Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas wrap up

It would seem that this Christmas was mostly overshadowed by snow and sickness! However, we did have a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas day, regardless of anything else going on.

Matt and I were surprised we didn't have to stay up too late on Christmas Eve getting everything set up, despite not having done any wrapping yet. I thought it all looked so lovely when it was all set up under the tree.



The girls woke up at their regular time on Christmas and were very excited! I think Eloise sort of had an idea of what was going on, but she really fed off of her sister's excitement, as well. The girls came out and Iris immediately saw the hippity hops that Matt blew up for the girls and of course the purple pegasus that she had asked Santa for. I was really happy to be able to get the thing she wanted but am worried about the future when she starts asking for things that are totally unattainable!


We did really, really good with the girls this year. We stuck VERY close to our budget and didn't completely overwhelm them with toys. They had gifts from other family members to open on Christmas morning, as well, so that was really nice.

My brother's family sent Iris the Tinkerbell movie. We've already watched it about a bajillion times.


They sent Eloise Wall-E. It's so sweet and Eloise loves it, but unfortunately Iris is a bit more vocal about wanting to watch HER movies, so we've only seen Wall-E three times this weekend.


My mom and dad sent money for the girls and my mom had wanted to get them scooters, so I used the money to get them each one and we wrapped them and put them under the tree. Honestly I thought Eloise would be the one who was really in to it, but it turns out Iris is our fearless and adept scootin' kid! I now can't figure out why the platform of the scooter isn't big enough for a four year old child to fit both of her feet on it? Anyone know?



Iris on her new hippity hop.


Eloise opening her stocking.

Iris opening her stocking. Note: jammies from Gymboree!

Both of the girls got wooden clips and play silks from my sister's family.

The best shot I got of Iris in her fairy get-up. I ordered two sets of handmade tutus, wings and head bands from an Etsy seller.




Matt mostly wanted money to go to SXSW in 2010 so he got a couple of little gifts from me, a wallet and shaving stuff. Practical, no? I got some yummy chocolates and Wii accessories and any other money that would have been spent on me went to my new camera.
After presents I made eggnog french toast with fruit topping and chicken sausages. We shovelled in our breakfast as fast as we could so that we could get on our Wii and play Mario Kart with my brother's family who just got their Wii for Christmas. It is so amazing that you can set it up to play with people over the internet! We'll wait for them to get a little more practice in so we don't cream them so bad next time. Ha ha.
After Wii Matt's sister and her fiance came over to spend the rest of the day with us. We mostly relaxed, ate, played Wii, made bakestones which comes from tradition in Matt and his sister's family. We also briefly chatted via webcam with my in-laws, as well! It was so cool. I really want to get a webcam for our computer. For lunch Matt had made pulled pork which we ate on the rolls I made the day before. Sadly the rolls didn't turn out as good as they did when I made them for Thanksgiving because I forgot the oil in the recipe. Oops. For dinner I made four pizzas but none of us were very big eaters and between the six of us we only ate two of them. Made for some delicious left-overs!
That night Eloise came down with a fever and ever since she and I have been battling various intensities of illness. But that's not too fun to write about, so I'll end this long blog post here.
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Watch what you wish for!

Iris and Matt's snowman

Looking north

Popular transportation on our roads!

So here is when I get to kick myself. This snow! This stupid, stupid snow! Actually, I'm not so annoyed at the snow as I am at the fact that nothing is clear enough to safely drive anywhere. Our car hasn't left our parking space since Saturday afternoon and lord knows when it will be used again. Matt hasn't been in to work since last Thursday because of the snow. Today he and Iris stood at the bus stop for over an hour waiting for a bus that, according to King County metro's site, was supposed to come, but never did. UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is so awful! The city are complete idiots about clearing the snow. It's totally ridiculous. I am beyond happy to have my husband home, but not as happy to be literally stuck here. Only getting out as far as we can get on foot. Yesterday the four of us walked the approximately 12 blocks to the nearest grocery store. Of course, it was far enough that Iris had to ride in the stroller, which had to be pushed down the middle of the street because hardly anyone shovels sidewalks here. Today Matt got a ride from a friend with four-wheel drive to Fred Meyer and hiked home with like a million pounds of stuff on his back, stuff we need for the next few days, especially Christmas.

So I'm moping. I want the snow to go away. We've had fun in it, but it can go away now, thanks.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

All last winter I prayed for snow. PRAYED. And I'm not the praying kind. We got a dusting of snow once, maybe twice, the whole winter. I was bummed, to say the least. Mother Nature is making it up to me this year, though! We got a wee-bit dumped on last Sunday then again on Thursday. It made everything super icey, but we were all able to stay safe, so I was happy.

