Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Playing Catch-Up

Thank you to everyone who expressed concern for the Munch's bout of pink eye last week. Luckily, I caught it early enough to start the drops right away and no one seems to have caught it from her. Also, she was so good about having the drops put in and I don't remember a time that she ever touched her eyes after I told her not to while she was goopy.
I've spent the last week or so buried in the Twilight series. I am so hooked! I'm currently working my way through #3 and I'm fortunate AudioDad doesn't seem to mind that I've constantly got a book in hand lately.
We finally also got to have our very good friends over for dinner after several months of not seeing each other. Munch was on her very best behavior and made my friend a lovely sticker bracelet. Dinner was so yummy- roast chicken (my very favorite) and buttermilk mashed potatoes. Dessert was a simple fudgy brownie with some really addicting peanut butter cup ice cream. I think it's calling my name right now...
Big news! We finally purchased Munch's new bed. She'll be switching from her converted crib/toddler bed this weekend to a twin. I've been giving away most of her baby stuff to anyone who'll take it-the stroller, the infant car seat, and I've got the crib promised to some neighbors down the street. But I have to admit, there's something about giving away the crib leaving that feels so final (in terms of expanding our family, or not)- and I'm having a harder time with it than I expected. Anyways, watch for pics of the new big-girl bed next week!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Short and Sweet

Munch.
Pink-eye.
Yuck!

Thank goodness AudioDad's staying home with her tomorrow!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Responsibility

As a teacher, I try to instill in the children I work with an appropriate level of responsibility. Show your best effort, clean up after yourself, take care of your belongings, etc. I often have to remind my students that they, not their parents, forgot their homework, or jacket, or backpack. So I was especially gratified to hear Munch say in the car yesterday, "Oh no, Mom! You forgot to..no, wait..I forgot to brush my teeth!"
For three-years old, we're off to a good start!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Going Undercover...

I've been going back and forth since the creation of this blog regarding the use of aliases for my family. Early on, when I had an audience I could count on one hand, who knew us really well, and I didn't really know how long I might stick with it, it seemed a little contrived. Also, I wasn't feeling creative enough to come up with good nicknames. But I've definitely been considering it on and off. And I've always used initials for other children, whether family or friends, to give them some anonymity. A recent discussion on the Mom Bloggers Club, in which moms discussed privacy (and potential embarrassment), fear of online predators, and the very real possibility of schools and employers doing searches on various family members in the future validated many of my concerns. I've finally decided that the little time it would take to edit past posts is worth it in the long run, allowing me to just put this issue behind me. The little one also has chosen her own favorite nickname- "Munch", short for "Munchkin", but also quite fitting given the name of the blog.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Life as a SAHM

I consider myself really lucky to have the job that I do. Although teaching kindergartners takes quite a bit of energy and patience (both of which I somehow have to dredge up reserves for when I start my afternoons with Munch), it allows me a good amount of time to spend with her. I know how quickly the time goes, so I try to make every minute count. Even our commute hours in the car are great opportunities to chat, play games, sing songs, and tell stories.
I've been home this week-Spring Break- and as usual, I've been busier than ever. Today was especially jam-packed. We started our morning with a tour of the Jelly Belly factory-

she loved seeing the Jelly Belly Volkswagen Beetle- the Beetle's her current favorite car and she loves trying to spot them on the road.

They were having a Mrs. Grossman Sticker Day, so we purchased a couple of assorted packets to do a little sticker art-

After lunch, a short workout, and a quick game of Mario Kart-

we headed to the library. It was Munch's first visit and they were having a special wildlife presentation. She got a front row seat for seeing some beautiful animals. Her favorite was the porcupine-


we also made sure to walk around the duck pond after checking out our books-

Once we got back to the house it was snack & project time. I decided to combine the two after Munch's interest in Purplicious and seeing the way pink and blue made purple at the end of the story.
We read the story, Mouse Paint, and I mixed up a small batch of white frosting. After dividing it into 3 bowls, we added a few drops of red, yellow, and blue food coloring to each.

Then we chose different pairs to discover what new secondary color they created.


Munch spread her colored icing on vanilla cookies to enjoy with some nice, cold milk.

Now, she's busy making imaginary cookies while I blog and get dinner together. I know I'll be pooped later, but what a fun day- I feel like we got good quality time with a lot of learning built in.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More New Stuff!

I know my friends are going to just shake their heads at this post (especially after my enthusiasm over the refrigerator we purchased last fall), but I'm a girl who just loves her appliances...
Hooray! The installer just left- we just purchased a new dishwasher and garbage disposal. Both were the original appliances that were put in when the house was built, about 15 years ago. The poor dishwasher had lost its front panel (boy, was it noisy then!) but still ran okay until a couple of weeks ago, when I noticed that things just weren't as clean. And we had to be SO careful about what we put down the disposal- I learned early on, when we first moved in, what it could handle. Unfortunately, poor AudioDad would still end up under the sink every holiday, when family members would proceed to attempt to grind up all sorts of food scraps. So, here's to sparkling, clean dishes and no more stopped-up disposers!

my lovely new Kenmore Elite dishwasher

Saturday, April 11, 2009

More Easter Fun...


Here it is- my lemon cake with white chocolate butter cream. It was delicious!
We spent the day with my sister and her son. The kids are good pals and so much fun now, with Munch being 3 and her cousin, 4. I love listening in on their conversations- so earnest and expressive!

It seems they spent a good amount of time scoping out the backyard from inside the house, planning their egg finding strategy.

