Selective Love of the Color Green

May 17th, 2012

Being green is big around our house—and not in the environmentally friendly kind of a way.    Bjorn is obsessed.  This is difficult for a family that bleeds Maize and Blue in such close proximity to Michigan State (because everything boils down to college rivalries).  In any case, we’ve found ourselves in some pretty interesting situations that involve the color green.  For instance, if you pour milk into a lovely blue cup, it is rejected outright.  It is only worth Bjorn’s digestive track if it comes straight from the green cup.  At the Chelsea Tree House (this lovely indoor park in Chelsea, Michigan), there are these rings that you can swing from in multiple colors.  Bjorn will not swing.  He will only hang.  From the green hoop.  Sometimes we let him pick out Dada’s work shirts…and let me tell you, Lars has been wearing a lot of green, lately.

Here is a picture of him in his favorite shirt:  bright green with a frog wearing sunglasses.

Bjorn at the Ball-Machine at the Hand's On Museum in Downtown Ann Arbor. He would eventually gather every single green ball and put them in his bucket. Everyone has to have a mission.

Of course, green is a color of selective love.  Does he like broccoli, zucchini or [insert name of any vegetable here]?  No.  Does he like green shampoo?  Nah.  Here he is in a few non-green moments:

Ready for a day on the town with Mama. This is his "say cheese" face. Beautiful, no?

Bjorn assisting with Miracle Chicken Tortilla Soup in the kitchen. He would eat PB&J for dinner despite his culinary aptitude.


Born-Again…Dinner for the Week Ahead: May 13, 2012

May 12th, 2012

Everyone knows the best way to celebrate finals is to get summoned for federal jury duty in Detroit, right?  Its like the universe knew exactly what I wanted, bundled it up in a nice little official document and mailed it to my house.

I have not been asked to report, but I have been “on-call” for the past week.  I have to call every night at 6pm and check to see if I am to report to the US District Court in Detroit (about an hour away) by 7:45am the next morning.  Now I am all about civic duty but ugh. So much ugh about this situation.  I can’t tell you how awful it is to constantly be preparing for two scenarios every day.  In one, I am doing business as normal in an already chaotic time at work.  In the other, I am preparing to delegate all tasks in case I am put on case.  I almost wish I could just get assigned in order to stop constantly prepping for both of these cases. I’m on call through next Friday.  Worst case scenario will be if and when on Thursday night when I call-in to check and see if I am to report, they tell me that I need to come in and then I get assigned to a case.  Blech.

But we are trying to get back to something normal…and trying to get more organized.  Enter the re-birth of dinner scheduling, although you won’t see much in the way of anything new…

Saturday May 12 (rogue entry):  Burgers on the Grill

Sunday May 13:  TBD

Monday May 14:  Kung Pao Chicken

Tuesday May 15:  Mock Chicken Tortilla Soup

Wednesday May 16:  Leftovers

Thursday May 17:  Red Pepper & Onion Fettuccine

…and so it goes.


Good Times, Mediocre Photos

May 12th, 2012

A couple of photos from the past month.  We’ve been out and about in Ann Arbor with friends and took a sojourn to Chicago to show Bjorn the definition of a “big city” (ie, not Ann Arbor).

Michigan Boy

He looks so innocent, right? He was running to head butt me in the face.

Bjorn (white shirt), Yassen (blue shirt) and Morgan (yellow shirt) running along the path lining the Huron River at the Arb.

Exploring the banks of the Huron River at the Arboretum

This photo was ridiculously hard to take and turned out only sub par. Anyway---here are Bjorn and I at the Cloud Gate in Chicago's Millennium Park.

Skyscape, Scandoscape

At the window washing exhibit at the John Hancock building.

Tulips blooming at the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park

Gardens adjacent to the Art Institute of Chicago

Cooking for the Week Ahead: April 22, 2012

April 22nd, 2012

So this is the wrong week to try and get back into a schedule, despite finishing up finals this past Friday.  I’m going to Columbia, Missouri on Tuesday and won’t get home until late Thursday night.  I will avoid talking about how angsty I am at leaving my boys–because that is another entry, best written when I’m drunk and alone in a hotel room in Missouri.  Wait, what?  Anyway.

I did end up making some meals for Lars so that he and Bjorn wouldn’t have to think much about dinner while I was gone.  And by “making some meals” I mean “I made taco meat and re-enforced that he should eat the leftover chicken tikka masala”.  So that’s what’s on tap for this week.  Otherwise I will be eating out at fine dining establishments in the Memphis Airport (apparently Lenny’s subs is awesome?) and the college town of Columbia.  Next week, though.  Count on it.

