And the Winner is...

August 31, 2012

 Our friend Anne helped with the drawing

 Congrats Katie, you won a Moby Wrap!

Katie, would you email me your address?  I'll get the Moby Wrap sent out to you ASAP.  A big "Thank You" to everyone who entered our first giveaway- I wish all eight of you could have won.  I might be having more giveaways soon, so watch for a chance to enter and win! 

Big Baby Bellies

 Look at that big belly! 

Sky had to show off her belly too!

Rice Snowballs and Cooking with a Two-Year-Old

August 30, 2012

  The wind was up two nights ago and D wanted to take advantage of it and get in some kiteboarding.  That meant that I would have both kids on my own all evening.  Oh boy.  What to do for dinner?  It needed to be something that could be cooked quickly, and preferably with Sky's help (because she enjoys it and it keeps her out of trouble).  I decided to go with smoked sausage, cheesy broccoli, and rice snowballs.  The smoked sausage went right from the freezer to a pan of water on the stove to boil.  I set up a steamer pan on another burner and had Sky help me chop broccoli.  Don't worry, she didn't touch the knife.  Sky's job is to pick up the pieces of broccoli after I cut them and put them in a bowl.  It's a harder job for her than you would think:  she has to keep up with my cutting, focus on getting the food in the bowl, and keep her fingers away from the knife and she did really well.  I let her eat one of the florets and we decided that they tasted green and crunchy and looked like trees.  Once the broccoli was chopped, it went into the steamer pan on a back burner.
  On to making the rice snowballs.  I made these up as a way to use up leftover sushi rice from this recipe.  We had about a cup and half to use.  I had Sky help me turn two old pieces of toast (made for a breakfast and not used- we save old bread for croutons and breadcrumbs) into breadcrumbs by putting it in a plastic bag and crushing it with a rolling pin.  We mixed the breadcrumbs into the rice and added about two tablespoons of Mrs Dash's Garlic and Herb seasoning and one egg.  Sky helped to stir it all up and then we started making snowballs.  Of course, it turned out to be pretty messy, and Sky was getting hungry, so she only made one before getting sent to the sink to "wash dishes" while I made the rest. 
  During this whole time, Fire was on the floor in his bumpo chair, playing with his rag.  Sky and I would occasionally sing to him or play peek-a-boo but for the most part, he was happy just to be there.  Towards the end, about the same time Sky got tired of being a helper, he started to get fussy, so family cooking time ended and I wrapped things up.  All in all, dinner and the whole evening, which could have gone really badly, went really well.  I was able to keep Sky involved and interested and because I didn't have the option of getting mad at her (that would have sent the whole night down hill), I was able to be patient with her when I needed to.  This mothering stuff takes practice, and I'm not as good at it as I wish I was, but it feels so good when things go right.

  Okay, enough chatter.  On to the recipe for A's Rice Snowballs:

Leftover rice (use any amount but you'll probably want more than a cup to feed 3+ people)
Breadcrumbs made from two slices of toast
~2Tbsp Mrs Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning (or seasonings of your choice)
1 egg
Olive oil for frying

Heat olive oil in a frying pan while you mix the first four ingredients together in a bowl.  To make the snowballs, pick up a small hand full of rice mixture in one hand and squeeze it, then start shaping it gently into a ball.  I had to squeeze it pretty hard to get it to really stick to itself while I shaped it.  I made about six rice balls at a time and fried them in batches.  Your hands will get covered in rice- just wash and dry them between batches (be careful of water and the hot frying oil!).  Fry the rice balls on each side like you would a meatball, until they are mostly golden and crispy.  Move the finished snowballs to a paper towel on a plate to drain and start working on the next batch.  I kept the plate in the microwave to keep them warm.
  Serve snowballs with pretty much anything.  I dipped ours in soy sauce but these would be really good with gravy or barbecue sauce as well.

Last Chance to Enter the Giveaway!

It's August 31st here, the last day to enter your name in the Moby Wrap giveaway.  To enter,  leave your name in the comments on this post.  We'll be putting them all the names in a hat tonight and drawing one out at random.  I'll try to post the winners name and pictures of the drawing tomorrow. 

Big Date Night

August 27, 2012

Auntie Mo and Uncle Paul (some good friends from way back) watched the kids.

 We got dressed up,

And headed to the beach.  Dining Services had set us up a private table for two

With a sunset view.

 Dinner was a Surf 'n' Turf with shrimp cocktail, salad, lobster, steak, twice-baked-potato and French Silk pie for desert.

 There was even an after-dinner show


Sushi at Home

  This meal has a lot of prep work to it and requires some pre-planning, but it's fun to eat and less expensive than buying sushi at a restaurant.

