Saturday, February 28, 2009

Game of the Week: Pandemic

Tonight I went to the MOPS & POPS Board Game Night and realized that I hadn't posted a game review this week yet! So I'm here to rectify the situation. We played Pandemic tonight which is a really fun game and just a little different from the average board game so I think that will be the game I'll talk about tonight. That and it's just plain fun.

First, the basics. Pandemic can be played with 2-4 people (another one a couple can play!) and usually lasts about 45 minutes per game. David and I have played it 3 times in one evening before because we just couldn't win and we were bound and determined to do it! One of the neatest parts of this game is the team playing aspect. It's basically the players vs. the board as everyone cooperates to win together, a completely different kind of atmosphere from trying to win against each other. I kind of like the cooperation, it makes me feel so warm and fuzzy. The premise of the game is that you play as disease specialists who are trying to cure and prevent worldwide outbreaks of different diseases. The game concept flows really well and makes a lot of sense. Each player has a different role (assigned randomly and is different each game) and brings different skills to the table. To win the players have to work together to cure all four diseases before the outbreaks take over.

Here's a picture I borrowed from because I don't have any pictures of us playing this game. Lame I know.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Stomach Bug

I mentioned previously that I wasn't feeling well this week and that's an understatement. The story starts on Sunday when David left with my Mom to drive up to Portland so he could fly out on a business trip early Monday morning. Four hours after he left (at about 2am) I woke up with a terrible gut busting trip to the bathroom. I absolutely HATE to throw up. I mean REALLY HATE to throw up. I've become pretty good at not throwing up, the months of All Day sickness I had while pregnant gave me lots of good practice. So I prayed really hard that I wouldn't throw up. I pleaded with God that anything would be better then throwing up. So he granted my wish and I spent a little over two hours pretty much stuck on the toilet. Be careful what you ask God for.

Monday was a pretty awful day with plenty of bathroom trips and nausea. I set up for MOPS (with several emergency bathroom trips!) and when we got home I called to say we wouldn't be able to make it Tuesday morning. It's probably best we didn't go since there's no way I could have got us there by 8am when I didn't even make it out of bed until that time! Tuesday I did feel marginally better and even ate some saltines and applesauce. I did bring Grace to ballet and swimming lessons since they were afternoon/evening activities and she needed to get out of the house. Wednesday I was feeling even better so I opened Indoor Park like I usually do and visited the second preschool that afternoon with both kids (wore Ethan in the mei tai since and he napped for most of the visit). I also brought Grace to AWANAS that night after I got bold and attempted to eat some of the macaroni and cheese I fed the kids for dinner.

Thursday I was feeling almost normal and was even starting to feel hungry again so I bit the bullet and got some Chicken Bacon Artichoke d'lite pizza from Papa Murphy's for dinner since I'd been planning on getting some while David was away and I didn't want to miss it! Right before dinner, as in it was on the plate and cut up, Ethan threw up. I hesitated before I gave him the pizza but went ahead since it was already on his plate and we were running a little late to get Grace to swimming lessons. We got to swimming lessons just as the kids were getting in the water and I sat in a chair with Ethan to watch. About 15 minutes into the class he threw up all over me. I mean ALL OVER me. If you're like my husband and aren't a fan of Chicken Bacon Artichoke pizza then you probably don't ever want to see it in it's partially digested form. Not pretty. I got Ethan and I cleaned up as best I could and got back in time to watch the last five minutes of Grace's lesson. I got her changed into her jammies quickly and drove home to change Ethan's pajamas (he completely covered himself as well) and my jeans. On the way home he threw up again, this time all over his car seat.

After 10 minutes of changing myself and Ethan and mopping up the car seat as best as I could we got back in the car to drive up to Portland (this is now 7:15pm by the way) to pick up David since he was finally getting back home from his trip. I brought an extra pair of pajamas for Ethan, two cloth diapers for any needed clean up, and extra water bottles. I gave the ped's office a call to talk to a nurse who didn't have a lot of helpful advice so we continued on our merry way, stopping one more time on the side of the freeway to clean up after he threw up again. Friends of ours picked David up from the airport and I was going to meet them at their house in Clackamas. When we got there I discovered Ethan had thrown up again before he fell asleep so I tried to clean him up a little without waking him. By the time David arrived and got in the van the car smelled pretty ripe. I'm sure it was a less then pleasant homecoming for him!

