a slice of insanity pie...

Sort of how I am feeling right now. 

As if I ate a large portion of that pie.

Do you know that mixed feeling after consuming a large, sweet, rich dessert? A little satisfied, a little bit on a sugar-high, a little grateful such delicious things exist, a little bit of, "Uh-oh, I can't believe I just ate the WHOLE thing."

That's where I am today.

One day ago we booked three plane tickets to fly to Greece for a two week vacation.  We have no passports.  We have made no advanced preparations to fly internationally with our toddler.  The ground transportation is far from sewn up.  And, we leave in...

10 days.


Color me crazy.

How did this madness come about?  We have been talking about this trip since last summer.  About the timing with both of our work schedules, when the right time would be for George, planning for the rising costs of airfare.  I arranged my entire May work schedule to accommodate a vacation.  Mr. Boom figured out his project schedule and figured mid-May to be the ideal time, right before his busy season begins.  We had the dates ready.  We were looking at airfares. 

And then we opened the mailbox. 

Inside, the Federal Jury Duty notice addressed to Mr. Boom with a notice to appear in mid-April. Not exactly stellar timing for civic duty.  Postpone, you say?  Not an option.  He had already needed  to postpone twice and a third postponement would have called him back in the late summer, at the height of his busy work season when he absolutely, no way, cannot leave his job site.  Nothing left to do but put off buying tickets, report to the call and hope for a dismissal.  Which would leave us mere days to know would we or wouldn't we be going on this trip.  Just days to buy international airfare and figure out logistics.  Days to pack and prepare while still maintaining our normal work and home schedules. 

And that brings me to crazy-town.  He was not, thankfully, selected for a jury and his job cleared the vacation time.  Our appointment to get three expedited passports is tomorrow morning.  So, here were are with TEN DAYS to prepare for our big, fat Greek vacation. 

Oh, and just a little bit of a (fantastically cool) wrench in the already short timeline.  Mr. Boom and I are leaving George, to spend his very first night away from us, just two days before our trip for a Bon Jovi concert!  Friday night concert, stay over and return home on Saturday, fly out of the country on Sunday.

Grateful and excited? YES.

Crazy as a loon?  Check!

Wish us luck...


wordless wednesday: peek-a-boo, take 2...

Becoming an annual tradition, HERE are his peek-a-boo shots from last year in the same spot.


it was a happy easter indeed...

We had a wonderful Easter weekend full of family, playtime and food. My parents were in town to celebrate with us and to get some much needed George time. Though the weather wasn't ideal, we were able to take advantage of a brief clearing on Saturday for a park trip and Sunday morning was warm and full of beautiful sun for Easter mass. Here is the re-cap, in photos...

My dad, book reader extraordinaire. Just look at the adoration!

Sliding is fun!
Fun at the park with Pop and YiaYia...
Thanks Easter Bunny!
With the traditional Greek Easter lamb. My oh so handsome guys in their finest... 
A reluctant bunny...
 Thanks to my dad for this new favorite family photo...


crying over spilled coffee: tale from a true klutz...

I am a klutz.  I drop things, stub my toes and trip over things occasionally constantly.  It is an annoying, messy and sometimes painful part of who I am.  Despite trying very hard to avoid spills they just happen and happen regularly.

This is the mug that my mom gave to me when I became a mom myself.  The mug that has held the coffee that has carried me through countless mornings after sleep deprived nights.  The mug I have sipped from every single day since arriving home with our tiny little bundle of George. A large mug for copious amounts of caffeine, fitting perfectly in my hand and the caricature bearing a striking resemblance to my morning self.

Today, I put my coffee mug on the counter and set about the task of washing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast. Deciding that I had enough coffee for the day, I picked up my mug to spill the last of the liquid and wash it out.  Maybe there was too much soap on my hands or maybe it was just my klutzy moment of the day but CRASH! in an instant it was out of my hands, coffee splashing a mess everywhere, and broken.

Now, sadly, this is my poor mug:
The klutz strikes again, leaving me mugless and not a happy camper. *sigh*


dinner tonight: 2 recipes = 1 delicious meal...

Followers of my blog for any time might have noticed a lack of recipe posts lately.  The truth is that in the late winter, early spring doldrums I just haven't been inspired to try anything new.  Nothing was peaking my interest and we were getting in a bit of a slow cooker dinner rut. Even some of the favorites in our meal rotation feel stale when eaten over and over again. 