I did cook, as previously mentioned, for my HBHE 651 class as a kind of “gimmick” if you will, for our presentation.  We made a zucchini bread recipe from the Mayo Clinic and it wasn’t half bad.  In fact, I dare say, it was good!  I would make it again.  Next time, I won’t underbake the second loaf. LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING WHEN YOU BAKE BREAD, OKAY?

Getting an 'A' 101...Or how I learned to bake zucchini bread for a program development class.

Picture Post

April 22nd, 2012

We’ve been so horrible about sharing photos these past few months.  That said, I’ve purged my iPhone of a couple select shots from this past month and here they are…Sorry some of them are a little blurry but you get the gist.

Bjorn rocking his Red Wings jersey at Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings would end up destroying the Columbia Blue Jackets.

A (blurry) photo of Bjorn and Grandpa at Bjorn's first Red Wings game. I just love the way Bjorn is looking at him.

Spring showers make for great afternoons frolicking in the mud.  Bjorn exemplifies this with his buddy, Morgan.

More mud. (At Eberwhite Elementary)A quick trip to the Big House to see the Spring Game. Most important to Bjorn, the band was in attendance.

A hard week's work culminates in a trip to Old Town for some libations for all ages.

Replacing one vice with another...after Old Town, we walk to Washtenaw Dairy for some "delicious ice cream". Bjorn and Morgan kept each other company by holding hands on the walk back.





On the other side

April 18th, 2012

Allergies kicked my ass this spring. We’re finally on the other side (hopefully for the foreseeable future!) and I can now get back into a routine. What that routine may be, I have no idea. I’m done with finals on Wednesday and then next week I’m off to Missouri for my first meeting for the new research project I belong to. These two nights away from Bjorn will be the longest I have ever been from him and it will be hard. The anticipation of leaving is already eating me up. I never thought I would get to be this bad.

Bjorn has been high-larious these past few weeks. The things that come out of that boys mouth! He has also become somewhat obsessed with Ballet, the Red Wings, and Dvorak’s 9th Symphony (he ‘doots’ it).

The other day we were hanging out in the living room and he just gets up and tells me “bye bye mama!”. I asked him, “where are you going?”. He replies, “to play hockey! with the red wings!”. Then he proceeds to walk towards the door. You buy a kid ONE red wings jersey and they think they’re part of the team. Its adorable. Kind of ready to embrace being a hockey mom. Kind of.

One of these days I’ll post some photos.

We have been cooking. All things I’ve posted before and don’t require too much effort. However, I did make a brand new recipe for a party I went to on Saturday night. Our friend Joe hosted a dinner and asked for me to bring an appetizer. Now–I LOVE appetizers, but I’m always horribly uncreative at cooking or providing them. Coupled with a shortage of time and this caused a great deal of stress (I believe an assortment of cookbooks are strewn across my bedroom floor). Anyway–I don’t really have a “go to” appetizer so was on a frantic search to find something that would be suitable for a gay man’s party. A tall order.

Enter Smitten Kitchen. I found this great recipe for Olive-Artichoke Crostini  (its especially great if you love green olives and artichokes–which I do!). Slices of baguettes and a delicious spread. Can’t go wrong. The only thing I wish I had done differently was chop up some parsley to sprinkle on top for coloring.

This upcoming week I’ll be trying a new recipe for a school project.  That’s right.  We are working on a nutritional intervention for type 2 diabetes prevention among adolescents–and our presentation involves feeding the audience a Mayo Clinic endorsed zucchini bread.  I know, right? Will keep you posted on if this tastes like cardboard.  I will beta on Bjorn and, let me tell you, he is a man of discriminating tastes.

Anyway–have friends coming over to bake tomorrow.  Best school project ever.

A Price to Pay for Beauty: Allergies in the Springtime

March 24th, 2012

It is lovely in Ann Arbor right now.  I mean, I could write poetry.  Here’s a quick non-thought out verse while looking at our magnolias in the backyard

Pink, it’s my new obsession, yeah
Pink, it’s not even a question
Pink, on the lips of your lover
‘Cause pink is the love you discover

…okay, so maybe I am quoting Aerosmith, but you get the idea.

On Wednesday, I took my first ever allergy medication.  I received it when the pediatric allergist I work with told me I looked terrible and gave me an Allegra.  I’ve been so hesitant to take medication for this.  I’m not some holistic hippie…but I never had allergies before moving to Michigan and I’ve been in denial the past two years….(last year I was also miserable with allergies).   The Allegra helped but not with the insane amount of congestion I was dealing with–so when I went to the store to get more, I decided on “Allegra-D”…which is a horse-pill that lasts for 24 hours (!!).

