Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Sugared Up - Eli the Dancing Man

Happy Halloween! I'm still catching up on photos, but here's a video of Eli dancing to the song that continues to be his favorite (Hey Soul Sister). I think he was on a sugar high after trick-or-treating. My favorite dance moves are the smooth spins :) This video was taken w/ my laptop webcam - you can tell Eli is having fun watching himself on the screen...

Eli dancing - Soul Sister Oct 2010 from Sarah on Vimeo.

This Means War, Mr. Raccoon

Remember a few weeks ago when we had a raccoon bothering us on the roof above the family room?

We climbed up to the roof and removed the garden tool that he was dragging and playing with… this was his revenge:


He wreaked havoc on our yard. And chewed up a few balls. What a rotten raccoon.


It’s amazing to see how much damage this animal can cause in one night.


This means war, Mr. Raccoon.

(Any suggestions????)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sweet/Spicy Citrus Tilapia and Carrots/Parsnips Recipes

Here are two recipes I made last night for dinner -

First, from the August 2010 Cooking Light - I grilled the fish for 15 minutes (placed on a makeshift aluminum foil tray on the grill) and it was delicious! Broiling would be easy too.

Sweet and Spicy Citrus Tilapia

"This is a very versatile marinade. It's great with chicken breasts, but I would recommend using the grill instead. Add green beans tossed with cilantro and lime." Carma Van Allen, South Orange, N.J.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet and about 2 teaspoons sauce)

4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
Cooking spray
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon paprika

1. Arrange fish in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Combine orange juice and next 9 ingredients (through garlic); pour over fish. Let stand 15 minutes.

2. Preheat broiler.

3. Sprinkle fish with paprika; broil 15 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Drizzle sauce over fish.

CALORIES 225 ; FAT 6.6g (sat 1.5g,mono 3.4g,poly 1.2g); CHOLESTEROL 85mg; CALCIUM 30mg; CARBOHYDRATE 7.5g; SODIUM 486mg; PROTEIN 34.8g; FIBER 0.4g; IRON 1.3mg
I made my favorite carrots/parsnips recipe to go with the fish and it was a tasty combo! Here's the recipe found here -
6 medium parsnips, halved lengthwise, cut into 3x1/4-inch strips
6 medium carrots, halved lengthwise, cut into 3x1/4-inch strips
3 medium onions, cut into 1-inch wedges
4 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup honey

Heat oven to 425 F.

In large bowl, combine parsnips, carrots, onions and 2 teaspoons of the rosemary.

In small bowl, whisk together oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle over vegetables; toss. Place on 17x12-inch rimmed baking sheet.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned and tender, stirring occasionally. Drizzle with honey; stir gently. Bake an additional 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons rosemary.

Keeping Busy

I think this is the longest I've gone between posts. Here is my run-on list of things I've done in the last two weeks instead of blogging:

  • Cleaned my house. Lots of times. And watched it get messy again after about a few hours. Or a few minutes.
  • Cooked a lot of meals. Cleaned up those meals. I have a few recipes to share tomorrow that were a hit.
  • Played with my kids. One day last week, I purposely didn't schedule anything so we could just play at home without feeling rushed. It was hilarious playing duck duck goose with these sweet boys. Charlie and Eli liked being the geese rather than the ducks, so it was kind of a haphazard game, but so so funny. Hide and seek is hilarious too. Charlie does not know how to stay quiet when we're hiding together and Eli is looking for us. The anticipation gets him every time.
  • Took a shower while Charlie unrolled the toilet paper a few feet away from me. This happened multiple days. I need to be smarter and put the toilet paper up high out of his reach. I thought we were past this stage, but apparently this has renewed appeal.
  • Survived the crazy Midwest wind storm this week with 60 m.p.h. winds. Our 85-year-old windows were shaking so much that Charlie had a hard time napping with all of the noise.
  • Refinanced for the second time on our house (we've lived here a little over two years now). The title company was nice enough to come to our house, but holy cow the woman was weird. Glad that is behind us and extra glad to have a lower interest rate.
  • Tried to get organized for our upcoming anniversary trip to Mexico. Have I mentioned that our original flights were screwed up because the airline went bankrupt last month?? And Expedia never notified us? That company is not on my good list.
  • Went to a photography workshop.
  • Photographed five babies/families. Edited a lot of photos.
  • Edited a friend's business school application essays.
  • Saw the cows, horses, chickens, roosters at Wagner Farm with the boys.
  • Took them on another day to the Morton Arboretum to see pretty fall colors. Pictures to come sometime soon.
  • Got pulled over by the security guy at Morton Arboretum because I was driving 32 mph on one of the driving loops. Full story to come sometime soon. The security guy was ridiculous.
  • Baked a cake with the kids I used to take care of when I was a nanny (this my gift to Caroline's for her 6th birthday). They were so cute. It's crazy to think it's been 3 1/2 years since I was there nannying and making treats with them.
  • Got the flu vaccination for my kids and myself. Ben's in charge of himself :)
  • Attended a local interfaith religious leaders meeting because I am STILL doing public affairs for our stake (three years+). I attended with my kids. Bad idea. Charlie wouldn't stop jabbering through the meeting and Eli drew all over his hand with red marker. Not our finest moment and I think the other people there, i.e., the rabbi, pastor, minister, etc. all thought I was a little nuts. And like the stereotypical Mormon young mom with little kids. Ahhhh.
  • Attended our ward Halloween party. There were SO MANY children there. Our ward has so many kids. It is unbelievable to see them all when they are in one big room together. Pictures to come.
But mainly, I didn't blog because the PC I blog from was being a pain in the neck and not publishing from Windows Live Writer. Lame.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Gangsta's Paradise, Ben & Sarah Style

