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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gym Time!

Aren't these sunglasses amazingly adorable?!

We have had SUCH a good visit in Evanston over the last week and a half!!!  Jackson has loved having Mimi and Bampa's attention, and we both have loved hanging out with good friends who we don't get to see nearly often enough :(  Luckily, my friend, Kim, is getting married at the beginning of July, so we will be back soon-ish...

On Friday we got to hang out with Auntie Cassie and Jonah all morning!  Jackson and Jonah had a GREAT time and played so well together!  Their favorite game was chase through the kitchen and dining room, but it was followed closely by playing in a big empty box!  Auntie Cassie took a few pictures on her camera, and I will share them once she shares with me :)

Saturday was such a fun day (in different ways for different people!).  We met Bampa at Roycemore so Jackson could have the run of the gym and all of the fun equipment to play on! He tried the balance beam first, and he was really unsure right away.  After a couple of tries, he totally got how to put one foot in front of the other!  I love watching his confidence grow when he tries new things :)  
He really wasn't interested in the rings which made me sad!  They were definitely one of my favorite things!  
Next we played with a scooter and balls.  
Bampa brought out a tunnel for Jackson to crawl through--he loved it, especially when he realized he could peek through the mesh part and see us.  
Bampa also brought out the beat board, and Jackson and Bampa had a good time jump, jump, jumping!  
Jackson got to explore the Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten rooms, too.  He LOVED the fish in the JK room--he couldn't get close enough to them and kept trying different chairs to get closer!  LOL  
In the Kindergarten room he got to look in a microscope at some rocks.  He thought that was pretty cool!  I loved watching him in both rooms--I know it will be time before I know it for him to be in school...  
After playing, we all went to Big Herms for lunch.  Jackson LOVES going there for french fries.  He is getting really comfortable there, and he marched right in saying, "Hi Scott!  Hi Craig!"  (Except Craig comes out Crap!  HA HA HA!  That one was hard not to laugh at...) 

After nap time, Jackson enjoyed some popcorn snacks and March Madness with Bampa :)  After dinner, Mom and I had a date including Barnes and Noble and seeing "Just Go With It."  It was a fun and relaxing evening :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Jackson's been talking SO much lately!  He also is really catching on when we talk about going somewhere and the order of events in the day.  I thoughts I'd document some of our more popular conversations recently:

Last week leading up to our trip:
"Jaxie airplane!  Nyack (Snack) airplane!  Books airplane!  Mimi house!  Bampa house!"

Thursday once we landed:
"French fries!" (for lunch)

Thursday afternoon (and each day since):
"Slide!  Swing!"  (He LOVES the playground by Mimi and Bampa's house!)

Friday for Palio:
"Watch kids!  Where Bampa go?"

Saturday when Katie was coming to babysit:
"Katie!  Mommy back!  (Whenever we are getting ready to leave him with someone, we reassure him we are coming back, so he always says that when he knows we are leaving.)

Sunday on our way to brunch with the Tadelmans:
"Ryeey (Ryleigh)!"

Each time we go to Nan's condo building since Monday:
"Man (Nan)!  Cheryl!  (Nan's caretaker)  Open doors!  (His job was to push the elevator buttons, of course!)"

Wednesday on the way to Barnes & Noble for storytime:
"Story time!  Books time!"

And, as always, "Jaxie self! and Jaxie help!" are popular ;)  He also loves to asks for specific foods: reesins (raisins), strip (fruit strips), crackers (graham crackers), fish (goldfish), cookie, milk cow or milk straw (Horizon milk in juice box form from Panera), yourt (yogurt), reeps (grapes), cerel (cereal), monkey (banana), yewwow (cantalopue), treat (yogurt melts), raioli (ravioli), chien (chicken fries), and apples (applesauce).

In general, he has started taking attendance of where everyone is in the morning.  He will list off who might be at work or who is sleeping.  He gets SO excited when someone arrives back to the house: Mommy back!  Bampa back!  Mimi back!

