Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nikon d7000- Weekend of Pics!

So I'm thinking about buying the Nikon d7000. I have the d40 right now- and I love the camera, but it's about 4 years old and thinking I need something a little more professional. I LOVE taking pictures and we have so many fun and beautiful places that we go- so I'm thinking a little investment is a good thing. Would not be wasted. However, the price of the camera here is phenomenal- triple what you'd pay in the States- so I wanted to have a go at the camera and see how well it really works. 
Jason found a place that rents cameras out - so I rented it for the weekend. So here are some of the pictures I took Friday night after dinner. I know why it is so ridiculously easy to capture photos of babies- older boys DO NOT HOLD STILL! But they are fun!....
Who knows what was so funny!

Ha! Jack has had it with pictures for the evening!

Saturday morning was soccer again- thankfully the game was at 9:45 instead of 8! Jack is definitely getting more of a hang of it- and dribbling away- and scored a goal! So proud of the little man he is becoming! Here are some shots:

After the game we took a drive up to Manly Beach- it's about 15 or so minutes from us. We had a great lunch at a beachside cafe and then went for a walk. It's getting a little too chilly for the water (even though the boys wanted to desperately get in). However, we went on a fun walk along Manly to Shelly Beach and up the cliff - little adventure for us. We ran into quite a few little friends- and not ones that I liked. Lots of spiders, water dragon lizards!!! and some type of ant eater (can't remember what it's called!). Here are some more pics... (did I mention how much I LOVE this camera!...

A friend on one of the rocks

So cool- this was up on one of the cliff platforms- so true and beautiful!

And our pokey friend we ran into.

This little ant eater was towards the very end of our walk- I was too busy looking at him, then heard a rustle in the leaves next to me! Turned around and was looking straight on at one of the water dragon lizards!!! And NO, I didn't get a picture because I was running- Jack wasn't too far behind! I know they're not going to hurt me, but I'm not getting close! Jack is a spook just like me...Henry is not...he was trying to touch it with Jason! Crazy! 
So then (because I wanted more pictures) we went home and had a little rest- then off to catch the gorgeous sunset at the Harbour Bridge (in North Sydney) right next to Luna Park. Amazingly beautiful- we packed a picnic with snacks and drinks, let the boys play soccer and just enjoyed the view!

I can't even take this picture of him!

Yes, by the end of the day the boys were SICK of my photo taking- I came walking up and they both hid from me. Honestly I don't think Henry really cared but he always does what Jack does- ah well! A pic of our picnic and a little bit of our family time together- it was a fun filled Saturday. One I know the boys will remember! :) 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Week of Cooking!

I'm the type of person that doesn't really sit down alot- Jason (my husband) is always getting on to me- just sit still! Even my two year old, Henry, says "Mom, come sit and lax"- meaning relax. Cracks me up. It's just hard for me, even when I'm not feeling all that grand. So Wednesday we had our holiday- felt great- even did my 30 Day Shred (Jillian Michaels workout- it is awesome!), then it hit me. Allergies! They are the worst! Sniffing, congestion, sneezing- ugh- and now again and so therefore, up at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning because I don't want to wake Jason up with the constant nose sniffing! (Yes, I'm a good wife)
Anyway- like I said, I don't sit for long- and I've been a little housebound and somewhat taking it easy- so I've been cooking and baking. I didn't take pictures of everything but will put along links to some of the recipes.

Wednesday morning (our holiday ANZAC Day), I made these yummy filled pancakes. I don't know if I mentioned or not, but HUGE fan of Williams Sonoma- and all of their cookware. I bought this a few years ago- it's called a Nordic Ware Ebelskiver Filled Pancake Pan! It's awesome! So easy and yummy!

The pan- super easy to use and clean!
Finished product with fresh strawberries and dusted with powdered sugar. 
I filled half with strawberry jam and the other half with Nutella (love that stuff and it's so big over here in Australia). Everything is available at WS- they have the Ebelskiver pancake mix, the pan and the wooden tongs you need to flip them. You can also do cornbread poppers and fill them with cheese or jalapenos- whatever your heart desires. Lots of fun things to do.

