Wall St Journal Interview, Dell Hybrid review, first week of school

Things have been pretty busy around here with school starting back up and all, but figured I'd just cram everything into one post.

First off, I am LOVE-LOVE-LOVING my new Dell Hybrid. It is cute (all important around here), fast, easy to use, has a clear sharp picture, has a tiny cpu, quiet, made from recycled materials and uses less energy.

I understand that for gamers not having the ability to add better graphics cards would make it pretty useless to them if they played any high performance games at at all *waves hi to Dawn*, but for normal computer use, it's wonderful. Did I mention how cute it is?

I chose it over a laptop for many reasons- I LIKE having a desk/office area, I wanted a bigger monitor (I upgraded to a 20"- 19" is standard), and I like using a separate keyboard and mouse anyways. When we went on vacation we opted not to bring computers but I am sure that if I needed one the girls would happily (yeah, right) loan me theirs. Okay I'd have to bribe them, but it could be done.

Enough about that, if you're in the market check out the Dell Hybrid.

Oh, something kinda cool happened. The other day I just did a quick rant and mentioned my new computer- I had an email from a Wall Street Journal reporter asking for an interview- he's doing an article on who's buying green computers/gadgets and why. He called today and we had a nice chat- I'm sure I came across as a total dork- I have mentioned repeatedly on this blog and everyone who knows me knows I despise talking on the phone, so no edits or do-overs. Hopefully he has enough compassion not to make me sound like the total doofus I can be. ;-) It was pretty fun and I think he was pretty interested in the fact that the littlest diva is the one pushing/promoting going green and dragging the rest of us along with her. Maybe he'll mention her and make her day.

We've been spending a lot of time with Kyra and Ian lately. Yesterday took them and Dawn to Ryan's Steakhouse- I have not been in a few years as the few times before we stopped going were just very poor quality- everything was in a casserole or drowning in gravy or fried, even the vegetables. We had planned on going to a pizza buffet the kids found the other day but it had closed by then, and we couldn't decide what we wanted and one thing led to another and we figured at least the ice cream/dessert bar would be good.

Well, the food was much better and we had a fabulous waitress. The ice-cream was a huge let-down, though. In the soft-serve part they had butter pecan and strawberry. Hello, who eats that on their apple pie or cobbler? They also had Edy's in a huge vat, but the only flavor was strawberry.
Ian liked the goodies (actually he liked the fruit the most, go, Ian) but auntie and I also took him up and got him dessert- gummy bears, m&m's a tiny scoop of strawberry and a tiny wedge of chocolate cake.

He had some fun with that but the cake- well, he liked when Gigi (me) swiped the whipped topping onto the pinky and fed him.

He was such a good boy, so polite and well mannered. Oh, kinda funny- he has a ball obsession, and they had one by the gumball machines so we told him on the way out- well his mama got him a plate of food, then when I got my salad I got him a fruit plate and he was treating the grapes like balls wanting auntie to play with him (he didn't make a huge mess just a couple and we kept laughing - when we told him no he stopped) but he lobbed a couple at Dawn first. Hehe
He was so good we got him the ball from the machine, then had to hit Wally World so I told him he was such a sweetie pie I'd get him something (naturally he wanted a ball) got him a Nerf football- HA the boy ATE a big chunk out of it shortly after we got back to my house! Funny, really, but not. The big exercise ball we got is so far so good, but Cin popped the last one. We'll see how long this one lasts.

We stopped at Shake's (it's a drive-thru) for GOOD ice-cream and got a Diet Coke float for the ride home- picked up sundaes for the rest of us- well, I ordered Dev a banana split- YUCK way too banana-ey. So anyways, I ended up with only a couple of bites so when Kyra needed to run to the store today I gave her some money for more (and another ball for Ian). YUMMY they use the old fashioned soft custard it is oh, so good! Oh, btw if you live near here (or any Shake's) do NOT get the nuts on your sundaes. They used whole nuts and way too many of them. I mean they were pecans, and they were good, but not like that on a sundae. Would have been much better if they were just a light sprinkling like most places use.

A while ago, I won a make-up prize pkg from Lucky Mag/Max Factor. There was some kind of mix-up and more people got told they won than actually did. They made it right, in my opinion, by sending partial packs and $25 gc's to Drugstore.com.

