Friday, March 30, 2012

You Can't Win if You Don't Play

I hardly ever buy lottery tickets, but a historically large jackpot is worth throwing a couple of bucks at. I had the kids pick a couple of numbers and did quick picks for the rest. Total cost $5 - potential winnings at this point $640,000,000 or $462,000,000 after taxes.

We've all heard sad stories of people who win large jackpots and squander it away quickly due to shady investments or bad financial sense. This is so much money I think it would be hard to squander.

So what would I do with it? First pay off ALL debt. Then set up a fully funded college fund for each kid. Help out immediate family with financial needs (second cousins twice removed need not apply). Take care of the long list of things we plan to do to our house when we have the money.

A decent chunk should go to charity. There are a ton of worthy causes in the world, but off hand I would give money to fund MS research, and something to help hungry people in the US. I'm always appalled when I hear that there are millions of people going hungry in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. And in this economy, those numbers have increased dramatically.

Then for the fun stuff.

Travel. My bucket list is long, but the African safari with Micato has been top of the list for ages. Then Australia/New Zealand. All first class of course.

I've always loved the Cartier tank watches, not sure which specific model I would get, but that's a decision I wouldn't mind having to make.

Right now I drive a Highlander which is great for 3 kids, but I'd love a fun little sporty car for those rare times I don't have to have the kids with me.

That's all off the top of my head. I know my chances of winning are infinitesimally small, but it's fun to dream. If I did win I would never publicize it, and would only tell the people who I can trust. So if I do win, don't expect a post about it, although my posts may become a little more interesting as I spend my winnings traveling the world :)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Talk

As I've mentioned, my oldest daughter recently turned 8 and after overhearing a couple of her comments about procreation that were inaccurate I figured it was time to set the record straight.  Her comments were totally innocent and actually pretty sweet - like when she told her sister that lions have to get married to have cubs.  Now I know Simba and Nala fell in love, but I don't think Rafiki ever actually conducted a wedding :)

Then today in the car her sister was reading one of the Puppy Place books and asked what a dog breeder is.  Anyway so after dinner tonight, while her younger brother and sister were cleaning up I asked her what if anything she knew about how babies were made.  She looked at me all confused, because up until now we used the "when two people love each other very much their love makes a baby", and focused on how the baby grows once in Mom's belly and how it comes out.

Having a little brother in the house, she knows about the basic difference of boys and girls. Rather than going into all the details of intercourse, I decided to make this a big picture of how mammals reproduce. At bit wimpy I know, but not inaccurate. She already knew about women having eggs inside them as we've talked a little bit about menstruation, but knew nothing about sperm. 

After explaining that the males put their penises into the female's vagina, and the sperm meets the egg, she had the expected response
- Eewww, I don't want anyone doing that to me.
- You'll change your mind about that when you get older.
A couple of minutes later she asked if her Dad had done that to me? 
- Yes. 
- When? 
- About 9 months before each of you were born. 

We'll deal with the discussion of sex for fun later, but at this age while she's still grossed out, it's fine for her to assume it's an occasional thing. I also used this as a chance to try to explain the word "sexy" and why I think it is inappropriate for kids to sing songs like, "I'm sexy and I know it".  I realize it's a catchy tune, but not something a grade schooler should be singing.

Overall it was pretty painless, but I'm sure the follow-up questions will be coming, which is part of the reason I timed this talk for this week (while she's on spring break).  Hopefully we'll have everything covered before she goes back to school. I also told her that some parents may not have had this talk with their kids (especially younger ones), so no need to talk about it too much at school either.  

The Litigators

It's been a while since I read a John Grisham book. Usually they are entertaining but not much different from one to another. My Dad had bought this one while he was staying with us over the holidays, finished it and left it here, so I figured it was worth a read.

This is the story of a couple of "street lawyers" aka "ambulance chasers" who are struggling to make ends meet. Oscar is eager to retire but can't afford to, the Wally is younger and is always on the lookout of hitching on to a mass tort case that will make them rich. They are joined by David, a former corporate lawyer, who fled the grind one day, and ended up at Finley & Figg with no plan, but ends up joining their practice.

