Posted by casey on August 31, 2010 in Caden, Caden's Chronicles

I just can’t seem to sit down and get our baby’s 6 Month, 1/2 Birthday, He’s Getting So Big Post Done.  Each day it is on the top of my To-Do List and each day it still sits there.  I have so many good stories from this month, and pictures but alas, there it sits.  August 27th came and went, Caden partied hard and here we sit, still with no update.

So I leave you with this little morsel of goodness until I hop to it.

Motorboat Mouth.  One of the many tricks I have to tell you about Caden learning during this past month.


Read With Me II – Book Announcement!

Posted by casey on August 27, 2010 in On My Nightstand, Read With Me

It was close friends, one vote close.

The winner of our Read With Me Round Two Book contest is….

“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson

It appears we all will be finally figuring out what everyone is talking about.  Then after reading it you can decide if you would like to read the rest of the trilogy! I promise that we will not be reading all three books together.  I’m just going to get you started on this first one!!!

You officially have two weeks to snag your copy and send an email to lifeofthekazmanns@gmail.com to tell me that you are in or leave me a lovely comment. :)  Our first reading assignment will be posted on Friday, September10th with some starter discussion questions just like last time!  In case you are new to Read With Me, this is how it works; Each week I will post our discussion topics, just a few questions that you can either comment on here or send your responses to that same email address.  After the discussion topics are listed, there will also be the reading assignment for the following week. New reading assignments will be posted on Fridays so that you will hopefully set aside a small amount of time before bed on the weekend to read and then have the week to ponder the topics! Once we have finished the book, the amount of weekly topics you worked on will be the number of times you are entered for the gift card.

Not clear? Check out this example from our first round of Read With Me!

Go get your copy, comment or send me an email at lifeofthekazmanns@gmail.com to tell me that you are in, and look for your first reading assignment to come on Friday, September 10th!
(Keep checking back for a Promotions Contest to grow our reading group and win a Barnes & Noble gift card!)



Posted by casey on August 23, 2010 in Caden, Family, Snapshots

They may burp, fart, have lifetime addictions to video games and be incapable of loading a dishwasher…

But they also occasionally snuggle and steal kisses.

Sweet Daddy’s Boy!


The Art of Racing – The Finish Line!!!

Posted by casey on August 20, 2010 in On My Nightstand, Read With Me

We did it! Yes we took our time, sure we could have gone faster, but we did it!  Round One of Read With Me was successfully completed and I am so pleased that we chose “The Art of Racing in the Rain” as our first book.  This book allowed all of us I think to get that glimpse into our pet’s brain that we have been wishing for!  I think one lesson we can all take away from this is loyalty.  We know that dogs are “supposed” to be loyal but this novel showed it.  It allowed us to see it and feel the reason and purpose behind all of the actions our furry friends take to make us feel loved.  We should all strive to be as loyal and loving as Enzo.  Yes, we all should be more like a dog.  That dog.  Instead of continuing to ramble on and on and on about a novel we all now know and love, how about some standard, wrapping it up questions?

1. Favorite “Enzo” moment?  Was it the crows?  Driving in the car? Playing with Zoe?  Tell us what you just couldn’t get enough of and why!

2. What quality in Garth Stein’s writing brought this novel to life for you?

3. Your reaction to meeting little Enzo.

4. What emotion did you feel the most during this novel and why?

5. And the standard….would you recommend The Art of Racing in the Rain to a friend?  Why is it, or is it not worth the read?

Feeling lost???  Don’t worry, you can jump in with us at any time.  So go grab your copy, catch up on Week One, Week Two, Week Three , Week Four, Week Five , Week Six and read with us!

** Don’t forget, you only have One Week Left to cast your vote for Read With Me Round Two! **

Congratulations to Lindsay who won our “participation” contest for this first group together! Your Barnes and Noble gift card (which you could conveniently use to purchase our next book) will be in the mail shortly. :)


Roooooaaaaaadddddd Trip!