His manners are coming along nicely: "Please, thank you, no thanks, I'm fine, thanks, hi, and bye" are pretty much staples now.  He's getting much braver when talking to "strangers."  (Obviously we don't encourage him to just start up conversations with anyone, but it would be nice if he would say, "Hi," back when people greet him.  We're getting there...  He loves to ask people to "wook (look)" when he's doing something or looking at something.  It's pretty cute to see him get really excited to share things with us!  We are now working on controlling our voice level and not repeating things a bazillion-jillion times when a response has already been given...;)
 As for our trip, yesterday we went to storytime at Barnes & Noble.  The theme was ladybugs, and Jackson got to make a really cute ladybug hanging decoration.  I really wanted to take a picture of it, but he was being very silly :(  He does do a good job of modeling his new car slippers (picture above)!  He got those from Eric when we went to visit Eric, Lindsey, and Ms. Negronida yesterday afternoon.  Eric has shared some excellent hand-me-downs with Jackson :)  

This morning we headed over to the Huks' to play and meet Baby Will!!!  Jackson was ecstatic, needless to say, to meet a new baby :)  Will was born RIGHT as we left IL in January!  Talk about timing...  Jackson was pretty excited to play with Ben and Katie, but he was really excited to hold Will too :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Brunch, Friends, and Bball

We had a really fun day on Sunday!  We drove to Cary to Abbey and Dan's house where Auntie Dale, Uncle Eddie, Kelly, Robb, and Ryleigh met us!  We had a yummy brunch, and Jackson was thrilled to play with Ryleigh!  We practiced everyone's names on the way over, and he did pretty well talking to everyone and calling them by name :)  He shared really well with Ryleigh, hung out with the boys watching basketball, and invented a fun game to play with Auntie Kelly and Ryleigh.
Future pre-Prom pose :)
 Tickles from Auntie Kelly
 Big hug from Auntie Abbey
 Laughs with Auntie Dale and Auntie Abbey
On Sunday afternoon, the NCAA basketball games were still going strong, and Jackson settled in to watch...with some snacks, of course!  He pulled up a chair, settled in, and helped himself to Bampa's popcorn :)
 Karol and Brad came into town for the night, and they came over to hang out with Jackson before heading out to dinner with Mimi, Bampa, and Nan.  They brought some really cute books for Jackson (all about moose!!!), and he had such a good time showing them all of his stuff!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Since the beginning of 2011, I have been making an effort (a good one, I think!) to really expand my cooking and baking repertoire, and skills.  I love documenting the new things I've tried, and I hope my thoughts are helpful to other people.  I'm planning to join the Monday meme of Meal Plan Monday on a somewhat regular basis.  I have gotten much better about planning our weekly meals, but I'm actually going to share our past week's menu because then I can include spur of the moment baking experiences too :)  This first post includes the half a week before we left for our trip to IL, and the week before that.  Enjoy!

***Almost all of the recipes are links, even if they aren't showing up in a different color.  Just mouse around to find them!***

Sunday: Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese
Monday: I can't remember :(
Tuesday: leftovers
Thursday: Crock Pot Pizza Soup and Grilled Cheese
Friday: Korean BBQ Lettuce Wraps at Brandi's (recipe below with shopping list) and Smore's Bar Bake (This was not a hit :(  It was fine, and I think I could have eaten the whole pan before really figuring out my opinion.  We did add ice cream, and that certainly spiced things up!)
Saturday: Lou's pizza (one that my awesome brother had sent to us for our Christmas present!) and salad (The Dole Ultimate Caesar Salad Kit is AMAZING!  I think the key is the special spice packet they include...)

Monday: Orange Chicken from Trader Joe's
Tuesday: Pizza Bake (I use a whole pound of elbow macaroni and bake in a 13x9 dish.  There is still plenty of flavor per bite, and it makes tons of leftovers!)

