Monday, February 28, 2011

An Amazing and Awesome Day

It was my birthday on Saturday. I turned 30. At first I was not too excited about that happening. I liked being 29. I felt that 30 officially made me old. But I have changed my mind. I like 30. It feels regal. It feels comfortable. It feels like I am now a "grown-up."

Being the big grown-up that I am, I had to make breakfast on my birthday morning. Griddles get a little hot. And I don't know if Kendall has the dexterity to flip a pancake.  

My littlest audience member has taken a huge interest in cooking lately. She wants to watch everything, all the time. She is a good little observer. She needs to work on her conversational skills though.

Avery asked for a monkey. This is what she got. It was a little hard to flip it. He lost a leg, tail, and arm. He tasted good though. Between the three of us, we ate all of him. I also made a gazillion more Rascal pancakes. These girls can't get enough of the bite size flapjacks.

I got this little trinket for my birthday from my clan. I have been dropping hints for a few months. And by hints, I mean I spoke full, clear sentences so that it was obvious and apparent what I wished for. I hoped that this got the point across, "I would really like a Kindle for my birthday, like a lot." I would say this, maybe three to four times an day. I kid, it was more like five to six times an hour.  It might not have been the best decision though. I neglected my family all Sunday. Hey, I had a book to read and they had a dad at home all day. He was a good little housekeeper. He cleaned, folded, cooked, and changed diapers all while I laid on the couch reading. He is a keeper.

He also got me crab legs for my birthday dinner. I was a happy, happy girl. I dominated those crab legs. These are the remains. I mean, their fate was inevitable. It was just nice that I was the one who got to enjoy their sacrifice. They were beyond delicious. They also came with a small prime rib. I did a fair showing on that as well. There's more. Wait for it...are you ready? The meal started off with a most amazing bowl of French onion soup. It was completely covered in a blanket of melted, stringy cheese. It was food heaven.

I had an amazingly wonderful birthday. Thirty is not too shabby.

Big shoes here, Little shoes there, Shoes shoes, Everywhere!

Kendall found these shoes last week. They are Avery's from Easter when she was the same age Kendall is now. She, unfortunately, never got to wear them because she was extremely ill that weekend. Kendall has been wearing them nonstop. She is a girl in love. They are a little big so she can get them on by herself. And they click. She really digs that they click.

She wears them with comfy clothes and a hat.

She wears them while drinking milk.

She wears them first thing in the morning with her duckie jammies.

She wears them with jeans. She wants everyone to see them. So, she wears them to Grandpa's house.

Her shoe obsessing is growing. As we speak, there are at least five pairs strewn about my living room and kitchen that she played with before her nap. There are flip flops, her shoes, my shoes, and Avery's shoes. She likes to put Avery's shoes on her hands and walk on all fours.

A Conversation with Avery About Magic

Me: "I wish I had a magic wand. If I did, I would use it to do the dishes. It would be able to empty the dishwasher and put everything back where it's suppose to go. Then, I would make it put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher."

Avery: "If I had a magic wand, I would flick it and make it put a movie in. Then, it could push all the buttons on the remote to make it start."

Me: "That's a good idea. I would also make my magic wand pick up all the toys every night and put them back."

Avery: "Yeah, because me and Kendall play with a lot of toys! I would make my magic wand fill the humidifier for you and put it back."

Me: "Aw, that's nice. But it's not that hard to fill the humidifier. I can handle that."

Avery: "Yeah, I know, but I would still do it. I would also make it so it did all of Daddy's work for him so he could be home all the days."

Me: "That's sweet, Avery. Daddy would be happy to hear you say that. I would make my wand mow the grass."

Avery: "Me too! Because it takes a long time and Daddy can't play then. We could ride our bikes longer."

Me: "Absolutely! What else would you do if you had a wand? Would you do anything for Kendall?"

Avery: "Yup. I would make it so her cup ALWAYS had milk in it and no one ever had to fill it up! She drinks a lot of milk."

Me: "She sure does! And I bet she would really like it if her cup was never empty. Anything else you would do?"

