Saturday, January 31, 2009


I'm heading off to bed but I wanted to show off my trophy first. Only two were given out today and I received one of them. Yeah, it went well. G' night.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Tomorrow I test for the orange belt. I can't believe I've only been training for 8 weeks. It feels much longer than that. I am ready for the test and am only minimally worried about the sparring. At least I don't feel like I'm going to cry in the middle of sparring anymore. This is my first time testing with the rest of the studio and I'm looking forward to comparing my technique to theirs. I have only Peter to compare myself to and since he's 2 years further along than I am, it's not much of a comparison. They tell me I'm doing very well but it will be nice to see for myself. I wish I could have Tom and the boys come to watch but I'm pretty sure that they'll freak out watching me spar. Well, Tom probably wouldn't freak out.

I'll tell you all about it tomorrow. Wish me luck!


Last night on the way home from school:

Jack: Marlei doesn't like me. She hates me.
Me: Why?
Jack: I don't know.
Me: Why do you think she hates you? Did she say she hates you?
Jack: No, but she hates me.
Me: Why do you think so?
Jack: I don't know. She just does.
Dean: It's because you make fun of her.
Jack: I DO NOT!
Dean: Well, it seems like you do.

This morning on the way to school with Tom, talking about who they like and who likes them.

Jack: I like that girl who's friends with Marlei what has eyes like almonds. Dean, what's her name?
Dean: Who?
Jack: You know that girl what has eyes like almonds and is friends with Marlei.
Dean: I don't know but there's a girl that hates me in my class.
Daddy: Why do you say that?
Dean: She runs away from me all the time.
Jack: She might not hate you Dean. Sometimes when girls run away it's because they really like you but they don't know how to talk to you. I know who likes me - Eliana (pronounced iliana).
Dean: You mean Eliana (pronounced eh-liana).
Jack: NO! It's Eliana (pronounced iliana).
Dean: Then why do I call her Ellie?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A New Habit

We've started a new habit here at casa de twins and that is to publish a weekly dinner menu for the family. This means that every weekend (usually on Saturday) Tom and I choose the menu for the week and then I do the shopping. The goal is to get our grocery bill down to $150 per week (we're almost there) and to throw away less food every week. We only buy for the menu and for lunches for the boys. We started it a few weeks ago and the result has been much less stress each night, yummy food and less waste. A success any way you look at it.
So, our menu for this week is:
Mon - Chicken Marsala (recipe at the end) with mashed potatoes and salad
Tues - Tortilla soup with tomato and avocado salad
Wed - Leftovers
Thurs - Cauliflower soup and salad
Fri - Sandwich night

I made the Chicken Marsala and the tortilla soup on Sunday afternoon. Monday night I just had to reheat the chicken, boil and mash the potatoes and toss the salad.
Cauliflower soup is really quick and easy and I'm going to garnish it with crispy bacon. I'll cook extra bacon so we can have bacon and egg sandwiches on Friday night. Easy menu, inexpensive ingredients and quick to prepare.

Chicken Marsala
olive oil
8 chicken thighs (can be bone in or not, skinless or not)
1 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
marsala wine
white wine
1 8oz package of cremini mushrooms (white buttons are fine if it's all you have), sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Swirl a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven, add chicken thighs and cook until browned. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside. Pour off the excess fat. Add the sliced onions to the pot and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds or so. Deglaze the pot with 2 cups of marsala wine scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add a 1/2 to 1 cup of white wine and let simmer for 10 minutes. Toss in the mushrooms and add the chicken back to the pot along with the accumulated juices. Put it in the oven and let it cook for 30 minutes.
The chicken will be super tender, there will be a sweet and earthy sauce, and the mushrooms and onions will taste divine. Served over creamy mashed potatoes, this will become one of your favorite comfort foods.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Now We're Cooking

When I go home to visit my mom, there are a few things that are on my wishlist for dinner.

Pizza King, of course. It's fairly local to Indiana and it's not Chicago deep dish or New York style but it's delicious and what I grew up on so it's as vital to my visit as a cheesesteak is to Tom's when he goes to PA.

Steak 'n Shake because it's like the midwest's version of In 'n Out. And the shakes are soooo good.

Dog 'n Suds because the beer comes in a frosted mug and they have little ones for the kids. What? It's root beer, people.

The Custard for a cone and a vanilla coke. So that's actually two separate visits. But if you go to the zoo or the pool or the park, you have to go there at the end. It's like a law.

