Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's the Great Pumpkin Zach!

So I wasn't able to join Heidi, Zach, Grandma and Grandpa since I was sick. I was pretty let down about that for sure. As you can see from the pictures I missed out on a really fun time. Next year no matter what!

Also have some pics of Zach as a Bear for Halloween. He did an awesome job trick or treating for the first time. He just went along with the other kids. He was super particular whenever he was given the choice to pick the candy. He'd mull over his options even though he had no idea what any of it tasted like since we've never given him candy. I think he's had some once at daycare but that's it. So once he'd pick his candy he'd put it in his bucket and then pull out either a full size tootsie pop or a shiny three musketeers bar. He always had to have something in that other hand for some reason, he wouldn't even start for the next house unless he had secured a piece of candy in that other hand. The funny thing is he was asking for candy all day long. He finally gets some and doesn't say a word about eating any of it.

Also, the one picture with the fire truck was a total downer. Zach loves cars, trucks etc... He has a couple of fire trucks (one that's taller than him, thank you Grandpa) and gets really excited when he sees big trucks or heavy equipment. Well his daycare provider worked it out so that the Fire Dept. would come out to her house to give a demo of their suits, fire safety and then check out the rig. It was raining, Zach was wired and we went about helping him all wrong. He was upset goes out to the rig gets to sit and is totally jazzed. Problem is, he'd like to stay all day. This was me tearing him away from the fire truck. Good times.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Projects including another Guitar Hero Axe

So it's taken me months to do since I've had very little "free" time but I think it turned out pretty good. Some obvious mistakes but ones I can ultimately live with. For those of you who are unaware the one on the left is the new one I just made; a replica of Eddie Van Halen's "Frankenstein" guitar and the one on the right is Zakk Wylde's guitar "the grail".

Now I just need time to actually play the game...

The pumpkin was one of two that Heidi, Zach and Grandma and Grandpa picked up. Both were kept inside the house, one rotted (very unpleasant) this one was still good so we had Zach draw a bunch on the backside and then I carved out the frontside. Turned out okay for a super rush job. I think I had twenty minutes to do it start to finish.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Puerco Pibil (how to make your wife cry, yes, it's that good)

Most who know me, know that I love a good action flick. Couple of years ago Robert Rodriguez made a sequel of sorts to "Desperado" called "Once Upon A Time In Mexico". In the movie starring Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Willem Dafoe, Mickey Rourke and Eva Mendes, Johnny Depp's character has an obsession with a slow roasted pork meal called "Puerco Pibil" and kills any chef who makes it really well. Looked good on screen, but most food does in the movies. What was cool is that when I bought the DVD there was a bonus feature of Robert making said dish. Now not only did it look good, but sounded good. I'm not an avid cook or anything but I've always had a couple signature meals I could make mostly from memory because as a single guy, I always thought it cool to prepare meals for dates (as long as it turned out well). By this time I'm married to my incredibly gorgeous wife and felt like, "hey, don't stop working at wooing her". So I decided to make this meal for us.

Fair warning, it takes a while to prepare and not all of the ingredients are easily accessible, but if you're a guy who doesn't normally cook it makes it all the more impressive. Also it can be pretty expensive the first time out if you don't have all of the equipment needed to prepare the meal already.

You will need a blender, a cooking pan approx. 13x9x2, and a coffee grinder dedicated for the sole purpose of grinding spices. You can use the old one you have and get a new one for the coffee but you'd better do an amazing job cleaning the old one before using for it's new purpose. Again part of what makes this cool, is that it's totally from scratch and fresh as can be. Chicks dig fresh.

Then you'll have to aquire:

5 lbs. of pork butt
5 T Annatto seeds
(any Mexican market should have these, some grocery stores do too, but not many)
2 tsp Cumin
8 Allspice
1/2 tsp Cloves
1 T Black Pepper
(all of your spices should be whole and not pre-ground)
1/2 C Orange Juice
1/2 C Vinegar
5 Lemons
8 Cloves of fresh Garlic
2 Habanero Peppers
2 T Salt
1 T Tequila (get a good tequila, no swill!)

First gather up your annatto, cumin, allspice, cloves, and black pepper. Grind all of these together into a fine dust with your new (or newly cleaned) coffee grinder. This is the base of your annatto paste.

Next, take the 5 lemons, halve them and squeeze over a colander into your blender, getting as much of the juice as possible. This also doubles as a great workout, so make sure you're wearing a headband, legwarmers and rocking out to Olivia Newton-John's "Get Physical". Throwing the lemon rinds in your garbage disposal one at a time is a good idea to help with any wayward smells that might be lurking in there.

