Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Fun


And this is what we do for fun at the Dzioba house. Yes...that's right...we wear shirts on our heads. (and no, there is not a picture of me with a shirt on my head.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rainy Days

I'm not a fan of gloomy, rainy days. I'll definitely take a rainy day over a snowy day, but still, rainy days are just 'blah.' I have pretty much absolutely no motivation to get anything done on this type of day; hence, I'm sitting here on the couch while both kids are napping (which is prime getting-things-done time), trying to figure out what I should blog about, and all that is coming to me is 'I really hate rainy days.'

For some reason, that is still unbeknownst to me, I thought it would be a good idea to watch the Martha Stewart show while blogging. Honestly, Martha Stewart is not helping my present gloomy disposition. Yep. She pretty much annoys me--don't ask me why--she just does. Wow. Martha just said that an increase in belly fat is directly related to a high stress level. That must be my problem. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I've had two babies in the past two years, I have an under active thyroid, and that I'm completely addicted to sugar. Thank you, oh thank you Martha, for pointing this out to me and then offering absolutely no resolution toward altering my present state. My fat is due to my increased stress level. Thank you very much.

Wow. Again. I must contain my excitement. In ten minutes Martha will say her goodbyes and I will have the fortunate opportunity of hearing Rachael Ray tell me about what I should wear. And then Rachael will show me how to cook a wonderful, yet quick to prepare dinner that after consuming will make it nearly impossible for me to wear anything that she previously advised me to shop for. Nice.

On a brighter note, I got my hair cut and highlighted yesterday. I now have side bangs again and some red highlights. Very fun, but unfortunately no picture will be provided. Due to the aforementioned weather situation, I'm having a bad hair day.

Here's hoping for a sunny day tomorrow.....

Monday, May 26, 2008

Playing Catch-Up

Wow--

Where did this month go?!? I can't believe it has been almost a WHOLE MONTH since I've posted. I was so excited to begin this new hobby of blogging...and...well...I guess I haven't done so well over the past few weeks! To our credit, we have been busy, though. And sick. And busy. And sick. Busy. Sick. And so the cycle seems to continue.......

I hate to do one of those long and boring catch-you-up-on-life posts. I like to think that I can be a little more clever and creative, but not so tonight. I promise a fun witty post in the near future. Really, I do. But, for now, here is what we have been up to so far this May:

Ben continues his work on the 35-W Bridge Reconstruct. Still long hours, but the hours have definitely lightened up a little. He has consistently been getting Sundays off and so far he hasn't had to work anymore overnights-yea! One other exciting change: instead of doing just pure inspection, he is now heading up all the grading inspection for the project. This does require more responsibility and work load, but he is much happier about the type of work he is doing now and is able to control the hours he works a little better. We're still counting down the days until the end of September when the bridge will be DONE!

Every week so far this month either Allie or Zach has been sick. It is just becoming the norm around here for one of the kids to have a fever and feel miserable. We've missed countless meetings, church, and our last Musikgarten class due to illness. Zach started it out with some weird bacterial throat infection (not strep, though), along with a double ear infection and viral infection. He passed that off to Allie who also came down with bronchitis. Healthy for a few days. Then, Zach came down with another high fever which was also attributed to a viral infection. Zach again passed that off to Allie. Allie got a high fever: threw up a few times...in the car (that was really not very fun for anyone in the car). As of today, Allie is on the mend and so far Zach seems to be healthy. We do, however, have a doctor's appointment tomorrow.

We had family in town for Zach's baby dedication. It was fun to visit with everyone and have the opportunity to share our desire for Zach to know Christ and live a life that glorifies God.

We planted TONS of flowers that are not yet dead. That is a good thing, a VERY good thing. Today they look a little wilted due to the massive amounts of hail that fell yesterday afternoon. We had really cruddy weather....wind, hail, tornado. Luckily, we were a few miles from the tornado so did not sustain any damage. I am pretty much deathly afraid of thunderstorms and other violent weather. Enough said. Now, moving on...

We have had several play dates this month with friends I haven't seen in a while. It has been fun to catch up and also see how much the kids have grown and changed. Unfortunately, one date was cancelled due to illness and has been postponed until another date in the near future (Sonia--I will get back to you--I promise!).

I taught my last Monday night flute lessons for the school year. Summer lessons begin in a few weeks. It is always hard at the end of the year to say goodbye to my senior students who will head off to college in the fall. I am very excited for them and for their bright futures ahead, but still, after teaching some for 6-7 years, it seems weird that I won't see them again each week next fall. I have enjoyed getting to know them and their families over the years. One of my favorite things is being able to see their musical growth in addition to the ways in which they have grown from little girls into young women.

Zach began sitting up this month--all on his own!! Still no teeth, but he is drooling everywhere. Still not crawling, but he is scooting-not normal scooting on his tummy, though. He scoots on his back by pushing his heels into the ground and craning his neck as far back as possible. Weird, but cute. He is eating cheerios, fruit puffs, wagon wheels, and arrowroot biscuits like we are somehow going to run out of them. He weighs 21 lbs. He graduated from the baby bathtub and now uses the real tub. He likes to splash and kick in the tub and Allie really likes washing his head. He is very "talkative" and his volume almost rivals Allie's. He is still the ever-happy little boy.

