Saturday, April 28, 2007

Karate Champion

Today was Nick's very first karate tournament at PKSA Karate School in Riverview. He chose to do Forms and Breaking as his events and did really well. Jere and I were so proud of him we couldn't stop grinning! We got lots of photos and video of Nick's big day so I thought I'd share some here. Tang soo!

Picture #1: Competing in his first event, Forms. He got the highest score!

Picture #2: Nick being awarded his well-earned gold medal by the black-belt judges. Good job buddy!

Picture #3: Breaking a wooden board with a powerful kick! He also broke other boards with his fist and elbow. Don't mess with him--he might hurt you! Nick's boards were thicker than his competitors! We tried to talk him into thinner boards, but he refused. Such a brave boy!

Picture #4: Nick with one of his instructors, Master Pitti. Nick has been approved to do the testing for his green stripe.

Picture #5: Showing off the goods! He got the highest score in both of his events and went home with two gold medals! This put him in a very good mood indeed!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies (South Beach Diet)

Today I did pretty well at sticking to my diet. I don't know which diet I'm doing this time. It's a combination of South Beach and Atkins, so I eat a lot of protein and salad. It was getting old today and I was craving a baked dessert. I flipped through my South Beach cookbook and found this recipe which I had never tried before tonight. They were so good that even Nicholas ate them (and kept asking for more!) So, here's the recipe for anyone who would like to try it--I would double it to have them on hand for unexpected cravings:

3/4 cup granular sugar substitute (Splenda)
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup sugar-free jam, any flavor

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
Mix Splenda, egg, and vanilla together with an electric mixer on low for 3 minutes. Add peanut butter and baking soda. Mix on medium until dough comes together, about 30 seconds.
Form dough into 24 (2-teaspoon) balls and place on baking sheet 1 inch apart. Gently press your thumb into the center of each to make an indentation. Fill each indentation with 1/2 tsp. jam.
Bake until lightly browned on the bottom, 12-14 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 24 cookies. Yummy! You will forget you're even on a diet!

Nutrition Facts:
Per cookie: 70 calories, 5.5 grams fat, 1.25 grams sat. fat, 3 grams protein, 3.5 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram dietary fiber, 105 mg sodium

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spring Means Creepy Crawlies

Michigan had truly lovely weather today. Seventy degrees and sunshine. We've had freezing temps and dull grey skies for so long that when we get a day like today, everyone emerges like bears from hibernation. We try to soak up the sun (no, I'm not listening to Sheryl Crow right now) but we're always careful not to get too used to the idea of blue skies and warm, gentle breezes. As my fellow Michiganders will tell you, the very next day could be a snowstorm with temperatures that will freeze the liquid in your eyeballs. We're wary of the warm days, like they'll be ripped away from us at any moment. So in celebration of a warm spring day, I will do everything in my power to be outside. I've even been known to pick up sticks and yard debris. I don't care as long as I'm outside. Even picking up a month or two of accumulating dog poop can't dampen my spirits. I'm outside with no need for a winter coat and gloves, and I'm going to stay here, dang it!

But there's a dark side to these beautiful sunny days. No one likes to talk about it, but we all experience it on some level. I'm referring to all the little scary creatures with six or more legs. They like the warm weather just as much as we do, much to my chagrin. And being an arachnophobe to the extreme, the sudden appearance of their kind gives me such an awful fright that it's lucky I don't end up in the hospital with heart failure. Earlier today, I was walking home with my son after school. We were enjoying a splendid walk with the dog while Ashlee sat contentedly in the jogger stroller. Nick chatted about his day at school while Ashlee and I listened. As we approached our house, I pushed the stroller up on to the front porch. Nick headed straight to the front door, saying that he "really had to go." I said, "Hang on. I've just got to get the keys out of the stroller." As I turned to retrieve them, I was confronted with a very strange and scary-looking spider. It was perched two inches from the opening of the compartment that held my keys. I froze immediately and made a weird, unflattering sound. I must always make this sound when I see a bug or spider, because Nick picked up on it right away. He followed my frozen gaze and piped up with, "Mom. It's OK. You're just going to have to tell yourself that you can do it. The spider won't hurt you, he's a friendly spider! You can do it, Mom! Just be strong! You have to because I REALLY have to go to the bathroom!"

Strangely enough, this little pep talk actually worked! I suddenly felt no fear! I flicked the fabric on the stroller so that the spider fell off, made a quick check to see that it had fallen very far away from me, and grabbed my keys with gusto! I was a hero and I had saved my son not only from loss of bladder control, but from a big, hairy spider that could have killed us all!

The next part of this story does not tell tales of me squishing the spider I had flicked off the stroller. Only in the direst of situations do I make direct physical contact with the most horrible creature on earth. The closest I would come to that would be chucking a shoe and praying that it hit its mark. I don't wad up flimsy toilet paper and try to squash spiders with my hand. Are you out of your mind? There's always a chance the little bugger might decide to jump at the exact moment that I'm hesitating just inches above it. And if I happen to miss and squash part of its leg or something, then I'll have an angry spider who knows my address. No, I'm not taking any chances. People have suggested I get one of those hand-held vacuum cleaners made specifically for sucking up all kinds of bugs and spiders. Yeah, have you actually seen one? It's made out of see-through plastic. The last thing I need is the spider traveling down the crystal-clear tube to be deposited into my hand. Uh-huh. And how do you know it will stay inside the vacuum once you turn it off? Ever think of that?

So, my main line of defense is to scream so loud it hurts my throat, freeze in place, and then yell for Jere. Once I hear him coming, I exit the area immediately. After I hear the toilet flush, my blood pressure starts to return to normal. If Jere's not around, I resort to my can of hairspray. Not as effective, but at least it slows down the horrible rapid movements they usually make. It's a silly cycle, really. I don't like being so afraid of these ghastly creatures. It's a bit debilitating at times. Oh, well. Hopefully, Nick will always be around to give me a good pep talk. If not, I'll always have a good supply of aerosol on hand.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Attack of the Moo Cow!

Little kids are the funniest creatures on earth. Especially mine. I get a good ab workout observing their daily antics (when they're not at each others' throats, of course!) So I decided to post a few pictures to give you an idea of the kind of scenery I'm exposed to with these miniature people. This sequence of pix was taken on a day that Ashlee was trying on Halloween costumes because she couldn't decide what she wanted to be for the big day. And this is what happened after she saw herself in the mirror and took on her new role as a cow (or bull, I should say).

1. Ashlee gets a glimpse of the ferocious beast she has recently morphed into and is on the prowl . . .

2. The unsuspecting victim. Run, Nick, run!!!

3. The cow makes her move and a terrible scuffle ensues!

4. Suddenly, the cow decides her prey has a strange odor.

5. The cow makes a final attack to ensure the death of her prey.