Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mother-Daughter Time

Weep with me, internets: my son started pre-kindergarten this week. I do realize that this should be a time for celebration, and believe me when I say that it is. But the part of me that misses having my little buddy home with me all day is a bit sad. I know, I know...suck it up, right? Ayden is in school from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. in preparation for kindergarten, which starts in August. My little boy's growing up right before my eyes. When we dropped him off on Monday, he made a beeline straight for the toys in his classroom. I said good-bye to him and his reply was something along the lines of, "yeah, Mom, whatever, bye already!"

Zoe and I will be spending lots of mother-daughter time together over the summer. Since her brother's in school and her dad's teaching a few days a week, we get lots of girl time. I took her on a walking tour of the university, which she loved. Zoe really loved when I took her to the campus bookstore and upstairs to Starbucks, where she got to sit in the cafe with her juice like a big gal while her mom had some chai tea. This Friday we will (weather permitting) head out to the beach.

Today, however, we baked cookies. And oh, were they good. I used Bob's Red Mill Mix to prep these cookies ( a good go-to mix), but for me the best part was that I got to break out the Silpat. I'm not a Francophile, but but I gotta say this is one of my favorite French imports. No greasing of the baking pan required, and no burnt cookies...ever. I bought this about three years ago at my neighborhood kitchenware emporium (read: my second home), and it is one of my favorite kitchen items. Did I mention that the cookies NEVER burn on this thing?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Field Trip Friday

Just because I'm busy getting ready for my final exam, that doesn't mean that I can't take my kids out and show them a good time. I don't know if the fact that I took the children on a field trip today means that I'm a cool mom or if I'm just perfecting the art of skipping out on studying. Either way, we had a blast.

Zoe, Ayden and I headed over to the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. Flamenco Dad teaches in the area on Fridays, so I used that as an opportunity to expose the kids to some artwork. I dropped dad off at work, and we were on our way. The kids enjoyed the museum, though after 2+ hours, my son was ready to bust out of there. We all enjoyed the interactive gallery the museum has set up. It's got lots of artwork and drawing materials so kids can draw and take their masterpieces home with them. Also, I got a chance to school my kids on some of the artwork; they have a very respectable collection of Greek and Roman art and Zoe in particular had lots of questions about the sculptures, paintings, and decorative pieces. We also saw two beautiful Monets, a Cezanne, a Renoir, and a very interesting collection of Pre-Columbian artifacts. I forgot to mention that they have a large number of pieces of South Asian art: plenty of Buddhas, Shivas, and the like.

After the museum trip we picked Flamenco Dad up at work and had Thai lunch at one of our favorite restaurants on the beach. I've written about this particular restaurant before (and of my profound love for Thai food), so needless to say we had a great lunch. Afterwards we drove up to this awesome candy shop called "The Candy Kitchen." It's a local landmark, which has been in business since 1950. They make their own ice creams, taffies, and fudge, and they carry lots of nostalgia candies (wax lips and Necco wafers anyone?). As one might suspect there weren't too many GFCF treats there, but we found something for everyone. The inside of the shop is covered wall-to-wall with different candy packaging, and the ceiling has all sorts of writing, done in black permanent marker. I didn't take a picture of the inside of the shop (I didn't want to freak out the salespeople or any customers), but I couldn't resist going around back to get a shot of this:

People, this is the bathroom. I have to go on record here and say that I did not follow Flamenco Dad into the men's room. This is one bathroom to be used by all, and it opens up into the parking lot so the whole world gets to see this crazy looking room. I actually had him stand there to take the picture, because I didn't want to have a picture of a toilet on my pretty pink blog. I figured the sink would be enough to demonstrate that this is, in fact, the WC. The kids then wanted to take turns having their pictures taken standing in the doorway of the bathroom, but I decided against it--especially when I noticed a man in the parking lot staring at me, wondering what the hell I was doing taking pictures of a bathroom.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cupcakes and a Movie

I really need to give a shout-out to the folks over at Cherrybrook Kitchen. A while back I tested their Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Mix, and was very pleased with the results. This time, I tried their Gluten Free Dreams Chocolate Cake Mix, and it was heavenly. The product is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, peanut free, tree nut free...and FABULOUS! All I added was some oil, water, and vanilla; poured the mix into these cute little Barbie cupcake cups, bake at 350 for about 18 minutes, and presto! Baked yummy goodness. I topped these little gems with a homemade icing--which had some cocoa added to it because, you know, I love having a little chocolate with my chocolate! The texture of these cakes is perfect; not unlike a certain boxed cake mix that I used to buy in the supermarket a long time ago. Mmm...

The heat is oppressive around here lately, so I've been keeping the kids entertained with indoor activities. After dinner we turn the kids loose outside (by then the hottest time of the day has long since passed). After the cupcakes were out of the oven, I popped in a movie: Flicka. Ayden was not too enthused about it--I guess it's because it wasn't animated--but I thought it was very good. Since the kids have been around horses at their grandma's, and because there's a strong young female character in the movie, I thought Zoe might enjoy it; and she did. And because I'm a bit of a sap, I shed more than a tear or two by the end of the movie. If I don't get back to my homework soon, I'll be shedding a few more tears come exam day next week!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Is It Over Already?

So today is Zoe's last day of school. I've been so busy with schoolwork that I really didn't see this coming, and I'm feeling a bit under-prepared. I try to have at least a vague game plan for what we're going to do for the next 2 1/2 months...and that hasn't happened yet. This is especially important for Zoe: she's so used to having a schedule that going through summer without at least a few things planned out is a recipe for disaster! Although I must say that I got a few things taken care of: I foraged through the kid's rooms (more specifically their closets) and I found a veritable treasure trove of crafting kits and art supplies that we're going to make use of this summer. Most of these items were either gifts from family and friends over Christmas or stuff I picked up from craft stores while rummaging through the sale bins. Either way, I've got the antidote for boredom this sumer!

Yesterday I looked into a kids' yoga class for Zoe and Ayden. Turns out there is a yoga studio directly in front of the studio where I take flamenco lessons. How convenient, right? Zoe is really into yoga these days, so I thought that might be something fun for the kids to do every so often. Ayden will be in preschool for part of the summer, so he'll be pretty busy for about 6 weeks during vacation this year.

Aside from that I will certainly have to make time for cooking with the kids. Zoe is particularly interested in learning to cook, so this might be a good time to get her started with a few simple things. She's already a pro at salad, and she's itching to try to make other things.

The kids are hoping to spend some time at the beach. Flamenco Dad teaches on Fridays at a school near the gulf, so that might work out. What about you, internets? Any plans this summer?