We got home last night a little after 10pm and while I was changing Ethan into clean pajamas he threw up yet again, but by that time there wasn't anything really left to come up. I felt so bad for him! Happily he slept through the night fine and hasn't thrown up today at all (knock on wood!). He was mad to be given two saltines for breakfast with only sips of water in his sippy cup. Once that stayed down for an hour or so I gave him a little applesauce and more water and now he seems happier. He's playing just fine and otherwise acting fine which I'm glad for.

Moral of the story: Try not to get a stomach bug when your husband is out of town for four days and for God's sake do NOT feed Chicken Bacon Artichoke pizza to anyone who has the remotest chance of throwing up because it is not pretty the second time!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Snow Frolic

It snowed this morning and from the weather forecast it sounded like it wasn't likely to last so the kids and I bundled up to spend some time outside this morning before it all melted. Grace had a fantastic time whooping it up outside and throwing the wet snow as far as she could. She also had a fascination with tasting the snow and kept trying to eat it saying it tasted good. Not so sure about that. Ethan tromped through the snow happily trying to keep up with Grace and finally exploring the muddy snow on his own. He didn't have any interest in playing with the snow with his hands, just mostly kicking his little green boots through it which was fine by me. Zoe was outside with us and wasn't as impressed with all the snow as the kids. Once it started coming down again she had enough and waited patiently by the door to be let in to the warm house. She's an indoor dog for sure. Once we stripped off our wet clothes and shoes we dove in to the hot chocolate. Or shall I say I dived in to the hot chocolate while Grace drank her cold chocolate milk (she wanted it cold silly girl) and Ethan sipped regular milk. It was the thought that counts right?

Sorry for the lack of photo updates this week, I haven't been feeling all that great and today is the first day since Sunday I've picked up the camera. More on that later.

My handsome little guy that I forced to wear the matching too small hat. It's just too cute not to cram on his big head! At least one last time so I can get a decent picture, now it can go in the outgrown pile...

As you can see the too small hat did not dampen Ethan's spirits. He could care less.

Grace having an absolute blast! What is it about snow that is so much fun?

Zoe not impressed with the snow coming down. She's about 30 seconds away from trotting next to the door to be let in here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Big Decisions

Ten years ago I was making the big decision as to which college to go to, the first Big Adult Decision I really had to make. I remember how overwhelming it was to look through the mountains of brochures and glossy catalogs that came in the mail every day as I made the decision as to which schools to apply to. And then came the acceptance letters which made it even harder to decide which school to ultimately attend.

Fast forward ten years and now I'm feeling just as overwhelmed in choosing a preschool for our daughter, why does it feel like such a huge decision? It's not like we have a ton of choices in our small town, which is probably a good thing since it's hard enough with the few we have! Yesterday we visited one of the local preschools which went very well. I got a good vibe and the kids seemed happy and well behaved. Grace joined right in and really enjoyed herself for the 45 minutes we were there.

Tomorrow we will visit the other preschool we're seriously considering which should hopefully help us make a decision. I'm sure no matter where we send Grace to preschool she will thrive as she is so very excited about the prospect of going to school. In fact right now she is playing preschool with her princess figurines with Snow White as the teacher. The princesses are practicing staying in their seats and their letters. Both very important skills for princesses and preschoolers alike.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

8th Annual Oscar Party

That's right, tonight was the Eighth Annual Parry Family Oscar Party Bash! We had a ton of fun and ate too much, and as per tradition the past several years Mark took home the big prize for guessing the most Oscar winners. Pat won the movie trivia quiz for the second year in a row. Next year we'll have to shake things up a bit!

