Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snapshots of a Week Off

My children are out of school this week but I am still working. The pace is slower as no one has to rush out the door to school. We are eating breakfast later, going to bed much later and generally being lazy. This weekend I need to put away Christmas - that should take several days!

This one is starting to crawl. I need to go dust off the baby gates.

We have some new part-time faces and more next week.

Calvin cannot keep his hands - and lips - off this baby.

There has been lots of Bakugan which I believe has taken over from Pokemon - who can keep them straight?

The little ones have been playing a lot of games. I love that.

I need to plan a birthday for Sophie-loo who is turning eight next week. She wants a bug party. In January. I'm not quite sure what a bug party entails. I'm trying to convince her she wants to take a couple of friends to the movies - much simpler!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pretty Cake For A Pretty Baby

This is what I was doing all day on Saturday. The cake was for baby Lily's blessing which took place on Sunday. I love baby blessings. It is such a powerfully spiritual experience to witness a baby being blessed by their Father. Picture the strong, loving arms of a Father holding a tiny new life within a circle of priesthood and friendship sharing tender prayers and hopes for the life of that child. It is a beautiful thing.

Christmas Day

The children slept in on Christmas morning. Bless them. At our house, the children wait on the stairs while I go down and turn on the lights, the music and the fireplace. Once I've settled in on the couch with a pad of paper, pen, cameras and a glass of eggnog, then the kids are allowed to come running downstairs. We always open stockings and Santa gifts first. This year, the Santa gifts were wrapped because they were for all three children.

It was a lovely day. More emotional that I expected. The children's grandparents, aunts and uncles and even great-aunts spoiled them with beautiful and thoughtful gifts. We always open gifts one at a time so everyone can appreciate each one. We were able to talk to a lot of our family on Christmas Day and wished we could have been together. In the afternoon, the children spent time with their Father and gave him the gifts they had made and purchased for him. They played games together while I tried to pick up some of my room. Calvin managed to break one of his toys less than an hour after opening it! Max read two of the books he received by the end of the day. In the evening when we were alone again, we snuggled together and watched a movie on the couch. I have three very happy children. I love that.

Auntie Koo sent the three kids this car and they have been riding it all over the kitchen. I put it together myself (go me) and if you don't have one of these, they are seriously fun - even Max can ride on it! I'm not sure how I am going to feel about having it in my kitchen until the snow melts.

Sophie made this cute snowman and Max made me a pretty glass ornament. They were both so proud.

Don't you think Sophie looks like her beautiful new little doll from her grandmother? It's the freckles. Let's all encourage her to cut her hair to match her doll! She and her doll have been having picnics and tea parties all over the house.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Eve Dinner

On Christmas Eve it snowed. It snowed like it would never stop. I tell you this so you have the setting in your mind while I tell you my story. We were a bit late for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner with Lori due to the finicky caramel (see croquenbouche post). I left the house in a blinding snowstorm with three kids, a croqunbuche balanced precariously on Max's lap, a plate of almond cookies and my purse but no coat and no mittens.

Dinner was delicious as always. Thomas made the most amazing angel hair pasta with scallops and shrimp. Divine. There were a dozen other items on the menu, but I only wanted the pasta. It was that good. The kids all loved the Shirley temples, Calvin loved the antipasti meats and Sophie loved the shrimp cocktail. Max ate two plates of the pasta without the shrimps and scallops. Fool.

After dinner we chatted while eating our way through mile high chocolate cake and cream puffs. Some kids watched The Polar Express, while others played on the computer.

It was after 8:30 before I started to round up the kids to leave. It is at this point that I realize I have locked the keys in the car.

On Christmas Eve.

In a snowstorm.


Lori had an extra house key of mine with the remote car opener attached. Unfortunately, it had a dead battery. Thomas started taking apart every small item in the house that might have a nickel sized battery. I called Susan and Ken to see if they might have a battery. Lori finally called AAA and asked them to come - on Christmas Eve!

