Sunday, February 28, 2010

So Not a Fan

Just to warn you right away - this is a vent post.  I pretty much just plan on purging my frustration through writing for the next couple paragraphs, so I'll totally understand if you want to pass on this one and wait for Project Life Tuesday (trust me, it's a good one this week).

I'm really upset about Evan going to China.  I wasn't thrilled, of course, to find out he was going to have to leave next week for a 12 day trip, but finding out that he was going to be sent back for another 2 1/2 week trip already in APRIL was enough to about send me off the deep end.  Twice in less that two months?  Gone for more than two weeks right before Radium Girls is supposed to open?  Me alone with the kids for collectively nearly an entire month?


I'm really trying hard not to complain.  I'm doing all I can to remind myself that we are extremely grateful for Evan's job and that he has reached a position in the company that his work is valued enough to put him in this position.  What frustrates me to no end is that it really messes up my world big time.  How am I supposed to work at MY jobs when he is gone?  We both have to be working in order to pay our bills and still we seem to come up short pretty often.  I can't work my shifts at the restaurant if he's not there to be with the boys.  I can't be at rehearsal to direct my cast if he's not there to be with the boys.  What am I going to do?  I absolutely cannot miss that much rehearsal that close to the show opening.  My cast and my co-director are depending on me and this is a paid position.

And then there's the most obvious reason.  I desperately do not want to be alone for that amount of time.  I'm one of those dorks who really, really enjoys being with my spouse and I absolutely HATE it when he's gone.  From the sleeping alone to the single parenthood, it just plain sucks.  I cannot even imagine what it must be like for those folks whose spouse is seving our country in the military. You're stronger than I could ever hope to be.

Oh, and have I mentioned he's pretty sure he'll be going back to China for a THIRD time before July?!

I'm just so upset.  I feel like I can't even get my head on straight enough to calmly and rationally figure out what to do.  I am so not a fan of China right now.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sneaky Chocolate Chip Cookies

This sneaky recipe came straight out of The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine. I take absolutely no credit for this one! These sneaky cookies take two of Lapine's make-ahead concoctions: Flour Blend and White Bean Puree.

Flour Blend: Combine equal parts all purpose flour, wheat flour, and wheat germ.

White Bean Puree: Puree one 15 oz can of white beans (I used Great Northerns) in a food processor until smooth, but not wet. You're looking for a puree the consistency of peanut butter.

Unbelievable Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup Flour Blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup rolled aots, finely ground in a food processor
  • 2 tablespoons blanch, slivered almonds, finely ground in a food processor
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup White Bean Puree
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Remove butter from refrigerator to let soften.

In a large bowl, whisk together Flour Blend, baking soda, salt, ground oats, and ground almonds.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars until creamy.  Add egg, vanilla, and White Bean Puree.  Add dry ingredients slowly.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Make two-bite cookies by dropping rounded half-teaspoons onto baking sheets.

Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.

THE VERDICT: I'm not going to lie to you and say these cookies tasted just as good as the ones you get from the recipe on the back of the chocolate chips bag becuase they don't. Let's face it, there's half as much butter, way less sugar, and not nearly as many chocolate chips. That being said, they were actually pretty good! A little more on the dry side than your typical chocolate chip cookie, but I paired them with a glass of milk and I gladly ate more than one! Isaiah enjoyed his cookie and Evan didn't balk too badly at it. My parents came to visit and I managed to keep a straight face when both of them ate one! Not something to bring to the cookie exchange, but it's a good option for having a sweet treat around the house that has some healthy stuff snuck in. I'll make these again!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Swagbucks!

Search & Win
If you were ever to start earning free stuff just for searching the web and doing what you already do, now is the time!  Swagbucks is turning 2 years old today and they are giving away boatloads of Swagbucks today!

Here's what you do:
1. Sign up with Swagbucks.  It's totally FREE!
2.  Download the toolbar for your browser.
3.  Start searching and earning great prizes like Amazon gift cards, iPods, etc.

Why Do I Love Swagbucks?  (from Freebies4Mom)

* Get Results: I get similar search results to what I would get using Google

* Rewarding: I earn Swagbucks often enough just by using it as my search engine that it feels rewarding.

* Big Wins: I often win more than a single point, my biggest one-time win was 5 points - very rewarding. There are also free codes given out often. Read their blog to catch them while they're valid.

* Referrals are Easy: Anyone can refer their friends to use Swagbucks and earn their points faster

* $5 Gift Cards: It's been easy for me to select and redeem my reward of choice when I have earned 450 points. You can redeem a maximum of two rewards per day.

