight has begun to creep up.
The reason I think the article is irresponsible is because people looking for an excuse not to exercise will gladly latch onto articles like this to avoid taking care of themselves, and, honestly, I am just really tired of the excuses. Obesity takes a huge toll on the healthcare system, bigger than smoking or alcohol abuse or drug abuse combined (partly because there are so many more overweight Americans than there are of the other mentioned populations). He should have been more forthright and said something to the effect of: rigorous exercise may not be the best method for weight loss. That would have been far more accurate.
Okay, I'm off my soapbox, I promise :) Next time I will post something less ranty!
*Speaking of dietary choices, I saw that all my talk about eating well has affected my children's psyche when J told me that she was unable to eat spicy food because it wasn't healthy for her body, hee!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Time - Thumbs Decidedly Down!

This article made me really, really angry. I cannot believe Time would publish such a moronic and ill thought out article. How many idiots are going to read this and decide they shouldn't exercise because it will make them fat? The benefits of exercise are so much more than simple weight loss. Even putting aside all of those benefits*, if you just want to lose weight it is really a simple equation, as my big sis likes to point out: calories in vs. calories out. If you exercise and burn more calories and you don't consume more calories, you will lose weight. It is really that simple.** To state (and I'm paraphrasing here) that you might as well not exercise because you're going to be unable to resist eating more food is completely inane. How about in addition to exercising, you eat more healthful foods (i.e. eat a baked potato instead of those McDonald's french fries). You certainly don't need to cut down on volume. In fact, most people could probably eat more if they just picked the right things. How completely irresponsible to give value to the excuses people use to not exercise.

Now I'm not saying everyone needs to go out and do the crazy shit I do. I do high impact plyometric cardio because it is enjoyable to me. That is really the key to incorporating exercise into your life. You have to find an activity that is enjoyable to you, like hiking or tennis or playing tag with your kids. Otherwise it will always feel like a chore, like punishment. Exercise is enjoyable. I feel great after my workouts*** because I feel so accomplished, and the endorphin rush is pretty great, too. If you hate exercise, it's probably because you haven't found the right activity yet.

Oh, and on the note of eating well. Here's another great foodie blog for us cheapskates. I can't believe I haven't discovered this one before!

* Combating chronic illness, boosting your energy level, and improving your psychological well-being to name but a very few. Also check out this article, interestingly, from the very same publication.
** Unfortunately no amount of exercise is going to get rid of the loose skin after having 3 babies short of completely starving myself...but I digress
*** Even though I'm a big sweaty ball laying on the ground gasping for breath

Monday, August 10, 2009

Going Dutch

My friend told me to google this poem. It is really an awesome way of looking at things. I am still grieving the loss of my Italian dream, but I happen to know a few folks who live in Amsterdam, so I guess a stop there won't be so bad, lol!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Life Goes On...

Back from Colorado/Dallas. It was a little sad this time around since my bff is PCSing soon, and I won't get to see her for a long time again :( I came back to a complete shitstorm at work. I know I've complained about many offices in the past, but this one really takes the cake on so many levels. I absolutely love my company, love my coworkers and love the mission set...the frustrating part is the gov't-contractor interaction. I really don't want to say any more in this forum, but it is really getting to be almost comical how little gets done at my place of business because of some seriously ridiculous roadblocks.

I am still pretty upset about the whole A situation, but I'm trying to keep it in perspective. There is this guy that I work with in CO who has a special needs child. His son has a very severe genetic disorder. In fact, he and his wife were told that their son probably wouldn't survive his 1st year. He's 5 now, and he's out lived a lot of his little friends from the NICU. He has the developmental level of about a 2-year old but he's alive and he's thriving. It's really an incredible story. I was really touched when he told me that he doesn't think of his son's difficulties in a negative way. He feels blessed and joyful when his son reaches any milestone. Those of us with non-special needs children take these for granted because they're expected, but with his son they never expected him to live so every milestone he achieves is a triumph. He is just grateful to have a beautiful son who he can put his arms around. He doesn't look at it from the point of view of what his son might be missing out on but what his son has been able to accomplish. I wish I could articulate it the way he told it to me, but I was so moved I almost started crying. It really made me feel like I shouldn't grieve for the normalcy A will miss out on but take these struggles as an opportunity to appreciate his achievements.

Of course then there's the whole insurance situation to just drag me back down. So I mentioned that we don't qualify for services since we have insurance and the insurance doesn't start paying until after we meet our annual $3000 deductible...but here's the real kicker: BC/BS* only pays $500/person per year for speech therapy. Do you know how many sessions that will cover? Approximately 5. A needs therapy 3-5x per week. So, thanks BC/BS! I'm so glad I'm paying out of the ass for the top tier health plan!

