Friday, December 26, 2008

Adventurous Christmas

Get a cup of something warm, sit down, and make yourself comfortable. This is going to be a long and picture filled post of our most dramatic Christmas ever. Not drama-bad, but drama-good :)

It all started on Christmas Eve. We'd laid the wee ones into bed and were comfortably seated in our beds, watching tv and talking. Elly woke up, as she does sometimes around 11pm, and I went in to feed her and lay her back down. I could tell right away though that something was amiss. She was too fidgety and crying like she was wide awake, not a "hey, I need to be topped off" type of cry.

Indeed, my senses proved correct and little Miss Ell did not go back to sleep until 3am. Not only was she just awake, she was screaming and crying the whole time. Folks, we tried everything. Every. Thing. Nothing helped. I was crying myself for the last two hours because I was so tired, and I was so upset that THIS was my Christmas Eve and all I could think about was this busy day coming up and we'd be sleep deprived.

Jason finally sent me downstairs to sleep so that one of us could get some rest. Around 3:30am she settled down and both J and I fell asleep. However, it was only for just over an hour and then she was crying again. I went upstairs and nursed her, said a little prayer (I hadn't done this earlier, heaven knows why not) and right as I finished praying, little Elsa passed gas (upset tummy was part of the problem perhaps?) and went to sleep. I oh-so-carefully laid her down and Jas and I sunk into an utterly exhausted sleep. Not for long though, because not 15 minutes later, at 6:00am, Ethan comes in and our Christmas morning began.

It all went well though. J and I pulled it together and were able to make it an enjoyable time for all. The kids loved their gifts, and so did Jason and I! I won't list out everything the kids got, but thanks to very generous grandparents, they got a haul! The big things for the older two were a bike for Gwen (she rides it so well) and a remote controlled car for Ethan.

So, while we open gifts and eat breakfast, snow is falling quite heavily and its beautiful. A real white Christmas. My Mom sends us a picture of their house, showing how much snow they have. It looks like a lot but we aren't concerned as my Mom is a little prone to exaggeration about conditions sometimes (its true Mom, I still love ya though). We pack up and head out.

Its quite snowy and slick around our house, but nothing we haven't already done in the past two weeks... however, as we get closer to my Mom's house, conditions do get worse and worse and the amount of snow piled up gets deeper and deeper. We turn onto the road they live off of and immediately see a guy who has hit a power pole. He was fine and there was a power truck there anyway trying to repair the lines that had been damaged by trees falling. So we continue on, just amazed at how much snow there is.

Farther up we pass another power truck repairing lines. Right next to them are two deer. I wish I'd gotten a picture, especially because those same two deer were there when we left my Mom's 6 hours later. We think the house there must be feeding them or something.

The tracks on the road have narrowed to 1.5 lanes and there are trees and branches down everywhere. Our car has some new scratches I'm sure.

We notice that the snow is getting deeper and deeper on the sides of the road.

We pull carefully into my parent's long gravel driveway and see this on one of the for sale signs. Wow, we think, that looks pretty dang deep.

We churn and slide up and down the driveway (there are barely any tracks, so we're going through pretty deep snow) and come to the last crest and see this

That's my Daddy and Jenni and my Dad's car. He was trying to go up and cut the trees off the road (yes, more scratches on the car) and had gotten stuck. Its hard to see in the small picture, but you might notice that the snow is up to my Dad's knees, and my Dad is not a short man.

Jason and I pulled up by him and hopped out. We'd brought a shovel in case we got stuck, so we started helping to shovel and spread sand for traction. The big problem was that the snow was so deep that the front bumper of the Subaru would start plowing snow, get stuck, and then the front wheels would just spin. We pushed and shoved and did everything we could to get that car turned around and unstuck, but no luck. There was simply too much snow and it was too deep. Jason and I didn't have boots or anything on, and we were getting pretty wet, since the snow was so high on our legs. We started leaving them there so we could drop off the kids and come back to help with my brother Michael crested the hill. He stopped to help, and we went to the house, where we saw this.

This is the deck. The drifts here had to be close to 4 feet.

Craziness people. Crazy. We've never seen this much snow out in these parts, ever.

J and I started walking back to Dad's car, when Michael pulled up with Dad and Jen inside. The car was just too stuck and they were abandoning the task for now.