Wally finally does find his potential gold mine case in a drug called Krayoxx, which is believed to cause heart disease and death. He is quickly over his head and despite connecting with a big wealthy firm that specializes in mass tort, as usual anything that seems too easy to be true, usually is. Overall it was a quick read, and pretty entertaining.

Mass tort lawyers and street lawyers are probably among the specialties with the worst reputation in the legal profession. In this book, you definitely sympathize with Finley & Figg, and get even more disgusted with mass tort lawyers. Grisham shows how many of these lawyers and their paid experts make fortunes and the people they are representing get next to nothing.

Personally I think most of the class actions that take place in this country are unfounded, and in most cases they are driven by lawyers looking to line their pockets even further by preying on the emotions of families of sick people. I do like to learn something from any book I read, and while I'm sure the sleaze factor was ramped up to make it easier to side with Finley & Figg, it was interesting to learn more about how these class actions work. As with any Grisham book, in the end everything is wrapped up pretty quickly and favorably for the main characters but not necessarily in the way you would expect. Overall I enjoyed it, but it's not a book I would proactively recommend.

Next up: 11/22/63 by Stephen King.  It's also been a while since I've read anything by King, but this one seemed interesting.  It'll probably take me a while as I have the hardcover which in King's usual style is over 800 pages so not real easy to bring around with me. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Took the kids to the Morton Arboretum today

Wait for me!!!!!

Little Man trying to get in another family's picture

My camera was doing weird things with colors, but this one kind of worked

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Acting Balanced

I feel like I'm cheating a little doing this on Sunday night but anyway, here goes.....

1. What movie or movies do you have to watch when they are on TV? Pretty much anything by John Hughes
2. When you have out of town visitors, what fun places do you take them to in your town? (Or where do you play tourist in your own town?) I'm actually planning my staycation with the kids for this week's Spring Break. We live in the suburbs of Chicago and are planning on going to the Shedd Aquarium (one of the best I've been to) and hopefully the Morton Arboretum if the weather cooperates.
3. What was the first album, CD, Download you ever bought? I think the first cassette I bought was Duran Duran Reflex
4. Do you speak more than one language and which ones? Yes, English is actually my second language. Danish is first, and I studied French in high school and Russian in college. The last two are a little rusty but if I went back they'd come back quickly
5. What is your dream job? Overpaid and underworked ; ) J/K - something with travel. I'm not a very good writer but I love to research and plan trips. I actually did do that for a while but was overworked, underpaid and not given very interesting destinations.

Week 12 Project - The Dreaded Storage Closet

These are the before shots. It is a walk in, but you couldn't. I kept tossing things that belonged in there in there, figuring I'd get to it eventually. It's a mix of our fancy dinner stuff - china, crystal, etc.  Holiday crafts that the kids have made and I plan on using to decorate over the years, suitcases, bags, games, computer and electronic accessories, and a lot of other "junk"

I finally tackled it this week and it's amazing. I didn't get rid of that much, just got a bunch of bins and boxes at the Container Store and took out some things that we rarely use like tons of duffle bags.  And then things I will never use again but feel like I can't throw out either - like my wedding dress. I didn't toss them, just put them in the bigger storage room under our basement where they aren't in the way of stuff we need more regularly.

And now for the after...
We had a ton of hats and while my husband wears them occasionally in the summer, over half were never worn.  I used an old shoe rack that fit perfectly on the shelf and makes them much easier to find.  I even sorted them, so the hats from golf venues are on top since he usually wears a hat when he golfs, and the other more sentimental hats underneath (like his high school baseball hat - which he will never part with even though he'll never wear it)
The white plastic bins each have a purpose - one for lightbulbs, one for grooming supplies - lint brushes/shoe polish stuff, one for poisons - pesticides/WD40 that kind of stuff, and one for things used to connect things - glues/tapes/string/twisties, and one for electronic wires etc

The back wall now has bins for each holiday (labeled using Avery labels - I'd love a label maker, but can't justify it).  The suitcases are easy to get to and not nested inside each other like they used to be.  I always hated having to get the smallest one as it was inside 2 others.

Look at all that floor space now.