So I took it.  And I got really tired.  Then I woke up and couldn’t sleep all night.  Then I was at work tired all day.  Then I vowed I wouldn’t take it again because I felt so crappy.  Then I woke up at 3am last night congested and with itchy eyes and sneezing like the dickens (I don’t know how the dickens sneeze but I’m going to say that I did the description justice)….so I took another one at 3am.  Then I took a shower.  Finally I fell asleep and I’m now just waiting to see how today goes.  I’m meeting up with my group for survey methodology over coffee and hopefully my questions won’t be too influenced by my altered allergy-medicine induced haze.  Sigh.

But really, its beautiful here.  Ugh.


Cooking In General

March 21st, 2012

Guys–we have been so lucky lately.  We’ve had friends who we’ve cooked big meals with, been invited over for breakfast and dinner, and had my mom in town until last Wednesday.  Our cooking rhythm has gotten a little off tempo but we have not suffered for it.

On Saturday–after many false starts–Minal and I made our way up to Lansing to visit the lovely Danielle & Garrett and their two rescue greyhounds (Charlie & Ellie) and their Dog-Cat (a rescue Chihuahua named Peanut if you’re me, Zeus if you’re everyone else).   To clarify, “Dog-Cat” is how Bjorn classified Peanut…perhaps correctly!  They also have a black cat.  It is an animal wonderland at La Casa de Danielle & Garrett!  Animals aside, we had homemade spiked lemonade (zomg so glad my husband doesn’t drink and I didn’t have to drive home–that was some strong lemonade!);  mushroom risotto with peas and two versions of caprese salads;  one with roasted tomatoes, the other with raw tomatoes.  Both, amazing.  Minal made some crazy concoction of pudding, chocolate chip cookie and berries for dessert.  And we all ate like we were gluttonous kings.  It bears mentioning that we did this on St. Patrick’s Day which mainly just means that we were trying to be hip by not going with the masses and trended towards an Italian-themed dinner.

The very next morning (!!!) we were invited over to Bjorn’s friend Morgan’s house in the big city of Ann Arbor where we feasted on Mimosas and olive oil and chocolate chip pancakes.  Later that night–we made our way over to the Mudie’s where it was warm enough to barbeque burgers, play tee-ball, and eat outside. We’re paying it forward tonight by having both the Mudie’s and Morgan and his dad over for dinner at our place (Taco Night!).  Its supposed to be 86 degrees—warm enough that we may strip down the kids and put up the sprinkler in the backyard.

We should be back to regular by this weekend (I think).  But, please rest assured, we’re not starving just because I haven’t blogged about our weekly cooking adventures.

Dinner for the Week Ahead: March 11, 2012

March 11th, 2012

We are all out of wack with our dinner schedule–but in a good way.  Nonni is in town visiting from San Diego so we are eating out (Grizzly Peak, Prickly Pear) and having delicious homemade meals.  Here’s what we’ve had thus far:

Chicken Enchiladas

Black Bean Lasagna Rolls

Leek, Onion & Smoked Ham Quiche

Last night at Prickly Peak, I got to eat my very first grilled scallop salad since Bjorn was born.  GOD IT WAS SO GOOD. Cherry salsa, black beans, arugula, queso fresco, delicious grilled scallops.  Worth the 45 minute wait.


The Jensens Travel North-Glen Arbor, Michigan

March 3rd, 2012

For those of you who read this blog and haven’t been to Michigan before–the state itself is not a cesspool of urban decay (although, urban decay is awfully trendy now–in an “emo” kind of way).  North of Ann Arbor and Detroit is a beautiful area of the state–of the country–that is a joy to visit and is completely accessible for a nice long weekend trip to just “get away”.  Heightened by an awfully stressful start to 2012 and the need to do a family vacation with our little family unit….Lars, Bjorn and I set our sights on Glen Arbor, Michigan–a town off famous M-22 in the Leelanau Peninsula.  It is a favorite of ours in all seasons, and since winter is relatively “off” season, we were able to get a really nice hotel room at the Homestead Resort for not much more than a song.

Preparing for the trip had both Lars and I vocalizing concerns that we would all be bored out of our minds.  That Bjorn wouldn’t cooperate on any winter activities and we’d just be stuck in our hotel room watching “Rio” or “Cars 2” for the umpteenth time.    Two days into the trip and I can fully confirm that Bjorn is his father’s son and has taken to winter activities in Northern Michigan just like a child named Bjorn SHOULD take to winter activities in Northern Michigan.