Avery: "My wand would make it so you could buy whatever you wanted all the time."
Me: "That would be sweet!"

Avery: "Yeah, it would be. Then we could buy more toys and candy."

Warm Crab Dip

I really like dip. I like dip of every kind. There isn't a dip out there that I don't like. I really like crab. I can dominate crab legs like a champ. So, imagine my bliss when I stumbled upon a recipe for warm crab dip. 

Before you even start making the dip, you must make sure your audience is happy. Mine wanted fruit snacks. She also wanted to do some mixing so I put a little flour in that green bowl, a couple drops of water, and gave her a spoon. The fruit snacks trumped the wet mush in the bowl.

Now that the audience was all set with a snack, I could start the dip. The first step is to melt some butter in a pan and saute some garlic and onions on low for a few minutes.

It smells so good.

After the onions start to soften, add some Old Bay seasoning and stir it in completely.  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Throw some cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise in a bowl. Using an hand mixer, beat on low until creamy and smooth.

Add Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and milk. Continue to mix until well blended and smooth.

Time to tend to the audience. We are big cheese eaters in this joint. You know how a dog can hear when the treat container is opened and they immediately come running for the delicious morsel of goodness? Well, my kids do that with cheese. Whenever I get out a bag of shredded cheese, they come running into the kitchen, mouth open, head tipped back, waiting for a little pinch.

My cheese-freak audience stood at attention when I got the bag of cheese out. She giggled, opened her mouth, and waited.

Oops, you forgot a little something there sweetie. Such those little strings in. Don't let any of it fall! She used the back of the hand technique to push it in. Smart cookie.

Back to the dip. Add the onion and garlic mixture, lump crab meat, and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. My mouth was watering while standing there. I snuck a little piece of crab. I had to test it, you know, to make sure it was acceptable.

Pour the dip into a small baking dish.

The final step of the assembly of the dip is to cover it in cheese. I was sold before this step, but I am never going to say, "Nah, we don't need anymore cheese." That is blasphemy. There can always be more cheese. Especially when that cheese is going to get cooked and melt itself all over the top of a delicious dip.

My audience is helping me clean up the little stragglers of cheese, except instead of picking up the cheese on the cutting board, she started taking it off the dip. Stinker.

I forgot to take pictures before this of the bread I made for the dip. I made a French loaf, cooled it, and then sliced it into half in pieces. I then brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with pepper. You could leave them with just the oil or you could use garlic powder or even rub garlic on them. You can do what ever your little hear desires. You could also use bagel chips or any type of cracker. Breadsticks would be good, too.

Anyway. I baked the slices at 250 degrees for about ten minutes. After they cooled, the became nice and crunchy.

Bake the dip at 375 degrees for 25-30 minute. It gets all bubbly around the edges and the cheese gets all melty and good. Let it cool for a few minutes before digging in. We did not eat it all but it tasted better the next day after the flavors all melded together.

This is a nice dip to have in your repertoire when you need to bring an appetizer somewhere or if you are having guests. The taste of the crab was mild but perfectly present. Even though crab is expensive, the small amount needed for this dip kept the cost of preparation reasonable.

Here is the recipe if you want to try it! I can not remember where I got it from, but I think it may have been

Warm Crab Dip

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons Old Bay seafood seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup milk
8 oz. lump crab meat
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Lightly grease a small, shallow baking dip. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the onion and garlic. Saute over low heat for five minutes. Add the Old Bay seasoning and stir for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Place cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise in a bowl. Blend on low until smooth and creamy. Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and milk. Blend until smooth. With a spoon, stir in crab meat, half of the cheese, and the onion/garlic mixture.

Transfer to the dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top. Back 25-30 minutes until the dip is bubbly and the cheese is melted.

Dip or scoop, whatever your method, but just don't double dip.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Law and Order: Kendall's Life of Crime

This is Kendall at one day old. One itty bitty day old. She was innocent, well-behaved, and resting peacefully.

