Saturday, May 31, 2008

CREPES AND CREEPS

One of the great advantages of living in Southern California is the vast array of things to see and do and, our favorite, EAT. But... someone's advantage is another one's disadvantage... as in our case: always thinking that whatever place we chose could be topped by another idea, we are often completely overwhelmed by choices... so much so, that between the six of us we debate for hours and can't decide - and end up staying home or going to our default Mexican eatery around the corner. And always order the same food, which always comes to $14.44. Cheap but booooooring!!! This weekend, however, we set out to check out some new stuff and were hugely successful.

Started off the weekend with breakfast at "La Galette" by the pier in San Clemente. OH MY... perfectly light and airy crepes with fresh berries, the best croissants we've ever had, and the prettiest, yes prettiest, and ultimately smooth cafe latte, rosemary potatoes... all this on the cutest patio overlooking the San Clemente pier, beach and the sapphire blue pacific ocean. Bonus for kids: the train passes by every 30 minutes.

Quintessential Saturday French Breakfast - CHECK!


Since this was not nearly glutenous enough, we proceeded to drive up the coast on Pacific Coast Hwy and stopped at the Crystal Cove Promenade, halfway between Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar. Southern California lifestyle at its finest. Fancy shops and snazzy restaurants overlooking the ocean. Ritzy, ritzy. Parked our Toyota Highlander between a Bentley and a Maserati - no kidding! At least our car was black like 98% of the cars in the parking lot and if it wasn't for the purple duct tape on my window (that's another story), we would have almost fit in. Until we piled out of the car with our 18 kids. Disregarding the whiplash our intrusion caused in this elite audience trying to enjoy their shi-shi Saturday morning, we paraded into "Red Mango" and indulged in our new vice of choice since Pinkberry totally let us down. Just like with Pinkberry, stick with the "Original" flavor... "Green Tea" is such a disappointment.

Saturday "Designer Yogurt Of The Moment" Complete With Italian Designer Furniture: CHECK!


Our bellies stuffed and happy, we were ready to move on to the next adventure... a non-eating adventure (or so we thought)... but while walking back to the car, we were detoured as our noses were tempted by a most delightful scent. Clearly, we could not go on living without finding out was caused this alluring aroma: Beignets! If you know what they are, you know what I'm talking about... hot fluffy light doughy sweet crispy fried little donut-like pastries covered in powdered sugar.... 'nuff said! Please rebuild New Orleans so these can go on living forever and ever. Locally Pacific Whey Bakery only serves those on the weekends and they always sell out by midday. We can understand why.

Weekend Something Fried And Covered With Powdered Sugar: CHECK!


Claudia can only take so much sweet stuff before she goes the other direction, and she had to antidote all this sugar with a grilled veggie sandwich... I wasn't about to ruin the lingering taste of sweetness, but according to her, the sandwich was all that and then some. BTW, this may all sound like disgusting amount of food, but keep in mind that we are 6 people, okay 5 "eating" people, and we always share... almost always.

Savory Snack For My Sugar-Loathing Wife: CHECK!


Our bellies REALLY stuffed and maybe not so happy anymore, we continued north up the coast and spent some family time with my parents and my 93-year old grandma. Being the ever-spoiling grandparents, they wanted to surprise us with something sweet and take us to Baskin-Robbins... our insides almost revolted at the mere thought. We omitted the morning food mayhem info and were able to at least delay the indulgence overkill by first stopping by Prehistoric Pets in Huntington Beach to feed maggots to the giant lizards. Finally some food in front of us that we could easily say no to (see the worms below). This place is awesome... 10,000 sq ft chock full with any kind of reptile you can imagine. The kids had a blast feeding and touching all kinds of critters, but the most fun is to be had watching Claudia get the creeps...

Exotic Pets, Education And Adventure For The Offspring: CHECK!