* Not Annoying: Some websites simply annoy me because of the way they are designed or the ads they display. Swagbucks is not an annoying site and it's quite user-friendly.
The biggest reason why I'm a fan of Swagbucks? I'm earning gift cards by doing something I'd normally do on the web - using a search engine. It doesn't require any extra email. I've just bookmarked so that I can get there easily anytime I want to search for something. They also have toolbars that you can download so that it becomes part of your internet browser. I hope that it becomes a great resource for you to earn some gift cards just by searching the web!

Four More for Micah

I could have finished a couple more layouts for Micah if I hadn't been such a dork and left my freshly developed photos at work, but I did manage to complete four in the 3 1/2 hours or so I had to be in my scraproom Sunday night.  I guess that means I am this close to being officially caught up in Micah's book!  Woohoo!! 

Silly Boy - This layout is opposite the Love That Smile layout that I did in a very similar style.  Even though the designs are very similar, I love how the simplicity of the layouts lets the photos take center stage.  Plus, I've been dying to use that patterned paper for months now.  Does anyone else hang on to paper that long to find just the right photos?  Letters are Thickers by American Crafts (surprise, surprise).  I scraplifted this design from Jessica Turner's class at Big Picture Scrapbooking: "Don't Blink!"  Thanks Jessica!

My Joy - Micah's first Christmas!  This was my first time attempting to use my circle cutter by EK Success.  I managed to get a circle, but I did slice the tip of my finger in the process!  I took a short break to clean up the blood and slap on a Band-Aid and I was back at it!  Glitter letters are Thickers, ribbon is by Pebbles, polka dot paper is by American Crafts.

Just like Papa - Remember a while back when I fell asleep dreaming about how I was going to scrap a photo of Micah with his Grandpa?  Here it is.  I picked up the green from Micah's sleeper in the pattered paper for the background and then used shades of red and gold for the accents.  I love the way it turned out! (I scraplifted this design from Janna Wilson.  Thanks Janna!)

4 Months - This was the month we first realized just how big Micah really was - off the charts for weight!  I couldn't wait to scrap the fun photos I had of him from this month, including his first solid foods.  Pattered paper is by Martha Stewart Crafts, ribbon is by American Crafts, and letters are (you guessed it!) Thickers.

Now to get started on the 2010 scrapbook.....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rules of Engagement

Even in times of war, there are specific rules about what you can and cannot do.  If there are guidelines for how to fight a battle with "real" weapons, doesn't it make sense to have rules of engagement when it comes to our relationships?  Don't we owe it to our spouse to fight fair? 

It's to be expected that couples will fight.  Let's face it; you can't live with someone and deal with all the stresses of life without having disagreements from time to time.  Now, I'm no expert on marriage by any stretch of the imagination, but I have figured out in my 5 1/2 years of wedlock that most fights spiral out of control and cause the most damage due to one thing:  selfishness. It can take no more than a second to go on the attack or to assume a defensive position of what is "yours."  Next thing you know, you're arguing about something completely different than the original conflict because it's become a battle where each party is defending themselves.

My husband and I don't live in a bubble where things are always perfect, so of course we fight.  Here are some strategies we employ to attempt to fight fair, our "Rules of Engagement."

  • No Name-Calling - The only names we should be calling our spouse are the ones on their birth certificate or a nickname of endearment.  Insulting or hateful name calling is a weapon of bullies and has no place in a marriage whatsoever. 
  • Listen - We try to listen to what the other person is actually saying without reading between the lines.  Assumption only leads to trouble.
  • Winning doesn't matter - Despite the opinion of the immortal Vince Lombardi, winning isn't everything when it comes to marriage.  If you reach a resolution calmly and lovingly, you both win.  Staying angry makes you both lose.
  • Confront the problem - Something we really struggle with is avoiding the conflict.  Avoid words like "whatever" and "if you say so."  These avoidance strategies do nothing but frustrate the other party and sweep the problems under the rug to fester for a later time.  Deal with it now and finish it before going to bed or one needs to leave.
  • Fight with Love - Even though you're worked up and angry during a fight, it is crucial to remember that you love this person.  Nothing helps quench the flames of a heated argument more quickly than love.  A fight of ours was once stopped dead in its tracks by a spontaneous hug.  Ten seconds later we were calmed down, discussing the problem rationally, and apologizing. 
  • Nobody over the age of 12 should wear glitter eyeshadow - Completely irrelevant, but important nonetheless.  :)
It's very easy to forget the rules when things are reaching a fever pitch.  Sometimes we just need to step back and remind ourselves that it isn't a competition of husband vs. wife.  We're in this together and we need to fight fair! 

P.S.  Check out Dustin's post on Engaged Marriage for his take on the rules of fighting fair.  I didn't read it until after I wrote mine at we clearly were thinking along the same lines! 

Project Life Tuesday - February Week Three

Lots going on for us this week!  Valentine's Day, auditions for Radium Girls, the Olympics, and a visit to the circus.  To check in on Jessica's blog and see how others' Project Life albums are progressing, click the button below.  On with the photos!!

