Saturday, December 12, 2009

Parumpapumpum... in March

It's been a while since the last post, and I found a half-finished one from the holidays in my edit box so I'm including it here at the end for prosperity's sake.

In the meantime, here's a bulleted list of what's been happening at the HH the past 3 months:

  • Finn: registered for Kindergarten (!!!!), obsessed with robots and mad scientists, learning to write ABC's and counting pretty well. Loves to "invent" things. We've been on a Wizard of Oz kick there for a while, but not the movie version. Finn prefers the more grisly version where the Tin Man slings an axe around.

  • Eli: slowly coming out of the Terrible Three's. Getting less moody and much more talkative. Has a toy sword collection. Loves any and all kinds of super heroes. Eli can be a bit of a brute when it comes to his brother, very much The Heavy. He went to the dentist for the first time in February and loved it because he got to choose a ninja sword out of the toy chest.

  • Hotwheel Hubs: Poor guy... working hard to keep his head above water. We went to NOLA a few weeks ago for a long weekend without the Beastie Boys and it was great. Thank goodness for Grandparents!

  • BookMama: Also working during the day, still trying to get scrimmage eligible at roller derby practice, doing various and sundry volunteer work in her (infinite) amount of spare time.

This post started sometime in mid-December...
We've been listening to a lot Christmas music in the mornings on the way to school in hopes of Finn & Eli learning their songs for the school play next week. I threw in some other fun songs to help mix it up, and I think we've heard to this one about 3,429,016 times:

This year, Eli is a Drummer Boy, and Finn is one of the Wise Men, specifically the one with the gold. (He is NOT the one with the "frankenstein".) The only version of Little Drummer Boy we had was the Bowie/Bing version and it always makes me weepy and nostalgic for some reason that I'm not quite sure about, except that I get weepy and nostalgic about just about everything lately.

Finn has really nailed "Away in the Manger" and, unlike his parents, he has a pretty good singing voice. He would much rather be singing "I Don't Want a Hippoptamus for Christmas". Over and over and over.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Oldie but Goodie

(I initially posted this last November, but the house is currently filled with the smell of cornbread, and the dressing process is well underway. I hope you take some time to count your blessings this weekend - I know I am.)

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I've always loved to cook and see family. We're the kind that stays, eats some more, and stays, naps a little, and stays, talk a lot, watch some football, stays a bit longer, and eventually waddle our way back to our cars with heaping plates of leftovers for the next day.

I thought I would share with you the killer cornbread dressing recipe from my Grandfather. I love to make it every year in his memory, in the very big silver "dressing bowl" he taught me to prepare it in.

The year before Papa Loyd died he was still stubbornly insisting on hosting Christmas Day dinner at his house like we always did. I went over to help with the preparations and brought my video camera to try and capture the infamous dressing recipe on tape. I let him boss me around and call all the shots - watching that video makes me laugh as I cry.

Me & Papa Loyd circa 1979

Papa Loyd's Holiday Dressing & Giblet Gravy

Note: no shortcuts allowed. No broth instead of homemade stock. No store bought cornbread. I've tried the shortcuts and they just. don't. work. It's not the same.

1 hen (not chicken)
2-3 onions, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 large pones cornbread (if you don't know what a pone is you have no business making this recipe)
1/4 butter
2 TBS yellow mustard
2 TBS ketchup
2 TBS Italian seasoning
1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh sage, finely chopped (reduce amount if dried)
3 slices bread, torn up into small pieces
1 (8 oz.) can oysters, drained & chopped
3 TBS jarred pimento, finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste

The day before: cook cornbread & cool completely. Crumble both pones.
Day of Thanksgiving:
Remove giblets from hen and set aside.

Rinse hen and place in stockpot & cover with water, about 8 cups. Simmer covered until done, reserving broth. De-bone hen & reserve meat.

Preheat oven 350 degrees

In large saucepan melt butter & add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Add all the broth from hen, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

In BIG ("dressing") bowl, combine crumbled cornbread, torn bread pieces, & the broth mix until it reaches spaghetti sauce consistency. If mix is too soupy, add more bread pieces.

Add all the remaining ingredients & mix well.

Pour mixture into a large roasting pan. Bake 1 hour until golden.

Serve hot with giblet gravy & hen meat on the side.

Finely chop hen giblets.
Simmer 3 cups chicken broth on stovetop. Add flour a little at a time, stirring constantly until a smooth, thin rue is formed. Add chopped giblets, blend well, and simmer.
Salt, pepper, and otherwise season to taste, can add one or two sliced boiled eggs to gravy if you want to be extra-Southern.
Yields: enough for a crowd of at least 10-15.

