Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Fun With Animals

We visited my mom and her hubby this weekend. As if there aren't enough animals on mom's property (horses, goats, sheep, and a recently rescued labrador), we decided to take the kids on a field trip to the local zoo. The kids had a blast!

Anyway, I got a little camera crazy at the park, so let's get on with the photos, shall we?

Watch as Zoe gets into a staring contest with an ostrich with an attitude:

The bunnies were oh so friendly! Also, it helped that my kids were feeding them banana chips:

This toucan was sooo ready for his closeup! After I took this shot, he proceeded to get in the way of the other toucan in the cage, to the point that I never got a clear shot of his roommate. Talk about a camera hog:

Never in my life have a seen an iguana as big as this. He also decided to ham it up for the camera. I wonder if the William Morris Agency is representing these guys:

I kept waiting for the iguana to bust out a bottle of Lubriderm lotion, but it never happened. Maybe next time.
P.S.--do any of you internets know why my text is looking all smooshed together? I can't figure it out. I know, that's not surprising given my lack of techie skills. I've given up trying to fix it today, so please forgive me if the text looks a bit wonky.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

School's Out for Summer

This morning when I woke Zoe up, her first words were the following: "Summer 2007--The wait is over!!" Gee, think she's excited about school being out or what?

I decided that the best way to get through summer vacation was to develop a plan to keep the kids active, so I picked up a book called The Family Manager's Guide to Summer Survival. It was written by Kathy Peel, and it's full of great ideas to keep the wee ones from being bored, as well as help for setting goals for the summer.

What I find great about the book is that it helped me to look at the different ways I can help my children grow over the summer. Yes, we need to work on helping Zoe develop her writing and math skills; and we want to help Ayden with school readiness. But we want to also promote developing better social skills, get the kids more physically active, and get them to be more responsible around the house. And we want fun!

Tomorrow we're kicking off the summer with breakfast together as a family. I'm making gfcf waffles! (Zoe gets a kick out of that statement--she tries to say it like Donkey in Shrek). Then it's off to the library, and maybe the park. The kids want to have a guitar lesson with their dad in the afternoon--sounds like a full day already! Did I mention my kids still wake up at 6 a.m. even in the summertime?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Have You Seen This Man?

Internets, did any of you see this man on "Dancing with the Stars" last week? For those who have not seen him before, his name is Joaquin Cortes and he's a rock star in the Flamenco world. He performed on t.v. last week, and he was fantastic! Oh. My. God. This man can dance like nobody's business! And don't even get me started on the long hair. Yum.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Special Mother

I received this via e-mail yesterday from a friend whose child was just diagnosed with Autism. I had read this essay once before, and I think other moms of special needs kids may have seen it before, but it's certainly worth sharing with all of you. If you have a friend with a special needs child, you may want to pass it along.

The Special Mother
by Erma Bombeck

Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit.

This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen?

Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.

"Armstrong, Beth; son. Patron saint...give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."

"Forrest, Marjorie; daughter. Patron saint, Cecelia."

"Rutledge, Carrie; twins. Patron saint, Matthew."

Finally He passes a name to an angel and smiles, "Give her a handicapped child."

The angel is curious. "Why this one God? She's so happy."

"Exactly," smiles God, "Could I give a handicapped child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."

"But has she patience?" asks the angel.

"I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she'll handle it."

"I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has her own world. She has to make her live in her world and that's not going to be easy."

"But, Lord, I don't think she even believes in you." God smiles, "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect - she has just enough selfishness."

The angel gasps - "selfishness? is that a virtue?"

God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a 'spoken word'". She will never consider a "step" ordinary. When her child says 'Momma' for the first time, she will be present at a miracle, and will know it!"

"I will permit her to see clearly the things I see...ignorance, cruelty, prejudice....and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life, because she is doing My work as surely as if she is here by My side".

"And what about her Patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air.

God smiles, "A mirror will suffice."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sushi Anyone?

Yesterday Zoe and I took a trip to our favorite Asian market in search of ingredients to make our own sushi. Zoe digs sushi, particularly California roll (I know it's not technically sushi since it's not raw, but Zoe likes it--so who am I to tell her otherwise?). And I received a set of sushi making and serving materials for Christmas, so it was time to get cracking.

I already had some of the ingredients at home (sesame seeds, ginger, sesame oil, rice vinegar, wasabi, tamari--I am the Queen of Condiments, after all), so all we needed from the market was some sushi rice, crabmeat, and the nori for rolling. I used the recipe that appears in Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook, replacing the soy sauce for a wheat-free tamari. It was easier to prepare than I thought. Initially the prospect of making sushi seemed daunting; but now that I know how to do it, we'll be making this more often. Everyone loved it, especially Zoe--who was a big help in preparing the rolls.