In the end, the icecream did hit the spot and we ended the day in my grandma's backyard. The kids, inspired by the day's happenings, tried to eat worms (Kiana at my dad's dare for $10) and made mud pie (Mika made it and Kiana tried to eat that too, this time for free, just to see what it tastes like). Matisse had no choice but to eat Gerber and Kai, the smart one of the bunch, stuck to Fritos. I see a future Yale valedictorian.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

MOMMY IDOL

It's very common to hear German children songs coming from the kids room. This is always a fun time with the kids laughing and singing as loud as they can. Matisse-Ciel already seems to have a favorite or two than bring him big smiles and loud screams when he hears them. So when I heard some odd German tunes coming from the other room with MC screaming, I didn't think too much of it. This slowly started to change as I heard notes that I've never heard before. And, the screams from MC sounded less like an attempt to sing but more like a cry for help. As I approached the room, I could see MC with an expression like none I'd ever seen before. The only way to describe it, is to use the 'Shock & Awe' reference. I slowly began to be inflicted with the same expression as my eyes focused in on the USM (Unidentified Singing Mom). It's not that at this point we haven't completely accepted Claudia's unique singing style. We've grown to appreciate that it doesn't matter if she's singing funk, country, pop or rock - it's always in the same key. This can only be appreciated if you hear her rendition of 'One Nation Under A Groove' compared to 'These Boots Were Made For Walking' - you would think you're hearing the same song.

So even though Matisse-Ciel was obviously hoping to get get some assistance, I had to walk away as I've done with each child. This is a hard lesson to understand at 9 months but it will give him strength in the years to come. However, I'm a little worried because ever since this last performance he's been spending a lot of time looking out the patio glass. It's as if he's plotting an escape or trying to figure out how he can strengthen his meditation skills during stressful moments.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

IF A COLD STRIKES, STICK TO HALLS AND HORMEL

Sweet, sweet Charlie. Isn't my husband just the best? After reading the post yesterday, I couldn't help but have my chest swell with pride and my eyes swell with tears of joy... and of course Charlie, I mean Jason, was rewarded for his PDA in many, many ways. So when I came down with a major cold yesterday, it didn't throw me out of orbit as it usually does, as I was still walking in a haze of warm cozy married loveliness. And although I was coughing up my teenage years, my eyes bloodshot, my nose running marathons, my head exploding, the positive energy gained from my dear hubby's darling words carried me through the day. As dinner time came around, my ship was finally going down and, completely exhausted, I resorted to a quick quesadilla dinner for the kids, with NO vegetables... this is always a sure sign that I am about to die.

Remembering the love and devotion declaration from a mere 12 hours before and expecting full understanding, I meekly muffled to Jason from underneath my layers of woolen scarves that I REALLY, REALLY feel like having a nice hot chicken soup. "No problem, honey" he replied and disappeared into the kitchen - what a lamb, how did I get so lucky? Now, when I mentioned soup, I was fully aware that there was no secret stash of magical soup hidden in the kitchen, and if there was, Jason would be the last person on earth to know where it was. But the gusto with which he answered my wishes made me think that just maybe, possibly, my Super-Husband had a surprise or at least a plan. He sure did! A few minutes later, as proud as can be, he marched over to the couch and presented MY SOUP:



No kidding!!! (Now, let me insert here that I have literally no idea how this Hormel thing ended up in our pantry)
Since his delight and joy with himself of providing dinner for his sick wife were truly adorable, I didn't want to rain on his parade and just smiled at him. Me just smiling must be a sign of complete discontent, as he immediately stood erect and said "or do you want another soup?". I made my voice sound as hoarse as possible and whispered as humbly as I could that if he wanted to, he could run to the deli around the corner and pick up a quart of their homemade soup, to which he replied: "No problem, honey.... I'll go right after the game!" Which would have been the right answer and a very generous gesture, except that we were about one minute into the 2nd quarter.

Oh well... you can't expect poetry, humor, good looks AND basketball not being as important as life itself. Unbeknownst to my hubby, I slipped out and got the soup myself. He barely noticed I was gone, it only took me a few minutes, and in the end, we had a great evening vegging on the couch. Love, love, lovely love.

That is until this morning... I dragged my stuffy cottonball head out of bed at 5.45am to nurse Matisse and make lunch and breakfast for the three other kids... as I sniffingly peeled myself out of the covers Jason whispered: "Honey, can you handle everything this morning so I can sleep a bit longer today? You kept me up all night with your loud coughing, I barely got any sleep".