*what an apt acronym

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Quick Update

Well, A's hearing checked out okay, and he's finally got a diagnosis - apraxia. I guess it's good that we know what the probem is now. The bad thing is apparently this is a disorder that can be quite serious, and it could take a long time before A is up to where he should be. The other problem is that we don't qualify for state funding thanks to our screwed up insurance. Because our insurance doesn't outright deny coverage, we don't qualify for state funded assistance. Unfortunately this means we have to pay out of pocket until we hit our $3000 deductible. Isn't it great that I pay for the top tier health plan. I love how that's working out for us*

In other news, we got Hubs' financial aid package from the school and it isn't quite as comprehensive as we had hoped. So we're scrounging for a quick plan to cover the rest of the costs *sigh* Also, I'm leaving tomorrow to go back to CO, then I head to Ft Worth for a conference for a few days. Poor Hubs, the bad news just keeps coming for him, lol!

*have I mentioned how much I had to shell out for J's dental work?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Insanity!

No, really, actual Insanity is here...this is not just a clever reference to my life, lol! I started this new program from Beachbody today, and I am very, very excited! It is only a 60-day rotation, so I am very hopeful that I will actually stick with it!

In other news, I found out about a program that state of FL has for early intervention speech therapy which may eliminate or at least reduce the cost for us since our insurance doesn't cover it. I called and gave them all my information and was surprised to have a therapist call me back the very same day. She is coming over tonight at 1730 to visit with Alex and evaluate him for herself, and I suppose we'll find out what services we qualify for at the same time. So keep your fingers crossed for us!

My dad wrote a recent post about how to travel well, and, while I definitely appreciate the advice, I have to defend myself a bit. Because I am generally traveling on behalf of the military or my civilian company, I don't get to make my own travel arrangements. I have to go through our company's travel coordinator and the AF has its own travel agency that sets your itinerary. I do have frequent flier codes that I can apply to build up my miles, but I'm not cool enough yet to qualify for any particular gold club (although I'm close with a few!). This also means that if my flights are delayed or canceled due to weather or other circumstances, I have to call back to either travel agency for them to change my flights. If I try to do it on my own, I won't get reimbursed! Also, my trips are often combined, meaning I'm going to more than one place on a particular trip, so I have to pack more than will fit into a regular size carry-on. Not to mention the fact that once you've put combat boots and BDUs into a carry on suitcase, you really have no room for anything else. Also, my travels for the military happen to fall over a Monday, I also have to bring my blues (another uniform), so I am forced to check my bag (one good thing is that most airlines will wave the baggage fee if you are military traveling on orders, so at least I don't have to pay for it!).

Recipe:

This is a Brazilian stew recipe I adapted from several sources (most notably Rachel Ray & Eric Ripert), but there are many different variations. I like this recipe because it is super easy, not a lot of work (just a long cook time), and you can leave out the spicy stuff so the kids will eat it :)

Pu's Fejoada:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb dried black beans
1 lb pork roast, cut into 1" chunks
1 lb sausage (linguica, chorizo, whatever), sliced
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
8 cups of water
1 8oz ham hock
Cooked long-grain rice to serve it with
salt and pepper to taste

Fry up 1/2 of the chopped onion in the olive oil in a large dutch oven until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and cook about 1 min more (don't let it brown!). Then add the pork chunks and sausage and brown them on all sides, about 6 min or so over med-high heat. Add the rest of the ingredients except the other 1/2 cup of chopped onion, the water should just cover all of the ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat to let it simmer for about 2 hours. (Hint: as the stew cooks, take a taste every 1/2 hour or so and add salt and pepper to your taste remembering that the saltiness of the ham hock and sausage will start to seep into the liquid later in the cooking). At the 2 hour mark put on whatever kind of rice you've chosen (I usually have Basmati and Jasmine around the house, so that is what I use for this recipe). Place the remaining 1/2 cup chopped onion into a small pan and cook it over medium heat until the onions really caramelize (that lovely yellow-brown shade), about 10-15 minutes. Take about 1 1/2 cups of the cooked black bean from the pot and add them to the cooked onions and mash with whatever tool you see fit (I use a potato masher since I don't have an immersion blender *sob* and it turns out just fine). Return the mash to the stew and continue to simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until the stew thickens. Remove the bay leaves and ham hock before serving over rice.
You can also add accouterments such as sliced jalapenos or a true salsa (i.e. freshly chopped and not from a jar!), but my kids like just the way it is.

