Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Space Center

We met up with "the cousins" at the Space Center today, for a family outing. It was pretty fun. There may be more pictures of this outing on their blog later. Here are a few highlights...
Rock candy soothes the savage beast.
My kid making a break for it while I try to take a photo of this Saturn V rocket.
Our group (minus me behind the camera) on the blue tram tour.
Our boys waiting for one of the films to start.
Two Star Wars Clone Wars fans and a short interloper.
Our family in front of some type of space capsule. I'll spare you the other 95 photos that I took. You're welcome.

Biased? Moi?

Someone got a Handy Manny toolbox for Christmas. I know it was recommended for ages 3+, but I play it free and loose like that, and it didn't have any small parts to choke on. I was vindicated tonight when I witnessed this little spontaneous scene playing out on my family room floor. I don't think anyone explained to him what to do with the tools. Nonetheless, he took them over to the molding being used as part of our mantle/surround and started banging away at it. 8.75 month old genius? In my completely biased opinion...YES.

Cake!

L took my recipe box off the counter tonight and brought it into my bedroom. She sat on the floor rifling through the recipes for a few minutes, then exclaimed "CAKE! CAKE!" and showed me a cupcake recipe. That kid loves cake.

Getting Crafty With My Bad Self


I'm putting a picture of B and J's stockings on the blog. You know, in case they meet with some tragic fate. I would hate to have no photographic evidence of the hundreds of hours spent making them, especially B's.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I Did It!

I stuck it out and finished reading Twilight. I talked about my opinions here for those who don't remember. After finishing, my final opinion is..."Meh?" I could take it or leave it. It is a moderately engaging story, told poorly in my non expert opinion. If I had just randomly picked it up and read it with no expectations, I would have said, "Well, that was a nice little story." I'm feeling a little more harshly toward it due to the tremendous popularity and passionate feelings that so many people seem to have about it. I don't really get that at all.

I felt mildly obligated to read the rest of the series, so obviously I would like to know how the rest of it turns out. I guess that means I didn't hate it. Do I want to know enough to waste my precious free time reading them? Maybe not. I put my name on the waiting list for New Moon (99 person waiting list at my library). I laughed and figured, "In a year or two when my name finally comes up on the list, I'll probably actually feel inclined to read it." Then I realized, my library has digital checkouts available now. So I checked on it. Low and behold, they have these books available, and new moon only has a 7 person waiting list on the audio version. So, in a few weeks, I'll download it to my MP3 player, and listen to it while I'm doing something productive. Voila! I love technology.

On a side note, I downloaded The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel to listen to for now. I'm loving this digital checkout business. I'm also currently reading the The Tales of Beedle the Bard to the girls. My brother gave it to me as a Christmas present. Thanks Jordan!

Grammy Claus & Grampy Claus

I swear this is my last Christmas related post. I am ready for a new year. Hopefully one that does not involve surgery or hospitals of any kind...2008 did me in on that front.

I managed to pull down all the Christmas decorations and pack them back up in their tubs. The only thing that needs to come down now is the exterior lighting. The funny thing is, we're still cracking into Christmas presents, despite the fact that Christmas has been over for 5 days now.

I take no responsibility for this. I blame it entirely on Grammy Claus and Grampy Claus who hauled in a mind boggling number of gifts on Christmas afternoon. You know, a few hours after we finished opening the Christmas morning pile. I'm trying not to think about the enormous disparity between the volume of cash spent on us for Christmas, and the amount we spent on these shady holiday characters. It's depressing. I guess the tables will be turned when we have our own grandchildren/adult children to spoil. Of course we are grateful for their generosity.

Needless to say, our cup is overflowing. Daniel is working today, and the kids and I are spending yet another day having fun and being less than productive due to all our new toys...day 6. We played with baby toys, then set up and played the Scooby Doo and the Haunted House game (a surprisingly fun game, I wasn't so sure when I bought it that it would be any better than "Mousetrap" from my youth, which was a piece of junk). We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on homemade bread and fruit for lunch, and put the babies down for their naps. I'd like to say I did something really productive during naptime, but I didn't. B&J and I decided to break out Mario Party 8 for the Wii and pop some popcorn. We had fun, J won. She loves to win. She's got her Grammy & Nana's gaming spirit, and told me in a maniacal voice that she hoped I landed in a pitfall to ensure her victory. Lovely.