Last night, though. Whoa, nelly. It began positively dumping snow on Seattle. The news was reporting that we were supposed to get some seriously strong winds, as well, but we didn't. Just the snow. It was soooo beautiful. The whole family went out for a twilight walk down to the school playground and Heidi romped in the snow with the other dogs. I enjoyed chatting with a man from Denver about how weird Seattle is about the snow, how it seems few people know what to do with it. Ah, well!
It continued to snow and snow and snow. Matt and I and Heidi went out in the front of our building while the girls were sleeping and messed around a bit and then Matt took Heidi for a walk while I tried to take pictures with my new camera. Not having a tripod, you can see most of them are a bit blurry, but still great representations of what is happening here!














Interestingly, when I went to take Heidi out this morning the snow was icey on the top and you had to punch holes through it to walk. Still not good snowman snow, much to Iris's dismay. I am hoping that as it warms up just slightly over the next couple of days that the snow will get sticky enough to do something with!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

In the past I have always made resolutions along the lines of "lose weight" or "drink more water" or something else easily shoved to the wayside on, oh, January 2nd. This past year I flippantly made the resolution that I would "learn to bake bread". As we had a really busy first eight months of last year, what with planning a wedding and all, I didn't really think about my resolution. When I went to WI to visit family for three days this past October I had a plan in my head to have my sister teach me how to bake bread. We never ended up doing it, so when I got back to Seattle, with just over two months to reach my goal, I had to take matters in to my own hands.

On a whim I decided to make the rolls for Thanksgiving dinner. Not sure how I would pull it off, and very sure I would just go buy some rolls at the store if I didn't, I just jumped in and gave it a try. They turned out great! I was so proud of myself and decided it was time to move forward in full-fledged bread-making mode. The following weekend we visited my in-law's and I spent some time browsing my father-in-law's cookbooks (on of my most favorite things to do when I visit them! He has quite the selection!) I found a book on his shelf called, appropriately enough, The Bread Book. As I looked through it I discovered that the book really outlined in detail how to go through the steps to make each of the different kinds of bread. Easy peasy! My father-in-law told me I could borrow the book if I would like to, so I did.

When I got home I dove right in to a recipe for a whole wheat free form loaf. It all went very well except for the bread totally spread out during it's last rise, so when it came out of the oven it was more like a large, domed pancake. It tasted good and had good texture, so at least I was on the right track! The next time I tried I made a recipe for traditional white bread in a bread pan. This loaf turned out very well except I took it out of the oven too soon, not having quite figured out the whole knocking on the bottom of the loaf thing (though I'm getting better!). Luckily I sort of salvaged that loaf by sticking it back in the oven for a couple of minutes after I already sliced the end off. Tee hee.

Now I have baked about a dozen loaves of the white bread and all have come out very well! They all end up looking a little different, depending on how deep of a slice I made in the top or how well I pinched the side together when I rolled it up, but they all taste fantastic!

I am so proud to say I've learned how to bake bread in 2008. I look forward to learning alot more about bread baking and am really hoping to take a class or two in the new year to help expand my repertoire of, well, one kind of bread!

I wanted to include a really yummy recipe I made one morning with a loaf of my white bread. Either go ahead and bake yourself a loaf of bread or pick one up at the store that you can slice yourself (you'll want thick slices for this!)

Without further ado, my adapted recipe for eggnog french toast! (The majority of the recipe comes from here).

Eggnog French Toast


Ingredients:
1/2 cup eggnog
1/2 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 (1/2-inch) slices day-old or stale country loaf, brioche or challah bread
4 tablespoons butter

Directions:
In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the eggnog, milk, eggs, sugar, and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

*I used a griddle for this next step!*
Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.


I plan on making this for Christmas day brunch this year. Possibly with a strata, also made with my homemade bread!

Merry Christmas!

p.s I think my resolution for next year is to really learn how to knit. At one time I learned how to cast on, knit, purl and cast off, but you know, I never really understood it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What a weird week so far!

Seattle has been under a snow threat-down since Sunday and I swear my nerves are shot! Here's the low-down: Sunday we had maybe an inch of snow in our neighborhood. We got outside, frolicked, blah blah blah. On Monday apparently the roads were icey enough to make school two hours late. It was annoying. On Tuesday, the same thing. Matt was the working parent at Iris's school that day, so that was also annoying to have him take the day off of work to be with Iris and then only have school for two hours. And today? Today we sat around the whole stinkin' day WAITING FOR SNOW! The Seattle school district closed schools for the day because of the threat of snow. I had never heard of such a thing! Clearly I'm not in WI anymore. It never snowed. I can't believe it!

Last night our car's ignition was being all crazy so we couldn't drive our car. Iris and I were bummed because we had planned to buy the rest of our Toys for Tots toys, but that had to wait until tonight. It turned out a little underwhelming for Iris and I buying these toys. I thought she would have fun picking out stuff, but mostly I found myself obsessively reading prices so we could get the best value on toys while Iris just looked at all of the toys she wanted to bring home. We got lots of nice things, though, and I think as the girls grow it will be easier for them to be included.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tee hee.

Girls with Santa

Needless to say judging by how my children are dressed, we didn't plan on seeing Santa when we showed up at the Factoria Square mall last week. But oh, was I ever giggling when I saw the picture that we got! $15 well spent!

