Thursday, September 27, 2012

guacamole dip

My sister-in-law, Robin (who is an excellent cook so I trust everything she recommends) saw a recipe on the Rachael Ray show for a guacamole spread to put on burgers. She recommended that I thicken it up a bit and use it as a dip for chips and/or to spread on tacos.

She was right – it was perfect for both uses. We tried it last night and oh my gawwwd. Seriously good. I want to share despite that fact that I don’t have a photo of it. Just a stock photo of an avocado.

Here is the recipe, adapted from Food Network’s Rachel Ray “Stretch a Buck Turkey and Bean Burrito Burgers”.

• 3 ripe avocados

• 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped

• 1 lime, zested and juiced

• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (leave the seeds if you like some heat)

• 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

• 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%, again on Robin's recommendation)

• 1 tsp Kosher salt

• Pepper to taste

Scoop the avocado into a bowl. Add the lime juice and zest. Mash up so it’s very chunky. Add all other ingredients except salt and pepper.

guacamole dip: in process

Combine with a big, flat spoon so you don’t make the consistency too thin. After all ingredients are combined, add the salt and pepper and fold in. Add more salt / pepper for taste as needed.

Serve with tortilla chips or as a spread for tacos.

guacamole dip: finished

Monday, September 24, 2012


Rich's cousin Melissa (from his Mom's side of the family - not that it's relevant but I always feel the need to over report information) used to be our only family in California for many years. Then she moved away.

But today she was back in Southern California on vacation. Tonight, we had our family back for one night only.

Cousin Melissa

Here's the thing about Melissa . . . she's just cool. Always has been, still is. There's something about her that Rich and I have always loved and have felt especially close to her. When I was interviewing for jobs in college, Melissa put us up, cooked for us (did I mention she's a chef?) and showed us around her hometown of Chicago.

Maybe part of it is that both she and Rich were the wild ones who packed up and moved West.

Cousin Melissa
(The kids were tired tonight. Charlie is making his sour puss face and Alice is mid yawn.) 

It doesn't matter how much time passes in between our Melissa visits, it's as if no time has passed at all. Aside from the fact that she cooks something delicious when she's here, rocks my baby, compliments our little boy's toy robot and his freckles in one fell swoop, she's just good people.

And we like good people. Especially those that rock the same family tree.

Cousin Melissa
(Sorry, Melissa, that your mouth is open. And I don't know what Rich is doing with his face and I really should've taken the meat thermometer out of Chazzy's hands. But this was the best of the batch.) 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

hazel eyes + freckles

This kid.

hazel eyes + freckles

We're two peas in a pod, Chazzy and me. Overly emotional, clumsy, goofy, naive, introverted, hot tempered, freckles galore.

The only difference are those eyes. Mine are a grey blue. His are a beautiful golden hazel green gorgeousness. They are the exact same color as Rich's Mom's.

That's all I have today. An entire post on hazel eyes. I need to get more sleep, clearly.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Alice Linda, 9 months old

Alice, 9 months old. Chair Series.

Alice is 9 months, 3 weeks old. She's a crawling, teething, eating fool. This photo of her in the chair captures her personality perfectly.

Alice, 9 months - 3 weeks old.

Alice, 9 months - 3 weeks old.

She's my big girl now. Doesn't want to be cuddled, won't hold still.

Alice, 9 months - 3 weeks old.

She eats a mix of food. Our food cut up into little pieces plus baby food plus those little wheat puffs.

Alice, 8 months old. Teething.

Alice, 8 months old. She loves these poofs.

Alice, 8 months old. Giraffe onesie from Ama Elaine.

Alice and Charlie are still playing well together. She swipes his toys, he swipes them back. He pretends that he's being helpful and keeping her "safe" from his toys. I know what he's really up to.

Charlie & Alice, playing. August 2012.

Charlie & Alice, playing. August 2012.

Charlie & Alice, playing. August 2012.

Joy and gratitude. And a whole lot of tired.

Alice, 8 months old.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

learn how to bend without the world caving in

Part of the reason I haven't been blogging often is because I have writer's block. I could recap my day or week on a regular basis but after a while "worked, drove on the 405, made dinner, gave baths, passed out" gets tiresome.

I found a site called MindBump that generates blog writing prompts. I like it and I'm giving it a whirl. The prompt I am following tonight is: “If you could choose a lyric or verse from a song or poem to describe your life, which would it be and why?”

People, I'm about to get sappy. My song is "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz.

