Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Toddler Life

V will be THREE in less than a week (sob).

Here are some are some tidbits of Van's typical shenanigans over the last week or so, in case you were wondering what life with an almost three year old is like.

They'll UNLOCK YOUR PHONE because they have crazy memories (I don't even remember how long ago I told him my passcode...weeks at least)  and will take photos of their feet, forgetting to erase the evidence.

They enjoy trying to break into peoples' mailboxes with house keys.
They get distracted easily.

They (or at least mine) will wake up at 10:30 AM and ask you to lay them on the couch with their blanket while you make them toast because they are really lazy.

They are as random and exhausting as they are cute.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pumpkin Patchin It

Last week I took Friday off to take Van to the pumpkin patch. It's funny how holidays really make me freak out about how fast time flies by and how big my kid is getting. If it wasn't so fun, I'd seriously sob.

Anyways. We had a good time.

When you are almost three, everything is the coolest. We'd have to work so hard to tear Van away from one thing and convince him to try something else, then repeat that. All day long. He loved this "Fort-a-lot-a-fun". Basically a wood deck.

Slidin slides...

Feeding goats...

Eating Dippin Dots for the first time EVER...

Hiding in Jack o' Lanterns...

Taking selfies on the train...

Measuring growth...
Riding horses...

Picking pumpkins (I love how he wanted a green and white one)...

And being cranky.  There was a zipline for bigger kids and adults near where the hay ride line began and ended. Van was SO pissed that he couldn't go on! He definitely didn't get that daredevil gene from me. We told him he couldn't go on it because he was too little, but maybe he could next year. That didn't go over well, but Tony cheered him up.

Bishops Pumpkin Patch, you sure are adorable. See you next year!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Get With the Program - Make Your Own Flour Tortillas!

Growing up, we NEVER had store bought flour tortillas. Ever. I called them "fake tortillas" for years and years. The ones you buy pre-made from the store don't come close to the homemade version. Not even the good ones they have at Trader Joe's can hold a candle to fresh, handmade ones. They come about as close as a Chips Ahoy does to a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Good(ish) in their own weird way, but nowhere near as good as the real deal.

People gasp in shock when they find out that I make my own flour tortillas for burrito and fajita nights. I'm telling you - take the extra 20 minutes or so to make a fresh batch before your next Mexican night. It's well worth the return.

(makes 10-12)

You'll Need:

4 cups of  Flour
2 tsp of baking powder
2 tsp teaspoons of salt
3 tbsp  of oil
1.5 cups of warm water

(also: a big bowl, rolling pin, hard surface, hot skillet, a plate, a cloth towel)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Mix up and knead with your hands until you have a soft doughy ball. You might need to add a bit more water here if you feel like it's too dry, or a bit more flour if you feel like it's too wet. The pic below shows kinda dry-ish dough. I added a bit more water after I took this shitty picture.

Grab a little bit off and make a little ball with your hands.

Mush it onto a lightly floured surface.

Go at it with a rolling pin. You want it thin, thin, thin. This takes practice. Mine are still thicker than I'd ideally like them to be and definitely not as round as they could be but that's how it goes. My Mom's and Gramma's before her are like, perfectly freaking round. The ratio of the tortilla's circumference to the diameter is 3.14. You (and I) will get better at them as we make them more. Some web sites say it's okay that they aren't round - it's more rustic that way. Bullshit. Make them as round as you possibly can.

Carefully flop your thin, somewhat circular tortilla onto a hot skillet. Once some nice bubbles form, flip it over and let the other side cook through. This happens pretty quick. My tortilla will cook completely in the time it takes me to roll out another dough ball.

Once done, place on a plate and cover with a towel. Repeat until all your dough graduates into tortillas.

Ta-da! They may be oblong or a little too thick they will still undoubtedly be SO MUCH BETTER THAN STORE BOUGHT TORTILLAS. I promise.

After you have your little fajita night or whatever, save one for breakfast the following morning. Heat it up and spread some butter on it. HEAVEN, I swear to you. There are very few things more divine than a warm, buttered tortilla in the morning.

Friday, August 22, 2014

When I Paint My Masterpiece

I almost never do things with Van that will involve him getting dirty. It's pretty effed up of me. Things like that require outfit changes and set up, the possibility of me getting dirt/paint/water all over myself. Messy things are also usually outdoor things and it's pretty crappy and hot here too.

But last week when I went to get some frames at Michael's Van spotted this guitar frame and it was over. Of course I had to get it for him. He carried it around the store and strummed it like a real guitar. Then he saw himself in the security tv thing and strummed it even harder. We picked out some paints and brought it home.

Last night Tony was gone and I thought we could kill some time so I stripped him down, brought him to the backyard to paint his new cool frame. He told me he can't wait to put a picture of his guitar in it. :)


We couldn't find a picture of Van's guitar that would fit, so he picked out a cute one of him and hid buddy Leo playing drums together.
Good job, V!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sunday in Tahoe

Tahoe City is cool enough to host some really fun concerts at Commons Beach on Sundays during the summer, and we are lucky enough to live close enough to drive up and enjoy them. Having a Dad in a band that plays there is pretty sweet too.