Eliot Loyd is Papa Loyd's namesake.
I see his spirit in that boy every day.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hot Wheel Hacienda indeed...

... here's a bit about my latest venture.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I know, I know. I haven't posted since September, and now I'm like that boy that dumped you in middle school who was slobbering all over you one minute and snubbing you the next (Jerk.)
I suck.

But work was killing me and I had the Huge Event and Finn was having a rough time at school and we were worried and I would just come home and collapse in a heap from exhaustion and frustration. And the dog ate my homework. And I had car trouble. Satisfied?

Somewhere in between all that we all went to the beach with my parents, Hotwheel Hubs went back to school, I started up with the local roller derby team, Finn played a whole soccer season, we celebrated our 10th anniversary in NYC, I got swine flu, Finn evened out at school, and Halloween happened:

Samurai Jack & FinnBot
Eli was Samurai Jack and Finn was a Robot. Best. Halloween. EVAH!

That should catch you up with me, but I've missed YOU! I hope to catch up visiting your worlds and trying to catch up.

... AND I wanted to show an email my Dad just sent me... I couldn't believe it and have never been more thankful that I don't have a bayou running through my backyard.

From: Uncle Mike
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 7:31 AM
To: The Fam
Subject: Hog Gator

I thought you all would like to see the size of this gator. I would not want to be in any soccer field with a gator like this!
1000lb + GATOR Shot in Houma, La. The larger female got away but was seen crossing Field 4...




You know those Cajuns... putting him in the cooler to make some awesome gator soup. Many, many bowls.

Check out that pinky finger and those nails!

The craziest part is THE FEMALE GOT AWAY. Eeeek!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Send the Gypsies

Dear Boys,

If you are reading this, then I assume we've all survived - at least until you've learned to read. Consider this a retrospective entry that details the growth your parents have experienced while raising you in your third and fourth years.

Retrospective #1
You are driving your Dad and I bleepity-bleep CRAZY.

Introspective #1
What's with the brotherly fighting all the time? And when I say all the time, I mean every 15-30 minutes, around the clock, except for nine hours you are sleeping?

Introspective #2
How can it be that daycare has called us TWICE in less than a week to pick Finn up for kicking and/or hitting? Is an expelled preschooler in our near future?

Retrospective #2
Never again will I think "My kid won't be like that" or "That's a questionable parenting decision". It's clear now that no parent knows what they're doing. If they say they do, they're lying.

Introspective #3
Where's the justice? Even if we do ALL the right things - read to you, cuddle you, feed you good & healthy food, give you occasional tough love, allow occasional candy (but not too much candy), make sure you get enough sleep, be compassionate (but not too compassionate), be consistent (but not overly so), yaddayaddayadda... you will STILL go through rough patches.

Rough enough to cause our entire days/weeks/(gulp)months to come crashing to a screetching halt with worry over if we're doing the right thing to get you through it. Or if we're just pushing you farther down the wrong track.

Somebody needs to invent a Parenting Magic 8 Ball. NOW please.
Along with a gift certificate to Great Spirits.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Every Little Thing... Is Gonna Be Alright

Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley should write ME a check... almost every night they are each invoked during our bedtime ritual. 

Finn is a Buffett guy; quintessential beach baby and pirate connoisseur. We started incorporating the song when he moved to a "big boy bed" because Eli needed the crib. We chose it because Caleb knew all the words. 

Number of times we have sung "A Pirate Looks at 40":
  • 5 times a week on average
  • 52 weeks a year = 260
  • for 3 years = 780 times! 

Eli is a little more chill and a lot less melancholy. He's only recently began asking for a song at night, but his taste is good - Bob Marley is his DOC. How indicative of his future character is this? Only time will tell, but hubs and I are more than a little worried. We've referred to Eli's Matthew-McConaughey-esque demeanor before... 

I remember being very pregnant in the heat of summertime and stressed to the max about work or some other odd hormonal thing. Driving in to the office that morning I stuffed this CD into my car's dashboard and cranked it up. The impact was almost instantaneous - I could literally feel the tension drain away...

How could you NOT?  

Here's to stress-free summers and steel drums. 
I hope you have both. 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Veggie Tales

The veggies are in! The veggies are in! 

This year we're growing zucchini, crookneck squash, Roma & heirloom tomatoes, jalapeno & sorrento peppers, okra, cantaloupe, and a whole helluvalot of herbs. I wanted to grow stuff we actually eat, and now I'm running out of recipes... especially with the squash. I've fried and sauteed them, I've made zucchini bread, and tonight I took it to the next level and they got stuffed. 

