Tuesday, 31 July 2012

3, REALLY???

3 is just mind boggling. I mean 3! I cannot believe we are at 3.  It’s just one more than 2, but 3… whatever will we do? How will we handle it?  Bet you think I’m talking about 3 kids, huh? While I would love to be pregnant again – I know, I am one of those sicko women who LOVE being pregnant, we are not.  Which is just fine with me.  I mean, I have two hands and we are a two parent household and while when pregnant I feel great and love it, I just don’t think I could another child while having one under 5 in the house…..

So, what’s with 3? Today is C’s birthday and he is 3.  I can hardly believe that he is 3 now. He is so BIG. He talks, tells stories, tells lies(sigh), plays by himself, feeds himself, and is a BIG boy as he told me the other day. He is OBSESSED with being big and not a baby – how did that happen? He views other kids that are shorter than him as “babies awww”. It’s really funny.

When he was born, I had zero idea of what to do with a boy baby other than feed and change him as required. I wasn’t prepared for the fundamental differences between boys and girls – and yes, there are. I had no idea how funny he could be, or that he would CONSTANTLY keep me on my toes. I had no idea that the little miniature human being that came out of me would grow into such a MOOSE or have such personality, or be so LOUD!

Luckily, I like boy stuff like dead animals(as long as we don’t bring their stinking carcasses inside), I like mud, and wrestling, I like digging, and playing so hard that we drop exhausted in the car. I enjoy the made up stories of lions, bears, and dinosaurs. I like pretending that we are cowboys. I love the cuddles and all the kisses. I love the wide eyed wonder of this age. I love that he likes to help in the kitchen, or help clean, or just help. 
I still have no idea what to do with his boy bits when he comes to tell me stories about what it did….. I have no idea how to answer for him why they are different sizes or how to stop his obsession with them (I hear  know that the obsession NEVER stops).  And the DRAMA – REALLY!!! – I thought boys were stoic?!?! Mine is a DRAMA queen when he doesn’t get what he wants – it drives me NUTS!

Now that I’ve had him for three years, I wouldn’t give him back nor want to trade him in for the fairer sex.  There are times, however when I would gladly tie him up and sit down with a BIG glass of wine and just be alone.   Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my child and I know that one day he will be all grown up and leave the house and I will be sad, but just once in awhile I need time with a rational human being like his sister.

So, on the anniversary of the day you were born – in 18 minutes from water breaking to touchdown – you have been a joy and a trial. You have brought laughs and tears, you have been a great playmate to your sister and a complete pest. You are a boy and you LOVE vehicles and animals. You are rough and gentle.  May your spirit of adventure, your kindness, your imagination, and your wonderful comedic personality continue to carry you on and serve you well as you grown.


Fun with Donkeys

I don't know of anywhere else in the world where children and adults can take part in the highly comedic biannual ritual of passage where half wild donkeys are gathered into one spot and then you either ride, drive, or simply watch them being used for personal enjoyment.  What in the world? Why it's the Gentlemen of Jones Donkey Races!

We first went and took part in the Donkey Races with children in tow about 2 years ago. I do remember going to one race donkey years ago that was held at Canegata Ball Park, I think I was in high school or maybe middle school.  When they first started I have no idea.

Well, this year we decided to hang on the beach in Frederiksted until the children wanted to go to the races. Of course we stayed at the beach way later than anticipated, but it was fun. We got to the Donkey Races at the Paul E. Joseph Stadium about 3:30 and poor A was too late to sign up to ride.  I was a secretly relieved Mama as I had C and didn't know what to do with him while I was leading A around the track with her donkey.

Those beasts are some of the most stubborn animals I have even met! Have you ever tried to lead a Donkey around and have it go where you wanted to? It's freaking IMPOSSIBLE! Especially if you have stuck a person on their back, but honestly in defense of the donkeys they only get someone on their back once or twice year, other than that they get hang out in the bush and not be bothered at all and then one day when they are minding their own business a human or two come along, grab them up, stick them in a trailer with a bunch of other donkeys that they don't know and then take them to Frederiksted. Now, while they get a free ride, I am not too sure if standing nose to ass in a crowded trailer while zooming down the highway is their idea of fun.  Then once they get to Frederiksted, they are stuck in pens, bridled surrounded by loud music that ranges from Quelbe to Shakira, petted by children and adults alike, pointed at, not allowed to request any particular type of music, and indignity of all indignities have people tossed on their back and are expected to simply do what you want them to do? FORGET IT!!!!

