Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another GE Appliance Gone Awry or Washing Dishes For a Family of 5 Stinks!

If you've been keeping up with my posts then you know that not that long ago I had my GE Profile fridge replaced after 5 service calls in a year and a half. Well, now my GE Profile dishwasher that is not quite 3 yrs old has stopped working. I've reviewed all the trouble shooting guidelines and am still unable to get it to rinse the dishes. As a result of this, I have been hand washing dishes for a family of 5 for the past few days and it's exhausting. I've been trying to limit the dishes we use but really that's an impossible tasks. Between meals and snacks, we normally accumulated a dishwasher full of dishes every night, this now equates to a sink full of dishes and then some.

As past experience, I spent half the day trying to get a service call straightened out to have someone come out and look at my dishwasher, oh and while they're at it can you please repair the freezer door handle on my 2 month old fridge that keeps coming loose. GE is telling me that will be $125.00 just to come take a look. Are you kidding me! The fridge should be absolutely free since it's only 2 months old and honestly I've been having the problem for about a month. The dishwasher well, I clearly expect to pay something but $125 just to diagnose it, remember it's not quite 3 yrs old. If it turns out I need to replace it I clearly will not be buying another GE dishwasher, and for that matter, I will never again buy another GE appliance.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fun Times at Gilroy Gardens

Sunday I took the boys to Gilroy Gardens with friends, we were 3 sets of twins plus 2 older boys. There's always an element of risk for meltdowns and upsets with that many young kids on an outing, but it was surprisingly successful. The kids had a fabulous time and although the adults were a bit worn by the end of the outing, I think it's safe to say we all had a good time too.

This park is geared towards young kids, but there were a couple of rides the bigger kids (meaning me) got to ride and really enjoy. There was loads of fun, firetrucks, race cars, spinning saucers plus lots more.... I'm postive it must have hit triple digit weather and although we were all pretty hot, that didn't spoil the fun since there was water play there too that helped with a little cool down.

Aidan rode his first roller coaster. He had mixed feelings about it. He really enjoyed it the first time, asked to ride it one more time, so we did. The second time around he said during the ride while looking a bit ashen, "mommy the ride is making my tummy hurt" I thought for sure he was going to vomit. Thankfully he pulled through.

They even had a small farm area where Miles got to have a pony ride. Aidan I think was too old for that and Liam wanted nothing to do with the ponies. Miles being the animal lover that he is, absolutely enjoyed this. I really got a kick out of watching him.

Although a bit expensive, all in all, I give Gilroy Gardens a thumbs up. Would definitely take the boys back again soon, before Aidan is too old to enjoy it. This park really is geared towards younger kids, my opinion would be for 5- 6 yrs old and under. The grounds are beautiful, there are lots of rides and attractions to be enjoyed. We were there the entire day and still didn't make it through all the rides and attractions.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Grandma, Grandpa and Aunties, Oh what fun!

Grandma's close friends, Auntie Christine from LA and Auntie Florence from Hong Kong were here this past week. We had some fun visits with Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunties. With all the attention they showered on the boys, it sure was a special treat for them. And of course, Grandma always shows up with goodies that adds to the fun.

Their first visit was this past Sunday. Grandma brought with her some fun battery powered cars that the boys enjoyed playing with, and a huge bag filled with all the fabulous veggies she reaped from her garden this year. Her garden yielded an unbelievable amount of produce that she has so kindly shared with us all summer.

I fixed a special Sunday dinner to celebrate Aunties' visit. I fixed a pork cassoulet, braised swiss chard with pine nuts, tomatoes (from grandma's garden) with basil and a balsamic/oil dressing, and an assortment of bread, potato rosemary loaf and sourdough walnut loaf. For dessert I made a blueberry peach tart using this fabulously easy pastry recipe that Ebba shared. It was absolutely perfect, definitely a recipe that I will be keeping and using often. It being such a hot day we dined alfresco. With the days getting shorter and cooler weather just around the corner it was nice to enjoy one of our last warm evenings outdoors with such dear guests.