I also made some White Chocolate & Chocolate Oreo Truffles- they didn't turn out so pretty- had issues melting the chocolate but they were pretty good. Not my favorite dessert but the boys loved them.

And I made some yummy Banana Bread- I and my boys LOVE Banana Bread. I got this recipe from a book my wonderful friend, Emily Forth, got for me. It is the story of my life:

Says it all- feeding "Mad Hungry" Men & Boys!

Recipe may be a little hard to read- and I did make some changes. I used wholemeal flour, honey instead of sugar, and 2 bananas. I also just sprinkled the top with cinnamon sugar. It was delicious! It's pretty much all gone! 

Oh- and to my Mother-in-Law- I found a recipe for cornflake potato casserole that Jason says is better than the one you have! I couldn't find hers so had to make a deal with - it used cream of mushroom soup and I had to use baked potato wedges (seasoned with rosemary and garlic) and chopped them up, instead of the hash browns. It was really yummy- so I"ll pass that recipe along! :) 

This is just a few of the things that I've been cooking/baking this week! :) Don't know what I'm going to do when the boys get older.... :) 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lest We Forget: Anzac Day

Anzac Day
Picture of Anzac Day Dawn Service at Kings Park
in Western Australia

Yesterday was a public holiday for us- no school and no work. And what was it- ANZAC Day. There are so many different holidays in other countries and I think it is so important to understand what these special days are and what they mean, even though it is not our country or our home. It's important because we are living here and should be honoring and respectful of their holidays- just as I hope anyone does of our holidays in the United States. That's probably where some of our issues lie, the lack of respect for the US and what we were founded on, but I think that is a whole other issue!

So- I had to look up what ANZAC Day was all about and why it deserved a public holiday- and it does. Just like our country, we are proud of those that have served (and continue to serve) in our Armed Services. This is the same. Anzac Day is a national day of rememberance in Australia and New Zealand, every year on April 25th, commemorating the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War 1. Now it also signifies those who have served and died in military operations for their countries.

On the news yesterday they talked about some of the Dawn Services that are held in different areas throughout Australia and New Zealand- and some even in London), and how they were also using this day to remember some of the even most recent casualties, including 3 Australians that were serving over in Afghanistan. Another reason why it is so very important to honor, love and respect ALL of those men and women that sacrifice and give of their lives for our freedom. So our children, grandchildren, and thereafter can walk the streets and hold their head high- proud to be a part of their beloved country. While Australia is not our true home, we are temporary residents here and we respect and love this country- enough to know what their special days mean to them- and remember those special days that we hold true to our heart.

I've been thinking alot about our country and how even though we don't live there (now), I want Jack to grow up with a love and respect for his country. So, I'm going to start teaching him the Pledge of Allegiance. I know they don't allow it in the school much anymore (SAD, SHAMEFUL and DISGRACEFUL!), but he will know it. And in due time, Henry will know it too. As a parent, it is my opinion, that they know these certain things- not only honor and respect for themselves, for others, but also for their country.

Remembering all of those that have, are and continue to serve their countries. An Ode of Remembrance:

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Poppies- a symbol of remembrance

Monday, April 23, 2012

She Runs the Night- Running for life!

So I've always been a runner- I still remember the first time my Dad took me running. I don't know how old I was- but still living in Pryor on Lindley Lane. Now there were definite times that I did not enjoy running- I went through a period where I suppose I was rather lazy and hated going with my Dad- he would make me though- push on through. I am so very grateful that I have a Father that pushes me (and did encourage me) to do outdoor activities. I can still remember running around the park track, feeling like I was going to die, and my Dad chanting Phillipians 4:13 to the beat of our run- "I can do, all things, through Christ, who strengthens me". To this day when I'm running and need some extra motivation, I start saying that in my head and mind. I love that I have that memory and motivation with me- special that it's from my Dad as well. 