Oh, Charlie. You're lucky that you look absolutely beautiful when you're all scrunched up in bed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

RANSOM'S ANGELS

Just like Charlie, I've been blessed with my own angels. The men in this house can't imagine what life would be without them. Outside of actually having to do something around the house, we would be at such a loss of affection. You can actually feel the energy to love us coming from their hearts. This energy continues to be the base of our family and has insured Kai & Matisse-Ciel will be men who love & respect women - not sure about the high school years since us men tend to struggle then...but later they are going to be great. Hopefully between the 3 men we bring them some joy from time to time. Since we all have the gift to make them laugh, there are moments this gift can overshadow our shortcomings. This is not to say (or admit) we actually have 'real flaws' but I will say that laughter continues to be our saving grace during 'misunderstandings'.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

KAI*COPTER 2010

In a continued effort to be green, KAI*NIEVEL is rethinking his ride of choice - understanding that you can't stay on the same path or ride of life without truly challenging yourself. With his vast list of contacts, he has recently decided to partner with a Japanese company whose name we can't disclose as of yet. This partnership will take the union of man and machine to levels one might not have ever imagined. As you can understand, this is a top secret project, but I have been given permission to show the first prototype of what is currently being called the KAI*COPTER. As the project progresses, you will be able to check on new versions and eventually the first recorded flight.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde



Sometimes it's difficult to share the easy flow with Matisse-Ciel because it almost seems impossible. The fact that he has slept pretty much through the night from the beginning. Or that he really only blows his fuse with key objectives:

Feed Me
Change Me
Put Me Down

We have friends that have made it clear they just don't want to hear about all the 'Happy Joy Joy' going on in the house. There's this constant murmur of 'Wait Until he's 2... Until They're Teenagers...etc". With kids staggered from 6 to 10 you do get this false sense of security with Matisse-Ciel. Could it be possible that our little joy is hiding his true character? Could his smiles and loving hugs only be an act?


TO GOOGLE OR NOT TO GOOGLE

Due to Kai's successfully obnoxious begging in the grocery store the other day, I bought the kids a little toy:


I am a mean mommy and rules are rules - they had to finish their homework before being able to play with it. Once they had accomplished that under much moaning and groaning and shooting deadly looks my way, they were finally able to dig into the fun. Jason and I were chilling in the other room and vaguely heard the kids' excited exclamations in the distance:

Kai: "I have a red manta ray!"

Mika: "I got a yellow squid!"

Kiana: "Look, TC, my dolphin is green!"

Mika: "I have a blue sperm whale"... "what is a sperm whale?"....
"DADDY, DAAAADDY... CAN I GOOGLE SPERM WHALE????"

Jason: "NOOOOO, JUST KEEP PLAYING"

Me, whispering: "Why can't they google a sperm whale?"

Jason: "Google anything with "sperm" and the first hit is probably not Seaworld, (giant) DUH!!!"

Me: "Ahh, yeah, right".

And, so we remain, THIS is what a sperm whale looks like, kids:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY

It's a balancing act on many levels when you have four kids. None of these are greater than gauging how much TV time you can squeeze in before the club closes. There was a time when the club stayed open all night. Even during playoffs, it didn't matter what time you showed up, the DJ was playing the jams and the bar was ready to serve up your favorite drink. I find myself having to get ready for the club sooner and sooner as the years pass. I've even come to find that there's a no admittance after 10pm on some nights. This has to be the new ownership, because these club rules don't line up with past years. The one thing that does run consistent, is that when the DJ is playing your favorite song you better get your butt on the dancefloor, because the next song may be a ballad. And, we all know that ballads put most to sleep.

Fortunately, I still have VIP status and to date have had no issues getting in, but I wonder how long will this last. I've talked to the club owner about new ideas in promoting the club, possibly even working there - she said that there's a dishwasher position open... with full benefits. I've already filled out an application... keep your fingers crossed for me.


Monday, May 12, 2008

CAUGHT IN THE ACT!