It's too bad Daniel is at work missing out on the fun. He only worked Mon/Tues last week, and Mon/Tues this week. He could have taken off, but has things to accomplish which would have made taking vacation days useless as I know him well enough to know he would be wasting the vacation days while spending his time at home working on work. We have a fun family outing planned for tomorrow. We really do need to get out of the house, all we've been doing is playing at home for a week. Time to get back out into the world.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hello New Readers

Just a shout out to all the new readers out there. We've had a recent spike in readership. I know that some of our distant family and friends have stopped in recently. You are likely more interested in just family updates, and not random journaling about my opinions and everyday small talk. In the interest of making this site more user friendly for this particular sub-crowd...I will be posting a link list on the sidebar with the most recent posts that would fall under the "family/friend update" category of information. We're all about efficiency here at the pod. Look for this addition in the next few days. Oh, and welcome!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Santa Baby

I did the same thing I do every Christmas. I took almost literally 0.0 pictures. Okay, technically I took a couple but they were just a few shots of X in his Santa outfit, before we opened presents. I'm just too busy on Christmas to pick up my camera. I'm just going to hand it to B next year and let her take the pictures. We always set up the video camera and let it run on Christmas morning. So, we have video...just no pictures.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas everyone! We're just wrapping up the last of our preparations around here this morning and doing some baking for tomorrow. We'll be having our Christmas Eve Family Home Evening tonight and hosting a family dinner tomorrow afternoon. It is so wonderful to be able to spend the holidays with so much of our family.
"Christmas is more than trees and twinkling lights, more than toys and gifts and baubles of a hundred varieties. It is love. It is the love of the Son of God for all mankind. It reaches out beyond our power to comprehend. It is magnificent and beautiful.


It is peace. It is the peace which comforts, which sustains, which blesses all who accept it.


It is faith. It is faith in God and His Eternal Son. It is faith in His wondrous ways and message. It is faith in Him as our Redeemer and our Lord.


We testify of His living reality. We testify of the divinity of His nature. In our times of grateful meditation, we acknowledge His priceless gift to us and pledge our love and faith. This is what Christmas is really about." ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm Probably Crazy

I'm probably crazy (an understatement), but my holiday cooking and hosting tends to go smoothly only when I have a preplanned schedule. I think it has something to do with how my mind operates. I don't feel stressed at all, as long as I've done my grocery shopping from a carefully itemized list, set out all of my recipes, and made a cooking/baking schedule so that I don't forget or mistime things. I just finished this week's lists, and am feeling better about the whole thing now. I just need to wrap some more presents, finish J's stocking, clean my house and execute the shopping and cooking schedule...Voila! What can I say? I'm a girl who likes a plan. For my own future reference, and in case my list gets eaten by a paper devouring baby...here it is...

Christmas Cooking Schedule

Christmas Eve Day:

Make Cream Puffs
Make Key Lime Cheesecake
Defrost Chocolate Chip Cookies
Defrost and Decorate Christmas Cookies
Prep Overnight Cinnamon Rolls and Refrigerate
Peel and chop potatoes and store in water in pot
Make and Chill Broccoli Salad

Christmas Day:

8:00am- Put Cinnamon Rolls in Oven, Make Frosting & Defrost Frozen Potatoes
10:00am- Make Country Green Beans and store in covered dish for reheat
11:00am- Prep and Bake Turkey 350 degrees 3.5 hours
1:30pm- Start Mashed Potatoes cooking
1:45pm- Mix up and Bake Holiday Potatoes (aka Funeral Potatoes)
2:30pm- Make Gravy and Ham Sauce
2:35pm- Heat up corn
2:40pm- Take out Turkey & Holiday Potatoes & Put in Green beans to reheat 10 min
2:50pm- Mash Potatoes & Warm Hawaiian Rolls
2:55pm- Final Plating all items (Ham, Turkey, Sauce & Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Holiday Potatoes, Green Beans, Corn, Broccoli Salad, Rolls)
3:00pm- Dinner is Served

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Sicknesses

I absolutely hate the illnesses that tear through our family every winter. No amount of hand washing or cleaning does anything to help either. We are already on our 3rd cold of the "winter season". I have a fever that is making me crazy, a sore throat, and hopefully not a sinus infection. I have X to thank, who has L to thank, who probably has the Nursery to thank, but who knows? I have no idea how we are going to survive the rest of the winter with me teaching the Nursery at church. It's a mystery. I HATE, HATE, HATE being sick! Vent over.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Overheard Conversations


I just overheard a conversation between Daniel and B. She was asking him to help her and J with something on the Xbox 360 (he had already been helping for the past 30 min). He said, "I can't right now. I need to work on the mantle so Mommy doesn't kill me." B replied, "Oh...Mommy wouldn't kill you...she just likes to threaten to sometimes." Cracked me up.

