Saturday, May 23, 2015

Chess and Spaghetti: Best of Jan-March 2015

In early 2015, we enjoyed our Christmas presents, got really into reptiles, appreciated nature, and learned how to make tamales.

Chess and Spaghetti

Josh at a fun snake event for the language school where he works, ELS Language Centers.

A cute shot of Sebby's Pre-K-5 group from their December book exchange.

Snipping the unruly red locks

Mm, homemade bread!

After a few tries, we created a semi-functional Newton's Cradle using our clay beads.

The kids loved it.

Visiting cousin Penny

Sebby continues his building craze.

Misha prepares games on the white board.

Misha the inventor: How not to spill your cocoa on the chair (at my office)

Train fun with Sebby

Bayou fun


Making a bday banner for Daddy!

Daddy and Sebby putting together a shelf

Misha's Chinese lantern from school

Cuddle up and read

Going to Emily's birthday party

Master of Hide and Seek: Sebby's great spot

Origami claws

We attended a "Repticon" where we got to see all kinds of reptiles and exotic pets: snakes, chameleons, bearded dragons, turtles, giant Centipedes and more. We have been researching snakes and decided to get the boys Ball Pythons. They are very docile, non-aggressive snakes, quite personable, easy to care for, and reasonably sized (4-5 ft full grown). The boys were thrilled with their baby pythons, only three months old and able to fit in their palm. Unfortunately, one died after about a month, probably because they refused to eat their frozen mice week after week. By the time we realized that they were too young to go weeks without feeding, it was too late for one of the snakes. However, we are now taking good care of our remaining snake, Slither. We usually feed it one live mouse a week. The first time was a tearful experience for the boys, but they realize that snakes are living creatures who need to live too.

A colorful snoozing snake at Repticon

Chameleon cutie

Repticon vendors


This giant centipede could be yours for only $35. Look at those great legs.

Bearded dragons

Our baby pythons

Sebby with a ball python 
We got the kids some rollerblades/skates and headed to a park one sunny Saturday.

Sweet in a sweater

Our baby python

Boys and snakes

Folding fun, pet on shoulder

For months, we have had the pleasure of watching our very own spider, who made her home on our balcony between the overhang and the hand rail. Affectionately named Charlotte, she was wonderful to watch - herself a large-abdomened, impressive arachnid, her web a shimmering demonstration of nature's beauty and strength. We were observers of all of her activities: her daily snooze up by the roof rail, her nightly repairs to her web as she slowly lowered herself on her thread to the right height and maneuvered her way horizontally on remaining strands of her web. Sometimes she snipped the whole web off and started over. We also watched her wrap her prey and eat it. On occasion, we found bugs to add to her web, and she was usually quite interested in them. One morning, we found the web covered in sparkling dew, just like something out of Charlotte's Web. Unfortunately, she has since disappeared - perhaps she got old, got eaten by a bird, or simply moved on. Our morning exits aren't quite the same without her!

The dew-covered web

"Why, certainly. I eat anything that gets caught in my web. I have to live, don't I?"
Speaking of spiders...

More fun at the bayou

This time we invited students from Josh's school along with us. They really enjoyed seeing this side of the Houston area.

I caught a small anole.

We decided to try our hand at making home-made tamales, and they turned out really well. I mixed up the "masa" (cornmeal dough with broth, oil and spice) and shredded my slow-boiled pork carnitas. Then we were ready for the assembly line. First, I patted some masa onto a corn husk. Then Josh added the pork filling. Misha carefully rolled up each tamal. Sebby took the wrapped tamales to add to our quickly-growing stack, and ran back and forth helping us with things we needed. The tamales turned out delicious - especially with green chili sauce (which would have been better with fresh ones over canned, but it was still yummy). I used this tutorial.

Masa and shredded pork on my crowded counter

Josh on protein duty

Misha rolling

Sebby stacking

Once we had them all wrapped, I read the very end of the recipe: "steam for two hours." Two hours!? I thought with dismay. They won't be ready until midnight! Oh well....

It was worth it.

Valentine's Fun: We folded dozens and dozens of cute origami treasures for the boys to give out at school with their candy and cards... nodding puppies, flying birds, jumping frogs, kissing lips, and dragons that don't do anything, just look cool.

My presents from Sebby from preschool: a flamingo magnet, card, and the sweetest kiss ever: a homemade giant chocolate-covered rice krispie. Mm!