Apparently they decided to go one better for the original winners because yesterday I got a box from Fed-ex that had the original prize in it. A lot of really nice stuff that the little diva's are having a blast playing with. I love when sponsors go above and beyond and you can bet that I will make sure that everyone knows Max Factor and Lucky Mag are great companies to deal with. Oh, and the make-up is in minimal packaging YAY! a bit hard to open but totally worth it. Nice quality make-up, too. Pretty colors.

Kyra and Ian are here today because a tree is attacking them. Actually it is storming (or was) and a tree fell and bashed in the downstairs neighbors storm door and dented the regular one. The rest of the tree, if it goes down either hits Ki's living or bedroom windows.

Made a huge pot of spaghetti sauce (gravy to some of you) yesterday and had it with meatballs. Let it simmer down in the crock pot all night and part of today since I like it cooked longer than we had time for and will be making lasagna tonight- I asked Dawn if she thought it was too soon since we just had spaghetti and you would have thought I grew antenna or sprouted an extra eyeball at the look she gave me- apparently, it is never a bad time for lasagna.

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Fried Rice Bentos

Today was our second attempt at making bento lunches. All in all I am pretty pleased with the results. I don't have anything to report yet as to what shape they were in when the girls sat down to eat them, but I will note anything we have to change next time. I do know they have requested extra chopsticks so that their friends can share- even a little less than picture perfect was a novel and fun thing to them around here.
Devon's bento has chicken fried rice* with a little piggy filled with soy sauce, mixed fruit including strawberries, blueberries, grapes and a honeydew flower, imitation crab on a flamingo skewer, 3 chocolate filled biscuits and a mini Hershey's bar (my little sweethound will be so happy) cream cheese and jelly pinwheels and grape tomato and cucumber star skewers. I used sushi grass for dividers, hopefully that will keep the flavors from mingling and nothing will jump where it's not supposed to.
Casey's bento had shrimp fried rice* (she tasted it, the salad shrimp are much tastier this way) with soy sauce in a couple of little fish containers, strawberries, blueberries, grapes and honeydew flowers (she doesn't care for chocolate or sweets in general near as much as Devon does so she got extra fruit at her request), baby carrot and cucumber stars and fake crab skewers.
Oh, with the fake crab- I bought the chunks thinking that they were just little squares- next time I will buy the sticks and cut them myself as they were semi- shredded and not so pretty I think as I can make them. The girls will like them, though, and they appreciate that I will take some extra time to make them something special.

Fried Rice

  • 2 Eggs (can use 4 egg whites or equivalent of egg substitute)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Butter
  • Carrots, shredded
  • Snow peas, julienned
  • 2 cups Cooked rice, leftover cold rice works best
  • Soy sauce (reduced sodium or wheat/gluten free is fine)
  • Handful Salad shrimp, frozen (defrost if eating immediately)
  • Cooked chicken, diced
Cooking Directions
  1. Scramble eggs in a frying pan with a little spray of nonstick oil and break up really well.
  2. Remove.
  3. Saute veg in butter until crisp-tender (use whatever you have)
  4. Stir in about 2 cups of rice and then add the eggs back.
  5. Add just enough soy sauce (can use reduced sodium or wheat free).
  6. Add protein if using, we separated this into two batches since Dev can't eat shellfish.
This can be eaten at room temperature and my kids don't mind it, so it will work well for them as they don't have access to a microwave.

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First bento lunches - lessons learned

For my first attempt at packing bento boxes, I think I did fairly decent.

They looked cute, we remembered to take pics (oops- Dawn says the lighting thingy was out of whack- she'll make sure it is right next time), and I had a pretty good variety of things they liked.
This is Casey's bento lunch. It has 3 mini lemon-poppyseed muffins, goldfish crackers, cut up strawberry and blueberry kabob, swiss roll sliced to resemble sushi, pineapple salad on butter lettuce leaves with pineapple, shredded cheddar and maraschino cherries. Baby salad shrimp, cucumber flowers, Babybel cheese and baby carrots.