Last weekend, we did something completely out of my comfort zone. COMPLETELY.

But sometimes you need friends to pull you out of that comfortable place and help you totally make a fool out of yourself. And since we made fools out of ourselves in front of a handful of people, why not embarrass myself further by posting the video on the blog?? Some friends hosted an extreme karaoke party, where you have the song playing on an ipod while wearing headphones, and sing a song in front of the group without background music. It's really, really funny watching other people do it. But quite frightening doing it yourself.

I present to you - Extreme Karaoke, Ben & Sarah Style. Singing "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio.

DISCLAIMER(S) - I was wearing Ben's pants, so they were huge on me. I know I don't pull of gangsta very well. I was SO nervous. We were first of the group to go. I could not stop laughing at Ben's crazy performance. I swear I know the words better than I exhibited here. And my voice was hoarse from practicing all day. It's a LONG song. And... really I just can't sing. Especially when I'm that nervous. We don't have toy guns in our house, so Ben had a bubble gun (toy that blows bubbles) and I had the garden hose sprayer thing. Anyway, focus on Ben and I bet it will make you laugh :)

Extreme Karaoke 2010 - Coolio's Gantsta's Paradise from Sarah on Vimeo.

In case you've forgotten what the real song sounds like, here it is:

Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise
Uploaded by Deriver. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

At the very end, Eli decided he wanted in on the fun, so he did an impromptu version of "Hey Soul Sister" by Train. He knows about two lines of the song. I apologize because his video is pretty long, with a lot of humming in between those few lines that he actually knows. I tried editing it down, but was having problems and decided to just throw this up in its entirety. I love that Eli enjoys performing and isn't nervous or embarrassed. Basically the exact opposite of me :)

Eli - Soul Sister Extreme Karaoke from Sarah on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Poopy Diaper and Other Thoughts

This is a non-picture post. Just a random scattering of thoughts from the last week.

First, my funny story of the day: This afternoon I had my laptop on the glider chair in the family room. I sat down on the ottoman part of the glider to respond to an email really fast when Charlie walked up to me, swiftly lifted up the back of my shirt a little, grabbed my jeans waistband and said, "Poopy diaper!"

I could NOT stop laughing. Mainly because I do this to Charlie all the time (check his pants to see if he's poopy). I promise there was no reason for him to think I had a poopy diaper. But it made me think about the things I do with my kids and what it would be like for them to reciprocate these. Like checking for a poopy diaper. Or wiping Eli's face after he gets it messy from eating cereal every morning. Or whatever else that moms do to their poor kids :)

Charlie isn't a big talker in terms of conversation, but he loves to repeat words and can fill in the blank for most books we read together on a regular basis. It's so cute hearing him say, "It's pajama time!" when we read the book by Sandra Boynton. His favorite book is anything that has trains or construction vehicles (I need to get a video of him saying, "Excavator!" in his cute 1-year-old voice).

I squeeze my own reading in mainly while I'm drying my hair in the morning. I sit on the floor in front of the floor-length mirror on the back of my closet, prop a book open with my feet, and this means about 10 minutes of reading time, except for when Charlie plops down on my lap and blocks my view of the book. So really, it's more like 5 minutes of reading each day. It's better than nothing.

Speaking of reading, Eli found a copy of The Book of Mormon on one of our bookshelves and decided it was his. I put his name in the front and we try to read a few verses each morning during breakfast. Eli loves looking at the pictures in the front of the book and gets upset when I forget to bring it with us to church on Sunday. One of these days I'll surprise him by actually remembering...

Our lawn mower has died a slow death. I embarrassed Ben a little on Saturday when I asked our neighbor if we could borrow his so we could trim the meadow growing in our yard after weeks of neglect. Our neighbor was so nice about it and our yard looks MUCH better.

I've been working with Eli on addition/subtraction. I'm talking REALLY basic math (adding/subtracting by one or two). We stand at the chalkboard side of his easel and I'll write the math problems, then we practice tracing and writing the numbers. Sometimes we'll make up stories that use numbers in some way, then write them on the board. Eli loves when I do the little dash marks for him to trace.