And finally this side has a bin each for gift bags (arranged by occasion), leftover fabric, sewing notions.  Then games are neatly arranged (and were weeded out).  The Pampers box admittedly should be replaced with something nicer, but right now contains my glass vases.
Right now the china is all on the top shelf in the boxes that they came in  While they are nice and protected, it's a pain to just get out plates when serving a meal for 6 or 8 as I have to go into each box.  Next time I have a good coupon for the Container Store or Bed & Bath I'll get some of the padded zip containers.
It feels so good to finally have this done.  I'm not into feng shui at all, but I do feel like a weight has been lifted now that I finally took care of it.  Like I said I still have a few things to do to make it even better, but at least now it's organized so any adjustments/beautifications will be so much easier.

Next weeks project - organizing our file cabinet, which should be much easier as I already did some when we applied for the refi.

Week 13 Menu

Sunday - Cajun mish mosh - I have a bunch of sausage and pork leftovers, figured I'd add some red beans, rice and Cajun seasoning and make a meal of it. We'll see how it goes.
Monday - BBQ Chicken - nothing fancy. Chicken covered in BBQ sauce and baked in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes, served with corn and tater tots
Tuesday - leftovers of Mama's Amazing Ziti
Wednesday - Sirloin With Crispy Fries - new recipe that my daughter picked out
Thursday - Chicken Kiev
Friday - Chicken Tarragon
Saturday - Bacon Sloppy Joes

Week 12 Menu

Sunday - Biksemad - Danish hash to use up the leftover ribeyes - diced meat/potatoes/onions a little worcestershire sauce, s&p warmed up in a skillet.  Served with bearnaise sauce and a sunny side up egg. 
Monday - Chicken Veronique
Tuesday - Garlic Pork with Peppers
Wednesday - Mama's Amazing Ziti
Thursday - Garlicky Baked Shrimp
Friday - Burgers & Brats - my husband grilled - no real recipe
Saturday - Chicken Ranchero  I baked this in the overn at 375 for 30 minutes instead of grilling, and it worked out well

Week 11 Menu

Sunday - Rib Eye Steaks with Best Steak Marinade & baked potatoes
Monday - Chicken Parm that I found on Pinterest
Tuesday - Rachael Rays Spaghetti & Meatballs
Wednesday - Shrimp Stirfry - no real recipe for this
Thursday - Asian Chicken Wraps - found these on Confessions of a Curvy Girl - very easy and yummy, and cool blog
Friday - Lazy Tortellini - in other words, I was too lazy to make sauce, so just boiled some tortellini.  Kids put ketchup and parm on top, I used some left over pesto on mine
Saturday - Kid Food/out

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Making progress

This past Tuesday we had garlic pork for dinner. I had given my son a little of everything we were having as usual.

We were all talking about our days when I saw my son pick the piece of pork up off his plate and lick it :). Now, it's true in most household's that's not how you eat, but for him this was huge. Even better, he said "mmmmm, tastes like bananas". Of course garlic pork with bell peppers tastes nothing like bananas, but bananas are one of the few things he likes, so I think this was his was of saying he liked it. He even tried the peppers. Again, no nibbles just licks, but it's progress.

When his feeding therapist came today and he did everything she asked without too much hesitation and she said that she talked to her coworkers in his feeding group and of all the kids, he is the one most willing to try new things.  She had also mentioned that she could teach us some tricks to get him off the sippy and on to a straw cup but then we got busy doing everything else that we both forgot.  He did so well he finally earned his chocolate cookie - her little reward for him doing well.  After she left he savored that little fudge stripe, even scraping the chocolate off with his teeth, not just licking it.  When I mentioned to him that this was our last pack he asked me to buy a different type that was pictured on the box for next time - again a big step for him.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My bittle girl

My daughter turned 8 last week so I now longer think of her as a little girl, but she's not completely big either. So I've started calling her my bittle girl. She's ......

Big enough to shower on her own in the morning
Little enough that she still wants to snuggle in my bed before we start our day

Big enough to be responsible about her homework
Little enough that I am still able to help her if she has trouble

Big enough to have outgrown Carters
Little enough that I won't buy her clothes from Justice (as much as she would like me to)

Big enough that when she was sick recently I let her stay home alone while I took her siblings to school
Little enough that I wouldn't make a habit of it.