Workouts:

So for this new Insanity program there is a fit test included to help you figure out how much progress you've made as the weeks go by. Since today was my first day (no, I couldn't wait until Monday to start!), I did the fit test, which is only about 27min long, so I will probably add on some yoga or pilates tonight. You get 1 min to do as many of each exercise as you can. Here are my stats:
Plyo Kicks - 60
Plyo Jacks - 45
High Knees (L) - 88
High Knees (R) - 80
Power Jumps - 20
Globe Jumps - 10
Suicide Jumps - 18
Push-up Jacks - 16
Plank Knees - 55
You are supposed to do the fit test every two weeks, but that seems a bit like overkill to me, so I may only do it every 3 weeks or so to track my progress.

Things Recently Heard in the House on Pu's Corner:

Me: What are you doing out of bed again!
Small 3-year old child: *very placatingly* I'm just taking a dump, Mom.

Me: *watches 9 and 10-yr old stash the already confiscated GameBoy under a couch cushion* Really, guys! Why would you do that!!??
9-yr old: *wide-eyed and innocent* Do what?
Me: *lifts couch cushion to reveal the evidence* Why is this under here?
10-yr old: But, Mom, that was already there.
Me: *exasperated* I just watched you guys do it!
10-yr old: Oh *pauses* well, you didn't say that.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The sweet sigh of life.

Dear Timothy:
Congratulations! I am delighted to inform you that you have been admitted to Eckerd College as a transfer student for the Fall Semester 2009. You are to be congratulated on the outstanding record which has made this decision possible. We are confident that you will find in Eckerd College a challenging and stimulating academic environment conducive to your growth and the achievement of your personal and career goals.

Pre-Med - Check

To celebrate, some cheerful music, always right there to make us happy..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGDQ85Dg-ss&feature=player_embedded

Lively it up!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Surprise Post

Well, you're probably all surprised to see me posting right now...me too! Turns out the magical pony gods of travel truly have it out for me. They must have seen my poor suffering husband (alone, at home with 5 kids) and decided that I should be punished for daring to leave (they might have also heard my maniacal laugh when I walked out the door Friday morning, lol). I made it to the Springs without a hitch, but the second leg of my trip has been nothing short of disaster. The flight from CO to Atlanta was very bumpy, not quite as scary as my flight to Denver last month (I don't think I blogged about it, but I really thought I was going to die on that flight!), but not comfy and I don't fly well even when there's perfect weather. My seatmate probably thought I was a nut job (I have been practicing using yogic breathing on scary flight so that I don't burst into tears or embaress myself in some other way!). Of course, the reason the flight was so bad is because a huge thunderstorm was headed in meaning I got stuck at the airport for an unexpected 6 hour delay while we waited for it to blow over. That meant that I didn't arrive in Charlottesville until 2am. Charlotteville has be the tiniest airport I have ever seen, even smaller than CO Springs or Buffalo, so when my luggage didn't show up, natch, that meant there was no one there to help me. It is 0230 in the morning, I am exhausted and crabby and the entire airport is empty except for me! Finally the security patrolman found me standing in front of the Delta counter (I refused to leave until I found someone to help me with my luggage) and went back to find someone. I filed my baggage claim and the guy assured me that my bag would be on the next flight out in the morning from Atlanta. Fine, I think, that means I will have enforced extra sleep since there is no point at getting up at the crack of dawn to go to the conference with no clothes.

After taking a cab to the hotel, I fall asleep instantly to this thought (and I'm staying at the Doubletree so at least I got a warm cookie for my trouble!). Today I wake up and wait until 11am (the flight was supposed to land at 1030) before I break down and call Delta. I am on hold for almost half an hour, using up copious amount of my cell phone battery (charger is in my luggage, of course) where I proceed to learn that somehow my baggage went from the Springs to Denver and was supposed to go to Atlanta and then on to Charlottesville from there. Unfortunately the lady on the phone is unable to determine whether my bag is still in Denver or if it made it to Atlanta. It is truly, truly lost...along with all my toiletries, clothes, work stuff, etc. Oh, and they have no idea when I'll be getting it. Yip-ee. So I am now stuck at the hotel in my stinky clothes sans undies since I showered and refuse to put on dirty underwear from my 13 hour trip yesterday (after I worked nonetheless)* I did manage to walk over to Wal-Mart (I love the convenience of the East Coast!) and score some underthings and necessary toiletries to tide me over since it is looking like I will be lucky to get my bag at all today. If I don't get it by 6pm tonight, I will probably break down and go shopping for an outfit for tomorrow. Delta is giving me a whopping $50 for my trouble, but that is barely going to cover my Wal-Mart shopping spree much less having to buy a whole new outfit that is appropriate for the conference I'm supposed to be attending right now. I was able to get a hold of someone at the conference to let them know I am here and plan to attend tomorrow, so I should (hopefully) not run into any trouble when I show up tomorrow morning. But, with my luck so far, that does not bode well :(

So does this kind of stuff happen a lot when you are traveling so much? I am really traveling much more now (on average 2-3x a month), but I seem to be running into such bad luck almost every time I travel. I'd love it if those of you who travel frequently could chime in because I'm really starting to think there is some kind of curse on me!