At night after our regular bedtime routine all together, Ben or I will take Charlie in to his room to read a few more books and then put him to bed. The other adult will climb in bed with Eli and tell stories. Eli loves this and always wants the other parent to come in and kiss him good night at the end (totally stalling) - if it's my turn to come in at the end, he'll almost always convince me to also tell a story, even if Ben has told one or two right before that. I love curling up next to my oldest son, sharing true stories about him or making up crazy far-fetched tales that make him giggle. It makes me happy to have quality one-on-one time with Eli.

Tonight I was the one to put Charlie to bed - I totally had the hiccups, which cracked him up. Every time I hiccuped while reading stories together in the rocking chair, Charlie would giggle and giggle, then look up at my face to wait for the next hiccup. I love his giggle.

Life isn't perfect. I stay up too late almost every night and drag myself out of bed in the morning. Ben's commute is long and he hates leaving when it's dark early in the morning and coming home when it's almost dark and the kids have an hour left before going to bed. Our house is hardly ever completely clean at one time. And my kids fight and cry WAYYYYY too much during the day and that makes me a little crazy too. We have a raccoon who climbs up on the roof over the family room every night and makes a racket and is such a pest. He even carried a garden tool up to the roof, which he moves around, possibly trying to wreck the poor roof. Stupid raccoon.

But when you boil down to stuff that matters, I feel really lucky to have two sweet boys, a loving husband, a growing photography business, and great friends and family. When I drive around our area at this time of year, I'm struck by the beauty of the old, huge trees dropping pretty, colorful leaves on the old cobblestone streets. I love that we can go to the beach so often and don't mind that there is always a trail of sand near the side door where we take shoes off. I'm grateful that my DSLR is still going strong after more than 82,000 clicks AND that I'll be getting a new camera soon! I read often and have pre-ordered a new model being released soon. I can't wait for the ability to change settings quickly when I'm doing a shoot. My trusty D40 has served me well, but I am so excited for an upgrade!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pretty (and WARM!) Autumn Day

Autumn time in the Midwest is so beautiful. We’ve had more unusually warm weather this week (in the high 70s) and we’ve gone on lots of walks, enjoying our pretty surroundings. We stopped at the golf course to look at the different kinds of leaves and run around a little. Last night we finalized our pumpkin carving templates for this year (a spider and a Mickey Mouse). Initially though, Eli told us he wanted, “A rabbit stuck in a tree and a firefighter rescuing him.” That would have been a complicated pumpkin to carve :)

Charlie is still so cuddly and is like a little koala, always wanting to be up in my warms, hanging on my hip. He is sweet and soft, but throws so many fierce tantrums. Including any time I try to buckle him into the booster seat at our kitchen table. He does NOT want to sit in that seat with the tray and a bib. It is a big fight. But he’s too short to sit in a regular chair, and Eli is often possessive of HIS chair. I usually strap him into the booster seat, then he starts screaming, and if there is any food on the tray, he’ll throw it. So now I know to wait to put any food on there until after the tantrum, which can last up to 10 minutes.

We may have to get Charlie his own chair like Eli’s so our mealtimes can be a little more peaceful (We bought Eli’s secondhand, but it’s an old version of this one from One Step Ahead and much cheaper than the awesome but pricey Tripp Trapp chair).


Eli was making bunny ears with some leaves that he found :)


Charlie was throwing a tantrum on the ground… he’s always very dramatic when he gets upset.


Charlie was mad because I stopped him from exploring the forest area after he picked up an old beer can that someone had tossed into the woods and put it up to his lips. It was empty, but still! I’m not letting him play with that.


Back on our walk in the stroller, the boys happily munched on their usual snack, apples.


We walked to the beach, where I unsuccessfully tried to get a shot of the two of them near the art center. Charlie was not in the mood for a group shot.


But cheered up when I let him wander around on his own.




We walked down to the beach and played at the water for about an hour. It was such a beautiful morning and we almost had the beach to ourselves. It’s crazy how every time we go, I think this will be our last great beach day. But then the weather surprises us and it’s yet another perfect day to spend at the beach.


Eli’s shorts were soaking wet after not too long. He loves running in the water!


Throwing sand is always fun too.


Ohhhhh Eli…


My friend Krista met up with us with her youngest little one, Anderson, who is 9 weeks old. Isn’t he so sweet? Her two older kids were back at home with her husband.


Charlie borrowed a pink bucket from some other kids on the beach and it was fun watching him fill it up with water and struggle to carry the heavy pail onto the sand.


Here’s Eli’s hand full of sand, ready to launch into the water -


Blowing bubbles (not drinking) in Lake Michigan -


Charlie’s shorts were wet and heavy, so I stripped those off and he was much more content there at the edge of the water.


A one more of sleeping Anders -


I am still kicking myself for not being done with the darn photo blog. It’s one of those things where I wait to work on it at night, then it takes a little time to get back into where I last left it, and then I’m interrupted or I have sessions to edit or things to do for church. BUT I plan on finishing it this week so I can post some samples of what I’ve been up to over the last few months!