Amazingly, my Grammy arrived not long after, though she did have to be pulled out of a snowbank herself on the way. She has the same car as my Dad, but was able to do it because she didn't have to get off the tracks like my Dad did. That's what really got him stuck.

Whew, so just getting there was full of excitement. I'll tell ya, being out in super deep snow and shoveling and pushing a car is a good way of waking up. Really got the blood flowing.

After everyone was warmed up and settled, we opened presents. What a great time we had! This was Ethan's reaction when we told him that we'd decided not to open presents and wait until tomorrow. Heh, why do I feel like I might see more of this expression in the teen years?

Aunt Michelle helping Gwen to paint her fingernails and Uncle Peter helping Ethan assemble a Lego set.

Oh, did I fail to mention that my parents had no power either? My Dad has a pretty cool generator system set up that keeps all essentials running (like freezers, lights, etc), but there is no generator for the well so there was limited water and no hot water. We had to follow the old adage, "if its yellow let it mellow, if its brown, flush it down". And if you do flush, you must use a bucket of water that was kept by the toilet.

After gifts, I volunteered to burn the garbage (one of my favorite chores) and clomped out there in my sisters big barn boots. The snow was so deep I didn't have to step off the back stairs... I could just walk straight across.

The burn barrel was mostly buried in snow

Everything was just so white

While I waited for the first round of paper to burn, I took some more pictures of the snow, because it just was so bewildering in its amount.

I kept nice and toasty though. I was a little worried about the flames being so high, so close to that plastic bag of Christmas leavings, but then I thought, "Why?". If it catches on fire, its not like there isn't massive amounts of WATER nearby that I could extinguish it with.

I tossed a ball for Kai and she went diving into snow that in its deeper parts was nearly over her head. She still found her ball though. She's excellent that way.

Inside, dinner was being prepared and people were getting silly. Gwendolyn got this fun little guitar and asked Daddy to hold it while she went to the bathroom. Daddy did hold it and proceeded to rock out and perform a little concert for us.

Gwen also got some darling wings and Ethan put them on. We called him Cupid.

Now, I know my Mom would want me to make this clear. THAT BOTTLE IS SPARKLING CIDER.

This picture cracks me up. Not just because Jason looks silly, but my brother Mike's expression.

Now, back to dinner. Due to our power limitations, we had to turn off absolutely everything in the house in order to run the stove. No lights, tv, computer, nothing. In fact, one time Ethan accidental turned on the bathroom light and that was enough to trip the breaker that was only running the stove! We couldn't even run the burners on top of the stove. Well, that was a concern since we had three things that needed to be cooked... two pans of potatoes and steamed carrots. So we got out the trusty Coleman stove and put it out on the BBQ and cooked there. I was running to and fro and trying to be helpful. When one pot of potatoes were done, I ran outside to bring them in. I was barefoot, but it was right outside the door so no worries. I picked up the pot and turned towards the door. All of a sudden the handle of the pot fell off and the whole boiling mess crashed down. I screeched and jumped away, luckily avoiding most of the hot potatoes and water, though not all of it. For some reason I did not want to jump in the snow, so I had to hop over the hot liquid and it was very slippery due to the starch and melted snow. Everyone came running out and they forced me to stand in the snow and cool off my feet. No harm done... I just have a minor burn on my left instep. It could have been much worse though, and I'm so grateful that I danced away in time.

After that, dinner went off without a hitch and we celebrated my Grandma Betty's birthday, which is on Christmas Eve, with a cake and 79 candles! I think Elsa looks a lot like Grandma Betty (who is my Dad's Mom).

My Mom graciously invited the older kids to stay the night with her and so just J, Elsa and I headed home. The roads were still bad on the road my parents live on, but once we were off that they were just wet and mostly bare. We got home and I fed Elsa some food and then we crashed. Elsa started fussing again, like she did on Christmas Eve, and I went online and looked up how to calm an over-tired baby (as I suspected this had been part of the problem on Christmas Eve since she did not nap the entire day). One suggestion was to swaddle, which she did not take well to the previous night. But, I tried again, this time walking with her for about 10 minutes. She fought it at first, but then she drifted off and eventually I was able to lay her down. Know what? She slept through the night. The whole night! Something she hasn't done for the past 3 months. And, she woke up at 7am, much later than she's been waking lately.

