Cooking, the best, easy French Onion Soup.

I’ve never been great at cooking or baking. Once it turned out that anything the whole family wants to eat had to be gluten and dairy free, my baking skills pretty much tanked. I mean, I make tasty Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies, and I love Alton Brown’s Peanut Butter Fudge Recipe, but I’ve pretty much topped out on desserts at that point. And my mom’s French Silk Chocolate Cream Pie is awesome, but making it dairy free is pretty hard.

When it comes to making dinner, I’ve got a pretty limited repertoire of dishes that I’m comfortable throwing together. I don’t really enjoy cooking or baking, but I understand that it needs to be done. Given that I work from home on Weds, I usually attempt to toss dinner in the crock pot sometime in the morning, so when Bobby gets home we can eat together. I prefer “chop and dump” recipes, where I don’t have to do a lot of work other than just toss things in the crock, and then, many hours later, serve it up. This has lead to me exploring some of the crock pot recipes over at http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

Bobby requested French Onion Soup for dinner the other night, and I found myself making French Onion Soup CrockPot style. Can I tell you something? This was SO EASY and SO GOOD. I followed the recipe as written, up until the end. We spooned up the soup into bowls and floated our toast on top along with some Dubliner cheese and some Mozzarella Cheese. If you are feeding more than three people, I think doubling the recipe might be a good idea.

I’m so glad that Bobby is so good in the kitchen, because normally I’m not. It is so wonderful to have someone in the house who enjoys cooking and makes such wonderful, tasty food. It’s not often I add a new recipe to my list of things I like to make, but I think this soup just got added to my list!

french onion soup

Audio Book Input

I’ve been doing some different reading for myself.
I’ve been reading (well, listening to) what audible is calling “Self Development” which has been pretty cool. I started out with the relationship section and recently finished both For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage By Tara Parker-Pope and Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage. Both books were very good. I think that 10 Lessons had better advice overall, but that For Better had some really good stuff and was very science based as well.

I’m debating reading one of the following next. Please tell me if you have read any of these books, heard about them ect….

**NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children By Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman

**Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men By Leonard Sax

**Your Kids Are Your Own Fault: A Guide For Raising Responsible, Productive Adults By Larry Winget

**Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion By Dale McGowan: Books. I’m a bit torn on this one. My idea is not to raise my kids without Religion, but to hopefully bring them up with some strong Pagan influences and to help them make their own choices as they age. That said, without the structure of a church, I’ve got no idea how to even approach most religious topics. I’m wondering if this book might help me figure out what to say and how to move forward.

I’d like an audio book version of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk ByAdele Faber, Elaine Mazlish, because Laura says it is excellent, but they don’t have one.

Anyone else have any recommendations for books in this category? Ideally available unabridged on audible.com.

Under the Sea

First of all, if you aren’t reading Hyperbole and a Half, and you have a sense of humor, you probably should be reading it. On Friday last weekend we went out with friends, and Liz and I were almost dying of laughter just talking about her recent posts.

Second of all, you should read this post where Wil Wheaton makes a valid point, and also makes me laugh.

This weekend wasn’t too bad. We took the boys to the Sealife Aquarium, we spent about an hour or an hour and half there. It was cool, but not $20 cool. We had half price tickets from groupon, and it was totally worth the $9 we paid per person. But it was not worth a lot more than that. Landon thought it was most awesome, and really loved the sharks. Ollie seemed to enjoy it, but enjoyed eating even more.

I had a photo shoot on Sunday, and my autofocus would not work at all on my camera. I’d had some minor issues with it up till now, but this time it was totally dead. At this point I sighed and realized it needed to be returned. On the bright side, Costco has a great return policy. When I brought it back they were like, “Oh no! Was it just too much camera for you? Too complex?” I’m like, no, it’s broken! Can I has another one just like it please and thank you? Luckily they still had six in stock. I was worried because I noticed they no longer had the kit at another Costco I was at. (Yes, I regularly go to three different Costcos. We love the Costco.) As I left I had like seven people tell me to enjoy my camera, or how awesome my camera was. It was cute.