Posted by casey on August 18, 2010 in Caden, Caden's Chronicles, Escaping Home, Family

A couple of weekends ago, we finally had a reason to strap Caden into his torture device also known as a carseat for a lengthy period of time….five hours to be exact.  We haven’t been avoiding a road trip with him necessarily, we are just blessed to have one set of his grandparents here as well as an Auntie and Uncle.  Since, my Dad flies in from Florida and his other grandparents are in Dallas, his other cousins, Aunties and Uncles often come to him.  We like to say we paid our dues pre-Caden traveling to see the others and now it is being paid forward! :)

However, Colter’s Aunt and Uncle were celbrating 40 years of marriage and we think that reaching such a milestone is definitely a beautiful thing worth gathering for and we were not going to miss the party.  Plus, since the party was in Houston, this means we got to test out our kiddo in the car.  Some of you are cringing.  Mainly the ones that had the child that did nothing but scream in the car as a young’n but we had faith in our bundle of joy.

We tried to time it as best we could so that the first leg of the trip would fall when his lengthy afternoon nap usually takes place.  On top of that though, we decided to really put him to the test by taking him to Cathryn’s 2nd Birthday Party before strapping him in.  You know, we like to get him really overwhelmed and pushed to the limits when trying new things :).  We changed him, kissed him, locked him in, said a prayer and hit the road.

What did he do?  Slept.  For three hours.  Snored really.
Now you are thinking, that we had two hours left and it was a nightmare right?  He woke up, let out a few moans to let me know he was lonely and wanting his meal right on the dot.  So I climbed on back, gave him his milk via bottle and said another prayer.  What did he do?  He played.  He played and talked actually.  Chatted away to his elephant toy for an hour and a half. Content as a clam. ( I never understood that…why would clams be happy?  Is it because they are all cozied up in their shell?)  I know you don’t believe me, so see for yourself.

Our angel baby continued to be an angel, even for five hours in the car.

It was wonderful to arrive in Houston to spend time with his cousins, aunties, uncles, grandparents and great aunts/uncles without being a wreck from a stressful drive.  We might as well not of even had him in the car!  He partied, played, slept just the same and for the most part could have cared less that he was somewhere new.  He seemed to enjoy looking around, and would notice he was in a new bedroom, look at us and then get over it.  Caden seems to have the same outlook on life as his dad – “I’m healthy, you are healthy.  I am fed. I’m safe and I am with those who love me. What is there to complain about?”

Not a bad outlook to have.

It was a whirlwind trip as we had to head back to Houston the next day.  As we put Caden back in the car 24 hours aftert his first trip we thought we might be pushing our luck.  Turns out, he was worn out from all of the excitement of the weekend and slept for four hours.  A nice, long, soothing nap.  So, the nice part is we weren’t traumatized into never wanting to take him for a road trip again, although getting everything together and the effort of it all is exhausting for us! Hopefully we will be this fortunate everytime, but we definitely enjoyed getting to see everyone and test it all out.


Yes Peas!

Posted by casey on August 17, 2010 in Caden, Caden's Chronicles

He did not say “Yes please” in toddler talk of “Yes peas.”  He did not thank us politely when it was over.  He didn’t even ask for it to begin with which is surely what he was thinking.  He wanted his milk, I’m sure of it.


 Poor kid.

His never-ending milk meal extravaganza was rudely interrupted this week.
Not only was it interrupted, but the culprit…..peas!
I don’t blame you Caden, no one wants sweet pea puree for dessert.  No one.
I did make it home made and fresh though.  Do I get any brownie points there?
No? Okay, I still can’t blame you. Peas. Yuck!

I cannot believe he is eating food! Okay, mush.  But still. 
He might as well be asking for a burger and a beer.


Read With Me Round Two! – Cast Your Vote

Posted by casey on August 16, 2010 in On My Nightstand, Read With Me

As our first Read With Me book is coming to a close with this week being our last assignment and just one reflection left, I have been naturally searching for what will be next.  Since I am having trouble deciding and you are going to be right there reading with me, I thought you should have some say too!

So, you have until Friday, August 27th to cast your vote for which book you would like to read for Read With Me Round Two! Our new book will be announced the following day and just like in Round One, you will have two weeks to get the book. Our first assignment will start on August 10th. (That gives you “Art of Racing” readers a week off before we start up again :) )  All you have to do, is email your vote to lifeofthekazmanns@gmail.com with Read With Me Vote as the subject.

