Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gaylord Texan's ICE! 2011

We spent some of our Thanksgiving holiday in the Dallas area and stayed with our friends, Sean and Lisa (and their kids, Shelby and Jack).  We had so much fun and an action packed weekend (more posts to follow).

Friday night we went to Shrek The Halls at the Gaylord Texan Hotel to see ICE! I can't even really put it into words how amazing it was to see 2 million pounds of ice carved into Shrek, Donkey, Fionna, and all the characters and scenes in the show.  It takes a Chinese group of artists about 1 month to carve it FROM NOTHING BUT FROZEN WATER.  It's a special frozen water recipe, but still!

The problem, and it's a big problem, is that it's so damn cold in there that we couldn't really take it all in.  Cold and crowded.  Did I say COLD?  It was 9 degrees in the exhibit.  We bundled up in our Texas "winter" clothes (which is really just a regular jacket if you're living up north), pictured above.  I actually thought our jackets would be enough, and I was so SO wrong. 

Before you walk into the exhibit, they put a giant group of people in a "holding cell" to watch a video of how ICE! was created, then hand out long blue parkas to every human who comes though (babies too!). Brooke was SO pissed off that we made her wear two (TWO!) coats.  She was very uncomfortable (as we all were) to be so bundled up. 

Then, we walked in, and BOOM, the cold hits so hard and so fast it just took our breath away.  Brooke continued to FREAK out about the cold. It was so shocking to her that she was just angry (and probably sacred) that we'd put her into such a cold room.  She was yelling, "Let's get OUT OF HERE!" 
I can relate to that feeling when I lived in Chicago!  Madison, who generally can keep it together these days, is technically FROM Chicago, so I think that is why she wasn't too bothered by the cold. 

Lisa and her daughter, Shelby, were equally shocked by the cold, but I coaxed some smiles out.  Also, the cold is no match for the red hot Lisa who can always be found laughing and having fun.  She loves any type of photo op:

That is Shrek's outhouse, and Lisa was sitting on his ice toilet.  Turns out she and I didn't listen to the directions very well because we weren't supposed to touch the ice, let alone climb on it for pictures.  We got scolded by the ICE! police for this.

The best part of ICE! for the kids is the slides! Slides that are made out of.....ICE! Four icy slides to freeze our butts! As soon as Brooke saw the slides, she warmed up (not literally) and was happy to play for a little bit longer. 

I took this photo as I was sliding down:

It was pretty crowded in there, and I couldn't find Maddie and Zak to take their picture, but I did get one of Lisa sliding:

The Big Bad Wolf and Puss in BOOTS! made of ICE!

Zak loves the Pinocchio guy from Shrek and does a great impression of him. 

Proof that I was there too:
Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas wants...

I asked the Girls what they wanted for Christmas, and this is what they said.....

Brooke wants "an ice cream maker, a puppy, a hamster, chapter books, ZuZu pet, a Girl Doll that looks like Christmas."

Maddie wants "a cotton candy maker, a popcorn maker, a fish, American Girl doll, Zoobles, a Nintendo DS, pierced earrings, chapter books in english and spanish, and hooded sweatshirts."


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rule Breaker

I'm not sure who made up the rule that we should wear matching shoes.

Brooke clearly doesn't agree.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

McKenna Children's museum (part 2)

This is the best children's museum we've ever been to!

McKenna Children's Museum

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cabinet Makeover

Zak and I wanted to re-finish our cabinets to better match the rest of the house and update the over all look. The kitchen was originally in a "honey oak" finish. We noticed that the kitchen looked glaringly dated next to the new dark wood floors and updated balusters, so we selected a darker wood color to pull it all together.

You didn't think we would do this by ourselves did you?

If so, you don't know us very well. We hired Wood Finishes of Stone Oak to do the dirty work. Susan came over to do our bid and show us some samples. She counted THIRTY TWO cabinets and TWENTY TWO drawers. (I shouldn't be so surprised, but really...who has the need for that many cabinets and drawers?)

The process took about two weeks. Two very messy, dusty, inconvenient weeks. I could have had a demo and install of new cabinets (like five times) in that amount of time. But it would have also cost a boat load of bucks, so sacrifices people! I will sacrifice for you. Oh, the DUST!

The worst part of it was the dusty plastic draping that was EVERYWHERE. I hated it so much, I forgot to take pictures of it. I guess it was supposed to keep the dust from the cabinet sanding at a minimum, but it didn't really work that way.

