Sunny-moon Almost Over

Today is our last full day in South Florida. It’s been a whirlwind of reunions, family, favorite restaurants and sun. There’s definitely been plenty of sun. In fact, my only personal request during this trip has been to get 30 solid minutes of uninterrupted daily Vitamin D (with the use of sunscreen of course).  Parker has been enjoying the sun and warmth also.

It’s going to be bittersweet leaving. While I’m eager to get back to my house and my routine, I’m not so sure that I’m ready to get back to our usual January.

I’m sure going to miss my flip flops!

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Lexi’s Baptism

Hi folks! I hope everyone had a merry Christmas! Things are just starting to calm down here at my parents’ house. We spent most of last week preparing for Lexi’s baptism (which happened on 12/23) and then we rolled right into Christmas preparations. It was a bit much. With that said, her baptism was a beautiful ceremony. If you’re not familiar with the Greek Orthodox baptism ceremony, you can read about it here. In Greece, baptisms are as important as weddings so the ceremony itself is intricate and longer than most Christian ceremonies.

Here are pictures from Lexi’s ceremony. Her Godparents are my cousin and his wife. They did such an amazing job and all of the details were perfect!

Calamari

Without a doubt, calamari is my favorite Greek island food. It’s the first thing I order when we land and the last thing I order before take off. My parents claim that my obsession with calamari started when I was about 10 months old and I don’t doubt it. I mean, what’s not to love? When cooked properly, the calamari is tender on the inside, crunchy on the outside and has a hint of ocean saltiness that is mellowed by the lemon that it’s served with.

I’d never attempted to make it myself before this past week because I generally get my calamari fix all summer long. But, since we didn’t make it to Greece this past summer, my mother took pity on me and picked up a couple of pounds of squid from the fish monger. The squid she picked up was already cleaned and cut into bite size rings, which is definitely the way to go. The second time my mom picked up squid (2 days after we first made it), she bought whole squid that we had to clean ourselves. While Parker thought this was a blast, it took us about 30 minutes to get it clean.

Here’s Parker helping us clean the squid (and by “us,” I mean my mom).

Okay, so once the squid is cleaned (or if you’ve bought it cleaned), the first thing you need to do is to sprinkle 1 tablespoon of baking soda on it and rub it into all of the squid pieces. Adding the baking soda is a tip that my mom got from a chef at our favorite taverna on the island. He said that it serves as a tenderizer and helps to prevent the chewiness that is the trademark of overcooked calamari.

Let the squid hang out with the baking soda for about 15 minutes and then rinse the heck out of it.

Alright, now we’re ready to cook these little guys. Dry them very well and set the squid aside. In a deep dish, add a cup or so of flour and about 1 tablespoon of salt (mix together). After the flour is ready for the squid, go ahead and get canola oil very hot. You know the oil is ready when a sprinkle of flour thrown in sizzles.

When the oil is hot, toss the squid in the flour/salt mixture.

Add the squid into the oil in small batches and keep an eye on it. It cooks very quickly.

Cook the calamari on one side for 3 minutes, flip it over using tongs and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

And that’s it! If the squid is already cleaned, the entire process takes less than 10 minutes. If you’re going to serve this Greek style, serve it with quartered lemon wedges. Marinara sauce is only something that the Italians do and in my humble (Greek) opinion, I think that the marinara sauce overwhelms the flavor of the calamari.

Now that I know how to make this dish (and how tasty it is at home), I’m going to be hard pressed not to make this on a weekly basis.

 

What a Difference a Week (and 800 Miles) Makes

Last week, we were in the country, driving by goats…

and wearing head-to-toe fleece on play dates.

This week, Lexi is blowing in the ocean breeze (literally),

and feeling the wind in her hair.

We’ve traded naked trees,

for palm trees…

And I don’t think Lexi minds one bit.

And in case you were wondering where Parker is, he happens to be in 5-year-old heaven at the Orlando theme parks with his grandparents. He’ll be there for 5 whopping days and I don’t think he misses us one bit.

Getting Back On The Wagon

Someone famous once said, “Life gets in the way of the best intentions.” At least I think someone famous once said that, but it’s completely possible that I just made it up. Regardless, it is unequivocally true. The past 5 weeks have been outright dismal with regard to exercise and healthy eating. And by dismal, I mean that I think I only ran twice in all of November. And my eating habits? Well, let’s just say that I had two white chocolate macadamia nut cookies for breakfast yesterday.

I considered not even mentioning it and just getting back on the wagon quietly, but that wouldn’t have been very honest to all of you…or to myself for that matter. So here I am, hanging my head in shame. In non-exercising, poor eating shame. There is, however, some good news. I can change that pattern in a heartbeat. All it takes is making the right choices, one day at a time and I will be back to feeling like my old self in no time. While I managed to not gain any weight (and I actually lost a couple of pounds thanks to nursing), I feel lousy. I have no energy, I’m bloated and I’m sleeping in way more than usual. Blah!

So here’s the plan. I’m giving myself the rest of the week to wrap up classes and to get packed for our trip to Florida. Starting Monday morning, however, I have no excuses for not working out at every opportunity. I’ll be on holiday break until 2012, I’ll be in sunny South Florida (so no snow) and I’ll have my parents to watch the munchkins while I strap on my running shoes and head out in the mornings.

It’s going to be great and I know that I will feel like a million bucks after one week. In the meantime, I better pack some ice packs and Advil. I’m going to need it!

First Steps

Lexi has positively, absolutely no interest in learning to sit up on her own or crawl. In fact, she isn’t even that crazy about rolling over. If you put her on her belly, she’ll just hang out there. Same thing with her back. I think that her ambivalence about making these milestones is that she is all about standing. She’s been that way since about 2 weeks old. If you try to sit her upright in your lap, she arches her back until she’s upright and then she is a happy little standing munchkin. We constantly joke that she’s going to skip crawling and go straight to walking. After seeing this, I think we might be right!

They walked all around the house like that and Lexi had a blast…the Irishman did too.

Meeting Santa

We took the kids today to the Irishman’s office holiday gathering where Santa was making an appearance. Parker, a seasoned pro when it comes to Santa, was rattling off his wish list (which included a Lego Ninjago set and a pink bike) and snuggled in close for a photo.

Then it was Lexi’s turn and I was on standby in case we had a freak out moment. First, she gave Santa the once over…

Then, she gave him her approval…

And then she was utterly bored.

In short, Lexi’s first visit with Santa was a success! Here’s a final shot with both kiddos.

For the record, Santa’s beard was real. Lexi gave it a good tug to be sure.