Thursday, January 27, 2011

According to Audrey

#1:  "Timothy doesn't realize that slobber is the point of a kiss!"

#2:  "It will take a long time to dig to the middle of earth.  We will need a lot of children for that."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Andrew Turns Twelve

Andrew couldn't wait for his birthday to become his birth-night...that's when the real fun happens.  Dad gets home from work, allowing presents to be opened, dinner to be eaten, dessert to be enjoyed.  The most important of these being the presents, of course.  The first thing he opened was a quilt I'd just finished making for him that morning.  Last minute projects are not an unusual thing for me, but unlike some last minute projects, this one went surprisingly smoothly and I'm not real sure why. It was fabulous.

Andrew tends towards sentimentality in some ways.  I've always found this to be an endearing quality of his, so I had made a point to save some of his shirts and other clothing so he could look back at them some point in the future.  I decided that the best way to hold onto some of these things that would never be used again was to turn them into something that would be used: a quilt.  T-shirt fabric is much too stretchy to be an enjoyable fabric to sew, but it all went together quickly and easily.

Andrew was really pleased with it.  He had no idea that it was coming, and I think he's slept with it every night since.  The best part is that all the T-shirts are already broken in--what a comfy quilt!

Audrey created an audience (of horses, of course) to watch Andrew open his gifts.  Andrew received books: Artemis Fowl #6 (which he'd completed by the next morning) and some classics (Call of the Wild, The Jungle Book, Treasure Island, Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare, Wind in the Willows) since he's recently read The Lord of the Rings series, The Hobbit, and Robinson Crusoe (have I mentioned that he amazes me?)  He also received some video games and Pokemon cards.

After presents, we took him out to Ruby's (his choice of dinner, super yummy chicken strips) where he ended up with another audience, although this one wasn't comprised of horses.  In this case, it was his Nintendo DSi XL that was being ooohh'd and aaahhh'd over.

When dinner was over, we swung by Krispy Kreme Dougnuts to get the makings of a birthday cake.  Andrew designed his Holey Tower, and Chris inserted the candles.

We had an extremely lively rendition of "Happy Birthday" sung, and then Andrew made his wish.  One year from now, I'll have two teenage boys in my house!  (If I keep repeating that, it is simply in hope that I will come to believe it.  Who was it that said "There's nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it."  William James?  I'm hoping he's right.)  I really don't understand how it takes them 10 years to get to their 5th birthday and then the next 8 years pass overnight.  I guess I'll be working at savoring this year with my 12 year old.  Happy Birthday, son.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bowling for Birthdays

I officially declared 2011 a Birthday Party Free extensive lists of guests, no invitations and party favors. Instead, the kiddos get to take a friend to a place of their choosing. Andrew chose to take his friends Shawn and Ryan bowling followed by Yogurtland.

Andrew was pretty impressed with his bowling shoes. If they had offered to let him keep them, I'm sure Andrew would have jumped on the opportunity.

They all bowled for an hour, ate pink birthday cake leftover from a birthday party happening in the next lane over, and then dumped some money into the arcade. Andrew kept commenting on how much fun he was having--it was so great to see him really feel special.

Yogurtland was nuts--busier than I've ever seen it--but all the kids did good. Andrew's friends spent the night, though I'm sure they didn't get much sleep. All in all, it was a very successful non-party.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Big Ginger Cookies

I meant to post this recipe during the holidays, since the flavors just go so well with the holidays, but they are fabulous at any time of year.  I always make a double batch because they seem to disappear faster than cereal around here (and that's saying something).

Big Ginger Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses

 In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add egg and molasses and stir together slowly.  Add dry ingredients, a little at a time.
Dough will be thick--makes it easy to roll

Shape into 1 1/2" balls.  Roll in sugar.
A light coating of granulated sugar

 Place 2" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.  Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes or until brown and slightly puffed.
For chewy cookies, remove from oven when
the centers still look slightly uncooked--
(They are still good if cooked fully, they'll
just be crunchy instead of chewy.)

 These do keep rather well if stored in a sealed bag or container, but good luck keeping them around that long!  These guys are addicting.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

White Christmas

As far as record amount of snowfall, these holidays weren't record setters.  We did get a fair amount of snow, but the remarkable part of the weather was how warm it was when it snowed, and how cold it got during/after snowing.  One morning I woke up and it was -8 degrees! Unusual for Tahoe!  The trees stayed frozen and covered with snow for days (bad news for our fruitless plum tree--you can see in the 3rd picture that it is heavy laden and slightly broken).  These bright blue skies and bright white trees remind me of my mom--we love these picturesque days!
 We had one full day with the power out, and another full day with decreased/unstable power.  We have a generator that is supposed to kick in if the power goes out, but it wasn't working.  Not a big deal, except that our house is heated entirely by an electric furnace.  We were fortunate enough to have the generator serviced and working by early afternoon.  Andrew commented that all the electricity unreliability made it feel like we were living in a cabin.  I'd have to agree.  That, combined with the fact that many of us were sick (some weird cold/tummy combo) made us eager to be done with the holidays and onto 2011.