Now when we're talking about home cookin'? I want fried chicken and mashed potatoes. No other sides are necessary although I may toss a broccoli spear on my plate - for a little color. Her fried chicken is so good and the gravy, mmm hmmm. I also dig her cube steak and mashed potatoes. And her polish sausage and potatoes.

I'm drooling onto my keyboard. I really need to go home and eat.

Anyway, I love my mom's cooking and I love visiting all the old places when I go home.

Still, it was nice to get a note from my mom that tells me that she not only made my moroccan chicken recipe but took a picture of it too.

Check it:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


There have been a lot of firsts so far this week:

First weekend in recent memory in which Jack lost more points (for bad behavior) than Dean.

First tooth fairy visit to Dean.

First time we've pulled the bathing suits out in January.

First time I've had to put sunscreen on in January.

First time Jack and Dean jumped from the top of the playstructure.

And of course:

We are one.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I'm sitting at the park watching the boys expend some energy and I remembered that I wanted to write about the funny thing that happened to my friends Peter and Julian.

It was New Year's Day and they had just returned to their home following a day of shopping. They actually got home within minutes of each other, Peter after Julian, and when Peter started walking into the house he could see that Julian was holding a broom and seemed to be trying to push at something with it. There was a lot of commotion and when Peter finally got in the house he finally saw what was causing such a fuss. A love bird. Apparently when julian arrived home, this love bird flew to the front door behind him and as he walked in the door, so did the love bird. They finally managed to catch him and, since there was no other place to keep him, they put him in their enclosed shower.

So it seems that love knows no bounds. It will just walk into your door on the first day of a new year.

By the way, the latest word on the love bird is that he's a bit of an asshole so now they're looking for a new home for him. Because, after all, everyone can use a little love but nobody needs another asshole.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Moroccan Chicken

I checked the freezer - 2 packages of chicken legs left. I decided to coat them in salt, pepper, thyme and lemon zest, brown them in the cast iron pot, deglaze the pan with a pile of onions and 2 cups of white wine, add some fresh lemon juice and crushed garlic, plop the chicken legs back in the pot and pop it in the oven to cook for another 45 minutes. While that cooked I got some rice going. Then I chopped up some romaine, shredded some carrots, and tossed it all together with some raisins and candied almonds. I whisked up a quick honey mustard dressing and drizzled it on top.
I added a handful of kalamata olives, spanish green olives, and capers to the chicken mixture for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

I wish I had taken a picture. Mmmm, it was good.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Weird Life

Jack's new thing is that he wants to call Tom every night as we're driving home. But he doesn't want me to dial it, he wants to do it himself. So I pass the phone back to him and list Tom's digits and then he pushes a wrong button and passes the phone up to me, I delete the wrong number and pass it back to him. Finally he gets the right number in the right order and waits for Tom to answer. When Tom doesn't answer, I have to remind him that he will leave a message and that he needs to wait for the beep and then begin talking. It takes a second for him to get the hang of it but he leaves a sweet message, neglects to say goodbye but that's ok.

Then suddenly Dean decides he needs to call Tom, too. I should have known. I tell him we can't, I need to concentrate on driving and it's too hard to see the buttons and we haven't really talked about leaving messages. Dean got upset because it isn't fair that Jack knows how to leave text messages and he can't.

I know. It was really sweet.

As luck would have it, we were pulling into the driveway as this drama was unfolding and, even luckier, Tom was home. Jack went bounding over to him to tell him that he left a message for him and I took the opportunity to pull Dean into the front seat for a little one on one. I explained that Jack wasn't text messaging but it didn't seem to mollify him. Then I was struck by genius. I said to him, "Did you know when I was a little girl we only had one phone and it had to be attached to the wall with a cord or it didn't work?" His eyes grew, his mouth popped open and he said, "No WAY!"

"YEAH!", said I. "And", I continued, "we only had 13 channels on the television."

I didn't tell him about the part where we had to change those channels with pliers. Figured that would require too much explanation. Heck, I still haven't told him that we didn't have a remote control.

As we climbed out of the car he said to me, "Mom, you've really had a weird life."

So true son, so true.

Friday, January 02, 2009


Today was a very good day. I don't know what the deal is but for the past two weeks the boys have been fighting a lot and I haven't had the patience. Probably a combination of change in routine, staying up later, eating more sweets and the mania that goes along with this time of year.

We've all been a bit snappish.

