Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pudding Letters

I am a teacher and my son hates to write.  There, I said it.  Well, he loves to read and he loves books and authors and pictures, but isn't into drawing or fine motor movements much at all.  I give him crayons, markers, pens, pencils, and usually all I get are a few scribbles and then, "I'm all done, Mommy.  Let's play cars." I don't push it because then he would really hate it.  I know this is fine and he is only three and a half, but at some point he is going to need to write. 

So, today I decided we were going to make a break through.  We were going to do some writing in pudding.  No, I didn't come up with this activity.  I got it from Sarah during our word-work grade level meeting and I think she might have received it from Pam, our reading and literacy Goddess, and I am not sure where she got it, but anyhow, I pocketed the list last fall and finally pulled it out.

Do you notice the wonderful organizational skills of my bag right now?

Carlo was pretty excited about the pudding letters because his favorite character, Caillou, loves pudding in the book Caillou Tidies His Toys. Obviously, Carlo wanted to eat pudding too or play with it.  (Yes, I made him take off his shirt before we started.  Wouldn't you?)

 I wasn't sure how this activity would go because Carlo is a bit like his dad; a neat and clean kind of guy.  (He once told me he never wanted to play in the sandbox because it would get his Nike shoes dirty.)   Carlo made sure to use the spoon and only his index finger.

Eli is his own boy with his own personality as illustrated below.

 Eli was pretty thrilled that brother was learning to write letters in pudding, so he got in on the action as well.  Eli made sure to use his whole body to shovel the pudding in. Pure heaven.

Carlo was more excited to eat the pudding after the letters were done than actually writing in the pudding.  But, when everything was said and done, he wrote a few letters in the pudding and practiced the strokes of writing his name, so I am a happy mom.  Now, I have a craving for rice pudding.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jello Shot Recipe Found!

Blue Margarita Quiver


¾ cup 100% Agave Tequila

½ cup Blue Curacao (ker-e-sow)( or other orange liqueur)

¾ cup Frozen Limeade partially thawed so you can measureJ

½ cup water

3 packages plain Knox Gelatin

Grease a loaf pan standard size 8x4 9 (I use pam) or a silicone mold I have little people, stars and heartsJ

Put limeade and water into a sauce pan. Sprinkle gelatin on top. Allow to soak for a few minutes. Turn heat on low stir continuously until gelatin is dissolved. It will become clearer and glossy. Remove from heat. Stir in Tequila and Blue Curacao. Stir until completely mixed. Pour into pan. Refrigerate several hours(3) or overnight. ( you can speed it up in the freezer!) if you use a loaf pan slice into about 1 inch cubes. I put them into foil candy papers and sometimes put a tiny zest of lime and sprinkle of kosher salt on topJ Enjoy! Be careful they go down very easily!

Have Fun! Sandy Genereaux

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Best Jello-Shot Secret Recipe Ever, but I Lost it...

Sandy Genereaux: AKA Jello-Shot Maker Queen

There are many new things I learn as a teacher.  My students teach me how to create origami, that the coolest things ever are "bombs" made from Popsicle sticks that are woven together and explode when you throw them on the ground, and that all younger brothers are obsessed with red and have temper tantrums.  I also found out during lessons on racial equality that eight year olds aren't really sure if Michael Jackson was black or white and that the trash in the recyclable bin is really just treasure in disguise. 
However, I learn lessons during lunch in the staff lounge as well.  Recently, Sandy Genereaux has renewed my interest in jello shots.  Sandy is the queen of jello-shots on the Tukwila golf courses, and I had no idea. (This is a little known secret at Newcastle that I learned this year.)  She creates concoctions with jello that send men speeding on motorized golf carts; they come flying from miles away, or maybe just four holes, but that is still pretty far.  Sandy has researched recipes online and found the perfect proportions of jello and alcohol to help jiggle a true golfer's gut and taste like a candy drink going down.  Sandy also introduces the jello-shot love to friends at Christmas parties and enjoys the leftovers on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and sometimes Fridays as well.   There really isn't a bad time for a jello-shot, is there?
Well, all this talk of jello shots really got me craving them again, so when I visited my sister in Vancouver with my mom, I knew we had to make them.  (Jello shots really aren't a recipe I could try with Carlo after all.) And I have Sandy to thank for it because she directly increased my fun level last weekend by reintroducing the fruity and jiggly adult dessert to me.   But somehow in the fun, I lost her recipe... I'll let you know if it turns up!  However, I remember the trick.  Sandy said the true way to make jello shots correctly is to buy flavorless gelatin and let the alcohol and juice be the flavor, so it is just like a drink, only not.  There.  Now you know.  I hope you have as much fun as we did with these.
Mom: Okay, I'll get strawberry and raspberry.  You only live once.
Mom: What is YOLO?
Me: You only live once.  My fifth graders taught me that at yearbook signing time.

Shopping sans children.  Look, I have a magazine and coffee in my hands at the same time.

Sandy said freezers speed up the process and we needed these immediately.
Ben and Mom

Jello shots with a picture of Laura's favorite magician in Vegas. Yes, she was called on stage and "disappeared."

Mom makes a polyvore picture and titles it this mid-jello shot evening.  The polyvore picture has dogs and cats lounging all over the furniture. Mom doesn't love animals. At all.

 Yeah, I'll let you know if that jello shot recipe ever turns up.  Cheers!