However, I've never run a BIG race. Well, I did the Tulsa Run (what is that 9 miles) when I was in 9th or 10th grade- don't remember- just remember Katy and I doing it! So when I moved to Sydney I got totally inspired by all of the runners, outdoor activities and such around her. Jason has a few co-workers that are big into triathalons, so I thought how fun and neat would it be to do a 1/2 marathon. Well, that is coming up May 20th- very excited- and nervous. Then, I found this article in a magazine- Nike "She Runs the Night". Oooooohhhhh- hooked right then! An all women's run- at night- in Centennial Park here in Sydney. How cool! Jason keeps making fun of me- because I read the promo over and over to people- but it's just cool. Check out their page on Facebook:  

I love running at night, but don't really get a chance to all that much (with the boys and all) and quite honestly sometimes it can be a little scary (with all the whackies out there), so this is going to be a thrill! The race is next Thursday night, May 3rd, and I'm ready! I've got the 1/2 marathon 2 1/2 weeks later so this should be a good warm up.

Obviously when you (well I need to) want to run a race like this, it's only fitting that you train. I've so loved it- it's made me push myself further than I have with running in a LONG time. I found this training program- 10 weeks- online when I registered for the 1/2 marathon. It's grueling and intense but so invigorating! Training 5 days a week with 3 days of running- one long day, two days of 60/70 minutes, then reps, hills and anerobic training in between. The first two weeks were ridiculously tough, but I pushed through and have been pretty consistent with 

I hope NIKE brings this race around the world- I think it would be so amazing- to unite as Sisters- in running. It's so empowering- liberating-and encouraging to do with friends and sisters!- even though I don't know a single one out there! :)  

Of course with this training my appetite as increased so I've been trying to find good recipes with lots of protein and vegetables. My main problem is the snacking- I want to snack all day, so finding nutritious and filling snacks has been interesting. But I've loved the ideas and information that I've gotten online from Runners World- they have some great recipes and snack ideas. 

Here is a recipe I made last night though- super yummy, nutritious and filling! It's from AllRecipes though- Turkey and Spinach Lasagna.

Super yummy- but I used chicken (didn't have minced turkey), wholemeal lasagna noodles, light mozzarella, and Weight Watches cottage cheese (instead of ricotta). 
Boys loved it as well- picture was taken after we had already eaten half of it! 

Happy Monday to everyone in the States- it's Tuesday and were off to school! 

From the album: Profile Pictures
By Nike She Runs

We're here to start a revolution

Set goals. Be realistic. Be confident in what you want to achieve. Believe in yourself. Then once you're ready, start running.
Sydney’s female running community are coming together to race the night! night
For one night only, Sydney’s Centennial Park and surrounds will be transformed so you can run the night
Distance: 13km
When: Thursday 3 May 2012, 7pm
Who: Women only

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fall is coming! What!?!?

So fall is coming- well here anyway- and it's just weird. I have been thinking about it alot lately- I'm just so thrown off by it. Here's how it has gotten me off- last summer we went home, then a month later (end of August) we moved to Sydney, where it was the start of spring. Then we went home for Christmas (normal weather), then back here to the middle of summer. So my body is telling me really that it's spring and it's not- the weather is getting cooler and cooler and "fall" activities are beginning around us. I know it seems odd, but I am totally off. I guess it's good that were not going home this summer, otherwise I'd be all sorts of wacky! 
As with the cooler weather- we are in a little more- so I have more time to cook and bake. Plus Jason has made it in (after being gone a week) and the boys just want to show him everything in the house (as if he hasn't seen it all) and be home bodies with their Daddy that they've missed. :) 
Jack and I made this scrumptious yummies! They are so super easy- they remind me a little bit like rice krispie treats- and a super fun treat for kids. I've been eating them all weekend- dang! 

Their called Honey Joys- and here is the recipe:
*90g of butter
*1/3 cup of sugar
*1 Tablespoon of honey
*4 cups of Kellogs corn flakes
-Heat over to 150 degrees C. Melt butter, sugar and honey until frothy.
-Add flakes and mix well. 
-Spoon into paper patty cases (cupcake wrappers) and bake for 10 minutes!