All the snow compiled on our deck.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Day

Christmas Eve brought a new board game to our family: the new generation of Monopoly.  The kids played together happily for hours!  The fun part of the game is that it uses something akin to Debit Cards instead of cash, eliminating much hassle, confusion, and argument.  Other Christmas Eve gifts: a page-a-day calendar for each of the kiddos (Timothy: Would You Rather?  Andrew: Stupid History Facts.  Melinda: Origami-a-Day.  Audrey: Cuteness Overload) and some music for Chris and I from Eric (Blind Pilot and The Radio Dept.) and a Wii game for the kiddos from Eric.  The only bummer about Christmas Eve is that I forgot to initiate Christmas Carol singing-round-the-piano time.  :(

Christmas day was very nice.  I loved having my family around.  Matthew and Siri and Lucy (and Greta) arrived mid-presents, and got to join in the chaos.  I'm missing a good picture of Andrew opening a gift because there was simply so much going on.  I have to remind myself that when there are fewer pictures at moments like these, it simply means that we were having a good time.

It was great to see Chris, Eric, and Matthew cooking up great food in the kitchen.  Also great to see: my sweet little niece Lucy playing with everyone, and my girls watching a movie with my dad.

Timothy gets creative in his "sammich" making

Melinda gets creative with some little people

Monday, January 3, 2011

Gingerbread and Stockings

Decorating Gingerbread Houses is one of those fun Christmas traditions that the kids never want to miss out on. Why would they? They are miniature sugar castles! All the sugar aside, they do really enjoy the creativity involved. I wanted to let them each do their own miniature house, but I just didn't have the time and brain cells to make it happen this year. There's always next year, right? They did a great job working together (after the initial frustrations were addressed) and came up with a very fun design.

Our time in Tahoe was filled with great food.  I love it when Chris has time to cook!  Oh, the things he creates!  Pictured is a bowl of soup that could have won awards it was so yummy.  All of the kids agreed that it was delicious.  That's saying something!  I liked how the tomatoes and zucchini made it look all Christmas-y, Chris liked how the stock was made with the leftover turkey wings and pieces we froze after Thanksgiving. We had so much good food during these two we get to go back to me "cooking".  (yes, those quotes were absolutely necessary.)

I also ended up reworking Audrey's stocking, since it had been completed in such haste last year (I think it was last year...?) that it needed some attention.  I'm now happy with the four stockings, though they are heavy in beauty and light in capacity.  I was looking for pictures of them on my blog and computer and didn't find what I thought I'd find, so here they are for the record:

Eventually I will get caught up with all these Christmas posts, I promise!  Next up, family time and presents...and then the lovely, gorgeous, fabulous snow.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Preparing for Christmas

So, Decembers are crazy busy, right?  Do you know when that started and why?   I didn't, until my dad told me (and we all know that everything my dad says is true).  You see, when parents started taking over Santa's job, (presents and Christmas cheer,) they brought the whole mess on themselves.  And so now we are stuck with this huge task better suited for the man in the red suit who knows how to add more hours to the day.

And the elves?  Where are those elves when I need a house decorated and un-decorated?  We couldn't find it, so we went about it all by ourselves...and the un-decorating has yet to be done (first we get to drive 10 hours, jump back into the rat-race, and then we get to un-decorate.)

The huge tree is really cool-looking, but boy is it a hassle...not just to adorn, either...attempting to get it (and keep it) straight is quite the challenge.

Another huge addition, that made this huge house seem more a home, was simply the best Christmas present I've ever received.  A month or two ago, when Chris asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told him I only want 2 things: my watch fixed, and a piano.  And although this was true (gifts aren't a huge deal for me) I realized that I was unlikely to get either...too time intensive, especially for this time of year.  I think that is part of what makes this gift so special.  Anybody have any idea how hard it is to pick out the perfect piano without a second opinion?  Chris did a fabulous job.  He found this 1922 Steinway that looks and sounds beautiful.  It simply wonderful.  And somehow, as you are playing it, you can hear the character and personality come through.  And it fits perfectly in the corner of our great room.

Oh, and here's Timothy looking Oh-So-Handsome (even if he isn't really smiling...this pic was the best of the lot) in his tux, ready for his Christmas concert:

Before heading to Tahoe for family and Christmas, we had a fabulous 60's Christmas party...of which I still need to scrape together pictures.  Hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later, but we're dealing with a bit of Spano-timetable, so it may be August before I actually get good pictures up.  The party was for Chris's mom's side of the family, as well as some other family/friends, and we made everyone dress up Early-60s to match the house.  We had some catering help as well as a jazz trio that was amazing, and a photo-booth set-up run by Jon and Michelle (brother-in-law and almost sister-in-law) with great success.  Here are the few measly pictures that I have, look for a better selection at some point in 2011. :)