Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Last Day of Gymnastics

The girls have been in gymnastics class for the past six weeks down at the Y. Their teacher has been darling, and we've loved going. Today was the last day, and because of the crazy snowstorm, it was only us and a little boy named Mateo that showed, out of a normal 8-9 kids. (Some moms are clearly not desperate enough to get out of the house.) I took some video footage of my girls and their excellent innate gymnastic skill. :) Since neither John nor myself have been publicly recognized for our athleticism, I thought I would show what our children can do. (Livi can follow directions very well--definitely an athletic talent. Mimi dances her way through life, but certainly not in a straight line, and those bouncer balls are WAY too big for her peanut-sized self.)

video video

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Delicious!

This recipe was a sample in our cooking group (Thanks, Kim!) clear back in September or October, but I haven't made it since then. It was even better than I remembered it. The recipe gives instructions for making your own cinnamon tortilla chips, but I used Honey Graham sunchips as an experimental substitute and YUM! It was a delightful addition to our finger food party with Jason and April.

I actually used the Honey Graham chips, but I think these would also be delicious.

Here's the recipe:

Apple Berry Salsa (from cookingcache.com since I couldn't open my e-mail to get the recipe Kim sent out)
2 medium Granny Smith apples, chopped (the recipe says to peel and chop, but I liked the green skin for color)
1 cup strawberries, sliced (I chopped, not sliced, them up to make the salsa's texture finer)
1 kiwi, peeled and chopped
1 small orange
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. apple jelly (I'd never heard of this, but I found it easily in the jam section, and it's as cheap as grape jelly)

Combine apples, strawberries, and kiwi in a bowl. Zest and juice the orange, then put both the zest and juice in a small bowl. Add the brown sugar and apple jelly. (I actually skipped the brown sugar, since Jason and April have have given up sweets for Lent, and it was still delicious. I think brown sugar would make it even more delicious, since everything is just that much better with a little brown sugar.) Stir the zesty stuff together and pour over the fruit. Serve with cinnamon or Honey Graham chips. So refreshing and fun.

I should have taken a picture, since none of the recipes I can find online include a picture. Darn it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Do I read on a 1st grade level?

So tonight I wandered into the living room and found this......Many of you have seen Emilee before, but stunning though this picture is, it was the book that led to my sense of literary insecurity.
When I asked when she started the book she casually replied "Just after dinner." Just after dinner!
Granted the pages are an easy read but there are 550 of them which took her 3.5 hours.
This is my book I just finished yesterday that I started at Christmas. Total of 484 pages which are meatier, but two months..... I guess I've read a bunch of medical stuff in there too and a couple children's books each night but still.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I Love This!

I've been checking this series out piecemeal from the library here for over a year, but now I've just got to share. I love Foyle's War. (I've added it to the recommendations at the bottom of the page.) It's a BBC series, replayed here in the U.S. on PBS, all about a British police detective during World War II. The historical stuff is absolutely fascinating. The details really draw you in, like how ice cream sellers had to give up their little refrigeration units so the army could transport blood, or how everything was so scarce because the Germans were cutting of the shipping lines and so some of the characters hadn't seen an onion or a turkey in several months. (With food so abundant at the grocery stores, I just couldn't imagine that kind of crisis.) But what I really love is the main character, Christopher Foyle. He's so calm and dry and British and brilliant. I love most detective stories, but this is my favorite detective television series, maybe ever. See if you can find it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How Poor Little Apartment Kids Play in the Snow

They were absolutely intent on building a snow tower Saturday. Out of the 1/2 inch of snow on the deck. With a dress and no tights on. (Actually, just Olivia was intent. Mimi was desperate to go out and play, then desperate to come in and warm up, then desperate to go outside. . . you know how she is.)

As you can see, Olivia swept nearly all the snow into one small pile, but she was quite disappointed that it didn't make a larger tower. I have no idea what size she expected it to be, but she was seriously underwhelmed with the little thing there on the left.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Isn't he darling?

Instead of flowers, this is what my husband brings home on Valentine's Day. From the top left, clockwise: ugli fruit, cuke-a-saurus (that's the real name), mango (very ripe), and carambola (starfruit). The cuke-a-saurus obviously gets more points for having such an awesome name.
And here is everything all cut up. It worked perfectly with the delicious barbecue meal I had put together for him. My kitchen light is obviously not the best for making food look appetizing, but this was delicious, and so exotic. What a fun treat!
When we lived in Provo, every Valentine's day I would get a box of mangoes. I love exotic fruit, but it's usually too expensive for me to justify buying on a regular basis, so my darling boy gets it for me. The last couple years, he's done something different, but this is a fun tradition to return to. If only carambolas came in a long-stemmed bouquet version. :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Husband Tag

(This title, wherever I have seen it, feels like some sort of strange playground game. Like, maybe the wife is it, but the husband has to run around catching people, or you have to run together holding hands and you freeze when you're caught until someone goes under your legs? Maybe I just have too many mixed up elementary school memories.)

