Chocolate Zucchini Cake

I’ve been searching for a great cake/cupcake recipe for Liam’s birthday. In recent weeks I’ve tried a few, and although Liam thinks they’re great as long as they’re drowned in frosting, all previous cakes have gotten an ehh reaction from me. Not bad, but definitely not as good as “real cake.” But today, ladies and gentlemen, we have success.

I found this recipe for a Chocolate Zucchini Cake while browsing the internet looking for just such a thing. Chocolate and zucchini, you ask? I would’ve questioned it a week ago, too; that was before I ran into rave reviews of chocolate and beetroot cake. If you can put beets in a cake, surely the humble zucchini would have its place as well.

Obviously I veganized the recipe, replacing the butter with a vegan alternative, the milk with soy milk, and the eggs with two very ripe bananas. I also left out the walnuts, simply to make the recipe more child-friendly. I also used bulk Splenda instead of sugar. For frosting I used canned — Duncan Hines Homestyle, which is surprisingly vegan. Obviously the frosting job here is haphazard — I’ll try to put a little more effort into it when I make these Monday evening for the upcoming big event.

Verdict: 6 thumbs up! That’s two from each of us, obviously. And Liam never knew he was eating a (gasp!) vegetable. Hmmm, should I try spinach cake next?

A couple days in the life

You know, it hardly seems fair to Liam that I only seem to blog about him throwing temper tantrums and refusing to eat. Ninety percent of the time, he’s super-ultra-cute boy, doing adorable things and utterly charming everyone he meets. So I thought I’d write about what a pleasure it has been to have him around the last few days.

About a week or so ago we got Liam his very own alarm clock. Of sorts. Here’s a picture of it (not mine, off a website), in-line, so everyone can see;

At night, the lower half is dimly lit and he can see the bunny sleeping in his bed. We control what time the bunny “wakes up.” It didn’t take Liam long to catch on, and now he waits in his room until the bunny gets up before getting us up. It was kind of pricey, and yet priceless. Before the clock, Liam would get up any time between 5:30 and 6:30, generally. We started with the clock set for 6:45, and we’re moving it in increments of five minutes up to 7AM. And he comes running in to us, so excited that he stayed in his bed the whole night, and that he knows it’s okay to get up now. I must admit, I delayed getting it because I thought it might be a little hokey and gimmicky; during my month of hemming and hawing over it I bet I lost between thirty and fifty hours of sleep. So glad we did. Aside from us getting that extra sleep, Liam’s getting his, too, and his disposition later in the day has really improven.

Yesterday Liam and I made oatmeal “cookies” — and I use that term very loosely. There were going to be an entry on the vegan blog, showing how you can bake and experience the same luscious niblets without using butter and eggs and milk; and you CAN, except this baking experiment failed miserably. So, no vegan entry, but you get a shot of Liam being entertaining.

That’s the tamper to my blender-to-the-Gods, the mighty Vitamix 5000. Someday I’ll write an entry solely devoted to that wondrous machine. Anyway, as I said, that’s the tamper to my blender. But in Liam’s hands, it has become a LIGHT SABER. Where he came up with that idea, I have no idea, because up until that point I don’t think he’d ever seen Star Wars. But he was brandishing it around the kitchen with all the skill of a true Jedi, even making appropriate bjooom noises. Naturally, he refused to stand up for the picture, but you should have seen him. After we finished baking, he and I traipsed around the house, using the force to fight off the bad guys.

No, I did not make that up.

This is Liam tonight, shortly before bed. Sorry about the color combination. He had on jeans earlier, but took an unfortunate tumble in our extremely wet yard today.

Hey, buddy, where’s your hand?

Burger Battles: the winner

I have been extremely lax in my posting on our vegan blog lately. I’ve been pretty busy, but that isn’t the reason. We also have not fallen off the vegan wagon. Instead, being vegan is no longer this new, unusual, slightly bizarre thing in our lives to write home about. It’s just the norm. Still, I pestered J to get this blog up and operational, so I’d better make use of it.

We have a winner in the “best burger” category. I’d love to say it was some fabulous recipe I found in one of my multiple cookbooks, or on a friend’s blog. But I’d be lying. Our grocery store finally started carrying a vegan Boca Burger. It’s quick, simple, holds its shape, and tastes great every time. I make a mean mayonnaise (from How it all Vegan) — and we can really dress these up. Whole grain buns, mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, ketchup, pickles, and mustard. Mmmmmmm….

On a side note, you wouldn’t believe how long it took me to figure out how to get this image to show to the left of the text, and to have a little space between the text and the image. Over an HOUR. What can I say… you have to take time for the important things in life.

You know it's been a bad day when…..

your son pukes on the floor, and you don’t even feel bad for him.