We served the usual Oscar Party menu of foods minus the popular hummus and homemade tortilla chips. We changed up the usual Costco tub of red licorice for Dollar Store movie candy including Twizzlers, ring pops, and Tootsie Rolls. The always popular brokies were inhaled at an alarming rate. We made approximately 60 and not a single one is left! I don't think the chocolate covered strawberries and brownies lasted through the end of the red carpet show. You snooze you loose!

This year we had three 3 year olds and three 1 year olds in attendance and the lot of them managed to completely cover Grace and Ethan's room's floor in toys. It took them about five minutes which is pretty impressive. The dress up clothes proved to be the most popular with the girls and luckily for our little princesses James is a good sport Prince Charming and danced several times with the little ladies. That Jessi is one lucky woman to snag the popular prince!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Yesterday was gloriously sunny and so the kids and I took a stroll down to the elementary school playground and Aroboretum playgrounds to play in the afternoon. Ethan stayed in the red wagon with a bowl of Cheerios the whole time but Grace expended tons of pent up energy. She made friends with an older boy at the elementary school playground and he did his best to keep up with her as she zipped from the slides to the monkey bars and back again. The little boy said she was fast and hard to keep up with, something I know from experience! We also played at the desserted play area next to the baseball fields and I snapped a few pictures before my battery died. Hope you are all enjoying the sunshine as well!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my father in law's birthday, I hope he's doing something fun for it. He's a pretty great guy and deserves to enjoy himself today. In fact I don't think I could have asked for a better father in law. I know you don't get to choose your inlaws but I lucked out and got a pretty sweet package deal when I married David. David looks up to his Dad an awful lot and I'm glad he had such a great role model growing up.

Here he is all official looking at the Snake River Stampede Rodeo last July

Good job putting Grace to sleep Opa!

Working hard on our beautiful tv stand :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Green Bean Casserole Flop

Tonight I made a classic casserole from my childhood that we called Green Bean Casserole. It's not really a green bean casserole but more like Shepherds Pie since it's topped with mashed potatoes. I haven't attempted too many classics from my childhood since the first time I tried to make my Mom's Tamale Pie I failed miserably. Granted that was three weeks after I was married and responsible for feeding my husband and myself for the first time, and I also substituted a few too many ingredients. The point is, after botching a familiar recipe I was hesitant to try another one. David isn't a big fan of most of my favorite foods growing up anyways. I love Tuna Noodle casserole, Tamale Pie, and Turkey Pot Pie. He wouldn't touch any of those with a ten foot pole, though recently he has relented and agreed to possibly try some of them. Even the Tuna Noodle.

So tonight I started with the one that doesn't include any ingredients that he doesn't care for. My kids however, were another story. They took one look at my lovingly prepared meal and blanched. Big time. Ethan started crying without even tasting it and Grace pronounced it yucky because she thought the green beans were onions. Anything green or that she doesn't want to eat in a dish is an onion. That would include celery and mushrooms and most anything green.

Grace eventually gave in and ate most of her dinner because I told her she had to eat it if she wanted to go to her swim lesson. She said she liked the meat but really didn't like the potatoes. I honestly don't know how I, a huge potato lover, could have possible given birth to two children that don't like potatoes. I may have to disown them. Ethan eventually tasted his dinner but didn't swallow any. He doesn't care for ground beef or potatoes as a rule, and apparently green beans aren't high on his list either. He did discover that it's fun to stick your fork in mashed potatoes. That had to happen sooner or later I suppose.

Here's the recipe for anyone who might happen to like potatoes, green beans, and onions. It's really a good simple meal.

1lb hamburger
1 can green beans, undrained
1 can tomato soup
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups mashed potatoes
french fried onions
1/2 cup cheddar cheese

Brown the hamburger and drain. Combine with green beans, soup, and salt. Pour into a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Combine potatoes and onions and spoon on top of the meat mixture. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Add the extra cheese and onions (I reserve the majority for on top!) and bake 5 more minutes.

MyTurn to Rule the World!