This is Devon's bento lunch- It has goldfish crackers, Babybel cheese, pineapple salad on baby spinach leaves with pineapple, dollop of mayo, shredded cheddar and maraschino cherries.
Baby carrots and cucumber flowers, asparagus spears wrapped with prosciutto, cut up strawberry, blueberry kabobs, swiss roll cut into thirds to resemble sushi and mini lemon-poppyseed muffins.

Now on to the lessons learned.

When sending Goldfish, send in a covered container (I had them in muffin liners) because they all jumped ship and mingled with all the other foods.

When making blondie's pineapple salad, shred the lettuce- while the leaves looked nice, they were impossible to eat with chopsticks.

Salad shrimp is too bland to eat on it's own. Somehow I guess I thought it would be like the shrimp she likes from the buffet at New China or the rings we buy from Kroger- she doesn't use any sauce or anything, but apparently these are just blah.

Dev had not eaten prosciutto before (I guess she wasn't here the other times we had gotten it) and thought I had sent her with undercooked/raw bacon or ham or something and was too scared to eat it. She tried it at home and knows she won't die or get poisoned. LOL

Miss Picky wants either grapes or apples with her Babybel- what was I thinking?

My girls are not used to carrying something like this carefully and while they tried they were NOT as pretty as they could have been- I think I either need to get new bento boxes that I can pack tighter (and I am NOT just saying that cuz they have some really really cute ones like Hello Kitty) or find some way to stabilize- maybe saran wrap or something.

All in all I am pretty pleased that my first attempt came out as well as it did. Hopefully my lunches (and photos) will get better as we go along.

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My girls despise school lunches, and who can blame them. The choices are for the most part fried, greasy, starchy and institutionalized. And of course, just plain gross.

If they had no choice, the only thing the mini-diva will eat is the baked potato with butter and cheese. Period.
The littlest diva eats a little more variety, but only because she forces herself, not because she particularly likes it.

Now anyone who knows me knows mornings are not my best time. And there are other days no time is my best time when I am not feeling well, but I have committed to making two fancy lunches a week for the girls.
For years now I have sent them with lunches and I tried to make them a little more fun by having variety, but was limited somewhat because they didn't like this or that as it got smooshed in their lunchboxes or didn't travel well or whatever.

This year, my newest obsession is Bento boxes.

Obento is the Japanese word for packed lunch in a box and depending on where you look there are different rules for packing a bento box.

One is that each meal is 4 parts grain, 3 parts protein, 2 parts fruit & veggie, 1 part pickled veggie or dessert.

Another would be that each box has to have each of 5 colors- red, yellow, green, light & dark.
Yet another would be 1/2 grain, 1/4 protein, 1/4 fruit & veggie.

I am going to go with the definition I most prefer, and that is a variety of (mostly) bite-sized food that is arranged in a way that is pleasing to the eye as well as the taste buds. Food art, if you will.

Although we are trying more and more foods that are new to us, we do have very American palates and I don't want to send the girls with things they won't eat, plus, if it is too rigid and structured I will get bored and go back to the same old same old.

That being said, this will be my very Americanized version of the bento box as well as links and ideas that I find interesting.