She fell back asleep at 8:30 and has been asleep ever since (its 11:15 now)!

Anyway, that is our Christmas adventure story. What an enjoyable and exciting day it was, even though it started out rough. I just have to thank the Lord that he turned something that I'd been dreading and thought would turn out difficult into one of our most memorable occasions.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas as well!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my dear, beloved readers. Thank you for listening to me brag, moan, cry, complain, detail and go on and on and on about our little family. Thank you for providing feedback when I asked for it, and even sometimes when I did not :)

I hope you all have a joyous holiday!

I'm seeing a white Christmas

Yep, for the first time in... well, as long as I can remember, we are going to have a white Christmas! We got another 3-4 inches today, and its been snowing off and on this afternoon. Temps are warming, because there is lots of dripping and puddles, but there is no way all this stuff will be gone by tomorrow. Cool.

I have another video of the kids going down our sledding "hill". This time Ethan joined us!
More sledding fun

A few days ago, I made some homemade zwieback toasts for Elly. Sheesh, what a lot of work. It did, however, make enough to feed an army. I have to say that I think she liked them better before I baked them hard, in other words, she liked it when it was bread, not when it had been hardened into crackers. But they are just like the ones you buy (different shaped) and aren't messy at all, which is a bonus. Despite the look on her face (which is from my red-eye reducer... it always makes her wince), she actually does like them.

Tonight, for Christmas Eve dinner, I'm making a rib roast cooked in a terra cotta pot. Ok, to be entirely accurate, UNDER a terra cotta pot. Its from my favoritest Food Network chef, Alton Brown.

Here's what it looks like going in. That wire thing is a temperature probe.

Its been in there cooking now since 1pm, so 3 hours. It should take between 4-4.5 hours to get to the correct doneness. Its only cooking at 200 degrees, but the pot creates a convection type atmosphere that cooks it faster than you might imagine. When its nearly done, you remove the pot and cook it at 500 degrees to get a nice crust.

If I remember, I'll try to get a picture of what it looks like when its done.

I have to admit, the last few days I've not been feeling well emotionally. I've been so frustrated by this weather. Frustrated because the few events we participate in to celebrate the holidays have been canceled, frustrated because an item I especially wanted here by the time we left for Spokane (which is still up in the air, depending on weather) has been delayed, frustrated because FedEx apparently isn't as brave as UPS, who has been here 4 times over the past 4 days, even in very bad conditions, and they haven't been delivering to our area, frustrated at being kept at home for many days straight with the children and my husband. I love 'em dearly, but sometimes we do better with a little space between us instead of being cooped up in a house together for nearly two weeks straight. The children have been quite vexing (and I don't blame them. They are bored), and the wee one has been difficult as well. Then I'm feeling like I'm the cruddiest mother because I'm impatient and snappy and even when I'm trying to make Christmas traditions or memories, I'm irritated. Ach!

Yesterday, I just lost it and cried off and on for about 2 hours. I felt better after it was all over, but I still feel somewhat blue. I hate that I feel that way. I'm so blessed with family and friends and comforts, it feels wrong to be caught up and irritated by small inconveniences and mishaps.

Anyway, I don't want this to end on a sour note :) I'm VERY excited about going over to my parents house tomorrow and seeing everyone. Really excited. And so are the kids, oh my goodness, they're practically quivering with anticipation every waking moment.

Did you know that Elsa can pick up bits of food now and feed herself? Its pretty impressive! You should see her go after a pile of cheerios, she stuffs them in her little cheeks so fast!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Homemade Sled Run

We made our own sled run off our stairs. Its totally awesome.

First, the wee babe, bundled against the cold.

Pre-shoveling and packing

After lots of shoveling and packing

A video of us enjoying the run
Homemade Sled Run

This is what happens when you leave your back window open a crack and its windy and snowy! Luckily its all pretty dry so I just brushed it out :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Week before Christmas update

Its surprising that I haven't blogged before now. We've been practically homebound and its not like I've been busy. Just look at my house... I've not been keeping busy at all :)

After snow dumped on us for just about two days straight, we ventured out and have been going here or there, even though the roads are quite icy. We've even gone out to Mom's twice.