After a late lunch we headed out to the driveway for chalk drawing and bubble blowing-

And luckily, Munch fell asleep quickly, giving me time to put her Easter basket together- an egg-shaped bunny puzzle, a chirping fluffy chick, a bag of balloons, egg shaped sidewalk chalk, hollow chocolate See's eggs that have a little white chocolate chick inside, a chocolate bunny (also from See's), and the special gift- a Dora watch.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Easter!


I love the simple little projects that Munch is beginning to bring home from preschool. She's been wearing these bunny ears every chance she gets! Hope everyone has a great Easter. I'll post photos of my lemon cake that is baking once I get it frosted with that great white chocolate buttercream!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Icing on the Cake

I like frosting, really I do. When it's just right, it makes a simple cake something truly special. Some people love all kinds, no matter how sugary- even the shortening based ones from the supermarket bakery. They're also usually the ones who as kids, ate all the frosting off their cupcakes and tossed the actual cake in the trash! I know that my very best friend will always want a corner piece of a sheet cake- the one that's essentially half cake, half frosting- if there's a big ol' honking icing rose on the top of it, so much the better. I'm the type that's often hopeful about the frosting, but end up leaving most of it on the plate. I want to like it, but am often disappointed.

My latest challenge has been to find a nice, simple vanilla frosting for when I decide, at the last minute, to whip up a batch of cupcakes or a rectangular cake (you know, the one in the 9x13 pan, that you end up snacking on, one little bit at a time, all weekend?) I haven't been happy with most of the frostings I've tried that use butter and powdered sugar- they're usually too sweet for my tastes. But I'm also too lazy to try anything more involved (meaning, a stovetop as is called for in some frosting recipes). But this weekend, as I rooted through my cupboard, I came across a recipe for white chocolate butter cream frosting on a package of Bakers' white chocolate squares. It turned out to be exactly what I've been searching for- easy, a subtle white chocolate flavor, and more interesting than "plain vanilla", which surprised me because I'm not much of a white chocolate fan. This will definitely be my "go-to" frosting from now on!

White Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting (enough for 1-9x13 pan, double the recipe if you're stacking 2 round layers)
3 oz. white chocolate
3-4 tbs. heavy whipping cream
1 stick unsalted butter (mine was still a bit chilled from the fridge, but not rock-hard)-cut into pieces
1/2-3/4 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Break white chocolate into pieces into a microwave-safe bowl. Add the cream and heat at 50% power for 30 seconds, stir, and heat another 30 seconds. Stir until white chocolate is melted and smooth (heating for a few seconds more at a time as needed). Stir to cool mixture slightly. Combine butter, 1/2 c. powdered sugar, white chocolate mixture, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, adding more powdered sugar as needed to make desired consistency.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Wonder Indeed

I wasn't planning to post tonight (Survivor is calling...) but when I saw this in my in-box, there was no way I wasn't sharing it with you. My Grandma Vivion is the most amazing person I've ever known. She's spunky, smart, and vivacious- how could I not name my little Munch after her? I just wish she wasn't halfway across the country! I'll never forget her stories about her youth, like when she ran away to get married, or the time she told me (when I was newly married to AudioDad) to be sure to come visit her in Arlington, and she'd put us in the bedroom down the hall even though she "wouldn't hear a thing without my hearing aids anyway!" I always insisted she room with me when she came out- we always had such fun, and I can still hear her saying, "Good morning sunshine!"
This article made me so proud and captures her spirit pretty well- I hope you enjoy reading about her! For the Star-Telegram article, click here.
The two Viv's finally meet!

We took her to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory- all she wanted was a chocolate shake!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Making Better Food Choices

(I know, not a very creative title to this post) I've recently been making an effort to reduce the amount of prepared/processed food I purchase. In general, we don't buy much "snack" food- chips and such- unless we're having people over because I really want Munch to have better snacking choices- nuts, cheese, yogurt, and fruit (and I have to admit, when I see other carts loaded up with sodas, chips, cookies, lunchables-ugh! I wonder where the "real" food is...) I'm also trying really hard to eat more protein throughout the day and improve my blood sugar numbers. It's definitely taken more time and planning to get meals on the table and "mini-meals" into the lunch bag, especially after a day at work (and I sometimes can't resist some of the delicious meals Trader Joe's carries in their freezer section-right now, the strategy is just avoidance).

So, my game plan over the last few weeks has been to minimize waste and leftovers that linger uneaten in the fridge by shopping for and preparing fewer meals during the week. Now I plan for only 3-4 meals a week, building in time to have leftovers and one dinner out. Next, I decided to always make a big batch of soup or a stew every week- usually we can have this for a couple of nights and I put some away in the freezer. I've also been trying to introduce "new" vegetables to the family. AudioDad used to be such a meat and potatoes kind of guy, but over time (12 years!) he's really become more open to new things. And once Munch was born, he decided to cut out fast food because he didn't want her eating it either. I've been especially glad when he's expressed an interest in ingredients I've "introduced" to them- beet salads, turnips, parsnips, and other root vegetables in my soups and stews.

Last night's success was an easy Greek-style shepherd's salad with radishes- I found the recipe in Wondertime magazine. It's so refreshing and would make a great potluck salad! (Sorry, no pics- we ate it all before I remembered to grab a camera!) And my weekly grocery shopping trips now consist of lots of fresh vegetables, some dairy, and just a bit of meat or chicken, depending on what's on the week's menu. More wholesome food, less waste, and a better value for my dollar.
There was an error in this gadget