Like all babies, this lasted for a few months. She slept. She ate. She pooped. She cried. She repeated this day after day. Then, she started to get quite the little personality. And this personality has always been on the funny side mixed with a little spunk and maybe a little bad behavior.

She started off small with a stuck out tongue. That's not so bad. We can handle that "bad" behavior.

She quickly graduated to hittin' the bottle. Don't worry. The can was closed. It was cold and she was teething. Trailer park teething ring, folks. Pull your shirt down, girl. Who are your parents?!

Foul language soon followed. Since she couldn't talk at this point, she needed to use sign language. Unbelievable. Seriously, where are her parents? I can't believe they would let this type of behavior slide.

Soon, she started breaking all conventional rules. I would say, "No, Kendall. We do NOT climb the dishwasher." She would say, "I DO WHAT I WANT!"

She made messes. She threw bowls everywhere. Obviously, she didn't care at all about safe food handling instructions. She would lick those bowls and put them right back in the cabinet to be used by an unsuspecting person. Evil.

The rule breaking escalated through time. When most kids were busy sliding down the slide, she yelled, "I WILL NOT CONFORM TO YOUR RULES, SOCIETY! I WANT TO CLIMB UP THE SLIDE! TRY TO STOP ME! I DARE YOU!"

She continued her disregard for the rules of safety. She would climb whatever she could, laughing all the way, "Muah ha ha! I can't be stopped!"

Her behavior got uncontrollable. She began undressing in public and turning off surround sound systems. It looked like there is no saving this one. She was a lost cause. Another one slipped through the cracks. Once they start disrupting Jeopardy! there is no going back. Sorry, Kendall. We tried our best.

She started stealing scooters. She didn't care if she was seen. No one could stand up to her and win. Not with those chubby baby legs. Avery's upper body strength could not beat the sheer force of Kendall's legs.

She eventually was apprehended. She was sentenced to a long, cold, snowy winter indoors. Here she began rehabilitation. She stopped pushing buttons and climbing things and began to follow the rules. She hasn't needed a cold teething ring beer can in ages and now uses her words instead of hand gestures. She still plays with the bowls, but has stopped licking them. Everything seemed to be heading down the right track....that is, until today. Today, she started back on her path of destruction.

This morning, at 10:25, while in her crib for what was suppose to be her morning nap, Kendall bent approximately three lengths of her amazingly beautiful and ridiculously expensive Wal-Mart brand window blinds.  Her fate is yet to be determined. Her sentence may be extended throughout the rainy and muddy spring. She faces the judge tonight when he returns home from work.

I bet she gets off easy. All she will have to do is say the only two words that are always audible, "HI DADDY!"

Her sentence will probably be extra kisses and maybe an M&M but NO book before bed tonight, for that hardened criminal!

Talking Love with a 4-year-old

The following scene occurred during lunch the other day.

Avery: "I told Jaden I love him today."

Me: "Oh, you did? What did he say?"

Avery: "He said, 'I love you, too,' and I told him that was nice."

Me: "Where were you when you told him?"

Avery: "We were in center time."

Me: "Did you kiss?"

Avery: "Mom! NO!"

Me: "Oh, I didn't know. Is he your boyfriend?"

Avery: "Mom, I told you the other day that I love Jaden because he is my friend. He is not my boyfriend."

Me: "Alright, I am sorry. Well, you have other friends at school. Did you tell them that you love them?"

Avery: "Nope. Just Jaden. He is my friend I love."

End scene.

Painted Magnets

After Avery woke up, Kendall went down for her afternoon nap. I swear that most days I am nothing more than a nap time monitor. It's a little more important than being a hall monitor but not much more exciting.

Now, it was Avery's turn for some painting and crafting. My mom got Avery these ceramic magnets for her to paint for Christmas. It's about time we did that.

We got all set up. Avery has an art desk. It is huge. It is covered with art supplies. I will show you it sometime. It's pretty sweet. It was suppose to be my desk. That did not happen. Anyway. She has paints on her desk that she uses all the time but she has never been schooled in the fine art of wiping your brush off between cleanings to reduce cross contamination of colors. Now she knows. She always thought it was cool to go from one color to the next to the next without ever cleaning. This freaked me out a little bit, but I let her do it because they were her paints.