We brought the kids out to Mom's yesterday to spend the night and went out for dinner at a local place. Both Jason and I have had a bit of a bug, nothing too serious, that has made us tired and ill feeling. We went to bed very early (yes, we are such party animals when the kids are away) and enjoyed our slower paced morning with Elly. We went out for lunch and a hill that we've driven twice now with no problems treated us to a nice long slide as we pulled into the turn lane. My knuckles grew whiter and whiter as I clutched the door handle, but heaven shone upon us and we stopped right where we needed to turn. It even shook Jason a wee bit.

We came back with the kids and have Jenni with us too. She's going a bit stir crazy at the house, so she's gonna stay with us. If the weather allows, we'll take her to church tomorrow. Otherwise she may end up staying till Monday... we'll just have to see what is in store for us with this storm coming in tonight.

Here are some pictures that I took the other day when Gwen and I took a long walk in the snow.

Me and my mini-me.

Our house! Its the one with the Suburban parked out front. I hate how it looks like every other house... even the color. When we have money, I'm getting our house painted!

Gwen loved walking, and falling, in the snow. If I didn't laugh when she fell, she'd say, "Mommy! You didn't laugh, now I have to do it again". She got so cold from her falls that I had to carry her back. That was hard... breaking trail through 10 inches of snow toting a 30lb kid whose boots keep falling off.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My new favorite beef stew

I made this last night and it was delicious! The bacon added so much to the flavor, and yes, I realize it has mushrooms, but listen people. I used to hate, abhor, despise, mushrooms. Then I had some cooked well. Cooked in butter in a sizzling hot pan until they were well browned and crispy on the outside, sprinkled with kosher salt. Divine. Delicious. I could eat them every day now. And in this stew application they take on the flavor of the broth and add texture. If you've never had mushrooms or are afraid of them, try them in this recipe and I think you may change your mind. Or next time you're at my house ask me to saute some up for you. Yum.

Beef Stew with Bacon, Mushrooms, and Pearl Onions
This stew is delicious over mashed potatoes

3 lbs beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes.
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 oz sliced bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 tbls vegetable oil
2 medium-large onions, chopped coarse (about 2 cups)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 tbls flour
1 ½ cups full-bodied red wine
1 ½ cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1 lb small white button mushrooms, quartered
1 cup frozen pearl onions, cooked according to package directions (I found that 1 cup frozen equaled about ½ cup when they were cooked which wasn’t enough for us. So I did closer to 2 cups frozen)
¼ cup minced parsley

1. Heat oven to 250 degrees. Place beef cubes in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Fry bacon in large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium heat until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Drain bacon, reserving bits and drippings separately. Increase heat to medium-high and heat 2 tablespoons bacon drippings in Dutch oven. Add half of meat and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove meat and set aside on plate. Repeat process with another tablespoon of bacon drippings and remaining meat.

2. Add onions to empty Dutch oven and sauté until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook until lightly colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits that may have stuck to the pot. Add stock, bay leaves, and thyme, and bring to a simmer. Add meat and bacon bits and return to a simmer. Cover and place pot in oven. Cook until meat is almost tender, 2 to 2 ½ hours.

3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons bacon drippings in large skillet. Add mushrooms and sauté over high heat until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to large bowl. Add cooked pearl onions and sauté until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add onions to bowl with mushrooms.

4. Add mushrooms and onions to stew when meat is almost tender. Cover and return pot to oven. Cook until meat is completely tender, 20 to 30 minutes. (Can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated up to 3 days. Reheat on top of the stove.)

5. Stir in parsley, discard bay leaves, adjust seasonings, and serve.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Two nights ago I had my first real sleepwalking occurrence since having children. According to Jason, I sat bolt-upright and was acting all strange. He kept calling my name (knowing I was asleep) and I kinda turned on him a little bit and tried swatting at him. Then I woke up and was confused :) It really freaked him out. He said I was all feral and crazy. I don't recall what initially made me sit up and start acting strange, but I do remember throwing my hands out because in my dream I was trying to catch a leaf that was blowing around. This must have been when I was flailing my arms at Jason. He was all worried about what might have happened if the baby was in bed with us, though I think I probably wouldn't have been sleeping very deeply if she was. Its the only time I've ever done any sleep walking or talking since having Ethan!