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Back to school torture

Things have been crazy busy or super lazy here. Yep, we go to extremes.
School starts Monday (and even the littlest diva is NOT looking forward to it). She likes school okay but she HATES waking up. We are NOT morning people around here.
Naturally they can't be like most of their friends and wake themselves and get ready and whatnot, I have to get up at 6 am, tell them it's started and get the mini-diva up at 6:20, tell the littlest diva at 6:20, 6:30 and 6:40.
The mini-diva does her hair and makeup and whatnot, but the littlest will try to catch that last second of sleep. They take their showers at night because they a) can't imagine sleeping with the grime of the day on them and b) could NEVER get it together enough at 5 am to start the process.
During all of these wake up calls I pack lunchboxes (we are super excited to be using Bento Boxes at least twice a week this year, we'll show pics and whatnot later). I have everything prepped the night before that I can and just toss them in and write their notes and whatever.
I also have to find them breakfast (usually something simple, toast, bagel, granola bar, whatnot, but sometimes they want an egg or pancake or Hello Kitty waffle).
We ALL drink as much caffeine as possible. I know what they say and all I can say is... it has been proven statistically that everyone who has cancer has lived, therefore living causes cancer. Ergo, something is going to get me I am NOT giving up something that makes it possible to function for some stupid stats that someone will come back 10 years later with some completely different stats. We do the best we can (mostly in moderation) but what works for you won't necessarily work for us and vice-versa.
They are shoveling it in as they run back and forth getting ready because the last thing they do is brush their teeth and grab mints or gum- you'll remember we are rather fanatic about smelling our best around here. ;)
We have buckets that they are supposed to put all their crap in under the plant table by the front door and in theory it is a great idea having all of their stuff ready the night before except the lunchboxes that I add in the mornings, but Dev usually decides she wants different shoes or forgot to have this or that signed or doesn't need this book after all or ... you get the idea.
At 6:57 they are racing out the door and down the driveway. The bus driver is supposed to come between 7 and 7:10 but he's got it into his head he needs to beat his previous times and seems to get earlier and earlier as the days and years go by. He's even forgotten the kids. Yes, well, what can you do, right? Fun, fun.
Mondays are hell for us. We are mean and cranky and snappy and just want our dang weekends back because no matter how good our intentions, we get whacked out on our schedule on the weekends. It's just how it is.
The rest of the weekday mornings are not always fun, but it is usually not near as bad as Monday. The thing is we TRY to be polite and cheerful and then whoever is listening starts snapping like you have a nerve trying to be perky and upbeat you know we are getting up at this godawful hour for TORTURE (aka school).
Ahhhhhh yes, schooldays in the Loonyverse are a sight to behold.
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My Grandson, The Sweetie Pie

When last we blogged we told the story of the hellion who is my grandson. I've been informed that it's not really right to only show one side so today I'll give you the sweet side of Ian.
NO, I am not going to say he's cute and leave it at that. What do you think I am? I want to keep my membership in the gramma club. Hehe.
Actually if you don't see him often you might be tempted to think he's two different kids because he really does have a side that is so sweet and loving you would think it couldn't possibly come from the same holy terror described in My grandson, the evil genius.
When Ian is happy, he's the happiest kid you have ever seen. Gut-busting belly laughs. Hugs and kisses galore. That hint of mischief that keeps him from being too perfect.
My little red-headed boy is such a sweetheart.
He loves to share, especially with the dogs. He plays well with others, waits his turn and is pretty patient when we go out shopping even when we look at grown-up things.
I have learned not to let him share food with me because he tries to stick all kinds of gross things in your mouth. His mama did that too... sucked the dip off chips or veggies then stuck them in peoples mouths. Not mine Thank God! Others are not so fortunate, but I won't mention names
He loves those really soft blankets and when he wants to cuddle he'll drag one over to you with one or another of his stuffed animals.
He has a baby doll that he treats so gently and takes such good care of, like it's a real baby.
He loves to curl up with the dogs and tell them stories.
He will bring his current favorite obsession (toy, book, whatever) and hand it to you and give you the most adorable smile, like he's saying 'here I love this, and I love you enough to let you play with it'.
He is very concerned about the well-being and safety of animals.
***Warning: cute story- awww moment alert***
The other day it was storming and Kyra was at her condo with Ian.
The little guy kept getting more and more upset, and looking out the window.
As storms have never bothered him before she didn't know what was wrong so Ki asked him to tell her.
After a few minutes he pointed to the window and said "moo... moo..." in the saddest little voice.
(Behind their condo is a field or pasture or some country type thing and they have some cows that graze there.)
Kyra explained to him that it was okay, that that was how cows took their baths since they couldn't fit in the tub. (She's such a good little mama.)
He cheered right up and every time he heard thunder he would get a big smile and say "moo-bath, moo-bath".
Adorble, sweet things like that are why we keep him- err I mean why we love him so darn much. That and he gives the best smoocheroozles ever.
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My Grandson, The Evil Genius