So as I was writing this down I was thinking about how my US friends are going to
love the gram and celcius conversion. I've been using these metrics for 4 years now!!! and still don't know the proper equivalent. It's such a pain- guess I should learn it! And don't you love that they call the muffin/cupcake wrappers "paper patty cases"? Ha ha! They have so many different names for things- (maybe another blog I can do) that it can sometimes actually be another language. :) 

Saturday night I did some real cooking for these boys- homemade pizzas. I found a recipe in my FoodNetwork magazine (amazing by the way!) for California Pizza Kitchen's BBQ Chicken Pizza. Basically your sauce is barbeque, then you top with shredded mozzarella, chicken, gouda cheese and red onions. Bake at 220 degrees C for 10 minutes- top with fresh cilantro. * Side note- next time I make this, I'm going to carmelize the onions- then it would be amazing! It was great though! Lil' boys got their own special homemade cheese. :)

And as I mentioned- fall is coming! So we went to the beach today- even though we didn't stay long and I had to keep my coverup on. It was a little chilly. It was supposed to be a warm 83 and sunny- nope- not so much. I think fall is officially upon us. 

Nevertheless, the boys got in the water, ran up and down the beach, had a beach picnic lunch, built sandcastles and had a great time! They are total beach bums! 

Hope everyone has a wonderful Sunday in the States- we had a great weekend! And hope my little sister, Olivia, had a great and very special time at her Senior Prom last night! :) She was beautiful! :) 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Traveling Husband & Sleeping Babies!

Well, one more day then my wonderful husband will be back! He's been in Hong Kong (our future home!) all week for business. It's actually been a pretty pleasant and smooth week- I say this because it is tough being a single parent. I have so much respect and admiration for single mother's and father's- I know they do it all for love of their children but it doesn't make it any easier.

I remember when Jason used to have to go for 7 days- over the weekends too- those are always long- to the States for a conference. This was while we were in Shanghai and it was hard then. You don't realize how nice it is to have a bit of a break, or help, or even someone to talk to at night and have an "adult" conversation.  I mean, I LOVE my conversations with Jack (and even now Henry, because he's talking up a storm), but not the same.

We've had a good week though- Jack has been out of school, so we had to make sure and schedule some activities. (This is one thing I LOVE about Australia- the way they break up their school year. They have 4 terms that are broken up with two weeks of holiday between each one, then for summer they have about 6 weeks off. It's brilliant- in my opinion. The kids get a little break here and there so they're not totally burned out by the end of the year and their summer is just short enough that they don't get bored and forget being in a school routine. I wish the States did this).

Anyway- with two boys at home and no father- we definitely have to make sure we expend their energy. Luckily with everyone on break there have been plenty of playdates and camps for Jack. He's gone 3 days this week to the Willoughby Leisure Center- one day was gymnastics, one was tennis day and yesterday was "Wet n' Wild". Oh how he loved it!

So one little tiny problem that I have while Jason is gone- yep, little ones like to sleep with their Mama! Now I created a terrible habit with Jack when he was younger- didn't do the same with Henry though. Jason traveled alot the first year we were in Shanghai and I always let Jack sleep with me when he was gone- so much that it was hard getting Jack to want to sleep by himself. Not something that I suggest doing. But it's hard sometimes- I have these feelings and get sad because they are growing up sooooo quickly and I know it's only a short time before they can't cuddle up with Mommy and sleep. I'm torn!

However, both of them in our queen size bed (we had to downsize here in our tiny apartment) is not an option. They are both all over the place when they sleep- not to mention they are HOT pockets- so I would get no sleep if they were both with me all night. Plus they are both getting so big that there is NO room. I have been letting them fall asleep in my bed together though- then I move Henry to his room.

Here are some sweet pictures of my angels- dreaming sweet dreams!

I just love these shots- sweet angelic babies. About the only time they are completely silent! :) They do crack me up though- so sweet and loving with each other some of the time- then it's wanting to "ninjago" one another the other half of the time. Guess that's siblings, right? These two are our form of entertainment most of the time- how blessed we are!

Just finishing breakfast- here is Henry's- he just loves eggs! I think it is hilarious that I fix my 2 year old a 2 egg omelet...really?!? What is he going to be eating - Jack too- when they are 15? I bought this omelet pan at Williams Sonoma at Christmas. It is amazing- so easy, so simple and so easy to clean. For those of you that like omelets- buy it. Under $50 and so worth it!

