Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dakota's Second 1st Birthday Party

Little D with her godmother, Marsha.
The second party was held a few days later, on the weekend right after Little D's birthday.  We celebrated with a small group of friends and family and it was a lot of fun.  Dakota had a little practice from our family party #1, so she was more willing to dive into some cake and get messy this time around. 

Loving the cake.
Playing with a friend.  Notice Dakota isn't the gentle one.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Holy Week 2011

In addition to this past week being vacation time for both hubby and the girls, it was also Holy Week.  This is both a busy and wonderful time of the year (and the church year) for us.  Since my hubby is the deacon at church, this means we are always a little extra involved by arriving early, helping to set up, etc.  Here are some of the highlights.

Maundy Thursday -  We try to attend all the services as a family during Holy Week, but different ages are very challenging for successful church attendance at night-time services.  So, my hubby and #1 went to the service (the highlight of which is the footwashing) and the rest of us stayed home.  It is difficult to manage a tired and grumpy baby, 2-year-old, 4-year-old, and sometimes even 6-year-old at bedtime when they are required to sit still, be quiet, and participate in the liturgy at that time of night.  Soon enough, though, they'll all be a bit older (sigh!) and this won't present as much of a challenge.

Good Friday -  Leisurely morning, taking care of plants and gardens.  Leaving home by 10:30-10:45ish for the noon service.  Solemn, but lovely service where all has been stripped bare inside the building to remind us of all Christ has sacrificed in His death.  Girls all cooperate and sit through the whole service including the veneration of the cross.  We jet down to IKEA (make that poke along in a mid-day traffic jam) and look at cabinets.  Back home later for a nice evening in.

Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil) - We know we have to be to church early and that the service starts at 6:00 p.m., but decided to go back to IKEA to actually purchase cabinetry.  All proceeds as planned until the order is paid for and we are informed that it will not be ready for 1 1/2 hours.  Then, we are unsure of how to proceed and go back to the van in the process, where low-and-behold, I have accidentally left open a van door the entire 3 hours in one of the busiest shopping areas in San Diego.  Hubby is horrified, I about have a heart attack, and it turns out nothing is missing (including the vehicle itself), not even the Netbook.  I think an angel was guarding it the entire time.  So, I book it for home with the kids, we change in 30 minutes and drive back to church (probably 1 1/2 hours driving just for those 2 legs of the trip).  My hubby waits for the IKEA stuff, picks it up, and goes straight to church.  Once again, the Lord is watching over us and all the cabinets in the truck stay put.  The Easter Vigil service is wonderful - my favorite of the year; I feel like I am getting a head start on Easter morning by celebrating the Resurrection at the beginning of the Jewish day (after the sun has gone down).  It is glorious to return to saying "Hallelujah" after the absence of them during Lent.

Easter Sunday - Wonderful church service, fun in Children's Church with the kids (doing the craft prepared by moi at 12:30 a.m.).  Food, fun, and fellowship afterwards while watching the kids hunt for Easter eggs.  Lunch at home later in the afternoon with family; such a blessing to have them close and be able to spend time together.  I prepared potatoes au gratin with heavy whole cream and gruyere cheese,  my first time and they turned out delicious (if I do say so myself), a real winner with the ham.

Easter, what a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our salvation, forgiveness, new life, and new beginnings (every day) in Jesus!  Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dakota's First 1st Birthday Party

From the time we had our first child until present, my hubby has remained firm in his belief that birthdays should be celebrated on the actual day of one's birth (even if a party will be held at a earlier or later date to celebrate with others).  So, it is tradition for us to have, at the very least, a small family party with cake and ice cream on the actual birthday of each family member - a tradition that has come to be very special to us as a family.  Each family member, no matter how young or old is acknowledged and celebrated each year on the anniversary of their birth (and hopefully we also do this for each other throughout the year, as well).  So, #5's birthday fell on a very busy weekday a few weeks ago on a day in which we were uncertain if my hubby would even make it home before she had to go to bed.  Nonetheless, #2 and I baked a fast fudge cake and improvised with our ingredients to make a glaze/ganache frosting; it turned out to be delicious.  Papi ("Daddy") surprised us all and arrived home early so we were able to have dinner, birthday cake and celebrating, and a big family dance party in the livingroom before bedtime.  I wouldn't have had it any other way!
Our littlest princess on her birthday.

"What do they expect me to do with this cake?"

"O.K., I think I'm getting the idea.  And it tastes pretty good, too!"

Dancing with Mommy before bed.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Friday Night Dinner: Bang Bang Chicken

A while back I got this recipe from a facebook friend, Lisa, who has lived and sojourned to and from many places.  Since then, I've made this recipe several times and enjoyed it thoroughly each time.  The only change I make is to double the ingredients (up to the end of the sauce ingredients) and and then to saute the vegetables separately (I don't really measure this out; I just fill a big saute pan with whatever I have on hand) and serve them on the side. 