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Vanilla Glaze

In case anyone else wanted this recipe, besides Pam...I thought I'd just post it here.

1 box Swiss Chocolate (or other chocolate) cake mix
1 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup or more semi-sweet chocolate chips

Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, oil, eggs, water, sour cream, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees F. Allow to cool. Glaze with Vanilla glaze.

Vanilla glaze
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 TBSP milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 TBSP butter

Melt the butter and add to rest of ingredients. Mix until creamy. You may need to add more milk slowly to get the consistency that you want.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

You take the good, you take the bad...

You take the good, you take the bad
You take em both and there you have
The facts of life, the facts of life...

First the Bad:
I swear some days my family is trying to kill me. I've had an excruciating headache for 3 days, and despite taking the maximum allowable dose of Excedrin migraine, it will not go away. I finally took a half a Vicodan last night leftover from my wisdom teeth surgery 2 weeks ago, because the sinus pressure was making my still healing mouth shoot nerve pains where my teeth used to be. I still woke up with the same headache this morning after getting a lovely 5 hours sleep. After 8ish hours of baking yesterday, it was not a good time for everyone to become incompetent.

First, Daniel left the house with a bounty of baked goods and our X-box 360 this morning (for a work activity). He called an hour later while the baby was napping to say that he forgot the cord and needed me to drive out and meet him to bring it. Personally, I would have double checked that I had everything I needed before leaving the house in this type of situation, but that's just me.

The baby decided he wanted to stand up in his crib and play this afternoon instead of taking a nap.

The UPS guy dropped Daniel's Christmas present off outside the door and it weighed more than me, and I had to wrestle it inside.

It was pajama day for the kindergarten, and J wore footy pajamas...then the temperature spiked and she spent half the day sweating.

I reminded B three times to give something to her Brownie leader and she still forgot. Then I sat outside waiting for her with screaming babies in the car for 25 minutes while she played outside, supposedly not knowing that I was waiting for her.

We were so late getting home that I didn't have time to cook between 4 baths and homework. Someone was supposed to be bringing dinner. Guess who showed up at 6:20pm with no dinner?

And, after a brief Excedrin induced respite...my 3 day headache is back.

The Good:
All of the kids still call me Mama. I love it. I keep waiting for B to get "too old", but while I hear her refer to me as "my mom", when she's talking to me, she always says "Mama". I hope it never wears off.

I keep catching them being adorable. Today, L was holding the baby's hands and rocking back and forth singing, "whoa, whoa, whoa you boat, gentwy down the stweam". That's her favorite part of story time at the library.

Yesterday, J asked B to read to her. B proceeded to do an awesome job of reading to her from The Chronicles of Narnia book 1: The Magician's Nephew. They were so cute snuggled like little bunnies on the couch, and B reads so well. It seems that her skills are growing by leaps and bounds lately.

Life is never dull around here. It's definitely never dull. I oscillate between wanting to squeeze them to death for being so cute, and wanting to squeeze them to death for being so frustrating.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Busy Baking

I'm baking, baking, and baking today. Here is my favorite picture from Sunday's photo shoot.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Time Is Ticking

I'm running out of time! I have a new employee type of net meeting to attend at 5pm today, an enormous pile of dirty laundry, 2 holiday class parties to attend Friday, a ton of baked goods to make for Thursday, an empty refrigerator, a stocking to finish making, a mountain of presents to wrap, a Christmas dinner to plan and execute for an unknown number of people (could be 9 could be 22 no one knows) and many more things I am surely forgetting. Maybe we could just freeze time for a couple of weeks and I could catch up. Please?! Anyone have a time freezing machine? Anyone? sigh.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Photos

Here are some of my favorites that didn't make the card.


Grateful Sunday

This Sunday I am grateful for:

1. Accomplishing a family picture of all 6 of us, even though I look horrendous in every single shot. I just realized that maybe my face looks so big because of my wisdom teeth removal. Maybe it's still slightly swollen. Note to self...make hair appointment ASAP!

2. Going to church all together today, and arriving on time...with no one being sick.

3. The prospect of a brand new fresh week starting tomorrow. Am I the only one who really likes Mondays?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Look Who's Vertical

X is officially pulling himself up all over the place, and we finally got the remainder of the Christmas lights up. Excuse the blurry photo, I didn't feel like dragging my tripod into the street.

I'm reading Twilight

Well, more accurately, I'm trying to read Twilight. I feel like the last woman in America to read this book. I'm about 35 pages in, and I'm trying to stick it out. In my personal opinion, the writing is awful and the story is transparent so far. I'm struggling with the lack of richness in the language as I can't even create a good mental picture. Oh, and I dislike the main character so far too, she seems snobby and morose. I'm really not understanding why everyone loves this book. I'm going to attempt to finish it, as I put it on hold at the library about 18 months ago, and it's finally my turn. I'm glad that I was skeptical enough not to waste money buying it.

