Happy Birthday, Gavin!

I can’t believe Gavin is 2 already!  He’s such a sweet little guy with the most amazing giggles and guffawing laughs that you’ve ever heard.  “Goovin,” as Marcus has taken to calling him today, is quite thrilled to be 2.  When asked, “How old are you, Gavin?”, he responds with a very enthusiastic “I’m TWO!”, complete with a big grin and, if you’re lucky, a happy dance.  He loves to snuggle and be tickled.  He’s turned into quite the monkey, climbing and jumping on (and off) things with abandon.  He’s also very mischievous and gets into all sorts of antics with his big brother.  My dad actually said Gavin looked mischievous when he saw a picture of him . . . in my womb (it was one of those crazy 3D ultrasound images).  See that impish monkey face up there?  He apparently was baked that way.

Anyway, our celebration today was pretty low key as Adam was out of town.  Breakfast was eggs (soft-boiled “gooey eggs” for Gavin and hard-boiled for Marcus), bacon, pumpkin bread, and fruit smoothies.  We went out for lunch at a local NY-style pizza joint that turned out to be pretty decent.  Marcus had the standard pepperoni and Gavin asked for plain cheese.  Gav ended up ditching his cheese slice and eating my entire “Brooklyn” slice, which was pepperoni, meatball slices, onions, mushrooms.  Who’d a thought?  Then we popped over to a new cupcakery for some birthday cupcakes – vanilla with chocolate icing for Gavin, red velvet for Marcus, and lavender lemon for me.  The place is pretty fancy and there were all sorts of people just sitting about quietly enjoying their coffees and cupcakes.  The boys were quiet too as they made quick work of their desserts.  But then Marcus, out of the blue, says loudly (I think he only has one volume when he speaks), “I really have to poop.”  Before I could stop myself, I asked reflexively, “What?”  And he replied, “There’s a soft poop that wants to come out now, mama.”  Mmmm . . . enjoy your coffee and cupcakes, folks.

Dinner was a quiet affair too.  I made butter chicken with steamed broccoli dressed with a little butter and salt.  For some reason, the kids didn’t like the chicken that much (Gavin refused to eat it at all), even though they’ve had and enjoyed this particular dish and other similar ones in the past.  Even more strange  . . . they actually ate, enjoyed, and practically fought over the broccoli.  I was so confused.  But happy!

Here are some recent photos of the birthday boy.

Making a silly face while eating lunch.

Enjoying a book - love the crossed legs and exposed belly.

On a walk with Mommy.

"I sit on Elmo?" Indeed.

Biting into his birthday cupcake today.

Mighty pleased.

 

What was cooked

I was right – I was overly ambitious in planning our meals for this past week.  Well, maybe that’s not quite right.  I just had to make some changes on the fly to accommodate a brunch play date, a much needed haircut for me (yay!), and some other things.  I ended up not making some things, but I’m pretty pleased that no food has gone to waste.  I hate it when food goes bad before I can cook it. Anyway, this is how things really went down.

Wednesday

  • Dinner for the boys – Cheeseburgers, sweet potato fries, avocado, fruit (Marcus did ok with his burger, Gavin hated his)
  • Our dinner – Shrimp burgers with chili mayo, sweet potato fries, salad (I had made a double batch of shrimp burgers from a recipe in The Beach House Cookbook a while back and popped extra patties into the freezer; I thawed them in the fridge during the day and they cooked up beautifully)
  • Extra – Picked apart a rotisserie chicken, saved the meat for soups this week, stored carcass in the freezer to make stock later)

Thursday

  • Dinner for the boys – Beef Stroganoff, veggies, fruit (forgot to buy beef, so they had the Chicken Tikka Masala that had been planned for later in the week; both of them loved it)
  • Our dinner – West African Spicy Peanut Soup served over some rice with a steamed veggie (great recipe that I will have to post at some point, went with steamed cauliflower tossed in garlic salt and white pepper)

Friday

  • Dinner for the boys – Chicken & Sweet Corn Soup (pretty good, very easy, but I would lessen the sesame oil next time; recipe here; Gavin liked his soup, Marcus only thought it was ok)
  • Our dinner – Spiced Crumbled with Peas, Guferati (Indian green beans), rice (I had to bail on this one entirely as the cooking times didn’t mesh with my spontaneously scheduled haircut; we ended up having Pan-Fried Trout with a Lemon-Butter-Chive Sauce, the Polenta with Beans & Vegetables that had been planned for later, and garlicky green beans)

