August 26, 2011

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

I don't use my slow cooker that much. The recipes I used in the past were really heavy. This recipe changes all that and gives me confidence to try more. If you want an easy, healthy, tasty dinner recipe that even your kids will like, here ya go.

Note: There are a million versions of recipes with this same name, but this is the one I like :) It is very adaptable to substitutions with what you have. Don't have salsa? Use a can of diced tomatoes. You get the idea.

Salsa Chicken
1.5 lbs. chicken breast (can use fresh, frozen, etc)
1 jar salsa
1/4 cup water
1 can black beans
1 pkg frozen corn
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregeno
1 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper

toppings: (optional)
shredded cheese
shredded lettuce
diced avocado

Put chicken in slow cooker and pour all the other ingredients on top. Give it all a good stir and make sure chicken is covered. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Shred chicken with forks.

When its close to dinnertime, cook some rice (brown is best). Top with salsa chicken mix and toppings.

Instead of rice, you could put this on top of a salad or in a tortilla. Enjoy!

August 25, 2011

Summer Phone Photos

While we are out and about a lot this summer (thank you awesome August weather), I take a lot of quick pictures with my phone. I finally loaded them all on my computer so here you go!

Farmer's market (Lexi & Marcus) 

Lexi in our backyard

Zara in Yakima

mama + stroller

stroller babies

post-run bliss

Maryam - berry picking partner

fill that bucket

new shoes at Nordstrom

OMSI (science museum)

Lexi - "give me a cookie"

Kyle, Zara, Lexi

Zara - "give me that phone, I know how to use it"

August 22, 2011

14 Months

My babies are in their 14th month and really becoming little people. It seems like we spent the first year taking care of them and meeting their needs and now, in the second year, we are really getting to know them. There were plenty of snuggles in that first year and I loved having babies, but my little toddlers are so much fun! With each passing month, I say "this is my favorite age!" about each new stage.

A&Z both started walking on the same day - are they twins or something? They were taking steps around 12 months, but actually started walking everywhere around 13.5 months. We bought their first pair of real walking shoes this month. I was surprised that Lexi is a full shoe size bigger than Zara (5.5 vs. 4.5) considering she is only slightly bigger.

A says dada, mama, shoes, purse, more, up, book, hi and bye bye. Z says dada, mama, up, hi and bye bye. They now repeat a lot of words and understand most of what we say (uh oh for us). If I mention "shoes" or "go" they both run to the door and bang on the door to go. Its great to be able to communicate more with them. I am much happier with less whining and more talking!

They switched to one nap per day last week. Now they take a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon and continue to sleep 7-7 at night. Sometimes they sleep in until 7:30 or 8 and their parents throw a party! Switching to one nap freed up a lot more of the day to get out and about. We are taking full advantage of the awesome weather by hitting up parks, splash pads, the library, OMSI, the Children's Museum and anything else we can think of. Trader Joe's and Costco fill in the entertainment gaps. They love going out and are usually happy wherever we go. I am such a proud mama when people comment on how nice and well behaved they are. They can definitely be rowdy toddlers, but we hope to raise thoughtful, kind kids so its such a better compliment than "they are so cute". We think they are cute too though :)

Zara and Lexi are pretty easy to take out to eat because they eat just about everything. Our family frequents the likes of Baja Fresh, Chipotle, Spaghetti Factory, Red Robin and Sweet Tomatoes these days, but at least we are getting out! I picked lots of berries this summer so the girls are gobbling them up like crazy and I replenished our stock of homemade jam.

Lexi love to shake her head and laugh when we say "shake it". She is very outgoing and friendly, happily ditching mom for new friends wherever we go. She is a little daredevil who likes climbing to the top of big slides and going down all by herself. Strong-willed, she gives me a mischievous smile when she knows she is doing something wrong as if to say, "I am testing you right now, what are you going to do?" Its so cute, its hard not to laugh. She loves to test boundaries and thinks "no" is an invite. Lexi is our fashion maven - she loves clothes, hats, purses and jewelry.

Zara is a happy, inquisitive, little girl. She loves sitting inside tents and tunnels and "hiding". When I ask them to sit in their chairs to eat, she hides under the table with a huge grin on her face for me to come find her. During a road-trip stop at McDonalds, she proudly climbed to the very top of the tube play structure (daddy had to go fish her out). She has learned to stand up to Lexi and hold onto toys tightly if she doesn't want to lose them. Zara is really attached to her white bear (a FLATOUT bear made of Australian sheepskin that my relatives from Australia gave the girls) and often wants to stay in her crib and cuddle with her bear instead of getting up. Lexi has a pink version of the bear that she also sleeps with, but Zara really loves hugging and holding all stuffed animals.