Now you all know Ian is the cutest little grandchild in the world. And no, I am not just saying that because I would be kicked out of the grandparents club if I didn't, I mean, c'mon you've seen the pictures. It's obvious he comes from a superior gene-pool.
He is also funny as all get out. Smart as a whip. And BAD to the bone! ROTTEN to the core!
I know, I know already! that puts me in jeopardy of losing my rights as a gramma, but c'mon even the most adoring gigi on the planet isn't an idiot or a liar. Okay, I will admit to being a creative truth-teller at times but no one will ever say fibber-mageester, fibber-mageester, pantaloons aflame (liar, liar, pants on fire in Devii-speak) to or about me.
He pimp-slaps his mama (granted his Aunties didn't help matters one little bit when they made up that 'do your pimp hand show is it time to smack your ho' sung to do your chain hang low as his personal theme song about it the first time he did it at months old), whips his pull-ups down and pees on the dog and anything else that happens to be handy- now this one boggles us because he was all but trained- holding his hand in front of his crotch and saying uh-oh til you took him to the potty and mostly making it in time) but now no warning just peeing wherever, whenever.
He headbutts- people, things, animals, he doesn't care. He makes sure you are watching him when he does it. Yes, he is punished. No, he does not care.
He knows how to play the adults in his life like a master violinist. Well, that's okay, everyone should use whatever means necessary to get what they want out of life as long as they aren't hurting anyone.
The little man has also been known to break through any and every baby-proof lock in existence, climbed over numerous baby gates at the top of the stairs in their condo, open child-proof packaging and basically raise all kinds of hell. If one thing doesn't work he moves on to the next until it does.
Watch him better, you say? Well, Kyra is alone with him all day every day unless they go out or someone comes over so even during a 30 second pee break mayhem can ensue.
You can leave the boy happily playing with his toys or watching Veggie-tales or a Disney move and when you come back you will find mass-destruction of epic proportions.
Kids will be kids, right?
True story, swear to God, not one iota of creative-truth telling.
Kyra lives on the second floor and opened her window (behind the couch) less than an inch to get a little fresh air in the house. Ian was happily chattering with his pets and watching a dvd and playing with something or other and she went to the bathroom to pee. Not even an I drank a big-gulp monsoon pee, just a normal everyday 30 seconds to go wipe and wash.
She comes back and the window which she and Aaron both say is hard to open is pushed all the way up, the screen busted through and Ian is pointing and grinning that evil I know I did something really bad but I'm so adorable just try to punish me grin.
She grabs him from behind the couch, and goes to shut the window and he points and makes his puppy noises. Thank God there is someone living underneath and there is a roof under that particular window because he had shoved their puppy through it.
***special bulletin***
We are happy to report that no animals or children were harmed in the making of this blog post, sadly, though, one mama has lost what little was left of her mind.
***end bulletin***
So now on top of climbing, breaking, destroying and everything else, she has to worry about superhuman strength and an evil genius mind.
Whoa, tripping here: Flashback to Pinky and the Brain.
Yes, Ian is a little Brain and will probably take over the world one day or get himself and everyone around him killed trying.
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Breaking Dawn Review- no spoilers- pics of Midnight Release- Update

After all of the hype and hooplah it is finally here.
In the words of the blonde-

"I didn't think anything could be worse than the second book but it was- way worse.

It was like a really bad fanfic only more disappointing because you expected more from Stephenie Meyer.
All of those things you said couldn't possibly happen.
Anyone who likes it is out of my (Casey's) elite circle of friends."

They had a good time at the midnight release at Hastings last night, then went to the 24 hour Wal Mart to get some sustenance and found the book with no lines, no waiting and $2 cheaper. Oh well, at least they had some quality sister time and met up with several of their friends.
I'm sure that Devon will have a review on her blog when she's finished, and I'll be posting the short version (liked or hated) here.
Well, I hope you all liked it more than the little critic did. She is glad she read it and didn't tell her sister not to, but she did say have something handy to punch.
All in all a disappointment but it is one of those things- we HAD to have it and even those of us still waiting will read to see how bad it is for ourselves.
Hehe Dev keeps running to Casey's room saying nooooooooooooo or OMG OMG how could she have or can you believe...(I tune out here.) Well, either Stephenie Meyer has lost her magic touch or we're in the minority. What did you all think?
UPDATE: Okay I had to wait til today since I had isp problems last night- the littlest diva got her review in over on her blog and would LOVE to hear what everyone else has to say. ***WARNING*** Her review does contain spoilers so don't read it unless you have already finished or are not planning to read it. It is pretty interesting all in all to see her viewpoint on it. All I will say at this point is the two littles have given it two thumbs way down.
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