Some of you might know about my very traumatic sleepwalking incident back in 2003 on Mother's Day. Its never been documented on my blog, so I think I'll type out the story here and upload a picture for posterity :)

We had a very busy day and I was completely and utterly exhausted (we found later that this was a trigger... stress and exhaustion). I fell into bed and not three hours later we were headed to the hospital.

I remember that I was having a dream about being chased by a skeleton. According to Jason, I jumped out of bed and tripped. There was a window on my side of the bed and when I tripped I banged my face against the windowsill. Even with that, I didn't really wake up until Jason had me in the kitchen trying to put ice on my face. It was bad. Really, really bad. He kept telling me that I would have a bruise and I thought, "Oh crap, I have work tomorrow". I stumbled into the bathroom and saw my face and knew that it was not just a bruise. I started feeling very sick and we decided to go to the ER.

On the way I called my Mom and told her what was going on. She was a little worried, but I don't think she understood how bad it was. We get to the ER and I'm feeling worse and worse and we're sitting there in admitting and I start to feel dizzy and nauseous and actually start losing consciousness a bit. Immediately they got me back into a room and that's when Jason, poor guy, really started getting a hard time. I don't blame them. It looked like I'd been punched straight in the face a few times. They had me in a room alone and while they were caring for me they kept asking if everything was ok... did I need to tell them anything? Was I scared for my safety? I kept saying that I was a sleepwalker and it ran in my family, but that doesn't really seem like a good excuse, especially to people who probably see more than their share of domestic abuses.

I was transferred to another campus because I needed a CAT scan. I rode in an ambulance, and they made Jason drive separately. The whole drive I had an EMT holding my hand and telling me that I was safe and that anything I needed to say would be in confidence and please don't be afraid to share. Looking back, I really appreciate that they were so kind and warm and genuine in their concern, but at the time I felt very poorly and I was miffed that Jason was being kept at arms length.

When we arrived at the ER of the campus, I was greeted by nurses and doctors saying, "Oh! This is the girl you told us about! Good God, she looks terrible! Some of the worst facial bruising I've ever seen" Everyone again was very kind and warm and let me know that if I needed to tell them anything it was ok and they would protect me. I kept telling them the truth, that sleepwalking ran in the family and my Dad had many tales to tell about his own experiences.

I went in for the CAT scan and the tech asked, "What happened honey? Were you in a car accident?". When I told him, he didn't believe me. He said those injuries were consistent with a car accident or "being hit with a baseball bat".

Eventually I was diagnosed and released, with a broken cheekbone, extensive and severe bruising and mild concussion.

I didn't go back to work for a week. I was on pretty heavy painkillers for the first few days. Worst of all, I looked just terrible. I mean, really really terrible. The right side of my face was numb and droopy and swollen and my whole face was discolored and bruised.

When I got back to work I took a picture. Mind you, this is a WEEK after it happened and the bruising had started to lighten on the cheek and forehead. You can see how droopy the right side of my face was and how swollen in general I was. I still have stiffness in that right cheek and there is evidence that this accident actually damaged my brain and increased the severity and frequency of my migraines, which really picked up after this accident.

A month or two later I went in for a sleep study and found out I was pregnant with Ethan. Luckily, I've not done anything close to this bad since getting pregnant and having kids. But you can see why Jason has worries about what I'm capable of :)


Wow, it is cold. There have been few times in my remembrance when I get instantly cold to the bone when stepping outside, no matter what I'm wearing. Now is one of those times!

I have some pictures from Jenni's concert on Friday. She both sang and played her flute.

I made that headband about an hour before we left and was really pleased how it came out. I made matching dresses for her and Gwen, but you really can't see them in this pictures. I'm going to get a good pic of them though, they look darling.

Mom picked a good place for us to sit. The kids could look out over the rail and got a good view of the people and the stage. You can also see a bit of her dress and sash.

Ethan chillin' on Daddy's lap.

During intermission, Elly got some good Grandpa time.

There's Jenni!

Yesterday, we went out to my Mom's for our usual "Go to Mom's when it snows" event. The roads were icy, but easily drivable in our car (which handles very well for such a beast).

Ben (my youngest cousin and Ethan's idol)

Gwen and her sled. She was just so tough. She played far longer than Ethan and kept up with the older kids.

However... she got icy, icy cold. She snuggled with Grandpa under his electric blanket, but it hurt her poor little toes to warm up. Poor bebe.

