Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chef Nicholas Makes Pizza

Nick earned a special pizza certificate yesterday because he had a (relatively) good visit to the dentist. I picked up his pizza kit today from Papa Murphy's Take 'N' Bake, at 135th Street and Route 59, in Plainfield. This is what he got!

First, Nick contemplated his ingredients. "There was red sauce in the box!" he told me, as we were typing this post.

Here's Nick chatting with me as he takes out the ingredients.

Nick did indeed spread the pizza sauce onto the crust. "I was spreading it on," he said. 

After he added the cheese, Nick got so excited he jumped straight up in the air. I even got a picture of him jumping in midair. You could say many things about my older son, but you could never say that he lacks enthusiasm!

I think he did a superb job for his first time. Here is the final result, right before we put it in the oven. Nick can be very photogenic, when he wants to be. . . 

We found a Pizza Chef tattoo in the bottom of the pizza box. Tattoos are like gold to a four-year-old.

I had a regular veggie pizza for the rest of us for dinner, and Grandma Toni, Nick, Henry, and I ate half of it. That's a lot for us! 

After dinner, for a special treat, we used twisty straws and heart-shaped grape-juice ice cubes in our water. We also had a dessert pizza--cinnamon sugar with cream cheese frosting. Yum!

Henry kept stealing dessert pizza slices from my plate. He had quite the appetite! I told him that pretty soon, he'd be big enough to make his own pizza, just like Nick.    :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Nick can write his name!

I am so proud of my older son tonight. Nick has been able to write letters for over a year now, but he seldom likes to put them together, or sit and work for any length of time and work on formation. Tonight, though, I caught him in the right kind of mood.

Greg works on Monday nights, so I had him drop the boys off at my school so I could get some work done. In retrospect, I'm not sure why I'd get much of anything done. I finished about an hour of work in 4 hours, did crafts with the kids, hung up a bulletin board, and fed the kids granola bars, carrots, and green tea for dinner. My classroom was completely trashed!

Nick really wanted some of these little letter erasers I have on my desk as prizes, and I told him they were only for kids who could write their names.

"I can write my name!" Nick insisted. "Well, do you want to show me?" I asked. Nick nodded and he actually let me sit with him and help him make the letters over and over again. We filled up this dry erase board at least twice, practicing.

What made me so proud was not the actual writing of his name. It was the perseverance I saw. Before I'd give him the erasers, I told him he had to write his name on every line. We erased any backwards or totally malformed letters, like the backwards "c" you can see him working on. Nick got frustrated a number of times, but by the end he found his groove.

I told him that even though it was really hard and he got mad a few times, he had not given up. Nick truly earned these erasers tonight.

I have been helping little kids with their letters and with writing for years now, but somehow it feels different when it is my own child gripping the marker tightly, trying again and again to get the "c" facing the correct way. Nick did the happy dance when he was done, and Henry danced with him.

On another note, Henry wants you to know that he shall not be forgotten.

"I am cute and I painted with TWO paintbrushes at once!" says Henry. (Or he would, if he were using sentences.) He kept stealing my dry erase markers, writing on the tables and chairs with them, and exclaiming, "Mah-kah!" because Henry has a thing for markers.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Moo to you too, sir!

I took the boys to the HomeGoods in Naperville tonight. Like me, they are quite interested in deals. Or the toys that can be found on the clearance rack. Either way. Anyhow, do you know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? I don't know about a thousand, but I can tell quite the story about this shot I took with my cellphone.

It was just your normal evening of shopping. I had found a new broom on sale with pretty flowers printed on it (only $7.99!) and Nick was pretending it was the mast of a ship, and that our cart was sailing on the ocean. (He can be quite imaginative, when he's not running around screaming.)

As I walked down the aisle, Henry started pointing and shouting, "Moo!" very loudly. He was clearly excited, almost trying to crawl out of the cart. It took me a minute to figure out why he was saying, "Moo!"