Then, last week, a side dish popped up in my Google Reader that sounded and looked good enough to pull me out of my recipe funk: Herbed Potatoes and Green Beans.  I grocery shopped for the few ingredients I didn't have on hand Monday and took boneless pork chops out of the freezer to defrost.  Tuesday night's dinner was on it's way to being planned.  But, what to do with the pork?  I needed to find a skillet recipe - the oven would take too long and the grill? Buried in the back of the garage. Somewhere.  So, I turned to the girls on a message board I frequent and came away with what turned out to be a delicious suggestion for Rosemary Garlic Pork Chops. I cooked both dishes at the same time, taking about 30 minutes total.  Here are the adapted recipes:

Herbed Potatoes and Green Beans
Adapted from Stephanie Cooks

1 lb. red potatoes, diced evenly
3/4 lb green beans, end trimmed
Chicken broth, at least 2 cups
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt & Pepper

1. Spray cooking spray in a large skillet with lid.
2. Turn heat to med-high, add potatoes
3. Flip after 5 minutes, or when golden brown. Brown other side.
4. Pour in chicken broth until potatoes are halfway covered, about one cup. Cover and allow to steam over med-low heat 5-10 min until liquid is almost absorbed.
5. Add more broth, again covering potatoes halfway.  Add green beans, onion, garlic and sprinkle with paprika. Stir well. Replace lid, steam 5-10 min, checking often (may need to add more liquid).
6. Once veggies are cooked through, raise heat to reduce broth.  Stir to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Oregano Garlic Pork Chops
Adapted Redbook

4 boneless center-cut pork chops (1"thick)
3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced (I used 1 tsp Tastefully Simple, Garlic Garlic)

1. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper, seasoning both sides.
2. In a large skillet, heat oil on med-high, add pork chops when hot and cook 4 minutes per side.
3. Reduce heat to medium; add butter, oregano and garlic. Cook, turning pork every 2-3 min until finished.  Remove from heat, cover with foil and let stand 5 min. Spoon drippings over pork when serving.


wordless wednesday: being groomed...

Fierce, yet still cute, look to wither competitors? Check!


on music: the good and the very, very bad...

As pop culture is subjective to taste and personal preference, I don't comment on it too often.  Sure, I love Bon Jovi, Billy Joel and Adele but you may not and we can still be friends, right? (well, maybe...) But, I'm feeling compelled to say something now. 

For years, though I had a relatively short commute to work, I listened to audio books in the car rather than the radio.  I wasn't a big fan of the endless corny commercials and they were all that seemed to play for the 15 minute ride to and from work each day.  Audio books were a great solution and our library was well stocked with interesting titles.  I find that audio books require a certain amount of attention, however.  Now that my commutes are significantly longer (35+ min to Bronx and 90+ min to Brooklyn) and fraught with whizzing cabs, barreling box trucks and crazy commuters, my whole attention needs to be on the task at hand - defensive driving. 

So, I'm back to listening to the radio.

The thing about popular radio is that they play the same Top 25 or so songs, over and over all day long. Having an affinity for memorizing music easily I know most pop songs on the radio now by heart. There are some good ones, in my opinion, such as:
  • Pink - "Perfect"...on your worst day, the hope is that everyone has someone in their life to tell them that they are perfect, no matter what
  • The Script - "For the First Time"...such a beautiful commentary on life right now.  Times are hard but cling to the ones you love to see you through *sigh*
  • Plain White Tees - "Rhythm of Love"...peppy, happy, lovey-dovey sweetness
And then there are the bad ones:
  • Ke$ha- "Your Love is My Drug"- where she compares herself to a 'lovesick crackhead.'  Um, okay? She just has this whiny, nasally, awful voice that always makes me wonder who on earth thought it was a good idea to give her a contract. And the dollar sign?  Really?
  • Mumford and Sons - "The Cave"...any song that includes lyrics such as 'tie me to a post' or 'noose around your neck' is not my cup of tea.  These guys are just trying way to hard to set themselves apart and the result? Not good
  • Katy Perry - "E.T."...good concept for a movie, just ridiculous as a song
The, the worst of the worst (this is where I stand up on my soap box):
  • Rihanna- "S&M"...sexually graphic, blatant and, frankly, disgusting lyrics that I won't type out here.  Feel free to Google them yourself if you haven't heard the song yet. But, I warned you...
As a single adult, I might not have thought twice about this last song.  Being a parent gives a completely different perspective. This one song makes me truly concerned about raising a child in our society.  What are we saying to our children when the most popular, mainstream radio station in the New York metro area is playing this trash hourly for any child to tune in?  I am no prude but, this?  Over the top.