Sushi ingredients (pretty much anything you like, but we use):
Red Pepper
Cream Cheese (frozen)
Japanese egg (see recipe below)
Spicy Seared Tuna (see recipe below)

Prep these ingredients while the rice is cooking.  We cut them all into strips to make it easier to stuff the sushi

Japanese egg: Mix 2Tbsp flour, Tbsp soy sauce and some salt and pepper with 2 eggs and cook like a flat omelet.  Flip to cook on both sides

Spicy Sushi Sauce: Mix 1/2 cup of mayonnaise with your favorite Asian chili sauce (we use Lee Kum Kee but Sriracha works too), 1Tbsp soy sauce, and 3Tbsp of sesame oil.  Add enough chili sauce to get to your preferred spiciness.  Use half of this to marinate tuna and save the rest for spicing up your sushi rolls .

Spicy Seared Tuna:  Marinate tuna filets (our cuts were about 1/2 inch thick) in spicy sushi sauce for at least a half hour.  Remove from marinade and sear in olive oil (you can cook them all the way through as well, just watch the heat of the pan so that the marinade doesn't burn)

Sushi Rice
3 cups cooked rice (more or less, depending on how much sushi you want to make)
2Tbsp vinegar
1tsp salt
2Tbsp sugar
1 folder, book, or fan

Mix the vinegar, salt, and sugar in a coffee mug until dissolved and set aside.  I've found that it works best to use a regular, short grain rice and to cook it on the stove top rather than in a steamer (a rice cooker would work as well).  Turn the rice out into a large (non-metal) bowl while it's still a little damp and sprinkle with the vinegar mixture.  If you have a fan, work in front of it, otherwise fan the rice with the book or folder while you mix the rice with a wooden spoon.  Work the rice with slicing motions and try to bring the rice from the bottom up to the top.  This will take a while but you'll start to notice the rice getting stickier.  Be patient, it will get there!

Get all of the above ingredients together along with your sushi wrappers and your bamboo wrapping mat (I've heard of using waxed paper if you don't have a bamboo mat) and have it all handy on one counter.  Working near a sink is a good idea because the rice will stick to your hands and you'll want to wash them.  Lay the sushi wrapper on the mat with the long side towards you and cover with a layer (~1/4 inch) of rice except for the first and last 1/2 inch of the wrapper.  Lay in the ingredients you want in your sushi roll, starting at about 1 inch in on the rice.  If you like your sushi spicy, feel free to spread in some of your Spicy Sushi Sauce.  Roll sushi, keeping the ingredients in place as you go.  Once you've rolled the wrapper over once, squeeze evenly to secure and finish rolling.  Use a little water on the last edge of the sushi wrapper and press to seal.  Let the sushi stand (in the fridge if you're using raw fish) until your ready to serve, than cut with a sharp knife into bite size pieces and serve with soy sauce and wasabi.  Enjoy!!!

Book Reviews

August 24, 2012

  At the beginning of the month, I wrote this post about three books that I was about to start reading.  Well, it's book report time:

   I read this book after reading "Bringing Up Bebe" and that was a big mistake.  "How Do Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm" was a good book and pretty well written but it wasn't as in-depth and personal as I was expecting.  It turned out to be more of a survey of parenting styles rather than an "adventures in parenting" book like the cover describes, although she does share some anecdotes about her experiences raising her daughter.  Interestingly, the author references "Bringing Up Bebe" in her chapter on French children and eating.  If you're a parent looking for a lighter read, you might give this book a try.