Cut your habanero's into fine pieces making sure to remove the veins and seeds, unless of course, you hate yourself, family, friends and co-workers. You can also wear surgical gloves when handling peppers to guard against self-inflicted pain. I made the mistake of going to the bathroom after preparing the peppers (without gloves) and lets just say I was reminded of a certain Jerry Lee Lewis song for the rest of the evening.

Now add the annatto spices, orange juice, vinegar, tequila, habanero's and garlic (I usually add a couple of extra cloves) to the blender and let er rip!

Take your pork butt and cut it into 2 inch squares and dump them into a 1 gallon freezer bag. DO NOT CUT OFF FAT! The fat is crucial for taste and will fall off the meat after it's cooked. Pour annatto paste into bag and mix it up. You can let the meat marinate for an hour or so but I don't recommend much longer as the acid in the lemon can start to "cook" the meat.

Add contents of freezer bag into pan and cover tightly with tinfoil. Make sure your pan is deep enough otherwise the annatto paste will boil over into your oven. Cook at 325 degrees for 4 hours. If you want to get really exotic (and you can find them) line the pan with banana leaves and cover meat with leaves before covering in tin foil. Hope you don't mind the smell of annatto paste in every square inch of your home for the next day.

Remove foil and sprinkle salt over meat (you can add it earlier but it can dry the meat out a little).

Take a head of lettuce and peel whole sections off to use like a bowl, serve white or spanish rice with a side of diced tomato and a dollop of sour cream. Manny's tortilla chips go great with it also. Do a shot of tequila (if your of age) and enjoy!

PS first time I served this to Heidi it was so good she cried. True story.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lake Carroll

So Wiena and Barbie hooked us up with a weekend on the lake about a month ago and it was so sweeeet. Others were able to stay a bit longer which was cool. I had a great time just chilling with my family. It's so cool to see how my family loves up on Zach. Had a lot of fun playing with Zach/the nephews. Heidi, Zach and I went to the "beach" a couple of times and had some fun playing in the sand and getting all dirty. I got sand all up in my bits that took a healthy scrubbing to get rid of. Wally made awesome breakfast sandwich's every morning and grilled in the evening. Did a little Jet-skiing while others went out a lot. Zach touched his first fish and he thought it was cool! Mitchell hooked up the bonfire, so we did s'mores and finished the night off with some fireworks (we just watched and they were good ones too, not bottle rockets). Zach was loving the fireworks, yelling out "BOOOOOM!" everytime they went off. I loved it and hope we can do it again, it was awesome! Thanks to everyone who made it such a great weekend.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Baby G's 1st Birthday

Been way busy but I had forgotten to post these pics with Heidi's side of the family celebrating G's first birthday. Was a great day and look at those pictures of Zach with Grandpa! He loves Grandma and Grandpa a lot but recently has developed a bit of a favor for 'pa, which is bogus since he still likes Heidi a lot more than me. Until now I could just blame it on the fact that he likes girls more...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

7th Anniversary!!!

So we have a lot going on in just a very short time in the Wisniewski house... Zach's birthday, our anniversary, Heidi's birthday and then mine all within a month of each other. This was our 7th anniversary! It's weird to think we've been married that long. I still feel like we're newlyweds. We are fortunate enough to be able to go back to where we were married every year on or around our actual anniversary date. Of course none of those days have been as hot as the day we were wed.

It's cool taking Zach here now that he's so mobile. He was digging it. As you can see by the photos I'm a blessed man...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Zach is 2!!!!!!!!!

To celebrate we took him to a bar because we are excellent parents! Actually it's a kid friendly place down on campus as long as you're not there in the late hours and who in their right mind would have their 2 year old out that late anyway? So he got to sit at the bar, he was given his free birthday "milk" mug and after dinner he enjoyed a nice sundae. They also announced his birthday over the P.A. and gave him a birthday balloon! All in all, it was a really great time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Zach is almost 2!!

Seems crazy to me. So to celebrate how far he's come here is a bunch of recent photos of the most awesome kid ever! These pictures were taken a month or two ago when we were just starting the real yard work (which is never ending and I hate lawns... I want astro-turf). Here Zach can be seen with the toy, that if it ever gets lost we are all doomed, THE BUS! Now known as "old bus" since we bought him a couple of back-ups, tried them out and while they are known as "new bus" they are not nearly as desirable as "old bus". You've been warned!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Video-palooza! and THE CAR quadrilogy!

Make sure you listen very closely for a special surprise!

Auntie Weina is going to have to take Zach golfing somewhere, oh I know at the place you just bought! ;)

Watch him shred, just like his namesake

What can I say? The boy loves cars, trucks, bus' pretty much anything on wheels he digs as evidenced by his first time behind the wheel at just 23 months!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Patricia Ann Jackson 1941-2009

My amazing Mother lost her fight with cancer Wednesday at 2:29pm.

I will love and miss you mom, you were the best.