Elsa was happy though, she just loves her Aunt Jenni.

Today we had plans to get our pictures taken, but have canceled. Jason and Ethan and Elly have a cold and look rather puffy and sick. I wasn't too hip on spending good money for pictures of sick children!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

We have snow!

We've had our first snowfall of the season! After an blustery night last evening, we woke up to a scant inch of snow. It melted away almost completely by the afternoon, but then it started coming down again and hasn't stopped. It just started really sticking about 2 hours ago and we're actually seeing some accumulations! I'd guess we're at about 2 inches with a steady downpour of flakes.

I love going to a store during these "winter storms". People are just so excited. I saw people with carts piled high with bottled water and other staples. Other people were buying things to make cookies and get cozy. Still others were buying snow shovels and sleds. There is a definitely a buzz in the stores when snow appears.

The kids are stoked. This morning, they got themselves dressed and out the door before breakfast. They've been out a couple times since. Gwen keeps walking around saying "I'm so happy! Snow makes me sooooo happy. Are you happy?". She is spending much of her time going from window to window to see the different views of the house. Ethan has a low fever and the sniffles, so he hasnt' been as excited. He gets more excited about the hot chocolate he gets when he comes in from the cold :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

We've been busy

Ahoy-hoy my readers! Its been a busy week at our house. Every day I've been running errands, buying gifts (and accidentally buying them off a gift list that someone mixed up with last years... eh hem, MOM) and trying to stay up on the house. Miserably failing at the last one by the way.

We had a candy cane lying around and I thought that Elsa might like a taste. Oh yes, yes she did. I tried to remove it from her since she IS just short of 7 months.

She didn't take to it well.

My preciousssss

Eventually I was able to wrestle the candy away. I learned my lesson. Don't give candy to a 7 month old.

Taking a cue from my cousin Jennifer, I picked up a gingerbread house kit instead of trying to do it all from scratch. Man, am I glad we did it that way.

Hello children! Mother is right here... not in that empty corner that you're looking and smiling at. Work with me please!

Grumpy girl who did NOT like being unstuck from her Mommy

Pre-assembly done, and with only one broken wall. It came out of the box broken, not my fault!

After much eaten icing, candy that "accidentally" fell on the floor and couldn't go on the house and must be eaten (Ethan), and a long suffering crying baby, completion!

Ethan's side

Gwen's side

The front. Yes, I'm a very very very poor icer. Also, I had stopped trying to be a perfectionist about it and was just trying to get done so that I could hold the baby. I put icing where I was told to put icing, even if it was so wrong from an architectural and style standpoint.

Wednesday I whipped up this Christmas Rum Cake from probably my favorite cooking blog on the web, The Pioneer Woman. I didn't have a bundt cake pan, and one was not available. Apparently there was a terrible bundt cake pan shortage in Lake Stevens that day. I visited three stores (each stop getting increasingly difficult with a crabby baby and a bored Gwen) to no avail. So we made do with an angel food cake pan which made it rather flat and unattractive, but, it was nummy.

Admittedly, it was hard to use cake mix and pudding mix in a cake. Not that there is anything wrong with using those things, but for me I take special joy in doing things from scratch. However, one really cannot deny the ease of opening packages, dumping them in a bowl, adding water and eggs and oil and voila, cake. My kitchen and dishwasher were not filthy and full of various bowls and mixing utensils like they usually are after such endeavors.

The one on the Pioneer Woman's site looks so much better, but I bet mine tastes just as good as hers.

Today, after grabbing the kids from school, we headed out to my Mom's to visit with Aunt Margaret who has just returned from a month long trip to South Africa with Shawn and Jenni (Jenni is from South Africa). She went on a safari and everything!

Anyway, on the way out there, we detoured and picked up a bin of Barbie type dolls that I got on Freecycle. They were old (they had belonged to this lady's 23 year old daughter when she was real little), but had clothes and some furniture and I thought they'd be good throwaway dolls for the kids to play with. They've enjoyed putting the clothes on the dolls and playing house (there is one boy doll even). Good find. I love Freecycle.