*I know, I know, TMI!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Invasion

Yes, the summer invasion is here. Not much time to post, I'm afraid. De-I was commenting that I never write about all the funny little kid tidbits that I pick up throughout the day, and I ealized I haven't had any time to post stuff like that since A was born! So here's one for ya: if you are three the pinacle of reaching adulthood is apparently the ability to keep gum in your purse without getting into trouble! In other, not so funny news, I took A to his speech evaluation on Monday and the therapist agreed that he was deifnately behind where he should be and she recommended that he start coming to therapy 2x/week for the next 6-9 months and then we can reevaluate at that point. Unfortunately my insurance doesn't cover speech therapy until after my $3,000 deductable is reached :( That means it is actually more cost effective to pay the upfront, uninsured rate ($60/session) than it is to have my insurance billed ($90/session). We were totally freaking out about this huge, unexpected cost when my wonderful parentals stepped in to help out. It was such a wonderful and generous gesture, and I promise when A starts talking his head off, their house is the first place I will ship him in order to get some peace and quiet...er, I mean, I will show them the end result of their generosity...yeah, that's it ;)

Also, the parentals were here for a few days before the invasion landed (they almost made it out in time!), you can read about their exploits here on De-I's blog since one of my little angels just got out of bed again (for the 5th time tonight). Wish me luck for the summer!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Obligatory Posting Title Goes Here

Sorry, couldn't think of a clever title. My brain is all used up! Things are super, super busy at work, which is a good thing, I guess! And I am busy in my spare time doing work for my Reserve job. It just never ends! In what few moments I do have that aren't taken up by work or children, Hubs and I are enjoying Top Chef Masters. I just absolutely love watching these famous, award winning chefs being put through the ringer, and watching some of them has made me add a few more restaurants to my must visit list! I am also enjoying the current season of So You Think You Can Dance. I so prefer this show to American Idol. It is the only show I watch where I consistently have at least one moment per episode where I am moved to either cry or laugh out loud because the art is just so beautiful.

It is looking like this week and next are going to continue to be incredibly busy at work. My parents are arriving Thursday night and staying through the weekend, then the bonus kiddos come for the summer, and next week I leave again for Colorado and Virginia. So...the radio silence may be happening a bit more often than I would wish at least for the near future. But, before I go, here's another quickie recipe that is a great fit for just about everyone (unless you ahppen to hate eggplant, that is). When my in-laws were here we purchased some gorgeous eggplants at the farmer's market because my FIL mentioned he absolutely loved eggplant. It wasn't until I got home and started preparing it that I realized he (of the Italian descent) meant he liked it fried. lol! Anyway, here's the way I like to make it:

Pu's Garlic Eggplant

2 regular or Chinese eggplants
3-4 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1 scallion, diced
4 Tbsp soy sauce
1 TB rice vinegar
1 TB Shaoxing wine
1/2 tsp sugar
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4lb ground pork (optional)
1/4 tsp Black pepper
1 TB chili garlic sauce
1 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 TB water (to thicken the sauce)

Peel & chop the eggplants into 1 inch pieces. Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a wok or pan over medium-high heat and stir-fry the eggplant for about 5-7 minutes or until the eggplant softens and begins to carmelize. Remove the eggplant from the pan and add the last tbsp of oil to the pan. Add the garlic, ginger and scallion and cook very briefly before the adding the ground pork (if you are using meat--otherwise make sure your sauce is already made and skip to the next step right away). While the pork it cooking, make your garlic sauce by combining the soy sauce, rice vinegar, Shaoxing wine, sugar, pepper, garlic chili sauce and chicken broth. Stir-fry until the pork turns white and is nearly cooked, then return the eggplant to the pan and stir-fry for an additional minute for a minute to mix everything together. Quickly stir the garlic sauce in. Turn down the heat to low-medium cover and simmer for about 5-7 minutes, or until the eggplant is very tender. Mix the cornstarch and water together and add the mixture to the middle of the pan, stirring quickly to thicken. Serve over rice.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Still Here