(And this picture above? Well, it's from Cancun 4 years ago, and in my defense, I was five months pregnant and wearing John's shorts because I wouldn't buy more than one pair of maternity capris for a pregnancy that was going to end in December. And it's the first picture I could find in our files that had just the two of us together.)

Anyway, I've been tagged, by Katie, to fill out this meme (?--is that what they're called?) about my husband, John-Johnnery.

What is his name? John Spencer Wells (and whenever he's writing it, he puts "III" after his name. He is not the third of anything, but it makes him feel official and gives him a little chuckle. Who am I to deny him this tiny goofy pleasure?)
How long have you been together? We've been married for almost seven years. I always get one year ahead, though, on our anniversaries, so I've been thinking that we've been married for 7-1/2 years instead of 6-1/2 years for quite a while.
How long did you date? From our first date to the time we got married was over five years. However, the first two dates were not romantic, but rather utilitarian in nature. He needed someone to double with, or I needed a date to a girls' choice dance and the boy I liked had already been asked--that kind of stuff. And two years of that was his mission, which I don't think can technically count as dating, since . . . well, you know. . . we were in different countries and he couldn't date. But still, it took us 18 months after his mission to get married. He's cute, but it took quite the sales pitch to convince me.
How old is he? 29, bless his heart.
Who eats more? Probably him, but if I did, why would I admit to my piggyness? I wouldn't.
Who said I love you first? I think I did. That sounds like something I would do.
Who's taller? He is, by a good inch and a half.
Who can sing better? Well, this is complicated. He is a tenor, and tenors are really much more useful than altos, so he wins on that count. And his voice quality is probably better than mine. However, I can read music and pick out my part and carry my part on my own, which he can't do. So maybe that's a draw? (Are we keeping score? Is this a competition?)
Who is smarter? I thought I was for most of our lives (I was worried that he wasn't quite smart enough for me), but I'm beginning to think that this whole doctor thing probably gives him a little bit of an edge.
Who does the laundry? I do, with quite a bit of help. (Or maybe he does, with a little bit of help from me.)
Who pays the bills? This is one of those chores that he keeps trying to turn over to me, but I don't want to do. Luckily, the computer pays most of those annoying bills automatically. Phew.
Who sleeps on the right side? Whichever side of the bed I'm on IS the right side. Therefore, he always gets up on the wrong side of the bed. (That was obnoxious. I didn't know how to determine which was right and which was left. So, instead of explaining, I was annoying. Typical.)
Who mows the lawn? We mow together. I run the mower, and he runs the trimmer. I love to mow lawns, but I hate that fiddly trim work.
Who cooks dinner? I do.
Who drives? He drives. I navigate. I love to navigate.
Who is more stubborn? I am more unreasonable, but he is more stubborn. That's a fair balance, I think.
Who kissed who first? I would still be waiting for him to kiss me if I hadn't kissed him first. That's what I mean by stubborn.
Who asked who out first? He asked me out first, but I couldn't go. (I didn't really want to go, and I had a valid excuse.) I asked him out next, and he could go. So which one counts?
Who proposed? He did, but he says I brought up that whole marriage topic first. I refuse to remember that conversation.
Who has more friends? I don't know. The boy has people that just know him and like him and come out of nowhere. I'd like to claim that one, but I'm not sure I can.
Who is more sensitive? Sensitive to what? Nagging? Him. Children's whining? Him. Implied insults? Me. Political hot topics? Me.
Who has more siblings? I do, with eight total kids. His family also has eight, but 5 of them are only half-siblings, so that total count really is only 5-1/2, right? So I win again.
Who wears the pants? All right. I've got to take issue with this phrase. The pants? If I wear the skirt of the family, aren't I still every bit as much the boss? Yes.

Perhaps I've given more side notes, explanations, and soapbox drama that anyone wanted from this questionnaire, but if it was going to be filled out, I was going to do it thoroughly.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What's in your tummy?