Ben and I got to go on a date while my sister, mom, and dad watched the kids. We went to lunch at Noodles (we ate an entire meal, uninterrupted, and actually had a conversation that lasted more than two sentences!) and went to a REAL movie theater to see the new Indiana Jones Movie. We had a great time together!

We had our first 80-degree day (but the kids were sick so we didn't go outside).

Ben grilled hamburgers in the hailstorm.

Allie loves to pick our dandelions--and we have lots of them.

We have played at lots of parks this month in addition to going on lots of walks!

And, to end this post, I bring you a conversation from our family dinner a few nights ago. To set the scene: We were eating Pesto Chicken Pasta, Green Beans, and Garlic Bread. Allie loves Garlic Bread. If we allowed her, all she would eat for dinner would be garlic bread. This conversation ensued after she had finished an entire HUGE piece of garlic bread and the rest of her dinner was sitting untouched on her plate.

Me: "Allie, you should really try some of the pasta and chicken."
Allie: "I think I will have some more bread."
Ben: "The green beans are really good."
Pause
Allie: "Can I have some more bread, please?"
Me: "You can have some more bread after you eat a few pieces of chicken."
Allie stares at her plate. Allie starts making weird sounds. Weird, loud, screeching-like sounds.
Ben: "Allie, what are you doing?"
Allie: "I'm an elephant."
Me: "You're making sounds like an elephant?"
Allie makes more screeching-elephant-like sounds
Ben: "You know, Allie, good elephants eat all their pasta and chicken."
Me: "Yep, that's right. And good elephants eat all of their green beans."
Pause
Allie: "And good elephants eat ALL of their bread too!"
And then, there was MUCH laughter.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Developmental/Mobility Update

Zach really isn't sitting. He will stay upright for about 7 seconds before he topples completely over. He really has no desire to sit upright. Plus, if he sits, he can't look at the ceiling. And, looking at the ceiling and lights is one of his absolute favorite things to do. Even if he is sitting in a highchair or grocery cart, he cranes his head back as far as possible to see the ceiling. Interesting.

Zach is definitely not crawling or scooting. I think he is probably way too chubby to get himself up on all fours.

But, Zach is definitely rolling. And rolling. And rolling. In fact, in the past 20 minutes that I have been sitting in the living room chair catching up on e-mail, Zach has rolled completely across the living room to get to the blanket rack that he has had his eye on ever since I placed him down with his toys to play on the opposite side of the room. And, now he is pulling the blankets off the rack. Nice. All this destruction and he is not even crawling, so technically speaking he is not even mobile. Yea right. Looks like I have my work cut out for me in the next few months.

Foody Friday - Desserts

Dessert. My Fav. This is the Foody Friday category provided by my friend Jenny.

I am a fan of anything with sugar, honestly. But, in my book, the absolute BEST dessert is German Chocolate Cake, complete with Coconut Frosting. I ask my mom to make this cake for every single one of my birthdays. Not only do I love this cake, but everyone else hates it (I guess not everyone is a fan of coconut), meaning that I get the ENTIRE cake to myself. I don't really have a tried and true recipe for this cake, mostly because if I were to make it, I know from past experience that I would most definitely eat it ALL, and I'm not quite sure that eating an entire cake on a regular basis is something I really want to brag about. But, I did find this recipe and am anxiously awaiting to try it. It looks absolutely perfect. I only have to wait one more month...my birthday is in June.

German Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
4 ounces sweet dark chocolate (see Shopping Hint below)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup warm milk
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 medium egg whites
2 cups sugar
5 medium egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk, well shaken

For the coconut frosting:
1 cup sugar
4 medium egg yolks
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ounces fresh or frozen and thawed grated coconut
1 1/2 cups finely ground pecans, walnuts, or almonds

Yields: 12 servings

Preparation
Prepare the chocolate by melting it in the top of a double boiler, stirring until it is smooth. Add 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of the butter and stir until it is melted and blended. Add 1/4 cup of warm milk and stir until smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Line the bottoms only of three 9-inch cake pans with circles of parchment paper, or grease each pan bottom only with solid shortening and dust lightly with flour. Sift together the sifted and measured flour, baking soda, and salt.
Whip the egg whites until stiff using the wire beater of the mixer. Transfer the beaten whites to a separate bowl and set aside.
In the mixer bowl, cream the remaining 1 1/2 sticks of butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted, cooled chocolate and the vanilla. Mix well.
With the mixer on very low, stir in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Do this by adding about a third of the flour and slowly stirring it in completely. Then add about half the buttermilk and stir it in. Continue adding flour and buttermilk in this manner, ending with flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir again. With a long-handled spoon or spatula, fold and stir the beaten egg whites into the batter until the batter is smooth with no visible clumps of whites.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes. Bake on the middle rack of the oven, allowing at least 1/4-inch clearance between the pans and the oven walls. The cake will rise above the pan edges as it bakes but will not spill over and will settle back down as it continues to bake. The cake is done when it begins to pull away from the sides of the pans and springs back to a light touch. Cool layers in the pans for about 8 minutes.
Run a knife around the edges of each pan and turn the layers out onto wire racks that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Cool layers completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, combine the sugar, egg yolks, and evaporated milk in the top of a double boiler. Stir with a wire whisk until the yolks are fully incorporated. Add the butter. Place over simmering water and bring to a boil (see Note below). Simmer for 12-15 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Add the vanilla, coconut, and nuts. Cool.
To assemble the cake, place one layer on a cake stand and spread with frosting. Frost each layer completely, top and sides, as it is added to the cake.