Quick post to say I've been out of town on business for the last couple of weeks. I was in the Springs for 7 days then to Atlanta for 5. I got back last night a little after my in-laws arrived to spend the weekend. We went out to a great seafood dinner last night at Billy's in Tierra Verde, hit the market this morning for loads of delicious produce (speaking of which, I picked up some beautiful pink-eyed peas but I've never made them before, anyone have any suggestions?) and lots of samples!, and spent the whole afternoon in the pool with the kids. Then Grandpa J took everyone out for ice cream and pizza, and tonight we're going back out for dinner and live music at a venue in Clearwater. Tomorrow we plan to spend Father's Day grilling our asses off and eating strawberry pie, yum!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Vina and the Talosians'



"First an emotional protectiveness, now one of sympathy...excellent".
BTW- I am a dork, I enjoy rocking out to Rilo Kiley's moneymaker song while doing cardio, and the SABRES RULE!!!
I also enjoy listening to Tim's heart because it plays my favorite song...
Ha Ha Ha
Lively it up!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Recipe Onslaught

Posting two days in a row, what will that crazy Pu do next? She'll continue to inundate you with Asian recipes, that's what (hey, blame MR, she actually asked for them)! To start, if you really get serious about experimenting with Asian food, there are a few things you should have on hand that will help you with your recipe creations. In my pantry/fridge I almost always have:
- Soy sauce
- Lime juice
- Hot chile sauce (usually Sriracha since I eat it on just about everything)
- Thai fish sauce
- Mirin
- Chinese cooking wine (also called Shaoxing)
- Rice wine
- Rice wine vinegar
- Tonkatsu sauce
- Sesame oil
- Peanut oil
- Canned coconut milk
- Green and red curry pastes
- Sichuan spice mix
- Chinese five spice powder
- Turmeric
- Garam masala
- Sesame seeds
- Sake
- fresh ginger
- fresh garlic
- Lemongrass paste (fresh lemongrass goes bad pretty quickly, this is not quite as tastey but much more economically sound!)
- Fermented black beans (black bean paste)

I could keep going on this list of essential ingredients, but these are some of the easiest to get your hands on. If you live in a large city or in an area with a large Asian community, you can probably find a specialty market where you can get the right produce (trust me, using galangal instead of ginger - the poor American's substitute - makes all the difference!) Even if you just have a few of these items, you should be able to make lots of yummy dishes you never thought could come out of your kitchen!

Here's the ultimate what's in the fridge, super fast and easy dinner. I make this (or variations of this) all the time (As I said before, I cook a lot of Asian food, so I have all of these condiments on hand, and I always have cabbage). You may know this dish as Chow Mien, but the correct pinyin transliteration is actually Chaomian, which literally means fried noodles. Enjoy!

Pu's Chao Mian:

1lb Chinese egg noodles
1/2 cabbage, shredded
8-12 shiitake or dried ear mushrooms, soaked, softened and chopped into strips
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp Shaoxing or rice wine
1 tsp Thai fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
about 1/2lb leftover meat sliced into strips (optional)

Cook noodles as directed on package.* Meanwhile heat oils on med-high heat, in a wok if you've got one. Add the cabbage and mushrooms and stir fry for 1-2 minutes or just until the cabbage starts to wilt a little. Remove the veggies and add a little more oil to the wok if it looks dry. Then add in the cooked noodles and the rest of your ingredients, except the meant, and cook for about 1 min. Then add in the reserved veggies and meat (if you wish) and stir fry for another min or so, and voila! The perfect 10 mintue meal.

And please remember, I cook for a family of 5, so adjust the recipe as needed! :)

*Hint - give them a cold water bath after you've taken them out of the boiling water. This will stop the cooking process and it will also prevent the noodles from sticking together and make it easier for you to stir fry them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Long Time No Post

Sorry I've not had a chance to blog in so long. Things have been quite busy at the work place. Hubs was gone the weekend before last taking a bit of a vacation in Buffalo with his Dad before he has to start his 6(!) class odyssey next week. This last weekend we were mostly busy with family stuff. We hit the St Petersburg aquarium (which sucks, there's a reason it only costs $5 to get in!), went to a barbecue birthday bash for Hubs' cousin, and, of course, hit the beach. Hubs and I also spent a night out on the town. We had dinner at the Melting Pot and then caught a show where the bassist was one of Hubs' old friend's sister. They were actually quite good, and we enjoyed the music immensely.