New pictures!

Our first snowfall of the winter!

If you don't get a chance very often, please direct your gaze over yonder to the left to my Flickr badge. If you click on it, it takes you to my Flickr page. You can also get there by clicking HERE. You can also get there by clicking on the picture of Eloise above. See, I make it so easy!

I've just started learning how to use my new camera and have uploaded a few pictures in the past several days. Today we had fun out in the SNOW!!!!

Testing out the capabilities of my new camera

Matt says this is his LeBron James pose.

Our first snowfall of the winter!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Oh LAWD.

Thursday Iris developed a fever at school. I brought her home around 11:00. Still sick on Friday, feverish, lethargic, headache. Feeling better on Saturday, but we weren't taking any chances and decided to stick close to home. Then on Sunday morning Eloise blows chunks all over the breakfast table. Whoops! She was sick the whole day, though tried her hardest not to act like it. Still very sick last night and this morning. No pukes since 10 am today, so I'm keeping my toes and fingers crossed!

It's been a stressful last few days, to say the least. On the bright side, I've been doing an amazing job handling all of the puking ifIdosaysomyself. Anyone who knows me well knows what a feat this is for me!

I'm looking forward to life getting back to the non-sick normal that we were all too accustomed to before all of this hit us!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Some new favorite blogs

Ever since I started "tweeting" over there at twitter I have met all sorts of new bloggers. I have enjoyed getting to know many of them over the past few weeks but a blog I just started reading has really caught my eye. It's called eensies and it's written by elementary school teachers. It has some really fun ideas for learning outside of the classroom! Okay, I know some of the home schoolers who are reading my blog right now are rolling their eyes so far in to the backs of their heads . . . but not all of us are as educationally enlightened as others ;)

The other blog I was re-introduced to when I met, again, the author of it. It's called fresh vintage and it's written by the wife of a long-time friend of my hubby (and now she's my friend, too!). She is super funny, in person and in blog, takes great photos and has some really cool vintage finds on her blog! Now if only I could get her to come help me decorate . . .

I am sure I will come back with more, but that's all I wanted to write about today. Now I need to focus my attention on Matt's Wii Fit exercise! We got our Wii Fit over the weekend (an early Christmas present, thanks in-laws!) and I am determined to have a success story like Julie from Cool Mom Guide. Go read her post about losing 60 pounds with the Wii Fit and tell me that it doesn't inspire YOU to start your work-out!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Kick 'em in the shins

I think I want this to be my new advice to Iris on people who are mean to her: "just kick 'em in the shins!". Is that cool? Everybody down with that? Because I am seriously SICK of Iris getting picked on and excluded at school. Maybe if we teach her how to throw a few good punches? Then maybe the kids will be scared of her? Just tossing out a few ideas here!

It's becoming very clear that there is a precise pattern of what is happening with Iris at school. A child, or more than one child, says something rude to her. Most often this is done on the sly, as per my and the teacher's observation. Meaning, they aren't always shouting insults at her, but rather just kind of sneaking them in there. Iris responds by blatantly smashing on that kid. Sometimes the kid responds with a loud "Iris HIT ME!" or else the smash is witnessed by another adult who may not have witnessed the instigation. Now please let me go on the record as saying I actually don't think it's okay, in reality, for my daughter to hit people. Even if I wish it was okay, turns out it isn't, especially in the preschool crowd. Even though inside I'm secretly cheering her on for not taking other people's shit, hitting isn't cool. NOT COOL. There, I'm on record. BUT, I have to say that absolutely 100% saying mean things to someone else, to hurt their feelings, is easily as bad as, if not worse, than hitting someone.

Today two things happened at school. One was while we were in the yard with all of the parents and kids, another kid, let's call him Steve, loudly announced "Iris hit me!" I went over by her and asked if she hit Steve. She said "yes". That was it. I said, "why did you hit him?" and she said "because he called me blah blah blah (I forget exactly what, but I think it had to do with being a poopy baby)." I looked at Steve and said "do you call her that?" He says "yes, BUT YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO HIT!" Clearly this child is getting the message that maybe saying mean things isn't cool, but hitting is way, way worse. He is also getting the message that it's pretty easy to try and get Iris in trouble just by quietly hurling a few insults her way. Luckily, her parents are on to this pattern, as well as her teacher. Iris doesn't get in trouble with me for what appears to be retaliation. I mean, I remind her not to hit people, but that's it.

So here's the million dollar question: so what we do to give Iris the tools she needs to stand up for herself and feel powerful in that situation yet not respond in a harmful way (ie hitting, pushing or saying an insult back)? My sweet friend suggested we talk to Iris about when a person feels the need to be mean to someone else, that's all about THEM and not HER. I really resonated with that, but how do you explain that to a 4 year old?

It sucks because I spent my whole adolescence being a punching bag for other people's insecurities, so I am no good at any of this. More likely than not, the process we go through helping Iris will help me, too.