1-12-1941 to 4-8-2009

Here she is March of last year hanging out with Zach.

Monday, February 2, 2009

So where have I been you ask?

All three of you.

Well, it's been a very long start to the year. I've been a bit secretive about some stuff going on with the family just because I'm not big on making the more serious things public. I've decided to share because it will help explain my lack of bloggin' and honestly might be a bit cathartic for me, so here goes.

Last year my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in Feb. The months before and after were difficult and trying for my mom. She went through a battery of tests just to discover the cancer and then had chemo/radiation/surgery over the course of the next eight months or so. A year or so before that my mom had pneumonia, which resulted in a great deal of scarring in her right lung. Well, the cancer was in her left. So she had to have two-thirds of the left lung removed. As of November of last year we thought and believed that she was cancer free.

We (and the professionals who get paid to determine these things) were wrong. Mom's voice had become that of someone who bakes cookies in a hollowed out tree and she was having great difficulty breathing. She was due for a check up at the end of January but we all wanted her to get checked sooner. While all of this is going on my sister Lynda is diagnosed with breast cancer a couple weeks before Christmas.

Since then my sister has gone through her surgery and is dealing with the need for chemo/radiation since all 24 lymph-nodes that the doc removed were also cancerous. After having several tests done she's learned that she has arthritis and cysts but no more cancer. So goodish news there. She's doing very well with all of this and has a great attitude most of the time ;) Mom on the other hand discovered a tumor and the docs are sure the cancer has spread to her esophagus (the reason for the voice change). She started another round of chemo 3 weeks ago and had another treatment yesterday. Certainly God can intervene and remove the cancer, but we are preparing for the worst. Mom is currently in need of oxygen at night and has difficulty walking since we believe the tumor may be pressing on nerves.

In the last six weeks I've driven down to Chicago five of them. I'm burnt out emotionally, spiritually and physically. It's been great having all of my siblings and their families come to town, but we all wish it were under better circumstances.

For those who may not know I'm a momma's boy. Big time. My dad died when I was only weeks old. My mom remarried two years later but my step-father didn't really do the whole "dad" thing very well. I know he loves us, but always had other things going on. So it was up to my mom to provide all of the nurturing, guidance, providing, etc. That she did. I also have to give credit to my older siblings (of which there are eight, the oldest being 18 years my senior) for really stepping up and helping mom out with me. From the time I was a baby I was cared for by most of my other siblings in addition to my mom. Whenever he had the opportunity my oldest brother Steve really tried to fill that fatherly void. I think he did a pretty good job, as I still look back on the lessons he taught me. Whether they were verbal or example, many still stick in my mind as defining moments of me becoming a man. My sister's doted on me (and some still do... Teri and Lynda I'm looking at you), my brother Walter has helped me out with all of my cars giving up his time and money to help me out and my brother Larry while at times being the annoying immediate older sibling took time to hang out and play football or whatever with me. To this day my siblings look out for me and my family and I hope I can return the favor in some way.

That said nothing could ever compare to my affection I hold for my mom. She was great at building me up and encouraging me. She was always the proudest of my art and she was the one who would spank me when I got into trouble. She gave me boundaries but always gave me more slack than a lot of my friends had. As a result I never wanted to disappoint her. To this day I don't know that I've lied to my mom, you know, from after the age of seven. She taught me to love God, love others and how to be a servant. She led by example. She wasn't perfect, never claimed to be, but she provided what I needed to grow up to be a good man. I'm far from perfect, but I believe the good qualities I possess in my parenting or work ethic or whatever are direct manifestations of her example.

I'm a bit more emotional than the average guy. Not in the sense that I live in a constant fluctuating state of emotion, but in a very sissy way aware of them. I cry when I watch movies at the exact time that they want you to. I'm not ashamed of loving my mom or my family. I never was embarrassed to give my mom a kiss or hug at school. I always thought "my mom rules, why wouldn't I be proud of loving her or her loving me?" I consider myself fortunate to have grown up being loved in such a powerful way.

My family is a family of kissers. We greet each other with a kiss, it's just how we roll. This was a new thing for Heidi, and even Heidi's mom I think was probably taken back the first time I planted one on her. I know I did it out of sheer reflex, not even thinking "hey not all families kiss each other when they see one another". I just thought this is another member of my family now, I love my family and this is how we show our love.

So right now not knowing how much time we have with mom we're all trying to make the most of it. I would love for it to be years. It pains me to think that Zach could grow up not knowing what it was like to be loved by my mom. It just doesn't seem fair to me. I am having a great deal of difficulty coming to terms with this. Surrendering to God's will, whatever that might be... I'm not there. I want to be, but I feel very far away from that place.

For now, I'm going to do my best to appreciate the time I do have and cherish every second.

I just thought I'd include a bunch of photos from Christmas on...