Lest you think I am just being a literary snob, I love Harry Potter. We all do. Daniel and the girls just finished all 7 books together. Their comprehension level and memory of each story is shockingly complete too. They read a chapter every night for the past 7 or 8 months to do the entire series. I love the depth of the alternate world she created, the development of the characters and plot, and the themes of love, sacrifice, and free will.

Okay, I'm going to at least finish the first book. That way, I can say that I gave it a chance. My apologies to those who think that it is sacrilege to not love the Twilight series.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pre-finished Hardwood Flooring Installation

I ask a question in the hopes that someone reading this can steer me in the right direction. Let me preface this by saying, I recently came into some 100% flexible, well paid, at home contract work for a major corporation (hooray!). So, I of course immediately started scheming about a few house projects and things (like a 10 year anniversary trip to Hawaii) that I want to put this extra cash toward.

So, onto my question. My first planned project is ripping out our downstairs carpet, and putting in some pre-finished hardwood floors in its place. I want to do the downstairs areas that have carpet, except for the master bedroom. This is about 600 square feet (3 rooms and a hallway). I have serious reservations about having Daniel install this. Not because he wouldn't do an awesome job. I know he would. He just takes an EXTREMELY long time to finish projects that he starts and I don't want to put that on him unless I have no other choice. Does anyone know how much it would cost to have someone install it? Does anyone have a person to recommend for this job? Or should I embrace my natural cheapness and let Daniel do it? I'm conflicted. Help! I'm trying to get an estimate of how much this project is going to cost me, and there are too many variables right now.

Thanks in advance for any input. The carpets in this house are quickly turning to garbage thanks to 4 messy short people. Eventually I'm going to have to recarpet the upstairs/stairs too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Because Once Is Not Enough

We elfed ourselves last year, you may remember. Here we go again, Disco style
Send your own ElfYourself eCards

The A's get "old timey" in this elf yourself.
Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Tree

We had a busy weekend. B had a playdate on Friday night and her first sleepover party on Saturday night (I hated her being gone with a burning passion). We got our tree on Saturday morning and B&J helped decorate it. L helped un-decorate it. X took a nap. I spent the weekend with a sore face. Daniel worked on the mantle. I can't believe how big B&J are getting. I feel like they were just born. Sigh.

I finally finished my Christmas shopping for the kids today. Now I just have a few adult gifts to pick up in the next week or so. Saying "adult gifts" makes me feel like I should be shopping on the seedy side of town in a building with no windows. Let's say, gifts for adults. I haven't been feeling the Christmas spirit very effectively this year. I'm hoping that will change soon. Getting the tree up has helped. I always feel better once the shopping is done too.

Go Car...Get Pizza?

L has developed an obsession with "going out" and "getting pizza". Almost every day she asks for pizza. If she is anywhere near the car, she jumps in and buckles her seatbelt. Sometimes, like today, she just randomly bursts out with the question, "Go car, get pizza?" Daniel was putting gas in my van the other day and pulled into the station (it happens to be next to our local pizza place), you can bet the first thing she asked about was pizza. She recognized the plaza apparently. You can't fool that kid.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fancy Nancy

Princess L went to her first "friend birthday party" today. It was a Fancy Nancy theme. So, here she is dressed in her "fancy" attire. She had fun. Thanks Pam!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Backpack

Daniel took these pictures of L getting the mail with her backpack on while I was having my wisdom teeth out. She's been totally obsessed with wearing this backpack all week. I can't say why.The small speck of vanity that I still have left almost prevented me from posting this picture. However, I strive for reality here, so I put it aside. Here is my face yesterday, 1 day after wisdom teeth removal (I only had 2, top ones though the swelling makes it look like the nonexistent bottoms were removed). Only one side of my face really swelled and bruised, but they managed to scrape up my lip, and I have cuts inside my cheeks (I suppose those could be my fault from biting them while my face was totally numb for 6 hours).

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Drat!

I've noticed that B's new favorite word is, "Drat!". She uses it several times each day. Each time I snicker softly to myself. Such flair for the dramatic. And when she likes a word, she sticks with it. I'd say I don't know where she gets it from, but Daniel has told me several times that I overuse words, "nefarious" being one of them.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Look Out! He's Mobile.

He hasn't tried to climb the stairs yet, but I'm sure that is just around the corner. Time to get the gate out of the attic!