Big enough that her school would allow her to walk to/from school on her own
Little enough that I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it

Big enough to start picking up on the sad/evil things that happen in the world
Little enough I wish she could stay blissfully ignorant a little longer

Big enough to have heard the word sexy
Little enough to not understand what it means, so shouldn't be using it

Big enough to get embarrassed if she cries at school
Little enough that it still happens (though rarely)

Little enough to still believe that when two people love each other very much, their love makes a baby
Big enough that it's about time I tell her the full story before she hears it at school

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

This book caught my eye when I was at Costco awhile back with my Mom, she thought it looked good too, so bought a copy for each of us.  Thanks, Mom. I finally got around to reading it and it was a very quick read.  It's the story of Henry and goes back and forth between his childhood during World War II and the mid 80s.  He's Chinese and lives in Seattle with his parents, and attends a Caucasian school.  He gets teased and bullied a lot, because he is Asian.  His father even makes him wear a button that says, "I Am Chinese" in the hopes that he doesn't get confused for a Japanese boy.  
He lives a pretty lonely life in the beginning, his only friend being a black saxophone player named Sheldon who plays on one of the street corners Henry walks by on the way to school.  Sheldon watches over Henry and their friendship grows stronger as the story goes on.  A Japanese girl joins Henry's school.  She is also treated with suspicion by the white kids, and she and Henry soon become close friends.  She and her family are eventually sent to an internment camp, as apparently was common at this time in the US.  I have to admit I never knew much about that, so either wasn't paying much attention during that portion of history class, or it was completely glossed over.  This book doesn't go very deep in to the details of the confinement, and in some parts aside from the fact that the Japanese are imprisoned, the camp seems like it's not that bad, Keiko's family has a house to themselves, she is still able to go to school, and her Girl Scout Troop even goes on a campout.  Sounds like a cakewalk compared to what was taking place in Germany, but I have a feeling that the conditions at the real camps were nowhere near that nice. 
In the portion of the story that takes place in the 80s, Henry is recently widowed and has a college age son.  He is searching for a rare album that his friend Sheldon recorded in the '40s.  It is a link to his past that he cannot let go of.  His son doesn't initially understand the significance, but inevitably helps his Dad bring all the pieces together.
Overall, a well written book which I would recommend.  I would be interested in learning more about the true stories of the camps, and am sure that there are less fictionalized accounts out there.  Guess it's time to head to the library soon :)
My next read is the Litigators by John Grisham.  I haven't read anything by him in awhile, but my Dad read it over Christmas and left it for me, so figured I'd give it a try.  His books are usually a quick but fun read.

Now That's Good Customer Service

We have two bike shops in our little town. The one closest to me is run by a grumpy old guy who called me an idiot when I told him I was having trouble with my bicycle pump and wanted to get an easier one. I may be blonde, but I'm not an idiot. I no longer take my business there.

My daughter had an old handmedown bike with a chain that kept coming loose. I took it to the other bike shop, and asked the owner to check if it needed a new chain. I left the bike to run a few errands and when I came back was told that the chain was fine, it was just an old bike and the spokes were worn down, as were parts of the pedals and a few other things. Bottom line, he said it wasn't worth repairing, we needed a new bike. Hmm. I was skeptical. I told him I wasn't in a position to get a new bike, he said he was going to check something in his basement and be right back.

After a few minutes he came back with a pink bike the same size as the one we had. He said,"Why don't you take this one? No charge." really? Turns out he had had a guy come in to get new bikes for his kids and had a bunch of ones they had outgrown that he didn't know what to do with, so just asked the shop owner to find them a good home.

We needed to get a new set of training wheels cause the kind we had didn't fit on the new bike, but that's a bargain compared to buying a whole new bike.

Smart guy, from now on I'll be shopping at his shop, even if it is a little further, and I'll certainly be referring my friends to him too.