Aren't you all enjoying our journey through my favorite games? I thought this week we could branch out a bit and I can tell you about one of the video games I like to play, Civilization Revolution. I'm sure my husband is off in a corner hyperventilating with excitement that I admit in public to enjoying the occasional video game, but there you have it. I've always been a fan of the Civilization games but until this one I've only played them on the computer. In fact most of the games I played in the far distant before children past have been strategy/simulation games on the computer (The Sims, Sim City, etc).

If you're familiar with the Civilization games this one is pretty much the same thing with some nifty new features. I happen to LOVE the new Quick Play option. It's under the Scenarios tab and it starts you off with three cities and moves the game pretty quickly. Like around 30 minutes. If you're like me and don't have 30 hours to devote to an epic game that involves lots of micro-managing then this is the option for you. I played three Quick Play games last night while David recorded this week's Podcast with his friend Roger.

I'm not particularly good with military victories, I really prefer to win with a cultural victory but that's too hard to do in the Quick Play option so I usually opt to win the Science Race. I can churn new technologies out pretty fast and have that strategy down pretty well. I've won using all four victories: Military, Cultural, Space Race, and Economic. I don't have a favorite civ to play as, though I find the ones that lean towards a military edge to be more difficult for me to play with since I inevitably try for a non-military win.

Any other women out there brave enough to admit they might like to play a video game now and then? Or how about other Civ players, what's your favorite winning strategy?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Today we finally made it in to get the kids' haircuts which have been desperately needed for some time now. Ethan did pretty good, though it's certainly not his favorite thing to do. I distracted him with fishy faces, a toothbrush, his shoe, and finally resorted to helping to hold his head still for the last little bit. Grace did a lot better and stood pretty still while her hair got cut. Her bangs have finally grown long enough that our hairdresser was able to blend them in with the rest of her hair which looks so much better! She cut a couple inches off the back and it looks a lot nicer. She even curled her hair with the curling iron a bit and she looks so pretty today! Both the kids look really good so I talked them into playing outside for five minutes when we got home so I could snap some pictures to share.

By the way, if you live in the Dallas area and need an affordable place for your children's haircuts I highly recommend Pam at Court Street Hair. She's been cutting Ethan's hair since he was 6 months old and the past two years or so for Grace. She charges a dollar a year which is a bargain!

Our Very Own Little Mermaid

Last night was Grace's first swim lesson and she was sooooo excited for it. She wolfed down her dinner and changed into her swimsuit so quickly she was ready and waiting by the door before Ethan had even eaten four bites of his dinner! We got there a little early so Grace played in the toddler wading pool for 15 minutes before her instructor came over and called the Preschool 1 class names and the four little preschoolers went over to the steps of the therapy pool for their lesson.

The instructor took turns working with the kids individually. They practiced kicking their legs, moving their arms, floating on their backs, and also moved along the side of the pool and got to jump in. I was surprised that Grace put her nose in the water when asked to, though she later said she didn't like it. At least she did it!

David wasn't able to get there until after the lesson was over so I juggled Ethan on my lap and tried to snap some pictures from across the pool. The results are less then spectacular but not too bad considering the circumstances. I think it worked out that Grace didn't notice where I was for the first bit because when I put the camera away and moved closer to the action she immediately ran over and started begging for My Little Pony fruit snacks. I don't think so.

The class meets twice a week and Grace is already excited about going again tomorrow night. Hopefully David will be able to take her this time, though it was pretty fun to watch!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why Everyone Needs a Swiffer

The very first Swiffer product I bought was way back in 2002 when I got the Swiffer Sweeper for our postage stamp apartment in Idaho. I don't know why I bothered since the linoleum kitchen floor was literally about 10 feet square at most. It was really faster and more expedient to just use a hand broom and washcloth to clean. I used the same Swiffer Sweeper in our larger apartment in Salem where it actually got used a bit more.