Note: You can also make the frosting in a regular saucepan, but be sure to stir it constantly, as it scorches quite easily. Also, you must use the finely grated fresh or frozen coconut, not canned or shredded, to be able to spread the frosting on the sides of the cake easily.

Shopping Hint: For those cooks who use a lot of sweet baking chocolate, the chocolate used in this recipe can be purchased in bulk online at www.cocoasupply.com. Choose La Equatoriale – Dark Chocolate Coverture. The cost, including postage, is half what you would probably pay in grocery stores. Share the large bar with your friends who bake.

Yes, I am Still Alive and Blogging!

The past week has definitely been a roller coaster week for us...ups, downs, twists, turns....you know the type. I noticed I haven't even posted in a week because basically when I have had a free moment, which has been few and far in between, the very last thing I wanted to do was sit and stare at a computer screen and type. Plus, I didn't really know what to write about because my mind feels like mush, like complete and total mush. I'm not sure if any of you moms out there can relate, but for some reason I feel like I am a big emotional blob that has temporarily lost all logical reasoning and ability to think intelligently. Since I'm also not feeling overly creative or inspired at the moment, I thought I would just list the highlights of the past week:

Zach got sick last Thursday: 104 degree fever, double ear infection, bacterial throat infection, and apparently something else undetermined that was labeled a viral infection. The diagnosis was reached at an after hours urgent care visit where he had his throat cultured, a chest x-ray, and blood drawn. He is honestly the BEST baby ever, no lie. I think I was more traumatized by all the tests than he was. Even the nurses and doctors were impressed by his easy going temperment. After 2 days of refusing to nurse or eat, a couple doses of liquid pink medicine, countless doses of baby ibueprofen, another visit to the doctor because I was freaked out that he wasn't getting any better, lots of cuddling, and lots of sleep, he is now back to normal. Yea!

Chicken Lasagna was a complete hit (see previous post) and so I will post the recipe when I think of it. My dad and Ben actually really liked it and I'm pretty sure they were telling the truth.

It rained.

It snowed.

Ben worked an overnight shift on Saturday night. I couldn't sleep. I cleaned the house until 1 a.m. while also watching the movie Elizabeth on T.V. Zach was up crying for almost an hour and a half that night (he was still sick). Allie was up about 4 times.

We replaced the mulch in our flower beds with river rock.

More rain.

Ben got a haircut and we went out for pizza.

I taught flute lessons.

I went over to my parent's house with the kids to see their new furniture and have grilled burgers for dinner-yum!

Two sunny days in a row!

I received my refund check (from when I substitute taught in January of 2007 and the school district took out retirement from my paycheck) so, went to the bank and I took the kids shoe shopping. No, not shoes for the kids. Shoes for me. :) I bought 2 pairs of shoes. We went to J.C. Penney's and I bought some summer shirts because I had a $10 off coupon. All 3 of us had lunch at Dairy Queen. We went to Northwestern Bookstore and got a Veggie Tale Movie that was on sale. We went home and the kids took naps. After naps, we spent the rest of the day outside. This was an AMAZING day. I'm not sure where my kids were because the kids I was with were the most well-behaved kids EVER. They were the type of kids you usually see with the other moms when your kids are the ones kicking and screaming on the floor in the middle of the store and everyone is looking at you like you are an unfit mother.

I made tons of phone calls for MOPS.

I went to MOPS with the kids. I was a wee bit stressed (ok, that is a HUGE understatement).

Ben stayed home sick.

Allie told the teacher at MOPS that she was sick and wanted to go home. She proceeded to throw herself on the floor, kicking and screaming. Everyone thought she looked sick.....cue the coughing and runny nose. I call sick Ben from home to come pick up sick Allie at church. Ben took Allie to my parent's house while I stayed at MOPS. Allie was apparently miraculously healed by 1 p.m. when I arrived at my parent's, either that or she should be awarded the first prize for best actress of the year. I had dinner again with my parents-Chicken Parmesan-yum!

Music class, oil change, car wash (the type where they vacuum and wipe down the inside of your car), fill the tank with gas.

Thunderstorms.

I have terrible blisters from my new shoes.

I could really go for some take-out Chinese and a movie.

My brain better return soon because I'm supposed to write an article for the MOPS newsletter.