Now, for the finalists and what their book jackets reveal as well as links to the books so you can really get a good look! ( I know how we all like to check out the covers.)

1. Little Bee by Chris Cleave

“We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book.  It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it.  Nevertheless, you need to know enough just to buy it, so we will say just this: This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice, the kind of choice we hope you never have to face. Two years later, they meet again – the story starts there…”

The magic is in how the story unfolds.

“Immensely readable and moving, and affecting story of human triumph.” – NY Times Book Review

“One of the most vividly memorable and provocative characters in recent contemporary fiction…Cleave paces the story beautifully, lacing it with wit, compassion and, even at the darkest moments, a searing ray of hope.” – Boston Globe

2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

” Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family sage, love story and financial intrigue into a complex and atmospheric novel.

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago.  All these years later her aged Uncle continues to seek the truth.  He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction to investigate.  He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander.  Together they tap into a vein of iniquity and corruption.”

“A blazing literary sensation.  This dark hearted thriller is now poised to burn up bestseller lists in America.” – Vanity Fair

To Vote: Email your vote to lifeofthekazmanns@gmail.com with Read With Me Vote as the subject.
Voting Ends on Friday, August 27th at 4 p.m.


The Monday Gesture

Posted by casey on August 16, 2010 in Caden, For Your Funny Bone, Snapshots

Already a master of the subtle hand gesture. 

Slightly more obscure than the scratch of the eyebrow, but with his Dad having to return to work after a weekend of snuggles he has something to say about Mondays!


Italian Night – Chicken Caprese Calzones

Posted by casey on August 15, 2010 in In The Kitchen, The Main Show

Have you become the family with schedules theme nights yet?  Neither have I. Thank goodness.  Not yet.  I see it in my future though, when there is a soccer team’s worth of children running around here and I haven’t been able to shower for three days and you could snow ski through the dust.  So much to look forward to!  I have already digressed. 

Recently, I told you about this basic baked chicken recipe that is really quite worthless unless you are chopping it up into something.  Well, you guessed it, I chopped it up into something hence sharing the mediocre Baked Chicken recipe with you to begin with.

There is something about a Caprese salad in the spring and summer that is so refreshing.  Maybe you make a simple appetizer of tomato slices, mozzarella, fresh basil and balsamic.  Maybe you spice it up by replacing the tomato with cantaloupe!  Either way you can’t go wrong with an appetizer like those for just you or a group of friends.  Well, we turned the flavors of that appetizer into a meal, simple enough!

Chicken Caprese Calzones
Pizza Dough
** Now, you can either make your own dough which is a whole other post because my recipe involves yeast and rising and all that business. (Pioneer Woman has a wonderful recipe too!) If you are in a hurry, you can buy a Pillsbury pizza dough at the store.  Either works fine, but a home-made dough just does something special to them!**
Basic Baked Chicken
** You can make a simple baked chicken like the link takes you to, or again, another shortcut for a busy school night meal…shred up a Rotisserie Chicken.  The baked chicken will cook and be ready by the time you assemble the other ingredients though.**
2-3 chopped Roma Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons fresh Basil
1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 Cup Parmesan
1/4 Cup Olive Oil

1. Preheat your oven to 400 Degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with baking spray.
2. Roll out your pizza dough to 1/2 inch thickness and then cut into squares.
3.Brush your dough with some of your olive oil for flavoring and then top each square with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

4. Add your chicken, tomatoes and basil.  Remember…it always looks like you won’t be able to fit it in there, but you will.  So go ahead and add another sprinkle!  This is when I like to add a little salt and pepper as well.

5. Fold you square over from one corner to the opposite to make a triangle.  Press the edges with your fingertips to seal.

6.Transfer to your baking dish and re-seal the edges using a fork this time for a decorative edge. Brush a little extra oil on the top of each calzone and then into the oven they go!