Elly is doing the cutest thing lately. When she's in a sitting position and wants to get somewhere, she hops on her butt. Like she's trying to take off but can't get off the floor. She gets so enthusiastic about it that sometimes she falls right onto her face. We've been trying to encourage her to lay on her tummy so that she can start to crawl, but now that she can sit she doesn't want anything to do with her tummy (except to sleep). Somehow she'll have to learn to crawl from a sitting position. If anyone can do it, it'll be Elsa!

She's really coming into her own, personality wise. Man, she's a tough little cookie, I tell ya. You should see me fight with her to get her into her carseat sometimes. She'll twist and turn and yell and I feel like I should not have to wrestle with my 13lb baby! At the same time, I find her to be my most introspective baby. She's observant and studious. She likes to look at things for a very long time and study every angle.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Ethan's letter to Santa

Ethan must have seen something on TV about writing a letter to Santa because the other day he came to Jason with pen and paper and dictated a letter. Here is the letter, written down directly as Ethan said it:

Dear Santa,

I want new Legos with R2D2 & Anakin. I want a toy dog with a head that cleans up. I want a phone so I can call Laura. I want a computer and a new Star Wars game. I also want a Lego book, C3PO & nativity set, ambulance, ice cream truck with Mr. Icer, Joker, Batman, Lego candy and a glowing lightsaber.

Love Ethan

p.s. I'd also like Mr. Penguin and Red Robbinghood, a kitchen and a coffeemaker.

Isn't that too cute? Laura is his favorite girl from school. "Red Robbinghood" is some mix between Robin from Batman and Robin Hood (he's been watching the Disney animated version lately) and Red Robin the resturant. And a coffemaker? I swear, I've not been giving him coffee this young :)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Seeing Santa, and other happenings

Ok, I'm really sick and tired of being sick and tired! I've been in this constant state of allllmost sick, but not quite, but some days I feel sicker and then other days I feel just peachy and can my body just make up its darn mind already? Ugh!

Anyhoo, not much has been going on 'round these parts. Just same old same old. When I was grocery shopping I saw some brussels sprouts, still on the stalk, for a very good price. So I bought two and brought them home and realized, "Shoot, that is a lot of brussels sprouts". This is what they looked like, with Ethan's hand for perspective. The kids and I plucked them off the stalk, but then no one would eat them, so I freecycled them to a very nice lady (hi Teresa, if you're reading!). I hope she enjoys them. I love brussels sprouts, but apparently no one else in my family does!

Gwen did something really cool. She is no longer using a binky! That's right, binkies are no longer present in this house, well except tiny baby binkies. Like we did for Ethan, Gwen got to pick out a reasonably priced prize for such an accomplishment. She picked out a scooter (no surprise). She loves it so much. When we were walking through Target with it in the cart, she kept telling people, "Hi, I gave up my binky and my Mommy is getting me this scooter for my prize!" and "Do you have a scooter? I have one now because I gave up my binky!". Happy girl.

Today we met with April and her friend Tamara and all our kiddies to see Santa. I've never done that with the kids before. They were nervous/excited. Even though we were there right when the Santa display opened, we still had to wait over an hour in line. We were also the unique freaks who didn't pay for a Santa picture. I'm sorry, I'm not paying $15.99 for a 5x7 that will be displayed for a few weeks a year. Nope, I just can't do it. The lady was all, "....Uh, you don't want a picture? Um, ok. I guess you can just talk to him then". When we got up there, the workers were befuddled at my lack of desire for a picture, and then told Santa, "I guess they just want to talk to you" with a shrugging, confused manner.

Yes people, we only wish to talk to Santa! We know its bizarre, but isn't that the whole point?

Anyway, I digress. I got a few snapshots. It was pretty cute, Gwen had her wand from being star of the week and she ran right up to Santa and gave him a huge hug. The line went, "Awww!". Ethan was nervous, real nervous, but the guy was great (so great that they fly him up from Colorado for the season!) and got Ethan to come over and talk too.

Speaking of Ethan, we are having some issues as of late and its making me so frustrated. He's been super destructive of our Christmas ornaments and Gwen's school crafts. He's been back talking and acting a lot like a baby, complete with sucking on his finger all the time and toting around a new huge blankie (like seriously, its twin size or larger). I'm not sure what the deal is. He doesn't seem to respect or understand the value of some things and I feel like all I do is yell and punish him, and I'm so upset about the stuff he's been destroying that I'm getting overly frustrated and blow up.