When we moved to our first house I upgraded to the Swiffer Sweeper Vac for our much larger kitchen/dining space and have absolutely loved it. It's probably my favorite cleaning tool because it makes my life so easy. It sucks up the dirt/cat hair/spilled coffee grounds without a fuss and makes my life easier. I don't freak out when Grace is "helping" me bake and spills a cup of flour on the floor because I know my Sweeper Vac will clean the mess up in no time at all.

Last year I got a coupon to buy the Swiffer Duster with Extendable Handle which has made cleaning the ceiling fans and tops of the bookcases so much easier. It really makes dusting a breeze.

One of my least favorite chores is mopping the kitchen floor because it feels like a losing battle. The muddy dog prints and spilled food just never seem to end. Sometimes the floor is messy again before I even finish cleaning it! Dragging out all the chairs/highchair/pet bowls/rugs takes forever and I'm exhausted by the time I finish putting it all back. For the last year or so I've been hand mopping it with old washclothes since it was just easier even if it wasn't very fun. Yesterday I gave in to temptation and purchased the Swiffer Wet Jet since it was on sale and I had a coupon for $5 off the starter kit. I have high hopes that this will end my days of hating to mop. I will let you know how it goes!

So for those who haven't tried the Swiffer products but are getting the urge after reading this post, check out the Swiffer website for a link to get coupons. You owe it to yourself.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Very Good Valentines

Some may think that Valentines Day and all the romance that goes with it may not go hand in hand with being a Daddy and Mommy but I would have to disagree. There's nothing that gets my heart going pitter patter faster then watching my husband be the fantastic father that he is. A few weeks ago I had picked up a Ball Popper for Ethan when I noticed how much he loved playing with it at a friend's house. We decided to give it to him for Valentines Day and since I picked that out for Ethan I let David pick out something for Grace. Naturally he picked out the Disney Princess Wii game that she's been talking about for awhile now. He has been so busy at work lately that he had to run out to Walmart Saturday morning to do his Valentines shopping. I kept the kids in their room playing while he set everything up for them and when we came out he had cards and presents for everyone! Grace was very happy with her new game and Princess heart candy. Ethan dove in to his animal crackers and apple juice with a frenzy and didn't realize what toy he got until we took it out of the box. And then he went nuts. That's when we discovered we only had 3 D size batteries and his new toy took 4. Oops. David made another trip to Walmart for the batteries which saved the day because Ethan won't stop playing with his new Ball Popper! He LOVES that thing and shrieks up a storm and giggles non-stop. It's pretty hilarious.

Grace and I played her Princess game while Ethan took his nap and David caught up on some work. We saved Cinderella and Ariel and almost have Jasmine done as well. It's too complicated a game for Grace so I have to man the controls while she points out the bad guys and sparkly treasure chests. There's just not many video games that a 3.5 year old can play but she's eager to play just like Daddy. I actually think it's a good thing that she isn't able to play on her own quite yet because it's fun to play with her.

After Ethan's nap we all changed into our swimsuits and hit the Aquatic Center for a swim. Grace starts swimming lessons next week so we thought it'd be fun to all go together and get her excited for swim classes at the same time. She loves to jump in from the side and have one of us catch her but isn't so hot on putting her head under water.

Grace and David worked together to make our pizza for dinner with minimal help from me. They mixed the dough together and rolled it out into a somewhat round shape. Then they spread the pizza sauce on, put on the canadian bacon and pepperoni, sprinkled the cheese, and finally topped the whole thing off with pineapple tidbits. It looked heavenly. While it baked I set the table with some nice candlesticks and turned the lights down to make dinner a little more special. Who says you can't have a romantic pizza dinner for four complete with sippy cups and plastic tableware?

We watched our neighbor's kids Saturday evening while our neighbors hit up the buffet at Spirit Mountain and then they watched Grace and Ethan Sunday evening for David and I while we saw Slumdog Millionaire. That arrangement worked out pretty well, we'll definitely have to do that again in the future!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Train Game

Continuing on our game journey I thought I would introduce one of my favorite board games Ticket to Ride (aka The Train Game). It's my favorite because it's simple to learn but there are several strategies you can take to win. Plus we have it on the Xbox Arcade so I can play a few games during nap time!

