Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

Photos only- I am too tired to write complete sentences!  And not even very many photos, I guess no one did much photography over the weekend.

Birthday party on Saturday:
a snow cone truck came to the party! (with their friend Maddie)

The Philadelphia Zoo on Sunday:

the only photo with all 4 kids

Charlotte sick and exhausted
Pool Date on Monday:
Charlotte in her bathing suit that Daddy picked out

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Here is our much-requested family challah recipe.  We make the dough in the bread machine, and then take it out, braid it, and let it rise.  You can also divide it into 12 dinner rolls, which is what we do on Thanksgiving.

3/4 C hot water
1/4 C vegetable oil
1 egg
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp salt
3 C of bread flour
2 1/4 tsp of active dry yeast

Add to the bread machine, keeping the yeast separate from the wet ingredients.  Put the machine on the "dough" cycle.  When it is done, take the challah out and braid it, then put the braided challah on a piece of aluminum foil sprayed with Pam.  If it is early in the day, you can let the challah rise in the fridge.  If it is closer to the time you plan to bake it, leave it out on the counter or in the oven (not turned on!) to rise.  When ready to bake, put the oven to 350 degrees, and bake it for 20 minutes.  Then take the foil out from underneath and bake another 10 minutes.  We don't glaze ours with egg wash, but you can if you prefer.  It makes excellent French toast later in the weekend!

I also want to share my current favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  It's Martha Stewart's "soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies" from her cookie book.  It is simple and quick, and the dough is made up in less time than it takes to preheat the oven.

Chocolate chip cookies:
2 1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar

1 tsp coarse salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

2 C chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix flour and baking soda in a medium bowl, set aside.  In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add salt, vanilla, and eggs and mix until well-blended, about 1 minute.  Then add the flour mixture, mix until you can no longer see the flour.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop heaping tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets (I use sil-pats and a Pampered Chef cookie scoop).  Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are brown but the centers are still soft.  You want them to look under baked.  They are delicious!

P.S. Can you tell we're a house full of carbaholics?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Belated post: Visit from Memere and Pepere

This is post is extremely belated!  About 3 weeks ago, Eric's parents came to visit from Maine, and gave us a special housewarming/birthday gift of a new garden.

They came on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and wasted no time ripping out what little "garden" we had.
Our yard before work began
The garden now
Over the course of about 2 days, Eric and his dad uprooted what few bushes we had, created two beds, and planted low-maintenance perennials which I hopefully can't kill.  We tore up the lawn to try to plant new grass seed, but then it poured like a monsoon and I'm pretty sure all the seeds got washed away.  It's been over 2 weeks and not a single thread of grass has come up.

Sunday was Easter, and we had an Easter egg hunt in our backyard.  Asher sat inside and stared out the door, memorizing the locations of all the eggs.  Then he went wild and grabbed as many eggs as he could (so competitive!).
Asher running to get more eggs

Benjamin on the hunt

Charlotte found an egg!

Pepere showing Charlotte what to do with her eggs
I had the boys split their eggs up evenly, and set some aside for Charlotte, even though she doesn't really eat candy.  She only has 8 teeth, still!  6 on top and 2 on the bottom.
Pepere and his little helper (Benjamin No-Nap)
My only contribution- roto-tilling
That evening we had an unkosher-for-Passover Easter dinner of ham.  I made a chocolate cream pie, which was also delicious.  Our Passover ended when Memere and Pepere arrived, and the boys were not too sad about it.  I actually enjoyed eating my matzoh this year, though.

On Monday, Memere and Pepere continued to work hard in the garden, and I took Asher and Charlotte to the zoo.  The zoo was a zoo- worse than on Halloween or a summer weekend- so we left before lunch time.  We had planned to meet friends at the park as an alternative, but once the kids got home to Memere and Pepere, they didn't want to leave again.

Monday afternoon, I managed to get in a long run while Memere took care of my babies.  Then we had dinner together- hot dogs and beans.  We had plenty of beautiful weather, which was extremely helpful, since there was so much gardening work to be done.

Pepere's hard work- our front bed

Bleeding heart and azaleas

Our back bed- transplants from Maine and my mom's house
On Tuesday I went to work, and everyone else went to Ikea.  Kids Eat Free on Tuesdays, and then everyone got ice cream.  
the crew at Ikea
Memere and Pepere left on Tuesday evening, and the boys were sad.  They had a great time with their grandparents, who spoil them rotten!  It's too bad we're so far apart and don't get to see them as often as we'd like, but it does make every visit to them or from them extra-special.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Benjamin: 4 Years Old

I know I did a post a few months back all about my no-nap buddy, but here is an update.

He's talking a lot, and has a lot to say.  He's still a little hard to understand, but his speech evaluation said he doesn't require intervention (this is the 3rd time we've had him evaluated for that outcome, if I ever say I'm going to do it again, please stop me).  He often just pops out with things like, "I love you so much!" which I never tire of hearing.

He is consistent and fairly predictable in his likes and attachments.  Every night he sleeps with his snuggle blanket, his panda, and his fire dog.  Since falling in love with these things, he has not relinquished them, and there are no substitutes.
One cool dude eating ice cream
Benjamin is fairly adventurous when it comes to food, and if he shows any hesitation about trying something, we just dip it in mustard.  He LOVES mustard, and his new lunch food is grilled cheese and mustard sandwich.  I can even send it in his lunch to his kosher school, and the teacher will heat it up in the microwave for him.  He has tried, and enjoyed, artichoke, spicy foods, and ethnic foods of all kinds.  He adores fruit- right now we eat a lot of watermelon, but he also likes pear, pineapple, banana, apple, berries of all kinds, cantaloupe... I guess everything!  Recently he's had a big appetite, and it is amazing how someone can eat so much and still be so tiny.  He likes hot dogs, dipped in mustard of course, and eats them for breakfast sometimes.  While hot dogs for breakfast aren't my speed, it reminds me of when my sister was little and had a hot-dog-for-breakfast phase.

Benjamin is independent, and has a great ability to play by himself or entertain himself for long periods of time.  In general, he's a good listener, and doesn't make too many "bad choices," which is code for "doing things you know you absolutely shouldn't do, but do anyway because mommy and daddy aren't looking."

We've had some regressions with potty training occasionally (only #2), but he is mostly doing a great job of using the potty.  He never asks for treats anymore; he seems to understand that using the toilet is just something you do when you get older.  He wears underwear at night and is dry every night (except once, which I mention only to be completely truthful).

He's also very solicitous of his little sister.  Asher will get impatient and push her away, but Benjamin takes care of her and keeps an eye out.  He's also a great companion- when he no-naps we run errands or get things done, and he is usually cheerful.  Last week we went and delivered food for the food pantry, and he was in and out of the car several times, wandering around unfamiliar apartment buildings, and didn't have one word of complaint.  He is far less aggressive than Asher- I think he is fairly non-confrontational, and backs off quickly when Asher turns things into a competition.

Helping Papa Nick make his mocha
Benjamin is taking gymnastics once a week at the JCC.  I usually take Charlotte out in the jog stroller while he is in there so I haven't seen him in action, but he really enjoys it, and I love that he has an activity that is all his.

I can't put into words the joy I have at watching his personality develop, and the person he is becoming.  He is patient, he is kind-hearted, he is independent, and he is clever.  He's not ostentatious, loud, or braggy about his accomplishments.  I hope he knows how proud I am of him.  I adore him.  Although I wish he would nap more frequently, he is an easy child.  Many of the small things that seemed to set him off before no longer phase him, and that makes everyone happier.  I look forward to seeing his sweet face each morning, kissing him goodnight at bedtime, and all our adventures in between.