Space Mission

Last night, Caitlin was desperately struggling to  remove “veterinarian” Barbie’s clothing.  In and of itself, this is not unusual, as she removes Barbie clothes as a matter of course.  But she was almost angry this time that the clothes wouldn’t come off.
Mommy: “Caitlin, why do you want to take her clothes off? They don’t come off.”  Not technically true; they were held on by a hard to see clear rubber band.
Caitlin: “But mommy, dollie needs to go to space!  She needs her clothes off!!”
Oh really??   This is the first I have heard of naked space travel, but what do I know:-)
Needless to say, I helped her “get ready for space”.    Who can resist the colorful imagination of a 3 year old!?

Winter Reading List 2011

Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer was awesome!!  It was really well written, and a dark yet refreshing take on the classic Cinderella tale.  What a great idea!  My hubby actually found this book. It was recommended by one of the Sci-Fi authors he follows.  My husband and I both devoured this one (a rarity, I can assure you) as well as my mom.  Two thumbs up! Can’t wait for the next one.

Legend, by Marie Lu was also very good.  According to my mom, and I would agree, not as well written as Cinder, and definitely in the YA category, but I would recommend it.  It was fast-paced if a  little predictable.  It is also a dystopian tale (as so many YA books seem to be) that can be quite dark.  I found it a very fast, satisfying read that I could easily recommend.

Wonder, by R. J. Palacio was a wonderful surprise (pun intended, I suppose!).  I would put it in the same category as OK For Now, which I also loved and reviewed earlier in this blog.  It’s a heart wrenching story of a 5th grader who is dramatically physically deformed, and enters school for the first time.  5th graders are brutal under any circumstance, and they don’t pull punches in this story, but neither do some of the adults.  It makes you really appreciate what you have, and value the importance of empathy and kindness.  Caitlin you need to read this book when you are able!

The Future of Us, by Jay Asher was interesting and I really enjoyed this novel. I think I found this one on EW.  Imagine you were in high school in 1998 and when you logged into your first AOL account, you hit your first webpage, and your Facebook profile  (from 2012) came up.  What if every time you changed a decision in the present it caused changes to appear on your profile? What changes would you try to make?  The lesson here – live in the present! I enjoyed this book a lot. Great summer read, especially for those of us that lived through high school in the 90’s, and started using FB in our late 20’s early 30’s.

The Night Circus, by Erin Morganstern was a magical read.  I wasn’t quite sure I was going to like this one but got swept up in the descriptive world Morganstern creates.  You can almost feel the crisp night air, sweet with the smell of cinnamon buns and candied corn. It’s a story where true “magic” exists, one studied, one innate, and a battle between the two that results in a star crossed love story.  I thought it was a beautiful novel that I would definitely recommend to my female friends.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor was another EW find.  It’s probably a YA book, which I am guilty of reading too many of!  It’s the story of Karou, raised by Chimera, the sworn enemy of angels. Yes you read correctly – angles as in human-like creatures with wings.  Accept they aren’t necessarily “good”, as the Chimera aren’t necessarily “bad”.  At the end of the day, this is a Romeo and Juliet story, set in a world where make believe creatures are real.  I enjoyed it, and would recommend it, and will certainly read the sequel.

Wildflower Hill, by Kimberly Freeman was a beautiful novel that spanned multiple generations.  At the core, it’s a tragic love story, the story of doing whatever it takes to take care of your child, fighting for what you believe in even when society is hostile and hateful.  I found myself rooting for the characters, wanting them to find happiness and salvation, and themselves.  For some reason, this book reminds me a bit of something Maeve Binchy might have written.  I suspect if you like those novels, you will enjoy this one.

Before I Go to Sleep, by S.J. Watson was a creepy mystery that I couldn’t put down.  Imagine waking up every morning not remembering who you were, rebuilding memories that day, only to forget them the following day.  What if you kept a diary at the end of each day, and you open it one morning and the entry from the day before says, “Don’t trust Ben.”  Ben is the protagonist’s, husband.  Creepy!  I was addicted to this book until the end.

Dog on It, by Spencer Quinn was hilarious!!  Anyone who has a dog, or loves dogs, this is a MUST read.  Chet is the wise and lovable canine narrator of Dog on It, who works alongside Bernie, a down-on-his-luck private investigator. Chet might have flunked out of police school (“I’d been the best leaper in K-9 class, which had led to all the trouble in a way I couldn’t remember exactly, although blood was involved”), but he’s a detective through and through.  I laughed and cried my way through this book.  If you liked The Art of Racing in the Rain I suspect you will like this one.

Once Upon a River, by Bonnie Jo Campbell is compared to Huck Finn, but with a female protagonist, Margo Crane.  I didn’t love this book, but I thought it was good.  In short, it’s the story of a poor family that lives on a fictional river in MI.  Margo’s father is murdered, and she sets off to live on the river in search of her mother.   A lot can go wrong when a pretty teenage girl lives alone on a river.  I had trouble relating the Margo, and the choices she made.  Somehow the characters felt a little distant to me.  It’s still a good book but wasn’t a page-turner for me.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

A big thank you to Nacime for introducing these cookies to me!   This is the first recipe that called for melting the baking soda in hot water
before adding it to the batter.  Not sure what that does, but whatever the case they are soft and have great flavor.  Caitlin assisted me with baking, and her comments were: “Mommy, can I have another one?!”  Yum!