I haven’t had a chance to play with the “new” one, because I returned it on Monday and then after work had to charge the battery. It wasn’t done charging last night when I went to bed. Hopefully it will be exactly the same as my old one only work better.

Landon letter 4.5

Dear Landon,
You are now 4 years and five months old. You are an excellent little boy, who mostly does what he’s asked to do and doesn’t break the rules or misbehave very often.

In the last two months you’ve come a long way with your Writing. We were having a lot of issues where you basically didn’t care and wouldn’t try to do your writing at school. I finally talked to the teacher and instituted a policy at home. If you didn’t do your writing at school, no TV until you finished it at home. At school, your teacher added in a rewards chart with stickers for when you did complete your writing. You’ve managed to go from scribbles on a page, to an almost readable script, AND you’re completing your work at school! We are all very proud of you. You do very well with numbers and have a good grasp of counting, adding, and subtracting. Next up we’re going to work on helping you learn to read! Kindergarten registration is this month! You are growing and learning and such an amazing rate.

Landon's writing today 1/13/11

For an early Christmas present you got a Big Boy Bed! Your car bed has been moved to the garage, so that Ollie can have it once he is ready. I ordered you a bed on Amazon, and you seem to really like it. We haven’t had any problems with you falling off, which is nice. The bed has drawers underneath, so we’ve moved your pajamas under your bed. You like being able to get yourself ready for bed without any help from mom or dad.

Your dad and I found a show called Young Justice that is a superhero show. We decided to invite you to watch it with us. You seem to really enjoy it, so I think it’s something we’ll keep doing. Why it’s special is because we put Ollie to bed, pop some popcorn, and then the three of us sit on the couch and watch the show together.

You were very excited to head up to Williams, AZ for the Polar Express. I think you were slightly more excited about the train than seeing Santa, but it was a close call. You watched Popeye on the TV for most of the drive up and back. We all had a blast riding the train and singing carols. You did a very good job of letting us manage your food allergy and not getting upset by the foods that you could not have. The trip was extra special because your Grandma and Grandpa joined us, along with Aunt Heather and her family, as well as your cousins Chyna and Van! The whole group had a blast. You got a very neat bell from Santa and just loved seeing the train and riding on the train!

You talked a lot about Santa and Christmas for most of December, but you also enjoyed both Solstice and Hanukah. One night of Hanukah we had Uncle Jack and Uncle Sam come over and celebrate with us. Your dad made potato latkes and your Uncles taught you the story of Hanukah and how to play dreidel. The whole night was filled with so much fun and family. We all loved it. You also totally beat everyone else at dreidel! For Christmas you got way too much stuff, but you seemed to really enjoy Christmas and everything that came with it. You talked endlessly about Christmas and loved opening presents.

We took a day off from school and went to the Zoo with some friends, including Laura and her kids. It was raining the entire time we were there, but you still had a blast. We saw lots of cool animals and in general had a fun time at the zoo! When it finally started to really pour and get cold, we left, but only after we saw the snakes. You really wanted to see the snakes. A few weeks later we went to the Zoo at Night to see Zoolights! You thought the lights were really pretty, but your favorite thing was the “Polar Slide” which was a little like sledding without the snow.

Speaking of snow, one day it snowed while you were at school! Your whole class got to go outside and try and catch snowflakes. You thought it was pretty awesome.

Your current obsessions include video games, you really like playing on the computer, ipod, wii, or whatever else we will let you game on. You love Mario. I got you a Mario shirt, and you want to wear it all the time. You are sad when it is dirty. You love gummy bears and gummy worms and enjoy all sorts of dairy free candy. You do need to start eating more variety of foods though.

Overall you just so smart, adorable, sweet, and wonderful! We love you very much! Thank you for being who you are and for being in our family.

Much love
mama

A Kola and a Giraffe

Ollie is sort of kind of walking! He’s going to be moving up to the Kolas room at school today, also known as the One’s room. There are some videos of him walking below. He’s taken as many as 11 steps on his own. We’re very proud of him. His first all day in the Kola room will be Monday.