The girls have started sympathy crying which I could really do without, but I guess that's what twins do. When Zara is protesting her diaper change, Lexi will join in the whining/crying until its done. They are ganging up on me! We love watching them play and talk on the video monitor before they go to sleep for naps and when they wake up in the morning - they are so close and happy together, its a thrill to watch their bond grow.

Raising twins is exhausting and tiring, but we love our girls so much and continue to feel super blessed!

August 19, 2011

Silly Girls

Lexi is obsessed with hats or anything she can turn into a hat and put on her head. The hat she has in the video is a traditional greek fisherman hat that my mom gave to Marcus. Lexi is getting way more use out of it. What a goofy girl.

Greek Fisherman Hat from Natalie Shirzad on Vimeo.

This one shows how much they are walking now and also how much Lexi is saying "hi". Gets really funny at the end as you see how their sister relationship is developing :)

14 months from Natalie Shirzad on Vimeo.

August 17, 2011

Out and About with Toddlers in Portland

The littles are babies no more. I compiled this list of all of the places we go to get out of the house and explore. Obviously, this is targeted to things close to where we live (SW Portland, Tigard, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Tualatin, etc). Please comment to let me know if I'm missing anything awesome! 

Tigard Library Story time
Tuesdays 10:30am – 11:00am and 11:30am – 12:00am
First session fills up fast – need to get there early.

Tualatin Library Story time
Tuesdays 10:00am – 10:30am

9:30am – 7:00pm
Science Playground is on 2nd floor. We have an annual family membership.

Oregon Zoo
9:00am – 5:00pm
Kids under 3 are free.  2nd Tuesday of the month is $4/adult.

Children’s Museum
10:00am – 4:00pm

Tigard Indoor Play Park
Mon/Tues/Fri 9:30am – 12:00am
$5/ per family

Pump in Up Junior – Beaverton (Toddler Pop-in Play)
Thurs 10:00am – 12:00pm, Fri 9:30am – 12:00pm
$5/per child under 2; socks required

Munchkin Playland – Beaverton
8:00am – 5:00pm
$6/ child, $3/sibling
Café w/ large play area

West End Building Indoor Playground – Lake Oswego
Mon/Wed/Fri 9:30am – 11:30am
$2/child, $1/sibling

Jurgens Park – Tualatin
Sand/water play area – bring extra clothes

Murase Plaza/Memorial Park – Wilsonville
Water play area – bring swimsuits and extra clothes. Parking at library is closest to water area.

Ibach Park – Tualatin
Large, award-winning playground

August 8, 2011

Water Park

We took the girls to a fun water park in Wilsonville Saturday. They both LOVE water! You will also see that they are both walking now. They were taking steps for the last couple months, but starting two weeks ago, walking is the preferred mode of transportation.

Zara at Murase Park from Natalie Shirzad on Vimeo.

Lexi at Murase Park from Natalie Shirzad on Vimeo.

August 5, 2011

Friday Favorites

Whoo hoo for Friday. I want to share a few of my recent favorite finds. Its the little things in life that make it all worth it sometimes.

Sandwich Thins

This bread is awesome. All four of us love it for any kind of sandwiches. It has a great filling to bread ratio. The lower calories are really just a bonus. Good thing we get it at Costco because we are eating a lot of this bread lately.

Master Chef

This summer's guilty pleasure. We love watching Gordon get fired up after the kiddos go to bed. Always makes me hungry though. You should watch next Monday and Tuesday.

Water Table

Now that summer is finally here, this water table is getting lots and lots of use. The girls have been playing with it for the last few months, but now it is a daily event. I set it up near the patio chair so I can daydream and relax. I don't even mind all the splashing because it helps me cool off.

Happy Weekend!

August 3, 2011

School's Out

I'm singing my own "School's Out" song these days. You know, the classic, No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers dirty looks! Except my version goes like this:

No more formula, no more bottles, no more annoying pumping parts!

It feels like a big adios to babyhood. I stopped breast-feeding and pumping at 6 months, we stopped formula and switched to cow milk at 1 year and now we are done with bottles. A&Z had been down to two bottles per day for a while now - one in the morning when they woke-up and one just before bedtime. They were already drinking milk out of their sippy cups during the day. In late June, we dropped the bedtime bottle and later in July we dropped the morning bottle. It was no big deal to them and makes life so much simpler.

I am beyond excited to pack up all those bottles and simplify life. Can I get a hallalujah?

Ok, now that these girls are walking and we ditched the bottles, I guess they are toddlers? My babies are growing up...