Food:

I realize I haven't blogged a recipe in a while, so here's one of my absolute favorite comfort foods: Mapo Doufu. I know that sounds a little odd, but this spicy pork and tofu dish is one I crave constantly. Most of my comfort foods are Asian, and I'm not exactly sure why that is. Maybe its that I've studied Chinese for so long or the copious amounts of time I've spent in the Pacific region, but I love all types of Asian food. Since I live in an area where there aren't really any Asian markets (I've heard a rumor that there may be one in Tampa, but I've yet to venture out to find it), I've had to learn to adapt my cooking to try and mirror the flavors I remember without the actual ingredients. In some cases this can be done quite easily (fried rice, yakisoba, bulgogi) in others it is not even worth trying (Tom Ka Gai, my all time favorite soup, just does not have the right flavor no matter what I try to substitute :( In the case of Mapo Doufu, I think this recipe is pretty darn close, and it certainly satisfies my craving. Be forewarned, this is not really a kid friendly recipe. C will eat it, but remember this is a kid who counts sushi and brussel sprouts among her favorite foods, i.e. not your typical eater.

Pu's Mapo Doufu:

1lb ground or diced pork
1 block soft tofu, drained and diced
2-3 tbsp peanut oil (you can use other oil if you don't have peanut oil)
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp fermented black beans (you can usually find this with garlic in your grocer's Asian food aisle)
1-2 tbsp hot chile sauce (I use Sriracha)
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
2-3 tbsp Sichuan spice mix (McCormick's sells bottles of this)
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sugar
1 cup chicken broth
3tbsp corn starch mixed in 6 tbsp water

Heat the oils over medium-high heat, add the onion and garlic and saute until softened. Add the pork and cook thoroughly. Add the hot chile sauce, black bean sauce, soy sauce, sichuan spice, red pepper flakes, and sugar and cook for another minute or so. Add in the chicken broth and mix well. Stir the corn starch into the water and add to the sauce to thicken it. Then add the diced tofu. Cook mixture on low to medium heat for about another 5 min so that the tofu can absorb all the flavor from the sauce. Serve over rice. And remember, you can always adjust the amounts of chili sauce and red pepper flakes to make the dish as spicy or mild as you like.

Things:

- Is there really anything more awesome than a toddler dancing? I love watching their little brows furrow in concentration as they run determinedly in a circle to the strains of the Go, Diego, Go theme song.
- Pre-schoolers are amazing creatures. J is basically teaching herself to swim. She enjoys spending time with his big sis in the pool, so we bought her a life jacket-type floaty vest and now she uses that to paddle and kick her way around the pool unassisted. She'll get actual swim lessons this summer when the step-kids are here
- Not sure if I have mentioned this before or not, but my company is paying for me to take more Chinese lessons (or at least reimbursing me for them anyway). I have a tutor who comes to my office once a week from the Longmen Chinese Center, and I can't tell you how much I have missed studying the language!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Totally Geeking Out...or My Trekkie Mother's Day

I cannot tell you about my fabulous moms day weekend without outing myself as the total nerd I am, but since I'm sure you're all aware of my nerdtastic tendancies anyway it probably won't come as much of a surprise. Considering I come from a family who has more members that have attended Star Trek conventions than not (yours truly being one of them), it will come as no surprise that I was both eagerly and warily anticipating the release of the new Star Trek movie. Just to put this in context, this is the first non-PG movie I have gone to see in a theater since Hubs and I went to see the 300 and I went to see it on the IMAX on opening day weekend. So, you can see that my Trekkie fandom knows no bounds. I won't spoil the movie for you all except to say that I truly, truly enjoyed it. I have a soft spot for JJ Abrams (hello, Lost anyone?) and I thought if anyone could handle the Trek franchise and breathe new life into it, it would be someone with his creative touch. The movie itself has just right amount of action, sci fi gobblydegook (space-time continuem, eeee!), and an extended cameo by the venerable Leonard Nimoy (double eeeee!). But the true bit of genius is in the casting, something I think Abrams is well known for. All of his work is marked by the excellent casting, and this movie is no exception. The movie mostly plays around the Kirk/Spock dynamic and both actors are really phenomenal at capturing the spirit of their characters. Of course, some purists will not be happy at how Abrams has messed with the timeline of their beloved Trek, but I think he has managed to put the Trek franchise back into orbit, so to speak. I can foresee additional movies and possibly even a new series spun off of this new equation, and I am all for anything that brings a little Trek back into our lives. Even more impressive was that Hubs, someone who knows so little about Star Trek that he actually leaned over to me at one point and whispered loudly, "who is Jim Kirk?", also enjoyed the movie greatly. Plus, he managed to enjoy it whilst dealing with my total geek out moments (me: OMG, that's how he got his nickname 'Bones' squeeee!; OMG, the captain is Christopher Pike, squeeee!; etc..)