Although it wasn't a surprise for MC to be the 'tip the basket over' culprit, we did find it interesting that this 'bad boy..bad boy' move didn't end with the basket alone. Our little guy, who has been without a pacifier for several months now, was able to dig deep in the basket to find his 'suck joy'. I can only imagine what emotions ran through his body as he slowly brought it to his mouth. Never have I seen him so focused and completely disconnected from his surroundings. As it entered his mouth, I called out to him with "What Do You Have There TC???", and the look tells it all. It's a cross between guilt and joy, when you know you're doing wrong but you just can't help yourself. We gave him some alone time then put the 'suck joy' to bed for good. There's nothing wrong with appreciating the past, but there's a time when you just have to turn the page.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

ART OF THE WEEK

THE KIDS HAVE VOTED



As predicted, Claudia has won in a landslide 'Mother Of The Year'. In her acceptance speech she requested just to have a fun day (this seems easy), a clean house (the kids started to get worried), no computer and no TV (who took my honey and replaced her with this cult leader?). Of course we all smiled and agreed that this sounded like a perfectly achievable plan. I need to leave so I can Tivo the games before Claudia hides the controller & the kids are getting trash bags to hide the toys. Here she comes, gotta go......

Friday, May 9, 2008

RIGHTEOUS



Mika's school took a trip to the local library a few weeks ago, and, ever since she came home and proudly showed us her own library card, she has been bugging to go back. We've been successfully delaying the trip by bribing the kids with more TV time and Happy Meals from McDonald's. This afternoon, however, the guilt got the better of me and we finally piled into the car to get the little bugger off my back once and for all.

Already feeling like Super Mom for going in the first place, I immediately warned the kids upon our arrival to make it spiffy - my phone has only so many games I can play with while waiting for them to pick out THIS horse book or THAT horse book. And just one book for each of you, okay? While leaning against the wall being incredibly bored, I remembered a new book that I wanted to pick up at Barnes & Noble. Hmmmm. Books & Library, Library & Books. I scanned the room and, lo and behold, the library person, I think they're called a librarian, was doing nothing else but beckoning me with a very disarming smile. Okay, why not... I meandered to the desk and, guess what? They totally had the book... for free!!! Being completely inspired by the concept, I spent the next hour or so lazily fingering many spines... while the kids waited for ME. Incredibly pleased with myself for being such an amazing mom (saved $121.06), we left the library with the above loot. Also got some political reads for Jason and a few books for Matisse-Ciel to drool over, literally.

I know books make great gifts and some of them are worth having and keeping, but think about how redundant buying a book can be versus finding it for free in a library. You buy it, you read it, and then.... you either keep it on your shelf never to be opened again or you eventually GASP! toss it in the trash. If you are green, you may even recycle or donate it to a library. I'm not saying don't ever buy a book again, just check out your library and give it some thought before you plunk down the money at the book store.

One tree makes about 150 books, so I only saved about a branch... but it's a start. Having said all this, we will surely make many more trips to the book store and kill a few more trees in our lifetime. But thanks to Mika, we found a fun way to spend time together, save money and do something good for our planet.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

IT'S SO HARD TO SAY GOODBYE

We knew it wasn't going to be long with the rapid growth of Matisse-Ciel. However, we didn't think it would come this fast and because of it we have to give it a proper send off. I'm highlighting today the infant seat which was supposed to last until month 12. The little dude barely turned 8 months last week. While we've already gotten used to saying goodbye to the 12-18 months clothes, we thought we could manage this one with the tools we had. It has become very clear from the grunts and moans that our little man is not willing to compromise on this one much longer. He doesn't fit on the high side, the low side and even the middle is a squeeze.



So the hunt is on for the 'big boy' seat. At his current growth rate he's going to be ready for just seat belt action soon enough. In the meantime, we'll have at least one task on the plate for Saturday morning. Why can't we just let him hang on the floor with the other kids? No need for emails, I was just reminiscing being a kid when it was perfectly fine to endanger your children. Those were the Good 'Ole Days.

NEVER KNEW EURO MEN WERE SO DOMESTIC

Let me set the stage: adrenaline, alligators, action and... perfectly pressed trousers???
First they gave us James Bond and Simon Cowell and now the brilliant British have come up with a way for Betty Crocker and Indiana Jones to be lovers and enjoy their pastime together:



Can't wait for NIKE to come out with their 'Iron Man' Gear line...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

THIS JUST IN...

