Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I need to stop calling him a baby

James turned three and I have not really processed it yet. I mean, I have, clearly we had two parties to celebrate, but I still think of him as my baby. Especially since I am trying to finish our 2012 photo album and keep seeing photos like this one.
But he is not that chubby faced baby of one, he is now three. With many opinions that he will share with you via a very loud voice and some exceptionally close talking.

On his actual birthday we had breakfast at Einstein's and then he went to school, armed with pink cupcakes for his class. He wanted to go only one place for dinner, Chuck-e-Cheese. Of course. I invited Vince and Liv to come join us for the festivities. As if anyone could turn down animatronic mice and pizza. Vince came in early and took the boys to see Rio 2, as a birthday treat, which was an extra treat for me, since I just got to meet them at Chuck's at 6.

James's teacher's made him this birthday crown that he decorated and wore most of the evening.


 Our family gets very intense on the basketball games.
 And cheating, that is totally, totally cheating, Zachary.
 What night would not be complete without a family photo in a parking lot?
So maybe our family gets intense on most games...given the photo of James on the motorcycle, Alex and Zach playing basketball, and me killing giant spiders attacking my jeep. They had already killed my guides!
video

Friday, July 18, 2014

Don't be scared by these tacos

Because they are delicious. These black bean and spaghetti squash tacos are from my favorite blogger, turned cookbook author, Smitten Kitchen and are so, so good.
Alex and I are back on the paleo kick and these basically fit the bill. I added ground beef to make it "a meal" for Alex, but they would be just as good without. They sound super weird and off-putting, but the spaghetti squash acts, sort of like the lettuce/peppers on a fajita and all the seasonings make it very flavorful. Why do I ever doubt Deb??

Spaghetti Squash and Black Bean Tacos
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen cookbook
Makes enough for sixteen 6-inch tacos

3 pounds spaghetti squash (either one large or 2 small) – You don’t want to go any larger than 3 pounds because there won’t be enough seasoning to flavor your squash mixture, but feel free to go smaller
1 lb ground beef (you will not need it all for the tacos)
2 tablespoons (about 1 lime) freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained very well
roughly 1/4 cup finely diced red or white onion – only used for garnish, add as you like
crumbled queso fresco or Cotija cheese - both are so similar in taste and texture that it doesn't really matter which one you use
fresh cilantro leaves
10-16 6-inch soft corn tortillas
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and prep and cook up your spaghetti squash. Rinse your squash, cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, throw about 1/2 tablespoon olive oil on each half, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place both halves face down on a rimmed baking sheet. 
  2. Roast the squash halves in the pre-heated oven until tender and easily pierced with a fork, 25-40 minutes, or longer depending on the squash. Remove from the oven and set aside until they are cool enough to handle. 
  3. While the squash is cooking, brown the ground beef. I added the same seasoning for the squash (see step 4). 
  4. Prep your squash ingredients. In a small bowl mix together the 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt. Add the 2 tablespoons of lime juice to the bowl and whisk to combine.set aside. 
  5. Dice up your red onion, wash up the cilantro and trim off the bottom stems, rinse and drain your black beans and throw your cheese into a bowl. 
  6. When the squash is finished cooking, let it cool for a few minutes so its easier to handle. Working over a large bowl, gently scrape out the flesh with a fork. 
  7. Pour the chili and lime mixture over the squash strands and toss well to combine. You will notice that the color of the squash will change from a golden-yellow to an orange color.
  8. You can heat up your tortillas at any time, either while your squash is cooking, cooling or after it’s been mixed together with the spices. 
  9. Then just assemble your tacos. Sprinkle each tortilla with a layer of black beans, squash, cheese and cilantro. Enjoy!
I had left over black bean/ground beef mixture and squash. I frozen them separately and then reheated later. Such an easy and healthy meal.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

No, my children have not killed me...yet

Well hello my loyal followers! How are the seven of you this hot July day? I am so sorry for my extended absence. I never understood why other, more professional bloggers took the summer off, until now. It is really hard to sit down to write with someone pulling on you all the time. The boys are not in any consistent school and the different schedules have thrown us all off.