While, yes, I do believe it is a parent's responsibility to filter media for children, how much can we shelter them?  Remember when Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" came out and shortly thereafter a number of YouTube videos of little girls imitating the dance popped up, causing all sorts of commentary?  Can you imagine the storm that this will bring if the same happens?  Can't. even, go. there. 

Children are going to hear this song, catch the beat and start memorizing and singing back the words.  They will be asking you, "Mommy, why does she want to be gagged?"  OMG. 

How would you explain that one? 

Why should you have any need to explain (or artfully dodge) that question?

How do you plan on dealing with these issues that come up in a society that is getting more and more permissive and accepting of making the taboo part of the mainstream, accessible to our youngest and most vulnerable?  Discuss...


the age of understanding...

When asked, "Where do you put the keys?" he got up from the floor, keys in hand, and stood on his tip toes to try to put a key in the front door lock.

As he stood in the living room clearly looking around for something, I said, "You left Henry in the kitchen," (his favorite, for now, train), he walked right into the kitchen, picked Henry up from the spot he was left in front of the stove and happily went about his play.

If asked, "Would you like to eat?" he walks over to his highchair pointing and gesturing. 

Ask "Do you need a new diaper?" and he goes to stand by his bedroom door, waiting for us to catch up and take him to the changing table.
Brain as sponge doesn't quite seem to cover how fast he is mimicking, catching on, learning and understanding.  As a first time mom, I often wonder if I am doing enough to nurture his learning. As the first and, for now, only child he plays independently quite a bit.  I have no idea how much is too much.  Is there a limit?  We read books, play trains, blocks, kitchen and I narrate a good portion of the day in English and (my limited) Greek. But, am I actually supporting his development the way I should and how does one even know?

Outside of play dates, running into other kids at the park and the one day a week that he spends with his Nanny and her daughter, he doesn't have structured socialization time.  I'm looking at options for toddler classes, thinking that now might be a good time to get him used to being around groups of other children his age.  But, which to choose...a gym class to get out some of his ever-present energy? A parent/child music class for more of a mellow experience? *sigh*

He is bright, sweet and funny and I want to give him every opportunity to reach his full potential, whatever that may mean for him. So, any tips would be welcome...

First time mom also = over-thinking and second-guessing. A lot. Clearly.


project life: weeks 10-13...

Part deux of my Project Life catch-up update, as promised. 

Two of the weeks here were fairly eventful and I decided to add an additional page protector for each to hold more photos and memorabilia.  I found the divided sheets online inexpensively, allowing for easy expansion. If you'd like a closer look at any of the layouts, click on a photo to enlarge. 

Week 10: March 7 - 13
The insert here is a regular 8x5x11" page protector that holds a map of a children's museum we visited and, on the flip side, a number of bits of life from that week that I'll adhere to cardstock in a much more cohesive manner...soon. The photo collages that I've included, such as the top right here, were made very simply in Picasa. One of the many reasons I love to use the program for quick photo edits.
Oh, look!  A photo of me.  See, evidence I was there...
Week 11: March 14 -20

Week 12: March 21 - 27
Front of the divided insert includes my two favorite of G's 15 month photos, the sample card of the paint we chose for our living room/kitchen (bottom: Behr, Raffia Cream) and a toy tag from our trip to Ikea - this was for felt fruit :)
Back of the insert includes the receipt from our Ikea trip and more photos I loved from that week, including the adorable face G makes right now when he is concentrating hard on a task or is excited about something ("Oooo!") and checking out his brand-new striped armchair and ottoman.
See, not ALL photos are of our kid.  I've included a shot of the savings from our grocery shopping that week (over 30% savings using sales and coupons!) and Mr. Boom's forearm wearing his magnetic contraption that held the nails he was using to install our new master closet organizer.
Week 13: March 28 - April 3
The back of this week's insert (front left out deliberately for privacy or, it wasn't finished.  Yeah, one of those.) A business card and menu from Chipotle and more favorite photos from the week.

I love, love, love how this project is coming together.  It isn't effortless but, it is easy.  It fits into my life and schedule right now.  And, I am capturing real stuff of our daily routine, family and world.  Love that.  Project Life?  Yes, indeed.


project life: {almost} caught up...