  I would recommend "Lucky Girl" to other adoptive parents to read.  While the heart of the story is about Mei-Ling Hopgood meeting and getting to know her birth family, the parts that have really stuck with me are the ones where she explores her feeling about being adopted and about being adopted transracially.  I think part of that is my need to hear that our kids will turn out just fine (like the author did) as opposed to feeling damaged by the experience (as in "Black Baby, White Hands by Jaya John").  I also enjoyed reading about the author's experience getting to know her birth family and how they changed as people in her eyes as she came to know them better.  The book had a little bit of a stilted feel to the time line but not enough to put me off reading it. 
  I loved this book.  It's actually in my purse now because I'm reading it again.  As I said in my first post about these books, I read an excerpt from this book in Bon Appetit magazine several months ago and decided to give its suggestions regarding getting kids to eat, and to eat real food, a try.  We stopped making special meals at special times for Sky and we no longer feed her "kid food".  She eats what we eat: chili with cornbread, sushi, Thai food.  Of course, we still eat pizza and fish sticks but when we do, we have them as a family.  She doesn't need to eat everything on her plate but she needs to take at least one bite of everything we're having.  Also, she has to stay at the table until everyone's done eating and she has to take her plate/bowl to the counter when  we're cleaning up.  Because she's two, we're still having to remind her about the last two, but as far as eating goes, we haven't had any problems.   But I digress.
  I think the thing that I loved most about this book, and it's very hard to choose, is that it reminded me that I'm not just a mom.  There seems to be a self-imposed expectation on American moms that you will devote all of yourself to being a mom.  There's nothing wrong with that but I missed being a woman too.  Thanks to this book, I'm paying attention to myself again and doing it every day, not just on date night.  I've started wearing my hair down all the time, even though it takes more maintenance and I'm wearing nicer clothes and shoes, including high heels, on work days.  And it's working for me.  Did you notice above that I said the book was in my purse?  For years, I've used a messenger bag to carry my things but I've switched to a purse and just having something feminine and pretty on my shoulder instead of something that can (and has) doubled as a diaper bag makes me feel better about myself.  But I digress, again.
  Another great thing about this book is that it doesn't come across as judgemental or try to teach you a new parenting style.  The author describes her experiences and then contrasts them with how things are done in France, among the families that she interacts with as a parent.  She leaves the reader to make their own judgements.  While I recognize that this book was particularly appealing to me because I'm also parenting in a foreign country, I think most parents would enjoy this book and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.

Moby Wrap Giveaway!

August 20, 2012

Our first giveaway!  I was gifted with this MobyWrap when we adopted Sky and have never been able to use it.  We didn't have it with us when we were stuck in Kansas after Sky's adoption and it's just to hot here to use it for Fire.  These are really great baby carriers and I hate to see it just sitting in a box under the bed.  Do you want it?  Do you know someone else who wants it?  Register to win it for free by putting your name in the comment section below.  I'll keep the giveaway open for entries until the end of the day on August 31st, Kwaj time.  All the names will go into a hat and we'll draw a winner that evening.  If you really, really want the MobyWrap, you can enter once a day until then :)

Fire and I, modeling the Moby Wrap that's up for grabs:

Big Boy!

August 17, 2012

 Look who has a tooth coming in!  Fire was fussy most of the weekend and we didn't figure out why until I accidentally bonked his head on Monday afternoon.  He started screaming and there it was in his little mouth, a tooth popping through.  We've been watching for them but he hasn't been feverish or more drooly than usual and his gums didn't change color like Sky's did.  Other than needing to be cuddled a little more, he's taking this teething thing like a champ.

Fire had his six-month doctor's appointment the other day and he came in at 70th percentile for weight and the 90th percentile for height-wow!  He's a big boy!  I have a hard time not comparing him and Sky.  She was tiny when she came home to us- in the 0th percentile for weight and the 5th for height.  Fire actually weighs more now at 6 months than she did at 14 months.  I think pictures say it best.

See the dress on Fire?
 (not really on him, D wouldn't let me do that to him)

Well, this is the same dress on Sky, two days after we adopted her:
 It fits them both perfectly.

See the cute little shoes Sky is wearing in May of 2011? 

Same shoes.  They're still a bit big on him but you get the idea.

Sky is still tiny and her doctor's say that she'll probably stay that way.  It'll be interesting to see how Fire grows, to see if he stays at the top of the charts or if he settles into a smaller growth pattern like Sky.

Either way, isn't that boy a looker!

A Cat and His Girl

August 16, 2012

Taking a Sunday afternoon nap

Fried Chicken and Mashed Cauliflower

  Last night D made the most wonderful fried chicken ever!  He started with a whole chicken, the smaller "fryer" size and pieced it out, then used this recipe for frying it: Great Fried Chicken.  The recipe says to start the night before but of course, we didn't and it was fine anyway.  It also calls for three cups of flour and we ended up with a bunch left over.  We're saving it (in the freezer) for the next time we make fried chicken but you could get away with using less. 
  For the cauliflower, I simply cut the head up into pieces and tossed them in a steamer.  Let it cook until the cauliflower is really, really soft.  Drain the cauliflower then treat it as you would mashed potatoes.  Once it's been cooked this much, it basically becomes a vehicle for butter and cheese.  We used a powdered blue cheese but almost anything would work.  This might be a good way to ease a kid into cauliflower if they've turned their nose up at it before.
  We rounded out our meal with biscuits (from the tube) and then had ice cream for desert. Sky loved the chicken and biscuits and didn't put up a fight when we told her she had to eat her cauliflower before she could have seconds. 

