Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Archive for September, 2008

What’s Cookin’… Skillet Smashed Potatoes

26th September 2008

Back in July, I tried out a new recipe for Cracked Potatoes, using both this skillet recipe and this oven recipe.  I, personally, love potatoes in any form, so they both were tasty.  But the skillet version was a bit better.  The one problem was that when you “crack” the potatoes, they start to fall apart.  So I winged it, and created my Skillet Smashed Potatoes that were AWESOME.

  • Potatoes – small ones, Yukon gold or red, boiled in salted water until a knife slides in, but not super soft (15 min?)
  • Take potatoes from pan, “crack” with the bottom of a glass, trying not mash it too much.
  • Heat 2-3 T extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of a skillet.  Add 2 tsp minced garlic, and saute until it starts to brown.  Remove most of the garlic bits with a spoon so they don’t burn and bitter.
  • Add the potatoes, and let them fall apart, if they do.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side.  Season liberally with garlic salt and cracked pepper.  Turn the potatoes over, and let them break apart.  Cook another 5 minutes, until small pieces start to turn golden brown.


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Learning card games (updated)

25th September 2008

Analise has always enjoyed games.  She’s amazing at playing Memory.  At first – probably a year ago, when she’d just turned 3 – I’d let her win, until I realized she was better than me.  We play the Hungry Caterpillar game, Chutes and Ladders, Blokus (mostly just making designs with the tiles), and Dora Dominoes.  She’s slowly learned about taking turns, but often she doesn’t get parts of the game.  For example, with Chutes and Ladders she really wants to land on the slide, which takes you backwards down the board, instead of towards the winning space.  And she likes to spin the spinner until she gets the number she wants.  We don’t mind playing her way, because it’s all fun and games 🙂

Tonight we tried Uno for the first time.  First off, Analise didn’t nap today, so she was a little teary as it was nearing bedtime.  She did really well keeping track of her cards.  She caught on to the aspect of laying a matching color or number.  We were all down to just a couple cards.  But when Brian’s turn came around and he had to draw and draw and draw to get a card to lay, Analise burst into tears.  She wanted to get more cards, too.  Brian happily passed some over to her.  We told her she needed to get rid of the cards to win, and she cried that she didn’t want to win.  So we gave her more cards, a whole handful, and she giggled through her tears.  We played on and on, giving Analise extra cards, everytime we both got too many.  I was sure if she just got down to one and experienced the thrill of yelling “Uno!” she’d want to win, but we never got that far.  And after I won, she was more than happy to hear that she “won” with the most cards.

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em… and know when to pass them to Analise!

Updated – right after we finished playing, I went downstairs and posted a note to my facebook account while Kristine was unbeknownst to me posting this blog! Here is my version of the story:

So Kristine and and I are pretty competitive about things – games usually end up in intense battles. Analise just came down the stairs and asked if I wanted to play “Tigger and Pooh”. I stop and go upstairs to investigate and find her and my wife getting ready to play a game of uno using a tigger and pooh uno deck of cards. They deal me in and we are off! Everything is going well. Analise has picked up perfectly on the concept of either matching the color or the number shown on the card just laid down. So everything is fine until Analise plays a card that I can’t match. This also happens to leave her with only two cards in her hands. As I keep on drawing more and more cards without finding a match, Analise starts to wail and sob because I am getting all the cards and she only has two. We try to explain to her that she is about to win. “But I don’t want to win!!!” she sobs. So I come up with a solution: every time I draw a card that doesn’t match I’ll just give it to Analise – and I toss in half of my huge stack of cards for good measure. Well, that doesn’t go over too well with Kristine so she gives Analise a lot of her cards, too – leaving the two of us to duke out. I’ll wrap it up by saying that Kristine and I both make it down to “uno”, but she ends up winning when Analise plays a 7 (out of order) which Kristine also has in her hand. Analise is happy because she has the most cards when the game ends. That’s uno with my wife and my 4 year old! Now it’s back to work.

Posted in Parenting | 3 Comments »

What’s Cookin’… lots of good stuff!

24th September 2008

Man, there’s been some good eatin’ goin’ on around here!  Let me see if I can summarize it all…

  • Ham & Gruyere French Bread Pizza – Yum.  Super easy.  The gruyere was a little pricey, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it with the strong smell.  But it was very good.  I might opt for a little cheaper fontina, swiss or baby swiss next time.  Delicious!
  • Deconstructed Lasagna – More or less the ingredients of lasagna, but without the work.  The red sauce was AMAZING, probably due to the red wine.  (Tip, we don’t drink much red wine here.  I bought the little 4-pk of bottles, perfect for the occasional use.)  The white sauce was good, but I might add more garlic and stir in more parmesean.  It need a bit more flavor.  We used whole wheat lasagna noodles, and it was EXCELLENT, and fairly easy!
  • Powerball cookies – Easy, quick, fun kid recipe.  Not too bad for you.  I subbed ground flaxseed meal for the wheat germ.  They were tasty little bites!
  • Blondies with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts – Wow… these were awesome.  I’ve not enjoyed blondies before, but these were amazing!  I even used all whole wheat flour with no problems.  Cut them small so you can have 2 without feeling bad 🙂
  • Crockpot Fried Chicken – I actually didn’t use the crockpot bc the chicken wasn’t thawed early enough.  But baked in the oven, this was tasty.  I’m anxious to try it in the crockpot, my best friend in the kitchen!  Oh, and this blog is full of amazing crockpot recipes!

