"It Got Good Reviews..."

We're movie junkies. Well, Matt is a movie junkie and I am a ...hmmmm... what would you call a person who falls asleep about 2 minutes into a movie? Whatever it is, that's me. We rent movies at least 3 times a week as the cable television here is terrible and there's only so many AFN (Armed Forces Network) public service announcements that one can stand.

Matt checks online weekly to find out the new DVD releases, and then after work heads off to the Laser Center, our local movie rental place, where Maya helps him select a movie. A majority of the time the movies are decent, really good. The other times they're flat out awful. Of course when they are our standard routine is for me to ask him, "what possessed you to rent that movie?", with his standard reply being "It Got Good Reviews". Need I constantly remind him that every DVD jewel case is going to showcase good reviews ... even if they only come from Susan at the Duluth Morning Sun or Mary Beth at the Fresno Gazette.


Riley's New Pants

I made my first pair of pants with pockets. It was a real feat for me - the directions weren't explicit enough, and I wasn't sure if I was sewing it correctly. BUT ... clearly I did it right and they fit Riley perfectly! Now that I've done these I can funk them up a little bit on the next pair.


My Latest Creation

I recently bought a new dress pattern that I've been anxious to sew. I'm very into corduroy now and have been buying every shade of pink I can find. I put this together last Wednesday when the girls were at school and then the afternoon program. It's a little big for Riley, but she loved it and wanted to wear it today before I had a chance to wash and attempt to shrink it. I'm going to make one for Sheridan next week.

Glamour Girls

The newest thing in our house these days is "dress-up" makeup. The girls LOVE it. A girlfriend of mine gave the girls some lipsticks, nail polish, and eye shadow last summer - so we've been applying it in the late afternoons while they pretend they're mommies (of course they're wearing 3 times as much as I normally do!). One thing that struck me funny was that they were afraid to drink out of their glasses for fear that their lipstick may come off. Oye vay! Here they are today looking like mini teenagers.


STAR Class Ambassador Program

At the beginning of the school year, Riley's teachers introduced the Passport Program. This unit focuses on where the children come from and enhances their cultural identity. They will travel all over the world visiting countries that the STARS represent. On the day of our children's country presentation, they become the Ambassadors.

Last Thursday was Riley's day to become the Ambassador to the United States of America, a place she knows very little about. The parents got together several weeks ago and put together our 20 minute presentation. We showed the map of the USA and had the children point out where they were born, we read a wonderful story about America, we taught the children how to square dance, and they ended it by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. We then did an art project where the kids painted fireworks on black paper, and I brought in the snack of peanut butter / peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and apple slices. It was a great morning.

So far the STAR class has been to Switzerland, Japan, Chile, Tanzania, and the USA. They still need to visit Korea, Israel, Holland, and Russia.

Kit, Riley S, Emily, Riley P, Christian, Gabriel, William, Mia

~ The Moms ~


Blast From The Past

Yesterday we received an e-mail from one of Matt's former partners at the FAA. Sandra was currently in Israel touring for the week while her husband was working (he works for TSA in Frankfurt). I forwarded the e-mail to Matt at work, and within 1/2 hour he had called her and made plans to get together. Matt picked her up at her hotel on his way home from work. Sandra stayed for spaghetti and meatball dinner and we had a great time catching up on the latest. The last time we saw her was during a 4 hour layover in Frankfurt during our departure from Oman in 2005. We look forward to seeing her again on future transfers through Frankfurt.


Riley's Bowling Birthday Party

Today was the BIG day ~ the joint party with her friend Emily who turned 5 just a few days after Riley. We combined forces, invited the entire class (and siblings), and split the total bill. Score! The girls had a blast as their entire class made it and celebrated their special days. Of course, the party was a little more chaotic than I had anticipated... Although we had "designated" lanes for the kids to bowl, nobody followed along and it was a complete free for all. Kids bowled in any lane they walked up to, they bowled out of turn, and they walked up and down the lanes ... while the parents stood back and laughed and took photos.

After they each bowled a game (give or take a few frames), they had lunch and then cake and cupcakes. I had purchased a fun castle bundt cake mold to bake, but after realizing the detail I would have to do, I scrapped the idea and just frosted the entire thing pink. I then dumped several other colors on top of it, added a few flowers around it, and voila. Not my best work... but Riley thought it was the best cake ever.

The party was a hit, and after paying the bill, we were able to go home. No set-up, no clean-up, no cake to take home and stuff in the fridge. What a fantastic party!


She's a Katz!

The Katz gene pool runs deep. For those of you who don't know, I and most of the Katz family, share a natural dislike for most cheeses. So it's no surprise that Matt's heart was broken this week by his eldest daughter when she suddenly exclaimed, "I don't really like cheese". Regardless, he was still crestfallen. He always envisioned he and Riley sharing a smooth Gruyere, a sharp Gorgonzola, and a grilled panini sandwich with Buffalo Mozzarella. Instead he has to now suffer through pizza scraping and cheese-less hamburgers.

Matt maintains a glimmer of hope as he observes Sheridan eating Boursin by the fistful...


Riley Turned 5!