Korean BBQ 
Typical Menu:
Lettuce Leaves
Green Onion Salad
BBQ Beef (bulgogi)
BBQ Pork (daeji bulgogi) 
*there is a special utensil to make shred the green onions, if you can’t get one or find one at the Korean market then you can just slice the green onions lengthwise.  I found mine on amazon and I just typed in green onion slicer…=) 
cook the amount of rice you will eat
separate, rinse and dry the lettuce leaves (it’s pretty popular to use tortillas too!) 
Green Onion Salad:
bunches of green onion
spring salad mix
1 onion thinly sliced
1 cucumber seeded and thinly sliced
sesame seed oil
*optional is the ground red pepper flakes you can get at the Korean market
*optional are sesame seeds 
1.  Shred the green onions
2.  Toss the green onions, spring salad, onion, and cucumber
3.  Season with salt/pepper and ground red pepper flakes
4.  Coat with just enough sesame seed oil and toss.  A little oil goes a long way. 
5.  Add sesame seeds if you like 
Beef BBQ (Bulgogi)
*for both the beef and pork, I usually use prepared marinades.  You can buy it as the Korean market. 
** both the beef and the pork can be bought at the Korean market already thinly sliced for you.  Down at the shopping list I wrote down exactly where you can buy it…it’s a life saver!   
5 lbs thinly sliced ribeye
12 tbsp Soy Sauce
6 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp sesame seed oil
minced ginger
minced garlic
1 kiwi or asian pear pureed (this is optional and it acts like tenderizer) 
1.  The marinade is a 2:1 ratio of soy sauce to sugar.  I use 2 tbsp of sesame seed oil for every 12 tbsp of soy sauce.  So you can make as much or as little as you want.  Just mix all the ingredients and pour over beef.  It needs at least a few hours to marinade.   
*again, the marinades in the jar are just as great and so much easier.  My mom makes a separate batch or another jar of marinade for veggies (sliced onions, carrots, mushrooms) and grill them next to the meat. 
Pork BBQ (Daeji bulgogi) 
5lbs thinly sliced pork butt
*I usually don’t have all the ingredients on hand to make this marinade by scratch so I use the jar marinade. 
Take a lettuce leaf or tortilla and layer rice, meat, and green onion salad.  Roll or fold to the best of your ability.  It may get messy!  That's ok!  Enjoy :)
Shopping list: 
Super Q Mart
(This is a Korean international market where I buy the meats.  The meats come frozen located at the back left corner of the store right before you hit the seafood counter.  They are in the “open” freezer and the meats are labeled “Beef bulgogi” or “thinly sliced ribeye” and “thinly sliced pork butt.”)
*green onion slicer
*crushed red pepper flakes (it usually comes in a big plastic package but I don’t ever need so much so they package one the same size as the marinade jars!) 
Grocery Store:
Green onions
Spring salad mix
Red or Green leaf lettuce
Sesame seed oil
Sesame seeds
Beef Bbq marinade
Pork Bbq marinade

There are TONS of yummy menu/meal ideas at Meal Plan Monday hosted by Org Junkie!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jaxie Airplane! Slide! Swing!

Jackson was an AWESOME flying partner on Thursday!  I was SO proud of him!  This was by no means his first flight, but I felt like it was the first one he could get excited for in advance.  And, get excited he did!  He ran around saying, "Jaxie airplane!" for days in advance.  I also took the opportunity to talk to him about my expectation for him to sit in his seat with his seat belt on for the whole flight.  On other flights where he ended up with his own seat once we were on board, he was bouncing up and down on and off the seat.  This time, he walked on to the airplane himself (he usually wants to be carried in such new, crowded situations), found his seat, let me buckle him in, and sat there the whole time!  He was also excited about the special snacks I promised him (Yogurt Melts and raisins).  He sat with Momo and his snacks and watched "Wonder Pets" on his iPod, and I got to read my book!  It was quite an amazing experience :)
 Mimi took the day off on Friday, and we started our day at the Skokie Library to check out some new books!  As we walked in, Jackson started talking about fish.  Mom and I couldn't figure out what fish he was talking about...Until we remembered there's a big fish tank in the kids' section.  He remembered the fish tank from December!  He was really excited to watch the fish while I picked out some great new books.  There was even an albino frog!
 On Thursday after Jackson's nap we walked down to Timber Ridge playground, and he got to climb and run around.  I asked him when he woke up if he wanted to go to the park and slide and swing.  That stuck, and he has asked each day to slide and swing :)  The entire playground consists of three areas, but the area geared towards the youngest kids is perfect for Jackson--he can do pretty much everything all by himself!  Mom and I took him for a walk to Starbucks on Friday after his nap, and then we stopped at the playground.  Yesterday, we went to CVS and then walked back to the park.  He LOVED showing Mimi all of the things he could do!

P.S. I felt like some setting was off on our camera, and I finally figured it out halfway through our photo session at the playground :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jackson's First Palio!

Bampa and Jackson with the Palio banner!