So, to catch everyone up, I will do what I like to do when I take these extended breaks (like here and here, oh and here). A summary post; catching everyone up on our actions.
June
I created a hashtag for the summer: #wallsummer2014 I was reading somewhere that you should have a hashtag for your summer photos, so you can easily find them at the end of the summer. I can put that above hashtag into Instagram or Facebook and quickly pull all the photos. You know, for the summer photo album I will never create.

Zach attended Rice Soccer Camp and Zoo camp, in back to back weeks while James went to school Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
So my days looked like this:
8:50 park at Rice University to hike across the soccer field, with James to drop Zach in a pack of kids around a soccer ball.
9:00 race back to the car with James to drive him to school
9:20 - 11:15 exercise/grocery shop/dry cleaners/bill pay, etc.
11:15 - drive back to Rice to pick up Zach. That is sweaty hat below. Gross right? He totally got my sweat genes vs. Alex. It works much better on a boy.
11:30 - 1:45 Quality time with my first born (OK, this part was nice)
2:00 pick up James and let the wrestling/arguing/punching begin!

We all went down to Galveston for Father's Day weekend with my sister and her family, plus my parents. It was a lot of kids but luckily my sweet aunts (Hi Vickie and Laura!) let us stay at their condos so we had some room to spread out. Plus my parents stayed at a hotel, where it was very, very quiet, I assume.
James said he did not like the ocean "trying to get him" and the dirty water getting into his mouth. True on both counts. Luckily, the Galveston Country Club has a giant baby pool that everyone enjoyed. Especially the adults, as they serve you beverages. The did not have Bud Light Lime (see photo above), but I made do.
As of June 14th, I have been retired for a full year. You guys, I had lots of thoughts about that which I will be sharing later, but mainly I was busy packing for our next trip - a 12 hour drive to Seaside, Florida.
We stopped on the way, in Pascagoula, MS to see the Gator Boys. If you don't know what the Gator Boys are, they are a group of guys who go to people's homes throughout the South, wrestling alligators out of their back yards and taking them to the Gulf Coast Gator Ranch. That was our destination.

My brother in law told us not to stop in Mississippi under any circumstances, but I don't think he realized we got the last room at the Hampton Inn....with a hot tub.
The boys were super perplexed why we made them take a shower after playing in the hot tub. We just told them it was a family rule.
 Alex was the only one of us actually willing to touch the alligator. A bunch of wimps we are.

Then it was on to the beach! Seaside was beautiful, so much better than Galveston. James still did not like the ocean "trying to get him" and the dirty water getting into his mouth. I finally realized he was talking about the salt taste to the water and had to explain that was what an ocean tasted like. AKA get over it already.
We went with Ashley and her family and stayed in this great house. We rode bikes and took a golf cart everywhere. I had never been to Seaside and I see now why everyone loves it.



July
We were back for about a week, then we left again to head to the river for the 4th of July. After two 12 hour trips with my children, one 3 hour jaunt felt like nothing. Until we had to stop to let the dog use the restroom in the middle of nowhere.
And then we all had to go at Buckee's.
My parents bought Zach his own little kayak and he took right to it. He was not the least bit scared and by the third day, he could turn and go straight for a while. He loved it!
Two skinny cousins rinsing after brushing their teeth with toothbrushes their Granny Marsh put their names on.
This was the first time that Zach actually toobed the river. He made it all the way to the dam at the end of the street. Technically Lauren and I were in the paddle boat pulling them and James was in the back. He did not last long in the river. Shocking.


And last but not least, James turned three!
We spent his actual birthday night at Chuck-e-Cheese, complete with the birthday crown he made in school. I guess that is one perk of going to preschool on your birthday. The other is that your mother is not driven batty by being with you for three weeks + one day. 
We had his party this past weekend, complete with giant water slide and homemade pinata.
You will note that Alex had to hold the pinata as the string ripped completely out. My suggestion was to just put it down on the ground for them to beat on, but I was overruled.

I just had to check my calendar to make sure that was all. Isn't that enough? Hopefully now that they are back in school a few days here and there I can be back to a better blogging schedule. Hopefully. But the summer is not yet halfway over and it is getting hot people. Really, really hot.