In other Mommy news, we spent all weekend sunning at the pool (we did attempt to go to the beach, but it was record breakingly hot this weekend so we only lasted about 10 minutes in the blazing sun). I received many cards and flowers, as well as Tracy Anderson's Dance Cardio Workout, which has been on my wishlist for a long time but has been sold out, so I was very excited to get it. I also had a chance to speak/skype with most of the moms in my life, including my dear big sis MR, who is preggers with #2. Seems like pregnancies come in droves because, I swear, just about everyone I know is pregnant right now. I swore I wouldn't have any more babies, but I can't help feeling a twinge of sadness that I'll never have another newborn...maybe when Hubs graduates, tee hee. Much love to all the moms out there, I hope you all had as wonderful a weekend as I did!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Traveler Alert - Magical Unicorn Pony God Stolen By Dutch Sister

So apparently the Pu family only gets one magical unicorn pony god of travel smile because my experience this last weekend was decidedly not magical or ponyish. It started off with my accustomed delay out of Tampa on the first leg of my trip, but nothing too out of the ordinary. It was the joy of the Dallas airport that really made this trip special. To begin, I had planned to fly out Friday night to get to the Springs so I could work Sat-Sun and fly back Monday morning. Well, I had a four, which turned into five, hour layover at the Dallas airport, so I amused myself by traveling from terminal to terminal as American arbitrarily changed my gate five or six times. At the Dallas airport, when you go from one terminal to another, you must exit the terminal and go back through security. There I discovered that my 5oz bottle of expensive conditioner was only considered secure enough to pass through Tampa screening. Apparently Dallas is worried that too many people with shiny hair might overwhelm their ability to respond to a security incident. So I was forced to pay American to take my extremely small and light baggage since the baggage fee was actually less than what the conditioner originally cost me. Then we were delayed for another hour and sent back to Terminal C to fly out (but you had to run to make it since I had only had five hours in the airport for them to make the decision to switch the gate...again). I finally made it on board the aircraft and we began to taxi...and taxi...and taxi...all the way back to our original gate...where we were informed that due to fog in the Springs our flight was officially canceled. Of course, I was seated in row 32F, which in case you're not familiar, is the very last seat on the aircraft. So you can imagine what place in line I got when I finally got off board. After much patience on my part, I finally got to speak to someone at the counter, where I was informed that since the cancellation was due to weather and thus not the airline's fault, I would have to pay for my own hotel room. They did, however, book me a room and put me on the very next flight in the morning. I could have chosen to fly into Denver that night, but then I would have had no luggage so it was a moot point. The lady at the counter then tells me that I need to go to baggage area 26 to get my luggage (which I'd just paid to have checked even though I didn't want to). I proceed to discover that the woman is an idiot because baggage area 26 does not actually exist. After much wandering aimlessly around the airport, I attach myself to another group from my original flight that is also wandering aimlessly, and we manage to bring force in numbers and, after several unsuccessful attempts, make one of the airport employees tell us where we can find our bags. Then we make our way to the unmarked pick up area (again, strength is in the numbers...I am convinced the only reason we were picked up is because we became an angry mob of people who were looking for the hotel shuttle and someone pitied us) and make it over to the hotel. Finally, a night's sleep.

I wake up at the crack of dawn the next morning because I don't know the Dallas airport well and don't want to miss my flight. Of course, I end up with two hours to spare but at least I make the flight...which is then delayed due to more fog. After about an hour the pilot comes on the loud speaker and tells us we are just going to take off anyway and hope the fog lifts like it is supposed to. We make it to the Springs and circle the airport once, twice, thrice, god knows how many times but long enough that the pilot finally comes up and tells us we will be landing at Denver because we're running out of fuel. At this point I no longer care and just want to get the fuck off the airplane, so I am not even upset. We land in Denver and begin to taxi down the runway. As we stop at the gate, the pilot comes back on the loud speaker and says we ere just cleared to land in Colorado Springs so we are going to take back off, but we still need to refuel so it is another 45min wait and then we finally get to fly back the the Springs. So after leaving Tampa at 3pm on Friday, I finally arrive in the Springs at 2pm on Saturday. Then, of course, I have to go into work, otherwise I won't get paid. So I work until about 7pm that night, all day on Sunday (0630-1700) and then fly back on Monday only to go back to work at my civilian job. Remind me again why I do this? ;)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Going All Political on Your Ass Part Deux

Hmmm, I didn't get too many responses to my last post, but I can't be sure if that's because the topic is too controversial or because no one gives a crap! Either way, here's your...