It’s been a hellish couple of days around here. Both Jesse ande I have used up our last shreds of patience with our “bundle of joy.” His favorite word right now is NO, usually said extremely vehemently right in Jesse’s face. His next favorite is GOD DAMMIT, used with remarkable precision. Heaven help me when he strings the two together. His favorite activity is refusing to put on his clothes. Play clothes, school clothes, jammies, it doesn’t matter. If I want him to get changed, he’ll fight me to the death to assert his own will. There are also a dozen other things I could fill this paragraph with, but you get the point.

Oh, yeah, this morning his teacher told me that two of his classmates are out with chicken pox. Great. Liam has been vaccinated for the dreaded pox, so hopefully it’ll bypass him or just be a small case. He is a little sick right now, but I think it’s just a general bug. Runny nose, and that’s about it. Oh, yeah, and his incredibly mean temper!

Next week Liam’s on vacation because of Carnival. Carnival is a wild holiday festivity during the two weeks prior to Lent — kind of let’s get it all out of our systems now because we’ve got to be good til Easter kind of thing. At school they made wavy baton thingies and masks. Here are a couple shots of Liam brandishing his weapon — errr, baton.

This evening I made mushroom stroganoff. Jesse and I thought it was pretty good. Even Liam happily ate the pasta and sauce (ha! he didn’t know it was made with tofu and therefore contained protein and therefore part of a balanced meal!); however, he’s suddenly decided he hates peas. Yesterday we had peas, too, and he gobbled up every single one on his plate. Tonight it was like they were poison to his young body. I told him he had to eat at least one pea if he wanted to have a snack. He “tried,” and ended up puking up most of his supper. Of course, he dribbled on his shirt, so I had to get him into new clothes. To see how that went, refer to paragraph one.

When he was back to being his sweet, normal self (or so we thought), Jesse got out his violin and played for us. Liam wanted to help, and J let him have a go at it. Liam loved it!! I wish I’d gotten more pics, but the battery was dying in the camera so I made it quick.

See the joy on his face? Ahhh, if only moments like these would last. Unfortunately, less than a minute later we were all three having a knockdown/dragout kind of fight, as Liam decided it would be fun to wrench the bow away from Jesse and destroy it with his demonic little claws.

I include this because of the absolutely evil grin and gleam in his eyes. FYI, we have a great photo tool that takes care of red eye in EVERY situation, but I can’t remove this. Does anyone know a good exorcist?


As seems to be the norm, when I have the time to write, there’s nothing to say. This last week has been full of things I’m sure you’d all like to hear about, and as a result I’ve had no time to sit down and record it all. Now that we have a reprieve, half of it is gone from my memory, but I’ll fill you in as best I can.

Big snowstorms in NNY, making me both homesick and incredibly glad I don’t have to put up with feet and feet of the white stuff any more….
Some white stuff of our own, probably a whole half an inch; Liam found it pretty exciting, though….
Jesse’s grandfather had a little fight with a bout of pneumonia; he won, and Bonnie’s nursing home is helping him get his strength built back up before going home….
Jesse’s retirement present arrived — an Omega Speedmaster X-33; that really means very little to me, but apparently if you’re a watch connoisseur like Jesse, you’re pretty impressed right now….
more impressive is that Liam started counting last week — in French; he can make it to seven with no prompting, ten if you give him a little nudge…
NATO finally gave Jesse an official offer (which he obviously accepted), so that one in a million chance of things not working out has been ousted….
he’s got some time off between jobs, so we’ve decided to take Liam to Disneyland Paris for the better part of a week in March….
after years of putting it off, we have joined the dreaded iPod craze; I got the simple iPod Shuffle, and Jesse got the original iPod. Happy Valentine’s Day to us!

That’s all I can think of at the moment. I’ll leave you with some pictures of Liam being silly.

HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I crack myself up, Mom!

another month down

Just q quick post to tell our public that the littlest Ohlsson is alive and kicking. I know, for I saw him do some all-over body twitching. Heartbeat going strong, he’s making me feel silly for all the worrying I’ve done over the last few weeks. I’ve been taken off restricted activity and can begin to taper off of the progesterone supplements. Yeah! That means I can rebuild some of my strength and stamina that have waned after a month of taking it easy, and that my nausea is nearly behind me.

Here’s an ultrasound scan for you, although you really can’t see much. The black represents fluid — that’s the bag full of amniotic fluid. He’s the graying/white blob in the middle of the black. Not the best resolution, but what do you expect? In reality, he’s about the size of a large grape. The dotted line across the middle of the scan tracks from his head on the left to his butt on the right.

Next month’s scan should give much better pictures, so lets all cross our fingers and toes and all that jazz. My next appointment is March 2nd.