Sunday, February 14th - My youngest Valentine in his highchair after dinner.  I love those little toes!!

Monday, February 15th - My husband was very surprised to receive an iPod Touch for Valentine's Day and has been tinkering with it a lot over the last couple days.  I'll admit it - I plan on "borrowing" it from him pretty often!  (I got it for a crazy good price!!)

Tuesday, February 16th - Spaghetti night.  What else can I say?  We did a load of darks immediately after dinner.

Wednesday, February 17th - Our second day of auditions for Radium Girls, the high school production I am co-directing.  We've got an insane amount of talent in this group, which is making it extremely difficult to cast!

Thursday, February 18th - Today was a very hard day.  I had to sub in Angie's classroom today, our colleague who passed away last Thursday from breast cancer.  When I set my stuff down behind the desk, I saw this photo of her with her baby girl perched on the top.  I immediately started tearing up because I knew it was when she was nursing Isabella that she first discovered the lump in her breast.  I took this photo to remember Angie. 

Friday, February 19th - This one is Evan's photo!  I was at work, so Evan snapped this photo of Micah on his changing table.  Is there anything cuter than a little naked baby butt?  :)

Saturday, February 20th - We took the boys to the circus today and the million dollar question was how Isaiah would handle it.  Although he was really digging it at first, his patience eventually wore out.  After intermission, I tried to get a photo with me and the boys.  Micah passed out in the Moby on my chest and Isaiah screaming in a pre-tantrum.  Yup, that sounds about right! 

Whew!  I'm tired just thinking about how busy this week was!

Monday, February 22, 2010

2009 Scrapbook is DONE!

All I have left to do in our 2009 book is to pick out a photo to put in the middle of the cover.  Other than that, it is finally complete!  I'm so glad I made the switch to American Crafts D-Ring albums or there is no way I would have been able to fit in as many pages as I did.  As it is, that album is full to to the brink. 

Christmas 2009 - I based this two page layout off a sketch from Sketches for Scrapbooking. I can't remember if it was in Volume 4 or 5, but I just have to make a plug for these books.  2 page layouts are always a challenge, but these books make it so easy!

Family is a Gift - A very simple layout that allows the patterned paper to be the star of the show, this layout features Thickers by American Crafts (which I am obsessed with) and the Blue Awning collection by K and Company .  It didn't photograph incredibly well, but you get the idea.

There was one more too, but I forgot to photograph it!  Whoops.  Stay tuned for the results of my 3 hour scrapboooking session from Sunday night!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Project Life Album Progress

You've seen the photos, but here is a glimpse into how the album itself is starting to come together.  I just got my first set of photos with the day of the week stamps developed so I was excited to see how they would look once I actually put them in the pages.  I guess a lot of people are using a corner rounder on their photos so they match the journalling cards, but I don't think I will do that.  It's just one more step to add to the process and I am happy with the way it looks with the photos left as is. 

Title Page - I used strictly stuff from the Project Life kit for the title page.  Jessica Turner had the idea to slip in a couple favorite photos from the entire year, but I'm not sure if I will end up doing that or not.  I tried to stick to mostly oranges, yellows, and reds for the title page.

The layouts - My first couple weeks don't have a full set of seven photos since I got started late, so those look a little goofy.  I choose the journalling cards based on the colors in the large week card.  Instead of placing that card in the same place every week, I move it into all four of the top slots.  I like the varied look it gives the album without becoming too chaotic. 




I tried out using the date stamp this week instead of writing out the date and I don't think I'm loving it.  I prefer the look of the handwritten date on the journalling card.

So, there you go!  Since this is my first time attempting a Project Life album, I'm keeping it pretty simple.  I may end up trying to add in 8 1/2 x 11 page protectors to keep any random keepsakes from the year if the opportunity arises, but so far I haven't really had anything come up to neccessitate that addition.  Thanks for looking and I hope you're enjoying Project Life!  Stay tuned for this week's photos on Project Life Tuesday.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sneaky Random Stuff!

One of the beauties of becoming a Sneaky Chef is that it almost beomes kind of a game to see how much you can get away with. 

"Can I sneak wheat germ into this tuna casserole without it tasting like cardboard?"
"Do you think he'll notice if there were beans in his Macaroni & Cheese?"
"It is really possible to put sweet potatoes in a grilled cheese sandwich?"

Oh yeah, baby.  I've pulled off all of these.  Once I started trying some of the recipes out of the book, I got more and more daring with the stuff I put sneaky ingredients in.  So, no recipe for you this time around - just some suggestions for how to sneak good stuff into meals you are already making!