We had another special visit from Aunties and Grandma/pa on Tuesday. I'm so glad the boys got to spend one more day with the Aunties, especially since we don't know when we'll be seeing Auntie Florence again. It was a pleasure filled visit as well as an extremely helpful visit since Max and I went to parents night at Aidan's school, they were able to watch the boys while we were out. The boys got to enjoy dinner and yummy ice cream dessert with our guests. When Max and I returned with Aidan's school work, Aidan was so proud and enjoyed all the positive feedback while he showed Aunties and Grandma/pa his school work. Liam found himself a comfy spot on Auntie Florence's lap and just made himself right at home there, while Miles relished in conversation with Aunties.

It was so sweet to have three generations in the house and just watch how our youngest and oldest just adore each others company. It's so easy, as the "sandwich generation" to get lost in the day to day of raising our kids and worrying about our parents that we forget about the benefits of having them together. I know just by watching my kids, they revel the time spent with grandma, grandpa and aunties. I'd like to believe the same is vice versa. Everyone just looks so delighted when they're together. I too cherish those moments when I see happy faces on my boys and in-laws alike.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Snack Time, Snack Week

Aidan's kindergarten class has each parent sign up to provide snacks for a week. This happens to be my week. I have to provide a snack for 20 kids. They request that it be a healthy snack, preferably organic, with no trans fats or processed sugars, no peanut butter or peanut products, and that you provide 2-3 choices. I shopped for the week and this is what I have planned:

Mon - Barbara's Organic raspberry/fig newtons and organic raisins

Tue - Honey wheat bagels with cream cheese and strawberry spread, organic vanilla soy milk

Wed - string cheese sticks, honey sesame crackers, and dried cranberries, vanilla soy milk

Thurs - blueberries, raspberries, wholegrain cheese crackers and apple juice

Friday - bananas, Colby cheese and honey wheat pretzels and organic lemonade.

Aidan is a picky eater, so I had a difficult time coming up with snacks that were suitable for the class and that my child would eat as well. I kept reverting back to peanut butter and having to remind myself, no peanut products.

The nice thing about getting this week done early in the year is that I won't have to worry about it the rest of the year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Another Step Toward Living Green: Recycled Foil

Our household is taking steps towards making life "greener". Our most recent step is using recycled foil. Although we try to keep our aluminum foil use to a minimum there are times I just can't get away from it. So, when I absolutely have to use foil what better way than to use recycled foil.

Maybe you knew about this already, but it was to my surprise when it was time to restock our foil that Reynolds had come out with this great product, 100% recycled aluminum foil. My first thought was, "yuck recycled foil in my kitchen?" But it's not yuck at all. According to Reynolds, the process of recycling the aluminum requires being melted down in a heat greater than 1200'F and is then run through a filtration system, resulting in all yucky debris being burnt off and filtered. "Is it as good as the regular stuff", you ask. Well, I used it and can attest to it's strength being just the same. If I didn't have the box in front of me to tell me it was recycled, I wouldn't have known the difference. As for the cost, it's just a bit more than "virgin aluminum", and well worth it. Don't be fooled, Target has virgin and recycled foil listed at the same price but the recycled foil has just a bit less square footage. I also noticed there are several coupons and rebates on line for some great savings on your next roll of Reynolds 100% recycled foil. Why not take advantage of these savings while helping out our earth. I applaud Reynolds for "going green".

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quick Dinner Salvadoran Style

Another quick dinner that's kid friendly, for those nights you just don't feel like cooking. I picked up these great cheese pupusas by Casa Sanchez at Costco but I imagine they must have them at other grocery stores as well. They're all natural with no preservatives which was a selling point for me. These were easily warmed up on a dry grill. These got the two kid ok, Aidan would prefer to eat left over pizza of course. I bet had there not been left over pizza he would have eaten it as well.

For adults (since my kids won't eat most veges) I made a "curtido" which is a traditional Salvadoran cabbage salad to serve with these. A quick and simple recipe:

1/2 head of cabbage chopped in fine strips
2 medium carrots peeled and shredded
2 jalapenos seeded and minced
3 radishes minced
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 cups of boiling water

In a glass bowl, I added 4 cups of boiling water to cabbage and carrots and let sit covered for approximately 5 minutes. Then I drained it and mixed with the rest of the ingredients and chilled for approximately 15 minutes. That's all there is to it. Delicious served over pupusas.

Let's Count Freckles

Aidan is starting to get freckles on his face. Yes, this pleases him and it's become a big topic of discussion. He currently has a total of 10 freckles, 3 of those being on his face. We get a constant update on the number of freckles he has since he's keeping tabs on them. He tried to keep tabs on mine too but realized there just wasn't any hope.