Since sharing my plan and process for this year's Project Life album several weeks back, I have been hard at work putting it together and doing my best to keep up to date.  A few hours during several week nights has me caught up through April 3rd, with the photos for last week edited and uploaded to a Shutterfly album waiting to be printed. 

I resolved to DO this and do it right.

My plan for uploading photos into weekly albums has worked even better than I imagined.  Now, rather than scrolling through hundreds of photos in my monthly Picasa albums to find the right dates, I am instead uploading photos to Shutterfly as they are edited, in the proper weekly album.  When I want to order prints, I simply go into the weekly album select "all" and order.  Simple. Workable. Done.

Okay, so what does the album (Turquoise Edition) look like?  Here is my opening page along with a few of this years' weekly spreads.  Remember, I started this year on Valentine's Day, when I had the best notes.
Week 7: February 14 - 20

Week 8: February 21 - 27

Week 9: February 28 - March 6

Click on any of the photos for a larger view.  I've tried to include bits of our daily life in the album, beyond photos and journaling, such as receipts, greeting and business cards, menus, etc.  I have several page protectors in the bag that hold the album so, when I have a piece of ephemera I'd like to include, it gets safely filed in a page protector until I'm ready to assemble that week. 

Thursday, I'll post a bit more about my process and share photos of weeks 10-12 which also include inserts for busier weeks.

Are you doing Project Life?  How is it going? Link me up :)


evidence: i was there...

I am our family's photographer, historian and keeper of visual memories.  My camera is as close as one can get to an extension of my hand.  It is a tool for capturing moments, for creating a timeline, a legacy, a footprint in time. A tool that has stretched my skills and my desire to learn.  The images that are generated are a source of pride.  

But, it is a tool that comes with consequences. 

Uploading pictures and putting together photo orders, scrapbook pages, digital photo books and our Project Life albums I have to search for evidence that I am a part of my own life.  My face rarely appears in our photos.  I stand behind the camera documenting special moments and everyday life but, I rarely hand it off to be a part of the resulting images.

True, I'm not generally crazy about photos of myself but, I have this nagging little voice that tells me George will look through our albums and his scrapbook pages one day and say, "Where were you, Mama?" Knife through heart.

So, I am relinquishing the camera.  Turning it over to my husband to snap a few shots of us at play, at events, in daily life, at the park on a weekday evening just because. 

Thank you to my husband for providing evidence that I was there.  A part of our life.  Not, just living it through the lens. And doing it brilliantly from his own perspective. <3


wishing it true: a conversation...

On Thursday evening, I was getting George changed into a new diaper and his pajamas and talking to Mr. Boom at the same time.

Me: G's box of diapers should arrive any minute.

Hubs: Do you have package delivery ESP?

Me: Ha! No, I got an e-mail they had shipped and will arrive today. UPS usually comes by about this time.

As we walked out of George's room, moving on to another topic, the doorbell rang. I ran downstairs to see the jumbo shipping box of Pampers at the door. Strange timing. When I walked back in the house I confirmed that the diapers had arrived, right on cue.

Mr. Boom: Quick! Say, "A million dollars should be arriving any minute!"


ode to the kindle...

Kindle, how I love thee, let me count the ways...

I realized that I have had this wonder for a few months now and, despite having been asked a few times, had yet to write a pseudo-review and my experience so far so...

My husband and in-law's bought me the Kindle for my birthday in December and my parents gave me the green, lighted case - thank you all again.  When I opened the gifts, we were out to lunch and I kept the boxes shut.  That didn't last long.  By the time we were in the car on our return trip home, I had opened both the reader and cover boxes and was already plowing my way through the quick start guide. 

I had been collecting e-books in my Amazon account for awhile through the Kindle iPhone app, though I ended up never really reading with it because, well, hello tiny itty bitty screen that fits about 25 words at a time! But, the app ended up serving me well in the end because, as soon as my new toy was charged up, I synced it to my account and BAM! nearly 100 books were on my device, ready to read within minutes.

Score one for instant gratification.

Having had a long term love affair with reading, with the scent of ink on a page and the sound of spine of a book the first time it is cracked open, I had a moment's hesitation when I opened up my first book.  Would I really learn to love reading without the sensory experience?  Without physically turning a page?  Within the first chapter, I had my answer... 