Hands down, my favorite part of each school year was Palio!  In Lower School, the months leading up to Palio meant it was time to "play" on the apparatus (rings, ropes, balance beam, horse, and mats) during P.E..  We would practice our skills and get really excited to show them off to the audience on the night of the show!  We also got to show one of the games we played during P.E.  In second grade, however, we got to learn our first ever dance routine with Mr. White!  That was one of the first "special" things we got to look forward to over the years.  Once we were in Middle School, P.E. class would be dedicated to learning dance and tumbling routines, and our Creative Arts period each week would be spent working on even more routines.  We would stay after school for rehearsals, and as a Middle Schooler, it was really exciting when we got to combine our practices with the Upper Schoolers to bring everything together!  The day before the show, we would have an all-school dress rehearsal in the afternoon.  The day of the show we had a half day and then came back in the evening for the program.

Here is the description of how Palio came to be from the program last night: 

"The concept of Palio was initiated at Roycemore in 1919 when a teacher returned from Sienna, Italy, where she had observed a magnificent civic celebration.  In Sienna there are seventeen different "contrade"-each represented by a banner--who compete for the honor of winning the Palio (a large white banner).  In 1919 each Roycemore class designed its own banner which it defends with skills and sportsmanship throughout its twelve years at the School.  These banners have been passed from Seniors to Kindergartners since that time, and are the ones proudly displayed by the representatives of the classes during the "banner presentation" at the beginning of tonight's Palios."

We handed down our class banner to the Kindergarten class in 2000--that class is now the Junior class!!!  It has been almost 12 years since we graduated high school!  Yikes!  

Last night was Palio, and my mom and I took Jackson to the Lower School Palio.  He LOVED it!  He sat for over an hour watching the kids perform :)  I was really not prepared to be emotional over this since it's been so long since I graduated or attended a show.  Well, the Lower School does an awesome serpentine entrance: a senior leads carrying the American flag, a junior follows carrying the Roycemore flag, three members of the previous year's winning class follows with the Palio banner, and then the whole Lower School follows in single file line.  The classes are divided by their individual class banners, and they wind through the gym in a neat way.  They all stop for us to sing the National Anthem and the Roycemore Song.  I definitely got teary and felt goose-bumpy when the serpentine started and while we sang.  I ended up being able to just really enjoy the rest of the show and didn't feel very weepy--phew!  After the Lower School Palio, my mom was awesome and took Jackson home to bed while I stayed to watch the Middle and Upper School Palio.  It was SO fun to watch the routines because I totally remembered performing to many of the songs (the songs definitely are not the same each year, but the good ones get repeated!).  I didn't plan our trip purposefully to coincide with Palio, but I'm SO glad we were here to attend--especially since it was the last one in this building!
 Jackson and me with my class's banner :)
Mrs. Wunder, Jackson, and me with my old banner

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Library Loot 3: Part 1

Our latest library stash has been one of our best, I think.  There were lots of books that Jackson formed an attachment to and would ask for over and over.  I will share the full list next week, but wanted to highlight the two first favorites :)
Elliot Gets Stuck by Andrea Beck, grabbed Jackson's attention because it was about a moose!  He loved the "Wonder Pets" episode where they save a moose, plus Uncle Larry gave him a special stuffed moose when he was born.  We love moose over here :)  Apparently there is a not-so-small series of Elliot Moose stories!  I have never seen them, but they are SO cute!  Elliot has a posse of a few different stuffed animals who show up in each story (Amy the anteater, Socks the sock monkey, Beaverton the beaver, Angel the bear, and Lionel the lion).  Elliot Gets Stuck follows the story of Elliot getting stuck in the mail slot as he's trying to rush outside into the  Spring weather.  His friends work together to help free him.  Jackson likes to point to each animal friend as they join the effort to help Elliot.  He also likes that Elliot wears black rain boots to go outside and play!  My mom checked out a bunch more Elliot stories for us to read during our visit, and so far we have read Elliot's Bath and Elliot Bakes a Cake.  They are just as good as the first one we read--Jackson's thrilled!
Too Many Frogs! by Sandy Asher is a sweet story of how Froggie and Rabbit become friends.  Rabbit has a quiet life by himself, but Froggie works hard to be friends with Rabbit.  Rabbit realizes how nice it is to have a good friend, even if his life is a little less organized and predictable ;)  Jackson loves to point out the frog and say the "knock, knockety, knocking" part.  I was thrilled to go back to the library to see there were more Froggie and Rabbit stories!  I can't wait to read those too!