Jason arrives in late tonight. Hope he's ready to give these boys some much needed attention- they've missed their Daddy! I've missed my big bear too! :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Documenting Travels

So I've finally gotten myself together and have been putting together our travel scrapbooks. Can I say that I have been working on doing Jack's 1 year scrapbook for the last 4 1/2 years! It's terrible- but I'm doing it by hand (you know, all the stickers, cutting out photos, etc.,). It is definitely more time consuming than doing the super easy and cute ones online. I will do Jack's though- let's see...I'll give myself 2 months to finish it. So by the end of June! Then I'll think about Henry's 1st year! ha ha!

In making these scrapbooks, I've been going through all of our old photos of course. How many amazing trips we've had- I mean, is it enough for Jack to even comprehend that his first beach trip was to Thailand? So funny!
We've mainly done beach vacations- Thailand, Vietnam and Bali- although we did do Beijing and Tokyo. All fabulous trips with so many great pictures. I think Bali was my favorite though- we just had the best time. We had a gazebo on the beach everynight- just sat and relaxed with the boys (Henry was just 4 months old then) and enjoyed beautiful conversations and God's creations. It's so nice to be away from ALL electronics- to detach from life and just enjoy each other's company. I think that's one of my favorite things about our vacations. At home we are so caught up in work, all of our electronics, as well as being here and being there. Just wish we could do it more often!

Here are a few pics of some of our trips:

Add caption
Tokyo Japan- Jack's beloved Beduh made it too!


From our first beach trip to Thailand- Phuket- at the JW Marriott Resort

Pictures from our Vietnam vacation- Ho Chi Minh City and Phu Quoc Island (little Henry was in my tummy then!)

I just love looking at these old photos- some of them seem so long ago but I vividly remember every part of each trip. I'm hoping that the older the boys get they will remember them- or at least the pictures can jog their memories. 

It's funny though- I was thinking about our vacations/trips and how most people would consider Shanghai and Sydney to be a vacation or a trip, but I've always considered them just my homes. Of course we do all of the touristy things (when visitors come) but we've always just adapted and quickly made  a new city our home. Maybe I should make a Sydney and Shanghai vacation book- or at least document all the major sites we've sen- because really they are top vacation destinations in the world. 

I think it's time that we plan a vacation- we are hoping to go to Fiji the end of May or early part of June. Then there are, of course, lots of places around Sydney that we want to go visit. Just need to make the time right- because spending time with family and going together on adventures is one of life's great joys! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Soccer Saturday!

What a crazy Saturday- I really don't know how my parents did it- 3 kids, all two year apart. I mean, every week and weekend between all the soccer and basketball practices, piano lessons and games on the weekends. It is a full time job taking kids around- and I only have 1 that's in sports right now. Props to all parents who do this!

But I do so enjoy it and love this time right now- I love that Jack is playing big boy soccer- having real games and getting competitive. He's not quite there (he still likes to look around at everyone quite a bit!) but I know he'll get there- it's in his blood.

Here are a few pics from his game this weekend:

From the 2nd picture you can tell that we have to teach Jack and the other boys about proper sports etiquette. They would score then run down the field shouting how many goals they had- and they crushed the other team 11-0. I'm so looking forward to watching many more games of Jack's - and eventually Henry's!
Here is my little curly q- his hair and eyes are so gorgeous. He's such a sport- he so badly wants to be out on the soccer field with Jack and the other boys. His time is soon coming!

So I thought too that I would start blogging about some of the meals/baked goods that I make- just as I love photography, I so love cooking! It's become quite a hobby in the last few years. I love trying new recipes and adding my own ingredients.

Jack and I came home after soccer and made some cookies- these were new ones- Granola Breakfast Cookies. Oh I love them! I used wholeflour and honey instead of sugar and they were delicious!!!!
 I bought granola that had cranberries and apple chunks. I even think adding some dark chocolate would be delicious as well. Jack loved the batter, as you can see-
but didn't like the "nuts" of the cookie. Great cookie though- will send out the recipe or blog it if anyone wants it!

Wanted to end with our gorgeous sunset- we have the most amazing sunsets! I know I appreciate them so much more because we didn't have great ones in Shanghai all the time. Were up on the 27th floor of our apartment unit and have a great view so we get some glorious shots-