He then said, "Mom (yes my big boy has been making the switch over to calling me mom, sigh) you have a zillion freckles, that's too many to count!

Me, "Thanks Aidan, I had no idea I had so many freckles."

Aidan, earnestly as if he'd just done a good deed, "You're welcome Mom."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fish Confusion

These days when I find myself standing in front of the fish market, I find myself overwhelmed with so many questions. What is safe to consume? What wild fish has high levels of mercury? Is farm raised fish really sustainable? If agricultural run off water is used for farm raised fish, do I need to worry about fertilizers and pesticides? What wild fish is over fished? With all these questions plus more, I really struggle with buying fish for consumption. There's so much to think about when it comes to fish, not only our health, but our environment and the politics as well. And now that I think about what I feed my kids as well as myself, these questions seem to weigh on my mind even more.

With all that said, I bought farm raised tilapia for the first time. I bought it with much uncertainty, but the purchase came as a result of elimination. I eliminated the large ocean fish due to mercury and over fishing, eliminated other farm raised fish due to pollutants and political reasons, which left me with no other choice that day but tilapia. I could have walked away from the fish counter all together but for some reason I had a hankering for fish. So I walked away with my tilapia, which by the way, may be potentially worse for you than bacon due to it's high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. That's just great, I'd rather be eating bacon if that's the case. Oh well, I guess you can't win them all.

So what did I make with that tilapia, you ask? I wanted to make something the boys would eat. Of course, it would need to be fried with some yummy bread like crust if they were going to consider it at all. So, I simply coated the fish with cornmeal that I seasoned with garlic powder, paprika, pepper and salt, and just pan fried it in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Served it with black beans and cornbread drizzled with honey. Adults got salsa too. I would have to file it away as a hit since all 3 boys ate it. I'm always happy when I make something everyone eats. If only one eats it's a failure, 2 eats then it was OK, all 3 makes it a real winner! So the tilapia was a winner but I have to admit, I'm still not certain whether to buy it again.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Time To Think About Halloween Costumes

If you love Halloween the way I do, around this time you start thinking about costumes. I've been thinking about what the boys are going to be for Halloween this year. Am I going to make them? Or am I going to buy them? In the past years I've done both, I've made some and bought some. Some have been successes and others not. It's disappointing when one of my boys doesn't want to wear their costume. Even more disappointing is when you slave over a costume and are thrilled by your handiwork, to later have it thrust at you, tears running down their face. Oh what heart break. Last year Liam had a melt down and refused to take part in any costume wearing. Boy was I thankful I hadn't made that costume, instead I had bought it at a 75% after Halloween sale the year before. So, as I think about what it is I'm going to do, to purchase? to make? and what it is they're going to be, here's a recap of the past years.......

Aidan 2 months old, baby chick, newly hatched.

Then there was this Lil' Mighty Viking (Aidan 14months), I made this one.

The year I was pregnant with the twins and on bed rest, we had to opt for an easy solution. The Dragon Sleeper, always a great option. Dual use, costume and jammy, gotta love that!

In 2007, it was all about the ocean... I made these costumes. Aidan loved it, the twins were not having it.

We had a starfish (Aidan had insisted he wanted to be a starfish that year)

One grumpy shark

And a lost Octopus who just couldn't find his way.

In 2008 we hit the jungle... This year they wore costumes I had purchased at deep discounts during after Halloween sale the year before.

A gallant zebra

The cutest monkey you ever did see.

And a fainthearted lion who wanted nothing to do with Halloween.

As I'm still mulling over what they'll be this year, I'd really like to ask them what they want to be but fear what they might come up with. Really I could hear it now, I want to be Thomas the train (Aidan), oh me, me, me, Percy (Miles with his mild stutter), a BULL DOZER, MAMA! (Liam shouting as usual). Well, I do hope the photos help you come up with some ideas. I enjoyed reminiscing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First PTA