Landon’s writing has improved to the point where I’m not concerned about it any more. He’s doing a very good job, and his handwriting is almost legible. It’s pretty cool! Now we need to focus on his reading. His math is stellar. Kindergarten registration for his school is the end of the month. I’m still planning to send him to the dual language school, so he should be spending half of his day in Spanish when he starts school in the fall.

Work’s been doing okay. My friends and I started a Zumba class last week. It was a lot of fun. If you’re local and want to join us, let me know. It’s Saturday at 10AM in Mesa, and the cost is only $25 for 4 classes.

I bought some new Vibrams, which I like, but I haven’t worn them for running. I got them at R E I so if you’re looking to get a pair, you might check it out.

I’m sitting at Hench dinner right now waiting for 5PM so I can log off of work. I’m going to enjoy amazing company and baked Ziti for dinner, so you all have a WONDERFUL Thursday night. I know I will!

Soon he will walk

Yesterday I was driving Landon and Ollie to Laura’s in the morning, and Landon and I had the following conversation:
Landon: I like poopie.
Me: What?
L: Boobies! I like Boobies?
Me: WHAT? What are you talking about.
L: Boobies. They are hands that talk.
Me: OH! You mean Oobi!

We don’t normally watch Oobi, but I know Landon has seen some in the past.

In other news, Ollie took 4 steps unassisted this morning to me! I’ve seen him take this many steps before, but never towards me. Laura came over on Weds this past week and helped me clean out the boys rooms and get them organized. They were SO MESSY and so cluttered and so full. It’s so nice now that they are looking better. Anyway, so on Weds Ollie took 4-5 steps to Laura unassisted. I’m hoping this means we are close to walking. I swear he can almost do it completely, but he prefers crawling! Stubborn child.

Ollie letter 1.2

Dear Ollie-
Today you are 14 months old! Let me start out by telling you that you stubbornly refuse to walk. I’m fairly sure you are perfectly capable of it. You can walk around barely holding on to someone pinky, and do so without really using them to balance at all. But you just don’t want to do it on your own for some reason!

You had an unfortunate encounter with a dog while at Laura’s one day. Zero, the older greyhound, bit your face. This happened on Dec 10th. It’s mostly healed at this point, but you might end up with a small scar above your left eye. You seemed fine after happened, and now are not allowed near the dog.

On Dec 12th we drove up to Williams Arizona to ride the Polar Express train to the north pole and to see Santa. We forgot to bring any binkies (pacifiers) with us. We’d had you down to just using them at nap and bed time anyway. You did just fine without it, so you have been bink free since then! I’m very proud of you. It was a relatively low fuss situation.

You were so cute on the train to see Santa. You dozed off in the sling before we got on the train, but awake upon boarding the train. You were awake and happy for the entire train ride, and loved looking out the window, eating cookies, and the singing. You had very little opinion of Santa. This was all well and good. We’d had pictures done with Santa a few days before, and you had cried for those!

We also went to Holiday Hill this past month. It’s sort of a family tradition around Christmas time. You loved all the lights! You seem to enjoy being worn around in the cinchworm or sling, but you are just so heavy!

It was your second Christmas, which went well. You still don’t “get” Christmas yet, the idea of tearing into presents seems to allude you. Your brother enjoyed helping you open them, and you got some neat stuff. Your favorite thing seems to be the balls that you got from Santa. You enjoy throwing them around the house and then chasing after them. Your Christmas experience was also damped by the ear infection that you had. We ended up taking you to Urgent care on Christmas night for it. You got some antibiotics, and I discovered that you weighed in at about 28 lbs! You are a big kid!

We took you to Zoolights this past weekend. You were so excited by all the lights that you peed on your Dada! He was wearing you to keep you warm, and was a bit disturbed by the fact that your diaper managed to fail him while you were strapped to his chest. Overall you seemed to enjoy yourself and the pretty lights!

You still have the sweetest smile. You are happy, except when you are tired.

I love you so much little man!
mama