Monday, February 24, 2014

One Year Ago

 Happy Birthday Baby Eli Alonzo

One year ago I met one of the most important and influential people in my life, my son Eli.  Eli came crying and yelling into this world and continues to make his presence known everywhere he goes.  He has a spark, a mischievous smile, and a passion for dogs and cuddles.  He also barks at anything that moves, including birds.
Today I cannot help but reflect and think about how everything turned upside down in a moment. My semi-crazy mommy life turned into full-fledged insanity in an instant.  But it is the hardest-best kind of crazy. 
No, I can no longer get biweekly pedicures or go to happy hour whenever I feel like it.  I have given up my fun back to school shopping sprees at Macy's in exchange for whatever I can find at Target or Fred Meyer.  Usually, I go with two kids in the cart and I pray that the pants will fit because there is no way in hell I am going to try them on in the dressing room. I have tried it and Eli tries to crawl under the door, while Carlo dances around singing at the top of his lungs and checking out his reflection in the mirror. 
 But I digress; I don't have the energy to stay up all night or go to Vegas for New Years anymore. But I have small moments of gratitude and joy in exchange.
I live for the bedtime stories where I read the Good Night, Good Night Construction Site for the hundredth time and Carlo puts his arm around me and tells me he loves me.  I love the gentle pat of Eli's hand on my shoulder when I see him after work.  I giggle at the sight of both boys, yes both, drinking Starbucks hot chocolates in Safeway.  (Eli graduated to asking, or yelling, for hot cocoas today, and since it was his birthday, I could not refuse.)  I feel proud when Carlo helps out around the house by picking up his toys and "babysitting" Eli while I cook dinner.  And I get excited when Eli spits out a new word or is on the verge of walking.
I don't want to go back in time when Eli was born, nor do I want to fast forward to when they boys are more independent.  I try to enjoy each day as it comes and do my best. I know that I make mistakes and my boys get cranky and crazy.  (Trust me, you should have seen the eyebrow raised look I got in the parking lot today at Safeway when I lost my temper because the car seat was screwed up again, Eli was screaming his head off and Carlo was whining about toys.)  But I don't wish for yesterday or tomorrow.  I am trying to make today a little bit better for my family.

Eli's favorite is spaghetti- yes, that is the reason I was at Safeway with the eyebrow lady.

Naturally, a bath is needed immediately after spaghetti.  Luckily,Grandma and Grandpa gave Eli new bath toys.



"Hey Mom!  Don't let Eli eat all the cake!"
Love you baby Eli!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Super Murray Squad to the Renovation Rescue

They may look like an ordinary family, but the Murrays have super human renovation strength
Cousins Jill and John recently moved from a townhome to a new house in Chicago.  Their old townhouse was in the perfect setting, next to Starbucks, and it was comfortable, well decorated, and down-right homey; not in the the homie-G kind of way but the HGTV way.  Even though the space was tight, Jill did a great job keeping the place family-friendly and tidy; I have no idea how she managed to keep the kids' toys organized, since my own house seems to be a mish-mash of toys in drawers and matchbox cars covering the family room.

But eventually, the Morgan family outgrew their little space, times two, due to two adorable bundles of energy by the names of baby Kara and Ms. Hadley. No new mom enjoys walking up and down stairs all night for those late night feedings, and not all of the bedrooms were on the same floor in the townhouse, so a change had to be made.

And with that change, came a super human problem that rivals kryptonite; how can the Morgans change a boring and plain room into a big girl room for Hadley?  What were Jill and John to do?

Boring bedroom

So plain.  So lifeless.  It could bore Jill and John's children to death and the Super Murrays couldn't stand for that!

Luckily, Jill comes from a family with super human strength and super human skills.

They take their work very seriously.

Okay, so this obviously wasn't taken in February in Chicago during the renovation, but I think it is a cute picture.

Another out of date picture, but look how cute Kyle looks.
There are always giggles with Aunty Tiff

Loves with Aunty Meg.

The Super Murray family went down to visit Jill, and with them came an abundance of creativity and hard work by Super Idea Interiorista Meggy, Creative Paper Genius Lady Aunt Nancy, and The Man of Many Super Traits and Services, Uncle Paul, not to mention the Great Distracting Duo Kyle and Tiffany.   (Come on, what mom of an infant and two year old could pull off a reno without a little help? Certainly not me!) Hadley appreciated the help too!

Project #1 for the Super Hero Family: Tackling the Lamp

This fantastic lamp was found online and the Murrays knew it would add charm and texture to Ms. Hadley's new big girl room.  The problem was the lamp was pink, and not purple, and more money than they wanted to pay.  "What problem," says the Super Murrays, "We will figure out how to do it ourselves!"

Inspiration lamp online from Pottery Barn Kids

Find some lace with rosettes on it.
Cut the rosettes apart and glue them onto the lamp shade... and voila!

Super Murrays to the lamp shade rescue!

Project #2: The Hanging Art
Adorable hanging art that was found on Pinterest, but not the right color or theme for the room.  What was Creative Paper Genius Lady Aunt Nancy to do?

Pinterest find and idea inspiration.

Play fetch with the Super Pooch leads to a score!  I perfect branch for the artwork. Nice job Super Pooch!

Cut out birds and butterflies from craft paper and attach pins to the back
Lay out ribbon on a straight board and pin the birds and the bees, I mean the birds and the butterflies, accordingly. (Ha ha, not really that funny....) 
Here is the fun and whimsical final product!

Project #3
The decor by the bookshelf was a litle blah and not fun. 

Inspiration room found on Pinterest.  Check out the pictures in the back.

Paint a few walls, install a light fixture from IKEA, hunt for that just right piece of furniture and put it all together and you get one perfect little Ms. Hadley bedroom.  Thanks to the work of the Super Murrays!


My only question is: So, when are you going to visit me Murray family?

Love, your adoring neice, Steph.