Orange Puree - (Check out this post if you forgot how to make this puree)
  • Spread a thin layer on a grilled cheese sandwich before slapping on the cheese.  It acts like a glue to keep the cheese in place and once the cheese is melted, it practically disappears from sight.
  • Mix a few healthy spoonfuls into a container of spaghetti sauce and just keep it on hand in the fridge.  I've used it on penne, tortellini, spaghetti, whatever.  Also a great mix-in for pizza sauce
  • Add to boxed macaroni & cheese.  The orange color blends right in to the cheese sauce and adds a nice sweetness.
White Bean Puree
  • I've mixed this into Isaiah's macaroni & cheese successfully as well.  I wouldn't do it along with the orange puree though...let's not get crazy. 
  • I added two large spoonfuls to the soup/tuna/milk mixture for tuna casserole and it blended in seamlessly.  It didn't really change the flavor of the finished product at all.
Wheat Germ - (Find it by the oatmeal in your grocery store.  Adds folic acid and Vitamin D)
  • The topping of that same bean-infused tuna casserole also got a healthy boost when I mixed in two tablespoons of wheat germ with bread crumbs.  Combine with a tablespoon of melted butter and I felt much better about the nutrition of the topping.
  • Sprinkle a little into just about anything you dare: pancake mix, pasta, soup, etc.

Coming Soon:
I am dying to try out a good pumpkin pancake recipe, so I hope to give that a go soon. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Now Look at Me!

I about peed myself when this commerical came on during the Olympics.  Go slap on a Poise pad and watch it.  Seriously funny stuff.


Letter to the Boss

Dear Tim, 

I regret to inform you that my husband will be unable to travel to China with you in March.  You see, his valuable services are required elsewhere.  When it comes to reading books and putting Isaiah down for bedtime, his skills are unparalleled.  It's not often that the mommy of this house is shoved away like yesterday's leftover macaroni & cheese, but I just don't cut the mustard when it comes to putting Isaiah to bed.  Furthermore, Evan is the master of getting him back to sleep when he wakes up screaming for a book at 2:30 am.  I attempted to diffuse the situation to no avail.  It wasn't until he stepped in and "managed" the situation that we were both able to enjoy a peaceful night of sleep.

As you can clearly see, there is just no way I can possibly operate my household without Evan for an entire 12 days.  Tantrums, tirades, and general pandemonium will undoubtedly ensue.  There's a good chance I may just end up shipping the kids off to miliary school before they're toilet trained.  In addition, our youngest child is supposed to start eating "real food" during that time and I'm sure you realize how a father cannot be expected to miss such a milestone.  Plus, who is going to wrangle the toddler while I scrub sweet potatoes off the baby's earlobes?  Certainly not the dog.  He'll be too busy licking the mess off the baby's hands. 

The only clear solution would be to allow Evan to stay home and manage both your Quality department and his family.  I am fully prepared to purchase a webcam specifically so he can still perform many of the duties he would have been doing in China.  They invented laptops and Skype for a reason, you know.

Thank you for your understanding.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Project Life Tuesday - February Week Two

This project is so fun! At first I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to pull of the whole photo every day thing. I mean, what's so interesting in my life that I could take a photo of every single day? As it turns out, my children are what make my life extraordinary and my Project Life is revealing that!  Click the button below to see what others are doing with their Project Life.

Sunday, Februrary 7th - Super Bowl Sunday! We hosted a little gathering for our best friends and Isaiah just LOVES to play with Ali, their two-year old. At one point, we heard giggling from the playroom and we peeked in to see them snuggling in the papasan chair. Two happy little toddlers! I tear up just thinking about how awesome these kids are.

Monday, Februrary 8th - Nothing like a little mid-meal tickle session. Even Isaiah was entertained by Evan's antics with Micah.

Tuesday, February 9th - Who doesn't love Veggie Tales?  Isaiah will point at Larry and yell, "Bob!" so I guess he's slightly confused, but he really enjoys his Veggie Tales videos.

Wednesday, February 10th - Nothing like a nice, sunny spot for a mid-afternoon nap.  Brian is good at napping.

Thursday, February 11th - Since he just turned 5 months old yesterday, I figured we would try adding a morning solids feeding to Micah's schedule.  I'm not sure how much of it actually made it into his belly, but he was having a great time hamming it up in the highchair for Mommy!

Friday, February 12th - I've become obsessed with clipping coupons over the past few months and it has made a big difference in the way we shop.  This is what it looks like when I'm getting ready to make my grocery lists.