Banana Bread

I just made this banana bread recipe from  I made a few changes, listed below, but my daughter’s comment at dinner was the best.   
Bryan decided to have just banana bread for dinner.  Caitlin and I were having soup. Caitlin looks at her dad, and says, “Dad, you can’t have banana bread for dinner!”
Bryan: “Yes I can.”
Caitlin: “No daddy you can’t.”  She then refuses to eat.
Bryan: “Caitlin you need to eat your soup.”
“No daddy, not until you get your dinner.”  Love it!
Recipe Adjustments:
* 1 1/2 cups of banana
* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1 TBS of vanilla
* 4 TBS of milk
* 1 cup dark chocolate chips
Baked at 350deg for 1 hour 5 minutes.  Enjoy!

The Things 3 year Old's Say

We had our work holiday party last night, and the kiddos were invited.  My 3 year old was so excited to come to mommy’s work party, she had trouble sleeping the night before, and got dressed in her purple dress hours before the party.
Below are some of my favorite quotes from the evening (and Caitlin, please don’t kill mommy for these when you are a teenager – just remember – you were only 3!)
She looks around the room at all the people my husband and I are chatting with and says, “Mommy, you have so many friends!”  How cute is that?  🙂
While I am talking to several co-workers, she looks up at me and declares, “Mommy, I have to go poop.”  This was met by much giggling by said co-workers, who were not yet parents.
After 3 failed potty attempts, she finally goes to the potty with daddy.  While sitting on the potty in the men’s room, she hears someone going to the bathroom in the stall next to her (who also happened to be a co-worker), “Daddy someone is going pee over there. Can I go under go under and look?”  DOH!!
Caitlin, always remember you are my favorite, and I will always love you most:-)

Speaking "Caitlin"

Our almost 3 year old is at the phase where she speaks fairly fluently, but occasionally will throw in words in her own loosely interpreted version of the original. Sometimes is takes my husband and I several attempts to decode her language.  Below are some of my favorite words spoken in “Caitlin”.
Acka-bar: aka a granola bar (this one took days to figure out)
Punk-a-latern: aka a jack-o-lantern
Yogi: aka yogurt
Birfday: aka birthday
Crap: aka clap (really funny when used to say -“Mommy look I am ‘clapping'”
Fancy Hancy: aka Fancy Nancy
O’Brien: aka the constellation Orion; or a constellation she name after her dad:-)

Mario Batali's Cauliflower Ragu – Yum!

My brother-in-law recommended the Mario Batali cook book.  As those that belong to a CSA know (we belong to Farm Fresh to You), sometimes you end up with a lot of one  kind of fruit or veggie, and you run out of creative ways to use it.  
The Cauliflower Ragu is so simple to make, and transforms the cauliflower into a spicy, rich ragu.  I was told that adding the home made breadcrumbs really makes a big difference, but I have to admit I skipped that part. I also forgot to add chopped fresh rosemary (oops!) and it was still delicious. I stuck to 1 1/2 tsp of chili flakes, but it would be easy to raise the heat.
I served it with fresh heirloom tomato (also from Farm Fresh to You) with basil from the garden, fresh mozzarella and drizzled with good balsamic, and white wine. Delicious! Thank you for the recipe recommendation, Russ!

Peanut Butter Blondies and Oatmeal Pancakes

Caitlin and I had a lot of fun baking this weekend.
First, we made this Peanut Butter Blondie recipe.   When reading it to Grandma Fran, she thought it might be
a little too sweet, but they are surprisingly fluffy and not too sweet.  I did use 70% chocolate chips though, and next time might use more Reese’s on top.  Hubby loved them!
Today we started the day with Oatmeal Pancakes.  They are bar none the best pancakes I have ever made.  I did make a few changes to this recipe. I used white flour, not wheat, and omitted the cinnamon and nutmeg and replaced it with a generous splash of vanilla.  I also added an extra buttermilk to thin them out just a tad.
If you try them, enjoy!

My Favorite Caitlin-isms

Caitlin is now 2.5 years old, and quite the character.  Here are some of my favorite Caitlin-isms to date.
Scene: Dad and Caitlin were late arriving at class due to a car fire on the freeway. Dad also had a pinched nerve in his lower back and had trouble getting in and out of the car.
Dad, as he tries to get out of the car: “Son of a…!”
Caitlin: “Daddy I want to walk to class.”
Dad: “Caitlin we are late so I have to carry you.”
Teacher: “Hi Caitlin, how are you today?”
Caitlin: “Good.  Daddy carried me, couldn’t walk, because Daddy had a Son of a.”
Scene: Dad and Caitlin were watching a Caillou episode about growing up.
Dad: “Caitlin what are you going to be when you grow up?”
Caitlin: “The Cat in the Hat!”
Scene: It was awful quiet and Caitlin had slipped into mommy’s bathroom.
Mom: “Caitlin, where are you?”
Caitlin, as she is uncapping mommy’s lipstick and applying it to her lips, “Just fine, Mommy!”

Caitlin’s top reasons for getting out of bed:
The kids outside are too loud. (kind of liget)
Fire truck get me! (probably not)
Mommy want Tinkerbell blanket.
Want blue blanket.
Mommy want Dora.
Mommy not tired, can’t sleep.
I’m freezing! (even though it’s 77 deg in the house)
I’m too hot (the air conditioning is on)
Mommy strange sound outside (it’s a chainsaw – pretty annoying actually)
Mommy, need another hug and kiss (how can you resist that one??)