UPDATE on 'Watching TV...' In honor of the NC and IN primaries being held last night, Jason sacrificed his raw food conviction and went political by eating not one, but two batches of American Flag Sugar Cookies. That is true patriotism!!! Obama should take a lesson from him and either wear that pin or get a red, white and blue sugar rush like our trooper here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

PUZZLES, POLITICS, PAPA & 'P'ASKETBALL

Women are from Mars, Men are from Venus. Or was it the other way around? In any case, that author came up with the greatest excuse for men to refrain from any domestic activity (amongst a carte blanche excuse for all kinds of other stuff): Men are pretty much from another planet and they just can't help not helping. Poor souls. Because they totally want to but some innate force is tying their hands behind their back. So sorry, wish I could help you.
So knowing this, we, as women, would never ever in a million years even dream of a man being able to master the incredibly difficult skill of MULTI-TASKING. It's just not in their DNA. It's a woman's right of passage.
I say "HA"!
Just caught Jason quadruple, YES, QUADRUPLE-tasking:
1. Totally enthralled in watching BASKETBALL while
2. passionately discussing POLITICS on the home phone with a friend while
3. playing level 18 of a PUZZLE on his iPhone while
4. being a PAPA and bouncing Matisse-Ciel on his lap.
And he didn't look the least bit stressed!
If I had put a bowl of peach cobbler in front of him he could have easily upped it to a quintuple feat...
Can't wait until tomorrow when I will ask him to fold the laundry while vacuuming while feeding Matisse while blowing up balloons and opening the pickle jar.

Monday, May 5, 2008

WATCHING TV CAN GET YOU IN TROUBLE

As much as I try to be a better man, there are times that I fall into the same mold of previous prototypes. There's this gene in all men that is just so strong that it doesn't allow us to be all things for our partner. In a perfect world we would do all the tasks you wish us to do without asking. One key area that I tend to fall short in is the little old 'Listening' area. Now with 4 kids I have to get a pass since there is constant chatter going on and it can be difficult to choose who will get first position in my eardrum. When you add the TV to this, men just don't have the ability to hear very well. I mention the TV because this is were the story actually takes flight. While watching the NBA playoffs (our eyes almost close up during moments like this), Claudia asked if I would like to have a 'Raw Meal' tonight. Her friends are getting into it and we do eat alot of salad, so she thinks we should give it a run. In previous days I heard her mention this but from all accounts I don't recall giving a 'Green Light' (pun intended) for us to move into this arena. So looking at when the question was asked, you can already imagine how I responded: 'Sure Honey Sounds Good" and then I was free to get back to the game. While watching the game I could sense some commotion in the kitchen but I never bothered to look up. There was this constant chopping sound that I could barely hear but it did find its way in between commercials. When the request to come eat was made, I found myself walking towards farmers' market and not my normal dining establishment. Looking at Claudia's proud face for this accomplishment, I did what any husband would do and said " Wow This Looks Amazing Honey....Lets Dig In".



With a glass of wine and music in the background, this was the making of a lovely evening. We even played this new game Claudia made up called 'Guess What's In The Salad'. I found myself doing better with guessing what wasn't in the salad. The great thing about 'Raw Food' is that you get about 4 pounds of food for your meal. I could feel my skin changing orange, yellow then green throughout the adventure. In the end I did survive and must admit it was pretty good. However, since we're admitting things, I must mention that I was pretty hungry just a few hours later and might have had an undisclosed snack while Claudia wasn't looking. I'm excited for tomorrow's meal and already planning where to hide the after dinner snacks.

Friday, May 2, 2008

ART IS IN THE HOUSE

We’ve lived here over 18 months and still all the walls, ALL the walls are staring back at us with their infinite whitedom. And, if you’ve been to our house, you know that we have many, many big white walls. We had plans of decorating them with the ultimate in cool and funky art…. so cool that we still haven’t found one single thing to hang. And so the walls remain pure and pristine and sterile and empty and very hospital-ish. The ONLY object that interrupts the pasty milkyness is a big, black rectangle…. a flatscreen TV, which was hung 23 minutes after we moved in…. hmmm, can you guess who was in charge?
With the risk of snow blindness clearly looming over our heads, we decided to apply chalk paint to one of the walls - presto revolving gallery!!!
For our grand opening, we present the works of one of our youngest artists:

Kai Kilian - 'Pirate Ship'



Don’t miss our next vernissage when we reveal the masterpiece of yet another Ransom painter! GERMANSOUL translation.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

FAVORITE THING ABOUT SPRING


Everything looks so beautiful....