Bang Bang Chicken (from China)

In wok or frying pan, stir-fry briefly in 1 to 2 Tablespoons oil (preferably peanut - I use olive oil instead), until chicken is cooked through:

1 whole chicken breast, cut in strips
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t ginger root grated, or 1/8 t. ground ginger
1 scallion, chopped in 1-in. pieces

1/4 c. water
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. peanut butter
1 T. red wine vinegar

 Simmer 5 minutes.  Add:
2 c. broccoli florets (Last night I used less broccoli and added onions, mushrooms, and Savoy cabbage)
1 cucumber, sliced

Cook until vegetables are crisp tender, about 7 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lessons I'm Learning From My Kids: Don't Argue with a 2-year-old on the Non-Essentials

When it comes to negotiating with a 2-year-old (see pictures from yesterday's post), I have increasingly learned that arguing with them and insisting on my own way regarding non-essentials is simply not worth my time or effort.   Two-year-olds, in general, can be very determined; this is the age of wanting to do it "all by myself" and insisting that "me a big girl" when confronted with each and every task.  As parents, we work to foster increased independence and responsibility, but when coming face-to-face with it in our toddler day in and day out, it can get to be wearing.  Even on tasks where my toddler actually does need my help, she will insist upon doing it all on her own accompanied by loud crying, tears, and the occasional lying down on the floor or dramatically covering her mouth while crying for emphasis.  This is all part of the learning process for the 2-year-old and part of the parent practicing patience and their own teaching skills.  Of course, there are many areas in which I must insist that my 2-year-old do things as requested, especially when it comes to her personal safety and well-being.  But, then there are many other situations during the day where it actually really doesn't matter if she does it my way or not; it's really just a matter of opinion or sometimes even me being less embarrassed; these are what I refer to as the non-essentials.  The Dora swimsuit is a prime example.

On the day that the Dora swimsuit was purchased for #2 by her Grandpa and Grandma (my parents), Livia was so excited about finding the swimsuit of her toddler dreams that she refused to take it off.  As I began to take it off her and put her back into her regular clothes, she started to protest vehemently and cry loudly in the dressing room.  It was at this point that I realized that it would actually be fine if she kept it on and had the tag scanned at the register while still wearing it.  As funny as she may have looked, this path of less resistance was much better than the alternative (and quite hilarious as a story to tell on her in the future).  She insisted upon wearing the suit for the rest of the day with whatever other clothing she was wearing and in a stroke of genius, I managed to get it off for a bit by letting her wear it in the shower first.  Once the swimsuit was wet, she understood the need to take it off so that it could dry for the next day.  By the following evening, the Dora suit hanging on the towel rack in the bathroom was dry and Livia spotted it while brushing her teeth before bed.  It was then that she decided that putting it over her pajamas was a brilliant idea.  Hence, the picture from yesterday's post came about; as soon as I saw her in this getup and saw how absolutely pleased she was with herself, I ran off to get the camera and capture the moment.  In the end, the 2-year-old was happy and went to bed without complaint, I was much happier not listening to ear-piercing cries, and I was also reminded that very few things are worth battling over with a 2-year-old. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fashion from a 2nd Grader: Isabella Style

For the last few months, I have been receiving Vogue magazine.  I signed up to get it when I needed to use up a few airline miles to keep my frequent flyer account active.  Of all the magazines I receive (as gifts from others or with airline miles), Vogue was the last on the list that I thought I would really enjoy reading.  Not only does each magazine begin with between 20 and 30 pages of advertisements, Vogue discusses designers I have never heard of, prices of clothing I never could have dreamt up, and fashions that are so highly impractical to my daily life that the likelihood of me being seen wearing them is slim to none.  This being said, I've ended up reading Vogue cover to cover for some of these very reasons:  it is so far removed from my own reality that it delves more into my imaginitive side rather into the self-improvement rhetoric of so many other women's magazines; there are many fascinating articles and interviews that are unrelated to fashion and more in tune with current events and with individuals that normally I would not read about; and it's just fun (plain and simple) to look at lovely photos of outrageous and not-so-outrageous clothing, shoes, and accessories.

That being said, I thought that it would be fun to look at Vogue with #1, Isabella.  From the time she was very small, she has been very creative with whatever clothing she finds in her drawers and closet.  She isn't picky about whether or not it is new or a hand-me-down; in fact, she is always thrilled to have a new-to-her piece of clothing passed along from a friend.  So, we sat down and perused our April Vogue and I explained that high fashion can be very strange and out-there, but that fashion designers are the ones that create new ideas for clothing and then people try to copy them.  I suggested that she take this same idea into her closet and put together her own creative outfits just for the fun of it.  We talked about how you don't have to wear the same thing as everyone else, or have the newest and latest hot item to be "cool"; being yourself and liking your own style is more important.  Apparently, this clicked with her because she came up with some pretty spectacular outfits on her own, not to mention runway worthy makeup, as well.  It was a fun, Saturday activity for us both.  And I got to feel like the Vogue photographer doing a photo shoot.  :-)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Beach Day

Highlights from today's beach trip:

-The weather forecasters being wrong about the 60 degree day and instead finding it to be about 70 - 72 and sunny

-Enjoying a short, but fun time on the beach with my in-laws watching the girls play in the sand and water (and loving every minute of it!)

-Seeing that Arianna had been knocked down by a wave, gotten completely wet eventhough that wasn't the plan, and hearing her exclaim in delight, "That's what it all about!"

-Watching the great excitement and joy the girls derived from a chance to wear their new swimsuits the day after shopping for them with Grandpa and Grandma

-Observing that despite all of today's gadgets and technology, all it still really takes to engage my kids and make them happy is some sun, sand, water, and an imagination