Saturday, February 13th - It was very difficult to choose a photo from my adventure out in the snow with Isaiah, but this one finally emerged as the winner.  I caught this moment as Isaiah was peeking at me from in between the boards of a play structure.  Those sweet eyes make me melt every time. 
I am so glad I decided to start doing this project.  I know as the year goes on it will probably get more and more difficult to take a meaningful photo every day, so it might get interesting to see what ends up in front of my lens as the weeks go on.  I'm excited!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Radium Girls

Tomorrow I get to put yet another proverbial hat on my head.  Once again, I have the privilege of being a co-director of this year's high school play!  We are doing something a little more on the serious side this time around, something the students can really sharpen their acting skills on:  Radium Girls by D.W. Gregory.  When Marie Curie discovered radium, it was deemed a miracle element that could shrink tumors, restore vitality, and provide a valuable asset to the commercial market.  Gregory's drama follows the story of the young women who worked in a factory painting the faces of watches with paint mixed with radium.  The radium made the paint glow, creating the first "Indiglo" watch-faces.  Unfortunately, the women were told to swirl the paintbrush in between their lips to make it have a nice, sharp point which resulted in the radium poisoning of numerous workers. 

Complete with glow-in-the dark paint, rotting jaws, lawsuits, and media fervor, this production is something I am truly excited about!  We've got a great group of female actors who are really going to relish having a script to sink their teeth into, but I'm concerned about what we'll do if we don't get enough guys to try out as this has been a concern in the past. 

As for me, my schedule just got a lot fuller, but I just love being involved.  It's so great to be back in the theater.  Performances are the second weekend in May, so mark your calendars now (if you're in our area, that is).

I Want to Write like You!

Clearly, I love to write.  I'm an English teacher, for goodness sakes.  Maybe I even started this blog as an outlet for writing as much as for sharing cute photos of my children, but I recently stumbled across posts from two people who can really write.  If you're looking for some good examples of truly talented writers, check them out.  I've got the links below for you and I promise you won't be disappointed.

A Letter to My Son by Matthew Paul Turner - I check in on Matthew's blog every now and again because I follow his wife Jessica's (who is also totally AWESOME) blog, The Mom Creative.  He is an extremely talented writer of Christian literature and I really get a kick out of his down to earth approach to parenting and spirituality, among other things (I even have a copy of his sex book!!).  This particular post is a letter he wrote to his son, Elias, while Jessica was still pregnant.  I laughed, I cried....I loved it. 

Confessions of a Homebound Girl: The Ugly Truth by Gitzen Girl - I only recently discovered this blog via a tweet (yup, that's from Twitter!!) I stumbled upon.  Written by a woman with a very severe illness that renders her completely homebound, this post evoked a severe gut-check moment for me.  We've all been told to "count your blessings," but this post celebrates all the blessings life has to offer.  If you think you're having a rotton day, check out Sara's post and I promise you will start seeing the beautiful in your life immediately. 

Matthew and Sara - Teach me!!  I'll be Luke to your Yoda, Harry Potter to your Dumbledore, Biggest Loser to your Jillian Michaels.  If nothing else, please continue to write and inspire me.  I'll certainly be reading and learning.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Project Life: Help me Choose!

Normally I wouldn't let you have a sneak peak of the week's Project Life photos until the official post on Tuesday, but this is an emergency.  I took Isaiah to the park today to play in the snow and I took a ton of photos.  I was able to narrow down the field to four....count 'em....four possible photos for the Project Life album. I am totally stuck.  Which one do you think should go in the album??  Help, please!!

Photo A - I love this scowl Isaiah does!

Photo B - The snow was too light to make snowballs, but throwing it at Mommy was just as fun!

Photo C - Peekaboo!  I see you! (Those are my eyes Isaiah inherited, I'll have you know.)

Photo D - Such a talented little boy, isn't he?  (Just kidding...I wrote it.)

Do you see my problem?  I am absolutely in love with all four of these photos which is making it impossible to choose which one I should put in Project Life.  Of course, all of them will end up in the scrapbook, so it's not like they're going to get left behind. 

What do you think?  Which is your favorite?

I Tweet Now!

So, I did it.  I joined Twitter.  For the longest time, I have resisted become a "tweeter" because I figured I never had anything interesting enough going on in my life to really need to update people that often. Then I realized.....isn't that kind of what I do already with this blog?  Anywho....I tweet now.  No, I am not going to be one of those weirdos who tweets when they need to go sit in the bathroom for a while and keeps everyone updated on their progress.  That's just nasty.  However, I have been known in the past for my witting little quips, so if you're interesting in experiencing that....go ahead and follow me.  I promise to try to be interesting.  I'm sure I'll never be quite as interesting as, say Ashton Kutcher or John Mayer, but I'm neither a movie star nor a musician with a bad mouth. 

Follow slkooiman on Twitter

Blog Makeover

I'm thinking about giving The Arena Update a facelift.  I'd like to give it a much cleaner, classy look and the current background and template I am using aren't really floating my boat.  I've poked around on some websites that offer free blog backgrounds, but most of the choices are too cutsey or busy for what I have in mind.  I'm leaning toward getting on the waiting list for The Design Girl because I simply love her work.

