Last night's dinner: Navratan Kormi, and Basmati Rice



Ingredients:

-1/3 cup Cashews chopped
-1 onion diced or grated
-1/2 tsp garlic minced
-1/2 tsp ginger powder (or fresh)
-1 8oz can of tomato sauce
-1 tsp cayanne (optional - we used paprika for less heat)
-1/2 tsp tumeric
-2 tsp coriander
-1 tsp garam masala (spice blend - their all a little different - stores carry generic blends, but your best bet is to find a genuine Indian resturaunt that sells jars of their 'house blend' - this will give you the most authentic flavor)
-1 cup water
-1/2 cup carrots chopped
-1/2 cup green peppers chopped
-1/2 cup corn (i used canned - worked well)
-1/2 cup peas (also used canned - worked well)
-1 cup chopped potato (I used a leftover baked potato, just chopped it up)
-1/4 cup milk
-1/4 cup heavy cream (I used sour cream as it's all I had - it was fine though I dont know I would use it again - i think ill opt for plain yogurt next time)

Instructions:

1: Fry the cashews in 1 tbsp oil - set aside.

2: Fry the onion in same pan until softened. Add garlic and ginger and fry for 1 minute

3: Add the tomato sauce, spices, water, and veggies. Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 10 minutes if your using already cooked potatos - if the potatoes are raw simmer for 20 minutes or so until they are soft.

4: Add the milks and cashews and boil for 2-3 minutes, salt to taste.

Serve over Basmati rice and enjoy!

This was a big hit here - I *love* Indian food, and have been looking for a decent recipe for Navratan for months. While I'm not convinced this is precisely the taste I'm going for (the local Indian resturaunt serves a much creamier and less tomatoey version - I will work on perfecting it), it is awesome nonetheless! :)

It also blended up well for Brandon's feeding tube feed!

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Around here we like to paint.

When Brandon started showing some passion for it, we didn't go halfway - we got him an easle, mounted canvases, acrylic paints, a huge set of brushes, palettes and a monsterous drop cloth for the table. He has been painting since he was 2. Many a family member has an original 'Brandon' hanging in their home.




As of late, Tyler has joined the foray - he too loves to paint, and after inheriting my grandmothers easle a few years ago, the two of them go to town together now. Painting days are much anticipated in these parts!





So some tips for encouraging your kids to produce works of art that you would want on your wall?


1. Get real paints. Go to a craft store and purchase a set of acrylic paints. Don't get water color (too dependant on the right amount of water - small children will struggle and it just ends up washed out), and do NOT get oil (just don't). Don't get the cheapo kiddie paints, don't get the prefilled palettes of paints - get the set of acrylic tubes - they don't have to be high end - you can get a full set of acrylic paints for 15$ if you hunt around - but do get REAL acrylic paints. This will give you art you want to keep and not just washed out messes.

2. Get real canvas. It's cheap. REALLY cheap. check the dollar store - they often have different sized mounted canvases for (you guessed it) $1. Check Wal-Mart - you can get big canvases for a few dollars (and sometimes BIG is cool - you will be surprised what a kiddo will do with a huge white canvas and some paints!). Even Michaels and other craft stores will have reasonably priced mounted canvases. This doesn't have to be complicated - you do not have to mount the canvas yourself or prime it etc, just take it home and paint!

3. Don't coach. As much as you will want to tell your child what to paint or how to paint, fight the urge. Show them how to mix colors, show them how to add a bit of water to their brush, and tell them to cover all the white on the canvas... then resist the urge to tell them anything... let this be THEIR work, not their depiction of what you think they should do. No rules - if they want to paint with their ear or big toe - let them. This is where creativity gets cool!!

4. Don't worry about the mess!! Buy a bunch of cheap vinyl tableclothes at the dollar store, and drape EVERYTHING so you dont have to think about it... give your kids a set of designated painting clothes (acrylic paint will NOT come out of clothing), cover your table and chairs and floor with the tablecloths, and let them go to town. Limit the amount of water in their 'rinse' cups (we use shot glasses here - perfect size for little hands, and if it spills, it's never alot of water) and you're set!



5. Write their name and the date on the back of the painting - enjoy it!

Some people frame theirs - we buy the canvas mounted on wood frames and just hang them as they are, there's no right or wrong way to enjoy your child's art - just find somewhere you want to see it often and hang it up! Your child will love that their art is appreciated, and the painting experience will offer up hours of entertainment (not to mention physio and OT for the special needs sect!)!



Lastly - once the paints are set up, and the kids are going to work... take a break, and indulge in the quiet!



(well - until someone drops a shot glass of water, eats the cadmium yellow paint or sticks a paintbrush in his brothers ear...)


As a safety disclaimer - acrylic paints are not non-toxic - so do not allow your children to paint unattended if they are prone to putting things in their mouth. If they are major 'mouthers' you will likely want to avoid this activity altogether and look at some of Crayola's kid friendly (and non-toxic) paint products - their finger paints are FANTASTIC for the under 3 crew, and wash off everything with just water - so may be a better option for children who may eat their medium - ingested acrylic paints can be downright dangerous - so supervise and don't risk it with kids prone to eating stuff.

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Today Tyler asked me what 'precise' means.
Yesterday he wanted to know what 'ensure' means.