Did you figure it out yet? Yup. Henry was pointing to the camel. This made me laugh out loud. You see, Henry's speech therapist has been trying to get Henry to learn and say his animal sounds. She said that animal sounds are a great way to get kids forming beginning speech sounds, and that they are some of the easiest words to say in the English language. Henry will say "Muh-key" for monkey, and "Molly" for our cat (whose name is, indeed, Molly). He even says "cah" for cow. But he doesn't like to say the animal sounds as much. The only one he does is monkey. He'll say, "Ooh-eee-ahh-ahh." Until tonight, I'd never heard him say another animal sound. But this "Moo!" was loud and clear.

I love this picture of Henry because of the look on his face. His hat is pulled down low, reminiscent of gangster-style (except for the choo-choo train) and his expression clearly says, "What? It's a cow if I say it is!" We passed by this particular camel a number of times, and darned if he didn't say, "Moo!" every single time.

Even Nick started saying, "Moo!" and I asked Nick what noise he thought a camel made. "Nick, do you remember when we rode the camel? What noise did he make?" Nick replied, "I don't think it made a noise. I made noises on the camel, though." I sighed and said, "Yes, Nick. You make noises almost all the time!"

I did look it up on YouTube, which is where I do most of my important research, and it appears Henry was right. A camel's noise, does, indeed, sound very like "Moo!" Kudos to Henry.

On a side note, the reason I've been digging around in every TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, and Marshalls in the area is because I found these bowls, and I love the pattern. It's called 222 Fifth Lyria Teal, and I could only find the cereal bowls and the dessert bowls. I am looking for the plates, too.

I was looking for plates, and I found a camel and a broom. Not a bad night, all things considered.  ;)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chef Nicholas and I Whip Up Strawberry Nutella Pop Tarts!

First of all, I have to give credit to The Novice Chef for this amazingly simple recipe. I found it on Pinterest and couldn't resist making it right away.

This recipe was so simple. Nick took an egg yolk and a teaspoon of water and stirred them together.

Then we rolled out some ready-made pie crust dough and cut it into rectangles.

I used a sharp knife to cut little hearts into half of the rectangles, and then I cut strawberries lengthwise to make them into heart shapes. Nick ate strawberries and used a butter knife to spread a layer of Nutella spread and then one of strawberry preserves onto the plain pie crust (the side without the heart).

Then, we put the heart pie piece on top of the filling-covered piece, and Nick used a fork to crimp the edges. He even used a brush to put the egg yolk mixture on the edges.

Finally, we sprinkled coarse cane sugar on top and popped them in a 350 degree oven for about 14 minutes. They turned out great!

Henry loved his so much that he cried when it was all gone.

I had to give him Henry snuggles to make him feel better. Someday soon, I have to have Greg take Nick out so I can have Henry start helping me in the kitchen. I think he's big enough to help, and, judging by his appetite, he'll love helping me taste test the end products!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Craziness at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show

 On Sunday, we decided to go to the Chicago Auto Show to see Uncle Jay, who is working there. Aunt Sarah and Grandma Toni met us there. Getting there, however, presented a problem.

 We left at 1:30, made really good time, and were just a few miles from the exit around 2:30 p.m. Then, the traffic started. It took us until well after 3 to get off I-55, and then another forty-five minutes to get parked. The lines were so long! By the time we took the shuttle bus to McCormick Place, it was after 4 p.m. and both boys were a little antsy. Nick was about ready to jump in this fountain, which he found fascinating.

They were really excited to see Aunt Sarah and Uncle Jay, though! Once we got in, the boys had a great time, and we walked and walked and walked some more.

Pretzels and fudge were had by all as we watched the people ride a Jeep through a major obstacle course.

Nick even got the opportunity to drive a little jeep around a course. Watching him made me very, very glad he's got another fourteen years or so until he can get his license.

He was a little bit unsure on the turns, as you can see. . .

Aunt Sarah helped keep him on the straight and narrow, though.

Henry decided that he did not want to be in his stroller. He wanted to put as many fingerprints as possible on as many cars as he could run towards. Therefore, much of the evening looked like this to me, as I chased the boys across McCormick Place. Henry had a thing for straight lines, and he would run down the straight line before veering suddenly into oncoming foot traffic.