For the people in attendance, this leads to many many side splitting laughs, guaffaws, and ass jokes. The above video isn't from this year, but I thought it would give you a good idea of what goes on during a Donkey Race.

First place finisher! Woo hoo!
Anyway, once we got to the Stadium, and found out that A couldn't ride we decided to hang out and watch one, maybe two races because frankly standing around watching people and asses make asses of themselves with a cranky toddler just isn't fun. ANYWAY, as we were standing around a little girl backed out of riding her donkey in the 12 and under race so A was able to hop on ride her donkey around the ring.  The course consisted of two laps and A did a phenonomal job on hanging on as her helper lead her around the ring twice.  She did fall off in the homestretch and was able to get back on.  A ended up placing first for which she got a trophy and a ribbon. She also got a sore arm and jammed pinky but hey, if you don't get hurt it isn't fun right?

If you are ever around for the Donkey Races, you should go out west and watch and if you are brave enough, participate. I did two years ago and got my trophy tons of good memories and the title of chief ass rider(for at least one year). Seriously, where else but St. Croix are you going to see something like this???

Monday, 30 July 2012

Beautiful Food

Yesterday, we had some friends over for brunch. Normally, this isn't that big a deal for us, some eggs, some bagels, some lox, coffee, mimosas, etc.  Well, yesterday was different. These friends that we had over were none other than my food idol - The Crucian Contessa (check out her blog, you will see what I mean) - and her equally well versed foodie  husband. After I invited them over, I started sweating bullets... What was I going to make? Would this ultimate paragon of food excellence like it? Would I "f" it up? AARGH!! WHAT had I done???!!!?? So, after I picked myself up off the floor and grew a backbone again, I started planning.....

Chiles Moritas
I decided to make a dish that I love, but is way labor intensive. A dish that I have only discovered in the last 12 years, a dish that would highlight our Mexican roots and the influences that Mexico and its many native cultures have played in influencing my food palate.  Now, living here has it's challenges when it comes to meal planning, but somehow, there must have been divine approval on my plans because I found EVERYTHING I needed at my first two stops - AMAZING!

The Menu:

Roasted potatoes with onions, green, and red bell peppers
Bacon - more for the kids than anything
Mango Flan

Mamey fruit in a market in Mexico
So, I KNOW the Potatoes and the Bacon are just not typical Mexican food, but my Irish husband could NOT fathom a brunch without potatoes. Also, C could eat a side of bacon by himself and knew it was in the fridge and had been hounding us for Bacon for DAYS!!!

Pinto Beans
Anyway, I started prepping on Saturday by chopping, making my salsa for the Huevos Motulenos, and made the Mango Flan.  My house smelled like Mexico, the aromas that surrounded the bubbling pots, the oven and just the kitchen in general were memory invoking. When I was roasting and parboiling tomatoes and garlic it felt like I was in Merida in theYucatan. The scent of the cooking Flan took me to Christmas at home with my parents and making Pine Nut Flan. The dried Morita chiles that were reconstituting on the counter top filled the kitchen with a deep smokey chile flavor that rested on your tongue and made your mouth water.

homemade tortillas
that A helped make
On Sunday, I got up and finished cooking the beans, making corn tortillas(with the skilled help of Ms. A), and chopping ham and cheese. Once it was all done and the platters were prepped, it was time to wait for our guests.  We played with the kids, watched the Olympics, and just enjoyed our morning - especially when A and C decided to play with his toys in the living room and ACTUALLY played NICELY!!!  So once the Contessa and her Count got to our home,  I started frying tortillas and plating and explaining flavors as best I could as the Contessa's attention was divided between myself and C who has decided that he wants to be the Contessa's child and not mine.
Nopales or cactus paddles

I am very proud of myself for making such a fabulous meal with 2 kids, I am proud of my hubby who followed directions and made the potatoes, and the eggs as I just can NOT make sunny side up eggs to save my life, and I am super proud of my children who not only sat nicely during the meal but also spoke well and articulately and entertained themselves for most of the brunch.  I am especially proud that my Mango Flan earned a "Vicious" from the Contessa :) I love her, she made my day.

Thank you Contessa and Count for coming over, allowing us to entertain you, cementing our friendship, sharing stories, and eating our food.  Also a BIG thank you for dealing with the constant interruptions from C and for being such a good sport at eating some wildly crazy food.

So, if you haven't had friends over yet this summer, do it. Brave the heat and spend the morning in the kitchen, whip up some good food and have some friends over for good times. It's what life is about.