Lake Tahoe is really stunningly lovely. I don't visit as often as I should but still feel so lucky that it's just a day trip away. What do mid westerners do? Sacramentans can drive 90 minutes in any direction and pretty much wind up in a totally different environment/climate. I can't imagine having to travel hours upon hours for a change of scenery. Eek.

This past Sunday we took a nice little (almost 2 hour) drive to Lake Tahoe with a bunch of Whole Foods goodies and beers and blankets to lay around and enjoy the music and the lake.

Van loved wading around in the cool water, throwing rocks and looking at stuff.


 And jacking his cousin's ice cream.

 Some kids gave us this sticker. Strange on many levels. Like, what do mustaches have to do with wineries? What does being a dick have to do with wineries or mustaches? Why are children handing these out?

 I hopped on stage to take some pics of the crowd. Holy shit. So many people!

My Dad said that if you have to work on a Sunday, this isn't too bad.


Fun times! Thanks Tahoe City for arranging these rad events. I always tell people how important it is to take advantage of these kinds of things. It's like a present from the city. A free, really fun show on a gorgeous, world-renowned lake. What's not to love?!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sushi Date Night and How I'm Able to Dine Out with a Toddler

Van and I sometimes struggle on nights when T has band practice. I think it's a combination of boredom on V's part (Tony is much more physically playful with him than I am) and exhaustion on my part ( my work isn't at all demanding but there's something strangely tiring about being on your ass at the computer all day. It's weird, I know).

Instead of me trying to make dinner with Van in between my legs on the kitchen floor whining at me to hold him or let him grate cheese or core a pineapple or broil toast or sear a tuna steak in hot oil, and me telling him no and him proceeding to whine louder in protest or play extra messily in his room to spite me, I decided we'd head out on a Mama/Vanny date.

I asked him if he wanted tacos or sushi. "Shoe-shee!" he exclaimed.

And so we went. It was fun doing something this classy, just the two of us. Hopefully this will be the first of many Mama and Vanny dinner dates. I think Van liked that he was out somewhere special with just me. I liked it too!

Van had the inari with veggie gyoza

and edamame, of course. as soon as the waitress dropped it off at our table van asked, "can I have some dip please?"

seared tuna with red sauce. always! van loved this too.

definitely doesn't suck at chopsticks...

don't let the face here fool you. he had a blast.

In closing, I thought I might add some tips that I use to keep Van acting right when we go out to eat. They work well for us - we've always been able to dine out with V with minimal meltdowns.

  • Go somewhere where you will be offered something to eat as soon as you sit down. When we go out with Vanny, most of the time it's the kind of place where you order at the counter and sit down and wait for your meal. Think Chipotle or Pluto's. When we venture to a real restaurant, we tend to choose Mexican because Van will have chips and salsa to eat right away. Also, if you are in the Sacramento-ish area, PF Changs will bring a little bowl of berries and crunchy Asian things to keep your babe busy and happy while you look over the menu. AWESOME. If you aren't offered something (like chips and salsa) order an appetizer. The less time your kid has to wait around for something to happen, the better.

  • Go at a time when your toddler isn't going to be a little ass. I mean, this seems like an obvious one but the restaurants of the world are filled with moron parents forcing their kids to behave when clearly they should be napping or going down for the night.

  • Bring stuff. Quiet stuff - cards, little plastic military men, a book. Some places offer crayons and a fun paper menu, but that can get old. Backup items are good to keep in your purse just in case.

  • Interact with your child. Talk to them, point out the scenery, count the forks at the table, organize the sugar packets by color, find things in the room that are blue, etc. Keep you kid busy and thinking. Boredom = acting out.

  • Let your kid know what he can expect the experience to be like. This one, I think, is probably the most major tip. Before you even get your child ready to head out the door tell them where you are taking them. Tell them how long it'll take to drive there, tell them what the room is going to look like when you get there. Tell them that the server is going to bring them drinks and food. Tell them they'll have choices. Tell them whether or not they are going to have to sit in a high chair. Tell them that no one wants to hear any kids whining/crying/screaming while out to eat. Tell them that if they whine/cry/scream/throw food, etc that ya'll will have to leave and they won't get to have fun and eat good food at the restaurant. And for Van, we tell him that if he's a good boy and eats his dinner, he'll get a lollipop. :)

  • And if your kid acts a fool, leave. Sorry. For the sake of your kid, for your sake and for the sake of the rest of the patrons. Tell your server you're going to need to get your food to go and take your whining/crying/screaming kid outside. We've been there a couple times. Even the best behaved toddler is still a toddler. I mean, they've only been alive for a couple years, we can't expect them to act right ALL the time. Better luck next time!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Your Mom Likes Songs

Here's a playlist for all the mamas, be they a little bit country or a little bit gansta rap.

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys, Willie Nelson

Rag Mama Rag, The Band
Take Your Mama Out All Night, Scissor Sisters
Mama Said Knock You Out, LL Cool J

Mama Told Me Not to Come, Three Dog Night

Mommy's Little Monster, Social Distortion

Mama Tried, Merle Haggard (The Grateful Dead do a good version of this too)

Dear Mama, Tupac

Mother, Danzig
Hey Me Hey Mama, Ray Lamontagne
Tell Me Mama, Jackie Greene

Happy Mother's Day, ya'll!