We started out trip on Friday–a day, might I add, that they were predicting we get 5 to 8 inches of snow in Ann Arbor and that the entire state would be covered in blue on the map.  This only partially came to fruition–we did get snow, but then it got up to 38 degrees and all melted. It was very slushy and not excellent driving conditions–but it was nothing the 4-runner and Lars couldn’t handle with panache (….because what doesn’t Lars handle with panache?  Oh.  Everything.  You’re right to be dubious there).   We made it up to Glen Arbor around 6ish and checked into our lovely room with a lovely fireplace.  Lovely–expectations were met.

On Saturday when the sun rose, we realized we were steps from the ski-lift.  Truly–if your gauge is a toddler’s patience and you realize that Bjorn can walk to the ski lift in his ski boots from the door of our lovely fireplace wielding room–then you will know how close we were.  Our plan of attack was to try a hike in the morning, let Bjorn nap, and then try skiing in the afternoon.  Ambitious?  Perhaps.  But we are the Jensens!  And this is winter!  And we are Up North!  …. and maybe we’re a little crackers.

Empire Bluffs was our first stop.  A decent one mile hike through the snow covered woods to a beautiful view of Lake Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.  We were armed with a sled, an applesauce packet, and some perserverence of the highest level.  It was a little tenuous at first–Bjorn doesn’t always like riding in the sled (and would prefer if mom ride in the sled with him while daddy pulls….sorry, Lars!).  He also does not like to walk in the snow all the time.  Some of the time-just not ALL the time.  So we negotiated and bargained our way through the ups and downs of the Empire Bluff Trail–Bjorn’s favorite part was when he could slide down an icy portion on his butt.  We did finally make it to the end–and it was a beautiful stormy day with waves in Lake Michigan and steely gray sky contrasted with the white of Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.  Why describe it when you can see for yourself.

Bjorn's Personal Sherpa (aka, Dad)

The return trip seemed a lot shorter.  Isn’t that always the case, no matter where you’re hiking?  Bjorn was a champion. No, really.  Lars and I were so proud of him for finishing his winter hike in the woods.  He won’t be voted off the island any time soon.

Skiing was up next.  Now THIS we truly had no idea how Bjorn would do but had let ourselves make our expectations truly small.  At one point, we rationalized that even just getting him in his skis would be a small victory.  Oh, that kid sure showed us what’s up.  With Lars holding Bjorn in between his own skis they have gone down almost every single run at the resort (to be fair–it is a small resort–but it is PERFECT for the beginning skiier.  Not crowded at all and some nice little green runs with beautiful views of Lake Michigan).   You guys–he did two runs on the bunny hill and then was ready to go with daddy up the chairlift.  His first time on the chairlift his ski fell off about five seconds in–and then his second ski fell off somewhere in the middle.  Lars had to ski (while holding my thirty pound scando-baby-chubba-chunk) down the blue run and locate both skis before they could try in earnest.  The next run was a much better success.  I can’t tell you how proud of a mama I was watching my little guy bravely tackle something so new and foreign to him.  Just watching him come down the mountain with such a big smile on his face—dare I say it was “precious”?  Lars has gotten him skiing by himself a little bit.  He is a natural–but anyone who’s seen Lars ski before will know that it had to be that way.  Its in the genes.

Bjorn Conquers the Bunny Hill

We all had a well deserved burger and macaroni & cheese at Art’s Tavern that night and it was amazing.  A-MAZING.  There’s something about good food after a long day out and about in the snow. So gratifying.

On Sunday we just kept up with the skiing and Bjorn was as enthusiastic as ever.  About two hours checked off in the morning and another two in the afternoon.  It is safe to say he is his father’s son.

All photos of our trip can be found here.

We left back for Ann Arbor on Monday morning (not before we ate again at Art’s the night before.  Sweet, delicious, burgers).  Bjorn had seemed fine all morning–although he was a little bit whiny over the fact that we were leaving “Bjorn’s Cabin”.   Somewhere in between Leland and Glen Arbor he threw up all over himself.  Wut?  Well–I guess we can say thanks for not doing it at the beginning of the trip–but we did have an awfully long car ride back to the southeast portion of the state with a car that semi-smelled like vomit.  Lovely.  We also ended up passing Santorum’s bus as we were traveling the day before the Michigan Republican Primary and Romney and Santorum were barnstorming in the state.  Ugh.  Evil.

Bjorn has since been diagnosed with pneumonia.  To assuage our guilt, Lars and I did a thorough Google search on if we could have possibly harmed him by letting him ski in Glen Arbor and we came up with nothing ….We’re not doctors but we hope were not the cause of his illness via our parenting methods.  If there’s anything I’ve learned about the immune systems of toddlers, its their their vulnerability is a moving target.

Now we’re just getting ready for Nonni’s big trip out to Michigan next Wednesday!  Bjorn is so excited that Nonni is visiting from San Diego.  He is especially excited that she gets to travel on a plane to get here.