If I do decide to go for the re-design, I need to change the name of the blog.  Heck, I'm not going to go to all the trouble of having someone make my blog look fabulous if I don't plan on keeping it that way for a long time.  If we were to pack up and leave our bustling metropolis of Arena, the blog name wouldn't make much sense, now would it?

That's where you all come in.  What should I rename the blog if I do move forward with the makeover?  I am absolutely stumped.  Any creative suggestions?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Micah - 5 Months

Sorry this is a couple days late, but it suddenly hit me that Micah is 5 months old already!  I am just floored at how fast he is growing and I'm not quite sure if I'm ready for all the milestones just around the corner. 

At 5 months old, Micah is:
  • Rolling over from his back to his tummy constantly!  Sometimes we have to roll him back over just so he can get to sleep.  Poor thing can get on to his tummy, but then he's stuck.  He also recently discoverd his feet for the first time, but hasn't truly figured out the potential for fun there.
  • Eating rice cereal in addition to his formula.  He still plows through about 30 ounces of formula every day plus his cereal feeding in the evening.  This month, we will be starting to feed him solids after his morning bottle as well.
  • Very, very big sturdy.  A few days after his 4 month check up, he weighed 20 lbs, 1 oz.  I can only imagine what he weighs now!  He is wearing 6-9 month clothing, but growing out of them quickly.  His size 3 diapers are also starting to be pushed to their limits.  I would expect an upgrade in both of these areas by the time he's 6 months old.  I do love his chubby, baby fat rolls though!
  • Back to sleeping through the night....sometimes.  Most nights, I still have to get up a few times to get the nuk back in his mouth, but every once in a while he will grace me with an uninterrupted night. 
  • Working on sitting up on his own.  He can sit supported like a champ, but he is trying to sit up on his own.  If you prop him up on the couch, it will take him all of 10 seconds to try to sit up and he ends up slumping to the side or falling forward.  "A" for effort though!
  • Still rocking those baby blue eyes.  I hope and pray that his eyes stay blue because they are just GORGEOUS.
  • Grabbing toys and starting to "play" with them.  When sitting in his highchair or lying on his playmat, Micah can grasp a rattle or a set of links and shake them or put them in his mouth. 
  • Starting to work on a tooth....maybe.  The drool has kicked up a notch lately, he is starting to cram things in his mouth more, and he's been a little off as far as his moods lately.  Working on a tooth, perhaps??
  • Still a ridiculously happy baby....most of the time.  When he's in a good mood, it doesn't take much more than a smile from someone to get him grinning.  He loves to talk back to you and to giggle.  He gets super-crabby when he's tired, but loves to interact so much that he fights going to sleep.  No longer content to just lay there and observe, Micah will get fussy sometimes when he stays in one place too long.  Sometimes he just wants to sit up and engage in the world around him.
  • Absolutely adored by everyone around him, especially big brother and Brian.  We have to shoo Brian away a lot because he's suddenly obsessed with licking Micah's hands.  Micah thinks it's pretty hilarious.
Overall, Micah continues to be a very happy, healthy boy.  His size has been a concern for us the last month, but we figure he'll probably even out a bit once he starts moving some more and eating more solid foods.  He's an absolute joy to have in our family.  We love you, sweetie!

Sneaky Pizza

This is a super-easy sneaky meal that anyone can make in a pinch....and who doesn't like pizza??

Sneaky Pizza

1 whole wheat pizza crust

Pizza sauce

Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Pepperoni (or your fave pizza topping)

Additional pizza toppings

Olive Oil

Orange Puree

  • Brush your crust with a light layer of olive oil.

  • Smear on a few large spoonfuls of Orange Puree and spread out over the crust. Keep it away from the edges so it will hide easier!

  • Layer on your pizza sauce and then shredded cheese. Add your toppings. (For my pizza, I sauteed some zucchini in olive oil and seasoned them with salt & pepper before putting them on my half of the pizza. Extra veggie boost!)

  • More cheese!

  • Bake according to the directions on your pizza crust and voila!

THE VERDICT: Another successful sneaky meal for the Kooiman family, but with some exceptions. I gave Isaiah a piece of pizza with the zucchini on it. He did eat one piece without noticing it, but once he got wise to the green stuff on his pizza, he freaked out until I took it off. Thank goodness he didn't know about the puree! The hubs also seemed to like the pizza. I served this with a very large helping of steamed broccoli and cauliflower for a pretty darn healthy dinner. Pat on the back for me!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Don't expose that thing to air!!

I love this commerical for Huggies.  I laugh my head off every time it comes on because I have two little boys in diapers and feel like I have been in this poor man's shoes many a time. 

The moral of the story?  Don't expose that thing to air!!  Slap a new diaper on before it has a chance to kick on!  Thanks for the laugh, Huggies.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Who would have thought young adult lit could be so enjoyable for an adult? I read The Hunger Games (the prequel to this novel) out loud to my 7th grade students last year and they couldn't get enough of it....and neither could I. I had to take the book home to finish it because I couldn't take the suspense any longer. Read my review of The Hunger Games if you're interested in my thoughts on the first book in Collins' series.