Meet Me On Monday

1. How do you like your eggs? Scrambled with Swiss cheese and ham mixed in
2. Who is the last person you spoke to on the phone? My Mom
3. Do you have a place you keep 'junk' in your home? Unfortunately more than one.  This weeks project is tackling the storage closet

4. What is on your 'spring cleaning' list? Organizing every thing.  I made a list of weekly tasks and am slowly working my way through it  Here's the list
5. What blog post have you written recently that you'd like more people to know about? (don't forget to link it up)  MS Study - My mother was diagnosed with MS about 6 years ago and I enrolled in a study to see if there is any genetic/environmental cause for MS.  The post is actually not super recent, but I do still repost it to bloghops occasionally to help get the word out, as they are still looking for volunteers.

Trying to Get in Gear after Being Useless Yesterday

Saturday was a beautiful day. We spent a lot of time outside, and then went out with friends at night. We went to a French bistro that we'd been meaning to try, and it was great. Lots of great choices on the menu, but I ended up having Baked Brie for an appetizer and pork medallions for my entree.

After dinner we went barhopping. We went to 3 different places all a short distance from each other. We got home around 1am.

I figured with the big lump of cheese and bread and making sure to drink water as well as wine during dinner, and not having any hard alcohol I'd be ok Sunday morning, but no. I was miserable all day and while I did manage to take a shower mid day, I couldn't get my butt off the couch til about 4pm when I was finally able to eat something again.

My sweet little guy would come by randomly throughout the day and give me hugs and ask if I was feeling better.  

So today I'm playing catchup. After dropping my daughters off at school, my son and I spent 2 1/2 hours getting groceries for the week. After lunch I need to catch up on chores, emails, blogging etc, and get a plan of attack for this weeks project - the scary storage closet. Thankfully I just got a coupon for the Container Store, so hopefully I can find some things to help get the mess in line.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Service Provider Sheet

This post is a test of two things. I found a post by Ask Anna showing how to add a document to a blogpost.
Since I'm working on putting together a household binder, I figured I'd use my Repairman Form as a test. It was really easy.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Groundhog was right!!!

Spring has sprung. I can't remember the last time we had a warm day on my daughter's birthday. There's usually still snow on the ground.

Yesterday got up to 81 degrees. My kindergartner's homework was to play outside :) We ate dinner on the deck last night. As much as I used to love winter, that was before kids when weekend ski trips were easy and common. Now spring and fall are my favorites.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy Birthday to my Big Girl

My oldest came in to the world on her due date, and has been punctual ever since. She is turning 8 and is definitely no longer a little girl. She is increasingly independent, but very hard on herself if she is not able to do something her friends (or younger kids) are capable of doing. She finally mastered riding a bike about a month ago, and luckily we're having an early spring, so she was able to get out on it again.

She is interested in science and loves dinosaurs, loves building with Legos. She's a voracious reader, and I can't keep up what she has/has not read. She makes friends easily, and is very compassionate.

She does well in school, plays piano and enjoys doing her homework, but gets upset at herself when she makes mistakes at times when she should no better. While she loves school, she gets a little jealous of how much time her sister and brother get to spend at home. When I asked her if she wanted to go to camp this summer she said she just wanted to do a half day cause she wants to spend time with her family :)

Feeding Therapy

As I have mentioned before, my son is in feeding therapy. He turns 3 in May and will not chew his food. He has hit all other developmental milestones at the appropriate ages, but for some reason he will only eat stage 2 baby food. As my father-in-law says, if it weren't for his feeding issues, he'd be right as rain.

He has a therapist come to our house once a week to work with him one on one. He also recently started going to a weekly feeding group with other kids with the same problem. 5 kids, 3 therapists helping them build up their tolerance for different foods and textures.

People ask me about his eating on a fairly regular basis and I have to say I appreciate supportive comments but don't need unsolicited advice. The other day when I picked my daughter up at school, she asked how the feeding group had gone. I told her, and one of her teachers overheard and started asking about it. The conversation went something like this.....

Her:He's in feeding therapy?
Me: Yes, he turns 3 in May but only eats puréed baby food. He won't chew.
Her: Not even Cheerios?
Me: No, he won't chew
Her: What about teething biscuits?
Me: No, he won't chew
Her: What about rice cakes, they're really bland
Me: Flavor has nothing to do with it, he will NOT chew
Her: Huh, I've never heard of that.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Birthday Party at JumpZone

We held my daughter's birthday party at Jump Zone this past weekend. It was great. There were 17 kids and a couple of parents stayed. While at first I wasn't super excited to have it there, it ended up being great. We've had parties at Pump It Up before and I would recommend that for younger kids, as you get the jumping room to yourself, but it does cost more.