Huevos Motulenos - yum!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Readathon 2012 - Week 4 Imagination!

This week's theme for the Readathon is Imagination. We are NEVER in short supply of that here.  I looked at the various games and activities provided MemeTales and while they looked good to me, we didn't do a single one.   Once we read the book "There's a Dinosaur in the Park." by Rodeny Martin and John Siouw about 50 million times C decided to look for dinosaurs in our house, at the beach, on the road, and in his room.

My little guy has a very active imagination. It's more active than his sister's was at the same age. He regularly pretends he is Peter Pan, or a tiger, or a train. In fact last weekend at the beach he was a train chugging around in circles in the water!  He creates elaborate games where he flies in to rescue Wendy and then they go away in his big big truck and eat clouds with dinosaurs. I attribute this imagination to not only his personality but the fact the we read constantly(and actually I think the TV we do watch promotes his imagination too).

In order to promote imagination, we talk constantly about EVERYTHING, and I play his games even it means I get a tiger eating me in bed at 6am.  After all, don't you remember being imaginative as a kid and creating whole worlds in your mind? Wasn't it great? I think we need imagination in this world of fast paced technology that removes imagination from us by instant gratification.

Of course if you do need an activity to do here is one that is easy to work with and includes the dinosaur theme.

Get yourself some felt dinosaur shapes either by making you own or buying them, and then decorate the dinosaur shapes with felt scraps.  This is a picture of what I came up with:

Our dinosaurs have eaten rocks, had parties, been taken on truck rides, and told stories.  They have even been counted and group by colors, or features such as stripes or dots.  We sang the song 10 little dinosaurs, and if I choose to, these same dinosaurs could act out the book that we read for this week with some added characters if C so desires.

Being a stickerosaurus - why not?
Allow your child to be imaginative and have fun!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Watermelon! (Foodie post)

photo from superstock.com

I love watermelon, but living here we just don't buy it very often. Why? Well, because usually it is tasteless and super expensive.  Usually it prices out between $1.19 - $1.69 a pound. I have a hard time justifying that expense when I know the end product isn't going to be any good.

photo from food.com
On Saturday, we happened to stop by the Farmer's Market in LaReine to look for Mamey(I'll tell you about that some other day), and one of my agriculture friends mentioned that there was a farmer with AMAZING watermelon.  Now, I don't know about you but when an Ag person tells me some fruit or veggie is amazing I take heed. So I sent A of to buy a small watermelon as usually we just end up throwing most of it away.  When A came back she was empty handed BUT she was followed by the farmer carrying a HUGE, HUMONGOUS watermelon. I wasn't too happy as I figure we got taken - after all , who sends an almost 9 year old buy melon on their own and expects to get a good deal? So we loaded that monster into the car and $15 poorer drove away to pick up our CSA. What was included in the CSA box last week from Sejah Farms? MORE watermelon. At this point I was starting to regret even buying the first melon.

Turns out it was a good thing we bought the first one. C devoured ALL of the melon we got from Sejah Farm while we were at the farm stand.  Once we got our sticky boy back home, I unloaded the beast and chopped him open. We used half to make Agua de Sandia - a refreshing water melon drink, ice pops(about 12) and ate some. The other half I chopped up into slice and chunks. By Sunday afternoon we had no more watermelon left! That was not only the BEST watermelon I have ever had, but the fastest to disappear in our house EVER! Viva local, fresh, organic watermelon!
photo from ourbestbites.com

Now to go early and grab an even bigger monster this week!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Toddler Tuesday - clean painting activity

paint in a bag.

This morning the hubby took A to art camp so I could stay home and do stuff. I think he expected me to clean, while I had other ideas in mind J I worked on putting Velcro on popsicle sticks so C can make shapes with A later in the school year, did a load of laundry, and played outside with C. Once it got too hot to be outside, we came in and C said he wanted to paint…. Oh boy.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to paint with kids, A did it all the time and it was super fun, but the house is on the market and we are trying to keep it super clean so painting makes me really, really nervous….

However I didn’t want to deny C the opportunity to paint, so I pulled the table far away from the blinds, covered the floor with a towel and gave him paint in a plastic bag that I taped down to the table.  He played with that for about 3 seconds before he was bored(personally I don’t blame him, it was lameo). Then I figured I could use brown paper taped down to get the same neatness factor but more fun.  So, I taped down a large piece of  brown paper to the table top and gave C strict instructions that paint did not cross the black tape lines.  Once I gave him the paint, we named the colors – he really only knows blue out of the primaries. The he had at it while I crossed my fingers and held my breath. I also washed some dishes and talked to my sister on the phone for a few minutes.