 For more great book recommendations, visit Feed Me Books Friday at Little Sprout Books and Kid Konnection at Booking Mama!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Jackson has been patiently counting down the days until he gets to ride on an airplane to see Mimi, Bampa, and Nan!!!  "Jaxie airplane!'  That's today, by the way!  He was almost too excited to nap yesterday...  Luckily, I convinced him that he needed his rest so he could be a happy boy tomorrow on the airplane ;)  I wanted to do a little St. Patrick's Day craft with him, and I also wanted to see what he thought of the idea of a countdown.  I thought this up, but not all the way through.  It was pretty low-interaction for him, but he loves it anyways!  I counted how many days we had left, counted backwards on the page, and then cut out shamrocks with the corresponding numbers.  Jackson decorated his page with stickers and coloring.  He has also added one shamrock each morning to cross off one more day :)
Now, for my Thing I Love Thursday: Shamrock Shakes from McDonald's!!! They ROCK!  I have loved Shamrock Shakes for as long as I can remember.  I used to tell people St. Patrick's Day was my favorite holiday because of the shakes!  LOL  I got Josh hooked once he moved to IL, and we were both devastated our first March in Virginia when the McDonald's not only didn't have them, but also acted like they never heard of them!  The blasphemy!  After lots of phone calls and driving around, I found ONE McDonald's that had them!!!  Keep in mind I was pregnant that year, so I was extra happy :)  I was working as a long-term sub at the time in a Fourth Grade classroom, and the morning after we had our first shake of the season, my thing I shared was definitely about finding the shakes!  My kids were so intrigued, and I think a few parents were made to drive to the one McDonald's that had them so their kids could experience the deliciousness.  LOL  This year, we got a little nervous.  A friend from IL made it known that he has already had several Shamrock Shakes, and we still couldn't find them here!  The night our power went out, and we went to dinner with the Yanceys at McDonald's was also the first night we found Shamrock Shakes in VA!  Ah, what a coincidence!  We have been making the most of the season this year, for sure.  We even left the lovely restaurant we were at on a date night with the Buerstattes for McDonald's!  That restaurant has REALLY good dessert itself, so that says something.  I do have a few friends who aren't huge fans of mint, but when I recommended getting a Shamrock/Chocolate mix, they were all over that :)  On that note,, Happy St. Patrick's Day!
For more Things I Love Thursday, check out The Diaper Diaries!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Cozy Coupe Makes Its Outdoor Debut!

(And, Other News From the Weekend!)

On Friday, Josh FINALLY got to hold Baby Liam!!!  Josh got a nasty cold, and didn't want to risk getting Liam sick any of the times we have seen him.  Jackson, as always, was THRILLED for an evening of Baby Brother time :)  Brandi cooked us an AMAZING dinner of Korean BBQ Lettuce Wraps!  We were all quite impressed, and well fed! 
 Such a snuggle bug :)
On Saturday, we just hung out at home.  In the evening I made the dough for home-made English muffins (to be baked on Sunday) and got the St. Patrick's Day Oreo Truffles ready to go for Sunday.

On Sunday, I worked hard on each component of homemade Eggs Benedict (recipe coming later).  We finally ate "brunch" at 2:00 (new time)!  Yikes!  Josh jumped in and did all the whisking work for the hollandaise sauce, and it was THE best hollandaise I have ever had.  Our late brunch was delicious, it was just a lot of components to coordinate...

After cleaning up brunch, I got to work on the dessert for that evening: St. Patrick's Day Oreo Truffles (or Shamrocks, as Josh labeled them).  I will post the recipe for this later too.  But, here is my dipping and decorating station ready to go.  I also have a picture of the shamrock sprinkles I made from scratch :)  
These were a yummy complement to the Slow Cooker French Dip sandwiches Joe and Susie brought over--it was a delicious evening!  While the guys were working on dinner, Susie and I took Rachel and Jackson outside to play.  This was the outdoors debut for the Cozy Coupe, believe it or not!  I bought this a LONG time ago, and Jackson has been having lots of fun riding it around the family room.  He also uses it as a golf cart for his golf clubs :)  Susie and I were so proud of the kids because they took such good turns.  It was a great way to work up an appetite for dinner!