One down, two to go.

Such concentration and determination.

An artist at work.

Here are our final products. I painted one. I bet you can't figure out which one. Avery's too good for you to tell the difference. After they dried, we hung them on the refrigerator. Kendall noticed them immediately. She notices change fast. She ooohed and aaahed.

She reached for them and realized they were too high up. There is a stool in the kitchen three feet away from the fridge, but that is too easy. Instead, she came and got her train ride-on toy. It is on wheels. She pulled it into the kitchen, placed it next to the fridge, and began to climb. See, I told you she was smart.

Avery, being the nice big sister she is, went into the kitchen and told Kendall she couldn't have them and moved them higher. Isn't she nice? I told Avery Kendall could have them. Avery obliged and said, "She can have them. She loves them because I made them and I did such a good job." Exactly.

Kendall has been carrying those magnets around ever since. She only ever grabs the three Avery painted and leaves mine behind. I am starting to get a complex.

Finger-painting Masterpiece

Kendall turned eighteen months old yesterday. She has officially left babyland and entered toddlerville.  She seemed to wake up a different kid yesterday morning. She spoke. A lot. Here are things she said yesterday that I have never heard her say before:

"Hh, mama."--this is "Help, mama."
"Tay Hu."--"Thank you."

I speak fluent Kendall. I can determine her wants and needs by the tone of the grunt. But now, now she is starting to use words. What a big girl. She's starting to eat and starting to talk. It's about time, girlfriend.

While Avery was napping, I asked her if she wanted to do something fun. She brought me her shoes. When I told her we weren't going anywhere, she was mad for a minute. Then I sat her in her chair and she perked up when I got out the supplies. How could Kendall be a year and a half old and never have finger-painted before? Man, what a slacker for a Mom. She participates in a lot of art/craft projects but is usually an unwilling participant and can't wait to get back to doing her thang. But this, this she was stoked for.

I used masking tape to tape the paper down onto the table. This served two purposes. One was to keep it on the table, obviously. I did not want to have to clean paint up off the floor. She likes to throw things. It's a problem. We are working on it. The second purpose was to create a frame around her masterpiece.

She started with a one-finger technique. She was a little apprehensive. I thought this might be a failure because she does not like anything at all to be on her hands. We go through a lot of kitchen towels because she is a cleaner-upper. She likes to wipe up everything, even if there is nothing there. I fear OCD is in her future. But with a mother like me, it's only inevitable. My poor girls.

She's going at it now. One whole hand covered in paint. Oops, you're getting off the paper. Ah, whatever. It's washable paint. Have at it. It's your birfday, your half-birfday.

Smear, smear, smear.


Two hands now. Maybe there is hope for her to get messy and love it.


"Mama, you want to hold my hand?"

I had to get a second piece of paper. She filled the first and wanted more. This time I didn't tape it. The paint on the table acted like a glue. Nice.

Here is the first finger-painting masterpiece ever by Miss Kendall. I call it post-Modern Abstract. She called it fun.

This was after it dried and I took off the tape. It created a sweet little frame around the amazing work of art.

I think Kendall's favorite part was getting to wash her hands at the sink. She thinks she's pretty cool when she gets to do that.

This was a day of firsts for Kendall: first words, first painting, and first official time out. Yup, it's true. I know she's young but we can start laying the groundwork now, before she really does start to discover her sass. It is inevitable. She is my daughter and Avery's sister. She will have plenty of sass to go around.

She was kicking Avery so I put her on the bottom step. And she sat there. She giggled at first but then I told her she was naughty. She gave me sad face. Then she got up. So I sat her back down. She got up again. So I sat her back down. Then I told her to give Avery a hug and kiss. She did. Then she kicked Avery again. Avery told her to go on a time out. And she did. She walked over to the bottom step and sat down. She learns fast, kinda.