Bake for 10-15 minutes Until the Crust is a Golden Brown
Serve with some Spaghetti Sauce (Great -Use for that Leftover Sauce in Your Freezer) for Dipping and a Fresh Salad
These are Also Good Cold, so Pack A Leftover Calzone in Your Lunch!


The Art of Racing – Week Six

Posted by casey on August 13, 2010 in On My Nightstand, Read With Me

The Art of Racing – Week Four Reflection – Chapters 29-42

As this book draws to its end, I keep finding so much grace in it.  A humbling grace really.  The ease Denny seems to accept that this, Eve’s death and Zoe’s custody will be a long battle.  The gentleness Enzo handles his master with as he watches him suffer yet doesn’t allow him to stumble into a drunken stupor. (“Don’t judge me. That’s not your job. Your job is to support me, not judge me.”)  The sweetness in which Denny and Zoe simply acknowledge that they are both plain sad about Eve’s death.  No hysterics in the moment, no irrational reactions, just a kind embrace and a true emotion. Sad.

I think we all have most likely had the “What would I have done?” thought, or how could I have dealt with all of this and as with anything I think it is one of the many in the moment heartaches that you push through.  Enzo even poses the question to us on how much can one person take before breaking. Denny didn’t have a choice but to begin pushing through.  At least, that is what he told himself.  We all always have the option of the easy way out. The way of self-pity and weakness but to prevail and prove you are stronger takes a kind of grace we all should strive for.

These chapters also had many unbearable moments.  The family barricade keeping him from his wife’s funeral, Denny’s memory of his dew claws being cut, and Annika…oh how I knew that would come back to haunt him. I suppose we all knew though right.  That foreshadowing thing will get you every time!  Right there with the unbearable was the humor.  Enzo “sticking his paws in his ears” while receiving the hip dysplasia diagnosis he already knew he had and had been compensating for his whole life.  So sad, the hip dysplasia and the compensating to fit in, yet so funny his reaction.   Enzo admitting his love for Law and Order (I knew this dog and I were meant to be…a dog after my own TV heart!) and describing what he thinks Denny’s experience was like in those terms.  So sad Denny going through all of that, yet so hilarious Enzo accounting for it in TV drama words.

The grace Garth Stein has given to all of his characters and the grace he himself used in writing this book has allowed all of us to find our relation in the story.  Whether it is memories of loved ones or knowing that someone else out there has personified their pet, their feelings and their daily thoughts brings us together, straight to the end.


Reading Assignment : Week Six
– Chapters Forty Three – End
We will have one last discussion post that will be posted next Friday as usual!

Discussion Topics: There is just so much to talk about!

Respond to the below topics by either answering in the comments section, or emailing lifeofthekazmanns@gmail.com Either is fine, so go with your comfort!  Next Friday new discussion topics will be posted that will cover our last reading assignment!  This week they cover last week’s assignment!

1. “The one who drives smart will always win in the end.” How do you think Denny must play it smart upon hearing that his in-laws want custody of Zoe?

2.Denny’s Lawyer Part One:What was your first impression of Denny’s lawyer in Chapter 32?  Do you think what might be considered “personality flaws” helped him be a better lawyer, or the opposite?

Denny’s Lawyer Part Two: Denny’s lawyer has a problem with pronouns, only referring to people as “him, her, it” instead of making it personal.  Where do you see this happen in your everyday life, what is its effect and how could we (society) change it?

3.  I loved Enzo’s lesson on the concept of “Being alone is not the same thing as being lonely.”  (pg 198) How do you differentiate those two states of being for yourself? What makes you lonely as opposed to comfortably alone?

4.  Why do you think friends have such a difficult time just allowing one another to be upset/mad/depressed etc. as Denny’s friends do?  Why do you think there is a stigma in our world that says it isn’t okay to just be upset?

5.  Denny’s “tell sign” that he is stressed or upset are shaky hands. What is your “tell sign”?

6. What do you think Enzo going to see Zoe every week did to bridge the gap between father and daughter? 

** Discussion Challenge: **

After posting your responses return to the site throughout the week and post a comment responding to at least one other person.

Don’t worry, you can jump in with us at any time.  So go grab your copy, catch up on Week One, Week Two, Week Three , Week Four, Week Five and read with us!

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