A few weeks ago we were finally able to use a Groupon that I bought back in January for professional photography and had our first ever family portrait taken. After having to reschedule several times, we finally got some nice weather. We did the photo session at a playground on Union Street near the Old Town Waterfront. It was a beautiful setting and we got some great shots despite both Harper and Roman being incredibly stubborn. I didn’t realize just how difficult it would be to get them to cooperate! They never really warmed up to a stranger taking photos of them, and we really only got a few shots of them smiling. A special thanks to Aunt Alicia, who danced behind our photographer so that we could get one decent group shot!
Ada is officially crawling! She has been “commando crawling” for about a month now, but just in the past few days started to take “real” crawling steps. Check it out!
For the record, I have a copy of Deceptively Delicious, and sorry Jessica Seinfeld, but your recipes are crap. Many of them have less than a quarter cup of veggies in the WHOLE RECIPE, which means my kids get what, like a tablespoon of veggies in their serving? No thanks, I’ll use my own crafty techniques.
Harper and Roman’s love as of late: smoothies. I love them too because I can sneak all sorts of stuff into them. Ingredients in my smoothies include: butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, prune juice, carrot juice, and flax seeds. Harper and Roman think they are chock full of yum, and well, they are!
This all started a few months ago when I pureed a huge batch of food for Ada and put it in the freezer. I had all of these cubes of veggies sitting around, and thought I would just toss one into the blender with their liquid dinner and see what happened. They gobbled it up, or rather, slurped it up, so I put in more and more veggies. Now a typical smoothie recipe is something like this:
- 1 snack size yogurt – usually strawberry flavor
- 1 handful frozen berries
- half a banana or other fresh fruit
- 3-4 one-ounce cubes frozen pureed veggies
- 1 tablespoon flax seeds
- OJ, prune juice, carrot juice or water
- Honey, if it needs sweetening
My other methods aren’t quite as sneaky. Lately I’ve been really into (gasp) fried food. It’s not as bad as it sounds… I don’t think. I have a basic batter recipe and I’ve been dipping just about everything in it and frying it in a little bit of olive oil. Harper likes “the crunchies,” and Roman will eat anything with ketchup on it, so I’ve been able to get them to eat some pretty good stuff.
The batter recipe is as follows: get three bowls. In the first put flour, in the second scramble one egg and about 1/8 cup of fat-free buttermilk (or skim milk is fine), and in the third mix equal parts of breadcrumbs, panko and grated parmesan with a little salt and pepper. You can mix in some herbs too if you have them. The rest is super easy – take whatever it is you are frying and dip it in each bowl, flour first, egg mixture second, and breadcrumbs third, then fry in a little olive oil. I’ve done zucchini, sweet potato sticks, yellow squash, and lots of different fish and they ate everything without complaint. The only one that gave me trouble was the sweet potato – it needs to go in the oven for a bit after frying in order to cook all the way through. For a “fancy” pasta dinner, you can also fry raviolis using this recipe – just dip uncooked refrigerated raviolis in it and fry away. They are delicious with a little bit of marinara or ranch dressing dip on the side!
Harper is learning to write her letters, and for the past few days has been asking me to spell out words for her. Mostly she likes to write all of our names, but today she asked for the next best thing, “princess.”
Here are a few of the names she likes to write. She made sure to point out the “ghost” that she drew under her name:
We celebrated our third Halloween on The Lawn this year in Charlottesville with cousins Charlie, Wyatt and Jaiman – it was the first time that all 6 cousins were together! Needless to say, after a weekend with 6 kids ages 3 and under, Yaya and Pop Pop were ready for all of us to leave!
We had some last-minute costume changes: Roman decided to be Rex instead of Buzz Lightyear, while Harper was convinced to wear her Tinkerbell dress instead of Yaya making her a Jessie costume. Harper really understood trick-or-treating this year and was determined to hit every room on the Lawn. We were able to distract her after about 25 rooms, and she spent the rest of the afternoon with Roman and Charlie eating as much candy as she could possibly stuff in her mouth.
Roman was less interested in trick or treating but helped Pop Pop pass out candy for about 90 minutes straight – he did not budge from his spot on the stoop and ate at least 4 tootsie pops in the process! Roman even got to join “da boys” at the UVA-Miami game on Saturday. He has to scrape out some boy time whenever he can!
There is not a single class in college that can give you the life skills you need to pass as an “adult.” I think there was a class at UVA called “Personal Finance,” which I didn’t take, but I can guarantee that if I did take it I would still have no idea what I’m doing. Today’s life lesson: interest rates.
When Portman and I lived in Cambodia, we put absolutely everything on a credit card. Neither of us earned an income for 18 months, and we lived a pretty nice life over there, flying back home several times a year to spend holidays with our families. Needless to say, after 18 months we racked up quite a bit of credit card debt… $30,000 to be exact. Yup, you read that correctly. Now, I HATE paying interest. It really pisses me off. So we played our own version of credit card roulette and transferred the balance between 4 different cards getting “6 month no-interest financing” with each transfer. It bought us some time until we were eventually able to pay off the full amount. Since then I’m confident that we have not paid a single dollar in interest to a credit card company.
Since moving into our new house, money has definitely been tighter. We now have two mortgages, although one is covered by a rent check, but our new mortgage is significantly more than our old one. We watch everything closely and try to keep a tight budget. This is a challenge because, although I consider myself to be cheap, I also like nice things. I just don’t like to pay for them – is that too much to ask!? Getting back to my point. Last night we sat down in front of Mint.com and started going through things, and every time we do this my car payment just jumps off the screen. It’s a lot – about $600 a month, and the interest rate is pretty high. In a word, it sucks. So we made a decision. Actually, Portman made a decision.
Starting on his first birthday, Portman’s grandparents gave him a U.S. Savings Bond for every birthday, religious holiday, and sometimes for nothing at all. We manage them through Treasury Direct, and always consider it our “rainy day fund.” Well this morning I cashed in every single one of them in order to pay off my car. That’s over 60 savings bonds dating back to April 1981. I had such a hard time wrapping my head around this. Portman finally told me “take the emotion out of it, and just cash the damn things in.” He was right – the highest interest rate was only 4%, and some of them earned less than 2% per year. But for some reason this was really hard for me to do.
In the end, it’s going to feel great to finally pay off my car, but I do feel like we just lost a little piece of history. So if you are sitting on a pile of old savings bonds and have some ridiculous interest rate holding you back… take the emotion out of it and cash the damn things in! That’s what a grownup would do, anyway.