Of course, as it is every year, patience is at the top of my list of things to work on in '09. This morning in Tae Kwon Do, we spent the last twenty minutes of class talking about our goals for the new year and giving gifts to our master. It's a nice tradition and coincidentally Peter and I each gave Master D a book - a coffee table book of the cartoons from The New Yorker from Peter and a book of essays from The New Yorker from me. Seriously, we never talked about it. It's just weird. Anyway, Master D counseled me that it's not so much about becoming more patient as it is about being less frustrated and controlling my anger. He's right and after some discussion about triggers and the chemistry behind it (flight or fight anyone?), we moved on.

After TKD, I came home and cleaned up a bit then took a quick glance online to see what was happening at the Getty. It was crazy foggy here today - really unusual for this town. It's cold, too. I don't think it hit 60 degrees today. And yeah I know it's like below zero in Chicago but I don't live there. Where I live, below 60 is freakin' cold, ok? Anyway, on a whim I decided to take a look at the Skirball Cultural Center and it looked like way more fun than the Getty so that's where we went. It was really cool. The big exhibit there right now is Noah's Ark with all the animals made from recycled or repurposed materials. It was really neat and the boys loved it. There is also an archaelogical dig for kids but it was closed today because of the weather. I will definitely take the boys again soon. There's a superhero exhibit coming in February - perfect! Geena Davis was there with her kids. She's very tall.

The boys fell asleep on the way home and gave me a chance to just relax for a few minutes.

Now they're curled up on the couch watching a movie and I'm getting ready to start dinner.

I don't know what was different about today. Why I was more relaxed and present - was it because they were so good or were they so good because I was more relaxed and present? I don't know. But they were good and they had fun at the museum and I had fun watching them and I didn't worry about the time or try to rush them through any of the exhibits. I didn't try to force an experience that I wanted them to have. I let them move through it on their own based on their own interests. Maybe they were good because they felt empowered. Maybe. All I know for sure is that we all smiled a lot today, no one yelled at all today and I frequently found myself sincerely enjoying their company. What a great way to wind down our two weeks together.

A New Year

Anyway, as I was saying ...

Blogger suddenly had a hiccup yesterday while I was writing that literal masterpiece so it published before I was done. A premature publish. Ack!

Yeah so Christmas was great, we went here we went there. The days off in between it and New Year's were filled with doctors appointments both expected and unexpected. I didn't get their loft painted as I'd hoped but we did get to the Natural History Museum and the California Science Center. I hope to take them to the Getty Museum today because Dean really wants to go to the art museum. I don't know what he's expecting but the Getty has a great outdoor garden area and a nice kids area.

I want to do a recap of 2008 but don't have the time right now. I have to leave for TKD in a couple of minutes.

I didn't do any resolutions this year mostly because they're usually the same from year to year - be more patient, be more present, say yes more, say no less, be better. I hope to do all those things this year too but also break a few more boards. I also hope to move out of my comfort zone more this year. I'm a homebody - content to stay home with my computer and my comfy couch. I need to venture out more, expose the boys to more of what this town has to offer. We need to go camping and travel up and down this state a little more - take mini vacations.

So there's a lot on the horizon. But I'm hopeful.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

So here it is the first day of 2009 and I haven't even written about our Christmas. Is it true that I only posted like 6 times the whole month of December? I'm a bad blogger.

I really expected to write more during these two weeks. I haven't had to work and I figured even with having to entertain the boys I'd still have lots of time to write. I forgot about the exhaustion though that goes with the day in, day out entertaining of 6 year olds. And that exhaustion sucks the creative juices right out of me. I compose the best posts in the shower, I swear. It's quiet and steamy and great stuff pops into my head. But, it seems to disappear with the steam and, well, this is what you get.

Our Christmas was great. We made cookies on Christmas Eve and left them out for Santa. We also left him some yummy eggnog and carrots for the reindeer, of course. At 6:29 on Christmas morning, Dean came tumbling into our room and Jack went to the living room to survey the scene. He came back with regular reports such as: He ate the cookies! The reindeer ate the carrots! There's ashes on the floor in front of the fireplace! WE GOT SKATEBOARDS!
We couldn't hold them off after that and soon there were bits of paper everywhere along with those annoying twisty tie things that every toy seems to come with. Every size of screw driver was dispatched and batteries were retrieved to bring all toys into glorious animation. Winking, blinking, talking, rolling animation. And it was good. Later that day we went to Peter's and Julian's to exchange gifts with them. Santa brought them a Wii (well actually it was Julian) and the boys had a good time helping them break it in. Dean is very good at bowling (as long as you don't have to hold a real ball) and Jack was very good at tennis (but suffered from tennis elbow the next day - not even kidding). After that we went to the Sullivans for Christmas dinner and gift exchange.