Catching Fire is the second installment in what looks to be a trilogy. Set in Panem, a nation crippled by the dictatorship of "The Capital," our heroine Katniss Everdeen returns. Her actions in The Hunger Games have made her the biggest celebrity in Panem, but also Enemy #1 of the Capital. Rebellion is stirring in the districts and if she wants to keep those she loves alive, she must do everything she can to stop the uprising. When all she does is fan the flames, Katniss once again becomes a pawn in the Capital's deadly game.

Collins has really hit a home run with this series. Aimed at the young adult reader, this book is a very fast read for an adult, but it never feels like you're reading something "beneath" you. Catching Fire takes the same topics of government power, the strength of the masses, love, survival, and loyalty and turns them on their heel. Make no mistake, these two books are violent - very violent. I would make the argument that Catching Fire offers slightly more "adult" content (not sexual per say, but certainly not G rated) than it's prequel. Once again, however, Collins succeeds in grabbing her reader's attention right out of the gate and leaves the last page with a cliffhanger that leaves you begging for the next book. Not for readers under the age of 12, in my opinion, but enjoyed thoroughly by this 26 year old. 5 stars.

**NOTE: You absolutely MUST read The Hunger Games before Catching Fire or it won't make much sense. The third book comes out August 24, 2010!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Project Life Tuesday - February Week One

Where did January go and run off to? Is it seriously the second week of February already? I jumped head first into this Project Life thing and last week I was able to start taking a photo every single day. So far, so good! I'm still figuring out how I want my actual album to look so things are changing as I go along. I also need to print out the actual photos, but I'm trying to wait until Snapfish has another deal going. I guess it's kind of a "learn as you go" type of process.
Sunday, January 31st - Check out the jowls on my Micah! What a little chunker!

Monday, February 1st - Isaiah loves to mess around in the shoe pile and he finds it particularly hilarious to try to walk around in Mommy or Daddy's shoes. This time, he attempted to walk in Daddy's steel-toed shoes and it didn't work so well. He fell on his butt about 20 seconds after this photo

Tuesday, February 2nd - For the very first time, Isaiah is starting to show an interest in actually reading books. Prior to this, he would page through them and get distracted rather quickly. All of a sudden, he is now excited to read two books before bed with Mommy and will even go in and "read" on his own!

Wednesday, February 3rd - My parents were coming over for a visit so I wanted to mop quickly before they got there, but I found out too late I was out of Swiffer juice. So, I let Isaiah push the mop around to "help."

Thursday, February 4th - A sippy cup, Cars, and Sheriff Woody. Welcome to my life!

Friday, February 5th - Micah refused to nap all day long, but finally passed out on the couch - about 5 minutes before we had to leave. He looked so sweet for those five minutes though.
Saturday, February 6th - Micah had to get an unexpected bath after he went all Exorcist on me and spit up pretty much his entire bottle all over himself. He was happy as a clam in the tub though!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentine's Day Gifts for Her

The Super Bowl is over, men. Despite all the commercials aimed at convincing you to reclaim the pants and to embrace your new found manhood, Valentine's Day is right around the corner which means you're going to need a gift for your lady. As the saying goes, "Happy Wife....Happy Home." I'd hate to think you ended up sleeping on the couch in those fancy new Dockers.

Anyway, on to the gift ideas!!

Flowers - You really can't go wrong with a pretty bouquet of flowers to show her you care. Plus, Teleflora even has a coupon available right now and you know how I love coupons. Just go to and use code LUVYOU to save $10 on your sweetie's blooms. Proflowers is also running a 20% off special with coupon code ROMANCE20. Promise me you'll do something classy though. Skip the carnations and daisies.

Something pretty & sparkly - Valentine's Day is not about giving her something she needs. It's about giving a gift that shows her how special she is and nothing says "I love you" like a sparkly trinket. Let's face it, girls love this stuff. The good news is that you don't need to break the bank to find something really stunning. Try Overstock or even Walmart and Target! If you're stuck trying to pick something out, you can NEVER go wrong with a pair of diamond stud earrings. They don't have to be big to be beautiful and every girl with pierced ears will love them.