Lo and behold... it turned out pretty good. So good I wanted to share it here, because if I don't I'll forget what I did and never get it right again. 

(Because if you call it "boats" little boys will eat it.)

Feeds 4 with some leftovers. 

2 medium-large sized zucchini
2 medium-large sized yellow squash
1/2 cup finely chopped vidalia onion
1 large tomato (or 2-3 Romas)
1/2 lb. ground pork OR 1 package Healthy Choice smoked sausage, chopped finely
1 tsp minced garlic
(optional) 1 TBS chopped fresh basil 
(optional) 2 sorrento peppers, chopped finely
1 cup prepared couscous or brown rice
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375. 

Boil whole squash & zucchini in a large pot of water until tender, about 12 minutes. Remove from water.

Slice squash lengthwise into halves. Scoop out seeds & pulp, leaving the squash shells - reserve pulp & seeds in a bowl for later. 

Spray skillet with cooking spray and saute meat with onion, garlic, and sorrento peppers and cook until brown. Season meat with salt & pepper. Add squash pulp to the meat mixture and simmer on low. Remove from heat.

Add in your couscous or rice, chopped tomato, and Parmesan cheese. Mix well. 

Spray a 9x13 glass dish and arrange squash halves in it. Fill the boats with stuffing mixture until they are heaping. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 

Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until brown. 

Devour the squash boats & go blog about how fantastic they were. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Three is a Magic Number

What IS it with me and having holiday babies?? 

Finn was born on the 23rd of December, and we went home from the hospital on Christmas Day. Eli was born the 5th of July and I remember lying awake that night listening to the random POW of a still-enthusiastic bottle rocket at 3:00 AM, wondering if these contractions were real or the fake kind. 

So three years have come and gone and now the baby is a boy. 

As usual, we had a small party at home with family and a few close friends. Hubs fired up the grill and my dad brought homemade ice cream. My job was to furnish The Cake. 

I don't fancy myself a super crafty DIY person, but we've been doing the homemade birthday cakes for a few years now and I was stressing about this one. The boys get to pick what kind of cake they get and it's up to me to figure out a way to make it happen. 

Samurai Jack seemed simple enough - I got some small toys online and found a party supply store with all their SJ stuff on clearance. I found some red & black candies - a hodgepodge of licorice, Twizzlers, spanish peanuts, and candy blackberries & raspberries. 

Thank you, Fruit Rollup gods, for providing the orange-cherry swirl kind that made the most perfect flames when cut with a leaf-shaped cutter! The platform was an iced rice crispy treat.

The cake itself was devil's food and iced with homemade buttercream. HUGE thanks to Aunt T, who is the Icing Queen! My frosting skills have much to be desired and she came over to help early that morning. 

A bouquet of swords from the dollar store also served as party favors. 

The candy sushi turned out pretty good!

Last year on the HH I chronicled the story of Eli's arrival. Since you know that already I won't rehash it here, but I will record some of my predictions on his character for prosperity's sake. 

Eli is our brute. He's the brawn to Finn's brain, the sheer will to his brother's nuance. But don't be fooled - that is no indication of Eli's intelligence. He's just more direct with his manipulation. He's cute, he knows it, and he totally uses it to his advantage. It's the same trait I can see we'll need to stay on top of to make sure it doesn't morph into cockiness as he gets older. He's more likely to cuddle with you and still asks to be held and carried occasionally... never mind he weighs the same (if not more) than his older brother. His hugs are fierce and frequent, and thankfully outnumbered by his outbursts... barely. 

So far, Eli has shown more interest & proficiency in team sports than Finn, tossing a ball with strength & accuracy or picking up on the way the game is played. He loves the water and doesn't mind getting his face wet in the pool. HE EATS LIKE A STARVED HORSE. Thai food, veggies, all kinds of meat, Chinese food, pasta, fruit - I honestly can't think of something he won't eat right now. He's even been known to sneak sips of our coffee if we aren't watching him. 

Once, when Hotwheels Hubs was traveling for work, he was hanging out in the hotel bar and met an interesting character who claimed to be an "International Astrologer" with clients all over the world. (Hubs must have a face that encourages people to talk because this kind of thing happens to him all. the. time. He should've been a bartender or a therapist or a priest because folks want to confess their sins and discuss the details of their lives with him without him ever encouraging that kind of interaction.) 

Anyway, they got to talking and International Astrologer asked about hub's family. When he learned a little about Eli he got excited. 

IA: "He sounds like a Crystal Child!"   

Hubs: "Umm... OK. What's that?" 