Saturday

  • Breakfast – Buttermilk pancakes with all the fixin’s (scrapped these for a more ‘normal’ breakfast as we decided to entertain guests on Sunday)
  • Lunch – Waffle-grilled cheese sandwiches, leftover Chicken & Sweet Corn Soup (kids weren’t wild about the sandwiches, which basically are grilled cheeses squashed in your waffle maker)
  • Family dinner – Caramelized Catfish in a Claypot, Carrot & Bean Thread Noodle Soup, rice (everything came out great, will have to post recipes at some point; kids really enjoyed the food)
  • Extra – Make a batch of Polenta with Beans & Vegetables in the slow cooker, refrigerate for the next day (made this on Friday night instead; it was too runny for breakfast on Saturday, so I put it on the stove again and cooked it with more polenta to firm it up)
  • Extra – Prepped two pans of Overnight French Toast for Sunday morning

Sunday

  • Breakfast – Fried polenta cakes (using polenta from Saturday) with eggs over easy (scrapped this and instead had a brunch play date with friends and their three kids; on the menu – Overnight French Toast, scrambled eggs with chives, bacon, apple-maple chicken sausage, fruit salad)
  • Lunch – “Squashed” Pancakes with applesauce (we were too full from brunch and just skipped lunch)
  • Family dinner – Chicken chili with all the fixins, tortilla chips, salad (a family favorite; pulled a batch from the freezer so this one was easy peasy)
  • Extra – Make a batch of broccoli cheese soup (maybe with chicken added) (too wiped out to make this)

Monday

  • Breakfast – Fried polenta cakes (using polenta from Saturday) with eggs over easy (came out pretty well, but was not as tasty as polenta cakes made with broccoli and parmesan; will have to do that kind next time)
  • Dinner for the boys – Broccoli Cheese Soup, crackers, fruit (they had leftover West African Chicken Soup with rice instead; Marcus was a big fan, Gavin not so much)
  • Our dinner – Farfalle with Sausage, Cannellini Beans & Kale (why cook another meal when you have delicious leftovers – Caramelized Catfish in a Claypot and Carrot & Bean Thread Noodle Soup; I also cooked up some Asian-Style Brussels Sprouts from The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook)

Tuesday

  • Dinner for the boys – Chicken Tikka Masala (going the emergency route with chicken hotdogs from Whole Foods, mac ‘n cheese, veggies, fruit)
  • Our dinner – Mapo Dofu, steamed veggie, brown rice (this one is getting bumped and we’re having the Farfalle with Sausage, Cannellini Beans & Kale planned for yesterday)

So not too bad, right?  I have to plan out next week’s meals tonight so that I have enough time tomorrow to work out, go to the Vietnamese grocery in a neighboring town, and then do the standard run to Harris Teeter and/or Whole Foods.  It really does feel like I’m constantly doing errands or work all of the time.  ‘Me time’ is always last on the list.  As the hubs says, being an adult really sucks sometimes.  Ha!

What’s cookin’?

I’m feeling a little crazy today and have set a really high bar for myself this week in terms of cooking.  I have Wednesdays off, which I use to go grocery shopping and to run errands, so my cooking week goes from Wednesday to Tuesday.  We also eat with dinner with our boys only during the weekend.  We get home too late during the week to eat together.  Anyway, check it out.

Wednesday

  • Dinner for the boys – Cheeseburgers, sweet potato fries, avocado, fruit (homemade burger patties and store-bought fries from freezer)
  • Our dinner – Shrimp burgers with chili mayo, sweet potato fries, salad – dinner for us (homemade burger patties and store-bought fries from freezer)

Thursday

  • Dinner for the boys – Beef Stroganoff (Annie’s pasta meal that our nanny can put together), veggies, fruit
  • Our dinner – West African Spicy Peanut Soup served over some rice with a steamed veggie

Friday

  • Dinner for the boys – Chicken & Sweet Corn Soup (first time I’m trying this recipe)
  • Our dinner – Spiced Crumbled with Peas, Guferati (Indian green beans), rice (the crumbles with peas is a recommended vegetarian Indian slow cooker recipe I’ve been meaning to try out; hopefully it’s good as there will be tons of leftovers to freeze)

Saturday

  • Breakfast – Buttermilk pancakes with all the fixin’s.  We usually do chocolate chip, coconut, peanut butter banana, plain banana, and blueberry.
  • Lunch – Waffle-grilled cheese sandwiches, soup
  • Family dinner – Catfish in a Claypot, Carrot & Bean Thread Noodle Soup (Vietnamese style!)
  • Extra – Make a batch of Polenta with Beans & Vegetables in the slow cooker, refrigerate for the next day