We also decided to add cabinet knobs and pulls to the cabinets. We made this decision before actually pricing out the knobs and pulls. I don't recommend this type of (non)planning. Susan installed only the knobs on the cabinets because the bin pulls that I ordered didn't match the "oil rubbed bronze" finish (or style) of the knobs. Did you know there are one gazillion different shades of "oil rubbed bronze" out there? The Internet is awesome, but when you're not much of a detail type person who could care less about these types of things, it's frustrating.

The matching pulls finally arrived just in time for my dad's visit. WHAT AN AMAZING COINCIDENCE!

"Oh, look Dad, my cabinet hardware arrived today...do you think you could give Zak some tips on how to drill two perfectly centered holes into my hole-less cabinets without making a mistake and causing our divorce?"

"Also, we can't find our wimpy 9V drill because we haven't used it in four years.....Um, drill bits?"

"Oh look, the screws that the hardware came with aren't going to be long enough for our extra girthy cabinets...So you're telling me that there's more than one type and size of screw for sale at Lowe's!?"

Okay, I'm not really that annoying. RIGHT, DAD?! We decided the best way to do this was to make a template considering we'd be drilling FORTY FOUR perfectly centered holes with ZERO room for error.

I had the bright idea to make the template from the corner of a box, so you could always be assured that the template was perfectly placed on the drawer prior to drilling it. However, my father pulled out his MEGA GRANDPA MATH SKILZ to be sure it was all perfect.

We taped the area where we'd be drilling the holes to prevent the wood from spitting (or scratching the finish) under the pressure of the drill.

Zak? Zak was watching football and setting up his "cabinet assembly station" on the back porch. He positioned himself perfectly to be able to see into the window of the living room to watch the game. He didn't know that my dad and I knew of his little trick, but that's part of the reason why he wasn't on "drill" duty.

My job was to clear out and remove the drawers, dad would measure and drill, and Zak would assemble the hardware.

We also measured TWICE and drilled once. It was precisely during the measuring twice part when we noticed that all the drawers were not the same size. In fact, we had FIVE different sized drawers. Dad had to do some more MEGA GRANDPA MATH SKILZ to figure that out.

We also had five "false" cabinets (two in front of the sink, two in front of the stove, and one under the oven).
We debated and googled on whether or not to add hardware to these drawers. My dad QUICKLY said, "NO!" because (1). That would be a total pain in his the ass since you couldn't pull out the drawer to measure/drill/screw it in (2). Your childbearing hips could hit the protruding pulls when you were cooking and washing dishes. (3). Knuckheads would try to open the false drawers and rip them out. (4.) Susan had already glued them shut for extra kuncklehead protection.

We're super happy with the new color, and always say...."why didn't we do this sooner?"

P.S. The finish is a stain of American walnut and antique mahogany. Here is the style of pulls and the knobs we installed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quinoa stuffed squash (Vegan!)

Hey peeps! I made the perfect Fall side dish ever last night--Quinoa Stuffed Squash! It was actually my main course, but Zak had it with a piece of fish. I would even say this dish could replace your Thanksgiving Stuffing!

If you've never had quinoa, then try this recipe without stuffing it into the squash, and I'll give you $100 bucks if you don't LOVE it.

Quinoa Stuffed Squash

serves 2

2 small Squash (I used the Dumpling kind from my trip to the Love Creek Orchard, but I would have preferred a sweeter squash)

1 small shallot, chopped

1/4 cup freshly toasted chopped pecans

1/4 tsp of Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 cup Quinoa

1/4 cup of Craisins (keep them away from your children or they'll disappear)

1/2 lemon (zest and a squeeze of the juice)

Olive Oil


(pictured electric socket is unnecessary!)

To save time, microwave the squash on the "baked potato" setting, however roasting them in the oven for 30 minutes would be tastier! Becareful that you don't over cook them, or they'll collapse.

Let them cool until you can handle them, and then cut off the top and scoop out the guts and seeds. (Also, Zak, buy Amanda a John Boos cutting board for Christmas):

Cook the quinoa according to package directions. I suggest substituting vegetable broth for the water for maximum flavor. Saute your copped shallot in some olive oil until translucent. Add pecans, Craisins, lemon zest, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir in the cooked quinoa and salt to taste. MIX. Try not to eat it all before stuffing the quinoa mixture into the squash. There is no need to bake it, but you could put it in the oven to keep it warm.