IA proceeded to rattle off characteristics of the revered Crystal Children
Hubs proceeded to laugh. 
  • Usually born after 2005. Check
  • Have magnetic personalities and are highly affectionate. Check.
  • Usually late talkers. Check.
  • Are very much connected to nature and animals. Check.
  • They love water which is beneficial in clearing and soothing them. Check. He's a fish at the pool, and loves going to the beach.
Then... it got weird.
  • Use telepathy and self invented sign language to communicate. Um. No. 
  • May be diagnosed with autism, or Asperger’s syndrome. No, thank goodness. 
  • Are even tempered, sweet and loving. Are forgiving of others. The temper on Eli is anything but. He holds a grudge, and eats "even tempered" for breakfast. 
  • Are natural healers and peacemakers. Nope. He's usually the one inflicting the pain, and more of a warmonger than a peacemaker. Just today I overheard Finn telling him, "I'M a lover. YOU'RE a fighter." 
  • Are quite interested in crystals and rocks. Yeah... to THROW.
  • Are extremely artistic and creative. We all knew that...
  • Often are natural vegetarians and may have a high metabolism. Wrong. You know those images of cavemen with giant hunks of red meat? That's Eli. 
  • May be fearless explorers and climbers with an amazing sense of balance. Fearless? Yes. Explorer? Yes - meddling is a hobby of Eli's. But amazing sense of balance? Far from it. The kid is top heavy, and has sported at least two black eyes and countless goose eggs to prove it. 
  • Their energy may disrupt electrical appliances. Usually because he's smashed something into said appliance. 

I think it's safe to say that Eli is NOT part of a more evolved, enlightened race of humans, and that Crystal & Indigo Children are really just another way for doting parents to worship their kids instead of raising their kids. This results in more rotten, spoiled rugrats that grow up to become rotten, spoiled adults. 
But that's just me. 

I, for one, am happy to have my little imperfect, willful, sweet three-year-old over that any day. Happy Birthday, Little Man!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Doing the Splits

I was in an innovative cooking mood last night and managed to concoct a dessert that was pretty darn good! It happened quite by accident and I wanted to pass it along... 

I had a little of this and that but not enough of any one thing to make a whole dessert. I thought about doing strawberry shortcake but I didn't have enough strawberries, or any cake-like thing to put the strawberries on. So that was out. 

What I DID have was this cake mix, and it had a pound cake recipe on the side of the box.  

The recipe called for a box of vanilla pudding - but of course - I didn't have any. What I DID have was a box of banana cream pudding. So a banana pound cake was born. 

And guess what? 

Banana pound cake + chopped strawberries + drizzled chocolate sauce + dollop of whipped cream = BANANA SPLIT CAKE! 

If you need a tutorial on putting it all together, I suggest you try this one:

But whatever you do, don't try this one:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Samurai Eli

My Soon-To-Be THREE Year-Old...

In less than two weeks the baby of the family will have his third birthday. As usual, I'll probably greet the happy occasion with a little bit of sadness mixed in... how time flies, my baby's not a baby anymore, yaddayaddayadda. 

In the meantime, Eli is pumped UP for a par-tay! Every year I make a clumsy-but-sincere birthday cake in the theme of the birthday boy's choice. Last year, Eli was into airplanes, so he got an aviation-themed cake. This year, there is no question as to the kind of cake he wants. 
For six months he has requested Samurai Jack. 

What's that? You're not familiar with this mysterious Emmy-winning samurai that has NOT been on television since 2004? You aren't alone. Eli discovered Jack DVDs on the shelves of our local library and fell instantly in love. Hotwheel Hubs and I were thrilled - we watched SJ as married childfree adults back when it first debuted, and we were sad when it went off the air. 

So imagine making a cake that embodies all of this: 

(I'll be sure to post some photos of THAT hot mess when it's time for the party.)

I found a Samurai Jack shirt in Eli's size online and lots of SJ party stuff like napkins, thank-you notes, and party horns on clearance. We're just going to do a small family party at home with a sprinkler & kiddie pool for the cousins. For favors we got foam samurai swords to pass out to all the kids & if I have time I might make this adorable candy sushi recipe

I also made the mistake of asking said Soon-To-Be-Three-Year-Old what he might like as a present. At the time, I thought he needed to build a little excitement, because he didn't seem to grasp that his birthday was in the near future. Now he makes sure I see each toy commercial that features a desired birthday item... every time it appears on television. 

Such as:

"MAMA! MOM! LOOK! A TWUCK.... I need dat for my birfday!"

"OH MOMMY! LOOK DERE! ROBOTS! I need dat for my birfday!"

I need dat for my birfday!"