Pushing the paint around
with his bulldozer
I gave him 3 different sized brushes, a bunch of cars/trucks, and some plastic animals and people.  He had a blast using the bulldozer to move the small globs of paint, running the vehicles through the paint, and painting the people and animals. Did he make a mess? NOPE! I love this kid J Of course he did made paint hand prints so we cleaned up before he even got out of the kitchen area.  I think I may have found a safe way to paint.

Now, if I could just get to that cleaning…….

See, no paint outside the lines!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Readaton 2012 - Week 3 Character Development

What a theme we have this week! Character Development - we all want our children to be upstanding citizens of the world, to contribute, to put other's before them and to be happy. So, how do we teach Character Development? We can model the behavior and hope that they catch one, we can role play, or we can just talk them through situations that are hard for them as they arise.

Today we went to Mango Melee(a festival that celebrates EVERYTHING Mango) at the St. George Village Botanical Garden and at one of the booths, what did I see?

WOW! Someone else is concerned with how our children develop character. This photo shows a game that the children could play. If you look closely, there are mangos clothes pinned to the tree. The children had to unpin a mango and then pick a character trait. Once a trait was selected, your child had to tell the booth attendants one thing they would do to model that trait. C, who is going to be 3 soon grabbed a mango right away and pointed to the kindness trait. We asked him how he could be kind - of course he gave us a blank look. Sheesh! So, when rephrased it question in toddler terms, of "How can you nice to the cat?" He promptly stated to "bring him a raton(mouse)". That's my boy!  Of course after we all finished laughing, he got to pick a prize and was so super happy.  A who is 17 days away from being 9(!!!), picked self control from their list and stated that we can wait to buy something if we really don't need it.  Very proud of her for that one, and she managed to come home from Mango Melee without spending that $20 she had in her pocket.

I loved this game because the child got to pick their virtue and state what we could do. The only prompting that the adult has to do is ask the very open ended question. There are really no wrong answers, and hopefully by doing this when your child is presented with a problem that calls for character they will know what they should do.

If you don't want to create this game, you can bake cookies for your elderly neighbor, drop by a homemade card to someone who is sick, or just buy that bum on the street a sandwich. All of those are ways to model good character to your kids. Yes, it's hard and yes you will embarrass your older children when you hand food to that bum, but if you explain to them why you are doing it, they may learn compassion and see the world through different eyes and start to become the person you want them to be.

We read and enjoyed "Good Habits to Have" by Jenny and Karen Carter today too, if you haven't read it yet, give it a go. the message is simple and sweet.

Don't forget to read - join the Readathon at MeMeTales - it's been fun for us and hopefully will be just as fun for you!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Readathon 2012 - Week 2 Friendship

Notice the chocolate colored
water they are using to rinse with!

This week’s theme for the 2012 Readathon that I mentioned earlier this month is about Friendship.  Friendship is an important concept for all of us. Some of us have friends nearby and others of us have friends who live thousands of miles away that we only talk to on the phone or via email and see infrequently.  How do you explain friendship to a toddler?

Well, after reading “Lott’s Tea Party” we happened to be invited to a great party that a friend of mine put together.  It was themed Messy Monday and there were about 8 under fives in all. The party took place on the beach and all the moms brought something to contribute to the messiness and the general chaos of the day.  

The kids had to learn to take turns, share, and play nicely.  One of the best activites that we did that day was the Chocolate covered Slip n Slide. Yes, you heard right… chocolate covered! There was chocolate pudding, chocolate sauce, whipping cream, marshmallows, and chocolate chips.  Sounds messy right? IT WAS!  Luckily we did it at the beach – which is one of the great perks about living here J no one had a mess in their home. The kids weren’t too sure about this, but C dived right in and got covered. Eventually it degenerated into a sauce squirting game of who can cover the other kid in sauce first; but all the kids got along, and took turns.  We also finger painted our bodies, played in flour, and made Gak. The kids needed to take turns and be patience as not everyone could play the same game at the same time, but they didn't mind as there was tons to do.

After we left the playdate, all C could talk about was his friends and what a good time he had.  He told me that everyone was nice and he liked his friends.  There were no demands to stay neat and tidy at this playdate, nor were there any issues with kids being mean. Basically it was a day that celebrated friendship and how to be a nice friend to other people.  I think that this activity really celebrated the theme of friendship that was promoted for the readathon – don’t you?