Report Card Time – post 2

3. Discovering the World

(I’m surprised by the lack of grades in this part, as he knows most of this cold. This must be one of the areas that the teacher is waiting for his French to improve to be able to grade)

Understands the concepts of cycles (day/night,….)
Understands morning, afternoon, evening
Understands the concept of “now”
Differentiates between before, after, and today
Knows spatial principles (in front of, behind; inside, outside)
Understands objects and their movements in relation to oneself
Organizes objects according to forms (circular, square)
Can compare and arrange objects according to size
Recognizes collections of the same number
Can count to….
Can count at least 3 objects
Understands simple relationships – 3
Applies simple techniques (assembles, activates, sticks (glues, maybe?) – 3
Engages in construction play – 3
Understands an objects usage (scissors, knife!!!!!, keys) – 1
Knows the smells and tastes of certain items
Understands tactile differences (hot/cold, rough/smooth)
Recognizes elements in the beeping (??????????) world
Knows his primary colors – 1
Understands basic hygiene (washes hands, etc.) – 3
Knows his body parts
Familiar with different animals
Understands household risks (electricity, hot water, light bulbs) – 3

4. Live Together

Wants to learn and shows curiosity – 1
Listens attentively
Is attentive for longer activities
Does the work of the term – 4
Names the other kids
Knows the different adults in the school
At ease in class
Integrates into the rhythm of the school day
Integrates into the class – 1
Plays with others – 1
Shares toys, takes part in activities – 1
Respects his work and the work of others – 1
Respects the rules of the class and the school — 1

(So, he works well with others and is not the class bully and/or troublemaker, but as you can tell by the “4” mark, he’s not terribly interested in doing the schoolwork. Bonnie, do you think he’s bored?)

5. Sensibility, Imagination, and Creation

Draws and paints gladly – 3
Can explain what he wants to create
Uses the shapes, colors, and materials expressively
Create something with intent (use dough to make a model) – 3
Cooperates in a group project
Participates in vocal activities
Identifies familiar noises and instruments
Remembers and can perform movements to songs, etc.
Remembers 10 nursery rhymes, 10 songs

6. Body Language and Expression

Participates, with confidence, in group activities – 1
Shows respect, listens, cooperates – 1
Walk, run, jump, climb – 3
Roll, crawl, jump, etc. – 3
Takes risks – 1 (great)
Expresses himself with his body (mimes, dances) – 1
Participates in simple group play – 1

Overall, we’re pretty pleased with Liam’s first report card. I expect over this next term his French will vastly improve, and we’ll see most of these blanks filled in. The artistic side, though, may be a lost cause!

Report Card Time – post 1

Today when we dropped Liam off at school the teacher had his report card ready. Apparently the kids in the maternelle are given two report cards a year: one for the period September to January, one for February to June. I’m painstakingly (very painstakingly) translating his card for you and all of posterity. After all, Harvard may need this information in a few years.

So far I only have one page (of 3.5) translated. The kids are marked on a scale of 1 to 4

1 — skill acquired
2 — skill needs reinforcing
3 — beginning to aquire
4 — not acquired yet

For the most part, Liam seems to be doing quite well. As you can expect, anything that requires language comprehension is coming a little slow. His teacher didn’t grade him on certain things, as there is simply no way she can evaluate. For example, one of the categories asks for him to be able to sing or recite about ten songs or nursery rhymes. He probably knows dozens, but he can’t demonstrate this in French, and she can’t evaluate it in English.

One area Liam really needs improvement in is his pencil/artsy-fartsy skills. He doesn’t care, doesn’t like to do it, and his grades reflect that. I seem to recall getting an “N” in third grade (needs improvement) for my penmanship. I was scandalized at this failing grade, but I can’t say it motivated me to do any better. There’s a reason you never get handwritten letters from me, and trust me, it’s not because I can’t find the time. It’s because you couldn’t read them. Methinks my boy might be headed down the same path.

So here’s the translation of the first page of his report card.

Understands and responds to an adult’s questions: 3
Beginning to speak: 3
Participates in a small group setting: 1
Participates in a large group setting: 1
Expresses his preferences: 3
Makes himself understood (asks for help, etc.): 3
Actively participates in the “rituals” (????): 3
Corrects his pronounciation when directed: 4
Understands and follows the class: 3
Articulates himself and pronounces correctly: 1
Uses a precise vocabulary: no grade
Uses simple but correct sentences: 1
recites at least 10 rhymes or songs: no grade

Recognizes and handles a book correctly: 1
Enjoys the library corner: 1
Asks to be read aloud to: no grade
Responds to questions about a book
he just listened to: no grade
Shows preference for right or left hand: no grade
Holds and correctly uses pencils, crayons, etc.: 4
Copy/trace simple shapes (circles, etc.): 3

I have to sign this and hand it back in by Monday, so I’ll let you know the rest as I get it translated.