Take a picture of it PRIOR to eating half of the quinoa.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Turkey Disguise

All the First graders at Madison's school were given a photocopied outline of a featherless turkey with directions to "disguise it" so people would not want to eat it for Thanksgiving. The vegetarian in me thought of all kinds of things to do to this turkey so people would really not want to eat it (perhaps showing this PETA video documenting the living condition of factory farmed poultry?), but I didn't share my gross ideas and ruin her project. Plus, I'm all in favor of Turkey Disguises! So, I asked Maddie what she wanted to do with her naked turkey.

She wanted to turn it into another animal, specifically, a peacock. So, she found a craft box that Aunt Terra gave her a few years ago with a poster board cut out of what appeared to be Turkey feathers. Essentially, she was making her naked turkey look more like a turkey, and that was the opposite of the assignment.

After a discussion about what DISGUISE the turkey meant....Maddie decided to decorate the feathers in multicolored crate paper to make it look like a Peacock. The pose of the turkey, and "peacock feather" additions, sorta reminded me of a beauty pageant (and also a pregnant Turkey Beauty Queen with a backache).

So, I suggested that Maddie put a dress on the turkey. We found a too small leotard with a sewn in tu-tu skirt, and cut it up to fit as the turkey "dress." Maddie wanted to give her some hair, a sparkly crown, makeup, and even "painted" nails. The turkey's dress lifts to reveal skinny legs and plain bird feet (Maddie didn't want to give her high heels).

I'm usually not one of those parents who help with school projects. I think kids should do them alone (for many reasons), but I really got into and involved in this one.

I think the teacher may see my influence...but I betcha Maddie will be crowned BEST TURKEY ARTIST of First Grade.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Children's Magik Theater

On culture parenting:

Zak's job is to provide a musical education to the girls, and my job is to provide theatre experiences.

Today's theatre is "Who Let The Ghosts Out?" (Based on the book by R.L. Stine)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


My dad (aka Papa) came for a long weekend visit, and really helped us out quite a bit around the house (he's HANDY!) and with the girls. Sometimes it's just nice to have another adult around. The girls do get super competitive for his attention, and we wondered how many times he heard, "PAPA! PAPA...can I? PAPA...watch me! PAPA..can you?" Prolly like a trillion.

Thanks, PAPA! We love you.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween 2011

For the first time in my parenting career, I was permitted to "be something scary" for Halloween. Even though I had my kiddo's blessings, I still made my 4 year old cry when I made this face at her when she was in her car seat (and couldn't run away).

The other neighborhood kids were VERY impressed with my make up and I was unofficially voted the "best" costume of the night.

Oh, what? You didn't come here to see my costume? Okay then...

Meet Taylor Swift and Bat Girl:

When it comes to Halloween costumes, I'm old school, and a total cheapskate. I think it's a sin that people buy $40+ costumes for their kids on Halloween!

Maddie's costume: $5 on clearance from a "High School Musical" character, $1 fake headphone/mic, and she won that guitar inflatable for good behavior at school.

Brooke's Costume: her witch dress from last year cut up and re-styled as Bat Girl, I printed out the Bat Man logo from the Internet, and decoupaged it to a piece of felt and then fabric glued it to her shirt (oh, yes I did!). The yellow belt was in the adult clearance bin, and I had to cut and adjust it to fit her waist.

My Costume: I made award winning fake blood with Karo syrup, red food coloring, chocolate syrup. It looked creepily realistic. I roughed up an old white t-shirt with dirt, coffee grounds, and basil (the grass wasn't staining enough and I smelled delish). I was too lazy do make Zombie shoes. I made my hair crazy messy (easy!) and added some leaves and mulch. Of course, I did my own make up. Remember, I'm a licenced professional! I got really lucky with how the blood just started to run, but then dried just before the drip:

What? You've never seen a Zombie wearing a seatbelt?

During the first few houses, the girls were very shy about going to the doors of strangers and asking for candy (since they've been told all their lives that this was totally unacceptable behavior). They quickly warmed up, and literally RAN from house to house with their friends for over an hour. Zak and I got tired, and wanted to sit on the porch and drink a beer give out candy.

We got totally lucky (again) with the weather. It was 75 when we started, and about 65 when we decided to go inside. There were two "haunted houses" in the neighborhood, and Brooke decided that Zak and Papa need to build one for next year and she'll be "something spooky."

Zak's costume: Office worker. (He is super boring and didn't do anything. SLACKER!)

While kissing Brooke goodnight, she told me, "you're the coolest mom I've ever had" for dressing up like a Zombie and also for making a great costume.

Winner of Halloween 2011: ME!