I attended my first PTA meeting and let me tell you I found it a bit daunting. I think it's fantastic that they raise so much money for the school and the kids enrichment programs. With out this, our kids wouldn't have the gardening, PE, music and art classes and the playground wouldn't be as fresh and rejuvenated as it is right now. In order to do this though, they have lots of events, fundraisers, and need for volunteers...I mean lots! Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to being active in Aidan's school, I've signed up to be a room parent, I've signed up to bring snacks for the third week of September, and have signed up to chaperon their first field trip. I'm just saying, it's just the beginning, we're just into our second week of school. Phew! I'm realizing, the ball just started rolling and I've got to get psyched to keep that ball rolling...commitment and involvement is what it takes to make a school great and I sure want Aidan's school to be all it can be. So, PTA here I am.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Steam-tastic Fun

The kids had a great time today at the Washington Township Railroad Fair at Ardenwood Historical Park. We met some friends there and enjoyed this outing together.

We got to ride a real historical steam engine by the name of "Deanna"

The kids were thrilled with all the steam and noises coming from this steam engine.

We got to see several different railroad displays.

We searched for "Hobo Signs", a scavenger hunt activity that kept mommy busy.

The boys and mommy and daddy, experienced their first calliope. This was pretty amazing, a piano like instrument with brass pipes that ran on steam apparently much like a steam engine train.

And we enjoyed music by "The East Bay Stompers" whom played all afternoon. I'd have to say this was Liam's favorite part of the whole outing. He was mesmerized by the band, it was fun watching him. And we enjoyed people watching as there were many people there who were dressed in period clothing.

Ardenwood's grounds are just beautiful, with gorgeous mature trees, the fabulous Patterson house, the crops and animals making this historical park a fun and educational outing for the family. The Railroad Fair was just one of many events Ardenwood hosts throughout the year. We're looking forward to attending several of the fall events.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

How Many Dads Does it Take

Today we had a barbecue with friends we haven't seen in awhile. It was nice to catch up with them and have the kids play together...and they played well, which is always nice. Since we still had the jumpy house we decided to pull it out. Kids really enjoyed it. After it was all over, the dads took down the jumpy house and moms laughed about "How many dads does it take, to take down the jumpy house?" They sure made it look like some serious work.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Soccer Comes To An End

Friday was the boys last soccer class for the season. They really enjoyed going and did really well. Especially Miles, he was great at following directions and participating in all the exercises. This was surprising because I really expected Liam to do better since he's so sporty. Turns out Liam wasn't always interested in following along with the activities but wanted to do his own thing and pick and choose what looked like fun. Despite that, I think they both got a lot out of going, they got to participate in a group activity, follow directions, focus attention, and got physical exercise. Although I thought the class was great for them, I've decided not to sign them up again since they'll be starting preschool in November. I think they'll be pretty busy with preschool and will be getting plenty of physical exercise at their play-based preschool that has a great play area. I'm also planning on swim classes for them in November when they turn 3. So with preschool and swim class, I didn't want to overwhelm them with too much additional scheduled activity. I'm sure we'll be coming back to soccer class sometime in the future.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


There are wolves in sheep's clothing all around...

people who act sweet as pie who actually speak lies that are full of deceit
advertisements that bring false promises, promises that never yield
products that aren't what they claim, but are complete falsehood

They're all around us, these frauds and liars that present in all sorts of forms. Wolves in sheep's clothing that need to be exposed. The latest wolf to be unfleeced is SIGG. I'm so disappointed about this news. Not too long ago I wrote a blog entry about the SIGG bottles our family each had and how wonderful I thought they were. I had chosen to use SIGG bottles for two reasons:
1. to help our mother earth, keeping disposable water bottles out of our landfills
2. to help ourselves, by keeping away from BPA toxins leached through plastics

Although it did help us meet reason number 1. With the use of our SIGG bottles, we stopped buying bottled water so that we no longer contributed these to our landfills.
Most disappointing is to find out the liners in these bottles actually contain BPA, a harmful toxin that leaches into our drinks. They had previously advertised their linings had a secret ingredient, what they failed to tell us was that this secret ingredient was actually BPA. Apparently, they have now developed a new liner for their bottles that no longer contain BPA and are offering to exchange your old bottles for these new ones. What I would really like is a refund as I am angered by their deceit. But of course, they are not offering refunds.

From what I've read, the safest bottles to purchase are those that are stainless steel such as, Klean Kanteen. Make the switch for your health and our planet's health. And let's keep exposing those wolves out there, for our personal good, our families well being, and the greater good of humanity.

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