At dinner, Mimi had this information to share:
"There's something in my tummy. I think there's a party in my tummy. See all this food--all this food is kids. They are all going down to my tummy. And it's someone's birthday, so they're having a party. A birthday party in my tummy. Oh. . . I love parties." Well. . . what can I add to that?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Wells Melting Pot

Kraftfoods.com has a place to sign up for their quarterly magazine (it's free!), and I have actually gotten several recipes from there. The point of the publication, obviously, is to push Kraft products, but they are all substitutable, and it's a bunch of new ideas to stall my dinner burnout every now and again. This last issue had this recipe, which we tried last night, with the following variations: 1. Low-fat Velveeta--I don't know what difference full-fat Velveeta would make, since it seemed cheesy and creamy enough for us.
2. Served with cooked bowtie pasta, cubed whole-wheat french bread, raw carrots, steamed asparagus, grape tomatoes, and broccoli florets. All were hits. I might not do both pasta and bread next time, since those were the last things to be eaten, and the pasta is the most time-consuming of the dipping items.
3. Dished the dip out onto the girls' plates rather than run the risk of double-dipping.
4. Used fat bamboo skewers instead of fondue forks because:
a. we have no fondue forks, and
b. regular forks would have been boring.

It was a hit. The vegetables all disappeared quickly, and the "fundue" sauce was good enough to do again. I'm sure it's at least slightly healthier than just plain cheese fondue, and it stays runny in the bowl because of the tomato/spaghetti sauce, so you don't need a fondue set.

I thought this last issue had some especially promising recipes. We are going to try the dijon almond chicken and the bruschetta-stuffed chicken breasts as well.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Not a mystery

This is not turning into a book blog, really it's not, but I needed to talk about this, and I forgot to talk about it at playgroup. (And also, until I can get John to upload the pictures of Olivia's fiesta to the internet from the school computers, I don't have an easy bloggable family topic.)
I read The Mystery of Breathing by Perri Klass last night (from 9:30 p.m. until 1:15 a.m., but that is beside the point), and it was so disappointing. So disappointing. I love mysteries, and this looked like a doctor mystery (with which I have a valid interest), and I wanted to find a new author to read and love, and . . . and. . . and. . . I was so disappointed.

It has a sex scene about 3/4 of the way through, which is easily skipped (I did) and doesn't affect the plot, just in case anyone wants to read the book after I have thoroughly un-recommended it. (You can't say I didn't warn you--on several levels.)

The book is about a neonatologist (Maggie) in a large Boston hospital who starts receiving poison pen letters. She's a strong-willed, ambitious, driven, but kind-hearted protagonist, so she has the reader's sympathy, and the letters are completely without merit.
These are my disappointments:
1. The reader figures out who is writing the letters, and the detective (who is strangely, for a mystery, not the hero) figures it out circumstantially, but the hospital refuses to do anything, and the book leaves it at that. Completely unresolved.
2. The writing style is in the second-person, frequently referring to the reader as "you," which should make it more personal, but at the same time, the author has these strange chapters of confusing non-explanation, which alienated at least me. (Of course, we must consider the time of day that I was reading this book. Very easily confused, so maybe everyone else could get it.)
3. Not only does the hospital refuse to do anything about the poison pen writer (who is a doctor), but it seems there is no consequence at all for this guy. I like my justice cut and dried in books, especially mystery novels. Put the bad guy in jail, or kill him off--that's satisfying. He even breaks into her (Maggie's) house, accidentally poisons a baby (long story, not worth explaining), helps the baby, but makes her mom think she's been kidnapped, and NOTHING happens. What good is fiction, if we can't do something to this guy.
4. The book winds itself down with Maggie slowly going crazy over the horrible letters she's receiving and the horrible things being put on posters all around the hospital. She has breakdowns, and she doesn't get a promotion she deserves, and she lashes out at people. Just a tad on the unbelievable side, at least the way it's written.
4. The book ends with Maggie pregnant, after years of being unable to conceive. Dumb. How does that fix anything? I guess it may explain the breakdowns, of course, but it just felt like another unsatisfying twist.
And that's the word I would use to describe this book: unsatisfying. Certainly not worth staying up too late to read. But (to defend myself), I just kept thinking it would get better. It had to get better. (And, to be fair, the descriptions of the NICU and the nurses and the procedures and the interactions with the babies and their parents were interesting. They were the only redeeming features of the book.)
So, there you go. I think my review has been extremely helpful. If any of you had The Mystery of Breathing on your must-read list, you can take it off. Unless you like the feeling of being left hanging--then this is the book for you.
I'm just wondering, in the interest of full disclosure, what book would you want to "un-recommend"? (So I can take them off my list.)