At JumpZone, they have one big room filled with huge inflatables with 4 party rooms off to the side. Our party happened to be at the same time as one other and also during free play time. This can make it hard to keep an eye on your guests when there are so many other kids running around. While kids as young as 3 are allowed to go on the equipment, I was a little nervous that they could get trampled by big kids. Then I learned that they actually try to schedule birthday parties of similar age kids at the same time, so it's not an issue.  Since my daughter and her friends were 7-8 years old, they were fine. My younger daughter (almost 6) was fine too. My little guy had a tough time climbing some of the bigger inflatables but still had fun. They also had a small area for younger kids with Duplo Legos and other things to play with.

The kids were given an hour and 15 minutes to play before heading into the party room. I went in a little early to check out the party room and to my pleasant surprise, the room was already set. Plates and drinks were set, kids coats were hung up and shoes lined up on the floor. As soon as the pizza was delivered, the kids were asked to come to the party room, and the coordinator served. I helped, but really she did most of the work. She was great about giving seconds of pizza and juice to whoever wanted it.  She handled the cake so my husband and I could take pictures and video.

After all the kids were done eating she handed out the balloons and cleaned up. While I did help with some of the serving and cleaning up, she did most of the work. I've hosted quite a few kid birthday parties at this point and this was the first time the assigned party coordinator actually worked, and therefore the first time I actually tipped. I also told the manager I was impressed with her staff and setup.

Funny moment of the party - as the big kids were all eating the pizza, my son was just wandering around the party room. He saw the cake, studied it for a minute then swiped some frosting off the corner with his finger and licked it off. He even got a small sprinkle but didn't freak out, just swallowed it. Progress :)

My younger daughter's birthday is coming up in May and originally she wanted her party at Pump it Up but has now changed her mind and wants it at Jump Zone, I'm all for it.

All in all a good party. 17 kids was a bit much as she didn't get to play with everyone in that short time span. I felt a little bad as one of her friends from preschool (her BFFWL) no longer goes to the same school as her, but was the first name on the invite list. She doesn't know any if my daughters other friends and is pretty shy. I encouraged my daughter to include her, which she did, and introduced her to her new besties, but the old friend definitely looked left out. Sad as it is, they're probably just growing apart and there is no reason to force the friendship. As Gordie said in Stand By Me, friends come in and out if your life like busboys in a restaurant.

We went home and opened presents and she got some nice gifts. One nice thing about kids getting older, the presents get better.  She got 2 Lego sets, some crafty things, a gift card to Barnes & Noble and a couple of other things.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Did I have any reason to worry?

Tuesday was one of the first nice days in a while so I finally took the kids to the playground for the first time in a long time. Usually I just let them run and do their own thing. My daughter found someone she knew so was playing with her friend. My little guy around by himself for a while and then I saw a couple of 10-11 year old boys approach him and ask him if he wanted to play pirates with them. He did. Immediately my guard went up, and I don't really know why. I didn't know the older boys but they seemed like nice kids. I've had girls come up to play with him at other playgrounds but somehow that seems fine, and this seemed strange. Again, I don't know why. I kept a closer watch on my son while he played with the older boys than I usually do.

In the end, nothing bad or weird ever happened. He had fun, and I left the playground wondering if I was being overly cautious and if so why?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Our family tree is done!!!

I had each kid pick which color they wanted to use based on the palette I was using, had my oldest do her hands first, then my younger daughter and finally my little guy. I think it came out well, now I just need to pick up a frame.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Salmon Penne with Wild Mushrooms

This is from the McCormick and Schmick's Seafood Cookbook.  I've never had it at the restaurant so not sure how it compares to the real thing, but my husband said it was the best of the salmon/pasta dishes I had made.  It was super easy too, so it's definitely a keeper

1/2 lb penne pasta
12 oz salmon, diced to about 1/2 inch cubes
flour to dust
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 Tbsp chopped shallots
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (it calls for wild, I used regular white)
1/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp chopped toasted hazelnuts

Boil the pasta according to package directions. Dust the salmon in flour.  Saute in butter 1 minute.  Add the garlic, shallots, mushrooms, salt and pepper.  Cook until garlic is golden and mushrooms tender.  Deglaze wth white wine.  Reduce by half.