Next topic for discussion: Socialized Healthcare

I am not a fan of the idea of socialized healthcare. What I do support is universal healthcare (and there is a difference!). Single payer universal health care is a health care payment system, not a health care delivery system. Health care providers would be in fee for service practice and are not government employees, which would be socialized medicine. This is more a revision of the insurance system than it is the health care system as a whole. I feel this is the best compromise to make sure all of our citizens have access to health care, but we can maintain our competitive system which encourages innovation and research and development. I find it ridiculous that we live in the richest nation in the world but somehow cannot afford to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

Personally, I like the system Massachusetts has. There citizens are required to have health insurance, but the state government covers part of or all of the premium cost for low income families (under $32,000/year). This system might be a good compromise for the time being since it is unlikely Congress will ever be able to overcome its inertia/ineptitude and fight back against the insurance company lobbyists (and money) to push true health care reform.

Fluff:
- Truly encapsulating the American entrepreneurial spirit
- I love this site. Thanks to BIL John the Armenian Deal Hound for turning me on to it. It's also where I found Bacon Salt.
- The World Digital Library is just starting out, but I think once it becomes a little more populated it will be an invaluable resource for both researchers and lay history nerds alike ;)

Going All Political on Your Ass

So you may have guessed that the last two posts were actually written by my ghost blogger ;) I have been so busy with work (yay!) and going here that I haven't had much of a chance to write lately. So today I'm going to open up the floor for discussion. Topic: higher tax rates for the "rich." It is currently under debate in Washington as to whether or not families with combined incomes of over 250K per year should receive a tax hike of, I believe, about another 5%. I ask because #1 I hope to be one of those families some day and #2 because I currently make a pretty decent living (nowhere near $250K a year but a lot more than the median income in the US) and I already pay over 30% of my paycheck in various taxes. The tax hike is intended to affect those families who are considered to be in the top 5% of earners in the US, but, personally, I feel that $250K a year (of a combined family income) doesn't really make you rich. When I think of rich, I think of people making more like $25 million a year. I might make what seems to be a good deal of money, but I only take home 70% of what I make. I have five children to support with daycare, health insurance and college to save for. I also have ageing in-laws with health problems and no savings to speak of. I will likely have to begin supporting them some time in the near future. I've not fully formed an opinion on this matter myself yet because I am of two minds, and I am really curious to hear what the people I care for most have to say on the subject. Okay, I'm getting verklempt, discuss amongst yourselves...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Family Time


Unfortunately, we won't be going to this :(
However, everyone already knows that someone in our family and has seen Damian, Ziggy, and Stephen Marley seperately in concert at least 20 times, none of which, I would ever bring my children too ;) but their music is amazing!! At any rate, if your looking for great music that the family can enjoy (which is hard to find these days)..check this cd out. This is Ziggy Marley's third release and it was especially released for families with children. He has done a lot of work in the past and recently with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Common, Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson, Ben Harper and many others...it is produced by Tuff Gong and his brother, Stephen Marley.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I love football and popcorn.


Schedule Release...here are the predictions

1 Mon, Sept. 14 at New England Patriots ESPN 7 p.m. WIN
2 Sun, Sept. 20 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers FOX 4:05 p.m. WIN
3 Sun, Sept. 27 vs. New Orleans Saints FOX 4:05 p.m. WIN
4 Sun, Oct. 4 at Miami Dolphins CBS 4:05 p.m. WIN
5 Sun, Oct. 11 vs. Cleveland Browns CBS 1 p.m. WIN
6 Sun, Oct. 18 at New York Jets CBS 4:15 p.m. WIN
7 Sun, Oct. 25 at Carolina Panthers CBS 4:05 p.m. WIN
8 Sun, Nov. 1 vs. Houston Texans CBS 1 p.m. WIN
9 Bye
10 Sun, Nov. 15 at Tennessee Titans CBS 1 p.m. WIN
11 Sun, Nov. 22 at Jacksonville Jaguars CBS 1 p.m. WIN
12 Sun, Nov. 29 vs. Miami Dolphins CBS 1 p.m. WIN
13 Thu, Dec. 3 vs. New York Jets NFLN 8:20 p.m. (In Toronto): WIN
14 Sun, Dec. 13 at Kansas City Chiefs CBS 1 p.m. WIN

15 Sun, Dec. 20 vs. New England Patriots CBS 1 p.m. WIN
16 Sun, Dec. 27 at Atlanta Falcons CBS 1 p.m. WIN
17 Sun, Jan. 3 vs. Indianapolis Colts WIN

16-0...there you have it!!! GO BILLS!!!


BTW, October 4th in Miami looks like the game were locking in to attend this year.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Eggcellent*



















*I cannot say that word (or its less eggy counterpart) without picturing Mr. Burns from the Simpsons.