  I don't have any pictures of the meal but I'll leave you with this one:  Ciela's table-top-view of her favorite food, edamame:

An Evening on the Beach

   Sky has been asking to go the beach more and more often so we've started going every Saturday night.  Sometimes we grill burgers or brats and sometimes we just take a cold dinner.  There's always lots of playing in the sand, running away from waves, chasing, laughing, and other good times.  We usually see some friends out there and it's a great way to wind down and start the weekend on a good note. 

 (I stepped in some gum and walked a bit before realizing it.  Can you spot the hermit crab that got stuck?)

Fire at Six Months

August 10, 2012

  Our big boy is six months old today! He has been home with us for a little over 3 months and the time has flown by. Fire can hold his head up, reach for things (and then put them in his mouth), roll from his back to his front, and can hold himself up on his arms for a little bit when he's on his tummy. He loves to stand but needs someone to hold him up or to be in his play table and he still melts in half when he sits on his own.
   Fire is a good eater and is already eating baby food twice a day. So far the only foods he hasn't really liked are rice cereal and bananas. He's sleeping longer and longer at night and we're working on easing him out of his nighttime feeding.
   After getting off to a rocky start, Sky and Fire are getting along really well. She still gets jealous every once in a while but most of the time she ignores him or wants to hold him. Fire is wild about Sky and just about everything she does makes him laugh. Sky just figured that out recently and will ham for him if she's in the right mood. I think she's going to have a little shadow as soon as Fire learns to walk.


   When Sky first came home to us, I couldn't get over how beautiful she was.  She's never really had any baby fat so you could alway see the person in her.  She's been with us for a year and half now and most of the time, she's just our daughter and I forget how striking she really is.  And then I see pictures like this one:


If You Give a Sky a Camera

August 6, 2012



A Rough Weekend for Fire

  Other titles I considered for this post were: "This weekend did not go as planned", "The weekend we lived at the hospital", and (my personal favorite but a little to long to be really catchy) "If a baby is screaming at the Kwaj hospital, it's probably one of ours".   Of course, I considered using "Poor Fire", a perfect follow up to the "Poor Sky!" post from last month but I think "A rough weekend for Fire" really sums it up best.
  On Saturday I took Fire to the hospital for a routine procedure.  Everything went fine, no surprises, nothing unexpected happened.  A few hours later I got a call from Fire's nanny telling me that he was in a lot of pain and that she thought I should come home.  I found out when I got there that the reason Florina wanted me home was that Fire was bleeding from the incision sight.  Bleeding a lot.  I scooped him right into his carrier and headed to the hospital. 
  D and I have had our run-ins with the Kwaj hospital (see this post for more on that) but we decided to have this surgery done here rather than when we're visiting the states because there's a really low incidence of complications with this procedure and the hospital has been really good lately about sending folks off when they need to go.  I'm glad to say that our faith in the Kwaj medical staff was rewarded this weekend.  When it became clear to Fire's doctor that she needed help, the whole hospital mobilized to treat him.  They called in a nurse-anesthetist and an attending nurse to make sure Fire wasn't in pain, the lab folks came down to draw him to test for bleeding disorders and another doctor came in to assist.
  Fire ended up needing stitches to stop the bleeding so he, and I, stayed in the hospital over night.  Because of the unfamiliar circumstances, Fire was pretty wakeful and at one point around midnight, I walked him out to the nurses station and said, "Look at that, you're awake and he's awake.  What a coincidence!".  The night nurses played with him for two hours until he was tired again and then put him to sleep for me.  Because of that, I actually got a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, which I definitely needed by then.
  We were released the next morning with careful instructions but Fire just wasn't himself most of the weekend.  He didn't laugh and dance like he usually does and wanted to be held all the time.  By late Monday, D and I were concerned that the area around his stitches didn't look good and we worried that he might have an infection.  A trip to the ER earned him some antibiotics and another doctors appointment for today. 
  This morning Fire woke up like his usual happy self and didn't seem to be in pain when I cleaned his incision sight.  That was a big relief to me because he'd screamed any time anything came near it before.  The doctor today said that Fire is healing fine and that we should continue the antibiotics and keep it extra clean.  It was a nerve-wracking weekend for all of us but things are looking better now that Fire's on the mend.

Catching Up, in Pictures

 Who knew?  The Eddie Bauer diaper bag has insulated pouches that are
 just the right size and height to hold a bottle of beer! 

Sky's first painted toe nails

D, covered in babies

Fire joined us for breakfast one day:

D made ribs for dinner on Sunday from this recipe
 So, so good!

Sky and Fire have some big new toys to play with:
 A bounce house

 A new play house, won in an Exchange Drawing

Fire just passed out after a bottle the other night

Meeting the marionette my dad sent us for Christmas
He really didn't know what to think of it.  
Our Charmed Life. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.