Add cream and reduce to a medium consistency.  Serve over pasta, and sprinkle with hazelnuts.

Feeding therapy update

I realized it's been a while since I've written anything about my son's progress with feeding therapy. He's still doing weekly one-on-one sessions with a therapist at our home, and started his weekly feeding group at the clinic.

The therapist was super excited when she left out house 2 weeks ago because my son tried 3 new things - applesauce, chocolate frosting and peanut butter. At first he wasn't real excited about the applesauce, but then she tried putting some chocolate frosting on it too, and he loved it.

Later once we sat down at the table she also got him to try peanut butter. He licked it off crackers and although he gagged at one point because he got a big chunk, he tried more and liked it.

Last week was his first session for the feeding group. For this one the parents are not in the room. There are 5 kids (in this case all boys) and 3 therapists. Two of the boys came out crying after a while. One went back in, the other didn't. My little guy came out at the end with a big smile on his face :). The therapist said he did really well. That week they were just working on touching food, building up a tolerance to textures. They used veggie sticks, Pringles, animal crackers, Kix, Greek yogurt and ranch dip. They cracked the chips, used the veggie sticks to hit the Kix around on their plate, and dipped some of the stuff in the yogurt and dip.

That night for dinner he specifically asked for a napkin to wipe his mouth, cause that's what they do in his class.

On Thursday his therapist came back and said she had heard he did really well in the feeding group (best in the class actually). We went through pretty much the same warm up as last week, including the frosting and applesauce. When we went into the kitchen, we played more with peanut butter, smearing it on crackers and licking it off. Her final task for him was to smash a cracker and get some of the crumbs on his fingers and lick it off. He did gag at one point and cried about, but finally he did all five fingers. His homework is to work more on the crumbs and the peanut butter, which he hasn't been real willing to do the past couple of days.

One thing though that has changed is that he offers to set the table for dinner (I let him do the unbreakable stuff). He wants a knife and fork for himself and asks for a little bit of everything we are having. He has yet to taste anything but he does play with all of it, talks about it, which is huge. He used to scream and cry if I put the smallest crumb of food on his tray.

My goal is that he will be eating regular food by his birthday in May. I just registered him for camp for a few weeks this summer. They serve snacks so I want to make sure he's ready by then.

Abe Lincoln at Last!

Admittedly it didn't take me long to read this, but I did enjoy it and understand why my daughter likes the series.

Jack and Annie are the main characters and they live in present day Pennsylvania. They have a Magic Tree House in their backyard that transports them to another time and place by their pointing at a picture of where they want to go in a book.

In this book they are on a mission to get a feather from Abraham Lincoln. They are transported to the Lincoln White House where they meet Lincoln's sons but are unable to get a to see the busy new President. They then use a magic potion to transport them back in time again where they meet a boy who calls himself Sam. (but really is Abe Lincoln as a young boy). He gives Jack and Annie a feather but they don't realize that Sam is actually Abe.

They are transported back to the White House and then do bump in to the President who remembers having met Jack & Annie when he was a boy, and explains that he was Sam, he just liked to play pranks on people. Realizing that they have accomplished their mission, they return home.

It was a quick read but well written. I like that these books teach kids about history in a fun way. In a relatively short book they touch on Lincoln's childhood in a log cabin, the fact that he's main task as President was to reunite the country, and a little on his personality as a prankster. Basically learning made fun. The Research Guides are available for to learn more about the topics covered in the book.

I just need to find a similar series of historical adventures for my voracious reader, since she has read all of these now. Any suggestions?

Trying Something New Today

I came across Meet Me Monday through the Make My Morning Blog Hop

It's a fun and simple idea, so I figured I'd play along.