Sunday

  • Breakfast – Fried polenta cakes (using polenta from Saturday) with eggs over easy.  I’ll freeze lots of polenta patties for future use.
  • Lunch – “Squashed” Pancakes with applesauce (squashed pancakes = a mixture of hash browns and frozen squash, pretty tasty actually)
  • Family dinner – Chicken chili with all the fixins, tortilla chips, salad
  • Extra – Make a batch of broccoli cheese soup (maybe with chicken added) for Monday and the freezer

Monday

  • Dinner for the boys – Broccoli Cheese Soup, crackers, fruit
  • Our dinner – Farfalle with Sausage, Cannellini Beans & Kale

Tuesday

  • Dinner for the boys – Chicken Tikka Masala (using a store-bought simmer sauce)
  • Our dinner – Mapo Dofu, steamed veggie, brown rice

I think this may be overly ambitious, but we’ll see how it goes…

New Year Wishes

A favorite Tết custom of Vietnamese children all over is the giving of lì xì (lucky red envelopes containing money).  I have fond memories of giving my elder relatives and family friends traditional Tết greetings and then receiving lì xì in return.  I feel like a bit of a slacker parent on Vietnamese traditions as we’ve never really done this with Marcus.  Part of the difficulty is that we don’t live close to my family and have only been able to celebrate Tết with them in NC once (when Marcus was too young to remember).  Well, we finally got with the program.

Last weekend, we went with my friend D and her family to a local Tết festival.  The boys got dressed up in their finery and got to eat different Vietnamese foods, mill about with hundreds of Vietnamese people hawking various foods and wares, and watch some music performances and dragon dancing.  Marcus loves xôi (sticky rice), but Gavin wouldn’t try it.  Both boys loved the múa lân (dragon dance). Marcus and Gavin were coming down with colds, so they weren’t in the best of moods and we didn’t end up staying very long.  Some pics from the festival:

Truth be told, I think the festival was a little loud and overwhelming for the boys.  They were a lot happier once we got back home.

Yesterday we called my parents (out visiting our family in CA) so that the boys could wish them and our family a happy new year.  Marcus’ kept saying “Happy chúc mừng năm mới!” (which technically is “happy happy new year”) and Gavin was a total phone hog, grabbing the phone constantly and garbling out some crazy syllables that ended with “măm mới” (which technically, I think, is “new tray” or something like that).  Ha!

Then we got to the lì xì.  I had explained to Marcus that he would be getting the little red envelope of money after giving me and his dad some wishes for a happy new year just like in his Ten Mice for Tet book.  Now common wishes for Tết include things like long life, health, happiness, security, prosperity, success, etc.

Me:  Ok, Marcus.  What do you want to wish Mommy and Daddy for the New Year?

Marcus:  Uh, a rice cake.

Me (pause):  Thanks, honey.  Is there anything else you’d like to wish us for the New Year?

Marcus:  Um . . . I don’t know.

Me:  Well, what do you think Mommy and Daddy would want if we could have anything in the whole wide world?

Marcus (without hesitation): A COPY MACHINE!

I thought this was particularly hilarious.  I only found out later that he actually had said “a coffee machine!”  So while not as funny as I’d originally thought, Marcus is pretty darn observant.  At least where his daddy and coffee/espresso machines are concerned.

Chúc mừng năm mới!

Happy New Year!  Best wishes to you for a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!

Here are some photos of the boys that we took a couple of weeks ago.  Ok, let me rephrase.  Here are a lot of photos of the boys that we took a couple of weeks ago.  I can’t help myself.  I love them all.

This is the shot we used for our New Year card. My mom says it looks like Gavin is asking for "li xi" (the traditional gift of money in a red envelope).

Doing a little dance.

Marcus gets into it.

Getting in synch

Gavin's best snooty face.

A little chilly?

Gavin looking quite mischievous.

Goofball

My dad bought this blue coat in China years ago - while I was still in high school - and kept it for a future grandchild. Marcus wore it first, and now it's Gavin's.

He makes such funny faces.

Playing on our neighbors' trampoline.

Chicken expert

Marcus was showing off some of his artwork this morning.

The proud artist

Me:  What’s this, honey?  A turkey?

Marcus:  No, it’s a Japanese chicken.

[pause]

Me:  Ah.  Is that why it has green hair?

Marcus:  Uh huh.

A Japanese chicken. Of course.

Marcus on flies

Marcus joins his Dad in the bathroom to relieve himself.  After they’re done, Adam helps Marcus zip his fly and buttons up his own.

Marcus:  Daddy, you have two buttons on your fly because your penis won’t fit in your pocket, right?

Adam:  Uh…

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