Ticket to Ride can be played with 2-5 players (another bonus!) but gets a lot more fun and complicated with more players. When five people are playing you are bound to see a little more cutthroat action since the board gets pretty crowded. The idea behind the game is that you are creating train routes between cities. You start the game with 2-3 routes and as you complete them you can pick up more. Long routes (like from New York to Los Angeles) are worth more points then short routes (Portland to Los Angeles). At the end of the game you add up the points of the routes you completed and the points from your trains on the board and then subtract the points of the routes you did not complete. There's definiately a risk/reward element to the game which is fun.

The game takes about 45 minutes to play so it's not a super long game which is nice. Unfortunately the only pictures I have of us playing this game is from Thanksgiving when I played with my Mom, Aunt Rhonda, and cousin Randi (who's 11 and actually won our first game!). None of the pictures show the actual game board so I'm borrowing one from a super helpful website for all things related to board games called Board Game Geek. There's a couple other versions of Ticket to Ride out there including Ticket to Ride: Europe which I have on the Xbox Arcade. For the most part the game play is the same but the classic American version is my favorite.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentines Day Party

Yesterday Grace and I assembled her valentines to give out at the Indoor Park Valentines Day party today. First of all we had to slip in the temporary glitter tattoos in their slots on her Disney Princess cards. Then we had to fold them in half and I wrote her name in the "From:" area and she "wrote" her friends names on the "To:" area. Then we attached heart stickers to the folded cards to keep them closed shut. It took awhile but Grace had a great time. I bought Ethan sports themed holographic valentines that featured all sorts of balls, his favorite toy ever.

This morning we brought our cards to the party and decorated Valentines bags for them. Grace distributed her cards out and couldn't wait until we got home to read all the ones she got. Once we were home we dumped all of her and Ethan's cards on the floor so they could look at them. Grace was overjoyed to discover some of her friends attached candy to their cards and immediately opened up some SweetTart hearts. It was pretty hilarious to watch her face react to the sourness!

Ethan watched Grace open her candy and concluded that there must be something tasty in his valentines as well so he kept trying to eat them. Too bad none of the candy was appropriate for him. I got some chocolates for the kids for tomorrow that he can have so he won't be left out of the candy fun for long.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I can't believe I actually miss the van

Yesterday was supposed to be the day we got our van back after a week and a half in the shop to be repaired. When I hadn't heard from the shop by 1pm I was a little nervous so I gave them a call. Apparently they had to haggle with our insurance company and finally won out in getting them to pay for a new panel rather then repair the damaged one. Unfortunately, the delay means that we're looking at another few days without the van. Possibly 5 more days since they are guessing the van will be ready on Monday.

Since the Ford was out of commission in Portland on Monday David worked from home, and again on Tuesday since I needed the car to get to MOPS. And he worked home for the third day in a row on Wednesday because I needed to open Indoor Park and it was icky outside, plus we thought we would need to drive in to Salem to pick up the van.

At any rate, David is taking the car today and tomorrow in order to drive to work which leaves me carless again. Not a big deal today since we have nowhere we have to be. Tomorrow we'll probably walk to the Indoor Park Valentines Day party so long as it's not completely miserable outside.

I really never thought there would come a day where I miss having a minivan but I'm definitely missing it. The Ford is nice, I love to drive it, but I don't have the clicker thingy and I can only open the doors from the driver's door. I feel like I circle the car eight times before I get the car unlocked and everyone in car seats & buckled before getting myself in the car. Grace has also discovered that she can reach the exciting buttons that rolls down the windows and that she can kick the seat ahead of her to really annoy Mommy. Yes, I definitely miss the van.

And just because I'm stuck at home I tortured my children by taking photos of them outside in the cold. Grace lasted about 45 seconds but Ethan was wearing a hat and sweater so he was pretty mad when I brought him inside after two minutes. He wanted to keep running!