1. What is on your bedside table? Alarm Clock, phone, hand cream, a hair elastic and a book (this morning it was Magic Tree House - Abe Lincoln at Last, which my daughter has been bugging me to read).
2. Hardback, Paperback or E-Reader? I prefer paperbacks, but the last two books I read were hardbacks
3. What is your 'go to' drink of choice?  Coke
4. How do you like to spend your birthday?  Quiet day with the family and a nice dinner out, no big party for me.  Don't really like being the center of attention.
5. Finish this sentence - I would never be caught dead in ... leggings or jeggings

Steve Jobs

I started this book about a month and a half ago, and finally finished it yesterday. Normally I read faster than that, but I just couldn't find the time to read. I say that because the slow going was my fault not the fault of the author.

I don't read a lot of biographies as most peoples' lives aren't that interesting for their entire lifetime, but those slow times do also shape who they are so need to be included in a bio.

Since Steve Jobs died shortly after the book was published there were a lot of media reports and mini bios in the press, but I still didn't really know much about him before I started. Just that he was known to be secretive about his business and his personal life. I can't say I blame him for either. If you're trying to make the next great product, you don't want it leaked out and have some other company steal it and reap the rewards. As far as his personal life, that should be allowed to stay private. I think in many cases, people today are so enamored of celebrity and the wealthy, and feel they have a right to know things about people that really are none of their business. Having said that, hiding his health problems as the head of a publicly traded company may not have been ethical (they do mention in the book that the Apple board did at one point consult a legal team to learn how much they needed to disclose.)

All in all, what I took away from the book was yes, he could be a jerk - people who had been subjected to his rants may use stronger language - but he was a perfectionist and expected perfection of those around him. In many cases his rants motivated people to work harder and prove that they were better than he had made them feel.

Walter Isaacson didn't seem to sugar coat anything and I have to admit it was interesting to read about some of his earlier drug experimentation. While he was more of an artistic person than your typical CEO, I had always thought of him as your typical tech geek, not a Dylan loving, drug using, vegan.  I realize that is a very narrow picture of him, but each one of those traits did influence a lot of who he became.

While his name is listed on over a hundred patents, I still don't know if you can really say he invented anything. He came up with the big vision and expected clean and innovative designs for Apple's products but it was his team of engineers and design people who created the products he envisioned.

There is no doubt he was brilliant when it came to marketing. Every Apple conference and announcement has caused a ton of speculation as to what the new product will be. In most cases, the product they release is better than anyone outside the company had predicted. One thing he was none for saying was that focus groups were pointless because the public doesn't know what they want until we give it to them.

It'll be interesting to see how the company continues without its fearless leader. Even when he was on medical leave before he died he still had a hand in some of the projects that were going on.

I have to say I love my iPod (even if it's really old and no longer holds a charge so has to be docked at all times). I converted to the iPhone last year and love it too. I am looking forward to the day my PC dies so we can finally replace it with a Mac. Yes, Apple's products may cost a little more, but I'll pay extra for something intuitive that my kids can easily use that also looks good.

One little personal story too. Last night my 7 year old daughter was working on an article for the school newspaper about Martin Luther King Jr Day. She asked me why people had cried when they heard his speech and I asked if she had ever heard it. When she said no I went to our laptop to find it on YouTube. It was taking forever to load, so she said, why can't we just watch it on the iPad? Done. Much faster. I told her Steve Jobs was smiling.

Now on to my next book, which I'm sure will be much a quicker read - Magic Tree House: Abe Lincoln at Last!.  My daughter loves the Magic Tree House books and has read all of them.  I asked her which one she thought I should read and she picked this one.

Week 10 Menu

Sunday - Grilled Balsamic Chicken
Monday - Salmon Penne with Mushrooms - I made this for the first time this week and it was great.  Kids weren't too thrilled but my husband and I liked it.
Tuesday - Crockpot Beef Pot Roast
Wednesday - Chicken Parmesan Casserole
Thursday - Weiner Schnitzel - I don't follow a recipe for this one, since I've done it so many times
Friday - Pesto Tortellini - another tried and true no recipe for this one
Saturday - Grilled Tandoori Chicken

I've been planning my menus for a while now but still often find myself having to go back to the store during the week for things I forgot or we ran out of sooner than expected. Yesterday, I spent 2 1/2 hours going to 3 different stores spent $168 and my goal for this week is to not have to go back til the weekend.