Ok, I’ve got bread in the breadmaker, and Josiah’s in the kitchen playing with his rice bin, and I hear rice pitter-pattering across the floor, so I’d better go see how big the mess is.  Thank goodness it’s just a quick sweep to clean up!

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The Best of the Beach

21st September 2008

What a weekend.  We had a fabulous time.  So much I could say, but I think I’ll let my 25 pictures (out of nearly 250!) speak for themselves.

Our stretch of beach (Seagrove Beach, between Panama City & Destin, Florida)

Our condo… We were in the top right apartment.

Our view from the balcony.  It was so relaxing and refreshing to sit out there.

My two fun boardwalk pictures, from our short jaunt over the first evening when we arrived.

My beach babies… they loved it.  Analise could have stayed on the beach all day.  Thank goodness we walked over once on Friday evening when we arrived, 3 times yesterday, once last night to hunt little ghost crabs with flashlights (probably the most fun of all!), and twice today.

This was Analise’s favorite way to enjoy the surf 🙂

Josiah was determined to move the beach, shovel by shovel, from one place to another.  He carried one shovelful of sand for almost our entire morning walk!

Analise and Lauren had so much fun together.  I’ve got lots of cute pictures of them running in the sand and surf laughing and playing.  It’s so easy to get good pictures at the beach!  And we always had a bucket for our seashell collecting.

The beach angels!

Anna, Analise, Lauren and Josiah splashin’ it up in the surf.

Josiah and Anna spent a lot of time digging.  In this photo, poor Josiah had just gotten a bucket of sandy water dumped on him.  Analise was trying to help.  I’m not sure if it was Josiah’s fault for sitting in the hole they were filling or Analise’s for dumping it on him.

A couple “wildlife” photos.  We saw dolphins jumping, jelly fish washing up on the beach (making today’s splashing more dangerous), and lots and lots of pelicans.

We took our little-used bike trailer (Thanks, Poppa Dale!!) with us, and I rented a bike for the day.  I haven’t ridden since California, let alone pulled a trailer with kiddos, but thankfully you don’t forget how to ride a bike 🙂  I pulled Anna and Josiah, and Kim pulled the older girls.  What a blast!  We had so much fun cruising around!  Makes me want to start riding more around here, in spite of the steep hills!

Really, it was a fantastic weekend.  The Moons were so awesome to share their condo with us.  We’ve done so much travel for cycling, this was a relaxing trip to just enjoy being somewhere… definitely a nice change!  Brian and Lennie rode 60 miles yesterday and 50 miles today.  Kim and I got out a bit each day by ourselves, and the kids, of course, always love being together.  The girls had a “sleepover” in their own bedroom, and they did great.  We enjoyed fresh steamed shrimp from a nearby fish market and watched a couple non-kid moives after the little ones collapsed into bed.  Today we wrapped up the fun times with a trip to the ice cream shoppe to soothe the kids sadness at saying goodbye.  I’m already looking forward to our next beach vacation!

Posted in Travel | 3 Comments »

Beach Bound, Baby!

18th September 2008

Yipee!  Finally, a non-racing trip!  We’re so excited… Lennie & Kim had some extra space at their beach condo this weekend, and they invited us to join them!  I’m ready for a nice family weekend relaxing in the pool and on the sand.  The kids are going to have a great time playing with Lauren and Anna.  I’m looking forward to hanging out with Kim, and I know the guys will work in a ride or two.  We’re staying in a quieter beach area, right next to a long bike path, so we’re hoping to use our practically-new (but 2 years old!) bike trailer for some family riding.

We’ll check in Monday!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Little bike racers

18th September 2008

Hey everyone, here’s pictures from the Pepper Place race this past weekend. My little bike racers did awesome! (Also, Kristine posted a new post after this one, so don’t forget to read that one too!)

Analise and Josiah after the 2008 Pepper Place 6 and under kids race.

Analise and Josiah after the 2008 Pepper Place 6 and under kids race.

Analise (and the hedgehog in the basket) warming up before the race.

Analise (and the hedgehog in the basket) warming up before the race.

Analise, Josiah, and Kristine at the start line

Analise, Josiah, and Kristine at the start line

Analise took off and rode the fastest she has ever in a race. She actually ended up passing a few of those kids on her right!

Analise took off and rode the fastest she has ever in a race. She actually ended up passing a few of those kids on her right!