It's a fairly new song. I'm in a fairly old relationship. We've known each other since I was 15 years old. His sneezing annoys me. My "walking around the house while brushing my teeth" drives him nuts. We've had better and we've had worse. But we're not giving up.

When I look into your eyes
It's like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
Well, there's so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you've come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

Rich, Malibu mountains. 2002

Well, I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up

truck fixin'

And when you're needing your space
To do some navigating
I'll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

Rich, April 2010

'Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We've got a lot to learn
God knows we're worth it
No, I won't give up

us with the kids_Sept 2012_09062012 (1) bw

I don't wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I'm here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got yeah, we got a lot at stake

Rich + Alice, September 2012.

And in the end, you're still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn't break, we didn't burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not
And who I am

2012 Family Photo Shoot

screen time

On Tuesdays, I will be participating in "Just Write" by the extraordinary ordinary blog. Details can be found here.

Charlie really, really, really likes his iPad. It's a bargaining tool in our home. Sass mouth, Mama? Lose the iPad for a day. Smack your sister on the head with your Ironman toy? Bye bye iPad. It's effective. But that means it's valuable to him. And I'm walking the line between letting him enjoy something he likes and becoming an iZombie.

Sept import_090312_1577
(This is a rare moment of him watching a movie on the big TV instead of his iPad.)

Sometimes it's too easy for me. Getting dinner around is hectic. It's easy to hand him the iPad while Rich and I feed Alice, cook dinner, set the table, etc. He sits quietly and watches his Dr. Seuss movies or lego building videos.

If he gets bored of it, he puts it down and picks up his Matchbox cars or Buzz Lightyear. Or goes out to his sandbox. But the reality is, he really enjoys watching that thing. And I just don't know how much is too much. Trusting my gut isn't working on this one.

I'm starting to say "I watched a lot of TV as a kid and hey, I aced my ACTs. I'm a functioning human in society. I'm fine." I hate that argument and I'm using it to defend this thing.

How much time, and be honest, are you letting your kids watch an iPad/iPod/computer/TV screen? I need to measure and compare and create a new benchmark.

Friday, September 7, 2012

comfort zone

I like to be comfortable. In all areas of my life. I'm not what you would call a "risk taker". Meaning, I have chosen a color other than Cappuccino for my nails less than 5 times in my entire life. Because a dark red or hot pink is just too risky for my toes. That kind of comfort.

It seems I've passed the comfort gene onto my son. He likes predictable, he likes a plan, he likes his old grey sweatpants because they're comfy. He uses that word, not me. So enrolling him in swim lessons was definitely pushing him outside of his comfort zone.

We have a pool and sure, he can paddle around but he couldn't save his own life with real swimming. And he was scared to put his face under the water. Because we have a pool and because we visit lakes every summer, he started once weekly swim lessons.

Back to swim lessons. And this scatterbrained mama forgot a towel and his goggles.

It didn't go well for a while there. He wouldn't float on his back. I watched from the benches as he tried to negotiate his way out of back float with his instructor. He started saying that he wanted to go to swim lessons "tomorrow, Mommy, not today". And finally pulled the "I don't feel good" to try to get out of them.

Trying hard to focus on the water in front of me instead of alternating between nervously biting my nails and cheering audibly for Chazzy during swim lessons. Apparently, that behavior

But I pushed.

And he did it to make me happy. He asked me "does this make you happy, Mama?"

It does. And I leveraged that first child, people pleasing thing for swim lessons because they're important.

underwater photos_August 2012_08312012

brave, part 2

It's paying off. He's jumping off the side and dunking his whole self in. He's swimming under water. And he's *this close* to mastering the back float.

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I know there will be more opportunities to push him to put a toe over the edge of those comfort zones. This was the first big one. Well done, my little fish, well done.

NOTE: My friend Katie took these photos under water with my iPhone with its new Lifeproof case. Thank you, Katie, for near-drowning yourself to take these. And for those of you interested, I highly recommend the Lifeproof case. Click here to learn more.

Michigan trip: the Phee folks

The Phee portion of our visit started midweek.

Ama and Papa were ready for the entire brood. Can't you tell?

Ama & Papa have their hands full.

I was ready to spend time with my Robin.

Sis-in-law. Love.

Alice was ready for Ama time. And pretty hair flowers from Aunt Robin.

Ama and Alice.

These two . . . well, they have a funny relationship.

[Will's mind] "Hmmmm, look at this thing-y in front of Alice."

Don't mind if I do.

"Don't mind if I do."
What's this?

"Look, Ma. A bottle." (Notice how pissed off Alice is in the background. Priceless.)
Look, a bottle.

These two pick up like they haven't been apart for one second.