Go ahead - try to come up with a 5-year-old-friendly definition for those... I dare ya.

This evening he announced that I was being 'dictatorish' (he was right - I was).

That is all.


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Much of our days are spent outdoors this time of year. The long winters make for 'yard junkies' come summer.
Since we were fortunate enough to luck into a massive yard, we have spent the better part of 2 years getting it established as our 'paradise'. The end result is a very blurry line between 'outside' and 'inside' come the warm months... most of our meals happen on our deck (bringing me one step closer to my ultimate dream of a 'hose-down kitchen')... the boys live in their play structure and pool... and they have no concept that the gravel driveway is for anything more than the exclusive use of their tonka trucks.

The other aspect that the boys are fully involved in is our garden.





It spans the entire yard - we have a large 15'X15' plot in the corner of the front yard with rows of potatoes, squash, onions, beans and the like. We have pots... everywhere... pots on the steps, pots on the deck, pots on the walkway, pots in the driveway, in the greenhouse... pots of Tomatoes, peas, tomatos, beans, tomatos, squash, cucumbers, more tomatos, flowers, roses, and (you guessed it) tomatos... did I mention the tomatos?

The neighbors have jokingly called us the tomato ranchers... between what we planted, and the seedlings we 'adopted' from our neighbors who ran out of room, we have over 20 tomato plants.

The boys both helped prepare the plot and the pots, plant the seeds, transplant the seedlings, pull the weeds, and are now getting into helping pick the potatos and beans and onions that have been ripening (a tast made MUCH more appealing when they realised that the garden is FULL of worms, slugs, centipedes and spiders)! Eating food you have grown yourself is such a treat!



Our days are spent wandering from the house to the deck to the pool...
The boys have found many different ways to put their 9$ wal mart special blow-up pool to good use..
Though I had to break it to Tyler that no, we cannot stock it with trout... He understood though - he did afterall point out that the fishooks would pop the pool anyways.
Regardless - troutless as it is - they enjoy it just the same. Today the water ended up black with mud...



I would be remiss to point out that mom too loves the yard. While I don't necessarily get too gung ho about the pool (though that may change since I've discovered Tamara's blog and her families fantastic use of their small pool I'm sure laps lie in our future too), there is a simple, carefree bliss that goes with sitting on the deck, in a patch of shade, with a good book and a glass of orange juice.




Life continues to be good.

K

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Every now and then they sneak up on us...

Days where the lines between this bizarre, challenging, scary, yet delightfully unique life we are leading and that universally percieved 'normal' it always seems everyone else is leading blurs.

A day where all the 'scary' of Brandon's disease fades into the background, and from the moment we wake up to the time we settle the boys into bed, everything seems perfectly as it should be.

Today was such a day for us.

It was a day of lounging in the sunshine on the deck, playing in the grass, the inflatable pool, chasing the cat, capturing fishflies and dragonflies and slugs and worms. It was the dinner time BBQ with family, fights with cousins over who gets the toy sword and who gets the cap gun. It was music, and highway driving with the windows down, counting motorbikes on the way. It was wandering out in the water as far as we dared at the beach, sand in our shoes, scrapes and bruises. It was heat (oh the heat!), beach umbrellas, cherry freezies, and tonka trucks in the mud.
It was quiet time at the table with crayons, and 'loud time' downstairs with the aforementioned cousins. It was fresh muffins and apple juice in bed, settled in for 'movie night'...

From start to finish, it was all just so 'normal'.

We get so little 'normal' that when it sneaks up on us, it's such a treat.




Wishing you and yours many Ordinary Days of your own. May you recognize and enjoy them when they come.



K

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Some long awaited pictures...

I'll let the boys do most of the talking for this morning's escapades...


This morning we changed the whole 'pool' thing up a bit... Turns out the slide doubles as a fantastic water park...



Much fun was had by all...



Brandon ADORES water... Between the relief from the heat (and do we have heat this week!) and the general 'fun' factor - he is always game for a dip!


Tyler pretty much throws his heart into anything and everything he does... water included.



More of the same...



The facial expressions are awesome :)



Tylers 'shiner'... if you ask him what happened he will plainly inform you that "my brother threw and ambulance at me"... to which Brandon adamantly responds that Tyler hurt his arm first by throwing a zamboni at him... (He frantically signs 'tyler' 'throw' 'cleaning truck' (his sign for their toy zamboni) 'wrist' 'hurt'... for a kid that can't talk this boy has plenty to say!).
Sadly I witnessed the whole thing and they are indeed telling the truth.


This about sums up the morning...

As I said earlier - life is good.

K

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Pictures to come!

The boys are doing GREAT!

Brandon is quite tired these days - I suspect it's the heat wearing him down - but he is healthy and in good spirits, so we have little to complain about.

With a forcast full of sunshine and heat, we plan on spending our days on the deck and in the yard.

Life is good!

K

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Everyone is healthy.

Everyone is doing well.

Everyone is adjusting to the endless swarm of mosquitos.

As for the rest, I'll let the pictures do the talking!



Mr. Drama himself.... apparently the slide is not so easy to go down when you're in wet shorts...



Cannon Ball!



More showing off...



Brandon too enjoyed the pool very much...



I swear this boy has a million expressions...



Pensive moment (actually he was looking at a bug he had just captured...)



Brandon's cannonball!

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