Love at first read.

The reviews all said that the device would just disappear in your hand.  It truly does.  When I am lost in the text, I don't notice the difference between the e-reader and an actual book.  Pressing a button instead of turning a page?  Not a problem.  The biggest difference?  If I need to stop reading quickly or fall asleep with book in hand, I no longer have to worry about losing my place.  Ah, bliss!  Now, on my frequent train commutes to the city, I have multiple books at the ready, where I used to need to duck into a bookstore and search for a new title to read on the way home if I finished one during my morning trip. See, saving money.  That's always good, right?

My favorite downloaded reads so far have been: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanna Collins (highly recommended) and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Laarson.

On the fence about an e-reader?  Find someone you know that has one or use a store demo and give it a try. You might just be surprised by the experience. 

And the plethora of shelf space to be reclaimed.

This review was written without Amazon.com's knowedge and thus, regretably, without any compensation or freebies.  I just really, really love the darn thing.


city walk...

One day last week, I found myself in Manhattan with a few hours all to myself.  Nothing on the agenda.  Sun shining.

Did I mention, by myself

A bit at loose ends with the freedom and possibilites, I wandered around the South Street Seaport and Fulton Street for awhile before deciding what I wanted to do.  That in itself proved to be a lovely start to my afternoon.  I love the preserved cobblestone pedestrian walkways and the old building facades of that area.  Not having thought to add my camera to my bag before hopping the train (won't make that mistake again), I had only my iPhone camera to capture my day. 

As I was making my way back up Fulton Street and wondering when on earth The Strand was turned into a junk shop - a travesty! - I decided it was time for lunch and ducked into Chipotle for a grilled chicken burrito bowl and a little bit of reading on my Kindle.  I was on the third book of the Hunger Games trilogy* and devoured several pages as I enjoyed lunch and resolved to learn to make the cilantro lime rice for myself** 

Belly full of good food, I walked a bit more dowtown, making my way to the subway and riding up to Union Square. It was a such a beautiful day I was hoping that the open air market would be alive in the square.  To my delight, it was up and running and I wove in and out of the stalls ranging from goat milk ice cream to exotic mushrooms to bright, blooming spring flowers. Finding an empty seat on a park bench, I sat down to read some more, soak up a bit of sun and people watch. 

I could have gone to one of my beloved museums or discovered something new that day.  Instead, I simply enjoyed my own company for a few brief hours. 

Sometimes, that is the best way to go

* More on Hunger Games in another post
** I consider myself a decent cook but, am hopeless at making rice on the stove.  It either turns out burned on the bottom or watery.  Cooking fail.  Just ask my husband. 


boys and their toys...

Since we found out our first child would be a boy, my husband had a dream that his son would follow in his footsteps and play lacrosse.  When I was still pregnant, we found ourselves in a sports superstore one day and this conversation ensued:

Hubs: "Oh look!  A mini lacrosse set and it's on sale!  Let's get it."

Me: "Ummm, I'm still pregnant and we have no where to store it.  We are already storing the carseat, travel system, exersaucer, bouncy seat and other baby essentials we haven't even set up yet. Because, you know, I'm still pregnant."

Hubs: "But, he will USE this."

Me: When he's three or four? We don't have the space."

Hubs: "Harumph. Fine."

Fast forward to this past weekend.  My youngest cousin is in his senior year of college (holy cow does that make me feel old!!!) and we were able to travel to see one of his very last lacrosse games. We took G last year but, being just 4 months old, the game was less than intriguing for him.  This year was a different matter.  We arrived just at the start of the second quarter and he exclaimed loudly when he saw the big boys playing out on the field. He wanted to be part of that team in the worst way...
Because we are horribly mean responsible parents and would not allow him in the game, instead corraling him on the sidelines and the surrounding area, he eventually cooled his jets and amused himself by climbing the bleachers, flirting with the female spectators and trying to get to a bright yellow car in the parking lot. 

Then, with five minutes left in the game, he spotted the objects of his desire.  A perfect line of about forty lacrosse sticks on the sideline.  Lunge. Scream, Flail. Want.  Wrestling all 24.7 pounds of this determined toddler for five minutes of game time was no small feat.  When G sets his mind to something, that is that.  So when the game finally, blessedly ended (with my cousin's team winning!!!), we let him go...
The pride on my husband's face was unforgettable.  Perhaps we should have gotten that junior set after all.
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