It is now 9pm and Susan drives me home to see if I have a spare key in the house somewhere. We have gotten another 4 inches of snow since dinner began so it takes us a while to get there and back. When we return (with a key!), AAA is in the driveway and it takes the guy 2 seconds to break into my car. Anyone know where I can buy one of those window lock opener gadgets? I think it would be handy to carry around in my purse - or is that illegal?

I was proud that I did not burst into tears. I decided to file it away in the "I will laugh at this someday" file. The kids and I had a very late reading of the Christmas story in our matching pajamas, they each opened one little gift and then I stayed up until 3:00am cleaning up and getting everything ready for the morning.

Three guesses what gift Calvin opened on Christmas Eve. I need a nap. Still.

What the Other Eight Versions Looked Like

Behold the Croquembouche

Every year, I try and tackle some new fancy dessert for Christmas Eve dinner. This year, I decided I wanted to learn how to make a croquembouche. I watched several You Tube videos and read a bunch of reviews on-line before deciding to use Martha's recipe.

The creme puffs were surprisingly easy to make. I did learn that you really do have to cook them a long time or else they deflate and are soggy inside. We just ate the batch that I pulled out too soon.

Aren't they pretty? The vanilla pastry cream was divine and filling the creme puffs was really simple.

I had planned on sticking the cream puffs together with caramel, but apparently it takes more that 30 minutes to learn how to make caramel and spin sugar. After the second batch refused to make pretty little strands of caramel, I ditched it and decided to hold the whole thing together with chocolate. I did not have a mold and I did not use a foam center, I just stacked them in layers right before leaving for the dinner. It worked perfectly and frankly everything is a bit better with chocolate - right?

Yum! The host was eating cream puffs while the rest of us were having appetizers. I'd say it was a hit!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Eve Cookies

Sophie styled herself for Christmas Eve. I particularly like the bare legs and the enormous slippers.

Because our neighbors were out snow blowing our driveway, I had a huge wave of guilt for skipping the Christmas cookies this year. So, on Christmas Eve, we decided to whip up a few batches. Of course, not having planned ahead, I did not have the ingredients for my normal Christmas cookies and we were forced to try new recipes. I love that.

The kids made these Cookie Dough Truffles - no baking and no raw eggs.

Mace Windu decided to lend a helping hand - or helping light saber. Whatever. He was useless.

Here is my review of this recipe:

Too much work.

The dough is tasty, but it never really becomes easy to handle unless you freeze it. I had to keep popping the bowl outside and making the kids coat their hands with flour in order to roll these into little balls. Then you have to freeze them again or they become sticky.

Once the cookies are hard (frozen solid), you are supposed to dip them in melted chocolate to coat. They look gorgeous huh?

Pain. in. my. patoot.

They did not want to coat easily and they start thawing quickly so you can only take a couple out of the freezer at a time. Too much work.

I gave up and just plopped a dollop of chocolate on top of each one. Then they looked kind of homely so I added the Christmas sprinkles. Who wants a cookie that you have to keep refrigerated?! I give this recipe two and a half stars. It is kind of tasty and very pretty when dipped, but seriously?!

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Song - Take 9


Snow Showers
Current: Snow Showers
Wind: E at 10 mph
Humidity: 96%

34° | 31°

32° | 20°

Snow Showers
22° | 17°

28° | 15°

How The Boys Spent Their Morning

Three things about Max:

1. This kid needs a haircut. It's on the to-do list right under getting Sophie's cavity filled and getting me to a dentist to find out why my tooth with a root canal is aching. If he looks like he's growing a mullet, please don't stare. I'll get him there sometime soon.

2. Max has pulled out so many teeth lately that he is left with just four teeth in the front of his mouth. It makes him look a bit chipmunkish. Sometimes it's a bit alarming - like I wonder if he accidently pulled out some of his adult teeth just to fleece the tooth fairy. I don't know how he chews.

3. I try and buy the kids winter coats the year before on clearance and I always buy them a bit big to get several seasons out of them. Clearly, Max's coat could fit a 200 pound adult. He will be able to wear it until I shove him out the door to college. Now that's bring thrifty!