Monday, May 14, 2007

You Made a Mother Out of Me

Mother's Day at Casa de Flamenco was lovely from beginning to end. I woke up to find Zoe hovering over me with one gift wrapped in newspaper, and another tucked neatly in a paper sack. All the telltale signs of gifts prepared at school--some of my absolute favorite gifts to receive. This keychain was among the gifts Zoe gave to me. Zoe, Flamenco Dad, and Ayden also gifted me with several goodies I had been eyeing at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (Oh, how I love that place!). I got a stick blender, which also has a whisk and mini food-processor attachment. Also I received a kick-ass Santoku knife and bamboo cutting board. I know some folks out there wouldn't consider the kitchenware a good gift idea for a mom. After all, I'm already in the kitchen all day. But I loves me some kitchen tools. Besides, flowers won't last very long, and candy isn't really a good option right now; I am on a diet, remember?

Flamenco Dad prepared a delicious breakfast for us all, complete with his coffee. I swear, I still don't know how he and I both make coffee the same way--but his always tastes better. My sister-in-law, her husband, and their two teenage daughters came over for dinner: which we ordered in. My hubby decided that neither his mom, his sister, or I should have to cook on Mother's Day. I'm telling you, that man is a keeper.

I've already put my gifts to use. In fact, I used the stick blender/food processor to make a fantastic white bean spread, which I served with toasted bread (for the gluten eaters), and veggies (for the gluten free eaters). This recipe comes from the lovely Giada de Laurentiis of The Food Network. It's fresh, creamy, and was a great appetizer. I've got some leftover, which I'm going to use in a vegetarian sandwich.

White Bean Spread

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves


Freshly ground black pepper

Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Have a Pizza Love

I've been a naughty, naughty blogger for the past several days, no? It's still smoky, hazy, and gross outside--and I'm a little tired of it. Okay I'm a lot tired. I've spent very little time outdoors and cabin fever is setting in. Every time I say that I think of the scene in The Shining when Shelly Duvall's character see's Jack Nicholson's manuscript, which read "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" about eleventy million times. Fortunately I haven't gone that over the edge, but I'm definitely a bit antsy.

I baked this pizza yesterday, and I'm really bummed about not being able to photograph my creation out in my yard. I love having the bright, natural light just steps away from my kitchen door--but it just is not fit for man or beast outside. Boo hoo.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Flamenco, Fire, and Smoke

We had a great show on Sunday. Lots of people showed up to the fundraiser, which hopefully means lots of money raised. I got to try out my new flamenco skirt, which my mother-in-law helped me sew. Actually, she did most of the sewing. Until we started the skirt project I hadn't even sewn a button or a hem, let alone a full skirt with three rows of ruffles. Three! This was not a beginner's project, I don't care what it said on the pattern. Whatever; the skirt turned out great, and I love the color. It's a really pretty turquiose, which looks very vibrant on stage. I'm going to have Flamenco Dad snap a few photos of me in it, which I will post as soon as they become available.

The show went very well. My husband was kind enough to volunteer his services, so he played a few flamenco pieces for the audience. He accompanied me for a dance, and I did two dances with my classmates. The ladies I dance with are twin sisters, and they did a dance called a tanguillo which was very well received. The audience was wonderful! They really enjoyed the show. In fact, a few people inquired about having us perform for other events. My husband made a few business contacts as well.

I live in what many people would say is their dream location. People LOVE Florida. However, right now we are dealing with some nasty air quality conditions. There are wildfires burning in northern parts of the state and southern Georgia, with winds sending smoke directly at us. Schools are cancelling outdoor activities with kids because of the smoke(that means no P.E. outside today). Our local news outlets are warning those with heart or lung problems, the elderly, and children to stay indoors. That means that yours truly is stuck inside, at least until tomorrow--unless it rains before then. So, I'm cooking tonight--there has been quite a lack of cooking going on here lately, hasn't there? Hopefully I'll be breathing freely and taking lovely food photos tomorrow.

Friday, May 04, 2007

I Read The News Today

Zoe gets major kudos today for a job well done. She came home and surprised us with news that she was an anchor on the school's morning program. When I was a kid, there was no such thing as a school morning show, much less one with students working on it. Our district schools have morning announcements on closed-circuit tv, and my baby got to read the news today. Great job, Zoe!

No More Classes, No More Books

Flamenco Dad wrapped up the semester this week, and all I can say is "Whew!" This has been one crazy semester. Aside from his normal workload, he was asked to teach a class in music theory at the community college. On top of that, he took a graduate course in Philosophy. I'm not quite sure how FD got all that accomplished in one semester; seems he's quite good at multi-tasking too (just like his wife).

There is a downside to all the chaos that was this semester. Namely, he didn't get to spend as much time with the kids or me as he would have liked. Summers are always great around here though; Flamenco Dad's schedule is much lighter during summer break. We're looking forward to weekend getaways, field trips with the kiddies, and just vegetating on the couch with great movies and great company. And popcorn.

Now that Dad is home I can tend to pressing matters like my hair, which is rapidly turning gray. I had jet black hair just a few years ago--now, if I don't color it I look like Tip O'Neill. Oh, and maybe I'll get a manicure and pedicure. Did I neglect to mention that my gnarly fingernail NEVER fell off? It looks like I'm a goth girl who was too lazy to break out the nail polish remover, but the nail is still there. I'm on the lookout for a nail polish that will do a good job of covering my partially-black fingernail. Any suggestions are appreciated.