A love letter - I know, this is super-sappy. It sounds so 18th century, but a hand-written love letter to your lady will make a big statement. Try to move beyond the "Do you love me? Check Yes or No" stuff you wrote back in 7th grade and really describe how much she means to you. And don't write it on loose leaf paper. Go to any stationary store or even just Target to find a nicer paper to pen your letter. Pair this with those previously mentioned diamond earrings and you are in like Flint, my friend. (P.S. Buying a greeting card at Walgreens does NOT count as a love letter.)

iPod - Wait, that's not romantic. It is if you present your musically inclined babe with a new iPod pre-loaded with a playlist of romantic tunes! Think Norah Jones, Michael Buble, Chris Botti, Frank Sinatra. Skip the Barry White, please. Pop that bad boy into an iPod dock with speakers and you've got yourself the soundtrack for one very romantic evening. Pair with the love letter or the bouquet of flowers and you've just hit it out of the park. (Target even has a special this week on the iPod Nano and the iPod Touch where you get a $10 or $15 gift card back with purchase - in store only.)

Framed Photo - On a tight budget? One of the sweetest gifts I ever received from my husband came back when we were still dating and he literally had less than $10 in the bank. He framed a photo of us with a letter in the back for me to open on our 5th wedding anniversary. Pick out a nice frame and put in your favorite photo of the two of you. Write that love letter I mentioned and place it behind the photo. It's cheap, but super-sweet at the same time. Cook her dinner and present her with your gift over your famous spaghetti and you've really got a winning combo.

Hopefully this helps guide you in the right direction! I'd hustle up if you plan on shopping online because shipping deadlines are coming up fast.

Any other suggestions? Ladies, what would you like to receive on Valentine's Day?

Now if only I had any clue what to get for a guy.....

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Back to China

Evan is going back to China. This really doesn't come as much of a surprise anymore, but I still get bummed when I get the news. This time, he will be gone from March 8th until March 20th. What really stinks is that we will have started rehearsals for Radium Girls by that time, so I have to figure out what I'm going to do as far as childcare for the four rehearsals we'll be having during that time. Not to mention, I have six shifts of work at the restaurant to figure out as well.

I hate it when Evan goes to China.

Friday, February 5, 2010

My Sister Takes on Experian

You've all seen them - you've probably even sang along to the little jingle. From pirate hats to green wool tights, the commercials for are popular and catchy. Unfortunately, they are also very misleading, as my sister found out the hard way. Despite their claims of offering a free credit report, my sister's credit card was charged even though she did not (to her knowledge) sign up for anything that cost money. The long and the short of it is that Erica was ticked off and wanted her money back. She contacted the company for a refund, but was unable to obtain one. She hit the web, searching for others who had been taken like she had and she found she was certainly not alone. There were hundreds, if not thousands of complaints from people just like her.

But Erica had something they didn't. Documentation.

Fast forward to February 5th, 2010. (Yup, that's today) My sister checked her email today to find that the lawyers that contacted her forever and a day ago about her experience had indeed filed suit. She was given the link to an article in The Huffington Post so she checked it out and SURPRISE - she is listed as the lead plaintiff!! When I spoke to her on the phone today she chuckled and said, "Yup, my credit card statements are Exhibit I."

So just like that, my sister is famous. She's already had people sending her messages on Facebook asking, "Are you the Erica Possin who's suing" I'm so proud of her. Even though she didn't intend to become the spearhead of this lawsuit, I admire her for not backing down and not just accepting that her money was gone. She didn't just roll over and take it.

According to the official class action complaint, "Plaintiff [Erica] brings this class action to stop the fraud and seek compensation for the tens of thousands of consumers deceived by Experian's to the tune of millions of fraudulently obtained profits...."

Go Erica. I'm so proud of you.
Read all about it at CNN Money and MSN as well! This is big news, people.

Sneaky Meaty Spaghetti

Spaghetti is a staple in a kid's diet and thankfully it is the perfect food for sneaking in goodies for them. Here's a Kooiman original, using Orange Puree.

Sneaky Meaty Spaghetti

Whole wheat spaghetti
1 lb. lean hamburger (or ground turkey)
Your favorite store bought spaghetti sauce
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Orange Puree
  • Cook the hamburger and drain. Mix in desired amount of spaghetti sauce plus a few large spoonfuls of Orange Puree. Pour meat sauce on top of cooked spaghetti and top with shredded cheese.
  • Enjoy!


Isaiah shoveled this spaghetti in like he hadn't eaten in weeks. In between stuffing his face, he would mutter, "Num num!" As for the hubs....he also ate it and at least told me he enjoyed it, even though he knew I had used some sneaky ingredients. I thought the spaghetti sauce was the perfect camouflage for the veggies. A very easy, sneaky recipe!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

To Tweet or not to Tweet....

....that is the question. Twitter doesn't seem to be going away any time soon so I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I still have absolutely no clue how it works. Is it an instant messaging type thing? I know it's closely related to the blogosphere, but I don't really understand how. Apparantly a lot of people tend to use Twitter from their fancy schmancy phones, but I don't have anything beyond calling and texting on my phone, so I'm not really sure if starting up on Twitter is really worth it. On the other hand, it might help promote and grow this blog....right?


Anyone who is a Twitter expert care to educate me? Is it about time I join the party and start "tweeting?"

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