"MOM, MOM!! A CY-SICLE LIKE DAD! I can go fast! 
I need dat for my birfday!"

Guess I need to go out to the money tree in the backyard and start the harvest.
(OR... We could just get him some Ben 10 action figures and call it a day.)
No matter what, I'll be sure to report birthday fun here at the HH! 

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sisters Take Chicago!

Sisters & Blue Man
Originally uploaded by BookMamma
So... hi there! Remember me? I'm the one on the far left that has been sorely neglecting her blog lately. Internet burnout has hit me hard - between the blog, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Kaboodle, and all the work stuff I've ben doing I'm kind of sick of myself. That and it's been nice just being with my kids and not worrying about blogging about them. (Guilt-free bloggers, unite!)

Back to Chicago.
My littlest sister graduated high school a few weeks ago, and I've been telling her for a whole year now I would like to provide a special senior trip in honor of the occasion. As the planning progressed, all the sisters got excited and Laura suggested we ALL go, So we all did! It was the first time we ever did something like this - no kids, no parents, no spouses/significant others - and we all shared a hotel room. Chicago will never be the same...

Click HERE to see our whole album!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Red-Headed Hussy*

We cashed in some much-needed vacation time and headed south to the beach this week. Contrary to past visits, there was no major incidents - no lost babies in elevators, no trips to the ER by the shore. We frolicked in the pools and built castles in the sand. The weather was perfect and sunny, and the beach crowds hadn't yet converged in its usual throngs. 

We played Shark:
Me: in the water, coming after Finn "Dun-uh... Dun-uh.... dun-uh-dun-uh-dun-uh..."

Finn: "Mom, why you say 'DONUT' when you play Shark?"

We attacked each other with water pistols in the pool and squealed "Retreat! Retreat!" when liquid ammunition ran low. (Actually, the boys yelled, "THE TREAT! THE TREAT!")

Our last night there, a monumental event happened. My oldest son picked up his first redhead. In a bar. At the beach. 
He must've been a vision of masculinity.

I know how girls think. Finn didn't seem like the other guys there. He stood out from the crowd. He was more adventurous, more dashing. Less sandy.

At first, Finn played it cool. 
He didn't let on he was the slightest bit interested in the red-headed hussy.

But in no time, she won his attention by being beligerent. 
Finn: "Mom... that girl over there said I don't start with 'F'. She said I DON'T."
He's learning the letters of his name & likes to share them with random people. 

But he soon explained the way things were to the RHH, and she came around. 

In no time, they were inseperable. She was even able to keep up with our little Tornado Boy.  Her name was Genevieve.

They caroused in the Fountain together. She met his brother.

Finn introduced her to his Dad. They made sand soup. (Delish!)
Things were getting serious, fast.

They hit a snag in the relationship when Finn discovered she was easily distracted, and wouldn't blindly follow him everywhere.

But they made up quickly.

I'm loving Eli's plumber's crack in the background...


Genevieve, we barely knew ye. 

Finn & Genevieve

* I don't REALLY think a five-year-old is an actual hussy, so please don't get your knickers in a twist. 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Running for Cookies

Proud of Himself
Originally uploaded by BookMamma
Finn & Caleb ran their first official races today at the Cookie Run.

Caleb's was a 5K he ran with our friend Sandy and Finn's was a 1 mile Fun Run. Finn did the whole thing in under 16 minutes without complaining (much). Eli and I were SO proud!

Go to our Flickr site to see all the photos.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The View from Four Feet

Today's photo tour of our house will be presented by Finn, who somehow acquired the camera after I took a snapshot of a moment I'll call "Yogurt Celebration":

He wanted to take a picture of us together first. I thought that was it, but discovered these photos after I downloaded the ones I needed from the camera.

I could have done without the photo of my rear. I'm sure you could too.

Thankfully, Finn's next subject was more interesting...

... but seemed to have forgotten something.

A fascinating shot of the microwave followed.

As well as an artistic depiction of our kitchen floor.

Caleb was asked to pose, which makes me wonder why the camera wasn't confiscated afterward. The shutter seems to be a bit stuck, probably due to the finger that kept jamming it open.

A lovely couch scene...

... followed by some nature shots.

This one was experimenting with light & shadow.

From a dog's-eye view.

A set of geometric shape shots of the dining room table and the stairs -

Concluded by a secret shot of a recently dressed brother.

I hope you've enjoyed this photographic tour of the Hotwheel Hacienda, and it encouraged you to change your perspective every now and then.
As well as be sure to put your camera up higher than usual.
Hotwheel Hacienda, 2008. All Rights Reserved.|Blog Design by JudithShakes Designs.
Graphics hosted by Flickr.