Anytime we tried putting Henry in the stroller, he screamed as if he were being tortured and tried to escape. He preferred these wheels. I think we're going to have to get him a leash so that he can run more freely without us losing him.

Nick liked being in the driver's seat a little too much, I think.

Aunt Sarah showed Henry the intricacies of engine design. He was more fascinated by the electric shocks he got from running on the carpet and then touching the metal.

After all of us had sore feet, we ended our journey with churros and some mini-car races. Then we headed home. Thankfully, the journey home was far quicker than our traffic extravaganza on the way there. Nick wanted to know when we could go to the auto show again. Maybe next year, we told him. Nick was disappointed because he wanted to test drive some new models. Also, some new fudge and churros.

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Valentine's Day

This year, I had an especially good Valentine's Day. It all started when I got to see my two little men dressed in their new Valentine's Day shirts. Henry didn't want to have his picture taken, though, as you can see. Their shirts read: The Ladies Love Me--VDay 2013.

What a way to start the day.  :)  Things improved, though. My husband came to my work around mid-day to pick up our insurance card for a doctor's visit. I teased him a bit about how one of my students had asked me if he was bringing me flowers. He laughed and left for his appointment. But he returned. . .

with some red roses for me. How romantic! I gave him a little kiss, scandalizing the third graders I was teaching.

My husband did very well for himself this year. I have never received flowers at work before. Though I suppose he's raised the bar for next year.  ;)   We finished off the evening with a date to Barolo Ristorante in Joliet. We've gone there the last three Valentine's Days in a row.

The calamari, as always, was delightful, though I think our meals weren't as good as we've had in the past from this restaurant. Greg's actual present to me was four couple's dance lessons at DeSarge's Danceworld. We took private dance lessons there before we got married, and we even had our first dance choreographed. It's been awhile since we went, though, and these lessons will be a great excuse for a terrific date night.

Oh, and my present? I bought the stuff necessary for Greg's Ipod to work in his car, which he is really loving. I also got him a fancy gift bag of three different kinds of wine and chocolate. With Greg, wine is never a bad idea for a present. 

We had a great Valentine's Day, and now we'll have date nights to look forward to in the future.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Chef Nicolas Creates Key Lime Cheesecake

In honor of Greg's birthday, Nick and I baked him a Key Lime Cheesecake last weekend. I put Henry down for his nap early so Nick and I could have some time together.

I haven't had Nick in the kitchen since Christmastime, and I was impressed at his increased attention span. Nick was able to help with every single step, including stirring gelatin on the stove and squirting lemon juice to a particular line on the measuring cup.

Yup. That's my four-year-old grating lime peel. He isn't potty trained, but he grates well, and not just on the nerves.

Nick also operates the mixer and he knows how to fold in ingredients. I'm not sure what this face was for--I asked him to smile and this is what I got.

I'm a language teacher (ESL), and I find it fascinating as kids learn to follow directions. Nick can now understand when I ask him to turn the mixer knob halfway, or to scrape the bowl slowly.

Daddy loved his special birthday treat, and Nick ate an entire piece by himself.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Henry is a dancing machine!

Henry really took to his dance class last night.

I was proud of how he copied what the teacher did and moved his body around. He did sing rather a lot, but Henry has been vocalizing more lately. My children will never be famous singers, but they can screech fairly well.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Happy Birthday Greg!

Today was Greg's 39th Birthday. This is the card I made for him.

We celebrated tonight by going to Meson Sabika, one of our favorite restaurants.

While the boys' behavior wasn't the best, the food was delicious and the sangria went down easy.

Henry enjoyed coloring on the table and playing peek-a-boo. He wasn't quiet, but he only threw his plate once. I guess that's something.

Greg's birthday dessert of choice was a puff pastry filled with ice cream and dripping with chocolate.

Greg took some really good pictures of the restaurant in the snow.

Here's the birthday boy with his new present.  I'm hoping he had a really good day.  :)