Cousins on a Swing, Charlie & Aidan

Cousins, Charlie & Aidan

But all four of them together . . . it feels like mission impossible to photograph. What you don't see here is Robin kneeling closely by ready to catch a falling baby.

Cousin Summit 2012

This one, the official Cousin Summit photo, took a lot of sweat, clicking noises, name yelling and whistling. But we did it.
Cousin Summit 2012

Rich and I had fun on the beach near Tom & Elaine's house (at the Elk's).

us, Lake Michigan

Papa soaked up time with little Alice.

MI trip Phee_August 2012_08112012 (639)

The boys decided to pluck blueberries from Papa's bushes.

MI trip Phee_August 2012_08112012 (653)

Papa decided to head back to his garden to make sure those boys weren't plucking things that weren't quite done growing.

MI trip Phee_August 2012_08112012 (650)

J-Dogg made his annual appearance.

J-Dogg & Rich, Lake Michigan

My brother-in-law Jay (Robin's husband) stretched his legs on the beach.

MI trip Phee_August 2012_08112012 (562)


MI trip Phee_August 2012_08112012 (581) v3

We're lucky to have such great families and to have such a beautiful place to visit.

MI trip Phee_August 2012_08112012 (555)

Michigan trip: the Cunningham folks

It's been a month since our Michigan trip and I'm finally getting everything up on the blog.

The flight to Michigan was NOT fun. Alice screamed, kicked, squirmed and took 10 years off my life both flights. I spilled juice all down Charlie's pants and shoes. We landed at midnight. Yeah, rocky start.

But after my in-laws picked us up in Grand Rapids so late at night and let us bunk up with them that first night (thank you Tom & Elaine), we were able to head up to "the lake" Saturday morning.

Papa Dickie was waiting patiently.

Papa Dickie

It was hot but the sunsets were beautiful.

Campbell Lake sunset.

One of my many cousins (Michelle) and her husband made the drive to little ol' Hesperia for some visiting and baby holding.
Cousin Michelle & Alice, August 2012

Great Phyllis held Alice while she made faces at me.
Grandma Phyllis

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Lynnie, and her daughter Abbie, drove up on the day it was cold and windy. (Charlie doesn't pose well for photos.)

Lynnie & Abbie

Crystal, another friend that I'm so lucky to have in my life after all these years, drove 4 hours with her husband and two sons to spend the hottest day with us. Needless to say, it was spent in the lake with beverages. Oh, and her oldest decided that was the day he would start swimming under water.
The Ceo Family

We spent plenty of time with my brother and his wife, Misty.
 Aunt Misty

Misty is the kind of aunt that makes chocolate / peanut butter chip pancakes on a Sunday morning. Just because.
She's the kind of Aunt that makes peanut butter chocolate chip pancakes in the morning. Just cuz.

Bryan is the kind of uncle that eats peanuts with his nephew while discussing important uncle/nephew matters. He also made sure Charlie didn't fall backwards off that wall. Well, Buck the dog helped, too.
What? Just eatin' peanuts with Uncle Bry. August 2012

Bryan and Rich played the roles of Dad-a-razzi, taking family photos of us in the front yard.

4 Shades of Grey

And of course, cousin Kayle. I don't have enough lovely things to say about this girl. She's a sweet young lady and endlessly patient with my kids. And with me.

Cunningham Cousins

Oh yeah, we visited Lake Michigan on a red flag warning day.

Lake Michigan

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Visited Aunt Janet and Uncle Dave.
Uncle Dave

My Uncle Dave grows corn and other vegetables. This is his corn. I think it's pretty awesome.
Dave's corn, August 2012

Aunt Janet, holding baby Alice. My kids call her Gramma Janet (she's my Mom's sister).

Aunt Janet.

I feel like Alice grew a lot while we were on the trip. Another tooth popped through.
Alice, at Uncle Bry & Aunt Misty's house. August 2012

She learned how to ham it up for Aunt Misty's camera by smooshing her face up against the trampoline net.
smooshie face on the trampoline

And she learned how to enjoy the beach. Major milestone.
She likes watching her brother dig in the sand.

Charlie had fun and soaked up all his time with family. And the beach.
Michigan iPhone_August 2012_08072012 (3)

And harvesting stuff with Uncle Dave.
Michigan iPhone_August 2012_08082012 (1)

I don't have any photos of them but we also spent time with my other brother, Stevie and his girlfriend Sarah. They were very helpful with chasing kids, helping with diaper changes, etc. It's nice being around family.

I miss them all. Looking forward to Christmas.