Josiah did well, too, with a little help from Kristine. He was actually pedaling! Usually we have a hard time just getting him to keep his feet on the pedals while Kristine pushes.

Josiah did well, too, with a little help from Kristine. He was actually pedaling! Usually we have a hard time just getting him to keep his feet on the pedals while Kristine pushes.

Analise, Josiah, and the hedgehog!

The podium: Analise, Josiah, and the hedgehog!

Posted in Cycling | 1 Comment »

You give the girl a watch…

18th September 2008

You give the girl a watch, and all of a sudden she can tell time!  Analise has had a watch for a while, but she’s never worn it.  This morning, she found it in the drawer and wanted to put it on.  Immediately, she was saying, “I don’t think we have time for this” and “It’s thirty o’clock” and “I think it’s time to go, Mama!”  (an hour before we have to leave).   She did amazingly tell us it was 8:00 when it actually was.  But she’s definitely decided she’s going to keep us on time!  I, on the other hand, am trying to figure out if her teacher will appreciate being kept “on time” if she wears it to school today!

Posted in Parenting, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Brown Bear, Brown Bear…

16th September 2008

Last night, Analise wanted to read me Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear.  She flipped right through it, word for word memorized, from the red bird to the black sheep.  She was quite pleased with herself and happily took it to bed with her to read to her bed buddies (last night that was jingly penguin, Fairy Dora, and the big polar bear).

This morning, she was up before Josiah, and as soon as she heard Josiah talking in his room, she bounced out of my bed, telling me she wanted to read to him.   So I got Josiah up, and we snuggled into the couch together.  Josiah was a captive audience as she “read” to him all about the colored animals.  She finished and said, “Josiah, did you like it?”

“I wike da book,” he said.  My heart nearly burst seeing their sweet little reading time.  I look forward to many more!

Posted in Parenting | 1 Comment »

Busy Bike Weekend Wrapup

15th September 2008

We had a fabulous weekend at home.  Brian’s race on Saturday evening was just 10 minutes from our house, so we had a leisurely Saturday morning, took the kids to their bike race (see pics on Brian’s cycling blog), came back for naps, and then Brian and I headed off to the evening races by ourselves while his parents babysat.  Yipee!!  I love having my kids at the races, but I do really enjoy getting to focus on the race without the distraction of keeping my kids from dashing into the street 🙂

The evening was very fun.  Brian’s race didn’t finish quite as he’d hoped, but his team got 3rd and 4th.  He hasn’t had teammates in his race very often, so this was a big plus!  Again, the wrap-up is on his blog. We were out SUPER LATE, and then we had a hard time unwinding after the race so Sunday morning came EARLY, even though the kids slept until 7!

Pretty quiet Sunday, which was nice.  Today we’re headed to the zoo, Analise and I are going to a movie this evening, and I’ve got a meeting.  Hm.  Lots on the agenda.  Somewhere in there I should figure out what we’re going to eat for dinner…  Happy Monday!

Posted in Cycling, Daily Grind, Uncategorized | No Comments »

The elusive family dinner

12th September 2008

I dream of the quintessential family dinner around our table.  Good, healthy, home-cooked meal, one of my kids praying before we eat, everyone happy, food staying on plates, everyone actually eating the same food, kids staying at the table with us – peacefully – until they’re done.  And maybe even a delicous family dessert to top it all off.

Sounds great.  And yes, it does sound a bit impossible, especially with a 2 and a 4 year old who may be a bit more lively than most kids.  Dinner has been a growing frustration of mine for any number of reasons… picky 4 year old, messy 2 year old, kids not wanting to sit.

But it happened last night.  My dream family dinner.  It was so lovely, and it was even better than I could have imagined.

I’d cooked (well, half-cooked) a good meal – Mushroom Orzo Rissoto (super easy, very tasty, and even though I don’t like mushrooms, Brian does, and I knew he’d be pleased and they were easy enough for me to pick out) and Turkey Spinach Burgers (frozen from another evening… I love when cooking one night makes another night easier!).

Analise prayed for our meal, which she often isn’t in the mood to do.  But she’s been the “prayer leader” as her job at school this week, so she was excited when we named her the prayer leader for dinner tonight.

We put the burgers, no buns necessary, on the pasta, and it was TASTY.  The kids loved the pasta, and surprise, surprise… Josiah liked the mushrooms!  He ate one after another from my plate.  Seriously, my heart was bursting that one of my kids was liking something I don’t!  Analise even gamely tried a bite.  I was very proud of both of them.

Anyway, everyone was in a good mood, they ate well, we had nice fun conversation with them, and we all stayed at the table through the whole meal.  The kids shared a piece of chocolate cake, and everyone was pleased.

It was wonderful.  I know it’s possible now.  I’m not going to get frustrated and grumpy when it doesn’t happen, though.  They’re just preschoolers, and we’ll work on it bit by bit.  I know it can happen, it will happen when all the stars align, and when it does, it will be lovely and well worth it.

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