Exactly 5 years ago today, I gave birth to this beautiful, curly haired little girl. Of course, my labor lasted the span of 2 days... so when she came out she looked more like a cone head. But she was ours and she was perfect. It's hard to believe that it's been 5 years. It seems like just yesterday we were bringing her home ~ and then bringing her back to the hospital to spend another night under the bilirubin lights to get that extra fake Jersey Girl tan. My how time flies!

Today we had Riley's party at school. I had to put together a picture board of photos from every year of her life. I also had to bring in a snack for the class, along with the obligatory cake. Since five is such a big birthday, I pulled out all the stops and made these adorable cupcakes that I saw in my latest issue of Parent's magazine. They were a dog design, and they were lovely. They were also a pain in the a** to frost! It took me over 2 hours to frost, accessorize, and gingerly place them into the large tupperware tin to transport to school.

The party at school was sweet. They sang songs to her, they danced around her, and they put her in the chair and raised her 5 times for good luck. Finally, they all got to eat their snacks and cupcakes ~ and boy were they a hit! To top Riley's special day, I also brought in a cake to her ballet class. She asked for a pink and yellow cake in the shape of ballet slippers. Another labor of love for my little love. We finished off the night by taking her to her favorite restaurant for dinner: Zozobra.

This is Riley's 3 birthday celebration in Israel. We wanted it to be memorable, so we invited her entire class (and siblings) to a bowling party next Sunday. We'll blog it with photos and video of the kids attempting to carry the 6 lb ball down the lane and throwing it against the bumpers.


An Oenophile

About 4 months after we arrived in Tel Aviv, I began keeping all the corks to the bottles of wine I opened at our house. I have a large bowl that I keep on the bottom of our wooden beverage cart where I throw them. While I was steaming broccoli tonight (what better time would there be...), I decided to count how many corks were in the bowl. Want to know the total? 150. Exactly. I'm sure that there would be at least 5 - 10 more had I started collecting them from the very beginning. So basically that means that I've been drinking about 1 bottle of wine every 5 days.

I don't know what that says about me... maybe I need to tighten up the gap?


The Jury Has Reached A Decision

It's fairly unanimous ~ the cookbook is a hit! While Riley DEVOURED the zucchini chicken nuggets and the sweet potato schnitzel, Sheridan decided to throw a complete tantrum and not eat anything until she was done screaming and throwing a fit during a 45+ minute on/off time out. When she finally gave in and realized that I was serious when I asked her to take 3 bites, and she was NOT going to go to bed until she ate them, she liked them too.

The mozzarella cheese sticks were a great addition to last night's meal. However, unlike Riley who isn't a fan of cheese (clearly my daughter), Sheridan loved the mozzarella cheese sticks with cauliflower. One word to the wise if you're making cheese sticks ... don't try to double the recipe on your first try. While I thought that I'd make twice as much, I ended up over-rolling the cheese sticks, which turned them into pancakes rather than sticks. They were still good, but they weren't as aesthetically pleasing.

In all, if you're sitting on the fence, the book is definitely a good purchase. Riley now wants me to make the pink pancakes (they're made with beets). Maybe we'll use strawberries instead.


Deceptively Delicious?

Well the jury is still out on that one and won't be back in until tomorrow... If you have young children and you haven't heard of the new cook book out by Jessica Seinfeld, then you must be living under a rock. She's already being sued for copying someone else's cookbook. But... seriously??? How may possible ways are there to make brussel sprout cookies or beet cupcakes?

Several months ago she published this cook book that I perceived as a horrible way that parents would/could/should deceive their children into eating fruits / vegetables. It was heavily publicized and sold at every bookstore and online retailer. My cousin Jody gave me a copy when I was in the States back in December, and it was only this weekend that I finally unpacked my last box from my trip and looked through the book.

Boy was I wrong.

This cookbook has some phenomenal recipes and lots of ideas on how to get fruits / vegetables into every possible meal. While I don't love everything, I have already taken many ideas and incorporated them into this weeks meals. The main premise is to take an hour a week, cook as many fruits and vegetables as possible, puree and freeze them, and then use them in every recipe for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You add the pureed fruits / vegetables in small increments in everything from pancakes to chicken nuggets, and cookies to brownies. You name the food - you can add a fruit or vegetable to it.

Thankfully both Riley and Sheridan love vegetables and you'll often hear them ask for broccoli over chocolate (well you'll hear Riley ~ Sheridan would eat her body weight in crap if you let her). I'm not using this book as a substitute for eating their healthy greens, but I sure am going to be adding some of the vegetables that they don't normally eat into fun foods. Tomorrow night I'm making chicken nuggets with zucchini and sweet potatoes. Wednesday we're going to try homemade mozzarella sticks with cauliflower.

We'll let you know what the jury decides.


It's Official

Sheridan is now wearing "Big Girl" underwear. However, I don't know who's really getting potty trained ... her or us. She was perfectly content wearing pull-ups, and would in fact announce that she needed to change her pishy pull-up in the morning, after her naps, whenever she felt the need. She probably would have gone several more weeks, maybe even months before she approached us about wearing underwear. So yesterday we had enough and decided to go cold turkey and pulled the plug on the pull-ups.

She's had a few accidents; the first one being in the bathroom right next to the toilet. She also had one standing right next to me tonight. I forgot how frustrating the first few weeks of active potty training can be with the never ending question "Sheridan, do you need to go pee pee?" I sure do.

This is going to be a fun week!

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